Grocery Shopping for a Year in the Bush, Part Two

Some of you may remember a couple of weeks ago when I did a post titled Grocery Shopping for a Year in the Bush. That particular post detailed what it was like to do online shopping when you live somewhere without amenities. Unlike most US families, we do not have a wide array of grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, or anything else that sells food. We have one, teensy store that sells the basics for a very elevated price ($20/gallon of milk). Because of this, my husband and I go big when we shop. The first part of our shopping trip takes place online, which you can read about in my first post on this topic. The second part of our shipping trip takes place in Anchorage.

There are many stores in Alaska that support bush families and their grocery needs. Anchorage is the main hub for bush families, so the options are pretty abundant (Costco, Wal-Mart, etc.). However, we choose to do our bush shopping at Fred Meyer’s. Fred’s is a big grocery chain in Alaska and they definitely know how to take care of their bush customers.

The first thing we do when heading out on our big bush shopping trip in Anchorage is make a VERY detailed list, based off of our meal plan that I talked about in part one of this post. We also make lists of any extra things that we might want. For me, I love to eat instant vegetarian soup mixes for lunch, so I usually grab a few of those to keep on hand.

Once we have our list, we head to the store. There are two Fred Meyer stores in Anchorage, but only one does bush shipping, so it is important to know that you’re going to the right one. We usually get one big cart and fill it to the top with groceries (for bigger families it would probably take more than one cart). It usually takes a couple of hours to get everything we need, so we really have to set aside a good chunk of time to do this trip.

Once our cart is full, we head to the customer service desk and sort out what we want to carry-on the airplane with us (usually fresh or chill goods) and what we want Fred Meyer to ship to us. We bring a cooler into the store with us and load it full of what we want to bring on the airplane. The majority of the food we purchase we ask the store to ship to us through their bush shipping program. This program basically just lets you fill out a form and Fred’s will ship the groceries to you (usually within a week) on whichever airline services your village. For us, our groceries come via Grant Aviation or Lake Clark Air.

Once all of the groceries are left at the customer service desk, we are pretty much finished. Usually within a week after our shopping trip someone will call us from the airline and let us know that the freight (groceries) will be delivered later that day. We pay $3.10/lb for anything shipped to the village, so we do have to pay the airline a bit of a fee, but it ends up working out. So, now that our shopping trip is complete, we are just playing the waiting game for the groceries to arrive. Hopefully they make it to the village not long after we do!

11 Responses to Grocery Shopping for a Year in the Bush, Part Two

  1. You have no choice but to be super-organized! I can’t imagine having to be so detailed. However, if you aren’t you will either do without or pay horrendous prices. It makes me appreciate my grocery stores…even if I do have to drive more than 20 miles to get much selection….but I can do this rather regularly if I want. And with those prices, it certainly prompts you be zero wasteful! I am fascinated by your story.

    • Thanks, Linda! It is definitely a way of life that most people don’t get to live (although most people don’t drive 20 miles for groceries either, and I’m sure that brings about some unique challenges for you too!). The process of getting super organized has taken quite a bit of trial and error, but I’m hoping this year I can improve it even more.

    • My list is probably 4-5 pages long. Haha. It takes a TON of work to get to this point. I may do a post on my shopping list at some point and I think I’ll do one when the food arrives about how we store it and use it.

      • Yes, I would love to see your list and how you use and store this. I have a very large pantry supply but can always improve. This would help all of us. I like to shop the sales and stock up. But sometimes I get too much of one thing and not of another. Or even think….what in the world did I intend to use something for when I bought it.

  2. this seems like so little food for 2 people, I’m amazed mostly that y’all eat that little!!! :))) I took a gander at your pantry items in the next post, also, and I’m thinking, maybe this is why I’m so chubby. I was like, where’s the rest??? LOL!

    • Don’t worry – it’s actually a LOT of food! I only included pictures of what we bought at one store and only one cupboard in the other post (we have three other cupboards plus the fridge and deep freeze). If I would have put pics of all the food it would have been like 15 boxes. Haha.

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