Off Season Produce Shopping

Access to fresh produce in winter is limited locally (living in the PNW and on an island has a few drawbacks, and this is one of them), and the living on an island the cost of fresh produce is very, very high in off season. For example, it is often that 1 head of standard cauliflower is $6.99. It can be hard enough to eat enough fresh vegetables and fruit, much less to buy more to preserve if we run low in the pantry. I don’t push subscription services often, but this one has changed how we eat.

When I first tried out Imperfect Foods a few months back I didn’t have high hopes for it, as not all the reviews were positive. But I needed to be able to find a solution to get us through the seasons. Imperfect Foods isn’t perfect (hahahah I crack myself up) but they do it well enough – at an affordable price.

We eat 2-3 times the produce we used to now in our daily meals, and the boys love getting fresh oranges every week.

I watch the prices and when I see a good price, I buy up. Last month I bought many pounds of beets, pickled them and canned them, so we’d have them for our lunch salads for months.They were $1 a pound, which was a great price locally. And honestly….they probably came from the same place that the store ones do this time of year. For a third of the price of the store.

How it works best:

When you set up an account, it will ask what size box you want (S, M, L), and if you want to add on “extras” (snacks, dry goods, etc). You can click on any of it, as each week you can change your picks, based on what they have that week. The only reason the “set up” would matter is if you don’t go in and change your box weekly (and yes, you can change your go-to size easily, removing items permanently that you don’t want or like – such as I don’t like parsnips, so I told them no thanks on that). You can set up how often you want packages, and skip weeks with no issue.

They sell both cold and shelf stable food items as well, some have short dates (expiring soon) or an overstock they got at a good deal. If you know your store prices you can snag deals here and there.

Where we live our produce is sent overnight by FedEx from one state over. The packaging is a cardboard box, with a liner inside that is paper and compostable packing peanuts glued to it. It works pretty well and is easily composted, just drop the whole liner in your pile, or can.

The box is one size, so the more you put in there, the better the fit.

Only buy durable produce. After the first 2 weeks I realized buying heavy sweet potatoes with kiwis or grapes wasn’t going to work. However avocados work well, as they are shipped unripe.

Items are often free floating so the box can be messy when it arrives (carrots all over), so you have to be willing to overlook that. Only a few things are sold in plastic (yay!) such as green beans/peas. So your oranges might be free floating with your onions and garlic.

My box arrives in the late morning on Tuesdays. Once it shows up, I process the box quickly. All durable stuff is washed off and air dried (such as beets, carrots, avocados, etc) as they can be pretty dusty from the fields/storage. If I buy spinach or kale, I soak it in cold water/apple cider vinegar, then spin it. I check over the produce and note if I have any issues.

Then I get it all bagged up into my reusable bags, and into the refrigerator.

Anything moldy or crushed? Just contact them on their website. They get back to you within a day or two, and I have had no issues with them refunding the unusable parts.

As for lasting, the produce seems to last just as long, if not longer, than from the store. It definitely lasts a lot longer than produce from Costco does.