Food Subscription Boxes

mail-box

By Liz

Talk about all things trendy.  If you haven’t seen or heard about food subscription boxes yet, then you must be living under a rock. This is not a new concept, I mean, take Omaha Steaks for instance…they have been around since 1917.  But nowadays you can get just about any kind of food, delivered to your door with easy step by step instructions, with little to no waste and without the hassle of visiting your grocery store to pick up the ingredients.

Types of boxes available are fruits, vegetables, and snacks, jerky, chocolate, bacon, cheese, full meals, seasonal, regional and the list goes on and on.

Sorry to say, I think this trend, is a waste of your hard earned money!

We as a society already spend so much money on food, whether going out to eat or at our local grocery store(s), so it seems to me that this kind of service is really irrelevant.  However, like most trends, these companies are trying to convince you, that you need their product to be hip, trendy, creative, and money savvy; but do you really need their help?

I decided to do some research on these companies, because many of my fellow, “frugal” bloggers have wonderful things to say about them, (although, I personally believe that if you are calling yourself a “frugal or money saving” blogger and promote or purchase these kinds of subscriptions…..you’ve missed the mark).

There are so many companies trying to cash in on this latest trend, it is overwhelming, so I decided to just concentrate on just produce boxes, but most of this information also applies to most of the other subscription boxes and this is what I have discovered:

produce

1. Many are locally based, so they might not deliver to your zip code, or you will be paying very high shipping costs for this convenience.

2. Your going to pay for this kind of convenience, anywhere from $11 to $110 (and these are prices for produce boxes).

3. Most offer both traditional or organic products.

4. You really don’t get what you pay for. If you were to do a price comparison, you would see that in most cases, you are paying double and in some cases, triple what it would cost you at the grocery store for the same or very similar products.

5. Packaging can sometimes be environmentally unfriendly. Some of the organic products being purchased, come packaged so as they are not bruised or damaged; all well and good, but many of the materials used for packaging, are not good for mother earth. (Ironic…..huh?)

6. Some of the produce subscription services are selling “recovered”, produce, meaning fruits and vegetables that are perfectly fine to eat, but would have otherwise been thrown away. It’s often discarded because of aesthetic imperfections or logistical inefficiencies. They don’t try to hide this; in fact, for some it is on the main page of their website.




So it has been pointed out to me is that these kinds of services  are helping local farmers and business owners  not to mention the convenience it brings to the consumer of not having to go the store to pick these items out for themselves.  My argument is this….you have to go to the grocery store anyway, right? So while you are there picking up the myriad of other items on your list, why aren’t you taking a few extra minutes to purchase fresh, traditional or organic produce from the same place you shop in the first place?

farmers-market

It has also been argued that these kinds of services offer more natural choices, help many with diet restrictions due to health, and offer step by step instructions with just the right amount of ingredients to make a gourmet meal at home.  My argument for this is the following:  just about everyone owns or has access to a cookbook, (these resources also come with step by step instructions) or the internet, which offers an endless supply of recipes.  Natural and organic produce can be found not only at your local grocery store(s), but also at specialty stores and especially local farmer’s markets.

No matter how old I get, I am always looking for ways to save money, as much money as I can, because my dream is to retire with my husband somewhere close to the ocean and be able to travel, volunteer, relax, and really to just wake up on any given day and do whatever we want, when we want.  We don’t want to realize one day that we don’t have enough for our retirement, and we have to keep working until we are 75 or 80 years old, or that any one medical condition that myself or my husband might encounter down the road, will wipe us out financially.  So we are all about saving as many pennies as we can for as long as we can. My husband and I are both foodies, and we both enjoy cooking, but we also know that, throwing money away on the latest band wagon of what is hip and trendy today, will not help us achieve our goals for tomorrow.

couple

If you too are financially conscience, and not only want to eat healthy, but well; I suggest that rather than subscribe to one of these, trendy, overpriced and under stocked box services, you should take a little time each week, plan out a few meals, list your ingredients, purchase only what you need for these dishes and keep the money you have saved in your wallet.




Coffee, Tea or More Money in your Wallet?

barista

by Liz

Convenience, it is something that comes with a price tag. We have all seen it and we have all, at one time or another, indulged in this luxury.

Whether it be a meal from a drive thru window, buying a cooked rotisserie chicken for a quick dinner entree or stopping for that favorite cup of gourmet java.

Life is busy, and sometimes these conveniences are a godsend.  This article is not about cutting them out of your life, but how to maximize them. Let’s take a look at one in particular and most everyone’s favorite,(especially mine) that cup of coffee or tea that gets our engines running for the day or mid day in my case.

Have you noticed that the lengthier or more fruity the name of the beverage, the heftier the price tag? Ridiculous when you think about it, especially when you consider that the main ingredient in these beverages is water, and if you are a frequent consumer to these kinds of establishments on a regular basis, this cost adds up.  The last time I frequented one of these establishments, the average price for a medium , regular, straight up cup of coffee was around $2.00 and one of those high falutin beverages hovered around $5.00 (and don’t even get me started on the calorie count).  Using some simple math; $5.00 a day x 5 days a week x 52 weeks in the year = $1,300.00. I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least 10 things off of the top of my head that I would rather spend $1,300.00 on.

Ask yourself, if you were in your own home, would you be making this kind of drink on a regular basis? Or, like most people, would you be making just a regular cup of tea or coffee?  My guess is that most people would answer the latter of the two.  Nowadays, with gourmet flavored, teas, coffees and creamers available at your local grocery store, not to mention the invention of the commuter cups, why is a stop at one of these establishments even on anyone’s radar?




A few Christmases ago, my loving husband gave me one of the best gifts ever. It was a Keurig machine.  Sure, a traditional automatic drip coffee maker with its large filter system is less expensive, but I enjoy fresh, hot coffee and with the auto drip coffee maker, I would find that after about 30 minutes of the coffee sitting on the warmer, it would tend to start tasting bitter, and I would toss out about half a carafe full.

Yes, there is the argument that the pod inserts for these machines are costly as well, however, over the years; there have been many alternatives to the brand specific beverages made for this machine.  Many bulk warehouse stores sell  pods by the case, discount stores sell generic as well as some name brand, discounted pods; it is up to you which of these lower priced alternatives your wallet and your flavor palate can agree upon.

Personally, I have gone one extra step in frugality, and I will get two servings of coffee from just one pod. My first cup of coffee, I always choose the largest cup selection my machine offers, for my second cup, I go down to the second to largest selection. Since these coffees are well concentrated in this little container, I hardly taste a huge difference between the two cups and my average cost is a whopping 22 cents per cup…..much easier to swallow, isn’t it?

Another option is the mesh; reusable coffee pods available in usually a two or three pack at most stores.  With these pods, you fill it with your choice of ground coffee or tea, thereby cutting your expense dramatically. Here is when you can take a little creative license because nowadays you can get coffees and teas in bulk in all sorts of strengths and flavors from almost anywhere and you will still beat the hefty price tag of a convenience purchased $2.00 regular cup of coffee.

Try giving these methods a try for a couple of weeks and see what comfort and compatibility level you can live with. Stop making the beverage conglomerates of the world richer and start putting your hard earned cash back in your pocket.