There's an old joke about a much-anticipated book on Healthy and Delicious Food: Part I – Healthy Food. Part II – Delicious Food. We amirk at the joke because we know it's hard to find food that is both heatlhy and delicious. We could add Part III as well – Cheap Food. At the farmer’s market, you can sometimes find healthy, delicious, and well-priced food all in one. Many would beg to disagree, however, especially when it comes to the well-priced part. For some reason, people think farmers’ markets and organic food are the domain of the wealthy alone. I beg to differ.
Sometimes the produce is indeed budget-breaking, especially when you want to buy something out of season or when it comes to community supported agriculture. CSA, as the latter is known, is an initiative where you have to pay a fee to be delivered fresh produce during the farmer's season. This can be quite pricey. You should also be informed of the pros and cons of joining a CSA.
How to budget your way?
What you should do is buy produce that is in season. Out-of-season fruit and vegetables are likely to blow your budget. Most people at the market accept cash only, so do not take more money than you want to spend. Do not blow your entire wad at the first stand you come across – shop around first so you can see how many products there are, of which there is the most, which are the best-priced, and so on.
Budgeting your way at this time of year
Leafy greens are the most abundant and cheapest in the northern U.S. at this time of year. They are perfect for salads and sandwiches and make for a great light dish in the scorching heat. Another great deal is chard because you can eat both the leaves and the stems. There are many great recipes with chard – in sandwiches with cheese and eggs, with rice and pork, or with other vegetables like peas and garlic. The meat and eggs at the farmers’ market are nothing like what you would get at your local grocery store or supermarket. The eggs are more intense in both color and flavor. What is more, locally produced cheese is to die for, even though it is a bit more expensive.
You can afford to get fresh meat like seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, or pork once in a while. Its quality is far superior to what stores have to offer, and much healthier at that. Yes, it is much more expensive, but like I said, once in a while you can treat yourself. If you want fresh meat more often, you can get cheaper stuff like pork shoulder instead of pork fillet or steak and use it in a sustainable recipe and garnished with rice, potatoes or salad.
Should you budget after all?
Finally, budgeting may not always be the most important thing. You should not be trying to save money from bare necessities like food and health care. Eating healthy and sustainably raised and grown meat, fruit, and vegetables is a good investment because the repercussions of a poor diet can take years to smooth out.