Grocery Geek: What We Spent in July

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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.

bag of groceries with a cake mix in

July has been a month of finding my bearings in the kitchen again. In May we ate down the pantry in anticipation of June’s trip to Great Britain. This month was restocking and figuring out what’s what. As a result of starting fresh and not paying super close attention, I went over our budget by a little bit.

When I see those manager’s specials, it’s hard to resist!

You’ll see how the numbers crunched at the end. Spoiler: our monthly average for 2017 is still far below my target spending, proving that it’s good to scrimp some months so that you can feast in others.

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.

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 January

  • I’m feeding eight people, ages 53, 44, 20, 16, 15, 13, 10, 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 July:


  • strawberries $0.97/lb
  • baby potatoes $2.99/bag
  • cilantro $0.50/bunch
  • tomatoes $1.99/lb
  • half-pint blueberries $0.98
  • zucchini $0.98/lb
  • limes 4/$1.00
  • raspberries $2.99
  • sweet cherries $1.48/lb
  • lettuce $0.99/head
  • coleslaw $0.98
  • onions $0.98/lb
  • black forest ham $4.39
  • chicken breast $4.81
  • pepper jack cheese $2.99/lb
  • sliced roast beef $6.14
  • pumpkin seeds (in bulk ) $0.60
  • chicken apple sausage $5.49
  • xtra lean ground beef $3.99/lb
  • raw shrimp $6.99/lb
  • hamburger buns $2.00
  • frozen berries $1.50/bag

Total spent $117


  • olive oil $14.99
  • organic maple syrup $10.99
  • avocado oil $7.99
  • yeast $4.39
  • salt $2.79
  • brown rice ramne $7.99
  • black olives $9.59
  • organic sugar $7.99
  • organic pasta $8.49
  • white vinegar $3.59
  • tomato sauce $7.99
  • heavy cream $9.59
  • 4-lbs butter $12.69
  • shredded mozzarella $10.99
  • organic chicken stock $10.99
  • corn dogs $9.89
  • potatoes $6.99
  • Tillamook cheddar $8.99
  • Tillamook xtra sharp $9.59
  • Fage Greek yogurt $6.39
  • Aidells chicken sausage $13.99
  • hummus singles $6.49
  • Noosa single yogurts $8.79
  • rolled oats $8.39
  • organic eggs $6.49
  • 6-pack bell peppers $5.99
  • tortillas $3.69
  • half turkey breast $14.60
  • half ham $9.52
  • uncured bacon $12.79
  • pork tenderloins $18.34
  • rotisserie chicken $4.99
  • kale salad $4.79
  • cucumbers $3.29
  • ginger lemon cookies $4.59
  • rye bread $4.79
  • popcorn $11.99
  • multigrain crackers $9.89
  • bread $4.59
  • organic fruit strips $8.49
  • sourdough $3.69
  • milk $4.38/2-gallons
  • organic bunny snacks $8.39
  • torta sandwich rolls $8.79
  • comte cheese $8.79
  • bagels $5.49

Total spent $430


  • whole carrots $0.77/lb
  • mushrooms $3.49/lb
  • grapes $0.88/lb
  • cilantro $0.50/bunch
  • yellow and orange peppers $0.98/each
  • green onions $0.50/bunch
  • half-pint blueberries $0.88
  • organic apples $0.98/lb
  • red mangoes 3/$1
  • romaine lettuce $0.99
  • sweet cherries $1.98/lb
  • XL avocados 3/$5
  • bananas $0.69/lb
  • chocolate milk $2.79
  • ground sirloin $3.99/lb
  • chicken sausage $5.49

Total spent $61


  • organic eggs $6.49
  • 6-pack bell peppers $5.99
  • milk $4.38/2-gallons
  • sugar snap peas $4.29

Total spent $28


  • mushrooms $3.49/lb
  • 18-ounce blueberries $1.98
  • cilantro 3/$1
  • tomatoes  $0.98/lb
  • pineapple 3/$1.98
  • green onions 2/$1
  • red onions  $0.99/lb
  • spring mix $2.99
  • sweet onions  $0.98/lb
  • canned beans $0.89
  • feta cheese $3.21
  • sliced roast beef $6.56
  • grass fed ground beef $3.99/lb

Total spent $69


  • maple syrup $10.99
  • heavy cream $9.59
  • Tillamook cheddar $8.99
  • pesto $7.89
  • romaine 6-pack $3.29

Total spent $41


  • Cheerios – $1.99/box when you buy 5
  • Artesano bread to make bostock – $1.99/loaf
  • pasta – $0.99/bag
  • large cans beans – $1.99
  • personal watermelon – $1.88
  • nectarines $0.99/lb
  • limes 4/$1
  • large bottle vinegar $1.99
  • flour $3.99

Total spent $31


  • black beans $1.34
  • jalapenos $0.38
  • cilantro $0.48
  • flour $5.98

Total spent $17


  • graham cracker crust $2.69
  • ice cream cones $1.99
  • taco shells $1.49
  • pasta FREE after app coupon
  • olives $1.99
  • canned beans $0.69
  • biscuits FREE after app coupon
  • coconut cake $3
  • yogurt $1.50
  • ice cream $2.88
  • milk $2.69
  • French loaf $1.79
  • whole wheat pita $3.99
  • ground beef $3.38/lb on clearance
  • strawberries $1.50/lb
  • grapes $1.50/lb
  • cucumbers $0.50
  • zucchini $0.57
  • green onions $0.99
  • celery $1.99
  • red onions $1.49/lb
  • tomatoes $1.79/lb
  • apples $1.99/lb
  • nectarines $1.99/lb
  • potatoes $2.99
  • broccoli $2.00
  • shredded carrots $1.49

Total spent $84


  • milk $2.69
  • croissant $5.99

Total spent $9


  • strawberries $0.98
  • potatoes $2.99
  • cilantro 2/$1
  • limes 4/$1
  • apples $0.98/lb
  • XL avocados $1.88
  • French bread $1.29
  • almond butter $0.99

Total spent $18


  • bagels $1.50
  • Cheerios free to $0.99 after coupons and sales
  • frozen corn $1
  • tuna $4.49
  • cake mix $1.19 on clearance
  • sour cream $2.49
  • cream cheese $1.49
  • almonds $3.00
  • chicken breast $1.99/lb on markdown

Total spent $49

World Market

  • kettle corn $0.35/bag after 90% off sale
  • potato chips $0.18/bag after 90% off sale

Total spent $2


This was an impromptu birthday shopping trip.

  • baked beans $2.19
  • cinnamon rolls $3.49
  • English muffins $1.99
  • tri-tip roasts $5.99/lb
  • breakfast sausage $3.99
  • potatoes $2.99
  • mushrooms $5.00

Total spent $50

Plus shopping trips my husband did for me, but the receipts are now missing. Oops.

Aldi – $42

Costco – $152

Costco – $88

Costco – $66

Total spent in July: $1354

  • January $356
  • February $1015
  • March $1336
  • April $1347
  • May $390
  • June $1200
  • July $1354

Total spent in 2017 – $6998

Monthly average in 2017 – $999.71

Not too shabby, considering some months have been over. Lesson: cut back when you can so you’ve got wiggle room later. I’m hoping August will be a time to use things up; I’d really like to get some freezer meals ready for school.

How’s YOUR grocery budget doing?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Alice E says

    You did good, in my opinion. When I consider you are feeding teenage boys and had ate down pantry and freezer before the trip I am amazed at how well you have done. With school starting up I think you are wise to try to do some freezer meals and have them ready. Thank you for sharing with us and inspiring us.

  2. Maureen says

    Amazing. The quality of food that you find is a lesson for us all. I so look forward to this post each month!

    • Ah thanks. I always feel bad that I spent so much, like I should be spending less. I guess it’s all perspective.

  3. Laura Thorndike says

    Well done! On the tail of a long vacation you did well! I spent so much money in July! For our family of four I spent more than $1000. I feel fortunate to have that money available in my budget and we do still have a good deal of food in the freezer and pantry. I’m going into August doing a bit of a pantry challenge in order to use up some odds and ends that aren’t getting any better with age. We also still have some canned items in the pantry and our garden is producing more now so that’s good. I’d love to halve our spending this month…somewhere between $500-600 would be a great way to head into the school year both financially and organization-wise. I would really love to defrost my chest freezer before harvest and meat butchering this fall…perhaps that is another good goal for me this month!!

    Thanks for giving us your run down!

  4. Marci says

    I stepped away for a good four months from managing my food bills as I finished my doctoral degree. Now that Im done, Im back and theres a bit of comfort of getting back to it and a fear of getting back to it. My kids just complained that we have no food in the house and declared that they were going to Jack in the Box for dinner tonight…although we have food in our freeze and fridge! haha. Looking forward to browsing your site again to bring me up to speed and back to planning.

    • Welcome back!

    • Jodi says

      congrats, doctor!

      • Marci says

        Thank you! As our keynote speaker shared- being a doctor doesnt get you out of doing your chores…. haha 🙂 sooooo here I am

    • Heather M says

      Congratulations on finishing your doctorate! That is an amazing acompishment, especially doing it with a family to keep you busy, too! 🙂

  5. Roberta says

    I’m always amazed at the deals you find.

    A Sprouts opened up near us, and I’ve been really happy about that. Our garden is going well, but it’s nice to have a source of inexpensive (but good) produce to fill in the gaps.

    Our July grocery spending came in at $293.77 for our family of three (53, 52, and 13-y-o male swimmer).

    Planning to clean the pantry today, and I want to do a PC next month when we’re back to our normal routines.

  6. Susan Clark says

    Just added up our grocery recipes for July. My budget is $600 per 4 week month which is $150 per week. July = $619.19. Was doing the happy dance. I accomplished this by rereading all Jessica’s post on menu planning. I have a theme for every night of the week which means I plan menus for every night. For example Sunday is crock pot meal. Sunday is church and relax day. Have my list of pantry meals just in case. Also I went back to cash. I have $150 cash in my pocket. That’s it. I live in North East Tennessee so we do not have Sprouts, Costco etc but we do have Aldi and an affordable farmers market. I feel very accomplished and inspired!

  7. Heather M says

    I so get how you spent that kind of $$, after traveling forever, etc! I’m actually really impressed it was only a bit over budget, given you really needed to replenish the stores. 🙂

    I am recommitting to carefully watching our eating and our food budget. This entire year has been a loss so far, as I was struggling physically with foot problems that got worse with time, cortisone shots, AND PT. I was living in pain and an inability to be on my feet for more than a little bit at a time. So we spent a lot on convenience food, takeout, etc. Cooking needed to be fast and easy so I wouldn’t be standing long. After going downhill the entire last school year, finally figured out I had a cyst IN my tibia bone down by the ankle joint and I had surgery June 7. Needless to say, recovery hasn’t helped the food situation. However, we were incredibly blessed with many meals brought in the first month. The second month we spent traveling to my home (San Diego area) and my in-laws (NY). I was able to continue recuperating in both places. Yesterday I started PT and am now feeling a lot better. And finally hopeful I will be back to “normal” soon enough.

    To top everything off, we now have massive new expenses on our plates (college, and a few other things), so I need to actually budget for real for the first time since I was a broke young 20-something. Otherwise we will drain our savings way too quickly. So, I desperately need to be back in the kitchen cooking, planning, and watching our spending. Reading your Grocery Geek is motivating. Reading your entire blog is motivating. Always. Plus, the people who comment here regularly are just a wonderful bunch of supportive people, which also is motivating. Thank you, everyone!

    We are only home this week before my daughter, son and I head on a 2000+ mile road trip to college in Utah, from DC area (she needs a car with her, for a number of reasons). I’m trying not to buy much this week and to use up what we have in the freezer. Or at least most of it. July spending was strictly travel food spending/takeout/maybe some milk, yogurt, fruit, and salad. We were only home the first week. August so far was yesterday at Costco (mostly household necessities like TP, but also bought chicken sausages and baguette) and a few things at the store- lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, cherries, bananas, bread, deli meats, cheese, OJ, and tortillas, so we can make it through this week and have a few things to leave my husband for lunches while we are gone. I’m cooking dinner all week, and we are eating standard breakfast and lunch fare, mostly stuff we already had at home. I’m also going to figure out our actual need spending (household bills, tuition, room & board, insurance, etc) and what will be leftover for food/household/incidental spending.

    OK, I’ll stop rambling now. But, thank you Jessica for this blog, and all of you readers/commenters for your support, ideas, and general awesomeness. All of you are wonderful.

    • Hope your trip went well, Heather, and that you are healing well. I’m pretty confident that you’ll be able to whip your budget into shape. Let me know how I can help you troubleshoot!

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