These Are the Best and Worst Deals in Your Grocery Store’s Produce Section

If you want to stop wasting money at the grocery store, then taking a close look at what you buy in the produce section is a smart way to start. There are so many options available to you when you shop for fresh vegetables and fruits. But what’s a good deal? What’s not?

We have the inside scoop for you on the best and worst deals in your grocery store’s produce section.

1. Apples

Woman washing fruit

Apples are usually a great deal. | LuckyBusiness/iStock/Getty Images

  • Best deal or worst deal? Best

The Kitchn counts apples as one of the best deals you can find in the produce section at your local grocery store. Bagged apples are typically your best deal, since they often cost less than loose apples. This portable fruit makes a healthy and easy snack. And you can also enjoy cooking or baking with them at home.

Next: This vegetable is a convenient, but expensive, buy. 

2. Baby carrots

Buy whole carrots instead of baby carrots. | William87/iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • Best deal or worst deal? Worst

The Kitchn reports that baby carrots number among the worst deals you can find in the produce section. Whole carrots cost about 25 cents per serving, while prepared carrots cost 41 cents. That’s a big difference. However, you could still make the argument that baby carrots are worth buying. They may not be a good deal, but if the convenience means that you regularly pack — and eat — them for lunch, you may want to keep them on your grocery list.

Next: Try not to buy this vegetable in bags. 

3. Bagged lettuce

Shredded lettuce salad

Lettuce | Naked King/iStock/Getty Images

  • Best deal or worst deal? Worst

The Kitchn advises that if you like iceberg lettuce, you should buy it whole, not bagged. The same goes for romaine. It typically proves much cheaper to buy a head of lettuce, chop it up, and use it for your salads throughout the week. Pre-shredded lettuce can oxidize and go pink at the edges, which never looks appetizing, and it often tastes different from freshly cut lettuce, too. Plus, you’ll save a lot of money by taking the five minutes to chop your lettuce yourself.

Next: On the other hand, you want to buy this kind of produce bagged. 

4. Bagged onions

Closeup of onions on white rustic wooden background

Onions on white rustic wooden background | iStock.com/Nedim_B

  • Best deal or worst deal? Best

If you go through a lot of onions, you’ll want to buy them in bags. The Kitchn reports that the mesh, multi-pound bag usually proves cheaper by the pound than loose onions. Plus, the onions themselves often come in smaller, more manageable sizes. Onions will also keep for at least two to three weeks in your pantry or even four weeks in the refrigerator. So you don’t have to rush to use them up, even if you’re cooking for just one or two people.

Next: This fruit is a great deal. 

5. Bananas

bananas

Bananas | LightFieldStudios/Getty Images

  • Best deal or worst deal? Best

The Kitchn also recommends stocking up on bananas the next time you find yourself in the produce section. Bananas cost an average of 29 cents per serving, which makes them an affordable snack or addition to your meal. Plus, they’re portable and easy to peel wherever you go. If you buy a bunch and notice them starting to get overripe, you can also freeze them or bake them into banana bread.

Next: This vegetable may not be worth buying whole. 

6. Butternut squash

Baked Butternut Squash

Butternut squash | bhofack2/ iStock/ Getty Images

  • Best deal or worst deal? Worst

Even people who love butternut squash probably don’t love the arduous process of peeling and cutting one. That’s why The Kitchn points to a whole butternut squash as one of the worst deals in the produce section. Sure, it costs extra to buy a pre-cut butternut squash. But that might be worth it, depending on what else you need to cook. And if you’re making soup, it’s a better deal to buy frozen butternut squash instead.

Next: Buy this vegetable instead of lettuce. 

7. Cabbage

Fresh healthy bio fruits and vegetables in grocery shop or supermarket

Buy cabbage instead of lettuce. | encrier/iStock/Getty Images

  • Best deal or worst deal? Best

Kitchen Stewardship reports that cabbage is one of the best vegetables you can buy in the produce section. It costs well under $1 per pound, and the per-pound price typically compares very favorably with lettuces. Plus, you can either eat it raw or cook it — something that can’t be said for lettuce. It can also last for about two weeks in your refrigerator, which means you’ll find it easier to avoid wasting it or watching it go bad.

Next: This fruit is one of the most expensive things in the produce section. 

8. Dragon fruit

Fresh dragon fruit slice and cubes on wooden table

Fresh dragon fruit slice | Dokmaihaeng/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

  • Best deal or worst deal? Worst

If you’re looking to add some fruit to your diet, dragon fruit isn’t the way to go. The Street puts this fruit on its list of the priciest items in the produce section, noting that it often costs as much as $8.99 per pound. Dragon fruit is typically grown in Vietnam (or in California, if you’re looking at domestic produce). It has a sweet and mildly acidic flavor, but it’s highly perishable. So it’s possible that if you shell out for a dragon fruit or two, it may already be past its prime.

Next: Don’t ever buy these. 

9. Plastic-wrapped potatoes

potato

Potatoes | YelenaYemchuk/ iStock/ Getty Images

  • Best deal or worst deal? Worst

The Kitchn characterizes plastic-wrapped potatoes as “one of the greatest mysteries of the produce section.” Typically, these potatoes are of easily-microwaveable size. But there’s no other reason to waste your money buying them. Just save money by buying potatoes as you regularly would, in a bag, and reserving the small ones for microwaving, if that’s how you’d like to prepare some of them.

Next: These get very expensive.

10. Porcini mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms |

  • Best deal or worst deal? Worst

If you need them for a specific recipe, then go for those porcini mushrooms. But if you’re simply looking to expand your horizons beyond white mushrooms, you may want to go for a different variety. The Street puts porcini mushrooms on its list of the most expensive items in the produce section, noting that they often cost as much as $16 per pound. They have a strong, nutty flavor. But they’re difficult to cultivate because they grow on the ground in forests, establishing a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding trees.

Next: Don’t ever buy this vegetable. 

11. Pre-cooked beets

sliced beetroot

| iStock.com/Dianazh

  • Best deal or worst deal? Worst

If your grocery store’s produce section stocks pre-cooked beets, it might strike you as a good buy at first. After all, beets are messy to clean and cook. But as Delishably notes, these steamed beets aren’t a particularly good deal. If you want something processed and pre-cooked (with additives), you can go with canned beets. They’ll cost less — and they’ll come in packaging that’s recyclable.

Next: Skip this kind of fruit. 

12. Pre-cut fruit

prepared foods fruit display

Prepackaged foods | littleny/iStock/Getty Images

  • Best deal or worst deal? Worst

This one may be obvious, but pre-cut fruit is never a good deal. It also seems unnecessary, especially when you find yourself looking at packages of pre-sliced strawberries or apples. You can buy a lot more whole fruit for the same price. And in most cases, it won’t take you much time at all to cut it in the way that you prefer. If you have trouble cutting or slicing, especially when it comes to fruit like pineapple or watermelon, the pre-cut fruit may be a big help. But otherwise, purchasing whole fruit instead will save you a lot of money.

Next: Go for this bagged vegetable. 

13. Pre-packaged spinach

Spinach

| Istetiana/iStock/Getty Images

  • Best deal or worst deal? Best

The Kitchn reports that one of the best deals you can find in the produce section is pre-packaged spinach. Compare the price of the clamshell box to the price of buying the leaves in bulk or bunches, and you’re likely to find that the box will save you a significant amount of money. Plus, having a big box of spinach just sitting in your refrigerator can be an easy catalyst to get you to eat more salads. How’s that for a win-win?

Next: Consider buying this to save time, without spending extra. 

14. Pre-sliced mushrooms

Sauteing sliced mushrooms in a skillet

Mushrooms | iStock.com/Jatrax

  • Best deal or worst deal? Best

Surprisingly enough, pre-sliced mushrooms also get the green light from The Kitchn. The publication notes that you’ll usually pay a premium for the pre-sliced item in the produce section. But not so with pre-sliced mushrooms. Buying your mushrooms pre-sliced won’t cost you extra, but it will save you some time. Just remember to wash them, just as you would with whole mushrooms.

Next: These vegetables can be a good deal. 

15. Spiralized vegetable noodles

Spiralized zucchini

Spiralized zucchini |

  • Best deal or worst deal? Best

Have you seen spiralized vegetable noodles at your grocery store? The Kitchn reports that they’ve grown much more popular as more people try keto and paleo diets. The publication notes that you can spiralize your vegetables yourself, but you’ll need to spend $20 on a spiralizer that won’t work very well or $200 on a spiralizer that will. You should consider a good spiralizer if you use vegetable noodles frequently. But otherwise, The Kitchn recommends buying spiralized vegetable noodles at the grocery store.

Read more: The Real Reasons You Need to Avoid Buying These Produce Items at the Grocery Store

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