Tuesday, February 16, 2010
how to buy real food at the co-op without going broke!
I really believe it's worth it to buy real food that isn't processed and has come from actual farms in your local community. Often though, I hear people saying that organic food is too expensive. It definitely may be true that organic food is much more expensive then conventionally farmed food you find at big box grocery stores like Walmart or Cub Foods. However, if you check out a local food co-op, armed with some knowledge on how to shop effectively there, I think you might be pleasantly surprised to find that local, and even organic food does not have to be overly pricey.
I spent about 45$ on the food in my picture. I came home with over 1 lb of bacon, 1 lb of local and pastured pork breakfast sausage, 1/2 pint raw apple cider vinegar, 1lb of freshly ground, organic and fair-trade java from local roaster Peace Coffee, 1/2 lb of garlic stuffed olives, local green cabbage, bulk dried spices (coriander powder and sage), a pint of local and grass-fed Cedar Summit Farm cream, cashews and dried cherries in bulk, salad greens, and of course 90g of 77% dark chocolate!
Here are my tips and tricks for shopping at local co-ops in the Twin Cities. I don't do all our grocery shopping at just one co-op, I generally go to a few different co-ops, Coastal Seafoods for the freshest fish, Clancy's butcher shop for grass-fed meats, and sometimes Whole Foods or Trader Joe's throughout the month. In the summer the best deal for produce is always at a farmer's market, and it's the freshest.
Tips for Co-op Shopping on a Budget:
1. Look for local, bulk produce rather then pre-packaged veggies and fruits shipped from far away. If it's winter and you live in the Far North like I do, check out the selection of organic, frozen veggies. Sno Pac is an inexpensive local brand here in Minnesota that has great quality.
2. Don't buy anything in a box! This really is the best way to eat healthy food and save money. Things in a box include crackers, pasta, breakfast cereal, cookies, toaster waffles, etc. Don't buy them and you won't need to eat them! That being said, we do of course, sometimes have rice crackers and the like, it's just no longer essential to me to have a cupboard stocked with "snacks" that come in packages.
3. Buy everything you can in bulk. I save a lot buying in bulk vs. buying the exact same foods pre-packaged. Things you might find in bulk include; fresh veggies and fruit, dried grains and flours, sea salt, local honey and maple syrup, cooking oils, coffee and tea, eggs, meat and cheese that are packaged by the co-op itself, nuts, legumes, seeds, dried fruit, herbs and spices, chocolate chips, baking supplies and household cleaning products, to name a few!
I'll be sharing more budget-conscious tips for buying real food at ethical, community based grocers in the future. In the meantime, please tell me about your awesome local co-ops and what the best buys are there.
I'm sharing this with the Nourishing Gourmet's Pennywise Platter and Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.