We joined a food co-op. Yay!
Co-ops can be run in different ways. The way ours works is that we pay a small annual fee to join (£5), and are then able to buy anything from the wholesaler’s catalogue for cost plus 3%. The wholesaler for our co-op is Essential Trading. Each co-op member sends their order to the co-op coordinator, who in turn sends all the members’ orders to the wholesaler and (a few days later) takes delivery of them. The coordinator emails the members when the orders are in, and the members then arrange to pick up and pay for their stuff. The orders are placed once every six weeks or so.
Using a co-op not only allows us to purchase products at just above wholesale cost, but it means we have a much wider range of products to choose from than a typical health food shop carries.
Our order for this month:
* Organic red grape juice — Organic Village, six 1-litre glass jars @ £2.54 each. I was really happy to find organic grape juice in glass jars. This is what we’ll be using from now on for our homemade wine, to replace the non-organic grape juice in tetrapaks we had been buying. (We hope to eventually eliminate ALL tetrapak packaging, as it is lined in plastic and therefore a target in our plastic reduction challenge.) Although a lot more expensive than the tetrapak juice we’d been buying (which was around 90p per litre), the new organic juice only adds an additional 42p to each bottle of homemade wine, as we use 1 litre of juice per gallon batch.
* Organic pomegranate juice — Organic Village, three 1-litre glass jars @ £3.00 each. Although expensive, I couldn’t resist buying these. Pomegranate is one of the healthiest juices, so I look at it as an investment in our health. Both Mr Thrifty and I each drink a small glass of juice most mornings, so again, this will eliminate those pesky tetrapaks.
* Baked beans in tomato sauce — Essential, six 350g glass jars @ £1.23 each. We don’t eat a lot of baked beans, but like to have them on hand for a quick meal of wienies and beans, or when indulging in a full English breakfast. Most baked beans come in tins, which are lined in plastic and therefore on the plastic hit-list just like tetrapaks are. We haven’t tried this brand before, so here’s hoping they’re tasty.
* Organic raw peanuts — Essential, 5 kg for £14.06 (£2.81 per kg / £1.28 per pound). Mr Thrifty looooves his peanut butter. Although these peanuts are only marginally cheaper than the organic peanut butter that we buy (£1 for a 340g jar at ASDA), making peanut butter from scratch means being able to mix it with other nuts and seeds to make tasty variations. They’re also cheaper than the roasted organic peanuts we used to buy, which were at one time available at all the major supermarkets, but now have mysteriously disappeared from store shelves. Unfortunately, these peanuts are packaged in a plastic bag, but there isn’t another option.
* Organic sunflower seeds — Essential, 1 kg for £2.52 (£1.14 per pound). I use these when I make scrambled tofu and also fat cakes for the l’il birdies. Cheaper than the non-organic seeds I was buying before. Like the peanuts, packaged in a plastic bag (argh).
I’ve started making a list of other goodies we’ll be buying through our co-op, for our next order towards the end of April.