Grocery Diaries

We’re a Family of 3 in Georgia and Shop Mostly at Kroger — We Spent $127 on a Week’s Worth of Groceries

published Dec 8, 2022
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Collage showing the writer Hilary and a few items from her grocery list for the week
Credit: Photo: Courtesy of Hilary; Food: Shutterstock; Design: Kitchn

Name: Hilary
Location: Atlanta, GA
Age: 34
Number of people your household: Three; my husband, our 4-year-old daughter, and me
Occupation: I work in organizational psychology and my husband is in finance
Where you shopped: Kroger, Target, and a local farmers market
Weekly food budget: $120
Amount spent: $127.70

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

Where did you shop?

I shopped at Kroger, which is my usual grocery store. I used to be a dedicated Trader Joe’s shopper, but I’ve come to love the ease of pre-ordering and curbside pickup at Kroger. The fuel points that I earn are a nice bonus as well. The only con with curbside pickup is that I don’t always get the substitutions that I want, so I’ll sometimes end up at Target or Trader Joe’s to grab a few things that are missing from my order. I’ll also do a Trader Joe’s run every few weeks for fun snacks or special items.

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

What’s your grocery strategy?

I’m an avid meal planner and even have a chart of our typical snacks, breakfasts, desserts, and so on. Each week, I go through my list of recipes and pick three or four to try; I’ll usually go with a few old reliables and one new recipe. When I make my grocery list, I review the chart, my meal plan, and our current food stock.

Our grocery bill ebbs and flows a bit depending on whether we’re replenishing staples or cooking larger meals to restock our freezer. We try to keep a good supply of homemade soups or meals in the freezer for lunches or nights when we don’t feel like cooking.

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

How do you meal plan?

Pre-pandemic, my husband and I both packed our lunches for work while also packing breakfast, lunch, and snacks for our baby (now 4-year-old). Add on a home-cooked meal every night, and I was really burnt out from cooking. We’ve simplified our plans and now make enough dinner to eat it two nights in a row. Thankfully, we don’t mind the repetition.

This plan means that we cook three dinner recipes per week, plus a more free-form Wednesday “snack plate” night; on this night, we often pull out any stray leftovers and languishing veggies, and round it out with a few grains or proteins. It’s nice to have a day off from cooking and helps prevent food waste. Our 4-year-old’s school provides breakfast, lunch, and two snacks, so we don’t have to worry about feeding her on weekdays, except for a snack and dinner.

We both now work from home, so I often make dinner during the day and just pull it together in the evenings. Our general lunch strategy differs: I prefer to make more snack-y grazing plates while my husband preps one large batch of something to eat for the week (usually soups or pastas).

What did you buy?

Kroger

  • Swiss milk chocolate bar, $2.50
  • Crackers, $3.29
  • Ginger paste, $4.99
  • Cough drops, $2.49
  • Milk chocolate bars, $5.98
  • Pear, $1.03
  • Gnocchi, $3.29
  • Soda: $5.49
  • Cinnamon candy, $1.25
  • Potato chips, $3.99
  • Asian-style chopped salad kit, $3.99
  • Shredded cheese, $2.49
  • Mini snack bars, $10.49
  • Avocado, $.89
  • Penne pasta, $1.33
  • Tortilla chips, $2.69
  • Navel orange, $.99
  • Bell peppers, $3.00
  • Snacking tomatoes, $2.50
  • Raspberries, $2.77
  • Organic dried mango, $3.49
  • Grated Parmesan, $3.69
  • Organic tahini, $5.99
  • Pecan pieces, $6.49
  • Chicken breast, $17.55
  • Zucchini, $.88
  • Savings: $20.88

Total: $100.60 (includes $2.07 tax and a $5.00-off coupon)

Target

  • Smoothies: $6.38

Total: $6.38

Farmers Market

  • Chai latte: $4.42
  • Sourdough: $5.30
  • Banana bread: $11

Total: $20.72

Grand Total: $127.70

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

Thursday: Veggie Breakfast Burritos, Dried Mango, Leftover Chili, a Snack Plate, Roasted Potatoes with an Autumn Salad, and a Few Pieces of Chocolate

My husband and I are both fortunate to work from home, so there’s no rush to eat or make breakfast. My husband starts the day with coffee and some veggie breakfast burritos that he previously made and froze. I tend to not have much of an appetite when I wake up, so I grab a few pieces of dried mango as I start work. Nothing for our daughter, as she eats breakfast and lunch at school, as well as a morning and an afternoon snack. After years of packing lunch and snacks for all three of us, we’re enjoying the break!

Mid-morning, we both make some tea: chai for me and green for him. For lunch, my husband heats up chili that he made earlier in the week and tops it with plenty of cheese, while I make a snack plate with cheese, Crunchmaster crackers, berries, and pickles. I grab a handful of Hot Tamales before getting back to my work.

One of my favorite parts of working from home is the ability to cook earlier in the day. Today, I roasted some potatoes that I’ll reheat later for dinner. I also mix up some maple vinaigrette. I wrap up my workday with a bowl of trail mix, a favorite snack that I rarely tire of. Our daughter has blueberries, a mini Lara bar, and sweet potato crunchies after school. 

Tonight’s dinner is roasted potatoes and an autumn salad. We went apple picking a few weeks ago, and despite making apple cake, apple butter, and eating apples 24/7, we still have some left. This salad is an attempt to use up some apples and leftover baby spinach from earlier in the week. Our daughter has a deconstructed version. I heat up the roasted potatoes from earlier and dinner is on the table in just a few minutes. Once our daughter is in bed, we finish the evening with a few pieces of chocolate.

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

Friday: More Burritos, Yogurt, Leftover Chili, Potatoes, Grilled Cheese, Leftover Salad, and a Bit of Chocolate

This morning, I pop a sheet pan veggie gnocchi into the oven. The veggie scraps go into the freezer, so I can make stock another day. My husband heats up some breakfast burritos while his coffee brews, and I graze on some dried fruit, crackers, and a bit of Greek yogurt.

We take a break in the morning for a cup of chai and green tea. My husband heats up another bowl of chili for lunch (topped with plenty of cheese and a side of Saltines), and he enjoys his weekly Dr. Pepper. I grab the last of the roasted potatoes from last night and some raspberries to eat at my desk during a meeting. We’d normally have the potatoes with dinner, but there wasn’t a ton left over. An afternoon snack of trail mix and a mini Twix from our daughter’s Halloween stash for me. Our daughter has an after-school snack of raspberries and Hippeas. I also grab two Naked smoothies from Target.

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

Since we started eating the same dinner two nights in a row, I no longer have to prepare a full dinner every day. I cooked dinner yesterday, so we’ll have those leftovers tonight (the same autumn salad as last night), but with grilled cheese instead of potatoes. It’s cozy and delicious, and I’m reminded why a simple grilled cheese is the best sandwich in my book.

On Fridays, I also cook our dinner for the weekend; weekends tend to be busier, and I hate rushing in the evenings to get dinner going. We cap off a busy week with a bit of chocolate.

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

Saturday: Burritos Again, Cereal, Lunch On-the-Go, and Veggie Gnocchi

My husband makes coffee first thing this morning, but we otherwise play for a while before eating. Mid-morning, we’re all hungry for breakfast and heat up some breakfast burritos topped with cheese and cut up an orange. Our daughter enjoys a few Cheerios and milk with her breakfast.

I head out to meet a friend for coffee, so I buy an iced chai latte from a favorite local spot. We meander a bit and end up at the farmers market, where I impulse purchase some sourdough and banana bread to keep in the freezer. We usually like to make our own bread, but it’s nice to take a break from the kitchen occasionally. My daughter snacks on dried mango and Annie’s cheddar bunnies while I was out.

My husband prepares some carrots, cucumber, hummus, and apples for lunch, which we round out with some sourdough. We’re out for the afternoon, so I pack a bento for my daughter and some trail mix for me. She enjoys a piece of Halloween candy, a mini Lara bar, raspberries, and the last of our pea crisps. My husband drinks one of the smoothies that I picked up yesterday and snacks on some potato chips. 

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

Dinner is the veggie gnocchi I prepared yesterday, reheated and topped with Parmesan. I’m glad I added zucchini this time around. Our daughter only likes parts of it, so I add some Greek yogurt to the side. She ends up using her yogurt as a dip for her tomatoes. Whatever works!

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

Sunday: Mini Pumpkin Muffins, Toast, Snacks in the Park, PB&Js, Leftover Gnocchi, and a Smoothie

We’re having a relaxed morning at home, so I go ahead and marinate chicken for the sesame chicken we’re eating Monday and Tuesday. I got a large batch of chicken from the grocery store, so I’ll freeze the extra sesame chicken for a rainy day. Later in the morning, my daughter and I have a few mini pumpkin muffins that we previously made and froze. My husband has coffee and some toasted sourdough with honey. 

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

We head to the park and pack our tea to take on the road. We pack a bento box for my daughter with Hippeas, dried mango and apricots, the last bit of crunchy broccoli, and LesserEvil popcorn. The box is empty by the time we get home.

I make a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly, pear, carrots, and hummus. My daughter doesn’t like PB&J sandwiches, so she has PB&J on crackers instead of bread. I go ahead and bake the sesame chicken that’s been marinating all morning; I figure tomorrow me will be pleased with my initiative.

We all have various snacks mid-afternoon: tortilla chips and a smoothie for my husband, trail mix for me, and a graham cracker with cream cheese for my daughter. Dinner is the same veggie gnocchi as last night. We’re out of Greek yogurt, so I blend up a quick frozen fruit and veggie smoothie for my daughter. Perfect for the unseasonably warm weather. 

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

Monday: Back to Burritos, Dried Mango, Crackers, Leftover Gnocchi, Apple and Peanut Butter, Sesame Chicken with Rice, and Milk and Dark Chocolates

Another morning, another coffee for my husband. He heats up breakfast burritos while I snack on some dried mango and Crunchmaster crackers. We take a mid-morning break for chai and green tea, and both grab a few Trader Joe’s Lattemiele (milk and honey) cookies. 

My husband and I finish off the last of the gnocchi for lunch. We don’t have enough left, so we round it out with an apple and peanut butter. I also have afternoon snack of trail mix and my daughter enjoys cheese, crackers, and raspberries after school.

My dinner prep from yesterday threw off my usual schedule, so I realize around 5 p.m. that I forgot to make rice. I toss some rice and water in the Instant Pot, and it’s ready to go by dinnertime. We enjoy the sesame chicken I made yesterday, rice, and an Asian-style salad kit this evening. Our daughter adds raisins to her plate. After putting her to bed, I have some Theo dark chocolate and my husband has a few squares of milk chocolate. 

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

Tuesday: Toast with Honey and Jam, Pesto Penne, and Leftover Chicken with Rice, Salad, and Corn

Coffee with toasted sourdough and honey for my husband, while I have some sourdough and jam later in the morning. We take a mid-morning tea break, and then back to work for both of us. I glance at my daughter’s school menu, and she’s having oatmeal and raisins for her morning snack. 

My husband makes a batch of pesto and boils some penne for lunch this week. We grew basil over the summer, so we have a huge stash of it in the freezer that needs to be used. We usually make pesto with pine nuts, but he uses pecans because they were cheaper. Plus, I needed to buy them anyway as a salad topper. I grab a bowl of pasta for my lunch as well. 

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

It’s time to start meal planning for my next grocery pickup, and I’m really in the mood for some lentil soup. I spend some time looking at recipes and debate how much soup is too much soup. Recipe searching makes me hungry, so I eat some trail mix. I really should expand my snack repertoire, but there are so many good trail mix combinations! My daughter has a bento with Bamba, freeze-dried peas, a Stretch Island fruit strip, and raisins with peanuts after school. 

Tuesday dinner means Monday leftovers, so we have more chicken, rice, and salad. My daughter adds some corn to her plate because salad isn’t her favorite. We finish off the rest of the salad, but I freeze the extra rice and chicken for another day. 

Credit: Courtesy of Hilary

Wednesday: Burritos, Dried Fruit, Pesto Penne, Avocado Toast, and Apple Slices

Usual breakfasts this morning: veggie breakfast burritos for my husband and some dried fruit for me, as well as mid-morning tea breaks. It’s finally cooling down here, so my chai feels extra warm and cozy this morning. I build my grocery list and place my pickup order for tomorrow morning. 

We both heat up some leftover pesto penne from yesterday and top with plenty of Parmesan. I finish the meal with a Lindor truffle that I found in the pantry. Score. I also eat some trail mix while I’m in meetings and wrap up work for the day. My daughter has Pirate’s Booty and raisins after school. 

Wednesday dinners are always some variation of a snack plate. My goal is for the fridge and pantry to be fairly empty by this point in the week and ready for new groceries tomorrow. We’re having avocado toast tonight; we got the world’s largest avocado from the store last week, and it’s finally ripe. (Avocados are such a gamble when doing curbside pickup.) I find a few leftover roasted red peppers in the fridge, so I add those on top along with some feta. I also chop an apple as a side; I fear we’ll have apples in the fridge until the end of eternity. It’s all so delicious. 

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