Grocery Diaries

I’m a Director of Academics and My Husband Works in the Oil and Gas Industry — We Spent $127 on a Week’s Worth of Groceries

updated Aug 12, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Courtesy of Hope; Food: Shutterstock; Design: Kitchn

Name: Hope
Location: Houston, TX
Number of people in your family or household: Two; my husband and me, plus our cat, Dora, and dog, Dolly
Age: 33 (me) and 32 (husband)
Occupation: I am the Director of Academics at a middle school and my husband works as a team manager in the oil and gas industry
Where you shopped: H-E-B; we also belong to two CSAs (community supported agriculture) — one is for vegetables and eggs (weekly), the other is for meat (monthly)
Weekly food budget: $140 per week ($75 at grocery store, $40 towards monthly meat CSA, and around $25 for weekly egg and veggie CSA), plus a floating $125 per month for stocking up on food storage, special occasions, etc. 
Amount Spent: $127.26

Credit: Courtesy of Hope

Where did you shop?

I shopped at H-E-B and also got my weekly farm share delivery on Tuesday.

What’s your grocery strategy? 

We belong to two CSAs and they are the foundation of our grocery strategy. One is a veggie and egg CSA that we get weekly; the other is a meat CSA from a sustainable farm outside of Houston, which we receive monthly. We choose to be a part of these to support local agriculture and small businesses, but also because it aligns with our current food values of having a clearer understanding of where our food comes from. We’ve been a part of both since the summer of 2020. 

CSAs are an investment, but they fit within our means and we think they’re worth it. With that said, it did require me to shift the way we budget and shop! I break the cost of each into a weekly amount and budget based on the USDA food plans. After subtracting those costs, the remaining amount ($75) is budgeted for weekly food shops. We also allot $125 per month towards extras — whether that’s stocking up on sale items, making a Trader Joe’s trip, adding specific additional cuts to our meat CSA, etc. 

How do you meal plan?

I take inventory of what we already have in the freezer, pantry, and fridge and then review the weekly store ads and digital coupons. This is the biggest way I stay on budget! In terms of my weekly cadence, I prefer to grocery shop Friday evening or Saturday morning. I meal prep Saturday or Sunday afternoon for weekday breakfasts and lunches, and I plan for three or four dinners to cook during the week. We get our veggie CSA on Tuesdays, so I usually pencil in veggies generally for meals and decide exactly what to pair up once we get our box.

What did you buy?


  • Honey whole-wheat bread, $2.78
  • Asparagus, free (with in-store Meal Deal Coupon)
  • Fresh dill, $1.48
  • 6 serrano peppers, $0.32
  • H-E-B fresh market seasoning blend, free (with in-store Meal Deal Coupon)
  • 3 avocados, $2.64
  • 4 wild caught sockeye salmon Filets, $20.00
  • H-E-B frozen quinoa & seed blend, free (with in-store Meal Deal Coupon)
  • Applewood smoked bacon, $5.49
  • 5 pounds jasmine rice, $6.78
  • H-E-B meal simple butter chicken plate, $2.50 (with $4 off in-store coupon)
  • 6 bananas, $1.20
  • Coconut milk, $1.49
  • Sweet & sour marinade, $2.48
  • 1 liter alkaline water, free (with in-store Meal Deal Coupon)
  • H-E-B swoon lemon poppyseed ice cream, $2.48 (with $1 off in-store coupon)
  • 3/4 lb. smoked mozzarella, sliced, $3.74 (with $3 off digital coupon)
  • 1 lb. smoked deli turkey, $6.78 (with $3 off digital coupon)
  • Mini peppers, $2.00
  • Half-gallon organic whole milk, $3.58

Total: $65.74

CSA (Vegetables and Eggs)

  • 6 carrots
  • 1 bunch of cilantro 
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • Green beans
  • 4 radishes
  • Cherry tomatoes 
  • 2 potatoes 
  • Strawberries 
  • 1 dozen eggs 

Total: $21.52

CSA (Meat)

  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 pounds diced smoked ham
  • 1.5 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1.5 pounds chicken wings
  • 2 pounds osso buco
  • Whole chicken (3 pounds) 
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast 

Total: $40 ($160.00/paid monthly)

Grand Total: $127.26

Credit: Courtesy of Hope

Friday: Coffee, a Cinnamon Roll, Greek Yogurt with Strawberries, Leftover Empanadas, Burrito Bowl, and Takeout Wings

My alarm goes off at 6:45 a.m. and I get up feeling tired, but excited that it’s Friday. I head downstairs to grab my coffee (the best thing I do for myself every weeknight is setting the pot to auto brew in the mornings) before I get ready, drop our dog Dolly off at daycare, and then head to work. I leave the rest of the coffee for my husband who is just getting up to start his day working from home (a rarity).

After morning duty, I head upstairs to my office for a little work time before my meetings for the day. I eat my breakfast of a small cinnamon roll, Greek yogurt, and strawberries from last week’s CSA. The cinnamon roll was given to me by my principal, whose husband made them. The secret ingredient is mashed potatoes, and it’s absolutely delicious! My husband generally doesn’t eat breakfast; instead, he just sips on coffee all morning.

After a morning full of meetings, I warm up my lunch of leftover beef empanadas with refried beans. The mother of one of the women at work makes plates and sells them each Thursday, and today’s lunch is what I had left after eating yesterday. I finish the meal in a hurry and grab a blueberry pomegranate sparkling water to drink while I am on lunch duty.  My husband eats his last meal prep from this week: a burrito bowl with ground beef, rice, beans, cilantro, serranos, and salsa. 

I head to the library for a run-through of an upcoming presentation, and I grab a pear and a snack bag of Cheetos puffs, plus a glass of water, to fuel me through the end of the week. Friday afternoons are my favorite time to grocery shop, so I leave work and head to H-E-B. There is a Starbucks in the same plaza, so I stop in for a rare visit. I want something cold, so I try a Grande Mango Dragonfruit refresher. It’s a little sweet for my taste, but I enjoy it. I pay $4.25 (wow!) and head over to H-E-B. My husband eats his daily afternoon snack of a turkey and cheese roll-up in a tortilla. 

After grocery shopping, picking up Dolly from doggy daycare, and putting away the groceries, I start to grab leftovers for dinner. My husband interrupts and asks if I want to order wings instead. I happily agree and pull out a gift card to a local wing place. I order the boneless wings and housemade potato chips.  My husband orders the traditional wing combo with fries. I drink a beer with my dinner and end the night watching another episode of my latest show before heading up to bed.

Credit: Courtesy of Hope

Saturday: Lattes, Quesadillas with Leftovers, Pork Meatballs, and Ice Cream

This is the first weekend in two months that we haven’t had at least one thing we have to do or one event to attend, so I take advantage and sleep in.  After I wake up, I head downstairs to make an americano and fold laundry. Then I make lattes for me and my husband, sweetening them with a delicious pecan creamed honey from a Texas honey company, before we head out on a long morning walk with Dolly in tow.

We get back from running errands and visiting my mother-in-law and are both starving.  I am grateful we didn’t eat the leftovers for dinner yesterday, because they come in clutch for a quick lunch! I make an assortment of quesadillas with leftover proteins and queso Oaxaca. I serve the platter with a side of avocado, lime, and salsa verde. We dig in while we watch a rerun and share an orange to end the meal. 

After spending the afternoon doing chores around the house, I am peckish. I grab some cantaloupe and a mini Babybel cheese to snack on while I settle in to relax until it’s time to make dinner. We take our evening walk with Dolly early, and then I pull some ground pork from our meat CSA to make meatballs for dinner. We eat it as a stir-fry with brown rice, veggies, and the sweet & sour sauce I picked up from H-E-B. It is delicious!

Credit: Courtesy of Hope

We end the night watching Game of Thrones (we’re re-watching all the seasons) and eating ice cream. I eat some of the lemon-poppyseed ice cream and my husband eats cookies and cream that we already had in the freezer.  

Credit: Courtesy of Hope

Sunday: Lattes with Bacon, Eggs, Toast, and Cantaloupe, a Mid-Day Snack Break, Takeout Pizza, and Homemade Cookies

We are both feeling a little under the weather, so we sleep in late then grab big bottles of water and take Dolly for her weekly trip to the park to play off leash. It’s already 85 degrees and sunny, so we keep the park visit on the shorter side. When we get home, we are hungry and I start on breakfast. We each have the same latte as yesterday (our weekend ritual), bacon, over-easy eggs, toast, and cantaloupe.  

Sundays are my meal prep day, and I enjoy spending time in the kitchen listening to audiobooks or podcasts and getting set for the week. I take a break between preps to grab a snack of a mini Babybel cheese, strawberries, and a cup of milky Earl Grey tea before cracking on with the rest.

Credit: Courtesy of Hope

The remainder of the day is filled with more chores, a little relaxing, and a run. We started a Sunday takeout tradition a while back and I love it because after meal prep, the last thing I want to do is cook something else for dinner. My husband requests pizza, so we order a pepperoni, jalapeño, and green pepper pizza. I pull together a quick salad in an attempt to ensure we have at least some veggie intake today. I enjoy my salad, but my husband says no thanks and focuses fully on the pizza. We watch more Game of Thrones as we dig in.

Later that night, I get the baking bug and jump back into the kitchen to make my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe from Doubletree. I bake half a dozen and we each eat one. I freeze the remaining dough so we can enjoy freshly baked cookies whenever the urge strikes. I set up the auto brew coffee for the morning and close the kitchen for the night.

Credit: Courtesy of Hope

Monday: Coffee, Overnight Oats, a Chicken Fajita Bowl, Leftover Stir-Fry, and Crispy Salmon with Broccoli and Couscous

A new week has begun! I start the morning in the kitchen pouring myself a cup of coffee and feeding the pets before I pack our lunches. I pack my husband a chicken fajita bowl for lunch and lots of snacks: a banana, protein bar, pear, and turkey wrap. He is a creature of habit, so a meal prep (in this case, a chicken fajita bowl), two pieces of fruit, a protein bar, and a wrap are his daily food items for work! Once our lunches are packed, I get ready, take Dolly on her walk, and then head to work.

I eat breakfast at my desk while I organize myself for the week. I have one of the overnight oats I prepped yesterday for breakfast as well as another cup of coffee. I love overnight oats, and this week, I added strawberries as we still have tons left from last week! I wrap up my morning meetings and feel hungry, but not hungry enough for my lunch, so I grab a banana as a late-morning snack. 

My Monday afternoons are packed with meetings, which I like because it makes the day go by quickly. It also means there isn’t much time to eat. In between meetings, I heat up my lunch which is the leftovers of the sweet & sour pork meatballs from Saturday’s dinner. A coworker brought in cake and offers some to our team. I grab a small slice. It is a chocolate cake with cookie dough! Yum! As I finish it up, another coworker walks into our meeting with cupcakes to share. Since I am full, I pass, but at the end of the meeting she offers the two remaining cupcakes for me to take home and I happily accept.

Before I head out for a bike ride, I grab a quick snack of a mini Babybel cheese, a handful of wheat crackers, and a handful of red grapes. I fill up my water bottle and head out on my ride. I am so hungry after riding my bike and taking Dolly on our evening walk. For dinner, we have the salmon I picked up at H-E-B. I make it in my cast iron pan, getting the skin really crispy, and serve it with some broccoli and a frozen couscous, quinoa, and veggie blend that I heat up in the microwave.

After cleaning up the kitchen from dinner, we settle in for another Game of Thrones episode and I grab the cupcakes for us to eat for dessert. I also make myself a cup of milky Earl Grey, and it is the perfect pairing. 

Credit: Courtesy of Hope

Tuesday: Coffee and a Smoothie, Roasted Veggie Curry Soup, Roasted Chicken Thighs with Cheddar Broccoli Pasta and Green Beans, and Birthday Drinks

I wake up again at our usual time and head downstairs to pour myself some coffee and pack lunch for my husband. I work from home on Tuesdays, so no packed lunch for me today! When he heads off to work, Dolly and I head out for our morning walk. 

I take advantage of working from home and make myself a smoothie for breakfast. I love smoothies as a way to use up odds and ends, and today I use up the remaining cantaloupe, strawberries, carrots, and cucumber along with some vanilla Greek yogurt and chia seeds. I pour myself more coffee and head up to my home office. My husband finishes his coffee and then gets a mocha from his office coffee machine.

I find a good stopping point in my work, and head downstairs for lunch. I heat up one of the roasted veggie curry soups I prepped this weekend and serve it with a side salad and toast. My husband eats another chicken fajita bowl and a piece of fruit. My energy starts to dip a bit early, so I grab an Alani Nu energy drink (Cherry Slush flavored, which is my favorite) and a chocolate chip cookie to eat before my quick afternoon workout. It’s quite the pre-workout fuel, I know.

My appetite is really big today, so I pour myself a bowl of Berry Cheerios and milk as an afternoon snack and use it to power through the last couple hours of work. I’m heading out to celebrate a coworker’s birthday with some work friends tonight, so I prep dinner early so I can eat before I go. I make roasted chicken thighs with white cheddar broccoli pasta and green beans. I leave a plate for my husband to heat up when he is hungry and I head out with my friends.

We go to a dueling piano bar where the main attraction is a former contestant from The Bachelorette. The birthday girl loves the show, and the night is really fun! I have a couple margaritas over the course of the night and even remember to drink a couple glasses of water to stay hydrated.

Credit: Courtesy of Hope

Wednesday: Coffee, Staff Breakfast Tacos, Heat-and-Eat Butter Chicken, Homemade Bistec a la Mexicana, and a Duo of Desserts

The usual morning routine! Up to pack lunches and take Dolly on her walk. I hold off on coffee, and make myself a Liquid IV to drink on the walk. By the time I get back, I am feeling hydrated and grab my coffee to go. As part of teacher appreciation week, our campus buys the staff breakfast tacos. I have two along with some strawberries and another cup of coffee as I check emails and get myself set up for the day. My husband has coffee.

I am hungry early, so I heat up the Meal Simple Butter Chicken I picked up at H-E-B earlier this week. I want to end the meal with something sweet, so I grab a few Hershey’s kisses from my desk drawer. I like keeping little candies around to grab when I want something sweet. I have a break between meetings and grab my Alani Nu Cherry Slush to give me some energy. I also have a pear and a mini Babybel cheese as a snack. My husband has another chicken fajita bowl and fruit. It is a blessing that he doesn’t mind eating the same lunch all week!

For dinner tonight, I make an adapted version of Mely Martinez’s bistec a la Mexicana. The original recipe is made on the stovetop and with fresh tomatoes, but I prepared mine with canned tomatoes and in the slow cooker since I got home late from work. I pile it on top of rice for my husband and serve mine over the remaining broccoli and couscous and quinoa blend from earlier in the week. I end the night with more lemon-poppyseed ice cream and my husband eats two chocolate chip cookies for his dessert. 

Credit: Courtesy of Hope

Thursday: Coffee, Overnight Oats, Tacos, and Impromptu Creamy Pasta with Ham and Green Beans

I start the day with the usual coffee while I pack lunches, a walk for Dolly, and then a coffee refill as I head out the door. I ride my bike to work today and manage not to spill my coffee all over myself. Big win! After morning duty and getting kids to class, I sit down to check emails and grab my overnight oats to eat for breakfast. I think overnight oats get better and better the longer they stay in the fridge; today’s oats are so creamy! My husband treats himself to a mocha from the coffee machine at work.

I continue to reap the benefits of teacher appreciation week! Our campus orders a Cinco de Mayo feast for the staff for lunch. I eat three tacos (two pastor and one fajita), topping them with cilantro, onion, lime, and salsa verde. I also enjoy a small cup of mango agua fresca to wash the tacos down. My husband eats his last chicken fajita bowl of the week with fruit for lunch.

I get home from work and need a snack before my workout. I grab some grapes, some cheese, and a few crackers, and have an energy drink. I feel in the mood to get creative in the kitchen tonight, and my husband is coming home late from work after heading out with coworkers for some drinks, so I hop in the kitchen and start looking around. I find the diced ham that came in my meat CSA (a new item for me) and decide to make a creamy pasta with ham and peas. I open the freezer to find I don’t have any peas, so I sub in some leftover green beans that I chop up instead. It turns out really yummy and makes a ton, so we’ll have leftovers to eat for another meal!

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