Supermarket Savings: Buying Vegetables in Season

Tomatoes, Zucchini, Onions
Buy vegetables in season for the best value and taste

Selecting the right produce is a challenging shopping endeavor that can mean great value and health for you and your family. Buying your fruits and vegetables in season is an important way to save money, eliminate waste, and obtain the best flavor. The keys are knowing when are the best times to buy a particular item and what qualities to look for.

In this day and age, most fruits and vegetables are available all year long now that produce is available from various parts of the world. However, there are peak seasons that insure the best quality and value. Here are a few tips that can insure your satisfaction:

Buying vegetables in season
Vegetable Peak Season How to Choose
Artichokes Best in spring Look for heavy, plump green ones, tightly closed
Asparagus Spring through summer Look for full green color, straight stalks with white tips
Avocados All year long Shiny green or black depending on variety
Beans All year long Green and wax varieties are green with no blemishes
Beans, Lima Late summer to early fall Look for firm and crisp beans
Beets Summer to fall Small, firm and have green tops
Broccoli All year long Green clustered buds, not thick
Cabbage Summer through winter Brightly colored, tightly-closed heads without blemishes; heavy for its size
Carrots All year long Firm, heavy and bright orange; look for green leaves
Cauliflower All year long Firm heads, rich green leaves
Celery All year long Crisp, pale green stalks; fresh small leaves
Corn Late spring through summer Look for medium-sized, plump milky kernels; smooth green husks and silk ends
Cucumbers All year but best in summer Pick medium to small and bright green; avoid soft or blemished
Eggplant All year but best in summer Firm purple or white with green cap; not soft
Garlic All year long Firm with no blemishes; compact with soft skin
Kale Fall through winter Dark green, crisp leaves; thin stalks
Leeks All year but best in fall Firm with white base and fresh green leaves
Lettuce All year long Crisp and unblemished; avoid brown edges all varieties
Mushrooms All year long Firm, plump and unblemished; fresh stems; avoid mold
Okra Spring through fall Young tender green pods
Onions All year but best in late spring and early fall Clean, dry and firm with papery skins; avoid sprouts and softies
Peas Spring through summer Firm, bright green and full pods; avoid swollen or immature pods
Peppers All year long Firm, shiny, thick flesh all varieties; avoid black spots
Potatoes (white) All year long Firm, uniform size, even color; avoid mold, sprouts and soft spots
Pumpkins Fall through winter Brightly colored, firm with stem attached
Radishes All year long Firm, smooth and bright red or white with fresh leaves
Spinach All year long Bright green, fresh tender leaves; no yellow
Squash-Summer All year but best in summer Smooth bright skin green or yellow; heavy for size
Squash-Winter Best in winter Hard, heavy for its size with stem attached
Sweet Potatoes All year long Firm, uniform size, even color; avoid large-sign of age
Tomatoes All year long Firm, plump and unblemished; heavy with fresh tops
Turnips Fall through winter Firm, smooth and unblemished; heavy for its size
Zucchini All year but best in summer Smooth bright skin green; heavy for size


To buy vegetables in season locally in your state (US only), either from your supermarket or a local farmer’s market, check out this Seasonal Ingredient Map from Epicurious.

Buying fruits in season is just as important as buying vegetables in season, so check back soon for my tips on choosing fruit.

Image courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian at

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