January 26, 2017

Grocery Planning and This Week’s Haul

I’m loving sharing our grocery hauls with you!  Food shopping can be overwhelming, and can take much more of our money than we’d like but there are ways to shop that let us get the most from what we have to spend, or to get our spending down.  Whatever your grocery shopping goals are, my goal is to help you get there; to help you feed yourself and your family the way you want with what you have to spend.

I’m going to do a series of posts about how we shop to keep our budget low so I’m starting with the things I do before I shop (usually with a baby in my arms while we sip the coffee Jared left as he ran out the door to work!)

So here are my 9 things I do before I grocery shop:


  1. Grab the ongoing ‘staples’  list from the fridge door. Throughout each week I take notes of staples (garlic, rice, spelt flour, vinegar etc)  we were running out of or need to replace.  Building the list starts with those staples.
  2. Check the fridge/pantry for things need to be used. If I still have any produce or things that will go bad I start building the meal plan around those items so they don’t go bad. This week that meant planning a slow cooked chicken stew to use up the ends of two cabbages, and some cauliflower stalk! 
  3. Get my meal planner off the fridge! I’ve tried a few ways to write down our meal plan and then Jared got me THIS magnetic fridge planner in the picture above a few years ago. It’s the winner for me. It lives on the fridge so I can see what’s up next, and when I tear off each page I write my list for the next week on it and take it to the shops. (I typically ignore the right hand column and use them for list building.) Click HERE to find it on amazon. 
  4. Look at the calendar to see what’s coming up for the week. For example, if Jared has lunch at work one day and doesn’t need me to plan for it, or if we’re eating out, or having extra people over. Then I’ll cross those meals out on the meal planner or make a note that its a meal for more than just us and think about what we want to serve! I also ask Jared if there’s anything he’s craving for the week. (NB He’s always craving nachos).
  5. Start piecing things in to the meal plan! The best bit. I get to choose food! I also make a note of any meals I want to try for that week, for example last week I wanted to try a toasted buckwheat and yogurt bowl. Also at least once a week there will be a meal I call “bits” which just means that we will using leftovers and unused ingredients from that week for that meal rather than planning.  It helps us not have things left over and yes, sometimes that meal looks ‘creative’ but it works.
  6. Refer to my meal list. I keep a list of our favourite and staple meals that I choose from – about 20 meals.  I cook things that aren’t on the list too but it makes it easier to plan a week quickly and means I don’t space on including meals we love. (cos sometimes my mind goes totally blank when I try to write the week’s food plan!) I also have a note of which meals are more expensive and which ones more frugal so I can balance them through the week.
  7. Add ingredients to the list. I run through the meals we’re going to make for the week and add everything to my shopping list.
  8. Review the meal plan. I just look over and make sure it works. That there’s time where I need it to prep ahead, that it looks like what we want, that it’s balanced with the relative prices of meals.  And if we are buying a special ingredient that week, for example cilantro, I make sure that there are enough meals planned to use it all up, making sure none of it goes to waste.  (And although I care about the environment don’t write off the ‘waste’ thing just as me looking after the environment – it SUPER looks after your wallet too so save your self money and work to eliminate wasted food!)
  9. Grab my bags, jars, and list, and go! Here in California we can’t use store supplied bags without a charge, and we try not to take them anyway to save waste so I use a selection of THESE 10 shopping bags to haul my groceries.  I also take mason jars for bulk wet goods with a dry erase pen for writing tare numbers, and THESE really nifty little bags for bulk dry goods – they already have the tare on their labels so they’re super easy to use. I highly recommend getting some!


This week I went to two local stores and spent a total of $90.  I tend to only go once in the week but later on in the week Jared bought chips to take to a friend’s to watch a game, and some extra eggs for us so we landed at pretty much $100 for the week after everything. 

This is what I bought and from where:


Trader Joes:

Cage free large eggs x2 – $5.98

Avocados x2 – $2.98

Plain organic yogurt – $3.29

Organic sugar plum tomatoes – $3.49

Raw milk cheddar cheese – $4.13

Organic ground beef – $7.49

Whole organic carrots x3 – $2.37

Organic chicken thighs – $8.67

Bananas – $2.49

Spaghetti squash – $2.49



Total: $42.98
* see below

Orchard Nutrition Center:

Bulk goods:

Active dry yeast – $5

Rolled oats* – $1.89

Sunflower seeds* – $5.83

Raw honey – $4.18

Organic sprouted spelt flour x2* – $12.18

Coconut Aminos* – $5.69

Gala apples* – $1.67

Broccoli – $1.02

Kobocha squash – $2.93

Cilantro – $1.05

Cauliflower – $3.49

Green leaf lettuce – $1.39
Total: $46.35

* I use my oats for oatmeal, oat cookies and oat milk.

* The raw sunflower seeds i will roast, and use to make sunflower butter and dressings

* Sprouted simply means that it is easier to digest – spelt flour contains a little gluten, but we are all good with that. I use this for bread and pizza bases.

* Always compare prices per pound!

* Coconut aminos are a tasty, soy free paleo friendly alternative to soy sauce.




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