When it comes to food shopping for fresh produce, we’re all on the hunt for ways to stretch our budget while filling our carts. Luckily, smart shoppers know that with a little planning, saving money while piling on the produce is easier than ever. Below, we, the ShopRite Health and Wellness Team, have gathered some of the most popular ways to save big while shopping in the produce aisle.
• Find out what’s on sale – and don’t be afraid to experiment with new vegetables or fruits.
The average produce aisle at the supermarket contains thousands of items, and, let’s face it, very few of us can positively identify each item we see neatly stocked up in a bin. Our suggestion? Instead of shying away from the unfamiliar (especially if it’s on sale), why not take advantage of the global bounty that’s available in your local produce aisle, and experiment with ways to incorporate these exotic or unusual veggies and fruits into the “everyday” meals you and your family enjoy.
• Buy now, freeze later.
Smart consumers take advantage of produce-aisle sales, and then educate themselves on the best ways to freeze their grocery goodies. For instance, corn is best frozen after being shucked, while tomatoes do better if you freeze them whole.
• You “Can-Can” do it – stock up on canned foods.
Twice a year, Shoprite offers its famed “Can-Can” sale, when all sorts of canned (and even some frozen) items are marked down faster than a runaway cart in a parking lot. Our advice? When a “Can-Can” sale is on, make room in your pantry and stock up on as many fruits and vegetables as possible. But even if there isn’t a sale going on, canned foods are still a great value. Best of all, these days, thanks to new technologies in canning and freezing, most dietitians agree that there’s practically no nutritional difference between fresh or canned items. So go on, get your “Can-Can” on.
• Vegetables about to expire? Don’t just toss them – toss them into a soup pot.
There’s nothing better in the winter then a hot, steaming bowl of soup… pretty much any kind of soup. And luckily, pretty much every vegetable does well dunked in a pot of boiling water or stock and simmered with spices and other vegetables to create a great soup or base for cooking.
• Fruits about to expire? Hello, blender.
Who doesn’t love a just-made chilled smoothie? Besides being a healthy way to add protein or dairy to your day, smoothies are a great way to take fruits or vegetables that might not have much more shelf-life left in them, and put them to good use. Fruits such as bananas, berries or apples, or greens like kale or spinach, are perfect choices to drop in your blender or juicing machine and enjoy on the run.
• Rethink your stalks, stems and ends.
Before you throw away the parts of your vegetables you might not normally cook with, consider using them in another way. For example, if you can salvage potato or carrot peelings, and/or the dark green parts of leeks – hey, leeks are pricey - why waste them? Whatever vegetables you enjoy, chances are the parts you usually “throw away” can be saved and frozen, and when you have enough — they can be thrown into a pot to create a delicious vegetable stock.
• Store your stash in the right spot.
Refrigeration is a wonderful thing – but not every produce purchase needs to be stored in your fridge. In fact, some produce picks don’t need to chill out at all. Bananas, garlic and onions do best out of the fridge, and some veggies, like avocados, will continue to ripen if left out on the counter in a closed bag. Best advice for the veggies you do store in the fridge — keep them unwashed and in their original packaging to make them last as long as possible.
• Make a grocery list – and stick to it.
We’ve all heard the warnings about going to the grocery store hungry. But even if you’re not hungry when you arrive, you might find your stomach starts growling as soon as your cart moves down the aisle. The solution? Well, there isn’t one. However, you can make sure your purchases don’t go to waste by making a meal plan and a grocery list before you head out. When you plot out your purchases and plan for a week (or even a few days worth) of meals in advance, you’ll have less waste and save more money in the long run. Here’s a hint: Check out “My ShopRite” at ShopRite.com to sign up for an online grocery list you can fill in during the week as you run out of ingredients. You can access it on your smartphone as you shop, and you’ll have all your must-have items at the touch of a button.
For more information on ways to save money on better-for-you foods while shopping, visit the office of your local ShopRite dietitian or visit ShopRite.com ••