Grocery Geek: Big Eaters Abound!

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I feel like I’ve been extravagant in our grocery spending lately. But, really, I haven’t been. My family is just eating a ton. I guess this is what it is to feed a small army of eight?

In case you didn’t know, the good cheap eaters at our house are 2 adults, 14, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3. Only three of us are female. The guys eat a ton!

Last week I skipped my grocery report and instead we chatted about ways to reduce grocery spending. Visit that post if you haven’t already. Good discussion!

Last week: Costco/Produce Box – $198

However, here 1/3rd of the way into the month, I must confess, we’ve been eating (and therefore, buying) a lot! Last week I did a big stock-up at Costco. I spent $160 Β on cheese, bread, milk, cream, half and half, chips, frozen fruit, tortillas, bagels, and a bunch of stuff I can’t remember. I knew I was leaving the fam for a few meals to fend for themselves, so I just bought stuff to make sure there was “food in the house.” I also picked up the produce box for $38.

This week I made three stops:

Sprouts – $25

This would include mostly organic produce: celery, mushrooms, avocados, onions; Cuties, eggs, and yogurt.

Produce Box – $41

We got potatoes, spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, parsley, chives, collard greens, kale, carrots, rutabagas, apples, ugly apples, oranges, and mandarins as well as two new interesting items: pea tendrils and arugula flowers. Tasty on salads! (Some of this is extras or replacements from the previous week. Regular large boxes were not this full.)

Trader Joe’s – $133

The cart was bursting and I felt like I splurged a little, but I was surprised that the total was so low. I know, $133 may not sound low. I got 8 pounds of pasta, bagels, crackers, cereal, rice cakes, eggs, nuts, dried fruit, cheese, vitamins, yogurt, grains, FLOWERS, sunbutter, and chocolate. While it is a lot, I feel good that we have food for awhile. Maybe even a week.

Total MTD: $397

So, ten days in, we’ve spent $397. And I haven’t purchased any meat! That is a little disconcerting. We have plenty of protein: beans, cheese, and the meats in the freezer for this month. And I think we’re good with fresh fruit and vegetables as well as grains, etc.

But, I’m really on the fence about how to source our meats. If you’ve watched the news and read any food-related writing, you know that there is a lot of controversy about the safety of our meat supply. So, I’ve been stretching what we have and feeding the fam more meatless meals. I’m considering purchasing a side of grass-fed beef. I’ve got the space in my freezer, just not sure I can swallow the purchase price. Costco offers organic beef for about $4/pound, so I may go that route for awhile. We’ll see.

Total YTD: $1600

I’m talking in rough numbers here. I spent $400 in January and $800 in February. This month is about $400 so far. Not sure how the month will fall. But, I’m trying to be mindful of it.

How about you?

How’s your grocery gig going?


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  1. I buy a side of beef from my cousin’s husband every year, which makes the price very reasonable for steaks and other more expensive cuts. There is a huge difference in flavor, plus, our kids can go to the farm and see the handful of steers he raises. Now I feel even better about buying this thanks to all the news of gross pink slime.

  2. I hear you on the meat. I’ve been spending up for naturally raised, local, etc. etc. for a few years. My target prices are $2.99 for ground turkey and $4.99 for grass fed ground beef or roasts. Every fall I buy chickens from a local farmer for $3.50 a lb. This year my 18 chickens were almost $300. Yesterday I splurged on corned beef and it was $6.99 a lb! As my kids gets older I can definitely see how this is going to turn into a huge expense unless we cut back our consumption. If I was feeding your crowd I’d have a hard time swallowing those prices too.

    Don’t get me started on how shameful it is that safe and healthy food is financialy unfeasible for many people.

    My new goal is 2-3 meatless meals per week. Around 10 a month. I’m adding a rice and beans night to my meal rotation system and even have a Pinterest board called “Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans”. I love grains and legumes but have gotten away from serving them often. Time to change that. The kids aren’t always crazy about rice and beans but I can experiment and they can suck it up. πŸ™‚

    • @BethB, we’re definitely on the same wave length. I fed the fam several meatless meals this week. On a mission to figure out that happy medium.

  3. I figure in more than just food in my grocery budget. I add in things like toilet paper, Costco membership fees, laundry soap, shampoo. We spend about $170 per week for our grocery budget here in Kansas. I cook a lot from scratch. Either my add-ins (like I listed above) are pushing my expenses up more than I realize, or I’m still missing something. I buy a lot of my grocery items from CC and Azure Standard. Not always the cheapest, but very good quality. We also buy beef from a (somewhat) local farm for about $3 per pound.

  4. I’m right there with ya. I’m definitely inspired by the 100 days of real food blog, so I’ve been making most breakfasts from scratch, and using as much real food as possible for lunches, dinners, and snacks. We’re not all the way there yet though, for the other meals. Ways I’m looking to improve are to increase our veggies (fruit is not a problem) and to continue making things from scratch as organically as we can afford. I buy our meat from BJ’s that is all natural with no hormones or antibiotics. It’s $4/pound, which is just a few cents more than what ground chuck is at Kroger, anyway. However I’m not convinced this is our best option.

    Yesterday we spent about $130 on groceries at BJ’s. Our numbers will probably be off for a while because my parents & little brother have moved in with us for the time being and are helping out with groceries-plus there are 3 more people eating.

  5. Have been contemplating the beef thing for awhile too…and low and behold, a friend of mine sent me a note this week saying she has an organic farmer contact and they would butcher a whole cow for us in May….and would I be interested in part of it? I have a smaller deep freeze (on purpose, I don’t like losing things or not using things up) so our solution is to get 8-10 people to divide up this cow. That way, we all get good meat, we all get what we can reasonably use within a period of time, and we all benefit from the good price. Just an idea! Pull some friends together and divvy up the goods! lol

    • @Donna, great idea! I don’t think using it up will be a problem or the storage issue. But, I just want a decent per/pound price.

      • @Jessica, Yes! Absolutely!

      • @Jessica,

        If you’re willing to drive a bit, you could buy your cow up here in Central California. I bought one last fall and paid about $4 per pound, butchered. That seems to be the going price around here if you buy the whole cow. considering how it’s packaged it would definitely make it back to San Diego without thawing, assuming you had it in some big ice chests. Of course, then you have to consider the price of fuel. But hey, you get to take a trip to Fresno! πŸ˜‰

        • Yes, that is part of my plan. We have fam as far North as Santa Ynez and friends in SLO County where we used to live. So, we will most likely make a road trip and and a side of beef into the mix. Do you have a rancher you prefer?

  6. We are getting ready to place our order for a 1/2 cow at the end of the month. We are splitting the purchase with my MIL and a friend. We have purchased from this farm before and the beef is spectacular! They sell to The French Laundry so you know it has to be good! It comes out to $2.25/lb live weight for all cuts…can’t wait to grill out some steaks this summer!

  7. Jealous that your Costco sells organic beef. We only have organic ground beef here at ours, and it is over $5 a pound.
    We go through an organic meat shop for our beef and get it for just under $5 a pound. Plus we do not get a bunch of cuts we don’t want. Did tge grass-fed, non-organic route but had to buy 1/4 cow “package” and ended up with waste because we don’t use some of the cuts. But this way we do, pkus get organic which is very important to me.
    If you cant find a proccessor or farm that does what you want – keep looking and shopping. You will eventually find what works. I harsly ever buy chicken breast now – i am so hooked on baking organic whole chicken, then makng the delish stock in the crock after. Yum!

  8. Maybe I have missed it, but I think Jessica may have been referring to organic GROUND beef at Costco since we are here in So. Cal. too and that is what I have seen there, but I may be wrong. I have thought about the farm beef too. I have looked though for sources, but that is as far as I have gone. If you do buy a side of beef, would you share the name of the farm?

    • @Stacy, I will report back. The closest ranches to San Diego are in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Luckily, we have fam there, so it won’t be a chore to pick it up. Where are you?

      • @Jessica, We are in the Inland Empire area. I may have looked at the one in Ventura. I couldn’t find the links I thought I had bookmarked last summer when I was looking into this, so I will have to search again.

  9. Jessica,

    It’s funny you are looking into purchasing from a local farm, I was researching the same thing this week, and found They are located in Lake Elsinore.

    Haven’t made a final decision myself yet, but thought I would pass this along.

  10. I’m right with you on the meat. I have the space, I know where I want to buy it from, I just don’t know how to squeeze the extra money out of the budget! And once I get the beef, I’ll worry about the chickens and the pork too! Baby steps…

  11. Lori Hurley says:

    This a huge issue for me since we moved to the DC area from Richmond. Hubby got a $10k cost of living raise and I can certainly see why. The housing prices forced us to lease instead of buy. The grocery stores are crazy and my food budget, for 7 of us, one doggie, and two cats, has gone up to $1100-1200 a month. I was used to spending around $800-900. Hubby doesn’t quite get why so I’ve been taking him with me to see the difference. EVERYTHING is a few cents to a dollar more and it all is adding up. What I used to get for $450 every two weeks, I now get for $550.

    I’m doing more meatless meals. I’m doing more leftover soups. I’m serving dinners that don’t always make sense on paper, but it’s what I have… like chopped up watermelon as a second veggie because it needs to be eaten.

    I looked into CSA’s and I just can’t afford them. The local one here was $1200, up front. We’re going to try next year.

    I make just about everything from scratch. I have french bread rising right now to go with my black-eye peas for dinner. I cut down on my cereals and have moved more to oats and oat groats. I make pre-made oatmeals for the kids instead of packs. My oldest (15) snacks on whole sandwiches instead of chips. The other snack on fruits.

    I’m just in shock at the cost of food in my new area and I’m scrambling to bring it back down to a manageable level.

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