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Grocery Geek: June Totals

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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: June Totals | Good Cheap Eats

Whew. The month is over. June feels like it was so busy and full, and yet it was summer vacation. I guess that makes it official: I’m an adult! I had fewer responsibilities this month since there was no school, and yet the days were just packed and raced by me.

I love a new month, though, and a refreshed grocery budget. Our finances are in a state at the moment where we have a little wiggle room, so you don’t see me getting too nervous when we go over some. We don’t use credit, but there’s money to cover extra expenses. I’m thankful for that, very thankful.

We’re looking at some overall diet changes. My daughter’s practicing for Kids Baking Championship has not been gentle to everyone’s waistline. Ahem. I’m not sure what that will do to our grocery budget, but I’m not going to freak. Just try to shop smarter.

This month we did go over a tad bit. You’ll see the total at the end. Here’s the play by play:

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

Grocery Geek: June Totals | Good Cheap EatsTo 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.

Here are our final June shops:

Grocery Geek: June Totals | Good Cheap Eats

Ralphs

I’ve got two Ralphs’ locations within a few miles of my house. Since I love their digital coupons, their markdowns, and their variety of options, it’s a regular stop of mine. I can’t get everything I want at any one store, so I mix things up pretty often. This trip was a pre-Father’s Day stop. I made Sweet Almond Toasts for our breakfast that morning; the Artesano bread is perfect for that and is usually really cheap at Ralphs.

  • green tea FREE after coupon
  • Artesano bread $2.49
  • Peets $7.99
  • flour $2.29
  • Aquafina FREE after coupon
  • shredded mozzarella $7.99
  • milk $2.19
  • blueberries $0.99
  • cilantro $0.69
  • carrots $1.59
  • mushrooms $1.12
  • jalapenos $$0.24
  • uncured pepperoni $3.99

Total spent: $35

Grocery Geek: June Totals | Good Cheap Eats

Trader Joe’s

I love a lot about Trader Joe’s. Over the last few years, I’ve found some products that our family really likes. While I miss the low-low prices that TJ’s had 20 years ago, it’s still a really good value, especially when I know it’s food we love.

You know that this is my go-to place for chicken these days. I’ve compared the ingredients of their frozen chicken tenders with other stores, and TJ’s comes out on top with up to 2% water added and nothing else. I’ve checked a few other stores and their equivalent product includes up to 15% water, broth, and other ingredients.

  • frozen chicken tenders $7.49
  • mahi mahi $7.99/lb
  • salmon $8.99/lb
  • tilapia $5.99/lb
  • frozen green beans $1.99
  • cottage cheese $1.69/pt
  • plantain chips $1.69
  • shredded mozzarella $3.79
  • pepperoni $2.99
  • green onions $0.99
  • organic romaine hearts $2.49
  • broccoli florets $2.29
  • large Fage $3.59
  • eggs $1.29/dozen
  • evoo $7.99
  • baking powder (aluminum-free) $1.49
  • sunflower seed butter $4.99
  • organic coconut milk $1.69
  • red wine vinegar $1.99
  • almonds $6.99
  • cashews $7.49
  • rice crackers $2.69
  • brown mushrooms $1.79
  • sugar snap peas $2.49
  • baby zucchini $2.29
  • organic celery hearts $2.29
  • minced garlic $1.69
  • organic Persian cucumbers $2.49
  • bell peppers $1.98
  • bay leaves $3.99
  • spices $1.99
  • cereals $1.99 to $@.99

Total spent: $179

Ralphs again (pictured top)

  • sugar $2.49
  • lettuce hearts $3.79
  • beef broth $1.29
  • mandarin oranges $0.89
  • limes $2.99
  • flour $2.29
  • French bread $0.99
  • cole slaw mix $1.25
  • goat cheese $4.99
  • hoisin sauce $2.49
  • red peppers $1.49
  • eggs $0.99
  • green onions $0.99
  • tomatoes $1.23

Total spent: $29

Grocery Geek: June Totals | Good Cheap Eats

Trader Joe’s again

  • frozen chicken tenders $7.49
  • sparkling water $1.09 after CRV
  • cheddar rockets $2.49
  • whole milk $1.79
  • eggs $1.29
  • cream $3.29
  • milk $2.49
  • sundried tomatoes $3.29
  • artichoke hearts $2.69
  • almonds $6.99
  • soy sauce $2.99
  • kalamata olives $2.99
  • agave $3.29
  • orzo $0.99
  • cashews $7.49

Total spent: $63

Grocery Geek: June Totals | Good Cheap Eats

Sprouts

  • baby cucumbers $2.50
  • tomatoes $1.45
  • grape tomatoes $1.50/carton
  • green onions $0.50/bunch
  • xl avocados $1.66 each
  • Italian squash $1.29/lb
  • org broccoli $1.69/lb
  • red peppers $0.99 each
  • spaghetti squash $0.99/lb
  • mushrooms $2.49
  • onions $0.88/lb
  • milk $2.49/gallon
  • cottage cheese $3.99
  • fage $3.49 each
  • eggs $2.49
  • org whipping cream $3.49

Total spent: $50

First half total $859

Second half total $356

Total for June: $1215

So, we’re a mite over budget for the month, but doing okay. We’ve still got food, so that’s good. Here’s how it’s looking for the year to date:

  • January $669
  • February $1092
  • March $1206
  • April $1435
  • May $1500
  • June $1215

Total YTD: $7117

That divided by 6 months, we’re averaging $1186/month which is just under our $1200 budget per month. Not too much wiggle room left!

Several folks have asked if I’m going to be doing a Pantry Challenge in July. The answer is no. My husband and I are both seeing that we need to make some changes in how we eat, so eating up all the pasta in the house really isn’t the answer. Haha!

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Comments

  1. Considering all the stuff you had going on and the size of your budget to start with, going over by $15 hardly seems worth anything more than a blink or two. That’s easily counterbalanced in a different month.

  2. Wow… I fell off the bandwagon in June for sure. We had two family trips to NYC for 12 days and another for the weekend to visit family. Im just jumping back into the budget and meal planning mode… Looking forward to a good July- but honestly I?d like to ignore my spending for June- YES I?d like to stay in denial of what I actually spent while on vacay! 🙂

  3. Jeannie says:

    For you food budget I’m guessing you don’t add in the toiletry items, correct? I’m trying to balance our budget and wondering where to add the expense of our t.p., soap and shampoo from Costco/target. I often get those at the same time and when I tally up my receipts I just wonder where to file them. I never know how far to break it down(cleaning items, toiletries, aspirin, Tylenol,..) Im

    • No, since I started using the USDA Food Cost reports to compare to, I stopped including those items because the USDA doesn’t include those. I wanted an apples to apples comparison.

  4. Alice E says:

    I think you are doing very well. The tenting and the practicing baker must have increased grocery spending considerably. Feeding teenage boys can be a challenge to the budget!

    My spending is up but still under the USDA totals for an older couple. But I cook mostly from the pantry and freezer which I stock when things are on sale. This month over 60 percent of my spending was in the last week when I did a stock-up the freezer purchase, especially on Pork.

    Except perhaps for pasta I don’t think you have had enough time to build up much surplus to use up during a challenge so I can understand that decision. However if you are getting questions, you might put a new ‘challenge’ post up for people who want to do one like the extended challenge post you created at the end of the last challenge. People who wanted to participate could cheer each other on that way.

    Has your young baker tackled bread yet? That might help the budget and be useful if she was interested.

    • Yes, we will be tackling bread in a week or two. A family member was instructed by the doc to do some low carb eating, so we’ve limited the baking and the bread so far this month.

  5. Annie D says:

    Personally, I’d love to see your next challenge be to feed your family of 8 on a budget of $600 (that’s $75 a person).

    That’s my budget (I have a family of 4 (with two growing kids) and we stick to $300 to 350/month) and I live just down the road from you closer, to San Bernardino. There are no Ralph’s or Trader Joe runs. We eat whatever produce and meat is on sale at the local Hispanic markets, do our staple shopping at Winco, and buy our eggs and dairy at Costco. When my kids have treats, they come from the dollar store.

    And the fun of it all – we mainly eat a Paleo/Keto diet (with extra fruit and potatoes for the kids). No rice. No beans. Though we eat well, dietary wise, there is very little room for extravagances like $1.66 avocados. We see avocados only when they’re below 3 for $1. You end up having to really look at your budget, shop the sales, plan meals and decide if those $7 almonds are worth it.

    THAT would be a real challenge…..

    • Good for you! That is definitely an accomplishment to be proud of! I well remember our days of spending $57/month per person. Definitely been there, and yes, it does take a lot of planning and foresight to keep costs so low.

      Since that time, we’ve paid off our debts, stopped using credit, and cut back in lots of ways. We drive very old cars, rarely buy new clothes, and don’t have cable or go to the movies, etc. We don’t own a home and live very far from a luxurious life. Where others may spend on “stuff,” we’ve chosen to increase our food budget for convenience as well as quality.

      I work from home full time as well as teach five of our six kids (not to mention am dealing with several family members’ health issues); I am happy to make things easier on myself from time to time when it comes to shopping and food prep. Since our budget allows a little wiggle room, I’m taking it. Feeding six kids (four of them TEEN BOYS and one with severe food allergies) who are perpetually hungry just plain old wears me out.

      If our income dictated, I would have to make some changes. Thankfully, I know how. For this season, I’m satisfied with what we’re doing. Could we spend less? Absolutely. Do we need to right now? No, I don’t think so.

  6. $1200 a month does sound like a lot of money but 8 people to feed is a lot also! When I look at it as $150 a month per person I have to tell you what a great job you are doing!!! It is just my hubby and I and keeping to $450 a month is hard for me. Honestly I have not been tracking lately but you have inspired me to start again. We do live pretty simply but hubby likes cable and I like good quality food.

    I had been buying mostly all organic veggies but the past several weeks I have not….the prices seem outrageous anymore and the quality and selection not as good. I need to look at the dirty dozen and clean 13 list again. Are you buying much organic produce? Do you still get csa boxes? I do spend more on meat and animal products for my husband because I do not want to support factory farming and do want to buy the most humanely raised as possible. I have been a vegetarian since I was a teenager and am trying to become vegan though that is harder.

    I spend a lot of time shopping/planning/cooking for 2…….I can not even imagine feeding 4 teen boys!!!

    Thanks for sharing your life with us! I love your blog!

    • Thanks for your encouraging words. And yes, produce prices are definitely fluctuating. I think we may be seeing trickle down from the drought.

      No, we don’t get boxes anymore. I had some issues with their customer service that left me disappointed. Then with the drought, I figured it was better to take a break from it.

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