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.

This month was a little crazier than September. The wheels started to fall off the bus a bit. All the regular routine kinda started to fade, and my planning was not as stellar as it had been in September. However!

All was not lost! We still were a good $200 under budget this month, thanks to shopping the pantry, meal planning, and not making lots of little trips to the store. I had one staggering stop at Ralphs that reminded me why I’ve been shopping at ALDI and Costco for most of our groceries. 

My meat supply is starting to dwindle and I did spy some good sales for later this week at Ralphs and Sprouts, so I will need to be careful how I shop there next month.

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, 16, 15, 13, 10, 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 October:


  • milk (2 gallons) $4.39
  • (for FishPapa’s work) Peets K-cups $34.99
  • (for FishPapa’s work) Starbucks K-cups $29.99
  • potstickers $7.69
  • shredded mozzarella $11.99
  • bagels $4.49/dozen
  • sourdough bread (2#) $3.69
  • English muffins (4-pack) $6.79
  • organic romaine 6-pack $3.79
  • tortillas $3.69

Total spent $127


  • milk (2 gallons) $4.39
  • rotisserie chickens $4.99
  • sourdough bread (2#) $3.69
  • organic brown mushrooms $5.99
  • Fage Greek yogurt $6.39
  • organic raw honey (3-pack) $14.99
  • avocado oil $8.99
  • hummus singles $6.49
  • butter $11.69
  • canned tuna $12.99
  • broccoli $4.79

Total spent $100


This was a stock-up trip before heading on a day trip to Los Angeles. We met my inlaws at the Natural History Museum and packed a deluxe picnic. Instead of paying $50 to 80 to feed us all, we ate like kings.

  • 3# apples $3.99
  • cucumbers $0.98 each
  • cheese $2.99
  • carrots $0.95
  • cilantro $0.48
  • jalapenos $0.17
  • 3-pack garlic $1.19
  • whipping cream $1.99
  • apple chips $1.69 (treat for picnic)
  • potato chips $1.79 to 2.49 (treat for picnic)
  • green onions $0.99
  • half pork loin $1.89/#
  • spaghetti squash $0.79
  • butternut squash $0.79
  • sauerkraut $1.69
  • pumpkins $2.49
  • boneless skinless chicken breast $1.89/#
  • salami $2.49
  • deli ham $3.29
  • sparkling water $0.69 after CRV
  • sweet potatoes $1.19/lb
  • ground black pepper $2.69
  • salami $3.79
  • organic apple juice $2.29
  • sparkling cider $1.95
  • sour cream $1.29
  • tostada shells $0.35
  • chili powder $0.99
  • shredded cheese $2.59
  • egg noodles $1.49
  • tortilla chips $1.99
  • chocolate butter cookies $1.89
  • organic thyme $1.99
  • roast beef $2.99
  • ceral $1.39 to $1.99
  • milk $2.29/gallon
  • eggs $0.69/dozen
  • flour tortillas $1.59 to $1.99
  • cream cheese $1.29
  • Brie $2.99
  • cabbage $0.29/lb
  • organic sandwich bread $3.99

Total spent $166


for day outing to LA

  • water bottles and ice

Total spent $10


  • organic sandwich bread $3.99
  • mushrooms $1.97
  • onions $1.38/bag
  • fire roasted tomatoes $0.89
  • frozen green beans $1.39
  • all-purpose flour $1.78
  • large can diced tomatoes $1.69
  • canned garbanzo beans $0.65
  • deli meats $2.99 to $3.29
  • pepperoni $2.19
  • powdered sugar $1.29
  • salami $3.79
  • broccoli crowns $1.28

Total spent $43


includes items for recipe testing 🙂

  • dark chocolate morsels $2.24
  • brown sugar $1.98
  • sea salt $2.24
  • caramel bits $1.98

Total spent $9


  • canned tuna $12.99
  • sauerkraut $7.99
  • carrots $4.79
  • organic romaine 6-pack $3.79
  • avocado oil $8.99
  • large deli turkey breast $15.04
  • organic brown mushrooms $5.99
  • red bell pepper 6-pack $5.99
  • sugar snap peas $4.49
  • Tillamook sharp cheddar $8.99
  • Gruyere $10.67
  • chicken sausage $13.89
  • kale salad $4.79
  • rotisserie chickens $4.99
  • shredded mozzarella $11.99
  • dill pickles $6.89
  • Pirate’s Booty $5.89
  • hummus singles $6.49
  • cranberries $2.99
  • cucumbers 3-pack $3.49
  • sourdough bread (2#) $3.69

Total spent $167


includes juices for sick kiddos

  • milk $2.29
  • juice $2.29 to $2.69
  • whole milk $1.58
  • sparkling water $0.69 each after CRV
  • whipping cream $1.99
  • cream cheese $1.29
  • Brie Cheese $2.99
  • apples 3# $3.99
  • cilantro $0.48
  • Deli meats $2.99
  • sugar $1.89
  • eggs $0.69
  • shredded cheddar $5.89
  • onions $0.68/lb
  • green onions $0.99
  • canned organic beans $0.89
  • cashews $5.19
  • almonds $4.99
  • zucchini $0.95/lb
  • romas $0.95/lb
  • crushed tomatoes $0.99
  • 10# russet potatoes $2.39
  • crackers $1.69
  • cider $2.39
  • cereal $1.39 to 1.99

Total spent $91


  • whole milk $1.99
  • olive oil on clearance $6.49
  • Pellegrino $1.10
  • wasa crispbread $3.29
  • olives $1.59
  • cake flour $3.79
  • cinnamon $2.62
  • dill weed $3.59
  • cloves $3.25
  • large bottle whipping cream $4.99
  • broccoli $1.79/lb
  • mint plant $2.99
  • sliced almonds $6.99
  • romas $1.49/lb
  • grapefruits $1.49 each
  • oranges $1.29/lb
  • chocolate milk $3.99

Total spent $62


  • oranges $3.99
  • pasta $1.19

Total spent $5


  • ginormous bag of rice $7.99
  • ginormous bag of brown rice $11.99
  • brown mushrooms $5.99
  • 6-pack bell peppers $5.49
  • sourdough bread $3.69
  • butter $11.49
  • Kirkland Greek yogurt $5.49
  • milk (2-gallon) $4.39

Total spent $60


includes purchases that flow into November as well as special Oktoberfest treats

  • root bear $4.99
  • eggs $0.54
  • frozen green beans $1.29
  • cereal $1.39 to $1.99
  • pineapples $1.69 each
  • cilantro $0.48
  • jalapenos $0.09
  • bananas $0.44/lb
  • chili powder $0.99
  • hot dog buns $0.79
  • shrimp $14.49/2#bag
  • hot dogs $4.39
  • canned pumpkin $0.79
  • celery $0.88
  • plain greek yogurt $3.59
  • baby spinach $2.49
  • sparkling water $0.69 after CRV
  • bratwurst $3.99
  • fruit cups $1.69
  • apples $3.99
  • onions rings $1.99
  • apple chips $1.69
  • kettle chips $1.79
  • cider $2.39
  • organic beans $0.89
  • uncured bacon $5.99
  • sour cream $1.29
  • deli meats $2.99
  • pomegranates $0.59 each
  • onions $1.38/bag
  • 10# russet potatoes $2.39
  • milk $2.29/gallon

Total spent $130

Total spent in October: $970

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

Total spent YTD: $10,147

Monthly average $1015

So, while we did spend a small chunk more than last month, we’re still trending well! I’m wondering if I kept this up, if we could get our monthly target back under $1k? That would be amazing, wouldn’t it?!

I anticipate that we may be back up to budget (or maybe over?) the next two months because of birthdays, more day trips to Los Angeles, and the holidays, but I’m thankful for this little respite to get things down to manageable size. The freezers need a little attention going into November, so I may try to take a crack at those and use up odd bits and see if we can’t thaw the deep freeze. The ice buildup is getting a bit excessive. It’s over 20 years old, so who knows what is in store for my freezer’s future.

How did YOUR grocery spending go this month?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Micha says

    We had the Aldi onion rings with dinner tonight. Are the frozen green beans you bought the thin haricots verts style? We picked those up a few weeks ago and found they were the closest taste to a fresh green bean. We had some last night with the turkey breast I cooked in my electric pressure cooker.

    Speaking of turkey breast Winn-Dixie had them on sale for 99 cents per pound so we bought two for the freezer. We don’t normally shop there but I couldn’t pass up the price.

    • My son came along and asked for the onion rings. Since they’re an “ALDI find”, I’m hoping we can get hooked on them. lol! And yes, those are the green beans, so much like the ones I get at Trader Joe’s, I’m thrilled! Good job on the turkey breast!

  2. Danielle L Zecher says

    This is probably a really stupid question, but when you buy things like the flowers in the picture at the grocery store, do you do two separate orders? Or just subtract the price from your grocery total? Also, do you just keep a running tab? Use a spreadsheet? Something else? I’m terrible at tracking our grocery spending and am trying to come up with a system. I buy things like cleaning supplies at Sam’s and the grocery stores and don’t want to count that as part of the grocery budget. I’m trying to figure out the easiest way to do this since if it’s a complicated system I won’t stick with it.

    • Not a stupid question. I just subtract those out of my grocery total for my own budgeting purposes, and the cost of the flowers comes out of our “slush fund”. (using definition #1 from here: LOL)

      • Danielle L Zecher says

        Thanks! I really wasn’t questioning the flowers, though I am jealous that my cats won’t let me have any. 🙂 I’m just trying to figure out a workable system for tracking what I spend on groceries. I know it’s way too much, but honestly I have no idea how bad it is.

        • I just keep all my receipts and add them up, exempting things that come from other budget lines.

    • Alice E says

      However you do or don’t track grocery spending, I think the important thing is to be aware of what prices are reasonable and to use wisely what you do purchase. Just do your best and don’t be too hard on yourself!

      When I am checking mine, I track mine on a spreadsheet. I just use two columns for the month and enter the date and amount in separate columns. That way if I’m not sure if I have entered the receipt I can check the date. Then I use autosum to add the amount total to get a monthly total. I can then use two more columns for the next month and compare them on the same spreadsheet. This doesn’t, of course, track individual items like Jessica’s lists for us. It also adds in the tax, but that is part of what I’m paying in my state.

      You could run the non-food items through by themselves and pay separately. Most of the stores I use would be okay with that. Otherwise I would list them on a separate area of the spreadsheet to get a total and subtract them for the overall total.

      A lot depends on how comfortable you are using a spreadsheet. If some of this isn’t clear, please feel free to reply back and ask questions.

  3. Alice E says

    You do an amazing job of feeding your family on a very reasonable budget. I do wish produce wasn’t higher here in the middle of the country sometimes. Thank you for sharing your methods with all of us. You are a wonderful inspiration!

    • We are a little spoiled for produce, but know that I rarely buy what’s not a great deal. Things are very high priced here, I just don’t buy those things at those stores. It’s rare that you’ll see me buy fruit at Costco; it just costs too much there.

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