Thursday, October 15, 2009

I spent $176 at Trader Joes!!!

I did. It's crazy if you ask me. When the total rang up I felt sick, literally. I think the cashier thought he was going to have to slap me to knock the shock of horror off of my face. How could food for one week for a family of 4 cost so much? I hadn't even bought any dairy or meat items (well just one bag of shrimp), but usually the dairy and meats are what sock it to you. I decided that something has gotta change.

When I was a kid we didn't have much money, but we had enough. I remember meals like pork and beans (you know cut up hot dogs mixed with pork and beans?) Okay, not the healthiest option for us super crazed health-conscious moms, but it was a meal nonetheless and it certainly didn't break the bank. We didn't eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. I remember lots of canned peaches and peas, pineapple chunks mixed with cottage cheese, etc. One of my favorite dishes was Steak Picado: canned potatoes mixed with green bell peppers (green peppers are always cheaper than red right?) and a cheap piece of meat like flap steak or carne asada. It was delicious! Or my all-time favorite of white rice, piled with a ground beef/canned green beans and tomato sauce concoction. My mom made do on the budget we had and we all survived.

Even now that my parents food budget is much larger, my mom still hunts for the bargains. The other day I told her I would make one of my favorite Giada recipes shrimp fra diavolo, and she offered to bring over the shrimp that she had just purchased. Despite my humble beginnings I have become a bit of a food snob. When I now buy shrimp I buy frozen, but they are the large daddies, you know like 35-40 per 2 lb bag and they are uncooked, deveined with the shell on. They taste the freshest to me this way. My mom brought over the tiny little shrimp that comes 100 to a 2lb bag and they were precooked. I looked at her in horror like "how dare you!". She said "What, the bag was on sale for $3.00!" You get what you pay for mom, you get what you pay for.

My kids always have an abundance of fresh fruit and veggies to eat, along with fresh salmon, pork tenderloin, tri-tip or flank steak, maybe even a filet now and then. It's not that I will only eat this kind of stuff, it's just what I like to cook and what I like to eat. I calculated out the costs of my baked ziti that I make and one dish easily runs about $22! We could eat out for cheaper than that.

Okay, so back to the part of something has gotta change! I decided that I need to trim the fat off our grocery bill and do a much better job of running around to the different stores to look for the best bargains and sales. I made a budget of no more than $100 a week for groceries. SO,
last night with my foot propped up I spent some time browsing all 7 grocery ads that had come in the mail. yes, 7! I made a list of the things we needed and wrote down which places had the best deals on said items. People, I made a list that consisted of going to 5 different grocery stores.

Is this feasible with 2 small children to run to 5 different grocery stores? My mom is insistent that I can do it. It has almost become this crazy challenge that I need to compete in.

It's amazing though how much money you can save though when you pay attention. Sprouts has kiwis for 19 cents each this week and Ralph's has avocados for 47 cents each. My list is coming in at $114, so a bit over budget, but I am stocking up on some things and will be buying about two weeks of different kinds of meat (salmon, chicken breasts, pork tenderloin and ground beef), so next week I should be able to come in under my $100 budget easily.

The shopping starts tomorrow. Wish me luck!


  1. Wow. I am impressed by your ambition. Did you do it? I would like to do that, but the extra effort of going to multiple stores with 3 kids is not worth it. The pain and suffering for all of us would be just too much.
    I try to keep it at $125 a week for a family of 5. I usually end up closer to $150. That includes a trip to the Farmers Market every week. I only shop at Trader Joe's and I am a food snob too.
    Keep us updated on your progress!

  2. I did it! I made it to all 5 stores (3 with Syd while Taylor was at preschool) and two the next day when we were all together as a family. the thing that was nice was that since I was doing a fraction of a full grocery list at each place, i spent a fraction of the time; like 20 minutes in each store. Normally one store for a full grocery list takes an hour. So 5x20=the same amount of time, just a little bit extra time for getting in and out of the car. Luckily all the stores are less than 5 minutes of each other so no real waste of travel time or gas. I spent over my budget by $60 ($160 total), BUT, I bought a ton of meat (over 25 lbs) so I will be freezing it of course and for the next couple of weeks will just need the fresh veggies/fruit and milk. The great thing is that I got to still buy the things we love to eat and got a TON of food!


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