Grocery Geek: April 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. 

Costco wine

So, this week I’ve been eating all Whole 30, so that means I’m running out of vegetables. That sounds like such a weird thing to say. Normally, it’s milk, cheese, and bread that we run out of, but not this month. Also, I should probably look into stocking more frozen vegetables, but thinking about the sales cycles, I may have missed my window.

Anywho, the Whole 30 means that I am often making two meals 3x a day. I’m going to feed my family what they like and not subject them to unnecessary dietary restrictions. Plus, in some instances my food is the more expensive.

….And yes, our Costcos do sell alcohol — I didn’t buy any — and they are this empty if you go at 7 or 8 on a weeknight.

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:

GG Sprouts whole 30


Last weekend I ran into Sprouts for cocktails (sparkling mineral water) and snacks (larabars). While I was there, I found a screaming deal on dessert (strawberries). The Whole 30 made me do it.

  • sparkling water $1.39 with CRV
  • strawberries 2# packs for $1.98 each
  • Larabars 4 for $5
  • 2 gal milk (unpictured) $2.49/gallon

Total spent: $22

GG April Ralphs


I headed to Ralphs with a short list, but honestly, I tend to get carried away in there. I didn’t go too far off plan, though.

  • potatoes
  • eggs $3.79/18
  • artichoke hearts $3.69
  • sparkling juice $3.09 with CRV
  • sparkling water $2.09 with CRV
  • basmati rice $14.99
  • pearl rice $2.99
  • carrots $2.99/2#
  • tomatoes $1.49/lb
  • garlic 2/$1
  • cilantro $0.69
  • fruit sweetened jam $3.99
  • La Croix flavored waters $4.59 with CRV

Total spent: $62

GG April Costco


We returned a mangled package of tuna to Costco on date night — because that’s how we roll — and I picked up a few things we were already running low on. The tuna doesn’t count toward my total because it was in the last report. Also, I keep forgetting what I have and end up buying duplicates. Carrots, anyone?

  • carrots $4.49/5#
  • Aidells sausage $13.89
  • milk $2.09/gallon
  • bagels $4.99
  • sourdough bread $3.69
  • avocado oil $9.49
  • olive oil $13.99
  • olives $9.59
  • pineapple juice $5.29/3 pack
  • ground beef $2.99/lb (I bought 6+ pounds)
  • babybel $8.29

Total spent: $100

GG april sprouts 2


My husband ran errands with the girls on Friday so they added Sprouts to their stops. Yay for awesome husbands!

  • broccoli crowns $0.98/lb
  • tomatoes $0.98/lb
  • grape tomatoes $1.98
  • organic spinach $3.49/box
  • strawberries $0.98/lb
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • xlrg avocados 4/$5
  • org mushrooms $2.99
  • sweet potatoes – the clerk charged him for apples at $0.99/lb, so who knows?
  • decaf coffee $9.99

Total spent: $33

Spent this week: $217

Spent this month to date: $1111

Next week, I’ll be dipping into our grocery savings from the Pantry Challenge, but I’m sure our average for the year will still work out.

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  1. Ok we are struggling. I need to fed two adults, one is lactise intolerant and vegetarian, the other meat and potato male with significant appetite, the budget is insanely tight, we eat what we have left after paying required bills. Where do I start

    • Well, you’ve got a good start in that you have a budget, tight though it may be. That lets you know your parameters. Next, since your diets are so different, I would make a list of the things you eat in common. These would be the focus of my spending since you can both enjoy them. Then I would set aside a certain amount of your budget for those outlying items (meat for him, vegan specialty items for you?) Create meal plans with the same theory. It will save time and hassle if you focus on the things you both eat. within reason, of course.

      Once you’ve got your target for what to buy, I would hunt down the cheapest stores for those items. If you live near an ALDI, I would start there. I’ve heard that the pricing is phenomenal. Without knowing where you live and what kind of meals you both like, that’s what I would suggest as a starting point. But feel free to ask more questions and share specific details if you feel comfortable. The readers here will also have good input.

    • This is my household, except I have 3 children who eat meat like their father now. What I used to do when it was just 2 of us, was to make something like Spaghetti, add a little meat for him for him to stretch the ground meat. I also switched to ground turkey because it was half the price and he never noticed until he went grocery shopping with me one day! Another meal, I like to make it Taco Salad, I add beans for me, then mix some of them into the seasoned meat for his salad. You could pretty easily buy one pound of ground meat and stretch it between these two meals. I really like soup, and you can make just about anything into soup and it usually makes so much that I will eat the leftovers for a couple days. I would have to make dinner for my husband because he won’t eat soup, but I at least don’t have to make 2 meals every night with leftovers. By adding 3 kids (6 and under) my grocery budget hasn’t really gone up that much. I typically spend between about 90 every week here in Oklahoma, but we go through about 9 gallons of milk, which is about 30 by itself for the kids.

    • Without more details, it is hard to be specific. ‘Meat and potatoes’ can mean different things to different people. Obviously you could eat the potatoes. But would need to add something to complete your meal. Will he be satisfied with chili or spaghetti? If he likes chili you could fix a basic chili without the meat and then add the meat to part of it for him. Would he accept rice instead of potatoes? Spanish rice with meat for him and beans for you. How about a hamburger for him and a bean burger for you. I have seen some really interesting recipes for veggie burgers on the various food blogs which are probably cheaper than buying the meat substitutes at the store.

      Could you do breakfast for dinner and serve pancakes with sausage or bacon for him? Maybe with eggs also if you eat them, I realize some vegetarians do and some don’t so it is hard to know what to suggest. If you felt like sharing more likes and dislikes, some of us might have other suggestions. Especially since I don’t know what shopping alternatives are available to you. If the budget is very tight you will need to watch for markdowns and specials. You may also need to consider checking with a food pantry. I do recommend that if you are avoiding all meat, dairy and eggs you need to be taking a good vitamin pill. It is very easy to become deficient in some very necessary vitamins and minerals.

  2. Those olives made me smile. I only buy Lindsay. I watch the Walgreens ads for when they are 99-cents per 6 oz can and buy the limit. I think I opened my last can tonight, so I hope they are on sale again soon.

  3. I sure wish I had strawberries at your price! $1/lb is a good deal here. Yesterday Shaws had them on sale for $5/2lb!

  4. How were the strawberries? I’ve been disappointed in their taste so far this year, but I bought excellent red grapes on sale at Sprouts recently.

  5. I got great eggs for $2/dozen and milk for $2.15/gallon this week! Woot!

  6. Where I live in Southern California, this week Stater Bros and Albertsons both have a dozen eggs for 99 cents. I haven’t seen them that low in several months, they have been so expensive here.

  7. I think you are doing very well. I just bought eggs at 99 cents a dozen and stocked up a bit. So, we had breakfast pizza today and I’ll be fixing a big batch of breakfast burritos to go in the freezer soon and maybe some muffin sandwiches as well.

    Carrots at both stores leaves you well supplied, doesn’t it. I bought a couple because I found a recipe for pickling them I wanted to try. It wasn’t that successful, so yesterday I roasted the second package in the oven while baking chicken thighs. My hubby really likes them tossed in olive oil and seasoned then roasted, so that was a good save. If you’re feeling overstocked, you might try roasting a pound or two and serving as a vegetable.

    Have you tried the canned chicken from Costco? I really like it and find it much superior to any other canned chicken I have tried. I don’t really like tuna much, but the chicken makes a lovely quick fallback when I need to fix a quick meal. I don’t buy as much or the veg, fruit and milk as you, because for two people, they are too much unless I’m going to freeze part of it. But the canned chicken and some of their other bargains keep me coming back.

    Eating healthy is worth a bit of expense, and your budget was way down earlier in the year. With that many teenage boys and your health issues, you may even need to increase the budget a bit. Groceries are still much cheaper than medicine.

  8. I made a carrot soup during the PC to use up some of my excess carrots per Kathy from Denmark’s suggestion. It called for almonds (I used some almond butter I wanted to get rid of) but I’m sure your Sunbutter would be just as applicable since your family has allergies. It wasn’t something we particularly loved, but apparently lots of other people do and it should be something you can eat on your Whole30. (at least the recipe I picked would fit, but I don’t know about some of the others out there)

    As to the expenditures… I’m pushing the envelope already myself this month so I’m in absolutely no position to criticize anyone else’s spending! I’m surprised at your Martinelli’s purchases, though. Our Costco carries it and it is something like $10 for the 4-pack which is much better than your price at the other store. Does yours not carry it, or is your price just that much higher?

  9. I blew our monthly budget! Its a crazy month- lots of travel for work and final project deadline for school- that I just skipped the meal planning the past two weeks and let the hubby and kids go wild- eating out and eating anything.. maybe too wild. I will regret it when I need to trim down our spending next month. But for now- I?m in survival mode. 🙂

  10. I live in KY and Costco had (2) 18ct eggs for $2.19!!!

  11. Jeanette Jansons says:

    I just discovered your grocery geek segment when I went looking for freezer recipes of all things. It is fascinating (and useful as my husband just lost his job and we have to cut our spending) We lived in Indiana for nearly two years and i remember the price differences between Adelaide Australia and there very well!. Meat was half the price of Australia, and often vegetables were cheaper in the States, but the quality was different so we bought the more expensive organic options, in order for them to taste ‘familiar’. Your grocery cart resembles mine (except for the absence of chocolate!!!) I miss being able to buy gallons of milk. Aldi is only now opening stores in Adelaide,and none remotely near where I live so petrol costs cancel out the savings. Thanks for your website.

    • Glad you found Good Cheap Eats. I have a freezer cookbook as well as a lot of freezer recipes and meal plans, both here and on, in case you’re interested.

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