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Grocery Geek: What We Spent in March

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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Six weeks ago I had high hopes. HIGH HOPES. I was going to be a grocery shopping ninja and just rock it.

But then the kids got sick.

And then I got the idea of reshooting a ton of old recipes, regardless of whether or not I had those ingredients on hand.

And then we found out that we need to boost at least one child’s calorie intake.

And well…. 

Our March spending was a little out of control. And quite possible April.

Of course, I’m reporting on March about three weeks into April and should have my April report here shortly. Maybe.

Did I mention the kids are sick again?

Thank goodness for a lean January and February because I needed that margin to make March (and possibly April) come out right. And thank goodness for leaving town on a big adventure, necessitating a pantry challenge in May. Ahem.

Sorry for the dearth of pictures. It’s been a month.

Or two.

The Grocery Geek report

For those of you new here, Grocery 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:Grocery Geek: What We Spent in January

  • 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 March:

Sprouts

  • asparagus $0.98/lb
  • mushrooms $3.49/lb
  • zucchini $0.98/lb
  • red bell peppers $0.50 ea.
  • roma tomatoes $0.88/lb
  • XL avocados $1.25 ea.
  • mineral water BOGO $0.65 ea
  • org whipping cream $3.69
  • whole grain bread BOGO $2.50

Total spent $35

Trader Joe’s

  • kefir $2.99
  • yogurt $2.99/6-pack
  • cereal $2.79
  • chicken salad $4.29

Total spent $22

Costco

  • avocado oil $9.49
  • milk $4.79/2 gal
  • chicken tenders $15.99/6 pound bag
  • organic brown rice $11.99/10 pound bag
  • artichokes $5.79
  • broccoli florets $4.49
  • English cucumbers 3-pack $3.99
  • sliced deli roast beef $8.67
  • sliced deli ham $8.93
  • pre-cooked bacon $11.99
  • Fage Greek yogurt $6.39
  • sourdough 2# loaf $3.69
  • granulated garlic $5.69
  • snap peas $5.79
  • shredded mozzarella $10.99
  • whole grain bread $7.99/2 loaves
  • organic brown mushrooms $5.99
  • salami $13.89
  • chicken sausage $13.99
  • baking cocoa $3.97
  • organic strawberries $7.49
  • canned tuna $12.99/8 cans
  • sausage $7.79
  • hummus singles $6.49
  • heavy cream $9.89
  • Tillamook cheddar $8.99
  • cheesecake $12.99
  • bagels $5.49
  • butter $10.49
  • tortillas $3.69
  • gruyere cheese $9.69
  • asiago cheese $8.46
  • Dubliner cheese $10.48
  • organic eggs $6.49/2 dozen

Total spent $315

ALDI

  • yellow onions $1.44
  • cream cheese $1.29
  • crackers $1.69
  • bananas $0.37/lb
  • chuck roast $3.99
  • kiwi $3.99/2#
  • taco shells $0.99
  • sparkling water $0.55
  • shredded wheat $1.89
  • 10# potatoes $1.95
  • black beans $0.89
  • pineapple chunks $0.99
  • crushed tomatoes $0.99
  • corn tortillas $2.29

Total spent $54

Ralphs

  • shell pasta $1.29
  • milk $2.79
  • Wasa crisp bread $3.59
  • artichoke hearts $3.69
  • green chiles $1.29
  • LaCroix $2.77
  • organic apples $2.47
  • cilantro $1.00
  • carrots $1.59
  • strawberries $2.50
  • canned beans $1.00
  • sage $2.99
  • pepperoni $2.99
  • bread $0.99
  • clearance bread $0.39
  • minus digital coupon $3

Total spent $47

Ralphs

  • orange juice $3.99
  • milk $2.79
  • strawberries $1.88

Total spent $12

Ralphs

  • orange juice $3.99
  • chocolate milk $1.69
  • yogurt $1.00

Total spent $8

Sprouts

  • mushrooms $3.49
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • chocolate sauce $3.49
  • wasa crispbread $2.79
  • nut bars $1.00
  • wheat crackers $2.00
  • milk $2.79
  • yogurt $0.80
  • kefir $2.99
  • whole milk $3.29
  • whole grain bread $3.49

Total spent $41

Sprouts

  • chocolate milk $2.79
  • yogurt $0.80
  • whole milk $2.99

Total spent $7

Ralphs

  • sour cream $2.69
  • buttermilk $2.99
  • cottage cheese $1.99
  • King Arthur flour $3.99
  • coffee $5.49
  • almonds $7.99
  • parsley $1.49
  • strawberries $1.88
  • zucchini $1.49/lb
  • jalapenos $3.99/lb
  • carrots $1.49
  • green onions $1.29
  • crackers $1.29 on clearance

Total spent $60

Ralphs

  • shredded cheese $3.49
  • tortellini $7.79
  • baking powder $2.69
  • mayonnaise $3.99
  • baking soda $1.49
  • chives $1.29
  • romaine $0.99
  • strawberries $1.88
  • spinach $2.39
  • grape tomatoes $1.99
  • pork chops $3.24

Total spent $39

Ralphs

  • ice cream $2.99 to 3.49
  • cheese $2.49
  • milk $2.79
  • organic celery $1.99
  • basil $3.59
  • green onions $0.99
  • avocados $2.99
  • roma tomatoes $1.49/lb
  • yellow squash $1.49/lb
  • eggplant $0.99
  • yellow onions $2.49
  • radishes $0.99
  • garlic $0.50
  • red peppers $2.49
  • cole slaw $1.99
  • romaine $0.99
  • poblano peppers $1.69/lb
  • chicken $4.43
  • sourdough rolls $2.49
  • minus $5 off produce coupon

Total spent $40

Trader Joe’s

  • eggs $1.59
  • whole wheat organic spaghetti $1.49
  • garbanzo beans $0.99
  • cashews $7.99
  • buttermilk $1.99
  • tortillas $1.99
  • hot sauces $1.99 to $2.99

Total spent $30

Ralphs

  • vinegar $3.99
  • roasts $3.99/lb
  • French bread $1.59

Total spent $35

Ralphs

  • canned tomatoes $0.89
  • applesauce $2.69
  • brown sugar $2.69
  • white sugar $1.99
  • tortilla chips $2.99
  • cheese $2.99
  • milk $2.79
  • romaine $0.99
  • green onions $0.99
  • rosemary $1.29
  • cilantro $.50
  • cucumbers $1.99
  • bell peppers $1.49
  • jalapeno peppers $0.18
  • bananas $1.81
  • onions $0.50
  • avocados $2.99
  • organic tomatoes $2.19
  • chicken thighs $4.23
  • chicken legs $2.96
  • hot sausage $3.99
  • shrimp $12.98

Total spent $66

Sprouts

  • carrots $0.77
  • asparagus $0.92
  • eggplant $0.98
  • organic apples $0.98/lb
  • 5# organic potaotes $1.98
  • organic leeks $2.49/lb
  • roma tomatoes $0.88/lb
  • chicken breast $1.42
  • chicken breast $1.72
  • tortillas $3.79

Total spent $19

Costco

  • organic chicken sausage $11.49
  • diced tomatoes $6.49
  • chicken tenders $15.99
  • milk $4.79/2 gallons
  • 4# butter $10.49
  • Greek yogurt $6.39
  • romaine $2.99
  • babybel cheese $10.99
  • carrots $4.99
  • pack cucumbers $3.99
  • snap peas $5.79
  • sharp cheddar $8.99
  • grape tomatoes $5.99
  • 4# organic ground beef $19.99
  • 2 dozen organic eggs $6.49
  • olive oil $13.99
  • salame $13.89
  • tortillas $3.69
  • broccoli $4.49
  • frozen berries $7.99
  • 2 loaves whole grain bread $4.59
  • deli ham $8.48
  • deli roast beef $8.74
  • organic brown mushrooms $5.99
  • dozen bagels $5.49

Total spent $230

Trader Joe’s

  • almonds $5.99
  • cereal $2.79
  • cauliflower $1.99
  • hashbrowns $1.99
  • cilantro $1.79
  • crackers $2.79
  • shrimp $9.99
  • pasta $0.99
  • pecans $4.49
  • vinegar $1.99
  • bananas $1.52
  • sesame oil $2.69
  • ginger $1.99
  • sunflower seed butter $4.99
  • Dijon mustard $1.69

Total spent $60

ALDI

  • sparkling water $0.55
  • water chestnuts $0.39
  • beans $0.65 to $0.89
  • carrots $0.98
  • salt $0.39
  • green chiles $0.55
  • green onions $0.94
  • organic mixed greens $2.29
  • red bell peppers $0.59 each
  • sourdough bread $2.29
  • corn tortillas $1.99
  • pears $1.99
  • roma tomatoes $0.75/lb
  • cabbage $0.10/lb
  • avocados $0.29 each

Total spent $31

Ralphs

  • baking powder $2.69
  • buttermilk $2.99
  • frozen vegetables $1.00
  • blue cheese $2.99
  • spaghetti $1.00
  • brown sugar $2.39
  • baking soda $2.49
  • juice $1.49
  • pasilla chile powder $0.79
  • enchilada sauce $1.99
  • cinnamon $5.99
  • black eyed peas $1.69
  • sparkling water $1.10
  • orange juice $2.50
  • green peppers $0.99
  • cilantro $0.50
  • jalapeno pepper $0.79/lb
  • hass avocado $1.50
  • red onion $1.49/lb
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • mushrooms $2.49
  • roma tomatoes $0.99/lb
  • limes $0.39 each
  • garlic $0.50 each
  • personal watermelon $1.77
  • 5# bag grapefruits $2.77
  • broccoli $1.79/lb
  • potatoes $1.69/lb
  • eggs $2.50
  • chicken breast $8.26
  • chicken breast $5.83
  • minus $5 meat coupon
  • minus $5 produce coupon

Total spent $70

Costco

  • baking potatoes $6.49
  • organic brown rice $11.99
  • basmati rice $13.99
  • half ham $11.71
  • spiral ham $20.78
  • tortilla chips $4.39
  • 2 doz organic eggs $6.49
  • doz bagels $5.49
  • cooked bacon $14.69
  • tortillas $3.69
  • cheddar $8.99

Total spent $115

Total spent in March: $1336

Here’s looking at 2017 as a whole:

  • January $356
  • February $1015
  • March $1336

Average for 2017 so far: $902/month

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Comments

  1. Susan Clark says:

    Dear Jessica, love your blog! Read it faithfully. Sorry to hear the kiddos are sick again. We’ve had a wicked winter in North East Tennessee with flu, GI, and upper respiratory sickness. Prayers for healing. My daughter Emily struggled with enough calorie intake when she was growing up. She was not a truely picky eater she just couldn’t eat enough during family meals. I really had to change my thinking cause for me growing up there was no snacking just 3 homemade meals a day. It was a financial issue for my mom. But trust me we eat well and I never went hungry. For Emily we planned snacks and she helped me plan and shop so she was totally involved. It helped. I know you will figure it out. Sorry for my rambling. Blessings to all. Susan
    Oh when my grandson Henry comes this summer we are going to make Lawn Mor casserole. We love cooking together and I know he will love it. Henry is 5 and we have been cooking together since he was 3.

  2. Considering how much illness you have dealt with and the fact that you have teenaged boys, I am amazed at how low you have kept the spending this year. I suspect it is one of the boys who need more calories. Young men can require a lot of calories if they are active.

    Thank you for all you do. Hopes are prayers going your way for better health for all.

  3. I’m so sorry you guys are dealing with sickness again! It seems like it has been the year for that. Your average is still amazing! We have a much smaller family, so our numbers don’t even compare, but when I got our paycheck this month, I went hog wild in the grocery store. Hopefully I can at least be cognizant of what we do and don’t NEED over the next 6 weeks or so, so we can stay on track. 🙂

  4. You actually didn’t go over too bad considering all the extra stuff going on in March. Plus the next pantry challenge will help a lot too. We’re doing a pantry challenge now because our freezers, fridge and pantry is so full we need to eat through it and save some money this month before going to the beach for a week.
    I love Grocery Geek, I must be a geek too! 🙂

  5. You are doing amazing! I can not even imagine feeding that many kids! I was just wondering which category you go by on the usda chart? There is a big range. With as many people as you are feeding and the amount you spend I am thinking you aim for one of the lower end amounts like thrifty or low cost??

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