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 the challenge.
Welcome to the first Counting Crumbs of 2014! This is where I tally up my spending for the past two weeks and hold my grocery budget accountability by sharing it with you guys – the good, the bad and the ugly. Feel free to browse all the past budget accountability posts 2012 in review or 2013 in review., or read
Costco – $119.80
organic fuji apples, 4.90*
organic carrots 10lbs, 2.40*
case mineral water, 8.79
diced tomatoes, 5.99
jasmine rice 25lb, 17.99
organic monterey jack cheese, 10.99
fresh mozzarella, 6.99
kerrygold butter x2, 6.99
organic whole chickens 2pk, 25.30
Mr. Crumbs was sweet to make this shopping trip for me as I was holed up putting the finishing touches on the book launch. I made a list and he followed it just as written. I totally expected a jug of cashews and pretzels to be thrown in there, but he exercised restraint well!
Apples and carrots are for snacking and recipe testing. Mr. Crumbs enjoys mineral water (and the related CRV) instead of sodas. Diced tomatoes, rice, butter and half-n-half are pantry staples, used mostly for recipes, baking and coffee (respectively).
Bananas and cheese for snacking, although we used a lot of cheese for homemade quesadillas, tacos and topping tortilla soup while the oven was out and we were relying on the griddle and cast iron skillet for every meal. Fresh mozzarella was for our pizza night on the skillet that wasn’t too bad!
My bad logic towards saving on chicken finally hit home over Christmas, so I’m back to buying two whole chickens again each month. I’ll stock up on an extra if they’re less than $2/lb, but there’s no way I can go back to the pre-packaged drumsticks. Not when the damage to my budget became clear.
Savemart – $9.37
organic milk, 6.38
fresh basil, 2.99
Last August we were blessed us with over 150 pounds of fresh produce. Among the selection was LOTS of fresh basil. We froze each bunch in ziploc bags and have gradually used it up in our homemade pizza sauce and tomato basil soup. Unfortunately, we have depleted the bounty. I didn’t realize how fortunate we were to have so much in the freezer until I had to buy a bunch for pizza last week. $3 each?! I definitely need to find a less expensive source for basil.
Milk is usually 39¢ cheaper per gallon and to me, that’s a big deal. I’m okay paying $6 for a single gallon of organic whole milk, but if I’m paying more, then why not bump up to the cream-top, non-homogenized organic milk at Trader Joe’s that’s $7.38/gallon? I’m not sure what to do about this. I’ve cut back on how much yogurt we make and started making more kefir instead. It lessens my load in the kitchen, and it offers more probiotics anyway. It’s also reduced the amount of milk we go through.
This milk situation might be a wait and see. I’m curious if the milk price will stay above $6, or if I should find a secondary source as a back-up (which would help when they’re out of stock too).
Walmart – $21.09
loaf sourdough bread, 2.48
elbow pasta 7oz x3, .32
tortilla chips, 2
shell pasta 7oz x3, .32
GV corn flour, 2.38
GV navy beans, .84*
GV pinto beans, .84*
GV black beans, .86*
whole pineapple x2, 1.38
whole pineapple x2, .79*
bananas @.39/lb, 1.29
bananas @.39/lb, .70*
pears @.89/lb, 3.44
Our oven wasn’t fixed until just last week, so the sourdough bread was for sandwiches and soup night. The elbow pasta was what I was talking about in the weekly newsletter when I found hidden whole wheat pasta. I bought six packages total, paying $1.92 for 42 ounces – or roughly 73¢ per pound.
Tortilla chips are my weakness. I admit, confess and have come to terms with it. This definitely falls under the 20% part of moderation.
Walmart offers store-brand of corn flour, compared to the more well-known Masa brand. We use this to make homemade corn tortillas, which despite the time they take to make, we think taste WAY better than store-bought, and only involve three ingredients (corn flour, salt, water).
The various beans are for some smoothie experiments, as well as some the pineapple and banana. We’re actually doing a big taste trial at the moment, so you will definitely find more produce than normal in our shopping trips. Just a heads up.
I price matched the pineapples making each one only $1.38 – an AMAZING deal since they’re priced at $2.99 nearly year round. I also price matched the bananas for 20¢ per pound cheaper, and picked up some pears at a decent price too. If the fruit wasn’t used in a smoothie, it was eaten as a snack. No new recipes used with this stash.
Costco – $36.96
fresh cranberries, 1.99
cottage cheese 3lb, 4.99
organic frozen mixed berries 3lb, 5.75*
organic baby kale, 2.15*
quaker old fashioned oats, 4.20*
french roast whole bean coffee, 13.89
white sugar 10lb, 3.99
This is my last bag of fresh cranberries for the season and they’re already nicely stowed away in my freezer. These will be used a little bit in smoothies, but mostly for scones and muffins throughout the year. Can’t wait!
Cottage cheese, kale and frozen berries are for the taste trial, as are some of the oats – although some will be used for oatmeal too, and probably a batch of no bake apple oatmeal cookies.
Coffee is a staple and sugar. Now you might be wondering why I went with regular ol’ plain white sugar. Three reasons:
- It’s cheaper. Like, WAY cheaper.
- We already don’t use much granulated sugar as it is. Mostly for Mr. Crumbs’ coffee and in making bread. We’re using honey in most “fun” baking situations.
- We don’t want to eat white sugar, so by having the “bad” kind, we’re less likely to bake tons and tons of cookies. Or cakes. Or pies. A bit of reverse psychology, if you will.
Savemart – $4.97
limes x6, .33
Limes are for Mr. Crumbs mock Italian sodas and the sourdough is because the oven was still broken. We used it for soup night and grilled sandwiches.
Grocery Outlet – $9.14
unsweetened cocoa powder, 2.50*
dried oregano, .99
baking powder, .99
dried rosemary, 2.99
This trip was primarily to restock the spice cabinet. We had been out of cornstarch and baking powder and completely out of the rest for several weeks. I put off buying them to see how long I could go without them – kinda like a test to see if they’re a need or a want – and then it dawned on me that I used these spices every week. So it was time to replenish!
Costco – $27.43
organic flour, 13.99
organic fuji apples, 4.15*
cottage cheese, 2.50*
Greek yogurt, 3*
Flour is a pantry staple since we make our own breads. The oven was fixed this week (PRAISE!) so we’re back to making our own bread again. Once our recipe testing is over, I’ll be all over some homemade sourdough. Mmmm… and did I mention that I figured a way to bake bread in the crock pot?! Totally amazing, and Mr. Crumbs likes it better that way for sandwiches! Photos and tutorial coming soon. 😉
Apples, cottage cheese and yogurt are all for recipes. I chose to buy yogurt instead of make my own this round because I just didn’t have the time for homemade. I’m also seeing how much yogurt we’re really using on these recipes, so if we end up using a lot, I’ll save some and make a gallon of yogurt instead of buying it again. Oddly, it costs the same for one gallon of homemade yogurt versus 33oz of store-bought Green yogurt.
I was challenged in this trip when buying half-n-half. I asked on Facebook last week, “If you had to choose between conventional PASTEURIZED half & half, or organic UHT PASTEURIZED half & half, which would you choose?”
The answers were divided, and the discussed was fun. In the end, I chose the conventional half & half because UHT milk really oogs me out. I didn’t read the ingredients on the UHT milk, but I will next time to see if it has carrageenan.
Grocery Outlet – $4.89
There were two items on my list, but the store only had one of them – eggs. Eggs are a pantry staple. We use them mostly for baking, but The Boy has been randomly asking to make scrambled eggs for lunch lately. I’m cool with that!
Grocery Outlet – $5.99
This was the same day as the egg purchase, but a different store since the first one didn’t have what I needed – pepperoni. We were having a pizza night at a friends house and we were in charge of dough and pepperoni. Done!
Total Month To Date – $239.64
This is about where I normally am at the halfway point of the month. We’ll be buying a lot more produce in the next few weeks, so it’ll be important for me to price match at Walmart on the thick-skinned and Clean 15 foods as often as possible while keeping an eye out for organics from the Dirty Dozen list. Milk/yogurt/cottage cheese might be another kicker too, but we’ll see how it goes.
Summary Thoughts: There are A LOT of trips so far this month. Tallying up nine different receipts takes a lot of work, which means I didn’t put as much forethought into my planning/purchasing as I should have. Shame on me. Going forward though, Mr. Crumbs and I are working through the recipe testing, so the kids will be eating what we have in the house and there’s PLENTY of food to cover their two growing bellies.
Unless they eat all my apples. Which they probably will.
* Denotes items bought specifically for a blog-related purpose, like creating recipes or writing books. These will be reported for tax purposes, but since we eat the results of the testing, 50% of the cost comes out of my budget.
If you’re new to budget accountability, or budgeting at all, here are a few links you may find helpful:
- Creating a Frugal Grocery Budget
- How to Price Match and Save without Coupons
- 5 Ways to Save on Groceries without Using a Calculator
- Stocking Up on Meat