Grocery Geek: April Mid-point

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Grocery Geek: April Mid-point - How our family feeds 8 people for less than the national averages.We are coming up against crunch time for me. I’ve got a summer FULL of deadlines that make me break out in a rash just thinking about them. I had a little emotional breakdown this week thinking of all that looms ahead of me. My husband and I put our heads together to see what could be taken off my plate. We decided grocery shopping could be one of those things.

So, starting Friday, we’ll be sharing the responsibility. This means that our bill might go up and photos for these posts might be sporadic. I’m sure you understand. We’ll keep plugging along and see how we fare at the end.

As for grocery shopping this past week, here’s the report:

Grocery Geek: April Mid-point - How our family feeds 8 people for less than the national averages.


I’ve been using Amazon’s Subscribe & Save for about a year now, getting my toilet paper delivered every month so we never run out. Hallelujah. In the fall, I started using it for groceries. I didn’t report those purchases because The Grocery Geek went on hiatus in the fall months. Here are the items that I’ve stocked recently

  • Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flakes (4-pack case): $10
  • Unsweetened, Organic Sunbutter (6-pack case): $34
  • Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour  (4-pack case): $15
  • Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (4-pack case): $14

Total spent: $73

Trader Joe’s

Grocery Geek: April Mid-point - How our family feeds 8 people for less than the national averages.

I have been trying to reduce my number of errands during the week, relying on Trader Joe’s for the bulk of my purchases. It’s not the cheapest game in town for everything, but it’s reasonable with a quality I like. I did a big stocking up for recipe testing items so that I’d have them on hand when I needed them. They weren’t always budget-priced because having it on hand was a priority over waiting for a sale.

  • vegetable broth $2.29
  • taco shells $1.99
  • ak-mak organic crackers $1.69
  • jalapenos $1.29/8 oz
  • sunflower oil $3.99/liter
  • salsa verde $1.99
  • organic rice cakes $2.49
  • corn tortillas $0.99
  • frozen naan $2.29*
  • golden raisins $2.69*
  • dried cherries $5.99
  • frozen chicken tenderloins $6.99
  • flour tortillas $1.99
  • organic tomato paste $.89
  • canned parmesan $2.69
  • cocoa powder $2.49
  • frozen tilapia $5.23
  • frozen cod $5.24
  • proscuitto $3.99
  • organic tomato sauce $1.49
  • black beans $0.89
  • hot pepper sauce $1.99
  • cheese $4.61
  • string cheese $3.49
  • organic all-fruit spread $2.99
  • organic sandwich pickles $2.99
  • cheese puffs $1.99
  • pomegranate juice $4.49*
  • crushed garlic in the jar $1.99
  • ground turkey $4.19
  • baby carrots $1.49
  • organic peppers $1.33 each
  • organic baby spinach $2.99
  • mushrooms $1.99*
  • snow peas $2.29*
  • harvest bread $1.99
  • organic granny smith apples $2.99/2 pound bag
  • almonds $3.69*
  • pineapple $2.99*
  • sourdough bread $2.99
  • half and half $2.29
  • eggs $1.99
  • milk $3.49

Total spent $230


Grocery Geek: April Mid-point - How our family feeds 8 people for less than the national averages.

I made a quick trip into Ralphs for meat that was on sale. It wasn’t a great price but, again, I needed it for a recipe I’m working on. That’s my life right now.

  • cheese $2.50/8 oz. (i know. ugh)
  • milk $3.29
  • avocados $.98 each
  • organic strawberries $3.50
  • organic canned beans $1.00
  • fage $3.49
  • eggs $2.99
  • beef sirloin and tri-tip $4.97/pound (i know. ugh)

Total spent: $54


Grocery Geek: April Mid-point - How our family feeds 8 people for less than the national averages.

FishPapa made this run for me on his way home from work on Friday. He stuck to the list, bless his heart, and even alerted me to a really high-ticket item which we decided not to get. Love that man!

Here’s what our Costco trip looked like. Mooo…..

  • milk $6.75/two gallons (NOT really that much cheaper than elsewhere. Humph!)
  • Tillamook sharp cheddar $3.51/lb
  • Tillamook medium cheddar $3.34/lb
  • ginormous container of Fage $6.39
  • butter $2.24/lb
  • salt $2.79
  • pinto beans $.79/lb
  • sour cream $4.45
  • sourdough bread $3.39/2# loaf
  • babybel $9.99 for LARGE bag
  • frozen organic berries $9.99
  • heavy cream, organic $7.39

Total spent $100

Weekly total: $457

MTD Total: $729

So, there we are for the week. If I didn’t write cookbooks on tight deadlines, I think we’d probably spend less. But, I don’t have the opportunity to eat from the pantry when I need to be more creative.

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.

My guess is that we might be closer to national average this month, but all in the line of duty….

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 — and testing out meal plans, 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. We are finally getting trader Joe’s here in south Fl but none close enough yet. Costco is coming up this week for me … we have lots of people in town AND Easter Sunday … I don’t see $100 though 😉 … thanks for sharing the Grocery Geek report!

  2. I can not imagine spending almost 500 in one week on groceries! I break out in a sweat when I’m stocking up and spend around 100! Of course I’m also only feeding a husband plus 2 little girls, 4 & 2. I love seeing your totals and such every week

  3. I totally get where you’re coming from with the big kids with adult appetites – and more than mine – I can see where it’s too much trouble to separate out your ‘business’ groceries from the regular too – so don’t you or anyone else get freaked by the numbers – it’s an investment at the very least in your future income 🙂

    • Thank you for reading between the lines and understanding. I want to be transparent about what we are “eating”, but because my work involves food, it’s hard to explain. Many of these things are not things I’d be buying this next six weeks. It will continue throughout the summer since I’m taking all the photos for this next book.

      • That’s my point – these are no more real numbers than those perhaps for a newly made mom of triplets who’s not doing her own shopping, or someone on a business trip who’s husband is getting takeout because he’s just no good at the kitchen. I feel your guilt LOL – let it go – real life will return and you’ll have a new ‘baby’ to show off soon enough!

  4. Does the amount for food costs by the USDA , “all food” , i.e. eating out, or just groceries purchased?
    do you include things like papertowels, detergent, occasional cleaning supplies in the groceries. those are things I pick up at the store while I am there grocery shopping. It is waaaay too much work to pull those costs out when keeping track of things.

  5. I have 1 boy going through a growth spurt but both boys eat more than their parents. I sized up my grocery spending for the last week and its $180, but that was with some stocking up and monthly items. So the rest of the month should be less than $50 if they don’t eat the $30 worth of cheese in 2 weeks. I should add that my fridge and its accompanying freezer were completely empty on the 1st.

  6. Jessica, I’m curious …. what you spend on groceries for recipe testing. Does that all come out of your pocket or does the publisher give you an allowance? Sorry for asking, I’m just genuinely curious how it works.

    • It comes from our “pocket”. I don’t know how it works for all authors, but I get half my advance when I sign the contract and half the advance when I finish the book. It’s a set amount of money to compensate me for producing a book. In real life terms, that translates into buying ingredients, time spent in the kitchen, time spent writing and editing. If the book does well, then I might receive additional royalties beyond the advance, but those are a long time coming due to the reporting periods in place. Hope that makes sense. Feel free to ask! I have learned so much I didn’t know through this process and am blessed to have signed four book contracts. Crazy!

  7. Omgosh Jessica I can’t believe I have spent less than you so far :). You are a good teacher! plus we are only a family of 5 with a huge restaurant total ugh. :)).

    I love looking at your shopping items and how few snacks. I have biiiiig boys who eat all the time..:))

    Happy April – winter is over PTL….

    • HA! You will spend less than me this month, that is my guess. I want the assurance that my kids aren’t “hungry”. (I know this is a first world definition, but I think you get what I mean.)

  8. My groceries this month have been thankfully low. I’m at only 25% of the budget even though it is almost 50% of the month. This is very good news for me, as some of my other expenses have been quite excessive this month (courtesy of a car accident which required a body shop and an insurance deductible and two weeks of car rental but thankfully no human injuries) so I need everything else in my life to be below budget right now.

  9. I had no idea that Amazon could be so cheap for flour. I’ll have to check it out. I’ve got some baking project planned for the next month before it gets hot here and I really don’t want to turn on the oven. Other than that, we’re overboard on the budget because I just stocked up on organic ground beef at a local farm. In order to get the discount price, you have to buy 20 pounds and it was more than your tri-tip per pound. I am working on planning my garden so that’s a bonus for the summer!

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