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!