I totally used to do the extreme couponing thing. I had a binder, clear plastic pocket sleeves- the works.  That was before I realized food wasn’t just to fill us. Food fuels us. It can be our rocket fuel to propel us towards vibrancy and wellness- or in the other direction fueling disease, exhaustion and body aches.

And they just don’t seem to make many coupons for the fresh and whole foods that I feel good about feeding my family.

I get it. Doubling or tripling your fruits and veggies could feel like a power bunch to your grocery bill.  

Here’s the thing.  

Eating (and drinking) more produce fills you up- and you end up eating way less of the processed snacks and foods that actual cost far more in the long haul of your health.  You not only feel fuller longer thanks to all that fiber, you’re body is getting more of the nutrients it needs and the cravings slow down. Stick with me and the produce section long enough and your cravings for processed food will actually stop.

Save Money on Fresh Greens

Here are ten ways to save big on your grocery bill:

==> Ask your grocery store or co-op produce manager for case pricing. Often 10-20% off. Split with a friend or focus on produce you’ll use, say, 25# of. Like celery for celery juice or apples to both juice and have for snacks.

==> Look at the must sell today basket or table. Be very conscious in your choices. Sometimes they are simply overstocked but sometimes these are too far past their prime. Be ready to stock up and dehydrate or freeze immediately.  My grocery store has Must Sell Today produce they bag up for .99 a bag. Another bags up super ripe bananas and sells a bagful for about half price. At the farmers market these will likely be called softies.

==> Look for culls directly from farmers or u-pick stands. Sometimes they are even offered on Craigslist under the Farm + Garden section. These are usually simply less than perfect looking and can’t be sold to grocery stores but are just as vibrant. Others may have a bird peck or all very ripe and need to be put up immediately (“softies”).

==> Ask your farmer directly for lug pricing. A lug is about 25 lb of one specific fruit like apples or peaches. You usually get a pre-packed box and don’t get to pick through what’s already displayed.  Usually simply a bulk discount of take what you get, be aware if they are offering you “sofites” that all must be put up immediately. *

==> U-pick can be both a connecting experience between your family and their food, it’s also a great way to save on seasonal fruit at Peak ripeness. This is often not the cheapest source, it can be the most soul filling.

Bonus: I use my dehydrator to preserve a lot of food without ever fully drying it out. Then I freeze in small portions. Never worrying about mold while still preserving vitamins and some enzymes.

Save Money on Fresh Tomatoes

==> CSAs (community supported agriculture) offer variety, more of your money goes directly to the farmer, and you get to try new things! Many deliver to your door or have neighborhood pick up locations.

==> Grow your own.  Even one small pot or garden box can make a difference. Organic veggies straight from the garden are rich in living enzymes. Put there to help your body digest and assimilate (actually be able to use) the nutrients in your food.

==> Grow sprouts. For just pennies, you can grow a cheap and dense source of calcium, protein, iron, lysine, vitamins K, B’s, C…a true living food even if you think you have a brown thumb. And, of course, you can always grow a jar of sprouts on your counter.  Eating a handful of sprouts can deliver up to 100x some nutrients than a handful of the full grown plant!

==> Loss leaders.  These are super duper sales traditional grocery stores offer at little to no profit, often to get you in the door to do the rest of your shopping there.  They aren’t over ripe and you can buy any minimum amount- there is sometimes a max though not usually on produce. Most often at the peak of season. Time to stock up!  I’ve seen avocados 5/$1 (yes you can freeze avocado!, citrus .69#, papaya 5/$1, cantaloupe .99 each, etc. A sale like this, we will eat much of this food during the week and I will cancel plans of needed to prep/freeze/dehydrate and make the most of the bounty.

  ==> Say hi and thank you to your produce people.  Get to know their name. Yes.  They are more likely to share a good deal, grab the fresher greens from the back, or offer a discount when they don’t even have a Must Sell Now table.  Worth so much more, giving a smile and getting one in return while doing this stuff of life makes errand day richer. Life richer.

*With the grace I know you have, this is not simply asking a farmer if he/she will take less for the food they are already paid remarkably little for the work done. Simply asking if they offer it, not bargaining on their stated prices.

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