December is the season for snow, candy canes, hot chocolate, and Christmas carols, we all know that, but it is also the ideal time to buy certain types of produce.  Most people are aware that produce is seasonal, and different produce is most readily available during different months, but there are so many types of fruits and veggies out there that it is hard to keep track of them all.  It is also easy to ignore this idea of buying in season altogether because a lot of grocery stores still carry most popular produce items even when it isn’t their time to shine.

Ignoring the seasons is pretty easy to do, but you should probably avoid it when you can.  Out of season produce tends to be more expensive because it is less plentiful, and growers and retailers need to charge more to swing a profit.  It is also less fresh, and I’m sure many of us have had plenty of experiences where you bring home a “fresh” tomato in the middle of winter and it turns out to be mushy and gross, and not fresh at all.

While winter is associated with cold weather and a lack of green plants growing in the world, it is still a great time to purchase a lot of great produce.  You don’t have to survive off canned foods and meat during your hibernation, but you can still get plenty of super fresh and affordable veggies, you just have to know which ones to buy.  Here are some of the yummy fruits and veggies that should be the stars of your December grocery hauls:

Oranges

Oranges

December is the ideal time to buy oranges, since it is the peak harvest time, and thus they are abundant and cheap.  This is perfect because December is really a time where everyone could use the Vitamin C to give their immune system a little boost. If you’re into juicing, this would be the perfect time to buy a whole bunch of oranges and create yourself a nice supply of OJ for the winter.  If you want to try spicing up the way you eat your oranges and make them more than just a snack, check out this recipe for a fresh Spiced Orange Salad.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit

Sticking with the citrus theme, December is also a great time to buy grapefruits.  They have similar benefits to oranges and are also rich in Vitamin C, and can be great if you are sick of oranges and want to switch up your citrus.  You could also juice both and mix them to create a different flavor.  If you want to give your grapefruit juice a little kick, try some grapefruit margaritas.  (Bonus, try this cocktail featuring 2 seasonal ingredients, Grapefruit and pomegranate.)

Pomegranates

Pomegranates

Pomegranates involve a lot of work to eat, and can be pricey, so often, this is one fruit that just doesn’t seem worth it.  It is especially beneficial to buy these beauties in season, because you will pay less and be guaranteed that the fruits of your labor are fresh and delicious.  Pomegranates contain a lot of compounds that are good for heart health and hard to find in other foods, so don’t skip out on these guys.  Incorporate them into a holiday party with this delicious and festive bruschetta recipe.

Turnips

Turnips

Turnips are very strange looking and their tough, waxy exterior can be a little intimidating, but if you aren’t a turnip person, you should give them a try. They help regulate digestive health and are high in fiber, which can contribute to weight loss, and foods that can help us manage our weight are always appreciated in the months where sweets and decadent foods are also in season. Not sure what to do with your turnips? Check out these 4 quick and easy recipe ideas.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

There is a reason why sweet potatoes are holiday meal staples, the holiday season is when this super-food is in all its glory.  Regular potatoes are pretty much in season all year, so you should take advantage of sweet potatoes when they are at their freshest.  Here is a recipe for sweet potato casserole that is a little lighter than the traditional ones smothered in brown sugar and marshmallows.

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

Apart from being adorable little mini cabbages, these little guys have big health benefits, from helping lower cholesterol to fighting some types of cancers.  To enjoy your sprouts in something other than roasted vegetable side dish form, check out this recipe for braised seitan with Brussel sprouts and some other great veggies.

Leeks

Leeks

Few things are better on a cold day than a nice big bowl of potato and leek soup. Don’t forget to wash them really well, dirt can get trapped in between all of the layers. Try this delicious heart healthy version of potato leek soup.

Will you shop in season this December?

Photos via Thinkstock

Jaimie is a senior at Adelphi University studying Communications and Political Science. She enjoys exploring and adventures, and recently spent a semester abroad in Prague.