Saturday, April 26, 2014
Second Bountiful Basket Assessment
So, I tried the conventional basket on April 19 from Bountiful Baskets.
Below is the breakdown and my evaluation.
Here's how the cost breaks down:
Basic Basket: 15$
Fuel Surcharge: 4$
Here's what I got for that 19$. I haven't been to a store to compare prices. I know half of the selections aren't available at my local store and I just haven't needed a grocery store so haven't been to one. We'll just work with the average cost for now and the latest grocery store flyer.
Scotch Kale 1lb 2oz
7 Large Bananas (VERY green) 3lb 1oz
1 Small Seedless Watermelon 3lb 5oz
3 Roma Tomatoes 12oz
3 d'Anjou Pears 1lb 6oz
6 Seckel Pears (tiny) 1lb 4oz
3 Ambrosia Apples 1lb 8oz
2 cucumbers 1lb 12oz
Rainbow Carrots, no tops 1lb 13oz
2 Lemons, large 1lb 2 oz
1 Spaghetti Squash 4lb 5oz
4 Ears Sweet Corn 3lb 1oz
Total weight: 24lb 7oz
My cost per pound: $ 0.78
That's an excellent average cost especially given the treats like early season sweet corn, excellent apples, and rainbow carrots.
The quality of the corn, apples, carrots and lemons has been excellent. The kale is also very very good, and it is storing well in a plastic bag in the fridge. I ate the sweet corn immediately. It doesn't store that well, and it's delicious fresh so that went first. The apples went pretty quickly since they were at their peak upon arrival. The cucumbers were put in some refrigerator pickle-juice (left over from a previous batch of refrigerator pickles) and I still have a pint jar waiting to be eaten. 1 lemon went into my first attempt at a lemon meringue pie (the result was a visual and textural disaster, but delicious).
Of course I ate the watermelon pretty quickly as well. I diced it up right away and was happy that the skin was so thin, since that means more of the poundage is actual immediate food. I ate some and put the rest in jars for breakfasts and lunches.
I haven't eaten the tomatoes yet. They will go into a mixed veg sauce thing over the spaghetti squash today. So, I also haven't tried the squash. The pears I have eaten, the d'Anjou and half of the seckels, have been disappointing. Virtually flavorless. I sliced a seckel up and cooked it in a bit of butter as the base of a pancake for breakfast and that was better, but anything fried in butter is better.
The bananas are just now getting ripe. That is nice to continue to have something fresh a week after getting it in the house. They will be going into bread or perhaps some into dried banana chips since I loathe bananas in their original form. I'll try to get them all processed or in the freezer today.
I still have one bunch of kale to eat. Some of that will go in the mix over the squash.
So, overall, based on the sale flyers from the local small town grocery store here in Plummer, I think I could have matched or done better per pound if I bought the lower cost vegies in the store, but NOT if I matched item for item from the basket. I did truly enjoy the excellent sweet corn and apples. The pears have been a disappointment. The lemons would have been costly so I would not have gotten any.
Was it frugal? I think so. If I stuck with this I would be getting enough fruit and veg for 2 weeks at a time, with only one trip to get them. No multiple trips to the store with the tendency to impulse buy. And the treats of items I would not have bought are appreciated and enjoyed.
Was it the most frugal? No. Ripe bananas at the local market end up in the "overripe" basket for $ 0.25/lb and are just fine for bread/muffins which is all I do with them. I can get cabbage for $ 0.49/lb right now and several fruit items for under $1/lb. If I based the diet on potatoes ($ 0.20/lb), cabbage, ripe bananas and the other low cost fruit and veg, I could come in at a lower price, but I would not have the variety and deliciousness, yet I'd still be healthy.
And, it wasn't organic. I normally wouldn't buy some of these items unless they were organic. I follow the "Clean 15" and "Dirty Dozen" guides from the __________________. The item in this basket on the most current "Clean 15" list, and hence I would buy if the price was right: Sweet Corn. The "Dirty Dozen" list includes Apples, Cucumber, and Kale. The other items are on neither list...you're on your own with those choices.
None of the fruit or veg in the basket was labeled "organic." A few had those 4-digit codes that began with the number "4" and I've heard that that could mean they are organic, but wouldn't the sticker say "organic" if it was? I'll try to look into that. If it turns out some items were organic, that would increase the value of the basket to me.
Compared to the organic basket: I paid $10 less (ignoring the first time basket fee which will never be charged again), and got 7lb 15oz more food. That's a lot of food. Most of it very good quality (just those pesky disappointing pears marring the impression).
With both baskets I've found that my food waste approaches zero. This adds to the frugality and general value of the baskets. When I'm buying at the store, I tend to end up with some going bad. The variety of items in type, and "treat" value, and ripeness tends to naturally spread consumption out and I have had the whole basket at once, come home and sorted and packaged for storage or processed/ate immediately so I had a picture and inventory of the lot in my head from the start. Each time I think about what to make for the day, I am automatically working in what I have on hand and what I can do with it. This is parallel to the system that I've been using with my monthly boxes of canned goods and in fact I've been working the canned goods into the bountiful basket system too. I've rehydrated tomatoes to have with the kale and other vegies in a lentil soup. I've kept the canned applesauce back until I ran out of fresh fruit from the previous basket, and now will work in some dried apples as I run out of fresh apples/pears from this basket. The dried onion is going in to today's veggie mix over the squash.
That element is very frugal and probably generally healthy. It makes me think I may get one basket a month, perhaps organic or try a few more of each over the coming year. I may also try some of the add-on options that look thrifty or perhaps I could split them with people. For example on the 19th, there was an "Easter" add-on that had cookies, veggies for naturally dying eggs, and some other fancy items. I would not need that. BUT the box of mangoes for under $1/lb was very tempting. The issue was that I can't personally get through 15 or 20lbs of mangoes before they go off. I have a freezer right now so I could have stored them, but I don't need them. If I had 4 people to split it with, then maybe. The half gallon of coconut oil was a great deal. I just didn't need any right now. There are always bread options, but I don't eat enough and would rather make my own or buy from a local baker for the little I do eat. For a family that ate a great deal of bread, it might be a deal. There are often additional baskets like a Mexican option or Italian style option that come with a variety of veggies for making foods from those regions. To get an add-on, or a bread, you have to get a basic conventional or organic basket....by then I've got enough veggies. Again, if I could split the haul with someone it would be fine, but just for me, not so much.
I guess the conclusion of the moment is that I will maintain my membership and order as I need and care to. I think it is "worth it" to me even if it isn't the most frugal option for every item.