Whilst the produce at your local Farmer’s Market is generally less expensive than the supermarket, there are still bargains to be had. Whilst bartering with your farmer is generally frowned upon, the following 8 tips and tricks could see you walk away from your Farmer’s Market haul with a little extra pocket-money each week.
Get Cash Out Beforehand
Most Farmer’s Markets have an ATM onsite. This is great for convenience sake, but the ATM fees are up there. Initially this didn’t worry me, but each week I stop off at a ‘fee free’ ATM on the way, which means I save $3 per week AKA a free coffee. Over the course of a year, I don’t know about you, but I’d much prefer an additional $156 ($3 x 52) in my pocket, than the banks ;).
Time it wisely.
If you get to the Farmer’s Market early, you not only beat the crowds, but you also have access to the best produce on offer. If you get there towards the end of the morning, you’ll have access to some pretty incredible discounts (I was amazed), but may not get what you’re after. Pick your time wisely 🙂
Do a walk around.
When you first arrive, I recommend walking around the farmer’s market to get a good idea of what’s on offer and at what price. You don’t want to buy blueberries at the first vendor, when there are cheaper, tastier blueberries at the opposite end of the market. A quick once over will ensure you get the best quality produce, at the right price.
Seasonal produce is cheap, there’s lot’s of it and the farmer’s need to move it quickly. Scared you won’t get through it all? Buy fruits like Blueberries, Mangoes etc. when they’re in season and freeze them for a rainy day. Much cheaper than buying frozen varieties and much better for the environment. My article “Why we should eat seasonally“, discusses some additional benefits to eating seasonal produce (yes, there is more). If you’re wondering what’s on offer at the moment, check out my post: What’s in Season: November here.
Know Your Dirty Dozen
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) ranks conventional produce (i.e. non-organic fruits and vegetables), from highest pesticide residue, to lowest pesticide residue each and every year; and they believe that by buying the “dirtiest dozen” organically, you could reduce your exposure to pesticides by up to 80%. Whilst organic produce can be slightly more expensive than conventional produce, shopping from this list helps us save time and the environment all in one 🙂 You can read more about the dirty dozen here.
Embrace Whole Vegetables
Always opt for the whole vegetable i.e. beets, radishes, carrots with the greens attached. Not only will they last longer, radish greens and beet greens can be prepped just like spinach leaves, and be included in frittatas, casseroles and soups. Read more about this here: “How to Cook Beetroot (& Beet Greens)”. That’s almost an additional meal for no extra cost.
Each week I pick up some incredible bargains because the fruits and/or vegetables don’t fit the “stereotypical” shape or size. Letting go of “perfect” fruits and vegetables means that the farmer can sell more of their perfectly imperfect harvest, whilst we cut food waste and bank some additional savings. This week I got 3 (very big) ugly duckling avocados for $5, as opposed to 3 “perfect” avocados for $8, from the same vendor. Fruit was PERFECT inside, just a few markings on the exterior.
Aside from buying ‘ugly produce’ (see above), buying bulk is another incredible way to save some cashola. During blueberry, mango, strawberry, pineapple (the list goes on) season, we buy bulk (I’m talking trays and buckets), and cut and store them in the freezer for a rainy day. Not only do we get a discount for buying such large quantities, we also maximise taste (buying in season will reward you with flavour like no other), we avoid having to pay top $$ for Australian frozen fruits, and nullify our contribution to plastic packaging waste.
Don’t just settle… Try more than one!
Each week, my husband and I make it to two farmer’s markets (one Saturday and one Sunday). We do this, because each market has something unique to offer and we get access to the most amazing produce at the best price. Whilst this might seem crazy to some, we don’t visit the supermarket during the week, so we figure it evens itself out. Shop around, be smart! It’s your food after all.
If you’re looking for your local Farmer’s Market you can check out my own personal list of favourites here: Australia’s Favourite Farmer’s Markets. If I haven’t listed something near you, ‘Your Local Markets‘ may be able to help.