Grocery Diaries

My Husband and I Are Healthcare Professionals and Spend $160 a Week on Groceries

updated Mar 16, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Kirstie

Name: Kirstie
Location: Waconia, MN
Number of people in household: 2; my husband, Nick, and me
Age: I’m 28, and my husband is 32
Occupation: I am a medical lab scientist at a hospital; Nick is a project manager at a health insurance company
Where did you grocery shop? And for how long? I shopped for a week’s worth of groceries at Cub Foods
Amount spent on groceries this week: $160.20
Dietary restrictions: None

How did you choose where to shop?

Because I don’t have the time to run around to multiple stores, I shop at Cub, which has a good variety of products and doesn’t break the budget. It helps that this is the same grocery store I’ve been going to since I was 2 years old! I know where everything is, so I don’t have to spend time wandering around looking for things. I grocery shop every Wednesday.

In addition to shopping at Cub, my husband and I also stock our deep freezer with a quarter steer every year. (My uncle raises beef cattle!) We always have burgers, roasts, steaks, and offal on hand. Plus, Nick is an avid hunter and fisherman and stocks the freezer with turkey, grouse, woodcock, pheasant, duck, venison, and fish. Cooking with wild game has been somewhat of a learning curve, but I have come to appreciate having a unique and wide array of protein to experiment with.

Credit: Courtesy of Kirstie

Finally, we also tend to a big garden in our backyard which keeps us busy from mid-April to October. We plant tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, radishes, kohlrabies, carrots, jalapeños, onions, and potatoes. Rhubarb and raspberries are perennials that we also have and harvest year after year. We also grow fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, chives, rosemary, basil, and mint.

Credit: Courtesy of Kirstie

As any good Midwesterner knows, gardening weather is fleeting so I preserve as much as possible for the long, cold winters. I pickle an array of cucumbers, jalapeños, rhubarb, and green beans as well as can tomatoes, salsa, relish, jams, and more. I also freeze whatever is left over. Our deep freezer is filled with green beans, tomatoes, and fresh sweet corn.

Credit: Courtesy of Kirstie

What do you plan on making?

I’m the kind of planner who writes out a menu for our suppers every week. And I meal plan before I go grocery shopping for the week, so I know what I need to put on my list. If I didn’t do this, we’d probably be eating a lot of random, boring meals. I also work Monday through Friday and commute about an hour each way, so I have to know what protein to take out of the freezer before I leave for work at 6:30 a.m.

When I plan my menu, I try to use a different protein each night (chicken, pork, beef, fish, wild game), one vegetarian meal, and one night of leftovers. If there is any produce left over from the previous week, I’ll plan some meals around that to prevent waste.

For us, lunches are predominately leftovers with the occasional sandwich thrown in there. My weekday breakfasts are usually portable because I eat at work: yogurt and granola, fruit, oatmeal, breakfast oat bars, and smoothies are all in the rotation. Oh, and coffee. Always coffee. Weekend brunches are more involved, including dishes like Dutch babies or eggs in purgatory.

Credit: Courtesy of Kirstie

This week, my inspiration for the supper menu was warding off the cold. We had a 10-day stretch of below-freezing temps last week, so I was craving hot comfort food. It’s also Lent, so every Friday for the next 40 days we’re eating fish.

  • Wednesday: White bean and spinach soup with black pepper drop biscuits
  • Thursday: Leftovers (from Wednesday and the prior week)
  • Friday: Sesame salmon soba noodle salad
  • Saturday: Thai chicken salad with homemade naan
  • Sunday: Swiss steak and mashed potatoes with lettuce salad
  • Monday: Venison sloppy Joes with roasted sweet potatoes and corn
  • Tuesday: Greek dinner bowl with grouse
  • Weekend brunch: Southwest breakfast scramble
  • Weekend desserts/drinks: Leftover chocolate chip pan-banging cookies a la Sarah Kieffer; also, pickle beer. What is pickle beer, you may ask? In a pint glass, put two pickle spears, some pickle brine, and pour in a Miller Lite. Pickle beer. So briny, so crisp, so good.
Credit: Courtesy of Kirstie

What did you buy?

In addition to what I needed for meals this week, I bought some pantry staples as well as stocked up on LaCroix and other drinks. Mochi may have also made its way into my cart …


  • La Croix, $10.98 for two 12-packs
  • Bisquick, $3.99
  • Spring Grove Strawberry Pop, $2.98 for two
  • Olive oil, $7.49
  • Barbecue sauce, $3.98 for two bottles
  • Soy sauce, $3.79
  • White cooking wine, $4.39
  • Kalamata olives, $3.49
  • Coffee, $9.99
  • Buns, $2.99
  • Soba noodles, $2.99
  • Balsamic vinaigrette, $4.79


  • Salmon, $8.46


  • Minced garlic, $3.99
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, $5.99
  • Romaine lettuce, $3.49
  • Bananas, $1.28
  • Cherry tomatoes, $3.99
  • Bell peppers, $11.98 for two 4-packs
  • Baby spinach, $3.49
  • Green onions, $0.99
  • Roma tomatoes, $1.36
  • Jalapeño peppers, $0.40 for two
  • Mango, $2
  • Lime, $0.89
  • Avocado, $2
  • English cucumber, $2.50
  • Yams, $4.26
  • Apples, $4.42
  • Cilantro, $1.29
  • Parsley, $1.29


  • Feta, $3.99
  • Red pepper hummus, $2
  • Deli ham, $6.57
  • Pita chips, $3.00
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, $5.99
  • Eggs, $1.99
  • Draft coffee drink, $2.50


  • Mochi ice cream, $3.99
  • Frozen sausage pizza, $8.99

Grocery store total: $158

The only other ingestible item that I bought for the week was my weekly coffee from Caribou Coffee. Mondays are rough enough — a raspberry latte is a great way to ease into the work week! I only had to pay about $2 because I used up the balance from a Christmas gift card.

Total: $160.20

I personally struggle with those big grocery store bills, but I have to remind myself that Nick and I don’t routinely eat out. We save dining-out meals for special occasions like birthdays and our wedding anniversary. Every two to three months we sometimes treat ourselves to a few drinks at a local brewery, winery, or distillery around our town. And we’re not paying a lot for protein!

Credit: Courtesy of Kirstie

How is this different from how you normally shop?

Grocery shopping has drastically improved since last summer. I remember when there was not a single jar or packet of yeast to be found. Those were dark days for me because I like to bake bread every three to four weeks. Luckily the shelves are back to normal and I was able to find everything I needed for this last weekly haul. The only out-of-the-ordinary thing was the promotional sign for a local Girl Scout troop selling cookies in a few weeks. Caramel deLites, it’s good to see you again, old friend.

Credit: Courtesy of Kirstie

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