grocery shopping blues: week 4

February 20, 2011

Where in the heck did the month of February go?

I understand there is still one week left in the month, but as far as grocery shopping is concerned, we’re done for the month. It’s hard to believe that this month went by so quickly (well, duh — it’s the shortest month of the year). Spring will be here before we know it (Praise God!).

The fourth and final week of my grocery shopping for February was probably my worst when it came to getting the Husband’s food. I really try to make sure he gets all natural ingredients (because he won’t give up on the processed stuff or meat for that matter), but towards the end of the month, those products are far too expensive for my remaining money. Therefore, I buy ::gasp:: crap. It pains me to even say it, and I’m going to cringe the entire time he eats those Lucky Charms.

The goods this week:

  February 19, 2011 029

Store one = Jewel Osco

7 items for $16.86 with a total savings of $6.15

February 19, 2011 033

Let’s talk about these purchases for a moment. I am putting 3 of these items in the “want” category and not in the “need” category. Pumpkin? I wanted it. Kabocha? I wanted it. Okay, I neeeeeded it. Lucky charms? I didn’t want it, but you know who did.

Wal-Mart (I think my left eye twitched the entire time I was in that store — I’m not a fan of it or their company values.. whyyy did I go there?).

10 items = $26.56

BUT (there’s a big butt there) I bought toilet paper and paper towels, which I don’t categorize as “groceries”. Those are toiletries, and toiletries are not in my grocery shopping funds.

Therefore, I bought 8 items = $14.51

February 19, 2011 034

Again, I am ashamed of the overly processed Italian sausage I bought and the potato chips which have corn oil and unrecognizable spices. I am going to pat myself on the back for the lunchmeat though — no nitrates (and I used a coupon).

Store 3 = Aldi

13 items = $25.24

February 19, 2011 037

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Aldi has unbelievable produce if you’re not married to organic. Obviously the majority of the produce I will buy is organic, but towards the end of the month, it’s hard to make that fit into the budget.

Store 4 = Costco (Friday night). I bought spinach, hummus, and brussels sprouts for $14.

Overall total for week 4 = $70.61


I am really glad I did this challenge. Even if I didn’t succeed at meeting my goal of $250, it made me realize that I’m not crazy when it comes to my grocery shopping. I get what I need, and that’s it (for the most part). I was a little disappointed in my use of coupons over the past month. However, it just so happens that the groceries I buy on a normal basis are whole, unprocessed foods. A coupon for a bag of carrots? Yeah, I’ve never heard of that one either.

Another thing I realized is how low the Husband’s meat consumption has gotten since he has married me (sorry Johnny…). I only bought meat twice (aside from lunchmeat). He has been eating more vegetarian dishes that are “beefed” (ha!) up with vegetarian protein like beans and lentils (without complaining). I am a proud wife.

Overall for the month, I spent the following:

With a grand total of $288.09. Needless to say, the Husband and I have already talked about upping our grocery shopping funds to $300/month. That way, I am: a) not stressing out and b) able to buy some “fun” products for the two of us.

The whole point of this challenge was not to set out to spend a certain amount of money because we only have so much money for groceries. I can continually tell you that we have been blessed to have a home and be able to afford the groceries we want. The whole point of the challenge was for me to analyze our grocery spending habits.

Even though I failed epically, I still think I succeeded. Success through failure? Sure, why not!?

Question: Have you ever failed at something, but felt like you succeeded in the end?

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

charmcghie February 20, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I think everything we do is a lesson learned! I definitely love that you did this because I think it’s something I seriously need to do (along with going to the grocery store less during the week…hubby’s not a fan of going almost everyday…neither am I, lets me honest!)

Ps – I dread Walmart too…if I can avoid it, I will!


Lauren February 20, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I get sick when I have to go into Walmart and I just found out they are putting another Supercenter a few miles from our house. It’s actually going in right next to our big mall so it’s going to be complete chaos. Ughhhhh….


whatkateiscooking February 20, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Pumpkin and kabocha are necessities to me :)


Lindsay February 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm

It is extremely difficult to grocery shop and buy organic and healthy foods for less than 90 to 100 dollars a week. So I think you did great! I am one of those huge coupon binder people (well, used to be) and I used to get a cart full of groceries for next to nothing. Seriously – so many items would be free. But the food was highly processed or filled with aspartame and other ‘not so great’ ingredients. But, coupons are great for using at CVS and Walgreens. You can get deodorant, toothpaste, and other items for practically free. I’d be happy to send you a little e-book I wrote about shopping at those two stores. Just send me an email and let me know and I’ll email it to you :)


cleaneatingchelsey February 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I definitely get things like that from Walgreens – with their coupons on top of manufacturer coupons, they’re practically nothing!


Lindsay February 20, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Good! That’s the way to do it! :) So many people just don’t realize how much you can save on those types of items there :)


Katie February 20, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Win some, Lose some right?! : )

I give you major kudos for trying to do this budget with the groceries, I honestly dont think we could : p

Oh my fiance eats stuff like that too, lol, I eat so different than him : )


kissmybroccoli February 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Check out that produce loot! I love Aldi! They have the best weekly produce sales and although the closest one to me is about a 2o minute drive across town, I recently discovered that Wal-Mart (I know, I cringe too) will price match as long as you bring in the sale ad. It definitely helps not having to drive all over God’s green earth to get the best deals!

I think you did a great job with the challenge. You’ve definitely inspired me to take a look into my grocery spending/impulse buying. I’ve been paying a lot closer attention to my purchases this month and I am proud to say I can already see some changes in my shopping mentality. I am also decreasing the processed food impulse buying like chips, crackers, and dips and instead trying recipes to create my own versions at home!


cleaneatingchelsey February 20, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I’m glad I could help out! I never knew that about the price matching!


Katie February 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm

I wouldn’t call that an “epic” failure at all. You went over by $33, which is only 13% above your budget (I’m a nerd.)

I see you’ve got some dried beans there, too. :D


cleaneatingchelsey February 20, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I like you and your statistics.


Emily @ One Sweet Vegan February 20, 2011 at 7:02 pm

I don’t think you failed at all. You succeeded in coming up with a manageable food budget. I’ve enjoyed these grocery shopping posts. Will you do more posts about shopping with your new increased budget?


cleaneatingchelsey February 20, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Definitely!! :)


Autumn @ Good Eats Girl February 20, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I think you did a great job! I need to do this to see what I am buying and if we are overbuying! It’s so hard to stay within budget when buying “real” food and not just overprocessed junk! :)

I agree…Aldi has great produce for a good price a lot of the time! I’ve just discovered Aldi in the last few months!


Michelle February 20, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I definitely think you succeeded in this challenge, even if you didn’t come in quite where you wanted to… it really is hard to find healthy food at good prices and to meet different tastes/preferences. So I say congrats! :)


healthyexposures February 20, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I don’t consider it an epic failure at all. Even if it felt like you overspent by the week, you didn’t even go $50 over budget for the whole month. I think you did really well!!
We might be getting an Aldi in town – I am so excited!! I hope they stock as good a selection of produce as yours does :)


Christine @ Merf In Progress February 20, 2011 at 7:54 pm

It’s hard to shop really budget when you want to eat good quality food. It’s really unfair. As far as failing but feeling good in the end, I hope that’s how I feel when I run my first 5K. The Couch to 5K program isn’t going as well as I would have liked, and I had a two week setback already, but if I finish and run a 5k in under 30 minutes, I will feel successful, even if it takes six months instead of 9 weeks!!!


TheNewHealthy February 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm

I think you succeeded since you learned a lot about your shopping habits! :)

Sam also eats so much less meat now that we live together. I very rarely buy/make meat for him and he eats most of my vegetarian meals! Success! :)


katshealthcorner February 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Pumpkin is a definite necessity in my life! :D

Thank you for blogging about your food budget challenge. It has motivated me to set a budget. Do you think I should start by establishing a menu at the begining of the week and by according to the menu? Do you think that would help me?


cleaneatingchelsey February 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm

I think you should do whatever works for you! Some people thrive with a menu, others like to have “staples” on hand and make whatever comes to them. I think I’m half and half – I always have a meal plan, but sometimes I don’t make what’s on the list!


Melissa February 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I would in no way call this an epic failure. Like you said, you wanted to analyze and assess; which you did! I’ve tried that and know it’s not easy…a receipt gets lost here and I forgot about a mid-week stop there.

So congrats on sticking with your plan!! And now with $300/month you won’t get the grocery shopping blues anymore ;)


squigglefloey February 20, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Yeah, I think that as long as your grocery bill isn’t ruining your life and making you guys go broke — then you’re doing an awesome job. I feel like this series has been more of a stressor for you than anything! You’re such a hard worker, and it’s not like you aren’t careful. You should definitely pat yourself on the back for being so aware :)


cleaneatingchelsey February 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm

::pats self on back:: Thanks!


Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries February 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm

I laughed out loud about your eye twitching in Wal-Mart. That was the ONLY place to shop in my very, very small college town and I HATED it. I haven’t stepped foot in one since! Thank God :)


Olivia February 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Love costco’s spinach and brussels! I always spend wayyy over my budget on grocerys, but the way I see it is that it’s my health that could be at risk, so I’m going to buy what’s healthy and what I want and if I’m a little over…well, so be it! I guess its easy for me to say when my mom gives me 20$ a week for Whole Foods finds designated only to mwah:)


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) February 20, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I think you did amazing!!! I would not call your month a failure at all! I dont even get anything of the sort?!

You fed 2 people for under 300?
That’s 150/mo each, which is 5 bucks a day. Some people spend that on ONE coffee drink or that’s half a trip to the WFs hot bar, i.e. those $9.50 “salads” i see girls buying.

You did awesome!

“Aldi has unbelievable produce if you’re not married to organic.”– amen sister. I dont have aldi here, but am not married to organic. I say it loud and proud. Thank you for saying it too.


cleaneatingchelsey February 21, 2011 at 6:22 am

I guess when you put it into perspective I did do pretty well! :)


fashionfitnessfoodie February 20, 2011 at 9:30 pm

It wasnt an EPIC fail because we werent insanely over budget and 70 dollars for 2 people to eat every meal at home really isn’t bad!! I spent 60 on myself for the week – I usually spend 110 so that was good for me!!


Mackenzie February 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I would love love love to spend that amount of money on groceries for me and my fiancé! I spend SO much more than that. So much more, in fact, that I would be embarrassed to admit it the actual amount. Alcohol probably contributes to a lot of the high price… so does how much food I eat. :) But trust me, it is amazing that you kept your food budget below $300 for two people for one month.


Angie @ The Fitness Apple February 20, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I felt like I’ve failed in learning certain topiccs in school but ended up with As… hahaha talk about beating the system!


cleaneatingchelsey February 21, 2011 at 6:21 am

Atta girl!


Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama February 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I agree with everyone else–you did a great job. My husband has totally evolved in his eating habits since we’ve been married, too. He’s done to only one meat meal a week and doesn’t complain about it. Actually he’s making a lot of comments lately about how much better he feels when he’s eating “my food”. :)


cleaneatingchelsey February 21, 2011 at 6:21 am

:) The Husband makes those comments too in the summer when he’s working hard. However, in the winter all he craves is comfort food and doesn’t think “my” form of them is sufficient!


Jennifer February 20, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I think upping your budget for next month is smart. Although, as I’ve said before, I think you’re doing awesome keeping the receipts to under $75/week. Good job!


thefitacademic February 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm

I love the grocery post series! You should keep ‘em coming! : )


cleaneatingchelsey February 21, 2011 at 6:22 am

I will! It will hold me accountable, taht’s for sure!


Katy (The Singing Runner) February 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I definitely don’t consider it an “epic fail.” Actually, I think you did FANTASTIC! I’m actually thinking about doing this on my blog (with full credit to you of course! ;) )


Lauren February 20, 2011 at 10:02 pm

I’m so inconsistent with grocery spending. One week it’s $100, the next it’s $57. This week it was $57 and believe me, I’m just fine with that. I think you did awesome btw. We rarely buy meat and it saves so much money!


cleaneatingchelsey February 21, 2011 at 6:20 am

Well, if you think about it – that makes sense! Two weeks ant $157? That’s pretty good! I think I’m going to start making big costco trips at the beginning of each month and see how that works out.


Alaina February 20, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I failed at my marathon training. But I finished my marathon and I finished it by running over the finish line! :-)


cleaneatingchelsey February 21, 2011 at 6:23 am

I would not call that a failure!


Leila @ Spinach and Skittles February 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Umm $288 for a month? You rock, no fail there sunshine.

Reply February 21, 2011 at 1:16 am

YOU ARE MY IDOL!!! Girl, you are so good at getting just what you NEED and stuff for the hubby. I think you did amazing and I am glad you are upping it so that you don’t feel stressed. Hope you have an amazing day off tomorrow!


Cara Craves... February 21, 2011 at 2:30 am

I would not count that as an epic fail…40$ in the grand scheme is not too bad!
The biggest thing is that you probably learned a ton about your spending habits, so it’s so worth it!
I’m still impressed.


movesnmunchies February 21, 2011 at 6:09 am

THAT is SO NOT A FAILURE! you plan like crazy and have gone to all the best shops for all the best deals! i think you needed to up your budget and Im glad you did! you did SO SO WELL!


Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine February 21, 2011 at 7:35 am

I’ve been reading so many budget posts this month that I think I’m going to try putting myself on one next month…nothing strict because I know I’ll stress over it, but just trying to cut back on my usual bills!!


Meaghan February 21, 2011 at 8:59 am

I wouldn’t say that was an epic failure! You were still pretty close to your $250 goal! $250 a month is tight, I spend about that normally for only 1 1/2 people. (My Bf hasn’t officially moved in yet, but is here alllll the time).


Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather February 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

I think you succeeded amazingly! Under $300 for a month of groceries is a win in my book.


Natalia - a side of simple February 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

Hope you have a great day off today, Chelsey! I think you did a really good job with your groceries. It’s so tough and I think just staying focused is an accomplishment.

And in answer to your question, for a failure that equated to a success is going to have to go to that time I went through basically an entire ketchup bottle at the diner last week. In my defense, it wasn’t “entirely” full… :)


vegansunshine February 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Ahh, I don’t even want to know how much I spend in a month…

Well, you learned from this and that’s all that matters! I think you did pretty good for shopping for two people. :)



simplynutritiouskate February 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I’m impressed you were able to stay under 300 for the two of you its amazing how quickly meat adds up I have drastically reduced my boyfriends meat consumption and we still spend over that a month! You are an awesome example that you can eat healthy on a budget!


Jess February 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm

At least you found out what you need and what works for you!


eatinglikeahorse February 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I don’t think it was an epic failure; you weren’t that much over! It’s a brilliant idea to post it all – I should do it but I think I’d be shocked into never buying food again :-)
This post also helped me in that it reminded me I need to get kitchen paper and it’s now on my list – bet you didn’t know you were running a shopping-reminder service!
But thank you :-)


missymiller February 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Sigh. You didn’t FAIL….come on now girl! Its a process!!!


Simply Life February 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm

oh I’m so impressed at what you did, learned and tried and would definitely count this as a success!


shea November 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I hate wal mart too. It’s so jank and and caters to a much different crown than say target. Which I love. I will avoid wal mart at all costs.


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