Grocery Geek: Pantry Challenge Ends

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This was the final week of the Pantry Challenge. We did pretty well; the numbers crunch in a nice way. But, I’m done!

So this was the final week of the Pantry Challenge. I can’t say that it was a stellar performance, but it wasn’t too shabby either.

I tried to stay out of the stores, but we were out of toilet paper. Again. I need to find a really good sale again or just buy a lot because this is getting ridiculous.

Hubby offered several times in the week to go to Costco. I resisted, I tell ya. I did. It was so tempting.

Starting this next week, he’s requested healthy lunches to pack as well as some freezer lunches. And since we’re also getting back into our school routine, I concur. I’ve been jotting down meal plans and freezer cooking ideas, and just itching to go grocery shopping!

But, I’ve resisted. Here’s how the final week shook down:


When ya gotta go, ya gotta go. So, I went to Ralphs for tp. While there I took advantage of their Buy 10 and Save $5 deal which got me fifty cents off the coffee, bottled water, and yogurt.

The water went straight to the garage for our earthquake supplies. Slowly I’ve been stockpiling large bottles to have in case of an emergency. These were $0.49 each.

TP: $18.99
coffee:$5.99-$7.99/package after coupons
milk: $2.55
cheese: FREE after coupons
yogurt: $2.49

Total spent: $54

I went back on a second day after a doctor’s appointment for some pain that I’d been having. It turned out not to be anything serious and the doctor suggested that more protein would be helpful. Between the power of suggestion, the fact that we were out of bread and crackers and had already had pasta every day, and the relief, I stopped to get the fixings of roast beef sandwiches.

I also found some meats on clearance, so I snatched up the ones with great prices.

milk: $2.55
cheese: $1.50
turkey sausages: $2.99
drumsticks: $1.06/lb
roast beef: 8.31
bread $2.49

Total spent: $25


I wouldn’t have gone to Sprouts but for the killer deal on oats ($0.69/lb). I bought a lot of it as well as a few odds and ends to round out our meals for the week.

oats $0.69/lb
eggs $1.49
garbanzo beans $0.99
cilantro $0.34
jalapenos $0.20
organic romaine $2.99/3 hearts
organic celery $1.50

Total spent $19

So, this month I spent $595,  a good $200 what I normally spend on groceries. I don’t think that we missed it, but it was a lot of hard work. I realize that even cooking from scratch is hard if you’re limited on supplies. We came up with lots of great meals, but I know that it would have been easier and meals more plentiful in a different month.

Looking at the big picture

So far this year, our grocery expenses have bounced all around! But since we buy things in one month to use in the next month, it makes sense to average our spending over the course of a year. Here’s how the numbers are crunching:

  • January = $442
  • February = $800
  • March = $1142
  • April = $615
  • May = $820
  • June = $940
  • July = $595
Total spent to date: $5354

Average monthly spending for 2012: $764.84

We’re doing a Pantry Challenge in July.

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  1. You really did a great job – well below your average is pretty impressive.
    I didn’t do nearly as well LOL – I think I shouldn’t DO this in summer when I have NO free time for linear thought, and my days are so chopped up by activities out of the house that I often don’t have time to cook even regular meals, forget challenging ones that use things up.
    I’m thinking I’ll do it in October when the weather is cooler [at least here in NY LOL] and I have more time to cook!

  2. Good savings, it may not be as high as you would have liked, but it still is some savings. Do you have an Aldi’s? I pay $6.99 for an 18 ct pkg of double roll TP-about $7 less as an equivalent to the Charmin you got at Costco.

    • Jessica says:

      @Carol, no, Aldi doesn’t go west of Texas. In the past I’ve played the drugstore game for TP, but since we don’t get the ad anymore, it makes it harder. I just need to keep my eyes open.

  3. Awesome doings!! I actually spent more this month than I have in the last couple, but I also was doing a lot of stocking my freezer. I bought 10 organic stewing chickens, 10# chicken breasts from Costco, 4# of fresh cheeses, 12# of bacon (Indiana Kitchens thick slice for $1.99 each with coupons), 5# grass fed hamburger, 5 doz organic farm eggs, and odds & ends, mostly lime bars for m’honey. 😉

    I think its awesome that you’re stocking water for emergencies. I stockpile some foods as well, but water is something I continually am concerned about.
    When I have room in my canner, I add jars of water to fill the space & have on hand. Somewhere I read that one Mormon prepper has no empty canning jars. They are either filled with water or filled with food. I thought that was quite wise. 🙂

    • Jessica says:

      @KimH, well, that’s interesting. Do you process them to get the oxygen out of the jars? Just a water canner or a pressure canner?

      • @Jessica, Im not sure the Mormon lady canned hers. She just filled them with water & put them on her shelf, I think is what was said. I can mine.. 🙂

      • @Jessica, just wanted to say you can either water bath or pressure can the jars of water, depending on what you are actually canning. That way, you have sterilized water for brushing teeth, etc. It’s a good way to keep extra water on hand and you always have a full canner. 🙂

  4. Great job! The pantry challenge really paid off!!! I’m very impressed. I have 6 children, almost exactly the same ages as yours ( 5 years to 14 years, 5 of them being boys!) and I can’ t seem to get below $1000 a month with alot of work couponing! 🙁

    • @Heidi, did you read the GG post on sourcing a few weeks ago. I really do think that the sources you have available make a huge difference in food costs.

  5. You did good. I’m looking at your numbers and wondering if you’ll end up having to do another mini challenge in September to keep your numbers down through the Holiday season. All in all I’d still say you are doing good if you are buying healthier and still managing to keep costs under $1000 for your family size.

    • @cwaltz, I don’t think I have it in me! September will be super busy and my book is coming out later this year. We will do lots of rice and beans, I’m sure. But, I might just buy canned beans. LOL

  6. Good work! I didn’t participate this month because we have two CSA baskets every week, and I am busy stocking our freezer for the winter. However, I foresee at least two full months of pantry challenge and a few weeks off and on at other times. The only bad part is that my freezer is so full now that I live in fear of losing power and all of my hard work!

  7. We didn’t save quite as much as I’d hoped, but we did well overall. I blogged about our final week here:
    Thanks so much for the inspiration Jessica! I am looking forward to participating in your January pantry challenge!

  8. teresa cunningham says:

    thankful for your report from your dr. years back most of my protein came from chicken or fish, i had cut way back on beef. i was having muscle pain. my chiropractor asked about my diet and explained the health benefit of having some lean beef in my diet. hope more protein is just what you need.

    you did great on your pantry challenge!

  9. Danielle says:

    Have you tried the Kirkland brand TP at Costco? It’s not my favorite, but they recently improved it and it’s a lot better. I can’t remember the price per roll, but the last time I did the calculations it was a good deal and you don’t have to worry about waiting for a sale. For our family of four it lasts quite awhile, just a thought.

    • Jessica says:

      @Danielle, we haven’t done a lot of experimentation. Years ago I did, with some poor experiences. So, I’ve been a little hesitant. You’re not the first person to suggest the Costco brand, so I will give it a try next time. Thanks!

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