smart spending

Frugal Sense: Cut fruit, veggie costs

Healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, are just too expensive to fit in your budget, right? Not if you're this month's Frugal $ense winner, Candace Bonham.

Mom was right about eating your fruits and veggies. And you'll get more bang for your buck by visiting the frozen food aisle of your supermarket, Bonham says.

June's Frugal $ense winner: Candace Bonham
Candace BonhamCandace Bonham won $100 for submitting the following tip:

Buy produce frozen instead of fresh if you're going to cook it anyway.
"For the cost of one fresh bell pepper, I was able to purchase a whole bag of chopped, frozen bell peppers. When I am sauteing them or baking them in a recipe, there is little taste or nutritional difference. The same is true for broccoli, onion, green beans, etc. I only purchase the pricier fresh produce for salads or for raw consumption." -- Candace Bonham, of Sioux Falls, S.D.

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Bankrate: How did you figure this out?

Candace Bonham: When you're living in colder climates, fresh produce can get very expensive, especially in the winter. I can buy a fresh bell pepper for $3, but I can also find a big bag of frozen, stir-fry vegetables for the same price. Some foods are better fresh instead of frozen. But blueberries are good frozen. You can put them on cereal. Broccoli is good frozen.

Bankrate: What about canned produce?

Candace Bonham: I've found that frozen is better than canned vegetables because of the nutrition and the taste.

Bankrate: So you can buy a lot of produce for a good price and you don't have to worry about it going bad before you get the chance to eat it?

Candace Bonham: That's true. I recently ended up throwing away some tomatoes that went bad. 

Bankrate: Do you have any other tips on saving money or being frugal?

Candace Bonham: One tip I have is to never finance a car. If you have to pay $400 a month for a car, then why not go buy a $400 car rather than paying $400 a month? I've seen so many friends at work struggle because their households have two big car payments. Then you put in the finance charges and all of that on top of it.

Also, my husband and I have been sharing a car for three years. We've just figured out how to work around it and it's worked out well. We save on insurance and the other expenses of having a second car.

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