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Box schemes - do they work out cheaper?

Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:10 am
by thecornflake
I'm looking at veg box schemes and was wondering if they worked out cheaper than buying produce from a local shop or supermarket? Obviously there's the benefit of reducing food miles, organic produce etc which is worth paying a bit extra for, plus I'm not too fussed about having odd veg left over as I enjoy cooking and can always find some way to use things up.

Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:11 am
by ina
I don't think there is a definite answer to that - it all depends on the scheme you are using! Shopping around might help there, too.

Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:12 pm
by Cassiepod
Again, I'm not certain about cheaper (I don't keep great control of my finances :( ) however I do know that I waste less veg now because I don't get carried away, I use what we're given and don't buy anything else unless I have visitors, so in that sense it's cheaper.

I pay £9.50 for a box that does two of us (omnivores) for a week.

Pkus there is the bonus that you don't have to go to asupermarket. :cheers:

Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:21 pm
by hamster
It depends where you would get veg from otherwise and what you want from it!

We get an organic veg box from a co-op of local farms delivered weekly which costs £10, including delivery, for two people. We buy a bit of fruit, but no extra veg. We can also add things to it (e.g. eggs, meat, pasta) and have that delivered at the same time.

I've costed it up against buying the same amount of veg from Waitrose and Sainsbury's (our nearest supermarkets where we'd otherwise go) and generally speaking, buying the same produce but non-organic from either supermarket generally works out between £8.50 and £10, but buying the same amount of organic produce generally worked out between £10 and £12. It wasn't always an exact comparison - supermarkets don't tend to have kohl rabi or cavolo nero to check against, so I substituted similar things! None of those prices included delivery (which is included in the £10 for the veg box, but supermarket delivery can be free if you buy over a certain amount, I believe) or my time in going to the supermarket and bringing it home again.

So the produce itself is cheaper if you would be buying organic produce anyway, more expensive if not. (We don't have a greengrocers to compare it to and no farm shops/farmer's market stalls open in the winter either.) I'd also be interested to compare it again in the summer, though, when we get fancy things like tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes etc instead of carrots and potatoes.

Of course, there are things other than the produce itself which are embedded in the cost! I wasn't overly fussed about the organic label per se, though I'd probably have bought organic in the supermarkets - I was more worried about it being good quality, local, minimally packaged and the producers getting a fair whack, but I'm still happy to pay the £1-£1.50 extra just to not to have to go shopping! (We also get milk delivered, make our own bread and buy meat in bulk, so we basically just go shopping every few weeks to get dry goods and not needing to go and buy veg was a big plus for us.) The quality is also much, much better and you get a better variety of produce, which I found really good during the winter as eating locally can get a bit repetitive. It's also very simple, once we got into a routine of eating it all! We're definitely eating more veg than we were before and were hardly ill at all this winter, though I don't know if that's entirely connected. Ours also comes in cardboard boxes and paper bags, which they reuse, whereas organic stuff in the supermarket is always heavily packaged. has lots of recipes for the more unusual things you might find in it and also a 'find a box scheme' page where you can find your local scheme - there seem to be several in Kent so you should have a lot of choice. is also good.

Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 3:08 pm
by thecornflake
Thanks for the replies. I've found three near me, one is a local organic farm and all the stuff they deliver is grown there and picked and delivered the same day. The other varies, although most of it is from local farmers and the third is Abel and Cole.

All seem to do roughly the same size box for £8-£9 so I'm going to try all three and see what they're like.

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:42 am
by ina
thecornflake wrote: All seem to do roughly the same size box for £8-£9 so I'm going to try all three and see what they're like.
Best way to go! Also - ask if you can "opt out" of certain things, so you don't end up with masses of something you don't like, or eat little of. I had to do that because I don't eat a lot of tatties; the small boxes were always tailored to two tattie eaters, and on my own I simply couldn't cope!

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:45 am
by Mal
We use Riverford, they seem pretty good. Obviously we have pangs of guilt about the fact it's all trucked up from Devon and the like but I figure it's better than being flown in from Chile.

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:14 pm
by thecornflake
Riverford is one of the ones I am looking at so it's good to hear a good review for them.

Only one of the places I have found provides all the produce themselves, it's a very local organic farm but of course on the flip side it is a much more basic scheme with not much possibly of swapping things around etc. Still, I will give them a go as well as it would be great to support a local farm only a few miles down the road, and every is picked on the same day it is delivered.

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:09 pm
by kiery
I must have gone to the wrong box scheme :(

I ordered a box from our local box scheme and it only lasted about 3 days ( fruit was gone in a matter of hours!).
I thought it was very expensive for what I got and not econmical for my family of 4.

Now we have the allotment, hopefully we can grow a lot more of our own.

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:30 pm
by MrFalafel
I found myself saving loads of money as a result of getting a box scheme when I lived in the city. Just the fact of having food delivered to my door meant I went to the supermarket much, much less. And as we all know, the undisciplined shopper can wind up spending far too much on impulse buys every time they enter the store (that was me! :) ). I would also plan a weekly menu around the box scheme ingredients which again forced me to create healthy, inexpensive meals.

So, while the cost of veg was about the same as the local store, the overall side benefit savings of the scheme saved me loads.

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:39 pm
by snapdragon
we appear to be too far out of the (several) towns that surround us and no-one delivers here (even the pizza shop doesn't - but tesc@ and waitr@se do :( )

ho hum - keep digging snappy :roll:

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 7:01 pm
by red
I used to use riverford for years - got my own veg now and nearby shops to fill in the gaps.

I really liked them - dunno if cheaper cos i was not buying organic before, the point i was aiming at was seasonal local food. Riverford are very close to me in location.

The good thing about riverford is that you can manage it online.. so if you eat at other peoples houses etc and build up too much veg, easy to cancel next weeks box. You can take a look at next weeks box and if you dont like the contents.. change to a different box.

they have boxes that have imported stuff.. but also ones that are more seasonal and local.

the main advantage of the veg box is that I learnt to like veg I had never tried before.. I got a real feel for what ws seasonal, and the decision was made. Tea was often based around the box contents.

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 8:27 pm
by ina
snapdragon wrote:we appear to be too far out of the (several) towns that surround us and no-one delivers here (even the pizza shop doesn't - but tesc@ and waitr@se do :( )
Same here!

So I just buy at farm shops and farmers' markets whenever I can - just need to plan your meals around the stuff that needs to be eaten soonish, and stuff that keeps a bit longer, as I don't get out that often...

Posted: Thu May 01, 2008 8:36 am
by thecornflake
An update - the first scheme we are trying is Abel and Cole, and our first box arrived yesterday morning.

Very impressed with the produce and it made us think about what dinner will be for the next few days.

Made a fantastic bubble and squeak with carrots, bacon, cabbage etc (recipe is on their website, not sure about the legalities of posting it here).

Tonight I am going to make ratatouille (sp?) as we have an aubergine and courgette to use.

I haven't worked out pricing but for the amount we got I think it probably works out around the same if we bought the same organic stuff from Tescos. Plus the petrol saving from not driving to the shops, and the benefit of eating more veg and trying new things. Now all I have to do is come up imaginative things to do with cress!

Posted: Thu May 01, 2008 11:14 am
by MKG
That's a good point - what happens if you let cress carry on growing? I could Google it, but I'm feeling apathetic today. :cry: