Ten Questions to Ask When Buying Produce

fruit market guide shopping produceThis is Part II of a four-part series on shopping for produce.

Part I: Ten Questions to Ask Before Going to the Store.

Part III: Tips for Choosing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Part IV: Tips on Storing Fruits and Vegetables

Okay, you’ve assessed your supply and your future needs. You have a list and a plan. But it’s best to be flexible. Produce shopping is not an exact science.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you walk through the market or the produce aisles in the grocery store.

  1. Where did this food come from? For example, does it have a high level of pesticides? Is it grown locally, which saves on energy costs and pollution?
  2. How ripe is it? You want a balance between produce that is ready to eat or will keep longer.
  3. Have I chosen a variety of vegetables? This will get you a bigger variety of nutrients. For example, plan to eat some vegetables cooked, some raw. Choose a variety of  colors, textures, and plant parts: Roots (potatoes, carrots) fruits (peppers, tomatoes), leaves (lettuce, cabbage), flowers (broccoli), stems (asparagus), and seeds (peas).
  4. Do I have a little time to experiment with something new? If so, great! But start with a small amount.
  5. Will this last me until the next shopping trip? You might want to make a revised menu, right in the store, to decide when you will use up everything.
  6. What is on sale? If the fruit is already ripe, or the vegetables about to wilt, do I have time to prepare them right away for eating or cooking? Maybe you can share with a neighbor, make a large soup, or freeze them. Be creative!
  7. What items on my list are  more expensive than usual? Try to get by with less, or substitute something cheaper.
  8. What is the correct amount of each item to buy? Calculate by units or servings, not weight. For example, note how many potatoes  your family eats at one meal.
  9. Is it worth buying? If the produce is buggy, full of holes, or very soft, you will probably want to pass. But dirt can be washed off.
  10. Am I doing this right? Whenever you make changes, you will probably make mistakes. Keep track of your expenses and make note of what you throw away.

Next in the series:

Part III: Tips for Choosing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Part I: Ten Questions to Ask Before Going to the Store

Part IV: Tips on Storing Fruits and Vegetables


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Photo credit: flydime


  1. Ms. Krieger says

    Do you have a system for using frozen food? I dream of having a rotating system for freezing food so I always have a quick meal ready to defrost…but I find if I freeze food I tend to forget about it if it is not used within a week or two.

    So far I have managed to start a rotating collection of chicken stock (I save the carcass of the Shabbat dinner bird and boil it for stock to use the following week.) But that’s about it. Is the key to start small and gradually expand? Or do you have a formal system?