If you’ve been wondering what Bountiful Baskets is all about? Lori’s got the scoop for you! Check it out…
The most common complaint that I repeatedly hear from people who either don’t use coupons or are new to the coupon scene is that it’s impossible to stick to a tight food budget and still eat healthfully because coupons are all for processed/packaged foods. That’s a fair enough complaint, especially if your opinion is based on a crazy episode of Extreme Couponing in which a shopper loaded several shopping carts with sugary sports drinks and candy bars. However, today I’d like to show you that it’s simply not true. You can eat well for less and not clip a single coupon!
In early February of this year, my husband and I collectively agreed that through laziness and horrible choices we were on the fast track to becoming alarming statistics in the lifestyle disease crisis that is plaguing America. With some major dietary and lifestyle changes, along with my discovery of a nifty little food co-op called Bountiful Baskets we have dropped a combined 123 pounds to-date. Yes, you read that correctly…123 pounds!
So, what exactly is Bountiful Baskets? It’s a grass roots, all volunteer, no contract, no catch, food co-operative that harnesses the power of group buying to purchase high quality produce at wholesale prices. The cost per person is just $15 per basket (plus $1.50 processing fee and a one-time, first time basket charge of $3), which is a smoking hot deal considering each basket contains roughly $50 worth of quality produce.
To participate, visit the Bountiful Baskets website to locate a site near you and follow the New Participant Instructions. Local readers can find sites from Auburn to Yelm with many points in-between and more opening up practically each week. Purchasing (otherwise known as “contributing”) begins at noon on Monday and runs through Tuesday evening or until all of the baskets for a particular site run out. Some sites sell out as quickly as in 2 hours, so the earlier you order yours the better!
This week my husband and I went to the Belfair site early to volunteer, so that I could learn a bit more and see firsthand how the process goes on pickup day. We had the pleasure of speaking with Kitsap County’s Bountiful Baskets Coordinator, Nicole, who is also a faithful reader of this site. Here she is distributing crispy, fresh green beans among the participant baskets:
At the Belfair site, a Charlie’s Produce truck arrives just before 7:00 am to deliver the produce and volunteers begin diligently distributing the cases of fruits and veggies among all of the baskets. At our site, each participant gets a fruit basket and a veggie basket, but other sites might vary in the way that their layout looks. Extra packages of items are broken up among the baskets, so Nicole went about adding additional green beans to baskets while I broke up 5 pound bags of potatoes and another volunteer divided up bagged onions among the baskets.
One perk that I’d like to point out is that by volunteering at your site, you’ll be offered an additional fruit or produce item for your work. Since Scott & I were both helping, we were able to bring home an additional head of leaf lettuce, as well as 5 roma tomatoes. You gotta love a system that pays in smiles and free produce!
For cost comparison purposes, we stopped at our nearest grocery store, priced the contents of our basket and found that our basket would’ve cost us an estimated $26.41. Today, Bountiful Baskets saved us $11.41, which is a nice 43% savings over these retail prices (as always, prices vary by area):
Pineapple $2.50 each
Granny Smith Apples $0.99/lb
Green Leaf Lettuce $1.29 each
Roma Tomatoes $0.49/lb
Navel Oranges $0.99/lb
Anjou Pears $0.99/lb
Yellow Onions $0.33/lb
Russet Potatoes, 5 lb bag $1.89
Green Beans $0.99/lb
If your weekly produce needs are very specific, Bountiful Baskets might not be the program for you. There is no way to tell ahead of time what your basket might include, but our family has found the suspense of what might be in our basket to be quite fun. It’s definitely helped us branch out and try new things that we would have never dared to eat and that I love! The biggest of which is kale, which we always thought was just used for dressing up plated food in restaurants, but we now love in salads, stir frys, and simply baked as a healthy alternative to potato chips.
I hope you’ll give Bountiful Baskets a try!
Disclosure, from Lori: I do not, in any way, receive compensation from Bountiful Baskets for sharing our opinion of this wonderful food co-op. I simply love it and the amazing benefits it’s given my family’s health and weight loss efforts, and want to pass the savings opportunity on to our friends and family.