Integrative Nutrition Blog

Farmers’ Markets on a Budget

April 16, 2018

Image via Shutterstock. 

One of our favorite things about spring is the return of farmers’ markets. There’s nothing better than admiring fresh produce while the sun is shining. Not only can you find fresh and seasonal produce, you can also scout out some amazing deals.

Rather than spending astronomical prices at a supermarket for produce that usually isn’t as fresh, why not get the best selection for a fraction of the price?

Whether you’re new to the farmers’ market scene, looking for ways to save money on food, or hoping to source the best quality produce, we have tips for you.

While not everyone has the luxury of living around the corner from a farmers’ market, more and more urban and suburban farmers’ markets are popping up. You could be closer than you think!

Websites like Eat Local Grown allow you to search by zip code and find all the fruit and vegetable markets closest to you.

Build a Relationship with Your Farmer 
Knowing the right people at your local fresh food market can be vital to scoring the best food for the lowest price. 

You can start a rapport with local farmers by inquiring about their produce. They are likely passionate about their product and eager to create long-term customers. At the very least, you’ll learn about the origin of their food, helping you to make more informed buying decisions.

Once you visit the farmer a few times and they begin to recognize you, they may offer you additional food as a thank-you for the consistent business. You can also bargain with them by offering to take produce off their hands that needs to be sold quickly for a discounted price. You can use this food right away or put it in your freezer for later.

Get Lucky Later 
When it comes to farmers’ markets, the early bird doesn’t always get the worm. While arriving late may mean you have less of a selection, there can be benefits to being fashionably late.

Vendors may prefer to sell what’s left at reduced prices, rather than carry it home – especially if it’s ripe and likely to go bad soon. This insight may encourage you to negotiate a better price, especially if you offer to buy a generous amount of product.

Don’t Waste Food
Did you know you can save money on food by wasting less?

Wellness coach and IIN graduate Jessica Chazen of One Hungry Yogi insists that food prep is what allows her family to eat farmers’ market food all week without anything going to waste.  

Food prep allows you to get a better sense of how much food you have, how much food you need between shops, and how long it takes for certain foods to go bad. Portioning your food and storing it in clear containers or out in a fruit bowl can be nice reminders of what you have to use.  

When Chazen gets home from the Saturday market, she spends an hour or two prepping. “I pull all the kale off the stalks and cut broccoli into florets, wash them, and roast up some veggies.” 

She also looks for creative ways to leverage leftover food for future meals. “I’ll use leftover produce to make a big portion of apple sauce and freeze it for my baby.”

Join a Share Program
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a great way to shop local on a budget; you may be able to sign up at your farmers’ market.

By joining a CSA, you pay a fee upfront and are entitled to a share of a farmers’ produce throughout the season.

For a reasonable price, you’ll have access to a bounty of produce. This is a dream come true for those looking to eat healthy throughout the season for a fair price.

Enjoy trying out these cost-saving tricks and discovering which tactics work best for you. Your belly and your wallet will thank you!  

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