7 Tips For Shopping Smart At Farmers Markets

Toronto Farmers Market, fresh flowers, pink flowers, pink peonies

This summer Nathan Phillips Square hosts a farmer's market every Wednesday from 8am to 4pm. The kiosks have cheese, baked goods, honey, fresh produce, and more. I personally love this market for the convenience. It's on my way to work so I can grab groceries (and lunch) on my way in to the office. In the event that I have a prenatal appointment in the hospital district, I'll swing by the Tuesday farmer's market at Sick Kids hospital that's on from 8am-2pm.

No matter what farmer's market you go to, here are my top tips to make it a successful trip. 

1. Make a list:
Know what meals you'll be cooking that week so you don't waste food or come home with missing ingredients. I'm not saying that you can't stray, you should definitely be open minded about trying interesting things. You'll find amazing gems like oils and reductions but it's also important to grab the essentials and don't over or under shop. I've definitely come home, started cooking and ended up short or completely out of an item. A list also helps control impulse buying. 

Here's a great guide of what's in season (by month) to get you inspired. 

Toronto Farmers Market, fresh strawberries

2.  Be prepared: 
You will need to have cash on hand as most vendors won't accept anything else. Also, make sure to bring re-usable bags or a granny cart (I also being reusable produce bags like these wherever I go)

Toronto Farmers Market, fresh vegetables, local vegetables

3. Take a walk: 
This is simple enough, walk the market in its entirety. Grab a coffee, tea, lemonade, whatever and RELAX. Check out the items, prices, etc. That way you find the best stuff for the best price.

Toronto Farmers Market, Fresh bread

4. Early bird gets the worm:
The earlier the better. You get first pick on the freshest items and it's less busy. They usually open around 8 am so you can have breakfast there too. Since these markets normally have all natural and fresh ingredients you don't feel as guilty grabbing a muffin or loaf to indulge on.

Toronto Farmers Market, healthy bread, fresh bread

5. Try different foods:
Never tried fiddle heads, honeycomb, or specialty cheese? If you don't like them fresh from the farm, you likely won't like them at all. Grab something new to experiment with your family. Bonus points if your child has a say since they'll be more likely to eat it.

Toronto Farmers Market, local jam, local honey

6. Buy heavey stuff when leaving:
This is just logical. Don't get bogged down at the first kiosk and have to carry everything around. Unless you use a cart and want the heavy stuff on the bottom.

Toronto Farmers Market, local products

7. Ask questions:
If it's not too busy, ask how the farmers recommend preparing it, or for their favorite recipes. People love to share!

Check out BlogTO's full listing of Toronto Farmers Markets for each day of the week!
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