March & April Quarantine Grocery Shopping

What a crazy past two months it has been! I went into labor a month early, and then things started quickly shutting down. Schools closed and we were under a stay at home order for almost 6 weeks. We are in phase 2 of opening things back up in Indiana which menas we can go out again! I haven’t gone grocery shopping in over 2 months – since March 3! Andy’s been doing the grocery shopping and we’ve been taking advantage of Walmart’s grocery pick up. More on that below.

I asked about this on Facebook and it seems that most of us had higher than normal grocery totals in March. With everyone suddenly home for 3 meals a day, your budget increases! Plus, if you are like me, we bought some “fun” food and snacks that we don’t normally buy to have some special treats during our time at home. I don’t regret it at all but it did increase our budget. However, we were spending a lot less on gas and entertainment so perhaps things balanced out?

In addition to staying home, we did eat out a bit more. We used up several gift cards that we had so we didn’t have to pay for many of the meals and it gave me a nice break from all the cooking. We did pay cash for a couple of them and it was worth it to support our restaurants even as we got a change of pace. Red Robin’s $1.99 Kid’s Meals and Steak ‘n Shake’s happy hour half price shakes were two of our kids favorites. Andy and I liked it all! 🙂

You know that I am always transparent with our grocery budget so here is a look back at our shopping during the stay at home months of March and April.

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

March 2020

  • 2/28 Kroger $37.23
  • 3/3 Kroger $76.02
  • 3/3 Meijer $8.08
  • 3/6 Walmart Pick Up $62.40
  • 3/7 Kroger $9.01
  • 3/13 Walmart Pick Up $91.36
  • 3/13 Kroger $46.47
  • 3/16 Meijer $53.20
  • 3/16 Amazon – Castile Soap $14.43
  • 3/17 Walmart Pick Up $48.45
  • 3/18 Amazon – Finish Dishwasher Tabs $11.44
  • 3/20 Walmart $27.65
  • 3/26 Walmart $40.95
  • Total $526.69

I don’t have any pictures of our grocery shopping because my pictures were all of our new baby, Caleb, during March! However, I know many of you have been curious about what we eat, so I’m trying something new and sharing our menus for the month. I’m posting a picture of our March menus below. Let me know your thoughts on this. Do you like this? Can you read it as a picture or would you prefer a typed out list?

I try to menu plan on Saturday or Sunday for the upcoming week. I keep a calendar on the fridge and write down the main dish plans for the week. Menus often get flip flopped and I change them on the calendar when it happens. At the end of the month, I updated and retyped our calendar with what we actually ate.  March menus included a couple meals from sweet school families, while Caleb was in the NICU. They were greatly appreciated as Caleb’s early arrival and 10 day NICU stay through us for a loop. Those meals were one less thing I had to think about – and I greatly appreciated it!

You’ll notice most of our meals show main dishes only. We eat simple meals and sides are whatever is in the fridge and freezer. We eat a lot of frozen vegetables and whatever fresh fruit was in the fridge. Applesauce and cottage cheese are regular sides too. Lunches are often simple of crackers and cheese, peanut butter sandwiches and leftovers for the adults.

We went $120 over our typical $400 monthly budget but since that included me not shopping much with a new baby and a pandemic across the country that had us all stocking up a bit more, I am completely fine with the overage. We compensated in other areas.

April 2020

  • 4/4 Kroger $87.90
  • 4/4 Walmart $37.88
  • 4/4 Meijer – Ice Cream $5.99
  • 4/16 Amazon – Gripe Water $4.62
  • 4/21 Walmart Pick Up $99.78
  • 4/21 Kroger $166.40 (Gift Card)
  • 4/28 Sam’s Club $128.04
  • Total $362.15 (Not Including Gift Card Trip)

In April, Andy’s class generously sent us a Kroger gift card for Caleb’s birth. We used that for one of our shopping trips. Andy bought us steak (which I don’t normally buy) and several packages of diapers, since it was a new baby gift. That was a blessing to our budget this month and allowed us to do a stock up trip to Sam’s.

At Sam’s this month, Andy stocked up on ground beef and pork chops. He went early in the morning and bought 2 packages of hamburger and 1 big package of pork chops. This was right when we started hearing about possible meat shortages so once again, we were trying to be proactive and refill our freezer before shortages occurred – and prices went higher. Are you seeing shortages of meat around you?

Walmart pick up has been a HUGE time saver for us this month and helped us stay out of the stores. The Walmart app makes it so easy! I have started adding to my list whenever I think of something which makes it easy for me to remember everything. It saves my husband a lot of time wandering aisles too. Plus, I love how the app shows me what is out of stock so I can adjust my list. My Walmart hack? Try changing Walmart locations to see if another location has more in stock. Prices also vary slightly by location so it’s worth playing around with. For a time, our nearest Walmart was scheduling a week out while one a bit further away still had next day slots available. Again, it’s worth trying different locations to see how that affects your list.

If you haven’t tried it yet, you can get $10 off your first $50 Walmart pick up order when you sign up here. 

We stayed under our $400 budget in April which helped to make up for some of the March overage. We shall see how May goes as I hope to return to grocery shopping myself soon – even though we will probably stick to the every other week shopping for now.

April menus included some more take out meals. I cooked my own birthday meal of my favorite cheesy sausage crepes and chocolate chip cheesecake – plus my first ever loaf of sourdough bread. I’m still perfecting that. It was a great birthday meal because I could prepare it all ahead of time. Easter ended up featuring the main dish of whatever I had in the freezer so poppy seed chicken it was. My kids enjoyed it more than ham anyway! I had one last apple pie kit and all the ingredients for cheesy creamed corn so it ended up being a nice Easter dinner, just for our family.

You’ll notice that certain things like hamburgers and leftovers make it on our menu regularly. I’m also trying to ask everyone what they would like and work those meals into our rotation to keep everyone happy.

So, do you like seeing our menus – even after the fact? They tend to change throughout the week but when grocery posts on Facebook and Instagram resume, I’ll try to share a tentative menu there if you would like that. Give me your thoughts on menus so I know how it would be most helpful!

How was your quarantine grocery shopping in March and April? Are things getting easier, shopping wise? How can I tweak these posts to be most helpful for you, as we all venture into a new season of grocery shopping?

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  1. Hi Kristen,

    We were getting a little worried about the meat shortage as well. Then my husband was able to score half of a hog (108 lbs) processed and packaged for $156. We are sitting pretty good now. I will probably try to fill in with some other things though like chicken and ground beef. I did notice that the Walmart I usually shop at was out of most fresh meats on Friday when I went. Pretty eerie! We are spending a lot more on groceries, but I also purchased the book you recommended Survival mom. I’m trying to get my pantry up to par. Congrats on the little one! Love your blog:)

    1. Oh, what a great deal, Jackie! I’m glad you were able to get all that pork in your freezer! Yes, I’m trying to round out my freezer with a bit more chicken and ground beef too. It is eerie to see completely empty shelves. I agree! But, a good reminder to be proactive and stock up on what we can to take care of our families. That was my biggest take away from the Survival Mom book. It was a motivating read for me too. And yes, sometimes you have to spend more to get things organized and prepared…but I believe it will be worth it in the long run! And thank you. It is so wonderful to have faithful readers like you! 🙂

  2. I shopped one time in March the weekend of the 13th and just went back to the store this Saturday. My daughter has been doing the shopping for me. I fall in the high risk category so I have been avoiding the stores and crowds (other than work). My mom did a meat run (she lives with us) and our deep freeze is overflowing with meat. We should be good for a couple months easy.

    Grocery shopping this weekend was a bit overwhelming if I am being honest. The store (Aldi) was stocked really good but there were a lot of folks out and many not abiding the 6 ft rule. We were able to get everything we needed.

    $109 later and our fresh fruit and vegetables are restocked as well as sour cream, whipping cream, 1/2 & 1/2, eggs, cheese and some frozen broccoli and spinach (we have a fully stocked vegetable deep freeze with this run). We eat most all our meals at home. We usually might have take out once a week for lunch (sushi Saturday). We cook everything (breakfast, lunch and dinner) every day. We eat leftovers for lunch most days.

    We don’t really meal plan but we do plan our meals to be at home. Hamburgers or hot roast beef or chicken breast sandwiches with fries or baked potatoes or roasted potatoes make the menu at least one time a week. We usually have a pasta dish (so it doesn’t take a lot of meat) once a week.
    For me right now it’s hard to eat out I am on a super low/no sodium diet and there is just way to much salt in restaurant food. That has helped the food budget because we have added what we would spend (one dinner a week) back into the grocery budget and just pick up steaks or something we don’t usually eat on a regular basis.

    As far as the shelter in place has gone it really hasn’t affected us that much as we don’t usually get out and go to often. We go to work (and have been still working luckily) and spend the rest of our time at home. We have a lot of home remodel things we have been doing (from material purchased prior to all this). So life for us is pretty much the same. Other than I haven’t been able to Bunco but that’s ok. Our group has decided to hold on that until we all feel safe enough to play together. We have tried to figure out how to Zoom and play but haven’t been able to figure out how to make that work. I am still thinking on that though.

    Glad to hear Caleb is home and you guys are getting into your new routine. Seems that you and another blogger I follow both just added a 4th baby to the family. Actually she has 2 babies right now (with a foster). She has been sharing baby updates like you have. It is great to see some “normal” during this pandemic. It will be great to get back to “normal” at some point. I know that normal is now different than it was before this but some normalcy will be nice.

    1. I’m glad to hear you are stocked up again, Rebecca! It is a different way of shopping to go out only once or twice a month – especially for me! Ha. But like you, we’ve managed to stock up our freezer and fridge too. We had book club via Zoom, but Bunco would probably be a bit more challenging. Hopefully you can all be together again soon! And yes, Crystal and I are both adjusting to new babies at home. The new normal is still unfolding but yes, it will be nice to have some more normalcy again!

  3. Hey, I love seeing the menus! And since the pics work fine for me and are easy enough to read, I’d say to save yourself some time and just post a pic since that’s easier than writing things out 🙂

    I gave birth in December to a son that also came a month early with a NICU stay, so I know how stressful it can be! Mine happened before the pandemic really hit here, so I can only imagine how crazy things were when you were there. Glad everything seems to be better with your little guy, and congrats on the new arrival!

    1. It takes one NICU mom to know one! 🙂 I’m glad your little guy is doing well, too! And thanks for the menu feedback. I do appreciate that.

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