Is CSA Saving Us Money?

One of our concerns is finding the right balance of improving our food choices while staying within a reasonable budget. For us, we understand that it’s common to pay a bit more for better food, but going broke isn’t sustainable for us.

the produce box delivery
Last week's produce delivery

For those not familair with community supported agriculture, when you sign up you’re shareholder or member that has a economic relationship with a local farmer or farms. Some weeks we receive an abundance of foods. the farmers have a bumper crop while other weeks it’s a bit smaller. So far we haven’t received a small box – it has been quite a good year.

For Matt Jabs at Debt Free Adventure, his family was able to make it work effectively for them. When I interviewed him, he shared his method of keeping costs affordable:

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We budget the money every year and simply set aside 1/12th of the money every month so we have the cash saved when spring rolls around.  We have also ran the numbers and found our CSA to be more cost effective than buying produce weekly from a grocery store.

We also plan our meals around the produce each week and simply add meat from our grass fed 1/4 beef in the freezer and add beans and/or rice from our organic bulk stash in the basement.  Altogether it is very cost effective.

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We hope to do the same, so to start us off, I decided to compare the prices between our local grocery stores to our fresh produce deliveries.

Looking at the Produce that We Receive with CSA

Here’s a look at the most recent delivery we’ve had from The Produce Box.

  • Personal Watermelon
  • Roma Tomatoes (5-7)
  • Blueberries (1 pint)
  • Sweet Pepper Mix (includes baby red bells – half a dozen)
  • Corn (six ears)
  • Cucumbers (3)
  • Red Potatoes ( 2 quarts)

As you can see in the photo, it was quite a bit of food for us. The box was packed – happy that things are going well with the farmers’ harvest. The total for the produce was $22. That also included delivery right to our front door.

Comparing It to Local Grocery Stores

I was looking through the flyers of local stores to get an idea of what the price are for the produce.

  • Watermelons: 69 cents/lb (sale)
  • Roma Tomatoes: $1.19/lb (sale)
  • Blueberries: $4.99/pint
  • Sweet Peppers: $3.69/bag
  • Ears of Corn:  5/$2 (sale)
  • Cucumbers: couldn’t find anything in the fliers this week
  • Potatoes: $3.79/5lbs

As you can see, some of these prices are specials, but it can give us a general idea of what the costs are for the similar items. I didn’t include gas costs, however I do not consider them to be a huge factor. My real concern with shopping in the store is the temptation to go off the shopping list and grab some extra items that we don’t really need.

I will say that it was a bit hard to find some prices for items on the list. I’ll update them next time I visit the stores. In the meantime, if you want to share your local produce prices, that would be helpful. I imagine that some areas will have better deals on certain produce items.

Thoughts on CSA and Keeping on a Budget

What have you found to be the best deals with being a part of community supported agriculture? What isn’t? How do you decide where ot cut costs and where do you splurge?

If you’re looking to participate with local agriculture, try Local Harvest to find options near your home.