We are in the peak season for so many tasty fruits and vegetables. Summer is the best time to find some of your favorite fresh produce! In Nashville, we are very lucky to have a wide variety of markets all over the city on any day of the week. They are a great way to spend a sunny afternoon, but farmers markets can be overwhelming at times. Here are my top 5 tips to navigate your local farmers market!
1. MAKE A MARKET PLAN
It is so important to make a plan before going grocery shopping, no matter where that takes place! Planning is particularly important at the farmers market. Trust me, it is easy to walk up to the market, see the first vendor with all the glorious produce, and you want it ALL. This could potentially lead to wasted food (because you didn't make a plan for those ingredients) and the cost adds up quickly. By having a plan for what you need/want to purchase, there will be no guessing as to "What do I do with this?" and it will help you too stay on task when you browse and shop.
2. BRING CASH
Most vendors these days take credits cards, however, there is often an additional charge and/or tax on the items. If you bring cash, it's likely a flat rate for the item(s). Plus, there is the potential for haggling with cash vs. with credit cards there's not really.
**PRO NOTE: In addition to cash, most markets these days accept EBT and WIC vouchers. Farmers markets are a GREAT way to eat healthfully on a budget!
3. TAKE A LAP AROUND
This goes along with tip #1. It is so easy to see the first vendor and want it all, but before purchasing, take a lap around the market. See what other vendors are there that day, what they have available, and their various prices. You're sure to find different deals throughout. Then once you've found the right fit, go get it!
4. ASK THE FARMER
One of the best things about farmers markets is the ability to talk and meet the person that has grown and harvested the food before you. Don't be afraid to get their advice. Ask them how to prepare particular vegetables, how long will it last, or how to properly store it. The farmers' are always so happy to share their knowledge and tips with you!
5. TRY SOMETHING NEW
Even though we recommend going to the farmers market with a plan (see tip #1), I also recommend being open-minded and flexible with your meal plan when shopping at a farmers market. You may come across a new-to-you food that you have never seen of, heard of, or tried before. This is a great place to change that! Let's say for example that this Tuesday, you plan to roast broccoli, but you see some gorgeous asparagus that you can't say no to. Let seasonal produce at the market inspire what fruits and vegetables will be a part of your meal plan for the week. You'll expand your tastebuds and cooking skills!
What are your top tips for shopping at your local farmers market? Share with us in the comments below or by tagging us @themealplanningmethod.