Tuesday, February 22, 2011

10 Things I Bought For Less Than $10 (total)

I live in New England. We're known for a few things here... beautiful foliage, snowy winters, a whole slew of Ivy League schools, and, oh yeah, a high cost of living.

I won't lie. Even though I grew up here, I was seriously concerned when I moved back here from the Midwest. How would this impact my grocery budget? Would I have to make huge changes?

Answer? No.

Groceries DO cost more here. Produce can be outrageous. That's why it's nice to have some tricks. And, rest assured, I didn't have to go nag or bargain with anyone to get these prices. (I tip my hat to those of you who haggle with the best of 'em but, me? No thank you...)

Here are ten things I picked up on Saturday for a total of $9.01...
  1. 5 lb organic carrots ($1.99)
  2. 3 lb organic apples ($2.04)
  3. 1 head organic lettuce ($.99)
  4. 2 mangoes ($.99)
  5. 3 lb grapes ($1.50)
  6. 6 lb bananas ($1.40)
  7. 6 limes, 5 lemons, and 6 navel oranges ($1.83)
  8. 2 lb strawberries ($1.37)
  9. 3 broccoli crowns ($1.08)
  10. 5 lb green bell peppers ($2.92)
How on earth did I score those prices? I shopped the "discount produce rack" which is, oddly enough, located next to the lobster tank in my store. Honestly, I've only encountered anyone else shopping there twice in all my trips. Could be because it's hard to find.

In case you're doing the math, those things actually add up to just over $16. By scanning my own groceries as I shopped, I saved about two dollars. I also had a $4 off any produce purchase of $15 or more coupon from a previous trip. Many grocery stores like to entice you to spend more money the next time with these coupons. Most, I just cast aside, but coupons for fruits and veggies are rare!

I didn't even know that rack was there for the first few months we lived here. I resigned myself to having to rely heavily on canned and frozen veggies since fresh were often cost-prohibitive. Now? As long as I keep an open mind, I can almost always fill our fridge (and some of our freezer!) with fresh fruits and veggies.

Wondering what's wrong with them? Sometimes, I have no idea. The lettuce had one brown edge on an outer leaf. The bananas were spotty. Two carrots were poking out of the bag. The grapes were in large part "loose" and no longer attached to their vine. The apples and citrus were absolutely gorgeous.

I do try to deal with my discount produce fairly quickly. If we're not going to eat it right away, I prepare it for freezing. Things like citrus, carrots, and potatoes (I often score fingerlings for less than a dollar a box!) give you more wiggle room.

In a state not known for great local deals, I save a ton by shopping off the discount produce rack. And that makes me- and my wallet- very, very happy.

When it's not gardening season, how do you save money on produce?

Linked to Top Ten {Tuesday}

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