Grocery stores not only option for buying produce

January 19, 2012 3:15:12 PM PST
It's the new year and if this is the year you vow to maintain a healthy diet, no doubt you have fresh fruits and veggies on your grocery list. But let's face it, shopping for produce can be pricy.

Of course, you can find produce on sale at the grocery store and that's a good deal. But if you are looking for a bargain all year, all the time, we hit a couple of places that are budget friendly and almost always cheaper than the grocery store.

Lettuce, tomatoes, oranges -- no, it's not the produce department at the supermarket.

"I think people need to know about this store," shopper Nick Bigdady said.

This is the 99 Cents Only Store off Westheimer in southwest Houston, where we found a huge selection of fresh vegetables and an array of fruits.

Lettuce is 59 cents, three pounds of pears are 99 cents, and a stalk of celery and fresh blackberries are just 99 cents each. Even a portabello mushroom that costs $2 at the grocery store is just under a dollar.

"We are fighting to keep that price down for our customers," said Michael Keene with the 99 Cents Only Stores.

Keene says they have a big base of loyal followers who find out exactly when the produce truck makes it to the store. And if you are wondering about the quality and the freshness of the produce...

"The produce you find at the 99 Cents Only Store shelf is still a great bargain and it's still fresh, and it's still just as fresh as you would find it at Kroger or at any other market," Keene said.

Across town on the north side off Airline Drive, we stopped at Canino Produce Company.

"First of all they are generally cheaper on every item than the grocery stores are and they are much fresher," shopper Richard Anderson said.

For 35 years, Anderson has been stopping by Canino every Thursday for the quality and the price. We found the prices just a little bit more than the 99 Cents Only Store but cheaper than the grocery store.

For example, a head of lettuce is 98 cents at Canino; we found the price at the supermarket for $1.39. A stalk of celery is 99 cents at Canino; at the grocery store, it's $1.36. Finally, oranges there are priced five for a dollar; at the big chain store, we found the price 77 cents each!

"You pay way less than the other stores," Bigdady said.

You may not live near a 99 Cents Only Store or near Canino's produce market, but if you do the math, it still may pay you to make a special trip.

You will always find the staples, like lettuce and tomatoes, but produce that is not in season may be hit or miss.