Saving with Co-ops and buying clubs
Last week on Surviving Dystopia we talked about pinching pennies and ways to save with projects aimed at reducing the costs of some of the things we need. Another way to save money and make those pennies last is to buy in bulk. If in the long run you can reduce the expenses of your household wouldn’t this be something you would choose to do?
Buying items in bulk can be a fantastic way to save a few pennies but we also need to remember these things must be stored. When buying in bulk a few things need some special care, for example; Perishible items. Taking care to establish safe methods of storage for such items is critical, so you can be sure you are saving those extra pennies.
There are a few ways to purchase in bulk:
- There are ways such as buying clubs; The big box bulk buying clubs like Sams or Costco. One thing with these is you must pay a membership fee and be aware that the prices may or may not be less. Another kind of buying club might be a social group buying in large quanitities together and splitting up into shares. You can create your own buying club easily with friends and family.
Resources on Starting one include a great website that i gleaned lots of great info on the subject from:
Snag this great PDF “Buying Club” about how to create a buying club also this great book The Food Conspiracy Cookbook: How to Start a Neighborhood Buying Club and Eat Cheaply
What I really liked about these was that some gave me an outline of how to’s while providing many answers to some questions.
**A community organized buying club is a wonderful way to save money and while the big box chain buying clubs might be good for an individual it is my opinion that a local one will provide higher quality while supporting many local business and farmers
- There is what is known as as CSA or “Community Supported Agriculture”, with this you deal directly with the grower. Often times being a local farmer a definition of such might be; According to one I found called the “Barking Cat Farm” they discribe it as: “In essence, it is a mutually beneficial arrangement, where in exchange for your commitment to buy a share in our farm’s harvest, we commit to grow exceptionally high quality vegetables and herbs, and deliver a bountiful portion of it to you every week of the subscription term. Become a member of our CSA program and every week throughout the subscription term you will receive a share of fresh, naturally grown, in-season produce and herbs.” ~barkingcatfarm.com
The CSA is another great way to get great FRESH local produce and products while supporting our local farms. You can also start and run your own. Mother Earth News has a great article on this.
Some Pros & Cons of the CSA:
- You’re supporting a specific local farm
- The food is fresh
- It’s inexpensive
- It is interactive…there are shifts to do people help and volunteer.
- You’re limited to only that farm
- You must be ready to use it
- You have to spend all at once
- There are requirements…like the requirement to volunteer.
Checking out the differences between buying clubs and CSA’s might help you decided which is best for you.
- The Co-Op is another, this I am sometimes confused with as it can seem like a buying club, except when you buy your membership like a big box chain you kind of own into it… it also differs from smaller buying clubs because often times they are simply buying wholesale and there is little connection to the place where the product originated.
- A great little article about what exactly a co-op is.
This week I would also like to explore some opportunities and ways we can make these things work for us and ways we can store all these extra goodies.
Of course non-perishable items can be stored most anywhere, but keep in mind if they need to stay out of sunlight or if little critters might like to make homes out of them like paper towels or toilet paper.
I would like to touch more on the perishable items tho’…
- Canning: This is where we heat the product to a specific temp for a set time and vacuum seal it into jars. This can be done with most foods, including vegetables and fruit and even meat.
- Freezing: This is where obviously we cool the foods to temps below zero.
- Drying: Dehydrating the foods to keep microbial activity at bay which is what makes the foods wilt and rot can be very good using Ronco 5-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
- Fermenting: This can also be done with many of the foods even dairy and eggs
- Dry Salt: Often used on meats, fish and veggies
- Pickling: Pickling is many times combined with fermenting, canning or keeping in the fridge.
- Curing: Using salt or nitrates or acid and the “old” way requires a complex drying process to ensure shelf stability.
- Smoking: MMMMM that smoked ham is so yummy, combined with salt hams and fish are good examples of this. Smoked meats tend to not go rancid or grow mold as much. learn how with Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue
- Potting: A method used long ago to preserve meats where the meats are cooked and then encased in the fats.
- There is the good ole’ food saver and just your general root cellar as well.
All of these are means by which you can preserve your bounty but we must be ready to do the work it requires to preserve this harvest or it will all be simply a waste. So…while buying is bulk is a good way to pinch some pennies it is also work.