We love using the fresh fare from the farmers market for tasty summer meals — but the often-higher prices aren’t as appealing as the food. Luckily, there are ways to save money on farm fresh produce so you can eat the best fruits and veggies in your area on a budget. Here, savvy secrets to shopping the market without breaking the bank.
Go for bulk to nab food for less.
“We know to buy produce in bulk to lower farmers market prices, but many markets also sell prepared food, and those vendors are more than willing to give you a deal when you buy their food in bulk,” says Andrew Ehlert, local business expert at WeRaleigh.com. “For instance, this week, I got an extra package of tamales for free when I bought four (I froze the extras for later), plus the vendor offered me a container of salsa at half price. So I paid $30 for 10 tamales plus salsa — a combo that costs over $45 in a store!” (Click through to see why farm-fresh produce is one of the 9 best foods to fight hot flashes.)
Ask this question to find the best bargain.
“Many shoppers don’t realize that farmers sell at more than one market per week, and the prices for the same produce can vary by location,” notes John Bedford, food prep expert at VivaFlavor.com. “To reserve their stalls for the season, farmers and vendors have to pay fees, and the prices depend on how big the market is, or where it’s located. What they pay will define what trickles down to what you pay. Simply ask the farmers if they sell in other markets and if the prices are any better there!”
Pay with ‘cash’ to score discounts.
“While most vendors at the market will take credit cards as payment, they’re actually much more willing to offer you a deal if you pay in cash. This ensures they won’t have to pay a profit-eating fee (around 3.5%) on each credit card sale,” explains Kathleen Willcox, food writer at EdibleCapitalDistrict.com. “Don’t carry cash? Many vendors accept payment through the app Venmo. Simply look for a sign sharing their Venmo account information and ask if they’ll charge less if you use it to pay!”
Give farms a follow to get great deals.
“Many farmers have some sort of social media presence, and following their accounts can mean big bargains for you! I started doing this a couple of years ago and found that many offer exclusive deals to their followers, ” says Omaha, NE mom of three, Jenny Price. “For example, one of my favorite dairy farms’ Instagram account alerted me to a sale on cheese — six blocks for $25! It was a great price and I love their products, so I stocked up. Also, one pasta maker I follow announced special pricing on new flavors on her Facebook page, so I hit her stall early to get the deal before she sold out!”
Snag end-of-the-day flats for big savings.
“Two ways to save at farmers markets? Shop at the end of the day, when farmers want to move unsold items, and buy in bulk because farmers are overloaded with in-season stock they need to get rid of. But combine the two and you can save the most!” recommends RuralMom.com blogger Barb Webb. For example, heirloom tomatoes cost $5 a pound, but as the market was closing the other day, I managed to grab a 10-pound flat for $30, as well as a flat of organic strawberries for $20 — half a flat is usually $15!”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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