1. Shop at a farmers market that accepts SNAP benefits, WIC vouchers, and Farm Direct checks.
Many farmers markets and farm stands accept SNAP and other benefits, and an increasing number participate in SNAP match programs, like Double Up Food Bucks.
2. Join a CSA.
Consider splitting the cost and bounty with your friends or family. Many CSA farms accept SNAP benefits. Ask your farmer for more information.
3. Become a Gleaner.
Participate in harvest parties held at private residences or farms. Members divide the harvest of the day into equal shares. Eugene Area Gleaners are a great place to start.
4. Buy in bulk.
Many local grocers offer case discounts on produce items, dry goods, and packaged foods. Pull together some friends and make a group purchase at Hummingbird Wholesale or the Growers Market. Or consider joining a buying club. Our Fill Your Pantry event in the fall is an easy way to buy large amounts of bulk beans, grains, and storage crops at good prices.
5. Use food preservation techniques.
Make your bulk local purchases last, which can be as simple as freezing chopped carrots or drying herbs. If you are serious about fermenting, pickling, or canning foods, take a class from an OSU Extension Master Food Preserver.
6. Learn the peak season.
Prices vary with the seasons. When items are first harvested they cost more, but as the season progresses, the price often drops quite a lot. If something is too expensive the first time you see it, look for it again in a few weeks and it will likely be priced lower. See our seasonal chart of Food That Grows Here.
7. Focus on whole foods.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes will nourish and fill you up longer than processed foods, which often cost more per pound.
8. Eat more beans and less meat.
Local beans are a healthy, tasty, and economical option. Meats cost more and take more energy to produce, prepare, and store.
9. Purchase half or a quarter of an animal directly from the farmer.
This is a cost-effective choice for consumers who want meat. If a quarter of a cow or half a hog overwhelms you, divide an order among friends.
10. Grow your own!
Some food items that may be more costly at market can be grown in a small space. Herbs can be grown in a pot and salad greens do not require large spaces. You don’t need a yard to have your own garden. Learn about community gardens in the resource section of our Locally Grown guide.
11. Invest in a freezer.
This purchase will pay for itself many times over. If a new freezer gives you sticker shock, try Craigslist, Goodwill, or St. Vincent de Paul.
12. Try a food dehydrator.
Dried fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms take up less space, have a long shelf life, and retain nutrients and flavor.