Have you ever thought about going to the farmer’s market to buy your produce, only to think “No, it’ll be too expensive,” and then decide not to? Ashley and I have both thought that way before…until we learned how to shop at a farmer’s market on a budget:
Locally in-season produce has less distance to travel and therefore costs the grower less to get to you. Also, it is easier to farm when the fruit or vegetable likes to grow, and this gives the farmer less work. At a farmer’s market, these two things generally mean that the produce in question will be less expensive.
2. Buy a variety of fruit and veggies.
Some fruits and veggies are heavier, making them more expensive if you are buying on a per pound basis. Mixing less expensive products into a meal that also contains higher cost produce allows you to taste what you love, without spending as much.
3. Go at the end of the market.
Farmers will tend to give you a deal if they have any leftover produce. Know that they will usually barter at this time because they will end up donating a lot of what is left, so if they can still make a few more dollars, instead of giving it away…they will.
4. Buy ugly produce.
See #3, because ugly produce is often what is left behind at the end of the day. Sometimes you can bargain if a piece of produce is bruised and will go bad faster. A few companies are starting to really embrace this, like Imperfect Produce.
5. Buy your meat first.
If you are going to buy meat at a farmer’s market, it is the most expensive and essential purchase. When you buy your meat (or eggs) first, then you know how much money you have left to spend on everything else. This is important because prices at the farmer’s market change weekly depending on what is in season, supply and demand, etc.
6. There are a lot of basic and and not-so-basic items at farmer’s markets; but if you are on a budget, just get samples of the artisanal goods and keep going.
Artisanal goods are more expensive–and for good reason. They are handcrafted and made in small batches. Often the ingredients are more expensive or of a higher quality, and it is usually a labor of love for the business owner. Sampling is not a bad thing to do at a farmer’s market! If you like a product and want to support the vendor or farmer, but don’t have the $$$ to spend, then find another way to help the business out: take a photo and post it on social media, sign up for their newsletter, etc.
7. Feel free to try before you buy.
Before you make that purchase, make sure it is something you are willing to prioritize the money on. If there is a new heirloom variety of a particular piece of produce that you want to replace your standby with, try it! Especially if it is a couple cents different per pound.
8. Make friends with the farmers and vendors.
Sometimes there are friends and family deals for regulars.
9. Ask questions.
You never know what the best deal is until you ask! Also, sometimes vendors that have lower prices still use only organic practices, but aren’t marked organic. This produce will meet your budgeting needs better, and meet the same environmental requirements as the higher-cost stuff.
10. Find the market that fits you.
Some cities have more than one market, so make sure you choose wisely. Not all of them have the same vendors, not all of them are organic, and not all of them have the same prices (some are marked up because of the neighborhood)! So, figure out what is most important to you and go to the market that best fits those needs.
Farmer’s markets can be an amazing experience. If you go, your day will be filled with lots of people watching, fresh foods, and delicious smells. And as a bonus? If you have dietary restrictions, you will know exactly what is in your food!
Looking for a Farmer’s Markets in your area? Check out the links below for your closest Farmer’s Market
We couldn’t list all of the cities that have a Farmers Market, so please tell us where is your favorite market?