Going to the grocery store keeps getting more expensive.
With food prices increasing by 11.4% in the US over the past year, shoppers are keen to find the cheapest foods on the shelves. While consumers have cut back on grocery spending, you can cut only so much. “Food, at its basic level, is not discretionary,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, told CNBC. “That’s the challenging aspect of the circumstances we are in.”
In-Season Produce Can Save Money and Boost Your Health
While fresh produce prices have undoubtedly increased this year, nutritional expert Stephanie Yates from Bulk.com reveals a handy tip for saving money and staying healthy.
According to Yates, eating seasonal produce not only tastes better but it’s also lower in price than other fresh goods that aren’t easily sourced at this time of year.
“Understanding seasonality can be useful when planning meals ahead or budgeting for weekly shops. However, it can be difficult to know exactly what is in season and for how long,” she said. “A simple way to keep up with what’s in season is keeping an eye on the prices of produce in stores. When the prices drop, that’s usually a sign that the food is coming into season, whereas high prices are a good indicator that the food is out of season.”
What Foods Are in Season During Autumn?
As we move into Autumn, if you’re looking for fruits, opt for apples, pineapples, and kiwi fruit, as not only will they be at their cheapest, they’ll also be much brighter and taste better as they haven’t traveled long distances before reaching your plate.
When it comes to vegetables, look out for price drops in sweet potato, mushrooms, squash, and beets which are all in season during Autumn. It’s no wonder many favorite fall recipes incorporate many of these foods.
Benefits of Eating Seasonally
According to the nutritional experts at Bulk.com, eating in-season has many benefits beyond just saving money.
For example, eating fresh, ripe produce optimizes the concentration of certain nutrients as many nutrients in fresh produce decline over time. Seasonal food will also appear much brighter and vibrant in color, often more plump than non-seasonal produce, which can often look a little lackluster. The variety of eating seasonal produce also provides multiple health benefits due to consuming a wider variety of different nutrients.
Seasonal food is also fresher and naturally at its best, so it tends to have much more flavor. Fresh, seasonal produce which hasn’t traveled as far tastes better because it wasn’t selectively bred for a longer shelf-life and transportability. When produce is grown and picked in season, it tastes much fresher, riper, sweeter, and more delicious.
Eating in-season reduces the energy and associated carbon dioxide emissions required to grow and transport out-of-season produce. When you buy seasonal produce, you help to reduce the demand for out-of-season produce, which involves shipping/importing from other countries. Avoiding imported food means less transportation, fuel, refrigeration, and irradiation of produce.
Other Ways to Save Money on Groceries This Fall
Besides eating in season, there are many other ways to fight inflation and save on your monthly food bill.
Whether it’s finding the cheapest grocery store near you, such as Aldi or Trader Joe’s, or buying generic items instead of name-brand, you can save a lot of money by comparison shopping without sacrificing quality. Many stores like Aldi are less expensive than traditional grocery stores because they carry mainly store-brand products and keep operations lean.
Another idea to save money is shopping sales and buying in bulk. Many items go on sale on a somewhat regular basis. For example, there is almost always a cut of chicken, pork, or beef on sale on any given week. If you have extra freezer space, plan ahead and stock up on low-priced protein. That way, you can always buy what’s on sale, not what you need for meal planning that week.
On the flip side of watching in-store sales, getting money back on every purchase is another way to control your budget. Ibotta and Fetch are two popular coupon apps that help you earn cash back for scanning receipts or using digital coupons. Gone are the days of scouring the newspaper to clip coupons. Digital apps make it easy to save money on things you were going to buy anyway.
Back to Basics
With no signs of backing down, food inflation hits consumers where it hurts most – their daily necessities. Knowing which foods are in season allows you to eat healthy while still balancing the budget.