antipasto plate from farmers market

Food can be an expensive part of any traveler’s budget, and while I like a splurge now and again, I’m also always on the lookout for ways to eat well cheaply.  Other than getting someone else to pick up the tab (just kidding!), one of the best ways to save on food is to pick up something fresh and delicious at a local farmer’s market.

You may already be familiar with the farmer’s market in your home town, but looking for one when you’re traveling is an easy way to create a picnic lunch or dinner, stock up on snacks for your hotel room or vacation rental, or fill up the day pack with tasty – and healthy – snacks for a day of hiking.  In addition to getting the freshest of the fresh, farmer’s markets are priced with locals in mind, allowing you to avoid those premium tourist prices.

When I’m in Italy, I’ll stop at a local market to buy some salami, ham, cheese, fruits and vegetables, bread and pastries to last me a couple of days.  With some olive oil and fresh herbs (also plentiful at the market) and some wine, I’ve got fixings for a panini, an antipasto plate, and a good start on dinner.  My lack of Italian doesn’t seem to matter at the market, I can just point and smile – food seems to be a universal language.  If you’re traveling abroad, your guidebook may list the larger, more well known markets, or check with a local tourist office or look for signs around town.  A front desk clerk at a hotel or property manager at an apartment rental is also a good resource.

Even when traveling closer to home don’t forget to look for nearby markets.  In addition to food, many offer flowers, local crafts, and other agri-business items.  You can pick up something to eat, a gift or two, and talk to locals for recommendations about places to go and things to do.  If you’re traveling in the United States, you can refer to the Department of Agriculture’s listing of farmers markets around the country, which lists markets by state and includes market location, hours, and contact information.

Do you have a favorite farmer’s market?  Give it a mention in the comments and share it with all of our readers.

Photo credit:  personal collection