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April Grocery Report + Is a Costco Membership Worth it?

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Here’s my grocery report for April – what we bought and how much I spent to feed our family of six last month. I’m also including my thoughts on is a Costco Membership worth it. Do you think a Costco membership is worth it? I’d love to hear!

April grocery report

April Grocery Report + Is a Costco Membership Worth it

If this is your first time reading one of my grocery reports, you might want to read the explanation I included the first time I did this. I started these reports in January of 2018 so that I could better understand our spending and see how we compare to other families. Each month, I share all the food I buy to feed my family of six – two adults and four kids (15, 13, 11, 8) and compare it to the USDA Cost of Food at Home.

USDA Cost of Food at Home

Here’s what the website says about the USDA Cost of Food at Home: “The Food Plans represent a nutritious diet at four different cost levels. The nutritional bases of the Food Plans are the 1997-2005 Dietary Reference Intakes, 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and 2005 MyPyramid food intake recommendations. In addition to cost, differences among plans are in specific foods and quantities of foods.”

It’s actually worth revisiting the USDA Cost of Food at Home, as it was updated in February 2019. Here’s what it says about my family:

  Thrifty Low-Cost Moderate Liberal
8 yr old child 138.90 192.00 234.40 276.90
11 yr old child 158.10 208.60 272.70 317.90
13 yr old boy 168.90 240.20 300.80 354.10
15 yr old girl 165.50 206.10 245.30 304.40
Male Adult 186.70 242.10 302.00 369.50
Female Adult 165.90 210.00 257.00 329.80
  984.00 1299.00 1612.20 1952.60

According to the USDA Cost of Food at Home, I could spend anywhere from $984 to $almost $2000 each month to feed my family which I think is just crazy. I don’t feel very thrifty – I buy as much organic food as I can and we certainly don’t go hungry. However, I don’t think we have ever spent over the Low-Cost plan – and rarely do we go over the THRIFTY plan. I think we eat a pretty balanced diet full of high quality food.

What do you think of the USDA chart? All righty then, here’s what we bought in April!

What Groceries I bought in April

If you read my monthly grocery reports, the following list won’t be a big surprise. I pretty much buy the same stuff over and over again. I’m not the only one, right?

4/1/19 Jeff’s Market – $4.70

  • Cottage cheese – 3.89
  • Bananas – 1.81

4/2/19 – Costco – $83.17

  • Organic strawberries – 5.99
  • Asparagus – 5.99
  • Dried cheese tortellini – 6.49
  • Pecan halves – 13.49
  • grape tomatoes – 5.99
  • Organic carrots – 5.49
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese – 10.79
  • Organic half & half – 5.99
  • Organic basil hummus – 6.99 (not very good)
  • Bananas – 1.49 x 2 = 2.98
  • Organic spinach – 4.49
  • Frozen blueberries – 8.49

4/5/19 ALDI – $64.59

  • Organic frozen strawberries – 2.89 x 3 = 8.67
  • Mini cucumbers – 2.49 x 2 = 4.98
  • Avocados – .49 x 6 = 2.94
  • Cilantro – .69
  • Hash brown patties – 3.29
  • Sliced mushrooms – 1.69
  • Tortillas – 1.99
  • Cabbage – 1.59
  • Bananas – 2.36
  • Organic gala apples – 4.69 (I don’t usually buy apples off season, but for some reason I did this day)
  • Limes – 1.69
  • Pineapple – 1.89 x 2 = 3.78
  • Organic whole milk plain yogurt – 2.89 x 4 = 11.56
  • Organic mini peppers – 3.29
  • Organic diced tomatoes – 1.65 x 4 = 6.60
  • Organic grape tomatoes – 2.39 x 2 = 4.78

4/12/19 – ALDI – $55.40

  • Pineapple – 1.89 x 2 = 3.78
  • Salami – 2.59
  • NEVER ANY lunch meat – 3.29 x 2 = 6.28
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese – 1.49 x 2 = 2.98
  • Sweet potatoes – 2.39
  • Navel oranges – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98
  • Corn tortillas – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98
  • Bananas – 1.13
  • Organic grape tomatoes – 2.39
  • Chocolate bunny – 2.29 x 4 = 9.16
  • Easter chocolate – 1.69
  • Organic blackberries – 2.99
  • Easter chocolate – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98
  • Organic roma tomatoes – 2.49

4/15/19 HYVEE – 28.74

  • Veggie juice – 2.99
  • Organic beef stock – 2.99 (should have made my own)
  • Organic whole milk – 2.59
  • Organic half and half – 4.99
  • Bean sprouts – 1.89
  • Green cabbage – 4.86
  • Organic peppers – 2.50 x 2 = 5.00
  • Snow peas – 3.53

4.18/19 Costco – 202.51 (paid with my yearly Costco credit card rewards and got a refund of 44.75!)

  • Wild caught Alaska salmon – 33.79 x 2 = 67.58 (I’m a little confused by this. Normally I only buy one bag of salmon at once, but I can’t remember if I may have bought 2 for some reason. It would totally be out of character for me which makes me wonder. It’s always a good idea to double check your receipts quickly before leaving stores!)
  • Asparagus – 2.69
  • bananas – 1.24
  • Organic tortilla chips – 4.59
  • Organic half and half – 1.97 x 3 = 5.91 (The expiration date was approaching and these were marked down. I bought 3 for about the regular price of one. When I got home, I opened the two extra, dumped a little out, and then froze them. I just pulled the last one out of the freezer!)
  • Organic triscuits – 9.59
  • Frozen strawpres – 6.99 (Can’t figure out what that was! Any ideas??)
  • Organic maple syrup – 10.79
  • Frozen cherries – 8.99
  • Organic strawberries – 7.49
  • grape tomatoes – 5.99
  • Organic whole chickens – 18.07
  • Frozen blueberries – 8.49
  • Organic frozen strawberries – 9.59
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese – 10.79
  • Organic ground beef – 19.99

4/20/19 ALDI – $8.78

  • Hamburger buns – .85
  • Frozen french fries – 1.65
  • Winking Owl wine – 2.89 x 2 = 5.88 (includes deposit)

4/28/19 Costco – $125.15

  • Organic frozen berries – 11.69
  • Organic tortilla chips – 4.59
  • Bagels – 5.99
  • Organic carrots – 5.49
  • KS U/S QTRS – 10.35 (Some kind of chicken?)
  • Anjou pears – 5.89
  • Mini peppers – 5.99
  • Pine nut hummus – 5.99
  • Organic strawberries – 6.99
  • Frozen blueberries – 8.49
  • Organic eggs (2 dozen) – 5.99
  • Organic romaine lettuce heads – 4.99
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese – 10.79
  • Cucumbers – 3.49
  • Bananas – 2.48
  • Snap peas – 4.49
  • Asparagus – 4.49
  • Rotisserie chicken – 4.99
  • Grape tomatoes – 5.99 x 2 = 11.98

So, how’d I do in April? Well, out of pocket, I only spent $370.53. If you add in the cost of the groceries I got for free using my Costco credit card Rewards, I spent $573.04. Either way, that’s the lowest amount of money I’ve spent on a month of groceries yet this year. To be fair, Dan and I were gone for a week so all four kids were fed by their grandparents for a week.

Costco_Logo-1

Is a Costco Membership Worth it?

I have been a Costco member since they first came to Iowa City several years ago. I was excited when they opened because I was looking forward to access to more organic food options. Iowa has been slow to offer organics, in my opinion.

Anyway, I splurged and purchased the Executive Membership for $110 annually. I also applied for the Costco credit card – currently a Visa. You can get a basic Costco membership for $55, but the EM gives you 2% back on your purchases, compared to 1%. I always make back my annual fee. You only have to spend $2750 per year (or $230 per month). You can tell from my monthly grocery reports that I have no trouble spending $230 a month at Costco.

I also enjoy the credit card rewards. I spend those rewards at Costco in April to reduce my out of pocket grocery expenses. You do not have to spend the money at Costco – and they will give you cash back on whatever you don’t spend. Mind – we pay our credit card off in full each month. I do not recommend using the credit card if you carry a balance and pay interest.

I just checked on my store rebate and see that I am at $110 currently. My rewards come out at the end of May – so basically I’m shopping at Costco for free. I’ll get a little over the $110 annual fee back, but not much more, and that’s fine with me! 

What do I buy at Costco

You can see from these monthly reports that I buy a lot of organic food:

  • organic half and half
  • organic ground beef (in between farmer beef purchases)
  • organic tortilla chips
  • organic chicken when I need it
  • organic frozen berries
  • organic produce, fresh and frozen
  • wild caught Alaska salmon

I also started buying Costco brand dog food this year. I get the Kirkland Salmon / Sweet Potato. Our dogs started having skin issues so I switched their food and they seem to do be doing well on it. Other miscellaneous items I buy at Costco:

  • clothing for my kids
  • flower bulbs for the garden
  • the occasional bottle of wine or booze

I hear a lot of people talk about how cheap Costco gas it, but it’s almost always cheaper in my hometown than it is at Costco, so I rarely get gas there. Occasionally, I’ll buy a rotisserie chicken -their $4.99 price tag is just too cheap to pass up some days.

In all, I like Costco. I have a large family so their bulk items work well for us. I like that the company pays its employees well and provides health care. I’m happy to support Costco.

What do you think? Is a Costco membership worth it to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on April’s grocery report!

Curious how my April Grocery Report compares to other months? Read these:

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

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About Michelle

Michelle Marine is green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.

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