Eating Healthy On A Budget: Part 1

by Megan K on June 17, 2012

Recently, I took a field trip with my tech assistant Amber to Trader Joe’s in Saint Louis Park.

We were determined to find out just how little could be spent on enough good quality food to feed her and her husband for one week. We assumed that if a couple or a single is shopping once a week, that typically 20% or less of the grocery budget would be spent on more expensive, but less often purchased, staples like bags of nuts, oils, bags of rices/grains, toilet paper etc. We did some price comparisons for organic and non-organic foods and this is what she got for just shy of $60.

Amber’s actual bill:
Toilet Paper 6 Rolls Double Ply: $3.99
Whole Milk Half Gallon $1.79
Premium Olive Oil $7.99
Chili Beef 99% Fat Free (1 LB) $1.99
Vegetable Tempeh (organic) $1.69
Goat Milk 1 Quart $4.49
Chicken Sausage (Wine and Cheese) $5.14
Greek Yogurt Plain $2.49
Organic XL Brown Eggs $4.69
Bacon (No Antibiotics and Hormones) $3.99
Turkish Apricots $3.49
Raw Sunflower Seeds $1.99
Raw Pepitas $6.59
Chopped Frozen Spinach $1.49
Soycutash $2.29
Sushi (spicy california rolls) $3.69

Subtotal: $59.48
State Tax 2: $29
Total: $59.77

(Roughly 35% of the bill went to olive oil, nuts and toilet paper—staples that she would typically buy no more than twice/month with the oil lasting much longer)

While Amber opted out of most of the organic options, they were typically not that much more than the non-organic. The organic prices differed from $.30 to $2.50 more with the most expensive items being dairy or fresh meats.

Fresh Meat
$4.69 Ground Beef (1LB)
$5.00 Bacon (1 package)
$3.99 Sausages
$8.00/2lbs Boneless Pork Loin Roast
$4.99 Ground Turkey (1 LB)
$14.32 Whole Chicken

Canned protein:
$1.69 canned tuna
$2.29 canned salmon
$2.99/ 12.5 oz can canned chicken
$.89 canned Garbanzo (chickpeas), kidney or black beans
$1.19 organic canned Garbanzo, kidney or black beans

Other Nuts and Dried Fruit
$5.00 Bag of almonds
$5.00 Pecan Halves
$.99 Banana Chips
$3.50 Apricot Halves

You may notice that Amber and I stayed away from fresh vegetables and didn’t buy that much fresh meat. At this time of year, the farmer’s markets are the best options for fresh vegetables and if you are on a tight budget but need vegetables in a pinch typically frozen veggies are the most budget friendly. She and I will set out on another adventure soon to find out where you can get less expensive, good quality meat.

Until then, remember that “where there’s a will there’s a way” (proverbs). Eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep are investments in your health.

Take good care,
Megan K

Note: Susan Scofield from Crazy Rooster Farms will be taking orders for organic lamb and chicken harvested in the fall from Crazy Rooster Farms.

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