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When Whole Foods asked if I’d like to take on their challenge to buy an entire week’s worth of groceries for my family for $100, I knew I was in.  Cooking and writing about food is something I love almost as much as writing about my son, Charlie!

Being a semi-regular WF shopper, I knew this was not going to be easy.  I was already aware of the values that exist at Whole Foods, but I eat an almost entirely grain- and dairy-free diet.  Charlie, of course, gets milk, cheese, and certain carbs but for the most part our house is void of processed and/or high-sugar foods.  Our efforts to eat as healthy as possible translate to much higher grocery bills than we’d have if we bought convenience foods and made 1/3 of each meal with something starchy.  $100 for a week of groceries can be hard for any family, but with a menu of almost entirely fresh produce and high quality proteins, this shopping trip was going to take some serious preparation.  I did go into this with one advantage: we belong to a CSA where we get a weekly bunch of veggies and a dozen eggs.  However, since our meals consist of one protein and two vegetables, the CSA bounty is usually gone within the first couple days.  I still had a hefty load to fit into $100.

The Value Tour

My first step was to go on a Value Tour at my local Whole Foods store in Philadelphia.  A customer service manager named Kerry strolled around the store with me to point out the ways to save.  Some of the values are based on ideas that can be transferable to almost any grocery store.

  • First, in-season produce is always the cheapest.  Whole Foods designates its sale items with bright yellow and red tags; in the produce section, those tags almost always adorn the veggies and fruit that are most local and most in-season.  This week, there were sales on apples, acorn squash, baby bok choy, and more.
  • Secondly, cut coupons!  You might not know it, but Whole Foods does have a coupon circular – it’s called the Whole Deal and it often has some nice discounts on high-end products.
  • Lastly, go for the less popular cuts of meat. If you have a slow-cooker, just about any cut can be made into a gourmet meal.

Now for the deals that are Whole Foods originals.

  • Check out the bargain bunker near the fish and meat counters.  It normally holds on-sale protein as well as pre-packaged frozen seafood that is often cheaper than its counterpart at the fish counter.
  • Here’s the best one – did you know that you can get 10% off if you buy a case of anything?  The price label on the shelf tells you the number of items in a case and you can call your store ahead of time to ask for a case to be set aside.
  • And finally, the house brand 365 Everyday Value is a great way to get quality items for less.

The Whole Foods website also has more Money-Saving Tips and a collection of Budget-Friendly Recipes that are both healthy and inexpensive!  I’m actually looking forward to the challenge of making some of these recipes grain-free while still keeping the per-serving price low.

My Haul

Confession time.  I actually did not win this challenge.  My grand total was $108.02.  But really, I lost by eight bucks, so I should get a pass right?  But let’s look at the receipt and rejoice in some of the stats.

My $108 bought about 18 lbs of protein; this includes the Friday Deal whole chickens that I got for $1.49/lb – vegetarian fed, no growth hormones and the house-made pork brats that the lady behind the meat counter had just finished linking when I walked up.

The total also includes weekly staples for Charlie including organic whole milk, Earth’s Best Elmo crackers, and string cheese.

I also got more than 10 lbs of fresh produce, not including the two heads of organic cauliflower.  Knowing that I can provide this much fresh and healthy food to my family for just a tad bit over$100 is pretty phenomenal!

The Menu

Just to prove that we are actually putting all of this yummy food to use this week, here’s our menu.  I roasted both of the chickens on Sunday, broke one of them down and put it right into the freezer for two other dinners that you’ll see on the menu.  I also made a big batch of grain free breakfast “porridge” and divided it into containers so that my husband and I can each grab one in the morning as we dash out the door.  We tend to eat lunch on the run on the weekends, but during the week I make double servings of dinner and package them for lunches the next day.  Charlie sometimes gets leftovers for lunch, as well, and often eats whatever we’re eating for dinner.

Sunday

Chicken w/lemon and rosemary
Roasted romanesco*
Kohlrabi*, apple*, and carrot slaw

Monday

Skirt steak
Mashed cauliflower
Sauteed baby bok coy

Tuesday

Leftover chicken w/zucchini “spaghetti” and 365 Everyday Value pasta sauce
Sauteed chard

Wednesday

Turkey stuffed acorn squash (w/kale)
Side salads*

Thursday

Chicken red curry w/leftover chicken (uses coconut milk, green peppers, and spinach)

Friday

Mango coconut mahi mahi (from the bargain bunker!)
Chinese cabbage and roasted cauliflower*

Saturday

WF bratwurst sausages
Roasted leeks and apples*

*Leftover CSA items

Win! $100 Whole Foods Gift Card!

If I can do it, anyone can, right?  Here’s your chance to find out if you too can get a week’s worth of groceries for $100 with our Whole Foods gift card giveaway!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post about Whole Foods or this post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***

Want an extra chance to win? Visit Crazy Adventures in Parenting where Lisa shows how to grocery shop at Whole Foods Market on a budget. For a family of NINE!

Laura

Laura

Laura is mommy to Charlie, who was born in April 2011. If you are in Philadelphia and spot a woman on the bus who is balancing an active toddler and the largest canvas tote that L.L. Bean makes, you've probably spotted her. Always up for a challenge, Laura enjoys her day job as a fundraiser, cooking healthy meals at home for her family, and her new workout hobby - running.

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  1. 1.
    Sarah rothermel

    Love Whole Food! I really love their new bulk section!

  2. 2.
    Lisa

    Love Whole Foods! We use a grocery-delivery service here in Manhattan called FreshDirect.com but also stop at Whole Foods to fill in when needed because it’s right by my son’s preschool.

  3. 3.
    Ashleigh

    Really impressed that you made it out of there for a little over $100! I love Whole Foods and am so glad they’re finally coming to Columbia, SC!!

  4. 4.
    Jenn Hillman

    Thanks for this giveaway. We dont have a whole foods here but my sister does so if I won this I would give it to her and her hubby! Newlyweds can always use 100 worth of free groceries. :)

  5. 5.
    Samantha C.

    THanks for the giveaway. Love that you are using Rafflecopter!

  6. 6.
    Ashley Hatten

    Love Whole Foods! Thanks for the chance to win!!

  7. 7.
    Maureen

    I love going to their deli section and purchasing the yellowfin tuna salad. I love their fresh produce section especially when they have the orange juice available.

  8. 8.
    Olivia Rubin

    This could really help out with the holidays approaching

  9. 9.
    Jessica

    I’ve never shopped at Whole Foods because I’ve always been told how expensive it is. Would love to give it a try. Thanks for the chance to win!

  10. 10.
    Ashley C

    We just got a Whole Food’s Market near us, i can’t wait to try it out :)

    demureprincess7(at)gmail(dot)com

  11. 11.
    Mandy

    I don’t know if every WF does it, but ours in Charlottesville, VA had a free fresh fruit for each child shopping with their parents. I just started at the customer service counter and asked for a coupon for each kid and then took them to get an apple or banana. (The sales associate told me the coupon says “banana or apple” but that we could chose whichever one we wanted.) My kids felt special being responsible for their own coupon that they gave to the clerk when we checked out and it kept them pretty well-occupied while I was shopping.

    And I love how Whole Foods stands by their products. I was once checking out with a bag of oranges when the clerk noticed that one was bad. He showed me the issue, gave me a new bag that I paid for and then offered me the “bad” bag that only had one bad orange since they could not sell the bag. It was a great deal and saved perfectly good produce that would’ve otherwise rotted in a dumpster. I puffy-heart LOVE Whole Foods!

  12. 12.
    nancy

    LOVE WF- hope I win :-) Would be an intersting challenge for a family of 6 :-)

    Thanks!
    Nancy

  13. 13.
    emily moulton

    I w. ould love to try the challenge!

  14. 14.
    Marilyn

    You’ve inspired me to want to try the challenge!

  15. 15.

    We’re very fortunate to have a Whole Foods close by! I love to explore all of the wonderful items they carry. We’ll be getting our Halloween pumpkins there this year!

  16. 16.
    Stephanie

    I’d love to win !

  17. 17.
    Cassandra Eastman

    I can’t believe how much you got with 100 dollars! That is great! Your menu for the week sounds delicious!

  18. 18.
    Rachel

    Great giveaway!

  19. 19.
    Colette

    Whole Foods is such a help for my three kids with multiple food allergies!

  20. 20.
    telitha

    our Whole Foods just opened a month ago so i would love, love, love to buy my weekly groceries there!

  21. 21.

    I rarely shop at WF because it always seems too expensive, our food budget for the whole month is $300 – that’s with making everything from scratch. But I think I need to check out their discounted meats! We always try to get at least no hormones/antibiotics and organic when possible.

  22. 22.
    Jessie C.

    Thanks for the great giveaway, I love shopping produce at Whole Foods.

  23. 23.
    Faride

    I’ve shopped at Whole Foods before. I really like their products. I like to buy their healthy snacks. We trying to make better choices to what we eat.

  24. 24.
    adina

    would love to try out whole foods!

  25. 25.
    Eve

    I love Whole Foods. Such great food