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Spend less, shop smart: Vegetables

A healthy diet is full of a variety of vegetables. Here are our tips on how to save money when it comes to buying veges.

  • Buy vegetables when they're in season. Seasonal veges are often cheaper because they're plentiful and they haven't had to be transported from far away.
  • Look outside the supermarket. Other outlets – roadside stalls, greengrocers, farmers' markets – can offer prices much cheaper than the supermarket.
  • Do, however, keep a lookout for specials. Supermarkets can run great deals on veges because of their large-scale buying power.
  • What about frozen veges? They are excellent quality – as good as fresh veges – and can be significantly cheaper.
    If buying frozen veges, stick to single varieties rather than mixes, which tend to be more expensive. Stir-fry mixes with sauces included can be pricey, too.
  • Scan the cans. Canned veges are good quality and nutritious options, and they are often on special. Our favourites are corn, tomatoes, beans and chickpeas. Check labels and go for the lower salt options.
  • Got a garden? Great! Growing your own veges is the ultimate money-saver. Yes, it costs a bit to begin with, but once you're up and running and saving your seeds for next year, you'll be eating for free.
  • Freeze your own. If you find a vegetable on super-special, buy bulk and freeze some. If you wash/peel/chop it first, you'll save some time, too.

Garlic is a vegetable we think worth spending a bit more on. You can buy a mesh bag of about 10 bulbs of garlic from China for less than a dollar ($0.99 the day we shopped). But imported garlic has probably been chemically treated to make it safe, there's no way of knowing how old it is, and the flavour doesn't compare to locally grown garlic. New Zealand garlic, on the other hand, is usually priced at around $19 per kilo – around 50 cents a bulb.

How to choose garlic: Look at the roots. If the garlic doesn't have any roots – it's bald on the bottom – it means it has probably been imported. New Zealand-grown garlic has roots. Chinese garlic often has a very white, bleached look, too.

We say: It's worth paying more for the local product. Locally grown garlic is fresher, tastier and has a minimal carbon footprint. And by buying locally, you're helping growers stay in business.

First published: Sep 2008



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