1. Buy in season
. Fruit is outrageously expensive in the winter time, except for those fruits that are harvested during this time. For example, persimmons, pears, apples, oranges, and citrus are harvested in the fall and winter months, so they will be more available and cheaper for the consumer. Buy berries, tropical fruit, and tomatoes during the summer, and buy root vegetables and greens throughout the spring and then fall/winter months, as this will be when these foods are harvested. Of course you can buy berries frozen during the winter, and you'll know they were picked in season.
2. Buy from the reduced price wrack
. Grocery stores strategically place reduced price wracks towards the end of the produce section. They usually wrap the produce in red mesh bags and reduce the price because they are older. But usually if they're older fruits and vegetables, that means they are then perfectly ripe and ready to eat. Most fruit in the stores are not ripe let alone fit to eat, so always check the reduced price wrack. As you can see in the photo below, I purchased star fruits and an eggplant, squash, and potatoes on the reduced price wrack.
3. Buy fresh first, and next best is frozen
. Always buy fresh produce seasonally, but if you see that frozen berries are on sale, you'll know they were at least picked and packaged frozen when they were at their ripest (when they were in season). Frozen fruits and veggies are healthier and cheaper alternatives to buying canned foods. I will say, though, I have never had luck ripening fresh peaches, and so I never buy them at the grocery store. I absolutely will not buy fresh peaches anymore because they'll stay hard for weeks and then turn brown to mold. I'll buy peaches canned or frozen, but there isn't anything better than a peach picked perfectly ripe off of the tree in your own backyard...
4. Buy sale items in bulk
. When pears are on sale in the fall and winter, buy the pears in bulk. Ask the produce guy or girl if they will give you a box of pears. If persimmons are on sale, buy in bulk. It's healthier to eat several pears or one fruit at a time anyway, because this is easy on the stomach to digest and assimilate nutrients. Also, it's better to buy more fruit than any other grocery item. When you have lots of fruit around you, you'll go to the fruit rather than the junk food snacks. If you find that the bulk fruit items you purchased are ripening too quickly, store in the refrigerator or freeze them in plastic bags/containers. I have more information on storing, ripening, and how to avoid fruits from ripening here: How to store, ripen, & keep from over ripening bananas (VIDEO)
5. Avoid expensive specialty and processed items
. I have found that all of these special "vegan" or "raw" snacks to be expensive for the quantity of the product. Vegan burgers, patties, a bag of Daiya brand vegan cheez, and nutritional yeast all cost nearly $4 dollars each to make a meal. For me, the least expensive items are those that are fresh produce that is seasonal.
6. And most importantly, grow a fruit and nut tree, and garden
. The best time to plant a fruit tree was 20 years ago, and the second best time is NOW! This year I probably produced thousands of dollars worth of food that I grew and ate for free!
garden harvest 2014
If you live off of government assistance, chances are it isn't enough money to survive on, but there are other means such foraging seasonal fruit and nuts, and dumpster dive for produce. Big corporations compact waste, so absolutely perfectly ripe produce gets thrown out. It's awful that our society produces so much food that it could feed everyone, yet the people that run corporations are so greedy, they won't donate the food! It angers me to my core that because of capitalism we have so much, but most of it's disposable or thrown out, and no food is given to those in need. I posted a video of John Oliver talking about Food waste, see post here: John Oliver explains America's food waste problem
Original post @ Raw & vegan grocery budget tips
-Cassie K, veganslivingofftheland.blogspot.com