$35/Week Shopping: Week 4

  • August 7th, 2014

First off, special thanks to Brady Carlson and New Hampshire Public Radio for the interview!

This week’s grocery shopping adventure took me to four different stores – Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Star Market, and Super 88 Market.

That sounds taxing, but spread out over the course of two days, it was convenient. In Boston, nothing is all that far from you.

The previous week was spent mostly at Whole Foods. Several people pointed out that the yield last week was a bit light – and that I could do a lot better quantity wise. Thank you everyone because this is how late last week looked:



Like I noted in the previous post, I was doing my research – taking all sorts of great suggestions from readers.

One of the suggestions was to try the Super 88 Market for cheap produce. Well – thank you! It was a jackpot. All sorts of Manager’s Specials. See the breakdown below:

Even got some more Sriracha!

Even got some more Sriracha!

Super 88 Market

Sriracha – 28 oz. bottle – $3.99
Brown Onion – 1 – $1.03
Russet Potatoes – Manager’s Special – ~3lb. – $2.00
Bananas – Manager’s Special – 3 lb. – $1.00
Green Bell Pepper – 1.20 lb. – $0.99/lb.
Tomatoes – Manager’s Special – 6 – $1.29 total
Cabbage – 1.91 lb. – $0.69/lb.
Red Cabbage – 1.59 lb. – $0.99/lb.
Cucumber – 2 – $1/each

$15.39 total (43.9% of $35)

Trader Joe’s

Bananas – 10 – $0.19/each
Blueberries – 2lb. – $6.99
White Eggs (not pictured) – Large – 1 dozen – $1.99

$10.88 total (31% of $35)

Whole Foods

365 (Whole Foods) – Creamy Peanut Butter – 36oz. jar – $5.49

$5.49 total (15.6% of $35)

Star Market

Vermont Bread Company – Whole Wheat Bread – 1 loaf – $2.99

$2.99 total (8.5% of $35)

Grand Total: $34.75 (99.2% of $35 spent)


Dried Beans

Dried beans seemed expensive. I couldn’t find anything that did much better than cans – but I will keep looking. Given I still have some chickpeas, I skipped beans this week.


Tons of bananas this week. One suggestion set me off – and I found less ripe bananas at Trader Joe’s, and over ripe bananas at a deep discount at Super 88 Market – 3 pounds for a $1. The upcoming Week 3 & 4 Recipes will focus on banana-based recipes. Well, and peanut butter too. Mmmm, peanut butter.

Preparation Time

My grandmother also made the point that I am honing in on things that require lighter preparation. And that is what works for me.

With the relatively high cost of dried pinto beans and the time it takes to prepare, making my own refried beans may not be for me.

I’m not sure I want to make my own bread either – albeit a great suggestion.

Even so, we are talking a diet that requires a lot more preparation time than Soylent. But not that much more than frozen pizzas. And not too much more time than ordering/picking up junk food every day/meal.

Owning a camping grill has been great – as I have been able to eat cooked meals on the run.

2014-07-25 15.22.11

Overall Thoughts

I feel great about this shop. There are a couple improvements to be made – I can likely avoid going to at least one store as well. But a couple tweaks and I have something that shows as a strong example of what’s possible for $35.

I thought by Week 4 I would have almost nothing in the cupboard left over, I have a few items left. My goal this week is to consume those items – and to move to a Week 5 with no leftover items.

Week 5 will likely be the final week of the $35/Week experiment. I will be moving on to preparing for ANOTHER EXPERIMENT! Stay tuned to see what’s in store.

This weekend I will be hitting the Haymarket and Russo’s over in Watertown – both highly recommended. Again, thank you all for the suggestions and feel free to leave your thoughts!

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16 responses to “$35/Week Shopping: Week 4”

  1. Chris Denlinger says:

    If you’re worried about the time for cooking beans (or rice), a pressure cooker may fit the bill. I’ve been considering which has a 24-hour delay and acts as several different kitchen tools.

    • erik says:

      Hey Chris, thanks for the tip. I did buy some dried beans for this upcoming week. So I’ll really be able to experiment with how long it actually takes. Thanks again!

  2. kpoo says:

    I would suggest trying your local Mexican grocery for dried beans. Also, try an Asian grocery for bulk rice, dried proteins,, and dried beans.
    Also, I’m really enjoying your experiment! It’s been super informative. Keep up the good work!

    • erik says:

      Hey – Thanks for checking out! Good tips – I did pick up some dried beans for the upcoming week. I also found oddly that the bulk rice at the Asian grocery (Super 88 Market) was not much less expensive for a 15lb. bag (~1.06/lb.) than Whole Foods for a 5lb. bag (~$1.15/lb.). I’ll have to keep looking. Thanks again!

  3. Jessica says:

    What about oats? Also consider alternative grains, like quinoa, to counteract boredom. A whole chicken is way cheaper than parts, and turkeys are super cheap outside of Thanksgiving time.

    • erik says:

      Hey Jessica – thanks for checking out! Great tips – looked a bit for turkeys but found no great deals immediately. Will keep my eye out, thanks!

  4. Elisha says:

    I totally did an out loud WTF when I got to the calling stove. If I ever move out of my RV and don’t work from home I am running with that idea. Genius. Your site is awesome.

  5. Karen says:

    Why would you go to Whole Foods for peanut butter instead of buying Trader Joe’s organic peanut butter. (And, btw, you are so wrong about creamy–chunky rules!:) )

    • erik says:

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you for checking out the experiment!

      Whole Foods peanut butter has only two ingredients – peanuts and salt. The 40 ounce jar is a better value than just about anything – even Jif. And you’re right – I’m growing to like chunky better! Thanks again!

  6. Hi Erik,

    Found your site via Lifehacker.

    I noticed you don’t talk about your actual menu for the week i.e. Breakfast – eggs toast coffee, Lunch – beans and rice etc. As an old triathlete, I find I eat the same stuff over and over, perhaps I’m in a rut. I try to eat about 3,000 cal/day when I’m in my foundation period and higher as I progress. What about protein vs carbs? Total daily fruit and veggie intake?


    • erik says:

      Hey Nelson,

      Thanks for checking out the experiment! That’d be an interesting breakdown, though I’m similar to you – I’ll eat the same things over and over (peanut butter sandwiches, rice and beans, vegetable omelettes). I also find that around 3000 works for me during training. This week I ran 74 miles.

      The last two weeks have been great for fruit/veggie intake – which has dropped my peanut butter go-to a lot. I’m moving back away from carbs a bit as well. I’ll try to explain this week. Thanks for checking out!

  7. Ruth says:

    I realize dried beans may be more expensive, but a bag of dried beans yields way more than a can and overall is actually less than canned beans. They really aren’t as time consuming as you think. Stick them in a crock pot before you go to bed at night to soak, and turn on the crock pot in the morning. They’ll be done by dinner time. You can always freeze them so make a lot at a time and freeze them for short meal prep later!

  8. Sydney says:

    1 lb of dried beans yields 6 cups of beans after cooking, which is roughly 4 15 oz cans. At $1.50 for a pound of beans, that’s a pretty good deal. I don’t soak or anything, I just cover with water in a dutch oven and cook for 1 – 2 hours. I’ve never noticed a difference with soaking. It’s kind of a ritual for me — on Sundays a do prep work for the rest of the week and it makes cooking each day so much easier. If you don’t think you’ll eat them all, you can always freeze them.

    Sorry, I’m a huge bean fan.

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