Saturday, January 7, 2012
Bountiful Baskets Co-operative
A couple of my friends have been talking about Bountiful Baskets for a while now. It's a co-operative in the west that give us opportunity to puchase fresh fruits and vegetables and a few other items (breads, granola, sometimes tortillas). It has just started in my area, and there is a pickup every other week. Organic is an option as well.
I tried it for the first time. This week we 'ate down' the produce on hand in preparation. We were down to part of a pomegranate, a roma tomato and a head of leaf lettuce....OK, and a couple hundred pounds of potatoes, heaps of onions, some beets, turnips and a cooler full of carrots...all of which grew in our garden...but those are stored in the root cellar and keep long-term.
I paid a one-time $3 membership fee, so now I'm 'in', hee hee. I purchased a conventional (not organic) basket for $15. There is also a $1.50 'handling fee', so let's just call it $16.50. This is what I got:
Fruit. 2 Asian pears, 5 'cutie' tangerines, 7 bananas (2lb.2oz.), 6oz. fresh blackberries, 2lb.3oz. red seedless grapes, 8 fuji apples (2lb.6oz.)
Vegetables. 2 English cucumbers, 2 bunches radishes, 1 bunch spinach, 2 large heads romaine lettuce, 3 tomatoes (1lb.5oz.), 1 bunch broccoli (1lb.2oz.)
Here is my 'basket' all spread out on the kitchen table:
Extra. There are also opportunities to buy some fruits or vegetables by the box. My friends Leia, MaryBeth and I went in together and bought one box of Minneola Tangelos (my personal favorite!) for $15. Split 3 ways, it was $5 each for 33 Tangelos each, which look like this:
Also, Leia gave me two of her English cucumbers. She has a larger family and bought multiple baskets. She said, 'Take these - I don't even know what they are...and I have plenty here to use!' Thanks, Leia! Maybe I'll make some cucumber kimchee.
Once I got all that packed up and stuffed into the fridge, I ate a tangelo. YUM. Then I rounded up the grapes that had fallen from the stem (a handful) and had those with peanut butter toast...followed by a tangelo. Hubby reminded me of the time we were at my in-laws' for a visit and I ate so many oranges from their tree that I got a rash. I will stop the tangelos...for now.
After that I did the math. Is this really a good deal? Can I do better with sales and bargains? The answer is 'sorta'. For one, I've never even had an English cucumber because the other kind costs less...so when I did my math, I used my rock bottom sale pricing, and subbed out the things I actually buy, like slicing cucumbers or navel oranges (which are 3lb. for $1 this week at a local supermarket). In the end, the pricing came out the same...except that with Bountiful Baskets, I get things I would never get with the same money - English cucumbers, blackberries, Minneola tangelos...so it's like getting a free upgrade..at least that's how I'm thinking of it.
I save some time and fuel by showing up at one spot and picking up everything. It's about 4 miles from my house, and there is no running around, no price matching, and everything looks ultra fresh. (I have heard that from others who have used it long-term too.) If things keep long enough for us to get them eaten, this will be a good thing. We'll eat the 'short keepers' (grapes, berries, spinach, cukes, etc.) first to reduce potential spoilage.
The 7am pickup time is early - I am not a morning person. You never know what you are getting, but that can be good - the blackberries are really tasty (yes, I tried one of them too!) but it's not a good deal unless we actually use everything (those two bunches of radishes are all on me because no one else here cares for them). I will plan our menus based on what we got, and we have plenty of fruit for snacking. I'll keep you posted!
Overall, at this moment, I'm happy with Bountiful Baskets. It helps me with my goals related to saving money and good stewardship of our funds, and with all the fresh fruits and vegetables on hand, it should be easy for us to make healthy food choices. Bountiful Baskets is in parts of the western United States and expanding, so check back now and then if it is not offered in your area.
I'll be eating salads for lunch,
-Laura at TenThingsFarm