Well - I have little experience with the Farmers Market - it IS difficult to keep things fresh when they come from there -
After going to the grocery store on the same day, once a week for twenty - something years, i KNOW what a good price is for my area. - You will too, maybe bring along a notebook and note the price of the same product 4 - 6 weeks in a row - you will notice it may dip once in that time frame - now you know 'the best price'!
It really does help to 'shop the sales' - i dont bother with meal planning until AFTER i have come home with my groceries. The best example I have is meat....lets say ground beef is $1.99/ lb - I will buy at least 6-8 lbs of it (feeding family of 4 BIG eaters!) i will make half of it into burgers, and use the remainder to make meatballs and then a burrito mix. Next week - it is more likely that chicken breasts will be on sale - so I purchase a huge amount of those - and make all my chicken recipes....
In my pantry - i HAVE to have flour and sugar, bread crumbs, pasta, rice,
things that will keep for long periods of time, and are used as 'fill ins' in many recipes.
It is easier than ever these days to look up recipes on the internet - its best to keep to some basic names like Betty Crocker - or McCormick - i swear i have run across recipes for tea....so you know it wont get too complicated! - You have to remember to find your own way in your own kitchen - theres really no right or wrong way. the way that keeps you coming back and trying again and again is the right way for you!
Happy at Home Mama to DD 4/95 DS 4/98 and DS#2 8/10