10 Tips to Affordable Shopping at the Farmers Market
1. Only bring the amount of money, in cash, that you will allow yourself to spend to help yourself stay within your budget.
2. When you arrive, take a lap around the market and check out the deals being offered at the different stands. There’s nothing worse than buying two pounds of apples at one stand only to realize they were less expensive at a stall three yards away!
3. Try to buy produce once it has been in season for a few weeks. Not only will your taste buds thank you, but the price will also drop after the initial rush of shoppers trying to get the produce when it first appears.
4. To get the best deals, try to come within an hour of the market opening, as the best priced produce may be gone early on.
5. If organic produce is what you’re after, keep in mind when that many small farmers do grow their goods with organic methods but simply cannot pay for costly certification. Be sure to ask a farmer if he uses organic practices. His produce may be less expensive just because he does not have to pay those certification fees!
6. If you are trying to avoid pesticide residue but your budget doesn’t allow you to buy all organic produce, choose the foods on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines (imported), cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and hot peppers.
7. Some farmers will be open to making a bargain, especially towards the end of the day or if you’re buying in bulk. Approach the farmer when he isn’t busy helping several other customers and offer your deal. However, don’t push too hard if the farmer isn’t interested!
8. Skip the ready-to-go lunches unless they’re really affordable. In most cases, you’re better off making a yummy lunch out of your new, fresh produce at home. If your stomach is really rumbling, go for a piece of fresh fruit.
9. Ask your farmer how to preserve your favorite foods. By preserving some of the in season produce that you love, you can enjoy summertime flavors year round and avoid shelling out major cash for that basket of blueberries in December.
10. If your market is only a few miles away, skip the drive and hop on your bike instead. Attaching a basket onto your bike can be an inexpensive addition and help you save on gas. Plus, you won’t be stuck fighting for a parking spot!