Farmers' Market Survival Guide: 10 Tips to Take With You

Y'all know I love to cook.

Going grocery shopping, not so much. But going to the farmers' market -- two thumbs up!

Here I am at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. My boyfriend had to pull me away -- I could have spent our whole vacation there!

If you don't already, I highly recommend shopping at your local market ... just check out my farmers' market checklist before you head out the door.




1. Pack your bags. Bring a canvas tote, extra plastic bags, and Tupperware containers. Most vendors have small bags but your tote will make it easier to stash everything in one. Plus, you'll be helping the environment by reusing bags.

2. Bring cash. Some vendors will take cards but there may be a minimum. You should have nothing larger than a $20 bill and small bills as well like ones, fives, and tens.

3. Go at the best time. If you go early in the morning, expect to get the best, freshest produce and the largest selection. Some people like to go at the end of the day when the selection isn't as great, but vendors are most likely to give discounted deals.

4. Plan your meals. Knowing what you plan to make for the week ahead will yield impulse shopping and multiple trips to the grocery store throughout the week ... not to mention it's great for your budget and a super time-saver.

5. Make a routine of it. If you can, pick the same time and day each week. Vendors will get to know you and if they like you, they'll put aside some of the better-looking produce for you or save recommendations for you.

Once at the market ...

6. Get recommendations. The farmers know how to best cook their goods. Ask for recommendations of what's great this week and a recipe or suggestions on how to cook it.

7. Think beyond produce. There are a ton of other items to pick up at your local market. Try meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, jams, and more.

8. Step outside your comfort zone. Try a unique veggie or fruit you normally wouldn't buy, like purple broccoli or goose berries. The farmers will tell you all about the taste and texture and tell you how to cook it and what to pair it with.

9. Negotiate a good deal. Toward the end of the day, some vendors try to unload the stock they haven't sold ... see if you can get a deal. Also, if you are buying in bulk or a handful of items, try to get a 3-for-2 deal or something similar.

10. Sample, sample, sample. This is the best part of shopping at the farmers' market. Vendors will let you taste before you buy and sometimes even if you don't buy.

What's on your farmers' market checklist?


Images (top to bottom): Brianne DiSylvester; Brianne DiSylvester

Read More >