Grocery Geek: Produce Galore

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While February doesn’t seem like a fabulous month for fresh produce, here in Southern California, we’re enjoying plentiful pickings.

It would seem that Wednesday brought an influx of fresh produce to our house. Not only did I pick up the produce box, but I also cruised by Sprouts for some of their sale produce, to fill out what I knew wasn’t in the produce box. (I get a head’s up on box contents each Thursday so I can plan accordingly for the coming week.)

We The kids went through ten pounds of cuties in 2 days. This doesn’t normally happen but they were the best cuties we’ve had in years. In years. YEARS, people. They tasted like candy, tart and sweet and juicy all at once. Wow! We got our Vitamin C this week, that is for sure.

And the kids and I ate the brussels sprouts the very next day, sauteed in bacon. Because bacon makes everything better. We redeemed a past bad experience with the lowly sprout. A child randomly requested them one day, and I randomly purchased a box of frozen brussels sprouts one day at Target. They were horrible. Right out of my childhood. And hubs, too. It was a family-wide mutiny against brussels sprouts.

Until this week. They were great. Fresh. Sauteed. With bacon. Who knew?

So, enough of this chit chat. Here’s the grocery geek lowdown for the week. In all honesty, I also made a $50 stop at Trader Joe’s for “fun food,” aka morale boosters, aka sanity savers, including the fabulous Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee. But, I’m taking that out of my allowance, not the grocery budget. So, you decide if that counts.

Abundant Harvest Organics

Purchasing a seasonal box of produce each week from Abundant Harvest Organics has obviously changed a lot of things in my cooking and shopping habits. I confess that I am a little overwhelmed by all. the. greens. But last week’s yu choy was a big hit with the teriyaki chicken we had earlier in the week. And everyone is warming up to Swiss chard, slowly but surely. I haven’t totally embraced the collard greens, but I blame that on my Yankee blood. 😉

This week’s box from Abundant Harvest Organics included: potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, avocados, leeks, swiss chard, cabbage, baby choy, parsley, oranges, spinach, and brussels sprouts. I also loaded up on their “ugly apples” at 10 pounds for $3! We’ve already converted one bag into applesauce and will be working on the other two this weekend.

I spent $46.80 for all this organic fresh produce.


Sprouts has taken over my Henry’s which made me sad, but we’ve survived the transition. They’ve had some exceptional sales on cukes and peppers lately. So good, 3 for $1, that I veered from my “organic produce only” baby step to add cukes and peppers to our regular munching. Same goes for the cuties at $4 for 5 pounds. I did buy organic celery, one of the Dirty Dozen, for munching. The blue band conventional is for a science project, $0.88. Oats and rice were both on sale for $0.69/pound so we loaded up on those. Eggs were $2/dozen. The ground flax meal was about $5. Also added some Italian sausage, bananas, garlic, mushrooms, half and half, and a mango.

My total bill was $50 and some cents for what’s pictured above.

So, we spent about $97 this week, not counting the afore-mentioned Trader Joe’s morale booster. Adding that to last week’s freezer cooking purchases and other random lunch and breakfast items, I’ve spent a total of $557 for the month so far. With two weeks left in the month I have more than enough dinners to last us well into March. I will probably need to buy milk and cheese in the next couple weeks as well as the produce weeks remaining in the month. Our spending “should” fall between $600 and $700 for the month, but that will include restocking the pantry on some items. But, I am guessing that in March we’ll have a surplus to draw from.

How do you handle spreading our your purchases over the month?

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  1. Perhaps you would like the collards raw–I think they taste better than cooked.
    This recipe would be great for the kids. Choosing Raw has many recipes for using greens. Just type into the search engine the kind of greens that you have.
    I really enjoy reading your blog, especially the weekly grocery geek.

  2. Our budget is about $100 a week, which is only possible if I don’t shop outside of our favorite grocery and our produce basket. If I do both of those things, I’m golden. We do tend to do a good amount of bulk cooking, which seems to make the food “work out properly”–so we don’t get bored, or have days left beyond the budget.

  3. I love seeing your groceries and all of the “real” food. Sure, other people can spend a minimal amount each month, but their diets are often heavy on the processed foods.

    What do you plan on doing with the rutabagas? I got some last week in our organic box and haven’t the faintest idea what to do with them.

    • I’m going to sneak them into soup. 🙂

      Thanks for your encouragement. We’ve come a long way in four years. Thankful that we can make these changes. Was just wondering this morning if it “put people off” that I’m not the big couponer I used to be.

      • @Jessica,

        It doesn’t bother me at all, in fact I find it encouraging. While I really like what you’ve said about processed foods bought couponing and how they helped your family get out of debt I love seeing all the Real Food you buy now. Especially since you’re not spending a fortune and you’re not preachy about it. 🙂

        I find it comforting to see others leaning the same direction I am these days.

    • @Melissa@Mom’s Plans, no one recognized the rutabagas in the soup this week. 😉

  4. I just fell in love with brussels sprouts recently too. I usually saute them with pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Are you really only sauteing them in bacon or do you add other seasonings? That sounds so good!

  5. I just discovered Abundant Harvest Organics last week after searching and searching for a CSA close to me. Found out I can pick up a box about 10 minutes from where we live. I like how they let you preview what’s in the box and the add-ons they offer like the “ugly apples” you mentioned. I also noticed some of the items are cheaper than the price offered at Azure Standard, that’s when I got really excited about signing up for this program. Still not sure how I feel about the “one-time” box fee. Do you think they charge this fee in case we don’t return the “re-usable box”?

    • @Nia, I am going to guess so. I think that if you cancel in the first month, they’ll give you back the fee. Can’t remember. There have been several times that I’ve forgotten to bring the box back which means that they have to have extras to accommodate everyone. But, a box fee was typical with the other CSAs I looked at.

  6. Have you tried swiss chard sauteed with garlic? After cooking I drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt & pepper. I cook my kale, spinach and greens the same way. Oh and the greens would be good with bacon too, the same way you cooked your brussel sprouts.

  7. Hey Jessica;
    I LOVE your Blog…Thank-You so much for writting it and for helping and making so many peoples lives happier and better!!! I Love to cook and try new things….I wish that I could purchase fresh produce as cheaply as you are able to!!! My best buys are usually at the Flea Market, dealing directly with Farmers….I am thrilled to pay them, as they grow some really nice things which look and taste much better than what you can find in the stores!!! I wanted to mention to you, that I know how to make Greens……People will eat my Greens when they have tried others, and did not like them!!!!!
    You must use some type of Pork when you make them, and not too much water. I highly season mine and I add a bit of vinegar to them also. People rant and rave about my Greens!! I hope that this is a start for you. If you want an easy Recipe please email me, and I will give you mine. 🙂

  8. I recently started to love brussel sprouts. They are super yummy tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and baked. I like to reduce balsamic vinegar and toss them in that too.

    I do the bacon too but then at some red wine at the end.

    I need to do some searching around Northern CA to find a produce supplier although I do go to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning, at least then I can pick out what I want to eat.

  9. I love to see the real food that you cook with and buy. I have been slowing tranforming our foods and eating habits also. My pantry, freezer, and refrigerator look very different than they did several years ago. I have loved almost every recipe that I have tried from your blog, too.

  10. Not sure if it would be in everyone’s neck of the woods and I have not ordered my first box yet but will next week – Produce Co-op called Bountiful Baskets @ Look them up and see if they have a pick-up site in your area. $15 for conventional 50% veg/50% fruit box (approx 20 lbs), upgrade to organic for $10 more. It’s a co-op so they ask you to volunteer one hour before your pick-up time every 6-8 weeks if you can. You can only order for about 24 hours the Mon or Tue before pick-up day, Saturday. One member told me of her latest box which would have cost $27-$34 in the grocery store and she got it for $15! They also have add-ons like bread, whole boxes of fruit (like 36 lbs of apples). And the best thing is you can do it week to week – no commitment needed.

  11. We’ve been “OKAY” with the Henry’s/Sprouts change, is it just me or has it taken them a while to get their groove going? I’ve been a little disappointed in their meat and cheese prices.

    • I think Henry’s had a better produce supplier. I noticed a diff in the quality before and now Sprouts quality has taken over. 🙁

  12. Amy Spelman says:

    Looks so yummy and healthy! I think I need to move to Southern California! =)
    Thanks for the great blogs, I love reading them!

  13. Ugh, frozen brussel sprouts. Gross.

    My parents make frozen asparagus all the time. Makes me gag, but I LOVE fresh asparagus. Go figure.

  14. I just signed up for the Abundant Harvest Box a few weeks ago and was completely blown away to get 10 lbs of ugly apples for $3 too. I dont have any fancy equipment and did not feel like peeling all of the apples, so I just washed them well and diced them up, with skins on. I then threw them in the crockpot with tons of cinnamon and pureed them after they cooled. I can’t believe that I have been missing out on what real apple sauce taste like without sugar – amazing!

    Thanks for always sharing!

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