Show Us Your Grocery Receipts, Part Twelve: H-E-B and the Hashmark System

Nicole Dieker
Apr 29, 2016 · 2 min read

Do you tally up how much you’re spending on groceries as you shop? Or do you, like I do, assume “eh, it’ll be between $70 and $100” (or whatever your numbers are) and not worry about tracking everything that goes into your cart?

In this installment of Show Us Your Grocery Receipts, a Billfolder shares both her grocery receipt and the hashmark system she’s developed to keep her grocery bill on budget.

Here is my grocery store tally for this week. I am shopping for one and try to generally stay within a $60/week budget. This includes food, but also all the non-food items I generally buy at the grocery store: toilet paper, Kleenex, vitamins, lotions, toothpaste, shampoo, cleaning supplies, mascara, beer, flowers, etc.

I have also included a snapshot of the hashmark system I use to generally estimate my balance as I shop. One hashmark equals one dollar, and I generally round up in the hopes that this rounding will take care of any tax assessed at the register. So, something that costs $3.58 goes down as 4 hashmarks. You’ll see that in this case my hashmark system told me I’d spent about $58, but the actual total was $53. This system generally keeps me under budget, though I am guesstimating produce expenses since I don’t weigh my produce, and sometimes my guesses end up being pretty off when I get to the register. I always overbuy produce — you would think after years of buying more apples than I can eat and always having a pear or orange floating around, that I’d be better at buying the right quantities for me, but this is something I still struggle with once I enter the cornucopia of the grocery store.

So this week’s receipt reflects the two main meals I am planning for this week, both of which I’ve made before: a shrimp and vegetable tabbouleh from Mark Bittman (I already bought the shrimp on sale a few weeks ago) and turkey meatballs and spaghetti. The rest of my meals will be filled in with leftovers from last week, some egg-based meals, and at least one dinner of avocado toast. Standard breakfast is oatmeal with peanut butter stirred in.

I’ve already told you that I’m going grocery shopping this weekend, so I’ll try out the hashmark system and see if it changes the way I shop. Anyone else want to try it?

Previously: Show Us Your Grocery Receipts, Part Eleven: Trader Joe’s and Aldi

The Billfold

Everything you wanted to know about money but were too polite to ask.

Nicole Dieker

Written by

Writer, editor, teacher. Daily posts on the art and the finances of a creative career at

The Billfold

Everything you wanted to know about money but were too polite to ask.

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