Grocery Diaries

I’m a Vegetarian and My Dad Eats Meat — Here’s How Much We Spend on Groceries for One Week

published Nov 1, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Name: Jessica
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Age: I’m 31 and my father is 79
Number of people in household: 2 (my father and myself)
Dietary restrictions: I’m vegan-ish: I don’t eat meat, but I consume some dairy and honey, so I’m really more of a vegetarian. My dad eats meat.
Occupation: Support technician in a police records department
Household income: $42,000
Amount spent on groceries this week: $167.84, which includes a $40 weekly CSA food share

Where did you grocery shop?

I shopped at Sam’s Club, Costco, and my local supermarket, Smith’s, for my groceries this week. I receive a weekly share from a local CSA, and I also made a special trip to Whole Foods for a sale and limited-edition item.

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica

What’s your grocery strategy?

I focus on buying versatile ingredients that work for make-ahead meals and fun weekend cooking alike. I check out what’s in the freezer and pantry before making my list, plan for my weekly staples (I always stock up on plenty of produce), and then figure out what else I want to buy for a week’s worth of interesting and delicious meals. I’ve made it a priority to shop sales (especially on meat) and I’ve built up my freezer and pantry so I can lean on what I already have on hand. I also like to leave room in the budget for the occasional treat! 

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica

How did you meal plan?

Weekends are crucial for preparing meals for the upcoming week(s) and to ensure my father has a nice meal on the nights that I’m working. I plan to make at least two meals for the week, and then I’ll rely on leftovers for the other two nights that I’m not home to make and serve dinner. I’ll usually spend Sunday afternoon doing all of my prep. 

I try to pick one ingredient to use in multiple meals. Because I’m cooking for one when it comes to animal proteins, bulk items can go a long way. For example, the pack of pork chops I picked up at Costco last week (10 center-cut, bone-in beauties for $17.81!) will become at least 8 meals. It was a great buy because of the size — and quality — of each chop. Some of my favorite multi-tasking ingredients are ground beef, chuck roast, pork chops, shrimp, rice, and pasta.

What did you buy?

Sam’s Club

  • Mushrooms, $5.48
  • Carrots, $3.74
  • Frozen cauliflower rice, $12.76 for 4 pouches
  • 2 whole chickens, $12.02
  • Beef tenderloin, $11.90
  • 1 bag of candy corn, $5.98 for 4 pounds
  • Copper moon Hawaiian hazelnut ground coffee, $14.99

Total: $66.87


  • Pears, $6.79
  • Apples, $6.99
  • Eggs, $5.09 for 18
  • 1 bag all-purpose flour, $7.98 for 25 pounds

Total: $28.75


  • 4 bananas, $1.12
  • 3 red onions, $2.64
  • Sourdough baby boule, $1.98
  • 73% lean ground beef, $16.49 for 5 pounds

Total: $22.23

Whole Foods Market

  • 2 bottles of Health-Ade kombucha, $6 (on sale!)
  • Maple caramel and smoky cheddar popcorn, $3.99

Total: $9.99


  • 4 bags of leafy greens (choi sum and mustard greens)
  • 3 small eggplants
  • 1 box of microgreens 
  • 1 pound of radishes

Total: $40/week

Grand Total: $167.84

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica

Sunday: A Day of Meal Prepping

A hearty Sunday morning breakfast has become a weekly tradition for us. This Sunday, my father wanted eggs, so I made two eggs, over easy, with potato hash (using a leftover potato) and a couple of Jones’ brand sausage links. I finished my last apple for the week (Sunday is shopping day) with salted honey, yogurt, and toasted sunflower seeds. I also had a huge mug of my favorite tea from Good Earth, which I can buy in 4-packs at Costco during the cooler months. 

I use Sunday afternoons for grocery shopping and marathon meal-prepping. This week, I made the following: a meatloaf (raw, to be cooked for Tuesday’s dinner), tortellini with pesto (I left the pasta al dente and used the rest of my pesto made with basil from a summer CSA share), pumpkin vinaigrette, puréed garlic (first roasted, then puréed, the garlic is a miracle flavor booster for marinades and dressings!), a HUGE tray of roasted vegetables, roasted chickpeas (I cooked 2 pounds from dry, in my slow cooker, then roasted until crunchy), 4 Mason jars of cold brew coffee (steeped on Sunday and strained on Monday), marble mocha pumpkin crumb cake (aka dessert for the week), and 2 baked chickens and some mini beef meatballs (baked only with a little bit of olive oil and then shredded). I make dinners for my dogs, too!

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica

For dinner, I roasted one of those pork chops I found at Costco last week in the oven for my father and served it with fried plantains and some black beans for a simple, satisfying end to the week. It’s a perfect example of my weekly cooking strategy: a bargain bulk-buy, some produce, and a pantry staple combined with some creativity and care to put something satisfying and heartwarming on the table every night! 

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica

Monday: Pizza Night

I start my weekdays with fruit, yogurt, and a mix of nuts and seeds. Lately I’ve been slicing an apple or pear thinly and topping it with a homemade blend of cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, turmeric, black pepper, flaky sea salt, local raw honey, and FAGE 0% yogurt. Right now I’ve got almonds and sunflower seeds that I’ve toasted (and stored in Mason jars) in my pantry, so I’ll add some of those, too. The 2-pound bag of Copper Moon’s Hawaiian Hazelnut ground coffee at Sam’s Club has been a great value purchase considering my outlandish (read: shameless) level of coffee consumption. 

My father is a black-coffee-for-breakfast kind of guy, and knows his way around our Keurig well. He’s drinking the Member’s Mark breakfast-blend K-cups — another bulk buy that I pick up regularly at Sam’s Club.  

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica

Lunch for me for this week is a salad of mustard greens and choi sum tossed with roasted eggplant and red onion. I wash and dry all of the greens on Sunday to pile into bowls (W&P bowls are my go-to) and take to work for the week. I have adorable little glass bottles that I use to portion my big batch of pumpkin vinaigrette and dress my salad at work so nothing gets soggy. I’ll take a piece of fruit for dessert, too.

My father usually munches throughout the day, so I picked up some bananas just for him this week (I’m allergic!) and some pears. We also have several cheeses in the fridge at all times (right now, Kerrygold’s aged white cheddar and super-sharp provolone from a local deli) and chips and crackers in the pantry (Premium saltines and Trader Joe’s plantain chips, currently). I made egg salad for him this week too, which he can enjoy with some of the sourdough bread. A few slices of that bread will probably become breakfast for him, toasted with butter or jam, if the mood strikes him.

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica

Monday night (the last day of my “weekend”) was pizza night! I used King Arthur Flour’s recipe for crispy pan pizza and made a white pie with mozzarella and ricotta. I needed flour in general, so this week I picked up a 25-pound bag at Costco, keeping the holiday rush in mind. 

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica

Tuesday: Cauliflower Rice with Veggies

For me, work-night dinners are a freeform, off-the-cuff combo of veggies and greens or cauliflower rice that I usually put together in an exhausted fog of chopping, microwave-steaming, and tossing into a big bowl. I always have flavor boosters on hand, though, to make things delicious and interesting, like plenty of spices (especially Everything But The Bagel Seasoning), a decent olive oil, and several different vinegars and mustards. My favorite meal lately has been a warm cauliflower rice salad with microgreens or thinly sliced leafy greens, roasted garlic, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and leftover roasted veggies. I’ll add some extra protein with crunchy roasted chickpeas.

My father had the ready-to-cook meatloaf I prepped on Sunday with fingerling potatoes and carrots.

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica

Wednesday: Pesto Pasta for Dad

My father ate the tortellini with the last of the pesto. I had more cauliflower rice with veggies.

Thursday: Tater Tot Pie for Dad

My father had tater tot pie (à la Dianne Morrisey; essentially a mix of ground beef, mixed veggies and cheese topped with tater tots!). More cauliflower rice with veggies for me.

Friday: Beef Stew for Dad

I made a big batch of beef stew and froze it into single-serve portions in Tupperware or jars, so my dad had leftover beef stew with white rice. It is a mainstay for the cooler months. I had leftover veggies and greens and topped it with some roasted chickpeas to give it added crunch.

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica

Saturday: A Bone-in Ribeye with Stuffed Mushrooms and Veggies

Saturday’s breakfast routine falls in with the rest of the week’s, but my lunch becomes lots of nibbling. That means fruit, veggies, and crunchy stuff including those roasted chickpeas, nuts, seeds, and my somewhat-recent obsession: white cheddar popcorn. I treated myself this past week and stopped into Whole Foods for their limited-edition maple caramel and smoky cheddar popcorn, and I’m very glad I did. My father usually joins me in munching on snacks throughout the day.

For weekend dinner ideas, I’ve been exploring dishes from other cuisines that I can tweak to suit my father’s palate. He’s not particularly adventurous, but he’s becoming more open to new flavors, textures, and presentations. For Saturday night, I pulled out a bone-in ribeye from the freezer and prepared it in a cast iron skillet with garlic butter. I paired it with cheesy stuffed mushrooms and white rice. The mushrooms were stuffed with homemade breadcrumbs (one of my favorite ways to use up leftover hot dog and hamburger buns!), sautéed onions, mushrooms, shredded mozzarella, and garlic. 

I finished up the produce on hand from my CSA share and weekly shop, and roasted veggies and tossed them with greens, changing the spice mix and dressings to keep things interesting (but still easy!).

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