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Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August

Want a peek into our grocery cart? Here’s how I’m grocery shopping and feeding eight people on the cheap.

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Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

This was a busy month. I cannot believe all that we squeezed into it. We hosted my nieces for a week, my sister and mom for a few days. We celebrated a birthday party, tried to keep to our summer’s healthier eating resolution, and started school.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t keep a running tally as I shopped this month. The sales were really good, I’m behind on my bookkeeping, and I was just happy to get food on the table.

So, you’ll see that I went over our monthly budget of $1200. When I compare what we did spent — you’ll see in a bit — to the latest food cost reports, we’re not that far off. The feds say it costs $1318.80 to feed my family. Though we did eat a few meals out, we also fed extra people — and have the freezer and fridge stuffed to the gills.

We’re going into September fully stocked, so my guess is that next month will even it all out.

I feel like I’ve been scrambling all month, so I’m looking forward to the long weekend to hopefully get my bearings and do a little freezer cooking. I know that will help me make use of all the great things I found on sale or stocked up on.

I took your advice and made Costco more of a regular stop on the things we were buying, particularly that basmati rice. I think I have rice to last us through Christmas!

I also discovered Google Express. I partnered with them over on Life as Mom, and have kinda gotten hooked on their service — overnight shipping. They’ll even deliver from Costco! I had a credit, so I had some non-perishables delivered to the house. So nice! Check it out to see if they are available in your area.

Typing this all up in one sitting has yet, again, been so illuminating. I noticed some new trends that will be helpful in trimming down next month.

1. I make several shops at Ralphs. Ahem. I do love Ralphs. I particularly love their mark downs and sales, but I know that staying OUT of the grocery store can also help me save money, so I need to limit my trips.

2. We go through a lot of canned beans. Though I’m not in the mood to get back to cooking my own beans, it’s probably time. I may just teach the kids how to do it and/or work it into my weekly meal prep. I’m not sure if we’ll save a ton, but we can trim back some that way.

3. I’m so glad there are no birthdays between now and November!

Grocery Geek

Grocer Geek is my regular report of how I shopped for groceries, what deals I found, and my running total of how we’re sticking to a budget for groceries.

Here’s the rundown on my shopping this week. As you read, keep in mind who and how I’m shopping:

My grocery shopping profile

To update you on my grocery geekiness:grocerygeek-gce

  • I’m feeding eight people, ages 53, 44, 19, 15, 14, 12, 9, and 8. Five of those people are males. They eat A LOT!
  • I’m shooting for a budget of $1200, per the USDA food cost reports the last time I added up for people of our demographics. I live in Southern California where produce is cheap, but meat and dairy are not.
  • I’m trying to feed us mostly unprocessed foods, with a few “healthier” convenience items thrown in and a junk food splurge* here and there.
  • I work at home and teach five of our kids, so I don’t have as much time for fiddling in the kitchen as I would like.
  • I no longer use coupons on a regular basis, though I do love the coupons that Ralphs offers.
  • I have at least ten grocery stores within 5.5 miles of my house. It is easy (for better or for worse) to stop at several stores to get the best deals.
  • We mostly eat at home. My husband and college age son often pack lunch and breakfast to work, but sometime have lunch out. My husband and I enjoy a date once a week. FishPapa takes one child out to “dinner with dad” once a week. We eat out as a family on average once a week.
  • BEFORE YOU JUDGE ME FOR EXTRAVAGANCE, please read this post.

What We Spent in August

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

Costco

As you’ll see this was obviously the Cousins Week splurge shopping trip. My sister was stunned when I texted her this picture.

Since we were keeping two of my nieces for a full week, plus my sister for several days, I wanted to focus on fun and not cooking. I bought lots of snacks and easy fixes I wouldn’t normally have done. We had such a fun week!

  • bagels $5.49/dozen
  • bread $4.59/2 loaves
  • tortilla chips $3.49
  • 2# sourdough bread $3.69
  • croissants $5.99
  • 3 packs breakfast sausage $7.99
  • tortillas $3.69
  • milk $3.99/2 gallons
  • ginormous vat of refried beans $4.49
  • tomato puree $3.19
  • basmati rice $13.69
  • juice boxes $11.89
  • mandarin cups $7.89
  • 6-pack peppers $6.79
  • organic fruit strips 8.99
  • organic triscuits $8.99
  • dill pickles $6.89/2 jars
  • nutella snack packs $11.99
  • apple sauce $9.99
  • ginger lemon cookies $4.59
  • uncured ham $11.99
  • deli roast beef $9.00
  • salami $7.29
  • mushrooms $5.79
  • romaine $2.99/6 heads
  • snap peas $5.79
  • baby carrots $4.59
  • cream $9.99
  • Tillamook $9.29
  • fage $6.39
  • organic eggs $6.99/2 dozen
  • butter $10.49/4 pounds
  • broccoli $3.99
  • olive oil $11.99
  • apple cider vinegar $6.69
  • canned tuna $12.99

Total spent: $335

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

Sprouts

Sprouts has had great prices on raspberries and red peppers this summer. I’ve stocked up every chance I get.

  • canteloupe $0.50 each
  • cilantro $0.50 each
  • limes 4/$1
  • organic celerty $1.99
  • bell peppers $0.50 each (I bought A LOT!)
  • grapes $1.88/lb
  • jack cheese $1.99/lb
  • ground sirloin $3.99/lb
  • hawaiian dinner rolls $3.29
  • frozen raspberries $1.50/bag

Total spent $46

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

Trader Joe’s

Again, this was a pre-cousin stop. So, there’s some extra fun food involved. Also, my husband has been packing lunch 4 days a week, so we’ve been experimenting with different dishes that are easily packable. The kale salad is one he can keep in the office as a back-up meal.

  • cheddar puffs $1.99
  • apple cider $2.49
  • kale salad $2.49
  • string cheese $2.99
  • blue cheese $3.49
  • cereal $1.99
  • shredded cabbage $1.29
  • broccoli slaw $1.69
  • organic romaine hearts $1.99
  • rice crackers $2.69
  • chicken tenders $7.49
  • plantain chips $1.69
  • hashbrowns $1.69
  • buttermilk $1.99
  • cheddar cuts $4.29
  • pepperoni $2.99
  • grape tomatoes $2.49
  • organic cucumbers $2.49
  • cashews $7.49
  • almonds $6.99
  • taco shells $1.99
  • olives $1.99 to $2.29
  • tomato sauce $1.49
  • coconut milk $1.29
  • garbanzo beans $0.79

Total spent $140

Walmart

  • broccoli $2.38
  • tomato sauce $0.92
  • black beans $1.34

Total spent $7

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

Ralphs

It’s not often that I forget my reusable grocery bags, but when I do? I choose paper. 😉

  • garbanzo beans $0.89
  • whole wheat tortillas $2.99
  • Cheerios $0.99 to $1.99 aftermega sales event and coupons
  • Haagen Daas and Talenti ice cream $2.88 aftermega sales event and coupons
  • apples $0.99/lb
  • green onions $0.50 each
  • noosa yogurt 4-packs $1.79 marked down
  • fage $0.49 marked down
  • organic sandwich bread $1.99 marked down
  • organic breakfast sausage $1.49 marked down
  • organic bacon $2.49 marked down

Total spent $68

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

Ralphs

  • cereal $0.99 mega sales event
  • eggs $0.99 marked down
  • rolled oats $3.49
  • frozen veg $1.49 mega sales event
  • macaroni $1.29
  • cheese $2.99 mega sales event
  • lasagna noodles $1.50
  • vinegar $3.59
  • milk $2.39
  • orange juice $1.99 mega sales event
  • organic parsley (because they didn’t have the other kind) $1.49
  • cilantro $0.69
  • portabellas $0.89 marked down
  • simple truth ground turkey $1.77 after sales and coupons
  • sourdough bread $0.79 to $1.99 marked down
  • chuck roast $3.77/lb
  • pepperoni $4.99
  • crackers free after coupons
  • hominy $0.99

Total spent $76

Costco

  • milk $4.29/2 gallons
  • uncured bacon $10.49
  • snap peas $5.79
  • sliced roast beef $9.09
  • organic eggs $6.99/2 dozen
  • sourdough $3.69
  • Tillamook $9.29
  • babybel $8.29
  • uncured ham $11.99
  • hummus singles $6.49

Total spent $84

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

Ralphs

  • milk $2.39
  • eggs $1.99 marked down
  • tomato sauce $0.89
  • dried herbs $3.49
  • onions $0.99/lb
  • grapes $0.99/lb
  • organic romaine hearts $3.79
  • pears $0.99/lb
  • ginger root $1.99/lb
  • romas $0.99/lb
  • yogurt $0.59 marked down
  • chuck roast $3.77/lb

Total spent $39

Sprouts

  • cucumbers $0.50/each
  • milk $2.99
  • frozen raspberries $2.00

Total spent $8

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

Ralphs

  • powdered sugar $2.69
  • marshmallows $1.59
  • cake flour $3.99
  • masa $2.89
  • cheese $2.99
  • sour cream $2.49
  • spices $3.49
  • pasta $1.49
  • sugar $1.79
  • mushrooms $1.50
  • tri-tip $4.99 (summer splurge)
  • french bread $0.99

Total spent $45

Ralphs

  • shredded mozzarella $7.99
  • hashbrowns $1.59 to 1.99
  • green chiles $1.00 (I know!)
  • sour cream $2.49
  • mayonnaise free after coupon
  • onions $1.99/3 pound bag
  • cilantro $0.69
  • limes 3/$1
  • mushrooms $1.04

Total spent $23

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

This was my birthday girl’s treats shop. A few more extras. Ahem.

  • Trader Joe’s cheddar puffs $1.99
  • chimichurri rice $2.99
  • chicken tenders $7.49
  • sparkling juice $2.99
  • green beans $1.99
  • organic celery $2.9
  • eggs $1.29/dozen
  • buttermilk $1.99
  • organic green peppers $2.49
  • plantain chips $1.69
  • rice crackers $2.69
  • hummus $2.99
  • sweet potatoes $1.79
  • lemon $0.39
  • feta $2.99
  • brie $5.39
  • string cheese $2.99
  • baby zucchini $2.29
  • organic baby spinach $1.99
  • mushrooms $1.79
  • whole wheat couscous $1.99
  • Ak-mak $1.99
  • milk $2.69
  • canned beans $0.79
  • cereal bars $1.99
  • baking powder $1.49
  • sandwich pickles $2.99
  • sunflower butter $4.99
  • almond butter $7.99
  • salsa verde $1.99 to $2.79
  • pepperoni $2.99

Total spent $138

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

Walmart

  • canned beans $0.92 to $1.34
  • unbleached flour $3.76
  • crackers $3
  • pasta shells $1.98
  • tomato sauce $0.92
  • sugar $2.68
  • applesauce $1.75
  • cream cheese $2.04
  • sauerkraut $1.88

Total spent $28

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

Costco

  • red potatoes $5.49
  • milk $4.29/2 gallons
  • chicken sausage $13.89
  • butter $10.49/4 pounds
  • organic eggs $6.99/2 dozen
  • grape tomatoes $4.99
  • uncured ham $11.99
  • shredded mozzarella $10.99
  • 6 red peppers $5.99
  • hard salami $7.29
  • sliced roast beef $8.50
  • asiago cheese $9.22
  • sourdough $3.69
  • fage $6.39

Total spent $124

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

ALDI

I finally was in the neighborhood of ALDI and had a chance to do some price comparisons. As you can see, I stocked up on beans, tomato sauce, and green chiles, things I’d spent a substantial amount more on earlier in the month. We also tried a few frozen entrees for emergency meals to see if we liked them.

  • ciabatta rolls $2.49 – these were great when we bought them a few months ago, but not as good this time around
  • canned beans $0.59
  • frozen strawberries $1.89
  • frozen entrees $2.49 to $4.99
  • shredded cheese $2.59
  • organic tomato sauce $0.69
  • corn tortillas $2.49
  • sweetened condensed milk $1.65
  • diced green chiles $0.55
  • crushed tomatoes $0.99
  • milk $2.15
  • salami $5.99
  • fresh raspberries $1.89
  • cookies $1.69
  • eggs $0.87/dozen
  • pineapple $0.99
  • taco shells $0.89

Total spent $58

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

Sprouts

  • cucumbers $0.50 each
  • zucchini $0.98/lb
  • organic baby spinach $3.89
  • organic pink lady apples $1.48/lb
  • buttermilk $2.69
  • whipping cream $2.69

Total spent $20

Ralphs

  • milk $2.39
  • rice noodles $3.79
  • Starbucks coffee $4.99 (bought TEN packs!)
  • Simple Truth ground turkey $2.99/lb
  • ice cream $2.49

Total spent $65

Costco

  • cream $9.99
  • Tillamook $9.29
  • snap peas $5.79
  • baby carrots $4.79
  • milk $3.99/2 gallons

Total spent $34

Total spent this month $1338

Here’s how it’s looking for the year to date:

  • January $669
  • February $1092
  • March $1206
  • April $1435
  • May $1500
  • June $1215
  • July $1221
  • August 1338

Total YTD: $9679

That total divided by 8 months, brings our average to $1209.50/month which is CLOSE to our $1200 budget per month. 😉

Grocery Geek: What We Spent in August | Good Cheap Eats

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Comments

  1. Yesterday I found mushrooms for 69 cents! I bought 12 packages. They haven’t been that cheap in probably a year, and I like to cook them up for my husband to put in everything because he loves them. MAJOR score.

    • How quickly can you use those up? Will you freeze them? #curiousminds

      • I cook them with butter and salt, however long it takes for them to lose most of their moisture. Then I freeze them in probably 2-cup containers. I got 4 containers out of these 12 packages, and we’ve already used 1 container. My husband’s been making mushroom sandwiches. The other 3 will probably last us 2 months or so.

  2. I love seeing Grocery Geek posts. Seeing what you spent and bought is very interesting . It also gives me ideas on something different to try for my family.
    Thanks for your hard work keeping track of everything., I could never be that organized.
    Linda

  3. I sometimes buy canned beans, but usually either cook mine the day I need them or PRESSURE CAN THEM! You do have to have a pressure canner, but if you do, all it entails is putting rinsed dry beans into the jar, some salt, and filling it up with water, then into the canner. When it comes out, you have a jar of cooked beans ready to go. Easy and cheaper than store-bought canned beans.

    • I should mention there are specific amounts of beans, salt, and water, along with specific canning directions!

      • I’m tempted to try out the pressure cooker. Have you ever done that?

        • I have. My mom used her pressure cooker for dinner as well and the huge one for canning all kinds of things, even things that could have gone in a water bath canner. I’ve had my pressure canner for only a couple of years and don’t live in an area with much fresh produce for canning, so the main uses for mine have been canning beans and canning chicken.

          Do you have a pressure cooker?

  4. I love your grocery geek posts! I get lots of ideas on things to buy and things that I can make myself.
    I do make my own pinto and northern beans using the crockpot overnight. So easy!
    I don’t think you did bad this month at all with your shopping because you had more people to feed and the birthday girls celebration.
    Keep up the good work!

  5. Cream from Costco is $10 over there?? It’s only $4 and change over here, which is a huge difference! Considering you had extra mouths to feed for a week, I don’t think the extra expenses sound extravagant. I love your grocery bags, btw. Do you have those for sale somewhere?

    My month was a little disappointing. Up until the 22nd, we’d only spent 25% of the budget and I had hopes of great savings. But then the end of the month came… and we ended up at 105% of the budget. I splurged on a couple of things (because we hadn’t been buying anything, you see, so there was wiggle room. ahem.), I bought some stuff to make some freezer prepped meals, and Florida had an election day. The kid and I work the polls, and the location we work does a pot luck food thing, and as I’m the organizer and I love to cook, I often take in some of the ‘bigger’ items like meats and main dishes. Turns out 25% of the monthly budget was spent just on stuff for that. People did not eat as much this time, though, so about half of it came back home. I’m hopeful that all the extra stuff will help keep the expenses down this month. I will have to go buy some more balsamic vinegar, though, since I dropped and shattered the over half full bottle. Grrrr.

    • Yes on the cream. My husband said the same thing when he brought it home. The small half pints are $4! So, $10 for the half gallon is a steal.

      • ah, if yours is a half gallon, that is more reasonable. ours comes in quarts, so the prices are fairly comparable.

        oh yeah, and that leftover food to hold expenses down this month? Thrown away, courtesy of a couple days without power after a hurricane. Blast it… II knew I should have frozen some of it. However, I’m so extremely thankful that every last bit of the freezer food stayed fully frozen. I cranked the freezer up to extra cold on Thurs in prep for the hit, and with the ice buildup and us refusing to open the door for.any.reason for those two days, it miraculously survived. Literally, not even the ice cubes melted. Even the ice cream made it through!! I’m thinking perhaps a stuffed-to-the gills freezer might actually have been beneficial in this instance as there was all that chill stored inside. 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing. I was going to ask if you ever get to Aldis….it is my main go-to store. Our family of 6+grandma spends ~600 a month in NC (kids ages 17, 15, 13 and 8 — our eating profile is a lot like yours homeschool so we all eat at home and I cook mostly from scratch with easy add ins). We use Zaycon for meat (online order, parking lot pickup every few months) so some months are higher than others … only spend about $300-$400 in stores, budget $200/month for Zaycon. We also have a Flower’s bakery with marked down bread (.97/loaf) which helps a lot! I have recently discovered that WalMart has pita pockets for $1 that make great individual pizza crusts (5/bag). We were using naans from Costco that were $5 for a bag of 10. We use those for lunch at least once a week. I do coupon for staples like tomato sauce and pasta … cereal etc. With a HS senior, three other kids and a part time job, I just don’t have time to coupon like I would like!

    • ALDI is a fair distance from my house in an area I don’t go very often. We were in the neighborhood last week, so we did stop. Unfortunately, many of the products are “made in facility with” nuts that my daughter is allergic to. We don’t feel comfortable taking that risk, so a good portion of what they sell isn’t really an option for us. We’re slowly working our way through the store to see what products we like. Those chocolate butter cookies are a winner. 😉

  7. Wow I think you did great on your groceries especially with all the people you have. I love your blog!

    P.S. I know that you are busy but coupons help me.

  8. I am really impressed with what you got for $1300, it looks like lots of good stuff! I entered all of our expenses on this simple app called daily cost. I realize I have my grocery bil pretty under control, $1,400 family of 5 in Hawaii (for the USDA”thrifty” level), but oh boy our eating out? Shopping? Other expenses is running a muck, Need to find the right balance.

  9. I love your Grocery Geek posts also! I have learned to shop the perimeter of the Ralph’s stores, as there are price mark downs in all of the departments!

  10. I was buying Ralph’s organic brand but not sure if its really organic or not. Do you know? Also, I really appreciate your blog because your food shopping choices mirror my own, though no more kid to feed. I try to keep a small pantry but it never seems to stay organized. My prize posessions are a few bags of Costco coffee which I stocked up when I noticed the cost recently increased. It’s impressive that you feed 8 people on 1,300/ month. That used to be my budget for 3 grown adults before I drastically cut back and stopped wasting food. Thanks, for all you do.

  11. Nedra Bryce says:

    I am curious…what did you make with the big pasta shells?

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