Grocery Geek: What We Spent in November

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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: the Grocery Geek report for November.

True to form, the fall months ramp up into craziness as the holidays approach. This month was no different. We’ve had two birthdays, a trip to Disneyland, three sick kids, one adult on South Beach diet, another adult weighing his proteins and trying to avoid gluten, and, of course, the holidays. Needless to say, cooking at my house has been far from simple this month!

In amidst the hurry scurry, there were more trips to local, more expensive stores and fewer trips to my new best friend, ALDI. However, my good buddy Ralphs did not let me down. It had been quite some time since I’d shopped there regularly, but they always have some good sales and markdowns near the holidays. So, though I spent a good 50 cents more on each carton of cream or gallon of milk, they made up for it with some good deals and availability on some items that I can’t get at ALDI or Costco.

When all was said and done, we were still under budget, despite all our frolicking, feasting, and afflictions.

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, 45, 20, 17, 15, 13, 11, and 9. 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 November:

Trader Joe’s

  • kefir $2.99
  • plantain chips $1.69
  • rice crackers $2.79
  • red wine vinegar $1.99
  • sunbutter $4.99
  • soy sauce $2.99
  • coconut aminos $2.99
  • almond milk $1.79
  • Ak-mak $1.99
  • rice vinegar $1.99
  • baking powder $1.49
  • ginger paste $1.99
  • string cheese $2.99
  • almonds $5.99
  • almond butter $5.99
  • organic apples 2 lb for $2.99
  • lemon curd

Total spent $71


  • whole wheat pasta $2.50
  • ground pork $3.99/lb
  • grass-fed ground beef $3.99/lb

Total spent $14


  • mushrooms $3.49
  • baby spinach $3.89
  • tomatoes $0.69/lb
  • spaghetti squash $0.88/lb
  • grass-fed ground beef $3.99/lb

Total spent $43


  • shredded cheddar cheese $5.89/2# bag
  • broccoli $1.29
  • romaine (4-mini heads) $2.49
  • red bell pepper $0.78 each
  • seedless cucumbers $1.29 each
  • navel oranges $3.49/3# bag
  • radishes $1.99
  • eggs $0.68
  • milk $2.30
  • chicken breast $0.99/lb
  • cottage cheese $1.99
  • tomatoes $1.89
  • whole milk $1.58/half gal
  • avocado $0.78
  • garlic powder $1.99
  • tomato sauce $0.29
  • grape tomatoes $0.99
  • green onions $0.99
  • ham $3.29
  • baking chocolate $1.49
  • red onions $0.68/lb
  • sparkling water $0.69 after CRV
  • iceberg lettuce $0.98
  • celery $0.88
  • country style ribs $2.99/lb
  • pork butt roast $2.49/lb
  • roast beef and turkey $2.99
  • canned tomatoes $0.55
  • fajita tortillas $1.99
  • wheat bread $3.99
  • chicken broth $1.49
  • Italian cheese $3.79
  • mushrooms $0.99

Total spent $125


  • tarragon $3.49
  • cauliflower rice $2.99
  • avocado $1.29
  • spices $5.59
  • bacon $2.79
  • clearance bread $0.50 to $0.99
  • poppy seeds $3.97

Total spent $24


  • butter $2.88
  • whipping cream $4.99
  • orange juice $1.99
  • buttermilk $2.99
  • cake mix $0.99
  • flour $1.99
  • sparkling cider $2.09 after CRV
  • crushed tomatoes $1.79
  • chuck roast $2.99/lb
  • chicken breast $1.99/lb
  • organic hot sauce $1.99
  • horseradish $3.49
  • shrimp $14.99

Total spent: $122


  • sparkling cider 4-pack $5.50
  • bread $3.69 to $3.99
  • ham $10.06 (Thanksgiving)
  • rotisserie chickens $4.99

Total spent: $42


  • sparkling water $0.69 after CRV
  • eggs $0.68
  • chips $2.49
  • veggie straws $1.99 (for snack day at Bible study)
  • mushrooms $1.97
  • green onions $0.99
  • cilantro $0.48
  • roast beef $2.99
  • shredded cheese $5.89/2# bag
  • baby lettuce $2.48
  • cuties $3.99 (for snack day at Bible study)
  • seedless cucumbers $1.29
  • crackers $2.99
  • water bottles $3.19 after CRV
  • morello cherries $2.39
  • b/s chicken breasts $1.49/lb
  • country style ribs $2.99/lb
  • pumpkin cider $1.99
  • cookies $1.99
  • crispbread $2.99
  • 10# potatoes $2.29
  • sour cream $1.29
  • cottage cheese $1.99
  • orange juice $1.19
  • olives $1.19
  • mini pumpkins $1.99
  • pineapple chunks $1.09
  • Brie round $2.99
  • garbanzo beans $0.65
  • sauerkraut $1.69
  • flour tortillas $1.59
  • fajita tortillas $1.99

Total spent $119


  • cereal bars $3.69 (for a day at Disneyland)
  • cheetos $4.49 (for a day at Disneyland)
  • yogurt smoothies $4.49 (for a day at Disneyland)
  • fruit snacks $1.99 (for a day at Disneyland)
  • rolls $3.79
  • coleslaw mix $1.79
  • cilantro $0.69
  • sausage $3.49
  • fajita tortillas $3.59
  • green juice $1.75

Total spent $31


  • milk $4.59/2 gallons
  • pretzels $6.59
  • organic chicken stock $10.99
  • tortilla chips $3.49
  • shredded mozzarella $11.49
  • avocado oil $8.99
  • cucumbers $3.99/3-pack
  • kale salad $4.79
  • eggs $2.69
  • organic spinach $3.99
  • sourdough $3.69
  • greek yogurt $5.49
  • turkey breast $16.24
  • sharp cheddar $8.99
  • snap peas $4.49
  • organic brown mushrooms $5.99
  • tortillas $3.69
  • red peppers $6.99/6-pack
  • salami $9.99
  • rotisserie chicken $4.99
  • cheesecake $13.99

Total spent: $157


  • bananas $0.59/lb (sick kid)
  • whipping cream $3.49
  • yogurt $4.69 (sick kid)
  • frozen fruit bars $4.99 (sick kid)
  • bagged ice $2.29 (sick kid)

Total spent $17


  • brussels sprouts $1.98/lb (Thanksgiving)
  • parsley $0.50
  • organic broccoli $1.99/lb
  • organic celery $0.98
  • spaghetti squash $0.88/lb
  • sweet potatoes $0.88/lb
  • sausage $2.99/lb
  • fresh turkey breast $13.53 (Thanksgiving)
  • organic green beans $2.00 (Thanksgiving)

Total spent: $40


  • crushed tomatoes $0.99
  • cottage cheese $1.99
  • onions $1.38/bag
  • milk $2.30
  • organic black beans $0.89 (bought case)
  • organic pinto beans $0.89 (bought case)
  • garbanzo beans $0.65 (bought case)

Total spent $42


  • panko breadcrumbs $1.69
  • powdered sugar $2.16
  • jello $1.25 (Thanksgiving)
  • stuffing $2.50 (Thanksgiving)
  • cream cheese $2.00 (Thanksgiving)
  • cornstarch $1.29
  • brown sugar $2.16 (Thanksgiving)
  • frozen veg $1.00
  • cool whip $1.25 (Thanksgiving)
  • almonds $3.99 (Thanksgiving)
  • alfalfa sprouts $0.99 (manager’s special)
  • frozen raspberries $3.29 (Thanksgiving)

Total spent: $37


  • potatoes $3.99
  • lemons $2.99
  • organic eggs $2.49 (manager’s special)
  • organic apple juice $2.99
  • organic chicken drumsticks $1.99/lb (manager’s special)

Total spent: $28


  • tomatoes $1.38/lb
  • corn tortillas $1.78
  • salsa verde $2.38
  • cilantro $0.48
  • serrano chiles $0.30

Total spent: $6


  • lemon lime soda (free with coupon)
  • milk $2.59
  • refried beans (free with coupon)
  • Cheerios (free with coupon)
  • whipping cream $3.24 after coupon
  • 18-ct eggs $2.09 after coupon
  • olives $1.59
  • cooking sherry $3.89 after sale and coupon
  • sriracha $1.99
  • grape tomatoes $2.99
  • 2# organic carrots $1.99
  • mentos (free with coupon)
  • salad kits $0.99 (manager’s special)
  • organic mushrooms $0.49 to $0.99 (manager’s special and coupons)
  • mixed veggies $1.49 (manager’s special)
  • apple slices $0.99 (manager’s special)
  • avocados $3.35/3 after sale and coupon
  • Kettle chips $2.50after sale and coupon
  • noosa yogurt $0.29 (manager’s special and coupons)
  • tri-tip $3.99/lb
  • spready cheese $3.99 after sale and coupon
  • dinner rolls $0.99 (manager’s special)

Total spent $64

Bob’s Red Mill

Bob’s had a great sale for Black Friday that I could not pass up – 35% off plus free shipping. Definitely stock-up prices!

  • artisan bread flour 20# $21.49
  • 96 oz cornmeal $8.59
  • 8-oz wild rice $5.79
  • 30-oz pearl barley $2.79
  • 40-oz oat bran $5.99
  • 8 pounds rolled oats $12.19
  • 16-oz almond flour
  • three 48-oz bags unbleached all-purpose flour $8.97
  • whole wheat pastry flour 20# $15.39
  • organic unbleached all-purpose flour 20# $28.79
  • 32-oz flax seed meal $5.79

Total spent $83

Total spent in November $1065

  • January $356
  • February $1015
  • March $1336
  • April $1347
  • May $390
  • June $1200
  • July $1354
  • August $1405
  • September $774
  • October $970
  • November $1065

Total spent YTD: $11,212

Monthly average $1019

So, we’re not doing too bad! I’m not sure what the month of December will hold, however. Three kids and two parents have yet to get the grunge that the three littles have spent three weeks passing around. Very weird having one kid sick per week!

And yes, we all know that I tend to get a little excited with my grocery shopping at the holidays, but we’re set up well — at least with whole grains! There isn’t too much meat in the freezer, but just enough that I can’t yet thaw it out. I’ll need to do it soon, though, to make room for all the Bob’s stuff. The ice is just getting too thick in there.

I know that I “overspent” this month in the sense that ALDI would have been cheaper for many things I bought at other stores. It’s just too far to go there for one quick thing. Will need to plan better, I suppose.

How did YOUR grocery shopping go in November?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Susan says

    You came in under on a month with Thanksgiving and sick kids – you did great! And it looks to me like you could spend double next month and still come in under for the year!

    We moved to a new town in September and I am still trying to find the best stores and the layout in each one (my specialy tea was on the international aisle with the pasta in one store – sigh).

    • You probably shouldn’t have said I could spend double this month. I think you planted a little idea in my head. LOL! I filled the freezer to the brim this weekend. Yikes!

  2. Molly says

    I buy coconut aminos because I’m allergic to soy, but I see you also bought soy sauce. What do you use the coconut aminos for?

  3. Michele says

    I was way under in November, which is surprising considering I did a huge pantry challenge in October, spending less than half of what I usually do. In November I spent about 60% of my budget. I told my husband that I expect to spend all of it in December! With a week long vacation and holiday food, I’m not going to try to squeeze too much out of it. The biggest change is that I’m not buying snack food and the kids have definitely noticed. When they ask for something to eat between meals, I offer them leftovers or vegetables. I quickly learn who is really hungry 🙂

  4. Sandi says

    I ended up about $15 over budget for Nov. However, we decided literally on Tues to do traditional Thanksgiving on Thurs, so there were some last minute purchases that might have been cheaper if I’d planned ahead. There were some things I bought because the sign said they were on sale but I realized after I got home that it was a different size that was BOGO so I’m going to take it back and that will be $10 returned. I also bought some Black Friday pork loins on sale at Costco; when you can get a whole loin for about $6, how can you turn that down? I got a couple for my neighbors as gifts and then put some in the freezer. I just finally used up the ones in the freezer from last year, swore I wasn’t going to do that much again, but then I did. The price was just too good!

  5. Sha says

    Hi , Good job staying under budget! I noticed that you’ve bought fruit only 4 times for the month(apples, oranges, cuties, & bananas, if I read right). Is your family not into fruit? One of my biggest expenses is produce. We’re a family of 3 but buy a ton of fruit. I buy seasonal but still spend a lot. Althought the produce is cheaper in Cali (I live in SoCal) since a pound only contain about 3 or so apples, it gets pricey. I try to buy organic produce whenever they’re on sale, and Sprouts do have many organic deals. Still I go over all the time.

    • Due to blood sugar concerns, we bought less fruit this past month. Kids ate more veggies instead.

      • Sha says

        Good choice! We eat a lot of veggies & fruits, maybe there is such a thing as a ‘too much of a good thing”.

  6. Kristi says

    Way to go! Even though I didn’t track receipts, I know because of Thanksgiving, we were over by about $80. But we bought a huge turkey and I made 3 pies (dinner was potluck style). I am finally learning after all these years to just budget more for the holidays. We have more people to feed usually, I love to bake and food is my love language. Ha!

  7. Roberta says

    Your GG posts always amaze me (both the quantity of food you have to buy and the awesome deals you get).

    We went over my goal of $300 by about $60, but our monthly average is $300.62–right on target. I’m hoping to come in under budget in December ’cause my pantry and freezers are full again. We’ll see how it goes.

    I’m looking forward to your January pantry challenge. I’m wanting to trim my grocery budget even more in 2018. An Aldi is opening up fairly close by; I’m hoping that will help. Of course my 13YO son is starting to eat more so we’ll see how that impacts the bill. 🙂

    Hope you all had a good time at Disneyland. Son goes with the Honor Society at school, but we avoid it as a family (the lines are just too long for us to justify the entry costs and I’m an introvert, so crowds like that are not my thing). Hubs grew up in Pasadena and went often as a kid (back in the day when they had E-ticket rides), and we went a few times back in our college days. It was fun, but I’m ok staying home now. Ha!

    • Disneyland has always been my happy place, even with the crowds. However, I must say that with the book I bought, we hardly had to wait for a single ride. We had all the big rides done by early afternoon. It was truly remarkable.

  8. Rachel says

    Your posts always inspire me. Keeping track of grocery spending as the month goes along is a huge help to me. Unfortunately in November I didn’t keep up with the numbers and when receipts were totaled we ended at $843 (family of 7). That did include 100# of rolled oats when Sprouts had them on sale (I was actually hoping they’d be out of stock so I could get a rain check and defer that expense.) That’s the most we’ve ever spent. Eek! But, we only ate out for a date for my birthday. I also admitted that I don’t want to eat beans and rice as much and like the fancy food splurge at the holidays. So we’re entering December with a stuffed pantry and I look forward to a pantry challenge in January. I’ve kept a grocery expense book all year and it’s helping me see some patterns in how much, where and when we spend.

  9. Terry calkins says

    My grocery budget is 50.00 per week. My November expenses came in at 146.62. I have a new dishwasher to pay for. Hoping I can save 50.00 per month from my grocery budget to make that payment.
    Our pantry and freezers are full so I have high hopes to meet my goal.

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