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In the back of my local Stop and Shop next to the deli, there’s a reduced produce cart. I don’t know why I’ve only recently started lingering next to this cart. Affordable real food is my game here, but somehow I’ve passed this section countless times without stopping. I haven’t put my nose in the air as I passed it, thinking myself too good for reduced produce. Perhaps, though, in the split second of walking by those bruised fruits and veggies, on some level I did decide that they were below me.
Not anymore, though. Yesterday I walked by the deli and I saw a woman with a large, shrink wrapped container of fresh zucchini. “Zucchini bread,” I thought, “zucchini spaghetti, chocolate zucchini muffins. . . My summer supply of zucchini in the freezer is gone. I need zucchini!” She was walking away from the reduced produce cart. I made my way over to the cart, and the zucchini was all gone. She had gotten the last pack. There I was, jealous of another shopper’s stash of discounted zucchini.
I explored the other options on the cart, though, and there were some great finds. I got 3 pounds of organic apples for $.50 a pound. This price is unheard of for conventional apples, let alone organic. They’re perfect for apple bread or applesauce or apple crisp, and they can sit in the fridge for a while. I also got 1¼ pounds of strawberries for $1.50, and they looked fresh to me. When I got home and examined them, there was one strawberry at the bottom that needed to go in the compost bin. This is about the same luck I have when I buy strawberries on sale for $2 or $2.50 a pound. I washed them, cut the stems off, and put most of them in the freezer. They’ll be perfect for smoothies, muffins, or berry sauce.
I’m normally an advocate of shopping with a list and sticking to it. However, the reduced produce section is an exception. Next time you go to your grocery store, see if it has a reduced produce area and take a good look at the selection. Think about what you might be able to make with that food, and see if there’s anything that you’d like to have on hand in the freezer. There’s a good chance there will be something on there that you can use, and the prices can’t be beat.