Oct 102011

I often write about visiting a nearby Amish bulk grocery store, where I purchase all of my spices, as well as most of my grains and baking supplies. I know that many of you don’t live near Amish communities, and have never been inside an Amish grocery, so I snapped some pictures during our visit on Friday.

*Please note: The Amish are very reserved, and because of their religious beliefs, they do not wish to be photographed. Out of respect for their wishes, I was careful to keep them out of these pictures.

Amish grocery stores are very simple, unassuming buildings.

It’s quite common to see a horse and buggy hitched nearby. My kids love to stop and talk to these gentle horses, who wait so patiently for their owners to finish shopping. They’re always disappointed when the hitching post is vacant.

Friday was such a beautiful fall day, and I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of Cakes, posing next to these mums in brilliant shades of purple (her favorite color), which were for sale outside the front door.

This sign greets you as you enter the store.

The first aisle just inside the door is the spices and baking supplies, where I spend most of my time (notice the skylights and battery-powered fans – the Amish don’t use electricity).

This particular store has only three aisles. The second aisle contains grains, pasta, cereals, nuts, jello and pudding, sprinkles, extracts, honey, etc. The third has some canned goods, vinegar and oils, and some odd lots of other things, like vitamins and personal care items, school supplies, greeting cards, and household supplies. In the back of the store there are various herbs and teas, and some snack foods, and a small room containing larger quantities of flour, sugar, and seeds.

I try to bake the majority of our bread, so I purchased a 50-pound sack of unbleached flour, because this is a great price for King Arthur brand.

This store also has a refrigerated section, where you can purchase fresh, locally-grown produce, large sacks of potatoes, milk, cheese, and butter, as well as frozen meats, fruits, and vegetables.

At the checkout, I always let my kids get a stick of old-fashioned, 15-cent candy. I also let them choose a treat from the bulk candy bins. After all, we only make this trip once or twice a year, and also it’s very difficult to say no to a face like this.

When I shop at the Amish grocery, I always take my price book along to compare unit prices, so I can make sure that I’m getting the best deal. I’ve found that some things (spices, flour, and most grains) are always cheaper there, but other things are more expensive. Always, always check prices!

This is what I bought:

Bell peppers (not pictured)
Bulk vanilla pudding
Melting chocolate and rainbow nonpareils (for a birthday surprise I’m making for Bee. Post to come!)
Roasted and salted sunflower seeds (for trail mix)
Pasta shells
Vital wheat gluten
Farina (Cream of Wheat)
Yogurt raisins (the treat chosen by the kids)
Flax meal
Beef broth powder (I use these broth powders in all of my homemade soups. They’re much more flavorful than traditional bouillion)
Seasoning salt
Lemon pepper
Dill weed
50 pounds unbleached flour

To give you an idea of how much you can save when shopping in bulk, only one of those big containers of spices cost over a dollar. The 5-ounce container of rainbow sprinkles was 91 cents (a 2.5-ounce bottle typically costs $2.29), and the 2.5-pound bag of farina was $1.18 (an 18-ounce box of Cream of Wheat costs around $3.50).

For more information about bulk shopping, please see this post.

On Saturday we spent the whole day outside, tidying up the garden and flower beds, mowing the hill maze, and dividing and transplanting some perennials. The girls and I were kneeling by the front flower bed, dividing some ground cover, when a praying mantis strolled on by.

I almost peed my pants. I’m not kidding. You know how much I hate insects, and this is the biggest, creepiest bug I’ve ever seen.

The kids found it fascinating, and drew pictures of it in their nature notebooks.

Cakes even touched it!

How can they be my children? It seems impossible that any child of mine could willingly touch a horrifying, quease-making, alien-like bug, when I, her mother, a grown woman of mostly sound mind, run screaming away like my pants are on fire.

If they didn’t all have my lips, and also my chipmunk cheeks, I would swear that there was some kind of mix-up at the hospital.