Farmer's Market/Grocery Shopping List + Tips
I often receive messages from you guys asking what I buy on a weekly basis, how much I spend on grocery’s a week, and how I scale the quantities of the items that I often use in my recipes and everyday cooking. I honestly could not be more excited about this topic because I am “one of those” who gets excited to go grocery shopping and am always the first one in my family to offer to make the trip. I just love perusing around the farmer’s market to see what’s in season and strolling the aisles of the grocery store noting new products…I am like a kid in a candy store!
However, for some it’s their least favourite activity, getting overwhelmed by the selection of produce and products all while not knowing what to cook with their purchases; which I totally understand.
I am going to be diving into what I purchase at the farmer’s market (this season) and some tips and tricks for navigating them, what I purchase at the grocery store, and how long my items last. I hope these tips come in handy for you next time you find yourself making your trip to the farmer’s market or grocery store!
So let’s start out with the farmer’s market; one of my favourite places. Almost every Saturday I wake up early in excitement to get out for a run or spin and then I book it to the farmer’s market just as they open so they don’t sell out of the good produce before I get there. There’s nothing more inspiring than watching the farmer’s talk about their crops and observing the passion through each of their eyes. From learning tips and tricks of how to use up an unusual herb to how to cook a spaghetti squash properly so you don’t need to do dishes, each farmer will teach you something. Connecting with those who grow our food is powerful, and can make you feel so much gratitude for the meal you just cooked up using your veggies you bought a couple days ago from a local family farm.
As for what I purchase at the farmer’s market I purchase my produce that I am going to consume over the course of the week if it’s available. During the winter months however I do not have the opportunity to do so and purchase my produce at the grocery store. Below I have provided some tips that I find useful when navigating the farmer’s market!
Have an idea of what staple produce you need/want to purchase.
Every week I purchase greens including kale and mixed greens to make macro bowls, carrots to cut up and dip into hummus, broccoli, cauliflower, squash (either zucchini or spaghetti), tomatoes, herbs, and wild blueberries. Of course this is what is what is currently in season which is subject to change throughout the seasons.
2. Set a budget.
Considering I love the farmer’s market and want to buy everything in sight to support the farmer’s, I could easily spiral out of control and spend an exponential additional amount of money that I wasn’t initially planning on. I set a budget and bring a $50 bill with me each time I go to make sure I don’t buy that extra bunch of carrots I probably wouldn’t finish.
3. Bring your reusable shopping + produce bags.
Often farmer’s will not provide you with a shopping bag to carry your produce in, which is good provided that we as a society are striving to reduce our plastic consumption; including myself. As such, I strongly suggest bringing reusable shopping and produce bags. Any brands will do, however if you’re wondering what I use for produce bags, mine are Flip + Tumble which I received last Christmas! If a farmer already has items wrapped in plastic and if you feel comfortable asking them to keep the plastic for someone else, you reduce your plastic consumption!
4. Browse all the stands before you purchase.
Before I commit to any purchases, I always do a walk around the market to see who’s selling what I need and comparing the prices of each farmer along with their quality. Doing so makes me feel less overwhelmed and also helps me allocate my money effectively and efficiently.
5. Wash your produce.
When I get home from the farmer’s market I like to wash my produce because all of the produce in my experience is not pre-washed, additionally it’s usually extra organic and I often find litter critters crawling around my greens.
For all of the items such as my pantry essentials and produce that I cannot purchase at the farmer’s market I go to my local grocery store. Items that I usually purchase at the grocery store include beans + legumes, brown rice, quinoa, oats, nut butters, bread (or sourdough purchased at the local bakery), dates, fruit (bananas, berries, melon, grapes, etc.), and frozen veggies (green peas, corn, edamame). As with my mini farmer’s market tips I provided some of my tips and tricks to getting the best bang for your buck and making sure you use all of your purchases up to reduce or mitigate food wastage!
Decide what you want to make for the week on a sunday.
This time of the year I am whipping up mostly soups, stews, salads, and pasta as the fall season begins to creep up on us which will last me throughout the week. I usually have a general idea of what pantry items/additional produce I will be needing for the week. My pantry list usually encompasses the following: chickpeas, black beans, red lentils, split peas, canned tomatoes (for making sauces for pasta or for soup), brown rice, quinoa, and oats (which can be used for savoury or sweet porridge). Additionally, I will often browse cookbooks on a Sunday and flag pages of recipes I want to make to ensure I have the ingredients on hand.
2. Write a list.
This might seem super cliche, but writing a list helps me stay on task and avoids those extra purchases that aren’t necessary, but I usually still add an extra thing or two even if it isn’t on my list (just being real here).
3. Shop the international food section.
I often find myself browsing the international food section for my staple items like quinoa, brown rice, legumes, beans, canned coconut milk, and even tahini is usually cheaper in these sections and quantities are usually larger.
4. Shop at costco/sam’s club for bulk items.
I’ll admit I don’t really enjoy shopping at Costco due to the crowds and as I call it “the jungle,” however it’s undeniably one of the only places that you get your biggest bang for your buck. I often purchase veggie pasta, quinoa, maple syrup, veggie burgers (sometimes they have Dr. Pregger’s), frozen blueberries, and larabars at the jungle!
How long my shopping usually lasts:
This is probably my most asked question and I’ve broken it down for you to get an idea of how long my shopping usually lasts me. At the bottom of the post I have provided you a printable shopping list and how long each item usually lasts!
As mentioned in the farmer’s market section of the post my produce will usually last me one week with maybe an additional trip to the grocery store if needed be.
Items like brown rice, quinoa, lentils, split peas, vegetable stock cubes, beans, oatmeal, and other grains usually will last me a few weeks to up to a couple of months depending on the quantity provided in the packaging, which lasts longer if purchased at Costco or in the international food section.
I try to buy mostly fresh ingredients, however items such as peas, corn, edamame, blueberries, and frozen avocados are likely to last me approximately a month.
I often purchase items such as organic tofu, tempeh, coconut yogurt, almond milk, hummus, and kombucha which will usually last me about a week at the grocery market!
Items such as cooking oils, nut butters, cereals, bars, and rice cakes will last me on average up to a couple of months.
What Should I Buy Organic?
In an ideal world I’d be able to purchase everything organic, however unfortunately that is not the case provided where I live there is not an abundance of organic produce and given the fact that it’s economically not feasible I tend to stick to the “Dirty Dozen Rule.” The dirty dozen rule gives a general basis of what you should purchase organic!
The Dirty Dozen:
sweet bell peppers
My Grocery List: I have provided a grocery list below to give you an idea of what I purchase and how frequently I purchase the items! To download the list you can do so HERE.
I hope you enjoyed my long ramble about farmer’s markets, grocery shopping, buying organic, and how to get the best bang for your buck! If you have any questions or tips you would like to share, I’d love to hear!