Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I'm revamping our budget. I have felt scattered and undisciplined when shopping for groceries for a while now. I go to three different stores as well as the farmers' market. Between meal planning, hunting for the healthier convenience items at the lowest prices and everything else that comes along with being home with my boys (and taking care of two more four days a week), I find myself lost at the moment.

We shop at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Target and the farmers' market. Trader Joe's has great prices, there's no denying that. But they won't disclose where their private label meat comes from and some of their ground beef identifies up to three possible countries of origin in one package (yuck!) not to mention the only grass-fed beef offered in our local store comes from New Zealand. Their produce and eggs are questionable as well. So I don't buy meat or eggs at Trader Joe's nor produce with the exception of the occasional bag of organic potatoes or lettuce.

So on to Whole Foods. I was listening to a program on sports talk radio and heard the host refer to Whole Foods as "Whole Paycheck." It made me feel better to hear someone that I feel it safe to assume makes a decent salary say this. I still can't help but feel out of my "tax bracket" while shopping there. And regardless of how smart we try to shop, it still results in a significant bill. So frustrating. We buy our meat including lunch meat, eggs, milk, some produce and the occasional prepared item. Prepared food = lots of money, I know.

Next stop is Target. Besides household basics, I buy bread, pasta, sometimes coffee, Annie's Whole Wheat Bunnies and Greek yogurt. They have the best prices on all of these items almost all of the time. For instance Whole Foods sells my favorite Greek yogurt for $1.69 each and the same yogurt is $1.29 at Target. Adds up when you're buying five at a time, every week.

Finally, the Farmers' Market. Sometimes produce is less at the Farmers' Market and sometimes it's more. Ultimately, I feel better about buying my produce there even if it's more because I know exactly where it came from and I'm supporting the farmers. And my boys always see or learn something new, that makes it even more worth it. Besides fruits and vegetables, we occasionally buy beef and bread from the Farmers' Market. The beef is local and 100% grass-fed. The meat is some of the best tasting meat I've ever had. It is a bit higher in price than the local grass-fed beef sold at Whole Foods. The only time we don't buy the beef at the Farmers' Market is if our schedule that day prevents us from going home directly after the market or keeps us from the market entirely. In those cases, it's added to the Whole Foods list.

Just writing about this is giving me anxiety, that's how overwhelmed I've become. My first step to feeling in control again is using a new budget software. My hope is it will help me create a new budget and keep us out of the "hole." Next is coupon clipping and mapping out sale items. I just hope the $1.50 I spend on the newspaper to get the coupons gives me more than that back in savings. Finally, meal planning must be consistent. Is there a meal planning software? I bet there is, I'll have to look into it. A free download would be ideal!

I have followed other budget series on other blogs and certainly appreciated the information but haven't been able to make it work as they seem to have. Specifically, 100 Days of Real Food's series. I was so happy when the author decided to do a budget pledge because I was getting a little irritated reading about eating real food from someone who was obviously not short on cash. But even with the information published, I still question if it was truly $125 a week, all week, every week. Not to be a skeptic but I have tried and have consistently failed at buying all organic, real and/or whole foods for my family of four for that amount. Maybe it's geography? Maybe it's something else? I don't know. Regardless, I'm going to give it a go again. Motivated by the absolute need to reduce our outgoing and the perceived success over at 100 Days of Real Food, let's do this!

I'll post about the results as they come in. Posting will help me keep on top of things sorta like Weight Watchers weekly weigh-ins do! Looking forward to getting started.


  1. You can do this! We, too, feel the need to make some compromises with our clean/whole eating and our budget. Our family (2 people + 4 animals) tries very hard to adhere to $125 a week (including cleaning supplies + animal stuff)...though, I'll be honest, sometimes it's closer to $150, and sometimes it's only $75. A couple of thoughts...

    1. Coupon clipping is unlikely to help you much, except with cleaning supplies, toiletries, and pet products. We canceled our newspaper subscription, actually, as we realized that whole eating is not well-reflected in the coupon section. Just sharing something we learned.

    2. Do you have a Costco or a Sam's Club nearby? We find that it helps our budget to buy some organic and whole items there in bulk, especially those we can freeze or store in the pantry. For example, I tend to snack on nuts and dried fruit. I buy a giant bag of almonds for under $10, dried fruit as needed, store it in the freezer, and it lasts me a loooong time. Helps immensely with the budget, and we try to stock up on our "cheap" weeks (when our meals come under budget). They also have Greek yogurt at a steal compared to the grocery store, but it's worth walking around to compare unit prices - not everything is a deal.

    3. Writing a weekly menu helps us immensely. We usually have one or two nights of leftovers (I'm in grad school some evenings, so it helps me avoid vending machines), but we find that we waste significantly less food, stay on budget, and eat better if we plan ahead.

    Your blog is so inspiring to us, so keep writing!

  2. Hi Adriana. Thanks for the comments, I appreciate you sharing your experience and your suggestions. I totally agree with the coupons, I stopped clipping a long time ago when I moved away from your typical grocery store packaged food. There isn't much outside of those besides as you mentioned the cleaning supplies, etc. I do have a Costco and Sam's close by but don't have a membership. If I ever get a chance to check it out, I will. I'm thrilled you enjoy my blog, the subject is a passion of mine.