I adore Eastern Market here in Detroit and Blocks in Romulus, Michigan. These two farmers markets are popular in the metro Detroit area, and many people flock to these places to buy their produce. With most prices lower than the grocery store, it’s easy to understand why. The smell of fresh fruit and vegetables permeates the air. Local food vendors sell pickles, jams, and even ice cream for you to sample. I kill entire days wandering around farmers markets.
However, and you knew this was coming; sometimes farmers markets can be more expensive than your local supermarket. If you know what to look for and how to approach vendors, the prices can be significantly lower than the grocery store. Over the years I’ve picked up a few tips, and I’m passing them along to you!
- Visit Rural Farmers Markets
I’ve noticed that farmers markets in cities tend to be more expensive than the stands that some farmers set up on their front yards. So on that next Sunday drive, keep an eye out for small stands on the roadside.
- Go Later In the Day
Some people love getting up early to be the first in line. There’s no way I’ll be up at 5 a.m. to go to a farmers market that early, and actually my laziness and need to sleep in on the weekends helps me save money at the market. If you go closer to closing time, you can catch some pretty decent deals. Most of the vendors want to liquidate their goods and often drop the prices by half or negotiate more so they don’t have to pack up whatever is left over.
- Compare Prices
Make sure to walk around a little bit and compare prices. I often found that if I purchased something from the first vendor I saw, five minutes later I saw the same thing for a dollar or two less. Make notes about which vendor offers the lowest prices.
- Bundle Items
Instead of buying items individually, try gathering a few things you want, combine the prices, then subtract a dollar or two from the total. It’s a tricky way to save a little money and look like you’re spending a lot.
- Go for Seasonal Items
Knowing which veggies or fruits are in season can help save you money because there are tons available.
- Plan Your Meals
Think about the food you’d like to make in the next few days and target the items you need to buy. This tactic can help keep you from getting distracted by all the wonderful things around you and stick to what you need to buy.
- Bring Cash
The nice thing about farmers markets is most vendors only accept cash. Bringing a certain amount of cash with you will help you limit what you spend and be cautious of what you buy. I know that sometimes I go crazy at the grocery store because I can just put everything on my credit card, and as a result I always spend more than I intend to.
During the summer and fall, I save a ton of money buying my produce from local farmers markets. Also I feel good knowing that my money is going back to local farmers and food vendors. A Healthier Michigan notes, “’If every Michigan household spent just $10 more of their weekly food budget on Michigan products we would put $37 million a week into our local economy.’” Whether you live in Michigan or anywhere else, think about how shopping at a local farmers market can not only save you money but help put cash back into your local economy.