The Mindful Merchant

Shop – Eat – Live – Mindfully

Great Question – Not So Great Answer March 28, 2010

Filed under: organic farming,organic food,save money,shop local,shopping — MindfulMerchant @ 10:36 pm


Recently, Meanie contacted me. She is busy with work/kids/life and does not have the time to run all over the city in search of the best organic foods and the best prices. She wondered where I did my shopping. I smiled reading her email since I have been struggling with the exact same issues this year. Here was part of my response…

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I am in the exact same boat as you. I struggle with supporting local businesses/farmers and convenience/expense.  Unfortunately this winter, convenience and cost have won. I cannot afford to shop the way I want to…and lack the energy to get creative. Would you believe I do the bulk of my shopping at the local Independent? (Loblaws) It has a large organic/health food section.  I find the prices often cheaper than health food stores and when they have a sale on produce or our favourite products, I stock up. (My husband calls it “the end times" when I walk in lugging 4 boxes of granola or a giant bags of apples.)

I recently started ordering from different organic food delivery companies in the city but I am in the experimental stages…too early for a personal recommendation. The convenience, eating seasonally and shopping local is appealing. I calculate it would be significance savings too, if we consumed all the produce and avoid trips to the stores in between deliveries. The problem is that my family are fussy eaters. It is challenging to eat everything in the box. It also means organization, planning and more cooking on my part…and some nights I do not have the time to figure out how to turn a rutabaga into something appealing in 30 minutes. I am determined to try it though, so I will let you know if my trials are successful.

The other thing I like to do is shop at our local farmers market every few weeks from May to October.  It sounds lofty but I find it is an economical way to shop. I buy in bulk and freeze a lot of stuff. Sometimes the prices are higher, but most are comparable or even cheaper than the stores. If you know your prices, you can really get some good deals and the food tastes so good.

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Meanie and I chatted back and forth.  She suggested I post my response and invite you to share your shopping tips.  Great idea – thanks!  So…what is your strategy for healthy, economical shopping?




9 Responses to “Great Question – Not So Great Answer”

  1. XUP Says:

    In the winters especially, I buy pretty much all my produce frozen. There isn’t a lot local that time of year anyway and by the time fresh produce arrives here from wherever it’s coming from, I think most of the nutritional value has been depleted. With a freezer full of a good variety of vegetables I don’t have to always be frantically worrying about using up that rutabaga. I usually have a staple supply of frozen veggies in the summer, too and then supplement that with stuff from the Landsdown market when it’s in season.

    • Frozen is the way to go…but we get tired of frozen veggies. The texture changes and my kids always notice. I’ve heard Landsdown market has good prices and produce.

  2. XUP Says:

    The produce is nice and fresh, but the prices are pretty steep sometimes. If you pick and choose only for best value and not for things you particularly want, it’s okay. I find the texture of frozen is mostly an issue with stuff like broccoli or cauliflower. Peas, beans, spinach, squash, corn, carrots, even aspargus are all pretty good. Of course I get fresh potatoes, lettuce, peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and things that we use a lot of in a week.

  3. Finola Says:

    We have considered the organic delivery too, but like you I’m not sure if we would use it effectively.

    As for frozen vegetables, lima beans are surprisingly good as an adult, even though they were unbearable when I was a kid!

  4. XUP Says:

    You can buy chopped onion already frozen, too. It’s fine for soups and stuff. And a lot easier than doing all the chopping yourself

  5. Hope Says:

    Hey, maybe you could do a post on freezing…cause I am a freezing dummy. If it isn’t already frozen…I don’t know what freezes and what doesn’t. Just a thought…something that would help freezer dummies like me. 🙂

    On a side note- I know I’ve said it before, but I SO LOVE your little pictures with the words drawn on. They make me laugh everytime.

  6. Hmmm…freezer post. I will give that some thought. I’m glad you find my doodling amusing – thank you. lol 🙂

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