If you’ve been around FF/E for a while, you may know this past summer my little family moved 15 miles south of Iowa City to the Kalona area. Even though it’s a short drive, sometimes it feels like an entirely different world.
I grew up in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa: where seeing a deer was a big event for me. Now my neighbors are cows, horses, and sheep. My normal drive “into town” takes twice as long because of all the horse and buggies (I LOVE THIS), and I look out my widows at fields and woods, not housing developments. I’m kind of in love. :)
Living in a predominantly Amish/Mennonite community has its benefits. There is no shortage of fresh food or handmade goods, that’s for sure!
Last weekend, I hinted over on Instagram/Twitter that we finally took advantage of Stringtown Grocery, an Amish run bulk and produce store. Hold on to your hats, folks. We scored a major haul.
Stringtown Grocery, Kalona IA
Location: 2266 540th Street, Kalona, Iowa (just East of the Kalona Cheese Factory, off Highway 1)
Hours of Operation: MWRF: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, SAT: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Parking: Directly in front of the store, and across the road. Plenty of horse-hitches too, if that’s your thing. ;)
Atmosphere: clean, organized, and friendly. Carts are available. Isles are very small and usually crowded, so best not to bring a caravan of kids with you. Cash only.
Stringtown Grocery is nothing short of amazing. I wish I had taken pictures of the inside, but typically the Amish community has rules on what they will allow to be photographed, so I didn’t want to be a bother.
The small four-isle store has just about every dry good you can think of. Flours (some I didn’t even know existed!), candies, oatmeal, nuts, granola, pastas, hand-made noodles, pie-fillings, grains, teas, SPICES (ohhhh the spices!) and even baked goods. I could have spent hours marveling over each beautiful wrapped package, which is saying a lot for a store that can’t be more than the size of a typical living room!
In addition to dry/handmade products, they have a few “farm-life” accessories (like mason jars, borax, lye, vinegar, lamp oil, etc) and an extensive cooler section full of cheese and frozen produce.
Are you getting the picture yet? Pretty much heaven on earth.
Here’s the best part: Adam and I walked out with over 50 pounds of food for our Fit and Free Family. Guess how much we spent?
TOTAL INSANITY!!! :D
(Here’s what we bought: Oats, granola, Apple Cider Vinegar, brown rice, chocolate chips, 13-variety beans, gummy sharks [Harper's treat], organic quinoa, lentils, pasta, organic teas, peas, black beans, bread flour, and a 12 pack of mason jars which I didn’t add to the price/weight total for the graphic.)
We were fortunate enough to receive some housewarming money in the mail this week, with strict instructions to “buy something we needed.” I was beyond excited to use the money for something so useful. This will last us probably … oh I don’t know … FOREVER?!
The biggest shocker to me was the oatmeal. We paid $4 for and 8-pound bag. FOUR DOLLARS. That’s what a puny container from the regular grocery store costs! Also, the bread flour was about 30% of what it would have typically cost us. We found that overall, we decreased our spending around a %50-%70 average.
Next, I had big (pretty) plans for my haul.
Mason jar time!
Harper wanted to say hello ;)
I cannot get over how beautiful they look each time I walk into my kitchen and see this:
Eating healthy and supporting local business makes my heart happy. I will be back to Stringtown Grocery, you can bet on that! This year is all about finding ways to stretch our dollar, and obviously Stringtown Grocery gets the job done!
Now …. what to cook with all the goodness? ;)
Do you have a local bulk store? What’s your favorite place to shop for you and your family?
Be strong. Be Fearless. Be you.
PS – If you’re a local reader and want to see me check out a particular place/event, let me know! :D I’m always looking to support our community.