Eating Fresh Vegetables Has Gotten A Lot More Costly

Our family isn’t ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ by any stretch of the imagination.  My wife tries to cook healthy in the sense that:

  • We don’t avoid processed foods but we do try to keep them to a minimum
  • Every meal includes some fruit
  • Every meal (outside of breakfast) includes a vegetable
  • Limit consumption of red meat to once a week or so
  • Eat yogurt

These work good to keep us healthy and happy, and one of the things we do is try to eat as many of our vegetables as possible from the ‘fresh’ variety.  We try to avoid canned vegetables as often as possible, and we will eat a mix of frozen and fresh vegetables.

Broccoli and cauliflower are two vegetables we eat somewhat regularly that we prefer to purchase fresh.  The frozen type generally gives you mostly stem and very little of the ‘top’ so while the prices is cheaper, you’re definitely missing out.

I’ve been alarmed to see the price increase in these two vegetables over the last few weeks.  Last week, I was looking over the grocery bill and I pointed out that I thought $1.79 was a lot for a head of broccoli.   It’s usually $1.29 – $1.49.  While 30 to 50 cents isn’t going to break the bank, I look at it from a pure percentage increase standpoint.  A 20-30 percent increase is pretty huge, and if you carried that across all the items in your grocery bill, that bill is going to increase in a big hurry!

So, imagine my reaction this week when my wife sent me a picture on her phone with the price of $2.49!  That’s another almost 50% increase in just over a week, and practically doubled since just over a month ago.  I had to find out what was going on, so I posted about it on the Facebook wall of our grocery store.

Within a few minutes, they actually responded, linking to an article stating that fresh vegetables definitely are going up in price, due to a shortage caused by the recent cold / freezing snap out west.

Many of the fresh vegetables that are grown in California and such sustained heavy damage, and wouldn’t you know it, broccoli and cauliflour are two of the big ones.  The other more common vegetables include lettuce and spinach, which especially has gone up a lot in price (I don’t like spinach so the fact that we may be priced out of spinach is actually welcome news to me *lol*).

It just goes to show that there are a tremendous number of variables which factor into the price of our food.

I remember a few months ago there were big shortages in two other staples around our house: Coffee and peanut butter.  The prices of both of these items went up noticeably, and took a bigger chunk than normal of our Costco budget for awhile.  However, I’ve recently noticed that the big increases have steadily gone down.  Coffee, it seems, is at the same price it was a year ago, and peanut butter is still a little higher than it was before it started going up, but it’s still gone down a couple of bucks a jar.

I guess it just goes to show that there’s probably always fluctuations in prices due to variables outside of our control such as weather, transportation costs, and other things that lead into the price.

All we can hope is that the number of items affected in your typical household budget is kept to minimum as far as happening all at once, and that in many cases, we can try to find workarounds.

For us, we’ll still try to eat as many vegetables as possible, and will still try to lean more toward the spectrum of fresh vegetables, but we could always grin and bear the frozen variety of broccoli for awhile, or we could try substituting in other vegetables whose prices haven’t gone up as considerably (or at all).

Readers, have you noticed the rapid price increase in vegetables?  Do you have any suggestions other what I put forth about ways to combat the (hopefully) short term spike in the cost of these veggies?  What are your favorite vegetables?

35 thoughts on “Eating Fresh Vegetables Has Gotten A Lot More Costly”

  1. you know i definitely have not noticed a price in increase. i will try and check this weekend when we go to the store. we also live in california so i’m sure we should feel the rise soon. i usualyl shop at Sprouts, and try to save myself a trip to the farmers market because i don’t think the prices are that different but maybe i might have to start going again.

    • You’ll have to let me know how it is being that you live in California, the supposed ‘source’ of the issue.

  2. I haven’t noticed a huge increase in price consistently. There have been fluctuations for sure. We generally just try to buy staples like carrots and then whatever green veggies are on sale.

    • That’s usually our strategy but the ‘sale’ items are getting fewer and far between since the shortages started

  3. Interesting! I had not noticed that yet. I will have to check, as broccoli and cauliflower are my favorites.

  4. I frequently buy tomatoes, leafy greens, onions and fruit. I’ve seen less spinach at my grocery store, but I just substituted it with arugula.

    When my food staples’ prices increase, I try to push through. I hope that they’ll eventually fall again. But I know this year’s drought is going to make a ton of food products spike in price next year.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  5. Although I have not experience large increases, it is probably due to the drought in the Midwest. I am fortunate that I also live in California where most of our fruits and vegetable are grown.

  6. Vegetables are a complete rip off.

    I save money by buying most of my vegetables at the Asian market. They don’t look as nice as the ones in the regular supermarkets, but when you cook them, they taste just as good.

    This summer, I may try growing a few of my own. Not because I think it will save me money or time. It probably won’t. But just because I can, and think it might be fun.

  7. Anything out of season here in Ontario and the price skyrockets. The other day we noticed asparagus at $5.99lb yet a bag of 10lb potatoes were $0.95. Peppers go from $0.79lb in the summer to $2.99-$3.99 a pound in the winter. I’m hoping come summer we start to see a decline in some of our vegetable prices but most haven’t been so bad. Peanut Butter went up here as well from finding it on sale 1kg for $1.99 it’s not $6.49 reg price sale $3.88. This is why we work hard to budget for our groceries, meal plan and stay away from processed as much as we can.

    • Yeah, I understand buying things out of season but these prices are above and beyond even the highest you’d pay off season.

  8. Yup…food is on its way up. And with the national frenzy to persuade people to lose weight and eat healthy, eventually demand will drive up fresh whole foods just as much as drought and crazy storms do.

    I haven’t bought an onion in a long time — $1+ apiece is out of my league. I’m really not fond of gardening (at least, not veggies), but I do have a little chard growing and am thinking I should plant some onion sets. Broccoli will grow here, beets are good, carrots don’t like our soil much. But nothing grows during the summer. Generally it’s still cheaper to buy than to grow your own.

    • We buy onions by the bag and they tend to be quite cheap and rarely do we have one go bad before we get around to eating it.

  9. My wife just mentioned that they did not have broccoli at the store this week and I wonder if this was why. We’re big vegetable eaters ourselves, there’s really not much we don’t eat in terms of them. We grow a lot in our garden so we try and make up for it with that and freeze/can what we’re able to.

  10. Are you able to grow things on your own and can for later? I’d love the chance to do that for myself. It’s insurance for your health and it leads to better tasting meals because it’s so fresh from your garden!

    • We bought a camper and are gone for days or even a week at a time at various points throughout the summer. I don’t think a garden would tolerate that length of inattention.

  11. I’ve definitely started noticing veggies going up. Luckily for me where I live (Los Angeles) there are a lot of grocery stores that offer cheaper vegetables than the big chain supermarkets. They are a little more out of the way from me, but for the savings it’s worth it.

  12. It really does seem like they are making it difficult to lead an organic life style! I wish some of the foods weren’t so expensive but hey, the farmers need some money too I guess!

  13. Where we live, most of our citrus comes from Florida. Our grocery store has already posted signs warning us of spring citrus shortages stemming from the recent cold snap down there!

    • At least they put up a sign. I think it’s more frustrating when they just raise the prices, leaving the customer at a loss as to know why the prices keep going up if they aren’t aware of the direct problem.

  14. We eat mainly frozen vegetables at this time of year except for squash and onions that remain lower priced through the winter.

    We are eating frozen fruit right now too because it is in the freezer and the grocery budget is tight this month.

    I do batch cooking and I am always looking for items like canned tomatoes for sauces and chili but I have not found a good fill the pantry sale in months. Last summer I could buy a large can for $1.00 but the best sale now is $1.25. I know that $0.25 per can does not seem like much but it all adds up and everything else I buy seems to be costlier.

    Trying everything I can to reduce expenses but there is not much left to be cut.

  15. Living in Canada we always seem to pay a bit more for produce. I haven’t found a huge increase as of late. I do try to save as much as I can from our garden to supplement which does help. Either way, I am willing to pay to stay healthy. There are less important things I can spend my money on.

  16. Funny you should write this. I just noticed yesterday that Costco’s price for a pound of organic spinach jumped from $4.49 to $5.49. I wondered what was behind the sudden increase.

  17. Oddly enough, since we began eating much healthier (and vegetarian), our grocery bill has dropped! We used to spend $75-$80 each week on groceries (for the two of us), but now that we no longer buy meat, junk food, or processed food… our grocery bills run about $50 per week! i go through the flyer each week and make a note of the fruits and veggies that are on sale – and plan our weekly meals accordingly.

    • That’s great, and it sounds like you’ve committed to not letting the food go to waste, which is a huge savings when it comes to buying food that has a very small window of ‘staying good’.

  18. I don’t buy much broccoli or cauliflower, but produce is expensive this time of year unless it is apples or bananas. I try to buy what is on sale or look in the clearance bin. You have to eat it fast or freeze it though. Strangely, whole pineapples have been on sale quite a bit this winter, so we’ve been feeling tropical lately.

  19. I live in Northern CA and noticed that broccoli was hard to find last week, and this week it seemed awfully expensive!

    Personally, I loathe the new trend of *just* selling broccoli crowns – I much prefer the stalks, and only grudgingly eat the crowns 🙂

  20. I’m with you Canadian Budget Binder. I’m in Ottawa Canada and buying out of season is definitely a grocery budget killer. I buy on sale…especially frozen veggies because I don’t have to worry about them going bad right away. I too will be planting a garden this summer and I am hoping that I can keep the wildlife out of it!

  21. The focus with food for us is health. With that’ve we’ve started using two online sources to purchase at discounts:


    While my wife does the ordering, I’ll share my observations (we’ve been using #1 for almost 2 years… we’ve been using #2 since its inception).

    The Fruit Guys charge weekly. They deliver produce to our door. In that we live FAR from Costco and a reasonable grocery store (Albertsons is SO expensive) the delivery lowers our gas costs significantly. And, the fewer trips “to the city,” the happier we all are.

    Green Polka Dot Box is like Costco, online, and only stocked with products that meet “healthy” tests. You can’t buy a box of Snickers there. But, you can buy 90% of what’s needed to eat healthy. And, 90% of their products are cheaper than Whole Foods & Sprouts (the comparable brick and mortar outlets). Again, Green Polka Dot Box delivers to our door… no trips to the city, no gas, good food. (it’s fun to get the box, too… like Christmas each month)

    So we’re able to eat super healthy, with reasonable costs, without driving all around the city (and getting sucked into buying stuff we don’t need at the store).

Comments are closed.