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Grocery Geek: What We Spent in December

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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gg-dec-2016

December and January have proven to be veritably crazy. It usually doesn’t take me this long to post my Grocery Geek report, but…. I blame the flu.

So, even though much of this is long gone, I figured I’d just walk down Memory Lane for ya, and provide our year-end report for grocery spending in 2016. 

My apologies for the dearth of pictures, but trust me when I say it’s all a blur. Keep in mind many of these were holiday-focused shops, some made six weeks ago.

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, 16, 14, 12, 10, 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 December:

gg-dec-2016-1

Ralphs

  • enchilada sauce $1.99 to $2..19
  • artichoke hearts $3.69
  • tortillas $2.99
  • butter $2.49/lb (I bought a lot)
  • clearance pasta $0.79/lb
  • jalapenos $0.99/lb
  • navel oranges $0.99/lb
  • English cucumber $1.49
  • green onions $0.99 each
  • mushrooms $0.99
  • cilantro $0.69
  • bell peppers $1.49
  • grapefruit $0.99
  • baby carrots $1.50
  • juice $1.49 to $2.49
  • chuck roast $3.99/lb
  • salami $7.49
  • pepperoni $3.99
  • bulk Italian sausage $2.99
  • uncured bacon $3.99

Total spent $123

ALDI

  • pizzas $5.99
  • chocolate chips $1.49
  • corn tortillas $4.29
  • prosciutto $2.49
  • sweetened condensed milk $1.65
  • diced tomatoes $0.59
  • organic tomato sauce $0.69
  • rollos $2.99
  • cookies $1.69
  • truffles $2.99
  • baking chocolate $1.49
  • apple juice $1.29
  • orange juice $2.49
  • russet potatoes $1.99
  • sugar $1.89
  • bananas $0.33/lb
  • sourdough bread $2.19
  • crackers $2.99
  • organic black beans $0.89
  • egg noodles $1.49
  • ham $3.29
  • fruit spread $1.99
  • celtic cheeses $4.99

Total spent $96

Ralphs

  • crackers $0.99
  • sour cream $0.49
  • cream cheese $0.99
  • butter $2.99
  • hot dog buns $2.29
  • saltines $0.99
  • clearance pasta $0.79
  • clementines $2.99
  • carrots $1.19
  • English cucumbers $1.49
  • pears $0.99/lb
  • cilantro $0.69
  • roma tomatoes $0.99/lb
  • jalapenos $0.99/lb
  • bell peppers $1.49
  • mushrooms $1.49
  • noosa yogurt $2.00
  • pork shoulder $1.99/lb
  • steaks $4.99/lb
  • pepperoni $3.99
  • salami $6.99
  • uncured bacon $3.99
  • uncured deli turkey and ham $4.99
  • bulk Italian sausage $2.99
  • brats $1.99 marked down

Total spent $117

Ralphs

  • sparkling water $1.40
  • corn husks for tamales $2.29
  • aluminum foil $4.99
  • cornstarch $1.19
  • eggs $1.49
  • potatoes $0.99
  • garlic $0.50 each
  • grapefruit $1.49
  • limes $0.39
  • clementines $2.99
  • oranges $0.99
  • cumin $0.69
  • noosa yogurt $2.00
  • Martinelli’s $1.59
  • ground turkey $1.49 to $2.49/lb after sales and coupons

Total spent $63

Costco

  • Greek yogurt $6.39
  • organic ground beef $19.99/4 pounds
  • potstickers $10.69
  • mahi mahi $23.99
  • salmon $28.99
  • heavy cream $9.89
  • organic frozen cherries $10.99
  • frozen veggies $8.79
  • milk $5.19/2 gallons
  • quaker oats $8.29
  • rotisserie chicken $4.99
  • whole wheat bread $4.59
  • steel cut oats $7.99
  • sandwich rolls $6.49
  • mayonnaise $6.99
  • asiago cheese $9.16
  • naan $4.99
  • Tillamook cheddar $8.99
  • bell peppers $5.99
  • romaine $2.99
  • shredded mozzarella $12.59
  • snap peas $5.79
  • tortillas $3.69
  • mushrooms $5.79
  • cucumbers $3.99
  • pretzels $6.59
  • grape tomatoes $4.99
  • sourdough bread $3.69
  • bagels $5.49
  • broccoli $4.49
  • deli roast beef $8.44

Total spent $300

Trader Joe’s

  • shredded cabbage $1.29
  • cruciferous blend $1.99
  • celery hearts $2.29
  • kale salad $2.49
  • frozen organic raspberries $3.69
  • Ak-mak $1.99
  • tater tots $2.29
  • rice crackers $2.69
  • candy cane green tea $1.99
  • almonds $5.99
  • mushrooms $2.29
  • multigrain Joe’s Ohs $2.99
  • snap peas $2.49
  • sweet potatoes $1.79
  • carrots $0.79
  • buttermilk $1.99
  • string cheese $2.99
  • probiotic smoothies $2.49
  • sugar $3.49
  • baking powder $1.49
  • breakfast bars $1.99
  • ginger paste $1.99
  • brie $5.09
  • frozen hashbrowns $1.69
  • frozen chicken tenders $7.49
  • sourdough bread $2.99
  • sunbutter $4.99
  • frozen tuna $7.59
  • coconut milk $1.29
  • ghee $3.99
  • potato salad $3.99
  • artichoke hearts $2.29
  • pickles $2.99
  • jalapeno stuffed olives $3.49
  • hot sauce $2.29
  • onions $0.59 each
  • cornichons $2.69
  • green salsa $2.79
  • raspberry jam$2.99

Total spent $200

Sprouts

  • cilantro $0.50
  • clementines $4.98
  • green bell peppers 3/$1
  • green onions $0.50
  • roma tomatoes $0.99/lb
  • navel oranges 3#/$1
  • XL avocados $1.99
  • onions 3#/$1

Total spent $14

Ralphs

  • orange juice $1.99
  • starbucks coffee $3.63 to $5.88 after sales and coupons
  • eggs $1.99/18 ct
  • clearance pasta $0.79
  • cheese $1.88/8oz
  • chocolate chips $2.99
  • canned beans $1.69
  • canned pineapple $1.29
  • pretzels $1.49 to $3.19
  • brown sugar $2.49
  • buttermilk $2.99
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • garlic $0.50
  • limes $0.39
  • lemons $0.89
  • grapefruit $4.99/large bag
  • Kettle chips $3
  • organic beans $1.00
  • kefir $3.29
  • loin steaks $21/family pack
  • rib roast $4.99/lb
  • horseradish $1.99
  • Aidell chicken sausages $4.99
  • salami $9.99
  • minus $14 off coupon
  • minus $3 off coupon

Total spent $139

Sprouts

  • oranges $1.29/lb
  • clementines $1.98
  • cumin $0.99
  • pineapple $1.98
  • lettuce $0.99
  • lemons $2.99
  • organic apples $0.98/lb
  • XL avocados $1.88
  • milk $3.39
  • eggs $2.59
  • buttermilk $3.79

Total spent $34

Ralphs

  • cookies $5.49
  • chips $1.88
  • coffee $5.88
  • chocolate chips $2.99
  • whipping cream $3.79
  • sour cream $1.99
  • eggs $2.89
  • powdered sugar $2.49
  • flour $2.99
  • sugar $1.99
  • milk $2.99
  • cilantro $0.69
  • jalapenos $0.99/lb
  • shredded cabbage $1.99
  • mushrooms $0.79
  • carrots $1.59
  • honey $3.49
  • deli roast turkey $12.11
  • deli roast beef $9.00
  • garlic herb hummus $2.50
  • rolls $4.99
  • sourdough $4.99
  • croissants $5.99

Total spent $120

Ralphs

  • hot dog buns $2.29
  • tortilla chips $0.99
  • wonton wrappers $2.99
  • eggs $3.69
  • canned beans $0.99
  • cheese $3.49
  • tomatoes $1.49
  • cheese $2.99
  • apple juice $2.49
  • chocolate chips $0.99
  • hashbrowns $1.99
  • orange juice $1.99
  • avocados $2.99
  • onions $1.49/lb
  • broccoli $2.99
  • baby spinach $2.99
  • onions $1.99
  • blood oranges $1.99
  • green onions $0.99
  • English cucumbers $1.99
  • roma tomatoes $1.49/lb
  • green pepper $0.69
  • red pepper $1.49
  • carrots $1.99
  • romaine hearts $3.79
  • fage $1.49 on clearance
  • beef broth $3.00
  • pork shoulder $1.49/lb
  • hot dogs $3.99
  • dill weed $4.79
  • hominy $1.09

Total spent $105

Costco

  • milk $4.75
  • olive oil $11.99
  • sausage $7.89
  • jam $5.99
  • heavy cream $9.89
  • kale salad $4.49
  • shredded mozzarella $12.59
  • frozen berries $9.99
  • avocado oil $9.49
  • Tillamook cheese $7.99 to $8.99
  • bell peppers $5.99
  • mochi $9.89
  • hummus $6.49
  • chicken tenders $15.99
  • babybel $10.99
  • gruyere $10.78
  • tuna $12.99
  • eggs $6.49
  • greek yogurt $6.39
  • bread $4.59
  • sourdough $3.69
  • hawaiian rolls $4.99

Total spent: $230

Trader Joe’s

(This was lots of holiday convenience foods. Ahem.)

  • orange chicken $4.99
  • mini tacos $4.29
  • fish nuggets $3.99
  • french fries $1.99
  • tater tots $2.29
  • frozen hashbrowns $1.69
  • chicken tenders $7.49
  • rice crackers $2.69
  • sesame oil $2.69
  • rice vinegar $1.99
  • sweet chili sauce $1.99
  • ak-mak $1.99
  • puff pastry $3.99
  • beets $1.49
  • pepperoni $2.99
  • salami $5.99
  • deli roast beef $4.99
  • hummus $1.99 to $2.29
  • pub cheese $3.99
  • brie $5.39
  • goat cheese $3.99
  • mushrooms $4.59

Total spent $116

I guess there’s a very good reason I’m doing a Pantry Challenge right now — or that it’s going so well. I really over-shopped at the holidays. I’m embarrassed even to share the total.

$1657. Yikes! But, thankfully, we’re looking at an overall average. My underspending every few months makes up for my excess at Christmas. Ahem.

Here’s how grocery shopping went down in 2016:

  • January $669
  • February $1092
  • March $1206
  • April $1435
  • May $1500
  • June $1215
  • July $1221
  • August $1338
  • September $816
  • October $1238
  • November $1183
  • December $1657

Total YTD: $14,573

That total divided by 12 months, brings our average to $1214.41/month which is close enough to our $1200 budget per month to make me satisfied.

And relieved.

That said, I’m really thankful for the Pantry Challenge tradition to help me get back to better behavior at the grocery store. Recently my girls and I did some research comparing prices at our local stores. It was very enlightening! I’ll share more of that soon.

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Comments

  1. Wow that sure is alot of food!!
    Good for you for accomplishing your budget goal for the year!!

  2. I agree, good job. It made me chuckle that you used a small cart and packed it full. I tend to grab the larger cart even when I’m only grabbing a handful of loss leaders at the store. Habit, I guess.

  3. I’m glad your totals ended up close to your budget. Mine definitely did not! From what we spent, one might think 2016 had an extra 6-8 weeks in it. I’m definitely keeping a tighter control on it for a while.

  4. Danielle L Zecher says:

    I’m seriously impressed by your cart packing skills! I never bother with the tiny ones. My behemoth of a purse pretty much fills up the top half instantly.

    I was kind of surprised that your February total was on the lower side. I thought it might be higher in an effort to restock.

    How do you keep track of your grocery spending if you’re buying other things? I can look back at my bank account and tell how much I spent at Sam’s and various grocery stores, but I also buy cleaning supplies, cat litter, etc. there, and have no good way of tracking how much I spent on each category.

    • You could use a spread sheet Danielle. and work it out each time you shop. I have never bothered with keeping paper, personal care and cleaning supplies separate.

      What a lot of groceries for one month Jessica. Don’t think I’d manage to find room for that much in the house without stashing everything in the basement. But, over the year you did a phenomenal job.

    • Last winter our pantry challenge lasted about four months because we were evacuated in order to have our house tented for termites. That meant that all our food had to be bagged up. We ate it down to the bare bones so that we didn’t have to bag much up. I think May was when I did my big restocking.

      When I enter the transactions into Quicken I separate out other categories so that I can see just what we’re spending on food. I also buy most of my household stuff through Amazon so it’s easier.

  5. Hi 🙂 Quick question , what do you use the sweet chili sauce from Trader’s Joe for? I bought it once as an impulse buy 🙁 and don’t really know how to use it… I’m easter european and this is not something we’ve been using in our cooking when I grew up but I’m on a mission to try lots of new things 🙂

  6. I think i overloaded in November and December so still doing pretty good on the PC too. Im really impressed on your annual outcome. I need to make tracking our monthly food expenses easier. Im all out for the first three months, then lose steam.

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