In my opinion, the best time to go to the farmers market is first thing in the morning, it's the best time to choose from the widest selection of produce, baked goods, jams, jellies and a whole host of other goods. Here are 10 things that you can do to make the most of your experience.
# 10. Plan out your meals – Although I have problems doing this sometimes and I’ve talked about it here. However, if you are a planner knowing what meals you want to make ahead of time, and making a list makes it easier to buy what you need. It also means that you won’t forget to get the you won’t forget to pick up the watermelon you need for that watermelon and feta salad.
# 9. Take a lap around the market BEFORE you buy – If you’re not sure what is available, a look around first to see what’s in season. If you’re like my mom, she’s killer at getting a great deal from a vendor who has everything that she’s looking for. Thankfully I inherited this trait from her.
# 8. Bring cash – I don’t know about you but I never have more than $20 in cash on me at any given point in time. I’m so used to whipping out my debit card at a moment’s notice but this is one place that this doesn’t work. Bring small bills and coins are best.
#7. BYOB – Have you ever tried buying one week’s worth of produce and tried to carry it out in a highly fashionable and totally impractical basket? Of course not, you’ve come prepared with your re-usable grocery bags to make carrying things around easier. Or you could take your market preparedness super seriously, like my friend Julie, and bring containers to hold your fruits and veggies to prevent them from getting crushed.
#6. Stay frosty – This one is from Mark – it drives him crazy when I buy perishable items like eggs, or cheeses then make 1,000 stops before heading home (his words not mine). He is convinced that he can hear the bacteria attacking the items with a vengeance. We have a cooler bag and he will literally stop and pick up a bag of ice, and pack it in the bag to keep them cool.
#5. Try before you buy - Some vendors give away free samples of their products to try. I personally like this because it’s a great way for me to try something new and see if I’d like it before I buy it. Can’t say enough about this.
#4. Bruised fruit is not bad – To some it may look gross, to a foodie like myself it’s just right for making jams, preserves, sofritos, pasta sauces or smoothies. I cruise though the “seconds” aisles at the supermarket because they are cheaper to buy, and you can also find these “seconds” at the market.
#3. Bulk Buy – My friend Barb is really good at doing this. She’s a farmers market veteran and will usually negotiate a bulk price and the group of us will split the costs. If you’re going to the market with friends or family, you may want to try this to save a few dollars.
#2. Talk to the vendors – This is invaluable because they can give you information about the products they’re selling, and tips on how to use it.
#1. Buy something you’ve never tried before – Last week I bought rapini for the first time. I’ve never eaten it before so I asked the guy selling it and he gave me a great recipe to try. Can’t wait to try it.
I’m sure there are lots of local markets in your area but I live in Mississauga, and every Wednesday starting July 23, the Farmers Market at Celebration Square will open at 11 a.m. and will last till 8 p.m. until Oct. 29. Hope to see you there.
Please note: I enjoy shopping at my local farmers market, and was asked to share my experience with my readers. I was not compensated for this post.
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