Over Budget


I went waaaaay over budget at the grocery store today. Hey, it happens to everybody, right?

I used to budget $50 for breakfasts, lunches and 4-5 dinners at home a week. Since I started buying organic and/or all-natural meats after watching Food Inc. I’ve upped it to $60-65 since organic meats are pretty pricey.

With two packages of Smart Chicken thrown into the mix, I came in at $71.76 this week. Eeks! At least the menus I have planned are worth it (or at least, I hope they are! ;) )

Here’s my loot:

The Produce:


  • Basil
  • Bananas
  • Salad
  • 4 Apples
  • Green onions
  • Shallots
  • Baby potatoes (WAIT ‘TIL YOU SEE THE SIZE OF THESE BABIES!!!!!!)
  • Lime
  • Avocado
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Baby spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus

Refrigerator Items:


  • Eggland’s Best Eggs
  • Extra-firm organic tofu
  • 3 Mango Chobani (to die for) 1 Pineapple Chobani
  • Coffee-mate (I know it’s loaded with chemicals, but I love it)
  • Skim Milk
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Prosciutto
  • 2 packages Smart Chicken (1 tenders, 1 breasts)
  • Frozen Naan

Pantry Items:


  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Ginger Cat Cookies
  • Bow Tie pasta
  • Honey Nut O’s
  • Masala Simmer Sauce
  • French cut green beans
  • Quartered artichoke hearts

Total: $71.76. It hurt, a little, but I got some pantry staple items (cereal, cookies, eggs, creamer) that will last for more than one week. It should all even out in the end!


Let’s talk about these ginger cat cookies real quick. I have a large place in my heart for ginger and molasses cookies. I know they’re not the same, but they remind me of Christmas with family, for some reason, which makes me happy.


Since these are low-fat, they’re a little dry. But definitely satisfying – and MUCH better for you than a sleeve of Thin Mints. :) Not that I would know anything about eating an entire sleeve of Thin Mints or anything…


In other news, care to take a guess at what the HECK this noise is?

It scared the bejeebers out of me when I got up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water!!!

Talk soon!

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  1. Amber 03.20.2011

    Smart chicken is so much better though, we made the switch too and I don’t even think about it. Buying anything else is just not an option!!

  2. Devon 03.20.2011

    I know it only saves a little but have you thought of growing your own green onions? I keep mine in a glass on the kitchen counter. They grow like weeds so I always have some!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.20.2011

      That’s a great idea! How do you get started?

    • girliefriend 03.20.2011

      You could also grow your favorite herbs too, like basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.

      • Melanie 03.20.2011

        JUST started a pot of kitchen herbs today to keep year round, and am planning to grow some more on my patio. :) Love basil for making and freezing pesto, and nothing can compare to fresh rosemary! Interested in hearing about the green onions in a glass…

      • Iowa Girl Eats 03.20.2011

        I usually grow a ton of herbs in the summer and bring them inside to grow on my window sill in the Fall/Winter. Can’t remember why I didn’t bring them in this year though?

  3. Jennifer 03.20.2011

    Have you tried the Masala simmer sauce before? It’s kind of amazing. We love it over here!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.20.2011

      No we haven’t! I had a couple recommendations from people so we decided to give it a whirl! :)

  4. Jennifer 03.20.2011

    Oh man….I would be thanking my lucky stars if I only spent $71 on groceries in a week. Hee!

  5. Claire 03.20.2011

    It’s definitely water… it reminds me of the water jug at work when it goes down after someone’s just gotten a glass of water. But in your house… hmmm….. interested to see what that was!

  6. I think I have spent more than usual on groceries this last week for whatever reason.

    I figure if nothing goes to waste, that’s what’s most important.

  7. Lauren 03.20.2011

    If it makes you feel any better, i just spent over $100 for a week’s worth of groceries. I’m actually so happy when I get it under that.

    Hmmmm, what in the world could that noise be???

  8. Happy Liz 03.20.2011

    What the heck-o is “Smart Chicken”?

    Their brains are so teeny, tiny so this should be an interesting explanation!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.20.2011

      Here’s from the Smart Chicken website: “…all of our birds are raised without the use of antibiotics, animal by-products or hormones. We are also Certified Organic & Certified Humane to provide you with the most premium product, produced with the highest standards, from egg to shelf.”

  9. Erin 03.20.2011

    I highly recommend a block of Parmesan cheese and a cheese grater. That pre-grated stuff does not compare!

  10. Hey I just got the chocolate cat cookies!!! They are amazing!! :) Do you just eat them plain, or dip them in anything?

  11. Sarah crowley 03.20.2011

    HAve you tried TJs frozen beef & broccoli or orange chicken? Its dynomite! I was leery since its frozen, but its restaurant quality. I get TJs chicken fried rice to go with it, its so darn good.

  12. Mac 03.20.2011

    I’ve never had ginger cat cookies, but I have had cookies similar to that and they ARE great!

  13. Humidifier? Air conditioner?

  14. TJ’s Frozen Naan is the best!! Can’t wait to see what you use it with.
    And good for you for buying ethical meat:)

  15. dmcgirl 03.20.2011

    strange noise!!!
    You can start green onions by just keeping them in a glass of water, that’s it! ;-)

  16. Meagan 03.20.2011

    What is that noise?! lol
    I probably spend $200 on groceries every two weeks for my boyfriend and me, but I live in Canada and your prices seem more reasonable.

    I sense (chicken) masala on your menu for this week! Yummm!

  17. Tracy 03.20.2011

    Speaking of organic meat (or meat in general), you can see how a plant-based diet saves money!

  18. I’m glad I’m not the only one giving up Coffee-mate! I was looking for a substitute but nothing ever comes close!

    It must be the time of year or something because I was waaaay over on my grocery budget this week! I usually spend around $70 for breakfasts, lunches, and 6 dinners for two each week and I spent $100 this week :(

  19. Stephanie 03.20.2011

    $70 sounds like a great deal to me actually – prices are def lower where you live! I don’t even think twice about the price of my farmer’s market meats & hormone free milk/cheese because quite honestly, I think our family’s health and the humane practices that these products represent are worth the additional money (vs. buying factory farmed). You get what you pay for, remember ;)

  20. krista 03.20.2011

    So jealous you guys have a Trader Joe’s nearby! :P I just can’t bring myself to watch Food Inc, though– I have, however, seen SuperSize Me and Fat Head, which where the guy actually LOSES weight while properly portioning his McD’s. :)

  21. Stephanie 03.20.2011

    This year we’re growing all organic produce. (it was about 88% organic last year) We’re in DSM so if we have an abundance I’ll hook you up with some sweet veggies. :)

  22. Hannah Mize 03.20.2011

    Sheesh! I wish that my bill was only $100 like some of you guys. We have a family of 6 and buy organic foods and local grass fed beef. I spent $200 this morning…:(

  23. Lo 03.20.2011

    Is that thing some sort of crazy frog? It’s getting warmer out, maybe it’s a a toad or frog enjoying the weather. And here in Egypt, I wish I could buy half of your groceries! There is no delicious yogurt to be had here…
    And I am wicked jealous of Trader Joe’s!

  24. sandra mc combs 03.20.2011

    If it was “that” I would hate to be in the same room!!!!

  25. Rachel 03.20.2011

    It sounds like a jacked-up toilet or drain…Weird! I’ve upped our grocery budget back to $50/week (for 3 of us), although my husband supplements by buying all the “junk” food & treats that I won’t. It’s crazy how prices have jumped recently, and I am seriously jealous of all you got for $71! I’d be willing to bet that if I bought all that in SoDak (a little difficult, as there’s no Trader Joe’s in this state), it would’ve cost me well over $100. I did see my Hy-Vee’s now carrying La Creme coffee creamer–Real dairy flavored creamer that’s got a few less chemicals than Coffeemate…I debated on picking some up, but since it wasn’t on my list, I was good and didn’t buy it this week!

  26. Ashley K 03.20.2011

    It sounds like the home-brew fermenting!

  27. my grocery spending has been going up too. if it makes you feel better, grocery prices are rising, at least here (and i’ve read that it’s national too)… i can’t wait for summer, as i hope produce wil be cheaper!

  28. Stefanie 03.20.2011

    We started getting all of our meat from Wallace Farms. Grass fed beef and hormone free chickens are the way to go. The chicken breast are a little pricey so I just buy whole chickens, roast them & then pick them apart. We order online and then he comes down twice a month or so and we go pick it up. He has various stops around the metro. Check it out, http://www.Wallacefarms.com

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.20.2011

      Cool! I just signed up for their buying club emails :)

      • Stefanie 03.20.2011

        The meat from Wallace is a little pricey but to me it’s worth it to buy grass fed and naturally raised meat. The flavor is so much better and I find that I actually eat less meat when I buy natural and full flavor meat, weird. I just tweaked my budget a bit but it’s really worth it. I still do buy some meat elsewhere but I do recommend trying it out!

  29. Lindsay 03.20.2011

    Thank You so much for your posts on groceries. I have still been shopping for my family every week and we have finally got the grocery bill back under control. If you remember when I last posted we were spending close to $250 a week on groceries. This last week, we spent $150 and I got everything we needed. I was so pumped and I look forward to trying to get it lower if I can.

  30. kEndra 03.20.2011

    I’m usually pretty amazed at your grocery haul for the price you spend! Well done! … As for that noise – the only explanation is that you had that cute as a button nephew spending the night and he was up getting a drink too – blowing bubbles into his drink from a straw. … Hey that’s what it sounds like to me.. lol :)

  31. kathleen 03.20.2011

    That noise has to be your husband taking a drink from his water bottle int he middle of the night??? NO? My hubby always complains that I make so much noise when I chug water in the middle of the night. :)

    I have yet to cook tofu at home. It scares me. :|

  32. Those cat cookies are one of my favoriteeee products from TJs! However, I only buy them once in awhile because when they’re in the house, I swear they call to me to eat them…. eat meeeeee, nom! :D And then suddenly, more than half the package is gone, whoops!

  33. RachIA 03.20.2011

    Is it your Keurig? Mine makes some strange noises somtimes but not as strange as those! :)

  34. Imwaytoobusy 03.20.2011

    Great picks! I don’t think I could ever spend under $70 if I went to both TJs and Hy-Vee. Two of my favorite places! I have avoided those ginger cats, but I think I may just have to grab a pack next time I am there!

  35. Melissa 03.20.2011

    Ooh, that noise is creeping me out! I would totally lose it if I heard it in real life! I’m impressed that you got up for that water–I’m usually too lazy to get out of bed for anything in the middle of the night!

  36. We WERE under.
    Then our Kroger had a sweet deal on Keurigs. We decided to get one since my husband has had to travel a lot lately and our pot, a BUNN that I love, only really tastes great when a whole pot is brewed. So we are putting the BUNN in storage until hubs is home more again. Keurigs really aren’t part of the grocery budget, but still….

    We’ve saved a lot lately by making more meatless meals/breakfasts for dinner.

  37. I almost devoured my whole thing of chocolate cat cookies! I took your advice and dipped them into peanut butter!!

    Look: http://taralynnupshaw.blogspot.com/2011/03/pei-wei-sunday.html

  38. Sarah W 03.20.2011

    Have you thought about cutting up your own boccoli rather than the already cut up by Dole? Also, I always check online for coupons at delish.com and usually get a few good ones… thefrugalgirls.com always has deals too.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.21.2011

      Hahaha yeah – I just have this weird thing about HATING to get little broccoli crumbs everywhere. It drives me nuts!! Plus, this week at the store it was cheaper to buy it pre-cut than on the stalk!

  39. Beth 03.21.2011

    In re: to “Food Inc.” I applaud you for taking time to think about where your food comes from. But I also encourage you to evaluate the other side of the story. Pollan’s theories, while interesting, are not always realistic or sustainable. Please take a read at these site to broaden your perspective:

    I myself buy organic from time to time…but I always think it’s important to hear both sides of every argument. The agricultural industry in America doesn’t do everything right, but it provides a lot of safe food to hungry people and has never been more regulated by the government.

  40. Stephanie 03.23.2011

    my groceries have been upped big time too after seeing Food inc! scary stuff no??crazy… home made it is!

  41. Melissa 03.24.2011

    I don’t know how everyone manages to spend so little at the grocery store and I manage to spend $75 for one person some weeks! I think maybe its the bottle water, pop, and other random items? I must admit I am now hooked on Trader Joes as we finally got one in Omaha!

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