You no longer have to forego healthful, yummy nuts!

How to Save Money on Nuts

by Tricia Goss

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Nuts are loaded with antioxidants, protein, fiber and healthy fats. They are crunchy, filling and delicious. However, nuts can be expensive. That does not mean you must forego these healthful and yummy treats. Learn how to save money on nuts and enjoy them when you bake, when you need a boost of energy, or when you simply desire a tasty snack.

Buy in bulk. Health food stores usually offer a variety of nuts in the bulk food bin section at a much lower price than chain grocers do. Warehouse stores, such as Costco and Sam's Club, often sell large packages of mixed nuts and whole nuts like almonds or cashews, particularly around the holiday season. Purchase large quantities and then separate them into smaller serving sizes. Due to their high (but healthy) fat content, nuts can become rancid rather quickly. However, you can store them safely in your freezer, shelled or not, for up to nine months. Enjoy your seasonal savings all year round.

Ask neighbors with nut trees if you can take some off their hands. Often, these trees produce more nuts than one family is able or willing to harvest and use. Become familiar with the types of nut trees that are common to your region. Drive around looking for trees weighed down with nuts. Offer to buy some of the nuts, or perhaps barter by cleaning up the fallen, overripe ones in the yard.

Another option is to plant your own nut trees. Contact nearest Cooperative Extension office to learn the types of nut trees that grow well in your area as well as tips on growing a productive nut tree. It may take a few years before you reap a harvest, but eventually you will have a bounty of fresh, wholesome nuts.

Whether you want to harvest nuts from a neighbor's tree or grow your own, you will need a long wooden, fiberglass, or PVC pole in order to knock and shake nuts from the trees. Once you haul your treasure home, you must remove the outer husk, which is different from the shell, and dry them, which can take several weeks. To dry fresh nuts, spread them in a single layer on screens or trays and allow them to air dry in a cool, arid location, such as your back porch or attic.

Once you have found a good source for affordable nuts, you can stretch your dollar even further. If you use nuts for baking, try toasting them first. Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for five to ten minutes. After they have cooled, chop the nuts into medium or small pieces. Decrease the amount of nuts called for in your baking recipes by one-fourth to one-half. Because you have toasted them, the nuts will be more flavorful, so you can use less without diminishing the taste of your baked goodies.

Stretch nuts as a snack by mixing them with other healthy treats, such as whole grain cereals, popcorn, pretzels, raisins and other dried fruits. The serving size for most nuts is one ounce, which is only about a quarter of a cup. By combining nuts and additional wholesome foods, you will still obtain the health benefits they offer without blowing your grocery budget.

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