Grocery Geek: Goodbye, February

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Grocery Geek: Goodbye, FebruaryIt’s been a crazy week on the home front. I was computer-less for quite some time. It was like one of my children was gone. Clearly, I need help.

Then the oven broke! A few weeks ago, it locked itself while I was making Lawnmower Taco and then turned to high heat. That casserole cooked in about ten minutes at 1000 degrees. I thought it was a fluke. But then pizza burned one night and I thought it was the wine hitting me hard. (I’d only had a few sips). And then the lemon bars were goopy.

When the oven locked itself three times in an hour and turned to high heat, we knew it wasn’t just me. Or the wine. The repair man came on Wednesday and we’re back in business.

But, to be a food blogger without an oven or a computer? That’s like having two broken arms! I enjoyed the mental break, but I’m glad to be back.

Here’s how the month ended for grocery shopping:

Trader Joe’s

After FishBoy11’s karate testing on Sunday afternoon, we cruised by Trader Joe’s for the basics: bread, milk, eggs, sour cream.

Total spent: $19


At Walmart I grabbed some things I needed to test a recipe.

Total spent: $11

Random Sprouts stops

Grocery Geek: Goodbye, February

I made a few stops at Sprouts for regular meals as well as cookbook testing: fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy. Sorry no pictures for some of them. Did I mention it was a crazy week?

Total spent: $38

Produce Box

Grocery Geek: Goodbye, February

We are only getting the produce box about twice a month. It’s been a little iffy as to what’s in there that we really love. And I hate for things to go to waste. It seems like the portions are still pretty generous, so one box does last at least ten days. Alternating seems to work well for us.

Total spent: $43


Grocery Geek: Goodbye, February

I made a huge trip to Costco near the end of the week, so technically, many of those purchases count towards March instead of February. It seems like a ton of stuff. But, honestly? I really don’t enjoy going. It seems like such a chore. So, I bought enough to hopefully hold us over for several weeks.

Plus, we’re going to try an experiment: I’m going to feed my family sugar-free for 40 days (sugar-free = no beet sugar, cane sugar, or corn syrup). Maple and honey are still legal, so we can bake. I’m not sure where I will draw the line in terms of charcuterie/cured meats which inevitably have sugar, but we’re going to see how we do. We have good friends who are very intentional with their diet during Lent. We watched them from afar and been inspired.

I’m not fooling myself that this will be an uber-spiritual experience. Family eating is complex. If we stick to it, no doubt I’ll be on my knees in prayer. The main reason I’m telling you this, is that my grocery shopping may look different over the next six weeks. I bought a super-expensive bag of apple chips to hold in reserve for those days when everyone (probably me) wants a sweet treat. Things like that. I bought lots of fruit, both fresh and frozen, so that I can make more juice and smoothies over this time.

My main goal is to see if we can do it. My kids have been great sports about our food changes so far. In fact, a few weeks ago, several children told me that Cheetos now make them sick. I call that a win! My 9yo lamented to me, “I don’t like the way those foods make me feel, but I have SUCH good memories of eating them.” I hope to help him make more good memories, only with food that we can all feel good about.

Total spent: $359

Total spent this week: $470

Total spent in February: $1193

Like I said earlier, much of this food was theoretically shopping for March, so “theoretically” our March total will be offset by going slightly over budget in February. Not going to worry about technicalities. My pantry, fridge, and freezer are full going into March. We spent $661 in January, so our monthly average for the year is $927. Not too shabby when I’ve got a cookbook to write in an itty-bitty bit of time.

For those just tuning in, this is the post each week where I report real live grocery numbers. According to the most recent food cost data from the USDA says we should be spending between $1211 (thrifty) and $2422 (liberal) for a family of our size and composition. My current target is $900 for meals prepared and eaten at home. My husband eats some meals out for lunches on work days. We eat one meal out for date night as a couple. And our family eats about one meal out per week.

We are accommodating one child’s nut allergies as well as one mom’s aversion to processed foods. It’s an interesting mix.

Since I’m currently working on another cookbook — buy the other two here — there are some ingredients that I am buying that I wouldn’t necessarily be buying this particular week. I typically buy things at rock-bottom prices and stock up. But because recipe development calls for a more generous and varied pantry, I have to supplement from time to time. I’m reporting those purchases in this weekly post so it does jack up our monthly spending a little bit.

So, that’s the report. I’m glad to be back in the saddle.

How was your grocery shopping experience this week?

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  1. Since I was under the weather all week (thinking sinus infection at this point) I stayed out of the stores, thankfully. Hubby did make 2 stops himself, one at ALDIS for $19 and the other at Publix for $35. I can deal with that 🙂 That Costco trip looks familiar to me along with the dollar amount 😉

  2. I have been wanting/thinking a lot about changing my family’s sugar/oil and fat intake. But I’m finding so many conflicting things. Do you have any resources to recommend to get legit info?

    We make a costco trip every 6-8 weeks. (We live very rural so it’s a major stock up). Our carts, yes we usually have 2, are filled to the brim. But, it does last us weeks.

  3. Harriet says:

    I had a lot of male help at the grocery store today. They have put hubs on the DASH diet. The chemo makes his blood pressure really high so he is now on 2 different BP pills. The doc wants him to drop 20 pounds and see if his bp will come down so he can take less meds. (You have no idea how many pills you take to counteract the effects of ONE chemo treatment. It is ridiculous!) Anyway, this meant he tagged along to the grocery store and picked out his fresh vegetables, lean meats and nuts. It cost a slight fortune, but it is way better for him to do this if it will mean less pill popping.
    I spent the morning cutting up heads of cauliflower, broccoli, an lettuce. Then boiling and peeling eggs, cooking chicken to freeze for lunches, and slicing peppers to go with his hummus. Needless to say, he is well prepared for the week and his mind is set to get it done.
    I guess that was a long way of saying we spent more than usual at the grocery store this week.

    • Amen to more money spent at the grocery store if it helps bring healing! That was a lot of work, but I know from experience how wonderful it is to have that done. I think our school plan for the afternoon may be Kitchen 101. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • I’m all for spending more at the grocery store if it means cutting down on the pills! I hope his chemo is successful.

  4. Oh my goodness! I’m so glad you’re back. I’ve missed you this week! I’d LOVE to try a MAC! Give us a review after you’ve used it awhile……

  5. I love my mac. 🙂
    Not much grocery shopping happened around here until Saturday – and then, boy howdy, did it happen!!! We’ve all been sick, so our appetites are slowly returning. It’s just been a little of this and a little of that for the past few days. It may take a couple of days to return to regular meals.

  6. Our freezer is suddenly pretty full again, too. There was a sale on ground beef, which I hadn’t bought for 4-6 months, so now there are a couple meatloaves, some mini meat muffins, and a bunch of taco meat in there. I also bought a pork shoulder roast for pulled pork — the meat definitely bumped us over budget this month. We also seem to have a surplus of sweets: between some donated leftovers from an event and Girl Scout season, there are SO many cookies in the freezer!

  7. Danielle says:

    I’ve had some good luck substituting dates in recipes. I’ve made ice cream sweetened with dates and I also made some brownies that way too. I too gave in to that expensive bag of apple chips at Costco for the same reasons. They’re really good.

  8. Heather M says:

    Boy this month ended not so well. I lost track of spending because we got really busy and I also got really sick. I don’t do viruses well, because I get asthma and have awful sinuses. So let’s just say I shopped often and lots of places and spent more than usual and did it all with no meal plan. I’m feeling better finally, though the sinuses are still active. We have full everything. Full. Stuffed. Luckily I haven’t had to toss much of anything but a few nasty green onions, the end of a head of celery, and a moldy lemon. I worked with what I bought and made it work. And sent the family out for takeout several times. But, stuck home again today due to the weather and I think I’ll start meal planning for the week and find new ideas for beyond, based on what we’ve got, but assuming fresh purchases later too. I might even stretch and pull out the years long dusty bread machine and start making dough in it, just like you, Jessica. I want to try homemade pizza, rolls, etc. The family loves bread, I’m trying to eat less carbs, but hey. This would be healthier either way. We’ll see how I do… I’ve now lost 66 pounds and have only 3.6 to go to my original goal. I’ve tacked on an additional 10, so really 13.6 to go. Need to be careful if I’m going to make bread. But, that said, i’ve been thinking about pulling out the bread machine for a long while. Maybe today it’s time.

    • Great job on the weight loss, Heather! That is so exciting. I’m teaching my daughter (7yo) to use the bread machine. I’m thinking she could do it every day and that would make for a good snack or something for the kids.

  9. Michelle says:

    Funny thing is that a cousin of mine is just talking about going on a sugar free diet for Lent! Are you going to blog about your sugar free diet for 40 days? We don’t ‘observe’ Lent but would love to follow along and try it with my family to try to break some bad habits and to see how we feel. And I’d point my cousin to your blog!

    • I was thinking about it, but I don’t want people to think that we’re trying to be super spiritual or “better than”. I’m trying to keep it on the downlow, but obviously, it’s impacting our meal planning, my shopping, etc. Thoughts on that?

      • Michelle says:

        I wouldn’t think that you are trying to be ‘better than’ anyone. Many of my co-workers observe Lent and I never felt that they were trying to be ‘better than’, nor did they make me feel like that.

        I would think of it like when you did the Whole 30, just trying something new healthwise for 40 days this time and it would be involving a whole family. Just so happens it coincides with Lent. I would think anyone would like more tips on how to cut back on sugar since that is a popular topic now days.

        • Thanks. As I munch on a few chocolate chips after lunch, I’m wondering if we can really pull this off. Oy! I suppose a little internet accountability couldn’t hurt, eh?

          • I agree if you handle it like the whole 30 it should be a good experience for everyone – I’d be interested to read it!

  10. I would love to read more about your sugar-free challenge! I’ve been wanting to cut back on our sugar intake, but haven’t quite figured out how.
    “We are accommodating one child’s nut allergies as well as one mom’s aversion to processed foods.” Yup that pretty much sums up my life, too! Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. We had a few splurges this month but still came in $6 under my budget goal, so I’m quite pleased. (I have the budget goal amount I really want to keep under, and another amount about 12% higher that is generally closer to reality. Under the higher amount is considered successful, under the lower amount is gleeful. LOL. For the YTD, we are at 85% of the lower amount. I love pantry challenges!)

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