Grocery Geek: End of December

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

Grocery Geek: End of December - How I feed 8 people on a budget in Southern CaliforniaSunday morning, I shuffled through my receipts to see how much I’d spent on groceries during our staycation. This involved hunting down some receipts from hubby’s wallet as well. We paid cash, but it came from one big envelope of spending money instead of a designated grocery envelope. Oops.

The Target debacle is convincing me more and more to be more diligent about paying cash (as in greenbacks) for everything. No one can steal financial information if you pay in cash. Plus, you’ll spend less. More on that at a different date. I digress….

Instead of hunting for receipts, I should have scrolled through my pictures. I found one shopping trip that I seemed to have forgotten: Christmas Dinner. Oops again. That means I overspent my $800 budget for the month. Oh well, I tried. Plus it was the holidays.

Anyway, here’s how it shook down:

Grocery Geek: End of December - How I feed 8 people on a budget in Southern California


I got our Christmas groceries at Ralphs. I probably could have gotten a lot of this cheaper elsewhere, but I wasn’t in the mood to shop around after spending all day Sunday carting children back and forth to Target so they could buy presents in secret. It was all good, but I was done with shopping.

  • whipping cream $5.99 (I know! Shoulda got it at Costco.)
  • cottage cheese $3.29
  • marshmallows $1.25
  • mushrooms $3.69
  • potatoes $2.99 (these were so green, it was a bummer. We had to peel half the potato away, making them expensive!)
  • cider $2.50
  • organic milk $4.49 (my people flipped that I spent that much. I was testing the waters. Ha!)
  • eggs $3.29
  • large ham $0.89/pound
  • candy canes $0.99

Total spent: $54


I have no recollection of going to Sprouts. Well, vaguely. But, I have no picture, so that must mean it didn’t happen? I bought a bunch of meats to freeze and did a one-hour protein power cooking session. That was pretty cool.

  • rice $0.99/lb
  • carne asada $3.99/lb (it was way too sweet; we didn’t like it. Therefore, rip off)
  • ground beef $2.99/lb
  • chicken tenders $1.99/lb or maybe $2.99, receipt doesn’t say
  • cilantro $0.34
  • avocado $1.88
  • limes $0.25/each
  • onions $0.50/lb

Total spent: $64

Grocery Geek: End of December - How I feed 8 people on a budget in Southern CaliforniaTrader Joe’s

Hubs went shopping with the girls on Christmas Eve, while I wrapped and the boys cleaned house. He brought home snacks, milk, and eggs. These items are pretty much all luxury items, but seeing as I had planned for us to go out to eat last week and we only did that once, I figure it’s a win. We gained more than we lots, plus it was fun food.

  • crackers $2.29
  • chips $2.99
  • pita chips $1.99
  • bread $3.29
  • baguette $2.49
  • milk $3.19
  • eggs $1.49
  • jarlsberg $4.94
  • salami $2.99 to $3.99
  • hummus $1.99 to $3.49
  • cookies $4.49
  • Brie $4.15
  • string cheese $3.49
  • bars $0.99

Total spent: $59

Grocery Geek: End of December - How I feed 8 people on a budget in Southern California


I did after Christmas shopping and grabbed some random things from the grocery aisles. We went on an outing later that day, so I grabbed a few things to round out a picnic lunch, again avoiding eating out.

  • chips $1.99
  • bottled water for outings $4.70 (that includes the fee for the plastic bottles. Ouch!)
  • carrots $1.22
  • jalapenos $1.47
  • coffee $6.99
  • beans $0.72
  • fruit cups $2.29
  • bananas $0.24/each
  • cheese $2.49

Total spent: $35

Grocery Geek: End of December - How I feed 8 people on a budget in Southern California

Trader Joe’s

FishBoy13 went shopping with me. Each of the kids is going to prepare an hors’doeuvres for New Year’s Eve (linked below). He hadn’t made his decision yet, so he went along to choose on the spot. He chose corn dogs. Ha!

  • jalapenos $1.29 (for poppers)
  • chips $2.99 (to go with Homemade Onion Dip)
  • shrimp (for Shrimp Cocktail) $12.99
  • tortillas $2.69
  • milk $3.19
  • mini burger buns (for sliders) $1.49
  • bread $1.99
  • olives and pickles (for relish tray) $2.69 to $3.49
  • greek yogurt $4.99
  • organic cucumbers $2.49
  • organic carrots $1.49
  • half and half $2.19 (I know, Costco)
  • ground turkey $2.99/pound
  • cream $2.99
  • eggs $1.49
  • corn dogs too much
  • cheddar $5 for two packages

Total spent: $84

Weekly total: $296

Total spent for the month: $923

So, considering that at least $100 of that was for recipe testing, I guess we didn’t do too badly, especially considering the holidays and not eating out much this week.

According to the USDA Food Cost Report for the year’s average, the thrifty plan to feed our particular family, considering age and sex of each, should cost $1455.30. My target is $800. We went over that Target, but I feel okay with it since we have the cash.

As you know, the Pantry Challenge is coming up later this week. I’m still formulating my plan and my goals, but will be sharing those in a few days. I’ll be posting daily what we eat and how we’re working to save a little extra money in January.

How are YOU grocery geeking this week?

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. Pantry challenge sounds really good about now. My hubby is gone for work for nine days starting the first and it will be just me and my four year old and I’m pretty flexible and I have plenty of food for her to eat. I don’t know if I can make it a whole month, but I could definitely make it a couple of weeks with just buying fresh fruit (she goes through it like a fiend) and maybe some bread and milk. Our spending on food this month has been out of control – prior to that I was doing pretty good. But, like you say, holidays, more time at home and we also ate out a bit less than usual.

  2. I’d love to hear more about your protein power hour! 😉

    We also did sibling Christmas shopping this past week. This is what we found works for our brood of 7 kids (3 boys, 4 girls). Hubby and I split the kids into two groups and each group shops for the others. This year, boys shopped for girls and vice versa. We gave them a $20 per person budget (ouch!) but they can use the total allotment as they chose (ie, one child get a $25 gift and another $15 to still equal out to $40 for two). This year, there was a target toy coupon for $10 off $75 so we allowed each group to use that and spend $65 for 3 instead of $60. ;). Good opportunity to teach maximizing savings and offers. We set phone alarms for an hour and split up – each with a jacket in our cart to hide our stash from the other team while shopping. It helps us stay sane but still allow the kids the fun of buying for each other. We also wrap the gifts purchased in same teams. 😉

  3. I am very envious of your ham price! I have been watching the price at our nearest 2 grocery chains throughout the holiday season, and the lowest it ever dipped was $1.99/lb the week after Thanksgiving. I snagged their last ham at that price, and now they’re back up to a $2.49/lb sale price.

  4. I’m confused – in all your shopping pictures you buy two (2) gallons of milk but in your list you only list one gallon in cost. Why aren’t you figuring in the double expense of the two jugs? Milk is expensive – back here its been going up and up in cost so I can’t imagine you getting two gallons of milk for $3.19. If this is the case, you need to up your weekly grocery totals on these items.

    LOVE your shopping updates, it gives me pause when I do my meager monthly shopping/delivery. I make sure I spend no more than $75 in grocery money – the other $60 in grocery money is used during the month for milk, fresh fruit and veggies – to supplement my freezer stash (which I built back up over the holidays and never used).

    I find that its fun and a challenge to stay within this budget item – I’m only one person but my 4-yr old granddaughter comes for two afternoons a week and I give her lunch and a healthy snack. All out of my $135 month grocery budget.

    Since starting to read your blog, I’ve begun cooking from scratch and using up what I have in the refrigerator – ie, last night’s dinner was left over brown rice, a small head of broccoli and 3 organic carrots mixed with the meat of one bbq slow baked pork chop that I had frozen from dinner last week. Huge meal and left over for lunch today.

    • The price list is there to give readers an idea of how much things cost here. I don’t list multiples or post the final price of weighted items. For instance, I list the price per pound of meat, but not how much the whole piece cost. Think of the price list more like a glimpse at the grocery ad rather than the receipt.

      The total amount at the bottom is what I paid for all those things, but the price list gives you a better idea of how it got there. Hope that helps.

  5. We are doing a modified pantry challenge this week. It will run Dec. 26th through Jan 11th. We need to use the grocery money from that time for some unexpected bills so I am determined to just eat from the pantry/freezer except for milk, eggs, vegs. I actually enjoy the challenge and love seeing things empty out. I can’t wait to hear about your pantry challenge!

  6. Every year after Christmas I start looking for the Pantry Challenge. It makes me organize my pantry and get back in the recipe hunting mode. This will be our third or fourth year to do it.
    I will confess. After It is over, I miss your daily posts and all the replies.

    • Is it the daily posts or the pantry-specific posts?

      • A combination of both during this challenge. It makes you want to stick to it more when others are in the same boat, Or at least that is how I see it.
        Also, this time of year (dark earlier and less hectic) gives more time to read on the computer. Once yard work starts and gardening and baseball season, I have little time for reading blogs.

  7. Was that a shank or butt half ham? The lowest price here in Wa has been 99cents per lb for shank & 1.29/lb for butt half–limit 1. This was at Safeway. I went after church a couple of Sundays to grab 1 ham + any nitrate free sausages that were marked 1/2 off because they were close to the sell by date. I’m needing to do a pantry challenge as well because my whole grass fed beef is hanging @ the butcher’s & will be cut & wrapped later on this week. My grocery budget is similar to yours w/ 8 homeschooled kids. We’re fortunate to live in farm country where fruits & veg are fairly cheap in the summer & the grass fed beef we get is cheaper over all (factoring in steaks & roasts) than conventional beef that’s sold in the stores. You’ve inspired me to keep on plugging away w/ the grocery budget.

  8. Love the idea of each kid making an appetizer! One of my daughters (17yo) rolled my taquitos last night.

Share Your Thoughts