How to Farmers' Market shop

How to shop at a Farmers' Market

Shopping for your weekly farm fresh groceries from a market is your lifestyle buy-in; food from the people who grow it.

Farmers' markets are not like shopping at a store; they are filled with what local farmers grow and producers make from food grown in your region. The produce available truly reflects the season you are living in. In other words, don’t go to the market expecting to find red capsicums all year round. The best way to make the most out of ‘true fresh’ produce is to see what is there & then decide what you are going to cook. The true seasonality of markets also means that there may be limited supplies of some goods.

What to bring?

  • Be prepared: Be early
  • Have cash – smaller notes are appreciated - Very few stalls have eftpos
  • Make a list – best done the night before or have an ongoing one on your fridge
  • Shopping bags or cart ready in the car
  • Keep an esky or foam box in the boot for perishables  - add ice coolers on the day
  • Have your membership card

When you get there:

1-Take a quick stroll around the market checking out who has what.
 What there is a lot of is in "glut", in season and will be the best buy.
 If you are shopping with a companion do this together then divide & conquer the list!

2 - Take note of who has bulk deals: e.g.. whole tray of Strawberries for $8

3-Your list should have unprocessed fresh raw food at the top. At the bottom of the list you can          introduce processed foods, baked sweet goods, packaged items.

4-Remember to ask for tastes, try foods you would not normally buy. It’s an opportunity to expand  your taste reference.

5 - Start your shop with what is most important to you.

The Lifestyle Staples
Greens: Veg: Fruit: Fresh greens and softer vegetables sell-out first, followed by fresh produce. Seasonally dependent fruits are quick to go. 

Meat: Chicken and cuts of local meat are the next to go followed by smoked goods.
Bacon fans should have it listed first

Bread: Organic, sourdough and specialty breads next.

Dairy: Boutique and biodynamic milk & natural yoghurt first.
Note: If you want local cream & butter put that to the top of your priority list

If you are a fan of fresh soft cheeses move them up the list.

Eggs:  I always buy 700g eggs

6 - Once the staples are sorted order your coffee and look at an accompanying pastry or breakfast.       

7 - Honey - jams – oils – nuts are next

8 - Cakes - sweets – chocolates

9 - Wine and beer, all good to get last and a tasting is much appreciated after a well executed shop.

10 - Chatting to friends is big and I would say the most important part of shopping at a farmers' market.

Going back to talk to stall holders with questions is best done at the slower end of the market; they have more time to talk, but as you shop feel free to ask questions...
Ask questions:

  •      Where is the Farm?
  •      What farming methods they subscribe to?
  •      What is coming into season?
  •      What is going out of season?
  •      How do you cook ingredients that you are not comfortable with?
  •      What time do they got up that morning?
The idea is to know where your food comes from & who grows it.

“Life styles are decided by food.”

What & How much to Buy?

To write a shopping list that suits your budget & your household requirements without wastage & shortfalls take a little time to think about the following:

1-How much cooking do you want to do?
You may require quick cook pieces of protein and many variations on salad, stir fry & grains

2-How much time do you have?
Do you slow cook large pots of soup, stews & braise? 
Having backup cooked grains & pulses in the fridge helps to put meals together quickly

3 - What cooking equipment do you have? How much storage do you have?

4 - What is your budget?
Work out how much money you spend on food each week, divide it by the number of meals.
In season produce is more affordable and has nutritional value.

5 - What are your dietary requirements? It’s hard to eat the wrong foods if they are not in the house.
Gluten free fans ask at your information tent which stalls cater for you.

These answers direct your shopping

6 - How many meals are you home for?

7 - Do you make lunches or snacks?

9 - Do a quick meal plan for the week.

  • Cross out the meals you are out for
  • Work in a meat free day or 3 meals over a week
  • If you cook a lot make one meal a leftover meal
  • For those on a health kick add a salad / raw food component to every meal -  especially dinner.
  • Depending on budget, gradually increase your pantry with dry goods, grains & spices not available at all   farmers markets

10 - Approximate Quantity Guide Lines for healthy eaters (1 meal = 1 person)

  • 1 bunch of greens for 2 meals (the ideal)
  • 1 bunch of Veggies e.g. carrots for 5 meals
  • 1 Chicken, for 4 to 5 meals
  • 1 kg of beef for 5 meals
  • 500 g of cheese makes 7 to 8 meal / serves

See you at the farmers' market,



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