Now that the blazing heat of summer is upon us, the farmer’s market is overflowing with so much goodness. Restraint is not my strong suit in the face of gorgeous, local veggies – by the time I leave, both arms are weighed down with so many bags that I actually get nervous thinking about finding the time to use everything (thankfully, I have yet to have anything go to waste!). If you haven’t ventured to your local market yet, what are you waiting for? If you are armed with a plan, you’ll come home with so many delicious things, you’ll never be at a loss for what to make for dinner (or breakfast) (or lunch) again. Here are my strategies for making the most of your visit to the market:
- Survey your fridge beforehand and see what you’re already well stocked with, and what you’re lacking. For example, if you just bought a huge head of romaine at the supermarket and only eat salads a few times a week, there’s clearly no need to get more lettuce. But if you’re looking at a bottle of champagne and a few wrinkled limes, you know that’s not gonna fly. Get lots of fresh, green things to remedy that. Future you will thank you when he/she is standing in front of the fridge at 7 PM wondering what to make for dinner.
- Come ready with cash! Small bills are helpful. Consider this part of your grocery budget – you won’t be spending as much on produce at the grocery store once you have lots of fresh, local veggies to pick from in your fridge.
- Chat up your farmers. Part of the “experience” of strolling around a farmer’s market is getting to know the source of your food – finding out who grows it, where it’s grown and how (organically or…?). This really connects you to what you eat, which, in turn, makes you want to eat better and healthier and more organically and locally. Farmers often have great cooking tips, too, so if you’re uncertain about what the heck to do with kohlrabi, ask! You’ll probably get a delicious preparation suggestion.
- Speaking of what the heck to do with kohlrabi, my next tip is to always buy something (it can just be ONE thing) that you’ve never cooked before. Ask the farmer for recipe ideas, or Google it up once you’re home. It’ll expand your cooking repertoire and you just might find your new favorite veggie! My theory is – if it’s leafy, it can either be eaten in a salad, or sautéed with garlic and olive oil. If it’s starchy, roast it up with olive oil, salt and pepper. When you’re completely perplexed with an ingredient and Google is of no help (!! doubtful, but…), consider throwing it into a vegetable soup, or adding it to your blender the next time you make green juice.
- Definitely buy a loaf of fresh bread. Artisan bread contains only a few ingredients and you’ll recognize all of them, and it’s infinitely more tasty than the crazily processed store bought stuff. Once you have a loaf of something delicious at home with you, think of the possibilities! Sandwiches, breakfast toast, avocado toast, french toast, bread pudding, croutons, breadcrumbs, sauce mopping…I mean…this girl obviously still says yes to gluten.
- Get there early. You’re going to be tempted to ignore me on this one once you realize this entails waking up at 7 AM on a Sunday, but I’m really hoping you take my advice and get to your market within an hour of it opening otherwise you’re robbing yourself of the best selection. Sure, there will still be things to buy no matter what time you arrive – but all of the really good stuff, the otherwise hard to find, beautiful, fresh things – they’re snatched up much sooner rather than later. This is what strong coffee is for.
- Plan your weekly menu and grocery store shopping list after your farmer’s market visit. Let the super fresh, local stuff dictate what you’re going to eat that week. Let it inspire you when you’re creating your menu. Fill in the gaps with stuff from the supermarket, not the other way around. Include a fresh fruit or vegetable at each meal/snack and you’re sure to use everything up by week’s end. If you’re really struggling, see #4 and put any unused produce in a soup or green juice.
I hope you’re all having a great summer so far – keep coming back for tips, recipes and news!