6 Tips for Shopping at the Local Farmers Market

by Sean Bryant on October 7, 2013

Farmers MarketEach year I get excited for May to roll around. The temperatures start to warm up, people start to come outside after a long winter and the farmers market is underway. For my wife and I, a Saturday (and sometimes Sunday) morning stroll through the farmers market not only allows us to pick out some of the freshest produce, but it’s also a great way for us to spend a little time together after a long week of work.

The farmers market offers so much more than just fresh fruits and vegetables. Often times, local bakeries are on hand offering fresh bread and pastries straight out of the oven. You will also find locals who are selling their homemade arts and crafts. My ultimate favorite farmer’s market stops here in Denver are all of the food trucks. My favorite…The Biscuit Bus.

Before you head on over to the farmers market this weekend, be sure to follow these tips to make sure your shopping experience is the best it can be.

Do a Walk Through First

The very first thing my wife and I do each weekend is walk through the entire farmers market without buying anything. Our reasoning for this is because we want to see what venders are there that weekend and check everything out before we make a decision. It’s not uncommon that one stand might have tomatoes for $2.00 per pound and another will be selling them for $2.50.

Bring Cash

With the introduction of credit card readers for your iPhone or iPad this isn’t as critical as it used to be. You still should also take cash with you. You never know where there might be a vendor that won’t take plastic. Our favorite produce stand is cash only, so it’s a must for us.

Try and Go Early

If at all possible try and make the trip to the farmers market as early in the morning as possible. By doing this, you will have access to the best selection of goods. You also never know when you might get something for free. A couple of weeks ago we happened to be at the farmers market when the Food Network was filming at a gourmet peanut butter and jelly food truck. They ended up giving away sandwiches to their first 70 customers and we were lucky enough to be part of that.

Buy in Bulk if Possible

Farmers markets are a great place to polish your bargaining skills. Most farmers don’t want to leave with any produce left on their truck at the end of the day. It’s not uncommon to ask them for a bulk discount. There is a stand at our local market that will either sell by the pound or let you fill up an entire grocery sack for just $10. Just make sure that you are prepared to use it all or it will go to waste.

Try New Things

The farmers market is a great place for you try new things. You never know what you might find, and you may end up finding a delicious, new favorite. If you see something being offered that sounds good, but you are unfamiliar, just ask for a sample. Almost all of these vendors will be more than willing to let you try something out before you buy it.

Be Spontaneous

I am going to be very honest, spontaneity is one thing that I lack. A trip to the farmers market can be a great place to work on that. Don’t leave home with a list of things that you want to get. Just have fun and buy whatever sounds good in the moment. If you try and go with a weekly menu planned, it might get tossed aside when you see all of the variety you have to select from.

Final Thoughts

The farmers market is a great place to go if you want to find some amazing products and other goods. It’s also a great way to support local businesses in your community. By following some of these tips, you will be able to enjoy the experience just a little more.

Image Credit

The following two tabs change content below.

Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.
  • Great post! We are going to start shopping at the Farmers Market more very soon. Can’t wait!

  • Farmer’s markets are fun, but if you aren’t careful you can spend more than at the grocery store. Cash is a must at our local markets though.

  • Cathy Moran

    It’s easy to overbuy. It’s no bargain if it rots in your fridge.

    • What I like to do is take a set amount of cash and that is how much I am spending. I also make sure I don’t buy more vegetables than I can use in a few dishes each week. That way there is a lot lower risk of it going to waste.

  • Im excited to try shopping in the local market. Thanks for the tips 🙂

  • Kendal

    I’ve only visited the farmer’s market a few times but I hope to change that. This year I’ve been hitting up a farm stand outside a local nursery. They have the best Palisade peaches and pears. Can’t beat it!

  • Heidi @ ThriftyTricks

    Farmers’ markets are awesome, as it’s very hard to get good quality veggies in the grocery store. What I would add is that you can always haggle a better price; maybe buy 3 bundles of parsley instead of one, and suggest a 30% discount. You can always freeze or dry the leftovers 🙂

Previous post:

Next post: