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5 simple ways to make the most out of a visit to your Ontario Farmers' Market

Shop smart and support local businesses with these easy tips!

It's the time of year most of us have been waiting for: warmer weather! While some people welcome this change of season with a turn-the-home-upside-down spring-cleaning spree, others will head straight to their nearby seasonal farmers market, re-launched for the first time since autumn. In an ever-evolving food and beverage industry still adapting to an increase of e-commerce grocer options, farmers' markets remain a stalwart of the food shopping experience. Whether you consider yourself a savvy foodie or you frequently find yourself intimidated by shopping for groceries, there are opportunities for you to save money and learn something new about the province-grown products available to you.

TD Bank offers some key tips to help you shop confidently at a farmers' market with cost-effective savings top-of-mind.

Buy in bulk

It's most efficient for vendors to offer large quantities of items at a lower price point than for individual sale. When produce is at its harvest peak, farmers look to move stock while it's fresh, and this is to the benefit of buyers! You can take advantage of the bulk deals while guaranteeing the most flavourful, ripe produce. Avoid stressing over the excess by arriving at the market prepared to bring home a large volume, knowing that a portion of it can be frozen or pickled and consumed months later.


Shop end-of-market

If you want the widest selection of goods, get to the farmers' market early, but for the best savings, shop at the farmers' market later in the day. Vendors frequently offer discounted prices in the last hour of the market to avoid loading all the goods back in the van. Note: Some markets have rules against end-of-market discounts.

Talk with the farmer

Although farmers may spend most of their time in their fields, many of them (and their employees) delight in the opportunity to talk with shoppers about their offerings. You, as the consumer, can not only learn about new varieties of produce or locally made goods like cheese and wine on offer at the market, but you also stand the chance of having an extra item tucked in your bag or striking a cost-savings deal with the farmer.


Have a budget

Many of us have experienced firsthand the financial perils of going grocery shopping on an empty stomach. The same is true at the farmers' market. Try to go after eating a meal or snack. To avoid overspending, give yourself a budget before you land at the market – then stick to it. For help in determining what your allocated groceries spending should be based on your financial situation, use a resource like the TD Personal Cash Flow Calculator.

Prep ahead: Think seasonal

If your biggest obstacle at the farmers' market is a sense of being overwhelmed by the options and what to choose, do some research and preparation at home first. Think primarily about what foods are growing in the season you're in, and what dishes you would want to make using those items. Find recipes, make lists of what you need to put together the meal, and then simply execute the plan once you've made it to your farmers market destination, avoiding the urge to make impulse purchases that stray from your plan. Alternatively, you can reverse engineer this process when you get home and use a site like "My Fridge Food" to make the most of the produce you bought.


When you're preparing to make your way to your local market, remember that if you bring your own bag to the market, you're not only helping reduce waste and being kind to the environment, you're also saving the farmer on overhead costs, which might inspire the added perk of a slight discount. The rise of convenience shopping continues but farmers' markets continue to offer a guarantee of the freshest and most local fruits, vegetables, and sundry pantry staples. It is a unique resource that offers connection with the grower and provides basic food education and is an opportunity to support the local economy and – last but not least – to save money on groceries if you go about it in a strategic way.

This story was produced by TD Bank and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.