This week I took my $70 grocery budget and went to the one and only Trader Joe’s. This specialty store isn’t my first choice of grocers here in Chicago. Their produce is almost always more expensive than my local supermarket, Mariano’s, and they don’t often have everything I need. But I know that for many people Trader Joe’s is the best option when it comes to healthy, affordable food so this week I challenged myself to only shop at TJ’s while staying within my budget. The outcome? Success!
“Healthy” and “Clean Eating” mean something different to everyone. To me, I define these terms as eating whole, unprocessed foods, focusing mainly on vegetables, fruit, meat, and fats like avocados and nuts. If something comes in a package, the ingredient list should be short with all items I could find in my own kitchen if I were going to make it from scratch. Everything you see below fits into these guidelines. It’s important for my husband and I to not only eat affordably, but also healthy!
Here are the clean ingredient items I bought at Trader Joe’s. These, along with items we already have in our pantry as well as leftovers from last week’s grocery haul, will feed Ty and I for the next 7 days. If you want to see exactly the meals we prepared with these groceries below, check out my Trader Joe’s Meal Plan.
Clean Eating at Trader Joe’s (on a budget!)
- Whole Wheat Pitas $1.49/4-8″ pitas
- Ingredients: 100% whole wheat, water, sesame seeds, wheat gluten, yeast, salt, distilled vinegar
- Raw Cashew Pieces $5.49/lb
- Ingredients: cashews
- Note: These are cheaper than buying Trader Joe’s whole cashews.
- Coconut Oil $5.99/16oz jar
- Ingredients: organic unrefined coconut oil
- Note: Unrefined coconut oil is much less processed than refined.
- Natural Creamy Peanut Butter $2.49/16oz jar
- Ingredients: peanuts
- Note: Trader Joe’s also sells salted natural creamy peanut butter as well as crunchy salted and unsalted natural peanut butter.
- Fine Sea Salt $1.59/26oz container
- Ingredients: sea salt
- Note: I like to buy course salt to refill my grinder at home, but the price difference between the fine ground sea salt and the course Himalayan sea salt (with grinder) was significant.
Dairy & Refrigerated
- Eggs $2.69/dozen
- Whole Milk $3.99/half gallon
- Plain Greek Yogurt $2.99/16oz tub
- Ingredients: grade a pasteurized skim milk, cream, live & active cultures
- Note: I usually buy full fat dairy because it’s less processed and contains all the natural nutrients, but Trader Joe’s full fat Greek yogurt had less protein and more sugar per cup than the low fat variety.
- Kale $1.99/10oz bag
- Cauliflower $2.49/head
- Red Pepper $.99 each
- Green Pepper $.89 each
- Sweet Onion $.79 each
- Lemons $.49 each ($.98/2 small)
- Grape Tomatoes $2.49/lb
- Avocados $2.99/4 small
- Bananas $.19 each ($.95/5 medium)
- Mushrooms $1.79/10oz
- Whole Chicken $1.49/lb ($7.54 total)
- Chicken Legs $1.49/lb ($2.61 total)
- Ground Turkey $2.99/lb
- Sweet Italian Pork Sausage $3.99/lb
- Ingredients: pork, water, sea salt, evaporated cane juice (sugar), spices, spice extractives, paprika
- Note: This isn’t the cleanest sausage, especially considering the sugar, but the price was much cheaper than other pork, beef, or packaged chicken sausages.
Total Spent: $64.41
I hope this helps give you an idea of how you can also save money on groceries!
My biggest tips when it comes to eating healthy on a budget are:
- Use what you already have! Make a list of everything you already have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer before going to the store. Download my Free Grocery List and Meal Plan Printable to learn exactly the steps I follow each week before going grocery shopping.
- Buy produce that is on sale.
- Plan your meals around your ingredients instead of buying ingredients to fit a recipe.
- Avoid too many packaged snacks. Apples and bananas are great for on the go!
If you’re just starting out trying to eat healthy on a budget, here are a few things I recommend investing in to save you time and money in the long run.
My Favorite Grocery Shopping Helpers
- A good grocery list. Download my free template here! I never go to the grocery store without making a list first. It stops me from buying random stuff and keeps my budget in check!
- Grocery rebate apps. Both Ibotta and Checkout 51 offer cash back on groceries. And you can use them together to stack savings on the same shopping trip!
- Reusable bags. These are my favorite (the ones in my picture!). They are a bit pricey, but have lasted me over 6 years. They hold up to 40 pounds each, so I am able to carry home BIG grocery hauls! I also love that the straps are long enough to go over my shoulder so my hands don’t hurt by the time I’m in my house.
- A shopping cart. This is the one I have. If you live in a walking city (I’ve used when living in both Chicago and NYC), this is a must! Don’t let the fear of walking home carrying all your bags stop you from grocery shopping. Instead, roll those groceries!
P.S. Curious what meals I made with this grocery haul? Check out my Trader Joe’s Meal Plan!