How much time per week do you dedicate to food prep? What do you already have at home? Consider your personal taste preferences: what to grab first at the market is subjective, even on a budget. Here are some tips for stretching market cash and heading home with something valuable and tasty.
Keep in mind that common fruits and vegetables found in grocery stores will usually be more expensive at the farmers markets. Find rare and uber-seasonal produce on the cheap during a market cruise.
To Start: Produce
Farmers Markets are the best places to buy organic. You can always ask to see the certified organic certification. Get to know “The Dirty Dozen." These are fruits and vegetables that, if available organically, should be bought as such. They usually contain the highest pesticide residues when farmed conventionally. If looking for specific produce for the week, buy what you need from this list below, first:
The Dirty Dozen:
· Sweet bell peppers
· Cherry tomatoes
· Hot peppers
Next: Go Animal
Browse the grass-fed beef and unique dairy options (think: fresh milk with a froth cap and grassy butter). Ask the farmer how the animals were raised. Remember, if meat items don’t feel cold enough or seem as though they’ve been sitting in the summer heat too long - proceed with caution.
Go for those farm-fresh eggs. Fresh eggs have vibrant yellow yolks and will always taste better with a rich flavor that store bought natures don’t have. It’s OK if the eggs being sold are not refrigerated at the markets. Once home, refrigeration just keeps them fresh longer, for up to about a month. However, their flavor will start to weaken after about 2 weeks.
Wiggle Room? Buy fresh nuts, seeds, and legumes in bulk for snacking, cooking, or adding to salads and smoothies. Fresh flowers are also an instant feel-good purchase.