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What I Buy at the Grocery Store

Something I randomly take a lot of pride in is my ability to consistently keep my grocery bill on the low side. I didn’t think much of it until roommates and friends after college started commenting on how “little” I was spending, and I do watch what I buy each week (and go in with a list/plan rather than impulse shop). My dad has always been good at grocery shopping on a budget and in turn, I’m one of those passionate CVS couponers and picked up how to keep my food bill low! When I was only shopping for myself, I’d average around $25-30/week on groceries, often under $20 and sometimes pushing $50, depending on if it was my turn to pick up toilet paper or if I was out of olive oil, etc.

I think the main thing that helped keep my grocery bill low is that I didn’t buy meat often–shopping as a vegetarian is much lighter on the wallet! I also didn’t love cooking meat and would rather order it out, so this never felt like a restriction. However, when J and I moved in together, he expressed wanting to cook meat more frequently–which is totally valid! We probably don’t eat it as much as he’d like to (😬) but he actually likes getting creative with vegetarian recipes and we’ve been incorporating more fish into our diets, too. The main reason I did this post is because I can’t quite articulate what makes me spend “less” at the store–hopefully writing out what we bought will help! We try to stay around $50 total–give or take–each week, and it’s been relatively doable.

A note that J probably averages buying lunch out once a week (sometimes once, but never more than twice), I buy lunch out once every other week or so, and we are usually out for dinner 1-2x/week. Included in that are my blog events (he’ll usually graze on something or eat leftovers), meeting up with friends, or treating ourselves to takeout (usually 2-3x/month). If one of us is out and the other is home, we try to piece things together from the fridge or freezer instead of order in. That’s why we buy a lot of frozen food…I think our bill would be a lot higher if we brought more fresh fruit + veggies but as long as we’re getting the health benefits, we’re fine with it! We also shop at Trader Joe’s as much as possible, even though Safeway and Whole Foods are sometimes more convenient. TJ’s is so much cheaper and slightly inconveniencing ourselves is worth it for the selection + budget!

Before I list out what we bought, just note that we didn’t really have to replenish any of our basics during this four week period…obviously things like olive oil, baking supplies, etc. can add up quickly! We also typically buy a couple bags of frozen fruit ($1.99/bag) weekly or bi-weekly, but are making our way through a large Costco bag right now. I put in a couple notes about our non-home meals for each week, and have to add that I definitely take the lead with grocery shopping in our household…J somehow ends up spending so much more if he goes on his own, even if we have the same list! Hopefully this helps if you’re a) looking for grocery store inspo or b) want to see if you can save a few dollars here or there :)

August 26-September 1

Note: We got takeout with a friend one night.

Trader Joe’s

Lite String Cheese: $2.99
Thin Multiseed Crackers with Tamari: $2.99
Frozen Norwegian Cod: $7.49 (contains four pieces of fish)
Dozen white eggs: $1.49
Greek yogurt:  $2.97 (three individual servings)
Kale pesto: $3.69
Mild chunky salsa: $1.99
Multigrain + flaxseed crackers: $1.39
Two RX bars: $3.98
2lb bag of Jazz apples: $2.99
Box of peanut butter + date bars: $2.99
Broccoli + cauliflower bag: $2.29
Sweet Corn Pasta with Basil & Burrata: $3.49
Bag of baby spinach: $1.99
1lb fresh strawberries: $2.99
16oz medjool dates: $4.99
Sodium free sliced salami: $4.49
10oz bag shredded carrots: $1.49
Four bananas: $0.76
Lemon: $0.49

TOTAL: $57.60

Whole Foods

I’m not totally sure I understand which items get an additional 10% off with a Prime membership so am excluding that from the breakdown below…based on the receipt, it looks like some sale items qualified for the additional discount but some didn’t!

Half pound sliced turkey breast: $4.88 (on sale with 30% off all deli meat with Prime)
Third pound sliced muenster cheese: $1.68 (on sale with 30% off all deli cheese with Prime)
Two bottles GT kombucha: $5 (on sale for $2.50 each)
Four Perfect Bars: $8 (on sale for $2 each)
1lb fresh tilapia: $9.26
Loaf of fresh sourdough bread: $2.99 (on sale)
365 organic jasmine rice: $4.79 (I’m cringing that we spent this much on a bag of rice, but we tried it from our friends once and it was noticeably better than other jasmine rice we’ve had!)
Bon Maman Mixed Berry Preserves: $4.49 (the best jam out there and something I will splurge on, always)
.67lbs cherries: $2.67 (on sale for $3.99 per pound)

TOTAL: $42.23

WEEK’S TOTAL: $99.83

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September 2-8

Note: We went to dinner on Sunday night (it was Labor Day Weekend!) and were heading out of town Thursday night through the weekend.

Whole Foods

Growler of Healthade Gingerade Kombucha: $9.99 (on sale)
Sourdough bread: $3.99
Creamy dill spread: $2.99 (on sale; we love this stuff and we’d buy it regularly almost weekly, but cut down after a couple months of doing that and now only pick it up when it’s on sale)
Waterloo Sparkling Mango: $4.99 (on sale)
Four RXBars: $8

TOTAL: $27.41

WEEK’S TOTAL: $27.41

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September 9-15

Note: We had a friend over and got pizza on Tuesday (I made a homemade salad to go with it), and we got takeout on Friday.

Whole Foods

Sourdough bread: $3.99
Four pieces fresh tilapia: $6.29
365 Large box of fresh spinach: $4.99
365 Broccoli florets: $2.49
Two single-serve Chobani yogurts: $1.98
Caesar Snap Pea Crisps: $1.99
Whole Foods Coconut peanut sauce: $2.99
Bananas: $0.65
Figs: $1.50

TOTAL: $26.62

Trader Joe’s

Eggs: $1.49
Italian Chicken Sausage: $3.99
Multigrain & Flaxseed Crackers: $1.39
Organic cherry tomatoes: $3.29
Sliced salami: $4.49
Baked churro bites: $2.49
Roasted plantain chips: $1.69
Frozen cauliflower gnocchi: $2.69
Birthday card: $0.99 (their’s are so cute–I stock up when I see great ones)

TOTAL: $22.52

WEEK’S TOTAL: $49.14

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September 16-22

Note: This week’s actually started on the 15th because we had three friends over on Saturday night! That knocked the bill up a bit, but we were making Chrissy Teigen’s Cacio e Pepe which doesn’t require many expensive ingredients.

Trader Joe’s

Organic French baguette: $1.99
Butter: $2.99
Two packages spaghetti: $1.98
Two bags broccoli florets: $4.58
Riced cauliflower stir fry: $2.99
Two containers organic cherry tomatoes: $6.58
Flour: $2.99
Two bags baby arugula: $3.98
Fresh parmesan reggiano: $12.60
Salami soppresata: $4.49
Two containers pancetta: $6.58
Bag teeny tiny avocados: $3.99
Bag of lemons: $2.99
Bananas: $0.76
Strawberries: $2.99
Frozen cauliflower gnocchi: $2.69
Frozen pork shumai: $2.99
Unsweetened almond milk: $2.69
Thai Sweet Chili Sauce: $1.49
Eggs: $1.49
Hemp Seed Bars: $2.99

TOTAL: $76.62

Whole Foods

Two single-serve Chobani yogurts: $1.98 (for Millie)
Talenti Carmel Cookie gelato ($3.99; on sale)
365 canned pumpkin: $0.99
Bananas: $0.34

TOTAL: $6.86

WEEK’S TOTAL: $83.48

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Let me know if you have any questions–and I’d love to know what your grocery go-tos are, too! And if any of you have budget-saving tips, I’m all ears :)

P.S. My favorite things at Trader Joe’s.

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