How to Save BIG Money on Fresh Produce

How to get FRESH PRODUCE on a budget

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This haul even surprised me this week!  I could not believe the amount of fresh produce I received for as little money as I paid.  It was $69 and some change for everything you see on that table.

That is some good eatin’ y’all!

How did I do it?

I participate in something called Bountiful Baskets in my county.  On a Monday or Tuesday of the contriubuting week I purchase 1-2 fresh produce baskets and a few of their bonus packs.  That Saturday I arrive at the pick up location and take my order home.  Ordering days and pick up times vary by location.  Pretty simple, huh?

This is not just a local co-op thing.  BountifulBaskets.org is a growing food co-op that is catching fire across the nation.  Many co-ops cost a good chunk of money up front to participate in, but not Bountiful Baskets.  You can get by each week for as low as $15! 

What if you participate once and do not want to do it again, or you need to take a few weeks off?  No worries! You only pay for the week you participate.

Can you participate?

Here are the states where Bountiful Baskets co-ops can be found.  CLICK HERE to search for your county.

  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Is your state participating?  Set up your FREE account HERE.

Tell me about the food!

You will not know exactly what will come in your basket at pick-up.  That is part of keeping the cost low for participants.  I have been participating for three years now in the Bountiful Basket co-ops and the fresh produce that I have received has always been high quality and seasonal.  They do try to use local produce whenever it is available, but then regional produce if local is not.

My favorite part of ordering each week is actually the add-on items they have.  Everyone must contribute for at least one conventional basket.  You can choose organic if you like for an extra small fee.  I have personally not had great luck with the organic.  It just didn’t last as long.  The conventional baskets are great though with a nice selection of fresh produce.  When I contribute one basket it tends to last my family of 7 two weeks.

With the add-on packs you get a small idea usually of what might come in them. At our co-op there is a number of them that come up from time to time, such as a Mexican pack, an Italian pack, Veggie Lovers pack, or even a Juicing pack.  All of these hold extra goodies that go with the theme, so in the Mexican pack you will receive avocado, cilantro, jalapenos and the like.

Other extras for purchase include items like various bread selections, coconut oil, or even honey.

I personally think that it is really fun not knowing exactly what is going to show up in my Bountiful Basket.  It is like Christmas!  It might be all the normal produce one week like cucumbers and carrots and then the next week you get parsnips and bok choy!  It really stretches your imagination in the kitchen and gets you a little addicted to Pinterest recipes!

How does it work?

When you contribute the money to the co-op through the purchase of a “basket” goes to the overall pool of money used by the owners to purchase the products for that county’s location.

This operation is totally run by volunteers.  If you would like to bring Bountiful Baskets to your county, see how this is possible HERE.

Once you contribute you cannot change your order, and it is non-refundable.

If you do not pick up your contribution at the pick-up site in the prescribed time for your location then you forfeit your basket and your money.  Just a little note here … I have friends who have forgotten pick up times, or there has been an emergency, I do think the volunteer workers on site do try to contact those who do not show and try to work out something with them to get their basket to them, however, this cannot be expected of the volunteers.

If you know that you cannot pick up your basket, try to find a friend who can pick it up for you.  All you are required to have for pick up is your receipt with your order receipt and contribution number.

Do you want to get started?

I will admit the first time I ordered with Bountiful Baskets I was nervous, but it really is easy once you get going with it.

They do have a guide to how to use the site HERE.  I am a picture person though, so I thought I would give you a little image tutorial to guide you through the process.

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Step 1: When you first arrive check the “Locations” tab on the menu bar to see if your county or a surrounding county is a participant in the Bountiful Baskets program.  If your county is participating you will also find their schedule for ordering, pick up location, and times for pick up.

Step 2: It is important to read the policies and terms of service pages.  Become familiar with these.  Set up your FREE account HERE.

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Step 3: Once you are logged in to your account go to the “Participate Now” tab.  On the weeks your county is participating you can contribute from them on this page.  Scroll down and find your state and click on “Get my Basket.”

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Step 4: Choose your county and choose your site. Some counties have multiple pick up locations. Choose the one closest to you.

Step 5: Its contribution time!  If you are a first time participant or if you are picking up at a new location for the first time you need to pay the $3 first time basket fee.  You must contribute (or order) at least one conventional basket to participate.  Choose however many you want of the rest of the add-on items. Limits on items will be notated.

Step 6: Review your contribution before submitting and read any extra verbiage on the page pertaining to the ordering process.

BB4Step 7: Once your contribution is submitted it gives you the change to review your order again. Once it goes through it is non-refundable!

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Step 8: Enter in your payment information and read the agreement at the bottom and check all the boxes before submitting your order.

Step 9: Make sure to print your order confirmation!  You should also receive one in your inbox but it is better to be safe than sorry by printing it here as well.

How do I pick up my order?

There are only a couple of things that you will need to pick up your contribution.

  • Bring a laundry basket or a large tote to carry your produce back to your vehicle. I have a large igloo insulated rolling cooler that I bring.
  • You will need your receipt of purchase with your order number handy.  You can either print this out or if you have a mobile phone with an email app you can bring your receipt up from your email and let them see your order number there.

There is only a short window for pick up.  Usually 20-30 minutes.  Be there on time for pick up or come early and volunteer every once and a while to show your appreciation to those that run the site.  Detailed information for pick up times and volunteer times will be on your receipt and/ or in your location information on the website.

When you arrive one of the volunteers will ask for your order number and receipt.  You will show this to them and they will direct you as to what to do.

It is a pretty simple process and there is so much food to enjoy when you get home!

As I said I have been doing Bountiful Baskets for a number of years now and have never been let down.  I will continue to do it because it is a very frugal option with a lot of benefit.

If you would like to participate or if you have participated I would love to hear your experience with it!  Comment below and let me know how it is going for you!
If you would like to bring it to your area you can see how this is possible HERE.

How I Plan to Feed My Family of 7 on $400 a Month

Lindsey S

Lindsey is a stay at home, work from home mom to six children eight years and younger. She homeschools and enjoys large family living. When Lindsey is not changing diapers, cleaning, and cooking meals in her awesome Instant Pot, she is DIY-ing her way around the house. Where she loves learning new skills, her heart is in sharing with other women the message of the Gospel and showing them how to instill those truths in the hearts of their children.

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21 thoughts on “How to Save BIG Money on Fresh Produce”

  1. What a neat program! (One small correction: there are no pickup spots in Indiana – I wish there were! I think you meant Idaho.)

    • Get a group interested so there are enough orders to go to one location. Many locations for pickup are at a church. One of the locations in my county is also the location for the food bank for this particular school district. Having volunteers who are always changing so no one gets burnt out is important. When one location gets to large, they try to find a second location to split up the group.

    • Kristy–you might contact the coop leaders and let them know which area you’re in and if you’re willing to start a site, they can try to move things your direction in time! It does take some time, so let them know if you are able to commit to a couple hours per week on the week’s your site would run. I’ve been running one for two years and absolutely love it! It’s not hard and it’s fun to meet so many different people.

    • Honestly, I scour Pinterest for all of the recipes and storage solutions. There are so many better women in the kitchen than I that can give you the proper information for canning, freezer storage, and the like.

  2. Thanks for posting this. When participating with BB there is no ordering as they are not a business. As a not for profit organization, participants contribute for items. Funds are then pooled and items procured and distributed accordingly.

  3. I tried Bountiful Baskets. At first it was fine. Then we started getting the weirdest foods. My family is pretty traditional when it comes to food. The new fad foods will not be eaten here. So when we got kale and kohlrabi, turnips and beets, and some kind of melon that no one would touch, we found we were giving away more food than we were eating. I wish there was a “traditional” basket and a “expanded” basket. The best basket I ever got, I had ordered a back-to-school basket. It included apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, carrots, and other traditional foods. That is more like my family’s tastes. But I had to buy that extra and still get the original basket that contained foods we weren’t going to eat. Just be forewarned. If you are into a large variety of what I like to call “fad” foods, then this is for you.

  4. I never miss a chance to get my bountiful basket. Even if I get something I’ve never used before I find a new recipe and give it a try. I highly recommend you participate in this if you don’t already. It is amazing!

  5. Great information! A few things though: You contribute, not purchase, as this is a co-op. While you *do* have to contribute for a basket to get any add-ons, it *does not* have to be conventional, it can be either conventional or organic. Also, you only pay the $3 basket fee when it is your first time ordering a basket, not when you switch locations. 🙂

    • I did use the wrong language there, you are correct. I will fix that today. Thank you for correcting me in kindness. As for the $3 basket fee I was told that by a leader at a local co-op, so that is good to know that was bad information! Thank you!

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