Grocery Geek: End of May

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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. 

sprouts end may

My May Grocery Geek updates fell off the radar mid-month. The month was just so crazy with birthdays, not feeling well, company, and the like. We ended up going over budget more than I thought, with our final total reaching $1500. That said, compared to the rest of the year, we’re still doing okay.

  • January $669
  • February $1092
  • March $1206
  • April $1435
  • May $1500

Total YTD: $5902 divided by 5 = $1180.40

So, we’re under our budget over all, but just barely. Obviously, I need to do some things that are different going forward. I know that the kids are eating a lot more in terms of quantity. That’s not something I want to scrimp on because I see a distinct difference in my teen boys’ attitudes when they are hungry v. when they are satiated.

However, I need to get creative this next month to see what we can do to increase food on hand without increasing our expenses. I’ve used up all the equity I had from our big pantry challenge at the start of the year, and there honestly, isn’t a ton of excess around here to do another challenge.

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.

I’ll be sharing our grocery updates about every ten days in June, and working to do fewer shops while still staying under budget. At least that’s my plan!

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  1. Stephanie M. says:

    I just added up my receipts for the month of May and it came to $595.91. That’s pretty good considering I usually spend between $700 and $800 per month. That goes to show you how much impulse and careless shopping I do. Since the challenge, I am really making a concentrated effort not to buy more than I need for a week at a time and not to impulse buy. I’m going to work even harder the month of June to see if I can spend less than I did in May.

  2. We actually came in slightly under budget here. $650 for us is about $200 less than typical. This is surprising actually because it was a CRAZY month. I travelled for work, we ate out with family (I didn’t count that big bill towards groceries though), and it seemed like general mayhem most days.

    Hopefully June should be more calm as I finish teaching next week and we are then home for good (I have resigned my teaching position following this school year to stay home with the little ones). That means I should be able to really keep the budget in check. Also this month the garden and fruit plants should begin yielding so we can decrease our reliance on grocery stores for fresh produce!!!

    Jessica, I think you do an amazing job feeding your crew on a budget. I hear what you’re saying about the quantity consumed being more and more! I love hearing your ideas for ways to adapt to these constantly changing variables:) I am definitely not in pantry challenge condition now either…perhaps in July??

    • Great job being under budget, Laura! I’m not sure that we’re going to do a challenge, in July, but we’ll see. My daughter may be in a TV baking competition filming in July which means all bets are off. It will be total survival mode. haha

  3. My month ended crazy as well. First, I was unexpectedly asked to do a week of house/pet sitting for some friends who live out in the boonies. That meant the kid was left to fend for himself for food for the week. I figured there was plenty of food here, no problem, but he decided he wanted a nice big pack of pork ribs. He knows I like pork but am not super fond of ribs (too much effort, too little reward, too many other things I like better) so this was the perfect time for them. He bought and cooked them himself and ate them quite happily, but that was a big chunk of expense not planned. Then some friends I had not seen in 4 years were in town for Memorial weekend, so of course we had a bit of a party to have them over, and I bought a few more things I would not have normally bought for just us (although I’m happy to eat those leftovers!) which was another chunk. This all adds up to one very full fridge again, still mostly full freezer, and I’m up to 95% of the YTD budget being used so I’ve also effectively erased the pantry challenge savings. However… we’re happy with how it was spent, so we’ll just deal with it. 🙂

    I have a friend that I have recently learned is struggling financially and I think food is one of the places that she is scrimping. And doing without. I have so much in my freezer that honestly would probably take a full year of never going to the store for the two of us to eat up so I was thinking I could easily share some with her, never miss it, and be further along in my quest to have free space in the freezer. I just do not have any idea of a tactful way to bring up this suggestion. Anyone have any options other than having them over for dinner, preparing a smorgasbord, and then insisting they take home huge quantities of leftovers? (which I sort of did for the party over the weekend)

    • I am glad I’m not alone in the May feasting. 😉

      What if you told your friend that you had a lot of extra and you were wondering if she could take some off your hands? It would help you out so you could thaw the freezer sooner, etc.

    • I’m with Jessica. Something along the lines of “I need to defrost the freezer and have some food we won’t be able to eat before then. Could you use some x, y, z?” If you have frozen produce from your garden “I need to use up x, y, z before the new whatever comes in in my garden. Would you like some? We can’t possibly eat it all!”

      Best wishes and we’ll say some prayers for your friend,

    • Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I really DO need to de-ice the freezer (the ice is taking over like a bad sci-fi movie), so I’m thinking I’ll use your ideas but from the backside: “I just DID de-ice it and look at the ridiculous amount of stuff I found so please help me get rid of it”. I also know I still have an entire turkey in there that I’ve been putting off baking because then I have to deal with leftovers. We prefer the dark meat, I know her family prefers the white, so I’m thinking a Thanksgiving in June party with her taking home those leftovers as well as the freezer stuff would be a win for both of us.

  4. Nothing worse than a hangry teen boy 😉 Doing a June freezer/pantry/no spend challenge. Wish me luck! We still have tons of stuff although, the freezers are lacking a few things that I “prefer” but I’m certain we won’t starve to death 😉

  5. Kristin says:

    Just catching up on some of your posts. We’ve been doing a little bit of a pantry challenge in preparation for moving from Texas to Missouri this week. I had to clear out my freezers and fridge without wasting too much! We came away with at least one new family recipe – cornbread muffins with hunks of our shredded beef taco filling tucked inside and cheese melted on top – YUM. It still stinks though getting to the end and having to toss all of the half-eaten varieties of mustards and salad dressings I’ve collected from various parties!

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