Frugal Shopping: Fruit and Vege Co-Ops

One cheap way to get your fruit and veg for the week is by getting in touch with your local Fruit and Vege Co-Op. The way they work is through economies of scale – a group of people will get together, usually pay in advance, and they will go get the best deals through markets and other connections – then each person who has paid will get a share of the spoils. Usually they will ask for an hour or so of your time as well, but each co-operative works to their own rules so it’s worth getting in contact with them even if you can’t spare the time.

I just joined my local F&V Co-Op in Christchurch, and this is what I got for $12:

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I’m not sure if I’d be able to get my fruit and veg for the week for this price if I didn’t go through the co-op. Possibly? But one things for sure – I definitely wouldn’t have gotten these tasty plums and tomatoes! Everything is in great condition as well!

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One thing not in the other picture is that we also get bread included in the price – it’s different each week, and sometimes there’s even ciabatta! Apparently there was a choice of a loaf or two buns today, but we got there a bit late so the pickings were slim. My daughter seems to be enjoying it anyway.

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It comes packaged up like this, so you’re not REALLY sure what you’re getting until you get home to unpack it. Your selection will change week to week, but it’ll be seasonal and healthy – and might even challenge you to learn a new recipe or two!

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First up we have a sizable bunch of spinach and lettuce! Looks like we’ll be having some salads this week!

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Some healthy ears of corn! You can actually just microwave these in the husk for 3-4 minutes for an instant snack, but I’m still deciding what exactly to do with them.

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A bunch of spring onion. A very diverse veggie.

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A few carrots, one of my regular vegetables. We’re in luck this week. (I just noticed one of these looks a little funny…..)

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A fantastic selection of fruit. We normally don’t get tomatoes, even though we love them, because they’re normally so expensive per unit! Plums as well are pretty expensive at the moment, so I’ve been enjoying these today. Apples and pears are also much appreciated in our house, as if we don’t eat them raw they’ll end up in a crumble like this.

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To save a bit of room in my fridge, and make my veggies last longer I’ve been busy moving them into my VentSmart Tupperware containers. I’ve rinsed and picked the leaves, patted them dry with a tea towel, and packed them into my two smallest containers. I love this, as it means they’re ready to use and it will cut down on preparation time when I want to use them.

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I’ve packed my carrots into one as well. The way they work is you set the vent to open, closed, or half/half depending on what kind of fruit or veges are in there – the different types of produce will release gas at different rates, so you sort them by type (see the handy diagram on the front) so you sort them by type. They also have handy little troughs at the bottom to collect condensation so your veggies wont get soggy and gross. On average, it’ll extend the life of your produce so they will last up to THREE WEEKS in these little suckers! So great!!

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I’ve removed my veggie crisper and stack my VentSmarts down the bottom of my fridge. The large container has some watermelon and rockmelon in there that’s as fresh as it was when I put it in two and a half weeks ago. It’s all pre-sliced and unwrapped, just waiting to be snacked on! I need a couple more containers for my lettuce and corn…

This is all part of my personal challenge to keep my grocery bill down to a maximum of $350 for the month (we’re a household of two adults and a baby) read more about it here, and feel free to join in and share your experiences and feedback. Remember to subscribe if you would like email reminders of new posts!

Check out some of my frugal recipes here.

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