How to save money on your next trip to the farmers market

The farmers market is a great place to get your hands on fresh produce and support local farmers at the same time. Not to mention, it’s a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. But, it’s not always the most affordable way to shop for food.

Here are some tips to save money while shopping at the farmers market: 

Find the ‘ugly’ produce 

A lot of vendors sell their ‘seconds’ for a discounted price. ‘Seconds’ aren’t as nice looking (they may be differently shaped or slightly bruised), and it’s difficult to sell this produce to grocery stores or restaurants due to high cosmetic standards. While these fruits and veggies may not look as nice, they still taste great and it’s a simple way to save money. 

Shop the farmers market on a rainy day 

Not surprisingly, cold and rainy weather makes for slow sales at outdoor farmers markets. Most vendors will offer discounts or sales during bad weather to help boost their sales. Even if it means shopping in the rain, it’s a great way to get your hands on fresh, local produce for a cheaper price. And it probably won’t be as busy, so you’ll be able to shop a larger selection. 

Visit the farmers market right before it closes 

While you may not have the best selection if you go right before closing time, it’s another opportunity to take advantage of deals. Vendors don’t want to pack up and take home a lot of inventory, so they’ll often discount items right before close. It can be as simple as going up to a booth and asking what they’ll offer for $20, but always make sure they’re okay with selling their products for a lower price!

Bring back old containers or jars 

Some vendors offer discounts or give cash back if you bring back containers the following week. This is common with pickle jars, jam jars and other types of glass containers. If you’re a regular, get to know the farmers and vendors at your local market and take advantage of these types of recycling programs. 

Don’t let anything go to waste 

Produce has a shorter lifespan than other types of food, so plan to use it all. If you’re getting to the end of the week and still haven’t used everything, don’t be afraid to get creative. Try making a veggie stock with leftover carrots and celery, or stick bananas in the freezer and use them to make smoothies.

It’s always beneficial to get to know the vendors at your local market. Ask them how they use their produce, and most of them will even be happy to share recipes with you!  

Ask to try samples 

You can always ask to try samples of food, especially if it’s something you’ve never eaten before. It will prevent you from buying something that would just go to waste if you didn’t like it. Don’t be shy when asking for samples – most vendors will be excited that you’re interested in trying their food.

Lastly, enjoy your day at the farmers market. Make it a part of your routine and use it as a way to spend time with family and friends. Even if you only go there to pick up a few things each week it’s a fun and affordable social outing.

Wondering what to do with your farmers market haul once you take it home? Read our article on meal planning tips that can help you save money.