This Is How Much a Family of Three in Virginia Spends on Food in One Week

This is Meal Prep, IRL, a candid weekly snapshot of one woman’s food and grocery habits. She’ll share what she buys at the grocery store, how she meal preps through the week, who she is cooking and meal prepping for, what she and her family actually eat during the week, and what the total weekly food expenditure is.

This week we’re following Erica Jackson Curran, a 34-year-old part-time freelance writer who works from home in Richmond, Virginia. She’s married to Todd, who owns a sports apparel company, and mom to Oliver, age 2.5.

I really wish I was the mom who meal prepped for the entire week on Sundays and had a tasty, wholesome dinner on the table every night. In reality, I’m not the best planner, I’m not the best cook and I could definitely be better about resisting my cravings. But I try my best.

While I do love cooking, my skills are on the basic side. I usually make a short list of recipes to try from favorite blogs or Pinterest, then order my groceries online for pickup once a week. Fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, cage-free eggs, black beans, onions, a rotisserie chicken and healthy snacks and drinks like Bolthouse Farms smoothies are always on the list. On really busy weeks, I’ll buy a bunch of easy dinners from the frozen foods aisle. Frozen or made from scratch, we make a point of sitting down at the dining room table at least couple nights a week and teaching our toddler the art of dinner conversation (even if we only talk about cartoons).

Sunday

meal prep family of three
Image: Erica Jackson Curran.

6:45 a.m. Most mornings I wake up naturally at dawn and sneak downstairs for some rare alone time while Todd and Oliver are snoozing. I pour a cup of coffee and sit on the couch with my two dogs, attempting to get my head on straight for the day.

This morning, I’m ordering groceries for the week. I started to hate grocery shopping around the time Oli was born (that is most definitely not a coincidence) and have been doing either delivery or curbside pickup ever since. I love that I can plan out my meals and order everything I need in about 15 minutes, then pick it up a few hours later. I scroll through the available coupons on my app and find quite a few discounts on things I had planned to buy anyway, like avocados, Oli’s favorite snacks, organic chicken, and some Bolthouse Farms® smoothies, drinks and dressings. Score.

12:00 p.m. I’m on a weird egg salad kick right now, so I made a big batch on Friday that I’m still working through. I spread the eggs on toasted multigrain bread and eat it with a side of sliced cucumbers and a glass of water. I give the same to Oliver, with the egg salad in a bowl and the toast cut into strips. He loves it, too.

3:00 p.m. After Oli wakes up from his nap, we head to the grocery store around the corner to pick up our food. We park in a special spot and someone loads the bags into our trunk, and I feel like a VIP. This is so worth the $5 convenience fee. I’m back home and unloading less than 10 minutes later. Groceries: $132.46

6:30 p.m. I always feel a bit guilty eating out right after grocery shopping, but we spent the afternoon hiking and our favorite restaurant is conveniently on the way home. We snag a cozy booth and split a huge Greek salad, chicken parm over spaghetti and coconut cream pie. The grown-ups get beer. Oliver goes to town on the noodles and gets sauce all over his shirt. Dinner for three: $60.53

Total daily food expenditure: $192.99


Monday

meal prep family of three
Image: Erica Jackson Curran.

7:45 a.m. I wake up on the late side and down two cups of coffee in quick succession. I try my milk frother with pea protein milk and it doesn’t really work, but I drink it anyway. I bring a banana into my office to eat while I catch up on emails, but Oliver waltzes in and eats it. There goes my breakfast.

12:30 p.m. Todd has been running errands with Oli while I work, and I assume they’re stopping somewhere for lunch. I finish up the last of my egg salad (note to self: make another batch soon!) and pair it with a juicy orange and a tall glass of ice water. Lunch estimate for the boys: $13

3:30 p.m. I covertly grab a handful of chocolate candies from Oli’s potty training stash, then give myself a little pat on the back when he doesn’t notice. Instead, I give him a small cup of Bolthouse Farms® Straw-Banana Smoothie, which he downs in a single gulp. I’m impressed and feel good about the nutrition it provides.

6 p.m. It’s a cold, dreary day and I’m craving soup, so I start deboning a rotisserie chicken from yesterday’s grocery run. I remember that I have a pack of cheese tortellini in the fridge from last week, so I quickly Google chicken tortellini soup recipes and decide to try the first one that pops up, since I already have most of the ingredients. Dinner is ready within about a half hour and it’s a big hit. Oli loves the tortellini, Todd eats two bowlfuls, and I eat one bowl with a handful of crackers.

7:30 p.m. I keep most treats out of the house since I’m trying to lose weight and I have no self-control, but Todd pulls out a small pint of strawberry cheesecake ice cream he’s kept hidden away and dishes out a few scoops for me. It hits the spot.

Total daily food expenditure: $13


Tuesday

Image: Erica Jackson Curran.

9:45 a.m. Todd takes the morning kid-watching shift again so I get started working early and run down to the kitchen for a banana, hard-boiled egg, and second cup of coffee just before 10 a.m. I eat in front of the computer. With four deadlines this week, I need some nourishment.

12:30 p.m. Is it just me or does soup taste better the second day? I eat a big bowl of leftover chicken tortellini soup with a few strawberries on the side.

3:30 p.m. My computer is on the fritz, so I have to go to the repair shop with my little buddy. I grab a Bolthouse Farms® Straw-Banana Smoothie and a clementine and head out the door. Oli loves the strawberry-banana flavor and I love that it doesn’t have added sugars, artificial flavors or any artificial preservatives. 

6 p.m. After too long at the repair shop and a trip to the playground, I don’t feel like dealing with rush hour traffic and then having to cook as soon as we get home, so Oli and I meet Todd at a little cafe for dinner. I order my favorite sandwich — turkey and swiss with caramelized onions and pickled jalapeños — and eat half of it with sides of French potato salad and chips. And a mint lemonade. Dinner for three: $43

Total daily food expenditure: $43


Wednesday

meal prep family of three
Image: Erica Jackson Curran.

8 a.m. I snag a mug of coffee and clementine from the kitchen to start the day.

12 p.m. I share the rest of my sandwich from last night’s dinner with Oli while playing in the backyard, then head inside to warm up the rest of the soup, which we also share. I’ll miss you, soup.

6 p.m. A writer friend needs a last-minute date to check out a fancy new restaurant for an article, so I meet her there. We share four small plates like shaved cauliflower with a soft egg and roasted potato with koji cream and seaweed. I also have a glass of Hungarian white wine. Dinner, split check: $42.86

8 p.m. On the way home, I pick up a box of fresh doughnuts “for the boys” and eat two in quick succession in the Target parking lot. No shame. If you haven’t had a hot-and-ready doughnut, you haven’t lived. Half dozen doughnuts and an iced coffee: $8.58

Total daily food expenditure: $51.44


Thursday

meal prep family of three
Image: Erica Jackson Curran.

7 a.m. I’m still full from last night, so I stick with coffee for breakfast. Oli finds the box of doughnuts and inhales one before we can stop him. His preschool teachers can have fun with that sugar rush.

12 p.m. I feel bad for not eating more of my groceries so far this week, so I make a big salad and top it with the rest of the rotisserie from earlier this week. Oli gets a lettuce-free version with just avocado, cucumbers, tomato, and chicken. We both get a drizzle of Bolthouse Farms® Classic Ranch dressing, which is made with a yogurt base, so it really cuts down on the calories.

3 p.m. Todd comes home early, which allows me to catch up on work. He puts some chicken drumsticks in the slow cooker with barbecue sauce. I’m starving, so I grab a container of coconut-flavored Greek yogurt and a handful of crispy chickpeas.

6:30 p.m. Barbecue chicken, broccoli, baked beans and crescent rolls are on the menu at Todd’s Cafe. I feel like his mom made us dinner, and I’m not sad about it.

7:30 p.m. I try to wait until Oli goes to bed to break out the dark chocolate bar I’ve been saving, but I can’t, so I end up sharing it with him and Todd. 

Total daily food expenditure: $0


Friday

meal prep family of three
Image: Erica Jackson Curran.

8 a.m. I’m off to a late start this morning. I grab a Bolthouse Farms® Green Goodness® smoothie on my way out the door for preschool drop-off, and we’re off to the races.

12:30 p.m. Oli is super whiny the second he gets home from preschool, and I know I need to make lunch quickly. I give him the rest of my veggie drink from the morning while I make a sandwich piled high with cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, avocado, banana peppers, provolone and a squirt of the same Bolthouse Farms® Classic Ranch dressing we used yesterday. I give Oli a deconstructed version since there’s no way he could fit this giant sandwich in his little mouth. He stops whining for a few minutes.

3 p.m. The kiddo wants to make pretend cookies in his play kitchen, so I figure, why not make the real deal? I find a recipe for orange-glazed sugar cookies and he “helps” me by pouring the ingredients into bowls, mixing them, and taste-testing the batter. He loves watching the cookies rise in the oven. Of course, we have to sample a few when they’re done.

6:30 p.m. I had the best intentions to make a healthy dinner, but after baking cookies, I don’t want to spend any more time in the kitchen. Instead, Todd picks up a pizza on his way home from work and I fix a simple salad to go on the side. We make a point to eat at the table so we feel a little bit classy even though we’re eating $6 pizza. Takeout pizza: $6

Total daily food expenditure: $6


Saturday

meal prep family of three
Image: Erica Jackson Curran.

10 a.m. I think about making a big brunch, but Todd’s mom is on the way over and I have errands to run, so I grab a couple of cookies, and Oliver and I hit the road while Todd catches up on work.

12 p.m. I’m still craving brunch when we get home, so I make soft-scrambled eggs and buttered toast with a few sliced strawberries on the side.

4 p.m. Cookie.

7 p.m. My mother-in-law takes us out to dinner with Todd’s brother and his wife. There’s a long wait at the restaurant and Oli is getting fussy, so Todd runs around the corner to get some chicken nuggets from a fast food restaurant, which we sneak into my purse. This turns out to be a brilliant dad move and Oli is now prepared to sit through a fairly long dinner (with occasional assistance from my phone, of course). I order a towering salad with teriyaki chicken, mango and avocado, and I barely make a dent in it. I also swipe a handful of Todd’s fries and wash it all down with some still water. Dinner: $0, thank you, MIL!

9 p.m. We got dessert to-go, and I eat a few forkfuls of cheesecake, feeding Oli some as well before taking him up to get ready for bed. I feel some bad-mom guilt for not only keeping him up so late, but feeding him sugar, too. But hey, it’s Saturday, right? By the time I get him in his PJs and read a few stories, I’m done for the night, too. Over and out.

Total daily food expenditure: $0

Total daily food expenditure: $306.43

Carlos Yudica/Shutterstock, Ruxiller13/Shutterstock,dslaven/Shutterstock,Maks Narodenko/Shutterstock,baibaz/Shutterstock. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.

This post was created by SheKnows for Bolthouse Farms.

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