Are you on a tight budget and need to make that most of the grocery money that you have for the month? This article features my very favorite frugal produce that can be purchased on a budget during any time of year.
Frugal Produce to Buy on a Tight Budget
We’ve come to the part of the year when fresh fruits and vegetables are just about as expensive as they can get. It can be frustrating when you are on a tight budget but you also want to ensure that your family has fresh food to eat.
Even though we preserve food through the summer, fresh frugal produce is still a staple in most diets. Someday I hope that our family can be as self-sufficient as possible and have a very good cold storage area, but until then, we will still need to buy some produce throughout the winter.
Below you will find my favorite frugal produce to buy when I need to stick to a tight grocery budget. I hope this list will be helpful to you as you plan your meals and grocery shopping trips!
Carrots are probably one of our all-time favorite frugal vegetables to buy. They can be used in so many different recipes and eaten raw for snacks. Our favorite way to make them is to cut them into “fries” and roast them in olive oil and salt in the oven. SO good!
Here are some other yummy frugal recipes using carrots:
I look for whole carrots to be around $0.60 per pound. We rarely buy baby/diced/shredded carrots because of the price.
Cabbage is something that we’ve been eating more of lately because I’m discovered how much fun it is to shred it and add it into meals! We like to add it into stir-fry since that’s already a pretty frugal meal when you are using whatever veggies you have.
Here are some frugal recipes using cabbage:
I will buy cabbage when it’s under $0.50 per pound. You will find the best deals on cabbage during the early spring but you can usually buy it for a low price per pound year-round.
What would a good frugal pantry be without a healthy stockpile of onions? Of course, onions aren’t something you generally eat whole, but they sure add a huge amount of flavor to recipes. They can pack a big punch of flavor to even the simplest recipes.
I look for onions that are under $0.50 per pound. If you have a cool place to store onions, you will find the best deal on them to be buying 10 pounds or more at a time.
I will be honest, a few years I barely ate anything made out of cauliflower. Now I can hardly go a day without it! Cauliflower has become a staple in our home because it’s versatility.
I couldn’t find any recipes I have here on Little House Living that feature cauliflower, but usually, we use it in place of rice or I add it riced to soups. Of course, it also makes a yummy snack when eaten raw with Ranch Dressing.
We buy cauliflower by the head and try to pay under $2.50 per head.
Celery is another frugal staple along with carrots that should be in every household. Even if it’s just for a soup base. I think I probably start almost every soup I make with a blend of chopped carrots, celery, and onions!
Here are some other frugal recipes I have that use celery:
Celery is usually sold by the bunch and I like to find it for less than $1 per bunch. I usually do not buy celery hearts unless they would be close to or cheaper than my regular celery price.
Along with onions, potatoes are a must-have in any frugal pantry! On this list, potatoes will probably have a price that fluctuates the most since they are not in season in the middle of summer. But for the majority of the year, you should be able to find inexpensive potatoes.
Here are some yummy frugal recipes we love that use potatoes:
- Roasted Vegetable Soup
- Homesteading Tater Salad
- Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes
- Olive Oil Baked Potatoes
Depending on if you buy organic or non-organic potatoes, look for them to be $0.50 or less per pound. Like onions, the best deals on potatoes will be found when buying large amounts at one time, 25lbs+.
Turnips & Radishes
Turnips are something else that we’ve been trying to eat more of lately. I’ve found that they are an excellent addition to soups, especially when you have some pickier eaters in your family.
Here are some recipes to try using turnips and radishes:
Look for turnips that are under $1.50 per pound. You may be able to find them much cheaper than that, but that’s the lowest I’ve found in our expensive area.
I love lettuce so I’m thankful that I can find it for a great price all year around. Lettuce is a quick and simple side dish or can be a full main course when topped with other yummy things.
Here are some of our favorite recipes that use lettuce:
The price of lettuce will depend on the variety of lettuce that you like to buy. It can generally be found for $1 or less per head, organic or non-organic.
Sweet potatoes are another big staple in our home and we eat them just about every day. I love them added to a simple hash for a quick breakfast or lunch.
Here are some other frugal sweet potato recipes we enjoy:
Look for sweet potatoes to be less than $1 per pound.
If you are interested in learning the average price for other frugal vegetables and fruits, check out the USDA website here.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that I did not include fruits on this list. The main reason is that fruits tend to vary more in price based on where they are purchased and what time of year they are purchased. For example…watermelon is one of the cheapest fruits to buy per pound. But of course, that’s in the summer…not in the middle of January! (At least, not in South Dakota!)
Tips on Finding Frugal Produce
- If you are able to grow your own produce, you will be able to get the most frugal produce possible. However, for those that can’t grow their own or don’t have the proper storage for all these things all winter long, I hope this list will be helpful.
- Watch your local farmer’s markets. Some areas have them year around. Here are my best tips for making the most of the farmer’s market.
- Trade skills or other things for produce if you have next to nothing to spend. Learn how to Barter here.
- Shop only the loss leaders. If you live close to a town, this can be a good option. Shop only the items on the front page of the weekly advertisements if possible.
- Frozen vegetables can be a good frugal option when fresh are not available but be sure and double check the prices per pound (on the edible parts). The items on this particular list are usually cheaper when purchased fresh.
- If you are concerned about buying organic or non-organic produce, be sure and reference the Dirty Dozen list.
Want to save time and money on your monthly grocery budget? Meal planning is the way to go! If you don’t already have a meal planning routine that works for your family, you need to check out my ebook, Meal Planning Made Simple. Even if you’ve tried (and failed) at meal planning before, you can find a system that will work!
Every region has different frugal vegetables and frugal produce based off of what is grown in the area and what has to be brought in from far away. I’m looking forward to seeing your comments on this article! Please share what are the most frugal vegetables you can buy and where you live.
Need even more ways to save money on groceries? Here are 12 Simple Ways to Save on Groceries that you might not have thought of yet!
This article on Frugal Vegetables was originally posted on Little House Living in January 2019. It has been updated as of February 2020.