Food Budget Intervention & Grocery Shopping Experiment

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Hi, I'm Tina!

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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Oops, this post was actually suppose to publish yesterday, but I am a space cadet and set it as a draft, so it never did. Anyway, here it is… better late that never!

After months and months of not wanting to meal plan or even cook, I finally feel like my old self again. Meal planning is actually exciting again, and I want to eat “real” food instead of just frozen yogurt for dinner. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I was doing it a little too much. (Damn, yogurt bar on the way home from CrossFit!) Basically, what I am saying is I’ve been really lazy with meal planning lately. Some examples:

Buying a massive amount of frozen food at Trader Joe’s and just hoping for the best when it came to mealtime

Hitting up the hot bar/salad bar or prepared foods section of Whole Foods whenever I was hungry

Ordering take-out any time I didn’t want to cook dinner

And, similarly, dining out just way too often

Eating froyo and other random/usually not-very-healthy foods and counting them as meals just because I was too lazy to make something healthy

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with any of these things on occasion, but I really wasn’t putting in any effort, which meant I wasn’t eating very healthy and spending a crapload of money, especially on dining out. Not kidding you, Mal and I spent close to $500 on groceries, take-out, and dining out in one week. ONE WEEK!! For TWO people!!! That is insane and not good. Not good at all. Actually, realizing this is what encouraged me to give ourselves an intervention. We also haven’t been eating all that well lately, so I want to get back on track there too. Basically, I want to GET IT TOGETHER with our eating habits in our house.

Right now, I primarily shop at Whole Foods, mostly out of convenience, but I also love the quality of their products, especially when it comes to their meat. On occasion, I shop at Trader Joe’s and Stop & Shop because they’re a lot cheaper, but they’re farther away and I can’t always get everything I want there. That said, I want to do a grocery shopping experiment over the next few weeks with a few goals in mind:

  1. Reducing the amount of money that we spend on food (i.e. dining out less, watching our grocery budget)
  2. Mindful shopping at the grocery store (i.e. meal planning, shopping sales, buying in bulk, etc.)
  3. Cooking at home more often to help us eat more healthily and save money
  4. Don’t get stuck in a rut (i.e. try new recipes/foods) and keep mealtime at home interesting

Moving forward, my weekly meal plans on CNC will be a lot more detailed. Instead of just telling you want we have planned for the week, I’ll be keeping track of our spending, in-store sales, coupon use, tips and tricks for saving money and eating healthy as well as other tidbits that I encounter from week-to-week. Basically, I’m going to revitalize my love for meal planning and cooking and share my experiences on CNC while keeping my goals in mind. I guess it’s just a fun challenge!

Ok, then, let’s get started!

I kept this week’s experiment fairly simple since it’s a starting place for comparison since this is how I currently shop for the most part: Grocery shopping at Whole Foods with a meal plan, no coupons, no sales. I made my meal plan at home before I went shopping, but I didn’t bother with coupons or checking out the sales at Whole Foods before I left the house.

This week’s meal plan:

On Friday afternoon, Mal and I are leaving for New York City for the weekend, so I know our food budget will be tested, but I hoping to pack dinner for us to take on the train and our hotel includes breakfast, so, hopefully, things won’t get too crazy with our spending.

This week’s grocery shopping:

  • Dandelion greens – $1.02
  • WF crumbled feta – $2.00
  • Green bell pepper – $1.89
  • WF marinara sauce – $2.39
  • One dozen large eggs – $2.99
  • Bagged spinach – $3.79
  • Brown Cow Greek yogurt x 10 – $11.90
  • Ground beef (1.25 lbs) – $7.61
  • Chicken breasts (3) – $16.27
  • Broccoli – $1.53
  • Ground turkey (1 lb) – $5.99
  • WF diced tomatoes x 2 – $1.49
  • Sweet potatoes – $3.70
  • Grapefruit – $1.82
  • Spaghetti squash – $4.17
  • Yellow onion – $0.50
  • English cucumber – $2.49
  • Bananas – $1.79
  • Green grapes – $7.70
  • Tomato – $0.50

Total: $81.54

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Some notes:

  • The items in this grocery shopping don’t cover all of the meals planned for the week. When I was making my shopping list, I assessed what was in our kitchen and planned our meals based on what we already had (i.e. a lot of frozen foods from Trader Joe’s), so I didn’t need to do a huge shopping.
  • These groceries (+ what we already had in our kitchen) cover breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the week. (Mal takes dinner leftovers for lunch just about everyday.)
  • The chicken breasts at Whole Foods were on sale this week, so I bought three. (They’re huge!) I’ll use half this week and freeze the rest for next week.
  • Brown Cow Greek yogurt was on sale (and the cheapest Greek yogurt option), so I stocked up. Mal eats one for breakfast almost every morning, and I really like eating a container with chocolate sprinkles for dessert after dinner. Brown Cow has a salted caramel flavor, so I bought a couple for myself.

IMG_1585 (900x675)

As some of you might know, I’m a tad obsessed with meal planning and have written all sorts of posts about the subject over the years. If you’re thinking about giving yourself a little grocery shopping/food budget intervention as well, here are some posts to help get you started!

Questions of the Day

How much do you typically spend on groceries for you and your family each week?

What store(s) do you usually shop at?

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