My grocery budget is $330 each month for a family of four – two adults and two kids. My real food budget includes food, household items and toiletries. Today marks the halfway point of March.
Happy Budget Accountability Day!
I’d like to say that I’m WAY under budget today, but I’m afraid I might be getting myself into trouble here.
I’m letting my bulk purchases get out of control… either that, or I need to figure out a better way to stagger them across several months. *sigh* If only we could just stop eating all the food we buy, lol!
So we’re all on the same page for this accountability session, HERE is our current meal plan. I shop for the majority of the month within the first day or two, then shop smaller items and fresh produce the remaining weeks.
Grocery Outlet – $33.23
shell pasta x3, .67
yams 3lb, 2.49
crumbled feta 24oz, 3.99
broccoli crowns x4, .99
elbow pasta x2, .33
zucchini x2, .59
ginger tea 18ct, 1.99
chamomile tea 18ct, 1.99
black beans 1lb, .99
nitrate-free chicken sausage, 3.99
pineapple x2, 1.99
cauliflower x2, .79
100% juice x2, 1.79 + .20CRV
red wine vinegar chips, .99
cheese peeler, 1.99
havarti 7oz, 1.79
Much of this trip was to replenish the pantry, but there was distinct purposes behind a few things:
- Yams – We were out of potatoes, but potatoes are on the Dirty Dozen and I’m trying REALLY hard to shop organic if produce is on that list. However, yams are NOT on the Dirty Dozen and sweet potatoes specifically are listed on the Clean 15! So, my goal is to buy either yams or sweet potatoes if I can’t find a decent deal on organic potatoes. Plus, yams/sweet potatoes have so much more nutrition. Win win, don’t you think? PS – The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a free app for your phone that lists the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. If you don’t have a smart phone, visit this page to download pocket-sized printables for free!
- Feta Cheese – This is the EXACT same brand and type of feta cheese that I usually buy at Costco. I actually pulled up my own site on my phone and searched “feta cheese Costco” to see how much I normally paid. Guess how much. $6.99!! The only difference is that this cheese was in a vacuum sealed bag, not a plastic container. I’m cool with that though, since I’ve been keeping those feta containers from Costco anyway, lol.
- Nitrate-free Chicken Sausage – We don’t buy sausage often. Usually it’s for spaghetti sauce, but the kids have been asking for some ever since I mentioned the farmer’s market. And they always think of “the sausage guy” when I talk about the market since he offers samples. Actually, that’s how they got hooked on sausage in the first place! Anyway, this was the only sausage they had that was nitrate free. It’s a weird flavor, mushroom and cheese or something, and wasn’t sure if it would taste good with the creole I had planned on the menu, but we had creole earlier this week and it was delicious! You couldn’t even taste the flavor of the sausage itself.
- Cheese Peeler – I’m conducting a not-so-scientific experiment on block cheese vs. shredded cheese vs. cheese slices and this peeler was needed for the experiment. As a need little side effect, the thin slices of cheese melt way better on grilled panini’s than the thick, chunky slices we were making with knives.
Alright then, on to the “regular” stuff.
The small pastas replenish our pantry. They’re made with 100% durum wheat and/or semolina flour – no enrichment. We use them in our minestrone soup and lentil macaroni and cheese (if it stops being “skipped” on the menu because of sickies!).
Feta is for Mr. Crumbs’s request for couscous. The broccoli was a killer deal – only 25¢ per crown – so that became our “seasonal veggie” for the meal plan. Zucchini for summer squash pasta and healthy baked ziti.
The teas are for myself since I often drink tea as a “dessert” before bed. Black beans for tortilla soup and anything else I can sneak them in to. Sausage for the creole and pineapple for snacking and smoothies.
Cauliflower is to make creamy cauliflower sauce, which I’m totally obsessed with and made as soon as I got home. I’ve got about 2 1/2 cups left in the freezer (already used 1/2 cup for the ziti last week) and I LOVE knowing it’s already prepped ahead of time. I actually gave myself brownie points for taking care of that so early.
Juice for mock Italian sodas and as liquid in smoothies (haven’t been able to find a good deal on coconut water in quite some time…). I’ll also use it to flavor kombucha once the first brew is done. Chips are a COMPLETE splurge and surprise for Mr. Crumbs. Cheese peeler as explained above and havarti because it was very affordable and makes for a great melt on sandwiches.
PPS – My recent shopping trips at Grocery Outlet have made my love for them grow even more. I feel like my dollar goes REALLY far there. Do you have them in your area? Do you have any other discount or scratch/dent stores you could shop at? Be sure to get out of your comfort zone and try new stores. A reader just sent me a picture earlier this week showing off the deal she got on marked down bell peppers at her local ethnic store – 5 peppers for under $1!
Costco – $181.35
lemon juice 2pk, 5.79
Tuscan olive oil, 11.99
tortilla chips, 3.59
organic baby kale, 4.49
organic frozen blueberries 3lb, 9.59
fresh mozzarella x3, 6.99
granny smith apples, 5.99
cottage cheese, 4.99
vanilla extract, 6.99
kerrygold butter x3, 6.99
organic romaine 6ct, 3.79
organic medium cheddar 2lb, 11.49
organic all purpose flour, 13.99
organic whole chickens 2pk, 25.07
bosc pears, 4.79
Just like the Grocery Outlet trip, there were a few things that stood out to me on this shopping trip too:
- Lemon Juice – The last lemon juice I bought was that small, lemon-shaped bottle for 99¢ at Grocery Outlet. It literally made one week’s worth of salad dressing and a serving of asparagus and it was gone. EMPTY! I was so disappointed. The only other “deal” that I know of for lemon juice is at Dollar Tree, but that has lots of artificial ingredients… so I splurged and bought the real stuff. The out of pocket cost seems high, but it includes a total of 96 ounces – compared to only 2.5 ounces in that little bottle from GO. Cost wise, the little bottle costs 40¢ per ounce and the 2-pack from Costco costs 6¢. At this point I wonder why I didn’t buy it from Costco sooner!
- Organic Frozen Blueberries – I typically don’t buy much frozen fruit, but we’ve really been enjoying it lately since I haven’t seen much in the way of winter fruits around here. Pears and kiwis have been scarce (the one bag of pears above is the lone exception all season), so adding just 1/4 cup to a super large smoothie has made them more enjoyable (you can only take so much apple/orange/kale combo’s before you REALLY want to stop drinking smoothies, lol). Oddly enough, this 3lb bag of blueberries cost less than the 2.5lb bag of mixed berries! Fine with me – we could use the antioxidants!
- Granny Smith Apples – So bummed, but these are not organic. The organic apples at Savemart have looked AWFUL lately and Costco was charging my first born child for organic. If we were going to stay under budget, we had to go conventional. *sigh*
- Organic Medium Cheddar – I could have SWORN that the price was $10.99. Actually, I distinctly remembering picking out this cheese because it was cheaper than the others. Hmmm… I’m gonna have to bring this up to Costco when I go back.
Tuscan olive oil is one of the most affordable quality oils in our area (here’s how we judged our olive oil). Tortilla chips are a BIG splurge, but we enjoy them with our tortilla soup and dipping in our homemade salsa.
Baby kale and cottage cheese for smoothies. Three packs of mozzarella since we’ll be hosting company for pizza one night this month. Also an extra package of butter (three total) since we nearly ran out last month. Can you believe that we nearly ran out of butter?! Like, down to the last stick! I nearly had a panic attack…
Vanilla extract is a pantry staple and cashews are for snacking and trail mix. Lettuce for salads, cheddar for meals and snacking, flour for making bread and pears for snacking as well. Two whole chickens is our standard purchase for the month.
PPPS – Just so you know, I DID almost have a heart attack at this total at checkout!
Savemart – $24.05
pickled jalapenos, .99
lentils 1lb, 1.49
salsa verde, 1.99
organic whole milk x2, 6.38
Parmesan wedge, 6.49
Grocery Outlet – $0.89
Would you believe that I forgot to get noodles for the baked ziti dish on my first trip? So much for an accurate shopping list.
Dollar Tree – $2
These pumpkin bars are so.darn.addicting. I halved the recipe the first time I made it (plus used spelt and coconut oil instead of butter) and we ate it that night. Like, THAT night. In one sitting. NUTS! I immediately made another batch two days later, so having pumpkin on hand is now a must. PS – I’ve also tested with with white sugar since I’m getting low on honey, which I would reduce next time to only 1/3 for a half batch. I’ve also baked them in the crockpot. UH-MAZE-ING!
Grocery Outlet – $25.36
organic grape tomatoes pint, 1.50
italian seasoning, .99
red peppers x2, .89
large tomatoes x2, .59
organic gala apples 3lb x2, 4.99
italian hot sausage 1lb x2, 1.39
zucchini x2, .59
organic brown eggs, 4.39
choice whole pld x2, .79 – ??
My son LOVES grape tomatoes, so these are partially for salads, and partially for him to snack on. Italian seasoning for the pantry, red peppers (with some green) for creole and large tomatoes for grilled panini’s.
The Italian sausage was nitrate free AND marked down for quick sale, so I snagged them up for less than $2 each. We’ll likely use these in spaghetti sauce, but it’s nice to have on hand for a last minute fellowship brunch or ladies night out dish.
Organic apples – finally! These were the last two bags they had of organic apples and the best price in town (although it still feels expensive and the price might have been tagged wrong here too… hmmm..). Zucchini for creole and organic eggs are a staple.
Amazon – $13.58
Total Month to Date – $280.46
Big. Fat. Yikes.
I basically have $50 to get us through the next two weeks. Will it be difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. Here’s what I know I still have plenty of in the kitchen:
- whole chicken
- 2lbs tri-trip
- whole grain spelt & whole wheat
- 1/2 lb garbanzo
- 2/3 lb black beans
- fresh bananas (1 week)
- frozen bananas (10 days)
- oranges (10 days)
Granted, that’s not an all-inclusive list by any means, but it helps to see what I DO have when I know the rest of what I have needs to go really far. I forsee another gallon of milk (maybe 2), possibly more cheese and more fresh fruit. It will be tough, but I’m gonna stay positive. We can do this!!