Grocery Geek: March Weeks 3 & 4

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

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

empty fridge mar 34

Sorry for leaving y’all hanging last week with no Grocery Geek update! We were actually doing the whole termite tent thing. That means

  1. I was a crazy person, trying to get everything packed, secured, evacuated.
  2. I didn’t buy much for groceries.
  3. My fridge looked like this once we got home and settled.
  4. I bought a ton this week, trying to find some semblance of normal.

I decided that I’m just gonna give myself a pass for March since we’ve been so under budget this last two months. April we’ll try to find a new normal. (I’m thinking of doing a Whole 30, so I’m not sure how normal I will be, but whatevs.)

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 these past couple weeks:

I’ll confess that I’ve been all out of sorts with this termite thing, packing up my kitchen, evacuating for four days, and then trying to get back in a routine. I’ve got nine grocery receipts in front of me. NINE. #embarrassing

In the name of full disclosure, here goes:

sprouts mar 34


To get us through to the tent….

  • clementines 2# bags $2.50 each
  • organic baby carrots $1.49/lb
  • org romaine lettuce $0.98
  • crackers $2
  • gallon milk $2.49
  • breakfast sausage $4.39

Total spent $20

walmart mar 34


Did I mention that one child came down with the stomach flu/food poisoning the night before we had to evacuate? Good times.

  • saltines $2.56
  • sandwich bread $3.98
  • ginger ale $3.04 after CRV
  • gatorade $1.10 after CRV
  • fage $1.37

Total spent $9

Trader Joe’s

To eat while we were away from home….we let each of the kids spend $5 on whatever they wanted, so there was some randomness in here that I would not normally buy.

  • grape juice $3.99
  • cereal $1.99 to $3.99
  • Ak-mak $1.79
  • pita chips $1.99
  • orangina $2.49
  • salsa $1.99
  • cookies $1.99
  • precooked bacon $4.99
  • chicken tenders $7.49
  • tortillas $0.99 – $2.99
  • org cut romaine $1.99
  • baguette $2.49
  • shredded cheddar $3.49
  • jelly beans $3.99
  • roast beef $4.99
  • turkey $4.99
  • salami $4.49
  • green beans $1.99
  • white rice $2.99
  • almonds $6.99
  • pineapple spears $3.49
  • pasta $0.99
  • marinara $1.99
  • apples 2# bag $2.69
  • freeze dried strawberries $3.49
  • bagels $1.99 to $2.49
  • romano $5.84
  • hummus $2.99
  • cliff bar $0.99
  • brie $4.50
  • larabar $1.29
  • milk $2.99
  • Italian sausage $3.99

Total spent $150

ralphs mar 34


Initial shop upon being HOME when I forgot to buy much for breakfasts and lunches

  • eggs on clearance $2.69
  • whipping cream $4.99
  • milk $2.29
  • yogurt $5.69
  • coffee after sales and coupons $6.99
  • grape tomatoes $1.99
  • baby spinach $4.99
  • cabbage head on sale $0.33/lb
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • avocados $0.69/each
  • mushrooms $3.99/lb
  • red onion $1.49/lb
  • broccoli crowns $1.69/lb
  • bell pepper $1.49 each
  • cucumbers $0.99 each
  • baby carrots $0.99/lb
  • 10# russets $3.99
  • pork tenderloin $3.99/lb
  • whole chicken $1.99/lb
  • tri-tip roast $4.77/lb
  • uncured bacon $3.99/lb WYB3
  • uncured pepperoni $3.99
  • Hebrew National franks $3.49/package
  • Italian sausage $3.99
  • clearance bread $2.49

Total spent $156

traders mar 34

Trader Joe’s

  • organic sandwich bread $2.99
  • olive oil $7.99
  • pasta $0.99
  • chicken tenders $7.49
  • mineral water $1.09 after crv
  • org romaine hearts $2.49
  • 5# bag Pink Lady Apples $5.99

Total spent $44

ralpsh easter mar 34


when I remembered that Easter was coming. Ahem.

  • mission chips on sale WYB3 $2.49
  • hot dog buns $2.49
  • frozen potatoes on sale $2.49
  • rice krispies $2.49 WYB3
  • haagen daaz ice cream $2.49 WYB3
  • sour cream $1.49
  • artichoke hearts $3.69
  • coffee $5.99 WYB3 + coupon
  • powdered sugar $2.69
  • cake mix $1
  • mayo $1.50 after sales and coupons
  • org baby carrots $1.49
  • green onions $0.99
  • almonds $3.99
  • martinelli’s $2.60 after CRV
  • org OJ on clearance $2.49
  • diced tomatoes $2.29
  • pork roast $1.77/lb
  • uncured bacon $3.99 WYB3
  • hummus $1.75
  • spready cheese $2.50
  • clearance bread $1.99

Total spent $88

sprouts again mar 34


for better produce prices and protein powder for growing teen boys

  • cilantro $0.50
  • clementines 2# bag $1.98 each
  • xlarge avocados $1.25 each
  • jalapenos $0.99/lb
  • org tomatoes $1.68
  • mushrooms $2.49/package
  • onions $0.48/lb
  • organic canned tomatoes $2.79
  • org tomato paste $0.99
  • grass fed whey protein $19.49
  • milk $2.49
  • yogurt $3.99/big container
  • colby jack or mozzarella cheese $2.99/lb
  • corn tortillas $2.99
  • flour tortillas $2.39
  • sourdough bread $2.99
  • frozen raspberries $2.50

Total spent $76

ralphs again2 mar34


for things I forgot….twice. (Lumped two receipt here)

  • frozen green beans $0.99
  • eggs $4.69/18 pack
  • dried herbs $2.34 to $2.54
  • Tillamook cheese $7.99 after sale and coupon
  • bell pepper $1.49
  • zucchini $1.99/lb
  • cauliflower $0.99/ln
  • organic celery $2.29
  • org chicken broth $1.99
  • diced ham $2.79
  • bulk Italian sausage $3.99
  • horseradish $2.29
  • french bread for pizza night $1.59
  • clearance bread for Easter $0.99
  • clearance veggie trays $2.99 to $3.99
  • hummus $3.99

Total spent $59

Total spent this reporting period: $602

Total spent this month to date: $1206

Technically we went over our regular budget this month, but seeing as January and February were so far under, I’m not sweating it. I’m also going to start my April shopping next week since it’s spring break and I’m going to be doing some freezer cooking. I haven’t been to Costco in months!

So far, grocery spending looks like this for the year:

  • January $669
  • February $1092
  • March $1206

Total YTD: $2967

That averages out to $989/month, so I’m pretty pleased. I know that April may be higher. My kids are eating MORE not less, I’m wanting more fresh veg and protein so I can lose this stubborn weight I’ve gained, and our pantry is still pretty empty.

How is your grocery shopping going?

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. We had unexpected auto repairs of $924. In order to replenish our emergency savings as soon as possible, we are eating down the pantry. This month we have spent $476.43, which is 30% below normal.

  2. I’m going to be making your easy chicken and green beans for my non-fancy, easy, yet festive easter dinner. Thanks for the suggestion!!

  3. Ending March at $1345 (over my $1050 budget but under the USDA food costs of $1450). While I was traveling for work last week, Im sure the Hubby and kids ate out more often than they are letting on haha…so it might be higher. This month was rather funky- kids were home for spring break, we had out of town family, we ate out more often, travel, grabbed food on the go etc, spending about $450. I also spent about $100 on foods for my own diet (wheatbelly) and juices for a cleanse. For April, we need to buckle down and get back to our normal schedule.

    Would love to do a WHOLE 30 challenge if you are thinking about it for April. Was thinking about it anyway…..

  4. Joyce Perdue says:

    Went to the Chinese grocery store near our TJ’s and I was amazed how cheap those snow peas that we love are, the bok choy we love, a huge bag of bean sprouts, ginger etc. For $25 I was amazed at the amount of fresh veggies and jars of other things we got there. My new go-to fresh veggie store. Who knew! Undiscovered riches…..:-)

  5. I went in for “just a few things” and came out $100 poorer….for our family of three, that’s not normal. The good news, we have food for a few days. 🙂

  6. Can I just say how glad I am that you bought yourself and your family some flowers? I’m quite sure you all needed them and were cheered by their presence.

  7. My fridge isn’t that empty even when I move! I’m glad the termite thing is finally over now and no longer looming over your head. You’re only over budget by $6, that isn’t bad. Although you’ll probably have to do more shopping in the last couple of days since your family eats things up faster than mine does.

    I kept putting off looking up what my spending was, since I expected bad news. I’d had to restock some expensive things (jugs of EVOO and raw honey aren’t cheap) plus the kid and I work the election polls which are super long days so we bought some treats for that, plus we had some treats for Easter, plus we splurged on a couple of other items just because we’ve been SO restrictive on purchases since Christmas… and it turns out, I was still being careful enough about every other purchase that I came in with $5 to spare for the normal budget! I’m totally shocked.

  8. Instead of a whole 30, have your ever considered a real food challenge? The real food challenge speaks to the wholesomeness of food, and promotes greater variety and less restriction.

  9. Just making sure I read right that your “technically overspent” is $6? I think you did amazing considering the month you had.

  10. heather says:

    I hear you on the boys having growth spurts and eating EVERYTHING in sight. Its happening here too. 15lbs of fresh produce for a family of 4 is where we are at right now.

Share Your Thoughts