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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    A Look Back.



Gone Shoppin.’

There has been very little food posted on here recently, mostly because there has been very little food in my refrigerator!  Things are looking very sad and barren, and we were in need of a major boost. 

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One of our goals for the new year was to start living on a specific budget.  We’ve always been mindful of money and make a point to contribute well to our savings, but when you’re not thinking about cold, hard numbers all the time, it’s easy to let a lot of extras slip in too often.  Especially with a kid – it’s so easy to fall into that but life would be perfect if we only had this ONE more thing type of trap.  And Amazon Prime just continues to taunt all day long.  It can be here in two days!  Click me, click me!

But anyway, now that we’re using actual budgeting software and we’re both paying attention, I’m actually really enjoying it.  It means a lot less guilt over the things we DO buy because I know we planned for them, and a lot more thinking in general before heading to the checkout line.

But this is not a post to tell you how to budget, because I am still figuring that out myself.  Instead, it’s a glimpse into an average grocery haul, and a look into how we’re delegating those precious grocery dollars each month.  So here goes!

I shop at a few different stores here in Seattle.  I get the main bulk of our food at Trader Joe’s – which is where I went this morning.  So right now I’m going to show you everything I get there, and I’ll touch on the other stores at the end.  Here’s how this morning’s grocery haul breaks down:  (I’m specifying what is organic, so you can assume the rest is not.)

fruits

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  • 25 bananas – sounds crazy, but we use a lot in smoothies!
  • 2 pints organic blueberries
  • 7 organic pears
  • 1 bag blood oranges
  • 1 carton Cutie’s mandarins

veggies

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  • 1 5lb bag organic sweet potatoes
  • 2 heads organic broccoli
  • 5 organic zucchini
  • 1 clamshell organic persian cucumbers
  • 4 avocados – crap, are these fruit?  oops!
  • 2 eggplants

Worth noting:  A few other things we usually buy but had enough this week – carrots, white potatoes, organic kale.

perishables copy

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  • 2 half gallons original almond milk
  • 2 packages mini portabellas (12 total)
  • 2 packages crimini mushrooms
  • 2 packages shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 blocks organic firm tofu
  • 1 organic olive oil tortillas (<—– best tortillas ever!)

pantry goods

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  • 3 jars organic marinara sauce (Cullen is obsessed!)
  • 3 cans organic black beans
  • 1 bottle organic maple syrup
  • 1 jar raw unsalted almond butter
  • 1 bottle vanilla extract
  • 2 jars organic unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 bottle organic ketchup

Worth noting:  I grab a bottle of ketchup pretty much every time I go shopping.  When I went to put this in the pantry, I saw there were already two others in there.  Clearly my fear of running out of ketchup is intense!

trail mixers

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  • 2 packages golden raisins
  • 2 packages Thompson’s red raisins
  • 1 bag raw whole almonds
  • 3 bags raw slivered almonds
  • 2 bags Marcona almonds (these are ADDICTIVE!)
  • 2 bags chia seeds

Worth noting:  the chia seeds aren’t a typical shopping trip item, but I grabbed these for a recipe I’m hoping to make in the next few days!  Also – some of the fruit and nuts are for Casey to take in to his office.

frozen foods

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  • 1 bag organic broccoli florets
  • 2 bags organic green peas
  • 2 bags French green beans
  • 2 bags organic raspberries
  • 2 bags organic blueberries
  • 4 bags organic strawberries
  • 2 bags very cherry blend

Worth noting:  we use a TON of frozen fruit in smoothies, as well as carrots and spinach.  I usually buy a few bags of mango too, but they were out today – boo!

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And last but certainly not least…

for the pups

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  • 2 boxes peanut butter (vegetarian!) dog treats

So that’s our big grocery haul!  The total damage – $200.23.  So now a bit more on shopping strategies and choices.

Like I said above, I do a lot of our shopping at Trader Joe’s.  I know some people find their business practices to be questionable, and I wince at all the excessive packaging, but you can’t deny the competitive prices and they seem to be a store that really listens to consumer feedback.

In the past year, I’ve noticed a HUGE increase in their organic offerings, in both fresh and frozen produce.  A lot of the pantry goods are offered in organic as well.  I’ve become a lot more choosy about organic food since Cullen arrived, and I’m pretty particular about where I draw the line.  We don’t eat everything organic, but almost. 

Beyond Trader Joe’s, I also shop at a few other stores.  The two main things I won’t buy at TJ’s are bread (don’t like any of them) and eggs (don’t like the source of them).  And then there are specialty items we can only get at the pricier health food stores.  Seattle has a local co-op grocery store called PCC, which is very similar in price and style to Whole Foods.  Every other week or so, I usually make a trip to PCC (or Whole Foods) for:

  • hemp milk –for Cullen
  • coconut milk yogurt – for Cullen
  • Greek yogurt (occasionally)
  • bread – obsessed with Silver Hills brand
  • eggs
  • big box of organic spinach
  • bulk grains
  • Field Roast veggie dogs
  • Jovial pasta
  • other fancy specialty stuff

As for the TJ’s trip – I usually go there twice a month.  Today I stocked up significantly on things like almonds and raisins, so I can’t see us needing more for quite a while.  But other things like almond milk and produce have to be replenished almost weekly. 

This was our first grocery run in March, and hopefully it lasts for a while.  Of course, we also had a good amount already in our pantry and freezer.  Coming soon, I’m planning to organize our pantry (it’s a disaster) and talk a bit about what we keep in there regularly, in order to always be able to create quick meals on the go. 

I feel like there was more I wanted to say here, but I’m forgetting it now – shoot.  With that, nap time is over – time to grab my sidekick, and snack on some fresh clementines.  Yum!

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127 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Betsy @ A Dancer In The Kitchen     at 7:44 am

Loved this post too! My husband and I just moved to CA and we are trying to budget our groceries a little bit more. I hated to see things go to waste too so I’m trying to be better at using things up! Two questions for you: We love field roast but are there are meat substitutes that you would recommend? Also, we just got a VItamix (yay!) and I know you’ve posted before but what are some of your favorite smoothie recipes? Thanks!

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Wendi     at 8:15 am

You’d save so much money (and time and effort) by shopping at Costco :) You’re in Seattle, babe. This is what Seattlites do!
Try it, I swear you’ll be their biggest fan. Costco is so unlike other warehouse stores.

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Heather     at 8:20 am

I love peaking into other people’s practices in budgeting for groceries. I’ve been slowly whittling down our grocery bill for two people and *trying* to shop only 2-3 times a month. So far, so good! I know our bill always goes down a ton in summer due to farmer’s markets and fresh fish we catch :-)

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Emily     at 10:20 am

Your trip looks almost identical to the weekly TJ’s trips I make (except for the doggy treats, no dog yet!). I love going to TJ’s to buy lots of smoothie and trail mix fixings, and always keep my pantry stocked with lots of extra jars/cans of beans, applesauce, marinara,etc. So good to have that stuff on hand to throw together quick meals!

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Chelsea     at 11:13 am

It’s always fun to take a peak into others’ pantries. :-) We just moved and I miss TJ’s terribly! The staff used to tease me ’cause I popped in so often…and seriously, I hoard their ketchup. My in-laws even began bringing me gifts of the stuff. Ok, so I eat it on baby carrots…it’s good, trust me.

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Marty     at 11:16 am

In Alaska this haul would’ve been, yes, double! Moving to ID and NC this year, closer to Costcos and TJs. Fred Meyer is very good here about getting anything you want I their nutrition section. Will miss FM in ID and NC, as their prices and service are less expensive than anyone else. We have Sams Club in Fairbanks, but no organics there so I don’t buy groceries there.

Emily, I have to ask, why don’t you make your own applesauce? I buy pears and lots of apples. When the pears are soft I add a few chopped apples, cinnamon, little fresh ginger and cardamom, little water, cook until softened (while I’m doing a bunch of chores around the house and/or dinner). Then throw into my Vitamix (love it), and lovely apple/pear sauce. I pour it onto glass jars. If their mason they can be stored on a shelf, otherwise in the fridge and eaten in a few days. Of the few things one might buy its the easiest to make, like hummus.

You’re fortunate you have great recycling centers there and I’m assuming pickup. We still only have tin/aluminum or paper here. And you have to haul it somewhere, which I don’t mind. So many don’t, discouraging! Our shipping costs make so much cost prohibitive.

And, I love seeing Cullen every post, but I miss recipes too! He’s always smiling, such a happy boy! His smile always makes my day.

[Reply]

Tamara     at 11:20 am

Would you be willing to share some of your smoothie recipes? Do you just make them up and vary depending on your mood or are there some staples that you make often?

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Emily Malone Reply:

I’m planning to post a few recipes soon!

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Tamara Reply:

Awesome, thanks!

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Pam     at 12:25 pm

Try their soy chorizo – it’s awesome!

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Bethany @ Accidental Intentions     at 12:26 pm

I’ve become quite the Trader Joe’s regular since moving to Chicago. I’d say 75% of my groceries come from there, and it’d be closer to 95% if they sold the produce I want in ways that works for me (like an individual head of leafy lettuce instead of a bag of two…I can’t go through all that lettuce on my own before it goes bad!). I’ve noticed, though, that they’ve gotten a lot better about cutting down on packaging. Their quinoa comes in a bag instead of a box + bag now, and, more important for me, they no longer package their sandwich thins in a plastic tray in addition to the plastic bag. Since I store my sandwich thins in the freezer, that’s been awesome for storage. Love that grocery store, though!

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Kathy     at 1:23 pm

May I ask about what you spend a month for groceries? Shopping at TJ’s I know you pay more. A TJ’s was just build 50 miles from us and I have been there twice. LOVE the store, but I would spend a fortune if I’m not careful. I also shop at Wegmans (don’t have a whole foods anywhere near us), but Wegman’s is also fairly expensive. For my hubby & myself we can spend anywhere from $80 a week to $150/200 a week. On the higher end when at Wegman’s. I like to buy organic as much as I can, and he hates that our grocery bill is so much for 2 people. But if you want quality food, you must pay for it I guess.

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

We are budgeting $800 for the month, which sounds incredibly high, but it’s what i realistic for us. We save in a lot of other areas and have cut back on a LOT, but I’m not really willing to sacrifice on our food quality!

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sarah crosby Reply:

sorry butting in. Is this for all food or just grocery. i know every city is different in price of food. just curious. We budget $150 on grocery per week then one MAYBE two meals out a week. The hubby thinks it’s outrageous. just trying to gage if i am over buying or spending on things or if it’s normal for organic whole foods.

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Erin Brown Reply:

I live in an Eastern Metro area (DC) and $150-200 is about what I spend a week for two, we don’t eat out so that is our whole food budget. It is dependent on the appetite of those people, as I can go $80 for myself, but my spouse consumes double what I do and location. It’s not so outrageous, it can just be costly to eat organic, non-prepared foods.

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ann     at 2:07 pm

Hi Emily,

Loved this post! Did you ever post the recipe for your marinated mushrooms? I wasn’t sure if I missed it.

Thanks.

Ann

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

I didn’t, which is embarrassing since I’ve promised it like ten times. Gah, I am so sorry. Soon, I really will do it this time.

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Mary Beth     at 2:49 pm

Our Trader Joe’s opens in three weeks and I am READY!!! I made an amazing crock pot tofu recipe last night and wanted to share: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipe/coconut-curried-tofu-and-spinach/

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Emily Malone Reply:

Yum! Sounds delicious!!

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Samantha     at 2:58 pm

2 things:

1. bake bread. :) I just made my own bagels. I do think it is an area I know I could save some money.

2. Thanks for mentioning Mint! I just started playing with it after reading your mention. I think it is going to help me a lot. I am frustrated because I am unemployed right now and not staying in “budget.”

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Emily Malone Reply:

I really want to make homemade bagels!!

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Samantha Reply:

It was shockingly easy and satisfying, no bread machine required. They have froze and kept well. I am considering english muffins next.

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Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » A Day In The Life: 16 Months.     at 3:49 pm

[…] to fit two big things into one block of time.  I really needed groceries, and have plans to write this post, so I need to get them before my work window opens up during nap time.  If I wait until […]

Julia     at 10:19 am

Just curious…What do you use in your smoothie for protein? Also, I make a wonderful Vegetarian Spicy Black Bean soup that you may enjoy! It’s delicious and very easy to make! I found it here http://leafrootflowerfruit.typepad.com

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Beth WA     at 7:13 am

I had to laugh because I have the same fear of running out of ketchup. We always have back up bottles, and my family likes to tease me when we are down to only 1 or 2 backups.

Beth

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sara     at 11:18 am

I LOVE this post. I try to go to TJ’s as often as possible but I can’t get my husband convinced that paying a bit more for higher quality food should be a priority :( I think a beauty items/makeup post would be a good one too! It’s always interesting scoping out ideas or trying different brands!

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Nicole     at 12:09 pm

Maybe Casey should market his budgeting spreadsheet. I’m sure it’s great since he’s a math genius. We used to use an Excel spreadsheet my husband had put together, but we got away from using it. We’ve been using Mint.com for the past year or so, but while it’s great for seeing where the money goes, it’s hard to project out for the future. So right now we’re trying to figure out how to tweak the old spreadsheet to use the data from Mint.

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Natalia     at 2:59 am

It never fails to amaze me how cheap food is in the USA (in comparison to New Zealand at least!) This would cost upwards of $500! Mind boggling.

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Lauren     at 10:32 am

After reading this post a few weeks ago I grabbed some of the TJs olive oil tortillas this week. Wow! they are great! thanks for the recommendation!

[Reply]

house clearances     at 4:09 am

You really make it swem really easy with your
presentation howevr I to find this matter to be really one thing that I think I
would never understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely vast for me.

I am looking forward to yohr next put up, I will attempt to gget the dangle
of it!

[Reply]

organic farming facts     at 9:58 pm

organic farming facts…

Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » Gone Shoppin.’…

Shanaya karol bagh     at 1:26 am

All of foods are looking soo delicious.

[Reply]

Sapna Delhi     at 3:07 am

The blog is really informative and interesting.

[Reply]

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