Save a bushel of bucks at the farmer’s market with these shopping strategies.

minute read


As summer nears and government shutdowns end, you may be eager to head to the farmer’s market for the freshest produce. And if you’ve had groceries delivered lately due to the coronavirus pandemic, you’re probably ready to select your own fruits and vegetables again.

Fortunately, there’s no better place to find delicious produce than at local farmer’s markets. For one thing, you get to shop outside in the fresh air, which can be healthier than crowded grocery store produce aisles. You’re also supporting small local or regional businesses, which need a boost in a troubled economy. Plus, fresh homegrown produce just tastes better.

Don’t peel out of your driveway to be first in line at the farmer’s market just yet, though. First, check out these six tips on how to save money while still coming home with a great harvest…

Click here to sign up for our free financial education email course.

1. Shop around

Shop around

Don’t ask the first vendor you see at the farmer’s market to start bagging up tomatoes and rolling out melons. Browse the market instead, scoping out booths and farmers, finding out what each offers at what prices. Then you can narrow your choices.

Never base your produce booth picks on price alone. Look at additional factors such as whether the area is clean and orderly or a dirty mess, which can show a lack of concern with details that affect produce quality and sanitation standards.

2. Go at off-peak times

Go at off-peak times

If you shop the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning, you’re probably not going to have much bargaining power when crowds of people are eager to stock up on produce and willing to pay the asking price. So be smart and go when the market isn’t as busy, late in the afternoon, for example.

Maybe there’s a produce stand in your neighborhood that’s open during the week. Some farmer’s markets may also offer a smaller but decent market on one or two weekdays, especially in downtown areas.

3. Stick with a vendor you like

Stick with a vendor you like

When you hop from farmer to farmer every week to get the best price on certain items, you never get a chance to develop a relationship with the vendor, which can pay off over the course of the summer. For example, it’s not uncommon for a vendor to throw in an extra cucumber or reduce the price of a cantaloupe if he or she sees you as a loyal customer.

Take a genuine interest in the farmer’s work and produce farm. If you’re loyal, friendly and treat the vendor with respect, you’ll get plenty of good deals down the road.

4. Haggle respectfully

Haggle respectfully

There’s a fine line between negotiating and being an annoying cheapskate. Yes, you want a good deal, but be reasonable. Many farmers may not even break even some seasons, so don’t try to get the best of a hardworking person trying to make a living.

Rather than trying to buy an item for less than it’s worth, purchase enough produce to allow some wiggle room in the overall price. Then make a reasonable offer.

5. Ask about imperfect produce

Ask about imperfect produce

Many vendors have a small section containing produce that buyers typically overlook such as tomatoes with small spots or bruises or misshaped veggies that still taste great.

Ask if the farmer has “scratch ‘n dent” tomatoes, avocadoes or similar items that you can use for soups, sauces, salads and other dishes that don’t require produce perfection.

6. Don’t restrict purchases to only organic

Don’t restrict purchases to only organic

If you prefer buying organic fruits and vegetables, you’ll typically pay more than for non-organic produce. Paying higher prices for organic is worth the cost to many people. However, you don’t always have to buy organic to lower exposure to pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” guide to pesticides in produce.

If you want to save money, consider purchasing some non-organic produce from the “clean 15,” which are fruits and vegetables less likely to contain residue from pesticides. The list includes avocados, sweet corn, cabbage, onions, asparagus, eggplants, honeydews, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Did we provide the information you needed? If not let us know and we’ll improve this page.
Let us know if you liked the post. That’s the only way we can improve.

About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by, LLC