I’m A Graduate Student and a Stay-at-Home Mom — I Spent $152 for 3 Weeks of Groceries

published Dec 28, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Abbey

Name: Abbey
Location: Jamestown, NY
Age: My husband and I are both 24.
Number of people in household: My husband, our 7-month-old son (who is just starting solid foods), and myself
Occupation: I am an online graduate student and stay-at-home mom. My husband is a youth pastor and realtor.
Grocery shopping for how long? 3 weeks, with weekly supplemental shops
How much did you spend? $151.97

Where did you shop?

I generally do a huge grocery shop every three weeks. We buy most of our groceries at Aldi; the prices are great and I like not feeling overwhelmed with too many choices. If we’re especially busy or my husband has the car (we share one), I’ll do pickup orders from Aldi and Wegmans. But in general, I enjoy shopping in the grocery store to get out of the house, listen to a podcast, and have some time to myself. 

Anything I can’t find at Aldi, I buy at Wegmans, a regional grocery chain. If you meet someone from Western New York, they will likely rave about Wegmans. Something about going there feels so relaxing to me. Plus, they have a great selection of items, high-quality brand-name products, and a wide variety of prepared foods. 

We also receive WIC, which we get at Wegmans. I usually do the WIC shopping at the end of the month, so I can restock up on fresh produce. Finally, we are also part of a CSA. We receive a variety of farm-fresh produce each Friday from May to October. It’s not unusual for me to hit up Wegmans, Aldi, or the local grocery store down the street from us mid-week because I’ve forgotten a few ingredients or we’ve run out of, say, ketchup or ice cream.

How did you meal plan?

At the beginning of every month, I make a Google Doc with a calendar and fill in all the dinners. Sometimes I feel the need to plan breakfasts and lunches, but usually dinner is the most labor-intensive, so I focus on that. I have a separate Doc with the past meals we like. Often, I look at this list for ideas when I’m meal planning. I also keep a Pinterest board with all of the meals I make in a year. This makes it easy to find a recipe I’ve used in the past and pin new recipes I plan to use in the coming weeks.

I usually put eating out into our meal plan so we don’t overspend in that area. (We recently moved and, in the process, ate so much takeout. Now, we’re craving more home-cooked meals for balance.) After I finish the meal plan for the month, I make a shopping list in the Notes app on my phone. 

Credit: Courtesy of Abbey

What did you buy?

From Aldi

  • Bananas, $1.01
  • Broccoli crowns, $2.14
  • Cilantro, $0.89
  • Cucumber, $0.59
  • Green onions, $.75
  • Peppers, $3.29
  • Pink-lady apples, $4.89
  • Sugar snap peas, $2.39
  • Vine Tomatoes, $2.89
  • Burrito tortillas, $2.58 for two packages
  • Organic pasta, $1.09
  • Pita chips, $2.29
  • Pub pretzels, $1.99
  • Woven wheat crackers, $2.19
  • Taco shells, $.89
  • Tortilla chips, $0.92
  • Wide pan wheat bread, $1.75
  • Vitality cereal, $1.95
  • Butter, $2.89
  • Cream cheese, $1.58 for two
  • Hummus, $1.95
  • Large eggs, $2.58 for two-dozen
  • Mexican-shreds cheese, $3.09
  • Shredded mozzarella, $2.59
  • Garlic powder, $0.95
  • Organic chicken broth, $1.79
  • Pasta sauce, $1.70 for two 24-ounce jars
  • Pesto sauce, $2.25
  • Pure olive oil, $2.49
  • Taco mix, $0.39
  • Trail mix, $4.59
  • Ground beef, $6.38  
  • Italian sausage, $3.39
  • Premium bacon, $3.99
  • Slice pepperoni, $2.19
  • All-purpose flour, $1.15
  • Dark chocolate morsels, $1.69
  • Instant vanilla pudding, $0.94 for two boxes
  • Jiffy corn muffin mix, $0.47
  • Semi-sweet morsels, $1.65
  • Yeast, $0.89
  • Yellow cake mix, $.85
  • Cosmic brownies, $2
  • Dark chocolate almond bar, $1.39
  • Oreos, $4.82
  • Sparkling water, $2.75 for 12 cans
  • TOTAL: $99.47

From Wegmans

  • Classic submarine, $4.99
  • Avocado ranch salad, $3.79
  • Perry’s ice Cream, $4.69
  • Ricotta cheese, $2.29
  • Crackers, $2.49
  • Nacho chips, $3.99
  • Simply popped sea salt popcorn, $3.49
  • Thin pretzels, $1.79
  • 1% low-fat milk, $2.29
  • Greek yogurt, $3.79
  • Quaker toasted oat squares, $6.98
  • Romaine hearts $2.99
  • Spring mix $1.99
  • Limes, $.59
  • Raspberries, $3.49 for six ounces
  • Strawberries, $3.99 for one pound 
  • Pills Mafia pilsner, $9.99 for 64 ounces
  • Real Simple magazine, $5.99
  • TOTAL: $44.50 

From CSA

  • Cherry tomatoes 
  • Concord grapes
  • Garlic 
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • TOTAL: $8

What does your cooking plan look like?

I like to have a full freezer and easy, ready-to-go dinners. On Saturday mornings, I’ll look ahead at the menu for the week and meal prep ingredients — that could mean chopping onions and making some rice.

We tend to have weekly rhythms that dictate our dinners. We try to have picnics on Mondays while the weather is nice. On Tuesdays, I have a little more time to cook and often try out something new or use up CSA produce. Wednesdays are my husband’s day off, so we keep it easy with some kind of pizza: homemade, frozen, or takeout. Thursdays my husband cooks dinner. On Fridays and Saturdays, we often have dinner with either of our parents. On Sundays, in the fall, we snack all afternoon while we watch Buffalo Bills’ games.

What did you make for dinner?

  • Monday: Dinner with my parents
  • Tuesday: Italian sausage with peppers and onions, and potatoes au gratin using CSA potatoes
  • Wednesday: Homemade pizza
  • Thursday: A scrambled egg and taco meat concoction known as a “Ben scramble” 
  • Friday: Dinner out while attending my husband’s work conference
  • Saturday: Dinner with my in-laws
  • Sunday: Chicken wing dip, smoothies for some nutrients
  • Additional food I made/prepped: A moist, cinnamon-y coffee cake that’s so good it’s known as Happy Cake, 3-cheese frittata cups, quinoa salad, pesto pasta with egg, oven-baked tacos, cold sesame noodle salad, and make-ahead breakfast burritos to freeze

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