"Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue"
~ Vice President Richard Cheney

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Farmers Market Meal Fest

I was invited by Aleks to share some of my insight on living ethically on a limited budget. Being a starving artist, being frugal with money is kind of a life style choice. I am happy to discuss some of my habits. When I saw a post about Sun Tea and a post about Roller Derby, I was inspired.

First off, I am vegetarian and I try very hard to eat healthy, and do it without costing me a fortune. One of my rules is never to eat anything with more than three ingredients in it, and preferably only one. The great thing about this rule, is that most things with one ingredient are pretty inexpensive. Another rule I have been abiding by, is an effort to eat locally grown foods as well. The best place I've found, besides growing my own garden, to stick to my guidelines is to attend Farmer's Markets. Farmer's markets sell fresh fruits, veggies, dairy products, canned goods, meats, plants, and bulk items (each one is different). Tables at Farmer's Markets are usually from local farms from the area and feature incredibly good prices on extremely fresh and healthy foods.

There are a few disclaimers about buying food at Farmer's Markets. You need to cook. Because its easy to spend a few dollars and end up with a fridge full of rotting vegetables a week later. Secondly, you need to plan ahead what you are going to make with the food, and make sure you have time to make it. If you are crunched for time, it can be a bad investment. Also, if you are making small meals at a time it can hard to use all the ingredients, so it is extremely beneficial to make large amounts of a certain meal and eat the rest for lunch or leftovers over the next few days.

I often spend $20 dollars at a Farmer's Market and it can make 8-12 large meals, depending on the items I buy. And usually you will have food left over for snacks. That is some good value. And even with my modest cooking skills, everything tastes really good. I try to plan veggies to saute, cook in stew, chilies, soups, toppings for pizza and ingredients for burritos. In the future, I may try to put up a few recipes and the process of making bulk meals from one visit to the Farmer's Market. I often freeze my burritos, or tupperware future lunches.

Now, when I have a girlfriend, roommates, friends or family this Meal Fest is a fun gathering activity. Sometimes we will pool our money to buy even more things and share all the food and make many different meals to share. I also attend Farmer Markets when I am all by myself and although it takes more time and is not as much of a party, it is still a really smart move financially.

If you want to eat healthy, save money and support your local farmers; Farmer's Markets are the only way to go.


  1. Awesome entry. I'm moving to London in a few weeks - a city with a ton of famous markets. I'm excited to walk down the street and buy my veggies from a local vendor instead of picking it up at the grocery store. Exciting! Even though the £/$ exchange rate is rubbish, oh well...

    The only problem I have is that while I'd love to go full vegetarian, I just can't cook. I've even burned pasta :( Right now I'm in a flirting phase: I still eat chicken because it's what's prepared by my parents, (whom I'm living with until grad school starts next month) and I just can't give up fish because I love the taste. So unless I want to live on burned pasta forever, I need to start learning how to cook or else my diet will be so borring!

  2. London & Glasgow greengrocers have the best cheap shopping section ever - the scratch & dent area. Stuff American grocery stores (and big British chains) would just toss for not looking perfect, the small stores put into bags at the end of the display and sell for cheap.

    It was 10 years ago, but last time I was in the UK I could get a dinner-for-several sized bag of scratch and dent veggies for 50p almost every day at the little greengrocer around the corner from where I was staying.