8 Secret Tips for Buying the Best Produce at the Supermarket

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.

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
3-minute read

Go seasonal

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.

Weigh  in

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.

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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 was 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.

For more tips for cooking and food from all over the internet, check out our In the Kitchen board on Pinterest. 

About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.