Showing posts with label Dollar Stretching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dollar Stretching. Show all posts

May 15, 2019

Pros and Cons of Walmart Pickup - Plus $10 off your first order!

Review of Walmart Pickup
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information.

 I've heard a lot of people dis Walmart Pickup without ever even trying it. Some of this criticism comes from people who just flat hate Walmart and would never buy anything from them. The rest seems to come from folks who are concerned that our society is getting more and more screen-centric and that Pickup service is just another way to avoid socialization. I neither hate Walmart as an entity (and no, I'm not being compensated by them to write this or any other post*), nor do I feel their Pickup service hurts anyone's social life. I'm just a girl who loathes grocery shopping - so I decided to give Walmart Pickup a try.

Why I Use Walmart Pickup

When you live in a rural area, as we do, going to the grocery store is a much bigger deal than if you live in the city or suburbs. There are no "quick stops" to pick up one or two grocery items; a trip to the grocery store eats up more time and gas when you live in the sticks. I've also found the less we go inside the grocery store, the less money we spend - because we grab fewer impulse items.

So, for the above two economical reasons, I shop only twice a month. At this time, our homestead isn't producing meat on a regular basis, and while we eat a lot of homegrown veggies throughout much of the year, I'm still working toward total self-sufficiency in that department. So for my family of four, with two fast-growing kids who eat an awful lot (My 10-year-old has nothin' on most teenage boys!), I do buy quite a bit at the grocery store. Each trip results in an overflowing grocery cart...and pushing it through Walmart crowds is hard work, guys!

Other great reasons to use a pickup service like Walmart's include:

* You are ill...too ill to shop or just thoughtful enough you don't want to spread your germs around to everyone else.
* One or more of your kids are ill...Saving the world from germs and giving your and your family a break, too.
* You have preschoolers or babies and they are having a tough day...Enough said.
* You have mobility issues.
* Crowded places stress you out!!! (Ahem.)

How Walmart Pickup Works

Step 1: Set Up an Account

First ensure Walmart Pickup is available in your area by going here, clicking on "Walmart Grocery" (currently in the upper left of the screen), and entering your ZIP code. If it is available nearby, you'll also need to create a Walmart account, if you don't already have one for the Walmart website.


Step 2:  Order your groceries.

Start adding items to your online shopping cart. I like to do this on my laptop, because I'm an old fogy and I find it easier to use my computer than my phone for this task. But you can use the Walmart Grocery app, if you prefer.

I typically use the search feature to find the product I want. For example, I might type in: Cheddar Cheese Block. From there, I can choose the brand and size I desire. (By the by, the next time you place a Walmart Pickup order, you can either just reorder everything with the click of one button or select a few items to order again, making filling your cart even easier.)


Everything I've ordered on the Walmart Grocery site has had clear descriptions, including price, nutrition labels, ingredient lists, and sizes.


Speaking of which, the only real problem I've had with Walmart Pickup involves sizes. Apparently, I have no clue about them. For example, in my most recent order, I purchased 2 lbs. of flour to make my kids a (these days) rare treat of homemade bread (recipe here). The bag I received measured 4 x 6 inches. Who knew they even sold flour in a bag that small?! (What can you do with it? Make six cookies???) Obviously, I'm used to judging size by appearance next to other items, which is impossible to do online.

Step 2: Review your shopping cart.

This is just like reviewing your shopping cart for anything you buy online. At this point, I've changed quantities, deleted items from my cart, and added items to my cart. All of that is easy peasy.



Step 3: Tell Walmart when you want to pick up your groceries. 

They will offer a variety of days and times for you to choose from, and the times are relaxed; for example, 1 - 2 pm, not 1 pm sharp.


Step 4: Tell Walmart whether or not you'll accept substitutions on any or all of your items. 

In your online shopping cart, the default is a check (in a green box) beside every item you ordered; this indicates you'll accept a substitution if Walmart happens to be out of that specific item. (An example of a substitution: You ordered a 4 oz. jar of sweet pickles, but the store was out, so they give you a bigger jar of the same brand of sweet pickles or the same size jar of a different brand of sweet pickles.)

If you don't wish to accept substitutions for particular items, simply uncheck them. (If you prefer, you can also easily uncheck all items with the click of one button.)


I find this is a  great feature, by the way. I, for example, never want substitutions for the breakfast sausage I buy because there's only one brand in my local Walmart that doesn't contain sugar and is low enough in carbs to suit me. As a diabetic who doesn't consume sugar, a substitution would not work for me.

Do note that your Walmart shopper will never substitute cheaper items without charging you less. In my experience, he or she will always choose an item that's the same price or more expensive than what you ordered - but even if the substitution retails for more than what you originally ordered, Walmart won't charge you the difference.

Step 5: Pay with your credit or debit card.

There is NO FEE for the Walmart Pickup service. You pay for your groceries only, with no added charges.

Step 6: Wait for Walmart to say your groceries are ready.

A Walmart employee will shop for you, then the groceries will sit in a refrigerated or frozen area near the Pickup center, waiting for you. When all that's done, Walmart will send you an email or text - whichever you tell them you prefer.


Step 7: Let Walmart know you're on the way. 

This is easiest to do on your smartphone. If you have any technical difficulties with this step, the email or text also gives a phone number where you can call and tell a real person you're on the way.

By the way, this text or email also tells you exactly what substitutions, if any, were chosen. In the four times I've used Walmart Pickup, one order had one substitution and another order had two. How often you will see substitutions depends entirely upon your Walmart and how well stocked it is.

Step 8: Pull into the Pickup area of your local Walmart. 

The email mentioned in step 7 includes a map to show you where it is, if you don't already know. The grocery Pickup area is designated at the store by signs and orange paint, so it's easy to spot.


Park in a designated Pickup spot and a Walmart employee will come out to your car and verify any substitutions with you. If you decide you don't want the substitutes they chose, they will remove those items from your bags and you won't be charged for them.

The Walmart employee will then load your car with the groceries and have you sign that you received them. In my experience, they are careful about delicate items like bread and fruit, even putting special organge stickers on the bags containing them to remind everyone to use care.

Step 9: Take your groceries home and put them away!

Done!


What I Think about Walmart Pickup

I unabashedly love, love, LOVE this service! Grocery shopping used to be a 2.5 - 3-hour affair for me. Now I can quickly place my order online (in the comfort of my home) and pick it up in just a little over the time it takes to drive to Walmart. No fighting a crowded store. No waiting in line.

I've used Walmart Pickup four times now, and every time my order has been accurate, with no mistakes made. The produce has been in excellent shape, and so has the meat. (Walmart does have a policy that if you're unhappy with any item the Walmart shopper chose for you, they'll give you a full refund.)

Really my only complaint is that I no longer receive a traditional receipt that I can scan into apps like Ibotta, which give coupon-type rebates on certain items. Instead, Walmart emails me a receipt, which cannot be scanned into such apps. This is a bummer, but it's not enough to keep me from using Walmart Pickup.




Pros to Walmart Pickup:

* It's easy to order online (via your computer or your phone).

* You can order non-grocery items, too! I've ordered items found in the pharmacy and home goods sections, for example.

* Walmart remembers your preferred items and you can easily either re-order everything or just some things without having to add each item, one-by-one, to your cart.

* You get to choose the pickup time, which is flexible. (You don't have to be there at 9am sharp, for example. You have a window of one hour.)

* You can choose whether or not you'll accept substitutes, and before you accept your groceries, you can choose not to accept the particular substitutions, if any, your Walmart shopper picked for you.

* When a substitution is needed, if your Walmart shopper chooses a more expensive brand or a bigger size, you'll only be charged the price of the item you originally ordered. For instance, I recently ordered a small container of Great Value real maple syrup. My store was out of that size, so they substituted a larger container of the same product - but only charged me for the smaller size.

* You can change your order or add items to it within several hours of placing it. I've used this feature every time, because even though I make a shopping list ahead of time, I always seem to forget something!

* I've never had a long wait to get my groceries loaded. Usually, in a minute or two, someone comes out and starts loading my groceries. I'm sure as more and more people start using the service, this could potentially change. Hopefully, Walmart will be on top of demand. (And do remember that every Walmart has different management - some better than others.)

* The Walmart employees who bring my groceries out to me are friendly. In talking to them, I've learned they are excited about the new service, and love the variety they experience when shopping for other people. (It's got to be more fun than scanning items at checkout all day long.)

* Walmart has said they will never charge for this service. Walmart Pickup is FREE and is supposed to remain that way.

* Walmart does not allow employees to accept tips for this service. Depending upon your point of view, this can be a con, but if you're thinking in terms of expense, it's a bonus. (When I was in California caring for my father, I used Safeway's delivery service. It was easy, but there was a fee for delivery - plus I felt I should tip to the delivery guy. This was an added expense that under normal circumstances I could not justify at home.)

Cons to Walmart Pickup:

* There is a $30 minimum order.

* There's no "normal" print receipt that you can upload to coupon or rebate apps. Print coupons are also not accepted when you use Walmart Pickup. (Someone recently mentioned that if I go to eBates before hitting the Walmart Grocery site, I can earn money on my Pickup order that way. I'm going to try it next time I shop!)

* At this time, you can't use reusable grocery bags with Walmart Pickup.

* If you're like me, it might take time to learn what sizes to order!

* You have to place your order at least four hours before picking it up.




Conclusion

Overall, I'm blown away by how good the Walmart Pickup service is. The whole process is super easy, and it saves me tons of time and work. Although I plan to continue making a quick stop at Safeway for on-sale meat, I'll still use Walmart Pickup for most of my grocery shopping needs.

$10 OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER

If you use this link, you'll get $10 off your first order with Walmart Pickup.

* Although no one is paying me to review Walmart Pickup or promote Walmart, some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a wee bit should you choose to purchase anything through them or use the sites mentioned. Please see the FCC disclosure for full information.



Dec 5, 2018

23 Fun & Practcal Ways to Upcycle Feed Bags

How to Reuse Feed Sacks
UPDATE: It's just been pointed out how similar this post is to Murana Chicken Farm's. Check it out! They offer a number of ideas I did not.

If you have any pets or farm animals, you've probably thrown away a ton of feed bags. Each time you've done this, maybe you've wondered: Is there something better I could do with this?

Well in fact, there is! Feed sacks are made from wonderfully durable material and with just a little imagination, you can turn them into all kinds of useful and fun things. Here are some ideas:

1. Nail feed bags to the walls of your chicken coop (or garden shed, or stall, etc.) to help give added warmth during the winter.

2. Use a sack as a container for muddy/sandy clothes or shoes.

3. Cut open a bag or two and lay them flat in a car trunk, to help keep the floor clean.

4. Sew a bag or two into a tote bag perfect for groceries. Or a messenger bag.

5. Sew a feed bag into an apron.

6. Use feed sacks as a grow bag. This might work for potatoes and tomatoes, as I often see online, but I think they'd be even better for herbs, greens, radishes, carrots, and similar crops.

7. Use empty bags in place of landscape fabric, between garden rows. Pull them up every year, however, or you'll end up with bits and pieces of plastic all over your yard.






Outdoor cushions, via ThriftyFun.
8. Use bags as garden totes for hauling weeds, cuttings, compost, etc.

9. Use empty sacks to store manure you'll later use in the garden.


10. Use feed bags as trash bags.

11. Place donated clothes and household items inside empty bags (instead of wasting garbage bags).

12. Cut bags open and use as shelf liners in the garden shed or garage.

13. Cut sacks open and let your kids use them as sleds.

14. Turn old feed sacks into farmhouse decor Christmas stockings.

15. Sew feed bags into outdoor cushions. Talk about low maintenance!

16. Turn empty bags into a tarp.
Feed bag apron, via Scoop from the Coop.

17. Sew sacks into a tablecloth. This would be perfect for garden stands, the farmer's market, a picnic, or even just as a table covering for kids to do messy crafts upon.

18. Sew a sack into a zippered pouch. Really, you could use almost any purse, pouch, or bag pattern.

19. Turn an empty feed bag into a bib.

20. Make easy wall decor.

21. Turn a feed sack into a clothespin bag.

22. Make a pillow. This would be cute for the porch!

23. Sew some feed bags up into a dress?!
Feed sack grow bag, via Linn Acres Farm.



Nov 3, 2017

Saving Money While Eating Keto (or Whole Foods)

Saving Money while Eating Whole Foods
This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Last December, when my doctor informed me I had type II diabetes and that if I didn't want to take insulin I needed to go on a keto diet, I was worried this new way of eating would blow our grocery budget sky high. Maybe you're trying to switch to a whole foods diet but are afraid it will cost a fortune. Or maybe you're still eating lots of processed, carb-laden food but need to trim your grocery costs. Whatever the case, the following tips will help keep your grocery budget under control, just as they have mine.

(An important point: Many people find their grocery budget goes down when they switch to a keto diet, even without implementing these money-saving tips. It helps that keto keeps you more full than the more popular high carb, low fat diet, but it also really depends upon how much processed food you're used to buying. Our budget remained about the same; previously we ate a lower carb whole foods diet.)


Courtesy of
Meat

* Keto is a moderate protein diet; it doesn't require huge amounts of meat. That should help your budget, right there!

* Learn which grocery stores in your area have a meat clearance section and what day of the week they mark down their meat. Plan to use that meat the same day, or freeze it for later use.

* Watch for meat sales, via newspaper inserts, store websites, or store loyalty programs. Plan your meals around these sale items.

* But cheaper cuts of meat, and learn to cook them so they taste great. Most cheaper cuts are either less tender (so you'll need to learn to cook them low and slow in a crock pot or Instant Pot).

* Considered canned meat. If you're not used to it, canned meat may seem weird or even yucky. But I assure you that minimally processed canned meat, like chicken breasts, salmon, and tuna, is healthy and delicious! Sometimes it's cheaper than fresh, too - especially if you buy it on sale.

* Prepare your own meat. For example, instead of buying chicken tenders, buy chicken breasts and cut them down to size yourself. Or buy a whole chicken and use the meat for several meals.

Produce
Courtesy of Jules

* Buy what's in season; it's almost always cheaper. For example, asparagus is least expensive in spring, when it's naturally abundant. (Not sure what's in season when? Check out the USDA's website.)

* Consider farmer's markets. Sometimes they are less expensive than grocery stores. (But not always!)

* Compare the cost of frozen vegetables with fresh vegetables. Often, frozen is less expensive, yet still quite nutritional.

* Grow as many of your own veggies as possible. Even having a few pots on your porch or balcony can save a lot of money, especially if you choose greens, which grow and grow and grow until killed by frost. (Some greens, like kale and collards will even stay alive in the snow.)

In General

* Shop around. Familiarize yourself with all the grocery stores in your area, so you know for sure which ones are least expensive for the foods you most purchase.
Courtesy of Clyde Robinson
* Keep a price book. Don't rely on your memory to know the best price for the foods you regularly purchase or you may end up buying something on sale without actually saving any money. Click here to learn how to make a simple price book.


* Avoid processed food, even if you think it's keto. This will save you a ton of money - and processed food is frankly never as healthy as whole food. The Internet has a wealth of made-from-scratch keto foods. (Check out my Pinterest boards, for a start.)

* Eat simple meals most days. Few ingredients usually means spending less money to make a meal. Focus on one meat and one veggie for most meals.

* Although organic produce and grassfed meat and dairy are ideal for any healthy diet, don't feel you must buy them in order to eat keto. Sure Kerrygold butter and grassfed steaks are awesome, but you can be very successful at keto while eating conventional meat, dairy, and produce.

* Consider buying in bulk. Find local farmers from whom you can buy half a cow or a pig. When you find a good deal at the grocery store, especially on a staple, buy a lot to save yourself money in the future. For fresh foods, freeze what you won't use right away.

* Meal plan. This will save your sanity, as well as your pocket book, and it doesn't have to be complicated. I usually just determine how many days I'm buying for (typically 14 or so - because the less often I'm at the grocery store, the less I'm likely to buy!), pick that many dinners, and choose basics for lunch and breakfast. Make sure you plan around what's on sale and in season.

* Meal prep. Some people find that if they have pre-made, homemade meals at home in the freezer or fridge, they are less likely to grab unhealthy food elsewhere. If grabbing food-to-go is a temptation to you, commit to spending a few hours every weekend to prep the week's meals.
Courtesy of

* Make your own spice blends. Spice mixes can not only have hidden, unhealthy ingredients (including MSG, soy, and flours), but they are more expensive than homemade mixes.

* Grate your own cheese. Do this first because pre-grated cheese has additives that are high in carbs. Do it second because it's almost always less expensive to do it yourself. Hate grating cheese? Buy a food processor! You can also save a lot of money by buying blocks of cheese on sale, grating it, and freezing it.

* Use leftovers. Either freeze them for a future meal or eat them the next day.

* Avoid eating out. Eating at restaurants or grabbing food on the go is expensive! Bring snacks and drinks with you, and eat out only as a special treat.

* Eat eggs. They are a cheap source of protein. (Even cheaper if you raise the hens yourself!)

* Eat enough fat. Natural fats are healthy and make you feel much more full. (Don't overdo it, though, or you may stall your weight loss or begin gaining weight.)

* Fast. Intermittent fasting has health benefits - and it saves your bank account some cash. Don't starve yourself, though. Just skip a meal; you'll probably find that easy to do after a couple of weeks of eating keto. (Diabetics should only fast if they are unmedicated and have their blood sugar under good control.)

* Avoid snacking. Not only do snacks burn your cash, but they slow weight loss, too. Eat enough at your regular meals that you feel comfortably full.

Courtesy of
* Avoid recipes that contain expensive ingredients. This may seem like a big duh, but a lot of low carb or keto recipes for sweets - something every newbie craves - are costly. Keto-friendly, natural sweeteners, for example, and alternative flours like almond and coconut, hike up your budget very quickly. Keep these treats occasional, and you'll save a ton of money while truly taming the sugar dragon.

* Start doing Swagbucks. This is a site that let's you earn points toward gift cards by doing Internet searches, surveys, and other things. Depending upon where you buy groceries, you can earn gift cards to your grocery store. I mostly shop at Walmart, and find I can easily get $25 - $50 off my monthly grocery bill by using Swagbucks

* Consider a Costco or Sam's Club membership - or find a friend who has a membership and go shopping with her! But be sure to compare their prices to those in your price book! Not everything at these stores is a good deal.


Apr 27, 2017

30 Nights on a Casper Mattress - Our Review, Plus a Discount

This post contains links to the Casper mattress website. If you click any of these links, you will receive $50 off your mattress order, and I will receive a $50 Amazon gift card. All opinion are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Either my hubby or I have always been unhappy with our mattress. When we were newlyweds, hubs wouldn't go mattress shopping with me. "Just buy what you like," he said. Famous last words. I chose a very firm mattress that made his back ache. When we moved, we didn't bring that 16 year old mattress with us because it was literally falling apart, and we ended up sleeping on a mattress left behind by the previous owners...which made both our backs ache, it was so hard. (No wonder they left it behind!)

If it had been my decision alone, I probably would have replaced this cast off by shopping a local sale and buying a medium-firmness box spring mattress. But my hubby had had it. His mind was absolutely set on buying a Casper. So I did some research on the mattress, looking mostly at Amazon reviews and mattress review websites. I admit, I was not impressed by what I read. But hubby kept saying, "There's a 100 day return policy. There's no risk of losing our money. A lot of people really love it. I want to try it."

So, I ordered the Casper mattress.


First of All, What is Casper?

If you haven't already heard about this mattress, here's the scoop: Casper mattresses combine memory foam (which offers conformity to the body, and - many people feel - comfort) and latex (which cools the bed, since memory foam can make you sleep hot). Casper mattresses are only available online, and I believe they were the first online mattress company to offer a 100 night trial. (If you decide you don't like the mattress at any time during the trial, just call them up and Casper will remove the mattress from your home for free and return every penny of your money. Returned mattresses go to a local thrift store.) Shipping is free.

Delivery and Set Up
This is how the Casper mattress arrived.

Right away, I had to admit it was fantastic not to have to worry about arranging for mattress delivery. The Casper came via UPS. (Worried about it being stolen? There's an option to have it delivered only if you're home to sign for it.) Our king sized mattress came in a box measuring about 41 in. x 19 in. x 19 in. It was too heavy for me to handle easily, so I let the UPS guy get it into the house. The box looked a bit banged up, but the mattress inside was perfectly fine.

When my hubby got home, he carried the box up the stairs. (Far easier than trying to get a box spring mattress up the stairs.) He immediately took the mattress out of the box and placed it on our box springs. Once he cut open the disposable plastic cover, the mattress instantly began expanding. It took under a minute for the mattress to open up within a minute or two, the mattress appeared fully expanded.

I was surprised it didn't smell like chemcials at all.

The First Night

We ended up sleeping on the mattress within two hours of setting it up.

My hubby, who sleeps mostly on his stomach and back, loved the mattress right away. He said he felt like he was floating on a cloud. The next morning, he said it was the first time in our married life that he hadn't awakened with a back ache.

Setting up the mattress.
My first night's experience was less wonderful. I was really uncomfortable sleeping on my side; the mattress made my hips hurt. I wasn't very comfy on my stomach, either. Once I switched to my back, however, I got comfortable and slept more soundly than I had in many years.

The Second Night

My hubby's alarm didn't go off and he overslept. He never used to oversleep! In fact, pre-Casper mattress, his hurting back always woke him before his alarm went off.

I slept much better the second night. I could sleep on my side, stomach, or back; all were comfortable. My guess is that the mattress had relaxed more by this time - which is why I think it's a good idea to let the mattress sit for at least a day before sleeping on it.

Still, I didn't love the mattress. If I slept on my stomach, I felt like my rear was in the air. If I slept on my side, the mattress felt too hard. I was really only comfortable on my back. But I was really comfortable that way, sleeping deeply and well.

The End of the First Week
The mattress fully expanded.


By the end of the work week, we were completely sold on the mattress.

My body finally got used to the uniqueness of the Casper, and I could now sleep comfortably in any position I desired. My hips didn't hurt, I didn't feel like my rear was in the air...I just felt cozy.

After 30 Nights

Hubby and I both sleep much more deeply than we have on any mattress either of us has ever slept on. My hubby's back doesn't ache in the mornings, and I don't toss and turn, toss and turn like I used to.

It may sound weird, but this mattress is both soft and firm. Firm because it supports your body, but soft because it conforms to it. It's radically unlike a traditional box spring mattress, which is why it took me a while to get used to it. But if the idea of a firm mattress scares you, remember that my hubs has never liked firm mattresses - yet he loves the Casper.

On this mattress, we both feel really well supported, without any part of our bodies being compressed or achy.

The Cons

*It might take you a while to get used to sleeping on this mattress; it's definitely different from a traditional box spring set up.
* Casper offers only one mattress (in all the standard sizes). When you're used to an abundance of choices, this may seem like a con.


The Pros

* Easy delivery and set up.
* No noticeable outgassing.
* Your partner's movement is much less noticeable than with a box spring mattress.
* Excellent body support; the mattress conforms to your body.
* This bed is quiet - not squeaky.
* We haven't felt hot sleeping on this mattress.
* Comes with a 10 year warranty.
* Has a 100 day money back guarantee.
* Made in the U.S.A. 
Discount

If you purchase a Casper mattress through any link in this blog post, you'll get $50 off your order! (And I'll get a $50 Amazon gift card.)

Apr 3, 2017

DIY Seed Tape Video - How to Make Your Own Seed Tape

Last weekend, I had fun making seed tape with my kids. It's a fun, quick, and easy project that will save you money and frustration later. Check out the video below. Or, if you prefer written instructions, click here to see the post I wrote on DIY seed tape a few years ago.






Mar 20, 2017

The Best - and Cheapest! - Produce to Buy in Spring

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full 
 information. Thank you for supporting this site!

When I tell people about my success with the keto diet - how I reversed my diabetes, normalized my cholesterol, and have lost oodles of weight - the first thing I hear is something congratulatory. The second thing I hear is that they are shocked I can loose weight and get healthy on a high fat diet. And the third thing I hear is how expensive my grocery bill must be. I will no doubt address #2 sometime soon, but today I want to address #3, to which my normal response is: "Au contraire!"

My grocery budget has not gone up since going keto (or even since going whole foods, which is what I did for years before being diagnosed with diabetes). Good, healthy food does not have to be more expensive!

Sure, it helps that a keto diet is high in good fats. Fats, among other things, are filling, so I eat less now than I used to. But I'm also a sales watcher, a price book keeper...and I shop for produce seasonally.

There are a lot of good reasons to buy in-season fruits and vegetables: Better nutrition (some studies show that growing produce out of season reduces their nutritional value); energy saving (out of season produce is usually flown or trucked into your area from a warmer clime); and, yes, saving money (in season produce is less expensive than fresh produce that's out of season).

The problem is, Americans are so used to seeing all their fruit and veggie favorites in the grocery store all year long, most don't know which ones are naturally in season at any given time of the year.

So let me help you out.

Produce that's in Season in Spring
(March, April, May)

Throughout this post, I offer recipes to try with each vegetable or fruit. If a recipe is mentioned, but there's no link to the recipe, you'll find it in my cookbook A Vegetable for Every Season (available in both paperback and ebook format). It's only $2.99 for devices, folks!

http://amzn.to/2nAHakd

Carrots
Carrots are a veggie that take months to grow from seed to store, and the cool months are when they are usually pulled from the ground. They are high versatile - a good snack or salad fixing when raw, sweet and wonderful when roasted, and easy to toss into a savory pie, soup, or stew. And - happy dance! - they are kid-friendly.

Some of my family's favorite carrot recipes:
Fermented Pickled Carrots
Carrot Fries
Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
Carrot Chips
Glazed Carrots (pictured)


Radishes
Don't skip past this one because you hate those peppery red balls. First of all, there's more than one kind of radish, and they aren't all strongly flavored. Secondly, people are doing some creative things with radishes - including using them as a low carb potato substitute! (I haven't tried that yet myself, but here's a link.)

Some of my family's favorite radish recipes:
Radish Chips
Pickled Radishes (pictured)

Peas
These family-friendly veggies are at their sweetest and best at this time of year.
Some of my family's favorite pea recipes:
Easy Garden Snap Peas
Roasted Peas
Green Peas, Mint, and Tomatoes





Beets

As a cool season crop, beets will be out of their prime soon! Grab 'em while you can!
Some of my family's favorite beet recipes:
Easy Refrigerated Pickled Beets
Russian Borscht with Beets
Beet Cake (pictured)

Asparagus
Spring is the time to eat asparagus. The later in the year it gets, the thicker and more woody asparagus gets. (It may seem counter-intuitive, but thinner asparagus is more tender.) We eat it often roasted, but it's also wonderful a myriad of ways.

Some of my family's favorite asparagus recipes:
Cheesy Baked Asparagus
Asparagus Chicken Stir Fry (pictured)
Smokey Grilled Asparagus

Cabbage
There's a reason cabbage is connected to St. Patrick's Day; it's cheap at this time of year! It also goes a long way at the table, and lasts a long time in the fridge.
Some of my family's favorite cabbage recipes:
Bubble and Squeak (pictured)
Small Batch Fermented Sauerkraut 
Borscht (Russian cabbage stew)Braised Red Cabbage

Greens
All types of greens, including lettuce, collards, kale, beet greens, radish greens, chard...They are highly versatile. Eat baby greens fresh in salads, or stir them into stir fries, casseroles, and egg dishes, or saute them on the stove top.
Some of my family's favorite greens recipes:
Sauteed Greens (works with any type; pictured)
Kale and Roasted Garbanzo Salad


Broccoli
If you love it, now's a great time to eat it. At the grocery store, be picky and choose only broccoli with tightly packed florets and beautiful color.
Some of my family's favorite broccoli recipes:
Chicken and Broccoli and Stuffing
Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (pictured)
Broccoli Tots


Cauliflower
The great cauliflower shortage seems to be over, and prices for this versatile veggie are inexpensive again. Eat it, well, like cauliflower, or use it to mimic pizza dough, garlic bread, rice...
Some of my family's favorite cauliflower recipes:
Cauliflower Chowder (pictured)
Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Cheddar Pasta Salad
Mashed CauliflowerCauliflower Tots
Healthier Cauliflower Alfredo
Better-Than-Twice-Baked-Potato Cauliflower






Avocado
Here's a fruit that is an excellent source of good-for-you fats. My kids love to eat it plain; I just cut it up into chunks for them.
Some recipes I want to try:
Avocado Greek Salad
Creamy Avocado Pesto


Brussels Sprouts
A lot of people think they hate Brussels sprouts. I think they are nuts :)  But, truly, if you hate them, try eating them fresh from the garden. Store bought Brussels sprouts, by comparison, are bitter. Our favorite ways to eat Brussels sprouts are steamed, roasted in the oven, or cut in half and cooked in a skillet.
Some of my family's favorite Brussels sprouts recipes:
Skillet Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Parmesan Sauce
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (pictured)

Leeks
If you've never cooked with leeks, don't be intimidated. They are basically a weird looking onion, and can be used just like one. They do, however, have a more mild flavor than the spherical onions you're probably used to.
Some of my family's favorite leek recipes:
Cock-a-Leekie Soup (a Scottish Chicken and Leek soup)
Potato Leek Soup

Mushrooms
Mushrooms sprout up when the weather is wet, so spring is their last hurrah.
One of my family's favorite mushroom recipes:
Roasted Lobster Mushrooms (pictured)

A recipe I want to try:
Creamy Garlic Parmesan Mushrooms

Parsnips
They may look like anemic carrots, but parsnips are better, in my opinion! They have a unique flavor that is excellent roasted or added to stews.
Some of my family's favorite parsnip recipes:
Parsnip Fries (pictured)
Parsnip Cupcakes