Meal Planning for the Season

Meal Planning for the Season

You can save oodles of cash by planning your meals around the seasons.  Not only are certain fruits and veggies cheaper when they are in season, but you can also save money by taking advantage of the holidays as well.

You probably have a farmers market near you.  If you can get there when it is open, you can get some real deals on fruits and veggies that cost more at the supermarket (and probably aren’t as fresh).  What is fresh at what time depends on where you live, but unless you live in the Antarctic or the desert, you can probably find some fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies near you at some point in the year.  (You might even be able to find meat, eggs, and cheese!)

It may seem laborious at first, because most of us are not used to shopping this way (or eating this way for that matter), but once you get used to it, it really is worth the money you save and the health benefits.  Plan your meals around what is in season and on sale, and see if you notice a difference in your grocery bill!

Even if you can’t make it to a farmers market, try to learn which foods in your grocery store are in season, because usually, this will save you money.  There are many charts available online, like this one, showing you which veggies grow when and where.  There are also cookbooks that are arranged according to the season.

You might also want to take advantage of a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) if you can find one near you.  In a CSA, you pledge financial support to a particular farm, and then they give you food!  These are a lot like farmers markets in terms of cost and nutrition, but they can be more convenient.  Many of them offer delivery! 

If you want to really save money, you can plant a garden.  (Did I just hear you groan?)  A garden doesn’t have to be big, and it doesn’t have to be elaborate.  Just a single tomato plant on your front steps will save you money.  If you live in an apartment, you can hang a tomato planter out your window.  If your window doesn’t get any sun, find a garden co-op.  Many communities provide a space in which individuals can plant a few crops (and some of them even do it for free)!  Your family will certainly appreciate eating food you’ve grown yourself, especially if you have them help you pull the weeds.

You can also save money by stocking up on items during the holiday season, or immediately after.  Many grocery stores offer low prices on items that are quick to sell during a certain time of the year.  For example, in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, you can often get stuffing mixes, cranberry sauce, pie crusts, and gravy mixes for a real steal.  Then, in the days immediately following Thanksgiving, sometimes the deals get even better.  (This is hit or miss though because sometimes your grocery store really will manage to sell all of the stuffing.)