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Posted on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 10:50 a.m.

Frugal Friday at The People's Food Co-op - selections make creative and inexpensive vegetarian meals a snap

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

Frugal Floozie Friday is a feature that seeks out dishes — appetizers, drinks, snacks, desserts, sandwiches, whatever — for $5 or less per person. Sometimes I split generously-sized items with loved ones, saving both money and calories; sometimes I find a great deal on a single serving that fits perfectly within the mandatory budget. I try to showcase several options to choose from, and you never know where I'll find them. Check out the column every Friday!

It's Ann Arbor Veg Week, so it made perfect sense to feature The People's Food Co-op today. It's an Ann Arbor institution which offers many creative and delicious vegetarian and vegan options both for dining in and for take-out. There are so many, many ways to eat well here while staying within our mandatory Frugal Floozie Friday budget of $5 per person.

As pictured above, there is an entire array of salads, vegetables, pastas, and other dishes to choose from, all charged by the pound so you can select smaller or larger servings and prices to suit your appetite and/or your finances.


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

I picked one of my favorites, the Sesame Cashew Noodles that are cooked perfectly and offer great spicy flavor, paying only $2.66 for this generous serving. Since the Co-op is part grocery store, part buffet, part deli, and part coffee shop (Cafe Verde), I was able to wander to the produce section and select a lovely organic Braeburn apple to complement my entree; it cost 80 cents.

The miniature chocolate bars normally cost $1.29, which would have taken my total to $4.75 if I'd been shopping at a different time; but I happened to be at the Co-op on a day when the treats were on a two-for-one sale, which made this an even better deal! So I was able to purchase a nutritious, wholesome meal for a quick take-out — and even a luxurious dessert — and still stay within our limited budget.


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

You could also choose potato chips, available for only 99 cents; and Blue Sky sodas, if you want something to drink besides water, cost 79 cents. A large bowl of soup can be enjoyed for only $3.99, or a cup costs $2.75. Large handmade cookies tempt you for only $1.99. There are countless ways to mix 'n' match a meal for $5 or less.

The co-op offers Fair Trade, organic, and locally-sourced items, as well as cooking from scratch; so whatever you choose will not only taste good but do good, as well.

Cafe Verde, the coffee shop connected to the co-op, offers coffees, teas, juices, and a beautiful assortment of baked goods and pastries for varying prices. If you're looking just for a luscious treat — particularly if you are on any sort of restricted diet (vegan, gluten-free, allergies, etc.), you will likely be able to find an option. The co-op is very careful and conscientious about its ingredients and about everything it sells. (And when it's not Veg Week, feel free to choose some of the meat-based selections, as well.)

At any time, The People's Food Co-op can be a wonderful local resource for good food and good prices.

The People's Food Co-op
216 N. Fourth Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Monday - Saturday: 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Food Bar:
Salad & Soups: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily
Hot Bar: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. weekends

Cafe Verde:
Monday - Saturday: 7 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.

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Mary Bilyeu writes for on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, telling about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests, meeting new friends ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions, comments, or suggestions:

Go visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — where she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related; and look for her monthly articles in the Washtenaw Jewish News. "Like" her on Facebook, or send a tweet on Twitter, too.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.



Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

I'll have to try out their pre-made foods, they sound really good!

West Side Mom

Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

Co-op is one of the jewels of downtown. Hot bar food is delicious. Prices are generally competitive too.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

I love going here for my vegetarian food. I love the hot bar and salad bar and all these other healthy things they offer. Thanks for highlighting this place!