Monday, April 04, 2005

Food Shopping Once a Month??

Every four weeks I get a pricelist from our food cooperative. Its about 200 pages long. I go through the whole thing to see what the specials are for the month and compare them to what we are running low on. This is how I grocery shop for the month.

Buying 50 pounds of whole wheat bread flour or oatmeal takes some getting used to. Our whole wheat pasta comes in 11 pound bags. A 25 pound bag of TVP is HUGE! 25 pounds of dried beans doesn't look so imposing until you try to find enough containers to put it all in. Have you ever seen a 5 pound bag of raisins? It can be overwhelming at first but you really can save a bundle. The food we order is organic and much more affordable than natural food store prices.

It takes some discipline to shop this way. In the beginning anything on sale was a bargain in my eyes. We averaged about $450 per month. In the last year we average about $250 per month, mainly by cutting down on the convenience items. We still order one convenience item each month (this month it will be Okara Courage burgers.)

I try to keep an inventory of what's in the pantry to help me order wisely and to ensure we don't run out of staples. In the beginning, its hard to know how long a 25 pounds of anything will last in your family. Time is the only accurate teacher because every family is different.

Food orders are placed one week and a week later we meet at one persons house for delivery. The food arrives on a pallet and we unpack and sort the order. Each person inventories their order, pays the coordinator and lugs their groceries to the car. Bigger packages are cheaper and sometimes we split things among cooperative members. Once home the car must be unpacked and the food put away. It helps to have containers on hand as things like flour need to be air tight to avoid bug infestations.

Its work belonging to a food coop but I think its less work than shopping in a store. If this sounds interesting to you, check out This is the food cooperative I belong to. It is not the only one, its just the one I'm familiar with.

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