Grocery Diaries

I’m a Baker and My Boyfriend Is a Musician. Here’s How Much We Spend on One Week of Food in Columbus, Ohio.

updated May 20, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Reed

Name: Reed
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Number of people in household: 2; me and my long-term boyfriend, Drew. (We also have a roommate who lives in our attic, however he mostly eats his own cereal and takeout.)
Age: 23 and 25
Occupation: I am a baking assistant at a local bakery and Drew is a freelance musician.
Grocery shopping for how long? 1 week
Where did you shop? Kroger
Did you get your groceries delivered or did you go to the store? I shopped in person today but every now and then I will use the curbside pick-up option, especially because the extra surcharge has been waived lately.
How much did you spend? $70.77
Dietary restrictions? I don’t eat red meat. I prefer to eat vegetarian or vegan when I can, but my boyfriend is a carnivore. We usually compromise on one or two meatless dinners and one dish with poultry/fish per week.

How did you choose where to buy groceries?

I have almost always shopped at Kroger, ever since I started doing the weekly grocery shopping for my family back when I got my driver’s license. I grew up in the Cincinnati-Dayton area and because Kroger is based in Cincy, they’re absolutely everywhere around here. I also prefer Kroger because they are one of the few stores where I can find just about everything I need at a good price. However, I do buy our bulk dry goods like rice and oats from our local Lucky’s and spices from a local spice vendor called North Market Spices. Neither of those stops were a necessary part of the agenda this week.

Credit: Courtesy of Reed

What time did you shop and what was it like?

I went shopping on Monday morning, around 9 a.m. The bakery I work at is closed on Mondays so that’s my shopping/off day. I’m an early riser (as required by the trade!) and prefer to get my errands done early in the day so that I can relax for the rest of it. Shopping at this time is also pretty good because it’s significantly less crowded, however I’ve found that sometimes items still haven’t been restocked on shelves after the weekend rush.

How did you meal plan?

We keep an out/low list on a whiteboard in the kitchen that we add to throughout the week. On Friday or Saturday, I’ll take a look at that list and start tacking on the ingredients we need for the meals we’re planning to make. We typically keep our pantry and fridge pretty well-stocked, so I only have to buy two to four ingredients per meal.

I have a running list of meal ideas on my Notes app, pulled from various favorite food sites and cookbooks. If I don’t do this, I tend to fall back on the five-ish seasonal meals in my repertoire. Usually I’ll pick a meal to cook one night, Drew will pick a meal to cook for us another night, and we’ll coordinate for a third. Leftovers and takeout fill the other 4 nights of the week. I also usually pick one breakfast to cook for myself in the mornings (Drew forgoes them) and we both just graze for lunch. Working at the bakery definitely helps me fill in meals that I didn’t make the effort to plan for. Drew has a fondness for Taco Bell, which he gets about once or twice a week.

What did you buy?

  • Produce: Two bananas, three apples, sliced mushrooms, two serrano peppers, one bell pepper, one lemon, garlic, leeks, one salad kit
  • Meat: Chicken thighs
  • Dairy: Ricotta cheese
  • Pantry: Pasta, chocolate chips, tomato sauce, sesame oil, tortilla chips, Cheez-Its, Frosted Mini Wheats, burger buns
  • Other: Frozen chicken tenders, frozen sweet potato fries, guacamole, Mountain Dew, coconut water

How much did you spend?

I spent $70.77 at Kroger, which is right on target for our $75-ish weekly budget.

What couldn’t you find?

I had lemongrass on my list and was open to either fresh or the kind that comes in refrigerated squeeze bottles, but couldn’t find either one. Otherwise, I found everything that I came for.

Credit: Courtesy of Reed
Leek and Mushroom Pasta

What did you plan on making?

  • Breakfasts: Cereal, morning glory muffins
  • Lunches: Fruit, chips and guacamole
  • Dinners: Leek and mushroom pasta, vegan sloppy Joes with sweet potato fries and salad, Vietnamese lemongrass chicken with rice (sans lemongrass … )
  • Dessert: Chocolate chip cookies

How is this different from how you normally shop?

This was a fairly typical haul for us, with a few exceptions. The previous week involved a much smaller shop, so I thought this one might go over budget to compensate, but it was actually right on target. We typically buy quite a bit more dairy, but this week we didn’t need much. There’s also usually at least one type of hygiene product or cleaning supply that adds to the total cost but, again, none this week.

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