Bringing Food From Afar(ish)… Or, Having It Come To You!

I posted on our Facebook page asking for input on what I should write about next and there was a strong contingent both for posting pictures of some of my favorite spots in our house and another strong contingent for sharing alternative ways we get groceries. After tallying the votes, the house pictures had a narrow lead, so I took pictures of my chosen spot one day, sat down to review them the next, aaaand found that every single blessed one of the pictures was blurry.  Then I remembered I’d taken them while carrying a fussy baby.  Not really recommended for photographic success. So I’m going to try it again soon, sans baby.

In the meantime, here’s a post about Ways I Avoid Going Into The Grocery Store.  With four children aged five and under (translation: 4 car seats, no one to help push the cart, “help” unloading the cart=pitching fragile items onto the conveyor belt, and Sudden Emergent Potty Situations right in the middle of the store), I am a big fan of limiting grocery store time. Yes, it’s great for real-life training so I don’t want to eliminate it, but my sanity is an important part of their real-life. So I embrace alternatives! And I felt even more cultured about it when I read a 1950s British woman who was in America talk about how much she missed just ordering food to be delivered to her house (in Amid The Alien Corn, reviewed here).

Some of these companies use referral links, and I’ve marked those with an *. They’re all sources I started using for us at first, without the blog in mind, but if you’d rather not go that route, just googling the company name should give you what you need. Unfortunately, not all of them are available nation-wide, either. The list seems to be growing rapidly, though, as companies adapt to new forms of connectivity, and this is a good thing. 🙂

  1. Zaycon Fresh ~* This is where I buy bulk meats a couple times a year… I really love how their system works: they e-mail you to say that a few certain meats will be going on sale, you sign up for what you want. Then at a pre-determined place and time (one easily found online with the meat info), you meet their truck and they give you your meat. I only hop out of the car to open my back hatch while they heft the big box of meat into my car. It’s fast, efficient, and they are always courteous.
    I’ve gotten chicken breasts, bacon, and sausage from them. They have a wide arrange of meats available and some of the meat is really low-priced (boneless, skinless chicken breasts are often $1.69/lb). Some of it is median pricing (at least for my area), and some of it is more expensive. Depending on your area’s prices and consumption, your mileage may vary.
    What I don’t love: I feel like they try to sell the health/natural factor of their meat than is really quite fair. For you Whole30’ers and those with food sensitivities in general, it is a good idea to read their info sheets before ordering any of their meats. And while they say their chicken comes directly from the farm, I don’t know what farm and what the chickens are fed at the farm (hormone free really doesn’t tell me much ~ this is an interesting article on that point).
    If you’re someone who passionately believes in local food where you know the ins & outs of the producer and their philosophies, Zaycon is not for you. If you are looking to stretch your budget and reduce grocery trips, I think they’re an outstanding company.
  2. Green Bean Delivery ~* GBD just became available in my area recently and I was excited to try them out, after hearing about them from friends.
    What I don’t love (but understand): it’s expensive. And if you forget and let them just set up a default produce order for you (cough. not that I’ve done that…), it’s even more expensive.
    What I do love: fresh produce. On my doorstep. My kids eat a looooot and it’s perpetually difficult to get the right amount at the right stage of ripeness when I’m out at the store. Having a load of excellent produce dropped off at my place is just wonderful.
    It is really easy to customize orders & the delivery schedule. By customizing your delivery carefully, you can make it considerably more cost-effective. If you’re a one-car family, though, or have a medically fragile child (been there, done that), this service is excellent.
    (note on the referral: unlike Zaycon, you should get a bonus on your fist order using the referral link ~ this is how I tried out my first order and because of that bonus, it was really a $ saver for us).
  3. Azure Standard ~ a bulk foods co-op that I use mostly for bulk grains, spices, and dried/frozen fruits & veggies. Rolled oats for under $1 a pound=lots of cheap, healthy breakfasts for us! In the summer, too, you can get an excellent deal on some produce ~ I get 30 lb boxes of apples and we eat a ton and then I make apple butter.
    For those not familiar with bulk co-ops: the food shows up in a truck at a pre-set location and everyone helps unload it. There are a few different ones in the states, but AS is the one I’m most familiar with.
    The downside: you’ve got to have one in your area, for one.  And there’s a $50 minimum order + 8.5% surcharge for transport costs.
    What we’ve done (I highly recommend this!): a few friends and family members share a GoogleDoc Spreadsheet where we post things we are wanting to split. For instance: I’ll enter that I’m going to buy a 25 lb bag of organic popcorn for $1 a pound, but I sign up for only 10 lbs of that. Friend A signs up for another 10 lbs, Friend B another 5 lbs. Then on the day the truck comes in, we go to a member’s house and split the items together. It’s turned into a fun way to socialize with other local mommies while we all work on the same goal: better food at a better price for our family.
  4. Local Growers ~ One farmer in our area opens his shop online one day a week ~ his customers can order produce that he’s grown or that is otherwise local. You can pay via credit card or PayPal (I love using PP since that’s where my eBay sales money goes) and then he comes to town one day and waits in a local church parking lot for people to come and get their orders, rather like Zaycon. His prices are, of course, a bit higher than the grocery store and some weeks it won’t fit our budget, but I really appreciate having this option. If you’re curious about whether someone does it in your area, you might try asking on a Facebook swap site.
    I’ve also used eBay sales money to pay for half a hog from a local farmer… we picked it up from the processor, and then had pork stocked in our freezer for months.
  5. Wal-mart, Target, Kroger, & Meijer are all stores that have started floating/testing curbside pick up at a few of their stores. None of these test locations happen to be in my town, which might just make me slightly bitter. 😉 This type of service sounds fantastic to me ~ shopping online while nursing, for instance, and then having my husband pick it up on his way home from work. In most cases, there’s either a surcharge ($5ish seems to be the range) or a minimum order. Some feel that it still saves money because it’s harder to impulse shop. I think impulse shopping can still happen online and there might be more temptation to do it because you’re paying via card, not cash. Still, though, it’s an attractive option. One of our local stores does provide online order/delivery ($6 surcharge) and I’ve used them a couple times when it’s been subzero out or we’ve been really sick ~ their customer service is excellent, but the website design is a bit clunky.
  6. Amazon Prime* or Prime Pantry ~ This seems to be an option most people know about and for good reason. Order a grocery item and have it show up within two (or three, really)… business days. With Pantry, you can fill up a huge box with a $6 shipping charge.
    Some of their items are not badly priced at all, I think, but many others are much higher priced than their grocery store counter parts. You are truly paying for the convenience. That said: a one car family in a rural location might be able to get more bang for their buck this way.  Living in a town with at least five different grocery chains (including two Aldis!), I use Amazon for groceries *very* sparingly ~ coconut oil occasionally, for instance, or a specialty food item that is hard to find here.
    The Prime link above does give you a 30 day free trial for Prime, so if you’re curious or not wanting to venture out during the month of February (I never do), this might be a good time to try it.

So these are my go-to options or ones I’m experimenting with ~ what are yours?

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