How I get 40-60 lbs of produce for just $10!

When it gets down to it, there are two levers of money. One lever is to make more of it and the other is to spend what you have efficiently (frugally).

Everything in the personal finance world is just details on tweaking your levers.

My family doesn’t make much more than the average US income, but by careful use of these two levers we live well and are able to accumulate wealth. Saturday is an important day for me to work these levers.

The first is by hustling garage sales and estate sales for items to resell.

One way I handle the second is by buying 40-60 lbs of produce for just $10!

Living in southern Arizona has some benefits. Mild winters. Many blue sky days. A low cost of living. And super cheap produce.

Tucson is on the route that many produce shippers use, truck and rail. This has a side bonus of a constant supply of produce that needs to move fast. Vegetables that have some sort of problem.

They will spoil before they get to their destination. Supermarket rejects boxes that might just not look good (but still are). Oversupply. Whatever you can think of.

These businesses donate the food to the local food banks in huge quantities for a tax write off. The food banks have so much that to make use of they give it away in exchange for a $10 donation. Turning it into cash helps them provide other food for the people that need it.

I have lived here for about 2 years, and word of this great deal has seemed to spread. It is getting pretty packed when I go now.

Still, worth waiting in line for the haul.

The amount of veggies we have obtained from them pushed me to learn how to can things.

Over the years I have canned so many pickles and turned hundreds of tomatoes into pasta sauce that we no longer buy pickles. As for pasta sauce, well let’s just say that my household never has too much pasta sauce.

Produce On Wheels With Out Waste

P.O.W.W.O.W. Is the acronym. It is operated by the Borderlands food bank. They claim that 30 million pounds of produce is rescued and distributed each year throughout southern Arizona.

What I know is that they have saved me hundreds of dollars since I have lived here.

My family adjusts our meals based on what produce we received from them each week. It has led to the discovery of new recipes.

When they offered dozens of zucchini’s one week, my wife turned them into a vegetarian zucchini spaghetti.

I’ve turned some of the tomatoes that didn’t end up as pasta sauce into a delicious summer tomato salad with olive oil and oregano.

We’ve done a multitude of things with the different squashes we have received each week.

What I am trying to say is that not only are we getting a great deal, we break out of our culinary shell. The food we never normally buy is there, so we search out a way to use it. If we just shopped at a grocery store, we never would have bought it in the first place.

<h2>Our Haul This Week</h2>

4 Acorn Squash
5 Corn
6 lbs Tomatillo
12 Roma Tomato
16 Round Tomato
13 Organic Green Peppers
13 Red Peppers
1 lb Grape Tomato
3 Eggplant
2 lbs Anaheim Chile Peppers (New Mexico Peppers)

They ran out of two items: spaghetti squash and bagged lettuce.

I ended up running down to the local supermarket later in the day to get a few ingredients my wife needed for a dish she is bringing to a party on Sunday. I took a few photos of the prices for the produce we got from the POWWOW.

* Acorn Squash $1.49lb X (let’s say 6 lbs total) = $8.94
* 5 Corn X .89 = $4.45
* Tomatoes (say 3 per lb, we received 28 so 9 1/3rd lbs) X .99 = $9.24
* Both peppers were marked .99ea, we had 26 = $25.74
* 16oz Grape Tomatoes @ 1.99 per 10oz = $3.18
* 3 Eggplants X $1.49ea = $4.97

They were not selling the anaheim chile peppers or tomatillos. I would say that $1.99 per lb for the peppers and .99lb for the tomatillos is fair. Combined that adds another $9.93.

Total Price = $66.45!

For just $10. What a deal!

Some of the peppers were getting soft, so I took some time to dice them up and bag them for the freezer for preservation. Some meals in the future will have the prep time reduced.

I don’t know if you can find deals like this where you live, but have you really looked for them? There are people here in Tucson that still don’t know about these cheap veggies. Maybe it would be worth a search.

By using the lever of frugality and efficient purchasing, I have more money for investing. Who doesn’t like saving money? Especially on food, something we all need!

Now I just have to figure out what to do with these tomatillos. I ate one and they taste similar to a granny smith apple and a tomato mixed. My wife said they were too sour for her, so it looks like it falls to me to use them up!

If anyone has any idea what to do with them, please let me know in a comment. Thanks!


Skip to comment form

  1. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Ho-ly cow. I had no idea food banks donated unneeded produce. It’s kind of sad that there are so many hungry people that they sell the food, but I’m sure the food banks know best how to feed people. I’d love to get a crapton of produce on the cheap! I’ll have to see if our local pantry offers this.

    Also, tomatillos can be used to make salsa. You can freeze or can it and top enchiladas, tacos, etc. with it.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What’s For Dinner?My Profile

    1. MrDD

      It’s a smokin’ deal and I am glad that I live where there is so much produce on the move that there is enough for most everyone. I have read that many food banks receive a lot of bananas that are past their prime that they just give them out to anyone that asks. Perfect for banana bread or muffins!

      Thanks for the tomatillo tip! I figured there would be some use in salsa dishes, but had never used them before. My life has been pretty busy that I haven’t even had time to see what I could do with them.

  2. Ryan

    This is a really good idea for saving $$$ on fruits and vegetables. I will have to ask around and see if our local food bank does anything similar to this.

    1. MrDD

      I am so glad to be here on a main produce logistical route! These veggies last so long that I still use them weeks later. I have frozen them the day I got them, of course.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge