Farmer's Market Frugality: Harvest Time

Chicago

Shopping at farmer's markets is a great way to get fresh, local and sometimes organic produce. But costs can vary based on where you live and what you buy. Here in Chicago, we usually take a $20 bill to our neighborhood market and see how far it will take us. This week, we tried to be as frugal as possible and get the most for our money.

We went to the market with a couple of recipes in mind – a cauliflower curry and a broccoli salad. Both of them will make enough to eat for multiple meals, and will use items that we already have in our pantry – walnuts, honey, tomato paste, curry powder. Keeping in mind what you already have stocked helps to plan meals around fresh items from the market without spending additional money.

Otherwise, we were just on the lookout for bargains. Here's what we got:

4 eggplants, $3

2 winter squash, $1 each

2 broccoli heads, $1 each

2 tomatoes, $1.50/lb.

3 onions, $1.25/lb.

1 bunch organic kale, $2.50

1 large head of cabbage, $2.50

1 box of Concord grapes, $3

The giant head of cabbage will last us for several meals, and the eggplants will make a good base for a couple of dinners. We steered away from some of the pricier items that wouldn't go quite as far, but "splurged" on the organic kale, even though we'll only get one meal out of it.

The grapes were a good deal too, with many fruit options at $5 and higher. At $1 a piece, the winter squash were much more affordable than the ones we saw at the Green City Market this past weekend (although not organic), but they'll last for a while if we don't get to them this week (not likely).

Here are a few recipes we're planning to use:

Related: Could You Eat on $25 a Week?

(Image: Joanna Miller)