Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Budgeting for Healthy Eating

Today I made a trip to Costco with a grocery list and $100 cash in hand. Although I have stuck with my new year's resolution and have not purchased any food product with more than 4 ingredients, I often wonder if healthy eating IS, in fact, more expensive than unhealthy eating? And which grocery stores give you the best quality food for the price you pay? After visiting Costco today, I'm determined to find an answer to these questions, but, first, I will elaborate on my grocery trip experience today.

My Grocery List for Costco on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, looked something like this:

fish or shrimp
spring mix
goat cheese
sharp cheddar cheese
olive oil
gallon Ziploc freezer bags and sandwich bags
laundry detergent
baby wipes

In the end I didn't get fish or shrimp (they didn't look appetizing), cucumbers (I really only wanted one, and I was shopping at Costco where everything comes sized for a family of 10), sandwich bags (I decided to save the environment and will use plastic reusable containers I already have), and baby wipes (I can wait another few weeks for these). Instead, I purchased butternut squash (we haven't had an orange colored food recently and it looked really good), baby peppers (these are more versatile than cucumbers), heavy cream (I got a whipped cream canister for Christmas and Mason loves my homemade whipped cream at "tea time"), butter (I thought I might need it for all the breads, doughs, and pie crusts I'll be attempting to make soon) and pecorino cheese (for the homemade pasta dish I'm going to make this week). All in all, I did fairly well on my $100 budget and only went $6 over. Since I had just returned an item for Mason that day, I had an extra $40 in my pocket, which I was planning to set aside for his use later. But I justified going $6 over budget, even though taking out the heavy cream would have kept me under budget, since Mason will eat a majority of the whipped cream in the next few weeks. Don't worry...the remaining $30 from the return was put aside for a future diaper/wipes purchase for my son.

Although I did well on this Costco run, I always find it hard to stick to my grocery list and budget at Costco. So I will not renew my membership when the time comes at the end of this month. For the month of February (and beyond if I am pleased with the outcome), I may purchase my produce at the West Seattle Sunday Farmers' Market like I've been meaning to do this year, while the rest of my groceries (eggs, milk, grains, etc) may be purchased from QFC or Whole Foods. I'll be doing a quality and cost comparison of the two grocery chains next month to determine where I will likely do most of my grocery shopping. If anyone can suggest a Seattle grocery store that carries primarily local products, I'd love to add it to my quality and cost comparison of grocery stores. When I lived in Albuquerque, NM, I shopped at Sunflower Market, which was a local version of Whole Foods. Most produce came from Arizona and New Mexico, and it was very inexpensive. I'd love to find the same type of store here in Seattle.

Thanks for reading, and happy grocery shopping! I'm looking forward to sharing my grocery store comparison with you.


  1. Hi Lisa, I'm not sure how convenient this is for you but have you tried shopping at Central Market? It's probably way out of your way but I find that the prices there are way better than Whole Foods. I still think maybe the Farmers Market will be your best bang for the buck for healthier options. Good luck with your comparison and I can't wait to see what you come up with. I know how it feels like to "waste" so much money at Costco. But where will you get your toilet paper? :)

  2. Cindi, I haven't tried Central Market. Is there only one in Shoreline?

    There are a lot of products I love at Costco: toilet paper, diapers, organic spring mix and spinach, and olive oils. We'll see how the comparison goes!