It's pretty obvious that if you see asparagus for sale at the market, it's in season. Yet, it may not be peak
season -- and if it isn't, you're probably going to pay more. Laura McDonald, communications specialist for Greenmarket
, which operates greenmarkets in New York City, says the first time asparagus appeared at one of the city's markets this spring, it was priced higher than usual (and sold out by 10:30 a.m.). Two weeks later, though, every stand had it, and the cost per bunch had dropped. McDonald estimates that, in general, you'll save 10 to 40 percent by buying produce a few weeks after it debuts at the market. Prices at farmers' markets fluctuate, depending on supply and demand, more than at supermarkets because there is no middleman or distributor with access to mass discounts, Coburn explains. So, cost-conscious shoppers can benefit from paying attention to peak-season charts
and striking when the season is in full swing. An organic watermelon may cost $8 to $12 in early June, but just $5 a month later. "Buy the things that are in huge abundance to help stretch your dollar," she says.