Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Groceries for January

In my last post I alluded to how we over spent our food budget for January... We would have been within $5 of our budget, but SCB ran out of bread and goldfish... which then led to a Costco shopping trip... which then led to us spending $78!!!! So, we over spent for January. I learned a few things though.

  1. Don't take husband to Costco... because everything sounds good when we both want it... 
  2. Bring a list and stick to it...
  3. Plan a little better and be more conservative at the beginning of the month.

The third one is where I think I'll be able to make February a better month for the budget. I bought a lot of individual single serve stuff in the beginning of the month (which was pricey) because I couldn't find organic larger containers of things which would have been cheaper... but after a month of shopping around and getting a good handle on what things should cost, I think Feb will go better. Also, since February is a shorter (only 4 shopping days), I think we can get our average back down or at least closer to $300 a month, but we will see. If we can't make it average out, then that is a sign we need to up our grocery budget or make some swapping decisions.


We ended up spending $74.96 on dairy this month... which is pretty crazy. Thankfully most of the Fresh & Easy products we picked up this month were free because we had $28 in rewards that we redeemed, so if we take off that $14.76 we spent there, we really only spent $60.20 on dairy... but even that is kind of high. We haven't found a good cheese swap so were still picking it up at Costco. Any suggestions considering we eat a lot of cheese?

For next month, we are hoping to reduce our dairy spending by:

  • Buying milk in a full gallon instead of a 1/2 gallon carton. This month since our milk was free it wasn't a biggie, but after 4 weeks of shopping around all the stores I've learned I can get a gallon of fat free organic milk for $5.99 at Trader Joes and we should be able to drink it down by the expiration date. Sprouts dates can vary and since there are weeks where we drink milk, and others where we don't use as much, I don't want to waste paying $6 a gallon for milk with a short shelf life (cause then buying the smaller container for $3.89 would make more since cause we wouldn't toss as much).
  • I bought a blender for work with my Kohl's cash from the vacuum return and this way I can make my own smoothies instead of buying those little ones from Walmart. 
  • I also found that Trader Joes carries the LARGE plain organic Greek yogurt tubs... which are way cheaper than the individual flavor ones or the smaller container from sprouts (when that's in stock)... So instead of yogurt and granola, (since i can't stomach the plain greek yogurt with just granola), I'm going to just try to do smoothies instead of yogurt as a snack and I can just snack on the granola cause its tasty on its own or eat it with milk like cereal.  

I lucked out on that one pound of organic strawberries. The store forgot to change the price sticker from the week before when regular strawberries were $0.99, so they honored the $2.99 organic price for me at checkout. If I had known that it's standard for strawberries to be $5.99 lb for organic, I would have bought more than one.

I thought we were being good with the Simply orange juice, but then hubs goggled the company. We will now be buying organic OJ from Costco since that's by far the cheapest I've seen. Also bananas from Costco are epic. I lucked out on the one bunch from Fresh and Easy. It was abnormally large (normally its supposed to be around 2.5 lbs) but it was green and I like to buy bananas green so they last longer and I like them better when they are green... but the bunch was so large that at checkout the lady had to come over and "ok" it because it was 3.5 lbs and the computer said it should have been closer to 2.5 lbs (not sure who wrapped it up, but thanks!).

So we have been Apples, Oranges and Bananas for the most part for fruit because its either way too expensive for other items (Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries were too steep for my taste this month)... or they just don't have organic versions at the stores.

Things to note for next month:

  • I didn't see the 3 lb bags of apples until this week... so for apples for next month, each time I go in I check to see if its cheaper to buy the apples loose by weight, or in a bag and try and find a good one. Same goes for the oranges since the loose ones are huge and a lot of that is the peal you end up tossing away.  
  • I also found the Walmart up in Irvine sells more organic pantry items then the one near our home, so that's becoming our new Walmart since its next to Costco.

I'm excited that we spent so much on produce.... not because we spent a lot, but because we didn't toss any of it out which meant we ate it!! 

Again, after shopping around for 4 weeks and now knowing the standard price for things and how much we eat before things start to go bad and have to get creative, I think we will be better prepared for next month... but we we ate mostly organic here so that's cool! It's also weird how broccoli can be $1.59 lb one week and then $2.72 lb the next (same with tomatoes... $2.49 lb and then $3.49 lb!)... while jicama (which isn't organic), is generally always $0.77 lb. (its one of our new veggies for the year).


Costco had a great deal on bread... $2 off a package of two organic loaves. It goes to through the first week in Feb, so i'll be stocking up our freezer because $5 for 2 loaves of good organic bread is a steal.

I can't get SCB to drop the gold fish yet.... 


We ate a lot out of our freezer this month. I've also been making banana nut bread every other week, and after buying nuts in the bulk bin, we bit the bullet and bought a large bag at Costco because it will eventually save us some coin and hubs LOVE the banana nut bread I've been making for breakfast. The buffalo chicken is for him for when i'm working nights...

Pantry items 

Pretty generic and straightforward...

And we had $28 in coupons from Fresh and Easy and  we saved $0.25 at sprouts for remembering to bring our own bags.

All in all, $349.84 in Food, $36.95 for house items (Laundry detergent, dishwasher packets, dish soap, garbage bags)... for a total of $386.79 for the month.


  1. have you tried freezing milk? if you think you may have a quarter gallon left over, freeze it, even if its in ice cube size chunks, as you can always use those in your smoothies!

    1. We don't have the issue finishing milk if we need do. I just make cookies and it disappears... But with milk like $6 a gallon, we have been using a little less and trying to keep it to only 2 gallons a month.

      But i've never froze milk before. Might have to try that. But I use yogurt in smoothies not milk.

  2. I'm in northern Calif. where things are usually more expensive. But if you have a VONS (Safeway up here), they have Organic Valley milk in the gallon size for $3.59. The fat free is delicious! And the expiration dates are way out there. It does go bad before the date once you open it, but still lasts much longer than reg. milk. Also, you can go to the Real Calif Milk website and print coupons as Organic Valley has the logo on their label.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. We technically have Vons down here... but its called Pavilions...

      Which is like taking a store named VONS and turning it into OC yuppie ville so they can jack up the prices.

      They also do that with Ralphs... They call it Ralphs Fresh Care so they can jack up the prices.

  3. We don't do organic at the store but we eat a lot of regular cheese. I look in the sale flyers and do price matching at WalMart.

    1. Costco has been the cheapest by far here for regular cheese because we get a 2 lb block... but they don't do organic...

      and I think I love cheese too much to buy it in small amounts...

  4. I admire your desire to change to organic. We went to organic milk probably 10 years ago mostly because the hormones and crap in it gave my husband horrible acne which made me wonder what it was doing to my then 8 & 7 year old daughters . The acne completely went away when we switched. I go through 2-3 gallons a week for my family of four so $21 just on milk. In spite of the prohibitive cost we changed over the rest of our food (90%) to organic about 2 years ago after reading a book by Michael Pollan called "In Defense of Food". Scary stuff what this food industry and government have done.

    Be careful with the ultrapastuerized milk, which has the longer shelf life Anon above referenced. It is lower in nutrition then normal pastuerized. If its all that is available then its good enough but we have a local milk here that is so delicious but does not have as long a shelf life as Organic Valley.

    Cheese is difficult to buy organic because it is so expensive. We decided that if we couldn't get fresh grocery items like cheese organic then we should try for local which is still expensive cheese but sooooo yummy. We eat a little less of it but our dairy costs are probably half the grocery budget.

    We are just resigned to the fact that to eat healthy we have to spend the money. It helps that we grow a lot of our produce in the summer, without pesticides or fertilizer. Just good old compost that we make.

    Good luck and keep experimenting and searching for local sources of organic and fresh food.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to post your comment and for the support in our switch to Organic.

      I'm still hunting around store, but I didn't think about ultra-pastuerized and normal... but that might explain the longer shelf life for some of the brands.