www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com  by Kris Hagopian

G’Day Mates!   Welcome to another commercial-free blogisode of “Keeping Up With The Hagopians”!  

Okay, let me repeat something for those of you who don’t know – I state flat out in my book that I’m truly a food snob.  I’m a food snob to the point where I MAJORED in food in college (Bachelors in Hotel & Restaurant at Penn State) – how many of YOU took your foodie obsessions to THAT degree? (pun intended…)

Since we had kids, organic is now the preferred produce at Casa Hagopian.   Thankfully, in a never-ending quest to stay competitive, most supermarkets have a fantastic, constantly-updated (and often organic) produce section.  

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t shop at 37 stores a week; rather I stop by two stores regularly – BB Grocery Outlet and Martin’s Country Market, both  in Morgantown, PA.  Both stores have wonderful customer service, and both stores offer fantastic markdowns for certain items.  B&B has amazing prices on dozens of items that we use regularly, saving us significant amounts of money.  When it comes to produce, Martin’s Country Market has an incredible offering that I adore.  A Produce Section “Down Under”…you’re going to love this.

Martin’s Country Market keeps their produce offerings so ultra-fresh that whenever new produce is delivered, they pretty much stock it on their shelves the nano-second it arrives.   So, what becomes of the produce that was placed there perhaps just the day before?  Why, it goes under cover – in discreet heavyweight boxes just under the regular produce shelves, heavily discounted to not only keep it from going to waste, but to also ensure that the store gets at least a small return.   

The first time I caught sight of them, the produce inside was so clearly fresh I thought it was just brought out, about to be loaded onto the shelves.   Then, I saw the prices – everything was at LEAST 50% off, and in some cases up to 80% off!  And the food was TERRIFIC!  Since I discovered my “Down Under” gold mine, I’ve found the following discounted produce on a regular basis…

Organic Ready-Made Salad: regularly $3.99/bag, reduced to .59/bag
Broccoli: regularly $1.99/pound, reduced to .29/pound
Grapes: regularly $2.49/pound, reduced to .59/pound
Tomatoes: regularly $1.49 /pound, reduced to .49/pound
Potatoes: 5 pound bag regularly $2.99, reduced to .80 for 5 pound bag.
Baby Carrots: regularly $1.19/bag, reduced to .49/bag
Shitake Mushrooms: regularly $3.99 for 3.5 oz, reduced to.59 for 3.5 oz
White Onions: regularly $1.29/pound, reduced to .40/pound
Yams: regularly .79/pound, reduced to .29/pound
Green Beans: Regularly $1.49/pound, reduced to .29/pound
Bell Peppers: Regularly $3.99/pound, reduced to .79/pound
Ready-Cut bagged veggies: Regularly $3.99/bag, reduced to .59/bag
Ultra-Fresh Brand Name Salsa: regularly $4.99/container, reduced to .79/container
Bananas, past their prime, but PERFECT for Banana Bread Muffins (a Hagopian household staple): regularly .65/pound, here .19/pound

Now, some days you’ll find bag upon bag of produce that your family will love – stock up!  Other days you’ll find yourself staring at a huge head of cauliflower for .25 and five pounds of eggplant for $1…uh, yeah.  NO worries, Scarlett O’Frugal, tomorrow IS another day!    

The thing to always remember is to STAY FLEXIBLE.  If you were planning on serving salad with dinner that night, and that morning you find no salad, but you DO find one pound of fresh organic green beans for .19, guess what?  You’re having green beans at dinner instead.  That’s called “Cutting your suit to fit the cloth”!   Start cutting YOUR suit – and your produce – to fit what you find at your local supermarket. 

The next time you shop, look about for one of these “down under” offerings.  The management might be subtle about it, and that’s understandable.  So be subtle as well – if you don’t see discounted produce, discreetly pull the Store Manager aside (no bullhorn required) and ask if they have this type of Frugal Produce Section.  Important side note: it never hurts to have this conversation in plain sight of your grocery cart, which will of course be filled with REGULARLY priced offerings. 

Here’s to filling up on Frugal Fiber!   Take care everybody!  K