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. Each week I crunch the numbers to see where I stand. Today marks the end of week one.
I shopped like crazy this week and today’s post is long.
I had so many seemingly random things on my list. Every baking staple was empty, except flour. I even opened my last bottle of cooking spray that I stockpiled during a killer sale two years ago.
Side note: Two years ago I had attempted to stockpile enough for one year, allowing us one can of spray per month – so 12 cans in my closet. Several opportunities to bless others in need arose over the past two years and I gave away at least three cans. So if you’re ever wondering how many cans of cooking spray you need to last you two years, the answer is approximately 9. 🙂
I tried to balance need vs. wants and even price matched to get super awesome deals (more on than next week).
In the end, I have a well-stocked pantry that should get us through.
Target – $21.81
kettle salt & vinegar chips x3 – 1.88
market pantry (mp) water enhancer- 2.99
mp soy sauce – 1.84
bush’s cannelli beans – .92
mp garbanzo beans – .74
salt – .72
mp bay leaves – 2.69
pam cooking spray x2 – 0
mp peas – 1.14
fage single yogurt – 1
bounty basic paper towels x2 – 0
c&h brown sugar x4 – 5.16
up&up straws x2 – .98
mp pasta x3 – 2.27
I’ve got this shopping thing down where no-so-good deals don’t happen very often, if at all. I know how much something should cost and I know where I can get that deal.
Target is my first choice as a catch-all store to get things that most other stores don’t carry, or that I don’t need in bulk. Fortunately they price match so I’m able to catch a break on some things that are normally way more expensive.
Chips, water enhancer and straws are considered “fun.” Soy sauce, salt, bay leaves, cooking spray, sugar and pasta were partially for the meal plan, partially to restock the pantry. Both beans and peas were for meals. Yogurt for a starter on the next batch and paper towels to soak up grease.
Deals Worth Mentioning:
- The paper towels were free. I received $1 off coupons eons ago and cleaned out a drawer this past week. Decided I’d better use them before they expire!
- Each package of brown sugar is 2lbs. I price matched and used both Target coupons and manufacturer coupons making each package only $1.29, or 65 cents per pound.
- The makers of Pam cooking spray sent me buy-one-get-one-free coupons in the mail a month ago or so. I price matched for a lower price, then used both Target and manufacturer coupons. In the end, both sprays were free.
Walmart – $4.97
small 7oz pasta x7 – 2.31
great value (GV) black beans – .69
pineapple – 1.98
This trip to Walmart was mainly because Target didn’t have pineapple nor the brand of pasta I was looking for to price match. As it turns out, Walmart doesn’t carry it either. At least now I know which brand Walmart does carry. I bought the black beans here because I forgot to get them at Target.
Dollar Tree – $10.08
yellow mustard – 1
cinnamon – 1
tampons – 1
in-shell peanuts – 1
oregano – 1
basil – 1
onion – 1
italian seasoning – 1
ginger – 1
pepper – 1
4pk bath tissue – 0
Feels kinda silly putting prices on everything that I buy at Dollar Tree, but every now and then items are 50 cents, so I’ll keep writing it out just in case there’s confusion. 😉
Mostly spices, but picked up peanuts for a recipe, tampons are self explanatory and toilet paper.
Deal Worth Mentioning:
I bought two puzzles from DT for Father’s Day but ended up not using them for a project. They aren’t the kind of puzzles that the kids like to work, so keeping them wasn’t really an option. I also didn’t want to waste that money, so I returned them for toilet paper – hence the zero cost. It’s a new brand for us but we’re not picky. As long as it gets the job done, right?
Grocery Outlet – $25.88
finlanda sliced gouda – 2.99
kale – 2.99
finlanda sliced havarti – 2.99
string cheese – 2.49
whit cheddar cheese – 1.99
20ct organic eggs – 4.29
celery x2 – 1.98
spinach – 1.99
yellow squash x2 – 1
zucchini x2 – 1.18
mushrooms – 1.99
No amazing butter nor coconut water deals this time. Picked up various cheeses for the nights we have sandwiches and snacks, organic free range eggs, various vegetables for recipes and smoothies.
Whole Foods – $4.74
pepitas .96lb – 4.79
bag refund – (.05)
One-item stop since I was in the area. Price is the same as usual, $4.99/lb, but the 5 cent credit for bringing my own bag was a nice bonus!
Savemart – $3.91
asparagus – 1.65
jalapenos x2 – .27
butternut squash – 1.99
The price on asparagus was under $1.50/lb which is a good deal when it’s not asparagus season. The jalapenos are for recipes and the butternut squash is organic – surprisingly 30 cents cheaper per pound than the conventional type!
Costco – $135.34
tomato sauce – 2.49
replenish contact solution – 19.39
10lb sugar – 5.29
yeast – 3.99
popcorn kernels – 11.99
honey – 12.99
oranges – 5.99
half & half – 3.39
mozzarella – 6.79
kerrygold butter – 6.79
tollhouse chocolate chips – 8.54
lemons – 5.99
blue cheese – 6.43
romaine – 3.49
organic whole chickens x2 – 24.30
apples – 5.99
I haven’t spent this much at Costco in awhile, but that’s what happens when I need every baking staple at the same time. Sugar, yeast, honey and BEHOLD, Kerrygold butter sticks are replenishing the pantry. Tomato sauce for spaghetti sauce, half and half for coffee, mozzarella for meals, chocolate chips because it was the last day to use the coupon, lemons for smoothies, blue cheese for salad dressing, romaine for the salads that the dressing will go on. Popcorn, oranges and apples for snacks. Bought a 2-pack of whole organic chickens because it’s what I do every month.
Trader Joe’s – $90.02
milk – 5.99
half & half – 2.29
parmesan – 6.23
sunflower seeds – 1.99
maple syrup – 14.99
coconut oil x3 5.99ea
organic chicken drumsticks x3 – $3.15ea
olive oil x2 – 5.49ea
coconut water 3.49ea x2
pine nuts – 7.99
fontina – 3.09
A few new items added into my TJ cart this month. Maple syrup for pancakes and waffles, organic chicken drumsticks, pine nuts and fontina cheese. Looking back, I should have bought maple syrup at Costco and skipped the pine nuts altogether. Oh well, live and learn.
Current Month Total: $296.75
Are you having a heart attack? Yep, so did I when I crunched the numbers. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how my totals were so high when I shopped like I usually do.
And then it hit me.
I didn’t shop like I usually do.
I normally plan the meals, write a shopping list, double check it all to see if I can streamline anything and then go shopping.
I did the first step, but only the second step partially and completely skipped the third. Now I have less than $4 to last me the rest of the month.
*sigh* So what’s my plan?
Looking at what I bought, I could have skipped some of the various cheeses. Eight different varieties? Perhaps a bit much to squeeze into one month. If I had written the shopping list correctly, I would have seen this.
To fix the cheese issue, half of what I bought is going in the freezer and will get pulled out next month. For those I plan to use for recipes, I’m using just what’s needed and again, freezing the rest.
I bought two whole chickens and drumsticks, but my meal plan only uses up the drumsticks. I basically spent $25 on chicken that I don’t need. Those will stay in the freezer – untouched – until next month. Simple as that.
I bought a couple specialty ingredients that I could have swapped out for something less expensive. I could have skipped the pine nuts altogether and used almonds, which I already have, instead of peanuts. I’ll use what I have wisely and find recipes to use up the rest. I’m already thinking of turning the peanuts into peanut flour to use as a high-protein source for smoothies.
On the bright side, we’re well stocked on spices, brown sugar, white sugar, yeast, cooking spray, chocolate chips, popcorn kernels and a few more items. These are things that I don’t buy every month, so I expect them to last at least through the end of the year. This should help December’s budget a bit.
A reality check is that I’m going to go over budget this month. I know we’ll need another gallon of milk and fresh produce. Controlling the overage is going to be the challenge, but I will scrimp every penny I can to keep it close.