Grocery Geek: What We Spent in October

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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.


September and October are generally those months when I feel scattered. With the start of the homeschool year and all the new schedules, I tend to shift into some kind of survival mode. True to form, last month was weird. And so was this month.

This month it seems that all our increased activity has brought a whole lot of cooties into our home. As a result the kids have had at least two colds and one stomach bug. I’m hoping this means we’ve paid our dues, because I’m not sure my mental state or my grocery budget can handle more spontaneous shifts and changes.

This report is late because I spent 36 to 48 hours cleaning up after the aforementioned stomach bug. Sigh.

It’s all good and well to have a meal plan, but when you have to throw out your plan due to someone’s state of health and how it doesn’t quite fit doctor’s orders, well, it can cost a little more. I’m keeping this in mind going forward and looking to see where I can build more margin into our budget to allot for these unexpected situations.

That said, here’s the grocery geek report!

Grocery Geek

Grocer Geek is my regular 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

To update you on my grocery geekiness:grocerygeek-gce

  • I’m feeding eight people, ages 53, 44, 19, 15, 14, 12, 9, and 8. 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.
  • BEFORE YOU JUDGE ME FOR EXTRAVAGANCE, please read this post.

What we spent in October:



  • sandwich rolls $3.49
  • macaroni pasta $1.29 to $0.54 after digital coupons
  • shell pasta $2.79
  • popcorn $3.49
  • sour cream $1.99
  • Tillamook cheese brick $8.99
  • cranberry juice $3.99
  • canned pintos $1.99
  • cream cheese $1.69 after digital coupons
  • shredded cheese $4.99
  • mushrooms $0.49 manager’s clearance
  • green onions $0.99
  • roma tomatoes $1.29/lb
  • carrots $0.99
  • onions $2.49/3# bag
  • spaghetti squash $0.99/lb
  • apple juice $1.99
  • chuck roast $3.99/lb
  • applegate bacon $2.79 manager’s clearance
  • uncured bacon $3.99 after digital coupons
  • sourdough flute $0.99 manager’s clearance
  • minus $5.00 coupon for meat department purchases

Total spent: $82


  • Doritos $3.99 (mom’s stress food)
  • cucumbers $0.99
  • romaine $0.99
  • apples $0.99/lb
  • zucchini $1.49/lb
  • pepper $1.49
  • canned beans $1.00
  • deli roast beef $6.71
  • deli turkey $6.71

Total spent: $27



  • taco shells $1.50
  • avocado $1.50
  • jalapeno $0.99/lb
  • cilantro $0.69
  • hot sauce $2.19

Total spent: $7

Trader Joe’s

  • bottled sparkling water $1.05/each
  • kale salad $4.98
  • garlic $1.29
  • pumpkin seeds $6.49
  • cashews $7.49
  • almonds $6.99
  • sunflower seeds $1.99
  • chocolate pretzels $3.29

Total spent: $47



  • organic spinach $3.49
  • deli roast beef $8.31
  • deli turkey breast $14.04
  • Fage $6.39
  • mushrooms $5.79
  • shredded mozzarella $11.99
  • single hummus cups $6.49
  • red bell peppers 6-pack $5.99
  • Aidell’s chicken sausage 3-pack $13.89

Total spent: $77


  • cilantro $0.33
  • green onions $0.33
  • XL large avocado $2.50 (for a picture)
  • limes 6/$1

Total spent: $7



  • baby carrots $0.98
  • pears $0.88/lb
  • grape tomatoes $2
  • red bell pepper $1.29
  • organic chicken broth $1.99
  • penne $1.19
  • puffins cereal $1.99
  • milk $2.99
  • eggs $1.99
  • cheese curds $3.49 (for poutine)
  • pepper jack $3.11
  • frozen french fries (for poutine)
  • frozen veggies $2.00

Total spent: $34



  • milk $1.99
  • taco shells $1.69
  • hashbrowns $1.99
  • eggs $2.49
  • bread $2.29

Total spent $13


  • chicken stock $11.59
  • fage $6.39
  • pasta 6 pack $8.49
  • red bell peppers 6-pack $5.99
  • organic eggs 2-dozen $6.99
  • frozen salmon $23.99
  • red potatoes 10# $5.79
  • milk 2-gal $4.49
  • baking potatoes 20# $7.99
  • grape tomatoes $4.99
  • broccoli florets $4.49
  • mahi mahi $22.99
  • hard salami $7.29
  • shredded mozzarella $11.99
  • frozen berries $9.99
  • Tillamook sharp $8.99
  • organic ground beef 4# $19.99
  • deli turkey $11.92
  • deli roast beef $8.11
  • organic brown mushrooms $5.79
  • hamburger buns $2.19
  • bread 2-loaves $4.59
  • hot dog buns $2.19
  • sourdough bread 2# $3.69

Total spent $260


  • starbucks coffee $5.77 (mega savings event)
  • sour cream $1.99
  • oregano $3.49
  • canned beans $1.49
  • veggie tray $3.99 (manager’s clearance)
  • tomatoes $2.99/lb
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • red grapes $0.99/lb
  • eggplant $0.99
  • apples $0.99/lb
  • pears $0.99/lb
  • Noosa yoghurt $2.99 (mega savings event)
  • pepperoni $3.99
  • bulk pack hot dogs $13.99
  • spicy sausage$5.49

Total spent $115


  • whipping cream $4.99
  • cooking sherry $3.19
  • cream cheese $2.19
  • tortilla chips $2.99
  • Doritos $1.99 after sale
  • onions $2.49/3# bag
  • jalapenos $0.99/lb
  • mushrooms $2.99
  • spaghetti squash $0.99/lb
  • eggs $2.77
  • ground turkey $2.67/lb (I bought 8 pounds!)
  • sparkling water $4.59

Total spent $68


  • fruit only spread $3.99
  • applesiace $2.29
  • yogurt $3.79
  • grape juice $4.49
  • flour $3.19
  • mushrooms $3.99/lb
  • romaine $0.99
  • pork shoulder $1.99/lb
  • hersheys bar FREE after coupon

Total spent $39


  • cloves $4.01
  • milk $2.69
  • red grapes $0.99/lb
  • tomatoes $2.49/lb
  • pears $0.99/lb
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • apples $2.49/lb
  • salami $6.99
  • deli turkey $9.08
  • sourdough bread $2.50

Total spent $46


Trader Joe’s

  • mushrooms $1.79
  • green onions $0.99
  • org romaine hearts $2.49
  • kale salad $2.49
  • kale blend $1.99
  • cereal $1.99 to $2.99
  • carrots $0.79
  • smoothies $3.49
  • milk $2.89
  • string cheese $2.99
  • bell peppers 2-pack $3.29
  • Brie $4.70
  • truffle cheese $5.64
  • pepperoni $2.99
  • org celery hearts $2.29
  • pasta $0.99
  • rice crackers $2.69
  • coconut oil $5.49
  • garbanzo beans $0.79
  • whipping cream $1.29
  • almonds $6.99
  • apple juice $2.99
  • eggs $1.29/doz
  • toffee $1.49
  • green salsa $2.79
  • bacon ends $3.49
  • tilapia $5.14
  • chicken tenders $7.49
  • ginger paste $1.99

Total spent $122


recipe testing 😉

  • cream cheese $2.19
  • baking cocoa $4.99
  • cranberry sauce $1.99
  • sugar $2.99
  • fresh cranberries $2.99

Total spent $15



  • eggs $2.29 to $2.39 (manager’s clearance)
  • sandwich rolls $3.99
  • saltines $1.49
  • club soda $0.89
  • milk $2.69
  • pomegranate $2.50
  • mushrooms $2.99
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • red grapes $1.89/lb
  • deli turkey $5.99
  • sourdough bread $2.50

Total spent $49


  • milk 2-gallons $4.49
  • rotisserie chickens $4.99
  • chicken stock $11.59
  • craisins $8.89
  • deli roast beef $8.89
  • fruit leathers $11.99
  • canned tuna $12.99
  • fage $6.39
  • onion flakes $3.59
  • chili powder $5.49
  • red bell peppers 6-pack $5.99
  • deli turkey $15.52
  • sourdough $3.69
  • romaine $2.99
  • heavy cream $9.89
  • bread $4.59
  • shredded mozzarella $10.99
  • org gr beef 4# $19.99
  • org brown mushrooms $5.79
  • sourdough bread $3.69
  • Tillamook sharp cheddar $8.99
  • English cucumbers $3.99
  • tortillas $3.69
  • frozen french fries $6.59

Total spent $230

Total spent this month $1238

Here’s how it’s looking for the year to date:

  • January $669
  • February $1092
  • March $1206
  • April $1435
  • May $1500
  • June $1215
  • July $1221
  • August $1338
  • September $816
  • October $1238

Total YTD: $11,733

That total divided by 10 months, brings our average to $1173.30/month which is UNDER our $1200 budget per month. ?

Quite honestly, I’m shocked. This month’s grocery shopping was very much flying by the seat of my pants, meal prep was haphazard, and there were lots of little stops at the store which should have burned me. But, they didn’t. That’s two months in a row like that. Surely my luck will run out.

The pantry is pretty full as are the freezers, so I’m hoping I can focus on what we have instead of buying more. I’m constantly doing the Healthy Eating Two-Step, wanting to eat well but then sometimes caving, as evidenced by Doritos, candy, and chocolate pretzels showing up a little more often than they normally do. Ahem.

Altogether, I’m encouraged by our progress. Shopping at Costco a little more often than we were is paying off, especially since we go through so much milk, yogurt, bread, and deli meat, things I rely on for my kids to fend for themselves when my schedule is busy and I’m not doing big recipe development.

How did YOUR grocery shopping go this month?

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  1. Hurray for Grocery Geek!!
    Considering all you had on your plate I think you did an awesome job!
    My shopping this month has basically been staples and sales. Luckily we have been able to follow our meal plan most of the time.(I only plan dinners and snacks. Our foster boys and adopted son get free breakfast and lunch at school)
    Thanks for all you do to help me feed my 5 male appetites!

  2. Noosa yogurt is the best thing EVER!!!! Too much sugar for me since I’ve adopted the no sugar lifestyle, but definitely a treat for a cheat day!!!

    • I do wish it had less sugar as I think it is sweeter than it needs to be, but I absolutely agree that it is fabulous yogurt! Our Costco carries it in a 12-pack with strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, and lemon. Those are the only flavors I’ve tried, but the tart cherry in that photo sounds phenomenal. Sometimes I’ll eat it for breakfast but most of the time I use it as a dessert.

    • It is my once-in-awhile treat. It was part of the Buy5 sale or whatever it was, so I “had to” get it.

      I’ve never seen it at Costco, though. Will have to look.

  3. Thank you for saying the start of school time means a rougher budget. I am feeling a bit of stress as we move into the holidays as I know it won’t be any easier on the budget. January’s Panty Challenge will be much relief!

    I hope you are all on the mend and stay healthy!

  4. Wow, nice work! It looks like your family ate really well last month, with a few much deserved splurge items I would say!! A couple questions for you if I may: What does snacking look like with your kids being home during the day? Do you pack food out when you go to your school co-ops?? Snacking seems to be an uphill battle for us right now – my kids are little though so it’s not inappropriate, it just feels like we are never not eating or talking about food. Thanks for taking the time to do these grocery posts 🙂

    • I’ve told the teens to make a sandwich if they need a snack in an effort to get more protein in them. The littles get fruit, veggies and hummus, or something like hard cooked eggs or string cheese. Our co-ops are not over meal times so we eat at home.

  5. Jessica, have you tried the twin pack of Kirkland’s brand of the Fage yogurt? The Boy uses it daily and swears it taste the same if not better and it’s less expensive. Hey, this is coming from a 23 year old boy 😉 Hope everyone is on the road to recovery and I’m knocking on wood as we’ve been lucky so far, even with the traveling Hubby and I have been doing!

  6. you did good, I have a daughter with 4 teenage boys and their friends (because she’s at work) and they can munch through $1000 a week to the point she now goes to the store every other day to curtail that and it’s still at $600 with concession stands at the games. They all play and they all go to each other’s games. She did get a all in one cooker(pressure cooker, slowcooker etc) and said it really helped as if she forgets to thaw the meat she tosses it in frozen and still sits down an hour later to a home cooked meal

  7. Suze Clark says:

    Hi Jessica, I’ve been following you blog for a while and receive your email newsletter. One thing I notice is you seem to be able to find quite a lot of reduced priced. For me it’s really hit and miss. Could you give us some tips on shopping for reduced priced items. Blessings Suze

    • It is hit and miss here, but basically I have one Ralphs that has really good markdowns. Ask your store what time/day they mark things down. That can make a difference. The markdowns are usually Thursday or Friday here. Everything is gone by the weekend.

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