I Officially Suck At Budget Grocery Shopping

I just hit the grocery store for some shopping.  Let’s just say I spent more than I hoped I would.

For starters, I don’t usually budget my grocery shopping.  Which is probably stupid.  However, I did take this opportunity to be more mindful of sales, generic items and monitoring needs vs. wants.

My boyfriend requested a butternut squash and goat cheese risotto tonight (I typically hand him a cookbook and ask him to choose something).  He also asked me to pick up beer, ham, ramen and swiss cheese.  He’s such a boy.

Every time I grocery shop I pick up vegetables.  We eat a ton so they never go bad.  I’ve gotten into the habit of buying rotisserie chickens from store delis because after we eat the meat (typically used in salads or pastas) I will use the carcass to make chicken stock.  I thought that I might pair some chicken with our risotto tonight and make stock (as risotto requires a lot).


I don’t even really like butternut squash (I’m a spring/summer squash person), so you can imagine my dismay when I discovered the lightest squash they had weighed in at 5 pounds.  And I only needed a pound and half.  At 99 cents a pound, I wasn’t about to pay 5 bucks.  I picked up a few acorn squashes instead.

I needed leeks and onions for the risotto, and picked up an additional onion for the chicken stock.  Cauliflower and mushrooms were on sale so I grabbed a package of each.  I also picked up two lemons and three bananas.

Acorn Squash – $1.83; Lemons – $1; Leeks – $1.11; Cauliflower – $2.49; Bananas – $1.02; Mushrooms – $2.50; Yellow Onions – $0.63

Total for Produce = $10.58


Organic milk was on sale (horray!).  I grabbed an 18 pack of eggs – I love hard-boiled egg whites.  I usually try to buy free range, but I ignored my animal-friendly/health-conscious nature to save money (I’m going to hell).  My boyfriend wanted Swiss cheese so I grabbed the cheapest package I could find.  He also asked for ham.  I got 1/2 pound at the deli.  The risotto called for aged goat cheese, which this market didn’t even have.  I hemmed and hawed and ultimately decided to grab Parmesan instead.  I don’t care for goat cheese (too heavy) and we use Parmesan more anyhow.  I would have to improvise the recipe.

I took a look at fryer chickens and found that I could get one for cheaper than the deli rotisserie chickens.  So I grabbed one.  I will roast it myself.

Eggs (18 Pack) – $3; Organic Fat Free Milk – $3.29; Swiss Cheese – $3.59; Deli Ham – $3.98; Parmesan – $4.99; Fryer Chicken – $4.12

Total Meat/Dairy/Deli = $22.97

Grocery (AKA Processed Crap)

My boyfriend is addicted to ramen.  Asshole got me addicted as well.  I bought 5 packages.  We needed ketchup, so I found the cheapest available.  I also bought a 24 pack of water (generic) and some sliced wheat bread (we freeze).  I grabbed two cans of Swanson’s chicken broth, in case I ran out of stock for the risotto.

Ramen – $1; Bread – $1.99; Ketchup – $2.79; Chicken Broth – $1.60; Water – $3.50

Total Grocery = $10.88


I needed wine and David needed beer.  Forestville (cheap as shit but tastes decent) chardonnay was on sale 2 for 7 bucks.  I poked around in the beer aisle for awhile before grabbing a 6 pack of Newcastle Brown Ale.  And yes, it cost more than TWO bottles of my mine.  Next time he gets PBR.

Beer + CRV – $7.29; Wine – $7

Alcohol Total – $14.29

The last thing I bought was a fresh baguette.  Because I like them.  $1.89.  I got a 15 cent rebate for my canvas bags.

All together I spent $61.57, which seems like an awful lot.  It should feed us through Wednesday or Thursday of this week, although we’ll need to restock on booze (because we’re alcoholics).  Laying it all out makes it seem not so bad, but 60 bucks?  I am supposed to be on a $100 a week budget.

What are your thoughts?  I can take the criticism.  Hit me with your suggestions and critiques.


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9 Responses to “I Officially Suck At Budget Grocery Shopping”

  1. Linnyt Says:

    Refill a plastic water bottle from a britta or even the tap if you have good water. That saves money and plastic.

    I haven’t priced deli ham but I imagine if you go to the counter it would be more expensive then getting the pre-packaged stuff.

  2. tart of darkness Says:

    I do the water refill thing also. Saves money and saves all that plastic. Also since Ramen stays good for a billion years, going to a big box store and buying a case is good economically. I’m blanking on the big box grocery chain in Sacto, but you probably know what I mean.

  3. Maeg Says:

    Invest in the Brita (tap filter or pitcher) and ditch the bottles of water altogether. Invest in nalgene bottles for you and David.

    Farmer’s market for produce? Usually cheaper, better quality.

    You eat better than my family does, but you’re also foodies, so I’ll leave the menu items alone.

  4. May Says:

    I second the farmer’s market and brita filter suggestions. Cutting on meat also helps A LOT. You could try eating beans for some days and meat on others or something.

    Also, you could try getting a Costco membership and buying all your non-perishable items there. You could buy all your ramen / beans / pasta / rice there. That could help.

    Cutting down on alcohol helps A TON when it comes to budgeting (though it’s hard to do, I know). I sometimes drink instead of eating dinner, though I’m not sure that’s a good suggestion. :)
    What I do is buy MOSTLY super-cheap beer and then only drink nice beer one night a week. You should set a limit on how much nice beer you drink a week and then you won’t be tempted.

    Those are all the ideas I have for now.

  5. Are Blogs Like Tattoos? Introducing The Plastic Chef! « The Adventures of Penny Plastic Says:

    […] love to cook, so as I learn how to shop and cook without spending an insane amount of money, I can focus on these unique challenges at my other […]

  6. Jen Says:

    I don’t budget my groceries either but I found that I spent a lot less when I shop only once a week.
    I plan my meals a week ahead (usually meat twice a week, fish once, vegetarian all other times), make a detailed shopping list and force myself to stick to it. No chocolate bars, no special bargains that weren’t really on my list, no “little” extras. If I forget to buy something, I force myself to improvise.

    I also used to cook a lot with olive oil but it’s rather expensive and at least when you’re frying, it’s hard to tell by the taste what kind of oil you used. So now I use olive oil in salad and pesto and cheap oil for everything else.

    I buy big boxes of ramen (36 packages) and large sacks of rice (40 lb.) at a Chinese supermarket.

  7. Sukie Says:

    You can buy the big squash and freeze it for later. I have half a butternut in my freezer right now. (I also freeze corn still in the husk. I just unhusk and boil. Delicious)

    And brown sugar makes all winter squash ten times better :)

  8. Reader Tips, 12.17.08 « The Adventures of Penny Plastic Says:

    […] were many recommendations left in the comments section of the grocery shopping post.  May and linnyt advised that David and I invest in a Brita water filter (done – it’s on his […]

  9. Jessica Says:

    I read Jezebel and always enjoy your comments so here I am!

    I am in the same position as you are. I never budget groceries, I just have an amount in my head that’s “too much”. I’m also a foodie, an incredibly bad situation to be in when you’re broke.

    The boyfriend and I are doing the forced-vegetarian thing now to save money, but the one thing that we allow ourselves is booze. We used to drink during the week, but have since cut that down to just the weekends to save money. We each buy a bottle (me vodka and him gin: $24+$20=64 a week right there—and you thought you were alcoholics). We even broke down and got a box of wine for during the week, those are cheap, about $16. So that’s already $80 just for booze! Wow.

    And for various stuff at the grocery store, my biweekly bill there is around $160. I’m bad at this, can you tell :)

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