Grocery Diaries

How a Family of 4 in Texas Spends $150 on More than 2 Weeks’ Worth of Groceries (and Doesn’t Waste a Thing)

updated Jul 24, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Ebonee

Name: Ebonee
Location: Rowlett, TX
Number of people in household: 4 (Ebonee, her two brothers, and mother)
Age: All adults; 25 to 54
Occupation: Child Nutrition Consultant
Grocery shopping for how long? 2+ Weeks
Where did you shop? Kroger
How much did you spend? $145.42

How did you choose where to buy groceries?

The closest stores to my suburban Texas house are Sprouts Farmers Market, Walmart, Kroger, and Tom Thumb. Tom Thumb is the most expensive store in our area, followed by Sprouts and Kroger. I prefer to get my meats from Tom Thumb, but Kroger is where I typically get produce and other common ingredients that I cook with often. For this shop, I was able to find all the items we needed at Kroger. 

Credit: Courtesy of Ebonee

What did you buy?

Fresh produce: 2 pints strawberries, 2 yellow onions, 2 bell peppers, 1 bag mustard greens, 1 bag collard greens, 8 oranges, 1 poblano pepper, 2 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 1 bag fuji apples, 1 whole seedless watermelon, 4 fresh ears of corn, 5 limes, 3 lemons, 1 5-pound bag yellow potatoes, 1 pint baby bella mushrooms 

Frozen: 2 bags of broccoli and cauliflower, 2 bags of stir-fry vegetables

Grains: Cornbread, Hawaiian sweet rolls, corn tortillas, brown rice, Spanish rice, extra-wide egg noodles

Meat/alt-meat: Pork and beans, 1 package salted pork, 1 whole chicken, 1 dozen large eggs, 4 pounds ground beef, 1 pound applewood bacon, 1 package smoked sausage, 4 center-cut thick bone-in pork chops, 4 cans salmon

Dairy: Pint of half-and-half, 1 package shredded Parmesan cheese, 1 package shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1 package shredded Mexican cheeses, butter

Other: Turmeric, Creole seasoning, chicken bouillon, beef bouillon

Total spent at Kroger: $145.42

Credit: Courtesy of Ebonee

What couldn’t you find?

We eat a lot of rice dishes, and prefer the parboiled boil-in-bag packages of rice for convenience (and portioning). Unfortunately, boil-in-bag rice has been the only pantry staple item that has been hard to find regularly. When I do find some, I always purchase a few boxes in different rice varieties (like brown rice, jasmine rice, and white rice). This time, I purchased Minute Brown Rice as a substitute. 

Credit: Courtesy of Ebonee

What do you plan on making?

Meals are planned around the food items we have already at home, leftovers, the number of days I plan to cook in that week, and reducing waste as much as possible. I always look in our pantry for dry goods I can make into a meal. We’ve been cooking outside so much more lately, so I plan to grill for a large percentage of our meals during the next few weeks. Usually one night of cooking makes enough for two days of eating.

  • Egg, bacon, and cheese breakfast tacos, served with leftover corn tortillas. Served with fresh fruits still on hand. 
  • Leftover vegetable and potato frittata served with fresh fruits on hand (watermelon, apples, oranges, or strawberries).
  • BBQ chicken, macaroni salad, baked beans, cornbread, roasted corn on the cob, collard and mustard greens stewed with salted pork.
  • Chicken fajitas with corn tortillas, sautéed bell peppers, poblano pepper, and yellow onion served with Spanish rice, shredded cheese, sour cream, onion, and salsa.
  • Lemon-basil chicken stir-fry with brown rice, frozen stir-fry vegetables, and leftover sautéed zucchini and yellow squash.
  • 24-hour-marinated Caribbean Jerk pork chops with ratatouille, Hawaiian sweet rolls, and leftover Spanish and brown rice with leftover collard and mustard greens.
  • Salmon patties, crispy Parmesan potatoes, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Seasoned beef patties served with mushroom brown gravy, coconut brown rice, leftover steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and leftover Hawaiian sweet rolls. 

How is this different from how you normally shop?

Before COVID-19, I was living in an apartment alone, so meal planning and shopping were very simplified. Because of the uncertainty of COVID-19 I decided to live at home. Now I always make sure to bring my spiral notebook with a well-thought-out list along with me while I grocery shop. It’s just how I roll. It helps keep me on track and, most importantly, within my budget. Shopping for two adult males (one picky and one not-so-much, a flexitarian), and myself has been an exercise in culinary flexibility.

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