Spring Into Color, On a Budget!

Ahhh.. warmer weather. The little joys we find from packing away winter layers to opening windows and breathing in spring’s aromas are especially appreciated after a long winter.  Weather changes come hand in hand with changes in seasonal produce, and it’s now time to take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables available in grocery markets and from local growers. Have you noticed the produce section of your own supermarket springing to life with new shades of color, from powerful reds to fluorescent yellows and greens? Springtime and summer produce add unbeatable flavors to dishes and often natural sugar-sweetness to recipes. As an added bonus, these new arrivals pack strong immunity boosters helping to prevent everything from heart disease and strokes to regular digestion.

Let’s take a closer look at the spring colors emerging around us.

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Know what’s in season-

Even if you are on a strict budget, which can often make eating healthy a challenge, you can find good deals on fresh produce by knowing what is in season to get the best price. Keep in mind we should be consuming 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, so check out what you can find in your local grocery store. Be creative!

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Visit a local Farmer’s Market-

This option is abundant with fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices, and they are often organically grown. To help ensure you are making good choices, check out the following tips:

  • Research what is currently in season, which often can be available in abundance and thus as a bargain price.
  • Go early – not only should there be fewer crowds, but keep in mind the best produce often goes first.
  • Buy in bulk – sometimes the larger quantity you buy, the better deal you get. Research freezing and storing methods, or share with friends and family.
  • Become a regular. – Making a trip to the market a regular thing allows you to build relationships with the farmers. This can result in advice, cooking recipes, and even deals!

Not sure where the closest market is to you? – Search your town’s website or search on localharvest.org.

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Plant your own herbs and vegetables

Farmer’s markets not your thing? If you enjoy gardening, try planting a few vegetable seeds and see what happens. If you lack the space for a garden, try patio planters or local community gardens. These offer space to plant what you want, protection from nibbling wildlife, and the chance to meet some fellow gardeners in your local area.

There is an overwhelming amount of recipes and ideas for garden fresh fruits and veggies – so where do you start? You want to eat healthy; you want to buy in season; but WHAT IS IN SEASON? Check out our list of month by month fresh produce that should be hitting local markets near you. We’ve provided a favorite recipe or two for each!

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APRIL

  • Vegetables: zucchini, rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus, spring peas, broccoli, lettuce
  • Fruits: pineapples, mango
  • Recipe Ideas:
  1. 10 Ways to Use Up Your Zucchini Bounty
  2. Fresh Mango Salsa

MAY

  • Vegetables: okra, zucchini, rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus, spring peas, broccoli, lettuce
  • Fruits: cherries, apricots, pineapples
  • Recipe Ideas:
  1. 7 Gorgeous Spring Pea Recipes
  2. Save up Those Cherries for the Winter!  

 

JUNE

  • Vegetables: corn, lettuce
  • Fruits: watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, cherries, blueberries, peaches, apricots
  • Recipe Ideas:
  1. Corn Corn Corn!
  2. You Can Grill Cantaloupe?
  3. 50 Things to do With Peaches

 

JULY

  • Vegetables: cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, corn, green beans, lettuce
  • Fruits: watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, peaches, apricots, kiwi, raspberries, plums
  • Recipe Ideas:
  1. Awesome Things You Can Cook With Fresh Tomatoes
  2. How to Dry Fruits
  3. Jazz Up Your Summer BBQ

 

AUGUST

  • Vegetables: cucumbers, corn, eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash, green beans. lettuce
  • Fruits: watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, peaches, apricots, kiwi, raspberries, plums
  • Recipe Ideas:
  1. How to Find the Best Watermelon
  2. Kiwi Omelet?!

 

SEPTEMBER

  • Vegetables:eggplants, pumpkins, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce
  • Fruits: grapes, pomegranates
  • Recipe Ideas:
  1. Everything Pumpkin
  2. POM Recipes

Enjoy the variety and colors that spring and summer bring! Got a great recipe using a fresh veggie or fruit? We’d love to hear about it!

 

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