Makin’ Groceries at the Farmer’s Market: An Alternative to NOLA Supermarkets

I don’t know about any other NOLA area moms, but I know there is one GIANT thorn in my side (and pocketbook) that I am about to address:

Grocery Shopping.

The Supermarket Scene in NOLA

Is it me, or are supermarkets in the NOLA metro area crazy expensive? Each month, I find myself tallying up grocery expenses and literally gasping out loud when I see how much money gets spent at the supermarket. I know I’m not alone, as Ashley and I have discussed on several occasions that we both often feel like we spend an exhorbitant amount of our budgets on grocery shopping. I sometimes wonder if it’s because we live in a food-centric city and culture; we all know that in New Orleans and South Louisiana, we don’t eat to live, we LIVE TO EAT. (And I say this as I just polished off a second slice of king cake).

I also personally believe that we have a shortage of grocery options in our area. While some cities across the U.S. boast grocery chains like Kroger, Publix, Safeway, Food Lion, and the famous Trader Joe’s, we are limited to a handful of grocery stores like Winn Dixie, Rouse’s, and the big blue-box store who shall remain nameless as I LOATHE going there. I often times am disappointed in the produce at most of our local markets because it all looks waxy, beaten up or wrinkly. (Is it just me, or do the bananas lately look like they were beaten with a bat?)

Image Courtesy GCFM

In order for me to get fresh fruits, veggies, meats and seafood that I am not worried will spoil right after purchase, I have finally realized that I have to LITERALLY think OUTSIDE the BIG BOX when it comes to the grocery. It dawned on me right before the holidays when my mom and I went to the German Coast Farmer’s Market that I have a great option right down the road!

German Coast Farmer’s Market

Since 2003, the German Coast Farmer’s Market has been part of the landscape of the River Parishes, offering local farmers and other vendors the opportunity to reach the public directly with the freshest produce and handmade products. Since its inception, the market has expanded to also include a weekly Wednesday market on the West Bank in St. Charles Parish. In both 2010 and 2011, it was bestowed the honor of Louisiana’s Favorite Farmer’s Market and boasts a list of over 25 vendors that sell everything from fresh veggies to handmade all natural soap, pretty much ensuring that you can stock up on a wide range of items as if you were in your local big box store!

Because I am a full-time working mom, the only time I can attend the GCFM is during their Saturday market which is held on the beautiful grounds of Ormond Plantation in Destrehan every Saturday from 8am-12pm. The Saturday market features many great local vendors with everything from fresh, local produce, meats, wines, handmade all natural soaps, candles, and even plant sales in case you want to try your hand at growing your own fresh veggies. If you would rather visit the GCFM on a weekday, you can also attend their Mid-Week Market which is held in Luling at the St. Charles Plaza Shopping Center on Highway 90 from 2:30-6 pm to do some grocery shopping!

What to Expect if You Venture to The Market

On the particular day that my mother and I went to the market, I brought $20 cash with me. I wound up getting a huge head of Romanesco (which is a cross between cauliflower and broccoli), some fresh baby bok choy, large green onions, carrots, a head of cabbage (for New Years!), Swiss Chard, parsley, cilantro and satsumas. I spent less than $15 on all of that produce, which was fresh, organic and straight from the farmers. I also stocked up on some last minute Christmas gifts like handmade soaps and candles from some very talented local artisans. Had my freezer not been full of protein already, I could have also stocked up on fresh local meat and seafood as well. While you are shopping, also be prepared to be entertained. The market is very family and pet friendly with lots of events for both your little ones and furry family throughout the year like live music, cooking demonstrations (with tastings!), pet parades, costume contests, and even their own Kid’s Krewe du Market Mardi Gras Parade.

While shopping, a local chef prepared Gumbo Z’herbes and offered up tastings to all of the shoppers AND Andrew got to chat with Santa who was there for any last minute requests! The best part was that the shopping experience was DELIGHTFUL. The vendors were incredibly friendly and helpful, the service was impeccable, and the prices couldn’t be beat. I felt great knowing that I was keeping it local and getting the best that our region has to offer.

If you are curious about what vendors and/or items will be at the market each week, I encourage you to sign up for the weekly email updates and like their page on Facebook, where weekly announcements, listings of foods available, events, and even recipes are posted regularly. Their website also offers information listings on their regular vendors, recipes, their schedule and information on their “seedling cards.” From there, you can create your grocery list and maximize your shopping AND savings potential. Be sure to bring cash, though, as many of the vendors are on a cash-only basis. Some are credit card prepared, but not all! Also, for the best selection, arrive early!

I know for some NOLA area moms, the trip out to the German Coast Farmer’s Market may seem like a long one. Honestly, as a resident of the River Parishes, I LOVE that this market is LITERALLY in my backyard. However, when in search of high quality, fresh local produce I have made the drive as far as Algiers or Uptown to do my shopping and get fresh local ingredients. But if you would like to meet the friendly farmers growing your produce, support the local economy, and get fresh, local goods, please consider coming out to Destrehan or Luling to visit the German Coast Farmer’s Market!

If you don’t have the time or resources to drive out to the River Parishes, there are also several other markets in the area. In New Orleans, there is the Hollygrove Market; on the northshore, there is the Mandeville Farmer’s Market, as well as the Covington Farmer’s Market.

Tell me, NOLA moms, where do YOU make groceries? Do you prefer to shop at a Farmer’s Market? Do you have a Farmer’s Market near you that we don’t know about? What is YOUR key to saving money on groceries?

19 Responses to Makin’ Groceries at the Farmer’s Market: An Alternative to NOLA Supermarkets

  1. karen February 4, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    Great article Andie! I am fighting the grocery budget as well. We just hit up Hollygrove for the first time this weekend and really liked it. They even have a subscription service where they will deliver you a box of whatever is fresh once a week. I thought that was a great idea- especially for those of us that struggle with taking kids in and out of the car and making multiple stops. I don’t know about you but my kid only lasts so long!

    • andie February 4, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      I WOULD LOVE to get a Hollygrove box, but they don’t deliver to my area. 🙁 I am guessing because we have a farmer’s market. I love going to the market- it is just a matter of me getting up on Saturday mornings and going! Andrew actually LOVES going to the market (as you can see) because they do a lot of kid friendly stuff and all of the farmer’s love to talk and play with him. 🙂

  2. Pam Kocke February 4, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Next time we’re bored on a Saturday morning, I’m going to check it out. Thanks for the idea! Looks amazing!

    • andie February 4, 2013 at 11:34 am #

      YES! Please do! Maybe we’ll see you there!

  3. Cara February 4, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Not just produce but meat too. We buy our meat from Cox’s at the market. I spend about $65 and it last my family if 5 about two weeks. I get steak, ground chuck, chicken, and pork chops. The meat is fresh and bought from local farms weekly. You can taste a difference! The ground chuck is so lean I’ve had to add oil to cook it before! Saturday morning dance class has been cutting into my market time!

    • andie February 4, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      Yes! Cox’s Meat Market has been around for a very long time- he used to drive his truck to our neighborhood when I was a kid- I’ve known Mr. Dale Cox since I was a kid! They get their meat fresh from local farmer’s as well- and he has some of the best fresh sausages around!

  4. Ashley February 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    Great info! Our family moved here from Ohio within the past year. We had so many options for groceries! The prices down here are insane. I’m just thankful for the info. We will be going to check out the Wednesday market in Covington. It should be an adventure for me and my little ones 🙂 Your blog has been so helpful with our transition into the NOLA life!

    • Ashley February 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      I am glad to hear that it is not just us that thinks prices are high! I am from here, but we lived in Phoenix and Tampa for a while. We had access to pretty much every chain and were in sticker shock when we came back here as adults!

      • andie February 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

        yes, what Ashley said! I am so glad it’s not us that think our grocery prices are high!

  5. Myndee February 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Great article! We definitely have to go this month! 🙂

    • andie February 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      YES! definitely. 🙂 Looking forward to it. 🙂

  6. Nicole February 4, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    This is one of the first nmb posts that really resonated with me. We’ve always loved the farmer’s markets, but thought the only way to use them as a regular option was to get up every saturday morning and run around to different farmer’s markets collecting what we needed. With 2 kids under 2 years, it seemed like an exhausting task. We were going to Whole Foods for all of our food and spending a fortune getting mediocre (expensive!) organic berries from South America.

    I’ve discovered it is completely possible to shop mainly locally and sustainably (and affordably) without much effort in New Orleans. In addition to the places you mentioned, the New Orleans Food Cooperative is a regular store that carries seasonal, local produce and other trader joe-like organic and bulk items. We’re loving that we now have a local butcher in Cleaver & Co (grass-fed beef from New Iberia? Yes, please!). We find that it’s easier to drop into Hollygrove like a regular grocery store now that they’re open 5 days a week and we love the Crescent City Farmer’s Market. Now I can just fill in with items from Rouses, who is carrying an increasing number of local and organic items, and Whole Foods when needed.

    • andie February 5, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      I am so glad to hear that you have found grocery solutions- I had no idea the New Orleans Food Cooperative existed and now I’m intrigued and want to go there as well as Cleaver & Co. These are the kinds of places I’ve been looking to find! 🙂

  7. Amber February 11, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    I’ve moved from Slidell to Mississippi. Do you know how I’d be able to find a market near me? When I’m across the border to visit family, I have no problem finding one. There’s a nice one in Slidell, also. But it would be great to find one nearer to me.

    • Andie February 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

      There is a website called LocalHarvest.org that will list farmer’s markets in your area. I also know that it lists farms where you can buy direct as well! 🙂 That’s how we get our info to go blueberry picking in the summer. 🙂

      • Amber H February 13, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

        Thank you so much! I miss fresh eggs, milk, & honey! I’m so excited!

  8. Amber February 12, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    Excellent post, Andie! Thanks for reminding me of this. I think the next nice Saturday we have, I’ll be visiting the one here in Mandeville.

  9. Rosa February 14, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    Great article. I actually do some shopping at Sankofa Farmers Market in the Ninth ward. Its very inexpensive. With $10 I had two full bags of different veggies. They also have an educational component to the market in which kids around the area grow herbs and veggies to sell and the market. So besides a good deal, its nice to shop in a place that works to improve the youth.

    • andie February 15, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Thanks for the tip- we will have to check that one out! 🙂

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