|Trader Joe's -- one of my favorite stores. |
I love that their tofu is the cheapest in town, and it's organic to boot!
Jan. 16. Eggs advertised at Bartell's Drugs for $1.49/ dozen extra large. I stopped in to pick up a few dozen, and some more Tully's decaf French Roast (hey if Dr. McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy is going to be the new owner of Tully's, I'm buying his coffee! Just kidding, I had Tully's in the house before that news.). As we've kept our grocery spending fairly low in recent months, I've been splurging on good decaf coffee. It's a frugal splurge, really. I blend the good decaf with regular coffee for a reduced caffeine brew. The French Roast is very good. Anyways, Bartell's was out of the eggs, but I got the coffee. Spent $7.99. Here's the rub, though. I got home, picked up the store flyers for the week, and Tully's coffee, the exact same that I just bought, was on ad in one of our stores for $5.99! I missed out on a sale by just a few hours of notice. I may still pick up a bag of the sale Tully's, if I make it to that store. For the eggs, I asked for a rain check.
Total spent today, $7.99, for a month-to-date total of $80.70
Jan. 19. We were about out of milk, so I got up early to check QFC for marked-down milk. I hadn't checked their flyer, but as it turned out, milk was on ad just for the weekend for $1 for 1/2 gallon. I got lucky! I bought a total of 14 1/2 gallon containers (some 2% for drinking, and a few whole milk for yogurt). Also checked their mark-down produce section and found bananas for 39c/lb. I bought a few bundles. With 5 of us here, we'll go through all of these by the end of the long weekend. Spent $15.27 at QFC.
Also, just down the street is Albertson's. I wanted to make a stop by there, as avocados were on sale for 50c each, and they had the decaf coffee that I like for $5.99 bag. I also needed whole wheat tortillas for the week (2 for $3, bought 2 packs), and I found 2 large canisters of dark roast Maxwell House coffee (28 oz.) on clearance for $4.99 each. I think we're more than set for coffee for the next few months! Spent $20.97 at Albertson's today. Total month-to-date spent -- $116.94
Jan. 22. Stopped in at the Cash and Carry after school, bought a gallon of vinegar, 5 lbs of carrots and 3 quarts of soy milk. Spent $8.42.
Also, stopped in Albertson's for shortening, and household supplies. Spent $5.99 for shortening. Total spent for the month, so far $131.35
We managed to acquire 2 dozen eggs this week for free. My son volunteers at the local food bank a few days per month. If they have items that are about to expire and can't give out, they pass these on to the volunteers. So, lucky us. Just as we were running out of eggs, 2 dozen come our way.
Jan. 29. Dozen eggs on sale at QFC for $1. I stopped in on way home and picked up 6 dozen. (Spent $6) The sell-by date is March 4, over a month away. In addition, the eggs should still be good for a few days past the sell-by date, I'd guess until about March 10, if they last that long. I'm done shopping for the month. My total for January -- $137.35. My budget was $210 for the month.
I'll have $72.65 to carry forward into next month's surplus. If I look at prior year's expenses, month by month, I can see that my expensive months are later in spring through early summer, as my freezer empties out.
In the second half of January, I made 6 stops at grocery stores, and spent $64.64. I expect next month I'll need to restock several items, such as margarine and butter, peanut butter, soy milk and others.
I'd like to cut back on my stops at the Cash and Carry and Trader Joe's, to just 1 or 2 stops per month. Neither of those stores have weekly ads. Their prices reflect what they paid for their stock, and are not used to entice shoppers to come in, then spend significantly more. So there's no real benefit to my stopping in weekly or every other week. I just need to plan better, and I could save myself some time.
Stores I shopped at this month:
Bartell Drugs (in Lynnwood), sometimes drug stores have good deals on food products. I especially like this Bartells for its exceptional customer service, and it's on my way home every day.
QFC (in Mukilteo), QFC is a regional chain, sort of known for being pricier than many other grocery stores in the area, but they have great prices on milk and eggs when on sale. And they mark down their packaged deli and dairy sections every couple of days, so I almost always find bargains there.
Albertsons (in Mukilteo), fairly good prices for when I need something that I can't find on sale, and they're the closest grocery store to our house.
Cash and Carry wholesale (in Lynnwood), big warehouse-style restaurant supply that sells to the public. I first heard of shopping at a restaurant supply from the Tightwad Gazette, about 17 years ago. We've been hooked since. Another restaurant/institutional supply store that often sells to the public is Smart and Final. Cash and Carry and Smart and Final have the institutional version of a store brand, sometimes Smart & Final brand, sometimes First Street brand. I can find name brands there as well, but the store brands are much cheaper and similar in quality. I use Cash and Carry for a regular supply of basics, when I can't find them on loss leader sales.
I didn't go to Trader Joe's in the second half of this month, but I do like their products. Many of the regular products I buy there also happen to be organic, and I'm not paying a premium for the organic version. Most everything there has the Trader Joe's label. They're especially good for natural-style peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts/seeds, whole grain pasta, tofu, soy milk, cocoa powder, bananas, nitrate-free hot dogs, and some vitamins and supplements. If you've been wanting to try more organic products, and have a Trader Joe's nearby, stop in and check their prices and products.
Grocery deals to look for in February:
- Superbowl Sunday, the first weekend of the month, look for chips, dips, sandwich fixings, soda pop
- Valentine's Day, if you just have to have strawberries before they're in season locally, this will be the first sale of the year on strawberries, but still much more per pound than later in spring, also, steaks, lobster and chocolate on sale
- Valentine's Day Clearance- beginning Feb 15, boxed and bagged chocolates marked down
- National Canned Food month-all month long in the US, various canned foods featured on sale
- National Cherry Pie Month-in US, Cherry Pie Day is Feb 20, expect to find canned cherry pie filling on sale just before. If you don't want to bake a cherry pie yourself, wait until about Feb. 24 and check your grocery store bakery clearance rack
- Chinese New Year begins Feb. 10 (it's the year of the snake)-expect to find Chinese cuisine related items, such as soy sauce, canned bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and chow mein noodles on sale the week before
- No. Hemisphere produce remains much like January, except tangerines no longer considered in season. You'll find cabbage family vegetables, avocados, oranges, leafy greens such as chard, kale, collards and spinach, root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, parsnips and potatoes
- So. Hemisphere produce -- still peak summer veggies and fruits, apricots, plums, melons, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, corn and eggplant, later in the month the early apples come in. This is a good time of year for So. Hemisphere for great deals on produce, to can and freeze.
So, how did January spending go for you? Did you also find that it was easier to be frugal this month?
Have you ever shopped in a restaurant/institutional supply warehouse store? Is there a particular store in your town where prices are predictably lower than the other stores around?