Save Money on Groceries

Buying in bulk and freezing or canning fruits and veggies are great ways to save money on groceries and enjoy better food besides!

| August/September 2010

Having a garden and putting by our own food is the ideal for which many of us strive. It’s the optimal way to save money on groceries; the food source doesn’t get any more local, the cost is low, the flavor is incredible, and the carbon footprint is not much more than a muddy footprint on your doormat. But it's not the only way.

Shopping at Local Farmers Markets

Not everyone has the time or resources to tend a big garden, so we wondered: What if you bought your produce in season at a farmers market and preserved some of it for winter use?

To find out whether you’d still save money, take a look at the Organic Fruits and Veggies: Store-Bought vs. Home-Preserved chart, which compares the cost of canning or freezing produce bought in bulk at local farmers markets with the cost of buying canned or frozen organic vegetables at the supermarket. We found that buying at the farmers market and preserving at home yield substantial savings.

Many canned foods show a savings of 25 percent, while the best deals can save you as much as 75 percent. For frozen produce, the numbers are even better, with many of the home-preserved foods saving you 50 to 80 percent over the store-bought versions!

To get the best prices, always buy produce when it’s at the height of the season. Tomatoes in early summer cost far more than they would in August or late summer, and their cost will rise again when the season winds down. Try shopping the farmers market at the end of the day, and seek out farmers who have a surplus of something they would rather not cart home. Or, talk to farmers about special prices on surplus produce when it becomes available.

Is It Worth the Effort?

Preserving your own food requires some labor, but you can reduce the workload and make it fun by working with friends or family — you could even throw a freezing or canning party. And there’s another benefit to home food preservation: Looking at a pantry full of one’s own home-canned food is incredibly satisfying. To find a local farmers market, community supported agriculture program, or farms near you that sell direct to customers, visit Local Harvest.

Estes Majors
6/19/2012 4:13:13 PM

I just bought a box of peaches at the Farmers Market, I should get a cooker full of canned fresh peaches , plus the pealings are a plus, because after they are washed good, put them on to boil, after they are boiled down some , strain the juice off for jelly, then the peelings can be sweetened and some spices, cooked down, canned, and winter time have the best stuff for fried pies you have ever eaten!

9/13/2010 9:36:29 AM

Although I do buy many foods in bulk, I find it can be a trap. Unless you have a large family, a 50 lb bag of anything is probably going to spoil before it gets eaten up--or thrown away because you can't stand the sight of it another minute! And I'd like to know what buying club the Maine resident shopped at. I've been a member of both Costco and BJ's, and neither of them offers things like brown rice, beans, whole grain flour, or organic peanut butter in bulk. Chips, soda, crackers, cookies, adulterated PB, and other things we don't really need, yes, but even those are limited to a few, often less desirable, national brands. I get much better deals at my local coop, where most packaged goods are more expensive but most bulk items are cheaper. Dollar stores are another good resource, especially for canned goods. Even meats can usually be found at comparable prices and MUCH better quality at small local groceries, which I feel good about supporting.

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