We’d love to buy all of our fruit and veggies at the farmers’ market, but let’s be honest, we’re usually just in the produce section at Walmart, trying to sort through what’s worth buying. Here are some tips for making sure you’re getting the most (and best) for your money when it comes to shopping for fruit and vegetables.
You’ve probably heard that food tastes best when it’s in season, but did you know that it’s also cheapest then, too? That’s because when a farm near you is harvesting it, the price doesn’t include the transportation from another country. When a harvest has been particularly good, expect deep discounts as distributors try to get rid of a product before it goes bad. Visit EatTheSeasons.com to find out what produce is in season in the US and Canada.
If you’re buying produce that is priced by the item rather than by the pound (such as a head of lettuce, lemons, or avocados), take advantage of the store’s scales and weigh them to find the heaviest one. This way, you’ll be sure you’re getting the most for your money. The same is true for pre-packaged bags of produce: weigh bags of carrots, apples, and potatoes to see which is the best value for your money—we’ve found a wide range of weights even though the package specifies one particular weight.
Don’t Dig for Corn
When corn is piled high in supermarket bins, go for the ears that are on top. Why? Corn gets rapidly less sweet the warmer it gets, and even the heat generated by all the corn on the top of the pile can make the corn on the bottom start to lose its deliciously sweet taste.
Avoid Puffy Bags of Lettuce
Buying a bag of pre-washed lettuce? Opt for the thinnest, most deflated bag you can find. Lettuce gives off gas as it ripens, and a puffy bag means it’s been sitting on the shelf for longer, and will go bad faster.
Look for Pale Patches
You might be inclined to avoid watermelon and other produce that has a giant pale patch on one side, opting instead for the “prettier” produce. But the truth is, a pale patch on one side of produce is a good sign: It means it laying in a field when it ripened. Pick these fruits and veggies and you’ll get sweeter, riper produce.
Avoid White-Topped Strawberries
Conversely, when shopping for strawberries, you should avoid ones that have white tops near where they were picked. For strawberries, this is a sign that they were picked before they were ripened, and unlike other fruit they won’t ripen off the vine.
Go Small for Citrus
When selecting limes or lemons at the market, go for the biggest you can find. They tend to be sweeter than their smaller counterparts.
Don’t Buy Frosted Vegetables
When shopping in the freezer aisle, avoid packages of frozen vegetables that have frost on them. It’s a sign that the food has thawed and refrozen, and a percentage of moisture has already been lost. You should also give bags of frozen food a quick squeeze before putting them in your cart. If the food is solid, it has thawed and refrozen, and should be avoided.
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