When Whole Foods asked if I’d like to take on their challenge to buy an entire week’s worth of groceries for my family for $100, I knew I was in. Cooking and writing about food is something I love almost as much as writing about my son, Charlie!
Being a semi-regular WF shopper, I knew this was not going to be easy. I was already aware of the values that exist at Whole Foods, but I eat an almost entirely grain- and dairy-free diet. Charlie, of course, gets milk, cheese, and certain carbs but for the most part our house is void of processed and/or high-sugar foods. Our efforts to eat as healthy as possible translate to much higher grocery bills than we’d have if we bought convenience foods and made 1/3 of each meal with something starchy. $100 for a week of groceries can be hard for any family, but with a menu of almost entirely fresh produce and high quality proteins, this shopping trip was going to take some serious preparation. I did go into this with one advantage: we belong to a CSA where we get a weekly bunch of veggies and a dozen eggs. However, since our meals consist of one protein and two vegetables, the CSA bounty is usually gone within the first couple days. I still had a hefty load to fit into $100.
The Value Tour
My first step was to go on a Value Tour at my local Whole Foods store in Philadelphia. A customer service manager named Kerry strolled around the store with me to point out the ways to save. Some of the values are based on ideas that can be transferable to almost any grocery store.
- First, in-season produce is always the cheapest. Whole Foods designates its sale items with bright yellow and red tags; in the produce section, those tags almost always adorn the veggies and fruit that are most local and most in-season. This week, there were sales on apples, acorn squash, baby bok choy, and more.
- Secondly, cut coupons! You might not know it, but Whole Foods does have a coupon circular – it’s called the Whole Deal and it often has some nice discounts on high-end products.
- Lastly, go for the less popular cuts of meat. If you have a slow-cooker, just about any cut can be made into a gourmet meal.
Now for the deals that are Whole Foods originals.
- Check out the bargain bunker near the fish and meat counters. It normally holds on-sale protein as well as pre-packaged frozen seafood that is often cheaper than its counterpart at the fish counter.
- Here’s the best one – did you know that you can get 10% off if you buy a case of anything? The price label on the shelf tells you the number of items in a case and you can call your store ahead of time to ask for a case to be set aside.
- And finally, the house brand 365 Everyday Value is a great way to get quality items for less.
The Whole Foods website also has more Money-Saving Tips and a collection of Budget-Friendly Recipes that are both healthy and inexpensive! I'm actually looking forward to the challenge of making some of these recipes grain-free while still keeping the per-serving price low.
Confession time. I actually did not win this challenge. My grand total was $108.02. But really, I lost by eight bucks, so I should get a pass right? But let’s look at the receipt and rejoice in some of the stats.
My $108 bought about 18 lbs of protein; this includes the Friday Deal whole chickens that I got for $1.49/lb – vegetarian fed, no growth hormones and the house-made pork brats that the lady behind the meat counter had just finished linking when I walked up.
The total also includes weekly staples for Charlie including organic whole milk, Earth’s Best Elmo crackers, and string cheese.
I also got more than 10 lbs of fresh produce, not including the two heads of organic cauliflower. Knowing that I can provide this much fresh and healthy food to my family for just a tad bit over$100 is pretty phenomenal!
Just to prove that we are actually putting all of this yummy food to use this week, here’s our menu. I roasted both of the chickens on Sunday, broke one of them down and put it right into the freezer for two other dinners that you’ll see on the menu. I also made a big batch of grain free breakfast “porridge” and divided it into containers so that my husband and I can each grab one in the morning as we dash out the door. We tend to eat lunch on the run on the weekends, but during the week I make double servings of dinner and package them for lunches the next day. Charlie sometimes gets leftovers for lunch, as well, and often eats whatever we’re eating for dinner.
Chicken w/lemon and rosemary
Kohlrabi*, apple*, and carrot slaw
Sauteed baby bok coy
Leftover chicken w/zucchini “spaghetti” and 365 Everyday Value pasta sauce
Turkey stuffed acorn squash (w/kale)
Chicken red curry w/leftover chicken (uses coconut milk, green peppers, and spinach)
Mango coconut mahi mahi (from the bargain bunker!)
Chinese cabbage and roasted cauliflower*
WF bratwurst sausages
Roasted leeks and apples*
*Leftover CSA items
Win! $100 Whole Foods Gift Card!
If I can do it, anyone can, right? Here's your chance to find out if you too can get a week's worth of groceries for $100 with our Whole Foods gift card giveaway!
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post about Whole Foods or this post.
Want an extra chance to win? Visit Crazy Adventures in Parenting where Lisa shows how to grocery shop at Whole Foods Market on a budget. For a family of NINE!