Feeding the Family: Hey, Mr. Produce Man!

I’ve shared how I order many of my groceries through health food coops and buy many organic foods from local farmers. And I’ve heard from many of you that you just don’t have many of these resources available where you live.

Here’s another great way I have been able purchase organic foods at bulk or discounted rates:  I talk to my grocery store managers.

Most store managers are happy to order you boxes of food. And they’ll usually sell it to you for less than the shelf price. You know why?  Because when you order a case of something…they know the entire case is going to walk out of the store. It won’t go bad while it’s waiting to be sold and have to be thrown out.  And he won’t have to pay anyone to put it on the shelf. Everyone wins!

I can now call my local grocery store’s produce manager (who knows me now on a first name basis) and order cases of organic apples and carrots and mushrooms and broccoli…and many other items. If it is available to him, he’ll order it for me. When I order on a Monday, it comes in on Wednesday. Talk about instant gratification!

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I paid just over a dollar per pound on these organic Fuji apples. The price of the non-organic Fuji apples for sale in the store? 99 cents a pound. I’d say I got a pretty good deal.

Now, our family can generally go through all 36 pounds of apples before they go bad…but sometimes I ask around to see if any of my friends want a nice bag or two of organic apples. Sometimes…we even coordinate and buy bulk produce every couple of weeks, then just split the cases. If you don’t think your family could tackle a whole case of produce…split it with your friends! 

What do you think? Have you ever tried this idea?  I think it’s a wonderful option for those of you who have limited health food resources! Be brave…give it a try!
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This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

Comments

  1. says

    The grocery store manager source is a good idea!

    Another source for bulk grains, rice, pasta, etc is http://www.clnf.org/
    (in our area a bunch of people get together and bulk order non-sprayed, non-GMO wheat)

    Also….. there is one woman who purchases large orders and has it dropped shipped. She then marks up each item (just a bit) to sell to us.

    Recently we had apples, oranges, grapefruits, and banana, Here were the prices:
    Bananas 40#: $12 (He said these were yellowish, but not ripe)
    Red Delicious Apples, bushel: $12
    Gala Apples, bushel: $19
    Winesap Apples, bushel: $19
    Large tangerines 55 count: $12
    Small Oranges 40#: $14.50
    Grapefruit 40 count: $13.50

    -Kristen
    http://simplykristen.com/

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  2. says

    Huh. VERY interesting. What ever made you think to try it in the first place? The thought would never, every have occurred to me! Good idea, Laura! I’m not sure we could use up this much food, though. I wonder if I know enough people to share it with…

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  3. says

    I have done this on a few things but I have yet to get up my nerve at the store that sells organics-gulp-. However, that same store will often put out these huge bags of organic “juicing” carrots for like $8!
    I also get FREE beef fat at that store to render and use as you would lard.

    There’s another store that I visit and I often will ask him for turkeys and such when it is “out of season” and get them for like .59lb. ;-)
    Great idea Laura!
    I think you’ve helped me get up my nerve :-)

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  4. says

    I buy cases of EVERYTHING!!! I buy our grains and sucanat from a Mennonite bulk food supplier- I ask them to order with their order so no shipping charges!!! I also buy from AMazon by the case and at Whole Foods and Trader Joes- It makes for less time spent out shopping and some cash savings!! Yeah!!!

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  5. says

    I have heard of doing that before and have seriously considered trying it. Not quite sure why I haven’t, actually. :)

    I guess the one difficulty for me is that I probably don’t through go stuff nearly as fast as you, just because you’ve got more and older kids (though it’s amazing how mine continually surprise me by eating more and more and more…).

    I like the idea of splitting it with a friend, though. I’m sure I could find people who would split with me, so thanks for that idea!

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  6. says

    That is a great idea. I never thought of that but would work. And if you couldn’t eat all of the fruit you could always chop and freeze for use in pies and breads and veggies for casseroles. Thanks for the tip.

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  7. Barbara says

    We’ve been out of town for a few days and I’m trying to catch up on all your posts. Talking to the produce manager about buying in bulk is a GREAT idea! I’m gonna try this : o ) Thanks for the idea.

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  8. says

    What store do you so this at Laura?? Maybe I can order with you, lol, now that we know how close we are geographically speaking. :) I was in town yesterday all day trying to purchase some good food that was on sale, but it’s getting harder and harder. I was reading through your archives and was literally moved to tears because your story is so similar to my own journey. I too am always trying to feed my family for cheap, getting the best deals at the market, etc. We don’t do the processed foods so much, but what we do eat now I am questioning more and more. Thanks so much for your blog and site, they’ve actually quite literally changed my family’s life. (I’ll have to let you know later as to whether they’re happy about that yet or not, hehe) I’m off to try your pumpkin pancake recipe, we made homemade PB yesterday!
    <
    Cassandra

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  9. says

    Yes, we do this as well, but I also order with my friends at a local produce warehouse where the grocery stores and restaurants order from. People don’t realize that they will allow the public to order. You need to order in bulk but anyone can start their own “coop” right from these warehouses…every restaurant gets it from somewhere. Our is 30 minutes away but worth the drive. :)

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  10. says

    THANK YOU! If it hadn’t been for you, I never would have considered doing this. If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have found out that our local organic grocery store has a “case-to-go” program already. If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have had a discussion about this with the stored co-owner. And if it hadn’t been for you, I would not have walked in there today to be greeted by Kevin with a “Hi Sonja!”. I have already gotten 3 phone calls and 2 emails from girls in my newcomer group that are interested in starting our own local co-op, so in case you didn’t get it the first and second time, THANK YOU LAURA!

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