Today marks the close of week 1 in the 60 Day Grocery Makeover. I’m happy to report that I mostly stuck with the meal plan, with the exception of substituting out one meal for another (more on that later). I did end up having to run out to the store once this week to get a couple of things:
Sprouts: $2.15 for organic tomatoes
Whole Foods: $7.93 for a loaf of ciabatta bread and a jar of roasted red peppers.
I ended up spending $ 134.82 for week 1 and I feel really good about coming in under budget. That gives me an extra $15.18 in padding for the month of December, which I’m sure will come in handy for the holiday meals coming up.
An Extra Meal On Hand!
As I mentioned, one meal was swapped out: I was supposed to make Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup mid-week, but I decided to make a loaded cauliflower soup instead. When I checked my fridge Wednesday evening, I saw the giant head of cauliflower (I’m talking a 3 pound whopper) I’d picked up on sale last was getting little black spots on it and needed to be used. I also had some milk , a partial container of chicken broth, some bacon ends and the last bit of cheddar cheese to use up. I decided to make the soup and save the chickpea meal for another night. I was able to add this extra meal using things I already had, pushing the chickpea meal into next week. Having an extra meal already paid for will make the coming budget week easier; I need coffee and olive oil, which are pricier items.
Trying Out A New Store
There is a Natural Grocers nearby and I’d never been in, so I decided to do some of my shopping there this week. It was one of those times when I wondered if I could be saving more money by shopping a different store. It was really disappointing. The prices were more expensive for almost every item on my list compared with Whole Foods and Sprouts. The produce was in pretty bad shape and the meat department didn’t have much selection. I tried to find the items on my list that were a good price there, but I won’t be going back. I am glad to have tried – now I know!
I thought it would be helpful to list what I got at each store, so I’ve tried that out this week to give you an idea of the meal variety possible on the budget. This should also give you an idea of how we are using things for breakfasts and lunches too.
The Shopping Totals (Lots Of Organic Finds This Week)
I ended up spending $21.68 at Natural Grocers and this is what I got:
- 1 lb. organic blue cornmeal (I’ve been obsessed with this since discovering it in New Mexico) $1.49
- 1 bag organic frozen peas $1.69
- 4 bars 88% dark chocolate (An on sale treat I’ll hide from myself in the freezer) $7.96
- 5 lb. bag organic potatoes $3.29
- 1 organic zucchini 52 cents
- 5 organic limes $1.91
- 3 organic apples $1.37
- Organic celery 88 cents
- 2 organic Meyer lemons $1.38
- 1 bunch organic green onions $1.19
I also went to Whole Foods because they had some organic beef and fish on sale, as well as better prices overall for what I needed this week. The 365 brand they carry is usually priced really well and I’ve found quite a few items in that line that are good.
I spent $70.24 at Whole Foods. Here’s what I bought:
- 2 cans whole organic tomatoes $3.98
- 1 can organic tomato sauce $1.49
- Olive oil $9.99
- 2 dozen organic free range eggs $7.38 (after $2.00 Ibotta rebate)
- 1 whole Branzini fish (Sale item I’ll freeze for a later meal) $8.77
- Organic beef bottom round roast $6.34
- Fresh mozzarella $3.99
- Parmesan $3.80
- Organic beets $2.49
- 1 lb. parsnips $3.17
- 1 lb. cremini mushrooms $4.99
- Organic eggplant $3.86
- 2 organic red bell peppers $4.00
- 1 gallon organic milk $5.99
And finally, I spent $29.22 at Sprouts. Here are the last few items I got:
- 1 lb. Asparagus (I couldn’t find organic) $1. 98
- 1 lb. fresh organic baby spinach $4.99
- Organic golden beets $ 1.99 ( they were cheaper at Sprouts so I got extra for next week)
- Organic tomatoes $3.06
- 1 lb. organic super greens $4.99 (we like salads in this house)
- 1 bottle soy sauce $1.49 (after $1 store coupon)
- 1 small roll goat cheese $2.99
- Organic whole wheat pita bread $2.99 (It was on sale, so half will go in the freezer for a later meal)
- Organic cheddar cheese $4.74 (After @1.25 store coupon)
I also got coffee at a local place called Ozo Coffee Company, spending $15.00 It’s expensive, but so worth the price. I always go on Fridays, when they offer a free drink with the purchase of a bag of coffee, and after a week without coffee, it was so delicious! We only allow ourselves 1 cup each on weekday mornings, but have a little more on weekends when there is time to enjoy it. Last week, we made do with hot tea, so it will be nice to have coffee again this week. I think 1 bag should last us almost two weeks if we’re careful.
Freezer Charge: $6.34 for 2 organic chicken breasts
Pantry Charge: $6.25 for 2 packages of organic pasta and polenta
This brings the total to: $148.73! That’s pretty close, but I was able to pick up a few extras that were on sale for next week.
Week 2 Meal Plan
Saturday: Slow roasted beef in a tomato-red wine sauce with polenta
This one sounds super fancy, but in reality, it’s a crock-pot meal and so easy. I’ll put it together in the morning and enjoy my Saturday while it cooks away. Cheap and yummy polenta takes just a few minutes on the stove.
Sunday: Chicken parmesan heros and salad
Another crock-pot meal! Layer in chicken breasts, onion, mushrooms and sauce. Let it cook for 3 hours on low and layer on a bun with cheese.
Monday: Ratatouilli brunch with eggs and crusty bread
Lots of savory veggies, and eggs as the protein, loaded on some rustic toasted bread is delicious. A one dish quick meal.
Tuesday: Pasta Primavera and salad
So fast (20 minutes), but light and healthy. You can include whatever veggies you have on hand; mushrooms, asparagus, green onion…Great way to use up some fresh produce.
Wednesday: Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup and Pita
The ingredients for this meal were purchased in last week’s grocery haul. So good on a chilly evening. Freezes well.
Friday: Cheese and veggie enchiladas, beans, guacamole and salsa.
I’m hoping to have some onions, zucchini and onion left from the week. Yet another dish to use up the leftover produce before they spoil.
Note that we usually have a meat meal twice during the week. Eating mostly vegetarian keeps our costs down. Several of the recipes provide tasty leftovers for lunches throughout the week. Plan your menu intentionally, with lunches in mind, so that you get the most out of each meal. We’re having an Italian meal three times this week and that’s really helpful in ensuring we use up all the ingredients – I don’t want cheese or zucchini turning into an accidental science experiment in the back of the fridge!