In some ways, farmers’ markets can be a college student’s worst nightmare — no microwavable meals, cheap snacks, or pre-packaged ingredients? You may find yourself asking a myriad of questions such as, what on earth is that questionably shaped squash thingy? How many cucumbers can one human even eat in one week? Besides feed my bunny, what else can I do with all these fricken vegetables?
These questions may deter you from taking a stab at that hipster organic farmers’ market around the corner every Saturday morning. But not to worry… We’ve got a super easy comprehensible guide to navigating, purchasing, prepping, and mastering the farmers’ market.
Listed are the main categories of foods you should look out for and suggestions on how to prep them. Depending on what the market is offering, buy a couple items in each category and use these easy prep ideas to always have a fridge full of fresh, local, healthy nomz.
Depending on where you live and what season it is, your farmers’ market should offer a great selection of seasonal fruits. Grab 5-7 pieces for a quick snack, tasty dessert, or fresh spin on your jaded college meal (spice up your tuna sandwich by adding some chopped apples).
#SpoonTip: Ask which fruits are actually local. Many times with fruits (especially apples), farmers will offer non-local varieties (think Honeycrisp) simply because of popular demand. Go for the local varieties instead — the environment and your taste buds will thank you. Here is a guide to picking the right apple and a seasonal fruit guide.
Veggies to Roast
Roasted veggies rank #1 on my list of underrated foods. There are so many ways you can use them to make delicious, “I have five minutes until class starts, but need to eat or I will literally pass away.” meals. You can pretty much roast every vegetable, so just choose 3-4 different veggie varieties and use this “7 Simple Shortcuts to Effortlessly Prepare Veggies” guide to quickly roast them up.
Throw them in the fridge and use them all week in your salad, sandwich, omelette, panini, pasta, or quinoa. Here’s some more inspiration from the roasted veggie plan. Feelin’ adventurous? Try this recipe.
Potatoes… Eh, well, tbh, sweet potatoes are the real MVP. Not only are they economical, nutritious, and easy to cook — they’re delicious (and last for 3-5 weeks, bingo). Roast them (cut ’em up or keep’em whole), make fries, or even microwave them.
The Ron Swansons of the world can skip this section, but lettuce lovers rejoice over the plethora of fresh salad fixings you will find at the market. Take a walk on the wild side and stray away from your icebergs and romaines — try whatever salad leaves the market is offering (here are a few ideas). Also check out, “How to Make a Salad You Will Actually Enjoy” if you’re a skeptical carnivore.
Eggs & Meats
Hey now — I know what you’re thinking. That $5 bag of frozen chicken nuggets sounds way better than indulging in this pricey protein. Before you make any snap judgements, understand that buying those cage-free eggs and grass fed beef will help you:
- Protect yourself. Specifically, from harmful antibiotics found in industrial meat and, as the World Health Organization just revealed, cancer.
- Protect the environment. From air pollution to water pollution, to burning fossil fuels — industrialized meat is killing our environment. Click here to be truly horrified.
- Protect your taste buds. (Here is a side-by-side comparison of local versus supermarket meat that will illustrate this for you)
Farmers’ markets typically attract a variety of food artisans who specialize in making everything from breads to jams to olives. If you have the extra cash, then do your pantry a favor and stock up on some seriously unique delicious foods, while also supporting local businesses.
#SpoonTip: If you want to make your bread last longer, slice it up and put it in your freezer for yummy toast whenever you want (smear some hummus on it, add your roasted veggies, and splash some hot sauce on top for a great munchie snack).