Monday, May 26, 2014
How To Procure Produce on a Budget
One of the questions I am most frequently asked is - how do we manage to cut the expense of produce? I have several strategies to keep our fruit and vegetable costs down, as follows:
1. Stock up on frozen and canned fruits and vegetables whenever they are free or very cheap.
2. Use the FLIP coupons at Food Lion to save on produce whenever they come out. Also, Safeway often has electronic coupons for fresh produce that you can load to your store card.
3. Take advantage of the weekly Healthy Offer from Saving Star and Checkout 51 to get money back on produce purchases.
4. Send off for No Beer/Wine Purchase Required mail-in-rebates to get money back for produce purchases.
5. Grow our own vegetables at home.
6. Join a CSA - a community supported agricultural program.
Last year I spent about $400 in February to join Great Country Farms, which the farmers then used to purchase seeds and fertilizers. In return, I received a share of organically-grown, seasonal produce each week for 20 weeks - which works out to $20 per week. This plan had both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages were - lots of fresh, healthy, locally grown veggies throughout the season and yummy, pick-your-own berries. The disadvantages were - not being able to choose what I received each week, getting vegetables that I didn't especially like (beets, anyone?), and getting huge quantities of something one month and none the next month.
If you are a person who loves to cook, can, chop and freeze things, then this a great way to go. I only have the urge to spend time in the kitchen once in a blue moon, so this year I opted to plant my own garden.
I went to Southern States last week and spent $3.99 each on 4 tomato plants. One of them was a cherry tomato plant, which went into the Topsy Turvy planter that I got on clearance last year at CVS for free with my Extra Care Bucks.
The other three regular tomato plants went into my backyard box garden, which is a very easy thing to make. All you need is some boards and soil. We also used the Osmocote plant food that was free after mail in rebate!
I was lucky to snag these brand-new plant supports off my Facebook virtual yard sale last week for free! Do you think my tomatoes will get high enough to need them?
Next we planted strawberry plants that were a gift from blog reader and gardener Dologram.
Dolgram also blessed us with a raspberry bush. It won't go into the garden but up against a fence, since it needs support.
I did an interesting trade with someone from A Full Cup a few months ago. I sent her some coupons and she sent me some seeds.
So, we planted those in the garden as well, then watered everything thoroughly.
I look forward to picking our own produce right out of the backyard in a few months!