Grocery Diaries

How a Yoga Instructor in Vermont Spends Less than $200 on a Month of (Mostly) Plant-Based Groceries

updated Jun 18, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Charleigh

Name: Charleigh
Location: Central Vermont
Age: 56
Number of people in household: 1 (but I’ve been quarantining with a family)
Occupation: Yogi, writer, educator
Where I shopped: Hannaford, White River co-op
Amount spent: $181.23
Dietary Restrictions: I follow a pescatarian/vegetarian diet and drink non-dairy milk.

How did you decide where to shop?

I am a regular at the Hannaford supermarket in town where I get most of my groceries. I also make a stop by my local co-op in White River for items I can’t get elsewhere. I just returned to work Monday and the idea of trekking to either of my more-distant markets isn’t appealing. Hannaford has good produce and a nice selection of brands, and the store is clean. They are working hard to keep social distancing habits in place throughout their store. The prices at both stores are similar. I made sure to shop in the late afternoon, so neither store was crowded, although it did seem that everyone at the co-op got in line at the same time.

Credit: Courtesy of Charleigh

What did you buy?

Produce: 2 English cucumbers, 1 bag butter lettuce, 3 packages of mushroom slices, 2 containers of garlic hummus, 1 dozen brown eggs
Pantry: Four 28-ounce cans tomatoes, 6 cans Jyoti Indian meals, 6 cans of soup, 2 jars tomato sauce, 4 quarts of almond milk, 2 boxes of cereal, 2 loaves of bread, 1 package of whole-wheat wraps, 2 jars of salsa, 2 boxes of rice/quinoa, 2 packages of rice crackers, 1 bottle of cranberry juice, 1 jar of peanut butter with flaxseed, 2 cans of skipjack tuna
Dairy: 1 quart of cream top yogurt, 1 pint of frozen yogurt, 2 economy packages of provolone

Credit: Courtesy of Charleigh

What couldn’t you find?

My favorite brand of cream of mushroom soup is still out of stock at both markets. I also wasn’t able to find broccoli or cauliflower.

What do you plan to make?


  • I usually make omelets in the morning with mushroom, cheese, and greens from my garden. Sometimes I put salsa on top.


  • I typically have lunch wraps when I’m working or when I go on hikes. I make these with mushroom slices, cheese, greens from the garden, and home-made dressing.
  • I also bought skipjack tuna, which will be great for making tuna salad with mayo and relish.
  • I’ll use canned salmon and put it on top of salad or in a wrap.
  • I will make curried tuna with raisins or Italian tuna with artichoke hearts.


  • Pasta with red sauce, enhanced by garden offerings and lots of garlic. If we have another chilly night, I like to make a cheesy pasta bake.
  • I bought several canned Indian meals: peas and paneer cheese or lentils with vegetables that I’ll serve with coconut rice or quinoa.
  • Salad, salad, salad. Since dandelion and fiddlehead season has passed, I typically have kale and spinach salads every day.
Credit: Courtesy of Charleigh

How is this different from “normal”?

The biggest difference from normal is that I now share a house with a family, so about half of my food budget and staples go to group suppers. Now I am cooking for more than one person, and am sharing my skills with the younger folks. Another big difference is that I don’t yet have a refrigerator of my own, so my fresh food buying is much lower than it usually would be as the weather warms. Happily, as the garden begins to come in, I only have to walk to the yard. Farmers markets are opening up this week in a socially distanced fashion, so I will be seeing my favorite farmers again very soon to pick up early beets and summer squash for our table.

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