Proving you can make a weekly menu plan of 3 meals a day for $25/person at Whole Foods Market. Plus, enter to win a $100 gift card to take the challenge yourself.
I have a friend who jokingly calls Whole Foods the “Whole Paycheck.” I often agreed with her, not because I felt the prices were outrageous, but because when I’m at Whole Foods I’m often also seeking out specialty items that I can’t find in other places, so they naturally are going to cost more. So when they challenged me to do a week’s worth of grocery shopping for just $25/person I never gave it a second thought as to whether it could be done or not. Of course you can eat organic on a budget, and while our approach is to mix and match across the market, warehouse stores, and grocery stores in order to do so, there’s nothing saying you couldn’t shop exclusively at Whole Foods and still make it happen.
When shopping at any grocery store it’s important to know how they work, and Whole Foods has built-in ways to save you money on foods you can trust. They provide multiple sales flyers and seasonal coupon booklets, as well as meal planning advice and recipes. I was excited to learn that you can get discounts by the case (it was all I could do not to grab a whole case of Lara Bars off the shelf at 10% off) and for buying meat in bulk. If you have a smaller household, freezing the meat for a later date let’s you still take advantage of the savings.
I could have gone cheap with my menu, planning meals that would be considered budget food (rice and beans, anyone?), but instead, I wanted it to feel like we were eating comfortably without making sacrifices to our daily meals. I even splurged on a large bag of shrimp.
Wanting to keep it as close to real life as possible, I purchased a few pantry items we needed like buckwheat flour, coconut oil, and a large bag of grits which will last beyond the week at hand, and I didn’t fret over everyday pantry items we have at home like flour, honey, and yeast.
Note: The Menu is Clickable!
The Preparation Shortcuts:
1. Bake a loaf of bread and two batches of naan to use throughout the week. Healthy Bread in 5 is a great way to get whole wheat sandwich bread, and their naan recipe from Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in 5 Minutes a Day is also a favorite in our house. Then you can bake at will, too.
2. Slow cook the barbacoa early on. The tomato and pepper sauce that is left after the meat is done will become the base for the chili. Reserve a little to serve with the tacos, and then bulk of it gets an extra can of tomatoes, two cans of beans, and the leftover meat.
3. The bones from the chicken are made into stock for the gumbo. Extra rice from the gumbo is used for the fried rice in the lunches.
4. All leftover vegetables get added to pizzas for pizza night.
Our menu in hand, off we went to buy our food. Here’s the breakdown and the actual receipt proof that we came in under $150. Given that I planned to make my bread and you might not want to, I left you enough money to buy a loaf. We just used coupons that were available at the stand when you walk into the store, and outside of planning to buy beef because it was on sale last week, we didn’t plan specifically around any ongoing offers.
A few things worth mentioning. I opted for a few items that weren’t the cheapest available. I like cream line milk and yogurt, and so I purchased those because they are what we already buy. I also spent extra getting the glass bottles from a local dairy on the milk instead of the plastic bottles that are shipped in a bit further. A few times there were conventional items available that were cheaper, but I chose to stick with the organic options.
We usually don’t purchase meat in store. Our beef is purchased in bulk from a local farmer, and we buy free-range chicken and organic pork from a vendor at our local farmers market. This keeps our weekly costs down a bit, outside of seafood (though we do stock up on that as well when it’s in season). Because we save by buying in bulk, we have a bit of that money left to add splurge purchases to our grocery bill (like cases of date bars).
If the preview above is not working for you, click here to download.
The end result is that a little bit of planning goes a long way to making shopping and eating organic on a budget possible. Buying bulk items, staying away from processed foods and snacks, and sticking to a meal plan can do great things for your wallet.
I’m giving away a Whole Foods Market $100 Gift Card!
Leave me a comment! Any little comment. Tell me about your weekly shopping trips, how you plan your menus, what you did or did not eat this week, or just how the weather is.
For Bonus Entries:
Tweet or share the following on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did:
Enter to win a $100 @WholeFoods gift card via @FoodforMyFamily http://wp.me/puu57-3cw #giveaway
This giveaway is provided by Whole Foods and will run until Monday, October 29th, 2012 at 11:59 pm CDT and is open to all U.S. residents 18 years of age and older. A winner will be chosen at random using Random.org from all eligible entries. Chosen winners must respond within 48 hours of notification to claim their prize. Good luck!