- Keeper of the Home - http://www.keeperofthehome.org -

How to Take Advantage of Clearance Produce

[1]

Written by Erin Odom [2], Contributing Writer

Since this season is all about incorporating more veggies into our diets [3] and eating from our pantries and freezers [4], I thought it would be a prime time to share one of my favorite frugal grocery shopping tips: how to take advantage of clearance produce.

You can stretch your weekly produce allowance a lot further if you check out the marked-down, overripe fruits and veggies!

I actually map out my grocery trips to stop at the clearance shelves and bins first. Most stores have these, and if you’re not sure if yours does, don’t be afraid to ask the store manager what they do with the overripe produce that isn’t at its prime but is not bad either. By taking advantage of these deals, you can shave up to 50-75% off your produce budget!

[5]

Image by Wonderlane [6]

However, there are limits to what you can do with clearance produce. Keep these important tips in mind:

Make a Quick, Mental Plan Before Buying

I’ve made the mistake far, far too many times of buying too much clearance produce. While 5 pounds of mushrooms for $2.00 may sound great at the time, if they all go bad before you can use them, then it’s $2 wasted.

While I scour the clearance produce shelves, I try to form a mental plan of what I will do with the items.  Some clearance produce items are eaten fine as is, but many times they make the mark-down racks because they may have a bruise or be extra soft, etc. Can I turn the bruised apples into applesauce? [7]Can I cook these soft tomatoes into a yummy pasta sauce? [8] Can I freeze the browned bananas to use later in smoothies? [9] I find that without this plan, my “great buys” may buy themselves time rotting in my fridge only to be tossed in the compost or trash can.

[10]

Image by amberdegrace [11]

Be Willing To Change Your Meal Plan

In her Plan It, Don’t Panic meal planning eBook [12] (which is 25% off right now!), Stephanie stresses the benefits of making a flexible meal plan. This is key when taking advantage of clearance produce.

If you’ve planned on baking chicken tenders [13] with a green bean casserole [14] that night but spy a big bag of lettuce for 50% off, can the green bean plans and serve grilled chicken salads [15]instead! Move your night’s original meal onto the next night.

Know Your Produce’s Typical “Lifespan”

Believe it or not, there are actually a few produce items that will keep long past the point where they make it to the clearance shelves. Of course, the sooner you eat these items, the more nutritional value you will consume. It’s important to know which items will last longer than others–which foods can be stored in the fridge, frozen or used immediately, or used up or lost altogether.

Store in the Fridge

Don’t be scared to let these sit in the fridge a few days if you don’t already have a plan for them:

[20]

Image by Calvert Cafe & Catering [21]

 

Eat or Freeze

You should either eat or freeze these items the same day you purchase them.

Use It or Lose It

There are a few items that you really cannot freeze–and will not last in the fridge long either:

How to Take Advantage of Clearance Produce {Keeper of the Home}

How do you take advantage of clearance produce?

Top Image by Roberto Verz [35]