Grocery Geek: Challenge Continues

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grocerygeek-gceSo this week, without the produce box, was a little easier to shop for. I even had grocery money left over. But, we also ate a lot fewer vegetables than we do when we have the box.

I could save money by not getting the box anymore, but I think that would represent a step back for me in our journey toward better nutrition. Having a weekly delivery of fruits and vegetables exposes us to seasonal produce as well as strange produce. And, of course, I love it that it’s all super fresh and straight from the farmer. Sometimes, it takes more than dollars to make sense.

If we really didn’t have the funds, I’d probably have to let the box go. But, as we do have the budget room, I’m keeping it for a number of reasons. Cheapest is not always best.

That said, I think that I can put the box on vacation a little more often to help us “catch up” and use everything before it spoils. Confession: I still have a butternut squash from months prior and my fridge is full of eggplant.

Today marks the last day of my “official pantry challenge”. I’ll still be taking my calculator shopping with me. It makes no sense to scrimp for the last two weeks and then go stock up on things next week. But, I won’t be blogging our meals everyday.

Here’s how the week’s shopping went down:



Sprouts had some pretty good sales on produce. I tried to hold myself back at the same time as give myself options. Milk and eggs were not a great price, but it was an early morning run, and I didn’t feel like going to more than one place.

I wish I had looked at my receipt when I was at the store. I think I was charged for the wrong tomatoes. Ugh.

  • milk $3.29
  • eggs $1.99
  • melons $0.88 ea
  • xlrg avocado $1.50
  • limes 5/$1
  • nectarines $0.88/lb
  • organic tomatoes  $2.99/lb
  • bell peppers 3/$1
  • bananas $0.67/lb

Total spent: $17.20

Trader Joe’s

trader joe's pantry challenge

I took three kids to Trader Joe’s early in the week. That was interesting. They weren’t too privy to the Pantry Challenge, so their requests for this and that were sadly disappointed. That’s life, I’m afraid.

Here’s what we did get:

  • rolled oats $3.99
  • cereal $1.99
  • crackers $2.29
  • rice cakes $2.49
  • spaghetti $0.99
  • butter $2.99/lb
  • quart yogurt $2.49
  • eggs $1.79/dozen
  • milk $2.99/gallon
  • bread $1.99/loaf
  • diced tomatoes $1.99
  • almonds $4.99
  • chocolate chips $1.99
  • baby spinach $1.99
  • baby lettuce $1.99
  • flour $2.99
  • cheddar $2.55/wedge
  • coconut milk $0.99
  • sunbutter $4.99

Total spent $60.22

It turns out I didn’t make granola from the rolled oats or use the chocolate chips, coconut milk, or sunbutter, but I had planned to use those things. Another proof of how the pantry gets restocked even when I don’t intend it to.

Trader Joe’s again.

trader joe's

On date night, hubs and I bopped into TJ’s for more milk. We also got cereal, bagels, and apples. I need easier breakfasts for the kids especially since I’m going to the gym in the mornings.

  • cereal $1.99
  • apples $2.99/2 pounds
  • milk $2.99/gallon
  • bagels $2.49

Total spent: $17.43


free salad organic girl

By the end of the week, I was all out of salad greens, so I used the free coupon I had from Organic Girl (got it in conference swag a few months ago) to get free salad. Salad Girl loves that!

Total spent: zero

This week’s total lands at $94.85, just a smidge under the budgeted $100. There are still eleven days left in the month, so I’ll still need to be careful. We’ve got $225 plus that extra five bucks to go through the end of July. I’m pretty confident we can swing it, if we’re careful.

Weekly total $94.85

Monthly total to date $394.87

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  1. This week we went to the farmers market and stocked up on fruits and veggies for the week. Also we grabbed a gallon of milk so we are at about 245~250 of our 300$ budget (including dinners out). I have a feeling that we will go over the budget but ill try my damnedest to make the last 50$ last ten days. If it was just me I could definitely do it, but the hubs “doesn’t want to feel deprived”. I’m continuing the pantry challenge through Labor Day and trying to keep the hubby from whining too much. Next month. I’m going to try for a 250$ budget (out of a normal 600$)

  2. Shannon says:

    I have noticed over that few weeks you seem to buy eggs multiple times during the week. I understand the protein part, but wondered if you had priced out buying then 18 at a time or buying more than a dozen at a time.

    • Jessica says:

      Good eye. 😉 To be honest, I’ve been holding out for a deal. A few months ago, I was able to score organic eggs for under $2/dozen. It happened several weeks in a row, but hasn’t happened this month at all. So, I’m buying as needed until I find a really good deal. Then I will stock up. One time I bought ten dozen at once.

      That said, the 18-pack is $3 and the 12-pack is $2. Makes no sense. They are the same price.

      • Marlaena says:

        Have you thought about checking the farmers markets in your area for eggs? Or an add on to the CSA? I know not all of offer that, but it may be a most cost effective solution. And as an added bonus–you can’t beat farm fresh eggs! Just a thought…

        • Jessica says:

          Great idea! I wish it were cost effective, but they are $4 to $6/dozen. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Eggplant was always one of those veggies we had trouble eating up until someone told me about Weelicious’ Eggplant Patties. Now, we have no trouble using them up!

  4. Harriet says:

    I so wanted to buy a spaghetti squash today. The cheapest price was $1.50 lb and the smallest one they had was almost 4 lbs. Couldn’t see paying almost $6 for one. Grapes continue to be around $1.38 – $1.50 so I keep buying them each week. No bargains whatsoever this week here in the stores!

  5. Heather M says:

    Can’t get over the 0.88/melon or 3/$1 peppers. amazing! Can’t find melon under 2.99/each. And when peppers are 0.99/each, it’s a steal. Lucky CA produce prices.

    I spent $80.93 this week. Still well under my $400 goal for July. I have to take dinner to a family w/a new baby on Tuesday, and want it to be full of good, healthy, and fresh items, so will have to shop for that. Otherwise, just picking up what we need to make it through the next 2 weeks. Don’t need anything to go to waste while gone in August. Want it to be emptier around here, actually. I think I’ll have to bake a bit, and perhaps make pudding from a box sitting in my cupboard, so we have dessert without having to buy ice cream, etc. We’ll see how this week goes.

  6. always the tension between eating frugally and eating well – a hard line I try to walk too – good for you making a decision that makes it work – reading you blogs daily tells me you’ll be happier with one less produce box every so often – sometimes it seemed like just more pressure when you already were overstocked.

    I think you’ve done beautifully in this challenge – I hadn’t really intended to do one right now, but with the kids home for summer I find myself shopping less anyway – haven’t been to the store at all this week except the deli for the working kid’s lunch meat to pack. Shocking LOL

    • Jessica says:

      Last year, I did put one week on hold each month. I haven’t done that lately, because I’m afraid I’ll miss something good. But, it’s time.

  7. Growing up and my entire adult life, I’ve despised eggplant.. My mom “did it to me” and I was never going to change my story.. Then I had baba ghanouj, loved it & then found out what it was.. ACK! 😉 Ok.. I decided I liked it that way… then my girlfriend Didi posted this recipe on her blog.. I tried it & adored it!! Even sing its praises.. People who know me are confused.. cuz they know I despised it and wondered who I really was.. I must have been swapped with an Alien.. But its that good! And easy… heres the link to her recipe.. If you dont let the kids see it, they’ll never know.. 😉

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