An In-Depth Look at How I Spend Very Little on Groceries

by Katy on March 8, 2010 · 16 comments

Today I motored myself towards my local Safeway for big grocery trip #2 with my $10 off $50 coupon. This deal is valid over the first week of the month, and I take advantage of it by trying to do two big shops, both at the beginning and end of the week. This way, I’m able stock up on all the pantry staples that I need. (Can I call them “pantry staples” if I have no pantry?)

In addition to the regionally specific Safeway coupon, I also used a small handful of manufacturer’s coupons for items as diverse as toothpaste, flour and pasta. Although I use some coupons, I am a far cry from a coupon queen, who feeds her family on $4 per week.

Here’s what I bought:

  • 10 pounds of flour, (whole wheat and unbleached white)*
  • 2 boxes of Multi-Grain Cheerios*
  • 1 box of Raisin Bran*
  • 1 package of fudge mint cookies
  • 1 box of Triscuits*
  • 3 boxes of pasta*
  • 2 pounds of shredded mozarella cheese
  • 1/2 gallon of whole milk
  • 2 gallon of nonfat milk
  • 1 small container of sour cream
  • 2 bags of frozen peas
  • 2 containers of lemonade concentrate
  • 1 large tub of vanilla yogurt
  • Toothpaste*
  • Dentotape dental floss
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 2-1/2 pounds of bananas
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 pounds of carrots

This is a fairly typical grocery trip for me. We already had a large amount of grapes at home, and I want to see that eaten up before buying more fruit. We also still have a fair amount of broccoli, lettuce and cauliflower, so our vegetable needs were few. There is a Fred Meyer grocery store which is walking distance from my house that tends to stock cheaper and better produce, so I buy it there, instead of stocking up on produce that ends up going bad. The Cheerios were bought as a treat, as it’s normally a rarity for us to buy sugar cereal. And the cookies? Umm . . . .

The total for this trip was $45.13, which is pretty good. I now have enough food in the house to make at least a week’s worth of meals. We’re also stocked up on Costco needs (olive oil, cat food and litter, coffee, etc.)

Some people may enjoy shopping for food, but I really kind of hate it. It’s certainly better than when my kids were little and I would almost be in tears by the end of some trips. But even now, grocery shopping is still low on my list of enjoyable experiences.

Keeping my family’s grocery shopping low not only allows us to keep our expenditures low, but is also a huge component of our debt repayment plan.

Here’s a bonus picture of my groceries before I decanted them from their reusable grocery bags. My favorite is the one crocheted out of plastic bags by my ever-talented sister Jessica.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

P.S. I had one extra $10 off coupon, which I gave to to grocer and asked him to pass it along to next person spending $50, which he agreed to.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Hiptobeme March 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Way to share the coupon karma! 😉


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl March 9, 2010 at 3:29 am

Love the picture of your groceries in their reusable bags. 🙂


Kayla K March 9, 2010 at 5:25 am

Plastic bags are my favorite craft supply! By now I’ve made such a slew of my own reusable bags that I don’t get very many plastic ones anymore, but friends keep me in good supply.
My friend’s grandma wears a sun hat made out of plastic bags. Not so much my style. 🙂


Molly On Money March 9, 2010 at 5:30 am

Since my husband and I have cut back (we spend 1/2 of our income, the other 1/2 goes to paying off our debt) we underspend on our grocery budget every month. We start at the local farmers market and than get the rest at the conventional grocery stores. I would like to be purchasing more local organically grown food where he is more price driven. Since we are not spending all of our budget for groceries we have the space. Any one else in this delimma?


Sense of Home March 9, 2010 at 7:27 am

I have never written down or taken a picture of everything I purchased. I think this might be a good idea since then I might see where unnecessary dollars are going. Great post!



Carla March 9, 2010 at 7:39 am

Very good shopping! You are blessed to have stores which let you do things like take $10 off a bill. And I love your re-useable bags. I made all mine but they are cloth not plastic, mainly because I cannot stand the thoughts of crocheting or knitting with it.


Kris-ND March 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I also think taking pictures of my groceries once unpacked would be a good idea to get a real picture of what I buy and whether it was something I really needed, as I try and continue to cut back on our groceries.

BTW, I would LOVE to get instructions on how to make the re-usable bag made out of plastic bags!


Mrs. B March 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Kris…Here is the info on how to make the totes and the plarn (plastic yarn)


Kris-ND March 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Thank you so much! This should be fun to try. I say try because I am the least crafty person on the planet, but…hey, it’s a bag out of plastic bags, so perfection isn’t expected 😉


magdalena March 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm

I don’t think Multi-grain Cheerios count as “sugary.” I think I may try the plastic recycled bags myself, and donate the excess ones to our food bank for their clients.


Tina March 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Great post!


Chris March 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Hi Katy–This is my first time visiting your blog and I am so happy to find you!

My favorite way to save on groceries is buying most of them through a food buying club that I organize. Here in Portland, more and more are springing up. The convenience and savings make it worth the extra planning, and the community that naturally develops when people get together over food makes it fun. I am committed to eating local and organic as much as possible, and buying with an FBC is the only way our family can afford that.


Seattle Sun March 9, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Can you tell me more about the $10 off coupon for Safeway? I shop Safeway pretty regularly and I’ve never heard of it. Where do you get it? Thanks so much!


Katy March 9, 2010 at 10:18 pm

The coupon runs in the first “FoodDay” of the month in “The Oregonian.” I clip mine, plus get one from my next-door-neighbor who shops elsewhere.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Karyn March 10, 2010 at 7:34 am

Katy, Thanks so much for letting us know specifically where the coupon is located in the Oregonian! I’ve been looking for it, but as the mom of a busy 9 month old, I don’t have time to scour the paper every day. 🙂


Katy March 10, 2010 at 8:14 am


You’re welcome. I *heart* that coupon. It makes it cheaper to go to Safeway than Winco.



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