Living a healthy lifestyle starts with what you eat. Many people transforming their diets look to natural or organic foods, particularly produce. Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients and contribute to your well-being, so it's good that you're interested in shopping for these items.

However, fresh produce has a reputation for being expensive. And while you can drop your entire paycheck on organic superfoods from a high-end grocery store, you don't have to. Here's how to save money on produce while still getting the healthy foods you need:

Get Your Garden On

The cheapest way to acquire and sustain produce is by growing it. Seeds are affordable– usually only a couple of bucks a pack– and they produce plenty of fruits and veggies. Of course, if you live in an apartment, you probably don't have much green space, if any at all. But that doesn't rule out gardening.

How to Save Money on Produce for a Healthier Lifestyle - Get Your Garden On

Choose produce you enjoy eating that thrives in containers. These include peppers, zucchini, peas, and tomatoes. Place your containers in an area outside of your apartment that gets sunlight. If you don't have a private balcony, you can use hanging pots or planters you attach to railings.

Before long, you'll be able to pluck your produce from outside and get cooking!

Trade Your Surplus

If you do garden (in a community garden or in your own yard), you've probably noticed that you have tons of some items and hardly any of others. Fortunately, you can trade produce that you have way too much of for things you either don't grow or want in excess.

How to Save Money on Produce for a Healthier Lifestyle - Trade Your Surplus

RipeNearMe is an app that allows you to see who's growing what near your apartment. Register your plants and post them so other users can request your produce. And, check out what people have available for trade.

Near me, I've seen a bunch of strawberries, and many gardeners are giving them away for free! RipeNearMe is a great way to get free food and prevent your produce from spoiling if you don't eat it.

Avoid Bagged Produce

You've probably seen salad mixes and other packaged fruits and veggies in the produce aisle, right? Well, stay away from them! The convenience of having prewashed, portioned, and sometimes cut produce will cost you!

How to Save Money on Produce for a Healthier Lifestyle - Avoid Bagged Produce

Not only is packaged produce pricier, but it also tends to wilt faster, causing you to waste more money. Stick to the items you have to wash and cut yourself– these are often sold by weight or quantity, like a head of lettuce.

Get Rid of Water

Sometimes, the produce section can feel like a rainforest. Those little misting jets coat everything in water on a timer to wash the fruits and veggies. While this keeps produce fresh, it can add weight to the things you buy.

How to Save Money on Produce for a Healthier Lifestyle - Get Rid of Water

If the food you're planning to purchase is sold by weight, shake off the water before checking out. That way, you're not paying for water weight.

Shop Frozen

Frozen fruits and veggies save money by reducing waste. Unless you eat lots of produce daily, it can go bad before you get a chance to eat it, especially if you live alone. Frozen produce, on the other hand, will keep, ensuring you don't waste a single berry or leaf. Even if frozen is a little more up front, you could save money by not throwing out wilted produce.

How to Save Money on Produce for a Healthier Lifestyle - Shop Frozen

Frozen produce is also great because it's smoothie ready. Instead of watering down your morning green smoothie with ice, just use frozen produce!

Pro Tip: If you have fresh produce that you're worried will go bad, stow it in a zip-top bag and freeze it!

Visit Local Markets

Farmers markets carry produce aplenty, so head to yours when it's open. Before you grab the nearest bunch of kale, however, check the price. Many farmers markets do have cheap produce, but some stalls aren't much better than the grocery store. Know how much produce costs where you buy groceries and compare it to farmers market prices.

How to Save Money on Produce for a Healthier Lifestyle - Visit Local Markets

Get the cheapest item, no matter where it's from. I know the farmers market in my neighborhood tends to be pricey, with organic and unique items. I stopped going when I learned I could actually save by sticking to my grocery store.

Compare Stores

Some grocery stores carry relatively affordable produce– think Aldi and Trader Joe's– while others are pricier. Check out different locations near you to see who has the best deals. You can also ask your friends and neighbors where they go.

How to Save Money on Produce for a Healthier Lifestyle - Compare Stores

I was shopping the other day when another customer and I started talking. He suggested going to a grocery store down the street for produce. However, according to him, the one we were at had better beer prices (also important). You never know who has insight into savings!

Read Sunday Ads

If you get a newspaper, scour it on Sundays. On this day, stores put ads in the paper showcasing deals for the coming week. You can see if any produce is going for a bargain and head to the store during the week to get it. If you don't want to buy a newspaper, consider splitting the Sunday delivery with a neighbor or friend. That way, you both can look at the ads and not pay a full subscription price.

How to Save Money on Produce for a Healthier Lifestyle - Read Sunday Ads

Saving money on produce is totally doable. With these tips, you'll be getting more fruit and veggies in no time!

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