There’s a charm to swapping fluorescent-lit supermarket shelves for farmers’ market stalls and turning an errand into an outing. But the allure of all that fresh produce and meat can distract you from the budget you might have followed at the grocery store.
Though fresh food from farmers stalls can cost less than a supermarket, here are seven farmers market hacks to help you get the best value for your money and stick to your budget.
1. Research the Market
One benefit of farmers markets becoming trendy means now there’s no shortage of blogs comparing different markets and experiences. If you’re on a tight budget, stick to one of the no frills markets that focus on fruits and veggies rather than one in an affluent neighbourhood. Covered markets are also apt to come with a higher price for vendors.
2. Know What’s in Season and Buy Overripe on What’s Not
Taking some time to know what’s in season can keep you on track with your spending as well as help you make informed choices. If there’s something you’re eyeing that is pricier because it’s out of season, farmers are often willing to part with oddly shaped or overripe fruits and veggies for a discount. Keep an eye out.
3. Shop Around
Vendors closer to the entrance may have paid a premium for the location and may inflate their prices to make up the difference. While you may feel inclined to buy that lovely basket of apples or asparagus staring you down on the way in, shop around and compare some prices.
4. Visit Close to the End of the Day
It may sound counterintuitive to go late, but for the staples – the onions, carrots, potatoes and such – many vendors will bring a good-sized supply. Arriving when they’re closing up shop means they may be willing to part with the extra at a deep discount.
5. Make Friends Before Haggling
One of the biggest benefits of frequenting farmers markets is being able to look the person who grew your food in the eye. You can get to know more about their farm — where they’re located, if they grow organic, what they grow best and how frequently they come to your market. Chat with the farmer and learn their story first. Make friends and don’t be too pushy when negotiating. If you become friendly and one of their regular customers, chances are you will receive better deals and save in the long run.
6. Take a Buddy and Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk can give you more leeway for negotiating. In addition to having a buddy for your market adventure, taking a friend, buying in bulk, then splitting afterwards is a great way to divide the cost. If you’re going to buy in bulk on your own, choose items with longer shelf lives.
7. Bring a Set Amount of Cash
The best way to stay on budget is to bring your budget. Most of farmers use cash boxes, so bring smaller bills. They might be inclined to give you a little discount since you’re making it easy on their bank and not taking all their change.
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