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Cheap or Free Produce!

Updated on January 9, 2013

Kids Love Fruit!

Kids Love Fruit!
Kids Love Fruit! | Source

Top Methods To Obtain Cheap Or Free Produce

  • Home vegetable garden
  • Community gardens
  • Local farmer's market
  • Fresh produce delivery
  • Grocery stores
  • Catalina coupons

The hardest part about saving money at the grocery is eating healthy! Fresh fruit and produce will go on sale, but rarely have associated coupons. Couponing is an amazing and surprisingly easy way to save money. I am a stay at home Mom with 5 kids, ranging from 7 to 2. Who doesn’t need to save money? I have written a few hubs about when I started couponing, why I coupon and why I still coupon. Check them out!

But I asked myself, “What is the best way to get free or inexpensive fruit and produce?”

Home Vegetable Gardens

Home Vegetable Gardens
Home Vegetable Gardens | Source

Grow It Yourself: At Home Gardens

An at home garden is an option if you have a yard, good soil, a green thumb and patience! I try to grow a few veggies and some herbs each year. But, based on my attention to my garden (or lack there of), its size and my desire, I cannot rely on this option alone. My kids like bananas, too! I am not planting a banana tree!

Community Gardens

Community Gardens
Community Gardens | Source

Grow It Yourself: Community Gardens

Some yards don’t lend themselves to having a large enough garden to really put a dent in their grocery bill. What if you have the desire and skill to grow your own produce, but don’t have the space?

Another do it yourself option is community gardens.I was shocked to find 129 gardens when I put in my zip code into the locator tool on the site. The one closest to me started in 2011 and has 16 plots. There is associated contact information for each garden if you are curious about getting a plot, price per plot or when planting can start this year.

Put in your zip code. See how close one is to you!

Our Local Farmer's Market

I help put out signs for our local farmer's market
I help put out signs for our local farmer's market | Source

Farmer's Markets

Growing up, there was a farmers market about a half a mile from my house. This was a ritual every Saturday morning starting at 7:00 am. The regulars would be there every Saturday to get their farm fresh produce. Sometimes you could get fresh baked goods or flowers. One of my sisters got the flowers for her summer wedding from a contact at a Farmers Market.

http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/ has a market locator tool as well. I plugged in my zip code and found that there are 17 close to me. The site gave me where the closest market is, when (time and what months) and contact information.

I would not say that Farmer’s Markets always have the least expensive produce, but the produce is so fresh and you are doing your job to support your local farmer.

Fresh Produce Delivery

A few years ago, I went in with a friend on a home delivery service for produce. There are many options out there ranging from weekly deliver and weekly delivery including taking turns working on the local farm. I chose the weekly delivery option. The fruits and vegetables that we received were extremely fresh. The fruit was always gone the day we got it! The produce amounts were large. Often, I froze items that were so plentiful such as green beans, zucchini and corn. I enjoyed the convenience of the home delivery and looked forward to our cooler arriving each week. Try googling home delivery of local produce to see what options are near you! Greenbeandelivery.com is an option is you live in OH, IN or KY.

Grocery Store Produce

Grocery stores are available year round and are sometimes the easiest option. You can get what you need every day of every week of every year. Aldi has everyday low prices and great produce. The range of produce is less than a larger store, but the quality is high. I love their double guarantee policy. Check out Aldi, but remember, they only take cash and debit…no credit cards!

I also keep an eye on the sale prices at my local grocery stores and try to buy what is on sale. See if the store you shop has reduced produce early in the morning. Some do! Some additionally have reduced produce racks! It saves money and keeps us trying new fruits and vegetables!

What Are Catalina Coupons?

I have told you various ways to get produce and in some instances, at lower costs. But, how can you get them for free? Without growing them yourself, free is a challenge, but doable.

This is where my coupons come into play. I have been couponing for about a year. I try to pay attention to Catalina deals to keep the cost down on produce. Catalina coupons are the term used to describe the coupons or 'tickets' as my kids call them that you receive along with your receipt from the grocery store.

You thought those just magically or randomly kicked out of the machine when you checked out? They don’t! Many of the blog sites I follow will highlight the Catalina deals this week. I wrote a hub on my favorite couponing blog site, www.bargainstobounty.com. At the end of the weekly coupon matchups, they tell you the Catalina deals.

An example I used this week from bargainstobounty.com:

Buy 4 Mio Liquid Water Enhancer = $15.96
Buy 2 Meijer Water (24 pk, 16.9 oz) = FREE
Use 4 $1.00/1 Mio coupons = (-$4.00)
Pay $11.96 for all items, get a $3.00 checkout coupon valid on your next order.
Final cost: $8.96 for all 6 items ($1.49 each)

I love Mio. I put it in my water to make it less boring. I usually don’t buy bottled water, but in this case it was free. We usually take it on road trips and vacation is coming up. This was a stock up opportunity. I went on ebay and got 12 of the $1.00/1 Mio coupons for $2. I did the scenario 3 times this week. I ended up with 12 Mios that I intended to buy anyhow. I now have 6, 24 packs of water for free. And, I ended up getting 3, $3 Catalina coupons. Now I have $9 I can spend how I want! I plan to buy some produce!

Produce, Produce Everywhere!

Nothing is better for your children than learning to eat healthy. My kids are learning that a healthy lifestyle starts at home. We exercise together. We eat fresh fruits and veggies together.

Look at all the different options. What best suits your needs and lifestyle? Can you grow a garden at home? Maybe make a point to go to your local farmers market during the summer!

I choose to have a little garden at home. I will continue to go to farmers markets occasionally. I will frequent Aldi on a regular basis. I would love to explore the option of community gardens when my kids are a little older. I will absolutely continue to coupon, keeping my eye out for Catalina deals, and using that money towards free produce.

How will you buy your produce?

© 2012 Karen Lackey

How Do You Buy Your Produce?

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    • twinstimes2 profile image
      Author

      Karen Lackey 4 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks, Millionaire Tips. I love a bargain and I love eating fresh produce. I am going to put in a bigger garden at our house next year so hopefully we will have even more 'free' produce! I will have to check out your tips as well!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      I love getting a bargain, and you have provided great ideas on saving money with produce, the one place where the coupons are the most lacking. It is important to get fresh produce so these tips are very helpful. Voted up.

    • twinstimes2 profile image
      Author

      Karen Lackey 4 years ago from Ohio

      I published before the apprentice program. I never did coupons until I had a family. I never bought enough items and rarely planned ahead. With a family of eight, we are now more focused on saving money. I am excited at the prospect of having an awesome garden next year. Thanks for reading!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I don't know how I missed this when you first published it. I love growing vegetables, farmers' markets, etc. I hadn't heard of catalina coupons, though - thanks! I have to say, I usually don't really seek out coupons, but maybe it's time to start.

    • twinstimes2 profile image
      Author

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks again for reading, Kashmir! I wish I had an amazing garden. Fresh from the backyard always tastes better...I agree!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi twinstimes2, great well written hub full with great tips and advice to help save money and still eat healthy .I have made a garden in my yard for many years now, i save a lot of money and what ever i grow always taste better than store bought .

      Vote up and more !!!

    • twinstimes2 profile image
      Author

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      thanks for reading, RichardPac. Technically you can't buy coupons. I am paying for someone's time to clip them. :) However, I am a big fan of Catalinas! Hope you can get some great deals!

    • RichardPac profile image

      RichardPac 5 years ago from Sunny Florida!

      Thanks for the information on the catalina coupons. That was an awesome deal for the MIO products! U haven't purchased any coupons on ebay yet, but suspect I will after checking out the bargainstobounty site.

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