Why I quit the grocery store…

Ok, ok, so I didn’t completely stop shopping at the grocery store. But I joined a community supported agriculture (CSA) group. Ah yes, the next magic question. What the heck is a CSA?? Per LocalHarvest.org, “here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.” Here in Cleveland, there are a few local subscriptions you can sign up at, but I’m loyal to Fresh Fork Market.

I joined in the spring of 2016, just to try it out and see what sorts of goodies our local farmers produce. OMG. I am hooked! I loved it so much I signed up for the winter share season as well. So I’m sure you’re still wondering how this has helped me save money, hmm? Here are three ways I saved money by quitting the grocery store:

  1. Decreased my trips to the grocery store. Since I receive a CSA share every other week, in the winter, and once a week, in the summer, I no longer needed to purchase produce from the grocery store. I was going to the grocery store once a week, or more, just to purchase fresh produce for salads, grilling, roasting, etc. Also, my CSA offers additional items that can be purchased outside of the share. Therefore, I was buying extras through the CSA, such as maple syrup, sunflower oil, milk, cheese, eggs, etc. By no longer having to make multiple trips to the grocery store, I was no longer filling up my shopping cart with extra items that I may not need, increasing my grocery bills. The biggest factor was less trips to Target, where I would often buy “stuff” we just didn’t need because it was “on sale.”
  2. Meal plan like a boss. On Tuesdays, I get an email regarding what items will be in my upcoming share. Once I receive this email, I plan out the next week’s meals. I try to use every item from the share bag in as many meals as possible. I pick meals that don’t require too many “extra” ingredients not included in our share. Often times, the “extras” I can purchase through my CSA.
  3. Stick to the List. Before, I would go into the grocery store clueless as to what I needed to purchase. More milk? More cereal? I had no clue. Now I take a list with me. After I complete my meal planning, I write a list of all the “extra” items we need that aren’t available through my CSA. I’ll also include the items we most frequently consume or on sale.

Bonus: Since one of my goals for 2017 is to consume a more plant-based diet, I have limited the amount of meat we purchase. This has also decreased our grocery bills significantly. You can start by planning one meatless meal a week, and increase them as you go, and watch your grocery bill drop! Beans, tofu, eggs are great protein alternatives to build meals around. Check out my Pinterest page for more!