Sunday, August 10, 2014

Price Challenge: Where Are the Cheapest Organic Groceries?

I've tried to switch to mostly organic groceries, but I'm finding my grocery budget flying out the door much faster than before.

So, I got super nerdy and made a spreadsheet! I slunk around four different grocery stores near my house, surreptitiously scratching prices onto a clipboard.

So here is what I found! For Tom Thumb, if there was a lower price for reward card holders I have listed that price because the card is free.

Blueberries, 1 pint, organic
-Whole Foods 5.99
-Natural Grocer 2.69
-Sprouts 2.98
-Tom Thumb 2.99

Boneless, skinless organic chicken breast (price per pound)
-Whole Foods 6.99
-Natural Grocer 6.29
-Sprouts did not carry this
-Tom Thumb 7.99

Synergy kombucha, 1 container
-Whole Foods 3.49
-Natural Grocer 2.25
-Sprouts 2.50 on sale, normally 3.49
-Tom Thumb 2.99

Strawberries, 1 pint, organic
-Whole Foods 4.99
-Natural Grocer 3.59
-Sprouts 2.98
-Tom Thumb 2.50

Cilantro, 1 bunch, organic
-Whole Foods 1.69
-Natural Grocer 1.49
-Sprouts did not carry this
-Tom Thumb 1.49

Kashi Cinnamon Harvest cereal*
-Whole Foods 4.39
-Natural Grocer 4.55
-Sprouts 4.49
-Tom Thumb 3.99
*This is not organic, but on the spectrum of cereals it's pretty far in that direction. Incidentally, my husband read a Men's Health article that named this the tastiest (read: least cardboard-y) healthy cereal on the market.

Annie's Italian salad dressing, 8 oz., organic
-Whole Foods 3.99
-Natural Grocer 3.15
-Sprouts 3.29 on sale, normally 3.79
-Tom Thumb did not carry this

Applegate organic sliced turkey
-Whole Foods 6.99
-Natural Grocer 4.69 on sale, normally 5.99
-Sprouts 7.49
-Tom Thumb did not carry this

Baby carrots, 1 pound bag, organic
-Whole Foods 1.69
-Natural Grocer 1.79
-Sprouts 1.50 on sale, normally 1.69
-Tom Thumb 2.99
I'm going to call this one a tie because the Sprouts winning price was a sale price.

Romaine lettuce, 1 head, organic
-Whole Foods 2.49
-Natural Grocer 1.50
-Sprouts 1.69
-Tom Thumb 1 ($3 for three heads in a package)
I'm also going to call this one a tie because I prefer to not buy packaged produce. Also, I don't want to buy three heads of Romaine lettuce at once because it's too much for my little family of two. By the time we get to all three, there is likely to be spoilage, which I hate.

Granny Smith apples, organic, price per pound
-Whole Foods 3.59
-Natural Grocer 3.49
-Sprouts did not carry this
-Tom Thumb 2.50

Bananas, organic, price per pound
-Whole Foods .89
-Natural Grocer .49
-Sprouts .69
-Tom Thumb .69

Silver Hills bread, 22 oz loaf
-Whole Foods 3.99
-Natural Grocer 3.75
-Sprouts 3.99
-Tom Thumb did not carry this

Green bell pepper, organic
-Whole Foods 1.69 each
-Natural Grocer priced theirs per pound so I can't compare
-Sprouts 1.50 each
-Tom Thumb 1.49 each

Tomato sauce, organic, 1 jar
-Whole Foods 2.50 on sale
-Natural Grocer 2.69
-Sprouts 2.99
-Tom Thumb 2.50

Whole Foods 2 wins
Natural Grocer 9 wins
Sprouts 2 wins
Tom Thumb 7 wins

Some thoughts on each store:

Whole Foods has an excellent store brand called 365. It has by far the nicest store experience. Maybe it's that the one in my neighborhood is just a year old, but it's beautiful and I'm a sucker for gorgeous displays. Factors like an olive bar, in-store restaurants, clothing and shoes department, in-store bar, and huge selections of cleaning and beauty products make this a really good shopper experience. I feel healthier just breathing in that store. But its prices are high.

Natural Grocer is the most granola store. They sell ONLY organic produce- no conventional even available. No cross-contamination possible. They offer ripe and overripe produce at a huge discount. They don't even offer plastic or paper bags- you have to bring your own or buy! Their people were also the nicest, calling the back of the store when we couldn't find basil (which they had and literally RAN to the check-out counter). I think I was asked five times if I needed help finding anything. I'd never been before, and I think this will be our primary place for weekly shopping in the future. However, it's smaller and doesn't carry everything; shopping here guarantees we'll have to grocery shop at two places. I'm ok with that.

Sprouts, frankly, was a huge disappointment. I will not go back. Giant signs saying "fresh", "local", "organic" and "natural" adorn the walls, but I found the organic produce section to be just a small table or two surrounded by conventional fruits and vegetables. I honestly felt that they were being dishonest in the marketing, both in the produce section and in the processed foods- far fewer organic foods on the shelf than Whole Foods or Natural Grocer. Many products were labeled as "all-natural" and other similar labels that are not regulated by the government. Only products that are scientifically tested and proven are allowed to be labeled with the word organic; many other words are used to make their products seem more healthy or chemical-free than they really are.

Tom Thumb is Tom Thumb. Big box, one-stop shopping. They sell everything, and there's no doubt that convenience is worth something. They also have the organic house brand called O that offered several of the winning prices. You can also use your grocery spending to earn discounts on gasoline via the reward card. I thought I'd have to leave Tom Thumb when I wanted to switch to organic groceries, but it turns out I can get quite a few organic items there, and often at the lowest price.

Happy shopping, eating, and saving!


Nota bene to my dear former readers from the Haiti era. If you are wondering what this post has anything to do with Haiti, the answer is nothing. But I did all this work and wanted my friends to benefit from it, too!

Visiting TeacHaiti

Scribing for the docs at TeacHaiti School of Hope
Miquette bragging over her 6th graders' scores on the national exam. All passed!
Leading the daily flag raising ceremony and singing the national anthem.

A prayer to start the day

His application to the TeacHaiti School - big dreams, big needs
Sebastien is sponsored by a Dallas friend!

One of my favorite kiddos- he was a pre-K student at the time of the earthquake

Three of my discipleship girls! Loved getting to catch up with them. They are headed off to college this month.

We went to Haiti back in March. I wrote this post at this time and somehow never hit "publish." This day was my favorite thing about the trip- getting to help out at TeacHaiti. We saw how the school has grown- new classrooms, new students, ever expanding and including more kids in its mission to educate Haiti's poorest kiddos.

We happened to be there on a day when a TeacHaiti board member from MN was in town. He was a physician, so any kids who wanted to see a doctor got a checkup. I furiously scribbled down notes in their files during the checkups. It was a delight to get to see so many kids I recognized from past visits, especially the 20-plus kids sponsored by Texans.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Haiti Art

We're in Haiti for a spring break visit and today visited two of my favorite boutiques featuring Haitian-made artisan products. Apparent Project and Haitian Creations (with a new line called Fait la Force launching this fall) were chock-full of jewelry, bags, metalwork, soaps, wall decor, stuffed animals, and pottery.

Apparent Project was a hive of activity, with over 250 artisans working to create beads and throw pottery. There was a group experimenting with batik patterns on dyed cloth using wax. Another group was tapping out designs on tin hearts likely recycled from giant oil drums. They've expanded to include a cafe with fresh fruit smoothies as well as a library. Upstairs I watched a lady stringing green and gold beads. It felt good to chat briefly in Kreyol; it's not lost! One of AP's founders, Corrigan, opened a new shop called Ayiti Ink for his tattoo business. So much growth since we left in June!

In the same building with Ayiti Ink is The Irish Embassy, Haiti's one and only Irish pub. Baby Grace made use of the giant carved pulpit to deliver her first sermon. 

Over in Tabarre, Haitian Creations is working on sample products in anticipation of their new line launching this fall. Chandler is particularly expanding into handbags made of a soft, supple leather that looks like something off the Baggu website.

We attended chapel today and saw our former student, Timothy, share his testimony. Stories about his childhood in Nigeria and his German parents were touching.

We attended pizza dinner and Bible study at the Grahams' house with 20 or so teachers, then took the long trek up Montaine Nwa to stay tonight with  John and Jodie. Now I'm falling asleep to the distinctly Haitian combo of tree frogs and the hum of inverter batteries...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Return of the Kilpatricks

We're back! Sweaty as ever, Ben and I are back in action in the Ayiti. Our primary purposes are to love on our friends & students as well as help at TeacHaiti. Today was spent at Quisqueya.

The school is now purple, our beloved juniors have now received college acceptances, and basically everybody had a baby. In our first 24 hours I accidentally attended a La Leche League meeting (and stayed just to be with my friends and their new babies) and we dropped in to our old friend Eagle Market for a $5 bag of pretzels. When we checked out, my name still printed on the receipt... I stood in the hall during the passing period at 11:00 and kissed basically every kid in the high school. "Miss, you're shorter!" "No, hon, you're taller!" We visited home ec class and saw my discipleship girls whip up fried mozzarella as the guys tried to master the sewing machines. I saw an 18-year-old guy rip out a seam that wasn't right. Lunch was white fish and green sauce with a heap of pikliz. I bought a lunch ticket for the first time ever. New school rule- all water, no Kool Aid. Ben sat in on Bible class and I peeked in Jodie's Kindergarten class on the first day of the new unit on African animals. The seniors were having a parent meeting about their upcoming trip, so I got to hug several moms with whom I've spent many hours. We ran into Madame Meristel, our former housekeeper. She asked specifically about my friend who had cancer last year. She said she's continued to pray for her. Josiah's dreads are gone, Stephanie's engaged, Nathaniel is married...

Everything is just the same. Except for all the differences.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Snow Day

Ice storm, no school.
 Not our baby- stolen for snuggling from a dear friend.
 World's cutest tree topper.
 Pinch me- I live here?
 Our frosty neighborhood.

23 in Dallas.
84 in Port-au-Prince.

Love, Katie


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