Friday, April 11, 2014

Saving the Moola: thinking outside the box {stores} for groceries

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I'll be the first to admit it: I can quite easily fall into the "supermarket is king" trap. If I don't plan carefully, I will only get our family's groceries from the store.

And let's face it and be honest with ourselves: food is not grown at the store. Food does not really come from a store.

More than ever, I want to be conscious of the message I'm sending my ever-aware daughter. I want her to know where food, real food, really comes from.

Soon, we'll be starting our third garden on our balcony. I'm so excited to be expanding our garden this year. We have limited space to work with (as Jason is quick to remind me all the time), but we decided to grow tomatoes, marigold flowers, carrots and strawberries. I have to check with my mum to see if she'll have extra cherry tomato plants again this year. If yes, we'll be growing a couple of those again, too. We still have canned tomatoes left from our 2013 garden. I can't wait for my Bug to help me water the garden this year.

There are some things we never buy at the store (or very rarely, at any rate). Nana, Jason's mom, and her husband, Grandpa Bob, have six chickens at their house that lay eggs. I very rarely buy eggs at the store because they generously share with all their children. In fact, I thought it was funny I had to buy eggs in mid-December. It was the first time I had bought them in a couple of months, but over Christmas, Nana and Grandpa Bob stocked us up again with eggs (thank you both!).

We also typically never buy beef at the store. Instead, we get beef straight from our farmer friends at Becker Farms.

For a time recently, we subscribed to a weekly veggie pail service called Veggie Pails. It's a local company here in Michigan. We paid a fee each week and get a pail full of fruits and vegetables delivered right to our door. To be honest, we've carefully evaluated the cost. We're incredibly frugal so we wanted to be sure we were actually getting our money's worth. Veggie Pails is an incredible value on so many levels. We've tried so many new-to-us fruits and vegetables so it's expanding our repertoire. We would never have bought some of the items from the store. In fact, it's because of this service that we discovered celery root soup, which our Buggy devours!

Veggie Pails can save us money. We were unwilling to buy produce in our hometown. The stores here, Walmart and Target, do not have a wide array of fresh produce. VG's is here in town, but it's very expensive. The best place to get quality produce at an affordable price is the farmer market or Meijer; Meijer is 15 minutes away and the farmer market is about 20 minutes away. In the interest of saving time and money, we can, with the Veggie Pail service, now more easily shop at Walmart for our other groceries and skip going to other towns so much. This has come in handy more than I can tell you.

Some weeks, we didn't even go to the grocery store! We had all the protein we could need from eggs and beef, and we received fresh produce weekly. Jason and I were so pleased with our Veggie Pails service. If you live in Michigan, please check them out! We canceled the service only because we are being super careful with our finances (more than ever) and wanted to be sure we were only buying the necessities each week.

If you don't live in Michigan, there's probably not a Veggie Pails company in your area. However, you could check out Bountiful Baskets. This appears to work somewhat similarly to Veggie Pails, although you would actually place an order for the specific items you want. Bountiful Baskets is not available in our area, but it could be in yours!

If Bountiful Baskets isn't in your area, you may want to check out your local co-operative. There is one in our hometown which I looked into when we first moved to the area. Personally, I found their prices crazy high. I did not think their items were a good deal. However, maybe the one in your area is a little different. Either way, it's worth looking into.

There are so many ways to get real food into your house and into your belly. It's super important for kids to learn what real food is and where it comes from. More importantly, I want my Bug to grow up to know how to obtain real food in creative ways. I don't want her to be dependent on trading cash for groceries at a store with fixed prices. I want her to think outside the box. Whether it means gardening, growing chickens and cows, trading her own knowledge and goods for food, or whatever else she thinks up, I know I can give my Bug all the knowledge she needs to provide good, whole food to her family. I hope you'll join us in teaching your children about real food and where it really comes from! And who knows, maybe you can save some money by adopting some of these ideas.

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