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When your pennies need pinching, including a few key produce items on your grocery list will go a long way towards stretching your food dollars. All available for less than a buck per pound, these cheap food items can be used in a number of international cuisines and traditional family favorites. Ready to get cooking?

the market
Creative Commons License photo credit: kt.ries

Potatoes

Available for as low as ten cents per pound in the autumn, potatoes are one of the cheapest food items on the market. That’s great news for people looking for flexible produce. Mashing them for a holiday side, making homemade potato skins, cutting them up as a money-saving soup ingredient and preparing samosa stuffed potatoes for an Indian-inspired supper are all ways I’ve put potatoes to affordable use.

You can also feed a crowd quite cheaply by serving a baked potato topping bar along with green salad ingredients. Choose a few inexpensive topping options like sour cream and chives, broccoli and cheese, vegetarian chili and cream-style corn with vegan bacon bits. You’ll have an affordable menu plan for teenage sleepovers, family reunions or friendly neighborhood get-togethers.

Cabbage

This anti-cancer powerhouse drops in price to as little as seventeen cents per pound in early March, and can go the distance in your refrigerator’s produce drawer if you have a busy week and need to let your produce sit for a few days. Great in stir fry dishes, coleslaw recipes and homemade sauerkraut, cabbage is a healthy affordable vegetable to keep on hand. Red cabbage also looks and tastes great as an accent ingredient to spinach salad.

Carrots

Carrots are one of those vegetables that make buying organic food on a budget a total breeze. Affordable in both the organic and conventional forms, carrots can be shredded in soups and baked goods, used instead of potato chips for a healthy snack, or steamed and sauced as a stylish dinner side. They can also be pureed for nutritional homemade baby food, sliced diagonally for vegetable lo mein or diced for use in a number of Indian recipes.

Bananas

My local bargain grocery store routinely sells bananas for thirty-three cents per pound. At this rate, they are an item we lean on heavily every week and have gone out of our way to collect as many banana recipes as possible. They are great for morning smoothies, sweetbreads, cutting up in a curry or frying up in a fritter for a savory party snack. On mornings when creativity simply doesn’t strike, you can always cut them up in your oatmeal or cold cereal. They pack fiber and potassium, and are available around the world for an affordable price.

While not all produce items are as inexpensive as these ones, many of them are. Searching out which fruits and vegetables are the cheapest in your area will lead you in the direction you need to go for developing fresh money-saving menu plans to suit the current economy.