My grocery budget is $300 each month, including food, household items and toiletries. Each week I crunch the numbers to see where I stand. Today marks the end of week one.
Keeping with the momentum of “why I did what I did” in yesterday’s inner workings of the meal-planning mind, I’m sharing “why I bought what I bought” in today’s Crumbs. Steph did this the last time she went shopping and I’m hoping that it helps my readers just as much. Having a reason for buying something, and knowing what that reason is, is one of the keys to purposefully spend and save money.
Costco – $99.15
Annie’s Bunny Snacks – 8.24 (snack for kids, replacing traditional graham crackers)
10lb Sugar – 5.29 (pantry staple)
Fage Greek Yogurt – 4.89 (blue cheese dressing, cranberry coffeecake, snack)
Half & Half – 2.99 (coffee)
Kalamata Olives – 7.39 (Greek dishes, salads)
Kirkland 4pk Bacon – 11.79 (husband’s request; aiming to use only one package this month)
Organic Romaine Lettuce – 3.49 (salads, sandwiches)
Organic Celery – 2.99 (smoothies, ants on a log, salads)
Feta – 6.89 (Greek dishes, salads)
Kirkland Blue Cheese – 7.41 (blue cheese dressing, salads)
Bananas x2 – 2.78 (smoothies, snacks)
Grapes – 5.99 (snacks)
Organic Whole Chicken 2pk – 21.32 (all chicken dishes for the month)
Kirkland Green Beans – 7.69 (emergency veggie pantry staple)
Great Deal: sugar, half & half, olives, lettuce, celery, feta, blue cheese, chicken. Most of these items are things I normally get at Costco every month. Some new items include the blue cheese and organic chicken. On the first day of the new grocery month, we were having a pizza night without friends. I was tagged to bring blue cheese dressing for our buffalo chicken pizza (which is THE BOMB YA’LL), except that I really didn’t want to spend $3.50 on a small jar of decent dressing. Plus, I knew that homemade dressings always taste better and they don’t have to be viniagarettes. I found a recipe, picked up blue cheese (for $4.69/lb I believe) and set to make it myself.
Holy carrot sticks guys, this stuff is SO GOOD! We took out an entire jar on pizza night (and ironically, it was a former Marie’s dressing jar too!) and another jar at home on salads. I still have 2/3 of the block of cheese left so we’ll definitely be making some more.
The organic chicken… well that could be a whole day’s discussion on it’s own, so suffice to say we’re slowly making the switch to organic meat and chicken is first up to bat. This stuff is pricey. I know it’s so much better for us, but there was a bit of sticker shock. It’s going to really put my bean cooking and meal planning (and stretching) skills to the test.
Decent Deal: yogurt, bunny snacks, bananas, grapes, green beans, bacon. Trader Joe’s has a slightly better deal on yogurt, but I couldn’t remember if the price I have on record ($2.99/12oz) was for Greek yogurt too, so I just got some at Costco. The bunny snacks are a fair deal considering you get 36 bags in the box. As it turns out, graham crackers have partially hydrogenated oil so they’re on their way out the door. These bunnies are the perfect treat for The Girl and her cracker fettish. Bananas were their usual status, grapes were just over $1/lb. Green beans come in at $.64 per can and the bacon is $2.94/lb. Both aren’t the absolute best prices out there, but I’m not couponing much anymore and even when I was, these weren’t bad prices.
Not-So-Great Deal: Nothing! Woo-hoo! I guess this is where making a list and checking it twice pays off!
Trader Joe’s – $71.07
TJ Sparkling Mineral Water x4 – 3.96 (beverage to replace husband’s soda craving)
CRV – .40
TJ Potato Chips – 2.99 (snack)
Blue Diamond Almond Milk x2 – 2.98 (cooking & baking)
Buttermilk – 1.29 (buttermilk ranch oven-baked chicken in week 1, buttermilk potato bread)
Organic Unsalted Butter x2 – 9.58 (pantry staple)
Organic Coconut Oil x3 – 17.97 (lunches, baking)
TJ Root Beer – 3.99 (snack)
CRV – .20
Dark Chocolate Bar – 1.49 (homemade brownies)
Sunflower Seeds – 1.99 (lunch, salads)
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar – 2.49 (pantry staple)
TJ Parmesan – 4.67 (pantry staple, snacks, salads)
Red Wine Vinegar – 1.99 (pantry staple for dressings)
Whipped Cream – 3.49 (kids request for sundae’s)
Organic Milk – 5.99 (making kefir)
Pineapple – 2.99 (snack)
Baby Spinach – 1.99 (smoothies)
Great Deal: almond milk, buttermilk, butter, coconut oil, chocolate bar, sunflower seeds, parmesan, milk, spinach. I used a coupon for the first time in months at TJ on the Blue Diamond almond milk, making each one only $1.49 and beating TJ’s brand by $.20 each. Buttermilk is a great deal and as you may have guessed it, we’re going organic with butter too. I shopped around for prices and this is the best deal found so far. I bought sticks this time and plan to compare taste with the little bit of Kerry gold that’s left in the fridge. With some freshly baked bread, that’s going to be a fun taste testing night!
The coconut oil still beats all online deals I’ve seen, plus those jars are just amazing! The chocolate, seeds, cheese, milk and spinach are all regular TJ purchases.
Decent Deal: water, potato chips, root beer, red wine vinegar, pineapple. My husband craves a soda now and then, but has realized that mineral water with a splash of juice satisfies the craving just as much. Plus the kids enjoy the fizz and call it “soda juice.” Wanna guess who put the chips and root beer in the cart? Mr. Culprit didn’t even blink when he put those in the cart. I don’t remember what I paid last for red wine vinegar, but $1.99 didn’t seem unreasonable. The pineapple was decent too and this seems to be the going rate.
Not-So-Great Deal: whipped cream, apple cider vinegar. I was not a happy camper when I saw the whipped cream. It’s a total treat (just like the chocolate syrup), and I’ll only buy it once in a month, but it’s the same brand that I can get at the grocery store ½ block away. It’s easier to watch those sales, and more likely save a buck or two. The same dissatisfied look was on my face when I saw the apple cider vinegar. I believe it’s fairly inexpensive at Target, but I’m comforting myself in the fact that it’s organic. Granted, I didn’t set out to purchase organic vinegar, but we plan to use it for healing in addition to cooking so I guess it doesn’t hurt the cause.
Costco – $19.52
Bakery Rolls – 6.65 (husband’s favorite, treating when we have sandwiches for dinner)
Bananas – 1.39 (smoothies, snacks)
Apples – 6.49 (snacks)
Plums – 4.99 (snacks)
This was the second trip to Costco this week, mainly because I didn’t think we’d go through the apples we had on hand as fast as we did. Picked up more, added some plums and bananas too for more fresh fruit on the counter. The bakery rolls were a treat for the husband. We have sandwiches on the menu a couple times this month and he adores those ciabatta-ish rolls. These came from a local French bakery, not a large manufacturer nor Costco’s in-store bakery. Packaged in simple bags, I knew they were made fresh and didn’t contain ingredients that would keep them shelf stable for days (and the fresh by date being handwritten and only 2 days out was a hint too, lol).
Amazon – $0
Semolina Flour – 12.24
On average, we use a 24oz package of semolina flour each month for our homemade pizzas. Amazon has the best price hands down ($3.06 each) and this purchase was to replenish the pantry. This would have cost me out of pocket, but credit from a returned item went towards this so it didn’t cost anything.
Savemart – $17.78
Cupcake Liners x2 – 2.98
Greek Yogurt – 3.99 (blue cheese dressing, snacks)
Broccoli – 5.61 (broccoli salad, dinner veg)
Corn on Cob x6 – .96 (dinner veg)
Golden Raisins – 3.99 (broccoli salad)
Great Deal: cupcake liners, corn on the cob. Each cupcake liner package had 90 liners, making this the best deal I’ve ever had on these things. I’m fortunate that Savemart had corn on sale for tri-tip night too.
Decent Deal: Greek yogurt. The price is right, but the quality isn’t. We plowed through the Fage Greek yogurt from Costco bought earlier in the week and was willing to try a different brand. This was the store-brand and was incredibly runny, not thick like the Fage. It’ll do in a pinch, but I’d be willing to pay an extra $1 for a better quality.
Not So Great Deal: broccoli. I really want to re-create this AMAZING broccoli salad from this local deli, but needed broccoli to do so! I probably could have picked this up for half the price if I had driven to another store… that was right across the street. To be honest, I was just feeling slightly lazy.
Total Month-to-Date = $207.52
Not too shabby. I was aiming to keep it under $200 for the first week and I came close. The only hang-up for the rest of the month may be chicken. I have a whole chicken planned for one night, but other nights require pieces. I’m going to have to be very careful about how we use that second chicken if we’re going to make it through the month without another one in the cart.