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This Is How Much Money A Full-Time Freelance Writer In Miami Beach With A $70K Income Spends On Groceries

Remember when, back in July 2018, we asked for the receipts — your grocery receipts? This request was born out of a desire to know what other people, in other places, with different jobs and salaries, spend on their groceries. So that we not only learn from unique perspectives, but so that we can also reevaluate how we grocery shop. I mean, no one actually taught us how to buy food for a household — we had to learn that a bag of Doritos is not a proper meal the hard way — so there’s always room to grow. And with that, we bring you our new So Yummy column, Grocery Receipts. 

Every grocery shopping trip begins with one question: What am I going to eat this week? (Obviously.)

But the question goes beyond that. What I’m really asking is, who am I going to be this week? Indulgent? Healthy? Will I cook my own meals or go for frozen?

This shopping trip, however, the answer is (thankfully) simpler.

I have two weeks until I leave for the biggest trip I’ve ever taken, a 10-day trek across Paris, London, and Dublin. It’s also my honeymoon. So with that mind, I base my meal-planning around staying relatively healthy and using up any perishable food left in my fridge.

I don’t eat meat and I try to work out, so my goal is to get as much vegetarian-sourced protein as possible. I’m also picky, and need to plan for foods I’ll actually eat so I don’t have to throw out another bag of greens gone rotten, for a salad I knew I’d never make in the first place.

I transitioned to freelance writing when my husband joined the military, so he currently provides most of our income with his job in the Coast Guard.

He works as a Culinary Specialist, which is lucky for me, because our meals are fantastic. Our combined income is around $70,000 — we make enough so that we can grocery shop without too much restriction, but we’re still cost-conscious. We live in Miami Beach, which can be an expensive town, but the benefit of the military life is we receive a housing allowance that covers our rent and major bills. Unfortunately, it doesn’t cover the cost of the pricey restaurants here, so making the most out of grocery shopping and cooking at home is a must.

Grocery shopping starts way before I even get to the store.

For me, a trip to the grocery store is a multi-step process. After figuring out the mood for the week, I’ll make a list of meals I want to eat. Here’s what I plan for this week:

— Avocado Toast (with pickled red onions)

— Crockpot Split Pea Soup (topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, and homemade croutons)

— Mongolian Tofu and Vegetable Fried Rice

— Roasted Cauliflower Tacos (with cabbage, beans, cotija cheese, hot sauce, avocado crema, and red onions)

I want to incorporate more fruit/greens, so I add a few of my favorites to the list:

— Kiwi
— Grapefruit
— Green juice (a big bottle, and an easy way to make an unhealthy day feel more nutritious)

So, with my plan in mind, I write my list. I never go to the grocery store without a list, even if I’m just getting a few things. I’m bound to be distracted and forget something important if I don’t. Having a list also keeps me on track and gets me in and out quickly. I’ve finished full Trader Joe’s shopping trips in less than 10 minutes. The key is organizing your list by where the items are in the store (produce, dairy, etc.), so you can speed through from one side to other without much distraction or backtracking.

The shopping begins!

My store of choice today is Publix, though it’d be Trader Joe’s if it wasn’t a heavily trafficked, 45-minute drive away. After picking up everything I needed, plus a few things I couldn’t resist and some toiletries for my husband, I end up spending $83.50 (I also spent an extra $10 roll of quarters for laundry, but I’m leaving that out).

This is a little more than I typically spend, but I blame the seemingly inflated bill on the $10 bottle of juice.

That juice, though, is one of my favorite picks for store-bought green juice.

Buying the larger bottle is way more economical than buying a few smaller bottles, and this brand, and this flavor in particular, is low in sugar and high in that vegetal taste. It takes some getting used to, but it’s worth it for the boost of vitamins.

One of my impulse buys was these seasoned jackfruit packets.

They were hanging out by the tofu, and I thought they’d be great for an easy take on a taco — especially seeing as I now have about 30 tortillas. Plus, they were buy-one-get-one-free, which I try not to fall victim to unless it’s something I really actually need, but it turns out that these are something I really actually need. (They were delicious.)

Another favorite of mine is the Made Cafe Con Leche ready-to-drink coffees.

They are yummy and keep me from heading out of my apartment to spend money on an expensive afternoon coffee. I also love that they are made in St. Petersburg, FL, where I lived for three years.

When I’m shopping, I pay attention to price, but not at the expense of quality.

Food is important to me, and my husband and I love to cook food together.

With that said, I often go for Publix’s store brand because I trust their quality, and I can usually go for organic for a cheaper price than I could with other brands. And while I would love to buy all my produce organic, it’s not always the most viable option.

Especially with things like onions, for example, I feel I can get away with buying conventional.

Speaking of produce, I buy frozen vegetables when it makes sense. I used to be totally averse to frozen vegetables, based on nothing but a personal feeling that fresh was healthier for some reason.

It turns out that’s not always true. Plus, buying frozen keeps waste lower because I can store it for longer periods of time. So whenever I’ll be cooking the vegetable heavily — for example, the cauliflower in the tacos or the peas in the fried rice — I go for frozen.

All things considered, I think our spending of ~$80 on food for the week works out to a fair cost per meal.

While this shopping trip will feed both me and my husband for at least a week, he’s often away for meals and other times, we might order in. I didn’t have to pick up anything for my planned Crock Pot Split Pea Soup, which will help me clear out some of the carrots and celery I have in my fridge.

The Mongolian Tofu and Fried Rice I planned will easily last 5+ servings, and the Roasted Cauliflower Tacos will last a few extra meals, too.

I still find myself at Publix a few times a week, picking up an extra ingredient for a recipe I want to make, or when I crave dessert or some of that Made coffee.

And no matter, I’ve got my list.