I’m a Grocery Clerk and My Husband Is a Production Associate — We Spent $144 at (Mostly) Trader Joe’s on a Week’s Worth of Groceries and Came in $19 over Budget


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Grocery Diary

Credit: Christina / Trader Joe’s

Name: Christina
Location: Eugene, OR 
Number of people in household: 2; me and my husband (Mike), plus our 2 cats and 1 dog
Age: 39 (me) and 33 (my husband)
Occupation: I’m an online grocery pickup clerk at a regional grocery store and my husband is a production associate at a wood factory
Household income: $75,000 
Where you shopped: Trader Joes, Target, and Fred Meyer
Weekly food budget: $125/week, plus ~$30 takeout
Amount spent: $144.42

Grocery store haul from Trader Joe's.

Usually we shop at Winco and Fred Meyer because they’re conveniently located. We’ll also make a Costco run once every three months for pantry staples. This week I just felt like mixing things up, so we visited Trader Joe’s and Target (drive-up pickup). I also picked up ribs and corn at Fred Meyer during the week.

Dairy items and turkey breasts sit displayed on a table.

What’s your grocery strategy?

I look at the sale circulars for meat deals. I mainly shop every few days at whatever store I am near for convenience. If I see something that looks good or is on sale when I’m at work or out, or even if I am in the mood for something, I grab it.

Rather than set a full meal plan for the week, I’ll make a rough three-day plan based on what I just bought. I don’t prep a lot of meals ahead either, with the exception of things like a Greek salad or tortelloni salads for hubby’s lunch. 

  • Spatchcock chicken, $21.19 
  • Chicken jalapeño sausage, $4.29 
  • Garlic and herb pizza crust, $1.49 
  • Havarti cheese, $4.95 
  • Mandarin orange chicken, $4.99 
  • Chicken fried rice, $3.99 
  • 2 sweet potatoes, $0.89 each 
  • 2 avocados, $1.49 each 
  • 7 Greek yogurts, $0.99 each 
  • Everything bagels, $2.99 
  • Black bean and quinoa chips, $3.49 
  • Mediterranean hummus, $3.99 
  • Dill pickle salad, $3.99 
  • Elote salad, $3.99 
  • Edamame, $1.99 
  • Sugar snap peas, $3.99 
  • Peanut butter dog biscuits, $3.79 
  • Tangerine juice, $5.49 
  • Limeade, $2.99 

Total: $88.49 (includes bag fees and bottle deposit)

  • Bread, $3.69 
  • 18-count eggs, $3.99 
  • Cheddar cheese slices, $2.29 
  • Turkey deli meat, $4.49 
  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream, $3.49 
  • Chai pods, $15.99 
  • Ribs (BOGO), $18
  • Corn, $3.99

Thursday: Oatmeal, Leftover Carne Asada Burritos, Taco Bell, and Spicy Snacks

I have two brown sugar oatmeal packets and a chai before work. Mike skips breakfast today ahead of a doctor appointment.

Later he brings home carne asada burritos from a work event so we each have them for brunch/an early lunch at work. 

I go grocery shopping today, and we order takeout for dinner. (That’s how it goes sometimes, haha.) We spend $30 on a Taco Bell meal for two. Mike also pilfers some soda cans from his brother’s home (he’s watching the dogs while the family is on a trip). I’m in the mood for some spicy snacks; luckily Mike had picked up these new Dinamita sticks and there are a few handfuls left — just enough to satisfy! 

Salad and mac and cheese on a plate.

Friday: Waffles, Mac and Cheese with Jalapeño Sausages, Dill Pickle Salad, and Snacks 

Mike makes me waffles using our Kodiak mix from Costco. I like them without syrup, and with blueberries or chocolate chips mixed in or banana or whipped cream on top. Today we have none of the above so I just have mine plain. I also have a chai and he has his usual two coffees with dairy-free creamer. 

He is still hungry and wants mac and cheese so he makes the Kraft Deluxe package we have and cuts up two of the jalapeño sausages to mix into it. I also toss the dill pickle salad together on the side. The dressing is so good. 

He takes the leftovers for lunch/dinner. I just graze all day at work and after on a Greek yogurt, a fig granola bar, and some peanut butter crackers. 

Orange chicken and fried rice.

Saturday: Greek Yogurt, Fig Bar, Air-Fried Chicken, Chicken Fried Rice, and Ice Cream

I have another chai, Greek yogurt, and a fig bar for breakfast. 

Mike heats the mandarin orange chicken in the air fryer while I heat up the chicken fried rice on the stovetop. Both hit the spot, and I am very happy. He takes the leftovers to work. 

Later on I have a scoop of the mint chocolate chip ice cream I’ve been wanting for days. 

Pizza waiting to be cooked.

Sunday: Greek Yogurt, Fig Bar, Dried Mango, Chicken, Pizza, Potato Chips, and Chicken Noodle Soup

I have a chai, Greek yogurt, fig bar, and some dried mango before and during work. Mike makes chicken breasts we have in the freezer to eat for breakfast and takes the leftovers of that to work. He usually uses a no- or low-salt seasoning. We both have high blood pressure so we avoid added salt. (Although we don’t follow any specific diet, Mike had his gallbladder and appendix removed so he can’t eat much red meat or pork. That’s why we usually have a lot of chicken.) 

When I get home I make a pizza using the garlic and herb crust. It’s the best crust in my opinion — even though it’s not that pliable. I use basil pesto sauce as the base, and top it with minced garlic and then Havarti cheese that I shred. I cut up two jalapeño sausages, mini bell peppers, red onion, and some jarred artichokes and add them on top, plus the mozzarella pearls we already have and some leftover black olives (on my half). Mike insists we add the mozzarella, and now I’m wishing we didn’t. I love the dill Havarti, and the flavor is too muted mixed with the mozzarella. I also have a handful of jalapeño kettle chips. 

It’s freezing out, so later I eat chicken noodle soup with mini saltine crackers, which is so fun. 

Cooked chicken and sweet potato fries on a baking sheet

Monday: Everything Bagel, Avocado, and Egg Sandwich, Cereal, Tortilla Chips, Hummus, Spatchocked Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, and Instant Noodles

Mike makes an everything bagel with avocado and an over-easy egg and tops it with a sprinkle of Everything but the Bagel Seasoning. I have some It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown cereal with milk.

After breakfast, Mike snacks on the tortilla chips and hummus. Later we make the spatchocked chicken, which is already seasoned with a Parmesan lemon herb seasoning. We have diced sweet potatoes oven baked with butter and cumin on the side. 

He takes the leftovers to work for dinner. I have a Cup Noodles stir-fry with kimchi from Costco at work. 

Cooked ribs and corn on a plate.

Tuesday: Cereal, Avocado Toast, Ribs, Corn, Turkey and Cheddar Sandwich, Hot Chocolate, and Girl Scout Cookies

I finish the cereal while Mike has avocado toast for breakfast. 

I picked up some seasoned ribs at Fred Meyer and cook them in the Instant Pot with apple juice and liquid smoke, then broil them with Kinders BBQ sauce. They are so tender and juicy. We also have corn (sadly with no cotija) and have to throw out our elote salad due to a recall. 

Mike takes a turkey and cheddar with mustard sandwich to work and some Valentine’s Day-themed candy as snacks. 

I finish off our coconut almond milk with some hot chocolate to help warm me up, and snack on a few Girl Scout cookies with it. 

Salad with pumpkin spice

Wednesday: Greek Yogurt, Fig Bar, Chips, Hummus, Veggies, Leftovers, the Best Salad Ever, Instant Noodles, and a Snack Plate

You guessed it — I have a chai, Greek yogurt, and fig bar. Mike just grazes around, nibbling on chips and hummus, some veggies, and leftovers in the fridge. 

Then after work I make my favorite: the best salad ever. Greens, sweet potato, and crumbled goat cheese, with Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice seeds on top and tossed with a homemade dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I could eat tons of this. It is literally the best meal ever (trust me.) 

Mike takes a teriyaki-flavored Cup Noodles and kimchi to work. Later I am feeling snacky so I make myself a little plate of some pita chips, hummus, and cheese, with snap peas, and mini bell peppers. 

At Kitchn we believe setting a food budget for you and your family is an essential part in getting your financial life in order. Don’t know where to start? We have a guide for that. Want to share your Grocery Diary with Kitchn? See how here.





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