Grocery Geek

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

Grocery Geek | Good Cheap Eats

Hello grocery fans! Everyone’s favorite reality show is back! After months of fatigue and health-related issues, I’m hoping that I can get back in the swing again of sharing our grocery shops. Not because they are so fascinating, but so that you can see that you’re not alone in this battle against high grocery prices.

Sometime in January or early February, we are to have our house tented for termites, so we will need to for sure do a Pantry Challenge in the new year. I figure making sure I share our grocery shopping for December will help you better understand what we’ll be working with when the challenge starts.

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 profileGrocery Geek | Good Cheap Eats

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:


I love Ralphs Grocery. I sit between two different locations, about 2-miles from my house in different directions. One has a great selection of wine, cheese, and deli. The other has friendly staff, a brighter layout, and great markdowns. I go to the former only when I need fancy cheeses and can’t get to Trader Joe’s. The latter is my bestie.

Here’s what I got this week:

  • generic lasagna noodles $1.09 after ecoupon
  • canned mandarin oranges $.89 (not a typical purchase, but it’s what my daughters love going to Red Robin for. I figure two cans of fruit was cheaper than the whole family going out!)
  • Oreo cookies  $2.99 (to make these magic bars for Christmas)
  • marshmallow creme $1.79 (to make fudge – recipe coming next week!)
  • mini chocolate chips $2.99 (for Christmas biscotti)
  • shredded cheese – I returned it because it was caked with non-caking agent
  • elbow macaroni $1.29
  • sweetened condensed milk $1.59 (to make these magic bars for Christmas)
  • evaporated milk $.99 (to make fudge – recipe coming next week!)
  • canned pinto beans $1.99
  • gallon milk $2.49
  • coleslaw mix $1.19 after ecoupon (new recipe)
  • marked down vegetables $.99 each
  • Wonderful almonds $3.50 – expensive but the only kind I can find not cross-contaminated with other nuts (my daughter is allergic to walnuts and peanuts)
  • 5 pounds clementines $4.88
  • 10 pound russets $3.99
  • eggs from the Golden Goose apparently $4.29
  • bottled juices $1.99 (I don’t typically buy juice, but this is a good price and it’s cold and flu season, so I’m stocking up)
  • horseradish $3.59 (for holiday dishes)
  • COUPON $5 off $15 produce
  • COUPON $4 off $40 order

Total Spent $46

Grocery Geek | Good Cheap Eats


I have a love-hate relationship with Costco. I love some of the products; I love some of the prices. I hate some of the products and pricing. I really don’t like shopping there; it makes me tired just to think about it.

However, this week, we may have found a solution. My car needed gas and since the stations near our house are sketch and FishPapa said he didn’t want me going to sketchy gas stations and since Costco is the cheapest gas in town, we went together. He dropped me at the parking lot – no walk! – while he got gas. I shopped. It was after dinner so no one was there. By the time he was done pumping gas, I was done shopping. Win-Win.

  • 1/2 gallon organic heavy cream $9.99
  • 4 pounds butter $10.99
  • Aidells chicken and apple sausage $13.89
  • Kirkland tuna (8 cans) $14.49
  • case organic tomato sauce $7.99
  • huge bag Babybel cheese $10.99
  • 3 pounds frozen organic cherries $9.99
  • 2 gallons milk $4.39 ($2.20/gallon)
  • organic eggs $3.50/dozen
  • large turkey breast for sandwiches $13.97
  • ~5 pounds ground beef $18.50
  • 2.5 pound Tillamook cheddar blocks $8.99
  • avocado oil $8.79
  • 2 loaves whole grain bread $4.59
  • COUPON Yearly rebate $108.12

Total Spent $55


(Not pictured)

  • cumin $4.24 after ecoupon
  • sweet potatoes $4.82
  • apples $.42 (new recipe)
  • golden raisins $4.49 (new recipe)
  • grape tomatoes $1.99
  • romaine lettuce $0.99
  • cilantro $0.69
  • mushrooms $2.29 (new recipe)
  • bananas $2.04
  • red pepper $1.50
  • onions $1.87
  • garlic $0.50
  • cucumbers $0.99 each
  • organic sandwich bread on mark down $1.99

Total Spent $31

Grocery Geek | Good Cheap Eats


This was a trip where I went off list because there were coupons and deals that would work out if I was spontaneous. The trick in doing this is making sure you work the deal for things you would use normally and that you don’t let your kids drink all the juice in one sitting. Ahem.

  • paprika $3.49 (I need to find this in bulk because we go through a lot)
  • frozen spinach $1.49 after deal (new recipe)
  • Heath toffee bits (for these cookies)
  • Welch juice drink – FREE Friday download
  • Ocean Spray juice drinks $1.99 after deal
  • mayonnaise $2.99 after ecoupon
  • cereal $1.99 after deal
  • flap meat $13.85 (to make homemade carne asada for these burritos)
  • Aidells mini sausages $4.99 (to make these healthier pigs in blankets)
  • hot Italian sausage $2.99 after deal (new recipe)
  • frozen shrimp $8.99 (new recipe)
  • COUPON $5 off $15 fresh meat purchase

Total Spent $53

Total spent this week $185

I bought a fair number of items for the Christmas and New Years holidays, lots of baking things that we wouldn’t normally have on hand, plus quite a few things for new recipes I’m developing.

Total spent this month to date $185

How are your grocery geek adventures going?

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  1. Last week I went to the one grocery store by my parents house while they watched my 3 boys. Free babysitting!!! I snagged two rotisserie chickens marked down to $3 each. That night I shredded it all and put it on paninis with leftover roasted veggies. I put the bones in the crock pot and the next night used the broth and chicken in chicken pot pie. I had enough to make one for dinner that night and one for the freezer plus 6 pints of broth for the freezer. Totally accidental freezer cooking so I was thrilled. Icing on the cake was that my kids gobbled up the pot pie.

  2. I am so glad to see the Grocery Geek postings back! I really missed them. Looks like a great savings week for you. Enjoy!

    • Aw, thanks for saying so. I am not sure I saved as much as possible, but we survived. 😉

      • Jessica, remember a lesson I learned years ago, some days or weeks surviving is a victory! We must survive the hard times to enjoy the good times. I too am glad to have another grocery geek posting. I share your love hate relationship with Costco. Have you tried their canned chicken? We don’t care much for tuna, but the canned chicken is one of my favorite last minute saves when making quick suppers.

        Also, have you checked the pasta in the Mexican foods section of your regular grocery store? At my regular store the little 7 ounce packets are 25 cents so 14 ounces of pasta are only 50 cents. That isn’t quite a pound, but it’s close and much cheaper than the pasta aisle pasta. The choices are limited but include spaghetti, elbow and shell macaroni. Also includes something called fideo that looks a lot like broken up spaghetti and works great in soup or could be used in pilaf. The size works for me since there are only two of us and I can open more than one package if cooking in bulk. Thank you for all you do.

  3. Is it weird that I like to see how other people shop? I live in Boise Idaho with a family of 4 ages 40,39,15,12. I spend $600 a month and that includes cleaners and stuff like paper towels. I shop at Costco once a month for $100-125 and the rest weekly grocery shopping. I don’t use coupons just buy things on sale, and I got to at least 2 different stores. I work from home so I try to cook most meals but we love to eat out. It’s interesting seeing how much people spend on groceries. Thanks for sharing!

  4. For the paprika try Penzey’s or find someone with a Sam’s Club card to pick it up for you. Sam’s is where I get my paprika and it’s around $7 for 18 ounces.

    • You can also buy bulk paprika at an Indian grocery store.

    • We don’t have Sam’s nearby, and Costco has been hit or miss with their spices. I will need to check there again. Thanks for the reminder.

      • If you want to checkout Indian store.. There is a shop on miramar road “miramar cash and carry” you’ll find variety of Indian spices for good price

      • Heather M says:

        I was going to say, Penzey’s has the best quality spices/dried herbs, etc. They opened one in San Diego, but it’s down in Hillcrest. You can buy in bulk, and online. For the quality, their prices are really good. the larger the package, the better the price. I recommend checking it out. They are pretty much my only provider of anything spice related now. Luckily, our local one is right up the street! I managed to sell my mom on them and she will stock up on things when she’s downtown in SD.

        • I was going to recommend Penzey’s for spices too! If you sign up for emails or their catalog, you get great deals all the time (free shipping after only $20 – regularly after $30; free spice with purchase, sometimes just a free spice (no purchase required!). You can get lost for hours looking through all their spices and spice blends.

        • Oh, I’m such a bum. I never leave the North County if I can help it, or if hubs is driving. Ha!

  5. So glad you are back and hopefully feeling better. We’ve missed you. I did a lot of shopping this week too but think we are about done and will eat good this holiday season. lol

  6. For the paprika purchase Frontier organic brand paprika on Amazon using Prime (1lb $11.87). I use Frontier spices exclusively and used to buy them on Amazon. (Now my local organic buyer’s group places a Frontier order every two months with wholesale pricing which is sweet.) You might check locally with organic buying groups and see if a Frontier group is in your area.

  7. Welcome Back!!! I LOVE Grocery Geek!!! Missed it!!

  8. I buy my spices in bulk from a website called the Webstaurant store. I love smoked paprika and they have a great price, but all of their spices are really amazingly low priced. Btw I too love to see how other people grocery shop!

  9. I love grocery geek!!! I truly find the everyday lives of other ppl, especially those whose life situation is very different from mine, interesting. I am in the lower midwest and have no kids.

    What is flap steak? skirt steak?

    looking forward to more posts, and the pantry challenge!!!

  10. Tastycook says:

    I’m with many others here – I find other people’s grocery shopping fascinating. We must be a weird group. The other post I find as interesting is the Frugal Friday post that happened in the fall. Again, it just intrigued me what others manage to do. Thanks Jessica.

  11. My grocery geek score for the week was 8 lbs of white sugar for $1.33!

  12. Count me in as part of the weirdo category, lol. I find it fascinating. I’ve spent $100 this month. My norm is $450 including paper/cleaning products for three adults and one 13 yo grandson every day after school. Man, can that kid eat!

    I’m trying to eat up the meat from the freezer and as many pantry items as possible this month. There are always really good sales on chicken after the first of the year so I want to be able to stock up.

    Tonight I made homemade turkey noodle soup. Leftover frozen bird from Thanksgiving, made the stock from the carcass and assorted veggies from the veggie bin (I got 6 qts. of stock out of it), and noodles from the pantry. Good, cheap and filling.

  13. Heather M says:

    So happy you’re back! love love love hearing about what other people buy and how other people eat. All of your features where we all can comment on food really are the best! Although, I sure do love your recipes and stories. Pretty much everything here.

    Hope you’re continuing to be better.

  14. I enjoy seeing everyone’s deals too!

    My deal for the week was a shopping spree at our Kroger. They offered $4 off when purchasing 4 items. Between their sales and my coupons, I spent $4.34 on two 4 lb packages of Domino sugar, one 32 oz bottle of International Coffee creamer and a tub of Turkey Hill ice cream.

    I’m trying to hold to spending $12 week for December. My stockpile is maxed out and need to eat down some of what I have stored in my freezer and panties.

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