Grocery Geek Presents: Abundant Harvest Organics

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This has been “batten down the hatches” week. My book manuscript is back in my hot little hands and I’ve got about a week and a few days to make corrections and mail it back. I didn’t know why I had put off the start of school until Sept 6, but apparently God did! The timing works out well — as long as we’re prepared.

So, preparation has been the name of the game this week. Last week I mentioned how we did a big Costco stock-up. I also cruised through Walmart getting a few household items this week so that we don’t run out next week when I need to be focused on other things. And since it had “almost been” two weeks since I went to Costco, I went again to make sure things were stocked.

Yes, I’ve exceeded the amount that I budget for groceries this month, but I’ve got the cash and am buying into next month. As one Facebook peep pointed out, I was under budget last month, so it all works out in the end. I’m quite at peace to take from our discretionary funds in order to make things easier on my family in the grocery department.

I bought a ton of stuff at Costco, including lots of meat and cheese so that I could get some meals in the freezer. All told it was about $200. Yes, really. BUT it “should” last a long time. I also bought some “convenient snack items.”

I know, talking out both sides of my mouth. I want homemade and healthy; I want cheap; but I also have to buy myself some time. I also know that I will do this imperfectly. So, I’m trying not to overthink things and hopefully, will strike a happy balance.

A new wrinkle in my grocery shopping was the arrival of our first box from Abundant Harvest Organics, an organic produce delivery service. A reader mentioned this company a couple weeks ago. I did some research and decided to give it a go. While the prices aren’t as cheap as conventional produce on sale, they certainly are competitive with conventional non-sale prices as well as organic sale prices.

Everything unpacked and sorted:

Here’s what we got this week: seasonal fruit (grapes and peaches), potatoes, chives, peppers, squash, corn, lettuce, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and basil. I paid about $48 for this amount of organic produce, shipped directly from the growers which are all located in Southern California.

I processed a lot of the items that could be frozen (corn, green beans, potatoes) right away so that I didn’t feel stressed to use it up. I’ll be reviewing this service more indepthly over on Good Cheap Eats next week, in case you’re interested.

So, this month I went about $250 over my budgeted $600. $850 to feed 8 people is not bad — and still dramatically lower than what the government allows for those on a “thrifty meal plan.” As an interesting aside, I looked up the USDA food costs averages for the year and nearly choked! Our family’s total came to over $1000 for a month. If I spent that, we could eat like kings — organic kings!

Makes me wonder a little about government spending, ahem. For now, I’ll try to keep my own spending in check.

How are YOU geeking out on groceries this week?

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  1. Wow, that government chart is amazing! My family (2 adults, 6 yr old, 3 yr old, 1 yr old, and baby) would get $650 on this plan – twice what we budget! And that’s for the thrifty plan! I imagine this is what food stamps amounts are based on, which scares me a bit.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I don’t know if that is what food stamps are based on. This is a report of “what food costs” nationwide. I would guess that it’s based on regular store prices, not sales and coupons. And we grocery geeks know that regular store prices do stink. 😉

      I imagine that depending on where you live, the numbers could be closer to actual? I’ve been consulting these reports since we lived in Kansas. Now we live in Southern California. We’ve always been under the thrifty plan.

  2. I went over my grocery budget this week as I’m freezing up meals and trying to “stock” up for the impending baby arrival. I think we shouldn’t have to shop for at least another three/four weeks, but it was hard to part with all of that money upfront. Recently have joined Costco and LOVE it. It really has been perfect for this stocking up.

  3. We are over budget as well this month. But sometimes we have to do what we have to do. Keeping our sanity is worth it.

  4. Let me note that the USDA plans make no allowances for the age of the people being fed. So, $650 for a family of six can extravagant for a family of four that includes several small children (and a careful, frugal meal planner), but is really tight for a family of six that includes four teenage boys–no matter who is doing the shopping.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Actually, what I linked to is a food cost report of the year’s averages foods costs, broken down by age and sex. So, according to the chart it costs more to feed my 14-year old son than it does my 3-year old daughter. It accounts for ages.

      That said, these aren’t “food plans” but cost reports. There may be other government numbers out there that I’m not aware of.

  5. Do you get the produce delivered or do you pick it up? On there website the closest pick up to me was 20 min away. I think that might be hard every week but the produce looked great.

  6. I meant their website not there 🙂

  7. I think $850 for 8 people is pretty darn good! If you break it down to 31 days in August and three meals a day, that is just over $1 per meal/ per person….WAY cheaper than take out! Add in snacks and desserts and it brings it down even lower per person.
    I am right on target for grocery budget so far but with school about to start, I think I will end up a bit over because I too, will need some convenient snack items for the kids.

  8. How do you prep corn to freeze? I have meals
    Coming right now for new baby so I don’t need my corn yet. But didn’t want to vacation my service because we eat the fruit and salad items for
    Breakfasts and lunch.

    If you have friends doing AHO you can trade pickups. That is what we do often. Picking up each others stuff.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      What I did, after consulting my Ball Book of Preserving: blanch the cobs for 6 minutes, plunge into cold water, cut the kernels off, package, chill, and freeze.

  9. I too think $850 for 8 people (including growing boys!) is fantastic! Good for you!

  10. We got different stuff this week. I have corn, big peaches, okra, eggplant, melon, tomatoes, Asian pears, spaghetti squash, chives, lettuce, potatoes. I know sometimes different areas get different items.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      LOL! I’m soooooooo glad I didn’t get the okra! WHAT in the world did you do with it? Your list looks a lot like next week’s list for here, minus the okra and spaghetti squash.

      • Use the okra for gumbo! YUM! Breaded and fried is my favorite but I’m not skilled enough to make it right. ha ha!!

      • They had a recipe for breaded and fried. I have meals still coming. Just prepping the corn to freeze was crazy for me because my husband put it in but didn’t tell me and left I was feeding the baby and heard it boiling went in to put in and wad already there. Thank goodness I caught it before overcooked. I have no idea what or when I’m gOnna do the okra….actually this is the first time we have gotten that. The spaghetti squash I love and so do the kids. Might cook that for a lunch. It is easy to do and is yum with butter.

  11. The “thrifty plan” for our family of two adults is $366. We usually spend $200-$250 a month depending on how many weeks there are. I do know that without shopping sales and coupons, even the $366 wouldn’t go that far. But with the way we currently shop, we could eat quite well and maybe a lot more. haha

    Your vegetables look great!

  12. We get a box from AHO every other week and love it! Our family of 4 wasn’t getting through all the produce in the box each week, so I set it to vacation every other week and it works perfectly for us. I buy those green reusable produce bags and they keep everything really fresh for a long time too.

  13. How do you “process” your potatoes? I really can’t wait for your cookbook. I’m very interested in the whole freezer cooking idea, but I’m a little bit of a sissy about getting started. I freeze lasagna but everything else makes me nervous.

  14. I’m always fascinated by these charts. I would assume it’s a nationwide average or mean so regions where things are mores costly would be taken into account. For my family of four with two boys ages 5 and 2 we’re between the Thrifty and Low Cost plan (using my yearly spending). What peaks my curiosity is that I buy a lot of expensive stuff! Free range meat, organic produce, naturally raised eggs and dairy, lots and lots of farmer’s market stuff. What on earth are people buying to be in the moderate or liberal category?

    However, if we were to include coffee in our grocery budget that would add another $30 a month. I wonder if stuff like that is factored in.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I know. I’ve puzzled over these reports for years. It is a “contiguous” national average, I think Alaska and Hawaii have different reports. And the one I linked to is the average cost for the year. (June is supposed to be representative of the year.)

      The report also states that it is for all meals and snacks to be eaten at home. I imagine they factor the list price of groceries, not sales. And if you never bought anything at sale price, you would pay a small fortune to eat.

      • I bet it’s based on information from stores as to what their pricing is rather than what consumers report actually spending. That’s the only thing I can think of. Unless there really are that many people not buying things on sale or what have you. I do know people who shop that way but not many. Of course, they’re not likely to be the ones reading blogs about grocery savings, are they? 🙂

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