Grocery Diaries

I’m a Food Scientist and My Husband Is a Sales Manager — We Spent $178 at Kroger on a Week’s Worth of Groceries and Came in $22 Under Budget

published Nov 23, 2023
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Credit: Meredith

Name: Meredith
Location: Memphis, TN
Number of people in household: 4; Dalton (32), Meredith (31), Lillian (3 years), and Eliza (8 months)
Age: 31
Occupation: I’m a food scientist and my husband, Dalton, is an insight sales manager. Dalton works from home full-time; I work onsite in a research and development lab three days a week and one day from home.
Where you shopped: Kroger
Weekly food budget: $150 to $200; the range gives us flexibility to buy more if certain staples are on sale.
Amount spent: $177.54

Credit: Meredith

Where did you shop?

Kroger: It is less than a mile from our house, and the online ordering system is easy to use. The store typically has what I need and I’m usually impressed with the quality of the store-brand items. 

What’s your grocery strategy?

I plan and submit an online grocery order for pickup once a week (typically Fridays). We used grocery pick-up prior to having kids, and we love the convenience even more now as parents. Adding groceries to my online cart helps me stay within our ideal food budget for the week, which is an extra bonus.

How do you meal plan? 

After looking at our weekly calendar, I determine how many meals I need to plan for the week. I usually take inventory of pantry and freezer items to see what can be used, as well as shop the weekly specials at the grocery store. If an item that we regularly use is on sale, I will stock up and freeze it for future use. Taking advantage of digital coupons is an easy way to save some money in our food budget. I also like to peruse food blogs such as Budget Bytes and Tastes Better from Scratch for recipe inspiration.  

We often rely on leftovers from dinner for lunches throughout the work week. Breakfast is typically bagels, cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, or eggs. Our 3-year-old daughter eats what we eat for dinner and has breakfast, lunch, and snacks provided at school throughout the week. Our 8-month-old is breastfed and receives puréed fruits and vegetables throughout the day.

What did you buy?


  • Pre-cooked chicken sausage, $6.19
  • French bread, $2.00
  • Tzatziki dip, $3.19
  • 2 Caesar salad kits, $7.34
  • Vanilla ice cream, $4.99
  • English cucumber, $1.69
  • Whole bean coffee, $12.99
  • Bananas, $1.62
  • Blackberries, $3.19
  • Raspberries, $3.29
  • 2 boxes oat cereal, $6.98
  • 2 pounds Granny Smith apples, $2.99
  • 4 Honeycrisp apples, $4.00
  • Peanut butter, $7.49
  • Red onion, $0.65
  • Brown sugar, $1.79
  • 80/20 ground beef, $6.49
  • Broccoli florets, $6.00
  • Seltzer water x 3, $3.99
  • Olive oil, $5.99
  • 18 eggs, $1.49
  • 4 avocados, $2.99
  • Lentils, $1.99
  • Baby carrots, $1.25
  • Canned tomatoes, $1.00
  • Coconut milk, $2.49
  • Soft tortillas, $2.99
  • Honey, $8.99
  • Cherry tomatoes, $2.99
  • Oat milk, $3.49
  • Pico de gallo, $2.69
  • Maple syrup, $7.99
  • 2 red peppers, $2.78
  • Boneless chicken breasts, $13.02
  • Tomato paste, $1.19
  • Garlic naan, $3.00
  • 2 boxes wheat wafers, $3.98
  • Wheat crackers, $1.99
  • Grape jelly, $3.29

Grand total: $177.54 (includes taxes, pickup fee, and coupon savings)

Credit: Meredith

Friday: Banana Oatmeal, “a Hodgepodge of Leftovers,” Chicken Tikka Masala, and Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

I wake up at 6 a.m. to the sound of a cooing baby. After feeding her, Eliza falls back asleep. With the house still quiet, I quickly drink a cup of black coffee while lacing up my running shoes. After my run, my oldest daughter, Lillian, is found eating a granola bar on the couch with my husband. I make some oatmeal with a banana and eat it while unloading the dishwasher. Oatmeal is my go-to breakfast — it’s quick, easy, and filling. Dalton eats a chocolate chip granola bar with blueberry Greek yogurt while starting his work day.

Eliza is awake for the morning and eats a blueberry oatmeal purée. I have Fridays off of work so we play outside for a bit before going on a walk. Lillian snacks on Goldfish and Teddy Grahams while we stroll through the neighborhood. Dalton works from home full-time so while the baby naps, Lillian and I drive to pick up our weekly grocery order from Kroger. We are back home in less than five minutes!

Credit: Meredith

Lunch is a hodgepodge of leftovers from the previous week. I reheat a baked potato and top it with leftover fajita chicken, peppers, and onion. Lillian and Dalton eat leftover beef hotdogs. We have company staying with us for the weekend so Lillian and I prep an apple crisp for dessert later. We had planned to grill, but decide at the last minute to make chicken tikka masala with rice and garlic naan instead. Lime seltzer water makes a nice accompaniment to the spicy Indian dish.

We enjoy the apple crisp with some vanilla ice cream and spend time relaxing and catching up at home after the kids are in bed. The apple crisp is full of warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, which is perfect for a cool fall evening.

Credit: Meredith

Saturday: Banana, Pancakes, Sausage, Bacon, and Berries, Snacks for Lunch, Drinks at the Zoo, and Chinese Takeout

Slow and relaxing Saturday mornings are my favorite: I consume a cup of black coffee and a banana while playing with Eliza in her room. We try not to be too noisy while the rest of the house continues to sleep. Lillian and Dalton wake up and we start cooking breakfast for everyone. We make a spread of homemade pancakes, sausage, bacon, and raspberries and blueberries with lots of coffee for breakfast. Eliza eats a banana and squash purée before going down for a morning nap. 

Around noon, we are not too hungry for lunch, but need a little something to tide us over until dinner. We arrange a variety of snacks from the fridge and pantry to eat before going to the zoo: Tortilla chips with pico de gallo, Wheat Thins, leftover fruit from breakfast, sliced apples, and cheese make a quick and easy spread for the group.  

Memphis has a spectacular zoo and our guests have never experienced its greatness. Even though we are members and go often, I still get excited every time we go! We purposely arrive ahead of the sea lion show, so we stop by the coffee shop right inside the entrance to grab some drinks to sip on while watching the animals. Dalton decides on a cappuccino and I order an iced mocha with oat milk. Our weekend guests graciously offer to pay for our drinks ($10.45). After a few hours of animal spectating, we decide it’s time for dinner. 

One of our guests mentions she is in the mood for Chinese, so we pick up takeout from one of our favorite local Chinese restaurants on the way home. From experience, we know the quantities are large and we decide it is best to split a few dishes. Once home, we dig into sesame chicken, orange chicken, green curry, fried and steamed rice, hot and sour soup, egg drop soup, salad with ginger dressing, and the rangoons ($74). We are undeniably full and have plenty of leftovers.  

Credit: Meredith

Sunday: Cinnamon Rolls, Leftover Chinese, Bakery Snacks, and Leftover Tikka Masala and a Cinnamon Roll

Our guests plan to drive back to Nashville early and we are going to church. I pop a pan of frozen cinnamon rolls to cook while we get ready for a quick and easy breakfast. I can make some pretty decent homemade cinnamon rolls, but they take a lot of time. I’ve found the Rhodes brand is the closest to homemade that you can buy in the grocery store. 

We say goodbye to our guests and pack snacks for Lillian to enjoy during church. She chooses pre-packaged Goldfish crackers and multi-grain Cheerios along with a water bottle. We grab to-go cups of coffee from home to drink while we drive 20 minutes to church. Our kids are tired once we return home, so lunch is quickly reheated leftover Chinese food from last night. I eat salad with green curry. Dalton and Liliian eat steamed rice with orange chicken.

Credit: Meredith

While Eliza naps, Lillian and I venture out to a local shopping center nearby for a holiday open house. We stop in a children’s boutique first and enjoy some complimentary homemade snack mix in the store while shopping. The shopping center has a cute French bakery and we get in line to order an afternoon treat from the counter. I choose a regular hot coffee with a lemon macaron, while Lillian indulges in a strawberry macaron and sugar cookie with a cup of whole milk ($8.43). The barista is sweet and gives her the milk in a coffee cup like a big girl.

For Dalton and I, dinner is reheated tikka masala from dinner on Friday. Lillian eats a leftover cinnamon roll with sausage. Eliza eats a purée pouch of spinach, peas, and pears.

Credit: Meredith

Monday: Banana, Bagel, Cheerios, Burger Tasting, Leftover Chicken Fajitas and Tikka Masala, Apple, Sheet-Pan Dinner and Toasted Bread with Butter

Monday after Daylight Saving time is rough. Everyone is up slightly earlier than usual and I enjoy a banana with my black coffee while preparing breakfast and lunch to eat at work. Dalton drinks coffee while helping get everyone dressed, ready, and packed for the day. 

Lillian has breakfast, lunch, and snacks provided at school, which is a nice perk. Most mornings she does not want to eat anything until she gets to school. I pack enough purées to cover Eliza’s breakfasts for the week while at school. She currently eats two purées in addition to bottles of breastmilk throughout the day. I enjoy a second cup of coffee on the way to work. 

Dalton eats a bowl of Cheerios after returning home from school drop-off. After settling in at my desk, I pop a bagel in the toaster and add some butter to the top while it is still hot. 

Mid-morning, a coworker asks if I want to taste a project she has been working on. Most of my work projects are based on keeping our food safe and extending the shelf-life of food products, but many of my food scientist coworkers focus on creating new foods and flavors. I have the privilege of tasting many great food products before they go to market. I happily taste a variety of different burger patties and give some feedback. I am beginning to get hungry and the burger tasting is a nice mid-morning snack. 

When lunchtime rolls around, I reheat some leftover chicken fajita and munch on an apple while at my desk. Work supplies complimentary soft drinks for the employees to enjoy and I’ve gotten into a habit of drinking a Coke Zero after lunch. I once went four years without soft drinks. I don’t drink them any other time except after lunch at work. The caffeine is a nice pick-me-up. At home, Dalton eats leftover tikka masala.

A coworker brought petit fours and I eat one later in the afternoon while finishing up work for the day.  

Once home, Lillian helps me prepare dinner. We chop smoked chicken sausage, red bell pepper, onion, broccoli, and a chicken breast and place it on a baking sheet. We toss the mixture in olive oil and season it with an all-purpose seasoning (previously purchased from Buc-ee’s gas station) prior to cooking in the oven. This meal is one that I make regularly and it helps us use up fresh vegetables from the fridge. In addition to the sheet pan meal, I slice crusty French bread and top it with butter before toasting it in the oven.  

Dalton and Lillian enjoy two petit fours I brought home from work. After putting the kids to bed, I make a cup of tea and eat a few Oreos while Dalton and I watch Friends on the couch before bed.

Credit: Meredith

Tuesday: Oatmeal with Berries, Fried Eggs and a Bagel, Apple, Leftover Orange Chicken with Fried Rice, Tikka Masala and Sheet-Pan Dinner for Lunch, Pasta with Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread, and Oreos and Ice Cream

My body wakes up before my alarm. While sipping a cup of black coffee, I get things organized for the day. Lillian wakes up and asks for a bowl of cereal. While she eats, I make a bowl of oatmeal topped with brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, raspberries, and blackberries. Dalton wakes up and makes coffee. 

Before heading out the door, I pack a lunch of orange chicken and fried rice leftovers from Saturday, plus a Honeycrisp apple to eat as a snack. As usual, I drink another cup of black coffee while commuting to work. 

Dalton waits until returning home from school drop-off before frying three eggs to eat with half of a bagel while working. 

Around 10 a.m. my stomach starts growling and I remember I packed the apple from home. While more expensive than most varieties, Honeycrisp apples just taste far better than most other varieties, in my opinion. 

I work through the morning and heat up the orange chicken with fried rice around noon. The Coke Zero gives me a little extra boost to help energize me through the rest of the work day. Dalton eats the remaining tikka masala with some of the leftover chicken from last night’s sheet pan dinner. We heavily rely on leftovers to make for easy lunches.

I steep a cup of mint tea around 3 p.m. and drink it while reading a few research articles. After packing up for the day, I leave the office to head to pick up the girls at school. We go on a walk around the neighborhood before dinner. Once home, Dalton offers to cook dinner while I play “kitchen” with the girls upstairs. 

Credit: Meredith

He cooks penne pasta with meat sauce, prepares a Caesar salad, and toasts garlic bread. I usually don’t mind cooking, but it is a nice treat to have the night off. Dalton and Lillian eat a few Oreos we bought previously while I clean up the kitchen. 

Credit: Meredith

I have plans to meet two friends for dessert to discuss an upcoming baby shower we are planning. We meet at a local ice cream shop and I order a coffee cookie butter ice cream in a waffle cone ($6.18). Anytime cookie butter-flavored anything is on a menu, I am sold.  

Once home, I get ready for bed and regret my ice cream choice. I am wide awake, thanks to the caffeine in the coffee-flavored ice cream. Oops!

Credit: Meredith

Wednesday: Banana, Eggs and Toast, Leftover Pasta, Coffees and Pumpkin Bread, Pigs in a Blanket, Caesar Salad, and Leftover Apple Crisp

I wake up early to go for a run with one of my neighbors. The five miles fly by as we catch up and watch the sun come up. Once home, Lillian and Dalton are sitting at the kitchen table coloring and drinking milk and coffee, respectively. I eat a banana while making my first cup of coffee. Soon after, I get out a frying pan to make some eggs to eat over a slice of toasted french bread with butter.

I work from home on most Wednesdays, so after school drop-off I return home to begin working on research. It’s a productive morning of writing project updates and planning for an upcoming meeting. Before I know it, it is time for lunch. Dalton reheats leftover penne pasta for both of us to eat. 

Credit: Meredith

After lunch, we decide to move our workspace to a coffee shop less than a mile from our house. I order an iced honey bun latte with oat milk, he orders a cappuccino, and we split a slice of pumpkin bread ($15.46). The honey bun latte is extra sweet with white chocolate, cinnamon, and honey. I drink black coffee at home, but like to indulge in fancy, sweet drinks when ordering from a coffee shop. We welcome the change of scenery as we finish up work for the day.

I don’t have the commute for work today, so I pick the girls up from school a little earlier than normal and we head to the Children’s Museum for about an hour before heading home. We go to a weekly bible study on Wednesday nights. For convenience, we pull out a frozen box of Parmesan pigs-in-a-blanket (previously purchased) to bake, make a Caesar salad, and call it dinner. Once the girls are asleep, Dalton and I reheat the last little bit of the apple crisp from the weekend and eat it while relaxing before bed.

Credit: Meredith

Thursday: Cereal, Banana Oatmeal, Leftover Sheet-Pan Dinner, Birria Chicken with Rice and Raw Vegetables, and Oreos

My alarm goes off and I walk to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. The rest of the family soon joins me and Lillian requests a bowl of Cheerios. She eats another bowl after finishing her first. She must be going through a growth spurt because she has been eating a lot more than usual. 

Dalton grabs a handful of dry cereal and I make a bowl of oatmeal using one of the last remaining bananas. The banana is very ripe with the right amount of “black spots” — a nice, sweet touch to the creamy oatmeal. 

I pack up my lunch for the day and head out the door to work. 

Mid-morning, one of my coworkers asks me to taste a chicken patty she’s been working on — let’s just say some projects taste better than others. It is raining and cold outside, so I decide to stay in at lunch. I eat reheated chicken sausage and roasted vegetables with a side of balsamic vinaigrette and basil Triscuits and an apple. 

I want something sweet after my lunch so I find some leftover Halloween candy to eat. Reese’s peanut butter cups are my all-time favorite candy, followed by Twix. 

Once home after work, I heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté chicken, onions, and red bell peppers. I find a leftover jar of birria sauce from last week and decide to make tonight’s meal Mexican-inspired. I cook a pot of rice and pull out tortillas in our pantry. Dalton and I eat our birria chicken over rice, while Lillian prefers to eat hers in a tortilla. Some sliced red bell pepper and an English cucumber serve as our side dish to the meal. 

After dinner, we pull out the Oreos before starting the bedtime routine with the girls.

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