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Grocery Challenge

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Every week, I plan out our weekly meals so that when we go grocery shopping, we buy exactly what we need. We were eating healthy, I was so proud of us; I thought we were doing AWESOME…

…until I looked through our spending and saw that we spend ~$150 A WEEK on groceries.

Well fuck.

Right now, on our budget, we need to be spending $100 or less. But really, is this even possible? Recently, I’ve seen some blogs try a challenge of only spending $100 and being able to buy enough food for 1 week. Challenge accepted.

>>Can we eat HEALTHY for breakfast, lunch, and dinner spending only $100 or less at… Whole Foods?<<

Game plan:
Instead of going in with a pre-made list of ingredients for the week, we were going to go in with NO plan. We created our entire week of meals based on what was on sale, or what seemed like a good price. We also will take the time to do the math to see what was cheaper (i.e. a 5lb bag of onions vs buying loose onions).

Stop 1:
The BF suggested the first place we explore was the meat counter. Since that’s the most expensive part of the shopping trip, we’d get a sense of what kind of dinners we wanted to have that week so we’d have some kind of general plan for veggies/grains/etc. We decided to go with ground beef and two small-ish whole chickens. I figured with the ground beef, I could make chili; with the chickens, I could just roast them. (Important to note: while the meat counter was the first place we visited, we waited until the end of our shopping trip to actually put the meat in our cart. You don’t want to walk around the store with chicken in your basket for 30 mins. Gross.)

Stop 2:
After having a plan for our dinners that week, we moved on to the produce section. We spent a good 20 minutes poking around, mostly to see what was on sale, and what we needed to buy for dinners/snacks for lunch. I ended up with: a container of fresh salsa, a few onions, 1 bunch of celery, a container of baby cucumbers, 5 carrots, 2 heads of garlic, 1 bunch of broccoli, green beans, 4 pears (for snacks,) 1 orange (for roasted chicken,) tomatoes (for sandwiches,) and 4 of these little cups of tomatoes (for salad,):

I love love lovvveee tomatoes! These were on sale for $1.25/each (originally $2.50/each)!

Also, the nice guy working in the produce department offered to slice up some pears for us, so we could choose which variety we wanted. (There were probably five or six different kinds.) Sweet customer service. 🙂

We love grapes. But this bunch of grapes cost over $4. …Needless to say, we didn’t get any grapes.

Stop 3:
Now we started into the other aisles for canned goods, dry goods, and anything else we needed for the week. For the chili, I needed black beans, diced tomatoes, and stock. We also picked up some granola bars and applesauce (for snacks,) a bottle of ketchup, and for sandwiches we got some lunch meat.

Here’s what our week looked like at the end of our experiment:

  1. Breakfast: I know, we’re terrible at eating breakfast. Well to be honest, the BF never eats breakfast, unless it’s on the weekend; 8 am is too early for him to feel hungry. As for me, I need to cut-out sweet breakfasts, so a bowl of cereal, or oatmeal, is out of the question. However, something healthy like egg whites and veggies, would have put us over budget.
  2. Weekend food: Sunday lunch and dinner, and Saturday dinner didn’t count toward the budget.
  3. Random snacks: As you can see, most of my lunches during the week were “random snacks.” These were things like almonds, or popcorn, and it’s important to note that we had those in our pantry/fridge already, and weren’t purchased on this trip. I had 2 (out of the 4) pears as well. My sandwich on Tuesday was tuna, which was also already in our pantry. I only bought enough lunch meat for sandwiches for Mike’s work lunches (it was $13 just for the lunch meat for his sandwiches – 3 slices of meat per sandwich. 15 slices total).

A few other notes about our experience:

  1. I’ve been trying to eliminate all pastas/breads/rice because the last time my glucose level was tested, it was a wee bit on the higher-end. So I’ve eliminated all sweet breakfasts (dear god, send help,) but, to have veggies every day for breakfast and night for dinner, is EXPENSIVE. (An extra $10-15 to our total.)
  2. One cannot, I repeat, cannot, be a picky eater when trying to achieve this. You need to be flexible and willing to eat ANY kind of veggie/meat/fruit/etc that is on sale.
  3. Sandwich items (spinach, sliced cheese, sliced bread,) tuna, and side dish items like rice, were things we already had in our pantry or fridge. Had we bought those items, we would’ve went well over our budget by another $20-25.
  4. It did force us to open up and explore. We looked at produce we normally would’ve walked away from, and we even tried new varieties of pears.
  5. Another positive was, everything we purchased was organic… which, is good, right?

Bottom line?:
This experiment failed. Our total came right under $100, but we got nothing for breakfasts, and only enough food for 1 of us to each lunch throughout the week. Whole Foods, for us, is too expensive. But I think we’ll try another version of this experiment. Next time? I’ll explore buying all of our veggies/fruits from the farmers market, and everything else from a local grocery store. I’ll report back with those findings and our weekly meal plan as well. I’m determined to find something that works, and wont leave us eating ramen for every meal.

Fine print: Whole Foods has no idea who I am. They didn’t contact me at all. I did this by myself. WOW LOOK AT THAT.

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