May 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 May to feed our family of 8 a mostly whole foods diet:

girl in grocery store with coupon and box

Meet my youngest child, born just a few months before this blog saw the light of day, and right on the heels of our debt-free journey. At age 10, she is a sparkling, creative firecracker. 

Having been born just as we were getting out of debt, FishChick10 has no real recollection of those years or how much free junk food I fed my kids thanks to coupons. My regular companion on my Friday morning grocery stops, she is learning the way of the Grocery Geek. Earlier this month, she noticed Annie’s Pizza Poppers in the freezer case at Sprouts. 

“I’ve always wondered what Pizza Poppers tasted like,” she murmured.

Well, baby of the family and all that…. I bought a box for her to try. Annie’s tends to have better ingredients, so I figured it was “better junk food”.

They were tasty, but she was disappointed because there were only ten in the package, not an easy quantity to split among yourself and three siblings. The package said there would be “about 11” which in itself was an odd number.

After her sparkling, firecracker ranting about there only being ten, I suggested she write to the folks at Annies. So, she did. In pencil on school paper.

This week she got a reply. Annie’s explained that they fill boxes by weight so they hadn’t been incorrect to give her ten, but because they care about customer satisfaction, they sent her a free product coupon as well as a sheet of coupons to use toward other Annie’s products.

This gave us a great chance to chat about consumer and brand relations. 

“Consumer means the person buying the thing, right?”

Yes. We chatted about how we don’t need to whine and complain about every little thing, but as consumers it’s good to voice our experiences and advocate for ourselves when things aren’t what we expected. In turn, Annie’s did a great job in making sure the customer was pleased.

And baby of the family and all that…. even though the store we were at didn’t carry the Pizza Poppers, I made an extra stop at Sprouts so she could get her Pizza Poppers.

They’re quite good actually. And there were SIXTEEN in this box. LOL.

aldi storefront with full cart

In other news, May was an exciting month for us. Bryan and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, my 23rd Mother’s Day — yes, I count the gestation period 😉 — and my 47th birthday, all in a 2-week time period. We also had a weekend of company and a teen birthday to celebrate. 

School is now done, and I’m looking toward tackling some summer projects. Pulling together this post prompted one of those summer projects to make its way on my to-do list, but you’ll have to scroll to the end. Spoiler: it’s initials are P.C.

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, 47, 21, 18, 16, 15, 12, and 10. Five of those people are males. They eat A LOT!
  • I’m shooting for a budget of $1000 this year, though that might change depending on how a new #veggiesmost diet pans out, either way, trying to beat what the feds think it will cost. Per the most recent USDA food cost report it should cost our family $1371.80 to eat all meals at home under the “thrifty plan” for people of our demographics. These numbers are what food stamps are based on, so I guess you could say that we eat on LESS THAN A FOOD STAMP BUDGET.
  • 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.

cart of costco groceries

What I spent on groceries in May

Costco

  • milk $4.50 – 2 gallons
  • organic baby carrots $4.99 – this is the huge bag
  • mini guacamole cups $13.89 – we freeze these to make them last
  • hummus singles $6.59 – the smaller cups, while more expensive per ounce, are better for reducing waste
  • Tillamook sharp $8.99 – our favorite cheese that is totally worth it. It’s a 2.5# brick
  • Tillamook medium $8.49 – not our favorite, but a child thought it was his preference. He was mistaken.
  • real parmesan $15.06 for a ginormous wedge that lasts a few months.
  • basil pesto $8.49 – we use this on pizzas, sandwiches, pizzadillas – lasts quite awhile
  • Greek yogurt $5.49 – we go through at least 4 large tubs a week. I make this almost daily.
  • half and half $5.99 – 1/2 gallon size, that doesn’t quite last a month
  • rotisserie chicken $4.99 – I like these for an easy protein, but my husband says they taste like ham.
  • Best Foods mayo $6.55 – ginormous container. I can make my own mayo, but BF is my BF when I don’t wanna.
  • cheddar jack shreds $12.39 – while we prefer Tillamook, this is cheaper/ounce and already shredded, so I make the kids use it on taco night and in casseroles.
  • shredded mozzarella $11.79 – this is two large bags of cheese. We use one/week

Total spent: $141

aldi groceries on kitchen table

ALDI

  • eggs $0.89/dozen – best price in town, we buy 4 to 6 dozen at a time
  • baby lettuce $1.99 – these are 4 packs that are super easy to prep for salads. Love them!
  • mushrooms $1.95 
  • frozen green beans $1.19
  • grape tomatoes $1.25
  • boneless skinless chicken breast $1.89 – best price in town, does have a lot of water added
  • 3-pack bell peppers $2.49
  • cottage cheese $2.19
  • cilantro $0.48
  • jalapeño peppers $0.25 – huge bag!
  • yellow onions $1.99
  • half and half $1.95 – someone forgot that I had already bought it at Costco
  • unsweetened almond milk $1.99

Total spent $56

groceries in bags

Ralphs

  • mission chips $0.99 – on killer sale
  • tortillas $1.79 to $2.99 – not the best price, but forgot to get them elsewhere
  • Dole salad $1.99 – on clearance
  • mushrooms (large portobellos and regular) $2.19 to $2.39 on clearance 
  • yogurt $0.79 to $1.49 – on clearance
  • shrimp $4.99/lb
  • minus $3 store coupon

Total spent $45

pork sale sign in meat department

Sprouts

  • blueberries $1.66
  • sausage $1.36
  • pork shoulder roast $.99/lb
  • extra lean ground beef $2.99/lb
  • pepperoni poppers $3.99 – my youngest had never had these, so I treated her. She was unsatisfied with the experience and wrote the company who wrote back with a free product coupon. 😉

Total spent $39

Vitacost

I do all our baking for sandwich bread and pizza bread. I prefer to have good quality flour so I regularly stock up through Vitacost.

  • Bob’s Red Mill bread flour $4.69/5# bag
  • Bob’s Read Mill whole wheat flour $3.19/3# bag
  • minus $10 promotion

Total spent $53

Aldi groceries on kitchen table

ALDI

  • frozen chicken $3.99
  • large can crushed tomatoes $0.99
  • large can pinto beans $1.29
  • frozen orange juice $1.19
  • cereal $1.99
  • sour cream $1.29
  • oats $2.29
  • hot dog buns $0.89
  • 3-pack bell peppers $1.50
  • coleslaw mix $1.49 – this turned bad really fast, but it wasn’t worth the gas to take it back for $3 refund
  • organic black beans $0.89
  • 10# bag white rice $4.49
  • pepperoni $2.19
  • broccoli crowns $1.25
  • bacon $4.99
  • baby lettuce $1.99
  • 10# potatoes $1.68
  • honey $4.89
  • milk $2.25
  • green onions $0.48
  • frozen green beans $1.19
  • organic kale $2.95
  • frozen waffle fries $1.49
  • radishes $0.99
  • cauliflower $1.79
  • milk $2.25
  • fajita tortillas $1.99
  • white onions $0.89
  • bananas $0.39/lb

Total spent $77

Sprouts

  • cilantro $0.79
  • grape tomatoes $1.99
  • blueberries $1.66
  • hothouse cucumber $1.29

Total spent $8

Walmart

  • all-purpose, unbleached flour $5.98

Total spent $12

ALDI

  • kiwi $2.69
  • cauliflower $1.19
  • strawberries $0.98
  • eggs $1.19
  • milk $2.25
  • chili powder $0.95
  • boneless skinless chicken breast $1.89/lb

Total spent $41

junk food in cart at grocery store

Ralphs

Ralphs is basically my store to buy junk food and the occasional clearance item.

  • chips $1.88 on special
  • large box cheerios FREE after coupon
  • pasta $1.99
  • single serve juice for day trips $1.99 to $2.99
  • tortillas $1.99
  • ice cream $3.99 
  • yogurt $0.70 – $3 – various sizes on clearance
  • snap pease $2.49 on clearance
  • blueberries $1.50
  • kids bars $2.49 on clearance with coupon
  • hot dogs $$3.99 after coupon
  • bacon $2.75 to $3.50
  • sausage and brats $2.49

Total spent $63

Sprouts

  • 2# strawberries $1.98
  • blueberries $1.50
  • whipping cream $4.69
  • baby carrots $0.99
  • sweet mini peppers $2.99
  • nut-safe granola snacks $2.99 – $5.24 – for day trips
  • popcakes $3.50 – for day trips
  • water bottles $2.97

Total spent $31

trader joe's groceries on kitchen table

Trader Joe’s

many day trip items included to offset costs of eating out

  • Ak-mak $1.99
  • seltzer $3.19
  • drinking yogurts $3.79
  • potstickers $2.99
  • orange chicken $4.99
  • baby carrots $1.49
  • hot sauce $2.29
  • mashed cauliflower $2.99
  • frozen chicken tenders $7.99
  • almond butter $5.99
  • sunflower seed butter $4.99
  • Dijon $1.69
  • spinach dip $3.99
  • string cheese $2.99
  • cucumbers $2.29
  • kale $1.69
  • caesar kit $3.49
  • olive oil spray $2.99
  • fire roasted peppers $1.99
  • ketchup $1.99
  • vinegars $1.99
  • 3-pack peppers $3.29
  • grape tomatoes $2.49
  • baby zucchini $2.29
  • shredded carrots $0.99
  • mushrooms $1.79
  • soy sauce $2.99
  • sesame oil $2.69
  • cocoa powder $2.49
  • sparkling water $1.09
  • waffles cones $2.79
  • fudge sauce $3.49

Total $118

Costco groceries in cart

Costco

  • pork tenderloin $16.65 (for 4)
  • tilapia filets $17.86
  • canned tuna $13.99
  • nut-safe granola snacks $9.89
  • sparkling apple juice $5.00/3 bottles
  • frozen chicken $10.99
  • apple cider vinegar $6.99
  • Greek yogurt $5.89
  • organic baby carrots $4.99
  • raspberry jam $6.99 – our fave that is being discontinued
  • tomato paste $5.99
  • broccoli florets $4.99
  • laughing cow $7.99/4-pack
  • 6-pack bell peppers $5.99
  • mediterranean salad kit $5.49 – not that amazing
  • Late July chia/quinoa chips $6.59
  • shredded mozzarella $11.79
  • Tillamook sharp $8.99

Total spent $204

Sprouts

  • baby lettuce $2.49
  • apples $0.98/lb
  • grape tomatoes $1.99
  • blueberries $0.98
  • hothouse cucumbers $0.98
  • organic romaine hearts $2.50
  • grapes $0.88/lb
  • yams $1.29/lb
  • tomatoes $1.29/lb
  • shallots $2.99/lb
  • sweet onions $0.88/lb
  • mushrooms $3.99
  • frozen ice creams $1.99 to $2.49 on clearance

Total spent $37

clearance meat from Ralphs

Ralphs

  • ice cream $2.49 after savings event
  • butter $2.49 after savings event
  • buttermilk $3.19
  • cookie kit $1.99 on clearance – purchased for ingredients more than for the “kit”
  • mustard $0.77
  • mushrooms $2.29 to $2.49 on clearance
  • arrowroot powder $5.02 – my daughter wanted to experiment with some healthier baking recipes
  • organic ground turkey breast $1.75 on clearance
  • ground lean pork $2.68 to $2.76 on clearance
  • organic and extra lean ground beef $1.49 to $2.49 on clearance
  • organic ground lam $4.15 on clearance

Total spent $71

ALDI

  • frozen chicken breakfast sausage$5.99 – this turned out not to be good, but because I used it in freezer cooking, couldn’t return it.
  • sour cream $1.29
  • oats $2.29
  • puta bread $1.89
  • pot stickers $2.99
  • ricotta cheese $1.79
  • organic unsweetened almond milk $2.69
  • salami $5.99
  • milk $2.25
  • cauliflower $1.49
  • applesauce cups $1.79
  • tortillas $1.59
  • fire roasted tomatoes $0.75
  • broccoli crowns $1.25
  • pepperoni $2.19
  • mustard $0.75
  • frozen shredded hash browns $1.69
  • canned pineapple $0.89
  • hamburger buns $0.89
  • English muffins $0.99
  • naan $3.49
  • frozen green beans $1.19
  • riced cauliflower $1.89
  • coconut milk $1.59
  • chili powder $0.95
  • taco shells $0.99
  • pecan halves $5.29
  • dry black beans $2.39
  • mushrooms $1.95
  • crushed tomatoes $0.99
  • enchilada sauce $1.79
  • bananas $0.39/lb
  • diced green chiles $0.59
  • raisins $1.49
  • organic celery hearts 41.99 
  • cottage cheese $2.19
  • cilantro $0.48
  • sliced turkey $2.99
  • eggs $0.99
  • sparkling water $0.65
  • 10# potatoes $1.68
  • green onions $0.48
  • zucchini $0.95/lb
  • baby lettuce $1.99

Total spent $135

Trader Joe’s

  • cookies $3.99
  • milk $2.99
  • milk chocolate $0.99
  • shishito peppers $1.99
  • jalapeños $1.49
  • spinach dip $3.99
  • portabella mushrooms $3.49
  • red bell peppers $0.99
  • cucumbers $2.29

Total spent $24

Sprouts

  • tomatoes $0.88/lb
  • cucumbers $0.98
  • red onions $3.99/3#
  • sliced mushrooms $3.99
  • sliced swiss cheese $3.99
  • grass fed ground beef $2.99/lb
  • pork sausage $2.99/lb
  • hamburger and hot dog buns $2.50

Total spent $50

Trader Joe’s

  • frozen chicken tenders $7.99
  • greek yogurt $4.99
  • frozen broccoli $1.69
  • frozen green beans $2.29
  • romaine hearts $2.49
  • baby spinach $1.99
  • shredded cabbage $1.29
  • milk $2.99
  • eggs $1.19/dozen

Total spent $36

Ralphs

  • milk $2.79
  • water chestnuts $0.89
  • orange juice $1.29 on clearance
  • mini peppers $2.50
  • Fage cups $1.99 on clearance
  • protein bars $1.37 to $1.67 on clearance
  • Annie’s mac and cheese $0.50 after coupon

Total spent $21

Sprouts

  • bulk portabella $4.99/lb
  • red bell peppers $0.50 each
  • xtra lean ground beef $2.99/lb
  • chicken sausage $3.99/lb
  • pepperoni poppers FREE after coupon

Total spent $22

Total spent in May: $1284

  • January: $634
  • February: $1147
  • March: $1264
  • April: $1090
  • May: $1284

Total spent YTD: $4135

Average YTD: $1083.80

So, I’m not quite able to squeak in under the $1000 goal. It’s close, and it’s certainly on par with last year’s monthly average, even when we were eating more carbs and less veg/protein. And don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty amazing to feed a family of 8 a pretty healthy, diet on a food stamp budget. I’m pleased, but I still think we could do better.

How will we pivot going forward?

I’d like to see if I can get June’s grocery spending closer to $1k. Currently, I’m thinking of approaching it in one of a few different ways. 

  1. Time for a mini pantry challenge? The pantry itself is not that full, but the freezers are a motley hodge-podge. I have a small freezer attached to my fridge and then a largish freezer in the garage. Both need to be cleaned and reorganized, especially in advance of back to school season when I do most of my stocking up.
  2. Be more intentional with my meal planning. Since I’m on this “weight loss journey”, I’ve been trying to appease my taste buds a little more often in exchange for not getting to eat everything in sight I want. I could definitely step it up with the meal planning and making sure that I am more intentional in following my plans.
  3. Shop more at ALDI. Over the last few months, I’ve gotten a little lackadaisical about my weekly stops at ALDI. Bryan has stepped into the gap for me, stopping on his way home from work. He is an excellent shopper, but I know that he’ll enjoy his experience more if there are 10 things on the list instead of 50. I know from experience that if I focus most of my shopping at ALDI, that we will save more money.

I’ll let you know next month at this time! You can follow along as we go on Instagram @jessicagfisher.

How is your grocery spending going?

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. Roberta says

    What a great lesson for little Miss Fishchick! I love her spunk. Congratulations to you and Bryan on 25 years of marriage. (Hubs and I celebrated 32 years in May.) Happy birthday to you as well. 🙂

    We came in at $211.78 for our May grocery shopping (YTD monthly avg. $232.29). That was much better than last month but a smidge over what I had hoped for. Looking back, I see there are some purchases that were not strictly essential so I could have come in at or below my goal if I had been a bit more disciplined. Still, there was celebrating to be done and strawberries and cherries to be purchased, so I’m ok with it.

    On to June!

  2. jan says

    soooo…what are you going to do with the apple cider vinegar? I bought the same thing and well, just can not do a shot of it like I originally intended 😉

    • My eldest takes a shot every morning, but I use it in salad dressings.

    • Courtney says

      I use it in sweet and sour chicken, a lot of marinades, and potato salad. I like it better than white vinegar because it has a milder taste while still cutting through flavors like white vinegar.

  3. Lissa says

    I’ve taken picture of the salad bag that went bad fast at Aldi and showed them the next time I came for a refund

    • Good idea. I thought of that, but they kinda wigged out when I didn’t have the product last time. I wonder if I saved the empty bag if that would work. I’ll find out.

  4. Heather says

    I’d love to see an accompanying menu of what you made with the purchased food each week. We have spiraled out of control with eating out and I need to get it back in order AND we also want to increase our veggie intake significantly.
    Are you still doing your actual meal plans your people eat?

    • When I have the time, I shop the sales and then build menus from what we have on hand, usually about a week at a time. I usually post those in my IG stories.

  5. Alisha says

    These are some of my favorite posts of yours. You really can stretch a dollar for such a large family and feed them really healthy foods. I have five kids, all younger than yours. We eat very similar to you, I think, (except we eat gluten free due to Celiac) based on what you are buying every month. None of us are overweight or over eat but we are spending about what you are spending, sometimes more. Based on the size and age of my family compared to yours I think I should be coming in at around $850-865 a month but I always end up going over. Every month after reading this grocery post I always think, “I wish she would do a monthly post of the meals and snacks she made with all these groceries.”

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