I have, like more people, choice where I buy my groceries. Those who are regular readers would know I’m ‘crazy’ about waste, and am aiming for zero waste (though compost and recycling are OK, it’s landfill I’m trying to erase). Whilst it’s an admirable environmental goal, there’s a financial component too.
I thought I would look at the choices I have at my local IGA. It is in my block, so there are no transport costs, and the co-op called Alfalfa House (which I pay a one off membership of $20) I have to catch the bus to, or drive to.
A note about the pricing scheme at the co-op: there’s 100%, 90% and 75% pricing for anyone, members and volunteers. Until recently, I paid the member price (10% off). On Saturday when I volunteered for two hours, I paid the volunteer price (25% off). I plan to continue ‘working’ two hours to earn a greater discount.
(note 100g = 3.5 ounces & 1kg = 2.2 Lbs)
Here’s what I can buy at what prices:
IGA sells them in their home brand Black and Gold (in a plastic bag) for $2 per kg. In the Uncle Toby’s brand (cardboard packaging) it’s between $6.30-7.30 per 1kg
And then the co-op weighs in at $5.25 at the cheapest (which I can earn)
If I buy Nestle at IGA (not my preferred brand due to them being little flat discs rather than small drops), it’s $1.25 per 100g. My preferred Black and Gold brand are 57c per 100g. Here’s a photo of Cole’s Nestle baking bits at $1.74 per 100g. All of these options are packaged in plastic, which regular readers would know I’m trying to reduce.
I’ve spent $35 on choc chips (666g) once at the co-op, and I wasn’t happy with how they ‘performed’ in my brownies (neither were honest critics). They were just too oily. I don’t really have a financially viable chocolate source that’s zero waste/recyclable waste. At $3.21 they’re almost twice the price of store bought ones too
You can’t buy cocoa without a plastic liner in a cardboard box at my local IGA. Sadly, along with my preferred choc chips, the cocas are all out the back whilst they rearrange the store on me.
Interestingly, this is a Co-op win! Save for the weird, brown colour, they taste FAR superior to those I get at IGA or my fruit and vege shop. Should I clarrify that – they taste far superior to ME, but I was buying these as a snack for the bf, as I knew I wouldn’t eat the orange coloured dried apricots as they leave a weird after taste in my mouth. At $30.75 per kg for Angus Park brand at the IGA, I’ll be trying hard to covert the BF to the blackened co-op version at a price of $13.80.
Gluten free pasta
There’s an interesting twist in gluten free (GF) pasta pricing. Macaroni at the co-op is equal in price on a member discount to IGA’s prices – so it’s an each way bet (though the co-op had no plastic window that comes with the San Remo box).
On spaghetti, the co-op wins hands down, with a price of 44c per 100g for anyone! Sadly they were out of stock recently, so I’m a little stuck.
Rice – brown
Rice varies in price according to quantity in my IGA (which must be a price signal to sell more, rather than a true reflection in cost differential in bag size!). Rice can be between $3.50-$4.10 per kg.
The co-op charges $7.18 for a normal person, down to $5.39 per kg if I volunteer.
Definitely something that’s cheaper at IGA, at $5.20 for a little packet below (it’s less for canned, who’d have thought!).
Then the Co-op has them for at least $9.45
At IGA, I can get it as cheap at 78c per 100ml, but then if I wanted a little bit of oil, it’d be more like $1.35 per 100ml (in a nice glass bottle).
At the co-op I’ll pay between $1.72-$2.068 per 100ml – but I can choose my amount. I use so little it seems like a good deal to me.
IGA offers plastic wrapped udon from between 61 -69c per 100g.
The co-op can sell them at $1.13 per 100g at full price, and 85c at the cheapest.
Based on price, I’d be the following at the co-op
- GF pasta – both spaghetti and macroni/spirals
And I’d buy the following at IGA if I *only* cared about price and not packaging
- Choc chips
- Brown rice – hardly seems worth the mark up, wonder why the co-op’s so much more?
- Udon noddles
- Olive oil
But, here’s what I decided it ‘worth it’ at the co-op, even if I’m paying a little more
- Oats – cause for my chosen packaging, it’s cheaper than cardboard
- Udon noodles
- Olive oil
I’d still shop at the co-op for some ingredients that I can’t otherwise get locally (at my IGA or green grocers), such a gluten free flours like rice flour and chickpea flours.
When I was looking for something on Alfalfa House’s website, I found another blog post written about the store back in 2009, so I thought I would share it with you should you want more info: http://www.notquitenigella.com/2009/02/05/co-op-food-shopping-saving-while-shopping-organic/
In an aside, my grocery spend is up on last month, (compare with this) with
10% on fruit (+2%),
10% on vege (-6% weird as I’ve eaten heaps of soup),
15% dairy (-5%),
24% pantry staples(+7%),
6% breakfast (-2% cause oats are cheaper),
12% convenience (+9% for cheeses for a party),
16% house stuff (+10%),
5% snacks (no change),
3% meat (-13% weird, I did not consciously eat less!)