Grocery Geek: March, Week 2

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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 Geek Report: March, Week 2

So, I’m ending this third month of shopping from week to week instead of stocking up. It’s about to drive me crazy. Crazy, I tell ya. I’m thankful the end is in sight.

For those of you just tuning in, back in the fall we heard that our house was going to be fumigated for termites in the new year. When we did our Pantry Challenge in January, my main goal was to eat down our food storage so that less food was at risk and/or had to be bagged up for the fumigation process. (The food can become contaminated with the chemical they use.)

We’ve got our fumigation scheduled for the end of the month, but in the meantime, I’ve been shopping as needed instead of stocking my pantry as I normally would. Couple that with a very busy schedule and not-so-great health and we’ve had some very weird meals and shopping trips. 

All this to say, this isn’t my norm. I have no other explanation for the random shopping that I’m about to report. I can’t wait to get back to regular shopping, cooking, and freezing!

Grocery Geek

Grocer Geek is my weekly report of how I shopped for groceries, what deals I found, and my running total of how we’re sticking to a budget for groceries.

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

grocerygeek-gceTo update you on my grocery geekiness:

  • I’m feeding eight people, ages 53, 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 five of our 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 and college age son often pack lunch and breakfast to work, but sometime have lunch out. My husband and I enjoy 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 ralphs march

Ralphs 1

  • sorbet $1.99 (for recipe testing)
  • whipping cream $3.49 (for recipe testing)
  • cookies $1.99 (for recipe testing)
  • corn tortillas $2.29
  • shredded cheese $1.99
  • salsa $1.99
  • olive oil $8.99
  • sour cream $1.49
  • garlic $0.50
  • lemons $0.79 (for recipe testing)
  • mushrooms $0.99
  • tomatoes $2.29
  • coconut chips $2.49
  • hummus $1.99
  • clearance bread $0.99

Total spent: $41

grocery sprouts march


  • baby carrots $1.49
  • strawberries 3/$5
  • baby romaine $2.26
  • cucumbers $0.50
  • avocados $1.25
  • baby spinach $2.26
  • 3# bag org apples $4.99
  • lemons $2.99
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • canned garbanzos $1.78
  • organic broth $1.99
  • sparkling water $1.69
  • gogurts $3.99
  • eggs $4.39/18 pk
  • deli meats $10
  • italian sausage $3.35
  • ground beef $11.73
  • bread $3.50

Total spent: $90

Trader Joes

no picture, sorry

  • cereal $1.99 to $2.99
  • tomato sauce $1.49
  • org sandwich bread $2.99
  • bagels $1.99
  • frozen chicken tenders $7.49
  • string cheese $2.99
  • pasta $0.99
  • kefir $2.99
  • cashews $7.49
  • yogurt $3.59

Total spent: $56

grocery march 2

Ralphs 2

  • tortilla chips $2.99
  • hot dog buns $1.29
  • tortillas $1.99
  • English muffins $1.99
  • cheese $2.49/8 ounces
  • taco shells $1.39
  • crackers $1.99
  • org tomato sauce $1.49
  • yogurt  $0.65
  • milk $2.39
  • hot dogs $13.99/20 pack
  • salami $6.99
  • herb cheese $2.50
  • hummus $1.99
  • bread $1.59 to $1.99

Total spent: $82

Total spent this week: $269

Total spent in March: $604

That’s not as great as I would like, but as I said, it’s been a random, weird month so far. We’ve spent half our budget for March and have groceries to get us halfway through, so I’m guessing we will be fine. I’ll just need to be careful when it’s finally time to let loose.

How did YOUR grocery shopping go this week?

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  1. I am impressed with how well you are doing without stocking up and with health challenges! Those are conditions that could easily mean going over the budget instead of staying within it. I can identify with the ‘crazy’. It would drive me crazy for sure. I looked at the latest USDA food cost chart and while I haven’t been tracking our expenditures closely, I’m sure we come in under their figure for two older adults. But I mostly cook from the pantry and freezer and rarely buy staples or meat when it isn’t really on sale. I’m still doing the PC because I got overstocked, but don’t plan to really eat either the pantry or freezers down to completely empty. Just much more manageable.

    That said my grocery store bill was higher than usual this week at 59+ dollars. Of course, I had to buy vitamins and OTC meds and they were marked down this week. I deliberately bought them together with freezer wrap and all the dairy and produce for the week so I could use my 5% off the total coupon.

    I’m actually assuming your figure of $1200 doesn’t include non-food items, since they are never in the lists.

    Hope the health problems improve, and soon! Thank you for the time and effort you spend to share with us. It helps inspire us to do our best, also.

    • Thanks so much for your encouraging words, AliceI I really appreciate that. And good for you on smart shopping!

      Correct, I only do food with that $1200 so that I can better compare with the USDA food costs reports. They don’t include nonfood purchases in their estimates.

  2. Did my monthly shopping delivery – and with what I have in the freezer (a lot) and planned meals, I was able to keep my groceries only shopping down to about $60 for the month. My aim is to bring in my grocery-only shopping at or below $135 for a single senior citizen. I also have to add some items because my 6 yr old granddaughter comes to sleep over and she loves things I normally don’t buy – frozen mini ravoli, organic mac & cheese, organic hotdogs, organic chicken nuggets. But still I should be fine and be able to stay within the $75 I have left until the second Wednesday of April. That includes milk, fresh veggies and fresh fruit for the next three weeks. Eggs I get free from my chicken raising daughter. I also through at least a doz a week with breakfast, veggie omlettes for dinner and frittatas using sale potatoes. I’ve begun going to the senior pantry where they always have milk, rice, oatmeal, frozen chicken breasts and flash frozen fish fillets, frozen ham steaks, shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, Italian sweet sausage from a humane and organic farm and packages of 8 thin center pork chops from the same farm.

  3. We also set our budget using the USDA Thrifty levels. We have spent $319 so far or 49% of our monthly budget. If I can find a good price on a ham for Easter we should be able to meet or even stay under the budget this month. If I can get to the store early on Saturday morning (by 7 am), I can get a good selection of meat for a low clearance price. This weekend, I arrived at the store early enough that the meat counter clerk was still making the markdowns. I was able to get 4 lbs of lean ground beef for $8, a pound of cube steaks for $5 and 8 lbs of pork chops for $11.

  4. Im at $380 out of my $1050 budget for the month. Last week we had family over so I spent $181 on special foods- particularly high quality fresh ahi which ran $20/pound. It was pretty painful to pay that price, but a rare treat for our in-laws from the continent. Also my meal plan was shot last week, with all the family in town, we barely ate at home. Im also in a rut for kid lunch ideas…… anyone got ideas? please share…

    Yesterday we found some nice deals at one of our local warehouses- best deals ever! 10 loaves of brioche bread= $2.50 for all, $10 for a dozen 14 inch cheese pizzas, whole wheat breaded chicken nugget breasts= $2/3lb bag, 10lb bag of flour= $4, $7= 36 gluten-free sub rolls. $1/lb for boneless/skinless chicken. These prices were totally by luck- I?ve never had prices like this before so it offset my overspending on the ahi for sure! I just need to find good prices on beef. I cant eat any beef, but hubby and kids love it.

  5. I don’t normally shop at Trader Joe’s, but I’ve set a goal for my family to eat food that’s better for us and cost effective as well. What are some of the best/worst things to buy there?

    • I typically try to stick to ingredients instead of their “fun food”. The fun food is fun, but it’s not cheap.

    • We don?t have TJ, but when I?m on the continent I hit up TJ to buy me food for the week that I keep in my hotel. The TJ greek yogurt, cheeses, fruits are so yummy. If there was a way for the me to bring them to Hawaii in my suitcase I would have already done it. I have a trip to San Francisco during in a week, already planning my TJ stop and what I?m brining home :).

  6. Felicia Harbach says:

    I’m coming off 3 months of a pantry challenge that began in first week in DEC and ended last day of FEB.

    So far this month, I’ve spent $75 on my family of two adults, with $49 of it being this week!!!!

    Yikes!!! I wasn’t expecting to see ALDI sweet cream butter at $1.99/lb so eight of those went into the freezer. It just seemed to be a good week for stockpiling so I took advantage. At this pace, I suspect that I would not go over $100 for the month which isn’t bad considering I’d been paring down for so long.

    Since my health and beauty, paper products are well stocked…all I need would be fresh fruit and bread.

  7. Hey everyone! I’m sorry I’ve been MIA for a good while. We had some illness going on here and my husband ended up Hospitalized with an injury for 2 weeks and home for 4 weeks to recoup. The month of February- . It was a tad bit stressful! Thankfully he’s going to be fine.
    I spent literally tons of money while my husband was in the hospital–To the like of about $600 over the course of the 2 weeks. I was running my kids to school in the morning and my younger 2 to my parents 1 1/2 hours each way twice a day, then I would go sit at my husbands bedside until it was time for my older 2 to get home from school. We’d care for the animals and Then we’d pack up to go get the other kiddos. We were getting home around 8-9 pm each night. My little kids’ usual bedtime is 730! I was also up at 4am to feed animals and pack lunches. Everyone was exhausted but I think in some way it made us closer as a family if that makes sense? That said, I think I was running on pure adrenaline! I stopped at the store a lot on my way to and from my parents to pick up dinner ingredients and snacks for my kids. Crazy how fast those little trips can add up!
    I’m so glad that my husband is ok and it’s all behind us now. I’m eating out of the freezer as much as possible now, since we have 1/2 a steer ordered for October as well as one of our hogs that will be ready in August.
    We picked up 5 little fuzzy bummed baby chicks to add to our flock last Monday!
    I’m always impressed with how everyone budgets here. It’s the only blog that I try to check everyday!

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