Looking back at my grocery receipts for February, it was quite the roller coaster month!
We spent the first half of the month in the apartment, which if you remember, means we only had the bare necessities in the kitchen. No appliances, just one bowl and one pan. Everything we cooked had to be planned out ahead of time to ensure we truly had everything we needed.
Nothing like making pureed soup for dinner and not being able to puree the soup!
Looking back, embarking on a smoothie fast when I didn’t have a blender probably wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had, but hindsight is always 20/20. My attempt in supporting my husband cost a pretty penny of my budget, that’s for sure.
Things get a little more normal the second half of the month, because that’s when we moved into our rental house. Unpacking a few boxes of non-perishable items (like oats, whole grains, etc.) helped stretch the budget a little bit and it meant not having to buy bread anymore, which definitely helps the bottom line.
I’ve also started to get a better grip on what to buy, and from what store. Aldi has become my go-to store and I’m learning what they stock and what they don’t so that I’m not making unnecessary trips.
Finally, as much as I love shopping at Publix (it’s so bright and pretty!), it’s detrimental to my budget. I’m now buying the oddball items from Walmart, and being VERY selective about the BOGO’s at Publix. I find that sales tend to entice me to spend more, so while there are good deals, I end up spending more than I would otherwise. Which kinda defeats the purpose of shopping sales in the first place.
Food Prices and What We Spent on Food: February 2016
Aldi – $13.30
hot sauce, 2.49
rolled oats, 2.39
organic ketchup, 1.69
goat cheese log, 1.99
string cheese, 2.79
My son is on this weird kick about hot sauce – he puts it on everything! We’ve made our own hot sauce, but he gobbled that up within days. I’ll definitely make a massive batch when hot peppers are back in season, but for now, we’re stuck with the bottled stuff.
Rolled oats for oatmeal, organic ketchup because the regular kind has high fructose corn syrup, string cheese for lunches (even though I said I wouldn’t buy them) and pickles for Mr. Crumbs. His pickle addiction is like my son’s hot sauce addiction. Weird.
The goat cheese log is a “fancy cheese” for Mr. Crumbs and myself. We don’t eat much junk food or convenience food for that matter, but we LOVE a nice plate of fancy cheese and crackers. Maybe it’s the remnants of California in our blood…
Aldi – $4.77
crushed tomatoes x2, .95
chicken stock x2, 1.39
Mr. Crumbs and The Girl requested Tomato Basil Soup for dinner, so I bought enough of both tomatoes and stock to make it twice.
Aldi – $30.58
granola bars, 2.49
granny smith apples, 3.19
fuji apples, 3.19
mandarin oranges, 3.99
Lots of fresh produce for snacking and lunches. The granola bars are a “back-up,” essentially for that last day when I need to pack lunch and don’t have enough left in the kitchen to do it. They’re also for Mr. Crumbs, who recently started going to a local gym and needs more to eat during the day. Cashews are also his favorite after work snack.
Walmart – $56.20
lemon juice, .88
peppermint tea, .98
frozen peas, .94
mango smoothie, 6.94
kale smoothie, 6.94
green smoothie, 6.94
berry smoothie, 6.94
carrot smoothie, 6.94
whole milk, 3.01
This was the week we started to fast… and the week that I overpaid for pre-packaged smoothies. They’re great if you don’t have a blender and still want the health benefits of smoothie (here’s how I made smoothies without a blender), but they’re also expensive. Looking back, I wouldn’t recommend a smoothie fast unless you can make them yourself.
Whole milk for coffee (pre and post fast), tea for something to drink before bed, honey and lemon for that tea and frozen peas for the kids dinners.
Publix – $28.94
picante salsa x2, .99
better than bouillon x2, 3.99
hummus x2, 2
diced tomatoes, .75
bay leaves, 2.19
canned chickpeas, .89
diced green chilis, 1.19
wing sauce, 1.25
canned black beans, .85
My Publix will let you buy just one of a BOGO sale and take advantage of the sale price, so that’s what I did for the pickles, mustard and wing sauce. I even had a digital coupon for the wing sauce!
I switched to using Better than Bouillon instead of buying chicken stock because it’s a lot cheaper, especially since making my own wasn’t possible. Hummus is for the kids lunches (this was while I was testing homemade lunch meat) and the beans, tomatoes, salsa and onions were for Tortilla Soup (which I was able to make a double batch of for the freezer). Mustard is a pantry staple.
Publix – $22.56
frozen corn, 2.26
sour cream, 2.09
flour tortillas, 2.99
canned great northern beans x2, .91
cream cheese, 1.50
bread crumbs, 1.39
whole peppercorns, 5.69
dried oregano, 2.50
diced jalapenos, .89
The majority of this trip was for ingredients when creating Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili, except I accidentally bought the jalapenos instead of diced green chilis. Breadcrumbs because Mr. Crumbs was craving baked chicken, which we rarely do, and whole peppercorns because we prefer freshly ground pepper when we season at the table.
Publix – $9.17
This was a super quick trip for couscous, because I had forgotten to pick it up earlier.
Costco – $174.55
sourdough bread, 3.79
chicken thighs, 10.00
chicken breasts, 24.64
kalamata olives, 6.99
crushed tomatoes, 2.99
sun-dried tomatoes, 9.59
kale salad, 5.49
colored bell peppers, 6.79
grape tomatoes, 6.99
Once we could eat again, Mr. Crumbs requested Greek, hence the feta, tzatziki, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and naan. We actually made Greek kabobs, which is the main photo in this post.
We also opted to buy pre-cut chicken thighs and chicken breasts because it better suited our needs at the moment. Ordinarily I buy a whole chicken, cut it up according to this post and make stock. But without a big cutting board, a big knife and a big pot for stock, it just seemed kinda pointless.
Apples, oranges and grape tomatoes for snacking. Walnuts for morning oatmeal, bread and cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon and kale salad for side dishes.
Walmart – $10.65
This was a VERY momentous day – it was the first night in the house! It was a Friday, which means only one thing in the Crumbs house: PIZZA! This trip was for pepperoni and cheese.
Kroger – $8.62
orange juice, 2.89
We were low on milk and out of eggs and Mr. Crumbs had a craving for cookies (I made the peanut butter cookies you see at the top, and experimented with using less sugar and some honey).
We’re just around the block from Kroger, so I went in, signed up for a loyalty card and bought eggs and milk. And orange juice, because The Boy was with me and he asked so nicely. I couldn’t say no to an innocent request (and he even made sure the ingredients were legit!).
Aldi – $35.51
pepperoni x2, 2.19
soy sauce, 1.29
toilet paper, 4.49
crushed tomatoes x2, .95
grape tomatoes, 1.79
green bell peppers, 2.19
fresh mozzarella x3, 2.69
carrots x2, .79
blueberries x2, 1.79
blue cheese, 1.99
AP flour, 1.39
We hosted a pizza night with some friends we made while visiting a church, and that meant a traditional pepperoni pizza AND a buffalo chicken pizza, hence the blue cheese and all the canned tomatoes.
We also hosted my uncle for dinner one night and we made Greek again. We had most of everything needed already, but picked up another container of hummus. I also bought soy sauce for Kung Fu Panda Soup.
Walmart – $6.12
red wine vinegar, 1.46
sesame oils, 3.48
This was a onsie/twosie trip for a few items to round out the meal plan. Red wine vinegar for Greek, sesame oil for Asian and dill for homemade ranch dressings (for buffalo chicken pizza).
Total Monthly Grocery Spending for February 2016: $400.97
We saw that bumper sticker while we were shopping. I thought it was fitting!
Our grocery budget is $330/month, so once again, I’ve gone over. Although I must say that compared to January, we’re definitely headed in the right direction!
Evaluation time. I’ll leave mine here – you leave your thoughts/comments/ideas in the comment section below and I’ll reply.
#1. Having our regular kitchen stuff makes a world of difference.
I know that the apartment living situation was temporary, but it really took a toll on us in many ways, including the budget. If we ever did that again, I’d make sure to pack a few more items so we could cook more staples from scratch (like chicken stock and bread) and rely less on store-bought items.
Specifically, I’d pack our slow cooker, a mixer and immersion blender (who wins over the blender purely because of space constraints).
#2. Avoiding expensive stores is working.
I shopped at Publix in February, but not nearly as much as I did in January thanks to the overwhelming consensus that Publix is on the pricier side (with the BOGO sales being the exception to the rule). I tried to stay away and in general, it worked. I still plan on checking out the sales each week, but I have a feeling I won’t be shopping there as often going forward.
#3. I lean towards convenience.
If a store is closer, I’m more apt to shop there than to driver further away. It makes sense, but it can also work against me if the better deals are further away. I need to be diligent about price comparing to the closer stores, and purposely making the further trip when it’s worth it.
How did you do on your grocery budget for February?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. By making a purchase through those links, I will earn commission that helps to keep the lights on in the Crumbs house – with no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Crumbs in this way. Read my full disclosure statement here.