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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Shopping on a Budget at Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are popping up everywhere, and for good reason! It's fun to buy local produce in a festive market on a bright sunny day.

Talk with farmers and fellow
shoppers for more tips.
But what if you're on a budget? Here are some money saving tips to take along with you to the market.
  • Avoid going to the market on an empty stomach. You're less likely to buy more than you bargained for!
  • Bring along a 'flexible' shopping list that gives you an idea of what you need and leaves room for what's available. "Fruit for five meals" leaves it open to whatever fruit is a bargain this week.
  • Walk the market first. Browse the selections, take note of bargains while you walk, and return to the vendor who has the best price.
  • Be patient! Yes, you've waited all winter to taste asparagus or strawberries, but keep in mind that 'first of the season' often means 'more expensive'. Wait a couple of weeks for prices to come down.
  • Buy what you can use. If you don't have a way to store or freeze what you've purchased, buy only enough until your next market visit.
  • Skip the specialty products. This relates back to the first tip! Baked good, jams, and jellies often are overpriced at farmers markets, and aren't the most nutritious choice.
Here are some goals for this month:
  1. Involve your children in getting ready for a trip to the farmers market. Help them read about a certain fruit or veggie, and then have them look for it at the market.
  2. Have your children help prepare the produce you buy. Scrubbing carrots or shucking corn is a great way to get them involved.
  3. Many farmers' markets across Minnesota now accept EBT: Find your local farmers market. Find recipes and food safety tips there, too!

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