How often have you spent five bucks or more on an outing, a toy, or a fast food meal for your child? A common occurrence, isn't it? We thought we'd try spending one outing, and our five bucks, at the Farmers' Market. My children each had their own basket and a five dollar bill. They were allowed to spend their money any way they pleased at the market, except for one thing: they couldn't spend it all on cookies from the popular bakery that I knew would be there. I didn't say they couldn't have a cookie, just not $5 worth.
I did make the suggestion that they explore all of the booths first, before making their selections. And I clarified that they didn't have to buy the same things. That's an important point for a younger child who often has to do the same as Big Sister. I had no idea what they'd pick.
My youngest made an early choice to buy a cantaloupe. She watched as the vendor weighed the melon to come up with a $3 price. It would be a long time before she'd decide what to do with the remaining $2.
My oldest settled on a small watermelon from a nearby farm. With a low price of something like 50-cents a pound, the melon cost considerably less than the cantaloupe.
The girls, freely allowed to choose cookies, decided to spend $2 each on freshly baked soft pretzels instead. They were intrigued because the braided bread looked unusual to them, although they were surprised later that these old-fashioned pretzels tasted so salty.
When my oldest ended up with a dollar and some change left to spend, I gently guided her decision by pointing out the few things that cost only a dollar: one garlic clove to cook with, one long-stemmed flower, etc. Then we spotted a bin of fresh vegetables that said they were "reduced for quick sale" at $1 per pound. They all looked fresher than most grocery store vegetables to us. She chose two cucumbers, remembering that if we sliced those up her daddy would like them. She went home with 15-cents left over.
The vendors were so friendly that one gave the girls each a free heirloom cucumber to try, while another added a fresh flower to their baskets. Prices were as good or better than at the grocery store, we were outdoors, and our $5 fun money went into the pockets of local farmers.
The girls spent the afternoon sampling the pretzels and eating sliced melon. For $5 each, they got so much they could barely carry their heavy little baskets.
What can you buy for five bucks at your Farmers' Market? You can try locating a market near you with LocalHarvest.org