My grocery budget is $300 each month for a family of four – two adults and two kids. This real food budget includes food, toiletries, household items as well as health & beauty products. The grocery budget reset this week so the kids and I spent one sunny morning doing some damage to the shopping list. The budget was blown last month and with the need to fill the freezer with meat, we had to be extra-purposeful with each trip. The list was long, so armed with a couple granola bars and gum, we tried to find the best deals we could. Long list = long post. Take your potty break now!
Dollar Tree – $8.17
Elbow macaroni (24oz) – 1
Spaghetti (16oz) x3 – 3
Gallon greezer bags – 1
Small shells pasta (28oz) – 1
Pot brush – 1
Spicy mustard – 1
Great Deal: elbow macaroni, freezer bags, small shells pasta, pot brush.
The stockpile of pasta had dwindled to ½ box of penne. That’s enough for a side pasta salad, but not enough for the standard back-up meal of spaghetti. There’s nothing special about any of the pasta I bought, other than there was more than one pound in each package. The small shells pasta was an exceptionally good deal – four 7oz packages for $1. With a broken kitchen scale, having the pasta pre-measured was a nice little bonus.
Although we’ve drastically reduced the amount of freezer bags we use and dispose, the ick-factor had crept into the few that we’ve been washing and re-using and they needed to be replaced. Amazon sells a 30ct box of Ziploc freezer bags for $10.99 – and I paid $1 for 16. Fantastic deal.
Perhaps a strange purchase, but a pot brush would have been handy the past few times I’ve had to squeeze my hand into a jar to scrub the remains of dried-up smoothie. When my hand was nearly stuck forever in a Barilla pasta jar, I cried uncle and added a brush to the shopping list. Meanwhile the dirty jars found a temporary home on the top shelf inside the dishwasher. Never know – one of those cycles could have actually cleaned them!
Average Deal: mustard
I expect to pay around $1 for a bottle of mustard, so I did. Nothing else to add!
Poor Deal: spaghetti
I knew I could get pasta for $.99/lb at Trader Joe’s, but I was hoping to find it cheaper at Dollar Tree. Obviously I didn’t, but it is cheaper at Grocery Outlet (87¢) so that’s where I’ll get it next month. Too bad Dollar Tree was the first stop of the day!
Grocery Outlet – $35.84
Kerrygold butter x2 – 2.98
Newman’s Sea salt & vinegar chips – 1.69
Newman’s Pretzels – 1.49
Spinach – 1.99
Back to nature mini vanilla wafers – .99
Clover Fields organic butter x2 – 6.98
Coconut flakes – 1.99
Coconut water x4 – 5.96
String cheese singles x10 – 2
Ginger – .99
Valley organic eggs 20ct – 3.99
City organic coffee – 4.99
Great Deal: Kerrygold butter, vanilla wafers, organic butter, coconut water, ginger, eggs
Hold on to your hat’s ya’ll – the mecca of butter, Kerrygold, was only $1.49 each!! It was a HUGE struggle not to buy more than two tubs. Seriously. And the organic sticks of butter? Each pound was $1.50 less each compared to Whole Foods. SCORE! Never have I been so excited about butter. Patrons in the store must have thought I was nuts putting butter in my cart and then taking it out as I convinced myself it would be there next month too. It took great restraint to purchase just enough for this one month. Ya’ll have no idea, lol.
The vanilla wafers are another cracker-ish snack for the kids. The Annie’s bunnies from last month came in at 23¢ each so that’s the price I aim for. These wafers were marked down to $0.99 for a 6-pack because the box was dented. There’s still some bunnies in the pantry so I wasn’t looking for more snacks, per se, but $0.17 each for a dent? Works for me. 🙂
Scored once again on coconut water at $1.50 for 1 liter and the ginger weighs in close to one pound. A great spice for smoothies, Asian dishes or if you’re fermenting carrots (which is on my to-do list).
Finally, found organic eggs for CHEAP! 20 eggs for $3.99 equals only 20¢ a piece. Compare to Costco’s price of $6.39 for 24, or 27¢ each. Holla!
Average Deal: salt & vinegar chips, pretzels, spinach, organic coffee, cheese singles
Chips are a treat for Mr. Crumbs and the pretzels are for the family. A small splurge, but it’s exciting to see that organic pretzels do exist for less than the price of an arm and a leg. The price of spinach is expected, but the organic coffee was a nice surprise. And fair trade too!
The price of cheese (20¢) is the same per unit price that Costco offers, but includes the bonus of not having to buy 60 at a time. The smaller quantity is easier on my smaller-sized fridge and my saving-for-meat budget.
Poor Deal: coconut flakes
As the next stop proved, coconut flakes are cheaper at Walmart. Not by much, but every penny counts. Another note made for next month’s trip.
Walmart – $22
Maseca – 2.88
Lime juice – 1.68
Worchester sauce – 1.16
Brown sugar – 1.72
Cocoa – 2.42
Chicken x3 – 5.64
Limeade – 1.18
Organic milk – 5.32
Great Deal: organic milk, cocoa
I think Costco has the best price on organic milk, but I don’t have room to buy it two gallons at a time. Plus I’m not positive it won’t go sour before I can turn it into kefir or yogurt. I save 60¢ each time I buy it at Walmart over Trader Joe’s, so I’ll continue this route for now. The cocoa is also a good deal. The only thing listed in the ingredients was cocoa, and this price is a bit better than Trader Joe’s.
Average Deal: maseca, lime juice, Worchester sauce, brown sugar, limeade, canned chicken
I paid the going rate for all of the listed items. Savemart’s ad highlighted canned chicken for $1.88 on sale, so it’s nice to know that’s the everyday rate at Walmart.
Poor Deal: none
Savemart – $20.26
Cilantro – .50
Coconut – 1.99
Lettuce – 1.29
Onions 6.11lbs – .92
Green onions – .50
Parsley – .69
Bartlett pears 7.48lb – 2.17
Potatoes 10lb – .97
Pork shoulder blade steak – 3.72
Chuck steak – 2.44
Ground beef – 3.07
Great Deal: onions, pears, potatoes, pork steak, chuck steak
Onions were on sale for 15¢/lb – a fantastic deal. The pears were also incredibly cheap at 29¢/lb. I nearly bought another 7lbs for caramel spiced pear butter, but I’m checking out the farmer’s market after our trip first. I’m sure there’s bruised apples and pears just calling my name.
Two months in a row for a good deal on potatoes makes me a happy camper. The pork and beef steaks were marked down and are part of my stock-up plan.
Average Deal: cilantro, coconut, lettuce, green onions, parsley, ground beef
Cilantro, green onions and parsley are for recipes this week. Mr. Crumbs likes to eat fresh coconut and surprisingly likes to work for it. Lettuce for salads and ground beef for a pot of spaghetti sauce that needs to happen soon (down to two jars in the freezer). No spectacular deals in this bunch, but at least I didn’t overpay.
Poor Deal: none
Costco – $90.97
Bread flour 50lb – 14.99
Navel oranges – 12.99
Granny smith apples – 6.49
Organic lettuce – 3.49
Organic whole chickens – 22.06
Sun dried tomatoes – 7.99
Adams all natural peanut butter – 9.99
Craisins – 6.99
Tomato sauce – 2.49
Garlic – 3.49
Great Deal: bread flour, lettuce, whole chickens, sun dried tomatoes, peanut butter
As always, the best price of flour is at Costco. I wouldn’t be surprised if another 50lbs ended up in my pantry before the holiday season is over. Six heads of organic lettuce for 58¢ each? Yes please. Whole organic chickens are cheapest here, as well as sun dried tomatoes. These jars are huge (32oz) and more affordable than the smaller jars at the local grocery store. Not surprisingly, I’m looking forward to emptying the jar, lol.
Can someone clue me in to the sudden HUMONGOUS increase in the price of peanut butter? Goodness gracious. I expected to pay a little more since this brand is all natural and to be honest, it is a great deal (comparable to $2 for a 16oz jar), but the hydrogenated oil versions (Skippy) actually cost more!
Average Deal: oranges, apples, craisins, tomato sauce, garlic
The going rate for fresh produce is $1/lb and that’s where the oranges and apples fell. Average price for the Craisins, tomato sauce and garlic too. You may find a couple (or more) extra packages of Craisins when they’re on sale next. I liked paying less than $5.
Poor Deal: none
Trader Joe’s – $16.69
Parmesan – 5.26
Sunflower seeds – 1.99
Coconut milk x3 – 2.97
Kale – 1.99
Coconut cream – 1.49
Pineapple – 2.99
Great Deal: none
Average Deal: parmesan, sunflower seeds, coconut milk, kale, coconut cream, pineapple
Trader Joe’s doesn’t offer sales and their prices are always the same. This is very, very nice for someone who is meticulous about her grocery budget (ahem). Compared to other stores, these deals are really good (especially the parmesan, seeds and coconut milk). I’ve been shopping consistently at TJ’s for a while so these are now my standard prices. Yes, I do believe I’m spoiled.
Poor Deal: none
Whole Foods – $15.79
Pumpkins seeds – 5.49
Sesame seeds – .63
Chia seeds – 4.62
Couscous – 5.05
Great Deal: pumpkin seeds (pepitas), couscous
Pepitas tend to be pricey but Whole Foods has raw, unsalted seeds for $2.99/lb – the best price I’ve ever found for them. Their bulk couscous is also a great price. Rice Select couscous (what I normally buy) is going for 21¢ per ounce. At $2.99 per pound, I’m saving 3¢ per ounce. Doesn’t sound like much, but with a couscous-loving husband, that’s huge.
Average Deal: sesame seeds, chia seeds
This is the first time I’ve bought both sesame and chia seeds so I haven’t compared the prices much. To be honest, I haven’t really paid much attention. They’re filed as average since the bulk food prices at Whole Foods tends to be in line with other stores too.
Poor Deal: none
Total Month to Date: $209.72
As always, 2/3 of my budget is spent in the first week. Although this is typical (and expected), it does seem a little discouraging. I was hoping to come in under $200 so there was a fighting chance I’d come in at budget, at least.
But, it’s ok.
I have a plan.
My budget plan is intermingled with my stock-up-on-meat plan and that’s coming Monday. I’d share it with you today, but this post is plenty long enough as it is!
My apologies in advance to hold you in suspense. 😉