As January is coming to a close, the dust is settling and things have started falling back into a routine. For most people, getting groceries is a chore – something they dread as much as trying on new jeans. For me, grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do, it’s fun! I know, I know it’s weird. But, I love picking out the freshest veggies, seeing what’s new and in season, and coming up with creative ways to play around with new foods. I’ve put together a little guide below to break up the monotony of getting fresh groceries. Maybe you’ll start to love grocery shopping as much as I do!
In most countries, grocery shopping isn’t a once every other week thing. Most people around the world go to markets to buy fresh produce daily. Yes, I said it. Daily! Before you start to cringe and stop reading the rest of this post – there are ways to ease into it and make this routine trip fun! You can always get fresh produce at any old grocery store or super market but there are some fun alternatives that yield the best tasting produce and result in the most delicious and creative foods. You’ll never know what gems you can find! Here are my favorites:
Buy a share of your local CSA.
CSA stands for “community supported agriculture”. The CSA model works the following way: First, you need to purchase a share of the farm’s harvest for the season for an upfront fee (around this time of year). Shares are typically between $250 – $700 for weekly produce for 15-25 weeks. Typically, you can choose a large share (for a family of 4-5), a small or medium share (for smaller families and couples), or choose to pick up a share every other week. Many CSA’s also offer shares of fruit, coffee, eggs, wine (yay!), cheeses, meats, breads, and even flowers. Then, during the harvest season (~20-25 weeks), the CSA supplies you with a share of the vegetables/fruits/etc. harvested fresh on the day of the pickup. You take home and enjoy!
CSA’s are a great way to try out foods you normally wouldn’t find at the supermarket and support the local community. When finding a CSA, you’ll want to do some research and find the farm right for you. Here are a few things you’ll want to consider:
1. Cost of the CSA
Price per share differs from farm to farm and many farms operate on a lottery system to buy a share. Keep an eye on the enrollment dates so you don’t miss out.
2. Size of the share
You probably don’t want a large share for just you and your significant other – that is a lot of food! Most CSAs will advertise how many pounds of produce they distribute on average per share. Many people even choose to split a share with friends – not bad if you’re worried about eating so many vegetables!
3. Location and pick-up times
Most CSA’s require you to pick up your share on a weekly basis at the farm or one of their pickup locations. Make sure the location and times are convenient for you- you’ll be stopping by once a week to pick up your share. Most pickups that I’ve seen are on a week day although most farms also have one weekend pick up day as well. I set mine up so that I’ll drive by my pickup location on my way home from work every day making it easier for me to fit into my schedule. Some CSA’s will even deliver your shares to you!
4. Pick up vs. Delivery
Depending on your grocery shopping preferences, you’ll want to see if your CSA allows you to pick out the produce or if they deliver it or prepackage it. I am a stickler about picking out my own veggies, so pre-boxed or delivery CSA shares don’t work for me.
5. Your needs
While it is really fun to try everything, make sure you consider what you’ll actually be eating on a weekly basis when you purchase shares. I love bread and will eat veggies, so those are the only shares I get. Buying some of all the shares can result in waste and buyer’s remorse!
Go to the local farmer’s market.
It’s a common misconception that farmer’s markets are for cheesy romantics or organic hipsters. Most farmer’s markets draw a diverse mixture of people and the vendors can be downright AWESOME. My local farmer’s market even has a “food court” where local restaurants come and sell street food! I love farmer’s markets because I can learn new recipes from chefs who might be there, taste new products, find new vegetables, buy fresh flowers, enjoy the outdoors, and be a part of my local community. Most farmer’s markets operate between April and October when the weather is warmer. A quick google search will get you the locations and times of the farmer’s markets near you! Remember to bring a reusable bag to carry all your purchases home.
Find a farm stand.
If you’re impatient like me and want something to do during the colder months, finding a farm stand is for you. Many local farms have a farm stand “storefront” that is open to the public. You can buy fresh vegetables, fruit, and flowers here almost year round! It’s cool to see where your food comes from and meet the people who grow it.
Support local bakeries, fish, meat, and cheese shops.
A quick google search is all you need to find local artisans such as bakers, butchers, fishmongers, and cheesemakers! I love browsing their goods to get inspiration for new breads, cakes, or dishes to try! Most local shops have a much larger variety than your average grocery store so it’s worth going in and trying! You’ll be amazed at what creations are out there!
Find (or start) a community garden.
Want fresh produce, but you’re no where near any of these sources? Try building your own garden or find a community garden. Community gardens are public spots where each member tends to the garden and in return is able to use the harvested fruits and vegetables from the garden. Think CSA – but instead of the monetary investment, you make the investment of time and hard work. Community gardens are a great way to meet new people, teach children about nature, gardening, and healthy eating, and nurture a love for gardening and the outdoors.
Or if you’ve got some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy this robot to grow your groceries for you. Here’s to never having to get groceries again!
Do you have a favorite way to grocery shop? Let me know in the comments below!!