Grocery Geek: Middle March

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Grocery Geek: Middle March - Price breakdowns of how one mom feeds a family of 8 on a healthier diet with no added sugar.Sorry, no update last weekend, folks. It’s been a crazy month so far. I’m just fighting the biggest fires and hoping that the rest just die down on their own.

Yesterday I posted on Life as MOM that I believe our sugar fast is helping us save money. I know we’ve hardly used our eating out budget, so I know there’s that. I won’t know until I get to the end of this post if my gut instinct is right or not.

So, here’s the two-week update:


Grocery Geek: Middle March - Price breakdowns of how one mom feeds a family of 8 on a healthier diet with no added sugar.

Early last week, I made a run to Sprouts. It was after being away for the weekend and I just wanted to make one stop. I didn’t get rok bottom prices, but we got some basics to get us into the week:

  • buttermilk $3.99
  • eggs $3.49
  • milk $3.39
  • yogurt $3.49
  • canned black beans $0.89
  • pork tenderloin $2.99/lb
  • chicken $2.99/lb
  • cilantro $0.50
  • pears $0.98/lb
  • limes $1.99/bag
  • organic baby lettuce BOGO $3.49
  • carrots 5 # bag $2.98
  • grape tomatoes $2.99
  • bananas $0.69/lb

Total spent:$48

Produce Box

Grocery Geek: Middle March - Price breakdowns of how one mom feeds a family of 8 on a healthier diet with no added sugar.

I’ve got the produce box set to deliver every other week. This gives me enough time to use it up and also not to be inundated with things I have to be creative with. I’ll choose creative in a few months when life is slower.

The box was beautiful last week: mache, carrots, kiwi, asparagus, radishes, oranges and lemons, potatoes, kale, chard, spinach, lettuce, and beets. It’s all gone now except a few carrots, a beet, and some potatoes.

Total spent: $45

Trader Joe’s

Grocery Geek: Middle March - Price breakdowns of how one mom feeds a family of 8 on a healthier diet with no added sugar.

I did a fairly big restock at Trader Joe’s last Thursday:

  • org rice cake $2.49
  • woven wheats $2.49
  • ak-mak crackers $1.69
  • shredded wheat $2.69
  • chips $2.99 (for substitute hockey snacks)
  • vinegar $1.99
  • eggs $1.99
  • milk $3.49
  • sunflower oil $3.99
  • organic pinto beans $1.09
  • olives $3.49
  • carrots $1.49
  • sweet potatoes $3.99/3# bag
  • artichoke hearts $2.69
  • organic apples $2.99/2# bag
  • harvest whole wheat bread $1.99
  • green onions $0.99
  • crumpets $2.29
  • mushrooms $1.69
  • cheddar $2.99
  • tortillas $1.99/doz
  • avocados $1.29
  • organic peppers $1.33 ea
  • string cheese $3.49
  • onions $0.69

Total spent: $97


Grocery Geek: Middle March - Price breakdowns of how one mom feeds a family of 8 on a healthier diet with no added sugar.

I did a minor stop at Walmart earlier in the week for butter, milk, eggs, flour, cheese, broth, honey, coffee, butter, and beans. A lot of this was for recipe testing.

  • baking powder $1.82
  • honey $3.94 – returning to the store since safety seal was broken
  • coffee $6.98
  • black beans $0.82
  • milk $3.20 and $3.65
  • buttermilk $3.98
  • butter $3.28
  • cheese $4.38
  • sour cream $1.98
  • hominy $0.74
  • org vegetable broth $2.88
  • eggs $2.97
  • flour $5.98

Total spent: $60

Sprouts (no picture)

Sorry no picture.

  • oats $0.99/lb – these ended up wasted in my two failed batches of granola. Ugh.
  • corn flour $1.99
  • chicken $1.99/lb
  • asparagus $1.98
  • cilantro $0.50
  • ginger $0.24
  • jalapenos $0.21
  • organic cabbage $0.25/lb
  • org green pepper $1.25
  • bananas $0.69
  • onions $0.88

Total spent $20


Grocery Geek: Middle March - Price breakdowns of how one mom feeds a family of 8 on a healthier diet with no added sugar.

And again at Sprouts!

  • oats $0.69/lb – on sale now so I can redeem myself!
  • milk $3.49
  • honey $7.99 ouch
  • org potatoes $3.99/5# bag
  • org apples $4.99/3#bag
  • org romaine lettuce $0.98/head
  • organic kale $0.98/bunch

Total spent: $35


Grocery Geek: Middle March - Price breakdowns of how one mom feeds a family of 8 on a healthier diet with no added sugar.

Clearly we are a milk family. More milk! I had my husband pick up the typical Costco purchases:

  • olive oil $22.99
  • organic chicken stock $11.99
  • milk $6.75/2 gallons
  • sourdough bread $3.39
  • organic strawberries $9.99/3# package
  • cheese $8.79/2.5#loaf
  • cream $7.29/half gallon
  • dates $7.29 for A LOT
  • ground turkey $15.90 for 4 packages
  • butter $8.49/4 pounds
  • chili powder $5.49
  • honey $11.69 for three honey bears
  • maple syrup $12.99 for 32 ounces
  • Frozen fruit (not pictured) $9.89 and $9.99

Total spent: $169

2-week total: $474

MTD Total: $622

So, I guess we’re not doing horrible, especially for eating at home as much as we are. Sugar-free products are harder to find, and sometimes more expensive. But, we’re eating well at home, for which I am really grateful.

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. Jessica, we are using more natural sweeteners as well. It has helped, costwise, for use to find someone who produces local honey. We buy big quantities of it from her. They other added health benefit that she shared with me is that the local honey also often helps with allergies and immunity issues. Because it is local, consuming the local honey helps your body develop a natural immunity to what is in the air, and therefore fight off allergy symptoms etc when they arise. Interesting concept. Plus, the honey is so darn good, and I know it’s pure and it’s so awesome to support a local purveyor. 🙂

    • Thanks for the nudge. I’ve found San Diego area farmer’s markets pretty useless since they are overpriced. But, I know there are some local honey sellers there. Maybe I’ll give that a shot.

  2. Love the Grocery Geek reports 🙂 I was wondering why you didn’t pick up the honey @ Costco … then saw the Costco list 😉 … curious how you are drinking your coffee now? That’s my #1 sugar issue. As Always…thanks for sharing!

    • I pretty much gave up sugar in my coffee last year (except for the occasional mocha). If I have cream, I’m good. I’ve also noticed that I like iced unsweetened coffee better than hot unsweetened.

      The honey at the other stores was because I was dreading a Costco run. Instead I got my husband to do it. 🙂

  3. I think the USDA thrifty reports are interesting, because it seems quite generous to me from my budget stand point. I only did one grocery shopping trip this week, and am debating if it is the last one before our baby is born, any day now. I’ve stocked up plenty in the pantry and with freezer cooking, so will lay low on grocery shopping once he is born. Although, maybe he’ll keep waiting and I’ll go grocery shopping again early next week!

  4. Nosy me wants to know if you drink all that Buttermilk, or cook with it?

  5. Just wondering if you ever use substitutes in your cooking/baking? I don’t use buttermilk much, but I’ve seen that you can substitute a cup of milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar mixed in, for a cup of buttermilk. Just seems like that’d be a cheaper option (& if I needed buttermilk, I don’t know if I’d use it all, so it’d be less wasteful I think!)

    • That will get the consistency of buttermilk but the flavor is not quite the same. It’s what I do, since I have never bought buttermilk, and it works, but there is a subtle (inferior) difference in the finished flavor.

      My grandmother and I used to drink buttermilk straight when I was young. Having not tasted it in 25 years or so, I have no idea if I would still like it or not. I almost bought some last week because I’ve been wondering about that, but I was just maxing my grocery budget for the month and really did not want to go over more than the $5 I already was, so I passed.

    • Yep, that definitely is a fine substitute. I find that the recipe doesn’t turn out “quite” the same. I rarely have buttermilk go bad since I use it in recipes as well as baking.

  6. Hi Jessica! Check out this site. I read her blog daily. She is a very good resource for a “real food” diet.


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