Grocery shopping? You just gotta do it. But unlike most big chain grocery stores, farmer's markets can be one of the easiest ways to shop zero (or very little) waste. Fresh produce from local farmers are less likely to be stored in plastic bags and containers, and it's pretty convenient to bring your own bags when you're walking from home (if you're lucky enough to have one close by).
The best part? The produce is SO fresh and super seasonal so you know you're getting something delicious and healthy, making it easy for you to prep litter-free lunches and other meals for the week.
One of the most daunting aspects if you're new to shopping at a farmers market is that fresh produce can go bad within a day of purchasing if you don't store it properly.
But fear not. While this farmer's market haul was probably one of my biggest yet, I'll take you through a little tour of how I like to shop for, and store my goods.
First things first, gather your gear. A few things I always bring with me include:
- Reusable grocery bags. You can use anything here, really — shopping bags, paper bags, plastic bags you're reusing, beach bag, or a cloth tote bag. Literally anything will do when you're trying to reduce plastic use!
- Stasher bags. The sandwich size Stasher bags are perfect for storing fresh berries and smoothie ingredients, but I also use them to shop in bulk for nuts, herbs, and other items straight from the market.
- Produce bags. I have a few Ecobags in my arsenal. In my opinion, they're one of the best produce bags for shopping. They replace the little plastic bags you find at the grocery store if you want to protect your veggies, especially lettuce.
- Beeswax wraps. Like plastic cling wrap, but eco-friendly. I use these for fastening over open drinks and produce containers I don't have lids for. Try Bee's Wrap.
What I Bought
Shopping at a farmers market is just like shopping in the produce section of your grocery store, but with better views and ventilation. Plus, when you shop there regularly, you get to know the farmers that are growing your food and that's always a good thing.
Shopping is really easy: gather what you want and take it to the checkout to be weighed or priced. I usually hit one kiosk, toss everything in my reusable bags, and move on to the next.
Pro tip: bring some cash in case some of the farmers don't accept credit or debit cards (although most do these days).
During this haul, I purchased tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, portobellos, blueberries, black raspberries, cucumbers, green leaf lettuce, eggs, red onions, basil, squash blossoms, edible flowers, and rhubarb. Next, let's talk about how to store it all!
How to Store Your Produce
The more time-consuming portion is next, prepping and storing your goods.
- Tomatoes: Set these out on your kitchen counter in a basket away from direct sunlight.
- Spinach and green leaf lettuce: Rinse and store in an air-tight container with a clean cloth to absorb excess water.
- Zucchini: Rinse, dice, or spiral, and then store in an air-tight container or Stasher bag. I like to steam and freeze half for smoothies and spiralize the rest for zoodles!
- Portobellos: I do not wash these until I'm ready to eat them, they don't like excess moisture. Throw them in a bowl and cover loosely with beeswax wraps.
- Berries: Rinse and toss them in a Stasher in the fridge. Stand-Up bags are perfect for strawberries!
- Cucumbers: Wrap in beeswax wraps or a Stasher and toss in the fridge.
- Eggs: Place them in a bowl or egg rack (if you have one) and store in the fridge. Or, you can leave them in the cardboard container if they came in one.
- Onions: Either leave on the counter, or rinse, dice, and store in a glass container in the fridge. The smell leaches, so I try to only use glass for these!
- Basil: I let this guy breathe in an open Half Gallon Stasher with a little water at the bottom. Store on your countertop and NOT in the fridge as it will wilt ASAP.
- Edible flowers:These are best placed on top of a wet cloth in an air-tight container and stored in the fridge. Use these babies as soon as possible!
- Rhubarb: Rinse, dice, and store in an air-tight container or a Stasher Bag. Depending on the size, a Half Gallon Stasher would do the trick!
I hope this was helpful and you enjoyed learning about shopping at the farmers market and storing your food to stay fresher, longer!