Amazon Fresh vs CSA?

Updating this post — now that we have had a chance to trial a couple of services. First — I love, love, love Amazon Fresh:

  • Service is great — drivers courteous, always on time, super neat
  • It’s beyond convenient — I can order from my phone or PC; arrange for groceries to be delivered while I’m away from work (so DH doesn’t have to run out for fruit/yogurt/whatever mid-week), or when I’m headed home from vacation;
  • Quality is good — very happy with the produce

So why update the post?  Well…we’re not made of money.  After 3 months of Amazon Fresh, my grocery bill was 1.5x my usual bill.  The theory that I wouldn’t buy any “extras” and that would even out the price…. did not come true at all.  There are all kinds of “extras” to buy on Amazon, and the price delta didn’t help. So other options:

  • Milk Delivery (and cheese, and other dairy) : Not a great fit for us, I’m not trying to increase our dairy intake…
  • Full Circle Produce Delivery — used for 3 months.  Closer to a traditional CSA, when you get a “box of produce” and the choice is based on size of box, not content of the box.  Easy to use website; flexible — easy to start and stop.  Produce was good (not great, but better than Safeway).  Price was reasonable.
    • It wasn’t “local” the fruit was mostly from California.  That was good because I didn’t get stuck with a bunch of root vegetables all fall.  At the same time, if I’m not supporting local business, then I kind of want my pick of produce.

All that to say, I’m back shopping at PCC.  Love that 10% members discount every month. Wonder when they will start a delivery service?


Have you had any luck with Amazon Fresh?  What about a full service CSA (that lasts through the winter).  When we first moved, I started a running tally of CSAs in Redmond/Bellevue.  But I never carried through with the research to find someone that fit our requirements.   Here are my working mom’s requirements for a grocery service: 1) You deliver:  I’m doing this to save myself time.  I can’t be driving for 30-45 minutes to go and pick up groceries.   Added to delivery — I’d clarify that you must deliver consistently, don’t charge an arm & leg for delivery & don’t skip weeks 3) You have a wide variety of products:  Alternatively, I’d be happy with a network of CSAs.  If you could also point me to local farmers for milk, eggs, etc.  I could make that work, but to continue to search for one provider for mushrooms, one for lamb, another from root vegetables…well that’s not going to work 4) You operate year round.  I know this cuts out lots of local farmers… but support of local business is only one reason I want to do this.  The other is health ingredients for my family and saving time on the weekends. 5 ) Wide variety of organic produce: it doesn’t have to be 100% organic — but the heavy hitters — peppers, grapes, lettuce, berries, etc.  The produce that has the worst record for holding on to pesticides needs to have an organic option. 6) Now I’m getting picky — but I would prefer the meat, eggs and even produce to come from small family farms.  No factory farm meat for my boys. Does such a thing exist?  Am I going to be doomed to giving money to the machine and order from Amazon Fresh?  Please share your suggestions.

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We canceled our CSA service

I was sad to do this.  I was more sad as I was picking through moldy beets at the grocery store, trying to find something edible.  The produce we’ve been getting from Bryson Farms has been outstanding.  It tastes fantastic, it’s colourful, it looks fantastic, it lasts a long time, etc.

Canceling the service is part of our ‘simplification plan’.  The challenge with a basket of produce that gets delivered, is that it arrives mid-week and then I have to plan my meals around what’s in the box.   This is more time consuming that going through my recipe binder and picking out the first  6 meals that look interesting to me.

Always an evolution here at the house.  It will only take a couple of weeks of moldy, wilted produce for me to go back to the CSA.

Menu Plan | August 10

Ok, so I haven’t been posting menu’s lately.  It’s not just the posting part I’ve been ignoring, it’s the whole planning part.  I’d like to say that it’s because I didn’t know what was coming in my weekly farmers basket, but that’s not the case.  It’s sheer disorganization – from menu planning, to grocery shopping, to scrambling every night to figure out what to put on the table.

It’s so much easier with a plan (at least for me).  Accordingly, I’m back at it this week. 

Monday – Zucchini Hummus, Tabouleh & Veggies with Pita
Tuesday – Roast chicken, steamed veggies, turnip and tomatoes
Wednesday – Greek Salad with Chickpeas
Thursday – Easy Trout Panini’s with cut up veggies
Friday – Stir-fry with left over vegetables & tofu and brown basmati rice
Saturday – Leftovers

All my recipes this week are from this new magazine I found: Clean Eating.  We’ll find out if the magazine is worth getting again after a week or two of recipes from it.

Weekend Menu UpdateThere are only so many days in a row that I can eat cereal, so on the wekeend, I’ve been trying to come up with some new alternatives.  I think I now have our family pancake recipe to the point where I don’t consider them junk food.  I use 1/2 whole wheat flour, 1/2 chickpea flour and I sprinkle them with blueberries, walnuts and flax seed while they are cooking.  In the same way I can’t have cereal everyday, I’m not up for making pancakes every weekend.  Have any suggestions?

Update on the Ottawa CSA front

As you may recall, we’ve been ordering groceries from Ottawa Organics for the past month or so.  Here are some thoughts:

Pro:

  • Arrives without fail every Wednesday
  • I can leave them a check in my cooler for the amount ordered
  • No one has stolen our groceries (big concern of my husband!)
  • The fruit has been very, very tasty.

Cons:

  • I’ve been ordering some extras off their web site (bread, milk, broccoli) to add to my ‘veggie box’.  When I order the extras, I’m given a total amount to pay and leave the check for that amount. Trouble is, they don’t always have the extras.  This means I overpay and have to take it off the next week’s check
  • The quality has been mixed: we’ve had bruised, punctured plums; moldy raspberries and worm riddled turnips.  Truth be told, when I brought this to there attention, we were given a discount off our next box.

Bytown Mom Conclusion: I’m doing this to save myself time and effort: when the milk doesn’t show up I have to head out to the grocery store on a weeknight; when the turnips have worms, I need to adjust dinner plans 15 minutes before it’s expected on the table.  Tomorrow’s our last delivery from Ottawa Organics.  We’re moving on to Bryson Farms for next week.

Giving CSAs a chance

To say things have been busy since returning to work, would be an understatement.  #1 tip from BytownMom about returning to work:  have your childcare arrangements locked in stone!  Since letting our nanny go, we’ve been going between our bouncing between babysitters and family and no one, especially our three year old, knows which way is up.

Accordingly, we’re looking for a couple of ways to simplify things around here.  The first one is not: stop driving across town to get our fruits and veggies.  They are going to be delivered to a cooler on our doorstep on Wednesdays.  As I’m not quite sure what’s in this week’s box, I’m going to menu plan once I see what I’ve got.

From the CSA options I discovered earlier this season, I’ve decided to start with Ottawa Organics, as you can add lots of fruit to your order, on top of the veggies.  Stay-tuned for menu planning to pick back up on Friday.

Menu – June 29

For my first week back at work, I have some fast and easy recipes, that make good left over lunch material. The chef salad is from Fine Cooking, but I couldn’t find a link to the recipe.

Sunday: Malasian Sambal – from the World Food Cafe, my favorite cookbook
Monday: Mexican Chopped Saladyummy lime, orange juice, cumin, garlic salad dressing!
Tuesday: Modern Chef Salad ( I’m making mine with with edamame, chickpeas and shrimp in place of your standard deli meat and cheese, here’s a collection of chef salad recipes)
Wednesday:  Burgers & Sausages (veggie… of course), roast potato salad, ceasar salad (hopefully from the garden)
Thursday: Make your own Pizza on a Pita
Friday: Shrimp & Coconut Milk Vermicelli Soup

No menu plan for this week

That’ not a good sign.  I have many, miscellaneous vegetables in the fridge, dried beans, spaghetti noodles and spices in the cupboard, but not plan.  My husband’s going back to work this week, which means I’m home along with the boys.  It will be hard enough to make dinner, but without a plan the week will not be a showcase for my best cooking. 

 

We bought a ‘lobok’ last week at the grocery store.  When my son asks what something is, I usually try to tell him.  We’re allowed to pick up one thing that’s not on our list at the store, and last week it was a lobok. I looked it up and apparently you can use it in place of “Daikon radish” and I know I’ve seen Daikon in recipes.  Now to scour the cookbooks during the boys nap time to find recipes.

 

Coincidentally, when I googled lobok, one of the first responses to come up, was a definition provided by our grocery store.  I love Produce Depot.  For consistency of quality they are unmatched in the city.   That’s a bit of a fib, Herb and Spice on Wellington is better, but I simply can’t afford to shop there every week.  It was one thing when I was single and my bill there would hit $100, but when I shop there for my family now, I’m buying $150-200 worth of vegetables and and handful of staples, it’s simply not affordable.  

But back to Produce Depot.  It’s fabulous, there are two locations one at Carling and Maintland and the other on Bank Street.  You can’t go wrong with either location and the prices as fabulous, more often than not they are less that Loblaws or what ever the chain grocery store is near your house, but the flavour of their produces is fantastic.