Grocery Geek: A New Month & a Full Freezer

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I’m still amazed at how well a little scrimping helped our grocery budget last month. Of course, finding a math error in your favor doesn’t hurt either. Sheesh. Apparently, I need to brush up on my math skills a little bit.

Anyway, I’m glad to know we’re ahead of the game a little. My sister suggested that I stick it in our France fund. I’m wondering if my kids and husband might appreciate a few boxes of cereal and little yogurt cups more! Ha! Perhaps we’ll split the difference. Nah, I’m going to let it offset the next time I go over.

Since it’s the beginning of the month, it was time to restock the freezer!

Every few weeks I like to do an extended cooking session of make ahead and freeze meals. This has become such a wonderful help to our family life that I even wrote a cookbook about the method. It will be available in your local book stores this fall, but you can preorder it on Amazon if you’re so inclined.

My grocery shopping this week reflects this mission to feed the freezer — and my family. I made a cooking plan and then set out to divide the grocery list among the stores with the best deals on those products. That took me to several different stops. I put the produce box on vacation so we could catch up with what we already had and clear some real estate in the refrigerator.

Here’s how it broke down:


Walmart is my place for random purchases. But, it’s also typically the place for a low price if I don’t know of a sale or good deal elsewhere. They also sell bags of this unbleached and non-bromated flour, so I bought ten pounds of it, along with beans, soap, travel size toiletries, paper plates, and cooking oil.

Total spent $28.


Vons is giving my old favorite, Ralphs, a run for its money. Since I signed up for the Just for U program, I’ve been really amazed at the good deals. I can log into my account and load discounts onto my card. This week butter and Tillamook cheese, both hormone-free, were calling my name. While I was there I grabbed whole chickens, tri-tip, and pork ribs on sale as well as a myriad of fresh produce.

Total spent $99.


Costco is a dangerous place. You have to be as gentle as a dove and wily as a fox. I went with a list and tried to stick to it. Among my purchases: yeast, chocolate chips, vanilla extract, lots of tortillas, turkey breast, mozzarella, milk, frozen potstickers, chips, crusted and diced tomatoes, oil, and carrots.

Total spent $187.

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s holds a dear place in my heart, especially for convenience foods. Since I knew I was going out of town for a few days without the fam, I knew I needed to leave enough convenient, fun food to please the masses. I bought cereal, crackers, rice cakes, kefir, yogurt, and a few odds and ends.

Total spent $77.

Obviously, this is a lot of shopping. But, with freezer cooking and four days with Mom out of pocket, it was necessary for sanity and convenience. But, the freezer is full and my purchases for the rest of the month will be for produce and dairy and maybe a co-op order of flour.

So, I think we’re good.

Total Month to Date spending: $391.

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  1. I am as happy to find bargains as the next person, but I won’t shop at Walmart because of their unfair employment practices. Though Trader Joe’s and Costco aren’t unionized, they still treat their employees better, so I do shop there on occasion. I try to balance “cheap prices” and “fair and ethical business practices” as much as I can. I would like to buy things from people who are able to make a living wage for their labor–it’s better for the community.

  2. I agree with you completely regarding Costco.. I sure have to watch myself in there.
    I cant tell if those are the macaronis or noodles there in your picture, but the noodles are AWESOME! They were sampling them one day.. They boiled them up, and then drained & sprinkled a generous amount of Kraft Dried Parmesan in the green bottle over them, and added pepper. Ohhh My!! I never tasted any noodle I liked as much. Im not a noodle fan at all actually but that was to die for. We have this a few times a year, even me, and Im gluten sensitive.. I’ll deal with a few days of pain for a few bites of yumminess!

  3. Thanks for the details! I like how you described your Wal-Mart shopping, because that’s totally me. Random inexpensive stuff. I do like Aldi for most of our staples, and Trader Joe’s is stinkin’ fun to shop at – if only for all the great colors, lol.
    Do you still get your CSA produce box?

  4. Amanda Patton says:

    How much did you pay for the cans of black beans at Wal-Mart? I just purchased a case at Costco and I believe they came out to .56c a can. I was hesitant wondering if Wal-Mart had them cheaper, but we rarely shop there.

  5. I laughed. Walmart is my place for random purchases, too! I really wish we had a Trader Joe’s nearby. Maybe someday… Anyway, way to save – and way to cook, Jessica!

    • Jessica says:

      @Kristen, Trader Joe’s is really wonderful for healthier foods. It’s their non-GMO/no artificial colors, etc guarantee that keeps me loyal. There’s so much “fun food” there, that it could be pricey if I weren’t careful.

  6. You should check the beans price. There’s currently an instant rebate. Ymmv of course! We just had a major Costco restock and a few extras (pineapple habanero sauce, salmon burgers, a pretty scarf) snuck their way in… In addition to our pricier purchases ( cashews, Feta, pork shoulder) we spent 250!I didn’t need rice but they had lundberg organic short brown (don’t normally have it) and I had to buy that too. My fave!!! On top of buying a new bed and mattress for my oldest we spent a ridiculous amount this week, groceries and otherwise. Largely all planned though. Sigh.

  7. Cant wait for the cookbook will we be able to buy it from the kindle store or is it just a paperback/hardback book?

  8. FYI, I heard Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s are owned by 2 brothers.

    I LOVE ALDI’s for the staples and do most of my shopping there. Black Beans are always $0.55/can there. Can’t beat it.

    They also now carry Burrito size soft tortilla shells. 8pk. for $1.19 (here in Charlotte, NC).

    I made 25 lunch burritos last night (chix and beef) and froze them for my lunches for the coming weeks. CHEAP!

    • Jessica says:

      Sort of. I researched that heavily years ago. TJ’s was started by an American guy named Joe, how appropriate. Later he sold the company to one of the German brothers who started Aldi. They aren’t currently owned by the same corporation. Here’s the wiki:'s

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