We are often asked by Canadian Coupons community members where to find coupons to SAVE on fresh fruit and vegetables. While these coupons are not unheard of, they are really rare. In the past year, I’ve redeemed printable coupons for $.75 OFF a pineapple (two copies, they were SmartSource printables) and a handful of FPCs (free product coupons) for a FREE bunch or pint of strawberries from specially marked cereal boxes. Clearly, relying on coupons for produce savings is not realistic, and refusing to buy full price fruit could end in scurvy!!!
The price of fresh fruit can be shockingly high at times and this has given rise to the notion that feeding our families whole foods is more expensive than processed and prepared foods. This is not always the case and we’ve been able to stay well within budget this year when including 2 servings of fresh fruit in each of our children’s lunchboxes plus a 3rd and often 4th serving after school and/or as dinnertime dessert.
Here are 3 of the ways that I try to save on the price of fresh fruit in our house:
1. Price Match the lowest flyer price on fruit. I’m fortunate enough to live within walking distance to a Walmart and can easily pop into a Real Canadian Superstore when running errands in the city. Both of these stores have a Price Matching policy which means that I simply have to show the flyer price of any local competitor and they will honour that price. Even on fruit. HOT deals are often on page 1 of the flyer so I often know within minutes of receiving my flyer bag which price I’ll be paying for my fruit that week.
For a more accurate double check, I simply type the item into the search bar of Flyer on Fire and the cheapest price will show up on the top of the search list. Then I make sure I have either the paper flyer with me, or take a screen shot of the online flyer on my iPad using the Reebee app and I’m ready to flash the price to the cashier. I simply say “I’d like to Price-Match these items” to alert the cashier to hold off scanning/weighing the items before we’ve verified the new price.
Tip: I put all of my price-matching items on the belt first at the checkout so that a) I can really pay attention to the computer before fussing with packing b) anyone that might come into line behind me will still see a full cart and I can give them a headz-up that I might take a few extra minutes. If I left all of my price-matches until the end of the transaction, customers choosing the fastest lane might assume that I’m “practically done” and perhaps be more prone to frustration if my last 5 items are being price-matched and take an extra minute or two. I try not to price match more than 5 or 6 items in any trip but there is no limit as to the number of items that we can price match in any transaction. If you’ve traveled a distance and/or are not likely to get back to the store again before the end of the flyer week, PM your little heart out!
2. Buy early, mid and late in the sale week. We have a small kitchen and a small fridge. We don’t have room for 4 melons on the counter,for example, nor will we through it all before it over-ripens and/or we’re just plain sick of it! I try, therfore, to buy just enough for 1 or 2 servings of each fruit that is on sale (or that I’m price-matching) when the new flyer week starts (Thursday in Quebec, Friday in Ontario – I shop in both provinces). I’ll pop in again early in the week to buy a 2nd round of servings and then one last visit on the last day of the flyer sale. On that last trip, I sometimes get 2 servings of the fruit if I’m able to get some that are ready to eat now and some that will ripen in a few days’ time. It seems simple, but keeping to this rhythm really helps to space out our servings (avoiding strawberry overdose!) and keep our waste to a minimum.
Tip: don’t hesitate to ask your produce manager which days certain fruits or vegetables are due to arrive at the store: it’s my experience that they”re usually able to share the details right off the top of their head and are more than happy to do so.
3. Buy in Season. Most fruit comes down in price at one time or another during the calendar year. We enjoyed our easy peel clementines all winter, for example, and will just have to wait until they come down in price again before we start buying them on a regular basis again. Watermelons are due to come down any week now (yay!) and it won’t be long before we’re into autumn blueberries and apples on sale. If there are not enough sale prices in any given week to provide a diversity in fruits, sure, I’ll splurge on something full price (eek!) … I’m not going to make my family eat strawberries, grapes and bananas every day of the week. More often than not though, there are at least 5 or 6 different fruits on sale and we are able to make it through without any overdoses!
Tip: picking your own, or buying directly from the fruit producer in season at farmers markets is usually the least expensive option. Flying to the tropics to buy fresh bananas, however, makes slightly less economic sense pointed out our 7 year old daughter. Smarty pants!
Some things that I do NOT rely on to save money on fresh fruits and vegetables.
1. Clearance Rack. I’ve just not had luck when buying fruit or vegetables on the clearance rack (usually 50% OFF) which are marked down because they are “ready-to-eat” aka past their peak in terms of ripeness and shelf life. That being said, if I were going to be making a big batch of sauce or soup it would likely be just fine. I just never seem to find the right fruits/veggies for my needs on the rack but I do look every time!
2. Overage. Walmart will credit your transaction with the left-over value of any coupons for which the price of the item was less than the coupon’s worth. There are often items which turn out to be “money makers” and couponers who have multiple copies of coupons are able to earn enough money to offset the cost of their produce and deli, for example. I’m on the fence about how I feel about this practice when it’s conducted on “extreme” scale (hmmm, maybe good topic for an upcoming blog post!).
Even though there are not often Canadian Coupons for fresh produce, by sticking the 3 savings methods above, I consistently pay the lowest advertised price each week and keep our family eating a variety of fresh fruit. And you can bet that if a Canadian Coupon does come along for fresh fruit or vegetables, I’ll be making quite a ruckus over on the Canadian Coupons facebook page to make sure everyone knows about it!
Christa Clips ~ June 4, 2013Want more samples & coupons? Subscribe and we'll deliver the best samples & coupons to your inbox!