When the summer farmer's markets are in full swing, they are stocked with enough food for you to forgo most grocery store shopping. There is nothing more satisfying than buying all of your food from farms within an hour or two of where you live.
The key to success is to have a game plan. Here's an outline to get you started:
1. Shop at a conveniently close market.
2. Make a commitment to go to the market EVERY week.
3. Create a meal plan. It doesn't have to be fancy...write it on a piece of scrap paper, a napkin, whatever, just jot down what you plan to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for seven days. If you hate to plan a meal so far in advance, just decide what 7 things you will make throughout the week for all three mealtimes. This will result in a sort of menu that you can pick from and leave you with a little spontaneity.
4. Create a shopping list based on your meal plan. The worst thing you can ever do is go shopping without a list. (That is if you are trying to be budget conscious. If you don't have a list you will aimlessly buy stuff and probably end up wasting some of it.)
5. Don't forget to buy snacks! Fruits, veggies, breads, dips, whatever...you know you will want this stuff.
6. Bring some cash and your checkbook. Not everyone takes checks, but some do and when you want to stock up on meat or dairy you might want to have flexibility to spend more.
7. Use your freezer! Buy meat in bigger quantities and save money. I find that having a freezer full of options helps me focus my recipe ideas for the week. And this isn't limited to meat either...
8. Freeze seasonal fruits and veggies! As you hit the farmer's market this summer, consider buying a little extra each week to freeze.
9. Take risks. You will find all sorts of things that aren't in your meal plan, and don't pass them up. Substitute something on your list and try it.
10. Just dive right in. All this advice might seem overwhelming, but just go. Start somewhere. And before you know it...you'll be hooked!