Markets can seem intimidating, what with the various vendors, loud haggling, and an array of products which leave you wondering what you came for in the first place. It is easy to get distracted and overwhelmed, which is why many people these days prefer to head to a sterile and safe supermarket.
We have many wonderful markets in Malaysia though, which offer a great range of fresh products for fewer bucks. All you need is a little knowledge and to take a short stroll through the market to familiarise yourself with the process. Here is our little guide to help you make the best of your market trip.
Get to Know the Vendors
There could be five stalls with the exact same selection and it can take some time to figure out which one you are most comfortable with. This isn’t the time to be shy, talk to the vendors, probe them on their knowledge of their products. Some are there just to do business, but others may have a genuine passion for what they provide and they may be willing to give you tips on how to best prepare the ingredient. Once you get to know the vendors well you can even get a little bit of special treatment here and there. If you go regularly enough they might keep aside the better quality product or they’ll point you in the direction of what is freshest and in season. There’s nothing like having someone help you make an informed decision when it comes to selecting the best food products.
Go for the Freshest
When shopping at a market there is absolutely no excuse to return home with wilted veggies or rancid meats. This is where you can demand excellence in the product. Ask your vendor what is fresh and in season. This is the best way to plan your weekly meals, just by scoping out what is good that day and building your menu around it. The best chefs in the world do this and it is part of what makes their food so successful. Ask the vendor what for the best way to work with these fresh products and you'll find that you might learn a thing or two.
"It's at a market that you can get the best local products"
If there’s one place where you can get a good bargain on quality products it’s at the market. Things are generally cheaper here and even more so if you buy in bulk. There are some dry goods that are worth buying in bulk, such as spices and more. Products that have a shorter shelf life may not be worth buying in bulk but if you establish a good relationship with your vendor they will probably discount it by a few ringgit. Every little bit saved counts in the long run!
Go Early or Late
Timing is everything when shopping in a market. You either make the trip very early in the morning just as the stalls have set up, or you go right as they are about to close shop for the day. Going early ensures you get the best of everything that the vendors have to offer. Making the trip later on in the day, just as they are about to close, has its benefits too. Vendors are eager to leave without carrying any of their products back with them so they’ll give you good bargains; three boxes for the price of one, some additional freebies thrown in, bigger portions for the same price and more. This is when you have to decide what is worth more to you, savings or the freshest and best products available.
All you have to do is to take the leap and try shopping in a market! With the great products and deals, you may never want to shop in a grocery store again.