Whole Foods 30-Day Thrifty Challenge: Week 1 Food Breakdown

People have been wondering what our menu has been during the Challenge.  So here’s what my family ate and what it cost per meal and per person during our first week.  Just to let you know my son is allergic to nuts, corn, soy, and legumes, so those are off our menu.  Please feel free to add them to yours.

Remember, we are spending $491.10 for the 30 days total, which averages out to $16.37 per day.  Plus, we need to come in at less than that so I can throw a dinner part for eight on the last day.

Day 1

Breakfast: pancakes, one cup of orange juice (my son), one cup of coffee (my husband), one orange, one banana.
$3.27 for the meal, $1.09 per person

Lunch: salad with spinach, eight ounces of grilled chicken, half a cucumber, grape tomatoes, celery, carrots.
$5.55 for the meal, $1.85 per person

Dinner:  One 16-ounce bag of pasta, half a can of diced tomatoes, frozen green beans, frozen California medley, one onion, olive oil, 14 ounces of ground beef, one cup of milk (my son).
$7.28 to prepare the whole pot, but at 8 servings total, only $0.91 per serving, or $2.73 for the three of us for dinner

Other: We also baked two loaves of bread for $1.25 total, which works out to 6 cents per slice. I also peeled and sliced 20 ounces of carrots for snacks at $1.24 total.  Bread, snacks, and pasta leftovers will be accounted for as we eat them, so they are not included in today’s tally.

TOTAL: $11.55 / $3.85 per person

Day 2

Breakfast:  scrambled eggs (5), one onion, one cup of spinach, three slices of bread, butter, one cup orange juice, one cup coffee.
$2.92 for the meal, $0.97 per person

Lunch:  leftover pasta from last night’s dinner.
$2.73 for the meal, $0.91 per person

Dinner:  three cups of brown rice, broccoli, green beans, California medley, one glass of milk.
$3.62 for the meal, $1.21 per person, tons of leftover rice that can be added “for free” to future meals

Other: one apple ($0.94), seven slices of bread ($0.42) which we ate mostly with meals, half of our carrot supply ($0.62).

TOTAL:  $11.25 / $3.75 per person.

Day 3

Breakfast: old-fashioned oatmeal, with brown sugar and cinnamon added, one cup coffee, one cup orange juice.
$1.65 for the meal, $0.55 per person

Lunch:  Greg – leftover pasta, crackers ($1.21) … Alex – leftover pasta, tomatoes, half a cucumber, crackers ($2.46) … Lisa – two slices of bread, two leftover pancakes, tomatoes ($1.26).
$4.93 for the meal, $1.64 average per person

Dinner: ten ounces of chicken, lemon, steamed broccoli, potatoes, two glasses milk.
$7.22 for the meal, $2.41 per person

Other: two servings of crackers ($0.60), rest of the carrot sticks ($0.62), one slice of bread ($0.06)

TOTAL:  $15.08 / $5.03 per person

Day 4

Breakfast:  French toast (six slices), one cup orange juice, one cup coffee, two oranges.
$2.85 for the meal,  $0.88 per person

Lunch: Greg & Lisa – stir fry, rice, carrots, and celery ($1.17) … Alex – mac & cheese, tomatoes, carrots, crackers, and bread ($1.81).
$2.98 for the meal, $0.99 per person

Dinner:  Meatballs, frozen broccoli, baked potatoes, one cup of milk.
$9.68 for the meal, $3.22 per person

Other:  banana bread.
3 slices for $0.39, $0.13 per person

TOTAL: $15.90 / $5.30 per person

Day 5

Breakfast: scrambled eggs (five total), one onion, one cup of spinach, three slices of banana bread, butter, one cup orange juice, one cup coffee.
$3.10 for the meal, $1.03 per person

Lunch: leftover meatballs, leftover mac & cheese, carrots, two slices bread, one slice of banana bread.
$3.32 for the meal, $1.11 per person.

Dinner:  Greg & Lisa – vegetable medley, leftover brown rice.  (Alex had dinner at a friend’s house).
$1.08 for the meal, $0.54 per person.

Other:  three slices of banana bread ($0.39), one glass of milk ($0.22)

TOTAL: $8.11 / $2.70 per person

Day 6

Breakfast:  oatmeal (disastrous, had to be thrown out), brown sugar (two tablespoons),  banana bread (three slices), apple, one glass orange juice, one cup coffee, toast (two slices).
$3.06 for the meal, $1.02 per person.

Lunch: Greg & Lisa – stir fry, leftovers ($1.08), Alex –  mac & cheese, carrots, bread, crackers ($1.08).
$2.16 for the meal, $0.72 per person.

Dinner:  Hamburger patties (one pound ground beef), bread, spinach, carrot and celery salad, one glass of milk.
$6.26 for the meal, $2.09 per person.

Other: brownies ($1.83 for the batch), one cup of milk ($0.22)

TOTAL: $13.53 / $4.51 per person

Day 7

Breakfast:  French toast, apple, one glass orange juice, one cup coffee.
$2.42 for the meal / $0.81 per person

Lunch:  frozen Southwest veggie medley ($1.25), baked potato ($0.80), half can diced tomatoes ($0.99).
$3.04 / $1.01 per person

Dinner:  Chicken sausage ($2.90), butternut squash, maple syrup, brown rice, one glass of milk.
$6.45 / $2.15 per person

Other:  Brownies, milk ($0.22)

TOTAL: $12.13 / $4.04 per person

Grand Total for Week 1:  $87.55 / $29.18 per person

Our daily average needs to be $16.37 for the Whole Foods Challenge; times seven is $114.59.  So we’re actually $27.04 ahead! Wow!

But it’s not really that simple.  We have lots of staples carrying over from our first shopping trip, like flour, brown rice, and milk just to name a few.  We definitely don’t feel like we’re living rich!

What do you think of our first week’s worth of expenses?  How’d we do?



Read ALL the 30-Day Whole Foods Thrifty Challenge posts.


  1. says

    You are definitely getting plenty of healthy food. That is supposedly the big challenge for low income people is being able to afford healthy food–hence the reliance on really processed food.

    Did you feel deprived the first week, or did you feel like you got enough?

  2. says

    Hi Kimberly,

    My stomach doesn’t feel deprived (I haven’t been hungry) but my mind does! I want a taste of this or a taste of that and I just can’t have it. That’s annoying. L–

  3. admin says

    Hi AnnaM, the recipes are both on the site, just do a quick search, they are Friday posts and they have the breakdown by cost as well. :-) L–

  4. Chris says

    Lisa, THANK YOU for doing this challenge. I live a half mile from a Whole Foods and KNOW that one can shop wisely there if one invests the time and effort. But, also, because I, too, have children with food allergies and many other “frugal food budget” blogs don’t address that added challenge. I’m sorry I didn’t find your blog sooner — too focused sometimes on getting to my store’s Specials page, LOL, but kudos for pulling it off. Families can eat well on a budget AND eat whole foods (wherever they are purchased).

    I’d love to see you take on some other challenges sourcing good food on a budget. Please consider it?

  5. Lisa says

    Hi Chris, yes I’ll definitely consider it and I’m working on recipes that will include how much it costs to make them so people have an idea. :-) Thanks for finding us! L–

  6. P says

    I love this idea!
    We’re 5 and one on the way and I really want to get us eating more pure foods and relying more on fruits/veg. instead of carbs…

    I could do this week’s menu, my kids could do this menu, but my husband is 6’5″ and is very very active and fit. I think if I fed him 3 oz. of grilled chicken and a spinach salad for lunch, he’d eat the tablecloth…

    We’re spending about twice this monthly at an average grocery store, maybe the point is that we could shop at Whole Foods and spend only slightly more and eat better if I was more conscientious.

    Hmmm…I want to try this out!!

  7. Molly M says

    I love that you are participating in such an important cause. Eating healthy and fresh is not as expensive as it has to be, but for low income families; they are taught survival first, nutrition second. It’s ironic that the poorest Americans are the heaviest ones, and the poorest citizens in every other country and gaunt and bone thin. I think that is testament to the serious problems we face as a nation in regards to our diets. I love that you are doing this, to prove that eating healthy is an option for even the very poor. It’s about education and exposure. Unfortunately grocery stores like Acme and ShopRite just don’t give you the options and choice that places like Whole Foods does. I am going to try some of your ideas- sans meat though.
    Keep on keepin’ on! I love it! It’s people like you that we need more of! Preach!

  8. admin says

    Molly thank you so much for your very kind words. We’re passionate about eating well and we hope that obesity will gradually fade away as good food sneaks in. L–

  9. admin says

    P … definitely adjust as you need to, to fit your family needs. :-) We did it to make a point, but you can just do it to have a happy, healthy family L–

  10. Avery says

    Thank you so much for all the effort you put into this! My husband and I are both struggling pre-med students and we rely completely on food stamps ($400 a month) to feed ourselves and our three preschool daughters. I constantly find myself serving less than desirable, not-so-healthy meals because it’s really all we can afford. I love Whole Foods, but typically only buy one or two of my favorite items there each month, budget permitting. You have inspired me to put in the time and find the deals so my kids can get the best nutrition possible, which is such an important part of their development. Thanks again!

  11. Brianne says

    This is an awesome blog, thank you! I live in AK and like you fresh organic produce is seasonal. One month my bill was $750 for 2! When we fell on hard times and qualified for food stamps they barely covered anything and our income had to stay below a certain amount. I was researching all sorts of blogs to see if we could coupon or cut corners. Most that I found were saving money but eating junk. Not helpful. I have since cut expenses but I am still looking at ways to cut it more without cutting the nutrition. I am bookmarking this site. :)

  12. Greg Wymer says

    Brianne –
    Thank you for the kind words. And good luck in your measures to eat healthy without busting your budget!

  13. Greg Wymer says

    Avery – ask to take a store tour at your local Whole Foods. It will help you a lot to understand ways to save. Also, their mid-month madness sales are what helped us make it to the end of the month. 10 pounds of chicken at $1.99/pound allowed us to buy healthier options for the rest of our shopping list. Good luck!

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