How Much Should You Pay for Produce?

Produce section

When I first moved out on my own and went grocery shopping, I had NO IDEA what a good price for apples or bananas was – I didn’t know how to “shop around” for the best produce prices without going to every grocery store in my town, which I wasn’t about to do between studying and working minimum wage at an ice cream shop. I basically only went to the closest grocery store to my house, and paid whatever they were asking because I didn’t know any better. I likely wasted a lot of money because, well, I didn’t know any better.

So if you’re newly on your own, I’m going to break it down for you; here are the average prices of what you should expect to pay for produce. Of course, produce prices vary throughout the year, but the cheapest way to eat produce is to eat what’s in season! You can buy it when it’s in season, at its cheapest, then freeze or can it for use later on, when it’s more expensive or not available.

(Prices are approximations, and will also vary depending on where you live; these prices pertain to Utah.)

Apples – Average: $1.30/lb. Good: under $1/lb.
Red delicious are usually the cheapest, but Fuji, Gala, and Braeburn varieties go on sale quite often and are sometimes a better deal.
Oranges – Average: .60/each, or $1/lb. Good: .20/each or .50/lb.
Juicier, sweeter oranges will be a deeper orange, and heavier for their size.
Bananas – Average: .52/lb.
Bananas don’t often go on sale, but the going rate is .50 – .60 per pound.
Lemons – Average: .50/lb. Good: Sometimes you can get them 10 for $1!
Grapes – Average: $2.39/lb. Good: .99/lb.
Peaches – Average: $2.39/lb. Good: .99/lb.
Cantaloupe – Average: $1.20/lb. Good: .40/lb.
Watermelon – Average: .70/lb. Good: .19/lb.
Strawberries – There is HUGE fluctuation in the price of strawberries from season to season. In winter, you can pay as much as $5/lb., but in late spring/early summer, you can typically get them for $1/lb. Stock up and freeze them when they’re on sale to use in smoothies throughout the year!
Avocados – Average: $1.20/each. Good: .50/each
Zucchini – Average: $1.60/lb. Good: .25/lb.
In summer months, you can get really great deals on zucchini, because it grows fast and abundantly.
Broccoli – Average: $1.98/lb. Good: .99/lb.
Roma tomatoes – Average: $1.25/lb. Good: .50/lb.
Bell peppers – Red average: $1.59/each. Good: .50/each
Green Average: .89 each Good: .39/each
Lettuce – Iceberg is the cheapest, but also has the least nutritional value. Don’t buy the bagged, pre-chopped kind – it’s much more expensive than buying a head and chopping it yourself.
Iceberg average: $1.20/each Iceberg good: .99/each
Romaine average: $1.69/each Romaine Good: .99/each
Green Leaf average: $1.69/each Green Leaf good: .99/each
Carrots – Whole carrots are cheaper than baby carrots.
Whole carrots average: Whole carrots good:
Baby carrots average: $1.30/lb. Baby carrots good: $1/lb.

For data on produce comparisons between fresh, frozen, and canned foods, check out:
USDA prices 2008 (If you don’t want to read all the data, canned foods are cheapest, followed by frozen, then fresh.)

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