The Farmer’s Market Challenge

The Farmer’s Market Challenge

Maybe it’s just me…but I feel there is a certain kind of magic surrounding farmer’s markets. Rows of vendors lining the streets offering products they’ve poured their hearts and souls into. Locally grown fruits and vegetables being sold with an echo of familiar times I’ve never personally experienced.

Don’t get me wrong…I do not long for the days of incurable plague and bloodletting (though 2020 came a little too close for my liking). I sincerely appreciate both the modern medical and technological advances of our era. But hear me out…what if we could take the best of both worlds and combine them into a better balanced hybrid? Shedding the “gone too far advances” while bringing back healthier elements of generations past. Is that too much to ask?

My conviction of “back to basics” living has never been stronger. Every day I find myself brainstorming ways my family can embrace this new hybrid era in our home. One day, I had a particularly intriguing idea. What if, for one week, I challenge myself to build my weekly menu around items I find at our local farmers markets?…

The Challenge

Like any new idea, the food market challenge went through several rough drafts before settling on the final parameters. At first, the challenge was to eat ONLY what we could find at the markets. After some deliberation (and a lot of family pushback), we settled on a compromise. After all, there’s only limited types of fresh produce available when shopping the Midwest in early June.

The compromise we came up with was that I could supplement our market finds with ingredients purchased at our local grocery store. However, everything I made had to highlight, or at least include, a farmers market find. I decided to think of it as a four step process.

Step 1 – Shop the local farmer’s market to see what treasures I can find.

Step 2 – Scour my refrigerator, freezer, pantry, and garden to see what resources I already had available.

Step 3 – Create a meal list using everything from steps 1 and 2.

Step 4 – Grocery shop for any missing items needed to complete the meals.

Once the rules and steps were set in place, it was time to go treasure hunting…

My Finds

The farmer’s market magic enchanted us as soon as we stepped out of the car. The noise of people shouting their food truck orders. The smell of hot grills and fresh popped popcorn. The rainbow landscape of fresh fruits and vegetables on display. The puppies EVERYWHERE! It was sensory system stimulation on steroids!

A short time later, I was thoroughly impressed with the variety of products I discovered. Breads, jams, produce, and even meats! Once my wagon (and my excitement) had reached max capacity, it was time to head for home. Below is the list of the farmer’s market treasures I found…

Sourdough Loaves and a Baguette
Flavored Popcorn
Farm Fresh Eggs
Fresh Jams and Local Honey
Lettuce, Arugula, Spinach, Kale, and Asparagus
Radishes, Carrots, and Mini Cucumbers
Gourmet Mushrooms
Fresh Cut Flowers

The Menu


Sourdough Toast

Market items: sourdough loaves and jellies

Cherry Berry French Toast

Market items: cherry berry sourdough, eggs, and honey

Bacon Veggie Hash

Market items: eggs, spinach, mushrooms


Deli Lettuce Wraps with Pan Seared Mushrooms

Market items: lettuce, arugula, mushrooms

Cilantro Lime Steak Salad with Mexican Street Carrots

Market items: lettuce, arugula, spinach, carrots, radish, cucumber

Pork Veggie Salad with Homemade Salsa

Market items: lettuce, arugula, spinach, kale


Chicken, Sausage, and Veggie Foil Packets

Market items: mushrooms and spinach

Non-Dairy Veggie Bacon Mac n’ Cheese

Market items: spinach and cucumbers

Cilantro Lime Pork Chop with Honey Lime Fruit Salad and Asparagus

Market items: asparagus and honey


Baguette Garlic Bread

Market items: baguette

Side Salads

Market items: lettuce, arugula, spinach, kale, cucumber, mushrooms, radish

Honey Chai Latte

Market items: honey

Grain Free Lime and Mexican Chocolate Cookies

Market items: honey and eggs

Asian Inspired Cucumber Salad

Market items: honey and cucumbers


Though I can’t imagine farmer’s markets, hunting, and gardening being my ONLY sources of food, I don’t think I could ever go back to ONLY shopping grocery stores either. This challenge broke me out of my meal planning comfort zone and had our family eating creative, seasonal, nutrient dense meals. All with the added bonus of supporting locally run vendors!…And I really didn’t spend much more than average…AND my family wasn’t tempted to go out to eat because all of the options at home…AND I realized how many meals can come from way less food than I normally buy! Okay…I think that’s it. LOL!

If you’re looking for ways to get “back to the basics”, or if you’re in a meal planning slump, I high recommend the farmer’s market challenge. Whether you make it a goal once a month, or if you’re all in every week, it’s a great way to break the cycle and try something new. Or should I say, a great way to make something old new again. WINK!

Looking for inspiration? Browse the MMB collection on the Recipe page!

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