Grocery Geek is Back

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Grocery Geek: a weekly report of how one mom of six feeds her family a mostly whole foods diet.Hey y’all! Did you miss me?ย I know that the weekly Grocery Geek feature here is a favorite for many readers. Sorry for the long absence.

I took a hiatus for the fall months. There was so much on my plate that I really had to delegate more things around here. That meant hubs did more shopping, the kids did more unloading, and I did less of everything.

It seems like we’ve been in survival mode for months with book deadlines, bad backs, illness, and now holidays. There is always something, but I’m ready for things to slow down.

So, with the start of the month, here’s the report on the shopping I did to feed our family of 8. Remember that there are two middle-aged adults, a 16-year old boy, a 13-year old boy, an 11-year old boy, a 9-year old boy, a 7-year old girl, and a 5-year old girl.

It’s been awhile since I really crunched our grocery costs. Remember, survival mode? 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.

Grocery Geek: a weekly report of how one mom of six feeds her family a mostly whole foods diet.

Trader Joes

I picked up some basics at Trader Joe’s on Sunday.

  • whole wheat bread $1.99/loaf
  • Cliff Bars for hubs $0.99 ea
  • sunflower oil $3.99
  • cilantro $0.99
  • organic apples $2.49
  • canned light coconut milk $0.99 each
  • garbanzo beans $0.89
  • black beans $0.89
  • applesauce $1.99
  • crushed garlic $1.99
  • sundried tomatoes $1.99
  • cashews $6.99
  • almonds $3.69
  • vitamins $4.99
  • cabbage $1.29
  • Brie $3.71
  • pop tarts (feeling like a yes mom) $2.49
  • cereal bars $2.99
  • Israeli couscous $1.99
  • farro $1.79
  • cereal $1.99/box
  • whipping cream $1.29
  • baking powder $2.29
  • green onions $0.99
  • feta cheese $2.79

Total spent: $84


For some reason the Target picture wasn’t in focus. Picture three packages of Starbucks coffee ($6.99), 4 large cans of chopped green chiles ($0.67/can), large can of hominy ($1.37), and a package of hummus ($2.99).

Total spent: $26

Grocery Geek: a weekly report of how one mom of six feeds her family a mostly whole foods diet.

Produce box from Abundant Harvest Organics

This week’s box included: spinach, potatoes, apples, lettuce, cilantro, zucchini, cauliflower, kohlrabi, spaghetti squash, sage, collards, and radishes. I promptly gave the collards, radishes, and kohlrabi to my neighbor. We have a lot of veg backing up and I need to share the wealth.

Total spent $38


We splurged on sushi at Ralphs on Friday, just to try it. I also got a few other items. Sorry, no pic.

Total spent $12

Recipe Project

In the past,ย what I reported each week did not include some special ingredients that I bought for recipe testing. I am currently developing recipes for a large project due in June, so there are some things I just “have to buy”, whether the price is right or not.ย I’ve debated back and forth with myself whether or not I should include those purchases in my weekly reports. My purpose in sharing my purchases is to give you examples of what things cost here in San Diego, how to buy them economically, and generally how to feed a large family on a budget.ย Would it be helpful for me to share those ingredient purchases as well? I’m not convinced that it would serve the purpose of this series, so I’ve waffled back and worth.

However, in the name of full disclosure, I’ll share the dollar number, if not the picture and full run-down. This week I was too tired to take a picture. When I was at Ralphs, I found that a lot of ingredients for The Project were on manager’s special, so I snatched them up to store in the freezer for now. Even if those items aren’t already regular favorites — they are EXPERIMENTS — we will eat them instead of other meals on a particular night, so I’m going to include these in my reports.

Total spent on cookbook ingredients: $74

Spent this week: $234

If the USDA average costs are correct we are still well under our weekly allowance for grocery money. (We ate two meals out this week, totalling about $65.)

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  1. I LOVE these posts! Sadly live in Canada and miss my trips to Trader Joe’s when visiting our son … Brings back the best memories! Please keep them up!

  2. I’ve missed the grocery geek! It’s my favorite. Your posts are inspiring and wonderful to read. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Yay! Grocery Geek is back! I say don’t worry about including special projects in the weekly round up…they are projects, and not part of the regular menu. I am a little torn though.
    My own curiosity (nosiness?) makes that hard to say. That will all come out in time, so don’t make it harder on yourself now.

  4. I love Trader Joe’s. I bought cashews, hummus and cereal there last night.

  5. YES! Grocery Geek where’s waldo back in full force.
    I don’t need the project recipe ingredients and prices – they’re not in keeping with usual grocery shopping strategies.
    Do you have a summary of the past few months? I’m curious about how the budget went with somebody else doing all the shopping.

  6. Kim in AZ says:

    I’ll swim against the stream as a fellow ‘survival mode mom’ – include the special project ingredients! That way, you don’t have the extra work of portioning them out on the pricing OR have to take them out of the photos. Delegate to he kids to unload and photo ready the shopping trip, snap photo and move on! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I LOVE love LOVE your Grocery Geek posts – not sure why I enjoy them so much but I do. I think it’s the fact that our families are similar and it makes me feel that my grocery spending is thrifty (we are 15 yo B, 13 yo B, 10 yo B, 8 yo G, 5 yo G, 3 yo G, 18 month old G) ๐Ÿ™‚ I love seeing what you can buy without reverting back to coupons and processed foods.

    • You make a good point on the sorting, etc. That’s always been a pain. As long as you folks understand that it’s not always how I would “normally” shop.

      I use some coupons for Ralphs occasionally since they are one of my go-to stores and send me coupons for things I actually use. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. I too have missed your grocery geek posts. Since I’m in central CA, our grocery prices aren’t too different. We’re a family of three (60, 63 and 90!) but we have our 11 year old grandson every day after school and he and our son stay for dinner once or twice a week. I also have our other adult children (2 plus their spouses) and grandchild living nearby. We can have from 2 to 10 for dinner at a moments notice. I try to keep things in the fridge/freezer than can be made up quickly and can stretch.

    I love subscribing to Abundant Harvest. This weeks basket was HUGE! I find by having my produce delivered to my workplace (our boss lets us receive the delivery in our shipping and receiving dept.), it keeps me out of the grocery store. I have your roasted vegetable soup simmering on the stove right now as I wanted to use up the produce that stacked up over the holiday. I feel AH has made me a better consumer and better (also healthier) cook.

    Keep posting your grocery geek posts!

  8. Welcome Back!!!! Sure did miss you!

  9. Love, love, love Grocery Geek posts and so glad to see the posts return!

  10. Yay! My favorite series on here! Keep ’em coming.

  11. I love reading these posts. Even though I live across the country (in Florida) and our prices are NOTHING alike (we are ALWAYS higher here!!!) it is interesting to me – and it gives me ideas. ๐Ÿ™‚
    As far as ‘to share or not to share’ on the special stuff: do what is EASIEST for you!!

  12. I’m glad Grocery Geek is back too! Have you tried the Cookie Butter (by the peanut butter) at Trader Joe’s yet? Truly an impulse purchase with no redeeming nutritional value what so ever, but very yummy.
    We are going to do Grocery Challenge in January, right?

  13. I too love Grocery Geek and am thrilled to see it back!

  14. Heather M says:

    WOOHOO! You’re back!!! So happy to come home from a super busy day and read this (long workout at gym all morning, a few errands, holiday brunch, holiday bazaar at the HS where daughter was singing w/Madrigals all day, hour plus drive to another holiday party, drive back, buy a christmas tree in 5 minutes cuz snow/ice is coming all day tomorrow and we NEED our tree before next weekend, drop it at home while son changes for his late indoor soccer game at 9:20pm, PHEW!). This is the perfect end to a busy but really good day!

    I’m a big Trader Joe’s fan. Was thrilled years ago when my beloved CA institution opened its first store in the DC area within 10 minutes of my house. Now we have 3 within 15 minutes. It’s a staple for us, along with Costco (which had opened the year before I moved here, also my beloved CA Price Club) and a regular grocery store. We have similar shopping habits, Jessica. Though I have a much smaller family, just a 17yo daughter and 12yo son, and a husband. So happy to have you back!

  15. I hadn’t looked at that USDA food guide in a while. I have no idea where they get their prices from. We eat a lot better than beans and rice, even if we don’t eat a bunch of steaks and lobsters. We still are 40-45% below their thrifty amount. Even when I was making 3x the salary I have now and was a lot more liberal in splurges, we STILL didn’t average their thrifty level. Unbelievable!

  16. Glad to see Grocery Geek is back (and hoping the back issue is better)! I say include special ingredients and just asterisk to note its “special”. That’s what I do with my dads stuff since its sometimes easier to do one trip instead of two. WELCOME BACK GROCERY GEEK!!

  17. Glad the Grocery Geek is back! Enjoy reading these even though my family is a little smaller! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. So glad to see Grocery Geek is back! I love these posts!

  19. Yay grocery geek is back! Love these and the pantry challenges. I think the idea of marking with an asterisk is good.

  20. so happy this series is back! Yes it’s been missed so very much!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ happy holidays to you and your wonderful family! xoxo mandey

  21. Love the Grocery Geek posts, but they kind of depress meโ€ฆcan’t figure out why grocery prices in San Jose, CA are so much higher than in San Diego!

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