Grocery Shopping: Making the Most of a “Lost Cause”

I veer between several extremes.

There’s a part of me that truly wants to buy healthy, nutrition-packed fresh produce – that’s the part of me that with good intentions will hit the local grocery or farmers market, and load up on all things leafy and green.

Then there’s the realist: The one who remembers I am hardly ever home…and all too often, good food goes to waste. (Re: the orange juice I just threw out of my fridge that was so old, it had turned BROWN.)

We all want to eat better, but most of us don’t want to spend more to do it — and whether we are living off takeout or buying food we don’t eat, waste is waste. No matter where you live, a farmers market is likely nearby — there’s one a few blocks from my apartment, and I love it – -when I have the time and initiative to go, that is!

If you’ve never navigated the rows of fresh produce grown locally, here are some tips for getting the best deals at the farmers market.

Go Late – The early bird may get the worm, but when it comes to the farmers market, you’ll get the best deals late in the day. Selection may not be quite as good, but farmers wanting to off-load their harvest before heading home will be open to selling it for a cheaper price.

Buy What’s Plentiful – Despite what you see in your grocery store’s produce aisle, every vegetable has a season. If you buy what’s plentiful you’ll pay less. This is simply because there may be more supply than demand.

Bring Small Bills – Negotiating is allowed at the farmers market — especially as the hours grow later and their surplus remains. Just be sure you bring plenty of change to negotiate discounts easier. Plus you’ll be able to complete transactions faster.

Make Connections – Unlike your grocery store, prices at the farmers market are flexible. Make connections with the growers, compliment their products, and you may be offered a discount.

Bring a Friend – I often shop with my best friend or my mom, and we often realize that there’s bulk items that are less “bulky” if we were to share. As with most items we purchase, the best deals happen when you buy in bulk. But unless you’ve got a brood of youngsters to feed you probably don’t need ten pounds of squash or a gallon of blueberries. Bring a friend along to the farmers market and split your purchases. Cooperative buying will lower your expenses.

Don’t Overbuy – Avoid the costliest mistake of all—throwing away spoiled food. As your mom probably said — and mine STILL says to me — your eyes may be bigger than your stomach. So avoid over-buying until you have a firm grasp on how much fresh produce you really need.


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