Every visitor to Charleston should spend Saturday brunch time at the Charleston farmers market in Marion Square. The market features local vendors selling everything from fresh produce to greeting cards to handmade jewelry. Locals love the market, too, with many downtown residents visiting the market every week to purchase fruits, veggies, and meats for the week ahead.
Shopping at farmers markets like the Charleston farmers market is the perfect way to support local growers, get the best produce around, and save money. Often grocery stores price their produce high even though it might be lower quality. Farmers markets only bring the best at an affordable price.
Also, shopping at farmers markets means eating seasonally, which is really good for the environment. You're not eating food that's been shipped from other parts of the country or the world, which saves on fuel costs and other forms of waste.
My partner and I are vegetarian, so going to the farmers market is second nature for us. We love to find fruits and veggies, and especially love trying new things.
We also follow a gluten free and low FODMAP diet to mitigate issues from my partner's food sensitivities. This means we are extra careful about what we buy and have to make sure it won't contain anything that could lead to an upset stomach.
For our week of gluten free, low FODMAP, vegetarian meals, we had to keep a few things in mind:
- Our budget is $80
- We're leaving for a weeklong trip, so we don't want to overbuy, throw leftovers away, or buy something that will go bad if we don't eat it before we leave
- Making dinner will be a single person job this week, since our nights don't overlap
Gnocchi With Red Pepper Sauce
There's something so comforting about a delicious pasta-- and something even better about gnocchi! Since we follow the low FODMAP diet, it's often easier for us to make our own sauces, rather than buy them at the store. For this meal, I was on the lookout for red peppers and gnocchi. I bought a pound of fresh gluten free gnocchi for $9.00, which is enough for around four servings in our household. Additionally, I bought two red peppers for $4.00.
While perusing, I saw someone selling herbs in some planters to be transplanted at home. We're working on building up our herb garden so I bought a rosemary plant for $5. We added some rosemary into the sauce and it was delicious!
We had many of the other ingredients at home already, so we focused on using up what we already have and supplementing with fresh food from the farmers market. Since I'm growing green onions in my garden, I just harvested some of those to add in, too!
Purchase total: $18.00
Easy Stir Fry
I love to make stir fry. It's a great kitchen sink meal that allows anyone to incorporate whatever is left in their fridge with some yummy new produce. For this week's stir fry, I already had Carolina gold rice, spinach, eggs, and tofu at home and wanted to use it up. I also used some more green onions from my home garden.
At the farmers market, I found fresh sweet corn for $1.25 each. I bought two ears of corn to add to my stir fry and also bought two large carrots for $2.75 and two red bell peppers for $2.00 each.
Though this may be a bit expensive, the stir fry is our batch cook for the week and we made it after the market so we could eat the leftovers all week. Just fry up a new egg and it's delicious everyday!
Purchase total: $12.00
I am a fiend for fruit and love to keep in-season goodies at home. Instead of turning to a chocolate bar or cookie, I love reaching in the fridge for some fruit to curb my sugar cravings.
For this week I bought two plums for $0.50 and two small peaches for $0.85. This comes in way under my usual fruit purchases at my local Publix, where I would pay $0.99 for one plum. Obviously, buying fruit at the farmers market is a definite steal.
Purchase total: $1.35
For dessert this week, I bought a quart of strawberries for $5.00. We plan to make a delicious strawberry sauce to serve over homemade mini pound cakes.
Purchase total: $5.00
Total for entire market: $36.50
Since I went shopping at the farmers market instead of a grocery store, we were able to save so much on groceries, while at the same time finding some tasty surprises.
I never anticipated making gnocchi this week, but being at the market inspired me to try something new. It's good to have a list, but shopping at the farmers market might just change your week's dinner plans.
In addition to being cheaper and better quality than a grocery store, the farmers market is also a chance to interact with your community and local food system.
Find out where your local farmers market is and plan a visit -- or if you ever find yourself in Charleston, head on down to Marion Square!