Participating in our local Bountiful Baskets has been great for trying new produce while also getting staples at a fraction of the cost.
For a few years now, we have been ordering produce from the company Bountiful Baskets. I first heard about it about a year after we moved to the Houston area in Texas. It’s been a great way to get delicious fruit and vegetables for a lower price.
Originally Published On: December 2, 2020
What Is Bountiful Baskets?
I could give you a synopsis, but they have a great explanation on their website:
Bountiful Baskets is a group of people who work together for mutual benefit. This is grassroots, all-volunteer, no contracts, and no catch. Since there are no employees at Bountiful Baskets, we as a group pay rock bottom prices on your food. This also means that Bountiful Baskets would not happen without volunteers. If you are interested in the Bountiful Baskets continuing, please volunteer occasionally. All it takes is a little time, energy, and a smile. Volunteer opportunities include helping prepare the baskets, breaking down boxes, assisting with the distribution, and packing up. To help out, simply arrive an hour early dressed and ready to work with water to drink.
Sally Stevens and Tanya Jolly started Bountiful Baskets in May of 2006. It was a winning combination from the beginning. Tanya and Sally both had experience organizing bulk produce purchases in their neighborhoods that were not web-based. As word spread, it challenged them to think of a way to keep up as more families wanted to participate in order to save money on healthy food. Adding a little bit of e-commerce technology to the mix was just the trick. Since May of 2006, Bountiful Baskets has grown from 2 sites and an average of 120 families a cycle participating, to hundreds of sites in 16 states and countless participating families! In April of 2011 Bountiful Baskets started to offer 100% organic baskets every week.http://bountifulbaskets.org/
The Bountiful Baskets are available every other week. Which week you participate depends on your location.
What Do You Get?
We have thoroughly enjoyed the fruit and vegetables we get from our Bountiful Baskets. There’s always a great variety, and they try to have about 50/50 fruit and veggies.
Since we don’t know what we are going to get each time, I often wait to make my grocery list until after getting our basket that week. Then I can figure out ways to use the produce so it doesn’t go to waste.
But the funnest part is trying new things! We get a lot of your typical fruits and vegetables such as apples, bananas, pears, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. Some weeks, though, there are things we’ve never heard of. And it makes me really think outside the box.
Once, we received a prickly pear. I didn’t even know what it was and asked one of the volunteers. We ended up making Prickly Pear Bars from it that were delicious!
In addition to the basket, you can pay for some of the add-ons. You have to get a basket to get the add-ons. Sometimes these are packs, other times they are all one fruit or vegetable. We’ve done some of the packs such as a Mexican pack that had a lot of limes, avocados, peppers, and similar produce.
You can also get a large quantity of a particular thing. For example, last week you could add on 36 pounds of gala apples! We’ve done some of the single-item add-ons, but only when we were splitting with my in-laws or friends. It’s too much for our little family.
How Can I Participate?
The first thing you need to do is check that there is a site near you. Right now, they are in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. You’ll have to check if they have a location close to you. Luckily for us, there’s a pickup at one of the elementary schools in our neighborhood.
Figure out if your location is an A week or a B week. If it’s your first time, they ask for an extra $3 to help cover the cost of the basket used at the site. Pick your basket (traditional or organic). Then look through any of the add-ons and choose what you’d like. Pay for it, and set your reminder to pick up the basket at your location’s pickup time.
NOTE: If you don’t pick up within 20 minutes, your basket will be donated to a local firehouse or similar place. Don’t forget to get it!
Another way to really participate with the Bountiful Baskets is to volunteer at your pickup location. Volunteers are asked to be there an hour early. I’ve done this quite a few times in the past. The truck will arrive and you help unload everything from the truck. Then it gets sorted into baskets for people to pick up. Often, there is a bit of extra and those who volunteer can choose a thing or two from the extras. So you get the benefit of extra produce while also being able to help run things. At the end, once all of the baskets have been claimed/picked up, the baskets need to be wiped down and stored for the next time.
Picking Up Your Bountiful Baskets
The last thing you need to do it pickup your basket. A few things to keep in mind:
- DON’T BE LATE
- Bring your own container to transport the produce home. You don’t get to take the basket they sort it in. I have a great collapsible caddy on wheels that I bring.
- Have your confirmation number with you. It’s easiest to keep the email you get after paying to show that information.
- Make sure you get everything that you paid for. Don’t forget your add-ons since they are often in a box next to your basket.
- Wash your delicious produce when you get home and make sure to store it properly.