10 Ways to Get More Out of the Farmers Market

Photo (cc) by jdtornow

With the arrival of farmers market season comes opportunity for savings — and overspending.

Farmers markets can be a great way to save money while supporting local businesses, but you have to be careful.

For example, produce isn’t always cheaper at the market. And it isn’t even necessarily local.

These tips will help you get more for your money the next time you’re at a farmers market.

1. Know your options

Photo by Flickr user budellison
Photo by Flickr user budellison

One way to get better prices on produce is to get to know all the farmers markets in your area. Several directories can help you find them:

Don’t go too far out of your way just for a market, though. The added cost of gas can negate any savings.

2. Keep tabs online

Photo by Flickr user williamhook
Photo by Flickr user williamhook

If you find a place you love, ask if they have a website or Facebook page that you can track to keep tabs on new arrivals and discounts.

3. Don’t discount the grocery store

Photo by Flickr user anthonyalbright
Photo by Flickr user anthonyalbright

Sometimes produce is cheaper at the grocery store. So if price is paramount, read your local grocery stores’ weekly ads.

Doing so before heading to the farmers market keeps you from overpaying.

4. Come prepared

Photo by Flickr user knitgirl63
Photo by Flickr user knitgirl63

Make sure you bring bags and cash.

Some vendors might not have bags or might charge for them. Also, some vendors don’t accept credit cards.

5. Don’t assume it’s locally grown

Photo by Flickr user alicehenneman
Photo by Flickr user alicehenneman

There are two types of farmers markets, according to Organic Life magazine.

At true farmers markets, also known as producer-only markets, farmers sell produce they grew on their farms.

At farm markets, also known as produce markets, buyers resell produce they bought wholesale — and that is often from another state or country.

If supporting local farmers or buying the freshest produce possible is important to you, ask a market’s director whether it’s producer-only.

6. Buy in season

Photo by Flickr user usdagov
Photo by Flickr user usdagov

This rule helps ensure you get the best-tasting produce at the best price.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s seasonal produce guide categorizes fruits and vegetables into the four seasons.

The nonprofit Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture’s seasonality charts for fruits and nuts and for vegetables both categorize foods into months and can be downloaded as PDFs. They also indicate when foods can be found out of season.

When a food is in season can vary by region. To find out what’s in season in your state, check out the Sustainable Table food program’s seasonal food guide, which includes herbs.

7. Be flexible

Photo by Flickr user whiskeytango
Photo by Flickr user whiskeytango

Sticking to meal plans and shopping lists is a great way to save money. If you plan a dinner around certain veggies and find a deal on others, however, it pays to be flexible.

Build options into your meal plan, or use a mobile device while at the market to search for recipes that use the cheaper produce and call for ingredients that you already have at home.

8. Know what can be frozen

Photo by Flickr user Epsos
Photo by Flickr user Epsos

Buying produce in bulk doesn’t save as much money if it goes bad before you can eat it all.

If you find a steal on more bulk produce than your household could eat in a short time, make sure it can be frozen. The National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website has instructions for freezing fruits and vegetables.

9. Choose wisely

Photo by Flickr user design-dog
Photo by Flickr user design-dog

Produce quality depends on how it is handled immediately after it’s harvested, according to Consumer Reports:

Quality can deteriorate quickly without gentle handling, refrigeration and careful control of the storage atmosphere and humidity.

The magazine recently published advice for picking produce that will last as long as possible — “How to Pick Perfect Produce.”

10. Consider alternatives

Photo by Flickr user salvadonica
Photo by Flickr user salvadonica

Farmers markets aren’t the only source of locally grown produce.

To find out if there are any on-farm markets or community-supported agriculture in your area, check the USDA’s local food directories.

For community gardens, check the American Community Gardening Association’s directory, or ask your neighborhood association or municipality.

To start your own garden, start with “Shrink Your Grocery Budget by Growing Your Food.”

Like this story? SHARE it with your friends on Facebook.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
New Ways to Save Money on Insurance of Every Kind
New Ways to Save Money on Insurance of Every Kind

Tech startups are making it easy to find the best rates for all kinds of insurance policies — and get covered fast.

7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

You can add value to your home without hiring a contractor to do expensive renovations.

Brace to Pay More for These 26 Prescriptions in 2020
Brace to Pay More for These 26 Prescriptions in 2020

More than 600 drugs — including these commonly prescribed meds — have seen price hikes so far this year.

15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today
15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today

Times are tough, but these career fields are thriving.

14 Things We Buy and Then Almost Never Use
14 Things We Buy and Then Almost Never Use

Save your money. These items seem alluring but they often end up as coat racks and dust magnets.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

The Next 5 Groups Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
The Next 5 Groups Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

The CDC has unveiled a schedule that likely will determine who gets the next doses.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.