Farmers’ markets are a great place to score greener produce – i.e. local and organic. The added bonus is that farmers’ markets are an effective way to cut your food costs and they often provide free entertainment for kids. When we lived in Humboldt, my son loved the local farmers’ market. They usually had music, often activities and always tons of other kids. In Portland, we haven’t really found one we love, but we just need to put some more effort into looking.
In any case you can maximize your trip to the farmers’ market by doing the following.
- Choose one market you love and stick with it. This way you’ll know what to expect selection and price wise which can help you plan ahead. Also, if you’re a regular you’ll forge relationships with sellers and can sometimes score friendly deals.
- Take all the necessities. Take more reusable bags than you think you’ll need including a few for the kids. Take sunscreen. A wagon or stroller means no chasing little ones down and snacks and reusable water bottles keep kids busy. I also used to take a few small toys for Cedar.
- Let kids make some purchasing choices. Plan ahead that your kids can choose a few items of their own which fosters a better love of produce and gives them something to do and think about.
- Be flexible. Don’t try to totally plan ahead for 100% of what you need to buy. There’s not always berries but you may find some killer spinach on sale. If your taste buds and menu are open and flexible you’ll save more cash and score some new produce experiences.
- Take a trade. If you make homemade candles or other crafty projects consider taking some for a trade. Some sellers are open to trading goods for produce.
- Buy in bulk. You can often score a better deal at the farmers market by offering to take ALL the blueberries off a sellers hands. Consider what you can do to make the most of a bulk purchase. Berries freeze well for example or you can jar up a lot of tomato sauce at once.
- Go early for best selection (if say you REALLY want that organic squash because in my experience sellers run out often) but go later if choice is less important than saving money. Sellers hate to take goods back home, so going late may mean cheaper prices.