Location: Billings, Montana
Number of people in household: Two (my husband, Greg, and myself). We also have a dog, Mako. I bring up the dog because he eats a shocking amount of fruit and vegetables, which is now factored into our grocery budget!
Age: I’m 36 and my husband is 41
Occupation: I am a financial education coordinator for a local bank and Greg is a diesel mechanic.
Where you shopped: WinCo, Albertsons, Seafoods of the World, and Isabela Asian Market
Weekly grocery budget: $125
Amount spent: $104.17
The bulk of my shopping occurs at WinCo. I also visit Albertson’s for a few items I prefer to buy there. This week I made two special stops: one at a great seafood market (Seafoods of the World) and the other at Isabela Asian Market, which I recently learned about. I’m a big fan of Seafoods of the World and will save up my extra grocery money to make splurgy trips there.
What’s your grocery strategy?
Prioritization is the key to my grocery strategy. I focus on humanely sourced proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables, which I’ve found to be more expensive. To offset these higher prices, I buy the generic, store brands of items where we don’t have a name-brand preference.
I typically have a variety of meat and meal shortcuts stocked in the freezer; we also keep a selection of drinks, snacks, and other pantry staples on hand. So I’ll review all of that when meal planning and incorporate those groceries to reduce our waste and spending. When we have leftover grocery funds, I’ll use it to stock up on items we use a lot, splurge on groceries we wouldn’t regularly buy, or add it to our eating out budget.
I usually check the weather because that drives how we like to cook and what we eat. I’ll also review our schedule for the week to see if we have any dinners already planned or if there is a night where I’ll have more or less time for cooking. I try to serve a variety of proteins, a vegetarian meal, and a few dinners that will yield lunch leftovers for me. Greg usually decides what he’d like for lunch the week before and he or I will make a big batch for him on the weekend.
Saturday: Protein Bar, Leftover Soup and Mini Pizzas, and Vegetable Pancakes with Krab Wontons
I’m doing some volunteering this morning, so I grab a protein bar on the way out the door and eat that on my drive. Greg typically doesn’t eat breakfast until 10ish, but he is working on his boat this morning and forgets to eat. He is hungry by lunchtime.
We have small bowls of leftover veggie soup and mini pepperoni pizzas. Greg uses some leftover Alfredo sauce and I capitalize on a to-go container of marinara from yesterday’s breadstick lunch. I have a Pepsi and Greg makes himself a Gatorade from powder we keep on hand. After planting our garden, Greg snacked on some brisket in the fridge and a flour tortilla with peanut butter while I have cocoa batons from Trader Joe’s.
For dinner I try making a Korean vegetable pancake using green cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, zucchini, and the chives I bought at Isabela’s. I also add a few shrimp. Next time, I think I’ll leave out the bell pepper because it released too much water. I’ll also make sure the pancake is thinner so it is crispier.
I make a sauce of Kewpie mayo and kimchi paste and one with soy sauce, sesame oil, and white vinegar. We fry up a few homemade krab wontons (made with imitation crab) from the freezer. Greg has some of the Trader Joe’s bourbon I brought back from a recent trip and I have red wine.
Sunday: Breakfast Shake, Bagel and Hard-Boiled Eggs, Chicken Nuggets, Fish Sandwich, and Angel Hair with Bolognese
Breakfast this morning is milk and instant breakfast powder for me while Greg has a bagel with a hard-boiled egg. We have Gatorade and tea, respectively.
Sunday is my day for kitchen prep, so I get a ground beef slow cooker Bolognese going, make a breakfast egg bake for Greg, and hard-boil eggs for myself. The egg bake has a hash-brown crust and includes some sausage we had in the freezer, bell peppers, and lots of Tillamook white cheddar (a staple cheese in our home).
Greg barbecues himself some burgers for lunches for the upcoming week. I had planned on making crispy fish sandwiches with the haddock I bought but I’ve spent so much of the day cooking we shift gears and have an air fryer lunch: chicken nuggets with BBQ sauce and bread and butter pickles for Greg while I make use of some Trader Joe’s breaded fish to make a low-lift fish sandwich. (I end up freezing the haddock and salmon fillet to use in the coming weeks.) We also have a couple of Trader Joe’s dunker cookies.
Later in the afternoon we pick up some ice cream (and beer) at Albertson’s while we’re out. When we get home, I have a couple of scoops of chocolate and Greg has an ice cream bar. A few hours later, I snack on slices of cheddar and Greg has some flour tortillas with peanut butter and a beer. For dinner we have Bolognese over angel hair pasta — or, more accurately, Greg has pasta with Bolognese and I top mine with black pepper, butter, and Parmesan. And because pasta demands wine, we each have a glass.
Monday: Another Breakfast Shake and Eggs Two Ways, Burger and Lunch Out, and Leftover Pasta
I start my day with the usual: milk and instant breakfast powder. Greg has a slice of leftover breakfast bake later in the morning. I make a couple of deviled eggs for a morning snack and walk to Pita Pit for lunch (with tip it comes to $12). Greg has one of his burgers and a banana. For an afternoon snack, I have a handful of pistachios at the office. Dinner is the same as yesterday (pasta) and we both have ice cream for dessert.
Tuesday: Shake and Egg Bake, Burger, Protein Bar, and Chicken Tacos
It’s a breakfast repeat for us both, and later in the morning I have a couple of hard-boiled egg whites (I don’t like the yolk, which Mako loves because he gets to eat them) and a handful of peanuts. Greg has a burger and banana and I eat a protein bar for lunch. When we get home, we have a small snack: pretzels and peanut butter for Greg and a few dates for me. We make chicken tacos for dinner with cabbage, carrots, peppers, and red onions. Greg has a beer and a scoop of ice cream for dessert.
Wednesday: Another Shake and Egg Bake, Leftover Pasta, Burger, and a Duo of Dinners Out
New day; same breakfast. For lunch, I have some leftover pasta with butter, black pepper, and Parmesan and a couple of hard-boiled egg whites. Greg has a burger. When I get home from work, I have some peanuts and a bowl of Cheerios before heading out to meet friends. Greg has Whiskey Wednesday plans with a friend tonight and eats a few pretzels and peanut butter beforehand. I have a few beers and bring home pizza and breadsticks (the total is $42). Both Greg and I have a separate budget for going out with friends that we use to pay for nights like these.
Thursday: Repeat Breakfast and Lunch, Chicken Nachos, and Steak with Sesame Potatoes
We have our usual breakfast and the same lunches as yesterday. After work, we split a plate of chicken nachos, and I have a Pepsi while Greg drinks Gatorade. Greg makes dinner tonight: grilled steak with blue cheese crumbles and sesame potatoes. We have wine with dinner.
Friday: Our Usual Breakfast, Burger, Hard-Boiled Egg Whites, Cheeseburgers, and Dinner Out for Grandma’s 90th Birthday
The work week closes out with our usual breakfast, and Greg sticks with a burger for lunch. I snack on a few hard-boiled egg whites, some cheddar slices, and a power bar. After work, I swing by a local burger joint and pick up a couple cheeseburgers for us; we have his grandma’s 90th birthday party tonight and I don’t want either of us to be hangry when we arrive. We also split a Pepsi.
For dinner, we eat prime rib (with the hottest horseradish I’ve ever had), veggies, and rolls. There’s delicious cake to cap off a wonderful party.