The price of some tomatoes has doubled in the past week. Cucumbers and bell peppers are probably more expensive and scarce on your grocery store shelves. There is a “veggie drought,” as Time puts it, brought on by freezing temperatures in the regions that grow these vegetables in the winter. This drought is expected to last through early April.
With higher prices and a shortage that will probably increase over the next couple of weeks, what can you do to get vegetables on the table without breaking the bank? Here are some ideas:
- Stock up on frozen vegetables before the prices get higher. The prices may have already gone up, but chances are they will get higher in the coming weeks. Frozen vegetables, while not ideal, are still good choices. If they are frozen soon after harvesting, they retain the majority of their vitamins and minerals. In fact, since most out-of-season fresh vegetables need to be shipped from so far away, they sometimes lose a many of their nutrients before they reach your table. Sometimes, frozen is better in winter.
- Watch your waste. Use up all the vegetables in the crisper before you buy new ones. If you have to eat broccoli three nights in a row, so be it. Don’t throw your money in the garbage can with those expensive, out-of-season vegetables.
- Go meatless more often. What does going meatless have to do with the vegetable shortage? Meat is one of the most expensive items in your grocery cart. If having tomatoes or bell peppers in February is important to you, skip the meat and spend your money on the vegetables.
- Find out where the manager’s specials bins are in your produce section. Many produce sections of grocery stores have bins or shelves, often in a corner somewhere, with produce that is very ripe or close to its sell-by date. This produce is usually marked down significantly. It’s hit-or-miss, but you can get some great bargains in that section. Just remember that what you buy usually needs to be eaten in a day or two.
- Start your vegetable garden as soon as possible. In many regions, gardeners can start planting hearty vegetables and herbs in March. By growing what you can as soon as possible, you’ll have your own supply of fresh vegetables and herbs. If you do need to dig deep in your pockets to purchase a tomato or two, it won’t sting as badly because the many of your other vegetables will be coming straight from your own garden by April.
Any other ideas on how to live through this veggie drought?