It’s just about that wonderful time of year when all the farmers markets start popping up. Shopping at the farmers market is a great way to save money on produce and support local farmers who are working hard to grow food locally. It’s also a great way to get really high-quality fruits, veggies, and even milk, eggs, and meats for low prices. But just shopping at the farmers market isn’t enough to ensure that you’re saving as much as you can.
In this post I’m going to teach you how to save money at the farmers market.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY AT THE FARMERS MARKET
With a little strategy, you can save big at your local farmers market. You can get healthy food for your family for a lower cost than the local supermarket and support a local farmer in the process. In this post, I’m going to show you how to save money at the farmers market.
BROWSE BEFORE YOU BUY
When you first arrive at the farmers market, begin by walking around and scoping out the stands – and their prices!
Farmers set their own prices for their products and I’ve found that they vary wildly.
For example, most of the farmers are going to be selling tomatoes. Some will charge per tomato, some will charge by the pound, and the amount they charge will vary stand to stand.
Keep in mind that a lower price does not necessarily mean a lower quality food. It might just mean that they have an abundance of that crop.
So, walk around the perimeter of the market and make a mental note (or a physical note, like in the notes app of your phone) of the good prices that you find.
The stands with lower prices will probably be the ones that you’re going to want to check out and buy from.
BUY A BULK SUPPLY
Many farmers will offer a lower price when you purchase a larger quantity of a product. Especially if it’s a product they have a lot of.
This will not be listed on their signs. You’ll need to talk to the farmer and specifically ask for a lower price for a bulk purchase.
Depending on the savings, it’s probably worth it to stock up and then freeze whatever you’re not going to use right away.
GO TOWARD THE END OF THE DAY
One of the best tips for how to save money at the farmers market is to simply go later on in the day.
Put yourself in the farmer’s shoes for a minute.
They come to the market with all of the foods that they want to sell that day.
They don’t want to have to lug any of it back home with them. They’d rather sell it to you for a lower price.
If you see a farmer with a lot left on their stand at the end of the day, go over and ask them about their products.
See if you could purchase some of what they have left for a lower price.
This is really a win-win situation. The farmer will be glad to have sold it, even if it was for less than they originally wanted.
GIVE THE IMPERFECT FOODS A CHANCE
These are real farms, growing real foods. Oftentimes, that means their products look very different than the cookie cutter foods you find in the supermarket.
Many of us are so accustomed to the perfect looking produce that we see at the grocery store, that we will simply overlook the ugly stuff.
But when we do that, we’re missing out. And we’re spending more than we need to.
Because while not everyone wants a lumpy potato, they taste exactly the same!
So offer to buy the damaged or ugly produce for a discount and you’ll probably get some amazing deals at the farmers market.
Just keep in mind that if the food is damaged in a way that will affect its shelf life, like a torn tomato skin, you’ll want to use it right away.
- Read: Top 10 Frugal Food Tips
THINK OUTSIDE THE O
Organic, that is.
When you buy directly from a farmer, the need to buy organic decreases significantly.
Here are a few facts about farm pesticide use that come to mind:
- Farms that grow multiple crops have a significantly lower need to use pesticides because they can combat insects and pest using natural methods, such as crop rotation.
- Farms that grow a smaller amount of crops (which is basically all of these small local farms) are able to tend each crop with more care and thus use other methods besides pesticides.
It’s unbelievably hard for a small farm to be officially labeled certified organic. Many of them instead use mostly organic practices with a small amount of pesticides.
There is a local farm in my town that uses a small amount of pesticides. Their produce is not organic, but it’s high-quality, grown with care, and it was grown in my town. I’ll take their food over food grown on the other side of the world any day.
Here’s the big important thing that you need to keep in mind:
At the farmers market, you can talk directly to the farmer and ask them how they grew their crops. You can ask them which pesticides they use and how clean their produce is.
Most farmers will love to talk to you about this.
So don’t stress about whether or not you’re buying organic at the farmers market. Instead, save money by skipping that title and instead ask the farmer directly about their growing practices.
STICK TO THE CLEAN 15
If you absolutely feel that you have to buy organic, only do so for the foods on the Clean 15 list.
I use the Clean 15 list when deciding what to buy organic at the grocery store.
As I said above, this isn’t something I worry about at the farmers market.
We know that anything with a thick peel doesn’t need to be organic. It’s more important for things like strawberries with porous skin.
I have a pretty printable Clean 15 list in my Freebie Library. You can grab your free copy here.
It’s small, so you can fit it right in your pocket or purse and bring it along to the farmers market (and grocery store!) with you.
DON’T GET STUCK IN A FARMERS MARKET RUT
Don’t just go to the same farmers market week after week.
It’s totally fine to have a favorite, but explore new markets regularly too.
Consider venturing out side your city or town to other nearby locations to explore their farmers markets.
You can even pack a small cooler in the car for your cold purchases and make a day trip out of it.
What a nice way to spend a day!
SHOP LOCAL AND SAVE
The farmers market is really a wonderful thing. You can shop local and support farmers from your city or town and at the same time save money on healthy food for your family. Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of how to save money at the farmers market, nothing can stop you.
Remember to start by browsing the market before you buy anything. Consider purchasing a bulk supply or ugly looking products to save money. Hit the market at the end of the day when farmers want to get rid of what they have left and will sell it for less.
Don’t get caught up in only buying organic. It’s not really important at the farmers market, because these farmers generally use great care in growing their foods. But don’t be afraid to ask them about their practices! And if you are going to buy organic, just stick to the Clean 15 list. And explore new markets to find new deals regularly.
Happy farmers market shopping!
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