What we bought:
Vegetables (mainly frozen, sometimes canned, occasionally fresh)
Fresh fruit (whatever was cheap/in season)
Margarine (Earth Balance)
Giant bagged generic-brand cereal
Whole-wheat bread (the cheapest store brand)
Peanut butter (Jif brand)
Ro-tel (this is diced tomatoes and green chiles, store-brand)
Cheese (mainly sandwich cheese, sometimes block cheese)
Pasta sauce (the kind in glass jars)
Flour/sugar/baking powder/baking soda/vegetable oil
Canned soup: tomato, vegetable, cream of x
Whole wheat saltines
One package (4) veggieburgers
One package store-bought cookies
Meat (other than the tuna; I’m an omnivore but one roommate was vegetarian and the other was vegan. Plus, meat is expensive.)
Any other beverages besides milk
Any other junk food
Cleaning products, paper products, and toiletries were not part of the grocery budget.
We bought our coconut milk, curry paste, and tofu at an Asian grocery store about 20 miles away. It was worth the drive because prices there were so much cheaper. For instance, canned coconut milk would have cost us up to 2.99/can locally, but we paid 49 cents a can at the Asian grocery.
Most of the other groceries were purchased at a Super Wal-Mart. I don’t like shopping at Wal-Mart, but at the time it was by far the cheapest place in town for groceries. Since then my town has gotten a Super Target, which I feel less bad shopping at, and other grocery stores have had to cut prices and offer better sales in order to compete with Wal-Mart.
We lived in Oklahoma. Oklahoma as a whole has a low cost of living, but our metropolitan area's cost of living is right aroud average for the U.S.
Ways we could have cut the budget even more (without sacrificing health/variety):
Buying dry beans instead of canned. We were too lazy to use dry beans. However, dry beans would have saved us a lot, especially since the rent included all bills (so using more electricity to cook the beans wouldn’t have mattered).
Buying generic peanut butter. One roommate’s only food request was that we had to have Jif peanut butter. Since he was so easygoing about everything else, we indulged him.
Buying cow’s milk instead of soymilk. The soymilk was because one roommate was vegan. We got a really good deal on soymilk at one of the local grocery stores, but cow’s milk still would have been cheaper. Powdered cow’s milk would have been the cheapest.
Cutting out the occasional treats of fake meat and store-bought cookies.
Buying white rice instead of brown. White rice is much cheaper than brown, but we liked brown better—plus, it’s healthier.
Buying the pasta sauce in the big cans instead of the glass jars. The jars are easier for storage once opened, but the cans are cheaper per ounce.
Buying regular instead of whole-wheat saltines. We liked whole-wheat better. It was probably healthier, but probably not all that much healthier.
Buying plain instead of instant oatmeal. Call me crazy, but I like the artificially flavored instant stuff way better.
Buying cheaper margarine. Earth Balance was the favorite brand for all of us, but rather pricey.
Question away! (I'm sure I forgot to list some completely obvious foods that we did in fact buy.)