Is apple picking worth it?
We can–and do!–go to the store and score apples for less than what we pay at an orchard.
So, from a purely mathematical standpoint, this would be the shortest post ever. Even by my standards.
Fortunately, personal finance is rarely ever just a numbers game. To us, apple picking is absolutely worth it.
It’s something that’s steeped in tradition. My parents used to take me (they still join us!), and my husband and I quickly adopted the practice when we started dating more than a decade ago. Since apple picking feels like the perfect segue into fall, it’s something that we’re more than happy to continue. We’ve taken our son every year of his life, and this is the first year where he was old enough to look forward to going. Plus, we love the idea of talking with the people who grow our food and supporting the little apple empire they’re building.
Here’s how our fall family fun at the orchard shaped up this year (and what it cost!).
What Does Apple Picking Actually Cost?
Cost of Apples
The orchard we visited in southern Wisconsin gives customers two options: purchase apples in their store that were picked earlier that day or pick your own from the orchard itself. This probably seems like a no-brainer. However, we’ve actually purchased apples plenty of times from their store simply because they have different varieties that aren’t pick-your-own options.
For this adventure, though, we chose to pick our own.
This particular weekend, we had two varieties to choose from: Honey Gold and Cortland apples. We basically eat all of the apples in our lunches and as snacks, but I do make baked apples in the slow cooker or apple poke cake at times, too. For this reason, we decided to snag some of each apple.
We chose to buy a peck for $20. Their estimate is that it equates to 10 pounds. Our scale (highly scientific, I know, but we have lots of practice weighing a wiggly human on it now so a basket of apples is easy!) indicated it was closer to 12 pounds. That’s a lot of apples, especially considering we had a few pounds of Honeycrisp already sitting on our counter at home. Since my parents came with us, we agreed to divvy up the apples among our two households.
Other Treats & Attractions
Seconds after posting about our plans to go apple picking online, Josh texted me: Enjoy your donut.
After feigning offense for .2 seconds, I sent him of photo of the inside of the donut bag. He keenly observed that some were already missing.
Since we paid for the apples, my parents insisted on picking up the donuts. The orchard sells them so fresh that you can actually watch them get dropped in the oil. $9 for a dozen or $5 for a half dozen. It didn’t cost us anything, but we would have happily spent the $9.
The orchard also sells a bunch of other foods. There’s a Mexican food truck from a restaurant one town away. A local coffee shop set up a booth this year. Someone else pops fresh kettle corn while you wait. Plus, the church across the road sells brats and other foods. We didn’t buy any food besides donuts, but the prices seemed reasonable enough.
(I did see a heart-stopping sign for an $11 bag of kettle corn, but then I saw the actual bag. It was nearly four feet tall!)
There’s also an antique fire truck for kids to play on, a jumbo checkers set, tractor rides through the orchard and pumpkin patches, and live music. All of that is free.
So that means, of course, HP had to fix his sights on the one thing that costs money. Specifically, he wanted to bounce in the bounce house. It was $2 for 5 minutes of jumping, which is definitely pricey. However, that’s totally in line with what we paid for rides at the county fair and lasts a lot longer. Plus, since he was so well behaved (and tiny) compared to all of the other kids, the attendant didn’t even set her stopwatch when he was jumping by himself.
Which is good. Because he conned us into three rounds.
We spent a few hours at the orchard and the farm. Going to the grocery store would have been close to the same price in terms of how much the apples cost per pound. However, as much as I love Aldi, these moments make for a different kind of memory.
Total Cost: $26
Sinking Funds Make Apple Picking Worth It
A few months back, we decided that we were going to try to be more aggressive with our decluttering again. We started daydreaming about a few end-of-summer and fall family adventures. Apple picking was on the list.
Because I was so excited to go apple picking again this year, I found myself motivated to part with a Coach purse. I hadn’t used the purse in
months years, but it was in great shape. I always struggle with letting things go when I know they would still be perfectly useful and stylish. (Note to self: That’s all the more reason to let them go live somewhere else, Penny.) Still, I sold the purse on OfferUp in less than a day. That money plus the leftovers from the Walworth County Fair visit meant we had $43 for apple picking.
$43 might sound like a lot, but there are actually a few orchards in Illinois that charge just to get on the property (one orchard is $18 a person–not including apples!). We’re really lucky that we know about this hidden gem from visiting my parents up north. But because it’s definitely more of a mom and pop operation than some of the agritourism orchards closer to us, they also don’t post prices online. Better to be safe than sorry.
And fine, I must confess, I’d pay just about anything for their fresh apple donuts.
Since we had set the money aside ahead of time, there was no fussing with our budget, no worry about tracking our expenses (save for the fact that I wanted a blog post out of the visit!). Sinking funds are the perfect way to make family fun stress free…at least from a financial perspective.
So Tell Me…How are you putting sinking funds to use? Do you have any fall adventures planned? Do you think apple picking is worth it?