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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Whole Foods Healthy Eating Challenge Update: Be your own fruit cutter and save!

We're three days into the healthy food challenge and although we're spending a little more than $1.19 a meal, things are going well. Oh and I lost a pound, so I love this challenge! Here's a full update:

I have always defined "rich" by two factors; you are rich if you own things you don't use on a daily basis and you are rich if you pay people to do things for you. Period. It's that simple for me. Rich people have second homes, third vehicles, nannies, fruit cutters. Fruit cutters? That's right, fruit cutters. A rich person pays someone to cut their fruit.

Why am I thinking about who can afford to get their fruit cut? Because containers of chopped up fruit that cost upwards of $7 have long been the reason I considered Whole Foods to be way too pricey for me and my family. Who shops at a store that sells $7 containers of chopped cantaloupe? Rich people. Only a rich person would buy a container of chopped fruit with the whole fruit on sale for 1/2 the price only inches away. And I'm not rich and therefor shouldn't expose myself to such consumer insanity!

But in the last several days, I've spent several hours trolling my local Whole Foods searching for Daily Deals and Savings so that I can compete and win at the $100 Healthy Food Challenge my family is taking. And most of the time I've spent in the produce section, trying to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for daily consumption. Pink Lady apples have been on sale for $1.99 a pound and we've had our share of those. I also bought fruit cocktail in a can with light syrup for snacks in lunches at $1.49 a can but it's not the same.

So I found myself looking at cantaloupe which were on sale this week, two for $6. (One great thing about Whole Foods is you don't have to buy both to get a 2 for 1 deal, you can just buy one.) $6 on cantaloupe seemed pricey, but my children love all fresh fruit, so I knew it would get eaten. But $6 is almost 10% of the budget for the week and that seemed liked a bad spending decision. But my children love all fresh fruit, even if it's out of season.

As I was doing the math and making up my mind about spending $6 on fresh fruit (I wanted two), the rows and rows of freshly cut and colorful fruits in nice plastic containers were all standing and staring at me from their happy refrigerated shelf. And in the five minutes I stood in front of them at least five people waltzed buy and threw one or two of the containers of fruit in their carts and moved along. How nonchalantly they made their decision to spend $7 on chopped fruit while I racked my brain for savings options.

I ended up throwing two cantaloupes in my cart and moving on to the frozen food section where I got two tilapia fillets for $2.99 (score) and frozen organic peas ($1.20) and left the store feeling good about my spending decisions.

When I got home, I was faced with the task of fruit cutting - how was I going to squeeze in 15 minutes of fruit cutting before the fruit went bad? I couldn't risk waiting and like a maniac went into a fruit chopping frenzy, cut up both cantaloupes and put them in a plastic container and threw them in the fridge. We ate cantaloupe for several days with three meals, served on the side in a little 1/4 cup portion. Yummy.

Because we're tracking each meal so closely, here is the cost of just one dinner with cantaloupe as a side; If I divide up the $6 over three meals for four people, the cantaloupe comes to .50 cents a serving per person. And the tilapia is about .75 per serving and the frozen peas are .30 cents. A meal of tilapia, cantaloupe and peas is $1.54 person, which is pretty close to the $1.19 per meal per person I've got to spend to make $100 last 84 meals.

If I had purchased the chopped up cantaloupe for $7 (which would have lasted two meals, not three) the servings would have cost .87 cents and this meal would have cost me at least .37 cents more per person, $1.91 per meal, $1.48 more total. Is $1.48 going to break my bank? Not necessarily! After all the thinking, I cut my own fruit and the reward is I saved money for my family and I became a more conscientious spender, consumer and chef (at least for that meal).

If Whole Foods wants to provide merchandise for a range of people, from those on a budget to those without, good for them. Both shoppers go home with organic fruit that is pesticide free. That's all that should matter - healthy eating. I'll worry about the problem that my two cantaloupes used 9,000 gallons of fossil fuel flying from some country near the equator just to get to my table in December later! First things first!


Starting Monday, December 3, my family is taking the Whole Foods Healthy Eating Challenge, where we eat healthy food from Whole Foods for a week and spend only $100. Check back throughout the week to see how the Ford family is doing with the challenge. I’ll post news and information on how we’re shopping and budgeting and how my children and husband are doing.

Lastly but not leastly, at the end of the challenge, there will be a $100 Whole Foods gift card giveaway for readers of this blog (that means YOU) so be sure to keep reading.

Oh and if you have any recipes that total $1 per person, made up of healthy ingredients, please post them in the reply section or email me at

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