Two Weeks of Grocery Shopping at Trader Joe’s

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

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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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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 my Trader Joe’s shopping list, but I veered off track a little bit here and there. I just can’t help myself when I’m there. Trader Joe’s has so many fun foods! Even still, I managed to come up with two weeks worth of groceries from Trader Joe’s.

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. We’re all about the Trader Joe’s healthy meal ideas! 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 goodies. I sort of went overboard (like I always do at Trader Joe’s), so I ended up with two week’s worth of grocery shopping from Trader Joe’s.

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. With this Trader Joe’s grocery haul + what we already have in our kitchen, it will gets us through two 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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Two weeks of groceries from Trader Joe’s

  • Frozen Shepherd’s Pie Entree – $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 about 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. 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…

Trader Joe’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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  • 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. Actually, I had some leftover sweet potatoes and broccoli from the week before, so I made sure to prioritize these two foods and eat them up. The last thing I want is for them to 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. 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. Also, I think having a clean fridge helps me eat better because I can see all of my options before I select what to eat.
  • 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?

Previous posts in this series:

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71 Comments

  1. Because I live alone, I usually shop for one week at a time. Now that we have a TJs nearby (which is a bright spot in my life :)) I go there once a week and stock up and if I need to get more produce during the week, I might do that as well. This year I’ve been good about meal planning and budgeting (and not spending all my money at whole paycheck!) I try to find ingredients that I can use multiple ways as leftovers for lunch. Like if I make a batch of lentils, I’ll mix them with BBQ sauce one day, put them on top of rice another day, or eat them with some mixed veggies the next. Works for me!

  2. I typically shop for Sunday through Thursday for dinners and Monday through Friday lunches. I then will do a small shop to prepare for whatever we might need on the weekend. I always feel like I spend a boatload of cash on groceries!

    1. Since I got pregnant, I’ve been eating gluten on the regular. Gluten is often associated with autoimmune diseases and inflammation in the body, but since my immune system has chilled out because of pregnancy, all of my UC systems have gone away (knock on wood), so I’m eating everything and exposing Baby Haupert to as many foods as possible.

  3. I usually shop for one week and I make sure not to go back to the store unless it’s completely necessary. Planning meals ahead definitely helps with this. You got a lot of good stuff and the next two weeks of food looks amazing. Baby Haupert will be a happy camper. 🙂

  4. You and Mal are so funny! It seems like you have a lot of fun together.

    We are really sporadic at grocery shopping. I usually shop for a month with canned and frozen items, but I’ll weekly go to the store for fresh veggies and random things I want to make meals. I try to meal plan, but I usually wake up and think, “I want to make *this* today instead!”

  5. I love these recaps and learning how others do grocery shopping. I am the same way at TJ’s I could literally buy the whole store. Love the story about the two ends, my husband would have said the same thing! 🙂
    We typically shop one week at a time!

  6. Haha, 5 years old and adorable! I have just recently fallen in love with TJs almond butter. A great find!

    I grocery shop for 7 days, but I usually end up going for a mid-week run for an essential I forgot (an extra veggie… or more likely a six-pack of beer). 😉 Plus, we usually eat out the last night of the week.

  7. I usually shop twice a week. Once at Whole Foods or Trader Joes and once at a conventional grocery store to get items at better prices.

  8. Some amazing bargains! I pay 3.50 dollars (2.50 euro!) for just 1 litre of almond milk! Half a gallon is epic!!! Almond meal is so expensive here too; about 8.50 dollars for just two cups worth! The tofu edamame nuggets sound intriguing! Do you buy organic eggs or meat?

  9. I shop for up to a week’s worth of food, but mostly I hit the grocery store every few days (it’s on the way home from work). I can’t stick to a list, I try. But I end up with more than I need and half goes to waste or we change our minds as to what we want to eat. So this way I just buy what we need w/out going over board and we’re not left with something we don’t want later.

    I wish we had a Trader Joes around here!! None in southern Maryland 🙁

  10. I’m pretty positive that I could consume a whole bag of TJ’s sweet potato gnocchi…if it weren’t for those nutritional facts on the back! That stuff is soooo good! Have you tried their frozen, creamy polenta with kale? Amazing!

  11. just so you know you are teaching me a whole lot about meal planning and budged friendly shopping.. gracias 🙂

  12. Wow I think I love every single thing on your grocery list. Sadly our budget is pretty small but I love going to TJ! I wish we had one around here but hopefully when we move I can shop more there 🙂 I usually go once a week but sometimes I have to go mid week to pick up a few things I forgot.

  13. These are some great purchases! I tend to shop for a week of groceries at a time, but if seafood is on sale, I buy a ton & freeze it. I also tend to make bulk batches of soup & chili, so those weeks my grocery bill is higher, but the weeks we eat off what’s in the freezer are SUPER inexpensive!

  14. I shop too many times a week, mostly because I am always picking up fresh produce. I mind sometimes and don’t – we never let anything go to waste so it is worth it to always have fresh berries, fruits and vegetables on hand. I do try to stock up on the other stuff to limit my shopping if I can, and I totally watch prices and sales to save as much money as possible!

  15. Trader Joe’s is like the Target of grocery stores. You go in wanting one thing and somehow come out with a cart full every single time. I cracked up when I saw the picture you put on the croissant box! The sweet potato gnocchi from TJ’s is awesome…good pick up there!

  16. Great job! I grocery shop for 2 weeks at a time as well. I have 3 people to shop for – my husband, son (age 8) and myself. I pack 3 lunches a day as well – so 15 lunches a week for 2 weeks plus dinners, breakfast for 2 of us, Lukas has breakfast at daycare…..I do this all for $200 every 2 weeks, pretty good I think!

  17. why have I never noticed that sweet potato gnocchi before yummy! I always look at the unit price sometimes some things are double the price just because it’s precut or something convince wise that’s easy to do yourself. most people assume larger boxes means cheaper but that’s not always the case and if it’s something you can use a coupon for the smaller size is normally cheaper by unit price. we do buy the huge cans of oil olive I’m half Italian so use it for everything and I make my own dressing the ones in the stores are always canola or soy bean oil and if it says olive oil its usually one of the last ingredients so it still has very little plus I grew up eating my nana’s homemade dressing!

  18. I usually meal plan on Friday’s – shop Saturday’s and cook/prep on Sunday’s. Even though my husband and I are empty nesters, I usually spend about $75 a week for the two of us – not too bad!

  19. I’m terrible at meal planning. Usually I’ll just go shopping and try to figure out what to make each night, and stop by the store on the way home for ingredients if I have to. Luckily I have a Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, and TJ’s really close to me. And soon we will have a Wegman’s nearby!! So excited! We also have a Costco, which is great for bulk items like olive oil. 🙂

    Also, that sweet potato gnocchi might be something I have to grab soon.

  20. 2 quick things Tina!

    TJs favorites on my and hubs: the bagels…12 g of protein for 1 (we like cinnamon raisin), and their dark chocolate cupcakes in the bakery section…just freaking awesome! I wish someone told me about them years ago, so here’s me tell you and all your followers, try them, you won’t be disappointed. 😉

    Also, I noticed you also meal plan dinners. What happens for lunch? Do you plan those? Do you just grab and eat?

    *Also I lived in Boston all summer…sending my love you and my favorite city!!!

    1. Thanks for the recommendations! I’ll definitely look for them next time! 😄

      Lunch is almost always leftovers from dinner for Mal. We always make extra, so he takes them to work the next day. I either eat leftovers or just wing it.

  21. I love TJ’s so much! I need to shopping there soon again!

    You and Mal are so funny-I love all the inside jokes! It reminds me of me & my husband too, we think we are so hilarious. 😉 haha

  22. I shop for one week and it seems to work well. I started doing my meal planning on Friday evenings since I do my shopping on the weekends. It saves me from shopping during the week and meal planning really helps me to make wiser choices.

  23. I love having a clean fridge and cabinets! My parents almost NEVER DO, so they double or triple purchase a lot. Then, when I go home to visit, I have to remind myself to check their cabinets before I go shopping. I don’t know how many random open bags of flour or sugar they have!

  24. Love this! Where I go to school, we don’t have TJ’s but when I’m home in Pittsburgh, it’s my go-to. That TJ’s Almond Butter is DANGEROUSLY good. At school, I typically shop once a week at Kroger (their organic section is great, though) but if I was living with a SO that would probably increase!

  25. I generally shop every Friday for the next week. Sometimes I need a quick stop in the middle of the week for some perishables, but generally once a week is my thing.

  26. I can’t help myself at TJs! I try and get at least two weeks worth of food per trip, but sometimes I can get more out of it depending on what I have stocked in my pantry and freezer. I do have to make a short trip once a week for fresh produce, but the cost is pretty low since it’s just me! I hope the croissants are delicious! 🙂

  27. Love TJ’s. it’s quite a drive from my place but makes for a fun trip every so often. On a side note, you and mal are such a cute/awesome couple. Y’all are going to make phenomenal parents. It’s great to see a relationship where you never stop playing pranks on each other and just having fun and laughing with each other!

  28. Wow it never ceases to amaze me how much cheaper food is in the States when compared to NZ (my home)- the cheapest free-range eggs I can get are $6.50 a dozen! :/
    Totally with you on the fridge cleaning though… dried up spills of questionable origin- eww!

  29. You have an awesome attitude toward shopping healthy and I love the way you play around with Mel. Looking at your shopping list usually gives me great ideas for my own list and some great recipes (I hope anyway).

  30. Aww the little box with the curled up sleeping puppy is adorable. LOL I love how you can have fun together like that. But now I must go and get chocolate croissants.

  31. I usually only shop for a couple of days, as we share a fridge with 3 other people in our house, making it impossible to stock a lot. This has its positives and negatives, and I have mostly gotten used to it. Luckily will live in a market, so getting ingredients is very easy.

  32. I was out of town this week for my grocery shopping and planning day…my husband went instead and got the most random items and spent more than our budget…hahaha…I’m left with having to create creative meals with his grocery choices.

  33. We get our meat in bulk at costco (1x each 2 months) and then I shop every Sunday after I meal plan. I spend about $70 a week-and that is for my husband and I to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks all week, with only eating 1-2 dinners out.
    I also make sure to check what we have and clean my fridge out before I leave, so when I get home, I can quickly unload and organize the fridge.
    (easy for food prep too if everything is where it belongs!)

  34. I try to meal plan on Friday night or Saturday morning and then head out to go grocery shopping for a full week on either Saturday or Sunday morning. Sunday is prep day. I spend an hour or two in the kitchen and make enough for 5-6 lunches and 5-6 dinners plus usually a snack, and I keep a few other items on hand for throw-together lunches/dinners if I’m feeling something different or run out of my prepped food. It’s so easy and budget-friendly, plus I never need to cook on weeknights which is key because I commute 45 minutes and then go to the gym after work.

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