Fruit and Vegetable Baskets: Save Money with a Local Food Co-Op

We all want what’s best for our families. Maintaining a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables is now more important than ever. If you don’t have the time, place, or green thumb to grow your own produce, however, it can become very expensive to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from the grocery store. Purchasing organic foods can add to the cost as well. How can we keep a fresh stock of fruits and vegetables without breaking the bank? Join a local food co-op and reap the benefits of food basket delivery!

Several months ago, I decided to give my local food co-op a try. I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m not exactly the best cook in the world, and I tend to be a picky eater. I had no idea what types of fruits and vegetables I would get. Determined to develop a healthier diet and save money, however, I signed up with Bountiful Baskets Food Co-Op. This organization operates in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Basically, the Food Co-Op purchases a mixture of fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk. They buy what’s in season and then put together baskets of produce for everyone in the co-op to purchase as a low cost. The basic basket price at Bountiful Baskets is $15. You can also purchase extra packages such as tortillas, breads, granola, or Italian and Mexican mixes. Organic baskets are available as well.

Every week there are different items in the basket! They base the basket contents on what is in season, high quality, good value, and local. Generally they have six fruit items and six vegetable items. You won’t know, however, what is exactly in your basket until you arrive at the pick-up location and see for yourself.

Finding the co-op and signing up on-line was easy. I registered on Tuesday and was scheduled to pick up my basket early on Saturday morning. I can’t tell you how excited I was about this! I was like a kid at Christmas. I couldn’t sleep on Friday night. I was so anxious to know what kinds of fruits and vegetables I was going to get. I had so many questions running through my mind. Is it worth is? Will I really save money? What will be in the basket?

When Saturday morning came, I was up at the crack of dawn and out the door. I was simply amazed at the amount of people at the food co-up pick-up sight. Young, old, male, female, adults, and kids were all scurrying around carrying boxes, bags, and baskets of food. It was as if a whole new world opened up to me. When it came my turn in line to pick up my food and transfer it into the bag I brought, I quickly realized that I didn’t bring a big enough bag. I couldn’t believe the amount of food that was mine to take home!

Since that first week at the co-op, I have purchased food baskets for my family several times. I’ve learned to order them about three weeks out of the month to keep our family stocked of fresh fruits and vegetables. Each week, I try something new. Sometimes, I’ll receive more than my family can eat, so I gladly share some items with friends or family members. It’s always fun and I always look forward to seeing what is in the basket each week.

In this week’s basket, I received:

  • 2 ½ lbs of plums
  • 2 lbs of nectarines
  • 2 lbs of bananas
  • 3 lbs of black grapes
  • 1 large canary melon
  • 1 lb of strawberries
  • 2 lbs of tomatoes
  • 2 ½ pounds of yams
  • 1 head of green leaf lettuce
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 3 green bell peppers
  • 2 heads of cabbage (6 lbs)

All together it was six items of fruit and six items of vegetables. All together I spent $16.50 (this includes a handling fee of $1.50.)

This is a lot of produce! But am I really saving money? Am I getting more than I could at the grocery store? If I were to purchase all of these fruits and vegetables from the store, how much would it cost? Eating healthy is important, but so is saving money!

I took this list of food items this week and checked them with the grocery stores where I usually do my shopping. I wanted to compare the prices and see if I was really getting a good deal. Here’s what I found:

Current local grocery prices

Amount
Item
Grocery Price
Total
2.5
lbs of plums
$1.79
$4.48
2
lbs of nectarines
$0.99
$1.98
2
lbs of bananas
$0.48
$0.96
3
lbs of black grapes
$1.99
$5.97
1
large yellow melon
$3.99
$3.99
1
lb of strawberries
$1.50
$1.50
2
lbs of tomatoes
$1.99
$3.98
2.5
lbs of yams
$1.49
$3.73
1
head of green leaf lettuce
$1.78
$1.78
1
stalk of celery
$0.88
$0.88
3
green bell peppers
$0.99
$2.97
6
lbs of cabbage (2 heads)
$0.59
$3.54
 
 
Total Cost:
$35.75

Wow! I saved $19.25! That’s a huge saving! I saved so much that I can feel good about feeding my family fresh foods. I can feel good about giving some of my extra produce away. Buying fruits and vegetables from a local food co-op is great way to eat a healthier diet and save some money on groceries!

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned the last several months:

  • If you don’t know what a food item is – ask. You can also do a Google search.
  • There are a lot of great recipes on-line. Use them to find new ways to prepare familiar foods as well as to find tips on what to do with new ones.
  • If you want your kids to snack on the fruits and veggies during the week, wash and cut everything the day you pick up your basket.
  • Freeze the bananas and use them later in fruit smoothies.
  • If you find that there is simply too much food for you and your family, why not split a basket and the cost with someone else?

I hope you found this Hub on fruit and vegetable co-ops useful. It’s a great way to develop better eating habits and save money. If you don’t live in a state that the Bountiful Basket Co-op serves, look for a different co-op in your area. There are several all over the states.

If you enjoyed this Hub, please be sure to vote it up! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in regards to food co-ops as well. Be sure to read my Hub on saving money at the grocery story with coupons too. Thanks for reading!

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Comments 5 comments

viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland

The Bountiful Baskets is a great idea from the co op and at $15 is certinly a bargain too. A very interesting and practical hub


LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba

I can't do without my fruit and veg, if I can get it cheaper even better..


glynnis 5 years ago

Wow, what a good idea to buy a bountiful basket of fruits and veggies. Certainly worth buying and saving for family.

We don't have this kind of service offered here in Malaysia. Hoping there will be made available soon here.

Thanks for sharing important and wonderful tips with us.


lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thanks for the comments on my hubs glynnis! I'm glad you enjoyed them and I love hearing from readers who live around the world. It reminds me how connected we are. Thanks again for the encouragement!


andrebreynolds profile image

andrebreynolds 5 years ago

A must-owned stuff at home!Wonderful hub.

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