Diary of a bodacious dietitian, For moms, Nutrition, Plant-based Eating

The great grocery store debacle, eating on a budget, and vegan fruit sandwiches

I’ve been counseling people on how to eat right on a budget for the better part of a decade, but life gets busy, yo.

I don’t always follow my own advice. But now that Dr. P and I are on a mission to not buy anything, I’m eager to see how much we can additionally scrimp and save this month by staying within the food budget.

And how is it possible that I’m being competitive even in a good-natured self-challenge? Shocking.

So Dr. P and I did what is actually a great idea for anyone when planning a grocery trip- I checked out the grocery store online discount mailer.

We added all the available coupons to our grocery card and perused through the savings to plan our weekly menu. I’ve done this in the past, but I by no means have made a habit of it. It definitely saves, but it also takes more time.

Dr. P is also better at this kinda stuff- I actually call him Dr. Deal because the man can pull savings from thin air. Poof. Extra 20% off. It’s crazy.

So I always want to make him proud by saving a bunch at the store. You can tell your savings by the “percent saved” listed at the bottom of the receipt.

I imagine myself shoving the gold-lined receipt in his face, with the saved amount highlighted, jumping off the page, and a Certificate of Awesomeness from the grocery store manager attached and sparkling that reads, “Most Money Saved Through Couponing this Month”.

Broccoli on sale? Broccoli and potato soup on the menu, please. Pears and asparagus and strawberries, yes yes yes. I will own his $150 food budget.

But first, I had to swing by the YMCA to check out a prospective life changing proposition.

ymca poster

Ready? Get this. They offer free 2-hour daily child care while you work out.

I was researching free stuff to do with Baby bee when I stumbled on the YMCA website. It is right by our house, has a heated pool, workout classes, indoor racquetball and tennis courts, and I already have a warm spot for the place because I grew up swimming and working out there with friends in Ohio.

The membership director was a doll- very lovely, informative, and there was a neighborhood feel about the place that was welcoming. A feel I miss about living in Ohio- I was sold before I even knew the price!

And the price, as it turns out, is fabulous. Only $10 more than we pay for Gold’s which doesn’t have the same perks. I mean, really. The Y had me at free and child-care.

Immediately after leaving the YMCA, I pulled into the grocery parking lot, bubbling with enthusiasm. I just hung up with Dr. P, having extoled the virtues of our new family workout plan over the phone. I floated on air with baby bee into the store, list in hand, dreaming of a childless hour on the treadmill.

The yellow sticker, store-flier deals glowed in their brightness, and I stuck with the plan of buying off the list with only a few exceptions. I got this money-saving extravaganza by the teeth.

Then the check out line happened. There she was. She who would tell me how well I had done with the flick of a wrist and the glory of modern technology. The Check Out Girl.

She scowled at me from behind the cash register. She had several tattoos on her face and a hard expression. She was mumbling instead of talking. I wasn’t sure if she was just tired, confused, ready for her break, or overwhelmed by the amount of produce I was shoveling in her face.

I smiled. How are you? How’s your day? I can bag them myself. I brought my own bags. Yes, thank you. Yes, I have my store card.

Beeps and pings. She was taking awhile for some reason. A line of shoppers was gathering impatiently behind me. Beep, ping.

Stone-faced girl looks at me blankly, “That will be $238.87”.

Umm, my life just shattered.

Certificate of Awesomeness is no more. This was not good. Dr. P would be sorely disappointed. I could feel Baby Bee mean-mugging me in her carrier. Mom, how could you? She cried.

Then I looked past the drawn face of Check Out Girl and at her cash register screen. There was a thirty dollar charge for 12 Korean pears. Pears were on the yellow-sticker list, though, baby. I knew their price.

They were d’anjou pears, and I got 4 of them.

Ummm. Excuse me.

The cluster of people waiting to be checked out was growing, but the man directly behind me looked at me with awe, grabbed his stuff from the conveyor belt, and jumped ship to the next line over. Check Out Girl didn’t notice. She was confused. Isn’t a pear a pear? How many did you get?

After she talked to her manager, scowled at me a bit more, and then ran off to take her break, lunch in her hand, while I was still bagging my groceries, I finally left the store. I managed a 21% savings and a bill of $168.00. A bit over budget but a good savings, no? (Dr. P informed me later he usually gets 40%…)

But then I got home and unloaded my bounty. Something was missing. I checked my receipt again. They weren’t on there. I remembered putting them on the conveyor belt.

Comically, I’m quite sure Check Out Girl stole my blackberries for her lunch. Shifty and brilliant. They were good looking and plump.

Luckily, I always have frozen berries on hand. And at least she didn’t charge me for 12 of them.

Vegan fruit sandwich lunch after grocery

Despite my lack of blackberries, I still managed a simple yet healthy yet scrumptious fruit-filled lunch. A duo of vegan fruit multi-grain English muffin sandwiches (the multi-grain Thomas variety are PACKED with fiber): One with sunflower seed butter (loaded with vitamin E and healthy fats) and strawberries (great source of fiber and vitamin C- and on sale) and another with kale, hummus, and sliced pears (not Korean pears, thank you very much).

pear and kale sandwich

strawberry sandwich

Fabulous. Enjoy this snowy Thursday, guys!

Xox Joanna


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