Week 1: Shopping Poorganically

This is the fourth post in the Eating Poorganically Series. If you want to read the first three, click the Eating Poorganically category.  Also, don’t forget to “Like” Eating Poorganically on Facebook.  I’m not sure what happens when I get 25 fans, but Facebook has indicated that it will be something cool. :)  The more people we can get involved in the discussion, the better. Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, I think we can all teach each other something.

Okay, down to business. Here’s how the first week of eating organically went. I will try to give ALL the details, to help you with your comparisons and informed decisions making about what to buy and which store to shop at, etc.

Is it REALLY worth it?

For a little analogy, I need you couponers to think back a little bit.  Remember when/if you first started couponing and it was really annoying and difficult? You probably thought, “IS this REALLY worth it?”  And, the more you worked at it and understood the couponing system, it got a bit easier and you scored a few great deals and got the RUSH of couponing. Then, eventually, you could coupon much more easily. And even though you occasionally fall TOTALLY behind and have to get back on the couponing train, you know what to do and couponing does not seem that bad.  Remember that?

Well, I think Shopping Poorganically might be the same.  Right now it is pretty tricky because I don’t know ANY of the brands. Planning and shopping takes HOURS, and it is totally overwhelming making even the most simple decisions. (Decision making is my tragic flaw.) BUT, since I did learn couponing (and became awesome at it if I do say so myself), I feel confident and challenged by the new task of Eating Poorganically. Maybe I’m just trying to up my game since couponing is old hat, but I think I can do this. I think . . .

Also, I am encouraged because, in our first week of Eating Poorganically for $85-$100 per week,  we spent $106! Yikes. Even though that is too high for our budget, I feel okay because it is really close to being in budget and we are just learning. PLUS, a lot of the food is still here for this week, so I’m not calling it a wash yet.  Also, technically the $85-$100 is meant to accommodate non-food items so that our total monthly consumables budget is under $500. Really, the Providinator gets paid monthly, so that is more important than a weekly number anyway.  Last week we spent $0 on non-food, so we are still within range for the month. (Does this make sense?)

To start us off, I decided to use the Week 4 Menu and shopping List from 100 Days of Real Food because I had NO IDEA where to start.  She created this menu for for eating organically on $167, a food stamp budget for a family of four.  These menus and lists were helpful because they gave me some guidelines, and they also made me feel awesome when I spent less than she had priced.  In order for me to be able to interact with the info, I am copying and pasting it here, but to be clear, I DID NOT MAKE THIS. It is from 100 Days of Real Food. (Plagorism is bad, did I mention?)

I am putting her whole list and prices in black italics with my actual spending info in blue. FM=Farmer’s Market, HT=Harris Teeter, EF=Earth Fare, TJ= Trader Joes, and ironically, N.O.=Non-organic.  I tried to indicate when I bought or had the N.O. version of something she had priced for organic.  Additionally, while some of the farmers at the FM are organic farmers, I’m assuming the some of the produce from the FM is N.O. because it is probably sprayed with pesticide. But it is all local, and I washed it thoroughly using some new techniques I learned.    I’m sure that these techniques are better than holding under the tap for 2 seconds, which, SURPRISINGLY, is not that effective. 😉  Also, I printed out a wallet copy of the clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen, so I am NOT paying extra for the organic version of the Clean 15. You can if you are worried about pesticides leaching into soil, but I’m not going to. That is part of Eating Poorganically. :)


COURTESY OF 100DaysofRealFood.com

Products priced at Earth Fare

Earth Fare $16.03

• 11 organic bananas $4.90  HT $3.66. N.O. since they are on the Clean 15.
• 1 pack organic blueberries** $3.69 Had some frozen from FM previous week
• 3/4 lb organic grapes $2.99 This was such a paltry amount and bad price that I skipped it.
• 3 organic zucchini s** $3.43 FM $2
• 1 organic yellow squash** $0.75 FM $1
• 1 organic cucumber** $1.50 FM $2 (I got 3 and we also have some from our garden.)
• 1 organic avocado (ripe enough to eat on Sunday) $2.87 HT 2 for 1.27. Clean 15 so non-organic.
• 1 container organic cherry tomatoes** $3.99 FM $2
• 2 green bell peppers** $4.00 FM $ 1
• 4 ears corn ** $2.76  FM $1.25
• 3/4 lb green beans** $2.24 FM 1.5 lbs for $1.25 and some from garden.
(Or fresh lima beans** from the farmers’ market)
• 1 bunch organic cilantro** $1.99 HT 1.99 (Actually did buy the organic, which admittedly looked ratty compared to the huge non-organic one, but it tastes fine.)
• 2 packs fresh basil** $5.58 MY GARDEN $0
• 1 organic lemon $0.50 HT .69
• 8 organic peaches** $4.93 PEACH LADY $10 for 16+ peaches
• 1 head garlic** $0.75 Had some N.O.
• 3 organic yellow onions** $2.40 Had some from FM
• 3/4″ lb fingerling or new potatoes** $1.49 FM 2 lbs $2.50 regular potatoes
• 1 small watermelon** $3.99 FM $3
• 1 cantaloupe** $3.99 FM $2

Farmers Market for $19 The kids gobbled down those golden tomatoes in a few minutes.

• 1 container organic mushrooms** $3.20 HT $2 N.O. Clean 15
• Parmesan cheese block $5.00 HT $4.19 N.O. (Organic cheese is FRIGGIN’ EXPENSIVE.)
• 1 container freshly made organic peanut butter $3.00 EF $2.97 (Stuff is like pre-chewed peanuts. Nothing “butter” about it. Will have to work on this.)
• 1 1/2 lbs organic rolled oats (bulk) $1.79 EF  2.57 for 2.16 lbs @ 1.19 for THICK ROLLED
• 1/4 lb pine nuts (bulk) $5.49 Actually HAD pesto I’d made with walnuts in the fridge. It’s an eating poorganically miracle.
• 1 container mozzarella balls in water (for pasta salad) $3.75 EF Fresh Mozzerella ball was the FREEBIE coupon with $5 purchase this week. Another EP miracle
• 2 lb pork shoulder or Boston butt roast** $8.98 Had some in freezer N.O.
• 2/3 lbs fresh wild caught fish $5.27 Had some in freezer N.O. (I’ve heard there really isn’t such a thing as organic fish; more on this later.)
• 1 package organic whole-wheat penne noodles $2.48 Had some N.O.
• 1 package organic whole-wheat fettuccini noodles $2.48 Had some N.O
• 5 lb bag whole-wheat flour $3.98 Had some N.O.
• 1 package organic popcorn $2.50 TJ 1.99
• 1 pack (4 sticks) organic butter $4.89 Had some N.O.
• 1 bag Masa Harina a.k.a corn flour $3.79
(Or frozen corn tortillas for $3.99) Had some N.O
• 1 dozen organic eggs** $3.78 Lady from my church who has chickens 2 dozen $4

HT ($45.91) and Peach Lady ($10). Organic on Left. N.O. on Right

• 1 container organic cream cheese $2.89 HT $2.59 with coupons
• 1 small container organic heavy cream $1.99 HT $0.85 with coupons
• 2 gallons organic milk $9.96 HT $5.54/1 Gallon with coupons (MY KIDS LOVE THIS STUFF! Definitely the first MAJOR thing I’ve noticed.)
• 1 – 100% whole-wheat “bakery” sandwich bread $4.49 HT $3.49 for Organic Whole Wheat with coupons–Also, we made some homemade bread.
(Our Earth Fare has fresh bread delivered daily from local bakery)
Products priced at Trader Joe’s
1 – 24 oz bottle honey** $4.49 Had some N.O. but local from FM
• 1 jar organic marinara sauce $2.29  Had some N.O.
• 1 bag sliced almonds $2.49 TJ $2.49

• 1 bag sunflower seeds $1.49 TJ $1.49
• 1 – 32oz. container plain whole-milk yogurt $2.99 TJ $2.99 and EF 2 24 oz Greek yogurts for $3.49


Trader Joes $14.89

• 1 block Monterey jack cheese $2.38 HT $4 N.O. I did get block instead of pre-shredded which has something added to keep it from sticking.
• 1 block mozzarella cheese (for pizza pockets) $4.79 HT $4 N.O.
• 1 container ricotta cheese $3.49 HT $2.49 N.O.
• 1 container organic tomatillo and yellow chili salsa $2.29 Had some regular N.O. salsa
**Items that can be found at some farmer’s markets this time of year (summer)
Pantry Items
• Baking powder
• Baking soda
• Oil (for baking)
• Olive oil
• Balsamic vinegar
• 100% pure maple syrup (for serving with pancakes…can be omitted) Had regular N.O.
• Vanilla extract
• Cinnamon
• Nutmeg
• Ginger
• Cumin
• Oregano
• Dried dill HT 4.99 (Wish I had bought smaller amount from bulk section at EF, but too late)
• Yeast
• Salt & pepper
• Parchment paper
• Also need:
o Slow cooker
o Tortilla press (or could alternatively buy frozen store-bought corn tortillas)

********I also bought

  • EF Bulk Organic Sugar 1.09 lb @ 1.19 lb =$1.30
  • EF 2 bags organic dried fruit snacks w/coupons=$1.90
  • TJ Fruit Leather Ends and Pieces=2.49
  • TJ Two Buck Chuck=$2.99
  • HT 2 cans Organic Yuban Coffee=$10.38
  • HT Organic Mesclun Mix by weight=$1.46 (Hint: The Bulk Organic Spring Mix @5.99/ lb is a MUCH better deal than a 5 oz. clamshell for $3.99 or even $2.50)

Eating Poorganically Total with tax= About $106

Okay, now back to me. I’m on a horse . . . No really, here is the Menu from 100 Days of Real Food that uses the above foods, except for the added ones at the end.  I used her menus as a guideline, and we did eat a version of some of the breakfasts and lunches and about four of the dinners; however, with all the craziness of shopping, photographing the food, and reporting it, we only followed it very loosely.

ALSO, I did not really record everything we ate, which is something I should probably start doing.  SOOO, we still have some of the food left, which I will be using it to supplement this week when I am going to be writing my own menu.  I am SURE that writing my own menus and shopping accordingly will afford me a better way to actually shop sales and use coupons.

As for the shopping comparison, please let me know if you found this helpful or excessive because it does take a lot of time and I won’t bother with it if you don’t find it useful. :)

In subsequent posts, I hope to report on:

  • the taste of the food
  • the ease of preparation
  • the convenience
  • whether it is worth it
  • Also, I’m sure I’m this will get trickier as we run out of N.O. stock in our pantry and have to replenish (especially meat) at higher prices. Stay tuned for that.

Is there anything else you’re wondering about Shopping Poorganically?

9 Responses to Week 1: Shopping Poorganically

  1. Lisa P August 12, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    I know that was a lot of work, but it was good to see the details in black and white (black and blue). I like that you are easing into organic eating. Is the farmer’s market year round? I realize they’d be offering different options.
    P.S. I love natural peanut butter. I used to buy Smuckers, not sure if it was organic (think it was), but it was just peanuts. I didn’t like stirring it, but you only do that once and store it in the fridge. Regular peanut butter contains trans fat, even though it says it doesn’t (stupid labeling guideline loopholes).

    • thelowryder August 12, 2011 at 10:16 am #

      The Waxhaw Farmer’s market is only open until November, but I am pretty sure the Matthews one is year round, though I don’t know what could be growing in the dead of winter. As for the peanut butter, this stuff was actually just ground peanuts with NO peanut oil added, which I think most natural peanut butters have. Anyway, we will be switching to something else, even if it isn’t organic.

  2. Laura August 12, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    On a horse… hahahahahahaha. I hope I’m not the only one who got that.

    • thelowryder August 12, 2011 at 9:14 am #

      It was worth it, even if you were the only one . . . .:)

  3. Teri August 12, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    2 thoughts:
    1) I have a friend who bought a portion of a cow from a local farm. It is an initial big expense but then you can have organic, grass fed beef in your freezer for months. You might want to look into that as an option.
    2) I buy my natural peanut butter at Trader Joes. It is a bit better priced than EF and I like the consistency better, too.
    Oh one more thing – be careful with those fiberful ends & pieces. I can’t let my kids eat them if I don’t want to have to buy massive amounts of toilet paper 😉

    • thelowryder August 12, 2011 at 9:19 am #

      You are SO smart. Actually, I have a connection who recently bought a part of a cow and I’m going to be buying beef from her. Yippee. I AM thrilled this worked out because a.) I could not afford the initial expense and b.)I have no extra freezer in which to store 400 lbs of beef. If we keep up this organic/real food eating, another freezer might be in our future because so much of this food is NOT shelf-stable. Alas.
      As for PB, we are definitely switching to something else. Maybe I’ll try the TJs version. As for the ends and pieces, OHHHHHHHHHH, that explains so much . . . . 😉

    • Anita August 12, 2011 at 9:40 am #

      i second the beef comment. you should look into buying from a local ranch.
      we plan to when we arrive in the US because frankly, the US meat industry frightens me…

  4. Aunt Kathy K August 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Let me know what wonderful thing happens when you get 25 “likes” because this is the FIRST “like” I have ever clicked. Just so you know how special you are…


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