Grocery shopping can take its toll on your wallet and your time. We need to eat, therefore, we need to shop for food that we want to eat. This means shopping daily, weekly, or monthly to stock up the kitchen with healthy and nutritious foods to eat each day.
While there are ways to shop for groceries online, it can be difficult to find a reputable seller where you can buy everything on one website. Adding Paleo requirements to the mix requires you to shop at certain stores to get a larger variety of what you can eat. Typically this will leave the larger grocery store chains (ie Vons, Ralphs, etc) off your list if you are looking for more organic produce or grass-fed meats.
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This is why I finally decided to shop at several stores to get all my groceries each week.
Where do I shop?
Every week I shop at 3 different grocery stores; Wholesome Choice (a local Persian market), Sprouts, and Trader Joe’s. This allows me to keep my budget down and enjoy more healthy (Paleo-approved) options.
I would love to stop at only one store (cough: Whole Foods), but that isn’t the best option for us right now. Whole Foods is just too expensive (and out of the way) for me to shop only there. It’s known as ‘Whole Paycheck’ for a reason, even though you can find several options that are similar in price to conventional stores.
Wholesome Choice offers a larger grocery store appeal with more name brands and low bargain prices. It features a large food court with a wide variety of ethnic foods (it is a Persian store afterall). The food court always smells really good and the display cases are tempting. If you are eating Paleo you’ll want to actively avoid this area, or eat before you shop to
eliminate reduce temptations.
The primary foods I buy are meats (lamb and goat) , pantry staples (olive oil, vinegars, etc), and produce (lately Navel Oranges are 7 pounds for $1!).
Unfortunately, the lamb and goat are not certified organic and not entirely grass fed. They are Halal (fyi). I feel the lamb and goat are the
best better choices when unable to buy 100% grass fed ruminants. They are both extremely lean and highly nutritious.Being almost ignored completely by the majority of Americans, lamb and goat can still be found at very low prices in ethnic markets (like Wholesome Choice). For example, this weekly flyer says whole lamb shoulder is only $3.79/lb.
First, let me say I love Sprouts (over Henrys). Probably not as much as Whole Foods, but it’s a close second. I appreciate the larger offering of “natural” products they now carry as Sprouts Farmers Market. It’s not as large as Whole Foods, but it’s better than most.
Besides the occasional bodycare and hygiene products, or random homeopathic remedies and vitamins, Sprouts is my go-to source for produce (my local Farmers Market is currently closed for the season), grass-fed and exotic meats (kangaroo, elk, bison, wild boar, antelope) and fresh wild-caught seafood.
Produce is my top priority at Sprouts. They have the largest selection of organic produce in my area, even though I don’t always buy organic. I do buy the worst produce offenders of pesticide residue, like apples, organic.
Have you ever eaten wild boar or kangaroo? We have. I love for us to eat a variety of meats and produce to help us get more balanced nutrition. A wide selection of different meats helps me to accomplish this. And the surprisingly decent selection of game meats and exotic meats is a little splurge.
Lastly, fresh seafood that is wild caught. This depends on the season and what sales are going on. When fresh Atlantic salmon is on sale I’ll stock up!
I don’t really know how to describe what I buy at Trader Joe’s. I buy a lot of snacks, some meats and fish, some produce, some pantry staples, and eggs. They are almost my catch all store.
Snacks are wonderful here. Spirit loves their freeze dried fruits (strawberry is her favorite), roasted plantain chips, all beef hot dogs, honey goat cheese and sunflower seeds. I also buy her ‘gummy’ multivitamins here, but have started looking for a sugar-free alternative. I just don’t think vitamins should have sugar, am I crazy?
My local Trader Joe’s (call your local store to ask) sells grass fed organic ground beef in 1 pound packages, fresh for $6.99/lb and frozen for $5.99/lb. They also have frozen wild caught fish that is an average of $7-9 per pound. A favorite of ours is their fresh Applewood Smoked Bacon and pre-seasoned rack of lamb (for special occasions).
Produce at Trader Joe’s is not always the freshest. I’ve had to return several produce items for going bad before the ‘sell by’ date. However, their bags of prepped veggies are handy and a huge time saver, like their pre-cut butternut squash (only $2.99) versus a whole butternut squash for $2.69. They looked like they both had the same amount of “meat” when I was comparing them side-by-side, so I chose the pre-cut bag.
If you can find the seasoning or spice you are looking for here I recommend it. Typically they are only $2.99 a jar. (Otherwise I’ll buy from the bulk section at Sprouts.)
Eggs are decently priced. I buy free-range and organic eggs, so they are expensive everywhere. If they aren’t on sale at the other stores, then I’ll get them here. They seem to be *just* a little bit cheaper when not in sale.
Planning My Weekly Shopping List
First I take a look at the weekly sales fliers. Sales are generally around items that are in season, this includes meats, fish and produce. This not only helps me to save money by getting items on sale, but lets me know what’s the freshest.
Weekly Sales Fliers:
Sprouts makes theirs available every Tuesday afternoon for the upcoming week. Wednesdays are when the ads change, but it is a double ad day (both weekly ads work). Wholesome Choice changes ads every Thursday, without a double ad day. And Trader Joe’s already has great low prices on many items (but not all). They have no sales flyer, but a Fearless Flyer. It is a showcase ofcdifferent products; some new, some seasonal and some are favorites.
I jot down any items that catch my attention. These are mostly Paleo approved items, such as meats, fish, and produce. This is the foundation for my shopping list. I choose the options I want and then build the remaining list (and meals) with items I buy often. For example, if grass-fed beef is on sale at Sprouts for $3.99 per pound (last week it was), then I’ll buy mostly beef that week. If ground lamb is $2.99 per pound at Wholesome Choice, then I’ll buy more lamb. If asparagus is in season, then I’ll buy A LOT of asparagus.
Multiple stores helps me to find what I’m looking for, at the best price available. I can further save money as I use the sales fliers to guide my grocery shopping trip for that week. Creating a grocery shopping list based off of the sales fliers also helps me to create more variety in what we eat as each type of food goes through their seasons.
We eat more berries and fresh, wild-caught salmon in the summer. We eat more squash and root vegetables during the fall and winter. And when Cutie’s are on sale in the winter we buy a few boxes.
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