Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bountiful Baskets Co-op 101

I have had several friends recently ask me about Bountiful Baskets. I always love sharing about my latest frugal finds, so I have been singing it's praises far and wide. So, when Sakrina at Saving Cents asked me to explain a little bit about it, I was thrilled!

Basically, Bountiful Baskets is a non for profit produce co-op based out of Arizona. They have contracted with small farms all over the Southwestern United States and Mexico to buy fresh produce directly. The co-op provides produce to sites in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, and because they buy their fruits and vegetables in very large quantities they have a buying power that allows them to purchase the produce at wholesale. This allows them to provide the service at such a reasonable price. A basket of 50% fruit and50% vegetables is $15.00 ($25.00 for an organic basket)!

On Monday or Tuesday (depending on which state you live in) at a specified time (which are available on their website) the offerings for the week are posted. Each week, in addition to the basic basket, they sometimes offer side items. Generally, 9 Grain bread is offered each week, but they have also offered granola, bulk quantities of carrots, strawberries, and peaches, snack bars, tortillas, Italian vegetables and herbs, and Mexican vegetables and herbs. Side items change weekly. If you log on to the site you can view the weeks offerings.

To purchase a basket you need to:
  • Go to Bountiful Basket's website and log on at your state's specified time.
  • Click on your state's icon located on the home page.
  • Select the location site where you want to pick up your basket.
  • Select how many baskets you wish to purchase (you can order up to three). Fair warning though, you will get a lot of produce in just one basket (to get an idea of what is included in an average basket click here)!
  • Select any sides you want to purchase.
  • When you have finished making your selections, go to checkout to pay and receive your confirmation number.
  • You must pay for your basket with a Visa or Mastercard (you will be charged a $1.50 handling fee each week when you purchase your basket).
  • Print off your receipt.
The first time you visit the site to purchase a basket, you will be required to create an account and password. You will also be required to pay a(one time) $3.00 fee to join the co-op at checkout. Only a certain number of baskets are available at each site. When all of the baskets at each site have been purchased that site will disappear from the list of locations. Baskets are picked up at the location you selected on Saturday at the time posted next to the location. Don't worry, you receive an email from the B.B. teams reminding of your location.

Important info. you need to know if you want to participate:
  • If you want a certain location log on and a purchase your basket as soon as it is your state's turn.
  • You need to bring the printed copy of your receipt with you to pick up your basket.
  • Bring your own "basket" to take your produce home. I recommend a large laundry basket, or several large reusable grocery bags. Something with handles works best.
  • Show up on time to pick up your basket.
  • If you can't pick it up yourself, send someone to get it for you. If you don't pick it up it is donated to charity (at your expense) and you are banned from participating forever.
  • Dress for the weather. Most locations are outside and you will have to wait in line for a few minutes.
  • Make sure to pick up all of your items. Side items are located at a second table.
Here is an idea of the price for items that have been offered since I started participating in B.B.:
  • Basic basket $15.00
  • Basic organic basket $25.00
  • 9 Grain Bread (5 loaves for $10.00)
  • 7 dozen tortillas (3 dozen large flour, 2 dozen small flour, 2 dozen small white corn) $10.00
  • Mexican pack $7.50
  • Italian pack $7.50
  • Tropical granola $10.00
  • 30 cranberry bars $10.00
  • A flat of strawberries $6.00
  • 24 pound box of peaches $12.50
  • Ciabatta bread (5 loaves) $10.00
I have to admit I was skeptical when I first heard about Bountiful Baskets, but after participating several times I was very impressed. All of the produce I have gotten has been very fresh. It has lasted much longer than the produce I have bought at the grocery store. The price can't be beat; if you bought the same amount of produce at the grocery store (even on sale) it would cost two or three times as much. You do not get to pick what is in each week's basket, but I have never been disappointed. There is usually one or two out of season items included (a.k.a. mini watermelon in February, and oranges and clementines in June). I have to say that it is kind of a kick in the pants to see what's in your basket each week and decide how to incorporate it into the weekly menu! I am hooked on the 9 grain bread and tortillas! Both are made without preservatives (which means they can be frozen and they will maintain there quality). I have been trying to incorporate healthier bread options at my house and these have allowed my to do so without breaking the bank.

If you live in Pocatello, Idaho there are currently four locations available:
  • Holt Arena parking lot
  • Westwood Mall parking lot
  • Wilk's Funeral Home parking lot
  • a private home in Chubbuck(sorry, I can't remember the address)
Bountiful Baskets is entirely voluntary! To keep costs down they rely on volunteers to run the sites each Saturday. People are needed to portion out baskets, break down boxes, run the check in tables, and direct participants. To volunteer show up at your site one hour before pick up time. If you have questions you can go to the website. There are links that answers questions, explains how to start a B.B. site in your area, and explains co-op policies.


  1. That is so cool...and very frugal!!

  2. I am going to check this out. You have received some great baskets and $15 is a smokin' deal!

  3. I love it!!!
    Thank you so much Tina!!
    What a beautiful thing...Bountiful Baskets!!

  4. You are getting quite the following lady! Can I say "I told you so yet"? Umm, nah, I'll wait till you hit 50 followers- it's coming up fast. You Johnson ladies are just a fountain of knowledge! I am sooo needing BB right now. I will have to make sure to get it next week. WM just doesn't cut it! Hope to see you soon!

  5. Oh, your blog is utterly adorable! I love it!

  6. I found your blog off of Saving Cents and must say each time I visit I am learning something! I love it! It's a great idea and love to incorporate your ideas into my life! Thank you so much for your time and ideas!

  7. Tina,
    I was in your ward for so long and never knew you had a blog like this! I love it!
    Just a few side notes of Bountiful Baskets! The $1.50 handling fee is to pay the truck drivers, they are the only ones that get paid. The $3.00 fee is to pay for the basket to be purchased to put your food in. Also, if you volunteer you get to choose one extra produce. Volunteering is fun and doesn't take long. One time I got an extra watermelon and another an extra cantelope!
    I will have to bookmark your blog and keep following it!
    Hope all is well with your family! Take care!

  8. I love Bountiful Baskets, too! I'm going to be opening another site here in Pocatello. I just need to find someone to be my backup and a site to do it at. One thing, though- I don't think you're banned from BB if your basket is donated.

  9. Hey Tina, this is Kristine from the Holt Arena site . . . no you are not banned if you have an abandoned basket. That would be too much to keep track of. But the charity we donate to will thank you for their free food!

    ps If you are participating in bountiful baskets you are expected to volunteer at least once every 10 weeks . . . otherwise there would not be enough help for a site to run. Please encourage everyone you know to just come help at least once every 3 months!!!!



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