My Grocery Staples

Posted: July 15, 2011 at 8:00 am

Truth. 47.229% of my long run thoughts cover grocery lists and dinner meals plans. During my Saturday morning runs I am both a) hungry and b) trying to simplify the venture to the grocery store after I get home and showered.

Last Saturday when I mentioned getting my grocery list ready to hit up the store, Brittany from the blog Suburb Chic gave me a new blog topic idea:


Right now, we have a weekly budget of $85 for the family’s groceries. Let me tell you something. That $85 has to get streeeettttttcccchhheeeeddddd out and it also means that sometimes I have to put away little extras that I love – like the avocado I had to say adios to this past week. Sad. 🙁

It also means that I have figured out the basics and essentials for our weekly groceries, which I’m happy to share. So, thanks for asking Brittany!



I always hit up the produce section as the very first stop on my shopping. On my list, I have veggies we need for our dinners, the fruit we (okay I) feel like snacking on that week, and the standard produce we almost always have on hand.

  • Favorite Veggies/Dinner Produce: broccoli (M’s favorite!), zucchini, mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes, brussels, fresh green beans
  • Favorite Fruits: apples and whatever else in season – mango, melon, and plums are big favorites right now!
  • Standard Produce: fresh spinach, bananas, carrots, cucumbers, avocado (if it fits in the budget), and berries

The Refrigerated Section of the Store:

For this section, I really cut down the spending by buying less meat. We have meat in our basement’s freezer from the cow share we received at the beginning of the year and have turned to more vegetarian dishes. Occasionally chicken will be on the menu, so I will purchase a pack of organic, local chicken. We will use half that week and freeze the other half for later to cut down on the cost. My main costs in this area come in the form of dairy:

  • one gallon 1% milk for Peter and Makenzie
  • one carton unsweetened vanilla almond breeze for myself
  • one pack Stonyfield Farms organic yogurt for Makenzie
  • 3-4 Chobani yogurts for myself (because I just can’t go back!! and sometimes that means $$ coming out of my personal budget)
  • cheese – a block every few weeks to slice for snacks for Makenzie, deli slices of swiss or cheddar for sandwiches to stretch over 2 weeks, shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese for English muffin pizzas or our regular taco nights
  • eggs – I love eggs!
  • hummus – and yes, I need to suck it up an make my own, but I love Sabra’s Roasted Pine Nut flavor just so much…and roasted pine nuts would not make making my own cheaper. 😉

The Inner Aisles


This is where extras for snacks, dinners, etc usually come into play and I try to stick to the essentials here.

  • oatmeal – basic rolled oats
  • raisins – because I need them in my life
  • cereal – usually store brand cheerios or if a particular favorite goes on sale
  • snack bars – larabars and lunabars when they go on sale
  • Makenzie snacks – Annie’s bunnies and fruit bars (I let the kid snack like a kid when I’m not feeding her fruit, cheese, yogurt, green smoothies, and hummus)
  • peanut butter – unless we buy a ton of jars for a steal off Amazon, of course

  • dinner canned/frozen veggies/fruit – corn, mixed vegetable bags, peas, canned beans, crushed or diced tomatoes, jar of applesauce for the kids
  • breads – 1 pack of sandwich thins, 1 pack of flat out or other whole wheat wraps, 1 loaf of whole wheat bread, 1 pack of whole wheat english muffins (not to go through all in one week, but we always have these types on hand)
  • whole wheat pasta and natural/no sugar added sauces
  • frozen pizza – we always have a pizza in the freezer…and it usually gets consumed every Saturday night we don’t have plans [I know this is supposed to be my healthy grocery staples, but it’s on my healthy grocery list because mental health - if I want pizza and don’t feel like cooking, I’m having it! 😉 ]

Well, I am pretty sure that covers the basics of our trips to the store.

What are YOUR grocery staples? What section of the store do you start shopping?

FFF Spotted: Check out my guest post about stress-free vacationing on my friend Katie @ Healthy Heddleston’s blog!

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67 Comments to “My Grocery Staples”
  1. you know, i’m really glad you shared what the actual budget for the week is…ours is similar but we’re trying to cut down since it’s just two of us and we don’t need that much stuff. i always have organic milk on hand, peanut butter, carrots, and broccoli slaw. oh, and butter. duh 🙂

  2. Oo can you expound about getting peanut butter for a steal on Amazon? Is it a certain kind? (I am guessing Skippy Natural.) And is this deal a periodic thing? Share your wisdom, please! 🙂

  3. Alexandra says:

    YUM! Our tastebuds would be besties 🙂

    My grocery staples are apples, veggies of all kinds (especially carrots), plain chobani greek yogurt, cottage cheese, oats, PB, chicken, tuna, and any variety of white fish MMM

  4. I start in the produce section too and that’s where the bulk of our money goes! Our staples include: almond milk, chobani, spinach, bananas,canned beans of some kind, and eggs.
    We buy other staples like hummus, oats, and peanut butter in bulk at Costco since we got through so much of it and it’s a better deal. But that’s all I let my husband buy there. 😉

    • Tinaq says:

      I always tally up our bill as I go and always hit close to $40 before getting out of the produce section. So crazy to me

  5. Your staples look so much like mine! I tend to buy produce in small batches and just stop in a couple times because I hate when it goes bad 🙂

  6. I always have hummus – ALWAYS!

  7. i always start in the produce section too! my produce staples look a lot like yours – we always have apples, bananas, spinach, celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.

    we also keep tasty steamfresh veggies in the freezer at all times.

  8. we’re almost like shopping twins! My weekly budget is $80, for my husband and I, 4 year old AND 1 year old. I always shop in the produce section first. Here are some staples: Bananas, apples, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, zucchini, frzn, mixed veggies, lunch meat, whole wheat bread, yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, chicken, and so forth. It really is a STRETCH

  9. Wow thanks for sharing this! I definitely need to work on budgeting more at the grocery store. I always start in the produce section too! Probably because it’s the first thing to see when you enter the store haha.

  10. Kelly says:

    My husband and I both have issues in the produce department. It seems like we always make 2 runs to the grocery store each week. Once for staples and another to restock produce.We go through it like crazy! Squash, zucchini, asparagus, apples, pears and bananas are the regular offenders with strawberries and blueberries thrown in every so often.

  11. I am so impressed that you can feed your family for $85 a week! My bill is out of control. Do you buy organic cheeses? I think that is probably the most expensive part of my list. I also didnt see bread on your list. We go throughh a ton of bread. I really should make my own…someday.
    I also start in the produce section. I’m there the longest!

  12. Alisha Moore says:

    Okay, first off I love the Sabra Roasted Pine Nut as well. We have it pretty much all the time even though we don’t eat it regularly. Sydney really likes it so it’s an additional protein for her. I also used to give her Stonyfield yogurt b/c it was the only one with whole milk (at least that I could find) and it was organice. You know you can enter their codes for rewards right? I got some reusable sandwich bags.

    Anyway, I go every week to Publix only and shop BOGO, coupons, and on sale. We always have grapes and some combination of berries & bananas. I now will branch out to other yogurt brands depending what’s on sale…Voskos, Liberte (Yum to both!). Publix’s Organic 2% milk…we keep 2 gallons at all times. Whole Wheat bread…mostly Arnold but lately I have been having to branch out b/c it hasn’t been BOGO as often. I have about 15 boxes of pasta (BTW, I never pay more than $.50 for a box of pasta and most of it is free with BOGOS and coupons) I’m not brand specific. Oh…and I always have Boar’s Head deli meat in the fridge. Block cheese…Kroger is the cheapest…always…the one area I branch out from Publix. Springer Mountain Farms Chicken (I always have a coupon). Canned tomatoes are a staple. Ummm…so are frozen pizzas…usually Tombstone b/c they are always on sale…not as bad as Totino’s and not as expensive as Freschetta or DiGiorno (it does not taste like delivery!).

    Okay, that was a lot but I get excited about food and I also wanted to touch on the budget aspect b/c $85/week is VERY doable. I spend about $60 on average. Oh…avocados are pricy!!!! I haven’t bought them in ages b/c of it. Well, I bought one of the Florida avocados last week b/c they were on sale. I didn’t like it but Sydney loved it and ate the whole thing. I’ve missed it as a mayo substitute on turkey sandwiches.

  13. Jennifer Rahn says:

    I don’t know how you do it. I spend over $200 every week at Trader Joe’s, in addition to $400 every six weeks at Costco. I’m speechless. I think I must eat about four times what you do. For example, I alone go through six half gallons of almond milk per week. And that’s just ONE EXAMPLE. Sheesh.

    • Krit says:

      We spend like you! And I definitely eat more than Tina.

      • Jennifer Rahn says:

        Okay, I feel a little bit better. I swear that I don’t buy things that I don’t consume, and I stick to Trader Joe’s only. We Rahns have hollow legs. 😉

      • Tina says:

        Please remember I don’t picture all of my meals and snacks. I hope it never appears I don’t eat enough because I hope to show a balanced diet and that its important to fuel the body. I consistently eat 2000 or more calories every day.

        Forgive me if I read into you saying you definitely eat more than me! 🙂

    • Tina says:

      Just wanted to say that I could easily spend like that too. I love shopping for groceries! In the past couple of months we have really tightened down on our budgeting and found a way to make this value work for us and stretch our dollars. I have had to give up some things…and/or purchase them outside the grocery budget. Which is why I said sometimes Chobani will come from my personal budget. So I think we do in fact spend more than $85 /week on food when all is taken into account. We have separate budgets for things like toiletries/paper products/trashbags/etc and also usually get something out for an easy dinner (like Subway) once every week that doesn’t go in the grocery budget but our “entertainment/eating out” budget.

  14. Let’s just say I’m incredibly grateful for my father-in-laws garden this year with all the fresh produce for my grocery budget! I never leave the store without buying apples, lettuce and eggs. Those are the three things that keep me going back for more.

  15. We keep frozen pizzas in our freezer too! We had one last night w/ a side salad. I was STARVING and didn’t feel like putting forth more effort than making Holly @ The Runny Egg’s strawberry/cuke salad. So good I made some to go with my lunch today! I’ve been going to farmers’ markets and farm stands to get the bulk of our produce–but I actually found a huge bag of cucumbers from a local producer at BJ’s Warehouse yesterday. Score! We try to keep to a budget but sometimes it’s hard to keep track since I shop at Trader Joe’s once or every other week, farmers’ markets and grocery stores. I try to only buy the essentials. We also purchase from Schwan’s every other Tuesday–I buy my frozen veggies and pizza from them. Saves money.

  16. Erica says:

    Wow! I think its awesome that you do such a great job sticking with your budget…I am seriously terrible with budgeting at the grocery store- you rock! And this is a great post. My staples? Tons of fruits and veggies, almond milk, yogurtsssssss, nut butters.

  17. Felicia (natural and balanced) says:

    Always have almond milk, protein, eggs,oatbran, and spinach/romaine for my daily salad!

  18. Genie says:

    We shop very similarly! Although, I can’t seem to get much variety in fruit/veg to fit in our budget. It’s always so expensive.

    We also keep a frozen pizza in the fridge! Perfect for lazy days. We had ours last night. 🙂

  19. I start in produce, then to meats/dairy, then to the “other” aisles.

    Staples: bananas, berries (or apples in the fall/winter), spinach/romaine, ground beef, refried beans, almond milk, eggs, frozen veggies, oatmeal, peanut butter, bread, nuts

  20. So impressed with your $85 budget. Mine it $125 and I rarely hit it!! I really think I need to be more selective 🙂

    My staples are milk, bread, and salad. I but them EVERY week. Anything else it up for negotiation!

    I start in produce, move onto dairy/dry foods, and end with frozen/meats — and the 3 things on the list I always forget about 🙂

  21. Mellissa says:

    You do such a great job at budgeting! I have a list but never really pay that much attention to the overall cost and really should.

    How much do you buy at places like Costco or Sam’s?

  22. I think we have the same exact grocery list! My budget for two of us is 50 dollars.

  23. Sarah says:

    I love these kinds of posts! I’m working on cutting down on our own food budget, so it’s so nice to read about people who want to eat well and do it on a budget.
    Some staples for us are: fresh fruit and veggies (whatever’s cheap and looks good), canned beans, unsweetened vanilla almond milk for me and plain 1 or 2% milk for Tim, whole grains, eggs, and something sweet and frozen for Tim (frozen yogurt tubes, whole fruit popsicles…)

  24. Lindsay says:

    My essentials are:

    Dairy: Chobani yogurt, unsweetened coconut milk, 1% organic milk, shredded cheese, cheese sticks

    Produce: apples, watermelon, carrots, sweet potatoes, bananas, cucumber, bell peppers, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, raspberries, tomatoes (and whatever else looks good!)

    Then, I usually pick up some sort of bread, a lb. of the leanest ground beef, a jar of SunButter (I’m allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, so this is a life-saver!) and a couple organic packaged products for snacks to take to work.

    Oooh, and my main splurge is So Delicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream!

  25. Anna Crouch says:

    Wow, that’s a severely impressive budget! For just my hubby and I, we have a $75 a week budget, that I have a hard time staying under. Of course that does include things like zip lock bags, aluminum foil, saran wrap, toilet paper, paper towels, and etc. I probably shouldn’t include those things, but I do because they’re bought at the grocery store, while I’m buying our groceries, so I unconsciously add them to my total. Lol….Just realized that.

    I think among our staples, one of the biggest is apples. My hubby and I are known to eat over 5lbs of apples a week. Yikes. Luckily, the grocery store I shop at sells Braeburn apples for under a $1 a lbs! So normally I spend just around $5 on apples. Other staples are lettuce and spinach, an assortment of fresh veggies, almond milk (for me), bread and/or tortillas, eggs, rolled oats, TJ’s frozen lunches (for when we don’t have time to make my hubby a decent lunch. He likes to take them for quick lunches…better than paying $10 for a meal out!). Lunch items for hubby, like string cheese, granola bars, fruit, carrots and snap peas, trail mix.

    This week though, I went way over budget (by like $20). We had literally EMPTIED the fridge, freezer and cabinets over the last week and a half, because we went on vacation for 5 days. So when we got back we had NOTHING to eat! lol So…..I had some major restocking to do. I tried… 🙂

    • Tina says:

      Restocking will wipe a budget out! We faced the same when we got back from vacay. And I don’t include toiletries or other products in my grocery (aka food) budget

  26. Jess says:

    I always start in the produce section 🙂

    Our weekly purchases always include: bananas, apples, spinach, carrots, juice and almond milk.

  27. Sarah says:

    Carrots, eggs, and Greek yogurt. Have you tried the larger containers of Greek yogurt? I’d thought they were cheaper than individual containers.

  28. I love this post! Thanks for sharing what you buy…I usually try and spend about $100/week to week and a half. Do you find it hard to keep track of prices when you shop with your kids? I eventually get to a point where I’m just tossing stuff in the cart to get out of there:)

  29. I really need to work on my grocery budget. I spent $85 on my groceries for last week and thats just for me. Its a bit out of control.
    I always start in the produce section, and make sure I get spinach, bananas, and apples. I cant make it through the week without them. After that, its whatever veggie looks good. Thats where the spending can get a little out of hand. The good news, is so far nothing is getting wasted. I can eat like a champ when I need to. 🙂

  30. I just did a grocery shop post this morning… isn’t photographing everything you just bought a fun way to unload your groceries (a job I usually find tedious)?

    My staples are fruits and vegetables (I always start in the produce section), whole grain bread, some kind of meat or seafood and whatever else I need for dinners, whole grain rice or pasta, skim milk, yogurt, eggs, nut butter and tea. Then I’ll usually cycle a few snacky things like popcorn, Vita muffins, nuts, etc. depending on what I feel like/have money for that week.

  31. I always start in produce, then go to dairy on the complete other side and then fill in with 1 or 2 aisles. I barely ever go in the middle of the store unless it’s for canned beans, tomatoes, or bread. I’m super impressed with your budget. I spend more than that a week and we have no kids!

  32. Wow! This a fabulous list and a great example of how menu planning can help with sticking to a budget. Our family’s list of staples would look very similar to this. In fact, if you raided our fridge and cupboards right now you would find a lot of these same items. Broccoli, green beans, apples, bananas, greek yogurt, hummus, cheese, cereal, and snack bars would all be there.

  33. jobo says:

    Wow, you do a lot on $85. I spent that just for me. Confession! Given I eat all my meals at home (mostly, as do you!), I don’t mind spending a little more (when I can, when I don’t have a family) and get the chobani’s and the lean meats and tons of fruits and veggies, ya know? And now I want some peanut butter (since I ran out today – gasp!)

  34. Our budget is about $80 per week for just my fiance and I, sometimes we go over if we go out to eat, I can’t imagine sticking to that with kids! I am impressed.

    I always have to have tortilla chips, hot chocolate mix, apples, , baby carrots and dip, stuff to make a weekly stir fry, peanut butter, and coffee/coffee creamer!

    I liked this post. I think wayyy too much about grocery shopping too!

  35. Ginger says:

    wow…. we spend closer to 150 for two adults and a baby, and buy similar stuff. guess it must be because we don’t resist the avocados and buy the expensive parmesan??

    Part of it is where we shop, I know. Kroger is .5 mile from our house and while I know Wal-Mart would be WAY cheaper, I can’t bring myself to shop there for more reasons than distance.

    I’m going to have to study your budget and finds more to figure out how we can save a bit!

  36. $85 is probably about my average, too, though kiddo doesn’t eat actual food yet! I always start in produce…mostly because that’s where the entrance is? Staples are bananas, carrots, romaine, eggplant, tomatoes/peppers (when we’re not growing them), seasonal fruit

    Meat – I need to do more vegetarian again, but I buy bulk packages of ground beef, chicken, pork, split and freeze. Fish about once a week.

    Dairy/Cooler case – cheese & milk for husband, store brand silk for me, yogurt if it’s on sale, but I’m bad at getting through it, Orange juice

    Inner – pasta, rice, cereal, frozen veggies, yep, frozen pizza (Wegman’s grilled veggie pizza – YUM)

    Then…whatever I have coupons for, or have planned meals with

  37. I loved this post because we’re on a similar budget. I always love seeing what other people get for their money. You do an awesome job!

    The first place I hit up is the produce aisle.

  38. Hey girl! Wow, thanks for all the promo for Suburb Chic…I definitely didn’t expect that, but thank you so much! Very nice of you. That’s awesome you can work it out with a $85 weekly budget.

    Do you use coupons on top of anything, or scope out store deals? I try to budget as well, but it’s hard since we have two tots still in diapers (and needing wipes, baby foods, etc).

    Thanks for sharing! Gives me perspective on what foods I should be getting for the money. I think my weakness is the organic section…I like to feed the family as healthily, un-chemically as possible. But it’s so expensive!!

    • Tina says:

      Baby stuff, toiletries, etc aren’t part of the grocery budget so we have separate budgets for those. I do coupons when I can find them but I’m not religious about it. I do shop around between stores for better deals and check the circulars as well as to know what deals to shop for each week

  39. I start with the produce:) Except today. I had to mail a package and that’s at the other end of the store so I did produce last. Pretty good considering I’m a creature of habit and routine:) Last thing in my cart was strawberries… a summer staple for me.

  40. Katie H says:

    Great staples! Pretty soon we are going to be adhering to a new family grocery budget so this post was helpful. Right now I am always buying luna bars for snacks at work, greek yogurt, whole wheat waffles and things like that. Thanks for the ideas!

  41. have you tried couponing? is a great start. I rarely spend more than $.20 per yogurt and cereal is always less than $1.50 a box. I generally get bread for between $.89-$1.99/loaf. I NEVER spend more than $.89 for a 5 blade razor. It’s really helped!

  42. New reader here!!

    Love buying KROGER brand.

    And those rolled oats are such a staple in our household!

    Love me some CHO as well 🙂

    You should try the Kroger natural PB. It’s a bargain and is only peanuts and salt. Can’t get better than that!

  43. omg that pizza looks so good righ tnow! too funny i just did a post on some of my staples too!!! they are things i ALWAYS have in my kitchen at ALL times! I cant lieve without them hehe!!!always PB and almond butter, oats, vinegar, fruit, veggies, frozen goods, mmm happy friday tina! xoxo

  44. Jennifer Rahn says:

    My philosophy?
    After having spent $30,000 for six weeks of inpatient eating disorder treatment, I will *never* “restrict” my food budget.
    I thank God that I can afford to have that philosophy. There are plenty of people who can’t, and I deeply appreciate the luxury of not having to fall prey to one of Ed’s prior tricks – using my frugality to allow me to restrict.

  45. I always start in the produce section and end in the dairy section. We have a lot of similar grocery staples. Some of mine are strawberries, greek yogurt, almond milk, zucchini, frozen berries, bananas, and lettuce. Oh and rice cakes! Those are my biggest staple right now. I’m gluten intolerant, so rice cakes are my bread.

  46. Karen says:

    We have so many of the same grocery staples! I start in the produce section and tend to shop the perimeter of the store. Like you, I only buy a few things each week from the center of the store. One of my grocery staples that I must buy every week is the Chobani! I absolutely must have it, I might go through withdrawal if I go too many days without it : )

  47. Lindsey @ Happy or Hungry says:

    Awesome staples! Very similar to mine, but I got some new ideas too! Great post 🙂

  48. Laura says:

    Wow! I’m impressed by your budgeting abilities! I spend about that on just me. :/ I need to take some of this advice and apply it to my own shopping! Lack of planning = Unnecessary spending, for sure

    Staples for me are some kind greens for salads, coffee, almond milk, wine, eggs, pet foods (might as well include it because it adds up!), bananas, frozen sprouted grain/millet/brown rice bread, tofu, yogurt… That’s a good sampling of what I always have on hand.

  49. […] PluginHi everyone! I have a special post for you this afternoon. Last week, when I posted about my healthy grocery staples a lot of you showed interest in shopping healthy on a budget. I’m still learning the ropes […]

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