Many consumers want to decrease grocery costs. But, there is one method frequently overlooked. In tandem with clipping coupons and comparative shopping for bargains, it makes sense to purchase produce in season. The shipping time via truck to the supermarket is factored into the total cost of the item—and the reason that produce grown and sold in California is less expensive than produce shipped from California to the Midwest or New England.
Best Vegetables and Fruits in Fall in New England
The fall heralds a decrease in the availability of locally-grown produce in New England (which has a short overall growing season). However, it is the optimal time to purchase pumpkins and butternut squash. Likewise, apples are in great supply from September through the end of October.
Pumpkins are typically associated with pie (as eaten traditionally at Thanksgiving). According to the Livestrong Foundation, pumpkin is an excellent source of Vitamin A—and one cup of cooked (mashed) pumpkin contains 70 mcg of this vitamin. Additionally, pumpkin is an excellent source of iron and riboflavin. However, an even higher source of nutrients are pumpkin seeds. Eating raw pumpkin seeds is a great source of fiber, as well as Vitamins E and K (per an online article by Louise Tremblay on the San Francisco Chronicle website, entitled “Benefits of Eating Raw Pumpkin Seeds”).
Harvested for thousands of years by Native Americans, pumpkins and butternut squash have been eaten in soups, stews, and as a simple side dish in lieu of potatoes or pasta. By using a food processor, cooled (previously boiled) pumpkin and butternut squash—with skins removed—can be pureed and quickly made into soup. Adding an onion, garlic, thyme, pepper, and salt (along with chicken or vegetable stock) is all that is necessary to quickly create a hearty soup.
Picking apples is a family pastime in New England in the fall. Some Massachusetts orchards cater to families with small children by including a baby animal “petting” area—as well as selling homemade cider doughnuts, pies, and caramelized apples.
How to Find Recipes that are Budget-Conscious
The United States Department of Agriculture in 2014 launched an online resource for people on limited budgets to locate recipes and plan nutritious meals at low cost within their ChooseMyPlate.gov website. This resource—entitled “Healthy Eating on a Budget”—includes several suggestions for cutting expenditures at the supermarket. One is simply to eat a meal before shopping, as the subconscious effect of hunger is to create a desire to buy more than otherwise. Another is to peruse weekly store flyers to determine sale items (and stock up on items frequently used).
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also offers recipes on its website that include cost per serving corresponding to each recipe.
Best Produce in Fall in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest
Beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower are all grown into October in the Midwest (according to the AboutFood website). These are also all available in the fall in the Pacific Northwest. However, shipping vegetables from the Midwest to New England is cheaper than shipping from the Pacific Northwest due to fuel costs.
The USDA report entitled, “How Transportation Costs Affect Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Prices” includes a table comparing prices of specific vegetables and fruits in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Boston—and clearly displays the price difference for the same vegetable or fruit.