While I love doing as much as possible of my weekly grocery shopping at the farmer’s market, learning how to effectively meal plan for the market was a bit of a learning curve. More often than not, I would only be able to find half the items I needed for a recipe and would have to make an additional stop at the grocery store to make up for it – not ideal.
So, I started asking my favorite vendors at the market what produce they anticipated would be available the following week and wrote down their predictions in my phone’s notepad. I also found a cute produce calendar on etsy that generalizes what to plant and what to harvest each month in Southern California. Using both the vendors’ predictions and the calendar I choose some key ingredients to start my recipe search and begin my meal planning for the week.
I rely on a few tried and true recipes each season but I also like to prioritize mixing it up with new fruits and veggies or trying my favorite produce in new ways as often as possible. My goal is usually to plan for four specific dinner recipes each week and then improvise the rest once I get to the market and see what’s there and what looks good.
My three favorite cookbooks that I start my recipe search with are:
- Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child et al. (always a good resource for farmer’s market shopping because that is how Julia shopped when she worked on this cookbook)
- The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden by Alice Waters (a wedding gift from a lovely friend and fellow gardener)
- Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book, 10th Edition by Jennifer Darling et al. (passed down to me from my mom!)
… and I supplement those cookbooks with epicurious.com and food and wine daily when I need to widen my search. It definitely takes effort to plan well for the market but it’s broadened my palate and my recipe arsenal! As Julia would say, bon apetit!