This is the final part in my series on how I manage grocery shopping for my family. Other posts cover Sam’s Club, Walmart, and Aldi where I buy most of our food and maintain our food storage. Most of the items in this post are specialty things and bulk foods I buy on a monthly basis, some I buy only a few times a year.
One shopping trick to keep in mind is to explore unique or out of the way sources for things you don’t run out of often. For me those include: wheat, beans, oatmeal, honey, molasses, different grains, dried herbs, spices, and dried fruit. Some everyday things I buy in bulk so we don’t run out are: coffee, chocolate chips, butter, sugar, flour, olive oil, and nuts. Bulk buying saves money and ensures that we aren’t out of necessary food.
First up is Natural Grocers. I love shopping there. If there’s not one in your area then a local health food store would be the equivalent. This is where I buy the few supplements we use, bulk herbs, bulk spices, chocolate, some vegetables, beeswax candles, and a few personal care items. I also order 25 pound bags of wheat to grind for bread from them.
Occasionally we buy eggs at Natural Grocers unless our neighbor’s chickens are feeling productive. They have great prices on eggs and all of their products are non-GMO. If you are part of their membership you will always get a discount on eggs and other products that are on sale. It’s free to join, all you do is enter your phone number at checkout for the sale prices.
Most months I place an order with Azure Standard. There are only a few things I regularly buy from them although they have tons of great products. This is where I buy lots of my bulk staples. I have a gallon of honey and a gallon of molasses from Azure and this should last us over a year. Then there are bulk grains and beans. This is a great source for oatmeal and spelt but wheat and popcorn are cheaper at Natural Grocers.
I order beans in 5 pound bags and put them on my list when I open the last bag in my food storage. Soy is something I’m looking to reduce in our diet so I buy chocolate chips in 5 pound bags as well. It’s not the cheapest price for chocolate chips but for soy-free ones they are. Also there’s something deeply joyful about a 5 pound bag of chocolate chips! Azure offers lots of products in various size packages so if you aren’t sure you’ll like something you can start with 1 pound and try it out.
How to Order from Azure
To order from them just go to azurestandard.com, set up an account, and place your order. They will match you to a “drop” near you. The “drop coordinator” for that route will contact you with details about when to pick up your order. Azure will also email you with the date and time so you can plan ahead. On the drop day, a truck will arrive and the coordinator will give everyone their order. My drop is at a park 15 minutes from my house and it takes about 5 to 10 minutes to pick up.
There is probably one near you so if you’re interested, give it a try! You will probably be surprised to see a few friends there who also order from Azure.
There are a few bulk food items I buy on Amazon. The main one is a 5 pound bag of decaf coffee I order every other month. I have it on their subscription plan so I don’t have to remember to order it and they offer a discount. It’s a really good Columbian coffee and we mix it half and half with regular coffee.
You may not want or need to buy such large quantities of ingredients but it’s worth considering if it saves money and it’s a product that will store well.
Another way I buy food is from local farmers and friends. We buy milk from a dairy a few miles from us. It’s not the cheapest milk I could buy but we think it’s worth the price. The farmer has become a friend of ours and we like how they care for their cows. The milk is amazing and cheaper than organic milk from the store. Most family-run small dairies will have you bring your own jars so that may be an investment you need to make if you find a dairy near you.
A couple of our neighbors have chickens and we buy or trade for eggs. They are better than store-bought and the eggs are beautiful. My parents have a pecan farm and beef cattle so we have pecans and meat from them. That’s a bit of an unfair advantage but it sure works out for us!
Ask around and see what is available in your area and if there are any farmers you can support. A farmer’s market is a great place to start. In my experience farmers are more than happy to talk about their products and can point you in the right direction if you’re looking for something they don’t offer.
A Few Final Thougts
What we eat takes so much of our time, energy, and money that it really deserves to be carefully considered. The way I feed my family isn’t simple but it does factor in lots of things. Our values, nutrition, budget, and preferences are all things I take into account.
Being flexible is also very important. Sometimes things get busy and I can’t shop around. Then I rely on our food storage and quick stops at Walmart. Other times I’m able to get to all my sources and restock my storage. Having a wide variety of staples stored and knowing how to use them are the biggest keys to being flexible and saving money.