Shopping at the Co-op

Food is essential to us all, so why shouldn’t  it be fun and tasty?  We at the Co-op know that the better our relationship with our food is, the healthier and happier we will be.

Eating is an event that should be shared and enjoyed, not rushed through the drive-thru.  By cooking your own food from scratch you have much better control over the nutritional value of your food, as well as the satisfaction of creating something unique.  Whether you are an instinctive cook or one that goes by the book, I feel that everyone should take the time to slow down and reward themselves with food cooked from fresh (and local!) ingredients – there is nothing that can compare to a successful meal made from scratch that is enjoyed by those you love.

It is my firm belief that anyone can afford to shop at a co-op, no matter your income.  Ours isn’t any different – we are constantly comparing prices and always come in either on par or less expensive overall than every other grocery store in town (and we compare apples to apples).  Sure, they may offer a few items to customers at below cost, but we don’t use those kinds of gimmicks with our pricing – we cost items competitively for our local market and with a thought to overall impact, something other stores never think about.  We offer members further savings with Member-Only sales, and allow them to special order cases of items for a discount off the shelf price.

Cooking from scratch is not only tasty, but it is also cost-effective if you are eating on a budget.  With recipes online, you don’t even need to buy cookbooks anymore (although since I am a big cookbook fan I would never discourage anyone from purchasing them!).  Some keys to shopping smart at the Co-op are:

  • Check out our Co-op Advantage sale flyer each month to see what is on sale and create your meals from this.  You can stock up on your favorites (remember, if you are a member, you can special order cases of these items at a discount!) and try items new to you.  You can pick it up in the store or find it on our website using the link.
  • Join the Co-op!  It is only $3 a month (until you reach $90 – then you are paid in full) and $5 in Dues every year.  If you feel you can’t afford to join, check out our Member Seed Fund – we’ll set you up with three months of membership equity payments to get you started.  When you join, you will get weekly special sale pricing, the ability to special order, eligibility for a patronage refund, and periodic savings coupons.
  • Weekly Member-Only deals – we try to pick popular items and broker a better price with our distributors.  Stock up on these items when they go on sale.  You can find the deals at http://www.communityfood.coop/store/sales.html.
  • Shop the bulk aisle – we have more bulk products than you can shake a stick at!  You can find just about any grain, flour, nut, seed, sweetener and spice in bulk at the Co-op, as well as all kinds of mixes, sweets and even freshly ground peanut and almond butter!  Our bulk department gets a lot of attention, so the products are always fresh.
  • Utilize the Meal of the Month recipe – that’s a meal for four for about $10.  Find more information at the Service Desk or at http://www.communityfood.coop/resources/Resource%20recipes.html.
  • Use the Coupon Exchange box in both stores.  Downtown the box is at the member kiosk in the front of the store, and at Cordata it is on top of the library return box.  You can leave coupons you won’t use, and pick up ones that you will!
  • Plan out your meals – shopping with a list (only 20% of shoppers actually use one) keeps you on track.
  • Include the money you spend eating out in your food budget – you might be surprised how much you actually spend on non-grocery food items during the week.  Try to make meals at home 6 days a week (and pack a lunch of leftovers, it’s so much tastier!).
  • Learn to cook!  We offer many cooking classes, and you can always ask us for recipe help.  Cooking gives you greater control over your health and makes every meal customized to your personal tastes.
  • Try to make at least one meal a week out of items you already have in your kitchen.  If you are cooking regularly, then it should be no problem putting together a tasty meal with ingredients you already have in your pantry and/or freezer.
  • Special order items that you regularly use.  Members can special order for a discount off the shelf price (it is different in each department), so stock up on pantry items and you will always have your favorites around.  It may cost more initially to order the case, but it will save you time and money in the long run.
  • The less obvious reason to shop Co-op, but one of the most important: by shopping at a Co-op, more of your dollar stays local.  If you spend $10 at the Co-op, upwards of $8 of that stays in our community.  If you spend $10 at any other grocery store, then only $2-$3 stays in our community.  Shopping local keeps your money local, and helps everyone prosper.

So go co-op!  Your body and community will thank you!

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