Grocery Geek: Well, Hmmm….

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So, I have some good news and some bad news. Which do you want first?

The good news is that I’ve got lots of pickles and jam for the coming months just waiting in the cupboard. Also, if you blend up ripe plums and lemon juice and lemon zest and sugar and churn it in your ice cream maker, it tastes very good and plummy.

The bad news is that I think I’m going over my grocery budget this month. That’s in part due to preserving and making the most of summer produce and in part due to poor planning.

Rather than beat myself up about it, I’m just going to lay out the facts, eek through the rest of the month as best I can, and plan better in July.

So, here it is:

I went to the store four times this week. I had a meal plan, but we kept running out of things unexpectedly. Rather than do one big stock up at Trader Joe’s or Costco, I thought I’d just go by the store for a few things. A few things turned into great deals, but four stops of little things still add up.

Vons #1

We were out of toilet paper. So, I had to go. While I was there, I picked up the brats and butter that were still on sale as well as a few odds and ends to round out the meals for the week.

That ground turkey? I got it for less than a buck. There were all kinds of pricing issues and it was the “best buy” date, so I got it for a steal. I made a really yummy Greek lasagne with it, using spinach, feta cheese, and some greek seasonings.

Toilet paper, on the other hand, is expensive! I stocked up in January, but our supply was dwindling. When you gotta go, you gotta go. So, I paid almost 75 cents a roll! Yikes!


boneless, skinless chicken breast – $1.97/pound
brats – $2.99/package
butter – $1.99/pound
ground turkey breast – $0.62/20 ounce pkg

Total spent on this trip = $33

Ralphs #1

The girls had checkups this week, including shots. So, we headed into Ralphs for ice cream as a treat. (The 5 quarts I bought didn’t make it into the picture.)

Since the doctor appointments took longer than I had expected, I grabbed bread for quick lunches at home as well as some markdowns, odds and ends, and yes, msg-laden chips. It was one of those kind of days.


chicken leg quarters – $1.47/pound
romaine lettuce leaves – $0.99
apple slices with caramel dip – $0.99
Dreyers/Edys ice cream – $2.69/package

Total spent = $45

Ralphs #2

Two days later, we were back at the doctor to read the TB test, and again, I found myself without a lunch plan. So, we got a few more markdowns and sale items on our way home.


whole chickens – $0.79/pound
veggie tray – $4.99
kosher hot dogs – $2.99
eggs – $0.88/dozen
Kettle chips – $1.99 on clearance
organic strawberries – $1.99/pound

Total spent = $40

Vons #2

And then, because I forgot milk at the store earlier, I ran by Vons again on my way home from another errand. Milk is not pictured, but I did buy it! I also got a few of their loss leaders so I wouldn’t be tempted to go back!


limes – 5/$1
tortilla chips – $1.88/bag
bananas – $0.47lb
cilantro – $0.33
avocados – $0.79/each
tortillas – 1.44/30 count package
sour cream – $1.99

Total spent = $20

Total spent this week = $138

Obviously, I could have done the same with one big stock-up at Trader Joe’s. But, I did get a lot of different meats to last us into next month as well as some seasonal items that may or may not hit these low prices again for awhile. We’ve got extra cash elsewhere in the budget, so it’s “fine.” But I was really hoping to stay under my $800 this month.

I’ve put the produce box on vacation next week so I won’t have that added expense. I will still have milk and cheese to buy at some point, but I’m not going to stress it if we go over. We’re already over, aren’t we?

Maybe this is the cost of eating a better diet than we have been doing? (Ice cream and chips purchases excepted, of course.)

Total spent this month to date = $826

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  1. I took dh shopping with me Thursday night. We hit Walmart and Giant and spent about $110 between them and then I spent another $30 picking up our raw milk, eggs, and cheese on Friday.

    While we were out, we talked a bit about our food budget, our increased consumption of fruits and veggies, and what we would spend the food money on. One of the issues we talked about with no clear resolution yet is the storage space versus the amount of fruit and veggies the kids eat. The bananas were gone in 2 days between 5 kids and me. I picked up 2 bunches. I’ll need more fruit by the end of the week. I picked up canned fruit; maybe I use that to finish out the week.

    I need to do some thinking about our food shopping, and your series has been really helpful!

    • @Barb @ A Life in Balance,

      I too have to spend more on fruit but it’s so worth the money when you know the kids are getting natural sugars. I pick up 4 bunches of bananas for 10 of us. I have 7 kids, only 6 are at home and my disabled mom lives with my hubby and I. We laugh because I’ll buy junk foods and the fresh fruit is the first gone.

  2. Don’t beat yourself up, it happens.

    Maybe it’s time to increase the budget? Maybe 850?

    Our regular food budget is 250 year around but I tend to come a little under during the colder months and go a little over during the canning months.

  3. pshaw – with all that canning stuff of course you went over. Not to mention taking two little girls for shots LOL – life is complicated – doing great most of the time allows for these slips.

    Plus its almost July 😉

    I HATE when I forget stuff and have to go back

    You know, the tp thing annoys me, and now when I start running lower I start checking amazon – often I can find a brand we like at a decent price before I run OUT and then I have no must go reason for the store

  4. Melissa says:

    I ALWAYS have to plan on a grocery budget blow out during canning season, but I figure I make up for it in the winter when I hardly have to buy any fruit except bananas.

  5. Tp thing annoys me too. We just got back in town from a road trip ( and the store we shopped at while gone had an amazing deal on TP but I had no room in the car to bring it home….yeah, that hurt). 🙂

    It is hard to stay in budget when the weekly routine is out the window. We’re now getting ready for a week of company…that usually involves many last-minute trips to the store. We’re just going to roll with it. 😉

  6. Are you going to share the Greek lasagna recipe??? That sounds A-mazing!!

  7. It happens. I often joke that I can never go into a store and just buy one thing. That store will ALWAYS take me for at least $20.00 as I see other stuff on sale that I’m out of, or things that I know in the back of my head we need-even if we don’t need it urgently.

  8. The more I work at this grocery budget thing, the more I realize it’s a “ballpark” figure, not a cut in stone figure. I’m a really good cook, and I’m very resourceful, and I’m good at using what I have….so if I go over budget (and canning and freezing is such a justifiable thing! you will love yourself in December!) I don’t feel too bad because I know I am capable of making it all work and that I will use what I buy. And sometimes, you just need some doritoes or some ice cream. That’s life! lol And I’m so with you on the TP thing..outrageous. And what choice do we have? lol I’m the queen of buying the big box of 40 rolls at Sam’s…..that’s cheapest I can get it!

  9. Hasn’t toilet paper become crazy expensive? Last weekend we spent $40 on TP at Target (earned $10 in gift cards) which blew my mind. The scary thing was that was by far the cheapest price – including the Target brand! When on earth did paying $9.99 for a nine pack of the Mega Rolls become the best price? It’s hard to be really stressed about how prices seem to be skyrocketing.

    • Jessica says:

      @BethB, apparently so! I stocked up around the holidays, so I had no idea the price had jumped like this. Time to start watching some sales.

  10. Just saw this blog with a couple of plum recipes and thought of you

  11. We nearly ran out of TP too last week. Long gone are the awesome days of free tp.

    We’re over budget too; maybe it’s in the air? It’s SO HARD to not walk out of a store carrying boxes and boxes of mangos, bananas, strawberries, watermelon… I love this season!

    Kudos on the canning too – the other posters are right, you’ll be thankful when the season is over. And just imagine yourself sipping a hot cup of cocoa and telling the kids to “open a jar” of plums when they’re wanting a snack!

  12. Courtney says:

    The price of TP is just crazy these days! I was recently able to get it for .40/dbl. roll {it was on sale plus I had coupons}, so I stocked up and bought a six month supply. I’m sure prices are just going to continue to go up, so I’m glad to have our “TP stash” out in the garage.
    Of course, it’s not just TP – prices on everything just seem to be skyrocketing. I was in sticker-shock in the produce dept. today – organic apples are $3.49/lb, organic grapes are $2.99/lb., and organic potatoes are $8.99/5 lb. bag. Yikes!!

  13. I have gone over by about $30 the last two weeks, but I have a good excuse, 3 of our 5 family members have birthdays in a span of 7 days, so I split all the special birthday food over two weeks of groceries. Oh and your birthday cakes have inspired me over the years, so this year I attempted a swimming pool themed cake and it turned out pretty good! Thinking about posting it on my blog later this week.

  14. Kim in az says:

    We only buy tp at Costco. It comes out to 50 cents per roll but lasts longer than any other brand we’ve ever bought. I think we go through about one large pack per month for our family of 8. :). We sometimes laugh about how we are literally flushing that money down the drain each month. 🙁

  15. I just get the kirkland brand of TP at costco. I buy it when it’s needed – and stock the heck up the rare times when it’s on coupon. I noticed that organic strawberry jam is back at costco. This satisfies all our jam needs (which are few – i don’t like the added sugar).

    so jealous you can get cilantro for basically zip! we had to start a container garden on our balcony because of the ridiculous price of herbs. at least it’s a great activity for the kids!

  16. You mentioned stocking up at Sams and or Trader Joes once a month. I stock up once a month at Sams that is an hr away. There is a Trader Joes coming at the end of the month to the same town as Sams and I could add it into my Sams run. What are the best deals at Trader Joes verses Sams?

    • I don’t have Sams, so I don’t know. I prefer Trader Joe’s because of their no GMO, no-hormone guarantee.

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