Over the last two years, I have made the switch to shopping at my local greenmarket for about 99% of what I cook and eat. I still go to the grocery store or to my corner market if I really need something in a pinch, or, of course, if something is not local that I can’t live without (read: coconut water, quinoa, avocado…), but I'm a greenmarket girl through and through. I love my weekly shopping jaunt, I love cooking with the ingredients I buy, I LOVE knowing that I support local farmers, and I save a ton of money.
I’m going to share my secrets that help to avoid overwhelm while at the greenmarket (so many strollers and dogs!), as well as how to stick to a budget, and how to buy only what you need while you're there. Before I begin, here are some very simple reasons it’s an awesome idea to start getting some of your food at the farmer’s market:
- You're supporting local farmers, who are committed to providing you with the most whole food possible.
- You're buying locally, which helps Mama Earth.
- By shopping at the greenmarket, you are eating seasonally, which helps you and Mama Earth.
- Food tastes infinitely better from the greenmarket. It cannot be denied.
- You learn new things every time you go. (This one is definitely true for me. Even as a health coach and healthy food expert, I still learn something new every single time I go to my local greenmarket).
- You know for certain that you are eating non-GMO, which is always a great thing.
And now, having heard all that amazingly compelling evidence, here are my most coveted and time tested ways to shop like a total boss at your local greenmarket:
1. Avoid the rush with these two simple tips: show up early, and/or go on a weekday.
If you live in an area like NYC or San Francisco, you have access to a multi-day greenmarket schedule. It's always such a different experience on a Wednesday compared to a Saturday. Go online and research your area to see if that’s true for where you live — and if you choose to go on a weekend, get there early. You'll beat the rush and avoid overwhelm, big time.
2. Go with a set amount of cash.
Figure out your budget for that week, then show up with exactly what you can afford. No brainer. I've found that if I bring $100 to a farmers' market, that’s what I’ll spend. If I bring $20, I still eat for the entire week, and then I tend not to waste food.
3. You need less than you think!
The way people tend to overspend and under buy at the market is by getting more than they need of something. If you're buying loose greens or something like peas, you need roughly a fist full of it to be two servings. It goes further than we believe!
4. Steer clear of the artisanal stuff (unless you have the budget for that).
I love (and support) local honeys, fresh lavender, $12 flowers, and cheeses as much as the next gal, but that stuff adds up BIG time. Unless you're looking to be a big spender, let that stuff be a treat. Go for produce, fruits, veggies, eggs, pastas, beans and meat, and you'll stay on a budget that’s right for you.
5. Make a list prior to your visit.
This is also a no-brainer, but it’s a step a lot of people miss! Make a list of what you currently buy and eat now, then just swap it out for the greenmarket stuff instead of the grocery store stuff.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Farmers love — and I mean love — to answer questions. No question is too vague, naïve, or small. If you don’t know what something is, how to cook it, or what it tastes like, by all means ask!
7. Don’t be afraid to start small!
This is such a biggie, and one to take to the bank. There’s no need to go big right out of the gate — just take baby steps. Venture out to the farmers' market, perhaps with no intention of buying anything. Walk around and take in the smells and sights, and see if anything strikes your fancy. Then maybe just start with kale, or apples. Give yourself time, and really enjoy the process.
If you truly have a desire to start shopping at the farmers market, I wholeheartedly recommend starting with these tips!
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