April 3, 2015

Keeping it Fresh: Springtime Grocery Shopping

As winter fades away, the availability of fresh produce increases. This time of year, most is still from California or Florida, but berries become larger, fresher, and seem to last longer. I also notice prices begin to dip in March, though often climb again during the summer when more local, smaller farmers are supplying fresh produce. I don't mind paying a little more to keep small farms thriving.

Rochester has a winter farmer's market, though I've only visited once or twice. We're not big meat eaters and rarely buy preserves since I do those myself. Come summer, though, I try to get to market twice a month, even if just for fresh flowers and sweet corn.

We're members of People's Food Co-Op, spending approximately $250 a month on food and knick-knacks. My husband frequents Fareway, a small regional grocer that still offers a full-service butcher and car service. As a family, we probably spend at least $5000 a year on groceries, though I'm not counting additional purchases from Costo, nor deducting for when we travel. It's a LOT of money. Each week, I think, "oh, just $125," but when you look at it annually, it's a bit shocking. Thankfully, my husband is quite economical, so he balances my $125 grocery weeks with his $75 weeks.

Above, you can see that most of my weeks are filled with fresh produce with lots of fruit. Strawberries are a must and I'm confident we've bought at least 12 packages so far this year. 

I tend to buy packaged greens, though it would be more economical to buy loose and head lettuce. In our case, it's just easier to have pre-washed greens available since my husband eats a lot of salad. Sometimes, I'll prep the greens myself, but I'd rather have that 10 minutes back for something more fun.

Dairy ebbs and flows. We always buy milk, though usually from Costco, and definitely like to have a few yogurts on hand for snacking. When the mood strikes, I'll pick up some pudding, sour cream, or cheese too.

The challenge of shopping at the co-op is that I can't help browse the household and personal care products. We've tried a few local and natural brands of skincare products and I usually grab a pack of incense once a month. My two favorite scents are Myrrh and Patchouli.

You won't find a lot of processed food in my cart. I don't claim to avoid it all together because it's a necessary part of my life, but whenever possible, I try to steam my own veggies instead of using canned and cook bulk rice instead of box mixes. Sometimes the smaller organic brands are the same price as big manufactures, which makes me feel a little better about what I serve my family.

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