CSA, Bountiful Baskets, or Traditional Grocery Store?

This is the time of year that I really start to strategize our produce spending.  CSA (community supported agriculture) signups are in full swing and I have recently discovered Bountiful Baskets.  We need to quickly decide if we will participate in our CSA and each week I have a hard time deciding if we will order a Bountiful Basket or not.  It is a bit difficult to decide on Monday what we will be doing late morning on Saturday (when the BB pickup is).  As the weather warms up I like to be free to head out and go on a fun adventure as a family on Saturdays.

This rambling leads me to today’s experiment. I was curious to see how much organic produce $26.50 would buy me while I was grocery shopping (the total of the organic Bountiful Basket plus small fee they charge and also almost the exact price per week for our CSA basket).

I started out at our local natural grocery store called LifeSource to check for any great sales, and then went to Trader Joe’s to get the things I was not able to find there for the price I wanted to pay. Fortunately they were having an awesome sale on Navel Oranges for 79 cents per lb. and Fuji apples for 99 cents per lb.  I prefer to get my produce from LifeSource when possible because they are a locally owned and source local produce when possible. I have been able to find prices close to that here and there lately for those items, but this definitely helped me get a great value for what I was looking to spend today.

Here is what I purchased today for a total of $27.01

  • 8 large bananas 29 cents each (T.J’s)
  • 6.44 lbs of oranges (on sale at LifeSource)
  • 4.62 lbs or apples (T.J’s)
  • 3 large onions $2.49 (T.J’s)
  • 7 lemons $1.79 (T.J’s)
  • Bag of local raspberries $2.99 (on sale at LifeSource)
  • Fresh Broccoli Florets $2.49 (T.J’s)
  • Baby Lettuce Mix $1.99 (T.J’s)
  • Chopped Spinach (pesticide free not organic) $1.49 (T.J’s)
  • Rosemary $1.79 (T.J’s)

So the verdict is that I think I actually prefer picking out our own groceries and hunting for sales.  It was interesting how close I came to $26.50 without even trying. I definitely got more for my money this week than I would have from either of the other options.  I still really believe that CSA’s and Bountiful Baskets are a good value and doing a huge service for their consumers, but this week has proven that I can do okay without them too.  I will probably still order from BB from time to time.  It will also be nice to just modify our weekly purchases this summer as our garden starts to produce, rather than being committed to our CSA.  Because I go grocery shopping weekly it takes me no more energy or trips to choose my own produce and hunt for the sales when I am already in the stores.  It does take a bit of time to know what the best prices are, but it is worth it.  I love being able to feed my family organic foods for an affordable price.

I hope this post helps you as you decide your “produce strategy” for the year. Prices and availability of various types of produce and buying options will be different for everyone.  All of the options I mentioned today will likely provide your family with quality produce for a good price. I just geek out on this stuff a little more than most people.

 

One Response to CSA, Bountiful Baskets, or Traditional Grocery Store?
  1. Tara
    March 29, 2013 | 3:32 pm

    Hi! I also live here in the Salem area and order from Bountiful Basket every once in a while. My small family of two, Hubby and I, have a heard time going through a full basket in a reasonable time. I really only order when there are extras that interest me; things like the bread, walnuts, apples, ect.

    Last year we split a local CSA with another couple and I was not impresses at all. I ended up with 5-7 zuchinni in my half of the share EVERY WEEK. Also, the corn we got did not stand up to the taste test between it and the Fred Meyer corn; Fred Meyer won. Also the lettuce, which I was really looking forward to, was bitter and came willting to me. In the ended after all the math had been crunched I found out that between good sales at Freddies and local produce stores (E.Z. Orchards, FreshMart Produce, Saturday Market, and U-picks) that I could get all my summer produce and canning veggies for fairly cheap, and I like cheap!!

    Happy veggie hunting and Enjoy!!

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