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Old 01-19-2010, 08:50 AM
Location: Las Vegas, NV
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Originally Posted by bgmv90 View Post
How do most people handle living really far away from stores for groceries and toiletries and other staple items? Do you go often? Do you only go once a month and then stock up? Is it hard to get back home before the icecream melts? Etc. What is there to expect from this?

Back in 1999/2000 my family lived in Altoona, FL which is northwest of Orlando, its located right at the edge of the Ocala National Forest.

I remember having to drive 12 miles each way to the Publix that was in Eustis to get groceries. I guess thats not as bad as it is for some others but my mother always complained about having to do it. So my dad (who drove to work 55 miles to work one way 5 days a week in Orlando) would usually go fetch the groceries

It was also another 30 miles to the Lake Square Mall in Leesburg, 8 miles from the nearest public school

It would really bother me to live "like that" as my mom put it. I prefer being close to things in the city, or at least far flung suburbs
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:12 PM
Location: Upstate NY
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My SO lives in a small town and he only goes grocery shopping once or twice a month. The trick is to keep a list of what you need and to keep a small cooler in the back of the car for the summer. The hour drive to the market doesn't seem like a big deal when there isn't any traffic like there would be in cities and suburban areas. It also helps that there is a deli/small grocery market in a nearby town.

Also, where I live I have easy access to markets, so if he needs something I'll pick it up for him on my way up to visit him, or he'll stop by a market before he heads home when he comes down to visit. It also helps that he lives right near a major highway (65mph speed limit) that runs all the way down to the capital district and some major cities.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:41 AM
Location: Western Colorado
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There's one large city (ok it's 10,000 but still) 30 minutes from me that has City Market, Safeway, Walmart, Target, etc. There's a small, and pricey market here in town. For major shopping I go to the "big' city twice a month with a list and stock up. I'm always offered dry ice for my frozen items. From what I've found out that is what just about everyone here in these small mountain towns do. Once or twice a month major shopping. Luckily the town market for milk, and those I just ran out of items is within walking distance. I don't mind the drive, it's beautiful, no traffic and enjoyable. Where I moved from sometimes it took me 30 minutes to drive 10 miles with traffic, then parking, crowds, rude people.
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Old 01-27-2010, 12:00 PM
Location: Pinal County, Arizona
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It's usually a 60+ mile R/T to the stores we like to shop at - planning is a must. We try to do the "big" shopping once a month - and we have chilled down Ice Chests for the cold / frozen foods.

As for the incidentals, we work "in town" and will make those stops on the way home. Same with other errands - dry cleaners, shoe repairs and so on.

It took a little while to get "organized" but its now no problem at all.
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Old 01-27-2010, 12:24 PM
Location: SouthCentral Texas
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Trips to town..

That used to be a treat...hitch up the buckboard ang go to town.

everybody had their list of things needed.

Dry grocer, Fabric/dress maker, black smith

Now its load up the SUV to the gills...

For cold/frozen foods pack them in an ice chest. pack the ice cream on the bottom and cover with the frozen peas

or make homemade.
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Old 01-31-2010, 01:27 AM
Location: Way up north :-)
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Yeah, I imagine in the glory days long gone, it was a real adventure, going 'into town'. I've always found food shopping a PITA, doesnt matter how far away or close the source.

Someone here mentioned about how nice it was being able to buy ice-cream again. I long for the return of those days. Guess we'll be trying the cooler idea some folks have mentioned.

OK, it's not that bad, but you do have to be organized. Kills the spontaneity a bit. We "only" live about a 30 minute drive from the nearest big store. Unless it's harvest time and the machinery is clogging up the road, then it takes a little longer.


But I digress. Thing is, I used to live in the inner city, and could see the supermarket from our living room window. And I'd sit there biyatching about having to go all the way down to the store. Well, we did live on the top floor!
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Old 01-31-2010, 10:53 AM
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As an adult the furthest I've lived from being able to get things was only and hour...so not bad. Too far to really cure the midnight pizza craving (there wasn't anything open that late any way), but not bad.

It was different as a kid...we were further out. We always planned a trip into town about every two weeks and tried to get everything we needed then. Usually if we ran out of something, unless it was something the animals needed, we just did without. We'd buy the perishables last...milk, ice cream, put in a cooler and then wrap the cooler in blankets to help keep it from getting too warm.

As a boy, my dad had a ranch in NM that we went to town once a month with a 500 gallon tank on wheels and would fill with water...he'd also buy water in jugs. The tank water was for bathing, washing dishes. The jug water was for drinking and cooking. We had 3 wells on the place and the "good" one was 3 gallons a minute. So the wells on the place were for the cattle.

Going to town was a big deal. We used to joke it was like Ma and Pa Kettle come to town...
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Old 02-28-2010, 01:24 AM
Location: Interior AK
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We're 4 hours from the nearest grocery store. We go once every 2-3 months and stock up on the stuff we can't produce at home. In the summer, anything perishable goes into a cooler with ice. This summer we're thinking about getting one of those portable picnic-sized fridge/freezers for frozen stuff since it does start to melt (soften up) even in the cooler. In the winter, we have the opposite problem since we drive a truck, anything that can't take being frozen must go in the cab or it'll be frozen solid and ruined by the time we get home; which means that non-frozen perishables (like veggies) need to be in a cooler in the cab (no putting that cooler in the back, it *will* freeze).

In the summer, we leave really early, budget at least a full day to drive in, hit all the places we need to stock up, and then drive back once all the stores close... it's light here 22 hours, so it's not a major problem to get home realy late. In the winter, we can't leave until almost noon, so we budget at least 2 days (sometimes 3) - one day to drive in and get most of the shopping done and another day to get the last minute things and then get home before it gets dark (at 3pm!).

The only other option is to book a flight on the mail plane, which saves you an hour or two on either end (but only goes once a day and not on the weekends). Anytime you have to stay in the city - either a winter drive or flying in on the mail plane, you have to find a place to stay. At least if you drive in, you don't need to find a way around as well.

For some stuff (like ice cream) that just isn't practical to get in the city, we can pick up (sometimes) at the local trading post in the nearest village (about 30 minutes away). They don't have a lot of selection, so you're stuck with what they have or nothing at all. The village also has one "roadhouse" which is an inn/bar/restaurant. On the rare occassion where we feel like celebrating or not like cooking, we can go there to eat (well, except in the winter when they're closed for the season). I can't remember the last time I went to an actual theater to see a movie... heck, even back when I lived in the city I rarely went out for a movie... ummmm, I think it might have Return of the King, or Star Wars Episode 3 (or maybe I just rented those? can't remember now). Anyway, we just rent or buy movies now since even $30 to buy a new release is cheaper than driving into town to see it
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Old 02-28-2010, 05:17 PM
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Wow. I don't know if I could drive 4 hours to the stores. I hate driving that long. I guess I'm seeing that planning is really important. So you don't forget anything. Does it take long to figure out how much money you are going to need to save for stocking up? Or does it take long to figure out what stuff you are going to need and when? Thanks.
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Old 02-28-2010, 06:14 PM
Location: Interior AK
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We hate driving that long too... that's why we only go once a season

We keep a running list of things that we need to pick up when we're in town so we don't forget anything. If we start running out (like we open the last can of coffee) before we're planning our next trip, we might just order it mail delivery or see if there's any at the trading post to give us a longer window before we have to make the big trip. Now that we're pretty much got a handle on what we buy and how long it lasts, we put this list into the computer so we can just print it out again with any changes in quantities, deletions or additions. This saves A LOT of time and headache.

Watching the financing and budgeting for big stocking runs isn't too difficult because there really isn't much to spend money on out here Other than gas & whatever we order online or pick up at the trading post most of our money just sits in the bank until we go into town. This is where direct deposit, online banking, or the ability to mail in deposits come in handy -- there's no bank out here! We do keep track of how much we spend on stuff, so we can budget for next trip and next year, and know whether we'll have enough for major additional purchases and when we can plan to get those. Once we build up the gardens and get more livestock, we'll track the expenses of those inputs and also eliminate the things we produce from what we need to pick up in town... thereby (hopefully) balancing the books. We also make sure that we hit the bank before we leave town so we can keep a decent amount of ready cash on hand in case the Visa Checkcard reader at the trading post goes wonky or we need to buy something from a local tradesman since most people don't work on checks or credit out here. Best to keep at least enough cash for 2 full tanks of gas, one month of food, and one month of whatever you use for heat... and then double it

It doesn't really take too long to keep track of stuff once you get in the habit. A few spreadsheets and a couple minutes a day/week/month. After one or two stocking runs, you start to get a really good grasp of what you'll need to last you another 2-3 months because you've been tracking your usage. In the beginning, we went to town every couple of weeks because we didn't know exactly what we needed or how long it would last. Now, we could confidently stock up for a year if we needed to once we can get all our perishables direct from the land.

The tricky part is making sure that you have a good selection of random spare parts for all your buildings and equipment. We have multiple spark plugs, chains, bars, 2-stroke oil, etc for the chainsaws. Spare batteries for the vehicles and charging units. A stock of nails, screws, nuts and bolts that would make a small hardware store jealous. Things like that are harder to plan for, but if you always pick one up in town whether you need it right then or not, then you always have at least one extra at home... and if something you regularly use is on sale or special, grab it while you're there and save yourself the cash and a susbsequent trip later. That's why we always carry a notebook that has a list of all our tools & equipment, and all the replacement part #s (including generics that we've found work well)... that way there's no guessing whether you're getting the right thing or not.
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