DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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2 April 2012

Grocery shopping choices

There is no doubt that living as we do and trying to stay on budget presents us with many decisions. Do we buy organic? Do we buy local? Do we grow our own? What are the pros and cons of those options? One thing is for sure, if you want to stay healthy while saving money, there will probably not be one single answer to this. Prices and circumstances will keep changing and we have to be flexible enough to change what we do.

Many of you know what we do here. We try to grow as much as we can right here in our backyard. We keep chickens - we have 12 rare breed chooks at the moment and we keep them for eggs, not meat. But what do we do for the rest of our food? How do we continue to buy healthy food while staying within our budget?


Aldi is our main grocery shop, the things we can't buy at Aldi we usually buy at IGA at Maleny. We have an Aldi shop just five minutes away from our home. If you've never shopped at Aldi and you have one close buy, I encourage you to try them out. You'll save about 30% on what you'd spend at Woolworths or Coles. If you're spending $100 a week at the supermarket on groceries every week and you change to Aldi, that's a saving of $30 a week or $1560 a year. Just say you spend that $560 on items you can't get at Aldi, you're still way ahead. It would be wonderful to be able to pay off an extra $1000 off your mortgage each year just by changing where you shop.

There is a bit of a learning period when you first shop at Aldi, it's not set out like your average supermarket but it only takes one or two visits to get the general idea. Also, they have specials that run for a week or so, then you won't see them again in the shop for another year. It's a German-owned company selling 97% Australian fruit and vegetables, 94% Australian dairy and 100% Australian meat; the rest of the groceries, like other supermarkets, come from all over the world - often from Germany. They won best supermarket in Australia last year and that was voted for on customer satisfaction.

Aldi have a range of organic goods and we buy them but here is where the dilemma presents itself. Their tomato paste is organic but made in Italy. Do we go for an organic product we can afford or an Australia product that is not organic? I hope you check where all your food comes from and if you do, you'll see that a lot of the tomato products being sold in Australia now are either from Italy or China. When I find Australian tomatoes or tomato paste in cans I buy it, if not, I buy Aldi's Italian organic range. I think we should all support our local famers and industries. If you're in the US, Canada, UK, France, Holland or Sweden - you should buy the products grown and packaged in your own country. We have no right to complain that our jobs are being sent overseas if we don't buy goods from our own countries. Check the country of origin and help your own country keep its jobs by buying locally produced goods. It may cost a little more but we have to get used to the idea that not all food is cheap and buying local is a wise investment.


We're fortunate in having a local butcher that we trust. We buy our meat in bulk from him so we get good meat at a good price. Most of his meat is killed and processed locally, by him and his sons. The rest of it  - the lamb and pork, is brought in from farmers he trusts. That's fine by me. If I didn't have such a butcher, if I was buying supermarket meat, if my butcher wouldn't tell me where the meat was coming from, I'd start looking for a reliable source of good meat and chicken. If I couldn't find a reliable source, I'd buy very little meat and move more towards a vegetarian diet with additions of sustainable fish. If I had a large backyard, I would also consider keeping chickens for meat and eggs. This is what I mean by flexibility and changing what you do as times and circumstances change.

When we're not growing our own vegetables and we buy from the farmers market or Aldi, we buy organic if we can afford it but for me, fresh food grown close to where we live always beats organic. If I have a choice, I prefer fresh vegetables over older organic vegetables. You will have to think about this and decide for yourself what your preference is.

We buy bread flour in bulk bags of 12.5kg/30lbs from a shop that also sells loose dried fruit, nuts, spices, tea, coffee, pasta, rice and grains. They're Simply Good in Morayfield and Alderley. If you make bread at home it is worthwhile looking for one of these shops. They generally have a very good range and are cheaper than the supermarkets. There are plenty of online shops we can buy organic dried foods from but generally we support our local co-op in Maleny. They have a good range of organic foods of every description and the profits go back into the town.

We all support, or choose not to support, with the dollars we spend every week on food and groceries. This is long-term spending. If you can save money here, they will be continued savings that will add up over time. You'll go through stages too. You start off as a single, often turn into a couple, add children, then have ravenous teenagers, and go back to a single or a couple somewhere along the way. All these stages require different shopping strategies and hopefully the way you shop through every stage will result in savings in your pocket every week. With careful and thoughtful shopping and putting in an extra effort at home, it is possible to save in every stage. You have control over this. It is worth some thought.

What is your shopping strategy at the moment and how has it changed over time?



52 comments:

  1. Thank you for this informative post, Rhonda.

    At this time, we are seeking greater self-sufficiency on our little farm by producing our own milk, milk products, eggs, some meat, and some gardening. It is a blessing and greatly reduces our grocery costs. We are a family of 10 so I buy grains, cooking oil, and the like in bulk at our local grocer. And, we are seeking to build up our food storage at home. It is always good to be prepared, I think.

    I wish we had an Aldi's in our neck of the woods. I would love to shop at that store!
    ~Julie

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  2. Hi Rhonda,

    This was a timely post for me to read as we've been tracking our grocery purchases since Feb. 8. (We shop at our local farmers market year-round every weekend, and also at a local grocery store chain.)

    I entered all of our purchase costs, quantities, and dates into an Excel spreadsheet. We noted a few surprises (so this time-consuming project was well worth it):

    1.) We do not spend as much on beef as originally believed (we buy direct from a local farmer which is slightly more pricey than buying from the grocery store).
    2.) It's "worth it" to buy the organic milk. It only cost a handful of dollars more per month.
    3.) Supplies for two indoor house cats comprise approximately 25% of our grocery bill (this includes clay-based litter).
    4.) We easily spend approximately $50 per month on cheese. (We're going to cut back.)
    5.) Cost of buying free-range brown eggs directly from the farmer cost a little more than buying non-organic white eggs from the store (which we knew). HOWEVER, the cost of six dozen eggs per month is approximately only 25% of the cost of beef purchased.
    6. Eight apples from the grocery store (purchased three at one time, and five at another) cost $9.99. A small basket of apples from the market (with approximately eight to ten apples would've only cost about $3.00 to $3.50.

    I could go on and on, but the point is it PAYS to pay attention to your grocery purchases. I had assumptions about my own bill that were proven wrong by some honest tracking.

    I'm glad I found your blog, Rhonda. Look forward to future posts.

    Take care.

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  3. I am facing a similar dilemma with my groceries at the moment, Rhonda. I try to buy from local, independent stores, as the supermarkets often put undue pressure on the growers and producers of our food. But I do struggle with what things cost, and it seems to be getting more and more expensive. We have Aldi here in the UK, and also Lidl but I usually only use them when I want to get German or seasonal foods like frikadellen or stollen!
    Anna

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  4. My household is skipping the supermarket (and shopping malls and super chains) this year. We're enjoying supporting local and Australian made and are finding the experience a positive one rather than a burden. We buy our veggies through a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm (Purple Pear). Fruit and milk comes from our local greengrocer and farmers markets. Meat from the butcher or Farmers Market, bread from the baker and so on. We buy dry goods (beans, pulses, flours and nuts etc) every three months through local buying club that buys wholesale from Honest to Goodness online. By forming a buying club we can buy wholesale and save loads of money. I know many people think that it costs more to not shop at the supermarket –but it’s the opposite. Were saving money and spending less time shopping – mostly because were not buying packaged and processed food. Great topic Rhonda.

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  5. Great timing. I just returned from riding my bike 11 miles to buy my produce at Sprouts. They had organic granny smith apples, organic grapefruit, and organic oranges on special. The prices were half of what I would have paid at the Farmers Market. I've been watching the ads each week and buying what's in season and on sale. I also picked up some fresh ginger (grown in the USA) for tea. Bought a box of discounted vanilla soy milk to use until my order raw milk arrives at the organic co op in a couple of weeks. I should have enough organic milk in the fridge to last, but it's better to be safe and not run out of milk!

    awakened soul

    awakened soul

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  6. I'd chose local over "organic and dragged around the world" anytime. The most hilarious thing I have seen so far was a "just-in-time organic mango"... there is nothing healthy about stuff like that.

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  7. as we're low budget right now we try to dance a balance between local, organic and affordable while on food assistance. not always easy but by learning to make as much as possible from scratch and raising our own chickens for eggs and meat we do alright. a plus is that our cleaning products are technically "food" (vinegar, baking soda, and olive oil for soap) and qualify for the assistance too.
    in our supermarket i just saw bags of cubed frozen goat meat, from Australia! we're in the northeast u.s. and have no shortage of goats!

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  8. I noticed that during Lent we spent less at the supermarket; we'd decided to eat very simply, and have the same dinner every Monday, every Thursday, etc. It was very interesting, and there were a couple of times when I'd have to be more inventive and come up with something from the pantry. Lent is almost over, but I want to remember the simpler way we did things this time.

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  9. Good morning Rhonda,

    I have been shopping at Aldi for the past five years and even though I still have to shop elsewhere for some items we save some much by shopping at Aldi. I also go through the junk mail each week and stock up on items that we use that are on sale, these all go into another pantry, ready to be pulled out whenever the item is needed. This way you never really have to pay full price again on these items.

    Rhonda, I made soap on the weekend, it looks good so far. And the veggie patch is getting ready for plants soon. So excited. I am researching cuttings as well. I love this way of life, there is always something new to learn.

    Have a great day all,

    Anna

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  10. We've never had much success shopping in Aldi, maybe it's just our local one, but they don't sell stuff that I generally buy (they have lots of packaged stuff).

    We buy our meat from the wholesaler, our veg from a local greengrocer who also grows some produce (or we go to the farmer's markets) and we get some things from the health food store. Otherwise I live 3 minutes walk from Woolies, so I get the rest there. For us personally, we find that's a good balance at the moment between buying well and the convienience of a big supermarket.

    I guess we are lucky we have the choice living where we do.

    @ME, that's interesting info from tracking your shopping. We also track our grocery bill, have done for a couple of years, but I think I will now incorporate some extra things in it like dates - thanks!

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  11. Aldi is a recent arrival here, maybe in the last year or two. I love it, and try to do a lot of our shopping there (for things I can't get from local farmers), but I will say ours almost never has organic products, which is disappointing. I'll ask about it next time I'm there, the staff is very knowledgable and friendly so I'm sure they can tell me why and if there are plans to carry more organics in the future.

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  12. We are very lucky to have an organic shop near us and I find that as long as we buy in season we don't pay much, if any, more for our produce than if we bought at the supermarket. We find that we are much more selective now and more content with a less varied diet. So when apples are cheaper we eat a lot of apples, when bananas are cheaper ($2.99 a kilo at the organic shop at the moment) we eat a lot of bananas and I freeze them for baking and smoothies. We buy all our dry goods in bulk and even our toilet paper comes in bulk. Having 14 people living at the farm now we need it! All our dry goods come in bulk through a co op, meaning that I very rarely go to a supermarket. Occassionlly I go to our local IGA maybe once a month for just butter We have cows and they give us milk, from which we make yoghurt and cheese (not enough yet to make all the butter we use)
    For me it's an ongoig process. I started a long time ago with just one thing and then when I was comfortable with that changed something else. I am always changing the way I buy things more and more mindful of how I spend my money. I think about who will benefit from the money that I spend, me and who else. If I don't like the thought of my money going somewhere then I don't buy the product.

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  13. Thanks everyone. Reading how you shop is very interesting. I like your last sentence, purplepear.

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  14. This is a topic so close to my own heart I decided to blog just about my grocery choices!
    I consider every purchase I make in a supermarket to be a vote for the kind of world want. That sounds gradiose, but it is the way it works in a consumer culture. I make the same kinds of choices as you regarding local and organic. I always check the labels because sometimes brand change. It was devastating to find that the only brand of tomato paste I could find with Australian tomatoes suddenly changed to "imported ingredients". However, I shop less and less supermarkets now and rely on food co-ops, local farmers and good butchers who can tell you about the food...trying to engage with supermarket staff about the importance of food only results in blank looks!

    Jen from Beyond the trolley

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  15. i use to work at the maleny iga !!! i shop on line and get all organic fruit,veg and dairy and it gets delivered !!!! i find shopping on line saves money as your not walking the supermarket isles buying items that are not needed.

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  16. Hi Rhonda,
    my stategy is to avoid the supermarket as much as possible even though this means more to do for me - ie making everything from scratch and shopping at smaller shops. Sometimes a tight budget means I do have to buy more at the supermarket - as Paul Clitheroe says ' if you can't afford it, you can't afford it'!
    The area I try not to compromise on is organic food. This used to be primarily because I didn't want my family consuming pesticides, but now concern for the environment, and particularly the bees makes this my first choice. Bees are resposible for more than 30% of our food,and scientists now know for sure that pesticides are wiping out bee populations.
    Worth a look is the documentary ' Dirt' - once you see the devastation caused by current growing methods,it's pretty hard to buy commmercially grown food.
    We are lucky to have a local grower's market where many growers are not using pesticide. I'm also redoubling my efforts to grow more at home to save money and carbon miles.
    I've also realised we can no longer afford the luxury of store-bought organic bread, so have purchased a 2nd hand breadmaker to replace the old one. My calculations show this saves us a staggerring $900 per year!
    As for eggs, we would go without rather than buy cage ones if money is tight.
    So many issues to consider with each purchase, shopping can seem to take up a lot of time. But how blessed we are to have so many choices, and an abundance of food available.
    Madeleine

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  17. A great post. I've been an Aldi's shopper for about 2 years, which has saved me substantial funds. I also belong to an organic CSA here in my town (this will be the second year of operation as a CSA, it's a 200+ year old farm). It has saved me substantial money as well. I home can/freeze surplus for non CSA months. I still have fzn pumpkin, squash, kale and canned tomatoes that we are enjoyins as well as butternut squash and garlic. I shop seasonally and do make a concerted effort to buy USA products, to support ideally local, if not national farmers. We're on a budget but since I make alot from scratch, I can make choices that cost me more, such as only buying organic greens.

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  18. With our local IGA recently being taken over by Coles I thought I'd try shopping at ALDI using the shopping list posted on the forum where you can make up your shopping list online from their website and know how much the bill is going to be. That's the plan this week and it will be a bit of a challenge but I have heard from many people that they save heaps.

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  19. g'day
    i shop at woollies as i find it better than the aldi, i did a docket check along time ago & found that the aldi cheap items i was buying were exact same price as the woollies homebrand, so i went back to woollies. i didn't really like the aldi shop anyway plus i'm not keen on shopping all over town just to find a bargain when you consider how much fuel is spent just getting there. i do try to buy australian when i can afford it but most of the time i don't bother, it just cost too much, sorry. I am working on my vege patch as we mow my huge yard which is very overgrown atm. pumpkins have gone wild :))
    enjoying your blog & slowly getting through the archives.
    do i need to be a member to see other things here? i feel like there might be posts missing?
    love reading here, you give me what i need to do things in my own house again.
    thankyou again for a wonderful shared blog, i tell all my friends :))
    have a great day
    selina from kilkivan qld

    p.s. have made 2 dishcloths & a pair of those gorgeous topless mitts, love it!

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  20. at the moment - I don't have a shopping strategy - moving twice in two years and big family changes have been difficult for me to navigate and sort [even as to what I can grow here - we had to start over with chickens as well and ours are not laying yet] - but I am ready to look into it all again. there is an Aldi two blocks away and our local co-op is now within walking distance. I buy organic when I can due to health reasons - and with our co-op I am fortunate that they try to source produce from locals as well.

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  21. Dilemmas dilemmas... I always find myself torn. I desperately want to support local and buy australian.... I love the ideal of the 100 mile diet... my problem is, to do this I would have to spend at least $200 a fortnight for the 2 of us probably a lot more, so for now,we shop Aldi, the catalouges and unfortunately the quality of all our butchers around here seem to have increased their prices and lowered their quality to compete with Cokes and Woolworth's so I end up buying the best I can where ever is cheaper.... I hate grocery shopping at the moment!

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  22. Madeleine- I'm not sure if you are from Oz, but I couldn't agree more. We are truly blessed to have so many food choices. If only more Australians understood this. We live in such a consumer culture - and then complain about the cost of living! I think this blog and the forums show just how little the true cost of living can be. And how much we can get from our lives if we choose to live more simply.
    Karen.

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  23. Such great points about local vs. organic.

    To be honest, I have such an aversion to grocery stores! So my strategy is to avoid them whenever possible in favor of home-produced food, farmer's markets, or locally sourced food. It's HARD, though, and time consuming to shop this way. I think that's why grocery stores are so successful - they are selling convenience. So much is lost, though, in the name of that word....

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post,
    Jaime

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  24. Hi Rhonda
    I also shop at Aldi and like you I've found that I save about 30% over other supermarkets. I find I can afford to buy organic if I shop there. Thanks for the tip about Simply Good, I'm going to try them next.

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  25. Im lucky to have 4 supermarkets in my path to town. I go through the junk mail and write then menu for 2 weeks buying the specials to form our meals. I also stock up on things that i use when they are on special. We also have a bult meat supplier Tasmin Meats which is about 15 mins away and go there sometimes when i see a great deal. I have vege gardens, fruit trees and chooks and ducks for eggs. I also belong to a local produce swap group and we get together once a month to swap our home grown goodies, seeds jams, eggs etc I have also been making dishcloths to take to the swap for when i dont have much else to offer that way i can still come home with some veges. I also make my bread every day which does keep costs down.

    I have been saving money to get a large pantry built in my kitchen so my stock pile is all in one place instead of in the linen cupboard and in boxes in my walk in robe, which should go in next week.

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  26. Another great post. I've begun to track my shopping recently and have started by creating a list of everything I buy. I was immediately able to see the things I don't need to buy and can now save money by just not buying them.

    I shop at coles as I'm not a bid fan of Aldi. My local store seems to stock too much packaged and processed food and not much fruit and veg.

    When I do shop I shop the outside of the supermarket and only venture in for cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues, flour, sugar, eggs and other baking goods. The rest is fruit and vege and dairy. I no longer buy bakery goods unless we are going camping. Meat is bought in bulk at the local wholesalers.

    We made our own passata this year with the help of my Italian in laws (much nicer than store bought and much healthier).

    I must confess we do buy supermarket brands for staples but make sure we buy seasonal Australian fruit and veg.

    In the next few years we hope to start a large vegie garden and get some schools for eggs to help us save and pay off the mortgage quicker. It will be easier when our toddler and baby we are expecting are bigger and can "help" out in the garden.

    Angela.

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  27. I wish we had aldi over here in WA but sadly it would prob be too much competition for coles and woolies!!! and so the pollies over here keep it out.
    My mum used to have an aldi in the UK where she lived and those frikadellen were magic.... now I'm thinking and wishing I could buy those over here!!!

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  28. Oh how I miss Aldi! Here we don't have one, and what we have been doing for over a year now is having our groceries delivered from Coles. You order online, so no tempting chocolate an biscuit isles to be avoided, and instead of us driving to the shop, the little truck comes to us, and a whole lot of other people, which is probably a reduction of petrol use.
    We get our fruit and veg (what we don't have growing in the garden yet) from a local weekend market and our meat (the little we eat of it) is from a butcher who sources from local farmers. Just this weekend we have hatched a plan with a friend who's a vet with no room for chickens, when we get ours (spring), he can 'park' some chickens with us, in return he will butcher some of our chickens for us when they're ready. (I guess we won't be naming them!)
    We also eat a lot of kangaroo, very very healthy, and there's an over supply. You just need to know where to get it! I can't wait for the government regulations to change to make this easier.
    Ann

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  29. Such a timely post Rhonda, yet again. I was given the Frugavore book for my birthday and am putting some of her suggestions to the test eg using the local markets rather than supermarket for fresh stuff. Not any more expensive and much more nutrients I believe. And I also use Aldi.

    A note on Aldi for the person who finds the prices the same as Woolies - they are, but I have found the quality much better. And getting out of the store in half an hour beats the hour it takes to go around the huge Woolies and the long lines! But that might just be me.

    A note on organic. I totally hear everyone's interest in it for health and environmental reasons, but do get concerned about the decrease in productivity. I know this seems like an awful thing to say on a simply living blog, but if we were all to buy organic, we would be dramatically reducing the food available to those in poorer nations, or those less advantaged in our own. I do still buy organic, but I try to be mindful of this fact.

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  30. We need to start a campaign TO GET ALDI HERE IN WA. I am so envious of people in the East who can access this store. We don't even have good farmers' markets near us, so have to rely on IGA, and the other two. However, I don't buy very much processed food these days, so the things I buy are hardly ever on special :(
    Jill.

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  31. Melinda says
    Great topic, it is one I have been thinking about lately. I wish I could give Woollies the flick but I do rely on them for things I can't get elsewhere for eg baking powder vanilla essence (when I don't have homemade from vanilla beans and a few other things. My closest grocery store is an Aldis' and every Sunday I go to my local 'flea market' and buy my fruit and vegetables, so local and many the growers from nearby. I also looking through all the other stalls and buy much of what I need like clothing manchester all second hand for very little. My daughter has clothed her two young children in often very stylish outfits for a fraction of the new cost. Once we bought a box of handmade soap non scented from a stall that was selling out old stock for $20 for the whole box and it can be used for nearly everything. If I were to give two good tips for reducing the shopping bill it would always be used powdered milk at least for cooking and always go to your local market in my case flea market for fruit and vegetables. I am never alone at the markets as it is always packed. I also like asking them where their produce is grown. Hope this is not too long but it is a subject near to my heart

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  32. I never shop at ALDI as I can't bring myself to! All the profits (of which there must be squllions!)go offshore (Germany) and they do not employ teenagers/students etc which the other supermarkets do very well. There are scant staff employed who often have several roles therefore stopping someone else having a job too, so they may start the day as the manager then end up packing shelves ( I sat next to an aldi staff member at dinner and found that out). They have no 'quick' aisle i.e. 12 items or less. it's just not for me and I hope I've educated others.
    I mostly shop at a local greengrocer and IGA, with occasional woollies/coles for unusaual fruit/veg,and I can live with that. I buy from australian owned companies despite the cost. I think I'm making my small contribution to the survival of Australian jobs, companies etc. Maybe you could join me???? Jelly.
    P.S I am an avid fan of your site Rhonda, just disagree on this *one* point.....

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  33. Melinda again,
    Rhonda I looked up the store you buy your bulk flour from found a catalogue but no prices and wondered what you pay for the bulk flour. I buy my wholemeal flour in bulk when I can get it from a Deli in West End (inner suburb of Brisbane) and wondered if yours was any cheaper. I live on southside and wonder if the prices compare. I also purchase all my nuts olives lentils chick peas in simple kilograms bags.
    Thanks

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  34. Melinda, they'll give you the prices if you phone them. I haven't bought bulk flour for a while because we've been away. We're due to get some soon and I expect the price to have increased.

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  35. This is a very interesting topic. I too have opted for local conventional over organic from goodness-knows-where.
    I did a bulk shop at Aldi the other day (first time I've been there in about 6 months) and stocked up on organic pastas, bottled tomatoes (Italian, admittedly) extra virgin olive oil in the tin, organic butter and their organic milk for yoghurt making ( I don't like that it's ultra heat treated for ordinary drinking). So, yes, it is great for stocking up the pantry with basics.

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  36. Hi rhonda, I just thought I would share this with you, you might like to try and see what happens. I live in melbourne and just used yellow pages on line and typed in food co-op and my suburb, what came up was frightening. So many options, but no co-ops.
    Brenda

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  37. So many dilemmas with grocery shopping and there are many considerations - including the price and purpose of your purchase. For products I use a lot of such as olive oil I want quality Australian grown olive oil at a reasonable price and Aldi offers this. I also use organic coconut oil and pay a lot more for it at a wholefoods store that is very conscious of where it sources products from but I use this sparingly, mainly in smoothies and muesli. Its health benefits in this case justify the cost for me. Same goes for unsulphured apricots and the celtic sea salt but have to remember to continue to buy a cheap homebrand tub after finding a child sprinkling the organic sea salt on leeches!
    The yeast I purchase that gives me the best results for bread is from France but I mainly use sourdough rather than baker's yeast so don't feel too guilty about this. In this instance, it was about ensuring a good result from something I make at home with flour milled from organic and Australian grown wheat purchased locally at a great price. I love it when that can happen. If only that were the case for everything I use.
    But what about personal preference and taste? I can buy locally grown and roasted coffee. I've tried it and it is good but not quite as good as the locally roasted coffee made from imported Fair Trade beans. In time, we hope to have enough of our own beans and the quest to begin processing our own coffee will begin.
    For me knowing something is fresh and locally grown is not enough information. I want to know how they farm, what chemicals they are using. If they say they are not certified organic but don't spray I may buy but I'm still wary, especially with hydroponic produce as I don't know enough about what is in the 'nutrients' they add to the water. For this reason I've been buying Aldi's organic tinned tomatoes. I know they are from Italy but I prefer them for making pasta sauce to the watery, tasteless, hydroponic ones sold bagged in plastic at the farmers market even though they are grown locally. Then I read the health concerns over the linings of tins used for tomatoes and other acidic foods! Another dilemma - packaging! Ideally, my homegrown tomatoes from summer would be preserved and last through the winter and the plan is to set up a greenhouse to enable this to happen. Have not reached that stage yet but little by little we are taking the steps to reduce our reliance on the supermarket even if that means buying fruit trees from there which is what we did on the weekend when Aldi had citrus trees on special. I bought fruit trees but no fruit as it's raining passionfruit here and until they are all used up (already made jam!) no fruit will be bought. Thankfully, my children love them!
    I enjoyed this post Rhonda, made me think about where I buy and why.

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  38. I buy meat (beef, chicken, pork and turkey) eggs and milk from a local farm. The meat purchase is once a year and we keep it in our deep freezers. Bulk foods like wheat berries, some organic produce, honey, etc. from a once a month co-op that delivers to a local home; all of my purchase is already sorted and marked with my name on the box. I keep a 'running' cart open on-line. If my order is over $50, there is no shipping charge .. and no sales tax because it comes from one state away. I buy a few items at Walmart and make a trip once month to Costco (warehouse type of store) for Irish (Kerrygold cheese) .. it's an import, but as far as I know, Ireland is a GMO free country .. and I'm allergic to GMO's and most all food additives.
    And .. there's the local health food store where I buy some bulk items, spices and Kerrygold pastured butter (again due to GMO's). My shopping strategy is to visit the farm once a week for fresh milk and eggs. Once a month I make my errand run to the above mentioned shops and get the shopping done in one sweep. I garden, can, freeze, preserve our own foods during the summer/fall from our garden and a u-pick local farm. 99% of our food is cooked fresh and at home.

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  39. I am trying to produce as much of my food as possible so I have less of these decisions to make!
    There always seems to be a trade off between local, organic, affordable and minimal packaging and what I choose seems to vary from shopping trip to shopping trip.
    I do use our local farmers market and butchers as much as possible, and get flour delivered in 16kg or 25kg sacks (I'm in the UK so I choose British flour ground in a mill about 50 miles away) but I can't avoid the supermarket completely yet unfortunately.

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  40. Hi Rhonda,
    here in The Netherlands we also have Lidl, that is a German based supermarket too and this supermarket is even cheaper than Aldi sometimes. Their veggie and fruit was given a prize for best fresh produce. They get a lot of prizes, also for their laundry detergent. It is cheap and very good. We always go to Lidl and after that to AH ( Albert Heijn), because you can't get everrything at Lidl.
    I always look if fruit and veggies are from The Netherlands and buy those. With strawberries you get the cheap ones from Spain, but I always wait for the Dutch ones. We can also buy strawberries in the neighbourhood and I do that too.
    Sometimes it's hard to stay within the budget, but we have to. We are living of my husband's disability. That is our only income, so we have to watch the budget closely. We are saving for our 25th wedding anniversary now. We want to celebrate this with a buffet etc., so we need to watch our spending to have a big party on the 16th of June. Our anniversary is the 27th of May, but we will wait until the school exams are over. Our daughter is in her final year ; )
    Thank you so much for all the lovely tips and stories. I so enjoy reading your blog !!!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Moving to Sweden after living in the Netherlands has been sad for us, foodwise. Co-ops don't exist here in the same form, even though one of the largest chains is called "Coop" and carries many organic products. It's so hard to find local products. We've actually gone back to a more vegetarian diet due to the lack of organic, well-fed and well-treated animals for meat products. I miss my local shop with meat and vegetables from surrounding towns.

    The other way we are combating this problem is by growing as much as possible of our own vegetables. We are growing around 100 different things this season on 200 sq. meters of land. I have really high hopes for the garden.

    I'm also hoping that a farmer's market will appear in the summer...

    ReplyDelete
  42. Fairy from Organised CastleApril 02, 2012 7:52 pm

    Hi Rhonda

    Our shopping habits must be very similar.

    We have eggs from our own chickens plus some fruit and vegetables from our garden. I do as much as I can while combining it with full-time paid work.

    I buy most of the groceries at Aldi, meat from the local butcher in Maleny, most of the dry goods from Simply Good and a few things from IGA. I usually buy any extra fruit and vegetables from the fruit stall on the Beerwah-Kilcoy Road.

    I do buy some organic items but generally my priority is produced as locally as possible and minimal packaging.

    My one exception was rice. I do not believe that irrigation should be used for growing rice here in Austalia so I used to actively seek imported organic rice from the co-op. However, they have recently started stocking Rain-Fed rice which is grown near Kyogle in northern NSW, entirely using natural rainfall and is processed on farm so no extra transportation. It is also biodynamic and I can buy it in bulk using my own bags. It ticks all the boxes and I am happy.

    ReplyDelete
  43. No ALDI here in South Australia yet, so cant really comment on that. I did have a look in one when we were in Queensland 18 months ago so I knew what was in them...just had to because Rhonda shops there lol!

    Not much organic products here either hence why we have opted to grow our own...the veggie garden is doing really well although I am still having trouble growing tomatoes, need to do some more research there, I think I may be over-watering them. I try to buy most of our meat from the local butcher but sometimes buy reduced items at Woollies. I have been thinking of doing my shopping at IGA in a nearby town once a month rather than make Woollies richer. I have been very disappointed with the quality of fruit and veg lately at WW's and refuse to pay top dollar for stuff that is of poor quality.

    I do try to buy Australian when I can, but what I find annoying is that Australian fish is so hard to get hold of. With all the fish caught here in Australia it would be nice to see it in the supermarkets not just the imported stuff they have there...cant seem to buy rabbit or goat meat either, yet there are plenty of them around where we live.

    Some interesting comments to this one :)

    ReplyDelete
  44. Right now, my focus is on trying to make almost everything we eat from scratch. I bake all our own bread and make our yogurt and am now going to start making cheese and sausage at home. In about a month, our local CSA will start deliveries, and I've been volunteering at the coop that's just starting up here. I'm unemployed right now and will soon be going back to school, so I need to keep costs down as much as I can.

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  45. I was thrilled to read so many comments about conscious choices others are making. We all have different values, budgets, access to supplies etc but discussions like this raise awareness at a deeper level and provide new ideas for making little improvements in what we buy and how we shop. Personally we grow most of our fruit and veggie needs but buy direct local produce from an organic farmer who can tell me the story of the food he sells, we support our local IGA that sells a lot of organic lines (consumer demand puts it on the shelves), support local artisans and farmers markets and only when necessary (about once a month now) visit a supermarket for items we can't source elsewhere.
    I have also just blogged about sustainable shopping and for Aussie readers, we have some excellent resources available to us to make more informed choices on what we buy. These include http://www.ethical.org.au, http://www.localharvest.org.au and http://www.ausbuy.com.au but others are listed at http://tinyurl.com/shop-sustainably.
    Thanks Rhonda for laying this important subject on the table.

    ReplyDelete
  46. This was a really interesting post and I also loved reading the comments because I am joining in with tricia's supermarket challenge and documenting it on my blog . We have made the choice to bypass the big supermarkets and use the local IGA , Aldi when we need it and the local organic shop (plus supply as much of our own food as we can).Of course this is not without faltering to things like budget...which for a family of 4 can affect us greatly. You can do your head in once you start shopping ethically and also keep your head above water financially- so I think the way to do it is do 'what feels right' , shop wisely and fairly and if enough people shop this way, the shops themselves will change to suit a new market . The market of ethical, budgetwise shoppers. A very timely post .

    ReplyDelete
  47. The only thing I buy in a can or bottle is tinned beetroot and that is sold in the little 7-day a week shop down the road. They survive being opposite a giant Woollies by stocking more expensive, but better quality, food.

    Cheap isn't necessarily cheap - The West Australian newspaper recently had some people taste test a variety of hot-cross buns: the Coles and Woollies scored miserably while the more expensive 'boutique' ones were rated highly. Why would you buy the cheap ones when you wouldn't want to eat them? (Of course if they're really good you might be tempted to buy the French butter to put on them!)

    Same is true for fruit and veg - fruit that was picked unripe and has been trucked around the country isn't going to be eaten, so it's not cheap at any price.

    ReplyDelete
  48. We are a family of 5(3 teenagers) and there are always people coming in and out of our house. I make the grocery every two weeks and it cost me $250 ($125/week). I do most of my groceries at No-Frills (Canadian) and I save a lot. When the flyers come out, I sit down for an hour or two and compare all the prices and check the coupons. We live in a small town so it's cheap for me to shop for the specials at the 3 main grocery stores. I have a stocking pantry and I try to stock the best I can.
    Can't wait to start our garden! In the summer, we have a lot of fresh veggies. This year, we will also have our own sheep, pork and turkey meat. I also try to make our own bread, yogourt, cereal, soap, lip balm, cream and washing detergent when I can find the time.

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  49. I buy bulk meat from Bannackbrae, a wonderful, on the farm supplier of beef, lamb and pork. Fresh fruit and veges are from the vege shop and all the rest from IGA/Woolies. One problem I have with Aldi is they don't supply everything so you need to make another trip to another supermarket and in the end I find I then buy more stuff!! Thats just me not sticking to the list though :) I much rather prefer to do a single shop rather than a double especially with small children in tow! Just another thought on major supermarkets....I personally know of a grower for a major supermarket and this is a big business that supports him and his children and obviously employs Australians, so thats also good for this country too! Thank you Rhonda for your blog.....you are always inspiring to read and have a very happy Easter :)

    ReplyDelete
  50. We have an Aldi's very close to our home in military housing. I am always shocked at the number of wives that have no clue what Aldi's is or if they do know they still just make the one trip to the military commissary and don't go to Aldi. While it is true that the commissary does carry the top name brands for cheaper, it is by no means a less costly place to shop than an Aldi. I spend almost 50% less on tomatoes alone.

    ReplyDelete
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