Grocery Diaries

I’m a Teacher in San Francisco, CA — Here’s How Much I Spend on Groceries for One Week

updated Nov 24, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Nikki

Name: Nikki
Location: San Francisco, CA
Age: 31
Number of people in household: 2; my partner, Chris, and me
Occupation: I am a middle school math teacher and administrator at an all-girls private school
Where did you shop? Woodlands Market and Trader Joe’s 
How much did you spend? $147.84
Grocery Shopping for how long? One week
Dietary restrictions: None

Credit: Courtesy of Nikki

How did you choose where to shop?

Pre-COVID, grocery shopping was one of my favorite hobbies. I find grocery shopping therapeutic, look forward to browsing local markets, and delight in trying new and specialty items. My grandfather owned several grocery stores when I was growing up, so I guess it’s in my blood. Now, though, I don’t spend as much time in grocery stores as I’d like. The long lines and social distancing make the whole experience feel a little more rushed.

Supporting small businesses, like Woodlands Market, has become increasingly important to me since the pandemic hit. I shop there for locally sourced items and our meat and seafood. Unfortunately, as a teacher living in San Francisco, I can’t afford to do all of my grocery shopping there, so I stick to Trader Joe’s for produce, pantry staples, and other necessities (like their truffle Marcona almonds, of course).

Credit: Courtesy of Nikki

What did you buy?

When the pandemic hit, my partner, Chris, and I over-shopped and spent a lot of money! These days, I try to go into the store with a much shorter list, taking into account what’s currently in our stockpile and freezer at home.

Produce: Spinach, lemons, golden gooseberries, avocados, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, and thyme. 
Meat and seafood: Top sirloin steaks, whole branzino, and assorted charcuterie meats.
Dairy: Local eggs, feta cheese, and peppermint almond milk coffee creamer. 
Pantry: Two quarts chicken stock, orzo, kidney beans, refried beans, truffle Marcona almonds, chili and garlic cashews, protein whole-wheat tortillas, and local salsa from Papalote restaurant.
Other: The City IPA, two olive assortments from the olive bar at Woodlands, roasted garlic loaf, frozen cauliflower gnocchi, and kombucha.

Credit: Courtesy of Nikki

What do you plan on making?

As a teacher, quick and easy meals before and after long days at school are crucial. Most of my students are back at school, learning in person, so I try to meal prep as much as I can on Sundays to make for painless cooking after school.

This week, I’m going to make egg, bean, and cheese breakfast burritos for easy grab-and-go breakfasts.

At school, we are given organic lunch cooked on-site every day, so I don’t have to worry about meal planning for lunches. Chris works from home and is more of a snacker and grazer at lunch — hence the truffle almonds and charcuterie.

We usually only eat dinner at home Monday-Friday, and eat out on the weekends. For dinners this week, I’m planning to make the following meals:

  • Whole roasted, herb-stuffed Branzino with cheesy orzo and olives
  • Minestrone soup with garlic bread
  • Steak fajitas
  • Cauliflower gnocchi
Credit: Courtesy of Nikki

What couldn’t you find?

I went to Woodlands first and planned to stock up on produce and pantry items at Trader Joe’s. Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s was out of diced tomatoes for the minestrone, as well as rosemary for the branzino. This means I’ll have to make a stop for both of those ingredients after school someday this week.

Credit: Courtesy of Nikki

How is this different from how you normally shop?

When the pandemic first started, I was teaching from home, and had more flexibility in my schedule to grocery shop, which meant I could shop during less crowded times of the week. Now that many restrictions in San Francisco have been lifted and I’m back at work, our grocery shopping routine is slowly returning to normal.

Prior to the pandemic, I would grocery shop a couple of times a week and didn’t mind if I had to make extra stops for one or two items I forgot. We also used to shop multiple times a week, without a weekly plan. Our strategy depended on what we were in the mood to eat each night. Now, we try to make a plan for the week and stick to it, while still having as much variety as possible.

While I definitely miss being able to peruse the aisles and take my time in a store, it’s important to me to limit our risk to exposure, as well as protect grocery store employees from added and unnecessary interactions with customers. I’m so thankful to all of the essential workers helping stores stay open during these challenging times. From one essential worker to another, thank you!

Credit: Courtesy of Nikki

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