Quality Produce on a Budget: Challenges and Helpful Tips

fresh produce
Image via Flickr/ Marc_Smith

I shop the same grocery store for my produce as I do for my regular groceries, as I find it offers the freshest options around. (That is, when I can’t make it downtown to the farmer’s market or to my mom’s house for her very super awesome daily farmer’s market that boasts fruits and veggies I’ve never even heard of!)

Therefore, this article about Walmart’s declining produce in some stores caught my interest. It’s something that could happen to any store that didn’t keep enough help on board to stock the shelves as often as necessary.

The problem with produce, of course, is its short shelf life. Unlike, say, a can of beans, fresh fruits and vegetables won’t last for years or, even weeks. If produce gets shipped to a store but then not stocked, its lifespan decreases even faster, which means once it DOES hit the bins it may not be as fresh as it should be – or as we would want it to be if we were shopping.

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Since I don’t shop for produce at the store I can’t say whether I notice this happening or not, but I wondered if our readers noticed any changes in the quality of produce at their local Walmart and, if so, how that might have changed your shopping habits. Or have you noticed changes in the produce at whatever store you shop?

Other Walmart shoppers have noticed a decline. According to a survey done in correlation with these findings, only 48% of people spoken to believe in the quality of the produce at the superstore giant, while 71% of Safeway shoppers are confident that its produce is fresh.

And what happens if you do notice a decline? Would you take the time to travel from one store that has lower prices to another that has better produce if your main store didn’t have the freshest available? Or would you give up shopping at that store altogether? Does the quality of produce matter as much to you as the price of the rest of the groceries?

{ MORE: Shopping with Your Baby Doesn't Have to be a Nightmare. Here's How! }

On another note, if you are shopping for fresh produce, here are a few tips:

  • Mold. I have a problem at times when purchasing berries in containers, as they can contain hidden mold. Always flip the plastic container over to ensure the contents are fresh. Or, even better, purchase these types of fruits from a market that doesn’t put them in plastic containers, so you can choose the ones that look the best.
  • Buy local. Not only is less shipping better for the environment, but it sheds time off of the picking-to-consuming time. And if you can buy from a farmer’s market in your area, you are supporting local growers at the same time!
  • Consider what continues to ripen. Items like pears, peaches, and bananas will continue to ripen after you buy them. So you might buy a few that are ready to eat and a few that are a few days away from eating time. You can always create a quicker ripening time by putting the foods in a brown bag.
  • Learn how to spot the freshest fruit. Here is an awesome guide for those fruits and veggies you probably regularly buy. Take a look at it before heading to the store to make sure you are getting the freshest produce out there.

{ MORE: 4 Sweet Spots to Shop for Your Tot When You Don't Want to Leave the Couch }

Do you have a few tips of your own to share? We'd love to know.

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Quality Produce on a Budget: Challenges and Helpful Tips

Kathy Murdock works as a full time writer and web designer. Recently planted in the middle of the deep south from the busy streets of Los Angeles, when she's not coding Wordpress websites or writing about women in business and thrifty motherhood, Kathy spends time photographing alligators, playing with her family, and running. ... More

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8 comments

  1. Elfie says:

    I don’t buy produce at Walmart because it either is/goes bad right away and I know they have had a rat problem in the one here. I go to a separate store for produce but it’s right by my house.

  2. marie says:

    I wont buy stawberries at walmart anymore, they are always moldy!

  3. JaneAndrews says:

    I have definitely noticed a decline in Walmart produce! Their produce is often moldy or bruised, and even the items that aren’t just don’t seem like good quality products. I have started shopping at WinCo; not only do they have really good, fresh produce (that looks and tastes super fresh and healthy), but their prices are way better than Walmart!

  4. nichole says:

    ya know, ive noticed aldi here in detroit michigan also has fresher produce then the other local stores, aside from randazzels fruit and veggy market… and krogers comes in second… i dont really shop anywhere else for produce now, besides farmer markets.

  5. nydia rivera says:

    Farmers market for organic fruits and veggies that have edible skin. Other items I buy at the market, no big difference noted and cheaper.

  6. Aiden says:

    Farmers market have great quality produce

  7. My local Aldi market has the freshest produce in Athens Ga in my opinion. Kroger comes in a close second and then Super Walmart.

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