Grocery Store Tip: Question The Bananas

He’ll always be the little boy flying the kite to me. Summer Breeze, original oil painting by Steve Henderson

If you have kids, you know that there are lots of ways to drive them nuts, beginning with how you breathe. Last summer, however, I discovered a new way of driving my son to inarticulate distraction:

I bought bananas.

The Son and Heir is not like his sister, Tired of Being Youngest, who hates bananas in all forms.  Judging by how quickly he works his way through them, and all other food forms in the house, he likes the things. But not in July, when the raspberries are ripe.

“Mom.” He is using his patient voice, which I’m pretty sure he learned from me. “We have 50 feet of raspberry bushes out in the garden, and there are so many berries that we can’t possibly keep up with eating them.

“It makes no economic sense to purchase a fruit at the store when you have such an abundance of another fruit at home.

“We don’t need bananas.”

Okay, so I’ll buy apples instead.

You should have seen his face.

If there is any “secret” to saving money and living well, it’s this — use what you’ve got. If it’s yacht, use the yacht; if it’s a rowboat, use the rowboat. Shore Leave, original at Steve Henderson Fine Art; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

The young man has a point though, and while it takes me awhile to admit that he’s right (because he will never cease to drag up this admission at inopportune times in future discussions), I see what he’s saying:

Use what you’ve got, when you’ve got it.

When we’re talking about food, we phrase it this way: eat in season.

We have difficulty with this concept in our society, where we have access to strawberries in January and pumpkin in June, and where we eat so poorly with an abundance of boxed, packaged, and processed foods that we depend upon variety to make up for our lack of sensible eating habits.

So we eat cabbage, in July, for its antioxidant powers, and wash it down with three cookies. Or asparagus, for its antioxidant factors, in January. Kale in April, tomatoes in December.

Since all of these vegetables are high in antioxidants, wouldn’t it be better — as in cheaper — to eat them in season when they are abundant and cost less? (Cabbage and kale in the winter; tomatoes in summer; asparagus in the spring). And while it may seem anti-American to eat kale in its many forms day after day after day, there are other winter vegetables — onions, carrots, pumpkins, winter squash — that can round out the variety, still provide nutrients, and ease the strain on the grocery budget because 1) they’re in season and 2) produce in season costs less than when it’s not in season.

Knowing how to cook, a mantra I repeat to the point of verbal exhaustion, enables you to play with your produce, introducing the seasonal wonder in various forms and formats, but even if you’re not a Kitchen Wiz, you can still eat well simply by choosing well: quality, fresh, seasonal, inexpensive — organic, especially if you grow them yourselves — produce that needs little preparation to shine.

Take advantage of the bounty available near where you live. Indian Hill by Steve Henderson; original painting sold; licensed fine art print at Light in the Box.

Seek out your local growing market, whether through a Farmer’s Market or a grocer who deals directly with local food producers, and learn the taste and textural difference between fresh food and that shipped from 1,000 miles away. Plant a tomato plant of your own; as long as you’ve got sunshine and a small pot, you can grow fresh herbs even in an apartment; if you’ve got anything approximating dirt, you can plant more.

Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have, and figure out how to creatively use what is plentiful and cheap.

In my case, it was raspberries, which we ate fresh, sprinkled with sugar, folded into muffins, turned into jam, froze for the future, and gave away. So busy was I figuring out yet another raspberry creation that I totally forgot about the bananas, and by the time the raspberries were done and I was ready to head to the store for fruit, the Son and Heir stopped me:

“The blackberries are ripe.”

Available in paperback and digital format.

Saving money is a lifestyle thing, not a series of bullet pointed tips. If you want to learn more about living well on the resources you have been given, then read my book, Live Happily on Less. Available in paperback and digital format at, Live Happily on Less walks you through the customizable, sustainable changes that will make a difference in your and your family’s finances.

Follow the link to and look the book and its table of contents. 

This article is linked to The Chicken Chick, My Joy Filled LifeAlderberry Hill, Mop It up Monday, Tough Cookie Mama, A Mama’s Story, The Character Corner, Teaching What Is Good, Memories by the Mile, Coastal Charm, Growing Home, Intentionally Domestic, Walking Redeemed, A Wise Woman, A Little R and R, Deep Roots at Home, Wholehearted Home, Hope in Every Season, Raising Homemakers, Simply Helping Him, Holistic Squid, Mama BZZ, Day 2 Day Joys, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Frugally Sustainable, Thriving Thursday, Thankful Thursday, Live Laugh Rowe, Jenny Mullinix, We Are That Family, My Cultured Palate, Natural Living Link Up, Katherine’s Corner, Graced Simplicity, Hearts for Home, The Modernish Homemaker, Thrifty Thursday, Dude Sustainable, Happy and Blessed Home, Essential Things, All Our Days, Christian Mom Blogger, Bible Love Notes, A Peek into My Paradise, Our Heritage of Health, The Thriftiness Miss, This Mind Be in You, Friday Flash Blog, Small Footprint Family, Oh So Amelia, Little House in the Suburbs, Nourishing Joy, Natural Living Monday, Butter Believer, A Blossoming Life, The Prairie Homestead, Mama Diane, Moms the Word,

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20 Responses

    1. Valerie — you can, if you want. This is my take on it — Garden Produce: To Can or Not to Can. Experiment. Try jam. Join with someone who is drying, dehydrating, making sourkraut. Ask questions. It’s all a step by step process — take a small step, somewhere, and see if you like it. It does not, and should not, be a major, stressful production — when it is, you know that’s the time to back down.

      At the risk of seeming self-serving, I encourage you to look at my book, Live Happily on Less, which you can flip through on Saving money is, first and foremost, finding what works for you — where you are, right now, in your life and in your lifestyle. It’s about asking yourself questions. It’s about pondering the answers. It’s about trying this and that, and determining what worked, what didn’t, and what sort of worked. It’s a lifetime, lifestyle process, and it’s something every single one of us can do, in our own unique way.

      You can do this — your way. I’d like to hear what you’re finding out, because you’re on the road to doing it right now. — Carolyn

  1. what a wise son you have there!
    I often think about eating ‘in season’. It makes so much sense, really. Would we be healthier and happier and more content if we learned to eat what God has made available to us right now?
    But then there’s the whole preserving and canning thing — picked an armload of greenbeans tonight, destined for the canner tomorrow!
    Enjoyed your post, thanks for sharing!

    1. hsmominmo — He is a good son, that’s for sure. Just don’t tell him, please. You know how it puffs them all up.

      I like eating in season, as much as possible, because it makes sense, it’s easier, and it’s cheaper. That being said, while you’ve been working on your green beans, we’ve been picking raspberries and freezing them. I’m thinking about blanching and freezing the chard and kale as well, just in case my winter crop doesn’t grow as much as I thought — but I won’t be canning. Not my thing. Nope. Got some socks to knit.

      Thank you for visiting and reading my post, and I hope that you’ll be back. — Carolyn

    1. Thank you, Suzanne. It’s so simple, isn’t it? But we get used to eating the oddest things at the oddest times, and miss out on the wonders that are, literally, in our back yard.

  2. I appreciate this post. We try our best to eat in season, but I’ll admit…I don’t really like most winter veggies. I don’t mind working extra hard during the summer though to put things up so I guess it’s okay. Although, maybe I need to start eating Kale…

    Thanks for linking up at Babies and Beyond.

    1. Katherine — I, too, have had to work on not liking winter vegetables, but I think it’s because of the way I’ve eaten them in the past. I really, really, really detest smashed up winter squash with brown sugar and butter. Yech.

      And yet, that’s the only thing I knew what to do with the stuff. But now I dice it and bake it, slathered with olive oil, along with carrots and onions and potatoes, and it’s really good. Or I incorporate it with other vegetables in a stir fry or soup. It’s just too prolific in the garden, and too easy to store (you do NOTHING! NOTHING! You just store it on hay in a reasonably cool place and it stays forever. How easy is that?) that I have to find a way to seriously use it.

      Thank you for having me at Babies and Beyond!

    1. Hi, Mel — Thank you. I truly try to make sure that what I write says something helpful or useful.

      So many people out there have a sense of arrogance that comes through in what they write, so that the reader thinks, “Oh, I must be stupid because I’m not put together like this person.” I have been made to feel stupid so many times that not making people feel stupid is one of the primary goals I have in my writing.

      I want people to succeed at the things they are trying, and if something I have learned can help them, I want to pass it on it such a way that they can joyfully use it.

      Thank you for having me at Essential Fridays. — Carolyn

  3. Great post. I love your son’s take! I’ve been trying to do better in this area…stop and ask myself if I can use something I already have or something less expensive instead of spending on a more pricey option. We’re also trying to do better about eating seasonally…although we have a long way to go there! Marking this post to come back to…thanks!

    1. Jen — small steps, always small steps. One of my first steps was last year, when we had three wheelbarrowfuls of squash and pumpkins to eat. And my Son and Heir was there, reminding me of this constantly. As he was always willing to deseed and bake the things, and even make dinner if need be, my arguments were weak and futile!

      Thank you for finding me, reading me, and marking the post to come back to. I encourage you to make me a part of your regular reading schedule. — Caorlyn

  4. Pingback : Healthy 2Day Wednesday {7/17/13} - Authentic Simplicity

  5. I love this!!!!! We have our first garden (a loose term for what it actually is) this year. I actually found 2 tomatoes (and immediately took a picture). But hopefully this winter we will be able to plant an abundance of lettuce, swiss chard, onions, and other winter veggies. Healthier and more economical – I’m all about that!

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