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Blissful and Domestic is now on Youtube!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Save on Produce with Bountiful Baskets

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Earlier this week I mentioned how my family uses Bountiful Baskets for all our fresh produce. We started using Bountiful Baskets a few months ago. I had never even heard of it until this post starting going viral on pinterest. Many of you were letting me know that it was a great way to stay on budget and have fresh produce all month long. My sisinalw and I both looked into in and decided to try it out. That was about 3 months ago. I didn't want to blog about it right away. Mainly because I wanted to be able to have a strong opinion whether or not I thought it would truly save you guys money. I tried it for a month and then price matched for a month. I wanted to see if I could price match my way to getting the same amount of produce that Bountiful Baskets offered for the same price. Guess what? I couldn't do it. With Bountiful Baskets I pay $15 a week and  I get 2 laundry baskets full of produce. I couldn't match that, even with my thrifty shopping skills. Bountiful Baskets has truly changed the way we eat. So today I am going to break down how Bountiful Baskets works, how much I usually budget for this, and what I do with all my veggie loot.

Here we go....
How it Works 

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"Bountiful Baskets is a non-profit food co-op for families that want to have more fresh produce for less money". In order to participate, you must set up a free account on their website. On the website it is not called ordering or purchasing a basket, it is called "making a contribution". It is called this because you are pooling your money together with other families to get the best possible produce for your money.

From the website
"contribution is sometimes referred to as “ordering”, but this is not accurate. We call it contributing or participating, because Bountiful Baskets is not a business that you buy from, but rather a co-op where we all pool our money to buy things together."
Contributions open every Monday. The time it opens depends on where you live in the USA. Contributions are accepted beginning Mondays at 9:00 a.m. for Wyoming, 10:00 a.m. for Utah and Montana, and 12:00 p.m. for all other states. Because I live in Nevada, I can "contribute" after 12 on Monday. You have until Tuesday at 10pm to "contribute" or "order" a basket.

You can find step by step details of how to order here. Just remember that when you order, make sure you have put in your county and pick up place correctly. Pickups usually occur at elementary schools and such. You should be able to find one in your area.

Every pickup location has a specific time to pick up your baskets. Most pickups are on Saturday and occur in the morning. You have a 20 minute window to pickup your basket. Make sure when you order a basket you will be able to pick it up. There are no refunds for baskets not picked up. I always remember that I can't do anything on Saturdays during my pickup time. I block that out in my planner as "Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning Time"


Cost and Amount of Produce

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When you are first starting out there is an additional $3 charge. It is a one time fee. The money goes into a pool that is used to buy baskets for the volunteers to sort the produce into. You don’t bring those baskets home with you, they are left at the site to be used every week. You will need to bring a container for carrying your produce home. I keep some reusable grocery bags in my car at all times, so I won't forget my bags on the day of my pickup.

One basket is $15. You can purchase up to 3 baskets per week. I usually purchase 1-2 baskets per week. One basket offers a lot of produce. You can see in the pictures above just how much produce we got from one basket. The only reason I purchase another one sometimes is because we now eat a mostly plant based diet (I will totally blog about this at another time). Because we are eating less meat and such, we use veggies and fruit for the base of every meal. We also snack on fruits and veggies throughout the day and we make smoothies....A lot of them.

I love having all the fresh produce in my home because we eat better. I hate things to go to waste, so we make sure that we eat all our fruits and veggies everyday. It also has been great for my kids. Because I stopped buying so many "snack" items, they will grab a handful of grapes or a bowl full of cherry tomatoes instead. We are all eating better because of it.
Budgeting for Bountiful Baskets

When doing Bountiful Baskets, you have to make sure you budget. I go shopping once a month for my staples, but I only spend about half of my monthly grocery budget. I leave the other half in my account to cover my fruits and veggie baskets I will be ordering during the month. Because I keep my staples stocked up, I am able to plan meals during the month based on what I receive in my baskets.

Add Ons
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I love add ons. These are things that you can "add on" to your basket order. I use add ons for extra snacking and for smoothies during the week. My Sisinlaw and I also learned how to can. I have gotten cases of tomatoes and made my own salsa and stewed tomatoes. I have done pineapples and canned pineapples. I also make my own apple pie filling now, when cases of apples go one sale. Canning the extra produce I purchase is a great way to be more self reliant and healthier.

I also love to create purees out of the fruits and veggies I get. I love Jessica's Seinfeld and are Deceptively Delicious cookbooks. I use to have picky eaters, but after neaking purees into there meals since toddlerhood, I now have little kids that will try pretty much anything. I love putting purres into our sauces and soups. I also add them into our baked goods and smoothies. The more fruits and veggies I get into that family of mine the better:)

We are slowly trying to get away from processed foods in the super markets. The more stuff you make your self, the better. You save more money that way!

Meal Planning with Bountiful Baskets
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Where meal planning is concerned, I just try to be more creative. Now when I make my spaghetti sauce (you can find it in menu plan #2 and here) I add fresh mushrooms (sliced) and squash (I puree it first). When we have sloppy joes, I add fresh tomatoes to my sloppy joe mix. I try to get as creative as I can when making our meals. My kids loving trying to guess what different items are in our meals. It has become a little game.

I love using Bountiful Baskets. It has changed the way my family eats. I am thankful for you sweet readers who told me about them. They are just as awesome as you said. So don't forget that eating healthy doesn't have to break the bank. You can eat healthy and live within a budget. We do it and you can too!

 You can read on the Bountiful Baskets website 
how the whole system works here


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45 comments:

  1. I was sooo excited to try this and when I went to see if they had one in VA they do not :( I know there is something similar, so now I will just have to look harder! Thanks for sharing this with us all though! - Susan

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  3. I love the idea of that! I just searched their website and found out it doesn't exist in my state. Sad day. :( That looks so amazing and healthy, though!

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    1. For your area look on this site Fareshare CSA Coalition www.csacoalition.org . i am in Wisconsin they deliver here and if they do not by you call them and ask who does ,

      Charlene

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  4. Thank you for blogging about this! They have one in my area, yay! I just ordered my first basket and I can't wait until Saturday!

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  5. We've done BB quite a few times and love all the fresh produce! I really need to budget and set up my meal planning according to what we get in the baskets better though. My one complaint about BB is that our truck has been late several times, which is really frustrating when you plan your day around picking up your basket.

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  6. Here in Canada we have a similar program called the Good Food Box. But alas where I live we can only order them twice a month but every little bit helps.

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    1. I have a friend that can only order every other week. She has found that the product is so fresh that it will stay fresh for 2 weeks so she orders 2 baskest! I order 2 if I can't make the pick up the next week. I also have friends that take turns picking up the baskets so that they don' t have to go every week.

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  7. Danielle, I learned about Bountiful Baskets from your blog a few months ago. My hubby and I have been getting them ever since! We love them! Thank you so much for sharing all your priceless knowledge!

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  8. This is really great! I just had a similar thaughts and wanted to ask a couple of questions about it. So here at the University of Cologne, Germany, we have something similar, it is called Vegetable basket (Gemüße Kiste) and the goal is to promote healthy lifestyle at students. I was wondering if you know in advance what will be in the basket, since here I don't know? Therefore, I am a bit worriend that I can't menu plan and get other groceries if I don't know what's in the basket.
    It is great that you have decided to live healthier, you can really see the change on your grocery pictures, compared to those of last year! Good luck!

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    1. I've been using BB for almost a year now. No, you do not know in advance what you will be getting. I only pick up a basket every other week (it's more than enough for our family). I come home, make a list of all my produce, and then make a plan for two weeks before going to the grocery store. It works for us.

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  9. We have bountiful baskets in my city, too. And the pick-up site is even the campus I work at. That's how I learned of the program, there were flyers sitting out in our wellness center. Sadly, they only operate during our summer growing season and I learned of them late last summer but I'm excited to try it out this spring! I've also seen that you can choose the organic basket option for I think $10 more. A great deal! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Love bountiful baskets. Great produce for the price. Have you volunteered yet? Its fun and you get one large fruit or vegetable or two small.

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  11. We don't have one in California but googled produce co op and we have something similar!!! Thanks so much' def gonna try this when we move :)

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    1. What is it that you have found? I'm in CA as well and can't find anything similar

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  12. I wish we had a BB nearby. On another note, the picture of you cooking is one of the best pictures I have seen of you! Good for you getting in front of the camera more!
    Heather, SC

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  13. I havent heard of this before but thank you for this post, I am reading through their website right now and I think I want to try it out! Thanks again for posting this!

    Evon
    Evon Von

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  14. I wish there were one of these in my area. The closest one is 6.5 hours away. I contacted them about starting one, but I am not sure yet if I am op to that kind of commitment. I wish I could just try it out first.

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    1. I am the coordinator for my site. It is quite a commitment, but you can make it easier if you get 3 friends who will each take one week a month. That way, your commitment is much less. If you are interested in starting a site, you are going to have travel to the nearest location, as they are VERY tight-lipped about giving out coordinators' information. You will be able to talk with the coordinator of the site and establish a "mentoring" relationship. I know this seems difficult, but that's the only way you can get one going in your area. I also had to make a long trip to get the ball rolling, but it was definitely worth it!

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    2. If you want to start a site, you will have to travel to the nearest site to speak directly with a coordinator. You can establish a mentoring relationship with them, or possibly with the state/area coordinator. But your first step is to visit a site, as you cannot get the names/phone numbers of these individuals any other way. I, too, had to make a lengthy trip to do this, but it's so worth it! One way to "share" the commitment, is to find 3 friends who are each willing to commit to one week a month. This way it's not too overwhelming for anyone. Our site has been running for nearly 3 years and it's been a great experience....plus you have an opportunity to meet others in your community that you might not otherwise have a change to mingle with. It's like Christmas every Saturday!

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  15. I will have to see if they have something like this in Canada. It sounds great!!!!!

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  16. I just found your blog and am loving it. I started BB in my small community in CO last year and loved it. I write a blog that compares prices and also posts recipes on how to use some of the produce. I haven't updated it in a while, but here it is if you want to see it.

    http://bringonthebaskets.blogspot.com/

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  17. I just found your blog and am loving it. I started BB in my small community in CO last year and it is amazing. I also write a blog with price comparisons and recipes to use some of the produce. I haven't updated it in a little while, but you can see it here.

    http://bringonthebaskets.blogspot.com/

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  18. I just found your blog and I LOVE IT!!! I recently went from being a full-time elementary school teacher to a part-time gym childcare worker, so I have been looking for ways to save money :) I'm also trying to lose weight so my husband and I can healthily (if that's even a word) start a family. I can't wait to try Bountiful Baskets :) Do they let you know what produce you'll be getting or is it a surprise when you pick up the basket?

    Thanks for all the great tips!
    Faith

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    1. With add ons you know what you are getting, but with your basket you are getting whatever is in season. It is always a great variety:>

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  19. Do you have to order every week or only when you want to? =)

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  20. What a fantastic idea! I'm so glad I found your blog, I have never heard of BB and there is one less than a mile from my house!! Do you have order every week or only when you need to?

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    1. It is awesome since you only order when you want to, just it has to be on Mondays within their ordering time frame. You can order every week or skip a week. It is great:>

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  21. I am a BB user too. It has so improved our eating habits. It amazes me that more people don't take advantage of the participating.

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  22. I love bountiful baskets! I have been getting baskets for over a year and volunteer regularly at my site - it is amazing!

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  23. I live in Connecticut and I would love to do something like this, but it seems like there is nothing available! I will keep an eye out. If you know of anything like this on the East Coast please feel free to share!

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  24. I am so glad to hear that this is working well in your area. I live in rural Montana and tried the program twice and both times had to throw out at least half of the items because they were rotten when they reached us. I am sure that it is just because of where we are located. I love the idea and am delighted to hear that it is working and that you are spreading the word.

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  25. Yes, agreeing with Anonymous! If anyone knows of any location on the East Coast, please post! Currently in central New Jersey near Rutgers, but soon relocating to Hilton Head Island, SC, so please post any info on the two!

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  26. PS, Danielle, found your blog via this article! LOVE IT! Can't stop reading!

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/how-a-family-of-four-manages-to-live-well-on-just--14-000-per-year-174803218.html

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  27. I live in an appartment with no balcony and I use a community garden all summer for my veggies. With $20 worth of seeds, I grow our own veggies. It keeps my active and healthy, we get to plant what we like, 5 minutes walk to get to the garden and they provide all the tools. And talking about freshness, pretty hard to beat ! ;) My 9'x18' lot grows way to much for both of us so I either freeze the extra or bring baskets of fresh veggies when visiting friends and family. It takes 15 minutes for care every other day and it's all bio.
    I'd love to use BB in winter, but none are available in my area, saddly :(

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  28. I am so excited about finding this! I have a family of five with two teenagers and a 10 year old. ive been looking for a doable way to save money on groceries. my youngest is our type 2 diabetes. any help I can get on cooking healthier is very welcome and appreciated!!

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  29. I am so excited about finding this! I have a family of five with two teenagers and a 10 year old. ive been looking for a doable way to save money on groceries. my youngest is our type 2 diabetes. any help I can get on cooking healthier is very welcome and appreciated!!

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  30. I am so excited about finding this! I have a family of five with two teenagers and a 10 year old. ive been looking for a doable way to save money on groceries. my youngest is our type 2 diabetes. any help I can get on cooking healthier is very welcome and appreciated!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I am so excited about finding this! I have a family of five with two teenagers and a 10 year old. ive been looking for a doable way to save money on groceries. my youngest is our type 2 diabetes. any help I can get on cooking healthier is very welcome and appreciated!!

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  32. I totally understand why Bountiful Baskets is so popular. Life is just getting so expensive and as the mother of 3 teens, I promise I know about food costs firsthand! Those teenagers can consumer large quantities of food!!!! I do really struggle with the Baskets, though, because it takes money out of the hands of our local farmers. We live in Montana and perhaps I could justify buying from Bountiful Baskets during the winter when our farmer's fields lie dormant and snow covered. However, during the summer and fall, when the local produce is abundant and wonderful, please please please support your local farmers. Small, organic, sustainable farms are crucial and so very important to the health and well-being of our families and our planet.

    I'll stop now...just my little Bountiful Baskets soapbox. :)

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  33. I am so glad you shared this. I found your blog post through the Bountiful Baskets facebook page. I am looking into it and would and it SOUNDS great, but what amount do you really get and what does it look like,etc. So this really answered my questions and helped me to see how it can work for a family. We have a tight budget and I usually buy the staples, and shop the sales each week for produce - and yet find that we really need more fresh foods in our diet, but we are unable to do that because of the cost. This seems more possible for us.

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  34. The only one in Louisiana is too far for us to take part. That's a bummer, because it sounds like a great program!

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  35. OH so majorly bummed! I was ready to sign up and get in on this, and Maine is no included :/

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  36. There's nothing wrong with the business model they choose, but Bountiful Baskets doesn't meet the International Cooperative Alliance's definition of a Cooperative Enterprise. Be skeptical and wary by researching other sources, because sometimes what is printed on a website isn't able to be verified elsewhere. Do a search of Corporations in Arizona and click through to the scanned documents, you see an incorporation filing with 1,000,000 share outstanding for Bountiful Baskets, Inc. and only two Directors listed who are the shareholders. Co-ops are by definition owned by the users or workers of a company that provides good and/or services.

    With thousands of baskets across hundreds of sites , there are probably cents on each basket, not need to pay for the goods. Where does that go, can BB answer that question?

    Sources to verify Cooperative identity
    International Cooperative Alliance
    National Cooperative Business Association
    National Cooperative Grocers Association
    Food Co-op Initiative

    So as Ronald Reagan used to say, "Trust, but verify."

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