As we all know, scoring consistent savings on produce, meat, and dairy products is ever a challenge. Last year I tried and somewhat failed to grow a productive and efficient garden. As you can probably guess from the picture, our proximity to the woods means that fighting the deer is a challenge. Finding the sun through the trees is also an issue. I’m not sure whether or not I will attempt to garden again. I’m on the fence. (Literally. Can I afford the fence that it would require to keep the sundry bunnies and deer away?) I came to the conclusion that it is almost cheaper to just buy from the local farmers who know what they are doing. However, since we are still a few months away from the opening of the local Farmer’s Market, I have had to buy my produce at the grocery store. Grrr.
Here’s a summary of my local options when the farmers market is not around. .
1. Harris Teeter–As much as I super double heart LOVE Harris Teeter, their produce is really not that great of a price most of the time. It is great quality and you can even get local or organic produce, but it isn’t cheap.
2. ALDI, which I also LOVE has great prices that consistently rock. My Coupon Teacher recently did an awesome breakdown comparing ALDI prices to grocery stores. You should check it out. The downside of ALDI is that, while the prices and offerings are quite consistent, they don’t always have the best quality. Sometimes the produce is VERY ripe. My other complaint is that A LOT of their products aren’t from the US. Even though I don’t really trouble myself to buy organic, I am a bit of a nerd about buying US. What can I say? I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy. I really was born on the fourth of July. However, ALDI does have a double your money back guarantee, so if you are ever unhappy with a product, take it back and they will replace it TWICE or give you twice your money. ALDI rocks! The only other slight problem is that ALDI is a bit further away.
3. Food Lion or Lowes Foods or Walmart–Okay, truthfully, I don’t go to any of these places. I know they are options, but they aren’t for me. I divorced Food Lion a long time ago. Lowes Foods seems grossly overpriced and WALMART is an abyss of sadness. Plus the latter two are not close by for me.
4. Your Neighborhood Produce–This is my new favorite option! This is a greater Charlotte area co-op that buys produce wholesale and distributes it for AWESOME prices. Two years ago, I tried this co-op out, but the locations weren’t convenient, so I gave it up. Recently, they’ve added a pick-up location practically in my back yard. It is $17.50 for a basket of 40-50 pieces of produce. There is also a smaller basket for $11.50 or a fruit only basket for $8.50. You can order online and pay by card or Paypal. While the pick-up times are only an hour long, it is an awesome bargain if you can work out the pick-up. SOON they are adding a LOCAL produce basket for $29. I am psyched!!
Today I picked up my basket and check out what I got: A bag lettuce mix (apparently the same is delivered to Olive Garden for their salads), a bunch of kale, 5 golden delicious apples, 2 oranges, 4 lemons, 9 potatoes, a head of broccoli, 4 jalapenos, 2 large onions, 2 bunches cilantro, 1 hass avocado, 5 bananas, and 3 tomatoes. Out of curiosity, I rang up these SAME items of produce on Harris Teeter’s online Express lane and it came to $38.00!! So I saved $20.50 on this produce.
It also makes me happy to get produce that I wouldn’t necessarily buy because it challenges my culinary arts. Hmmm . . .I think some Zuppa Toscana is comin’ up soon.
The pick-up dates are every two weeks, so you better believe I’m going to be ordering this basket every time. I might even order an extra fruit basket since there is no way this fruit will last us two weeks–or even two days. If you want more info, check out their website. ALSO, if you do ORDER, be awesome and mention my name in the comments section. If three people are referred by me, I get a free basket. Yippee Skippee.
If you don’t live around here but you know of a great co-op in your area, share it in comments. How do you save on produce?