Author Topic: Groceries without a car?  (Read 9366 times)

MustachianWays

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Groceries without a car?
« on: March 02, 2014, 06:11:05 PM »
Fellow Mustachians: how do you buy bulk groceries without a car?

I currently live about a 500 feet from a big chain grocery store with the best local grocery prices (SUPER convenient) but I can't help but feel like I could save some money by shopping at Costco. The problem: the closest Costco is about 3 miles from me and I don't have a bike. I currently get everywhere using public transportation and I don't think it is feasible to buy a boatload of groceries and try to walk 3 miles back to my apartment or load them onto a bus, ride the bus, unload them, and walk the remaining distance back to my apartment, especially in harsh Chicago winters.

Any solutions for doing bulk grocery shopping sans car?

MDM

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2014, 06:33:50 PM »
Find a friend with a car and pitch in for gas or cook them a meal, etc. in return for the occasional transportation?

They might appreciate the Costco savings also, if they aren't already clued in.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2014, 06:59:24 PM »
What about ZipCar or RelayRides?

MustachianWays

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2014, 07:50:24 PM »
Thanks for the responses. I have a friend that has a car that I might be able to convince to come into the city for some savings. I had considered a rental car but they seem prohibitively expensive. All my grocery savings would essentially be going to pay the $40+ I have to shell out just to rent the thing.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2014, 08:20:06 PM »
Where do you live? I find it hard to believe that shopping at Costco would result in such drastic savings that it would eat up both the membership costs and the cost of renting a car (or worse, owning one).

Also, bkes bikes bikes.

NinetyFour

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2014, 08:35:36 PM »
Could you walk or take the bus one way, and then take a taxi home?

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2014, 08:43:53 PM »
If you are a single person living in an apartment that I assume is not huge, you might just be better off shopping at the grocery store. I mean, how long would it take you to eat a ten-pound box of oatmeal? Four and a half pounds of raisins? And it's this whole complication where you have to keep track of who has the best prices on what and schedule your Costco trips just right and so on. Maybe you should just leave well enough alone! (I like Costco, but

windawake

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2014, 08:52:48 PM »
I second just buying things from the nearby grocery store. If you're just one person, you might not be able to finish Costo-size items before they get stale/go bad. For example, my roommate always buys Craisins from there. She recently opened a new bag and said, "Wow! These are way fresher than my old ones!"

Also, is it worth it to save a few dollars here and there when you have to deal with the hassle of getting to and from?

Also also, get a bike! I bike to the grocery store most of the year and fill up my panniers, in the winter when roads are icy I walk.

rocklebock

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2014, 09:22:23 PM »
I was in a similar situation for three years. There was an expensive grocery store down the block, and a moderate one about 4 blocks away. I would have had to get a Zipcar or Car2Go to drive 20-30 minutes each way to the nearest cheap-o supermarket or Costco. I decided the car rental and the extra hour out of my life would cancel out whatever I saved on groceries. Plus, walking back home (up a really steep hill) carrying two bags of groceries was a pretty nice workout.

lhamo

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2014, 05:25:35 AM »
I do my grocery shopping in the little neighborhood near our apartment once a week.  I can fit about a week's worth of groceries in one of these -- my rounds take me about an hour, with 3-4 stops:

http://bluecakesblog.com/?p=1127

They roll pretty smoothly and would probably be doable for a 3 mile walk.  Another option would be to take a rolling suitcase with you.  Or a backpack.  I used to do my grocery shopping in Queens and pack stuff in a backpack to get home.  Bonus is you get a good workout in addition to shopping.


BPA

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2014, 05:44:51 AM »
I shop the loss leaders at closer stores and stock up during spring, summer, and fall.  I canceled my Costco membership when I realized I could actually save more money this way.

Also, you need to get a bike.  :)


MayDay

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2014, 05:52:15 AM »
We are family of four, and I go to costco every two weeks. 

I spend about 800-100$ almost entirely on food.  I can fit about half of that in a large insulated costco tote bag.  So I think that if you are strong enough to carry a big heavy tote of food on the bus! you can probably carry 50$ of groceries, which may be all a single person needs for two weeks. 

Stuff I buy on a typical trip to get to 100$: 

Block of cheese or two.
Bottle of juice
Lettuce
Giant bag of carrots
Bag or two of frozen veggies
One bag of rice (not the 25 lb bag of white rice, the smaller bag of brown rice) or quinoa
One bag of snack food like chips, crackers, etc
One other fresh veggie like Brussels sprouts or bell peppers
One fresh fruit pack which is at least five lbs and sometimes ten.
2 lbs butter

I may have a missed a few things, but generally that is what I buy and it is usually about 100$. 

happy

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2014, 05:55:48 AM »
Quote
Also, you need to get a bike.  :)
Quote
Or a backpack.

Or do both.


BPA

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2014, 06:00:14 AM »
Quote
Also, you need to get a bike.  :)
Quote
Or a backpack.

Or do both.

:)  I have two backpacks: the one I got as a present for backpack traveling in 1994 which works great when I'm walking but is too big when I'm cycling and one for when I'm riding my bike (although I also have a rack).  I eventually plan to get a bike trailer eventually, but so far I haven't needed it.

I also have a VERY glamorous bundle buggy.  It's patent leather.  So fancy.  ;)

GuitarStv

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2014, 06:23:35 AM »
Also, bkes bikes bikes.


+1


I have carried 70lbs of groceries home on my bike in front/rear panniers and with some stuff bungeed to the rear rack.  I think that your best bet is getting a trailer to pull though if you want to pick up very bulky items.

Threshkin

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2014, 10:24:41 AM »
When I lived alone in San Francisco, I would take the bus all the way across the city because the last stop was right next to a grocery store.  It was also right next to the beach.  I would use the time on the bus to relax and people watch.  Then I would wander on the beach if the weather was good.  Then shop and ride the bus back.

My other option was to walk 8 or 9 blocks to the local grocery store, through a very sketchy neighborhood.  The walk back was killer and not all that safe.  I did it exactly once before coming up with the alternate plan.

Even in SF I was fairly mustachian.  I had a studio apartment in the Western Addition, one of the cheapest areas of the city at that time and a fairly short bus ride to work.

dude

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2014, 10:39:10 AM »
When I was in law school, there was a Costco about a 15 minute train ride and 3 miles of walking away from me.  I bought one of those fold-up wheeled carts and a large backpack.  I would fill up the backpack and cart and walk/train it back to my place.  This was in DC, so winters weren't typically very snowy (except for 95-96, which was a disaster).  It was work and I got sweaty as hell in the warmer months, but saved a ton of money on food and beer.

Ayanka

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2014, 11:03:54 AM »
I want to second the person who said that buying bulk for yourself might not be worth it. If you can persuade your friend to split some things, it might be worth it though. I had this experience  when breaking up with my boyfriend, that while I eat a lot, I don't need 2000+ calories on a calm day not to lose weight, so I also didn't have to buy that much food anymore.

Rachelocity

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2014, 12:13:35 PM »
I use my folding cart and a Home Depot tote bag to do my Costco runs.  The bus drivers are really nice about lowering the front of the (wheelchair-accessible) bus if I'm having a hard time getting on or off.  The Home Depot bag fits over the handle of the cart, so I can schlep along effortlessly. 

Elaine

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2014, 12:19:03 PM »
I vote go for it! We buy bulk at costco for our two person family and it definitely saves us money. We usually walk to costco from our apartment (about 2-3 miles). Then we shop and get a car service back, since we live in nyc it's pretty common for big box stores to have just tons of car service cars waiting in the parking lot. However, I'm sure you could look up the number for a cab or car service and call from the costco. At least that way you're only paying for one way transportation (don't rent a car, that's insanely expensive/illogical). We also have a folding shopping cart, which many people use in our area, so we can use that for smaller trips. Usually I prefer to just do two large trips a year, which cuts down on the transportation cost (it's about $10-$12 for a car from costco to our apartment, the walk there is free of course).

Zikoris

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2014, 12:45:12 PM »
It's a bit unorthodox, but my boyfriend and I use a dog stroller for our Costco runs. They're generally good to carry up to around 60 pounds, and are completely enclosed unlike normal baby strollers. Here's an idea of some of the different models around http://www.petsmart.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=3854264

Tai

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2014, 03:09:29 PM »
I don't have a car so I usually take a 2 wheeled shopping cart and grab the bus home. It holds 4-5 plastic bags worth of groceries. If I'm going to a store further away I will sometimes do a super large buy then take a taxi home.

GuitarStv

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2014, 06:58:41 AM »
It's a bit unorthodox, but my boyfriend and I use a dog stroller for our Costco runs. They're generally good to carry up to around 60 pounds, and are completely enclosed unlike normal baby strollers. Here's an idea of some of the different models around http://www.petsmart.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=3854264

"dog stroller"


Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha . . . .




"The thing that dogs love more than anything else in the world is walking.  Let's sell something to stupid pet owners to take that away from them" - Evil Corporate Heads of Marketing, during lunch break . . . just before blending up some kitten smoothies and dousing some homeless people in gas to burn to keep their offices warm.

Zikoris

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2014, 07:59:47 AM »
It's a bit unorthodox, but my boyfriend and I use a dog stroller for our Costco runs. They're generally good to carry up to around 60 pounds, and are completely enclosed unlike normal baby strollers. Here's an idea of some of the different models around http://www.petsmart.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=3854264

"dog stroller"


Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha . . . .




"The thing that dogs love more than anything else in the world is walking.  Let's sell something to stupid pet owners to take that away from them" - Evil Corporate Heads of Marketing, during lunch break . . . just before blending up some kitten smoothies and dousing some homeless people in gas to burn to keep their offices warm.

They're pretty useful for transporting a pet somewhere that would be too far for walking - you can take them on the bus, etc. Mine doubles as a cat taxi when he needs to go to the vet.

iris lily

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2014, 08:02:54 AM »
I think that those huge quantities at Costco and Sams are, for the most part, silly. For our household of 2 our Sam's membership is not worth it, IMHO.

hybrid

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #25 on: March 04, 2014, 09:17:13 AM »
We are a family of 3 and go to Costco every few weeks for groceries and the occasional staple (detergent, socks, etc.) and the savings really do add up for us.  Get a Mustachian Buddy. If Mustachian Buddy has an upgraded Costco membership he gets 2% back on all purchases, so you are throwing him a $2 bone every time you drop $100 there. More if he pays with his Costco AMEX.  Win-win.

I am that Mustachian Buddy for a few friends and family.

ioseftavi

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #26 on: March 05, 2014, 07:28:29 AM »
Absolutely totally completely possible.  We live in NYC, just over a mile from a costco, we walk together and make a Saturday / Sunday afternoon of it.  After work is even better since it's far less busy, but that's tougher with the hours we work and it being so dark at night in the winter.

Most common option for us: Bring lots of reusable shopping bags + granny cart.  I typically carry 2 reusable shopping bags, and my fiancee does the granny cart + a smaller reusable bag.  We can get around $250-$350 worth of stuff this way without a problem.

Second option:  Bike with a trailer.  I am looking into getting a bike trailer, because this will be way quicker and easier.  I've seen people there with trailers, so it's definitely possible.

Third option:  Rent a cargo van for cheap ($20-$30 for a few hours) and do a huge shop with a friend who is also a carless member (neighbor, etc).  Requires more coordination, but for those few hours, it's nice to have a vehicle and not have to even think about the weight/size of items you're picking up.  We have done this once and it is good particularly if you have a trip where you're doing a major restock: large bags of flour, rice, things of olive oil, cleaning supplies like laundry detergent, etc.  I think the last time we rented one in NYC it was about $35, with all taxes / fees.

HappyHoya

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Re: Groceries without a car?
« Reply #27 on: March 05, 2014, 08:06:07 AM »
We do have a car and a Costco membership, but I've been looking into alternatives (car is on its last leg) and there's an app/program called Boxed that delivers a lot of the same items Costco sells. Delivery is free after a certain amount of money (which we would easily hit), and there's no membership fee or anything like that. On my last trip to Costco, I kept the Boxed app open and did a price comparison for the things we usually buy - it was very, very close. Boxed was usually $1-$1.75 more, but had a few promotional and sale items where the price was $1-$2 cheaper. I imagine the price difference closes pretty quickly when you factor in the cost of getting to a store, and time spent procuring the items. This might not be the best option for perishables, but it works for household goods and most bulk foods. We're thinking about making the switch when our Costco membership expires.

If anyone is interested in trying Boxed, send me a message and I'll send you a link that's good for a few dollars off (it's not a referral and as far as I can tell. I don't work for Boxed, and I don't get anything for it, I'm just trying to help fellow savers).
« Last Edit: March 05, 2014, 08:12:17 AM by HappyHoya »