Grocery Geek: December Week 3

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Want a peek into our grocery cart? Here’s how I’m grocery shopping and feeding eight people on the cheap.

grocery dec

This was a hard week for me, health-wise, so bear with me if I didn’t get great pictures. We survived. I didn’t follow my meal plan worth a darn, but we didn’t eat take-out except on Sunday night, when I think I should have a night off anyway. Ha!

I feel like we’ve been indulgent this week but since the freezer’s full and I think we’re mostly shopped for Christmas, I’m not gonna worry about it.

Grocery Geek

Here’s the rundown on my shopping this week. As you read, keep in mind who and how I’m shopping:

My grocery shopping profile

To update you on my grocery geekiness:

  • I’m feeding eight people, ages 52, 43, 18, 15, 13, 11, 9, and 7. Five of those people are males. They eat A LOT!
  • I’m shooting for a budget of $1200, per the USDA food cost reports the last time I added up for people of our demographics. I live in Southern California where produce is cheap, but meat and dairy are not.
  • I’m trying to feed us mostly unprocessed foods, with a few “healthier” convenience items thrown in and a junk food splurge* here and there.
  • I work at home and teach six kids, so I don’t have as much time for fiddling in the kitchen as I would like.
  • I no longer use coupons on a regular basis, though I do love the coupons that Ralphs offers.
  • I have at least ten grocery stores within 5.5 miles of my house. It is easy (for better or for worse) to stop at several stores to get the best deals.
  • We mostly eat at home. My husband often packs lunch and breakfast to work, but sometimes has lunch out. We eat out for a date once a week. FishPapa takes one child out to “dinner with dad” once a week. We eat out as a family on average once a week.

Obviously, your mileage may vary. But, I’m constantly amazed at how well we eat without spending a crazy amount of money.

Here’s how the shopping went down this week:

grocery dec (1)


I headed to Ralphs early on Sunday morning. By myself. Yay! Here’s what I filled my sweet little cart with.

  • chocolate chips – I got the dark and bittersweet since they are soy-free – $1.88/bag
  • frozen potatoes – $1.99 when you buy 4
  • canned beans – $1.79 to 1.99 for really big cans
  • frozen spinach $0.99
  • yogurt fridge pack $4.99
  • milk $2.49/gallon
  • chile powder $0.69
  • sugar $0.99 to $1.49 after coupons and specials
  • eggs $4.79/per freaking dozen
  • onions $1.50
  • cabbage $1.29/lb
  • clementines $2.99
  • cauliflower – a small fortune – it was unmarked otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it.
  • sweet potatoes $1.69/pound
  • baby carrots $1.99/2 pounds
  • potatoes $3.99/10pound bag
  • pears $0.99/pound
  • chuck roast $3.77/pound
  • MINUS $5 off $15 produce
  • MINUS $5 off $50 purchase
  • MINUS random $1 coupon

Total Spent $82



Later that day, yes, Sunday, the girls and I went to Costco. We got there when they opened so it wasn’t so bad. Except for the sticker shock.

  • organic eggs $3.50/dozen
  • bananas $1.39
  • organic spinach $3.49
  • ritz crackers $6.49 after coupon
  • rice crackers $7.99
  • pomegranate juice $6.19 after coupon
  • avocado oil $9.49
  • organic chicken stock $10.99/6 cartons
  • Tillamook cheddar $8.99
  • jam $6.59
  • sliced sourdough $3.69
  • uncured bacon $15.99 (WAY too much. Shouldn’t have bought, but it’s for Christmas)
  • goat cheese $6.99/2 large logs
  • asiago cheese $8.99/ginormous wedge
  • potstickers $10.69 – my saving grace one night this week
  • tortillas $3.69
  • bell peppers $5.79/6-pack
  • bagels $4.99/dozen
  • butter $10.99/4 pounds
  • guacamole packs $10.99
  • olive oil $14.89
  • mahi mahi $19.99
  • mozzarella cheese $11.39
  • ground beef $20.35/6+ pounds

Total Spent $250

Trader Joe’s

Sorry! No picture! Hubs went for me and I was too tired when he got back to do more than put it away. He bought multiple packages of all these things.

  • frozen chicken tenders $7.49
  • mushrooms $1.79
  • kefir $2.99
  • pepperoni $2.99
  • salami $2.99
  • brie $4.31
  • eggs $2.79
  • rice $2.99

Total Spent $65


I ran to Target for the coffee deal. I had to jump a few hoops but after Cartwheel coupons, store rebates, and Starbucks rebate, the coffee was $1.99/package.

Total Spent $6

Total spent this week $403

Total spent this month to date $815

So, it’s adding up, but we’ve got $1200 budgeted for the month. We should be fine. There are incidentals I need to buy, like I’m running out of flour and we have company coming this weekend and next, but I think we’re in good shape. No one will be going hungry!

How’s your grocery geeking going?

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  1. I’m sorry to hear you had a tough week:( I’d say you did a wonderful job with your shopping and cooking, and like you said, no one’s going hungry even if you don’t follow your plan exactly.

    I didn’t enter one single store. It wasn’t really planned that way but it was crazy town at the school where I teach as we all prepared for our holiday concert (that went off without a hitch last night!!) hubs went to the store for a loaf of bread at some point to keep the lunch wheels spinning but other than that it was freezer foods I’d made and easy dinners, like spaghetti, pancakes, and hotdogs. Not my best but not the worst either, and we didn’t eat out at all. I will be shopping today however and I think it will be a big one. I also have my final CSA to pick up this weekend.

    I hope you’re feeling better and have a great weekend!!

  2. Whew, my grocery spending is out of control! I have picked up a few items everyday this week as I am still gift shopping also. And I have to go pick up a birthday cake today which gives me a chance to double dip a butter sale of $1.99/lb limit 2. I’m at $193 for the week which is double my weekly budget. I am hosting Christmas Eve, Christmas Brunch and the big meal on Christmas day. I have a few items to pick up next week. It’s a good thing I slowed my roll in November. I predict an early pantry challenge!

    • Well over 30 years ago I read a book by a woman on keeping the grocery budget in line. One of the things she did that has stuck with me all these years is that she had a separate budget for holidays, entertaining and so on. She put aside some money every week to cover these expenses. So she was able to keep within her regular budget for family meals and still have enough for entertaining.

  3. Hope you feel better soon. This is a tough time of year to be sick.
    I hosted our granddaughter’s 8th birthday celebration at our house. She chose her favorite meal-grilled cheese and tomato soup. Yeah for easy on the budget!
    Work has been extremely busy (I am also a teacher like Laura above) so my shopping has been sporadic and has included lots of things I don’t usually buy. Our classroom Christmas party was popcorn, a candy cane, and apple juice so that was affordable. Our Fred Meyers is having Senior Day every Tuesday this month so that has saved some money, plus our Grocery Outlet had Cadbury holiday cookies for 99 cents a box so I bought six boxes. I do not need six boxes of cookies. I’ve already given two away.
    I am looking forward to January pantry challenge to stay out of stores and use things up.

  4. I have everything I need with the exception of milk, and a couple of loaves of bread to last us into the New Year. My budget is up by $106. over normal. I’d say with our dollar dropping like crazy that I am doing fairly well. Part of my overage was stocking up on 4 large tins of folgers coffee. It has been $11.99 a tin in the store the past few weeks. Yesterday it was $7.99 a tin, limit 2. Since Dh had taken me into town He grabbed another basket and picked up 2 tins as well. So I think I am good till about February, even with extra company for the holidays coming and going. I don’t know if it is the Dollar dropping by 30% or icy roads, but many of the store shelves have been empty. Eggs I normally buy were non-existent in the market the past twice I have been shopping. So I went back to buying med. eggs. Dh hasn’t even noticed the difference. Had been getting extra large. So that now will be my normal purchase ( a calorie or 2 less hitting my hips is fine with me, and I don’t even notice the difference either).
    Hope you are feeling much better.
    All the best for a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  5. Sorry to hear you haven’t felt well this week. Ugh. I’ve banned myself from the stores until right before New Years. I have been using up everything and trying to get creative. We never starve… but we do have some creative meals!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  6. So sorry to hear it was a bad week for you. I don’t know if you had some of the crud that is floating around on this coast, or if it was your auto immune thing flaring up, but I hope you feel better now. Being ill is never fun, but dealing with that along with the hustle and bustle of holiday activities is definitely no fun.
    I have not bought anything in the last 11 days, so I’m doing well. I found I had mis-categorized $120 last month so I didn’t actually go quite as crazy on the foods as I thought I had (whew!) and I will be cutting it close, but it looks like I should actually make it just under the line for the annual budget even though I had cut the goal lower than I thought would be possible. I know the kid wants to get a few things that are on sale so it will be tight, but I’m really pleased.

  7. I loved this post while living in NY but I love it even more now that we are in CA!

    We are in the Bay area. I am in shock as to how much more food costs here. I found a store we are happy with, finally . It ain’t Walmart. We feed 9. 2 adults h 9 children 15 -3.

    Your Grocery Geek helps me so much. Thank you!

  8. You spend $1200 a month on food??? Man, I would love to have that much to spend on food. That’s my house payment. You’re lucky you can do that!

    What job do you do at home? I’m a mom to 3 little ones, and I’d love to stay home to work.


    • Like I mention in the post, we have eight people in our family, including three teen boys, one who’s in college. We have no debt, no car payment, no cable, not too many extras. About 20% of our regular income goes to food. I am a freelance writer, so my income in sporadic and not super reliable. We try to save that income for taxes, retirement, and a few “extras”.

      We make a big effort to live on only my husband’s salary. He is a carpenter/project supervisor. You can read more about how we make it work here:

  9. EGGS.
    They are RIDICULOUS, are they not????
    And it’s sort of hard to make much without them….
    (I know that people who have egg allergies do just fine without them, but we are a primarily Paleo house. And that makes it tough.)
    Hope this week is much better for you, and you are able to enjoy the time with your family and guests!

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