Erika’s Post: 4 Tips on How to Shop Smart at Your Farmers Market

When you’re headed to the farmers market, you want to shop local, sustainable, and smart, right? You know you can find sales at the grocery store or use all the coupons you’ve saved, but how do you find the best deals at your farmers market?
It’s a common misconception to think that food from the farmers market is more expensive, but you can actually get a better deal since the food is coming right from the farmer, is of high quality and you’re avoiding any additional fees it may take for the food to get into the grocery store. In addition, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, what better time to find fresh items at the farmers market for the tastiest recipes! Read on to find out how to find the best deals at your farmers market and save on Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Shop in season: Do your research before you go to see what is in season.  Cranberries are a wonderful cold weather fruit for making homemade cranberry sauce and chutneys and they store very well in your refrigerator for up to a month; or you can also freeze them for up to three months. Carrots, apples, root vegetables and squash are also plentiful this time of year.
2. Bring cash: It may be tempting to buy all the fresh, bright colored things, but bring smaller bills and cap your budget so you don’t spend over what you brought and you won’t have too much crowding in your refrigerator.
3. Take a loop: Walk through the entire market and take inventory of what everyone has. Sometimes if you stop at the first spot you see there is often a cheaper price at a different tent or a sale going on with a specific vendor. Compare prices before you buy to save. Taking a loop through the market will also help you create a mental shopping list and make choices between products if needed so that you can stay on budget.
4. Buy in bulk: Buying bulk can help you save big if you have the storage for it. If you have an extra freezer think about buying meats and vegetables in bulk to save. Larger sizes of items like honey or maple syrup are often a better purchase than smaller-sized containers. Often times farms will offer a bulk discount or package deal for items that can logically be bought this way.
Something else to think about when it comes to shopping for the holidays is keeping an open mind when you are going to the farmers market. Instead of going in for something specific, create a recipe based off of what you find to mix things up and try something new that your family will love!
Next time you go to the farmers market, make it a point to talk to your farmer. Ask about their produce and growing practices. Tell them about yourself and why it is important that you have fresh produce and continue to build those relationships.
Thanksgiving Recipe: Homemade Cranberry Sauce
1 lb Fresh Cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
Crockpot method – Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low or until berries start to pop. To freeze and cook in crockpot later – combine all ingredients and put in gallon sized freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw bag in water or overnight in refrigerator. Pour into crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours.
On stove: Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 15 minutes at a gentle simmer. Stir often (reduce heat to medium-low if needed to maintain gentle simmer). Cool completely at room temperature and place in airtight container and refrigerate. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
Recipe adapted from Food Network and The Family Freezer blog

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