I am obsessed with the farmers market. Seriously obsessed.
Growing up in Colorado, my mom and I could barely wait til’ farmers market season came around. I mainly just loved the honey sticks my mom promised me, but it was always a beautiful way to come home with some major goodies.
Now that I live in San Diego, and I realized there is actually a farmers market every single day of the week, every single day of the year (nuts, right?) I found myself spending SO MUCH MONEY! A ridiculous amount. To the point where my boyfriend would avoid going with me because he knew we would drop some serious coins. I realized I needed to make a system to ease my pockets and be smart about all this addicting produce shopping.
Why do I like the markets so much anyway? Well, there’s something very special about giving your hard earned cash DIRECTLY to the farmer who grew those veggies, or the cook who made that hummus, or the dude who harvested that honey. They put their passion, sweat and tears directly into their product. Why? Because they LOVE WHAT THEY DO. I swear you can taste it in the food, and I’d rather give my money to them than some big blown out corporation any day of the week.
Here are my 5 hacks to getting exactly what you need at the market, and doing all of it on a budget!
MAKE A LIST.
This seems pretty obvious but the farmers market can distract even the most productive and efficient shopper. First, think about whats in season. If you're a little unsure, hop online and google whats growing for where you're located. Keep in mind it does vary a bit from coast to coast.
Second, do some meal planning. Think about your week and what you've got going on. Plan out a majority of your meals based on whats in season and what you like to eat. Want fresh flowers for your house? Write it down.
On the go a lot? Make sure to stock up on salsas, tamales, hummus, yogurt, etc.
Finally, make that list. Its totally normal to put all your groceries on the same list, try to get as much from the market as you can, and then swing by the store after.
Its a good idea to give yourself a little wiggle room, as the market is known to pop out some surprises, and thats half the fun!
WALK THE LOOP.
When you first show up to the market, its super important to walk the entire thing once before making any purchases. This way you know exactly who is pricing what for what price, and everything that they've got. Make mental notes and then go back a second time and get exactly what you want. Its a little more time consuming, but its so efficient! This has saved me major $$ every time I go. One booth could be selling oranges for $7 a bag, and one on the other side is selling the exact same oranges for $3 less. Over the course of the summer, you could save hundreds of dollars by doing just that.
This is my favorite one right here! Meet the humans that are behind those tables. I know its so easy to just pick out which cucumber you want, hand over the cash and move on with your day. However, these people are awesome humans who work their butts off for their product. I know for a fact that they’d love to hear about how amazing their honey tastes in your tea before bed, or even to know your name! Get to know them on a deeper level. Not only will you feel amazing about eating and cooking with their products, but I know that they will give you good deals for coming back every week and being a nice person!
No… this isn’t a bring your own beer party.. rather a bring your own bag party! Bringing your own bags, well, not only is good for our environment, but its good for your wallet, too. Stick to a couple bags that you like, and commit to only filling those bags. Once those babies are full, you've done some damage to your bank account and its time to hit the road!
CASH IS KING.
Ahhh the good ol' days when smart phones were irrelevant and plastic was not accepted anywhere near the farmers market. Now ladies and gets, we have a problem, they'll take your money, anyway you've got it! This really hits me hard sometimes when I don’t have enough cash or I want be splurgy a lil too often and I see that VISA/ MASTERCARD logo. Gets me every time!
The best way to avoid this is to take out cash before you go. Bring exactly the amount you want to spend and leave your debit/ credit cards in your glove compartment. This’ll make you stick to your list and remember the 4 items above!