Sunday, September 13, 2009

Looking Outside the Box for Grocery Savings

A week ago, during our camping trip, we visited the small town of Jamesport, MO, home to the largest Amish settlement in the state. Outside of the town proper, Amish-owned shops are abundant. Wares range from the expected quilts and leather harnesses to wood furniture and raw lumber. There are a couple of bakery and cheese shops near Jamesport, and several shops that sell groceries and household items.

The grocery shops are always my favorites. In them I can find spices and baking ingredients in bulk and quality meats, as well as discounted canned and packaged goods. Some stores offer a large variety of baking and cooking utensils suitable for both Amish and "English" (non-Amish) households, such as baking sheets, cookie cutters, canning supplies, manual food mills and mixing bowls.

Here are some of the items I bought last weekend:

This picture features cookie cutter, child's rolling pin, a small spatula, Ball Fruit Pectin, 2 boxes of Ball plastic jar lids and a box of Debbie Meyer Green Bags. I paid $7 for these things; my best guess (based on a little Internet research) is that I would have paid $20 in a regular retail store.

My second picture shows items that are easily found in most grocery stores or at Wal-Mart. Many of these items are what I consider "treats", things I wouldn't normally buy because I consider them too expensive, especially the cereal straws (gone before I could get the photo), Kool-Aid Jammers and Suiss Mocha coffee. They are indulgences because they aren't necessary, but once in a while, they do make cooking and eating more fun. There are 4 jars of Grey Poupon mustard, 1 can of Suiss Mocha coffee, 3 jars Old Bay Seasoning, 3 boxes Knoor fish bouillon (great for shrimp dishes), 3 cakes mixes, 1 corn muffin mix, 3 fajita seasoning mixes, 2 Zatarain's rice mixes, 1 box of True Lime flavor packets, 1 jar of red curry paste, 1 jar KC Masterpiece seasoning, 1 large jar Maggi Beef bouillon, 1 80-oz jar kosher dill pickles, 1 box Kool-Aid Jammers and not shown, 1 box Apple Jack's cereal straws. I found most of these items online. At a local grocery store, they would have cost $5o or more. I paid $12 for all of this.

In this last picture are cookie decorations shaped like colorful fall flowers, more cookie decorations shaped like brown, black and white cows, bulk gelatin in a couple of flavors, bulk dried hominy, bulk sea salt, a couple of kinds of dry beans, two fresh squashes, dry cilantro, bulk fajita seasoning, bulk sunflower seeds, a jar of local apple butter and a jar of local gooseberry jam. The savings on these items is hard to gauge as many of these are hard to find in most "regular" grocery stores. However, I'm confident that the $22.00 I paid for all of this was more than fair.

As you can see, shopping at these stores can save big dollars. While you might occasionally find a dented can or a box past its "best by" date, almost all items are in great condition and well within their freshness period.

No Amish stores in your area? Try looking for stores that sell "unclaimed freight". I've found, with the exception of bulk foods, they often have much of the same merchandise at very good prices. Bulk foods can often be found at reasonable prices at natural or health food stores.


Heidi said...

I think I need to go visit jamesport to get the good deals!

Annie Jones said...

Heidi - Jamesport makes a fun day trip. There are also some good Amish shops around Versailles, and maybe one or two outside of Windsor.

Janelle said...

So it's an hour and a half north of me. I've never visited an Amish community. Might be something fun to do with the kids on a weekend. I bet they would love it!

Annie Jones said...

An hour and a half sounds about right. It's an easy day trip. Just don't go on Thursday or Sunday; the Amish shops are closed on those days.

Also, there are a few "English" craft shops and such inside city limits.

A.Marie said...

Your shopping trip was wonderfully frugal!! :)

I wish we had an Amish Community like that near us!

A.Marie said...

BTW..your new blog layout is gorgeous!! :)

Annie Jones said...

Thanks for the compliment, A.Marie. Do you have any unclaimed salvage stores in your area? They're almost as good for pricing, although not nearly as fun/interesting to visit as the Amish communities.

Frances said...

I am trying to catch up on my visiting. What a great shopping trip you had! Such bargains!

I love reading about the Amish, but we have no communities nearby. My parents live in Tennessee and they live near a lot of Mennonites and they have wonderful stores! And their prices are good too. When I go visit, I try to always do it during strawberry season, as there is a Mennonite farm where we go pick strawberries and the price is great. (The berries are better!)