• Two Weeks of Grocery Shopping at Trader Joe’s

    March 5, 2014

    So, I think this week’s grocery shopping was a success? I created a meal plan and headed to Trader Joe’s with my list in hand. I tried to stick to it, but I veered off track a little bit here and there. I just can’t help myself at TJ’s. They have so many fun foods!

    Mid-way through my shopping, I remember that I will be out-of-town for a blog trip Monday through Wednesday next week, so I bought a few extra items to make Mal’s life easier while I am away. I know he’s a big boy and totally capable of cooking his own meals, but I figured he’d appreciate some quick and easy options come dinnertime. Anyway, I started loading up my cart with all sorts of stuff and sort of went overboard (like I always do at Trader Joe’s).

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    I ended up buying all sorts of good stuff—definitely more than I originally planned—but I think it’ll all work out in the end, especially if these groceries, plus what we already have in our kitchen, gets us through 2 weeks. Even if I need to do a small shopping mid-week next week, I still think we’ll be in good shape.

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    This week’s grocery shopping, which will hopefully get us through 2 weeks:

    • Frozen Shepherd’s Pie Entrée – $3.99
    • Frozen sweet potato gnocchi – $2.99
    • Frozen broccoli florets – $2.49
    • Frozen chocolate croissants – $3.99
    • Nitrite-free bacon – $4.99
    • Two dozen eggs – $3.98
    • Frozen pizza crusts – $2.49
    • 10 ounces bagged kale – $1.99
    • 2 pounds bagged gala apples – $2.29
    • Assorted Greek yogurts (5) – $4.95
    • Frozen brown rice – $2.99
    • Tofu Edamame Nuggets – $2.99
    • 32 ounces plain Greek yogurt – $4.99
    • Sliced mushrooms – $1.99
    • Frozen vanilla Greek yogurt ice cream – $3.99
    • 12 ounces cauliflower florets – $2.49
    • Almond meal – $4.99
    • Mint Chip Ice Cream – $3.99
    • 10 ounces shaved Brussels sprouts – $2.79
    • Organic ketchup – $1.99
    • 3 pounds bagged tangelos – $2.99
    • Creamy almond butter – $6.99
    • Crushed garlic – $1.99
    • Half gallon unsweetened almond milk – $2.99
    • 1 liter extra virgin olive oil – $6.49
    • Olive oil cooking spray – $2.99
    • 1 pound organic carrots – $0.89
    • Roasted garlic chicken sausage – $3.99
    • Extra sharp Wisconsin cheddar – $2.65
    • Flank steak – $14.92
    • White bean hummus – $3.99
    • Organic maple syrup – $7.99
    • Pecans – $3.99
    • Soft 10 grain bread – $2.49
    • English muffins – $1.69
    • Seedless green grapes – $3.49
    • Bananas – $1.14
    • English cucumber – $1.69
    • Green bell pepper – $0.79
    • Pears (3) – $2.07
    • Lemon – $0.49
    • Sweet potatoes (2) – $0.98
    • Onion – $0.89

    Total: $145.93

    A few notes on this week’s grocery shopping:

    • We ran out of so many things last week that we don’t normally buy on a regular basis (olive oil, maple syrup, ketchup, cooking spray, crushed garlic, almond meal), so this shopping includes those items.
    • This grocery shopping includes fresh produce for juice, which always increases our grocery budget a little bit.
    • I bought a bunch of treats (ice cream, frozen yogurt, chocolate croissants) this week. No reason really… I just wanted them. And, ok, one treat, in particular, was intended to make Mal laugh.

    Let me preface this story by reminding you that Mal and I act like 5-year-olds a lot of the time.

    So, the other night, Mal and I were laying in bed in chatting like we normally do, and Murphy was curled up in between us like a croissant (one of his many pug positions). I guess the croissant visual triggered a craving for one because I announced to Mal that I could really go for a chocolate croissant right then. Maybe it was a pregnancy craving? I dunno, but I would have loved a chocolate croissant at that very moment.

    Mal being the comedian that he is replied: “You have a chocolate croissant right here (referring to Murphy). There’s chocolate on both ends!” Haha!

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    We both thought this was pretty funny and had a good laugh about it, so when I was at Trader Joe’s and saw boxed frozen chocolate croissants, I just had to buy them for Mal.

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    I told you, we’re like 5 years old. Anyway…

    This week’s meal plan:

    Next week’s meal plan:

    • Sunday: Baked pasta with chicken sausage and veggies
    • Monday: Mac & cheese with TJ’s turkey meatballs + broccoli
    • Tuesday: Trader Joe’s Shepard’s Pie
    • Wednesday: Homemade pizzas
    • Thursday: Trader Joe’s sweet potato gnocchi + steamed broccoli
    • Friday: Tuna melts with Trader Joe’s garlic French fries
    • Saturday: Wing it

    It would be awesome if we could make it through the next two weeks with just these groceries, but even if we need to do a small mid-week shopping, we’ll still be looking good budget-wise.

    Some notes on my meal planning this week:

    • A number of these meals are built around what we already had in our kitchen. When I had really bad morning sickness, I just bought whatever when it came to groceries, so now I am really trying to use up what is already in our kitchen and incorporate these items into our meals. So, instead of buying all new food, I assessed what we had in our cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator before I went shopping. I even physically pulled things out of our cabinets and freezer to get a really good look at what we had in there. Even though I know a lot of this stuff isn’t immediately perishable, I’d rather use it up sooner than later and not spend more money. Personally, I don’t see the point of having cabinets and a freezer overflowing with food, especially if you eventually forget about it and it spoils. Wasted food = wasted money!

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    • I prioritized perishable food and made sure to use it up immediately. I knew I wasn’t going grocery shopping until Tuesday, so Mal and I mostly ate from the freezer on Sunday night as well as Monday. I actually had some leftover sweet potatoes and broccoli from the week before, so I made sure to prioritize these two foods and eat them up, so they didn’t go to waste.
    • Along the same lines, if food does spoil before you have a chance to eat it, take note and be sure to buy less of whatever it is next time.

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    • I cleaned my refrigerator. Truthfully, our refrigerator is always pretty clean. Every week before I go grocery shopping, I take stock of what is inside and typically wipe down the shelves if there’s spots or spills. (This takes me less than 5 minutes to do.) I’m also kind of neurotic about my food being stored in a clean space. I mean, eating food that is right next to spoiled or rotting food? Eww. And, of course, having a clean fridge makes it easier to see what I have inside, so food isn’t pushed to the back and forgotten about forever. I also think having a clean fridge helps me eat better because I can see all of my options before I select what to eat.

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    • Be sure to pay attention to unit price. When shopping for ingredient staples, such as extra virgin olive oil, I typically buy the biggest size container (unless it’s ridiculously large) because it’s usually a better value. I’m sure a lot of us do this, but be sure to still pay attention to the unit price. Yesterday at Trader Joe’s, the medium size bottle of extra virgin olive oil, which was on sale, was actually a better deal than the big boy bottle. Just a friendly reminder, so you can get the most bang for your buck!

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    So, there’s week 2 (and possible week 3) of my food budget intervention and grocery shopping experiment. We’ll see how shopping for two weeks at a time works for us!

    Question of the Day

    How many days/weeks do you typically shop for when you go grocery shopping?

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    { 67 comments… read them below or add one }

    Megan March 6, 2014 at 10:34 am

    We don’t live anywhere near a TJ’s! It makes me so sad. In fact, my mom and I are planning a girls trip to St. Louis to specifically go to Trader Joe’s and Crate and Barrel. It’s the little things right? I love TJ’s coconut oil spray and I really want to try the chocolate croissants. I have heard such good things!

    I usually aim for menu planning and one big trip for everything. We normally have to make a milk, eggs or bread run in the middle, but we save so much money by planning out our meals.

    Reply

    Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength March 6, 2014 at 10:50 am

    If you think you act 5 now just wait! You’ll be singing kids songs, talking about poop and farts, and using alternatives to swear words like it’s your job. Oh wait, it will be your job. :-)

    Reply

    Ashley March 6, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    oh my gosh i adore the chocolate croissant story! that absolutely sounds like something my husband and i would say AND do. totally worth the mini splurge, you can’t overvalue a good laugh :) <3

    Reply

    kathy March 6, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Love Trader Joe’s – it’s hard not to get carried away! I love the white ceramic double tray – it’s perfect for fruits and veggies! I have been looking for something like that, mind if I ask where you got it? Congratulations on Baby H! :)

    Reply

    Tina March 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks! It’s from Target!

    Reply

    Pam March 6, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    They are building a Trader Joe’s near me and I’m so excited! I used to shop at TJs all the time when I loved in Mass several years ago.
    Great meal planning Tina! Awesome strategies :)

    Reply

    Tricia@ Balance In Progress March 6, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    I usually shop on Sunday or Monday for the week.

    Reply

    Shereen from Tweet and Eats March 6, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Have you tried their vacuum fried banana chips? Insane!

    Reply

    Kara March 6, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    I looooove Trader Joe’s! I need to start actually planning meals, though. I’m the type that will just go grocery shopping every couple days to buy whatever I feel like eating that day. Then, if I get home super late one night, I’ll be all grumpy because I have nothing to eat, haha.

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    Annie Atherton March 10, 2014 at 9:05 am

    You should do a comparison and walk around a regular grocery store (hannaford or whatever you have down there) and write prices down. I bet that same list would have been OVER $200. Which is disappointing. We don’t have the option of Trader Joes here, and I just really appreciate how they stock organic/healthy options, for not a whole lot of money! Plus some fun food that you can’t resist buying :)

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