Farmers Market Shopping on a Budget

Written by Joyce Reich, Nebraska Extension Assistant, SNAP-Ed

Farmers markets are fun and festive! They offer fresh, locally grown produce that is tempting to the eye and palette and are packed full of great nutrients which help you to stay healthy. In addition, many farmers markets offer other things like fresh herbs, honey, bakery items, meat, and crafts. Literally something for everyone!

Shopping at a local farmers market is a fun experience. It also provides you with an opportunity to get the freshest produce around. At times, items at farmers markets can seem to be a little pricey, but following these tips, you can get the best out of your experience there.

Tip 1: Shop early. Not only is the weather cooler, the produce is freshest at the start. Your will also have a greater selection. However, on the flip side, going towards the end of the market time may offer you the most economical choice as many vendors will discount their produce then so they don’t have to haul it back home.

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Tip 2: Check out the entire market first, walking around and looking at what is available, checking prices as you go. Nothing is more discouraging than purchasing something only to find it at a lower price a few booths down. Once you have looked at everything, go back to the vendor booths that you want to purchase from. Try something new. You will probably discover something you and your family will find very tasty. Ask questions if you are unsure what something is or how to prepare it. Vendors love to talk about their wares – what it is, how it is grown, and how to fix it.

Tip 3: Bring cash as many vendors may not accept credit cards or checks. Also, with cash you will not be tempted to overspend as it is so easy to do with a credit card. When the cash is gone, you are done. If you are close to a larger market, locate the information booth. Here, a market manager can tell you about the vendors, special events, and whether or not they provide “tokens”. When a market provides tokens, that means you can swipe your credit or debit card and receive wooden tokens to spend at any booth in the market. Some markets even accept EBT cards, and provide tokens to swipe for your SNAP dollars as well. Many vendors now are also able to accept WIC vouchers, Senior Farmers Market coupons, and Double Up coupons. For more information on where you can find Double Up, visit DoubleUpNebraska.org.

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Tip 4: Buy only what you will eat within a few days. Most produce is perishable so must be eaten or preserved within a fairly short period of time. Remember, when food is thrown away it is like tossing money into the trash.

Tip 5: Bring your own reusable bags or containers. Wide baskets with sturdy bottoms are best to prevent produce from becoming squashed. Put heavy items on the bottom and lighter ones on top, or bring more than one container. Remember to have a cooler to keep refrigerated items such as cheese and meat cool for the way home.

Tip 6: Go directly home from the farmers market to keep your produce fresh, produce can deteriorate quickly when sitting in a hot car. Once home, store the produce properly and remember to wash it before using.

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Enjoy the experience, the sights, the sounds, the tastes! You will be glad you did!

Summer Vegetable Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Zucchini
  • 3 Roma Tomatoes
  • 4 Cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Salt (optional)
  • 1 Medium White Onion
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c. lime juice

Directions

  1. Rinse all vegetables and herbs under cool running water before cutting or eating.
  2. Dice zucchini, onion, and tomatoes into small pieces and put into medium bowl.
  3. Because the jalapeno can burn the skin, an adult should remove the seeds and mince. Mince the garlic. Add jalapeno and garlic to tomato mixture.
  4. Add cilantro, salt, and lime juice to the tomato mixture. Stir well.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.


Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories 25, Total Fat 0 g (0% DV), Saturated Fat 0 g (0% DV), Cholesterol 0 mg (0% DV), Sodium 198 mg, Total Carbohydrate 6 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g, Sugars 3 g, Protein 1 g, Vitamin D 0%, Potassium 4%, Calcium 2%, Iron 0%.

This post was reviewed by Morgan Hartline, MS, RD, LMNT

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