Grocery Diaries

We’re a Family of 5 in Ohio and Shop Mostly at Costco and Kroger — Here’s How Much We Spent on Groceries This Week

published Oct 15, 2022
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A collage featuring a family and their various grocery items.
Credit: Photo: Courtesy of Maggie; Food: Shutterstock; Design: Kitchn

Name: Maggie
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Number of people in family: 5; my husband and me (both 54), and our three kids (ages 19, 21, and 24)
Occupation and Salary: I’m a stay-at-home mom and my husband works in medical sales
Where did you shop? Costco and Kroger
Weekly Food Budget: $400
Amount spent: $386.28

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

Where did you shop?

I usually divide up my shopping between Costco and Kroger. I buy bulk items, like olive oil, condiments, some produce, and most of my meat, poultry, and fish at Costco. The remainder of my groceries are purchased at Kroger. I use coupons and in-store deals at Kroger to try to save as much as possible. Kroger often runs pretty good deals using online coupons. I normally shop online using the Pickup option (formerly ClickList), which allows me to build my list and then select a pickup time that’s convenient for me.

I have been shopping this way since well before Covid and find it saves me a lot of time. A nice feature of Pickup is that it saves and suggests items from previous purchases. So my essentials are readily accessible and I don’t need to remember what I need to buy because the app reminds you. 

What’s your grocery strategy?

I use reminders from Pickup to help me generate a list of staples, like cheese, frozen veggies, and fresh produce. From there, I look at the online coupons to see if there are any that are applicable to my meal plans. I often get meal idea inspiration from the store website, and sale items will help me decide what to make. For example, if certain sauces are on sale, that will push me toward specific recipes. Because I purchase my chicken, fish, and meat at Costco, I always have a protein to go with the sauces.

We try to stay low-carb in our house, so I don’t often purchase or prepare traditional rice or pasta dishes. I substitute cauliflower for rice and mashed potatoes — everyone, including our teenage boys, eats it happily. Sometimes I make my own cauliflower rice, but often buy it frozen. While not always possible, I do try and often either make my own dressings or buy Primal Kitchen brand.

All of this said, I’m definitely an easily distracted and impulse shopper. I will often purchase items simply because they’re on sale, even though they might not fit in with any loose plan in my head. This week my impulse buy was whipped cottage cheese. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but it intrigued me, so I had to try it.

How did you meal plan?

I used to work as a private chef, so I have lots of recipes in my head and I am pretty fearless and confident when it comes to menu ideas. I typically spend one day a week bulk prepping. I try to do this prep work on the day of my grocery shop. It takes a full day, but saves time throughout the week. Unfortunately, I can’t make too much in advance because everyone often eats at different times.

I like to have prepared food on hand so everyone can eat when it’s convenient for them. This means I often prepare things like overnight oats, crustless quiches, cauliflower tabbouleh, and tuna salad. I also have lots of vegetables, which I cut up to pair with guacamole or hummus and also always have things like cheese and pepperoni that can be eaten on the fly. We eat out at least one time a week, usually on a weekend for lunch.

What did you buy?

Costco

  • Mayonnaise, $11.18
  • Plant-based chicken patties $10.99
  • Frozen chicken breasts, $34.99
  • Low-carb tortillas, $5.99
  • Lettuce, $5.99
  • Guacamole, $15.49
  • Frozen salmon, $29.99
  • Limes, $6.49
  • Olive oil, $12.48
  • Dijon mustard, $6.99
  • Breakfast bites, $12.89
  • Frozen edamame, $9.99
  • Tuna, $18.99
  • Cheese crisps, $9.99
  • Frozen blueberries $9.29
  • Coconut milk, $12.88
  • Grass-fed beef sticks, $16.69

Total: $231.30

Kroger

  • Organic eggs, $8.99
  • Blackberries, $5.98
  • Salad mix, $3.79
  • Cauliflower,  $5.00
  • Pork rinds, $3.00
  • Garlic chili sauce, $2.79
  • Jalapeño, $0.27
  • Frozen cauliflower florets, $3.00
  • Hot ground sausage, $2.79
  • Hot sausage links, $2.99
  • Whipped cottage cheese, $1.99
  • Cole slaw mix, $1.79
  • Turkey pepperoni, $2.99
  • Organic Italian parsley, $1.49
  • Scallions, $1.59
  • Chili lime salt, $4.79
  • Heavy cream, $3.69
  • Turkey kielbasa, $2.99
  • Garlic hummus, $2.49
  • Dried edamame, $2.19
  • Butternut squash, $4.29
  • Muenster cheese slices, $2.98
  • Shredded cheese, $1.49
  • Organic bell peppers, $1.99
  • Slivered almonds, $6.99
  • Butter spread, $3.99
  • Frozen shrimp, $9.99
  • Bacon, $8.98
  • Frozen green beans, $3.19
  • Frozen cauliflower rice, $5.18
  • Salad dressing, $7.49
  • Chocolate chips, $5.99
  • Oats, $4.29
  • Simmer sauces, $13.96
  • Butter, $5.79
  • Organic heavy cream, $3.79

Total: $154.98

Grand Total: $386.28

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

Tuesday: Blueberry Smoothie, Salad with Plant-Based Chicken, and Turkey Kielbasa with Green Beans Almondine and Mashed Cauliflower

My husband, daughter, and I start our day with coffee. After hitting the gym mid-morning, I return home and whip up a blueberry smoothie, with frozen blueberries, stevia, and coconut milk blitzed together in my Ninja. I drink an inordinate amount of soda, and vowed this week to change this habit or at least lessen it. I am striving to drink four large Yetis of my homemade limeade (two fresh limes squeezed into my Yeti, three stevia packs, filtered water, and ice). It’s simple and delicious and I really don’t miss the soda.

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

After several loads of laundry, I make a salad for myself and my husband, who was home for once. I use the organic salad mix, chop up two plant-based chicken patties, some Whisps, olives, and Primal Kitchen dressing. Later in the day, I did some food prep for the week: chopping up fresh veggies for snacking and making some butternut squash soup, cauliflower tabbouleh, and crustless quiche. The butternut squash soup is so simple, but so good. The cauliflower tabbouleh is a bit labor-intensive, but so worth it. (For this dish, you must rice your own cauliflower.) My daughter and I practically lived on it during the summer. As a late-afternoon snack, I had two grass-fed beef sticks with some wasabi dried edamame.

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

For our dinner for only three tonight, I grill the turkey kielbasa; mash up the frozen cauliflower with some butter spread, salt, and pepper; and make some green beans almondine using frozen green beans, some toasted slivered almonds, and some more of the butter spread. For dessert, we have some fresh blackberries with Lily’s chocolate chips.

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

Wednesday: Leftovers for Breakfast and Lunch, Crustless Quiche, and Spicy Salmon with Cauliflower Tabbouleh

My husband, who is notorious for eating anything at any time, polishes off the leftover kielbasa, cauliflower mash, and green beans almondine for breakfast. I start the day off with coffee, stevia, and cream, and, after a late-morning yoga class, eat two slices of crustless quiche with some fresh tomatoes from my neighbor’s garden.

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

My daughter packs some of the butternut squash soup and cauliflower tabbouleh for her work lunch. As a snack later in the afternoon, I have some chicharrones and veggies with hummus and guacamole. It’s four of us tonight for dinner. We have spicy salmon, made with frozen fillets and a quick Dijon mustard marinade, and more of the cauliflower tabbouleh. For something sweet after dinner, I had a spoonful of almond butter with some Lily’s chocolate chips.

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

Thursday: More Leftovers for Breakfast and Lunch, Tuna Salad with Veggies, and Shrimp with Curry Sauce, Cauliflower Rice, and Edamame

Hubby is home again today — very unusual to have him around three days in a row! He finishes off the leftover salmon for his breakfast and I have my usual coffee in the morning. For exercise today, I take my daughter’s huge puppy (Labrador mixed with Great Dane, so ENORMOUS!) for about a two-mile walk, because he needs lots of exercise.

My daughter packs more of the tabbouleh for her work lunch. My husband and I have tuna salad that I made using a mix of water-packed white tuna and Starkist hickory smoked tuna from the pantry, some chopped banana peppers and sun-dried tomatoes from the fridge, and a few heaping spoonfuls of avocado oil mayo and salt and pepper. Sometimes we eat our tuna on my favorite low-carb bread from Kroger, but I forgot to buy it this week so I serve the tuna salad in bowls with veggies on the side.

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

For dinner it’s just the two of us, so I make shrimp curry with frozen shrimp that I thaw under cool running water and sauté with some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper before adding the coconut curry sauce. I serve it over the frozen cauliflower rice that’s been thawed and seasoned with granulated garlic, salt, and turmeric, then baked until slightly crisp. We also have some edamame that I defrost and toss with my own special seasoning (salt, stevia, and togarashi). I had something similar at Roy’s in Chicago for an appetizer years ago and this is my best attempt to copy it. My family loves it and it is always a hit when I take to parties as an appetizer. I had a few Choc X Keto chocolate squares later in the evening. I keep them in the pantry for chocolate emergencies. I usually find them at Costco, but am a bit frantic because they were nowhere to be found on my last shopping trip.

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

Friday: Crustless Quiche, Overnight Oats, Turkey Pepperoni with Cheese, and Dinner Out with Friends

Coffee for me in the morning, while my hubby, who has a late-morning flight, has some quiche on his way out the door. My daughter and son both eat overnight oats before heading off to work and student teaching, respectively. My daughter has hers with frozen blueberries and slivered almonds, and my son has his with creamy peanut butter and Lily’s chocolate chips. I hit the gym late morning and have my first soda of the week (I ran out of limes for my homemade limeade).

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

For a late lunch I have some turkey pepperoni with cheese slices and, after a whirlwind day of business travel for the hubs, we go out to dinner for a pre-homecoming dinner with a group of friends. We go to a fantastic Italian place and share a few appetizers: toasted bread with goat cheese, hazelnuts and honey, and a huge porterhouse, off the bone and served in slices. I also have a buffalo mozzarella Caprese, swordfish with anchovy, tomato, olive sauce and broccolini. Unfortunately, because we were having such fun (and so much wine!!), I totally forgot to snap pics of my food. You will have to take my word that it was both beautiful and delicious. All the kids are out tonight, either with friends or working late, so they are on their own for dinner!

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

Saturday: Homecoming Tailgate, Grilled Italian Sausages with Peppers and Onions, and Cottage Cheese with Blackberries

We all start off the day with our usual coffees. Everyone sleeps in since it’s Saturday and are on their own for all meals today. My husband and I are at a homecoming tailgate, as are all our kids, but separately from us. Hubby and I are out with the same friends from the evening before. We spend the pregame at a popular pizza spot on campus. We have salad, wings, and pizza.

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

Nobody is home for dinner except hubby and me, but I still make all the sausages and peppers and onions because I know everyone will eat them later. I usually grill my sausage and peppers, but the grill was out of gas so I baked everything instead. For something sweet later in the night, I tried a new recipe: I process the cottage cheese in my Ninja to make it smoother, add some stevia and vanilla, and whiz it a bit more. I eat some from a bowl topped with some fresh blackberries and lime zest. Unfortunately, it’s not great. The whipped cottage cheese I purchased was expired when I got it. After realizing this I returned it and, sadly, there was no whipped cottage cheese to be found. I had to use regular cottage cheese and the texture just wasn’t great. I might try again with the whipped stuff, and add some Lily’s chips and raspberries or strawberries. 

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

Sunday: Breakfast Tortillas, Lunch at the Sauerkraut Festival, and Mississippi Chicken with Jalapeño Coleslaw

Before heading to mass, we start with our day with coffee and then I prepare a Sunday breakfast. I warmed some tortillas in the oven, spread them with some guacamole, then topped them with bacon (cooked in the oven; less mess, no flipping), scrambled eggs, and hot sauce. My husband likes to add sour cream as well. 

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

We head to the local Sauerkraut festival and share some reuben rolls — basically a reuben sandwich prepared like an egg roll — and some sauerkraut balls for lunch. We’re a complete party of five for dinner tonight because my youngest came home for a night of rest after his homecoming extravaganza weekend. I make an old standby, jalapeño cole slaw, and try a new-to-me recipe: Mississippi chicken. I think it could be a bit saucier, but it is still really good. It’s was a MASSIVE hit with the kids. After dinner we all sit around watching old VHS home videos from 20-plus years ago. It is such a fun night with everyone all together under one roof again. 

Credit: Courtesy of Maggie

Monday: Blueberry Smoothie, Protein Bites, Pepperoni and Cheese, and a Mishmash of Leftovers

Regular coffee orders and back to reality. I make protein bites and they aren’t a huge hit with anyone other than me. I think they are pretty tasty with a few shakes of hot sauce, but they’re a hard pass for my husband. I whip up a blueberry smoothie for him instead.

I hit the gym for pilates and then take the dog for a walk when I get home. Afterward, I have a late afternoon snack of turkey pepperoni with cheese. For dinner tonight we have a mishmash of leftovers. There are four of us for dinner and we have plenty of sausage and peppers from Saturday night and a fair amount of the Mississippi chicken. I have a few squares of the chocolate snaps and call it a night.

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