Meal Planning Monday ~ Cashing in at the Co-op

Leah has been asking me to come and check out the produce co-op she belongs to for months, and two weeks ago, I finally went. Why did I wait SO long?? The produce co-op is AWESOME, and I joined after my first visit! What is a co-op, (which is short for the word cooperative)? Essentially it is any business that is owned by the people who use it. Co-ops are operated for the benefit of the members, not to make a profit for investors. This means great prices!

For this particular food co-op, there is a $5 one-time fee to join, plus $5 per month, and you must be brought in by a current member. I felt like it was some kind of secret, underground grocery club that I never knew existed! These fees are easily offset by the produce prices, and you can take a turn working the co-op instead of paying the fee.

The produce selection varies and I receive an email the day before telling me what’s available. Much of produce is organic. Last week’s haul, pictured above, included 2-pound packages of portabella mushrooms for $1.25 each, packages of organic blueberries and celery for 75 cents, three pounds of potatoes for $1, and lemons, limes, onions, and garlic for a quarter apiece! Typically, when I do my meal planning, I’m flexible with my side dishes. For example, before the month began, I scheduled chicken bruschetta this week. However, I’m flexible about whether I’m going to make it with rice or potatoes, green beans or cauliflower. This allows me to make the most of what produce is on sale at the grocery store or co-op.

So, how do you find and join a food co-op, so you can start saving, too? Check out the Co-op Directory Listing or check out Local Harvest for co-ops and farmers markets. I think I’m going to have a line of friends and family who want to come with me to the co-op this week! Hmm, who should I pick first?

Here is my meal plan for this week.

Monday ~ Dinner out with my good friend, Heather, to one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Oriental Wok!

Tuesday ~ I’m teaching Financial Peace University tonight, so I’ll probably heat up some of the Taco Soup I have in the freezer.

Wednesday ~ Chicken sausage with red pepper and onion and parmesan potatoes.

Thursday ~ Chicken bruschetta, wild rice, and drunken mushrooms. Very excited to try the mushroom recipe! I want to test it first and make sure it’s good before I give you the recipe.

Friday ~ Spicy tilapia, mac and cheese, and broccoli

Saturday ~ I am having a Miche purse party this night, so I will probably have a Lean Cuisine for an early dinner, since I’ll be serving a cheese tray, wine, and chocolate covered cherry cupcakes for the party! If I’m running short on time, I will use store-bought frosting for the cupcakes.
Sunday ~ Homemade vegetable soup and hot ham and cheese sandwiches on rye bread.