Alternatives To Grocery Stores: Shop Direct from Manufacturers
Shopping has definitely changed since the COVID-19 pandemic first started. With so many people stocking up and the transportation industry under a lot of pressure, the gaps at the grocery store and the light shelves have continued to be a problem off and on. I have gathered from many readers that this varies a lot based on where you live.
My own shopping habits have changed quite a bit too. For example, I don’t really buy a lot of stuff from a traditional grocery store. I also tend to buy in bulk more often. For example, instead of buying 3 cans of peppers or chilies, I will probably buy a dozen and have what I need for a long time.
Buying direct from food manufacturers is a good alternative to the grocery store, but it takes some planning. I have compiled this list of food producers that will ship directly to your home. I have also included tips for finding regional food sources that you use in your pantry every day.
Consider ordering from local farms if possible.
Many small producers are out of products to sell in some areas, but that doesn’t mean it is not worth looking at your options. Some farms that have their own on-farm stores may not ship, but they will put your order together so you can pick it up and minimize contact.
Some small farms are having trouble getting animals processed. There is a huge backlog in some areas. There is nothing wrong with planning and getting on a list for Spring meat right now. The savings are often substantial when buying direct and in bulk.
If there is a local farmer’s market close to you, then you might consider them. With increasing COVID-19 cases, I am not sure how many are still in operation. I realize some people are not comfortable shopping if people are not wearing masks. Some markets enforce mask rules while others do not. While I think shopping local is always nice if you can, it is up to you to decide if you are comfortable shopping at a farmer’s market.
Grocery Store Alternatives Online
This company specializes in Italian foods. You can count on them for jarred and canned peppers, beans, mushrooms, pesto, tomatoes, oils, and much more. Many national grocery stores carry this brand, so you might already be familiar with the selection and quality. I was pleased to find they will ship direct.
We love a good olive and some of the best ones we have had in the past were from DeLallo. This is another company that sells an amazing range of Italian and Meditteranean foods. The flat rate shipping cost is a mere $4.95 currently, no matter how small or large your order is.
I live in the South and like to use Pimento peppers in my cooking. Moody Dunbar sells canned pimento peppers and canned red bell peppers.
Check out smaller regional flour and grain mills.
There are a good number of flour and grain mills that operate independently of the mainstream food chain. In North Carolina, there is Lindley Mills. They have been in business since the 1700s and produce a ton of quality flours and grits. You can even buy Einkorn wheat flour from them.
Janie’s Mill is located in Ohio and ships flour directly to your door for a very reasonable cost. I encourage you to look for local mills close to you but remember that any mill that ships direct to your door is an option. For those that like to bake with hard to find grains or create their own blends, buying directly from the mill makes a lot of sense.
Direct Purchase Meats and Cheeses
You can order conventionally produced and organic beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and turkey through the Perdue website. They also offer convenience foods such as chicken nuggets. There are even gluten-free options.
This seems to be the higher-end selection of meats and foods from Smithfield, just for the record. It is still an option for those that are planning holiday dinners and special meals from home.
This is an Amish Market in Ohio that will ship a ton of different bulk and canned foods. They also have an excellent selection of meats and cheeses from Amish Farms. If your family likes American Cheese, I recommend the 5 lb block of cheese slices for $21. The shipping fees are excellent.
I buy Ashe County Cheese regularly because the quality is great, and they ship fast. This little cheese factory uses milk from local farms in the High Country of North Carolina. They produce an amazing variety of cheeses. Their online store sells a lot of other items, including fudge and old-fashioned candies.
Some people are lucky enough to have a restaurant supply near them. For the rest of us, there are online options like WebRestaurant Store. You have to pay shipping fees, but since you are buying larger sizes, the savings are still significant. They do offer a program for $99 per month that allows unlimited free shipping. While I know, that is not practical for a single-family unless they are ordering a lot at once and the one-time shipping fee is more than the $99 monthly fee. If you have friends and family that you trust to do a bulk order with you, you might save some money.
I recently joined Thrive Market. They are an online health food cooperative that sells a variety of grocery items at good prices. They also have amazing prices on baby care items, including diapers. In fact, I have not found any place that has better prices on diapers that are made more naturally. You can get a free month’s trial, and then you are charged a yearly membership fee. They offer some nice perks too. They regularly send out emails that offer you nice bonus items with a minimum order of $49. One of the recent bonuses was a stainless steel water bottle worth $25. If you have food allergies, this is an excellent resource. They even offer discounts if you set up auto-ship on items you need regularly.
Over the years, Vitacost has proven to be very reliable. If you search online, you can always find a decent discount code, and they regularly send out special codes to customers that sign up for their email list. I sometimes get codes for 30% on a $100 order. Vitacost has a lot of healthy foods. Those that have to eat special diets will do well shopping at Vitacost. Shipping is included on orders over $49. Orders arrive very quickly.
Do you have any alternative sources for groceries to add to my list? Please share in the comments below.