Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How To Get Cheap Or Free Produce

My FREE cherries from last week

I love this time of the year because fresh produce is abundant. You can finally get a fresh tomato that is in season and that is actually red and tasty. The only problem is that the cost of food seems to keep going up, even for in season produce. I got to thinking there has to be a way to get healthy food cheaper.

After some thinking here are the ideas I have come up with. If anyone has any other thoughts I am sure my readers would love to hear them.

1.) The obvious- Grow your own. It is cheaper and you know what has been put on it. Even if you do not have enough space for a full garden you can look into container varieties of plants.

2.) Find friends and neighbors who have large gardens and ask them if there is anything they would like to have in trade for some of their fruits and veggies. Maybe you could offer to cook some of them for them or possibly help them with canning. This worked for me last year when my brother had some extra venison. He did not have any way to cook due to kitchen renovations. I cooked all his meat and was able to keep half.

From my experience most home gardeners have more then they can use and are willing to give it away before it goes bad. It never hurts to ask.

3.) Look around for free produce. I noticed that one of my parent's neighbors has an apple tree that is not being taken care of. Last fall all the apples were falling to the ground and being left. I think this year I will be brave enough to ask him if I can gather them for him and possibly keep some.

You can also sometimes find wild grown foods. My parents have horseradish growing behind their house. We are not sure how it got there, but it is free and yummy. This option is one that not everyone can do. You have to be careful and know what you are picking before you eat it.

4.) Become friends with your local grocery store produce manager. I often find marked down produce that is still just fine. I will buy as much of it as I can and freeze it. Maybe you can talk your manager into holding some things back for you or letting you know what days he is planning to mark certain items down.
5.) Buy in bulk at your local farmers market or u-pick farms. You can also order in bulk from places like Azure standard. It is more economical if you can get a couple of friends to order with you and split the cost.
6.) Ask your local grocery store to buy in bulk for you. I bet they would be willing to give you a discount for buying so much at one time.

Does anyone else have any ways they save on produce?


  1. I just wrote a piece on my blog about getting food in hard times. Yours here about free and cheap produce ties right in! :) Great ideas! Here's what I just wrote: http://cookathome2010.blogspot.com/2010/06/help-i-have-no-food-in-house.html

  2. Something I've read about in a couple of books lately - including Radical Homemakers, which I just finished reading last weekend - is agreements between friends/family/neighbors to use yard space they have to grow produce for yourself and them. If you don't have enough space for more than a few containers, but a family member has a yard with areas you could plant edible landscaping, it's worth asking if you could "landscape" their yard with berries, fruit trees, veggies, an herb garden, and the like. Your "rent" is the work of caring for the garden.... and you both benefit from the harvest. Be sure to plant an extra row to donate to the "Plant a Row" food bank campaign and you'll both be serving the community at large with the agreement as well. :-)