Grocery Diaries

I’m a Registered Dietitian and My Boyfriend Is an Accountant — We Spent $91 on a Week’s Worth of Groceries

published Nov 18, 2021
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Credit: Food: Shutterstock; Person: Courtesy of Elizabeth; Design: Kitchn

Name: Elizabeth
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Age: 30
Number of people in household: 2 (me and my boyfriend)
Occupation: I’m a Registered Dietitian for a private practice; my boyfriend is an accountant
Amount spent on groceries this week: $91.18

Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth

Where did you shop?

We shop almost exclusively at Jewel Osco and Trader Joe’s. Usually, because I shop at Jewel, I will use their app to clip coupons, find discounts, and accumulate rewards, which can amount to significant money off my grocery bill over the course of a year. We have a Trader Joe’s across the street from us, which is super convenient for some of our favorite items. I made a small run to TJ’s this week.

What’s your grocery strategy?

I write a weekly grocery list with the items we need, categorized by section (produce, protein, dry goods, dairy, and misc purchases) and in the direction I walk around the store. I will even group the dry goods by aisle if I am going to my most frequent store, which I know by memory. Then my boyfriend and I will divide and conquer, each taking sections of the store — it makes grocery shopping more efficient!

How do you meal plan?

After years and years of practice, meal planning is second nature to me (it’s part of my profession). I create a Google doc with a weekly grid — from Monday to Sunday — with lunch and dinner sections for each day. 

I start by filling in any social eating or restaurant plans we have for the week. After that is filled in, I consult with my boyfriend to see if there are any specific meals he wants for the week. I keep a master list of recipes we love, broken down by category (vegetarian, chicken, turkey, etc.) and will reference this list for ideas. I also audit what we have in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to cut down on food waste and cost. After deciding what we’ll make, I fill in the doc with the meals for each day of the week, as well as make a note on the days we must cook. We each cook one or two meals per week so the responsibility of meal preparation is shared. We don’t cook every day, because we plan for leftovers.

What did you buy?

Jewel Osco

  • Bananas, $2.14
  • Limes, $0.50
  • Orange bell pepper, $1.98
  • Yellow bell pepper, $.99
  • Red onions, $2.12
  • Cauliflower, $4.16
  • Cucumber, $.99
  • Cherry tomatoes, $2.49
  • Mixed greens, $4.99
  • Cilantro, $.89
  • 2 cans of kidney beans, $1.18
  • 1 can of black beans, $.59
  • Garbanzo beans, $1.29
  • Canned corn, $.89
  • 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, $1.18
  • Chicken stock, $2.99
  • Cornbread mix (pack of 6), $2.99
  • Instant oat packs, $2.89
  • Popcorn, $2.99
  • Whole-wheat bread, $1.99
  • 2% milk, $3.50
  • Eggs, $3.99
  • Yogurt, $6.61
  • Salmon, $7.51
  • Provolone cheese slices,  $6.85
  • Sliced turkey, $8.41

Total: $79.61

Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth

Trader Joes

  • 2 packs of tofu , $4.98
  • Peanut butter, $1.99
  • Tomato and red pepper soup, $2.99
  • 1 honeycrisp apple, $1.29

Total: $11.57

Grand Total: $91.18

Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth

Sunday: Turkey Chili Night

We get home from a weekend away on Sunday so I take out some frozen turkey and my boyfriend makes us a quick, easy chili while I make cornbread muffins. This makes a lot so we can have leftovers for lunches and dinners throughout the week.

Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth

Monday: 20-Minute Tofu Stir Fry with Brown Rice

I go into the office on Mondays, so I pack overnight oats (for breakfast), and leftover chili (for lunch) with lots of snacks. My boyfriend eats the same breakfast as me and has a sandwich with fruit for lunch (he was working in our home office). He goes out to dinner and a movie with a friend, so I am on my own for dinner. When I get home, I make my 20-minute, easy tofu stir-fry with brown rice, cauliflower rice, eggs, and veggies. This is a meal I teach a lot of my nutrition clients how to make because it uses frozen rice, frozen cauliflower rice, tofu (which has a long refrigeration life), and frozen veggies — all foods they can always keep on hand without fear of food waste.

Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth

Tuesday: Oats with Fruit, Hemp Seeds, and Peanut Butter

I work from home on Tuesdays, so I have more flexibility with my meals. I start with my usual WFH breakfast (oats with fruit, hemp seeds, and peanut butter). For lunch, I make a grilled cheese and turkey sandwich with the Trader Joe’s roasted pepper and tomato soup on the side. My boyfriend goes into the office (I need to have a quiet, private space to do tele-health consultations with my clients). He packs instant oats, a banana, and a yogurt (breakfast) and a leftover meal of orzo stew (lunch) we had saved from the previous week. We have leftover chili for dinner.

Wednesday: Jambalaya and Cornbread

I go into the office again and pack my oats (breakfast) and tofu stir-fry (lunch). My boyfriend works from home and has an oatmeal breakfast and makes a turkey sandwich with fruit on the side for lunch. We go to our friends’ house that night; she makes us a delicious dinner of jambalaya and cornbread!

Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth

Thursday: Roasted Salmon and Cauliflower with Leeks and a Warm Quinoa Salad

I change up my breakfast: two eggs and two egg whites scrambled with a whole-grain English muffin with pear spice jam (made by a friend). I have my grilled cheese and turkey sandwich with tomato soup again (for lunch), which tastes especially good as the weather cools in Chicago. Then I spend an afternoon session with my client demonstrating how to prepare a warm quinoa salad with a lime vinaigrette, black beans, bell pepper, red onion, and cilantro. Come dinnertime, I roast some salmon to pair with the quinoa salad, and my boyfriend prepares and roasts a head of cauliflower with leeks. Teamwork! My boyfriend has instant oats, a banana, and yogurt for breakfast, and goes to Chipotle for lunch because he is working downtown.

Friday: Leftover Salmon for Dinner

We both have oats with peanut butter, fruit, and hemp seeds for breakfast. I have leftovers for lunch (the last of my tofu stir-fry). My boyfriend orders a Mediterranean hummus and falafel bowl while he’s at the office. We both have leftover salmon for dinner. Two of our friends come over for drinks before we go see Rocky Horror Picture Show! My boyfriend makes bourbon on the rocks for himself and our friends, and I have a pumpkin beer for myself. We don’t often cook on Fridays, and usually will go out for dinner either Friday or Saturday.

Saturday: Cheddar, Tomato, and Mushroom Omelettes with Fresh Rosemary and Basil

My boyfriend makes us our usual Saturday breakfast of omelettes with rosemary and basil from our herb garden, with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese. We have sandwiches and I have the last of my soup for lunch. We are going to a holiday party this evening that will have pizza provided, which will count for our takeout/restaurant meal of the week. 

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