Cooking with what’s in season isn’t only tasty, but it’s generally cheaper. When you buy what grows naturally any time of year, you’re not paying all that extra cash for the effort it takes to grow out of season produce (i.e. $4.99/lb tomatoes in the winter). Another helpful and money-saving tip: find a local farmers market. At the market I shop at for produce, I get sweet potatoes for $0.49/lb compared to $1.99 at the grocery store. They aren’t hard to find and they aren’t all outside! Find one near you to scope out.

Here are ten autumn items that you can start with. Cooking seasonally allows for you to start to experiment out of what you normally make. The seasons change, so should your menu.

1. Apples
This one is kind of obvious. You walk into any grocery store once the leaves start to turn and there are buckets and buckets of all different apples to choose from. While the most common use is for apple pies and other desserts (like this Paleo Apple Crumble), you can use these in savory dishes as well.  Apples go great with pork and even chicken. Get familiar with the different varieties and their unique qualities. When buying apples, look for firm, unbruised and vibrant skin.

2. Mushrooms
I stock mushrooms all the time. I never even have to put them on a shopping list anymore because I know to just buy them every time I go to the store. Even just sauteed with some salt and pepper make a great side to eggs at breakfast. Cook them up with some onions and top a steak. They are crazy versatile and make a meal out of virtually any peice of meat. Use them as a side, like these Bacon Mushrooms, or saute with onions as a quick topping for a steak. These guys are also ideal for vegetarian chilli and other dishes with their firm, meaty texture. Look for DRY caps with firm texture.

3. Squash
No, not zucchini and summer squash, as delicious as they are. I’m talking about the winter counterparts like acorn, butternut, and spaghetti. There are lots to choose from, all with a unique flavor and texture. Butternut squash makes a great soup. Spaghetti squash is (obviously) a wonderful pasta substitute that you can top with big old meatballs. Acorn squash roasts up in beautiful rings: cook up an egg in the center for a bread-free eggs in the nest breakfast.  Buy heavy squash with solid skin.

4. Cauliflower
Cauliflower can be used as a substitute for a plethora of different grainy items we try to avoid. Blitzed in a food processor and you end up with “rice” that you can use in a stir fry or jambalaya. Steamed and whipped and it could fool any mashed potato lover (maybe).  You can also find colored versions like orange, green and even purple.

5. Pumpkins
Duh. I know I said apples were the obvious fall produce, but it’s really the pumpkin that take the cake. Pumpkin shows up in everything…beers, cocktails, candles, cookies, bread…everything.  PUT THE CAN DOWN! Avoid that canned puree crap and stick to the fresh stuff. Look for smaller sized squash, 5-8 lbs, with nice tough skin.

6. Shallots
Onions little brother. Shallots look like big, brown, cloves of garlic and have a much milder flavor than their round counterparts. Finely diced they’re a nice addition to dressings, and they make a great base for any fnishing sauce, instead of using 1/4 of an onion. They should be firm and tight. Store them in a cool, dry place but NOT THE FRIDGE (at that note, don’t store any bulb item like garlic or onions in the fridge.).

7. Sage
OK, so this isn’t a vegetable…but it’s a common fall herb. What basil is to summertime, Sage is to autumn. . It’s the primary spice in most stuffing this paleo version…so it’s impossible to not think of Thanksgiving when you smell it. Slightly lemony, minty and musty, you can get it fresh or in dried form at any grocery store. Wrap them in a damp paper towel, put them in a plastic bag and store in the fridge for up to a week.

8. Sweet Potatoes / Yams
Duh. Another given. Anyone who lives “primal” or ‘paleo” has a love affair with sweet potatoes, although some say they aren’t to be included…whatever. I like them and I feel fine eating them so I will continue to do so. Baked, mashed, sliced, whatever, these things are awesome.  I use them to top a shephards pie, or under some horseradish short ribs. The easiest prep? Bake at 425 for 45 min. Done.

9. Pears
Another fruit that has much more to offer than a raw quick snack. They are just like the apple, in that they can be used in savory dishes, especially with some lamb.  Try the crumble recipe, but use pears instead!

10. Carrots
Stews, soups, cakes, raw, or just roasted on their own, carrots are much more than just something to dip into ranch dressing at a party. Beef stew is very easy to make and very hard to screw up. I’ve made some changes to this recipe (removing flour and wine) to make it paleo-friendly just for you!

Hopefully this seasonal guide will help you try some new veggies this week…and next. Expect another one come the winter!