Our grocery bill was killing us. With only one income and ten children including 4 ravenous teenage boys our grocery bill was out of sight. I just had to have a lower grocery bill. How could I get cheap groceries all the time? Comparison shopping at grocery stores helped. But I wanted wholesale groceries. One answer was to start a food buying club which cut our grocery bill in half! The deep discounts are unbelievable. Rice $0.31/lb! Baking Powder $0.13/oz! Non-fat Dry Milk Powder $1.77/gallon after mixing! Popcorn $0.43/lb! If you want to save money on groceries by the boatload this could be your answer, too!
Gather a group of potential members.
One of the most critical steps is to find faithful members. You want honest, reliable people who will order consistently. The number of members you need will depend on the size of their orders and the minimum order threshold of the wholesale supplier. To find members, start with friends that you know are frugal. Compose an email/flyer with general information about your vision for the group, an initial meeting time and place, and RSVP information. Start distributing your email/flyer to people you know from your office, school, clubs, religious organizations, and neighbors. When people respond determine what kinds of groceries they are interested in buying.
Find a food supplier.
Next you will need a good grocery wholesaler. Look in the yellow pages under "grocery, wholesale". Watch at local establishments for trucks making a grocery delivery. Go into local restaurants at off-peak hours and ask for referrals. Wholesalers differ in what they offer. Some will deliver only dry goods; others offer dry goods and produce; others dry goods, produce and dairy. If your group is interested in produce or dairy you might also contact local farmers or gardeners. Many suppliers of organic food can be found online. Search for "organic food, bulk, deliveries". You will find your best deals with suppliers within a day's drive.
When you contact them find out:
• what is the minimum order required,
• if they can take individual orders from club members and compile them into one group order or if you must do the combining and give one single order for the whole group
• if they will deliver groceries to a home or do they require a loading dock,
• if they require the same person to receive the order every time,
• the time frame of order arrival, and
• what type of payment they require.
Be sure they understand the concept of your group. Some wholesalers only deal with commercial establishments.
Host a group meeting.
Now that you have concrete information to share, hold a meeting to explain your vision for how the club will operate and collect dues if you determine a need for them. Discuss the pros and cons of splitting bulk purchases such as 50 lbs flour, a 10 lb wheel of cheese or a flat of broccoli. When you buy in bulk you certainly get the best deals but the job of dividing flour and cheese into equal portions can be challenging.
You will need volunteers to:
receive and check the order when it is delivered
divide the groceries as necessary
*act as treasurer by keeping the books
Determine how often you will place group orders and when the first will be. This will largely depend on meeting the minimum order threshold set by your wholesale supplier.
Determine procedures for pick-up times and consequences for not picking up as well as how money will be received and refunded if necessary.
Determine how orders will be received. If you have a meeting before each order is placed you will be able to gauge if there is enough interest in a particular item to be ordered that time. Say, for example, that you want to order instant dry milk. It comes in a 10 lb bag. At a meeting it would be easy to ask if there was anyone willing to split a bag with you. Otherwise, you'd have to make a lot of calls or emails to find the answer. On the other hand, it is certainly simpler if no one splits anything already packaged.
Set up group bank account. You will want the club transactions to be separate from your personal bank account.
Place and receive order.
Meet to split and pick-up your order. Celebrate over the great deals you got and get your next order ready!
Tips & Warnings
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- Photo Credit helloromeo, JJ*, Fernando_graphicos, RichSeattle, pbo31 at Flickr
- To order a Food Buying club Resource Kit from the National Cooperative Business Association
- Free food buying club software
- Frankferd Farms supplier
- Walton Feed supplier
- Blue Chip Group supplier
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