The 3 Best Places to Buy Produce If You're on a Tight Budget, According to a Money-Minded Nutritionist

The 3 Best Places to Buy Produce If You're on a Tight Budget, According to a Money-Minded Nutritionist

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Heather McClees
Jun 26, 2018
(Image credit: Steve Debenport/Getty Images)

The biggest misconception about eating a balanced diet — full of fruits and vegetables — is that it's expensive. It really doesn't have to be! You just have to know where to shop. I've managed to pinpoint a few inexpensive (yet quality!) stores, and that's helped me save more than $500 in just the last year alone.

The 3 Places That Save Me the Most on Produce

I try to go organic as much as possible when shopping for produce and have found that Walmart, Aldi, and Lidl usually offer the most affordable options in just the right quantities. (I also do a monthly trip to Costco for bulk frozen fruits and vegetables.)

Related: A Nutritionist's 10 Favorite Costco Finds for $10 or Less

Before I go shopping, I check all weekly ads to see who has the best prices on what I know I need. I have found the easiest way to do this is to check all the ads on my phone through the Flipp app, which has all the circulars and sales in my area; they also have some coupons for each store.

Note: I've memorized the regular prices on some items I buy at my local stores, simply because I buy similar items week to week. Being knowledgeable about prices and staying consistent with my shopping trips have been the two best things I've ever done for helping me stay on a food budget besides going to multiple stores. This way, I'm ahead of my game because I already know if the advertised price is really a sale price, or if it's just in the ad because the store is promoting the product. It's okay if you can't do the same, I'm just sharing my method in case it ends up inspiring you!

Next, I check iBotta, my favorite rebate app, to see if they have any offers for the stores I'm going to that day. I've earned more than $100 in rebates from the app in the last few months alone, all on things I regularly purchase! You can redeem rebates after you shop, but I find it helps me strategize better if I check out the offers before I go shopping instead of after.

Then, finally, I go shopping!

(Image credit: Heather McClees | Kitchn)

Walmart

There's a Walmart basically a hop, skip, and jump up the road from my house and it's (usually) stocked with organic produce — especially if I go on the right days (that's Tuesdays and Fridays at my local store). Walmart tends to have the best prices, so I buy a good bit here each week.

I almost always get citrus (which last a long time in the crisper drawer), romaine, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, bananas, fresh herbs, celery, and cucumbers at Walmart. I also freeze some items to make them last even longer. I tend to spend $40 each week on produce at Walmart.

While I'm there, I also get fill-in items that I may need such as non-dairy milk (especially if I have a coupon or rebate!), herbal tea and coffee, baking items, whole-grain cereal or oatmeal, and sometimes organic frozen fruits and veggies if I need them in a pinch.

(Image credit: Heather McClees | Kitchn)

Aldi

Aldi has incredible prices on organic produce and, usually, if I can't find what I need at Walmart, I can find it at Aldi. My favorite things to buy at Aldi (especially if Walmart doesn't have them) are bananas, organic oranges, Medjool dates (my favorite healthy sweet treat), organic apples, and fresh leafy greens (which are seriously top-notch in terms of quality!). I usually leave Aldi spending $25 to $30 on produce, but it could be more if Walmart is lacking that week.

Aldi also has a great selection of other specialty items, too, so it's worth taking a lap just to see what's on sale. The only issue is that I have a to try my best not to buy every bargain I see — because buying things just because they're on sale doesn't help my bottom line.

(Image credit: Heather McClees | Kitchn)

Lidl

Lidl's prices are usually right in line with Aldi's, so most of the time I go to either one of those stores and not both. (It just depends on where I happen to be driving.) Lidl has a great selection of all the fresh fruit I could ever want and endless veggie varieties from local farms (which I just love!). Just like at Aldi, they have a great selection of organic produce, along with some specialty items I love.

Lidl is one of my favorite places to buy local cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and fresh herbs, along with some fruit as well. If I don't go to Aldi that week, I'll spend around the same thing at Lidl: $25 $30 each week.

(Image credit: Heather McClees | Kitchn)

Bonus: Sometimes Target

I'll be honest: Depending on the week, sometimes it's just easier (and still decently cheap) for me to shop exclusively at Target if they have Cartwheel deals for the exact groceries I need that week or if they're having certain sales I can't turn down.

Target has majorly upped its game in the produce department over the last two years. I often find great prices on apples, oranges, organic cucumbers, organic zucchini, and more. The hard part is just not spending the savings on cute pitchers or tea towels that I simply do not need. Weekly Target budget for food: $50 to $75.

Related: 21 Foods I Buy from Target to Help Me Eat Well on a Budget

Where do you shop for healthy fruits and veggies when you're trying to save money?

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