So, the plan for this blog is to share meal plans, recipes, ideas, and special treats that are from Trader Joe's with a little bit from Whole Foods. AND - to do it all for $50 per week (totaling somewhere between $200-250 per month).
We've been on a $200 per month budget this past year not shopping at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods (much). So, no absolute guarantees here. I can say, however, that we used to shop at Trader Joe's all the time and I have gone (for fun) to write down prices on our normally used items.
I will strive to be as truthful as possible about where our food is coming from for the integrity of this "experiment". And, lastly on the what...I'm sorry if you do not have Trader Joe's nearby and this is then, of course, of no use to you. For others who do and are hoping to stick to a tighter budget...I hope this may give ideas.
Before we moved to the east coast, we shopped almost exclusively at Trader Joe's. Once moving here we've switched it up, due to not having one closer than 45 min away. We've been on a $200 per month budget up till now (including everything - TP, shampoo, wine, etc.) so the plan is to stay as close to that as possible. If you want to check out those meal plans you can find them at my other blog (see the food label).
On September 25th a Trader Joe's opens up almost right across the street from us! So, now back to meal planning...Trader Joe's style.
Why the passion for Trader Joe's? Fair question - especially if you've never been to one of their stores. You can read some of the reasons why I love TJ's in this post from a year ago. Beyond those reasons, it is a really great company to support.
Recently I read this post that highlights a guide called The Better World Shopping Guide - 2nd Edition: Every Dollar Makes a Difference. The book "grades" companies based on these factors - Human rights, environmental issues, animal protection, community involvement and social justice issues (generally good things to get on board with :)). In the post it quickly highlighted a few different companies and their grades.
I was delighted, although not surprised, to see that TJ's had an A-. (See the other grades here.) This only helped me to be more determined to do the extent of my shopping there.
Trader Joe's will tell you that you probably cannot exclusively shop there. Although I've just about done that in the past, I am realizing that I will have to shop another place or 2 as well. This is mostly due to the fact that I have started using more dry beans and lentils and making other items from scratch. For example, off and on I make our bread from scratch. TJ's tends to only carry yeast during the winter months. Hence, the problem.
To offset the things we cannot get there, I will be shopping at Whole Foods for those additional items. Did you see that they got an A grade?
At Whole Foods I will focus on getting things like beans & lentils which are in their bulk section and are as cheap as any other grocery store. They often have great sales on produce as well.
They have told me that there sales run from Tuesdays through the following Wednesday. I know of a couple of blogs that post those sales and I will be checking out our local store as well since the prices vary by region.
Another fair question. It can be a bit tricky at times. But, let me reassure you, it's also very fun.
Things to keep in mind.
- We are a family of 3. 2 adults and a 2.5 year old.
- We've cut quite a bit of meat out of our diet. We do love a good steak every once in awhile and love salmon, so we are not fully vegetarian. But, in the everyday aspect of eating, we do tend have smaller portions of meat or cut it out of the meal completely.
- I make most of our sweets from scratch (brownies, oatmeal cookies). And our snacks are stuff like homemade popcorn.
- We've started using dry beans and make those up.
- Sometimes I make our own bread.
- I make lunch stuff like hummus.
- We eat most meals at home, including most lunches.
Let the fun begin!!! :)