Grocery Diaries

I’m a 92-Year-Old Retiree Living in New Mexico — Here’s What I Make with a $64 Weekly Grocery Haul

published May 4, 2023
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graphic collage of the grocery diary author surrounded by asparagus, russet potatoes, white mushrooms and cheddar crackers from her shopping list
Credit: Photo: Courtesy of Florence, Shutterstock

Name: Florence
Location: Alamogordo, New Mexico
Age: 92
Number of people in household: 1
Occupation: Retired/Writer
Salary: Social Security
Where you shopped: Walmart
Weekly food budget: $55.00
Amount spent: $64.06

Credit: Florence

Where did you shop?   

This week, I shopped at Walmart. I ordered online with curbside pickup from Walmart, as I have for several years. For meat specials my go-to is Albertsons Market and occasionally Lowe’s Market, but I don’t shop at those stores every week and didn’t need to go this week. I also go to the Dollar Tree once a month for paper items and birthday cards.

What’s your grocery strategy? 

Because I am eligible for food bank items each month, my refrigerator and freezers are always full, and I have a variety of canned foods at home. The first of each month I order milk, eggs, butter, and fresh vegetables online, along with laundry supplies, pharmacy items (other than prescriptions), paper goods, and dog food for my tiny Chihuahua companion. I sometimes buy a rotisserie chicken and freeze the meat I don’t use in the first day or two for future casseroles or soup. The carcass provides broth for cooking. 

Where I live, Albertsons Market has a section of the meat counter with discounted meat items that are approaching their “sell by” date. These are often in smaller portions that are just right for one person. When I find a package I can use, I repackage and freeze as soon as I get it home. It’s a surprising assortment and I have never had any problems with the quality of the meat I’ve bought.

How do you meal plan? 

Meal planning is easy because usually I have only myself to plan meals for. I subscribe to several cooking/recipe newsletters and often print out recipes for future use. When I cook there is often at least an additional serving for the next day, or possibly to freeze. 

I make a batch of breakfast burritos (hot sausage, refried beans, mild green chilis, and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla) or posole (pork, onions, green chilis, hominy, chicken broth) to freeze. I recently made a spinach frittata to use up a quantity of spinach passed along by a friend. Cut into squares, flash frozen and then wrapped for storage, these servings are easily heated for breakfast or lunch.

I plan my meals to first use the fresh vegetables in my refrigerator. I always have pasta and vegetables to use as a base for a meal, again using fresh items first for stir-fry or angel hair with chicken, pork, or shrimp. I eat at restaurants a few times a month, always for lunch; the helpings are usually large, so my leftovers are enough for another meal at home.

What did you buy?

  • Sliced sourdough bread, $2.48
  • Russet potatoes, $2.97
  • Asparagus, $3.96
  • Cauliflower, $2.68
  • Broccoli crowns, $1.68
  • Whole white mushrooms, $2.08
  • Bananas, $0.54
  • Apple fritters, $1.97
  • Sweet brewed iced tea, $2.98
  • Chicken leg quarters, $6.72
  • Hot premium sausage roll, $2.32
  • Classic roast medium ground coffee, $3.92
  • Cheese crackers, $2.23
  • Toasted rice crisps breakfast cereal, $1.84
  • Saltine crackers, $1.32
  • Shredded kraut, $2.97
  • Heavy whipping cream, $4.98
  • Whipped topping, $0.98
  • Fat-free half-and-half, $5.20
  • Lower sodium pork bacon, $4.98
  • 2% Reduced Fat Milk, $5.24

Total: $64.06

What did you make?

Credit: Florence

Saturday: Coffee, Cereal, Half a Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with Cream Cheese, Chicken Sandwich, Sausage and Bean Burrito with Orange Slices and Asparagus

I start the day with coffee and a bowl of cereal before heading to Walmart to pick up groceries I had ordered the day before. When I get home, I finish my mug of coffee and eat half a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. At noon, I stop long enough for a chicken sandwich made with rotisserie chicken I had bought earlier in the week paired with sliced Swiss cheese on the sourdough bread from my grocery order and iced tea (also from this morning’s order). Supper is a homemade sausage/bean burrito with a sliced orange and asparagus.

Credit: Florence

Sunday: Coffee, Egg and Sausage Burrito with Fruit and Hash Brown Casserole at Church, Easter Dinner at My Son’s Home

Sunday is Easter! I am invited to my son’s for dinner. Before that, breakfast at church is an egg and sausage burrito with fresh fruit, a hash brown casserole, and coffee, of course. Our delicious Easter dinner features baked ham, mashed potatoes, green beans (from last summer’s garden), fruit salad I brought to the feast, and a cherry-apple pie. 

Credit: Florence

Monday: Coffee, Zucchini Apple Bread, Grilled Ham and Swiss Sandwich, Half an Avocado, and Pasta with Asparagus

I start the day with the usual coffee and a slice of zucchini-apple bread courtesy of my daughter-in-law! For lunch at home I make another grilled sandwich — this time with ham and Swiss with a dill pickle and chips on the side, and a glass of iced tea. I want to use some of the fresh vegetables in my fridge, so supper is half an avocado plus angel hair pasta mixed with chicken broth, asparagus, and Parmesan cheese, with a glass of milk.

Tuesday: Coffee, the Rest of the Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with Cream Cheese, Ham and Swiss Sandwich Again, and Pork Chop with Vegetable Stir-Fry over Rice

Breakfast is coffee and the other half of that cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. I have a ham and Swiss sandwich on sourdough for lunch again, with a small dill pickle and chips. For supper I slice and sauté a small, thin pork chop (from my freezer) in butter and add frozen stir-fry vegetables and asparagus. The stir-fry is served over brown rice with low-sodium soy sauce.

Wednesday: Coffee, Alabama Fire Crackers, Sausage and Bean Burrito, Orange Slices, Cheese Crisp, Leftover Ham and Fruit Salad, and a Ham, Asparagus, and Cheese Omelet

Coffee and four Alabama Fire Crackers start the day, followed mid-morning by a homemade sausage/bean burrito and a sliced orange. (The Alabama Fire Crackers are Saltines combined with canola oil, dressing mix, and spices left to marinate overnight in a plastic bag. Really yummy!) Lunch is a cheese crisp, a small slice of ham from Easter, and fruit salad, also left over from Sunday. For supper I make an omelet with ham, asparagus, and cheese. 

Thursday: Coffee, More Fire Crackers, Sausage and Bean Burrito and an Orange, Sautéed Salmon, Mashed Potatoes, Spinach, and Pecan Ice Cream

My usual mug of coffee, which lasts all morning and four of those fire crackers, followed mid-morning by one of my burritos and an orange — an early lunch. I make sautéed salmon with mashed potatoes, spinach, and have a glass of milk for dinner, followed by the last of a small carton of pecan ice cream.

Credit: Florence

Friday: Coffee, Leftover Omelet Breakfast Burrito, Tangerine, Tuna and Crackers, and Chicken Enchiladas

The leftover omelet from Wednesday makes a delicious burrito tucked into a flour tortilla for breakfast with a tangerine and coffee. Lunch is a can of drained tuna with lemon and black pepper and plain Saltine crackers. For supper I make a large pan of green chili chicken enchiladas for a friend in the middle of moving, and a smaller casserole for myself. 

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