$35/Week Shopping: Week 3

  • July 31st, 2014

Oh, hello there, Lifehackers!

For Week 3 of my shop, I took two separate trips to Whole Foods Market in Brighton (Boston, Massachusetts, no, not England).

While I have avoided “Whole Paycheck” up until this point, it happens to be the closest grocery store to my apartment. Less than a mile from my place, and also available via the train (not that I can’t outrun it or anything).

Week 3 Shop

Week 3 Shop

As far as Whole Foods goes, the line from the song above has summed up my previous thoughts about the place: “Damn, I’m about to check out, pay my $80 for six things and get the heck out.”

Well, I was able to pay my $35 for eight things. And that’s fine!

Shop 1:
365 (Whole Foods) – Long Grain Brown Rice – 5 lb. – $5.79
Blueberries – 2lb. – $6.99
365 (Whole Foods) – Peanut Butter, Chunky – 40 ounce jar – $5.49
Shop 1 Total: $18.27

Shop 2:
Blueberries – 1 pint – $2.99
Corn On The Cob – 5 ears – $0.40/each
Cucumber – 2 – $0.99/each
Russet Potatoes – 2.08lb. – $1.29/lb.
Bell & Evans Chicken Livers – 1 lb. – $3.49
365 (Whole Foods) – Whole Grain Bread – 1 loaf – $3.09
Shop 2 Total: $16.14

Grand Total: $34.41 (98.3% spent of $35)

While looking a bit thinner than my previous shops, I felt pretty good about this week’s grocery runs. No more Jif, and no more Tyson. The peanut butter’s only ingredients: Peanuts, Salt.

Less (no?) processed foods, more fresh fruit and vegetables.

And while I claimed I would not likely buy corn on the cob, it is in season, local and a good deal. And local, in-season corn is delicious considering I have butter and sea salt.


Blueberries are in season, and wow, I really like them! I ate two pounds within a couple days and had to get more. One upcoming recipe is a Peanut Butter & Blueberry sandwich. And I’m telling you right now that is amazing.

And speaking of things being in season, I found this handy list for those in Massachusetts (I’m sure it applies to New England, more or less) of fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Some Other Thoughts

A lot of people have asked me, including my grandma, whether or not I get enough calories considering all the running I’m doing. I understand your concern, grandma!

To answer: so far, so good.

Since starting this experiment on July 14th, I have run 126.7 miles. And in that time, my weight has gone from 166.5 lb. to the current 165.5 lb. So I have “lost” one pound.

In other words, I have not lost any real weight – as I normally fluctuate anywhere between around 158lb. to 168lb. depending on running schedule and tapering.

My caloric intake remains where it used to be – between ~2100 to ~3500 per day.

At one point I did think that overloading on Jif (and maybe peanut butter in general) was causing some stomach distress on long runs. Then I thought maybe it was carbs in general. Then I cut out my multi-vitamin and now realize it was probably that. Go figure!

One highlight has been running a 17 mile, 2.5 hour trail run over at Blue Hills Reservation and following it up the very next day with a 18:52 5K run (close to a personal record).

Looking Forward

Next week looks to be the first week that will mark my cupboard items being depleted. I am planning hard for it to be the best, smartest shop yet. With all the great advice I’m getting it should be possible to have a great week.

The great advice is still pouring in – through the Lifehacker article, Twitter, and the comments many of you are leaving. Thank you for that. I still have so much to consider.

One thing I look forward to avoiding canned goods – and going dried. And finding some affordable kale.

And while I didn’t have any new recipes of note for last week, this week I should have two. Stay tuned – and feel free to leave comments!

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23 responses to “$35/Week Shopping: Week 3”

  1. Angelica Luquis says:

    I’m so happy to find your blog. I have been wanting to eat healthier but don’t have a very big budget for shopping. Why are you staying away from dried food? Do you mean like dried food or what?

  2. Mark says:

    I find Sharuka a great dish for watching calories, and your budget. It’s very simple to make with inexpensive and easy to find ingredients.

    The basics are 16oz diced tomatoes, 1 pepper (red, green, or yellow), 1 large onion, some garlic. Saute the onion, garlic and pepper, then throw in the tomatoes. You can thicken it with tomato paste if you like. Then you have to season it with Cumin, Oregano, and Chili powder. Salt & pepper to taste. It makes a lot, and you can serve it with eggs, throw some beans in it, or with a can of tuna.

  3. Katie says:

    Russo’s in Watertown might be a little bit of a trek for you, but they have very affordable Kale and all other kinds of produce. Keep up the good work!

  4. sara says:

    My big suggestion (I looked at the area surrounding Brighton WF and Trader Joe’s) – shop at the various international and asian markets, even check out the tiny ones.
    Veggies for reasonably cheap, and generally a variety of cuts of meat you won’t see at WF and TJs (at least at our korean grocer, excellent assortment of organs like liver, whole fish or filets both fresh and frozen, and occasionally whole ducks!)

  5. Joanne says:

    You can save $$ by making your own bread. Not intimidating at all if you use this recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html?_r=0

    It will cost you about $.70 a loaf. It takes less than 5 minutes to make it I swear.

    You might also want to check out Aldi and Ocean State Job Lot in Somerville. $35 will go a long way in both places. Aldi just started carrying more organic stuff, too.

  6. Scott says:

    I’m curious on your take on the prices at Whole Foods in comparison to other places you have shopped. Did you get everything you expected to get for the cost? or did you change your initial shopping list because of cost? I never sat down and compared prices at Whole Foods vs other stores. I find Whole Foods to be expensive for me in that they have unique stuff they don’t sell other places and we end up adding to the cart to try. I do find shopping at whole foods irritating though, as the other shoppers seem to more pushy and inconsiderate. No excuse me. Just reach right in front of you. etc. But that’s just my take.

    • erik says:

      I did for some items. One in particular was Jif vs. 365 Peanut Butter – it was only something like 14 cents an ounce (Jif) versus 18 cents for 365 (Whole Foods). I think for “staple” items they are somewhat competitive at least. Thanks for checking out!

  7. gary says:

    Wouldn’t that loaf of 365 bread that you didn’t list tip you over the $35 mark? Can’t wait to hear this blueberry/PB sandwich recipe.

    • erik says:

      Good eye, Gary! And no – I just omitted the bread on the list but it’s included in the total cost. Thanks for checking out, the very simple recipe is coming soon.

  8. cooper says:

    Wouldn’t you get better prices on the produce at local farmers markets? And while I know Whole Foods is the “go to” for organic foods—often many of the same organic items can be purchased for a lot less in convention grocery stores.

  9. cooper says:

    I have tons of kale growing in my garden–Want some? Problem with kale is that as soon as it became a cool superfood a few years ago–the price went way up. I’ve been eating it my whole life (cultural thing) and its so easy to grow.

  10. Devlin says:

    Any thought about growing your own kale or spinach?

    • erik says:

      Hey Devlin, thanks for checking out! No – I haven’t given growing anything a thought. Live in an apartment in the city. Gardening will be an adventure/experiment at some point!

  11. Ashley says:

    The next time you shop Whole Foods, check the bulk bins for your rice and any other flours/grains/seeds/nuts you may need. Tit tends to cost less since you’re not paying for packaging.

  12. Robin says:

    I think you need some veggies, dropping the supplement seems like a good idea, try afar era market but also, hit the Haymarket for some super cheap veggies and fruit!

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