Grocery Geek Comes Home

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After a month of shopping in French and English grocery stores, the grocery geek is home! And ready to fill up the fridge.

empty refrigerator

This is what I woke up to on Wednesday morning: a very empty refrigerator. Look at all this lovely white space! I was loathe to fill it up, but kids gotta eat, you know?

We flew in from London on Tuesday night. We’d been gone for a month, so the cupboard really was bare. I’ve got plenty of stories — and recipes — to share from our month in France. We ate very well and are bringing home some diet changes that I think will be good for us. I lost weight and inches eating French food and walking every day. I’d like to keep a good thing going!

Right before we left, I froze anything that lingered: half bottles of jam, minced ginger, half a loaf of bread, bags of shredded cheese. The deep freeze was empty and unplugged, all the random bits stashed in the side-by-side.

I cobbled together breakfast for the kids — who were WIDE AWAKE by 5 am — from the bread, jam, butter, and some of those French toasts that come in a box. Yes, I carted most of my leftover groceries home from France since I couldn’t bare to waste them!

Time to restock.

I didn’t want to go full bore and fill things to the brim. One, it would be expensive. Two, I like all that white space. I took a quick inventory of what we had, browsed the grocery ads for loss leaders and headed out to the stores.

bacon prices

I was a bit taken aback by the high price of bacon. Before I left it was between $4 and $5/pound. Now it’s up to $9! Heavens! I’ve heard that butter has gone up, too, but I didn’t need butter, so I didn’t even look at the prices. It should be an interesting holiday season if that is the case.

On the flip side, I was pleased to find a few bags of organic chips on clearance for a quarter a bag. We’re trying to maintain the French style of eating in courses, so I thought these would work well for a small aperitif item. I also grabbed some clearance breads to stash in the freezer. Day-old bread goes so well in so many things!

I shopped two stores (Ralphs and Sprouts) in the space of 90 minutes. Of my favorite regular stores, these are the two that are closest. I allotted myself a $250 budget on food this week. Here’s how it went down:

clearance bread


  • bone-in pork shoulder roast $1.99/pound
  • pork country strips $2.49/pound
  • canned beans (large) $1.59
  • milk $3.49/gallon
  • organic green pepper $1.50
  • broccoli $0.99/pound
  • cauliflower $0.99/head
  • pears $0.99/pound
  • bananas $0.69/pound
  • marked-down mushrooms $0.99
  • organic fuji apples $0.99/pound
  • organic garbanzo beans $1/can
  • Fage yogurt (large) $5.99
  • organic half and half $2.79/pint
  • cage-free eggs $3.29/dozen
  • marked down breads $1.29 to $2.29/package
  • organic pop chips $0.25/bag

Total spent = $64

small cheeses


Since I wasn’t going to Costco where I typically buy cheese, I picked up smaller pieces from Sprouts. The smaller amount will get us through until I can buy it at what I hope will be a better price. I also got fairly strong varieties of cheese so that I could easily get by with less.

Although I know homemade broth and stock is better and cheaper than commercial, for the sake of expedience, I picked up a few cartons of Pacific organic broth. There was a special deal when you bought five items, you got $3 off. This worked out pretty well for packaged broth.

I also found bacon ends on sale for half the price of the pretty bacon.

bacon ends

  • baby carrots $0.99/pound
  • russet potatoes $1.50/5-pound bag
  • baby yellow potatoes $2.99
  • cilantro $0.33/bunch
  • garlic $0.33/head
  • grape tomatoes $1.50/box
  • jalapeños $0.99/pound
  • green onions $0.50/bunch
  • lemons $0.50 each
  • organic jonagold apples $1.49/pound
  • organic super greens $4.99/large box
  • organic cucumbers $0.99 each
  • red yams $0.99/pound
  • yellow onions $0.49/pound
  • yellow squash $0.88/pound
  • organic ramen noodles $0.99/package
  • organic canned tomatoes $1.50/can
  • organic tomato sauce $1.50/can
  • organic broths $1.46 to $2.15/carton (there was a special promotion when you bought 5 items)
  • assorted small portions of cheese $1.70 to $3.50
  • rolled oats $0.69/pound
  • bacon ends $3.99/pound
  • lean ground sirloin $3.99/pound
  • pork sausage $3.99/pound
  • chicken breast $2.99/pound
  • chicken legs $0.99/pound

Total spent = $97

Week’s grocery total = $161

It wasn’t a bad week. How’s the grocery saving going for you?

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  1. Did you shop at Carrefour while in Paris? I loved that shop!

    • We were in France for about three weeks. We shopped Carrefour in Collioure (that’s really all they have); Monoprix in Paris because that was closest to our hotel; and E. Leclerc when we were on the road. They have amazing BIG stores often with cafes and free wifi.

  2. Wow, I can’t believe how inexpensive your food can be. I’m surious about how you want your family to maintain some habits made in Europe. Will you write a post about it?

    • Yeah, it’s much cheaper than there, but the quality is not the same. I bought emmental from the deli and it’s not as good as even the cheap stuff from Monoprix. Costco and Trader Joe’s have better at better prices. Definitely going to be writing about it all.

      • When I was in Canada the food was good but a bit bland. At Wholefoods there were interesting products but WAY too expensive. In England, it is way cheaper than here but bland as well. I mean supermarket stuff. Seems that once it is “farm fresh” or artisan the price skyrockets, while here it is often the opposite!

        • The same is true here. My produce box stuff tastes way better than what I buy in the store. But, your grocery store has our grocery store beat. The cheapest fresh eggs I was buying for a couple euros had ORANGE yolks. Our cheap eggs are much lower in price (about 1/3 less) but they don’t have the flavor or color at all. I’d probably need to pay $4.50 for the same quality egg.

  3. So happy to see you bought the biscottes back! I’m glad I’m not the only non-french person to enjoy these! I used to be able to make a box last a very long time, but now the kids love them so they don’t last long:(
    Can’t wait to hear all your foodie news from France. We are so much closer but our food differs so much and I’ve know many french people who put on weight when they come to the UK then it ‘disappears’ once they go back to France!

    • I lost weight in France, as did my husband. But, he says he gained five back in London, thanks to the fish and chips and sausage and mash. We also splurged and ate at Zizzi twice. He, of course, ordered really BIG items. Ha!

      I don’t think the food is so very different, but the amounts are perhaps and the style of service.

  4. Welcome back!! I completely forgot that you were going to Europe. Cannot wait to hear all the stories, and how it has changed your eating habits. I read the book ‘French kids eat everything’ last year, after hearing an interview with the author. The French really have the right attitude towards food, a respect and almost reverence for good, and healthy food. From the book I gathered that this is deeply engrained in French culture. And French kids DO eat everything, no special kids’ meals, no bland mac and cheese, none saying ‘oh, my kid won’t eat vegetables’.

    • We ate at two French restaurants during our trip. Both had kids meals, but they were definitely fancier, “french” meals. They were different than the adult fare (i.e. pizza or meat patty and fries), but they still had French tweaks. Needless to say, not all my littles loved them.

      I read that book, too, and it spawned a little more courage where vegetables are concerned. 🙂


  6. Heather M says:

    Yay I’m so excited you’re back!! And so excited for your related posts! And also jealous of your produce prices. But that’s Ca for you. 🙂

  7. So excited to hear that you traveled to France. You just went on my dream trip and I can’t wait to hear all the details!! One of my favorite cookbooks is Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris” and my family has loved most things that I have tried. Just wish I could get a handle on the American “supersize” portions!?!

  8. Allie Zirkle says:

    Love this!!! I have never bought bacon ends. I need to try this! Butter is finally on sale at my Kroger this week so I will make space for 10 lbs to get through! 🙂 I’m looking forward to the round up of ideas from your trip.


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