Grocery Geek: What We Spent in March

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Grocery shopping is one of my very favorite pastimes. I love strolling through the aisles, imagining yummy meals and finding great deals. 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 March.

bag of groceries in the car

Whew, March roared in like a lion and left a lot of mess in its wake! It seems that I’m not the only one who had a chaotic month. With much busyness on the home front, I am more than happy to kiss March goodbye and get a fresh start in April.

We did have a very tasty month as I’ve worked to master the art of natural yeast and sourdough bread. My husband doesn’t think I’m so terribly crazy for babying this sourdough starter for the last few weeks.

On the other hand, some of my recipe testing did not turn out so well. The roast chicken on a bed of spring vegetables turned into more of a stew. Back to the drawing board!

As for grocery shopping….

my monthly budget continues to be under $1000/month to feed the 8 of us most of our meals cooked at home. While this month’s spending went a wee bit over my budgeted $1100, the fact that I’ve been under the last few months more than made up for that.

Need help trimming the budget? Grab A Week of Good Cheap Eats: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Plans to Help You Trim the Budget.

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 March | Good Cheap Eats

  • I’m feeding eight people, ages 55, 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 $1100 this year, trying to beat what the feds think it will cost. Per the USDA food cost reports it should cost our family $1336.20 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 March:


  • puffed millet $1.75
  • bread flour $4.69
  • sunbutter $5.62
  • 1# chili powder $8.07
  • 1 #oregano $12.16
  • quinoa flakes $7.59
  • minus 20% coupon

Total spent: $43


  • bread $3.49
  • cheese $2.99
  • turkey deli meat $2.99 on clearance
  • eggs $2.49

Total spent $12

two daughters standing next to a grocery cart


  • organic chicken broth $9.99
  • olives $9.99
  • milk $4.29
  • graham crackers $7.69
  • bulk bag of tri-tips $4.69/lb
  • rotisserie chicken $4.99
  • almond flour $10.99
  • olive oil $15.49
  • pineapple juice $5.29
  • fancy pants blood orange jam $5.99
  • peppercorns $4.99
  • kirkland tuna $12.99
  • sea salt $2.79
  • organic maple syrup $10.99
  • eggs $2.69
  • avocado oil $9.69
  • raw organic honey $14.99
  • hummus singles $6.49
  • guacamole singles $13.89
  • ham $2.69/lb
  • shredded cheese $11.79
  • sourdough bread $3.69
  • Tillamook $8.99
  • shredded mozzarella $10.99
  • greek yogurt $5.49
  • frozen potstickers $10.89
  • pretzel rolls $5.99
  • bratwurst $8.99
  • bagels $5.99
  • romano cheese $10.51
  • bread $3.99
  • kale salad $4.99
  • pork tenderloins $2.99/lb
  • ground beef $3.99/lb
  • avocados $6.99
  • Dubliner $10.72
  • chicken sausage $13.89

Total spent $462


  • red wine vinegar $2.29
  • neufchatel cheese $1.59
  • jalapeno peppers $0.99/lb
  • green onions $0.99
  • cilantro $0.69
  • mushrooms $3.99
  • bananas $0.59/lb
  • 5# clementines $3.77
  • roma tomatoes $0.81
  • Dijon mustard $1.79
  • horseradish $3.49
  • clearance bread $0.99

Total spent: $22

full grocery cart in the parking lot


  • cottage cheese $1.99
  • sour cream $1.29
  • frozen tots $1.89
  • frozen corn $0.95
  • frozen green beans $1.39
  • frozen oj $1.19
  • ciabatta rolls $2.69
  • frozen peas $0.95
  • deli turkey $2.99
  • sugar $1.89
  • deli sliced cheese $2.29
  • red bell peppers $0.79 each
  • crackers $1.69
  • pepperoni $2.19
  • blue cheese $1.99
  • crushed tomatoes $0.99
  • organic spring mix $3.79
  • organic canned beans $0.89
  • corn tortillas $2.19
  • pineapple chunks $0.95
  • granny smith apples $2.49
  • chocolate bars $1.49
  • eggs $0.94
  • whipping cream $1.99

Total spent $78

groceries in a cart


  • brown sugar $0.99
  • juice $0.99
  • lemons $2.99/bag
  • ginger root $2.99/lb
  • sweet potatoes $1.39/lb
  • veggie tray $4.49 on clearance
  • blueberries $0.88
  • family size Hebrew National $5.99 on clearance
  • fresh mozzarella $2.39 on clearance
  • chocolate for Easter $0.89 on clearance
  • lindt chocolate egg FREE after digital coupon

Total spent $42


  • bottled water $3.69 after CRV
  • ciabatta rolls $2.69
  • green onions $0.99
  • string cheese $2.19
  • sparkling water $0.69 after crv
  • applesauce $1.69
  • flour tortillas $1.59
  • fruit snacks $3.49
  • organic celery hearts $1.69
  • milk $2.30
  • sugar $1.89
  • frozen corn $0.79
  • frozen Asian vegetables $1.49
  • shredded hashbrowns $1.65
  • frozen green beans $1.39
  • Easter candy $1.39 to $2.99
  • frozen orange juice $1.19
  • deli cheese $1.99 to 2.29
  • deli turkey $2.99
  • onions $1.38
  • butter $2.99
  • organic acv $1.99
  • family size lucky charms for St. Pat’s $3.49
  • kerrygold butter $2.85
  • cara cara oranges $3.98
  • granola bars $2.49
  • diced green chiles $0.59
  • carne asada meat $3.99/lb
  • chicken breasts $1.89

Total spent $127


  • mushrooms $3.49
  • cilantro $0.50
  • organic granny smith apples $0.98/lb
  • organic cucumbers $0.99
  • red bell peppers $0.88
  • roma tomatoes $0.98/lb

Total spent $20

groceries in a cart


  • 18-ct eggs FREE after digital coupon
  • tortilla chips FREE after digital coupon
  • blueberries $0.88
  • veggie tray on clearance $4.49
  • baby carrots FREE after digital coupon
  • organic baby kale $0.74 on clearance + digital coupon
  • jalapenos $0.99/lb
  • bell peppers $0.88 each
  • cucumbers $0.88 each
  • organic wheat bread $2.99
  • zone perfect bar FREE after digital coupon
  • uncured applewood ham $1.89 on clearance
  • uncured organic hot dogs $0.89 on clearance

Total spent $26

groceries in a cart

Trader Joe’s

  • raisin bran $2.49
  • bran flakes $1.99
  • tea $2.49
  • Ak-mak $1.99
  • sunbutter $4.99
  • soy sauce $2.99
  • sesame oil $2.69
  • milk $2.79
  • plantain chips $1.69

Total spent $37


  • buttermilk $2.99
  • hominy $0.99
  • organic baby spring mix $4.49 after digital coupon
  • cilantro $0.69
  • green bell pepper $0.99
  • red bell pepper $1.49
  • green onions $0.99
  • organic strawberries $2.40
  • bananas $0.59/lb
  • 10# potatoes $3.99
  • cabbage $0.33/lb
  • cucumber $0.99
  • Pirate’s Booty $1.49
  • kettle chips $0.79 to $1.79 after sales and digital coupons
  • organic chocolate whole milk $3.99
  • weird garbanzo bean puffs for my hippie child $2.50
  • chuck roast $3.99/lb
  • boursin BOGO $5.99/2
  • artisan flatbread $0.99 on clearance
  • clearance bread $1.49
  • Easter candy $1.99
  • minus $5 off $50 purchase

Total spent $60

groceries in a cart


  • asparagus $0.98
  • mushrooms $3.49
  • bag of baby cucumbers $2.99
  • green onions $0.50
  • grapes $0.88/lb
  • blueberries $1.25
  • hot house cucumber $1.50
  • jumbo avocado $2.50
  • apples $0.98/lb
  • organic kale $0.88
  • red bell peppers $0.50 each
  • onions $0.50/lb
  • greek yogurt $2.99

Total spent $43


  • Meyer lemons $2.99
  • peeled garlic $2.99
  • grapes $0.88/lb
  • shallots $2.99/lb

Total spent $11

Trader Joe’s

  • milk $1.69
  • organic baby lettuce $1.99
  • coconut oil spray $2.99
  • shaved brussels sprouts $2.49
  • canned yellow fin $2.29
  • whipping cream $1.79
  • milk $2.79
  • whole wheat couscous $1.99
  • red wine vinegar $1.99
  • whole wheat pasta $1.49
  • jumbo eggs $2.49/dozen

Total spent $37

groceries sitting on a counter


  • milk $4.29
  • organic spinach $3.99
  • organic spring mix $3.79
  • steel cut oats $7.99
  • organic brown rice $11.99
  • Greek yogurt $5.49
  • garlic $8.99
  • strawberries $4.79

Total spent $50


  • tortillas $2.19 to $2.99
  • half and half $1.99
  • chicken breast $9.17
  • frozen tots $1.89
  • eggs $0.94

Total spent $24


  • flour $2.49
  • sauerkraut $2.79
  • tea $2.99 to $4.59
  • brussels sprouts $3.19
  • potatoes $2.50
  • mushrooms $1.49
  • thyme $0.79
  • bell peppers $0.99 to $1.25
  • baby carrots $1.09 after digital coupon
  • lara bars $2.49 on clearance
  • organic chicken $1.49/lb on clearance
  • pork spare ribs $1.49/lb

Total spent $70

Total spent in March $1224

Spent in 2018:

  • January: $490
  • February: $1084
  • March: $1224

Total spent YTD: $2798

That’s an average of $932/month!

So there you have it. We did okay in March, despite the crazy. I’ve got a load of clearance hot dogs on hand and a lot of sourdough starter. So, we’re good. 😉

How did YOUR grocery geeking go last month?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Sandi says

    I was doing great… except I went shopping on the 31st. Bad plan! Means I ended up significantly over the budget for March. It’s right on the monthly border, though, so those purchases don’t really count for March, do they? 🙂 Even if I average for the YTD, I’m still under the monthly budget thanks to January’s lower bill. I find with my job change, I am eating a lot more of my own food since the previous employer often had free food that this one doesn’t have. I’m making a dent in the freezer much easier than I did even during pantry challenges. On the other hand, “reasonably healthy yet convenient” foods have been awfully tempting lately. Plus, it being spring time, fresh produce and seafood have called my name, and those aren’t so cheap either. I’m going to have to find my balance somewhere!

    • Julie says

      I counted my 31st of March trip to April. We are eating it in April and with Easter on Sunday and my preference to not shop on Sundays, it was a good option for me. We use cash and finished March 30th with $30 left then spent $75 on 31st.

    • Roberta says

      I, too, counted my March 31 shopping trips towards April. It was after the end-of-the-month payday, and it will all be consumed in April and beyond. Of course I’ve now used a big chunk of my April budget.

    • I counted my Easter shopping for April. It was only fair! Has this month evened out for at all?

      • Sandi says

        I was out of town for 2/3 of April, so it’s hard to say. I bought some things to take with me on my work trips that I would not have bought at home, but then again as a result of those groceries, I did not spend anywhere near the per diem they allotted so that is extra cash in my pocket. (which will conveniently offset the vet bill I’ll have this week) I compounded the problem by again going shopping this weekend at the very end of the month, plus I got things to take to a cookout with some friends. All that was still decently under budget for April, however, and the YTD is still acceptable. I’m expecting to be generally in town again for the next while so should be cooking and eating at home again. End of May should be a better litmus test but yes, I think it all worked out. Thanks for the support!

  2. Molly says

    What do you use millet puffs for?

  3. Laurie Decker says

    I did very well for March since we were trying to eat the pantry down BUT we did eat several days out for lunch. Eating out isn’t something we do often and I don’t include that in our monthly grocery bills. We had contractors pulling out our old kitchen cabinets and tile and replacing it all with a new upgraded kitchen.

    • Roberta says

      Kitchen construction is absolutely a reason for eating out. 😉

    • I am working on a Limited Kitchen meal plan for just these occasions! It’s been fun to think about what’s easy to make without a full kitchen.

  4. Roberta says

    The Lucky Charms and “weird garbanzo bean puffs for my hippie child” made me laugh. Ahh the things we do for our kids.

    Couple of questions re: your Aldi purchases. What size are the frozen OJ containers, and do you know if their cheese is rBST free? We go through a lot of OJ and cheese around here.

    In terms of our March spending, I think we did pretty well. We came in at $201.04 for our family of three, which brings our YTD monthly average to $217.32. Like I mentioned above, this does not count what I bought on the 31st, because I’m counting that towards April (it didn’t clear the bank until 4/2 anyway).

    • Ironically, I did catch my hippie child eating the Lucky Charms. He still loves the junk food I used to buy free with coupons.

      Sorry for the delay in answering your questions. The frozen OJ is the standard size. The cheese? I cannot remember, but I don’t buy the regular cheddar/jack/mozzarella there. I found out this last month that it’s WAY cheaper at Costco. Plus, ALDI shredded cheese is treated with something weird that makes it not melt well. I will buy it from time to time, but I’m preferring Costco.

  5. Colleen says

    I honestly don’t know why I find reading what other people buy and eat so interesting, but I really do. I’ve been into this blog since December but have never commented!

    It looks like Kroger is basically the same as Ralph’s but under a different name! Today I was at Kroger and bought 1 lb of ground sirloin that was on Manager’s Special for $0.99 plus I had a $1.20 off coupon. I thought the coupon would just take off the $0.99 price but it ended up taking off the whole $1.20! Here is the issue though… the meat expired YESTERDAY. I took it home and immediately threw it in my freezer. Can anyone please help me figure out if I should or shouldn’t eat this meat? Thanks, everyone and Jessica.

  6. Pat says

    I’m still grocery geeking! My March total was $135.12. My total for the first quarter is $421.12.
    We are out of potatoes, sweet potatoes, wheat flour and almost out of coffee. My son requested white bread from the store, I don.t plan on shopping until next week because we have enough to get by.
    There is lots of space in the chest freezer, the upright has 2 empty shelves and the fridge freezer is only 2/3 full so I am making progress in getting stuff used up. We used the last turkey breast and last half of ham. I don’t think we have any pork chops either. I have plenty of fish, chicken and beef to get thru this month,

  7. Jan says

    $.89 for those Applegate Hot Dogs?? Dang, I’m super jealous here! Some great deals for March!

  8. Amy says

    I’m so impressed by your small Trader Joe’s purchases! I find it very difficult to control myself in there. (Of course, I’m pretty cooking-averse, so I’m drawn to a lot of their prepared and short-cut items…)

    • A few years ago I did most of my shopping there, until I did a unit cost comparison and found out I was getting ripped off. LOL. I only go there once or twice a month for very few items. Unless time and location play against me, of course.

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