Grocery Geek & The Pantry Challenge

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The grocery geek is back! Did you miss me? The first six months of this year were pretty crazy as I was shopping and cooking with recipe development in mind. Coupons and deals kind of sat on the back burner. So, I didn’t share much of my shopping escapades.

I’m back in the saddle again, actively seeking great food at great prices. However, this month instead of shopping like a fiend, I’m challenging myself to make the most of what we already have. Since I spent the first half of the year “cooking to freeze,” I’ve been finding all kinds of treasures in my deep freeze. So, I’m doing a pantry challenge.

Every January for the last couple years I’ve devoted my energies to going through the freezer, pantry and cupboards and using those things first. This month, I’m tackling it from a summertime perspective. I’m not setting a price limit on myself, but just trying to look to my food stores first before just buying whatever is on sale.

For the curious, you can read up on my Summertime Pantry Challenge or see the play-by-play of how I’m making it work.


At the beginning of the month, I did make a few stops to take advantage of the seasonal sales:

I ended up getting fresh berries, ice cream, mustard, canned corn, canned tuna (not pictured), pasta (not pictured), whole chickens, and sausages at rock bottom prices. But since then, I’ve been trying to make it work with what we had.

After several days with no milk, I ventured out to buy some basics: fresh produce, dairy, and must-haves.

At Henry’s I spent about $24 on the produce pictured above, including organic apples, carrots, and bananas, as well as conventional cukes, tomatoes, peppers, jalapenos, and mushrooms.

Then I headed to Walmart for a few basics to round out our meals:

I spent $44 on milk, bread, olives, yogurt, flour, applesauce, eggs, cheese, and tortillas/tostada shells. These will really help me make the most of what I already have so that my family doesn’t really know that we’re “eating from the pantry.”

Please remember I am feeding 8 people, including 4 growing boys. So, while these purchases may seem like a feast to one family, I’m not sure that they will last us more than a week. But we’ll see. So far, this month I’ve spent $273, less than half of what I normally spend. So, I think we’re going to do pretty well.

(Note: That figure does not include food costs incurred during our weekend away with the grandparents. Vacation is a free zone.)

Come by tomorrow afternoon to check out my menu plan where I divulge what I’m going to do with what we’ve already got.

Found any great deals lately?

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  1. I think that’s awesome!!! I also have 6 children, 3 of them are boys going through food like it’s water!!! I am struggling to keep my groceries under $230 a week…. I am amazed that you can make your food go so far …. good for you!!! I love your site… I am going to read more as I need to learn how you do this!!!

    1. @Heidi, keep in mind that my pantry and freezer are both stuffed to the gills from months of stockpiling and freezer cooking. At one time I could feed us for $100 a week, but I’m not sure that I could pull it off nowadays.

  2. Hear ya on the amount of groceries. We too have 8 to feed with several large appetites – even in the heat:) When we reach the checkout at the grocery, you can see the expressions on the faces of other shoppers. It’s a hoot! Honestly, I was wondering how you were going to make the items you purchased last longer. LOL I’ll be looking forward to the menu reveal.

      1. @Jessica Fisher,

        ROFL. Sorry couldnt resist. Running 1 blog is hard enough for me, I cant imagine running 2 (3?) + keeping up with homeschooling and deals etc etc etc.
        So it was kind of a remark on amazing shopping you did and just life that you keep up on and look so well! 🙂

        I pay about $2.25 doz from a farm for fresh eggs so I guess its not that bad for having to pay for packaging and someone to shelve it, and ring it up, and….

  3. This week start some major freezer cooking stockpiling for me so I can leave my vacation and head back to work with LOTS of healthy freezer meals to choose from. But up until this week I feel like I have eating solely from my pantry because we have been so busy.

    I love reading your blog. You have tons of helpful info.

  4. WOOOOOHOOOO!!! I did miss you grocery geek and I am so happy you are back. While I know you were away for good reason, I was eagerly waiting your return. I am doing the opposite of a pantry challenge, I am working to fill my freezer with all the smoking deals on seasonal produce while I can. Last year I stockpiled enough peppers to last until mid winter…that saved bundles for me!! I am hoping to squirrel away fruit next! Good luck to you.