What I spent on groceries in July (A Grocery Geek report)

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

groceries in a cart in front of ALDI

Hey there! Hi there! Can you believe how quickly the summer has flown by? We are inching up on back to school, so I’m battening down the hatches!

July was a pretty relaxing month with beach days and trips to the movies and a weeklong visit from friends-closer-than-family, but at the same time, I tried to keep my eye open for things that will make my life easier once school starts.

If you’re new here, you might not know that I teach my kids at home. The two eldest are in college, but I’ve got four students on my watch. Trust me when I say, “The days are just packed!”

That means I need to be on my game. This month I spent a fair amount of time prepping fruit for the freezer. Or rather, my daughters did. They were my chief cherry pitters as I stocked up on cherries that were on sale. All my kids love to make smoothies, so if I can fill our freezer with bargain frozen fruit, we’re in business.

I also found a few other items on clearance, like a variety of jams with at least a year before their best-by dates. That’s the only good thing about your Walmart remodeling. They unload some good stuff for cheap. The rest of the time, you’re cursing them for moving EVERYTHING to a new location.

But, I digress.

You’ll notice that our overall bill this month is a little higher than normal. I attribute that to a few splurges at ALDI as well as the stocking up for later thing. Since our average was already under budget, I had plenty of cushion to go over. In fact, our year-to-date average is still under budget! Yay!

And we’ve got surplus in the freezer and cupboards for future months. With six kids it’s pretty hard to get ahead in a truly substantial way — they are perpetually hungry! — but I’m trying. In doing so, particularly when I find screaming deals, we save a lot of money.

Per the most recent USDA food cost reports (link below), we’re more than $300 UNDER a food stamp budget for a family of our make-up. Yay for good cheap eats!

The Grocery Geek report

For those of you new here, Grocery 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.

stack of melons on sale at a Sprouts grocery store

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:Grocery Geek: What We Spent in March | Good Cheap Eats

  • I’m feeding eight people, ages 55, 46, 21, 17, 16, 14, 11, and 9. Five of those people are males. They eat A LOT!
  • I’m shooting for a budget of $1100 this year, trying to beat what the feds think it will cost. Per the most recent USDA food cost reports it should cost our family $1346.60 to eat all meals at home under the “thrifty plan” for people of our demographics.
  • We 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 on groceries in July:

Sprouts

  • strawberries $0.97/lb (stockpiling in freezer)
  • 5# bag potatoes $1.99
  • cilantro $0.50/bundle
  • granny smith apples $0.99/lb
  • green bell peppers $0.77 each
  • green onions $0.50
  • lettuce $0.99/head
  • zucchini $1.49/lb
  • jalapeños 8/$1.00
  • nectarines $0.98/lb
  • organic gala apples $0.99/lb
  • organic celery $1.99
  • red bell peppers $1.25 each
  • cherries $0.97/lb (stockpiling in freezer)
  • red onions $0.99/lb
  • watermelon $2.99
  • bag shishito peppers $2.99
  • baking powder $1.99
  • lemon ginger tea $3.49
  • carne asada $3.99/lb
  • fresh sausage $2.99/lb
  • xtra lean ground beef $2.99/lb
  • French bread $1.89/loaf

Total spent $87

Vitacost

Occasionally I order flour from Vitacost as a way to find better quality at a reasonable price.

  • bread flour $4.69/5# bag (stockpiling in freezer)
  • whole wheat flour $3.19/3# bag (stockpiling in freezer)

Total spent $43

Ralphs

  • whipping cream $5.49
  • eggs $3.99

Total spent $10

Sprouts

  • strawberries $0.97 (stockpiling in freezer)
  • cilantro $0.50
  • hot house cucumber $1.50
  • organic baby spinach $4.99
  • red bell peppers $1.25
  • cherries $0.95/lb (stockpiling in freezer)
  • tea $3.49
  • greek yogurt $2.99

Total spent $19

Trader Joe’s

  • maple syrup $15.99
  • cereal $1.99
  • frozen chicken tenderloins $7.49 (stockpiling in freezer)
  • milk $2.69
  • frozen green beans $1.99 (stockpiling in freezer)
  • almond butter $5.99
  • juice $2.99
  • cheddar $2.47
  • hummus $4.99
  • 3-pack peppers $3.29

Total spent $61

grocery cart full of watermelons, cherries, and bananas

Sprouts

  • mini watermelon $0.95 each
  • raspberries $1.50
  • cherries $0.95/lb (stockpiling in freezer)
  • bananas $0.59/lb (stockpiling in freezer)
  • mozzarella $6.99/2#
  • greek yogurt $2.99

Total spent $38

Ralphs

  • grape tomatoes $2.99
  • deli salami $5.50
  • sushi $8.99 each
  • deli turkey $10.39
  • Boursin cheese $3.99
  • Brie $6.30

Total spent $53

Walmart

  • milk $2.39
  • powdered sugar $1.98
  • sugar $1.98
  • turbinado $3.98
  • unbleached flour $5.98
  • brown sugar $1.98

Total spent $25

Costco

  • olive oil $14.69-$14.99
  • dry pinto beans $5.69
  • organic brown rice $11.99
  • frozen yakisoba $11.49
  • hummus singles $6.49
  • chicken bake $10.99
  • rotisserie chickens $4.99 each
  • craisins $4.89
  • organic spaghetti $8.89
  • kirkland tuna $12.99
  • cheddar jack shreds $12.59
  • organic quinoa $9.49
  • pesto $4.89
  • organic honey $13.49
  • avocado oil $9.69
  • shredded mozzarella $11.99
  • pita $3.39
  • frozen tilapia $16.49 (stockpiling in freezer)
  • Tillamook cheddar $8.99
  • frozen french fries $6.59
  • romaine 6-pack $3.99
  • frozen Hawaiian chicken $11.49
  • roast whole turkey breast $3.99/lb
  • tortillas $3.69
  • mixed bell peppers 6-pack $6.99
  • frozen ono $19.89 (stockpiling in freezer)
  • greek yogurt $5.59
  • butter $11.19

Total spent $365

grocery cart full of fresh fruit and vegetables

Sprouts

  • blueberries 18 oz. $1.97 (stockpiling in freezer)
  • pineapple $1.98
  • apples $0.50/lb
  • plums $0.98/lb
  • nectarines $0.98/lb
  • organic baby carrots $0.98/lb
  • red cherries $0.95/lb (stockpiling in freezer)
  • apple cider vinegar $4.99

Total spent $33

Ralphs

  • green salsa $0.79
  • cilantro $0.69
  • jalapeños $0.99/lb
  • canned tomatoes $1.69

Total spent $5

Ralphs

  • cereal $0.99 to 1.69
  • ice cream and popsicles $4.49 to 4.99
  • chocolate chips $3.49
  • grapes $2.99/lb
  • bananas $0.59/lb
  • grapefruit $1.29
  • melon $0.77
  • mushrooms $2.29
  • broccoli $1.99/lb

Total spent $38

Sprouts

  • baby carrots $1.29
  • melon $0.98
  • grape tomatoes $1.50
  • XL avocados $1.66
  • organic bananas $0.69/lb
  • mango 2/$1
  • sweet onions $0.68/lb
  • organic coconut milk $1.99
  • greek yogurt $2.99
  • frozen strawberries $2.99

Total spent $33

ALDI

  • eggs $0.94
  • bottled sparkling water $0.69 each after CRV
  • frozen tamales $5.49
  • milk $2.10
  • whipping cream $1.99
  • tomato paste $0.39
  • flour tortillas $1.59
  • fruit $2.19
  • pepperoni $2.19
  • salami $3.49
  • olives $2.99
  • seedless cucumber $0.95
  • organic baby spinach $2.49
  • yellow onions $1.35
  • diced green chiles $0.59
  • superfruit spread $2.89
  • deli sliced cheese $1.99
  • deli ham and turkey $2.99
  • red potatoes $2.25
  • baby carrots $0.89
  • red onions $0.59/lb
  • whole carrots $0.95
  • coleslaw $1.49
  • red peppers $0.65 each
  • b/s chicken breast $1.29/lb

Total spent $100

Ralphs

  • macaroni and shells $0.89
  • milk $2.49
  • canned pintos $1.69
  • large mayonnaise $6.29
  • shredded lettuce $1.79
  • mushrooms $2.29
  • yogurt $5.99
  • ground pork $2.99 on clearance (stockpiling in freezer)
  • chuck roast $3.99/lb
  • clearance bread $0.99

Total spent $60

Sprouts

  • strawberries $0.97
  • mushrooms $3.49
  • melons $0.67
  • cilantro $0.50
  • tomatoes $0.98/lb
  • eggplant $1.25
  • XL avocados $1.66
  • nectarines $0.98/lb
  • organic bananas $0.59/lb
  • organic celery stalk $1.99
  • mangoes 2/$1
  • soba noodles $1.69
  • tahini $5.99
  • rice vinegar $2.29
  • bottled water $3.70 after crv
  • sliced bacon $2.27
  • wild sockeye salmon $9.99

Total spent $75

various grocery items laid out on the counter

Walmart

  • juice $3.28
  • jams on clearance $1-$2 (stockpiling in pantry)
  • nutella packs on clearance $1.50 (stockpiling in pantry)
  • greek yogurt $5.38
  • broccoli $1.68/lb
  • flour $5.98/10#
  • limes $0.25
  • shrimp $5.86
  • water chestnuts $0.72
  • shredded carrots $1.67

Total spent $50

cart full of unbaked groceries in the parking lot of ALDI

ALDI

  • eggs $0.92
  • frozen green beans $1.39 (stockpiling in freezer)
  • frozen bell peppers $1.79 (stockpiling in freezer)
  • organic whole wheat spaghetti $1.09
  • organic black beans $0.89
  • crushed tomatoes $0.99
  • garbanzo beans $0.69
  • organic diced tomatoes $1.65
  • ground black pepper $2.69
  • salami $3.49
  • onion flakes $0.99
  • sparkling water $0.69 after CRV
  • deli ham and turkey $2.99
  • olives $2.99
  • milk $1.38
  • sour cream $1.29
  • pickles $3.79
  • flour tortillas $1.59
  • black beans $2.49
  • corn tortillas $2.28
  • tostada shells $1.85
  • pepperoni $2.19
  • cheddar $2.99
  • hummus $2.29
  • chips $1.99
  • cottage cheese $1.29
  • brie $2.99
  • chocolate $1.49
  • whipping cream $1.99
  • mini bagels $1.99
  • spinach $1.19
  • bell peppers $0.75 each
  • broccoli crowns $0.99
  • deli sliced cheese $1.99
  • Italian bread $3.99
  • coleslaw $1.49
  • limes $0.15
  • romas $0.45/lb
  • graham crackers $1.25
  • woven wheat crackers $1.75
  • green tea $0.99
  • green onions $0.99
  • flatbread $2.89
  • cilantro $0.33
  • jalapeños $0.49 (stockpiling in freezer)
  • red onions $0.59/lb
  • milk $2.10
  • b/s chicken breast $1.89/lb

Total spent $159

ALDI

  • sparkling water $0.69 after CRV
  • pepperoni $2.19
  • jalapeños $0.49
  • tomato sauce $0.29
  • tomato paste $0.39

Total spent $27

Trader Joe’s

  • frozen chicken tenders $7.49 (stockpiling in freezer)
  • tofu $1.69 to $2.49

Total spent $41

ALDI

  • sparkling water $0.69 after CRV
  • eggs $0.91
  • pepperoni $2.19
  • cottage cheese $1.29
  • garbanzo beans $0.69
  • tomato paste $0.39

Total spent $32

Spent in July: $1354

Spent in 2018:

  • January: $490
  • February: $1084
  • March: $1224
  • April: $1009
  • May: $994
  • June: $1095
  • July: $1354

Total spent YTD: $7250

That’s an average of $1036/month

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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Comments

  1. Glad to see grocery geek this month. I miss reading your daily life updates, have I somehow unsubscribed to that email, or have you stopped that for now?

  2. Update on my chicken adventures: I have been successful by buying frozen trader joe’s chicken breasts, and baking them, plain, until a thermometer reads 165F. It’s not the greatest ever, but it’s a start! Then I cut them up and put them on salads.

  3. Andrea G says:

    I just love these posts. Do you share meal plans to go with all this good :)?

  4. Great job! You really got some great deals & made good use of your freezer. I went over budget this month. I bought treats & individual snacks to take on our vacation. Reminded me why I never buy those things. But it was a fun vacation at the beach. We didn’t eat out at all. I packed up freezer meals & the kids thought they were being treated like royalty with all the mom-never-buys-these treats.

  5. Thank you Jessica! I hope your school year gets off to a great start! We begin ours next week! You aren’t kidding when you say dairy is expensive where you live! We don’t have Ralph’s here in Alabama, but I shop Aldis, Walmart and occasionally Publix. Love seeing your hauls. And thanks for having the USDA link. It’s a great way to judge what we’re doing here! Eating well, on a budget!

  6. I’ve had good luck with Costco heavy whipping cream. I put it in glass jars to keep out smells, think it keeps it fresh longer too- about a month. 1/2 gallon is only $4.99. Sooooo good in coffee!

  7. Nancy K Sadewater says:

    I enjoy the grocery geek report however, I find it a bit difficult to follow. Would it be possible for you to list how many pounds of meat/cheese, etc. that you buy beyond just listing the package total, I enjoy the individual shopping list from each store.

    • I understand. Unfortunately, my info is coming from my receipts and doesn’t usually include sizes. 🙁 Know that since I’m feeding 8 people, most packaged items will be the larger sizes. I buy most things in bulk and do list sizes when they’re easy to remember.

  8. Congratulations!!! All that stocking up and you are still under eight dollars over what the USDA thinks you should spend a month. You are doing excellent! I also like to stock up in the freezer and pantry to keep down costs. My extra this week was nectarines on sale for 99 cents. Once they ripen a bit I will freeze them for use in smoothies, sorbets, fruit popsicles, cooked compotes or whatever. I like to cook frozen peach slices with cherries for compote, but the price of the already frozen ones is high. I suspect that nectarines with be equally good.

    Have you ever tried freezing grapes? I like to snack on them frozen or just slightly thawed. This lets me buy them when the price is low and eat them later when the price is high. The nicest part about the grapes and banana slices is that they can be taken out and eaten right away with no other cooking/baking.

  9. BEFORE YOU JUDGE ME FOR EXTRAVAGANCE, Have people actually done this? Even a quick scan shows you purchase mostly produce, dairy, beans, and meat with few, if any, highly processed junk foods. I would hate for anyone to review my grocery cart. There are a number of items we buy regularly that are hardly health foods such as pop (my caffeine fix for the day) and ice cream (my husband’s preferred treat). We don’t smoke, drink alcohol, take illegal drugs, cheat on our spouses or gamble. In the grand scheme of bad habits, a few less than healthy treats once in awhile are okay in my book.

  10. Wasn’t that an amazing price for cherries? We, too, stocked up (albeit only one extra package since we’re a family of three). However, if I’d had more space in my freezers, I probably would have picked up even more . . . . (Still working on those freezers. sigh)

    We came in at $158.81 for the month of July. Of course, the guys were gone to Scout camp for seven days, and then the whole family finally got away for a much-needed, way overdue vacation for five days. (Mt. Rushmore–amazing!) We just won’t go into how much we spent on vacation meals. 😉

  11. Sarah Gallop says:

    Love these posts! It always just blows my mind that you can get chicken, even if it was on sale, for $1.89/pound. Living in BC, Canada, it’s just not a reality! Thanks for sharing!

    • Same here in New Hampshire. Double that for grocery store mystery chicken best case scenario, usually $4/lb for locally raised whole roasters. I think our maple syrup price is slightly better here though ? this year we paid $43/gallon.

      • ALDI is the only place with that great price on chicken all the time. $1.89 every day, $1.29 on sale. 🙂

        And yes, maple syrup is a small fortune, but I won’t do fake anymore.

  12. Elsa Kidwell says:

    Hi, I see that you shop at Aldi’s. I live in San Diego and live 15-20mins away from an Aldi’s and I don’t know if it would be worth it for me to travel that far for groceries. Do you find it worth your time to go there? Also, what do you think about Walmart’s online grocery program. Have you used the online grocery shopping method yet?

    • I live about 15-20 minutes from my ALDI, but it is worth it for a big trip. I usually stock up once a week and go on Sunday mornings when the highway traffic is minimal so the trip seems really short.

      I’ve done online with Vons but not Walmart. Neither store has prices that are worth it to me. I’ve seen a paid shopper at ALDI…. can’t remember what company that was, but depending on their fees, that could be worth it.

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