Food Budgets [and this week’s meal plan]

I think everybody has a bit of curiosity about what others spend on food [what kind of food they buy, too!]. It’s fun, right?! To compare a little [but only a little; don’t be crazy]. So here’s my breakdown of where our food budget goes:

Aldi: $60 a week for produce, nuts, a few items from the dairy case. I shop heavily from the produce picks for the week. Heavily. Here’s a glance at my receipt for last week:

[That $1.69 for veggie chips is well spent: it gets me 40 minutes of uninterrupted shopping time while Lucy sits in the back of the cart. She even shares with Landon to keep him happy. The mandoline slicer put me a little over but COME ON! Aldi! A mandoline slicer for $2.49. Works like a dream, too. p.s. Chuck does not eat “clean” cereal. It’s his vice. p.p.s. I bought extra peaches to preserve some but we ate every.single.peach. Those kids…].

Whole Foods: $50 a month for bulk items like dried beans, grains, and special allergen-free things for Lucy and Landon. This trip I bought soy yogurt, applesauce, rice and flax pasta, a two pack of almond milk, 2 coconut creamers, 2 packs of rice cheese for Lucy, spelt pretzels, and my bulk items.

[Lucy’s pasta was on sale so I bought two and sent myself a few bucks over].

Sam’s Club: $80 bi-monthly for bulk items like coffee, chocolate, almonds, pasta sauce.

So maybe the Sam’s Club entry surprises you. I feel like a lot of the stuff they sell is not frugal or clean-eating friendly. It kind of makes me laugh. We have a Sam’s membership because Chuck loves Sam’s. He loves the Saturday samples. He loves the giant sodas and pizza from the cafe. The carts that both kids can ride up front in. He loves it all. Every year at renewal time I tell him I’m thinking about cancelling the membership and he looks like a puppy left at the pound. So, we’re Sam’s members. I have to say that the things we do buy from there are great; diamonds in the rough. Here’s a rundown:

-Fair-trade Coffee
-Ghiradelli dark chocolate morsels
-3# bag of almonds
-3 count of Classico pasta sauce (a real food!)
-Giant bags of frozen veggies
-Organic spinach

I do make my Sam’s membership go a little farther by marking my renewal date on my calendar. The day before my renewal date I buy two of everything I normally buy. That way I’m renewing my membership every 16 months instead of 12.

Vitacost: $50 every 4 months for staples that they sell cheaper than Amazon and Whole Foods.

Here’s a typical Vitacost order. Usually when I place an order it’s for a lot of gluten-free flours so that I can stock up (just keep them in the freezer):

-Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch
-Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free
-Bob’s Red Mill Spelt (Awesome if you’re allergic to wheat. Not awesome if you’ve got a gluten sensitivity or are celiac).
-Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo & Fava Bean Flour
-Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour [Can you tell I like Bob’s Red Mill?].
-Puffed Corn Cereal. One ingredient. I usually buy at least 4 bags because the kids love it and it’s ~$1.50 a bag.
-Puffed Kamut Cereal. Also one ingredient. This one is the crowd favorite. They’re kind of magic because they taste like Sugar Smacks without any added sugar.

So obviously the Vitacost order wouldn’t be necessary for someone who’s not on a gluten-free diet [though my sister orders her natural shampoos and lotions from them as well as the Eden Organic black beans (they have a bpa-free liner)]. I love them because the prices are almost always cheaper than Amazon’s! That’s not something I find too often. And Whole Foods can’t compare. If you want to try out Vitacost you can use my referral link and get $10 off $50. That’s a deal-maker.

Amazon: $120 in the last six months.

I love Amazon for a few reasons. First, the shipping is amazing. If you can find a friend to split prime shipping with: do it! If I need more oat flour I can stand to wait two days for it to come (especially since it’s cheaper and I don’t have to run out with two kids in tow). Also, “Subscribe & Save”. This little gem will knock a couple bucks off your total [well 5% usually] for signing up to have your order auto-shipped every few months [you choose the frequency]. But here’s the crazy part: there’s no penalty for cancelling so you can get the S&S price and cancel later if you want. So here’s a sampling of what I’ve purchased on Amazon over the last six months.

-Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour 4 pack (twice). It is so good.
-Sunbutter 6 pack. So much cheaper.
-Farro 3 pack.
-Alter Eco Quinoa 8 pack. This was cheaper than buying Whole Foods brand and fair trade!

Depending on the month I usually end up spending between $350-$375 for a family of four. About $100 of that is special food the kids require for allergen-free eating. It is definitely a budget buster. And unavoidable.

So here’s this week’s meal plan. It went really well until Thursday when I landed in Urgent Care with Mastitis, a sinus infection, and a fever of 103.5. Oy.

Sunday: Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad

This is one of my favorite meals. This time I roasted some pecans and feta cheese on a baking sheet and added them into the mix. It was so good.
Monday: Stewed Lentils
. We left out the peppers and will probably use more spice next time. It was good but could’ve been better.
Tuesday: Spaghetti with Kale and Cauliflower [here] We left out the sardines and I roasted the cauliflower. We don’t eat pasta very often so this was a treat.
Wednesday: So I actually switched Wednesday and Thursday so that I could delay going to the grocery store by a day [though if I would’ve known I’d get sick I would’ve gone Wednesday!] We had our green beans on a bed of wild rice instead of the farro because I didn’t have time to soak the farro. Next time you saute green beans try them in a little coconut oil. So tasty!
Thursday: I was in bed but we would have had black bean burritos from Simple Bites.
Friday: We didn’t get to have the Bacon Avocado Corn Salad I usually make based on Joy the Baker’s wrap recipe so we’ll bump that to next week’s menu. Instead I had Chicken Noodle Soup from Crushed Red courtesy of my mom. I am a lucky daughter!
Saturday: We are going to have these Sweet Potato Skins from Pinch of Yum tonight. They scream fall and football season to me and Chuck has volunteered to be my sous chef since I’m not 100% yet. We’ll do a side of cabbage. Is cabbage comfort food for anyone else, or am I weird?

Here’s hoping next week’s meal plan isn’t de-railed like this week’s was!

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11 thoughts on “Food Budgets [and this week’s meal plan]

  1. mommalovescookin says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I sometimes wonder what kinds of things other Mommas spend their grocery budget towards! Lots of mine goes towards produce, dairy, and a few whole grain items! Keep up the awesomeness that is so you, and keep inspiring me to continue cooking healthier for my little kingdom! Although we do not have food allergies, your meal plans are making me think outside of the box and broader in my view of mealtime! Love your blog!

    • heybethbaker says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! It is very much appreciated after such a crummy week! Sometimes I think the hardest part about cooking healthy is finding new (and tasty) recipes to try.

  2. Brittani says:


  3. I think you’re not being quite as honest about how much *I* love Sam’s pizza and soda. LOL As far as my dirty cereal, I still try to live in the Cheerios range than the sugar frosted puffy whatevers.

  4. Melonnie Murphy says:

    I miss Sams. I too love the big carts for 2, free samples, and seasonal items. Great post Beth, I am excited to be apart of a healthier eating quest with you.

  5. Kristy says:

    I’m honored to have been worthy of a mention in your post. ;) Ironically, I just finished my meal plan/grocery list for this week, and I told Scott that I was going to try dry beans this week. I told him that you go that route and save some money.

    • heybethbaker says:

      I wish we were neighbors because I would love to let you try my pressure cooker. It has made dried beans and brown rice so easy. And you are the one who has been on this journey with me the longest. :)

  6. sam stevens says:

    read and studied this post several times…need. to. plan. meals.better.ahhhh I always want to ask you but I know that everyone else always ask :) i would love you to post your menu every week. love you bethbaker.

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