Save Money on Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
by Kelly Henderson (follow Kelly on Twitter @kellythekiwi)
Buying your produce from your local market will help you save money and get the best quality produce. I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of Peckham Rye which has market stalls aplenty. I love going down and seeing which fruit and vegetables are on offer.
Here are a few tips for shopping at your local market:
#1 Freshness vs Price – choose your market shopping time
Your main shopping priority will determine what time you should go to the market. If you are looking for the freshest possible produce then head to the markets in the morning and beat all the crowds. However, if you are concerned about price then go about an hour before the market closes. The stall holders don’t want to take their produce home with them so they will happily reduce items and you will get some good bargains.
Also, if you know that your local market isn’t open on a particular day then go down the afternoon before and see what you can buy in bulk. This is ideal if you want to make juices or soups.
#2 Build loyalty and be rewarded
Befriend a couple of the stall holders and always go back to their stalls and you will be rewarded. Not only will they normally be willing to give you a deal but you will be able to get useful advice from them. A market vendor should know exactly where the produce is coming from, some tips on the best way to cook it and how ripe the produce is.
If they stock something that you haven’t tried or heard of before, this is your perfect opportunity to find out what a product is and what to do with it. You may even get a free taste!
#3 Plan ahead and only buy the produce you need
It is always tempting to buy loads of fruit and vegetables but try to plan out your meals for the week and only buy what you need. I know that all that fresh produce looks really tempting, and you may get a good deal on buying in bulk but you don’t want to be throwing it away because it has gone bad.
Supermarkets are able to package their goods in a way that makes them last longer, but this is not the case for markets. Think about where you are going to be able to store all those vegetables to keep them fresh as long as possible.
Don’t forget you will need to bring your own bags, and only buy what you can carry!
#4 Know which fruit and vegetables are in season.
Big supermarkets are able to import fruit from all over the world – local markets aren’t able to do this but what they have in season is plentiful. The fruit and vegetables that you can get from the local markets are normally bigger and fresher and have taken less time to go from the ground to your plate.
Knowing which fruit and vegetables are in season can help you get better deals. If you are unsure, Eat Seasonably are here to help with this calendar.
#5 Be prepared to pay in cash.
While there are now market stall holders who will accept card payments, the majority will still need to be paid in cash. Make sure that you have enough on you and that you have small change as well. Having a cash budget will also help you save money as you won’t be able to over spend.
And don’t leave it till you get there to find an ATM – the ones on my high street are never working when you need them!
Everybody has seen the £1 bowls full of fruit and vegetables at their local markets – they are a bit of a London tradition. But once you have mastered the buying of produce, think of all the other fresh food you can buy.
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You may also want to check out our tips for shopping at the supermarket.