Want to meal plan but not sure how to plan around your weekly farmers market trip? This step-by-step guide will help you stick to your plan so you can eat local, waste less food, and save money!
You did it! You made eating local a priority, and started shopping every week at the farmer’s market. You learned the farms in your local area and even made friends with a farmer or two.
And while you love your weekly farmer’s market hauls, you come home from your trips with a random mix of in-season fruits and vegetables and end up wasting half of them. You feel good about buying local ingredients, but know that letting them go to waste is defeating the purpose of local eating.
Never fear! You’re doing a great job of supporting your local food system, but what you need now is a PLAN.
If you’re following a green eating lifestyle and frequenting your local farmer’s market, it’s simple to work your farmer’s market haul into a weekly meal plan that will allow you to save money, waste less food, and streamline your shopping trips while still taking advantage of the season’s freshest produce. Are you ready to find out how?
1. First, decide which comes first: the farmers market or the meal plan
There are two ways of going about meal planning when you also shop at farmers markets:
- Create a weekly meal plan first and go to farmers market and buy what is already on your list
- Go to farmers market first and buy what is in season (and on sale) and then create a meal plan around what you buy
Both tactics work, you just have to figure out which works best for you. If you know your local farmers market really well and you’re in tune with what is in season and when, then go ahead and make your meal plan first and use it as a guide for what you need to buy at the farmers market.
However, if you’re like me and love perusing the market stalls and seeing what inspired you, then hit the markets first and then plan your meals around what you buy. Maybe one week carrots are on sale and you score a box, while the next you’re up to your ears in leafy greens. When you return home with your haul you can plan the next week’s meals from what you have and head to the grocery store to buy the things you couldn’t find at the market.
2. Create your weekly meal planning grid and plan your meals for the week
Next it’s time to make your actual meal plan. I start by making a grid of the week and then filling out what days you’ll be eating away from home and that you don’t need to shop for. This usually means a dinner out or a work happy hour that I know will mean I won’t be hungry when I get home.
Next, plan your meals using the food you bought from the farmer’s market (and what you already have in your kitchen). Did you score tomatoes? Plan to make Roasted Tomato Leek Soup one night, and Caprese Ciabatta Toast another. Did you find a deal on spices like turmeric? Make a big batch of Homemade Golden Milk Mix and drink homemade golden milks all week.
Fill in the meals you’ll eat each day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the ingredients you’ll need to buy at the market and store. This will be both your meal plan to follow each day AND your shopping list.
For step-by-step instructions on how to create your weekly meal plan, visit the How to Create (and Stick to) a Weekly Meal Plan post and download our meal planning guide for a printable weekly meal plan grid!
3. Shop from your meal plan grocery list
Now it’s time to shop with your list! Cross each item off while at the store (don’t forget your pen!). If you’re shopping at multiple stores and markets, simply cross off the items at the first store and then take the list with us to the next.
When you return home from the store, post your list on the refrigerator. There’s no point in creating a meal plan if you’re not going to stick to it, so post it where it’s visible every day to take the guesswork out of what’s for dinner!
I hope this guide helps you to better plan your farmers market trips each week so you can eat local and streamline your shopping trips (and your grocery budget). Leave me a comment below and let me know your favorite tips for meal planning!