Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Glimpse into Eco-Babyz #5: Food Shopping

Readers, friends, and acquaintances regularly ask me about our food shopping - i.e. where we shop, what we buy, and most importantly, how much we spend? It's time to reveal our secrets! Well, there's really nothing that special about how we shop. We make adjustments as necessary and we're generally used to our routine. Unfortunately, we rarely shop at farmer's markets - though I've been meaning to carve out time [and money] for that. We make three stops for food (not all on the same day), Trader Joe's (90%), Market Basket (7%), and Mann's Orchard (3%). At Mann's we mainly buy apples, they are delicious, well priced, and grown right near us. At MB we get our non-organic bananas, avocados, Florida's Natural OJ, and Kate's Butter from Maine (not for baking, but for spreading on homemade bread). The rest is at Trader Joe's. We used to shop there every weekend, then narrowed it down to every two weeks, and now we've been shopping once every three weeks for the past three months. It is a half hour drive from our house, so we try to go there when we're in that area so we don't make a separate trip.

We do not by any means have the healthiest diet. We eat plenty of grains because we can't afford my idea of the ideal food pyramid - with veggies on the bottom! Then grains and fruit in the next two categories. We still try to eat balanced meals, but we almost always either have bread, pasta, rice, or potatoes along with it. Occasionally, and especially in the summer when we have fresh spinach or salad, we just have protein (usually chicken) with lots of salad. Stay tuned, I'll share a lot more in my posts specifically about each meal of the day!

Now on to how much we spend. At TJs we dish out $160 +/- every three weeks. Another $25 at the other stores. A total of $185 every three weeks. Now, I know some families who do with even less, keep in mind there are only three of us. But most people whom I tell this are shocked that we're able to get by with so little spent on groceries. Moreover, we buy about 65% organic and 90% unprocessed real food. I attribute being able to do this to Trader Joe's, on average their everyday prices are simply unbeatable. No need to hunt down coupons. Plus I love that it is compact and I can do all my shopping in 15-20 minutes. It might not be right for everyone, their packages are rather small and I don't know if it would work for a large family. Also, although generally they sell healthy food, you have to read the labels regardless and not everything is 'healthy'.

Every three to four months we also buy King Arthur Unbleached flour in bulk (50 lbs for about $16). This enables us to have fresh baked goods without paying the bakery to do it. Currently there isn't much variety in my baking, but I've discovered my 1000 Chocolate, Baking, & Dessert Recipes cookbook in the attic about a week ago! So I'm trying new things! I regularly make bread (once or twice a week), cookies (at least once a week), and banana bread (once a week, with variations). Of course this is not good for every family. We're all underweight, so my home based bakery doesn't hurt anyone's waist line. ;)

Unfortunately I haven't been able to hunt down a recent receipt, but here is one from when we used to shop every two weeks. You'll notice that we spent more then, now we buy less and we waste a lot less - almost nothing is thrown out, not even left overs (I try to prepare meals without leftovers). I've started buying more fruits/veggies frozen so that we don't throw out anything spoiled. Also, I've included a [barely legible] current shopping list for our next trip this weekend. It doesn't really tell the whole story because some things are packaged or sold in a different form than you're used to. But it gives you an idea. There are always two or three things I forget to put on the list and remember when we're at the store.

Oh, and in case you wanted to know - we use TJs reusable canvas shopping bags! Questions, comments? How much do you spend?


  1. You're doing great! We spend about twice that for twice as many people, but one of them is a baby. I guess he doesn't count.

  2. Nastya, wow you need to give me some hints on your shopping. I do shop at TJ at least once a week sometimes twice but i usually spend around $70 or less there.
    I do shop at Whole Foods mostly for chicken because i discovered that what ever they don't sell the pack it and sell it the next day for cheeper but its not that cheap but at least i know where there meat is coming from. That is about $30 or so sometimes more.
    Also i shop at Farmers Market local store mostly for vitamins but sometimes more.
    I do buy cereals, oat meal, pastas, at walmart. Along with houtsehold items.
    Unfortunately Shawn is a picky eater, he would eat potatoes at least once a week, not favor of pasta's or breads. It's a bit challenging so we do spend $400 of food a month, for four people. Sometimes more sometimes a bit less. We almost never go out to eat unless we are driving somewhere far away.
    On weekends we go to my parents and i bring my own stuff to cook dinner for family of 5 including us. Because i know where i get my food the quality, because my parents can't afford it.

    P.S. you even put squares to check next to the items on shopping list lol.

  3. Nastya, Thank you for this post. I was waiting for it. One question what cheese do you buy? I looked for it and couldn't find it. Also I think it helps a lot to make a list when you shop, other wise if you go shopping without a list and hungry you'll just spend twice as much. And another advise is to shop the perimeter of the store and not go into the isles unless you need something. Do tell your recipes for the bread and cookies :)))

  4. Luda, I think $400/month for 4 is not bad. Baby E is not eating so much yet, so it's almost like we're buying just for the two of us. I know I'll be spending more when she will start to eat more as I wean her.
    Natasha, you're welcome! We buy the Raw Milk Cheddar - but they were out of it today when we went shopping! We had to get one from New Zealand organic instead, but it wasn't more expensive at least. Yep, I tried going without a list, just doesn't work for me. I've also learned today that going with baby E is not a good idea, I can't focus with her and it takes longer. About shopping the perimeter - another reason I love TJ's, proportinally their perimeter is a lot bigger than any other supermarket, they have a lot less processed food. I always know exactly what I need in each aisle. I'll have to share those recipes later too! :)

  5. I love trader joes.

    knickgirl_3 at yahoo dot com


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