January Grocery Spending

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It can be helpful for your own grocery budget to see what others spend and what kind of tricks they use to save money. Here’s what we spend on groceries in January to feed our family of 8.

costco cart full of groceries

Whew! It’s been a month. I’m tired.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been sick all week, as have been most of the kids. It’s really made this last week of the Pantry Challenge a bit of a drag. Like, I can’t wait until February 1st!

Part of my fatigue is due to reporting my challenge for so long. We started well before January 1st, and it’s been a long month.

We did pretty well on the grocery shopping front — right until the end. Sickness, coupled with our local Ralphs grocery store closing, prompted me to spend a little more than I had planned. I was still well under our $1000 monthly budget, but not as close to the half I had hoped to save during a pantry challenge.

I’ll be honest with you. It’s pretty ambitious of me to lower our grocery budget to $1000/month. Just a few years ago we were topping out at $1300. It’s not like the kids are eating less.

Trust me, they aren’t.

But, I’m trying to be more diligent in my spending and endeavoring to see how low we can go without resorting to crap food. Having an ALDI nearby helps. And until recently, a Ralphs with fantastic manager specials.

All of that is going to change soon as my favorite Ralphs is going to close down, effective March 1. I know this is surely a first world problem, but let me tell you I was pretty bummed.

I drive a few miles out of my way to go to this Ralphs. It’s lighter, brighter, and the people are nicer. There’s actually a Ralphs much closer to my house, but I prefer MY Ralphs.

Ralphs closeout sale for vitamins

There is a silver lining to this dark cloud: they’ve started marking things down by 25%. Like many sections throughout the store are discounted and then all your specials, buy 6 save $3, and digital coupons are taken off on top of that.

So, I’m making lemonade, figuratively speaking, and stocking up on pantry staples at great prices. I found pasta on sale for 39 cents a pound. Can’t really beat that.

They’ve also got some good prices on vitamins and other non-grocery items, so that should help, too. Anyway, change is afoot!

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 56, 46, 21, 18, 16, 14, 12, and 10. Five of those people are males. They eat A LOT!
  • I’m shooting for a budget of $1000 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 $1373.30 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 four 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 sons pack lunch and breakfast to work, but sometimes have lunch out. My husband and I enjoy a date once a week. FishPapa takes one child out to “breakfast with B” once a week. We get take-out for the family on average once a week. That adds up to about 156 individual meals prepped at home. That’s a lot!
  • BEFORE YOU JUDGE ME FOR EXTRAVAGANCE, please read this post.

What I spent on groceries in January

ALDI groceries in cart


  • milk $2.25
  • chicken wings $8.99
  • peeled garlic $2.99
  • jalapeño peppers $0.99
  • baby lettuce $1.99
  • mini bagels $1.99 
  • iceberg lettuce $1.25
  • tomatoes $1.45/lb
  • garbanzo beans $0.69
  • fire roasted tomatoes $0.75
  • tomato paste $0.39
  • bell peppers 3pk $2.99
  • spinach $1.56
  • avocados $0.39
  • baby carrots $0.59
  • limes $0.15
  • hot dog buns $0.89
  • roma tomatoes $0.95/lb
  • flour tortillas $1.59
  • grape tomatoes $1.19
  • cilantro $0.48
  • green grapes $0.85/lb
  • mini cucumbers $2.45/lb
  • bananas $0.39/lb
  • sparkling water $0.65 after CRV
  • broccoli crowns $1.45

Total spent $67

manager specials on kitchen table


  • cottage cheese $2.19
  • red bell peppers $0.99
  • hot dog buns $0.99
  • Fage yogurt $1.79
  • Siggi’s yogurt $2.79

Total spent $9


  • shredded mozzarella $10.69
  • chicken breast $16.99
  • flour tortillas $3.69
  • diced tomatoes $2.99
  • sharp cheddar $8.99
  • canned tuna $13.99
  • organic spinach $3.99
  • mixed bell peppers $6.99
  • avocado oil $9.69

Total spent $81


  • eggs $0.94
  • seedless cucumber $1.45
  • spaghetti $1.09
  • garbanzo beans $0.69
  • canned tomatoes $0.75
  • tomato sauce $0.29
  • mangoes $0.39
  • baby lettuce $1.99
  • iceberg lettuce $1.25
  • mushrooms $1.95
  • half and half $1.95
  • cottage cheese $1.29
  • milk $2.25
  • frozen vegetables $1.19
  • onions $1.39

Total spent $35


  • bartlett pears $0.50/lb
  • cilantro $0.77
  • blueberries $0.98
  • jumbo avocados $2 each
  • organic celery $1.99
  • apples $0.98/lb
  • buttermilk $2.99

Total spent $16

groceries from Ralphs in cart


  • French sandwich bread $1.39
  • pasta 2/$1.54
  • dole salad kit $1.29
  • avocados $1.25
  • strawberries $1.99
  • organic whole wheat bread $1.49
  • Greek yogurt $3.49
  • sub meat kit $3.89

Total spent $19


  • 10# white rice $4.49
  • chips $1.99
  • tortillas $1.95
  • half and half $1.95
  • eggs $0.94
  • grape tomatoes $1.95
  • chicken tenders $1.99/lb
  • chicken breast $1.89/lb
  • cilantro $0.48
  • bacon $5.89
  • carrots $0.95
  • broccoli crowns $1.19
  • green peppers $0.49
  • seedless cucumber $1.45
  • sour cream $0.99
  • cottage cheese $1.29
  • oranges $1.99
  • butter $2.89
  • canned tomatoes $0.75
  • tomato sauce $0.29
  • avocado $0.39
  • bananas $0.39/lb
  • strawberries $1.99
  • sparkling water $0.65 after CRV

Total spent $81


  • eggs $0.94
  • almond milk $2.69
  • cottage cheese $1.29
  • shredded cheddar $2.59 to $3.39
  • heavy cream $1.95

Total spent $20

ralphs groceries in cart at store


  • buttermilk $3.19
  • cereal $1.49 after sale and coupon
  • mozzarella $3.47
  • yogurts $0.89 to $1.39 on clearance
  • milk $2.69
  • mushrooms $0.99 on clearance
  • dole salad kit $1.99 on clearance
  • tomatoes $1.49/lb
  • granola bars $1.79 on clearance
  • honey $2.97 after coupon
  • organic sandwich bread $0.79 to $1.49 on clearance
  • organic lamb $2.99 on clearance 
  • bacon 4 pounds for $10.00 on clearance

Total spent $63


  • 5# russet potatoes $1.99
  • blueberries $2.88
  • broccoli crowns $1.99/lb
  • clementines $1.88/2#
  • cucumbers 2/$1
  • apples $1.29/lb
  • avocados 3/$5
  • organic celery stalk $2.19
  • red bell peppers $1.50
  • coleslaw $1.49
  • potato chips $1.66
  • cilantro $0.77
  • green onions $0.77

Total spent $28


  • 10# russet potatoes$2.85
  • milk $2.25
  • pepperoni $2.19
  • baby lettuce $1.99
  • ground black pepper $2.59
  • cilantro $0.48
  • pasta $1.29
  • garbanzo beans $0.69
  • sour cream $1.29
  • tortillas $1.95
  • baby carrots $0.95
  • sugar $1.89
  • ketchup $1.49
  • salsa verde $1.79
  • tomato paste $0.39
  • grapes $0.85/lb
  • applesauce $1.89
  • cheese $2.99
  • cauliflower $1.49
  • eggs $0.91

Total spent $40


  • butter $11.19
  • avocado oil $9.69
  • shredded mozzarella $10.39

Total spent $31


  • jumbo avocados $0.88 each
  • apples $0.98/lb
  • grape tomatoes $2.99
  • red bell peppers $0.98 each
  • bananas $0.59/lb

Total spent $17


  • cereal $1.88
  • pasta $0.39/lb store closeout
  • tortilla chips $1.49
  • organic hot dog buns $0.69 on clearance 
  • cheese $2.19
  • tea $2.83 store closeout
  • mushrooms $0.99 on clearance
  • organic sandwich bread $1.49 on clearance
  • lara bars $0.17 store closeout
  • brats $2.77

Total spent $27

stocking up at the grocery store


  • juice $2.92 store closeout
  • tea $1.87 to $2.04 store closeout
  • orange juice $3.99
  • honey $5.19
  • pasta $0.39/lb store closeout
  • salad kits $0.99 to $1.99
  • strawberries $1.88
  • mushrooms $1.49
  • organic buns and bread $0.99 to $1.79 on clearance
  • yogurt $0.49 on clearance
  • chicken breast $2.99/lb
  • pineapple $1.19
  • lasagna noodles $1.27 store closeout
  • cheese $4.49
  • organic triscuits $1.34 store closeout
  • lara bars $2.37/box of 5 store closeout
  • Kashi bars $0.43/box of 5 store closeout
  • organic beans $0.69
  • pepperoni $3.49

Total spent $85


  • juice $1.27  store closeout
  • organic canned tomatoes $0.69

Total spent $7


  • onions $0.77
  • tomatoes $3.50
  • ham $5.76
  • salami $2.84
  • rolls $2.40

Total spent $15

Total grocery spending in January: $634

So there ya have it! Not as good as I had hoped, but not too shabby.

How did your grocery spending go in January?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Roberta says

    Not shabby at all. 😉 That was a fabulous price on pasta; I’d stock up too.

    We came in at $98.17 ($1.83 under my $100 goal). Whew! We still have lots of food in the house, but I will have to replenish some staples (cheese, coffee, chicken, bread flour, etc.). February’s grocery budget will increase some, but I’m going to try to keep it at $150 and continue to work on the freezers. I’m expecting salmon and tuna to go on sale for Lent in March, and I’d like to have storage space and cash available for that.

    Son made the HS swim team, though, and workouts start Monday, so I’m expecting his appetite to increase dramatically. (He’s already asking that we pack him a second lunch starting Monday. Ha!) I’m really going to have to be strategic if I’m to come close to my goal. Wish me luck!

  2. Rebekah says

    I’d have a really hard time sticking to a tight budget when grocery store prices are that low!

    Also, I’m curious what you’ll do with the lamb. I just bought 2 pounds on clearance yesterday and only know to make shepherd’s pie with it. What are your plans?

    • My plans, made back in January that I still haven’t acted on, are to make gyros. It’s a fairly long process, thus, why I haven’t done it yet. Soon though!

  3. Laura in NH says

    We spent $302 for the month doing the challenge. We have plenty of proteins and a fair amount of baking supplies still. I did do a ‘normal’ shopping yesterday and spent $158 which was mostly produce and dairy with a few pantry staples being added in. I also made a $50 Vitacost order for sugar, condiments and crackers. So I’ve already spent over $200 for February and hope to keep it under $500…got my work cut out for me!!

  4. Erin says

    So we didn’t really participate in the pantry challenge much, since our big freezer went out last year I haven’t restocked. We actually have the freezer unplugged, I need to plug it in again and start filling it up ;). We still have a few odds and ends to use up but overall we did fairly well in using up the old. My budget for the month is 668.60 (My goal is to stay at the thrifty plan, we’re a family of 4 ages 45, 41, 12, and 9, my husband is the only male, but man can my girls eat) and I spent 635.66 in January. I tried to be conscious to only buy what we were going to use in the week. I’ve run out of a few things that I usually get at Costco and I think I may try and do an online order shipped to me so that I only get what I need and not all the extra stuff! We only have 2 day shipping available where I’m located at so that will limit me to just some pantry items which is good!

    I’m excited to hear what Jessica has to say this weekend in Kitchen Winning, I believe she’s talking grocery budgets!

  5. Molly says

    I’m sitting here drinking coffee, and noticing…. there is no coffee in your grocery spending list. Nosy me wants to know what kind you buy and how you make it last the whole month.

  6. Danielle says

    Wow, I have never seen that USDA chart–thanks so much for posting it! Really fascinating! I guess I’m not doing as badly as I thought for our family of 5, but of course there is room for improvement!

    • Yes, and remember they don’t include toiletries in those numbers. Just food to be prepared/eaten at home.

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