Even though I am a huge fan of coupons, I realize that it’s not for everyone—and that it shouldn’t be your only source of reducing your grocery budget. Back in June 2009, I wrote up a series called 31 Ways to Save On Your Grocery Budget (without coupons) and one of the things that I should have stressed even more then was to try to work things that are in season into your weekly menu plan.
Throughout the year, there are always certain fruits and vegetables that are in season at various times. And if you watch closely, you’ll see that those items will drop in price at the stores since they tend to be more abundant in supply. I wanted a source to send you to that would help you watch which items might be in season and I was very happy to find one on Epicurious that is a US Map that will tell you items not only by state, but also by month. It might be one that you’ll want to bookmark and check at the beginning of the month if you aren’t familiar with the seasonal schedule.
Not only is it great to work those items into your menu plan but they are great items to consider buying more of, if you have any wiggle room left in your grocery budget, so that you can Freeze/Can them.
I’m still learning which foods freeze well and how to can/preserve foods myself. I just try to learn a little bit more each year so I don’t get overwhelmed. Here are a few good resources to check out from your local library, though:
How to Freeze: Everything You Need to Know About Freezing – This one breaks out foods to where you can just flip to the item and read up on how to preserve it.
The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying and Pickling Fruits and Vegetables – This one is a great resource because it covers so many methods of food preservation.
Simply in Season Expanded Edition (World Community Cookbook) – This one is more of a recipe book for ideas on how to use those items that are in season.
You can check the map for your local area, but here’s what they project for being in season in April for Illinois:
Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Lettuce, Onions, Peas and Spinach.
I already took advantage of a hot sale on Asparagus at my local grocery store that was sold in a big bunch. We never would have finished it– but I blanched them, chilled them in ice water, let them dry and then threw them in a freezer bag so I can add them to a pasta dish, casserole or stir fry later. I reduced wasting food and I saved myself money down the road. And get this—I was able to do most of this process while I was waiting for some pasta to cook. Never underestimate the savings that can come from multi-tasking.
Another great thing you can do is to take any raw/uncooked vegetables that you have each night that are leftover from your recipes ( freeze them according to the proper directions) and save them in one container for a stir fry or soup later on.
I’ll share the seasonal items to watch for again next month. I’m hoping this will help you stretch your grocery money a little further.