Grocery Geek: March Ends Already?

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Grocery Geek - A weekly report on how one mom feeds her family of eight healthier, real food on a budget.Here we are at the end of March. My fridge is bursting at the seams. I’m currently feeling a little anxiety about all that fresh produce that could go bad if I turn my back, even for a second. I’ve been shopping with the mind to make sure I have what I need to recipe test and feed voracious children.

But generally the week hasn’t really obeyed my plans so this is par for the course.

I’m honestly feeling a little overwhelmed about the weekend and all it holds and all I should be doing. Spending extra time in the kitchen prepping veg is part of the plan. A tea party with my girls is, too. And a hockey game. And I’ve got that looming book deadline. June 1 will be here before I want it to. It’s almost April!

It’s so hard to divide my time rightly between kitchen, writing desk, and good life stuff.

At least we have groceries! Here’s how the shopping went down this week:

Trader Joe’s

Grocery Geek - A weekly report on how one mom feeds her family of eight healthier, real food on a budget.

Last weekend after making the meal plan for the week, a couple kids and I headed to Trader Joe’s. There are several locations near us, but each is a bit of a drive. I have to make my shopping worth the gas and time.

  • shredded wheat $2.69
  • chicken tenders $2.79/lb
  • sunflower oil $3.99
  • fage $3.49
  • harvest bread $1.99
  • unsweetened freeze dried strawberries (hockey boy treat) $3.49
  • tortillas $1.99
  • eggs $1.99
  • organic applesauce $2.49
  • string cheese $3.49
  • organic celery $2.29
  • almonds $3.69
  • bananas $0.19 each
  • proscuitto (unsweetened alternative to pepperoni on pizza) $3.99
  • cucumbers $2.49
  • brie $3.95
  • organic romaine hearts $2.49
  • organic bell peppers $1.33 each
  • green onions $0.99
  • organic carrots $0.79
  • bag limes $2.79
  • organic sugar snap peas $2.99
  • baby carrots $1.49
  • organic baby spinach $1.99
  • mushrooms $1.69

Total spent: $109

Psst. If you’re looking for a Trader Joe’s meal plan where all the work is done for you, you can download This Week’s Dinners for $70 or Less meal plan over on Life as MOM.

Sprouts unpictured

  • asparagus $1.98/lb
  • broccoli crowns $1.25/lb
  • tomatoes $0.98/lb
  • avocados $1.88
  • organic spring mix $4.99
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • potatoes $0.99/lb

Total spent: $28

Produce Box

Grocery Geek - A weekly report on how one mom feeds her family of eight healthier, real food on a budget.

Our produce box from Abundant Harvest Organics was full of lovely things: carrots, chard, green garlic, beets, kale, fennel, romaine, oranges, tangelos, tomatoes, apples, strawberries, savory, and potatoes.

Spring is here!

Total spent: $44


Grocery Geek - A weekly report on how one mom feeds her family of eight healthier, real food on a budget.

Midweek I took FishBoy13 clothes shopping this week because he’s growing like a weed! While we were at Target, we got a few grocery items.

  • Peet’s coffee $7.99
  • feta cheese $2.49
  • tomato sauce $1.37
  • shrimp $9.49*
  • fage $2.49
  • milk $3.59

Total spent: $43

Tomato sauce has been really tricky, so I splurged on the organic variety that doesn’t have extra junk in it. The shrimp is for a recipe I need to test. It was delicious, but I didn’t love the price.


Grocery Geek - A weekly report on how one mom feeds her family of eight healthier, real food on a budget.

I  buy Safe Eggs for making mayonnaise and true caesar dressing. The kids didn’t know that, so someone used them up for breakfast one morning, necessitating another purchase. I also stocked up on bananas, some miscellaneous produce purchases, and chicken.

  • buttermilk $3.99
  • pasteurized eggs $3.79
  • clearance crackers $0.99
  • chicken tenders $2.49/lb
  • cilantro $0.34
  • cuties $2.88/3#bag
  • bananas $0.69/lb

Total spent: $29

Weekly Total: $253

Total for March: $875

So, there we are for the month. Not too shabby considering almost every meal has been eaten at home and we’re going without sugar. (You can read more about our sugar fast here and here and how it’s saving us money here.)

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. An added wrinkle this month is that we are avoiding added sugar, allowing only honey and maple as sweeteners.

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.

How was YOUR grocery shopping experience this week?

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  1. I’m sure we went overboard this month but we’d been eating down the freezer and pantry pretty steadily.

    Enjoy living in a city! We have one Trader Joe’s in our state, not too far from the one Costco. It’s about an hour drive if there’s the slightest bit of traffic. As a bonus though, we do have some nice farmer’s markets in the area and once snow is no longer in the forecast, they will have more than root vegetables or greenhouse greens.

    • We’ve lived in 4 different towns since we got married, many times without a Trader Joe’s and Costco. I know that we could live without them, but for now, I’m enjoying them. 😉

  2. Jessica …. Do you ever have downtime? How do you do everything you do and how do you find the motivation? I’m always amazed at your accomplishments!

    I spent approx $1000 and I’m happy! I don’t mind $12000 per year

    You have hped me to refine my shopping to include healthy food and not spend a fortune.

    I have discovered most chicken has nothing added like hormones or antibiotics I still don’t buy Tyson? But I can buy on sale chicken now!

    • Yes, but I don’t enjoy it because there’s always a mess to clean up or a deadline looming over my head. I’m really looking forward to the end of the year when my last obligation will be all sewn up. Then, I’m going to Disneyland. 🙂

  3. The monthly total ended up a little higher than I wanted, but some of that was stuff the kid wanted and paid for (although we have both eaten it) and I still included it in the total. YTD is at 94% of planned budget so scrimping in Jan helped keep the balance. Except I just realized I didn’t add in the Girl Scout cookies I bought…

  4. I’m just curious what sprouts is?


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