Saturday, January 26, 2008

saturday shopping

The question isn't so much "What did you buy?" As it is ... "How did you push that thing across the parking lot without a single bag falling off?" Followed closely by ... "How could you spend three hours in Target and still forget to purchase two items off your list?"

After I spent the better part of the morning at Target, I headed over to Trader Joe's where I spent another hour conducting a little experiment which I'll call "Healthy Eating While Living on a Budget." It goes something like this ...

We spend a small fortune at Costco each and every week. I seriously cannot go in to and come out of that store without dropping at least $200.00. Over the past year, almost all of our grocery shopping has been done at Costco. But more and more, I've noticed that the selection at Costco leaves a lot to be desired. Probably because I've been doing a lot more shopping at the new Trader Joe's and local Farmer's Market that just opened by our home and am starting to compare.

This has got to be every retailers worst nightmare.

A comparative shopper.

Now, Costco has just about everything a person could need ... but they don't have much variety. Their fresh produce is typically good, although you can't find anything organic, unless it is frozen. And even then, their selection is limited.

Did you know that meat quality goes: Select, Choice, Prime - with prime being the best cut of meat? Whereas our local grocer stocks predominantly Select cuts, Costco stocks Choice - which means that their meat selection is a great value. Their fresh fish, baked goods and wines are excellent as well.

But, so much of the food at Costco is processed. Although that's nice to have when you're in a pinch, we're really making a concerted effort to eat healthier. We're trying to eat more greens. We're snacking on nuts. We're buying more organic fruits, vegetables and dairy - and trying to make almost everything from scratch. With Charlie being the phenomenal cook that he is, we're having a blast with all kinds of new recipes. I'm actually trying to convince Charlie to start his own cooking blog to showcase some of the stuff that he's been whipping up.

Sometimes I think that he might have missed his true calling in life. "Cooking with the Red Hot Chef Charlie." Did I ever mention that one of his life aspirations is to have his own restaurant? It's true. Another aspiration is to travel around the country in a motor home, visiting every National Park. My greatest life aspiration is to get our three-year-old children to stop wearing diapers.

Anyway, back to my experiment.

I went shopping today at Trader Joe's and our local Farmer's Market and with an entire shopping cart full of predominantly organic food and one box of Joe-Joe's - that will easily last us for the next week - I spent a whopping $97.00.

So far, my experiment is yielding that I can buy healthy food for our family for less.

To offset the cost of the awesome organizational supplies that I spent a small fortune on at Target, I purchased All laundry detergent in lieu of Tide ($9.00 savings) and bought Target brand instead of Ziploc brand bags and Johnson's brand baby wash ($14.00 savings) (We go through a lot of bags and soap).

I also saved $2.50 because Christmas peanut M&M's were discounted 70%. That's a lot of green. And nuts.

As you can see, I'm off to a roaring start.


  1. If you clip coupons, try the It is really amazing and once you find a groove, you will really save some money. I shop for my family of 6 with plenty of fruits & vegetables and we cook 6 out of 7 days of the week. I spend less than $200 a week on what we need including a trip to Trader Joes.

    Email me if you have questions -- it is super easy.

  2. Did you finish those 2 boxes of Joe-Joe's that I brought over? LOL!

  3. I've been saying all along that you can eat healthy for less. The processed food costs more than the organic food, because you are paying for the convenience of pre-made food and you are paying more for packaging. I never spend more than $75 at Trader's. Too bad you don't have a Sunflower Market there. They will put one type of meat on sale each week and I will go and buy 10 pounds of it.

    I would LOVE if Charlie started a cooking blog. PLEASE share some recipes.

    I'm going to go check out the Grocery Game website.

  4. I don't know why, but I love hearing about other people's shopping routines....

    I am trying to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables. But, here in Illinois, winter is not the time to find good stuff. Most of it doesn't look very good - it's usually very small and does not have much flavor. I don't mind buying frozen vegetables but frozen fruit? It's nasty.

    My goal is to get through a week without having to return to the grocery store. My son can drink those drinkable yogurts like it's a medicine cup - one gulp and it's gone and he's opening his second one before I know what's happening. My daughter and her friend eat a whole pineapple in one sitting. And I find myself saying - "Make it last. It is 12 degrees outside and I am NOT going back to the store this week..."
    Yeah, yeah, yeah...

    I'm off to Target to see if our m&m's are 70% off.

  5. ditto on the coupons. and if you have a grocery store that doubles coupons up to .50 and hit a buy one get one free sale, there is no greater feeling.

  6. Karen in Buffalo1/27/08, 12:52 PM

    Okay...I'll be going to the grocerygame site, too... but let us know what you think of the switch to ALL detergent! I stopped working after my twins were born and saving money while eating well/healthy is my goal (being able to be a SAHM is a huge incentive!). Gotta love Target!

    I'm also rooting for Charlie to start a recipe blog!

  7. Oh, you, with your Trader Joe's. We moved to Texas last April from L.A., and I've been Trader Joe-less for ALL THESE MONTHS. I miss you dearly, Joe.

    Send me some Joe Joe's, wouldja?

  8. hmm..good thoughts. we went from double income no kids to one and a half income four kids in 16 months and i have not adjusted our spending to account for all the extra expenses.

    i just buy the same old tide and ziploc out of habit but next time i'll try all and target brand. it really adds up over time, especially when you do as much laundry as we do.

    i did finally figure out that target baby detergent smells great and is half the price of dreft.

  9. I try to clip coupons even though its a bit of a pain in the bum...however, when I use them during a sale it feels so good to walk out of the store paying next to nothing for something that usually costs so much. I'm checking out the graocery game too! I try to buy mostly on sale and plan meals around those things. I've come accustomed to shopping at several different places a week...a deli/fruit market, a major grocery store, and Target just to get the best deals and stretch my money! If you think the substitutions that you made work, its worth the try. You may even find yourself making more and more substitutions just to save a few bucks...(I'm sure you'll need them the next time you shop at PBK)...Love reading about your adventures!
    erica in illinois