Grocery Diaries

I’m a Stay-at-Home Mom and My Husband’s a Chiropractor — We Spent $212 on a Week’s Worth of Groceries and Came in $38 Under Budget

published Sep 19, 2023
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Outdoor photo of grocery haul
Credit: Tess

Name: Tess
Location: Danielsville, PA
Age: 34
Number of people in household: 7; my husband and me, plus our five children (ages one to nine)
Occupation: I’m a stay-at-home mom/homeschooler and my husband is a chiropractor
Where you shopped: Walmart, Aldi, a local mom-and-pop store, and a local farm
Weekly food budget: $250
Amount spent: $212.06

Credit: Tess

Where did you shop? 

This week I shopped at Walmart, Aldi, a local mom-and-pop store, and a local farm. The mom-and-pop store sells food approaching its best-by/sell-by date at a steep discount. This week’s trip was mostly produce, meat, and snack food for the week. We had our homeschool co-op coming up — a long day of extracurriculars when I knew we would be out of the house and needing something quick. Some of our garden produce did not do well so I needed to stock up on that too. Plus, I wasn’t feeling well and I needed some easy veggie options that didn’t require a lot of prep (although some of that produce went to waste or to our chickens).

Credit: Tess

What’s your grocery strategy?

Let’s be real: It’s really hard to stay on budget if you are in the stores too much — the “deals” and “must haves” beckon. Grocery shopping only once a week is a basic tool of mine to cut costs. I visit multiple stores (ideally on the same day) to get only the best deals.

Credit: Tess

My brain works in categories. I usually do not buy one of anything at a time. If I need butter I stock up and freeze it. If I need tomato sauce I buy eight jars and store them. For me, this helps ensure I am not running out of the same staple every week. It also helps me distribute the grocery budget more evenly because I can focus on different key staples every week. I save money because if there is a sale on any of my staples, I get several weeks’ worth at a lower price. 

Fresh produce is one exception to this, and the produce did come back to bite me this week. Morning sickness with baby #6 has started to creep in and I didn’t have the stomach for much of the produce, or the energy to fight the kids on their vegetables. (We start every day with a green drink with kale from the garden, though.)

I try to make our food from scratch and do not buy too much pre-packaged food, except from the local mom-and-pop discount store. It has phenomenal deals and a lot of organic snack options for the kids. Those do really get me out of a pinch sometimes!

We also keep a garden and our chickens are beginning to lay (slowly).

Credit: Tess

How do you meal plan? 

I make whatever seems easiest that day. I have a list on my fridge to remind me of my basic, go-to meals. I try to have all my dinners planned and prepped (meat defrosting, etc.) by 11 a.m. because the planning is harder than the execution and will stall me. 

In addition to our weekly grocery trip, much of what I used this week came from our stock food in my basement pantry and second freezer.

What did you buy?


  • Gluten-free brown rice elbow pasta, $2.18
  • Bananas, $4.26
  • Avocado oil, $9.54
  • Baking soda, $2.98
  • Organic fruit & veggie purée, $22.08
  • Frozen shredded potatoes, $3.42
  • Colby & Monterey Jack cheese, $4.00
  • French vanilla cake mix, $3.36
  • Gluten-free chocolate brownie mix, $8.68
  • Canned tuna, $3.52
  • Whole milk, $6.98
  • Large white eggs, $4.52
  • Gluten-free organic brown rice & quinoa penne pasta, $8.72
  • Vanilla bean ice cream, $2.67
  • Espresso-style dark roast ground coffee, $8.00
  • Smoked paprika, $1.94

Total: $96.85


  • Organic rice, $21.54 
  • Organic corn chips, $6.27

Total: $27.81

Local Mom-and-Pop Store 

  • 3 bagged salads 
  • Riced cauliflower
  • Organic broccoli
  • Bag of potatoes (some of these were bad and I had to chuck them)
  • Cheerios
  • Chips
  • Strawberries
  • Chicken sausages
  • Ground pork
  • Lunchables
  • Mushrooms
  • Organic chocolate chip cookie snack packs
  • White cheddar crackers 
  • Soft cookies
  • Organic cinnamon crunch cereal 
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Shredded cheese

Total: $77 (items are tallied together vs. priced individually)

Local Farm

Milk, $10.40

Total: $10.40

Grand Total: $212.06

Credit: Tess

Friday: Green Juice, Eggs and Ham, Leftovers, and Homemade Sourdough Pizza with Mushrooms and Arugula

Note: We have coffee (my husband and I) and milk (the kids) every morning. Sometimes we end the night with beer/wine.

Today is typical: We all start our day with a green drink with kale from the garden, and eggs and/or ham. (I got a bunch of small hams weeks ago from the mom-and-pop store and froze them for easy breakfasts and lunches.)

Lunch is usually a hodgepodge of leftovers and foods that need to be eaten before they go bad. Today most of the kids have gluten-free pasta and strawberries. My husband has canned fish and chips; one kid is a tuna-lover who just wants a can of tuna. I have my leftover green drink from this morning. 

I start sourdough pizza for tonight’s dinner and sourdough sandwich bread to use throughout the week. I have too much crust dough so I save it and also make a non-sandwich bread loaf. The kids have cereal as a snack. For dinner, we eat homemade sourdough pizza with mushrooms and arugula.

Saturday: Banana, Eggs, Leftover Pizza, Green Juice, Almonds, PB&J, Leftover Pasta, Homemade Kombucha, Meatloaf, Hash Browns, Salad, and Dessert with Our Extended Family

For breakfast, we have eggs (chickens are starting to lay!), leftover pizza, green drinks (with kale from the garden), and almonds. The 1-year-old starts every day with an immediate banana before playing and then eats a full breakfast of eggs and a green drink. 

The kids have peanut butter and jelly on fresh sourdough sandwich bread for lunch; my husband and I eat leftover pasta. We all drink homemade kombucha. 

Dinner is meatloaf, hash browns, and a salad. The extended family comes over for dessert (10 extra people). My mom brings cheese and crackers, my aunt brings wine, and my brother-in-law brings some more beer. I make chocolate chip cookie bars (from a box) and gluten-free brownies (box). We eat it with ice cream.

Sunday: Gluten-Free Pancakes, Eggs, Green Juice, and a Picnic at a Friend’s House

We have gluten-free pancakes, eggs, and green drinks for breakfast. 

Afterwards, we picnic at a friend’s house ALL DAY. Lunch and dinner and drinks are provided. We have hamburgers, hot dogs, slow-cooker chicken, several kinds of pasta salad, soda, and seltzers. I bring a second batch of chocolate chip cookie bars (from a box) and gluten-free brownies (box).

Credit: Tess

Monday: Sourdough Toast, Eggs, Almonds, Green Juice, PB & Honey on Sourdough, Leftover Meatloaf, and Dinner at a Friend’s House

Today’s breakfast is sourdough toast and eggs, and I also have some almonds. 

Credit: Tess

We have green drinks for lunch and the kids have PB and honey on sourdough. My husband and brother, who is visiting, have meatloaf and sourdough with some sliced cheese. I make a gallon of homemade fresh salsa to bring to a friend’s house for dinner, along with three bags of corn chips. 

Tuesday: Ham, Green Juice, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Salad, PB&J, Snacks, Beef, Beans, Rice, and Late-Night Snacks

For breakfast, we eat ham from the freezer and green drinks. 

My husband is gone at work for 10 hours; he brings hard-boiled eggs and bagged salad. The kids’ lunch is PB&J and milk. They have animal crackers as a snack, provided by a friend whose house we visit. The baby snacks on pouches. 

Dinner is beef, beans, and rice with homemade yogurt drizzled on top. My husband and I have frozen hash browns for a late-night snack. One kid who is up late has a granola bar. 

Credit: Tess

Wednesday: Ham, Eggs, Green Juice, Lunchables, Corn Chips, Leftover Beef, Beans, and Rice, Snacks, Mashed Potatoes and Ground Meat with Cheese, and Late-Night Snacks

Today is co-op day. We are out of the house almost all day, until late evening. But before we go, we have breakfast: ham, eggs, and green drinks. 

For lunch, we pack Lunchables (for the kids), corn chips (for me), and leftover beef, beans, and rice (for my husband and baby). For snacks there are cookies and pouches and more pouches (for the 3-year-old). Several snacks are also given out in classes (puffs, candy, etc.) 

Dinner is mashed potatoes and ground beef/pork with cheese. We also have a late-night snack: granola bars (kids) and milk and cookies (me).

Thursday: Green Drinks, Oatmeal, Pasta with Red Sauce, Leftovers, Snacks, Ham, Frozen Hash Browns, and Late-Night Snacks

Breakfast is green drinks, and some kids have oatmeal (with sugar and milk). 

We have pasta with red sauce and green drinks (for the kids who didn’t have theirs for breakfast) for lunch. My husband is gone all day, and brought leftovers. Later the kids snack on homemade yogurt with honey, cereal, bananas, and pouches (baby). 

For dinner, we have frozen hash browns, ham, and Altoids that my husband picked up at the gas station ($2). My husband and I also have a late-night snack: homemade hummus with chips and ham. We also share a carrot cake he bought earlier from a nearby market for a snack. (This was an extra $5.50, not reflected in the total groceries above.)

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