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Tripp to Health

Our adventures in healthy eating.

How We Grocery Shop Without Breaking the Bank

Posted by on in Paleo Challenge
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Healthy Shopping on a Budget

This topic has been moved to our new blog at DuPage Family Wellness. See the following articles:

Healthy Grocery Shopping On a Budget

5 Tips for Eating Real Food on a Budget


How much is a normal amount of money to spend on groceries?? Last year, Jared and I spent $5077! That’s over $420/month for 2 people. I basically had the perspective that getting groceries was cheaper than eating out, so I didn’t pay any attention to how much we were spending, I just swiped the credit card and didn’t give it a second thought. Patients always tell me that it's too expensive to eat healthy, so I'm going to try to do better in this regard!

This Year We are doing things a little bit Differently...


This year we started a new budgeting system where we use cash in envelopes for various categories, and when it’s gone, it’s gone! This system is pretty new to us, but we started off with a grocery budget of $300/month. The goal with this is to use less than that on a monthly basis, and save up the remainder for bigger meat purchases (like grass-fed beef!)

How do we shop?

First off, before going to the store, we take a quick note of what we need. Did we run out of anything besides the normal meat and veggies? At this point, we don’t plan out actual meals. This could be helpful down the road, but for now we just go through the produce section and the meat section and look for our staples, new fun items, and great deals! For the most part we do the whole "shopping around the edges" thing, with a few exceptions.

Where do we shop?

We love Cermak’s market off Rt. 59 next to Sam’s Club in Naperville. It has a HUGE produce department with some good deals. They also have lots of seasonings/sauces/etc. for making ethnic food! Sometimes we make a quick run through Aldi to get cheap produce or frozen fish/shrimp. Occasionally we go to Trader Joe’s. I like to get certain items here like raw nuts. Patients tell me that I will love Mariano’s, but I haven’t been there yet!

What did we buy this week?

Opol Squash (this was our fun new purchase today that we have no idea what to do with!)

Red Cabbage

3 Eggplants

1 Head of Cauliflower

1 Large Parsnip

3 small heads of Broccoli

1 Head of Bok Choy

1 Yellow and 3 Red Peppers

1 bag of baby carrots

2 cans of coconut milk

2 cans of diced tomatos

1 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Sea salt (we ran out)

36 eggs


Bunch of Asparagus

1 Spaghetti squash

1 bag of onions

6 Chicken pinwheels (bone in leg and thigh)

All of this was $42.48

I feel like I should note a few things with this. We plan on having this produce last us for a week (we started with a few zucchinis, some romaine lettuce, and some cabbage left at home. We also had a few bananas, pears, and frozen fruit). If you think this doesn’t sound like enough meat, you are right- we previously purchased ¼ grass-fed cow, and ¼ organically cured pastured pig that we have in our deep freeze. We also ran out of frozen seafood last week, and stocked up on shrimp, salmon, and white fish last week.

What about Organic food?

Yes I think that getting organic is better- we aren’t quite there yet. Like I always tell patients, it is important to keep taking baby steps in the right direction toward getting healthier. Maybe next month or next year we’ll be buying more organic food. We do plan to buy most of our produce from local sources as soon as the spring/summer farmers markets are back!

What’s missing from a “normal”  shopping list?

Cereal- We’ve got our eggs for breakfast

Bread- We sub in veggies to give us more nutrients and less of a blood sugar spike

Pasta- We have spaghetti squash and zucchini for “spiralated” spaghetti

Milk/other beverages- We’ve got plenty of water at home. We’ll get lots of Calcium from our veggies and leafy greens. We do drink black coffee, but only have to buy this every once in a while.

Cheese- Sometimes we get some cheese- not this time.

Chips/Crackers/Etc- We choose not to have these temptations in the house. When we get hungry, we eat more fruits and veggies!

Sweets- If we are feeling deprived, I can whip up a little something from coconut milk and some fresh/frozen fruit that we already had on hand.

Healthy Oils- We already have coconut oil. We did run out of Olive Oil, and we forgot to get more! Next time. We already have some raw nuts as well.

Soups- We make our own bone broth. We’ll do this with the chicken bones!

Seasonings- We have a ton of these already in the pantry/spice rack

Am I missing anything else?

I still don’t know how much money a normal person should spend on groceries- but it’s been amazing to see how much less we can spend when we actually pay attention! I’ll keep you posted as the months go by on how the $300/month is working out for us!

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  • Guest
    Sue Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    I bought an Opol squash .... and it went bad before I figured out what to do with it. Let me know what it's like. Thanks

  • Dr. Jamie Tripp DC
    Dr. Jamie Tripp DC Thursday, 13 February 2014

    I'll let you know! If it is awesome, maybe we'll even post the recipe!

  • Guest
    Amber Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    The envelopes sound like a great idea! I probably spend $420 a month on groceries just for 1! My biggest expense comes from "ready-made" food. I worked so much last summer and it was very difficult to prepare healthy things. I pretty much lived off of instant oatmeal and granola bars. Very expensive and (clearly) not very healthy. Do you have any suggestions for people eating on the go a lot, or without daily time to prepare food?

  • Dr. Jamie Tripp DC
    Dr. Jamie Tripp DC Thursday, 13 February 2014

    Great idea for a future post- Fruits are easiest to go food. Veggies often require chopping and dips to make them taste better, but if you can do it are a great option as well. Raw nuts are usually a good option. I'll try to write a full entry on this soon!

  • Guest
    Lynn Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    I am excited about your budgeting experiment. I spend over $700/mo on groceries for two people. Yes, that is insane, but I buy pasture raised meat and almost all organic produce. I want to provide my family with the healthiest meals possible and I typically don't mind paying for high quality food.

    I know I will have to lower spending when I am in school full time, so I am watching you and taking notes. :)

  • Dr. Jamie Tripp DC
    Dr. Jamie Tripp DC Thursday, 13 February 2014

    I can totally see how you could spend 700/month on groceries! In the long run its worth it! My crossfit coach had an awesome quote the other day in response to this article- "Can you afford NOT to eat healthy?"

    I'll for sure keep you posted!

  • Guest
    Karen Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    Thanks for posting again! Though I don't eat Paleo, your blogs help keep me on track towards healthy eating and remind me to shop mostly on the perimeters at the grocery store.

  • Dr. Jamie Tripp DC
    Dr. Jamie Tripp DC Thursday, 13 February 2014

    No problem! Anything I can do to motivate more people!

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