Affordable and "Ugly" Produce
Last updated: March 2022
Eating healthy can feel like an expensive cost. If you have type 2 diabetes, then you know that eating fresh fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet! Luckily, there are certain ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into your diet for a fraction of the regular cost.
As someone who follows a plant-based diet, I eat a lot of fruits and veggies. The fruits and vegetables I buy are more affordable than packaged foods and animal proteins, but I am always looking for ways to lower my grocery bill. I am also very against food waste, and it is my goal to reduce the number of fruits and vegetables that end up in the trash. I have found a technique that accommodates my love for flavorful fresh produce, reduces food waste, and saves me money.
Finding affordable produce with type 2 diabetes
I love going to farmer's markets! The produce I get here tastes much more fresh and flavorful. It feels good to support a farmer that lives in my community. However, buying produce at the farmer's market can be more expensive. Large scale farms often receive subsidies from the government that allows their products to be more affordable for the consumer, while smaller farms you would find at the market are often skipped over.
Nonetheless, I was determined to purchase local, fresh, flavorful produce that didn't completely empty my wallet. As I scoured through stands, I stumbled upon the jackpot; a discount box! The box was filled to the brim with juicy heirloom tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, and vivid bell peppers. Upon closer examination, each piece of produce has something that was slightly wrong with it; some had bruising, some were slightly broken, others were discolored.
This didn't deter me at all. Most of the individual pieces of produce in the box were usable. I filled up a bag, and to my delight, the cost of the bag was half the price of what it normally would have been. At the market, these boxes are often labeled "discount box", "seconds", or "ugly produce". I have found boxes at different stands filled up with stone fruit, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, zucchini, and more!
Other options for produce
Sometimes your local grocery store or food co-op will offer discounted produce if it has flaws or if it is going bad. Often this produce will be discounted at a rate of 50-75% off! Look for these boxes at the end of aisles or sitting on a shelf in the produce section of the store. If you are not seeing anything, try asking the produce manager if they have any produce that they cannot sell due to its flaws. They may be willing to work with you and offer a variety box of different fruits and veggies at a discounted price.
There are also certain services that offer subscription boxes of flawed produce. Imperfect Produce and Misfits Market are two companies that send boxes of flawed produce straight to your doorstep for a discounted price.
What to do with ugly produce
This is the fun part! I love getting creative in the kitchen to reduce food waste. Making a sauce or soup is a delicious way to use up bruised or very ripe tomatoes. Roast beat up peppers and blend them to make a salsa. Try freezing bruised and broken peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots. You can also use stone fruits as a cobbler or crumble filling. With discounted apples, I often just cut out the "bad" part and eat the rest as it is. If you find other vegetables in the discount bin, you can also just cut out the "bad" part and use it how you normally would.
A healthy diet can be budget-friendly
Fruits and vegetables are apart of a healthy diet and should be eaten every day. Eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive, and there are certain tips and tricks to lower the cost of your grocery bill. Buying flawed produce from the farmer's market or your local grocery store is one way to lower the cost. Still curious about how you can eat healthily and stay within your budget? Read these articles: Budget-Friendly Healthy Eating and 4 Ways to Eat Healthy That Won't Bust Your Budget!
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?