As many of us are finding ways to live simpler and better for less money, its possible to keep Greenmarket at the center of your food shopping. These tips for shopping well can help guide you to make food that suits your budget and your palate.
Explore tougher cuts of meat. Most purveyors who sell eggs will also sell their laying hens as food. These mature hens are tough old birds, but they cost about 2/3 the price of a younger chicken and are perfect for breaking out old fashion recipes like Coq au Vin, a chicken stewed in red wine, which is tender and flavorful after slow cooking.
Remember beans and grains. There are more options than ever at the Greenmarket for locally grown grains and dried beans. Locally milled polenta and whole grain wheat are great meal stretchers, as are the array of dried beans now available.
Eggs are cheap protein. My favorite eggs at the Greenmarket cost $6 a dozen, which is kind of a lot for eggs. But their rich orange yolks make them a delicious little luxury, and if I make an 8 egg omelet for dinner, my protein for four people costs just $4, much less than a meat-centered dinner. You can also find eggs at the market starting at $2.50, making an even cheaper omelet!
Dont Fear the Offal. Organ meats such as liver and sweetbreads can be bought very inexpensively and have the flair of the exotic as well. Grass fed and grass finished beef liver can be bought for $5-$6 a pound.
Save at home, too. Store produce so that it will last as long as possible: refrigerate produce as quickly as possible after buying it, and separate root vegetables from their greens immediately. Nothing is a good value if it wilts before you get the chance to eat it.
Splurge a little. Pea shoots that cost $3 for pound can be combined with a pinch of pea shoots with blossoms ($6 for lb). You can buy 4 oz of pea shoots, enough for salads for four, for $4, similar to the price youd pay for a clamshell of greens at the grocery store. But your dinner guests yell, Are those flowers in my salad? Can I eat them? Yes, and yes.
Fresh salad greens can last for five to six days in the refrigerator if you store them in your salad spinner. After rinsing and spinning the greens, leave an 1/8 inch of water in the bottom of the spinner (water should not touch the greens) and keep the cover on. As an added bonus, you have a ready supply of cold, rinsed, dry greens just waiting to be dressed and eaten.
Robin Puskas is the owner of New York Kitchen Company, a personal chef service, and is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute. She teaches cooking classes, gives cooking demonstrations, and cooks for private clients. She writes the blog greenmarketcooking.blogspot.com, where she posts seasonal recipes and fun farmers market finds. You can find her at Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesday afternoons giving seasonal cooking demonstrations.