A Look Back at January Grocery Shopping

This is it. This is the year I’m ready to get back to my frugal shopping ways. Yes, we are a family of 6 now, but I still believe big families can shop on a budget! It may be a bit trickier with more people but it can be done.

No matter where you live…No matter where you shop…No matter how many people in your family…you CAN save money on your groceries. 

I am recommitting myself to sticking to my budget this year to help you see that it can be done.

How do I do this? Let me share some grocery specifics, for those of you who are new here.

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read more in my disclosure policy. 

I share many of my grocery trips as they happen (with specific deals) on Instagram and Facebook. You can follow me there if you want to see those trips happen. At the end of each month, I’ll provide a recap and highlight summary here on the blog.

I shop with a credit card. Yes, we use credit cards – but never carry a balance. After each trip, I add the total to a list on my phone so I can see a running total of how much I have spent and how much of my budget is remaining. I have been a bargain shopper for many years so this works for me. If you are new to shopping on a tight budget, using cash does hold you accountable.

My monthly grocery budget for 2021 is $425 for our family of 6. Our family is my husband and myself, and our 4 kids – Nathan (6), Emma (4), Lily (2) and Caleb (11 months). They all have birthdays next month so will soon be 7, 5, 3 and 1.

Our monthly budget includes food, toiletries, paper products, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent and diapers. Basically, if I need to buy it at a grocery store, it is included in my budget. 

I have access to Meijer, Kroger, Walmart, Aldi and Sam’s Club – all very close to each other. I generally shop the sales at Kroger and stock up on lowest priced things at Walmart. Yes, I have turned from an Aldi girl into a Walmart shopper once I compared prices and realized our Walmart had Aldi beat. More on my cheapest grocery store findings here. If you like finding the best deals, this is really interesting.

I am a HUGE proponent of watching the sales and shopping ahead. That is the reason I can keep our budget so low. I practice what I call realistic stockpiling. If you want to learn more, all my stockpiling articles are compiled here for quick reference. 

Finally, if you want to know exactly how I do it, I highly recommend you read Crystal Paine’s (of Money Saving Mom fame) ebook called ‘Slash Your Grocery Budget.’ I recently read it, I found myself nodding my head again and again. Honestly, I could have written this book! From using the buy ahead principle to becoming best friends with your freezer…Crystal covers it all! If you have ever wondered exactly how I do it, go get Crystal’s book! Through February 18, it is on sale for only $8.50 when you use the coupon code JoyfullyThriving50 – and I guarantee you can quickly make that money back with all her tips!

Now, let’s get to my shopping trips for January, shall we?

I did some big stocking up this month. Kroger was running their “Spend $40, Get $10 off” in the baby aisle, so I bought 2 more boxes of Kroger brand diapers for Caleb and Lily. I do this whenever they go on sale so I don’t have to buy diapers every month. This month, the diapers were also on Ibotta and Kroger Cash Back so it was a really good deal!

At Sam’s Club, I restocked on toilet paper and paper towels. They are still a limit of 1 at our stores but usually in stock. After this past year, I am determined not to get down to the last one of anything. So, when I was there buying chicken breasts ($1.88/lb), I bought more paper towels and toilet paper.

I did several Walmart pick up orders this month. If you haven’t done Walmart pick up yet, I highly recommend it! It is a huge time saver for me, as I can place my order and just pick it up on the way to Preschool pick-up. It is so nice to not unload kids – especially in the winter – and have groceries brought to my car. If you haven’t tried Walmart pick up, sign up here and get $10 off your first pick up order. 

This was my biggest Walmart pick up order, mid-month, where I stocked up on lots of pantry staples for a total of $105.14. I bought 30lbs of flour, 20lbs of sugar, 3 jars of applesauce ($1.98) and lots of other pantry staples. Like I mentioned above, I have compared prices so I know what the lowest priced items are for my family. Whenever I run low on something, I simply get on the Walmart app and add it to my shopping cart right then so that I don’t forget it on my next trip. 

I only shopped at Kroger twice this month. I really was trying to limit my shopping more this month. When Kroger ran their cheese on sale for 4 for $6 ($1.50 each), I stocked up on 16 blocks. We use a lot of cheese in our family and this is my stock up price! I also bought Creamette pasta ($0.49 each), apple juice ($0.99 each) and tator tots (3 for $5). On this Kroger trip, I spent $46.49 – over half of which was cheese.

Towards the end of the month, I did some quick trips to Aldi and Walmart for some baking I was doing for our National Lutheran School’s Week. That didn’t come out of my budget, but I did pick up just a couple things which is why you see a $15 combine trip listed below. Aldi (amazingly!) still had cans of pumpkin for $0.85 so I bought another 6 cans. We bake a lot of pumpkin bread in this house.

Here are my totals for all of January. For my large Sam’s trip on the 13th, I did have a $25 Walmart gift card (I believe I had earned it from Fetch or Mypoints) so I used that and only counted the remaining cash balance in my budget. Yay for earning free gift cards! (More on how I earn free gift cards here.)

January Grocery Shopping Totals

  • 1/4 Walmart Pick Up $39.43
  • 1/4 Meijer $13.42
  • 1/10 Sam’s Club $24.48
  • 1/11 Kroger $53.12
  • 1/13 Sam’s Club $80.13
  • 1/13 Walmart Pick Up $105.14
  • 1/22 Kroger $46.49
  • 1/25 Aldi & Walmart $15.82
  • 1/29 Walmart Pick Up $45.12
  • January Total $423.15

I am very excited that I stayed just under budget! Actually, I placed that pick up order on the 29th knowing that I had money left in my budget and stocked up on some pantry staples – contact solution, brown sugar, eggs, milk, oats, and sour cream. You can see more about that end of the month trip here. 

2021 is off to a good start – grocery budget wise! Now, I’d love to know…how did YOUR grocery shopping go in January? Anything else you want to know about MY budget?

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