05 July 2011

To market, to market to get a great deal

There's been some talk recently in the Member's forum about markets and their value to Cheapskaters. I know this because while I haven't been able to use my left arm for a few days I've been catching up on my reading and the Cheapskates member forum is one of my favourite reads.

I love Dandenong market.  I usually toddle over (read: race like a maniac) on a Tuesday.  I aim for  an afternoon visit but if I can't make it during the afternoon for some reason (I need my beauty nap, I'm having afternoon tea with someone who thinks they are important etc), then I'm up early and over there at 6.30. Yes, that's 6.30am. I like to get a park close to the stalls. And if I'm going over that early then the day is going to be very, very busy.  The stalls are just opening up but my regulars know me and are happy to hurry and open up.

Going to the market later on a Tuesday afternoon is an opportunity to pick up some great bargains. Tuesday is the last market day until Friday so everything has to go, it won't keep or be saleable if it's left until the next Friday.   There is a routine and order to my market shopping, courtesy of years of following my mother around the Queen Vic market as a child.

First stop is always the potato man. I tend to buy potatoes from the same fellow every time, although I do check the prices and let him know if he's a dollar or two over priced.  Then it's whatever other veggies are going cheap that we don't have in the garden.

I find the prices are cheaper than supermarkets and the quality is excellent. I also have the choice of buying 1st quality or 2nds which are heaps cheaper. I buy 20kg of seconds onions at a time, bring them home and spend the afternoon slicing and dicing and packing into zippy bags to freeze. When they are 50c/kg it's worth the effort and last around 4 - 5 months, depending on what I cook.

 I do the same with apples, pears, mangoes in season and bananas, back in the days when they were cheap (well cheap compared to the $13.98/kg they were last week).  I stew the apples and pears and pack in 2 cup lots in zippy bags for crumbles, strudels, pies, pancakes etc

Zucchini by the box if they are cheap and none in garden:, grate, cook up with herbs and chopped tomato and freeze. This mix is then used in lasagne, casseroles, rissoles, sausage rolls and pasties.  Sometimes I add beaten egg,  cook it over a low heat and we have it on toast topped with grated cheese for a quick weekend lunch.  It's also a great mix to add to the spag bol to bulk it out.

If I have time I do a quick up and down the other aisles, checking out the clothes lady (great kids clothes and often brand name ladies wear at rock bottom, better than op shop prices), waving hello to Brian the jumper man and stopping to pick up a kilo of mixed lollies for the lolly jar. Then I cruise by the Dutch ladies and stop to chat if I have time, looking at all the treats they have on offer. Oh I often by our Christmas chocolates from these lovely ladies, they are so cheap and it's lovely chocolate.

Yes, I love the Dandenong market . I love the hustle and bustle and the prices, I love that I have my favourite stall holders who all know me and often have a "special" just for me.

Just one thing:  I never, never, never go there the week before Christmas  - it's complete and utter bedlam and I hate it.  The kids and I were trapped in the car park for nearly two hours one Christmas the traffic was so bad. And it's not an experience I ever want to repeat.  I'll stick with being a Tuesday shopper.

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