Light and Fresh Farmers Market Meals

Light and Fresh Farmers Market Meals - Food & Nutrition Magazine - Stone Soup
Photo by Brynn McDowell

The Farmers Market can be very overwhelming. There are so many great, fresh and delicious finds. Booth after booth of crisp, green lettuce or ripe, juicy peaches. It’s easy to get swept up in the great price and tasty ingredients.Light and Fresh Farmers Market Meals - However, we (me and my family) often find ourselves returning home with an assortment of fruits and vegetables, trying to figure out what to do with them.

Here are some of my favorite tips for navigating the farmers market that I got from reading Taste of Home:

  • Bring small bills (like dollar bills) so vendors don’t have to break your $20s
  • Take a lap and look at all the booths before circling back to the items that caught your eye
  • Talk to the farmers and get their suggestions, they are a great resource

Tips for Putting Together a Meal

We were recently invited to attend an outdoor concert with friends — a picnic style meal was encouraged. It just so happened that our local farmers market was taking place the day before the concert, so we thought it would be fun to create our picnic using items purchased there (plus a few we already had at home).

Before heading out, we sat down and loosely planned what we needed to pick up. This can help a lot with making smart purchases and avoiding buying too little or too much. It helps to have an idea of what you are looking for before going.

Our Farmers Market Process

This advice will vary slightly depending on the size of your farmers market, time of year, etc. These are just suggestions and examples of how we put together our meal idea:

Loosely plan out what kind of meal you’ll want. For example, we knew we wanted some type of charcuterie board with lots of fresh fruit and veggies, a dip, crackers and some cheese.

We kept our list vague so that we could find what fruits and veggies looked the best, best price, ripest, etc. If you are too specific and pre-decide that you want peaches then you might miss some amazing plums, berries or melons.

For this meal, we needed to ensure we bought a good variety but everything in smaller amounts. This helps prevent food waste and also not having to spend too much on large quantities. For example, we found some beautiful berries and were able to mix and match between the varieties instead of having to buy three separate containers of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

For a more balanced meal (i.e. not just fruits and veggies), we also were on the lookout for other types of picnic style foods at the farmers market. We found a great selection of homemade hummus, fresh salsa, olive medleys, fresh baked bread and cheeses. There are typically also lots of great booths selling homemade pastries, fresh caught fish and other great additions to a summer meal.

Use what you find for recipe inspiration. One booth had the most beautiful tomatoes and the booth next to that sold fresh mozzarella. We had basil growing in our garden so we decided a caprese salad would be fantastic.

Pro Tip – Find out what produce is in season before hitting up the farmers market.

Light and Fresh Farmers Market Meals -
Photo by Brynn McDowell

In the end, this is what we ended up bringing to our outdoor concert. The majority was purchased from the farmers market the day before. It was perfect. Side note: we also brought half of sandwich for each of our kids since they aren’t big on hummus, olives or caprese. They did chow down on the fruit and cheese board, though. No one went hungry and there were hardly any leftovers brought home.

Items in bold were our purchases at the farmers market:

  • Caprese Salad – fresh tomatoesmozzarella, and basil drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt/pepper (cheese and tomatoes from the farmers market)
  • Artichoke and Garlic Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips (from the farmers market)
  • Sliced Gouda and Crackers (already had at home)
  • Cubed Cheddar Cheese (from the farmers market)
  • Sliced Carrots and Persian Cucumbers to dip into hummus (both from farmers market)
  • Watermelon (from the farmers market)
  • Strawberries, Raspberries, and Blackberries (from the farmers market)
  • Salami (already had at home)
  • Assorted Olives (from the farmers market)
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Brynn McDowell
Brynn McDowell, RD, is a dietitian based in Livermore, CA, and owner of The Domestic Dietitian. She blogs at where she focuses on helping people create a healthy lifestyle in their homes. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.