Grocery Geek: Starting the Month Fresh

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I’m starting the month fresh and trying to institute some new goals for shopping and cooking.

I’m amazed at what great conversations we’ve been having about grocery spending and healthy eating. Y’all offered such wonderful encouragement when I shared my dilemma as well as when I posted my grocery spending audit.

Thanks for the fabulous input. It definitely got my wheels turning!

Going into the new month, I had it in my mind to combine at least three of my audit conclusions:

  • make more snacks
  • bake more bread
  • do a mega freezer cooking session

You can read ALL about my Fly-by-the-Seat-of-My-Pants Freezer Cooking Session. We have a very full freezer now. Hallelujah! Hopefully, with breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners all premade, we’ll also be able to avoid trips to the store and eating out.


But, of course, all that cooking took some shopping. I confess that I was loathe to do it all at once. I made several ventures out for things. I ran out of flour twice. In fact, I used almost thirty pounds of flour this week. Can you even believe it?

Here’s how I geeked out over groceries last week:

Walmart – $33

My mom and I cruised Walmart while she was here, picking up random things, including these groceries:

  • bananas @ $0.59/pound
  • organic onions $2.88/3 #
  • 8 pounds of pinto beans $8.22
  • enchilada sauce $1.98
  • coffee minus coupon $8.48
  • snack bags $2.48
  • pinto beans $1.64
  • black beans $1.34
  • 10 pounds flour (unpictured) $4.58

Costco – $49

I know, I was just at Costco! But, there were a few things I forgot. And then more that I remembered later that I refused to go back and get. Clearly, I need to audit my list-making system next!

  • 4 pounds of organic beef $17.99
  • organic baby greens $3.79
  • Tillamook cheese $8.79/2 pounds
  • large box of oats $7.89
  • tortilla chips $4.49
  • eggs $2.41
  • sourdough bread $3.39

Ralphs – $77

Ralphs is my local Kroger affiliate. And while there are three other chains, some of which are just a little closer to my house, Ralphs has won my heart with their great markdowns and the way the store is laid out. Recently, they added some “real deals,” weekly sales with prices from the good old days. It truly is amazing.

  • 10 pounds of flour $6.50
  • 2 pounds of brown sugar $2.99
  • 6 packages of coffee @ $5.88 each
  • 2 pounds of butter @ $2.50 each
  • 1 pound of mushrooms, marked down to $0.99/8 oz. package
  • very ripe bananas @ $0.29/pound
  • 2 whole chickens @ $0.65/pound
  • ham @ $0.77/pound
  • sunflower oil $6.19 (should have bought some at Costco!)

Abundant Harvest Organics – $37

I picked up the produce box as usual and found it full of lots of fresh yummy produce, including: red cabbage, carrots, swiss chard, chives, arugula, fennel, oranges, apples, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, mint, lemons, and asparagus. I gave away the fennel. And unfortunately, I mistook the arugula for kale. I sauteed it, but it was really bitter. We might have preferred it in a salad, instead.

Sprouts – $29

Sprouts, what used to be my Henry’s, is okay. I miss Henry’s, even though they are very similar. I can count on finding “health food” at Sprouts. My kids really liked puffed grains. They eat them like breakfast cereal — when I let them. But, they are currently part of my recipe testing for Chewy Cereal Bars. Stay tuned.

  • 4 bags of puffed cereals @ $1.50 each
  • 10 pounds of organic potatoes $5.00
  • chicken tenders @1.97/pound
  • yogurt $2.69/32 ounces
  • cucumbers 2/$1

So, there we have it. My grocery shopping for the week included many items that went into my freezer cooking for the month. You can read how that went down over here.

I ended up spending $225. But, I have almost everything I need for the month. (Famous last words!) And a lot of it is already prepared, too!

On my list of things to buy in the next week are flour, milk, and kosher salt. Those are things that I need to be able to pull off our daily bread. We’ll probably run out of fruit, so I’ll need to add that to my list as well.

I set the produce box “on vacation” this week so that I can conserve some cash. I have a secret $ goal in mind for this month’s spending. We’ll see if it happens.

How are you geeking out over groceries?


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  1. A few thoughts…

    30 pounds of flour? Yikes! If you are going to start baking more bread, I highly highly recommend looking into getting a GOOD bread machine if you can…I had a cheapy Sunbeam for years, and it worked just fine for mixing doughs, jams, etc. I never baked in it though. One day, a Zojirushi came along…for half of the price when it was new, and it had only been used 3 times. Now, Mom is learning how to make bread with the Sunbeam, and I use my Zo. I love it. Get one. All the cool kids have one. 😉

    Two – arugula is lovely in salad. It’s also awesome on panini! And don’t give your fennel away – start canning! You can make fennel pickle, as well as swiss chard stem pickles (which are fun and awesome!). As far as the swiss chard and arugula – you can use them similarly to spinach in stuffed pastas, and they’re really great. If I had been you, that asparagus would have been adopted out…hehe. 🙂

    And yes to puffed rice in granola bars. That’s the only way I like to make mine! Puffed rice, oats, and the binders. Now, if only i could figure out how to make homemade Cheetos, I’d be set….


    • Jessica says:

      Homemade cheetos. Now that is hilarious. The flour went into baking mixes and artisan bread dough. I do have a cheapy Sunbeam. My third in 10 years. We’ll keep plugging along until it dies. 🙂

      • @Jessica,

        Oh, I loved my Sunbeam! It pooped out shortly after I got my first one, and I called to complain…a brand new one showed up in less than 3 days on my door step, and that is the one Mom has now.

        I just switched to the Zo because I wanted to be able to bake in it, and the Sunbeam made hockey pucks. Okay, and the fact that the person I bought it from was just going to goodwill it? I was like, “Nooo! Take the money!!!”

        And yes…homemade cheetos. I have to figure it out. My husband is getting ever so slightly annoyed I haven’t bought any in a while. 😉

        • @Andrea, this week we’ve been using the Artisan Bread in 5 Dough, so I haven’t used the bread machine at all. Easy peasy. We go through 4 loaves a day!

  2. We like to go to costco for some essentials also. I let my husband make our artisian bread in 5. ( He says he’s the bread winner ) We noticed that the bread flour at costco is a lot cheaper along with yeast. We bought a bin to store the flours in. It works for us.

  3. Your produce box is amazing! Especially for the price.

  4. Margaret says:

    I love these posts! I am a grocery geek, too. I’m usually embarrassed to admit it.

    One small comment… in my area, the grocery store generic brand of rolled oats is considerably cheaper than the Quaker Oats from Costco. And the natural foods co-op has them for even less in the bulk bins. Yes, it’s only one item, but if you are in audit mode… it might be worth looking into.

    Also, my Costco has 25 lb bags of flour. (Both King Arthur unbleached and another less expensive brand.) I asked for a giant olive bucket while shopping at Whole Foods one day (they were going to put it in the recycling) and it holds the whole bag of flour quite nicely. It is also air tight. Aside from the price break, I love the convenience of dealing with the flour less frequently.

    • @Margaret, thanks for making that point about the oats. I usually stock up on it at my health food store, but they don’t have a sale going and I “needed” oats. Since gas is soooo pricey and I have a large vehicle (12 miles/gallon), I have to figure in the cost of my stops. Thus, my justification on buying oats at Costco. 😉

  5. I also came over to mention the flour. I shop Sam’s rather than Costco (Costco is about 15% higher overall for the items I buy – price checked my normally purchased items on the same day at both stores two different times and was shocked at the difference), and at Sam’s 25 lb bags of white and bread flour are around $8. I store them in free icing buckets from Sam’s. I did invest in some of the Gamma lids which are easier to open and close, but you could use the lids that come with them – I did for a long time. I freeze the bags of flour overnight or until I can get to it :), and then store a bay leaf in the buckets along with the flour. The big buckets are in a hall closet, and I have smaller containers that I keep in my pantry and then refill as needed.

    • @Sheila, I have the big buckets and have ordered 50 pounds at a time from Azure Standard, but right now the price doesn’t make cents. My Costco only sells bleached flour which I’m not crazy about. But, I stopped looking at it years ago, maybe that has changed.

  6. What kind of flour do you buy? white or wheat or both? organic? unbleached? just curious. I am trying to get away from the common bleached white flour and get unbleached them move on to white wheat from there, then to wheat. I need to get the family to like it first. LOL We are slowly going all natural/ organic. Dairy first I was told then the dirty dozen.

    • @Claire, I always buy unbleached at the least. It’s cheapest at Walmart for $4.58/10 pounds. But, I usually also have whole wheat pastry flour and whole wheat flour on hand as well. I mix in half of the whole wheat to enrich whatever I’m baking. The fam seems okay with the taste.

  7. Fennel is nice to cut up in salad.

  8. I love Arrowhead Mills puffed brown rice cereal-you got a great price! I had a fun shopping trip yesterday at Meijer. I got first dibs on the reduced produce rack and ended up with a cart full of strawberries, apples, bananas, and oranges for a fraction of the normal cost. Plus they’re having a 10/$10 sale this week and I got some great deals with that, like organic carrots for $1, avocados for $1 etc. It was a fun shopping trip!

  9. Ack, gave away fennel?!?! It is fantastic in a red sauce. You are missing out!!! (This is coming from a licorice hater so don’t sell that fennel short!)

  10. Hey I make this easy enchilada sauce from staples and freeze it;; it’s so tasty and authentic. You’re trips look a lot like mine, random everywhere!

  11. Oh and I’ve been baking 4 loaves of the artisan bread at one time and freezing; it comes in handy for quick meals w/o heating up the oven; no need for a bread maker. You might need 8 loaves with your family size!

  12. Heads up. Homemade Enchilada sauce is quick, easy, and better for you. 🙂 It is the cost a tomoto sauce, a little oil, a few slices of onion, and a few various seasonings. I can hook you up with a recipe, if you like.

    • @Erin, Ah, yes for tomato based enchilada sauce that is true. I use chile sauce. Still doable homemade but the can is way easier. 🙂

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