$138 A Week For Groceries - Shopping Day 2 (Big Savings At The MexiMart)

Good morning, Sunshines!

Pics of this week's shopping done primarily at the El Super about 15 minutes away from home, which I also refer to as the Meximart because while it carries a totally doable variety of your everyday American (for lack of a better descriptor at the moment) groceries, it does also cater to the Latino demographic in general, and Mexican preferences, specifically.

I did also do some incidental shopping at Walmart, Sprouts, and Mission Seafood as well - Sprouts because we ran out of milk and bananas midweek, Walmart because a diaper run ended up also being a milk, cereal, coffee and cheap beer run, and Mission Seafood because we were there to pick up lobsters for our surf n' turf splurge (which comes out of the Entertainment budget because that was an indulgent meal in lieu of dinner out), and I decided I wanted some catfish for the week. Fish always makes for a quick and easy meal.

You might recall that last week, I did the bulk of my shopping at the Sprouts 5 minutes away from me, which, if you're not familiar, is a somewhat downhome, folksy, lower price point alternative to Whole Foods. It doesn't have near the variety of higher end specialty foods that Whole Foods tends to have, but it does cater to the so-called health conscious and politically conscientious grocery shopper who is interested in ideas including but not limited to organic, sustainable, free-range, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. 

I'll compare and contrast a little between Sprouts and the MexiMart later, but first a rundown of this week's groceries.

$130.11 TOTAL as follows:

BEVERAGES: Caprisun 10-pack, Corona 12-pack, and a 12 oz. can of Don Francisco coffee. $21.58, 16.6% of total.

Because of our interest in craft beer, some people are surprised to find that we actually not only like some inexpensive mass market lager, but also that there are instances in which we prefer it to a craft or premium mass market beer option. Grocery budget aside, sometimes a frosty Corona just hits the spot better in this hot weather, or with a fish taco, than the other stuff. We try all kinds of stuff, low end to high end, and we are OK with whatever we end up liking for whatever reasons we end up liking it, food and beverage elitism be damned. ;)

DAIRY: 3 gallons of milk. $10.96, 8.4% of total.

GRAINS/STARCHES: 2 loaves of Oroweat Wheat Bread, a 20 pound bag of jasmine rice, a 16 oz. Barilla spaghetti, and a 27 oz. Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds. $27.52, 21.2% of total.

I debated whether the jasmine rice goes here or in pantry items, but I tend to think of my ingredients in terms of their function in the balance of the meal - protein, starch, or veg - and rice serves as a starch component rather than a seasoning type thing, so I put it here.

PROTEIN: 1 pound catfish, 1 dozen large eggs, 1 whole 6.05 lb. Foster Farms Chicken, 5.44 lbs. chicken quarters, 1 pound Farmer John ham, 1.32 pounds skirt steak, 2.25 pork sirloin chops. $35.71, 27.4% of total.

PANTRY: 10 oz. A-1 Steak Sauce (invariably when I mention A-1, some steak purist gives me crap about it. IDGAF. You will not shame me out of my occasional A-1 enjoyment.), 32 oz. Heinz White Vinegar, 16 oz. Jif Crunchy Peanut Butter. $7.65, $5.95% of total.

PRODUCE: (For quantities and other detail, see spreadsheet.) Bananas, red radishes, green cabbage, broccoli, jalapeños, white onions, Roma tomatoes, Minneola tangelos, carrots, red seedless grapes, zucchini, limes, Gala apples, Asian pears, seedless watermelon, cilantro, and green onion. $20.75, 15.9% of total.

SNACKS/INDULGENCES: 6.6 oz. Goldfish crackers, 44 oz. (i.e., BIG.ASS. BAG) Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies, 6-pack of chicken flavored Cup Noodles.

I consider the Cup Noodles an indulgence because I bought it specifically to satisfy my very odd and specific occasional craving for chicken flavored cup noodles with many shakes of Tabasco. 

Though I only spent $5 less this week than last, I also ended up buying more cheap alcohol (12 pack of beer versus a single bottle of cheap bubbly - we did buy the beer at Walmart, but the MexiMart actually has the same prices on Corona), more protein, slightly more produce, more nationally recognized brand name pantry items, and more snack/indulgence foods. 

The reason I make the distinction that the pantry items were recognizable brand names is not because I think they're necessarily superior to the smaller and presumably more socially conscious brands available at Sprouts, but you just can't buy them at Sprouts for the most part. My family will tell you the more health/socially conscious brands generally taste weird to them, and I might have to mostly agree, and I know that someone's going to tell me that it's the "chemicals" and "preservatives" we're missing, but I assure you we eat plenty of wholesome home cooked food made from scratch with whole, raw ingredients, and it's not that. Why I think this is is a topic for a whole 'nother tl;dr for another day. ;)

Since I didn't buy more socially conscious options at Sprouts last week, and I bought rough equivalents, it's a mostly apples to apples comparison pricewise. 

Protein at Sprouts last week cost me $50.37. This week at the Meximart, $35.72. That's roughly 30% less overall.

Produce last week was $35.72. This week, $20.75. That's about 40% less overall.

The jasmine rice this week was 79 cents a pound. At Sprouts, it's $1.60 per pound. For the same quantity of rice, I would have added $16 to my bill, 12% of my weekly budget.

Between just the protein, produce, and jasmine rice, I spent roughly $45 less (or about 30% of my total budget) at the Meximart than I would have spent at Sprouts.

So as you can see, the savings at so-called "ethnic" markets can be quite significant. In fairness, however, I will add that the reason Dean ended up buying milk at Walmart on his diaper run after our Meximart trip is that we went when the Meximart was busy, it was starting to feel like a clusterfuck, which gave me a minor headache, and I forgot the milk. It's a much more pleasant shopping experience at 7am when it's just me and a handful of other shoppers and the ranchera playing in the background. Sprouts does also tend to have overall better quality of produce, and I have to rummage a little less to select my fruits and vegetables, so there's that as well.

What that $45 dollars is worth to me in time and other unquantifiable eases and conveniences depends on my mood and energy level from week to week, but I have to say that looking at the cold, hard number fact of roughly $150 to $180 savings a month, I'm beginning to reconsider my Sprouts habit...


Since I'm writing this the day after I did a bunch of advance meal preparation, I can tell you that:

- some of the chicken quarters and the back from the whole chicken has been boiled for stock and wiener dog food

- the skirt steak has already been marinated for carne asada tacos with shredded green cabbage and pico de gallo from the tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, cilantro and lime

- some more of the chicken has been made into my Easy Braised Teriyaki Chicken

- the catfish was blackened and enjoyed over grits with sauteed zucchini and tomato

Yet to be prepared are probably:

- Vietnamese Grilled Pork with those sirloin chops

- An easy chicken soup or possibly chicken and dumplings made with the stock I got from making wiener dog food, the rest of the chicken pieces, and carrots, onions, garlic, and celery at a minimum for veg

I might just marinate the pork and get the soup done today, but then I might die of the smugness at having pretty much made all of this week's meals before Tuesday. :P :P :P

Happy Monday, y'all. BIAB with Day 8 meals.


This post is part of my 30 Day Grocery Budget Diary. To see all the posts of this series in reverse chron order, click HERE.

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