Farmer’s market bargains and how to find them

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Farmer’s markets offer fresh, locally grown produce and other groceries, but they can also be a good place to get a deal on ingredients. These tips can help you get the best bargains on your next farmer’s market trip.

Looking to eat fresh and local this summer? Try these tips to save money at your farmer’s market. Photo credit: Depositphotos.

A local farmer’s market is a summer staple in many communities. Depending on your area, farmer’s markets are an opportunity to buy produce and farm-raised goods like eggs, cheese, meat and flowers directly from farmers. Breads, jams, pastries, pasta, sauces and other prepared goods from local companies can let you complete your shopping list at the market.

In recent years, rising food prices have increased grocery budgets, so more consumers are shopping around for deals. Farmer’s markets have had a reputation for being more expensive than supermarkets. The higher prices are often due to produce being fresh, organic and grown on smaller farms.

CNBC noted in 2022 that farmer’s markets and supermarkets have gotten closer in pricing. The benefits of seasonal eating and fresh produce — such as better nutrient content and taste — can offset a slightly higher price. Knowing how to find bargains at your local farmer’s market can bring the cost down even more.

Finding farmer’s markets with deals in your neighborhood

Heading to the right farmer’s market at the right time is key to saving money. Larger towns and cities may host multiple markets each week with different vendors at each. If you have only one local farmer’s market, knowing when to shop can help you get the best prices as well.

Locating farmer’s markets near you

Many cities have multiple farmer’s markets, and neighboring towns might have their own markets. If you are willing to drive and have the flexibility to visit farmer’s markets on different days, some markets may have better prices.

Farmer’s markets that are closer to farms will often have a wider selection at a lower cost. The location means farmers do not have to travel as far. In more metropolitan areas, costs may be higher at both farmer’s markets and grocery stores because of the increased transportation costs. While proximity to agricultural areas largely depends on where you live, you may find more deals if you can travel to markets closer to farmland.

Markets of different sizes can also vary in price. At a larger market, vendors may reduce prices to stay competitive. Markets that focus more on produce will often have lower prices than those that have more prepared food vendors.

Over the summer, visit a few different farmer’s markets. This can give you an idea of what items are available and the prices at each. While vendors, location and scheduling will likely play a large part in which farmer’s markets you frequent, take into account price differences as well. Shopping around for the most affordable markets can result in significant savings.

When to go to a farmer’s market for the lowest prices

Visiting a farmer’s market on the right day and time can score you lower prices. Weekend farmer’s markets often have more visitors and might raise prices. Markets on weekdays can be a good time to look for bargains. You’ll also likely enjoy a more relaxed shopping experience without the crowds.

The time of day could also have an impact on prices. You’ll find the best selection earlier in the day, but vendors often start marking down items near closing time. This helps them sell the last of their goods. If you do not have a set shopping list, visiting a farmer’s market in the last hour could offer great deals.

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What farmer’s market products offer the best deals?

Buying and eating food that’s in season is the most affordable way to shop at your local farmer’s market. In-season produce is abundant and the ample supply results in lower prices. Produce at the height of its growing season often tastes better as well.

Research when the height of the season is for different produce in your area, or ask vendors at your farmer’s market. Summer is a great time for berries, stone fruits, melons, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, corn and more. Strawberries are the most affordable during their growing season and great for snacking or breakfasts like strawberry overnight oats. Corn also tends to be an affordable vegetable at summer farmer’s markets. Buy a few ears for grilling or dress it up with a Mexican street corn recipe.

Produce that grows locally in your area will also often be cheaper at a farmer’s market than it is at the grocery store. Farmers in the area can grow a large supply of that crop. Likewise, if nearby farms produce meat and dairy products, you can often find a good deal on higher quality items.

Tips for saving money shopping at a farmer’s market

When shopping for the best farmer’s market deals, a little flexibility with your shopping list can help. A market is perfect for encountering interesting new foods and stocking up on favorites.

Buy produce in bulk

The farmer’s market is a great place to buy bulk produce. Many vendors use a volume pricing system, bringing down the price per item or pound the more you buy. Plan on buying larger quantities to get a bargain on fruits and vegetables.

If you purchase more than you can eat, many fruits and veggies freeze well. Juicing is another delicious and healthy way to use up produce. Try orange carrot juice or green juice to incorporate the plentiful summer crops. Salads, roasted vegetables, pies and cobblers are other ways to use bulk produce purchases.

Try new fruits, vegetables and local products

Farmer’s markets will often have more varied selection than your local supermarket. Unique varietals of fruits and vegetables or artisan goods you won’t find elsewhere are common vendor options.

Purchasing these items from your farmer’s market is the perfect way to explore new flavors. It can also be an opportunity to find deals on less popular items. Best of all, many farmers and makers will offer free samples and suggestions for the best ways to eat your new ingredients.

Get fresh and affordable groceries at farmer’s markets this summer

Start with your local farmer’s market if you are looking for fruits, vegetables and other groceries this summer. In addition to supporting local farmers, you’ll get fresh and delicious produce for everything from snacking to your favorite summer recipes. 

The farmer’s market can also offer great bargains on purchases when you know where to go and what ingredients to look for. This summer, check out your local farmer’s markets with these tips to find excellent prices on quality groceries.

Sharon Rhodes is the creative force behind the food blog  The Honour System. Passionate about all things homemade, Sharon is a seasoned recipe curator focused on making healthier cooking and baking accessible to all.

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