It’s that delicious time of year for all things summer- picnics, lazy days at the beach and taking a stroll through the local Farmer’s Market. There’s just something about grocery shopping outdoors that elevates the experience from a mundane chore to an experience worthy of looking forward to. My kids enjoy the Farmer’s Market so much that we’ve made a regular weekend outing of these trips during the summer months. Today I have some tips for you that may have you considering adopting this tradition for your own family.
Finding the best market for your family:
If you aren’t familiar with your local markets take the time for a quick Google search to check out your options. You are bound to find a regional website with info about the hours and locations of your available markets. I have two markets within minutes of home that strictly sell the basic seasonal produce. We stop there occasionally for a quick thing or two but I find the extra 10 minute drive to the bigger city market in Saint Paul is well worth it for my kiddos. There we have a much wider array of vendors (butchers, dairy, florists and even hand sewn toys in addition to the usual fare) as well as live music and delicious hot breakfast and lunch options. I have an easier time interesting my kids in trying new veggies when there’s a fresh donut bribe to be had along the way.
Preplan your recipes:
One of the best things about the Farmer’s Market is the incentive to fill your bag with a wider variety of fresh fruits and veggies than you’d normally buy at the grocery store but it’s important to have a plan to avoid impulse purchases that will end up in the trash bin. Research some recipes ahead of time for the produce you plan to buy. Involving your kids in this process can make all the difference toward getting them to explore a wider variety of foods. A great place to start your recipe hunt is the Farm to Table listing at All Recipes: http://allrecipes.com/howto/from-farm-to-table-farmers-markets/ . Don’t forget to poke around your market’s website as well, they often have a recipe section specific to produce they sell.
Give your kids a mini shopping spree:
Set a modest budget and let your kiddos make some of their own choices. This is a great opportunity for teachable moments that are fun for kids. Budgeting out cash for purchases gives children a real-life lesson in math and money management. Setting some guidelines like one treat and two healthy options allows for critical thinking. If you have a child that likes to weigh their options carefully like I do you’ll find the market a much better place to let them take their time. I enjoy sipping a cold lemon-aide as I take in the hustle and bustle of the market while my oldest takes her time making up her mind; the same cannot be said of our Target runs. Savor your moment of being the patient parent you aspire to be.
Make your own Kids Iron Chef challenge:
After your market trip as you unpack those reusable bags you may find some strays- those things you didn’t plan to buy but just couldn’t resist. Seize the moment and make an Iron Chef challenge to use those impulse purchases in a creative way with your kids. Let them throw out suggestions and make something fun together, you can even form family teams and have a friendly competition. You may discover a new favorite dish but even if you don’t you’re sure to enjoy some laughs in the process.
Have I missed some must-dos that you enjoy experiencing at the Farmer’s Market with your family? Please chime in with your suggestions in the comments. I am always looking for new tweaks on this fun summer tradition.
AUTHOR BIO: Sarah Grecula is a story enthusiast, working mom, wife, daughter sister, friend and proud FabKids Brand Ambassador. Her work has been published on Mamalode, Scary Mommy, the FabKids blog and her own blog Projectwritethismoment.com. Her favorite ways to spend a day are adventuring with her family or curling up with a good book.