Hello my name is Renee and I will willingly admit that I am a certified local food fanatic. I love learning about what foods grow and taste best in my area. Then, I use those ingredients to whip up old favorites and try new dishes whenever inspiration strikes. 

Whether you're trying to eat healthier, expand your food horizons, or just live a more sustainable lifestyle, I would highly recommend trying to find as much of your food as possible locally. One difficult part about trying to eat local, however, is that if you're not careful, it can get pretty costly. 

Luckily, I've been doing this for a while now, so I've been able to track down the best ways to get the best of both worlds: local food at an affordable price. These tips should help you to cut down on your budget.  

1. Become a regular at your local farmer's market

Not only will you slowly get to know the local farmers, but you’ll become more aware of the trends in prices. You’ll know what stands have better prices for which items, and you may even find that arriving at the beginning or end of the market will help you save a few bucks.

2. Visit local farms directly

When you cut down on transportation and middlemen, you can often save a lot on produce cost. In addition, many farms offer bulk options that cost significantly less than paying per individual portion of whatever produce you're looking to buy. 

3. Join a CSA

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Think of a CSA membership as a local produce subscription service.

Depending on the CSA you join, you’ll most likely get a different assortment of fresh produce every week for a set price. What you get will vary each week depending on what’s in season.

This is one of my personal favorite ways to eat local because it forces me to become more creative with my cooking when I receive an ingredient that I haven’t tried cooking before. My local CSA also provides recipes for the produce every week, but you can always find recipes online if you receive an unfamiliar ingredient. 

4. Do a little research

If you spend just a few hours online researching, you’ll be able to find what produce grows well in your region and when it’s in season. That will help you to seek out the locally grown produce when it’s in its prime, which just so happens to be when it’s always at its cheapest. 

5. Freeze local produce when it's in season

We all know what it feels like to hit the jackpot on corn in the summer. At my local grocery store growing up, the price would get down to 10 ears for a dollar sometimes. When that happens, try stocking up on a bunch of produce and freezing it to enjoy year-round.

Not only will it save you some major money, but it will also lock in nutrients that are only present when produce is at peak freshness. This works especially with fruit because you need frozen fruit for smoothies anyway.

Bonus: Grow your own food 

It may sound intimidating at first, but trust me on this one. Once you get going, it's actually pretty easy to maintain an at-home garden. There are several companies that sell vertical urban farming units, so not having enough space is no longer an excuse to avoid using your green thumb. 

I would recommend starting out with herbs, because they're super easy to grow and relatively cheap to buy. After you get your confidence up, you can move on to fruits and veggies. The possibilities are endless. 

It's summer and that basically means that all the things are in season right now. There's no time like the present to start eating local, so be sure to hit up your local farmer's market. Hopefully now you don't have to worry about putting a huge dent in your wallet.