By Alexis Lardieri
OK granted we all know what and how we are supposed to eat—organic, raw foods, green vegetables, nothing frozen or processed, nothing that contains high fructose corn syrup or added preservatives, nothing high in sugar or fat, the list goes on. This is great in theory, but did we ever stop to think about the price tag? The more we start piling up on organic fresh produce, meats and seafood, the heftier the bill at the check out line. In a city where anything is possible, BN has searched high and low for the best deals on how you can get fresh organic and local produce for cheap and finally start eating healthy on a budget.
Introducing Erin Huffstetler – a Tennessee native who truly knows how to stretch her dollar. In the land of thrift stores and flea markets, Huffstetler searches for the best organic and local produce and stays true to her philosophy of frugal living, which is not that you do not have to live deprived, but that you can “simply live better for less.” Erin’s frugal living tips and tricks have been featured in numerous print and electronic publications including, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Woman’s Day, Woman’s World, and Parents. Erin holds two bachelor’s degrees in Writing/Communications and the other in Art – both obtained debt-free. However, Erin’s frugal education – didn’t come from the classroom, but rather years of yard sailing, curb shopping, and all-round penny-pinching. BN teamed up with the expert to truly learn how to bargain shop for the best organic, fresh, and local produce.
BN: How can you save money, but still buy organic?
EH: There are lots of ways to make this work…Find coupons for your favorite brands and products; hit the local farmer’s market (where the prices are usually cheap and negotiable); make bulk buys at warehouse stores or through sites like Amazon.com; and limit your grocery list to the basics as much as you can – fresh fruits, vegetables and grains will always be a better deal than processed foods.
BN: What abut if I want to embrace my true inner bargain hunter…How can I get produce for free?
• Forage for blackberries, mushrooms, nuts and other wild foods – you’d be amazed at what you can find – even in the city. If you’re just starting out, take a foraging class to learn the ropes. FallingFruit.org maintains an interactive map of known foraging spots in cities across the globe
• Plant perennial foods like strawberries, blueberries and chives on your balcony or if indoors near your kitchen window. After your first year’s investment, you’ll have a free source of food year after year
• Use neighborhoodfruit.com to find people in your neighborhood who have free fruit to share
BN: How does eating seasonally save money?
EH: Foods are cheapest when they’re in season, so if you stick to just-harvested
foods, you’ll ensure that you’re getting the best price and the best quality.
BN: What are the six dozen produce coming into season during the spring/summer months?
EH: This month (April), broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, lettuce, radishes and peas
are in season. Expect to find good deals on all of these foods. Here’s a complete list of all the
produce that will be coming into season over the next several months.
BN: Do you have any fun and innovative produce recipes you can recommend to our readers?
EH: Lots of people aren’t sure what to do with seasonal fare like greens, rhubarb,
rutabagas or green garlic, so I created a large collection of recipes around these things. You’ll
find my fresh foods recipe library here.
An important tip: Eating seasonally doesn’t have to mean only eating strawberries in June
and sweet potatoes in the fall. Learn how to freeze and preserve your favorite foods when
they’re in season, so you can enjoy them year round without having to pay a premium for
them. Here are all of my freezing instructions, my canning recipes, and my food storage tips.