Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trying to budget at Whole Foods

Sunday marked the beginning of our second week of selecting groceries according to our new eating guidelines, and our second week of shopping exclusively at Whole Foods. There's no getting around the fact that WF is more expensive than our usual Kroger market and that fewer items are on sale. However, the food is also healthier on the whole. WF carries a plethora of natural, organic, and locally-grown products. That's not to say that it's the picture of healthful perfection: you can find plenty of tempting snacks, sweets, and processed junk at WF, just as you would at most other grocery stores. It's just that WF's junk food is free of artificial dyes, artificial sweeteners, and partially hydrogenated fat. (Related side note: the New Yorker recently published an article about contradictions associated with Whole Foods' history and management. It's an interesting read, especially if you're really into natural foods or skeptical about this company's ability to make a profit while maintaining its integrity. But I digress.)

We planned carefully for our shopping excursion. First, we constructed a menu for the week:

Breakfast: Rice cereal and fruit for Susanne; cereal for Trent; waffles and fruit (or whatever else we can get him to eat) for the kiddo

Lunch: Dinner leftovers for Susanne and Trent; mac and cheese, cheesy toast, or pasta plus fruit for our son


~Sweet potato falafel (we had this on Sunday - it's delicious!)
~Broccoli and quinoa (that was last night's dinner, and it was exceptionally tasty, too)
~Chicken, potatoes, and veggies (Trent's making it right now!)
~Gluten free pizza
~Rice pasta with sauce and veggies
~Soup and salad
~Make-your-own-dinner night (basically, we just eat whatever we can scrounge up from the refrigerator and pantry)

The total bill rang in at $108. That's less than last week (because we didn't purchase as much meat this time), but still more than we would ever spend at Kroger. The organic, free-range chicken cost nearly $8 on its own. I selected a bunch of Bob's Red Mill products (like gluten-free chickpea flour and ground flaxseed) that were each about $5 (but they'll last for at least a couple of months). We also purchased a variety of organic fruits and veggies: apples, bananas, spinach, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery. We threw in some cheese, butter, and milk that we can use in this week's and following weeks' recipes. Treats included a pack of gluten-free cookies for me and my son and some beer for my husband.

It was an expensive trip, but the bill might be lower next week simply because we're now armed with more basic ingredients. Plus, I don't anticipate that we'll be going out to eat anytime soon. We're finding that it's cheaper, easier, and more satisfying to just cook at home.


  1. Ah, sounds just like our life right now! Thanks for posting!

    We used to spend sooooo much at Whole Foods but I've started going to them for select items only. We buy organic, free-range poultry at Trader Joe's, gluten-free flours through Amazon.com (significant savings there on Bob's Red Mill products), and Pamela's GF baking mix (a case of 3 through Amazon) makes it easy to whip of GF cookies in a flash. When I ran out of butter recently, I started making GF cookies using grapeseed oil instead of butter and they taste *delicious*--and add extra vitamin E to our diet. Oh, also, we get our produce delivered through a local CSA program called Full Circle Farm (we live in Seattle) and then shape our meals around that...I think it's cheaper than WF.

    I'm excited to try your sweet potato falafel! I've been making weekly menus, too, and it's made such a difference. I'll check back here to see how you're doing. :) I've been sort of geeking out about the food-budget connection since the start of the year and am glad to have found you...it's not often I bump into someone with similar financial goals, GF needs, and organic leanings. :) Good luck!

  2. Thank you! I appreciate your comments... Buying the baking products through Amazon sounds like a FANTASTIC idea, and I'll definitely check it out. I wonder if I can get my favorite Enjoy Life cookies at a discount there, too! :-D