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How to Save Money at Amish Bulk Food Stores

One way I like to keep a low grocery budget is to Save Money at Amish Bulk Food Stores. Here are things I buy at Amish Bulk food stores to help me keep a low grocery budget.

I’m convinced grocery prices are going up and the good deals are getting fewer and are harder to find. When I first started blogging a year and a half ago, I had a pretty easy time holding my grocery budget steady at around $250 a month – for my family of 6. But that’s not the case anymore. A number of factors contribute:

  • My kids are getting bigger and eating more.
  • I’m finding fewer coupons for products I’ll buy. Last year for instance, I stocked up on pasta for almost FREE. I’ve been waiting and waiting to pair coupons with a sale to get free pasta this year, but it hasn’t happened. I haven’t gone completely coupon free, though. I still use them for organic produce and yogurt as well as toiletries.
  • Prices are increasing. Everyone says this and I think it’s true.
  • I’m getting pickier about organic produce and quality meat.

How to Save Money at Amish Bulk Food Stores

One way I have still been keeping my grocery budget low, though, is to buy in bulk at Amish stores.Stringtown Grocery

On Monday, my kids and I loaded up in the van and headed out to Amishland aka Kalona, Iowa – it’s about a 40 minute drive for us. Since we live in the middle of no where, I have to drive SOMEWHERE to get most of my groceries (anywhere from 15-35 minutes away). So going to Kalona really isn’t that big of a deal.

We stopped at two stores in Kalona: Stringtown Grocery and (Ye Olde) Community Country Store.

I buy bulk wheat at Stringtown, peanut butter, and honey and other things. A 50lb bag of wheat berries costs $24 – a fabulous price! And 12 lbs of raw honey costs $35.75 or just under $3 a pound.Stringtown Grocery haul

At (Ye Olde) Community Country Store, I buy eggs – beautiful farm fresh brown eggs for $1.55 a dozen!Community Country Store

Don’t those look like happy chickens?
Amish Farm Fresh Eggs

One chicken flew the coop and was hiding under the shed!
Amish Farm Fresh Eggs

I also ordered a 1/2 a pig! One of my Healthy New Years Resolutions was to find a healthy source for pork and chicken. I already have a great source of local beef, but I want to stop buying all grocery store meat. It might be cheap – but I’m not convinced it’s cheaper – and I’m tired of feeling rotten for eating CAFO meat, for a number of reasons.

So on Monday I stopped at a random Amish house and ordered me a 1/2 a pig! I’ve noticed the sign on the highway before – offering Grass-Fed Beef and Chemical Free Pork. Monday we drove down the lane and stopped at the house. I felt a little awkward driving up to a stranger’s house. The Amish women were doing laundry in the shed. One of them greeted me (sort of) and headed to the house to find the man. He came out and ushered me into his house! I was secretly thrilled. I have a real curiosity about the Amish way of life – it’s a linguistic curiosity since they speak a variation of German which I can {sort of} understand if I listen really carefully. But I’m also so curious about their life choices. I would not want to give up my modern conveniences but I love watching them!

But back to the pork. Paul, the Amishman, explained the way it works. I gave him a $100 deposit and he gave me a receipt. 😉 The pork will be  ready sometime in June/July and will be processed at Bud’s Locker. I’ve driven by Bud’s before so I know it’s a real place. A half a pork costs $1.50 per pound (on the rail – which means pre-processing weight) and yields somewhere around 110 pounds – also on the rail. So I won’t get 110 pounds of pork, because some of that weight includes bones and stuff. Paul also explained that bacon will not be what I’m used to as it likely won’t be seasoned. I’m curious about the bacon!

I’ll also have to pay locker fees. I’m not sure how much they will be, but processing for my 1/4 cow runs right around $100. I’m purely hypothesizing here, but let’s say I end up with 80 lbs of pork in June/July. I’ll owe Paul $165 if the on-the-rail weight comes in at 110 lbs. If the locker fees are around $75, my total will come to $240. If it yields 80 lbs of pork, that’s $3 per pound – for pork chops, ham, bacon, ribs, and whatever else I end up with. That’s not bad! But like I said, I have no idea how much it will yield, or what the locker fees are. I’ll let you know if June/July! $3 per pound is a little more than my grocery price-point list, but we have decided to increase our spending to get better products.

If you’d like more information on shopping from Amish, read these posts I wrote last year about shopping at Amish Produce Auctions!

Do you shop at Amish stores? I’d love to hear your experiences.



Tuesday 2nd of September 2014

I just discovered your blog and love it! I live out in the middle of no where in Iowa on an acreage as well, and, strangely enough, are also about 40 minutes from Kalona. I went there a few years ago several times and took advantage of the great prices, but wound up with kitchen moths from one of my trips. It was such an ordeal to get rid of them that I've never gone back. Have you experienced that problem at all?

Michelle Marine

Tuesday 2nd of September 2014

Hmmm. I've had moths before but didn't connect it to Stringtown or Amish purchases - other than that bugs can get it bulk purchases when I don't store them properly. Do you think the problem is that they came home with you or that you got them because your food items weren't in an airtight container?

Clayton Y

Thursday 26th of June 2014

Hello :)

Like a previous commenter, I live in southern Lancaster County and there's a "chain" of four stores called BB's spread throughout three counties that I will patronize for almost everything except for milk and cream. I was so glad to read about your experiences in Iowa!

I tell my friends that you never know what you're going to find, whether it be Twining Loose tea for 75 cents as opposed to $8 in the other grocery stores, Australian cheese twists, tallow soap Irish catsup, or local apples. Oh, and you can't be beat bananas for 19 cents/pound can you? That must be what they cost in 1979. ;)

The local store also has a walk-in freezer that is the BEST place to be (for a few minutes) to escape the humidity.


Michelle Marine

Thursday 26th of June 2014

Thanks for commenting, Clayton, and greetings from Iowa! I do love our Amish stores. Wish they were just a tad closer. :-)

Allison K

Sunday 1st of September 2013

Just found your blog and love it! I live in Iowa City and go to Stringtown often. It is one of my favorite things about this area! So fun to hear someone else write about it!

Michelle Marine

Tuesday 3rd of September 2013

Thanks, Allison! I haven't been there in a while. It's time to get back out there!!

Terri Seibech

Tuesday 24th of April 2012

We used to go to Amana colonies quite often for the get away, but mostly for the peacefulness. We always loved to go out of our way a bit to shop on the Kalona Amish farms for all kinds of things. Even Red Wing work boots are like half the price. But the farm fresh eggs, bakery, bulk spices, great price on potatoes, onions, cheeses, etc., made the trip exciting. I couldn't wait to see what we could buy from them. Although the ladies never talk much, they are always eager to wait on anyone. As for fresh no chemical can't beat it. Unflavored bacon at that processor may mean "not smoked" but you may be able to get it smoked, if desired. Their kind of bacon is good on a hot baking powder biscuit for Sunday supper. I am new to your page, but I can already tell that this is the kind I like!! Thanks!

Heidi W.

Tuesday 24th of April 2012

You might want to ask the butcher (or Paul the Amishguy) for the bones and fat from your pig. Render the fat to make your cooking lard (honest, it's amazing!) and cut the bones up (the butcher can do this) to make stock and flavor other dishes.

Don't miss out on your bones and lard!

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