Himalaya: Listen. Learn. Grow.
Vegetarian Zen Archive (Episodes 1 - 100)
In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen Podcast, we’ll be discussing how to shop smart at farmers markets. These venues are a great place to shop for fresh, local veggies and fruits, plus scratch-made bread and pastries, jams and jellies, honey, soap, and lots more.
You can listen to our discussion of farmers market tips here or, read on for a quick summary.
Our 11 Farmers Market Tips
Shopping at a fresh market is very different (and in our opinion, much better!) than a trip to the grocery store. The fresh air, the smell of produce, freshly baked goods, and music (sometimes) is so much fun!
Before you head out to your local farmers market here, are 11 tips to share that we’ve learned over the years from experience. These are designed to save you time and money.
1. Make a List Before You Go
You wouldn’t go to the grocery store without a list, right? The same goes for the farmers market.
Before you leave home, check your refrigerator and pantry and make note of fresh produce and pantry staples to look for. Depending on the size and location of your market, pantry items may include things like honey, olive oil, pickles, and other preserved veggies, jams and jellies, breads, and other pastries.
If you are a plan-ahead cook, work out your weekly meal plan before you go, and then look for the vegetables and fruits you will need for the week. Conversely, you could buy what is fresh and in season and then plan your meals around your market finds. (Want to plan your meals the easy way? Check out the planner we use, Plan to Eat).
2. Go Early
Things tend to sell out fast at farmers markets, so the earlier you can get there the better your chances of getting the freshest produce.
Plus, you’ll beat the rush for parking. Once you finish your shopping you’ll have plenty of time to sit back, relax, and enjoy a little people-watching or that bakery treat or nice piece of fruit you just bought.
3. Get the “Lay of the Land” Before You Start To Buy
Because fruits and vegetables are seasonal, most produce vendors will have the same items.
Before I make my first purchase, I always take a few minutes to do a walk-through. I look at what each produce vendor has to offer, noting prices and freshness as I go. This way, I’ll be sure to get the best, freshest food for the best prices.
4. Buy Only What You Will Use (or freeze/preserve)
You may come across the freshest, most awesome looking kale you’ve ever seen, but if you go crazy and buy 6 bunches and you’ll really only use 2, then you’re just wasting money (and food!)
Only buy as much as you can use, freeze, or preserve in the next week.
5. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bags)
I always bring along my reusable mesh produce bags as well as some recyclable grocery bags. Having these along saves me from accumulating more plastic bags at home and saves the vendors money (those bags aren’t free!).
6. Bring a Cart
At the beginning of our farmers market experience, we hauled all of our bags around by hand. Not bad on a light shopping day, but if we bought eggs, jam, salsa, and bread PLUS all of our produce, stuff got heavy!
And then we got smart…we got a