March 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 March to feed our family of 8.

Grocery shopping took a slightly unexpected turn for me in March. While I was all set in January to slash our spending and go bare bones, by the end of February and a full six weeks of illness, I decided we needed to up our vegetable intake in a big way.

And we did!

You’ll notice that the bulk of my shopping this month was veggies! I’m pleased to report that very little went to waste, proving the old adage, If you build the veggie tray, your children will devour it.

In addition to getting the whole fam on the Vegetable Wagon, I also turned my personal diet toward lean proteins. You’ll notice a lot more turkey, chicken, and Greek yogurt than past months. I’ve also lost ten pounds!

I was a little dismayed that our nutrition changes necessitated spending over my allotted $1000, but my husband spoke some sense into me.

Would you like to trade that money for the ten pounds back?

No, siree! I’ll count any extra that we go over this year as my weight loss investment.

(Honestly, I’m thinking that we won’t be able to get it under $1000/month, so I’ll be okay if we stay under what the feds recommend for our family on the thrifty plans, which is $1373.)

Another change in March was that I signed up for Imperfect Produce. They are a produce co-op that specializes in getting surplus and imperfect (too big, too small, blemished) produce from the field to your table. They deliver right to your door on a weekly basis, supposedly at a reduced cost.

I’m going to withhold judgement until we’ve had a couple more deliveries. At the moment, I’ll say, your mileage may vary. I haven’t seen killer prices but that may be because I already get really great prices on produce at ALDI and Sprouts. They are tough to beat. Stay tuned.

If you want to try Imperfect Produce for yourself, you can get a $10 credit when you use my referral link.

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. Currently we’re striving for half vegetables at lunch and dinner. (Yikes!)
  • 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 March:

ALDI

  • eggs $0.84/dozen
  • frozen Asian stir-fry vegetables $1.59
  • riced cauliflower $1.89
  • frozen green beans $1.19
  • cottage cheese $1.99
  • Greek yogurt $3.69
  • half and half $1.95
  • almond milk $1.99
  • grab tomatoes $0.98
  • broccoli crowns $1.45
  • string cheese $2.79
  • bananas $0.39/lb
  • coleslaw mix $1.29
  • spices $2.29
  • chili powder $0.95
  • mushrooms $1.95
  • baby carrots $0.95
  • baby lettuce heads $1.99
  • sweet potato chips $1.89
  • taco shells $0.99
  • cilantro $0.38
  • baking cocoa $1.79
  • organic ketchup $1.49
  • crushed tomatoes $0.99
  • 3-pack bell peppers $2.89
  • sparkling water $0.65 after CRV
  • yellow onions $1.49
  • spinach $1.39
  • spinach feta sausage $2.99
  • breakfast sausage $2.99
  • hummus $2.29
  • cauliflower $1.79
  • organic kale $3.19
  • seedless cucumbers $1.39
  • tri-tip roast $3.99/lb
  • b/s chicken breasts $1.89/lb
  • minus $4 coupons for chicken near its date

Total spent $140

Ralphs

  • giant multigrain Cheerios free after coupon
  • giant plain Cheerios $0.99 to $1.99 after digital coupons
  • mushrooms $1.99
  • dole salad kits $1.49 manager specials
  • blueberries $2.99
  • dill weed $3.49
  • ground turkey $2.99
  • feta cheese $4.99
  • minus $2 digital coupon

Total spent $44

Sprouts

  • baby carrots $1.29
  • baby cucumbers $2.99
  • blackberries $1.50
  • cauliflower $0.98/lb
  • jicama $0.99/lb
  • snap peas $2.99
  • bell peppers $1.25
  • shishito peppers $1.99
  • spinach $1.99
  • large box grape tomatoes $4.99
  • mushrooms $3.99
  • Kind protein bars $1.25
  • large Greek yogurt $6.99
  • grass fed beef $3.99/lb
  • pork sausage $2.99/lb

Total spent $96

ALDI

  • b/s chicken breasts $1.89/lb
  • milk $2.25
  • frozen green beans $1.19
  • sriracha sauce $2.59

Total spent $28

Imperfect Produce

  • organic butternut squash $0.99
  • organic grape tomatoes $1.89
  • organic avocados $2.79/3
  • organic zucchini $1.49
  • grapefruit $1.78/4
  • eggplant $1.39
  • cara cara oranges $0.99/3
  • mandarins $0.79/4
  • carrots $0.98/bunch
  • butter lettuce $2.59
  • tomatoes on the vine $2.39/3
  • bell peppers $0.98/2 – they turned out to be green 🙁
  • parsley $0.69
  • apples $1.49/3
  • blood oranges $2.38/8
  • mango $1.39
  • potatoes $1.18/2#
  • lemons $0.99/5
  • cucumber $1.29
  • pears $0.79/2
  • avocados $1.69/3
  • artichoke $1.69/2
  • broccoli crowns $2.89/2
  • plus $4.99 delivery fee
  • minus $20 promotional credit

Total spent $25

Costco

  • Tillamook $8.99
  • mayonnaise $6.55
  • riced cauliflower $6.59
  • Greek yogurt $5.89
  • shredded mozzarella $10.49
  • 6-pack bell peppers $6.79
  • laughing cow cheese 4-pack $7.99
  • grape tomatoes $6.49
  • mushrooms $5.99
  • tomato puree $3.39
  • tomato sauce $7.79
  • tuna $13.99
  • garlic powder $5.99
  • minced onions $3.59
  • everything bagel seasoning $4.49 (I can make my own, but it was cheaper to buy the mix!)
  • organic cinnamon $2.99
  • hamburger buns $2.59
  • tortillas $3.69
  • ground beef $3.99
  • wheat thins 4-pack $7.79
  • cheddar jack shreds $10.99
  • cooking spray $4.99
  • frozen stir-fry vegetables $7.99
  • avocado oil $9.69
  • raspberry jam $6.99
  • olive oil $13.49

Total spent $245

Smart & Final

  • spaghetti squash $1.29
  • strawberries 3/$5
  • whole oregano $3.99
  • dried parsley $3.29
  • onion powder $4.99

Total spent $21

Sprouts

  • baby carrots $1.29
  • berries $1.66
  • 5# russet potatoes $1.99
  • artichokes $1.66
  • asparagus $0.98
  • green onions $0.77
  • organic broccoli $1.48
  • bell peppers $0.98
  • red onion $1.29/lb
  • shishito peppers $1.99
  • mushrooms $3.99
  • yellow onions $0.50/lb

Total spent $41

ALDI

  • green onions $0.65
  • cilantro $0.38
  • chicken sausage $2.99
  • sparkling water $0.65 after CRV

Total spent $24

Costco

  • laughing cow cheese 4-pack $7.99
  • organic hummus $6.59
  • broccoli $4.99
  • 6-pack bell peppers $6.99
  • Dubliner cheese $10.31
  • Late July whole grain chips $4.39
  • jam $5.99
  • Greek yogurt $5.89
  • spring mix $3.99
  • rotisserie chicken $4.99

Toal spent $74

Ralphs

  • buttermilk $3.19
  • Dole salad kits $1.69 manager specials
  • clearance mushrooms $0.99
  • jalapeño bacon $1.95
  • chuck roast $3.99

Total $22

ALDI

  • 3-pack bell peppers $2.95
  • tea $0.99 to $1.89
  • cream cheese $0.99
  • canned pineapple $0.89
  • organic celery hearts $1.99
  • canned tomatoes $0.75
  • mini bell peppers $1.95
  • bananas $0.39
  • pepperoni $2.19
  • eggs $1.39
  • cottage cheese $2.19
  • crushed tomatoes $0.99
  • sour cream $1.29
  • sparkling water $0.65 after CRV
  • garlic $2.99
  • coconut oil $3.99
  • protein bars $5.99
  • sugar $1.89
  • chuck roast $3.99
  • tortillas $1.99
  • b/s chicken breasts $1.89/lb

Total spent $88

Imperfect Produce

  • grapefruit 4/$1.58
  • cara cara oranges 2/$0.79
  • carrots $1.47/3 bunches
  • bell peppers $1.49/2
  • roma tomatoes $0.99/3
  • apples $1.49/3
  • blood oranges $2.58/8
  • potatoes $1.77/3 pounds
  • broccoli crowns $2.89/2
  • cucumber $2.38/4
  • onions $1.58/4
  • anaheim peppers $1.09/.5#
  • avocados $1.89/3
  • artichoke $4.47/3
  • organic snow peas $3.49
  • spaghetti squash $1.99
  • limes $0.99/4
  • organic apples $3.78/6
  • plus delivery charge $4.99

Total spent $42

ALDI

  • canned pineapple $0.89
  • garbanzo beans $0.69
  • shredded hashbrowns $1.69
  • milk $2.25
  • eggs $1.39
  • 10# white rice $4.9
  • cauliflower $1.89
  • ham $2.99
  • spinach $1.49
  • bell peppers $0.89
  • grapeseed oil $5.49
  • chuck roast $2.99
  • 2# ground turkey $5.99
  • b/s chicken breasts $1.89/lb

Total spent $76

Trader Joe’s

  • cereal $1.99
  • corn tortillas $0.99
  • almond milk $2.69
  • dijon mustard $1.69
  • sesame oil $2.69
  • frozen broccoli $4.48
  • string cheese $2.99
  • butter $2.99
  • half and half $2.69
  • sour cream $1.99
  • chicken broth $1.99
  • kefir $2.99
  • panko bread crumbs $1.79
  • soy sauce $2.99
  • roasted chiles $0.89
  • garlic cloves $1.39
  • spices $1.99
  • jalapeños $1.49
  • rice vinegar $1.99
  • onions $0.59
  • bell peppers $0.99
  • ginger $1.99

Total spent $55

Costco

  • milk $4.50
  • broccoli $4.99
  • 6-pack bell pepper $6.99
  • organic spinach $3.99
  • spring mix $3.99
  • whole grain chips $4.39
  • baby carrots $3.99
  • english cucumbers $3.99
  • rotisserie chickens $4.99

Total spent $90

Sprouts

  • blackberries $0.77
  • mushrooms $3.99/lb
  • cilantro $0.77
  • blueberries $0.98
  • grape tomatoes $3.98
  • portobello mushrooms $3.99
  • Wasa crackers $1.99 clearance

Total spent $18

ALDI

  • cucumbers $0.95
  • b/s chicken breasts $1.89/lb
  • tortillas $1.99
  • eggs $0.99
  • Greek yogurt $3.69
  • tomato paste $0.39
  • baby lettuce $1.99
  • coleslaw mix $1.49
  • 3-pack bell peppers $2.95

Total spent $47

Sprouts

  • cauliflower $1.49
  • spaghetti squash $0.99/lb
  • ginger root $2.69/lb
  • apples $0.98/lb
  • raspberries $1.50
  • water chestnuts $1.49
  • strawberries $2.50
  • baby lettuce $2.49
  • cucumbers $0.50
  • squash $0.98
  • baby carrots $0.98
  • red bell peppers $0.88
  • red onions $1.29/lb
  • mushrooms $3.99
  • ground beef $3.99

Total spent $53

ALDI

  • broccoli crowns $1.45
  • frozen green beans $1.19
  • veggie bites $3.49
  • 3-pack bell peppers $2.95
  • cauliflower $1.79
  • eggs $0.99
  • b/s chicken breasts $1.89/lb
  • almond milk $1.99
  • baby lettuce $1.99
  • peppercorns $2.49

Total spent $40

Total spent MTD $1264

January: $634

February: $1147

March: $1264

Average YTD: $1015

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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Comments

  1. Susan says

    Thanks for doing this. I have been trying to cut back on groceries the past month as we had an expected large expense in March that has to be paid off by Labor Day. I tried going to different stores and utilizing coupons and we were scraping by pretty well but now my cupboards just look BARE and I think I also need some more wiggle room in the weekly spending. A little less stress and a little more faith that it will all work out. Congratulations on the lost weight!

  2. Roberta says

    We came in at $255.27 for March ($206.83 monthly average so far) for our family. Our 14-year-old son is in the middle of swim season, so he is ALWAYS hungry–something about growing almost an inch a month and burning tons of calories during training/competitions. Go figure. 😉

  3. I almost had a heart attack wondering where March food shopping was….I’m better now. Glad to see the focus on veges I’m trying to do the same. My husband had a flair of gout that put him in the hospital so now is on the turkey train but I’m going to substitute more veges for the protein (don’t tell him) My grocery bill when my son lived with us was over $900 a month. He ate really good and all the time, no wonder he didn’t want to move out. Now I’m aiming for $500 for the three survivors left. I’m trying to use cash instead of the ATM because it’s more real, but very hard. You are my go to food guru, thank you for all your help.

    • Aw, thank you, Claudia. I hope your husband is feeling better soon. Good for you getting more veggies on the menu!

  4. Michelle says

    I think you should just post a picture and a total from each store/trip instead of writing it all out. Just my opinion since you are such a busy girl. I’m in Northern California, I wish Aldi would head this way!

    • Thanks for your encouragement. It does take awhile to write this post each month, but I think it’s important to see the price breakdown since prices can vary so much from place to place. And I often forget to take a picture! lol.

  5. Laura in NH says

    Your focus on veggies will pay dividends in the long run!! (And the short…congrats on the weight loss!). We have chosen not to buy health insurance as it’s expensive and we felt like we didn’t get our money worth anyways so instead we invest in our health by buying the highest quality foods we can. Our good nutrition is our first health priority. We have some autoimmune challenges with my DH and son as well. I think your mindset (and your husband’s) about not wanting to trade back your lost weight for any amount of money speaks to the power of good nutrition and it’s deserving place near the top of our expenses!! After our mortgage, food spending is our next biggest expense and we are only a family of four. Another benefit is that you’re raising your children to understand and value good nutrition and laying the foundation for their healthy relationship with food as adults – no small task these days!!

  6. Eating the rainbow in veggies and fruit are worth what ever you are paying… line in this house is do you want to eat those or pay the doctor bill that comes with not eating a variety of foods especially veggies and fruit. It’s one of the things I have dealt with as a chef for those with medical problems that started eating the same things at meal times (easier habit to fix and eat) but then ended up with nutritional deficiencies . SIGH… Pay the price at the store for you variety which shows in those carts… you won’t be paying the price at the doctor’s office or with your health. Blessed be … Mushrooms can cause inflammation … just something you might not know and I can’t remember what health issues you do have.

  7. Alice E says

    May I add my two cents on the veggie issue. When I am tempted to complain about the cost of some foods I remember wise words from my Grandmother when I complained about the high cost of groceries. “It’s cheaper than medicine.” She was right and health is important. My own health issues sometimes cast more, but healthy is worth it, I think.

    Hope the veggie delivery works out. We did that once and the variety was a fun challenge, but they had limited pickup times instead of delivery and we gave it up.

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