When it comes to shopping the farmers market, there’s no right or wrong way to do things. Some people shop from a list, some let the market inspire their purchases and weekly menu. You may have a favorite vendor or visit different folks each week. I’m a fairly methodical person, so I like to start with my meal plan for the week, identify ingredients I might find at the market and then seek out those things with my little helper. I tell her what we are in search of and we play a few rounds of “I Spy” as we peruse the vendors. We make at least a few impulse purchases along the way – usually some sort of berry or melon!

Since everyone does things differently and inspiration comes from all sorts of places, we asked some of our favorite people and bloggy buddies how they manage the market, particularly with tots in tow. Here are some of their tried and true tips and a few favorite memories.

Kath Younger, RD, Kath Eats Real Food & Baby KERF

Going to the market in the hot summer with a baby is hard, so we try to go first thing in the morning when it’s still cool and the sun is behind the trees. A water bottle filled with ice helps too. My son loves to shake it!

Kath and her son Mazen enjoying the sounds of a banjo. (Photo courtesy Kath Younger)

Kath and her son Mazen enjoying the sounds of a banjo. (Photo courtesy Kath Younger)

Important Note! I also want to say a special thanks to Kath and her husband Matt for donating the Great Harvest Bread Co. gift card that is included in our giveaway this month!

Serena Ball, MS, RD, Teaspoon of Spice

My four kids and I always take a walk around the market to see what’s available. We talk about the vegetables, ask the farmers questions about how the veggies grow and especially how to cook them. The farmers always have interesting stories to tell. One of our favorite memories from the farmers market is when we met Santa! Yup, in the ‘off’ season, Santa raises squash, pumpkins, eggplants, and eggs! Here’s our story!

Serena's kids meeting Santa in the off season! (Photo courtesy Serena Ball)

Serena’s kids meeting Santa in the off season! (Photo courtesy Serena Ball)

Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, RealMomNutrition.com 

I love the sense of community the farmers market brings to the neighborhood. Ours happens to have seating and there have been weekends when we’ve gathered there with friends to talk, listen to the local musicians perform, and compare purchases. I love that my kids know that Saturday mornings are for the farmers market and that it’s a place where neighbors gather.

Johanna M. Cook, Creator of MommaCuisine.com 

I love simply perusing through the farmers market, checking out the what the farmers and artisans has brought and getting inspired and of course, shopping! I love that the kids think it’s cool to meet a real-life farmer, talk to them and even get tasters of some of the produce that’s displayed. It’s so interactive and fun for them!

If you live in the Chicago-land area, you can meet Johanna during her 2013 Summer Cooking Tour at a variety of farmers markets in the area!

Melissa Graham, Founding Executive Director, Purple Asparagus

Once my son and I are done shopping for our staples (lettuce, cucumbers, a boxful of raspberries), we like to search for the unusual and unexpected. Whether it be a carrot of a different color, a tomato of an unusual shape, or an unknown veggies, we’re game to try it. We then bring the unusual item into our kitchen and brainstorm how to use it. We’ve developed some of our best and favorite recipes in this way. With an unfamiliar fruit or vegetable, we like to do our research to identify what it’s related to, what cultures have been known to cook with it, and how it’s grown. It’s the best and most fun way to expand our palates.

So tell us, what are your tips for shopping the farmers market? Do you have any favorite memories from years past or a recent trip? Also, stay tuned tomorrow for some delicious recipes from some of our blogging buddies tomorrow!

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