Do you ever feel like eating well is too expensive? I do, especially when your kids eat an entire container of berries in one day that cost $5. Can you imagine if we fed our kids berries each day like that at $5? That would be $35 for just one food, and they’d be running the bathroom!
I do suggest planting any raspberry; they grow so fast and multiply quite a bit each year
For the past couple of years, I’m always thinking do I want to do a garden this year?
I mean one where I have enough to can and store the extra produce. I’ve never started a garden to have a few veggies to eat through the summer; it’s always been to have enough to can and last us through the winter.
Starting your garden from seeds is the cheapest and ends up being cheaper than all the fruits and veggies you’ll buy throughout the summer, but it does involve another cost- time.
When I started gardening in my early twenties, I would continue adding one or two plants yearly. Now in my late 30s, I’m wondering whether I want to plant 25 tomatoes this year.
Well, this year, 2023, is the first year I didn’t plant 20+ tomatoes; I planted THREE! I’m still in shock, but this year I want to spend more time with the girls and less time in the garden. So I’ll be taking advantage of grabbing large amounts of produce for canning and preserving from other sources.
I’ve done this in the past when we lived on a half acre and didn’t have the room, and even with the space this year, I’m learning to be okay with getting produce cheap from other places.
So maybe you are feeling the same way this year, or maybe you are new to the whole gardening thing and doing all your research; you’ll find ways to save money on produce to buy to store for the long term.
Below you will learn how to find fresh produce at great prices all year round. We’ll cover what’s in season when to buy, and the top budget-friendly spots to search.
Plus, we’ll share tips on preserving your finds, so you can enjoy them for months to come.
Let’s do this!
Seasonal Produce and Best Times to Purchase:
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Only buy fruits and veggies in season, but it will save you so much money on your grocery bill. Plus, the taste is much better. There is nothing more disappointing them buying strawberries in February for $6, and then they taste so bland.
Instead, learn to buy and eat what is in season for a better flavor and the best price.
Spring (March to May):
Spring is my favorite time for harvesting some of the most flavorful fruits and vegetables. If you haven’t planted asparagus yet- get on it; it’s so worth it in the end. If you are buying asparagus, make sure you cook it this way.
During this season, you can find various items such as strawberries, apricots, rhubarb, peas, and asparagus. Other favorites include artichokes, lettuce, spinach, and radishes.
Summer (June to August):
Summer is the perfect time to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. During this time, you can find various seasonal items such as strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, sweet corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, summer squash, and much more.
We love visiting the cherry farms and picking ourselves.
- Berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Bell Peppers
Best times to purchase: Take advantage of pick-your-own farms during the summer months for significant discounts on berries, tomatoes, and other crops. Local farmers’ markets are also excellent places to find deals on summer produce.
Get there in the morning and ask each farmer for their seconds. These are cheaper and ready for preserving.
More Tips For Canning:
- Where To Find Great Deals On Produce
- Six Ways To Preserve and Store Produce
- How to Make Tomato Sauce Without Peeling the Tomatoes
Fall (September to November):
Fall is the time for harvesting some of the most flavorful fruits and vegetables. During this season, you can find various items such as apples, pears, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and onions. Other favorites include cranberries, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
- Brussels sprouts
Best times to purchase: Visit local orchards and farms for apple and pumpkin picking. Grocery stores often offer sales and specials on fall produce as well.
Winter (December to February):
Winter is a great time to stock up on seasonal fruits and vegetables. During this period, you can find various items such as citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), pomegranates, broccoli rabe, kale, parsnips, and turnips. Other winter favorites include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots and beets.
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits)
- Root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, onions)
Budget-Friendly Places to Source Fresh Produce
Local Farmers’ Markets
Explore nearby farmers’ markets for affordable produce. Building relationships with local farmers may also lead to additional discounts or deals. You can find local farmer’s markets on Facebook too. Ask the farmers for their seconds when you go early in the morning at the opening.
I use this when I want to can because they are usually half the price. I’ve found at our local farmer’s market with seconds that it is the second picking, and they are pretty ripe and won’t last as long unless used or preserved.
Joining a food co-op allows you to access fresh produce at wholesale prices. Co-ops often source directly from local farmers, supporting the community while providing budget-friendly options.
Again check Facebook and the Buy Nothing Groups. In the summer months, I see many people wanting to exchange produce from their gardens or give the extras away. When it comes to finding cheap food, it’s always about finding every resource and utilizing it.
Grocery Store Specials
Keep an eye out for weekly specials and promotions at grocery stores. Many stores have discount bins or reduced prices for slightly imperfect produce that is still perfectly edible.
Our local Tops Markets has a fruit stand that is all discounted produce. I’m not sure how often they fill it up, but I’ve always found something to be on the stand every time I shop.
You can also check out the Flashfood app that gives you a discount on food that is nearing its expiration date. I’ve used it a bunch, and it’s one of my absolute favorite apps to save money. I have a detailed article on how I used the flashfood app here.
Visit pick-your-own farms during specific seasons. You’ll find significantly reduced prices, and the experience of picking your produce can be enjoyable for the whole family.
I love going to a local pick-your-own strawberry patch. The owners encourage the girls always to taste the berries while picking. Last year I finally decided to plant strawberries at our farmhouse in with my asparagus, so it’s going to be a year or two before we have our own to preserve.
Knowing when fruits and vegetables are in season allows you to snag amazing deals and savor the tastiest flavors. And don’t forget to check out local farmers’ markets, co-ops, and grocery store specials for more fresh options.
And if you really want to take it to the next level, learn the art of canning and freezing. With that, you can enjoy the bounties of nature for months.