Grocery Geek: Keeping Up with Their Appetites

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Shopping my kitchen is saving me at least $200 on groceries this month — and we still have food left to eat!

So last week’s grocery basics trip did not last the week. We continued to have a wealth of dinner options, but lunches were sparse. In the words of my 14 year-old son, all that’s left is “stuff that you have to cook.” Ain’t that the truth?

When I asked my people what they wanted for lunches this week, the answer was “sandwiches.”

What kind of sandwiches?

Good ones, they said.

Excuse me while I roll my eyes back to the front of my head…. Everything is relative. My idea of good sandwiches, may or may not be the same as theirs. My land!

So, I stocked up on sandwich fixins so that lunches were quick and easy to prepare and so that we didn’t have to cook every meal. I also grabbed a bunch of ingredients for smoothies. The kids ate both almost every day this week.

Here’s the grocery haul for the week:

The Lunch Stop at Costco

I spent about $100 at Costco and was stunned that the bill was so low, actually. I expected it to be much higher. I know, $100 sounds high, too. But, that was 2 dozen eggs, 4 pounds of butter, 5 loaves of bread, many pounds of lunch meat, 2 gallons of milk, 2 dozen tortillas, bananas, cheese, yogurt, juice, and crackers.

At this writing, we still have some salami, 3 pounds of butter, 1/2 gallon of milk, and the yogurt. Everything is almost gone. My word, but these kids are growing like weeds!

Total spent at Costco $100.

The Produce Box

I picked up the produce box on Wednesday and did not find the avocados I was hoping for, but I found out they are coming next week. I told you there would be avocados in time for Super Bowl!

Instead I found potatoes, turnips, apples, spinach, carrots, choy, herbes de provence, pomegranates, dill, chard, lemongrass, and ANOTHER butternut squash. Clearly, I need to get with the winter squash this next week. See my little stockpile?

The box total was $37.80.

Weekly total: $137.80

Monthly total to date: $298

While this week’s purchases were almost equal to the entire month’s total previously, we’re still hugely below what we regularly spend — and we still have a lot left. I know we need milk and some dairy products, as well as more children’s vitamins, but not too shabby, all things considered.

But, my freezer is nowhere near empty! So, we’ll see what kind of relocating between the freezers can happen in this next week. Regardless, I think this “shopping the kitchen” thing is saving us at least $200 this month, if not more.

So far, so good!

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  1. Maybe you should cook up some of the meals you have in the freezer so that they can be eaten for lunch. Cooked marinated chicken, if you have some of that in the freezer, can be used for cold sandwiches if you do the work ahead of time. Just a thought to use up the freezer stuff and not have to go out and buy more lunch meat. Btw, I’m jealous. My clan doesn’t care for sandwiches, but I love them. :/

  2. Ah Jess…I have a Costco trip lined up this week too … lunchmeat (love that lunchmeat you got too, $3.99 is the highest I’ve seen it and beats deli stuff anyday) milk, lettuce, spinach, mini peppers and such are on my list. I’ve stopped buying bread there as it’s expensive and WE don’t eat a lot of it (just Hubby and I and Princess occasionally) … better for me to stop at bread store. Can I ask how much eggs were? Last time (12/31) they were almost $6 for the 3 dozen (not eggland, the regular xlarge ones). Picked some up at Aldis for $1.39 last weekend, thankfully! Love reading Grocery Geek Reports!

    • @jan, the eggs were organic, free-range, kind of a splurge. I’m alternating my egg purchases between org and conv. So, I spent almost $3/dozen this time. But, TJ’s will have their conventional for <$1.50/dozen next week.

  3. My oldest is 14 and is a walking stomach! I have taken to making extra bread so he has his own loaf and buying bags of apples as he’ll eat 3 or 4 in A DAY! sheesh. When his friends are over, it’s as though they have never eaten before.

    • @dorothy, it seems to ebb and flow around here. 2 gallons of milk lasted us two weeks at the beginning of the month, this past week we went through 1 1/2 gallons. Not sure what’s up with that.

  4. Found some clearance deli meat at Ralphs last week for 99 cents and bought four packages…that’s been keeping us in sandwiches. I found that if I buy some cream cheese and add some bbq sauce (2 tbsp) and then use that as a spread on some tortillas the kids think it’s fancier than just plan ham!

    Got the lemon grass too…what will you do with yours??? I peel and seeded those pomegranates and turned the potatoes into hash browns, the other stuff gets eaten but I do need to do something with all that squash! Can’t wait for the lemons, oranges and avocados this week!

  5. I dont miss those days of raising hungry teenagers & their friends. 😉 I raised 5 kids and they were all teenagers at the same time at one point so it was a doozie.

    We did great this week again.. I stopped at the produce market to pick up bananas & oranges, and m’honey went to the grocery to pick up milk & bread. He also got apple cider.. He has no clue there is a Pantry/Freezer Challenge going on in our house… haha, but thats ok. Between the two of us, we spent less than $20.
    We’re both glad there is a meal planned out for the day already & dont have to deal with “What do you want for dinner?” every night.. Its tiresome for us both.

    Im going to have to make a few stops this week. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are on sale at a stocking up price and Im out of eggs. I also want to pick up some Bob Evans sausage. We bought some cheap variety bulk sausage from a local store and its more than half fat. Horrible. You get what you pay for, sometimes.

    I saw whole turkey breasts on sale for $1.99 a pound this week and thought about buying a couple, oven roasting them, and then slicing them for sandwiches next week. I have a handy dandy meat slicer and that’d be the cheapest I’ve ever seen turkey breast lunch meat. It also doesnt have all the nitrates that generally are included in deli meats.

    Havent made my menu’s out for this week, but I shall soon..

    Have a great week!!

    • @KimH, b/s chicken breast is on sale here, too. It has been all month so it may be slim pickings next month. I may just have to pick up a few packages to hold us over until the next big sale.

  6. I have seen the insane amounts of butter on your list a couple times now (you bought 2 pounds last week), and I gotta ask – what do you use it for? The recipes I see (or at least remember… Could be why!) on your sites don’t use a lot. So I gotta know, what’s it for?? The only thing I can think of is that you encourage the boys to use a lot because it’s a relatively cheap way of upping calories. I am NOT being judgmental, just curious!! I know you have a lot of kids, but that’s a heck of a lot of butter and I am dying to know where it goes! 🙂

    • @brandy, ha! You’ve got a good eye! We did use two pounds in the last week. We use it on bread, on toast, on cornbread, and biscuits, on pancakes and waffles. I use it in baking and when I cook eggs. I use it to sautee vegetables.

      I’m not interested in upping anyone’s calories. LOL. But, it’s my preferred spread. I know there’s a lot of debate about butter versus margarine versus coconut oil. I settled on butter, preferably hormone-free. It’s a condiment and a baking/cooking fat at our house.

      There are eight of us eating, so it’s easy to go through 1 to 2 sticks a day, depending on what is served. 🙂

      • @Jessica, We use smart balance spread (also available at costco but I sometimes use coupons to get the different varieties at the grocery store) – no hydrogenated fats, and extremely low levels of natural trans fats for most of our spread needs. It is the only margarine I will buy. We also do use a lot of coconut oil as our one year old has a dairy intolerance and earth balance coconut butter (a spread, coconut based). I try to avoid soy in his milk substitute products. So as a result, we go through 4 pounds of butter in, oh, about 4 to 5 months!! Most of my baking subs in coconut or canola oil now so we just don’t use it. We are finding that we prefer a lot of the substitutes to the dairy products – but must have butter for eggs. The baby fortunately doesn’t know any better that coconut oil scrambled eggs aren’t nearly as awesome as butter scrambled eggs.

  7. Wow, you did great at Costco…and your produce box has a really nice variety of produce…colorful, too 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  8. Our family loves soup and bread for lunch. I often make two or three kinds on Sunday afternoon and we eat them through the week. Your butternut squash would make a great soup — you can try it with chipotle peppers or with tomatos. Both are wonderful and filling.

  9. @Heather-hello from the foothills of SC!
    We are doing great too. I spent about $50 this week. Sargento shredded cheese was BOGOF; dry mixes (chili, taco, brown gravy, etc.) were $.33 each so I bought a couple of each kind; I bought two ham bones to use with the bags of beans I already have; milk and bread, of course; turkey bacon was marked down b/c of the sell by date-I bought 2 and came straight home and cooked them and froze the slices; I had coupons for dole fruit cups and they were on sale so i bought pineapple cups, peach cups and oranges; (there are 5 of us that pack a lunch every day and this insures they pack a fruit!!); and i bought 3 Tombstone pizza’s for $10 (I cook them and slice them and freeze them for lunchboxes).
    On the flip side, I made a loaf of fresh bread, and a pot of spaghetti sauce for after church tomorrow. We are breaking the “eat out after church” habit. This will be our 6th Sunday to eat at home. 🙂
    Ready for next week!

  10. Hi, Jessica!
    I was wondering if you would share with me what children’s vitamins you buy? I have have an almost 7 year old (who is rail thin and always starving!) and a 4 year old who looks quite solid and yet never seems to eat anything, ha! I know I need to start giving them vitamins but there are so many to choose from.

    • I am probably not the right person to ask. I just buy them the children’s version from Trader Joe’s.

    • I know that you asked Jessica but I thought I’d share in case you were curious… There is a pair of pharmacists/ nutritionists/ natreopathic (sp??) on the radio is Pittsburgh called “Len and Joe.” You can listen to them online or just check out their website at After listening to them for years, I have compiled quite the “cocktail,” of vitamins that I give my kids… First I give them Len and Joe’s multivitamin, then I give them additional fish oil, vitamin D, probiotics, vitamin C, and Colostrum (I added the colostrum when my daughter just couldn’t kick her spring allergies- it worked like a charm!). It’s quite a lot, and rather pricey, but having learned about each of these and seeing the results (they generally get sick much less often than their peers and are able to kick what they do get fairly quickly) I feel that this is what my kiddos need.

      • @Julie@teachinggoodeaters, Ooooh, thanks, Julie! I will definitely check them out. I wish I could find a good one for myself, I end up doing the cocktail thing too! 🙂

        • @Amber, You’re welcome Amber, and if it’s too much— you could always just start with the multi. The next two I would add are the fish oil and probiotic- This is where I started… the other’s have been added over time and I don’t always keep up with the Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Colostrum over the summer. Also, the Vitamin D is the only one I don’t get from Len and Joe… they don’t have a kids’ version so I use Rainbow Light brand (they’re chewy which the kids love). Also, the fish oil isn’t actually Len and Joe’s brand, it’s Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA which you can buy at most health food stores (also chewable- my kids love them!)

  11. Jessica, you are doing a great job feeding your family. It’s a challenge for all of us these days. And don’t feel bad about using so much butter. We are a family of 3 (with 2 married children) and we probably use 1 stick of butter each day! 🙂 And if I cook with it, it would be more. lol
    I’ve been cooking from scratch for years. And I am really enjoying this pantry challenge. I made enough room in my freezer for a very large banana squash and two pumpkins (baked and froze them all yesterday). Then, when we want squash for dinner (or to bake bread, etc.) I just pull out one of those containers and warm it up. So, you might want to do that with all your extra winter squash. Its quick and easy to have ready for dinner.
    Also, I just wanted to suggest what we do for sandwiches. Does your family like tuna as a spread for bread or even crackers? Carrot and celery sticks go good with that for an easy lunch. Or do you ever take left over roast beef or chicken, grind it and mix with mayo, relish, etc.? Those are also yummy sandwich spreads. Easy to make using a processor. You mentioned you have some ground beef. You could make sloppy joes for lunch. And we just bought a Kroger brand of ham, sliced it thin and will be using that for sandwiches this coming week. My husband takes a lunch to work daily. 🙂 And our kids enjoyed raw veggies, hard boiled eggs and crackers or toast for lunches. Just thought I would share the things I did when our kids were young. (I miss those years, believe it or not)! Thanks for all the great ideas and recipes. The coffee cake was a great hit at our house. 🙂

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