Living Well on Less,Recipes

What $120 of Groceries Looks Like IRL (wk 4)

Breakfast $12:

  • vanilla extract $4.98 (using less than half so counting $2.49)
  • mini chocolate chips $4.44 (2 @ $2.22 ea)
  • dark cocoa powder $2.63 (using less than 1/4 so counting $.65)
  • peanut butter $5.48 (using less than 1/4 so counting $1.37)
  • old fashioned oats $2.48 (using about 2/3 so counting $1.65)
  • steel cut oats $3.88 (using about 1/2 so counting $1.94)
  • honey $7.88 (using 1/3 so counting $2.63)
  • milk $4.76 (2 @ $2.38 ea. RC bought one gallon on Friday not reflected on receipts)
  • coffee creamer $2.18
  • TOTAL PAID $38.71
  • TOTAL USED FOR THE WEEK $22.11 ($10 over)

forgot the creamer in the pic again.

I had some really great suggestions offered for different breakfast options last week. However, I had six really ripe bananas that I wanted to use, and I remembered that we love these banana chocolate chip oatmeal cups (yes, some oatmeal that I actually like!) so I went to Wal-Mart and bought what I needed to make those. Because four of the bananas were so ripe, I had to make two batches of the cups last Tuesday, but I froze them and we are eating them this week. We only eat one per person now, because these are so dense that they are quite filling. I get two days worth of breakfasts out of one batch. I made a third batch yesterday morning intending for it to last two day, but I forgot to spray the muffin pan with oil and the cups stuck really bad, so they weren’t in any state to save. Everyone got two servings yesterday. Unfortunately, these cups are still more expensive than I prefer, plus I have to wait till I have really ripe bananas which doesn’t happen often at our place.

I also bought stuff for some chocolate oatmeal that I’m gonna try (if I can’t like chocolate oatmeal then I know I’m a lot cause) and stuff for peanut butter granola. The kids actually prefer my homemade granola to boxed cereal, but sometimes it feels like such a chore to make. I haven’t made it in a while, but I’m gonna make some soon. So, we not only have breakfast for this week, but most of the ingredients needed for next week also. Still, I went way over my budget, so I’m still working on better breakfast options and will be trying versions of the ideas from last week in the near future.

Lunch $20:

  • chips $3.00 (2 @ $1.50 ea with third one free)
  • chicken patties $3.97 ($4.97 with $1.00 off coupon)
  • frozen burritos $2.79
  • lunch meat $3.47
  • sliced cheese (free with purchase of lunch meat with coupon)
  • eggs $1.04
  • bread $1.76 (2 @ $.88 ea)
  • TOTAL $16.03 ($4 under)


OK, the chips were actually bought to go with a dinner (I’ll explain in that section), but I forgot to put them in that pic, plus we will definitely be eating them for lunch too, so I decided they work here. The burritos are for the kids’ special lunch, and the chicken patties were on sale and sometimes it’s nice to do something different. The extra $4 from lunch can help offset the breakfast overage.

Snack $12:

  • tortilla chips $7.96 (2 @ $3.98 ea)*
  • popcorn $7.36 ($3.68 ea with two coupons for buy one get one free)
  • apples $2.47
  • bananas $1.93 ($.48 per lb.)
  • TOTAL $19.72 ($8 over)


So, RC and I made a mistake. We saw the tortilla chips on the end cap of an isle and we believed that the accompanying sign that said, “$1.00” was referring to the chips. We wouldn’t have bought these if we had realized they were full price. Honestly, we run a tally of prices on our calculators while we shop so we thought our total would be around $121. I was a little surprised when it was $126, but didn’t worry about it. Now that I’m going through the receipt I see that the chips were the culprit. We had only added $2.00 for them, when we needed to add $8. Mystery solved.

The popcorn had a coupon* for buy one get one free so we stocked up. We usually just buy two boxes. And of course, our typical apples and bananas.

Dinner $56:

  • sour cream $1.48
  • frozen mixed veggies $1.28
  • tortillas $3.18
  • rice $1.18
  • ground sausage $2.98
  • minced garlic $1.17
  • hot dogs $3.98
  • butter $3.48
  • parmesan $1.97
  • salsa $1.98
  • sharp cheddar $4.22
  • colby jack $4.22
  • chicken legs $3.68
  • red potatoes $2.97
  • sweet potatoes $1.40 ($.88 per lb.)
  • chicken taquitos $4.98
  • southwestern corn $1.98 (2 @ $.99 ea)
  • onion $.48 ($.78 per lb.)
  • hot dog buns $1.68
  • black beans $1.44 (2 cans @ $.72 ea)
  • TOTAL $45.51 ($10.50 under)


  1. Saturday: Hot dogs and chips. We have started meeting together with the other two couples that moved here for the church on Saturday evenings at 7. This means dinner on Saturdays has to be EASY and QUICK. Hot dogs to the rescue, and here is where the chips from the lunch section were meant to be.
  2. Sunday: Cheese Quesadillas. These are super simple. Cheese, tortillas, salsa, and sour cream. Everyone gets three tortillas worth. When I don’t have so many other things like I did this week, I’ll add black beans, or some meat to these. Also, I really like mine filled with veggies, but this week we’re keeping it simple.
  3. Monday: Ground sausage with potatoes and onion. This is one of our fall favorites. The recipe will be in my free ebook filled with cheap recipes for big families that will hopefully be available the end of this month. It includes half of the red potatoes and all of the sweet potatoes.
  4. Tuesday: Black beans, rice, and southwestern corn. Truly a staple around our house. We have shredded cheese, salsa, and sour cream on it. Makes a ton and everyone gets stuffed.
  5. Wednesday: Roasted chicken legs with garlic mashed potatoes. I’ll brown the chicken legs in the skillet on the stove and finish them in the over. Will simply use butter, salt, and pepper. The other half of the red potatoes are for the mashed garlic potatoes. Will cook some butter and garlic together in a small pot while I boil the potatoes. Will add milk and garlic/butter to them while I mash. Salt and pepper, too. A green veggie would go great with this, but I’m already way over budget.
  6. Thursday: Parmesan rice with mixed veggies. The parmesan rice was a big hit last week, so I modified it for this week. I simply add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, shredded parmesan cheese, and salt to the rice once it’s cooked. I stir it all together and the cheese melts and everything gets yummy. I’ll cook the veggies in the microwave and add them last.
  7. Friday: Chicken Taquitos. I work a full day on Fridays now, so dinners have become the “whatever other people can cook, but that I still like” variety. =)

Dessert/Extra $10:

  • marshamallow $1.58
  • Rice Krispies $3.98
  • cookie mix $1.98
  • soda $9.00 (4 for $9.00 sale)
  • mini rose bush $1.99 (shown in top picture)
  • TOTAL $18.53
  • TOTAL USED THIS WEEK $12.53 ($2.53 over)


The sodas will last us three weeks. We don’t drink them quickly. I am really craving Browned Butter, Pumpkin Pie Spice Rice Krispie Treats so I’m making those this week and will be sharing the recipe, because you need to make these too. I guess I’m just really in an oatmeal/chocolate mood this week what with breakfasts and these cookies. Hmmm…

If I hadn’t bought the mini rose bush (very top image), we would have only been over by a bit, but I’ve been wanting a live plant for the kitchen counter for a while, and when I saw these I decided they were just what I’ve been looking for. I love roses and hope these thrive in their new home.

Toiletries $10:

  • laundry detergent $7.88
  • dryer sheets $2.98
  • tissue $1.27
  • dish soap $1.97
  • parchment paper $2.97
  • hand soap $3.98
  • TOTAL $21.05 ($11.05 over)


I said that the toiletries I consider are the “must haves”. Well, not everything here is a “must have”, but I decided to show you everything I bought rather than leave out the extras. I could have bought cheap hand soap, but I LOVE Mrs. Meyer’s Basil. When I can afford it, I buy it. Plus, the detergent and dryer sheets will last us at least 2 months, and there are other weeks in the month when I won’t use all the allotted $10 for toiletries and it will all even out.

I spent $159.99 this week total (this includes everything I spent, not just what we used which would be $136.95 only $17 over)). And though it was $40 over my personal budget, it is still much less than the average spent on groceries for a family of six that is filled with teens and preteens. I did receive some extra money from a gift and that was mostly what purchased the extra breakfast food. By doing this series, I also realized that it was harder to give you a really clear picture of how our grocery budget works than I thought it would be. It is much more fluid and carries over between the weeks, and even months more than I realized. I guess, just like I have a “budget” for each meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.) that helps me stay within my budget, I have a weekly budget of $120 that helps me stay within my monthly budget. However, some weeks I spend more and some weeks I spend less and it all evens out in the end. Also, it’s the beginning of the month, and I’m a little more relaxed then, but as the month goes on my buying habits will get stricter. =) I honestly would love to show you this whole month, since that would be the better picture, but I’m glad I started when I did, because now I have a part-time job and doing these posts while transitioning is a lot. It’s good that this is the last one.

I didn’t take a picture of the total of the Wal-Mart receipt from last week (the breakfast and some dessert food) because I bought lots of other things as well and the total reflects it all, not just the food. That’s why you just see the food items.

I hope that this glimpse into our grocery buying/menu planning has been helpful in some way to you. If nothing else, I hope it gives you the motivation to try buying a little less each time you shop, and you see that we really can live well with less.



*I don’t coupon. When I speak of coupons here, I’m talking about the ones that HEB has hanging around the store. You just grab them as you shop.

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