Tuesday, May 5, 2015

April 2015 Grocery Spending Journal

For the month of April, I have $155.23 for groceries. I'll continue to work extra hard at controlling my spending.

April 1. Eggs, lots of eggs. A comment was left anonymously on one of my posts that eggs were on sale for 99 cents/dozen at Target. One daughter was needing mascara, and I buy ELF cosmetics for some items (a deal -- $1 for mascara, and $1 for under-eye concealer for myself). So, off to Target (and Kohl's next door to use my $10 off coupon for new socks for daughters, another real deal, 6 pairs of Gold Toe socks regularly $14, on sale for $12, used my $10 off coupon and spent $2.19 including tax, that's less than 40 cents/ pair).

Okay back to groceries, I bought 17 dozen eggs, to go with my 3 dozen eggs from last week. I now have 20 dozen eggs in the house! I'll start the freezing process later today. I plan on freezing at least 8 dozen. Total spent on eggs, $16.83

April 1. Walgreen's to use my coupon for cream cheese (99cents -- 8-oz, limit 3), also buy 1 bag of jelly beans for 67 cents. spent $3.64

April 2. Walgreen's for cream cheese, 99 cents each, limit 3 with coupon. Bought 3. Also found 7 packages of marked down ham luncheon meat to add to the freezer, at 99 cents for 9-oz packages. Total spent $9.90

April 3. Once more by Walgreen's. Buy 3 packages cream cheese, 99 cents each, 2 dozen eggs, 99 cents each, and 3 more bags of jelly beans (to use later in the year), 3/$2. spent $6.95

April 3. Country Farms produce stand. 1 10-lb bag of small oranges (great size for lunches), $3.99 (40cents/lb),  1 bag of marked down bell peppers (2 green, 3 yellow) for $1.29, 1 bundle of celery (about 2 lbs, 89 cents), 5 red delicious apples (50 cents/lb), 3 small avocados, 25 cents each, and just over a lb of asparagus at $1.99/lb.  Most of what I bought fell under the 50 cents/lb price limit I've got going right now, with exception to the asparagus (for a holiday meal), and the avocados and peppers, I'm not sure, as they're usually sold per piece, anyway, but got good deals, nonetheless. Spent $10.24

April 3. Cash & Carry wholesaler, for 50-lbs white flour ($13.38), 50-lbs granulated sugar ($21.37), 29 oz cans of coffee ($5.98) and decaf ($7.95), 1-gallon jar of mayonnaise ($4.95), will be decanted a pint at a time, 5-lb bag of shredded cheddar-jack cheese (this was mostly cheddar, by looking at the bag, will be good for mac and cheese and cheese sauces -- $9.98), and 5-lb bag of carrots ($2.09). Spent $65.70

Spent to date -- $113.26

We are well-stocked right now. The only items that I'm REALLY wanting to buy are dried lentils and/or dried pinto beans. I'm going to have to resist spending, unless I find fabulous deals.

April 5. Stopped by Albertson's to buy a container of vanilla bean ice cream for Easter dinner (because what would pie be without a scoop of ice cream on top?!) spent $3.49. Month-to-date spent
$116.75

April 9. Cash & Carry wholesaler for 50-lbs whole wheat flour ($12.99), 5-lb bag shredded cheddar ($9.98) and 50-lb bag of potatoes (grade #2, $5.95). Spent $28.92 for a total of $145.67

April 9. Fred Meyer, found 1% milk on markdown for $1.49/gallon (bought 4, enough to get through the month), also 24 oz containers of cottage cheese for 99 cents (bought 3). I can use the cottage cheese in the filling for lasagna. I use about 16 oz per pan of lasagna, so each pan will cost 66 cents for the cottage cheese part of the lasagna. Enough cottage cheese for 4 pans of lasagna. What I don't use in the next few weeks will freeze for future cooking. Spent $8.93, for a month to date total of $154.60.

So, it's April 13, and I'm checking in here. I'm down to enough soy milk for one more cup of tea. I like milk in some flavors of tea but not all, and never in coffee. So, I'm drinking the fruitier flavors of tea this week, as I take these black with a bit of sugar. Sometimes, I use a plain dollar store tea bag with a spoonful of cherry preserves or a tablespoon or two of red currant drink syrup. Either one makes a good cup of tea for me. Otherwise, we're doing okay for the week without going grocery shopping. I still have greens in the garden, a 3-lb block of frozen spinach, some cabbage, carrots, onions, shallots, potatoes, oranges and an avocado. Plus the canned veggies (pumpkin, and various tomato products), and lots of frozen fruits from last summer. I'll need produce next week, which will put me over our limit. But not by a whole lot.

There's nothing on sale this week that I can't live without. That's a good feeling. I should be able to get this budget back in line by the end of next month. No holiday meal to plan for. No major sales expected. And we're fairly well stocked with the basics.

April 14. Dollar Tree. buy 1 quart of soy milk. spent $1

April 14. Fred Meyer, find 16 oz boxes of whole, small mushrooms, marked down to $1.89 each. I buy 2. Spend $3.78.

April 19, find 1 gallon skim milk marked down to $1.50. spent $1.50

Total spent for the month, $160.88

April 23. My step-mom is visiting and I wanted to make lasagna for one night. I'd actually thought about making the pasta by hand. I've made fettuccine on many occasions, so thought lasagna would be pretty simple. But I just ran out of time. So Dollar Tree for 1 box of lasagna noodles, spent $1. Will have to make homemade lasagna another time.

Total spent for the month, $161.88

April 24. Cash & Carry has some spices on sale through the weekend. I don't want to miss the opportunity to pick these up. Large canister ground mustard powder ($2.37), Large canister chili powder ($3.25), large canister cinnamon sticks ($1.88), large canister whole cloves ($4.12), large canister ground cumin ($3.46). spent $15.08

April 30. Cinco de Mayo sales on spices at Cash and Carry, cellophane bags of dried peppers (99 cents), ground paprika ($2.78), and garlic granules ($2.48). Spent $6.25


Done for the month of April. Total spent for the month -- $183.21, over my allotted amount by $27.98. That amount will be deducted from May's grocery budget, giving me $147.02 for May.

21 comments:

  1. I have a non-grocery question (since you brought it up) - how do you get a $10 Kohls coupon? I've only seen $10 Kohls cash but you have to spend $50 to get it! I also receive a coupon with a % off, but I'm missing out on the $10 coupon!

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    1. Hi Ruthie,
      I don't know how I got on Kohl's mailing list. They send me a $10 off any purchase coupon about 4 to 5 times per year. It comes in the regular mail, printed on card stock, about the size of a postcard. You could inquire with Kohl's about how to get put on their mailing list.

      Good luck!

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    2. I'm not sure how those cash coupons work either. My sister gets them, but I don't. However, we get all of the other coupons and mailings the same. And our spending at the store is about the same.

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  2. I am looking for a good deal on lentils too. We're down to our last 1 lb bag from about 3-4 years ago, way past the "best use by" date of 2013, We recently bought our pinto beans from Sam's Club, 25lb bag for around $16, about 64 cents per lb. Good deal compared to supermarket prices. I wish warehouse clubs would sell more basic food ingredients than prepared type foods.

    I'm incredibly happy that our April food spend (including eating out and toiletries) was $ 364.75, much much less than March $564.88, and February $520.90. April spend also included buying 75lbs of pinto beans! I think the beans played a large part in bringing down our food cost. I noticed that I avoided prepared foods altogether and enjoyed making our meals from scratch. I was never much of a meat eater, now even more since using beans often in our diet. Also your striving to keep your food budget down inspired me to find frugal alternatives in our own budget.

    YHF

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    1. Hi YHF,
      Great job on cutting your grocery spending!!!! You must feel really good about that!

      Once you get into the swing of things, with cooking from scratch, it feels like it gets easier. I think having a basic item that you make in bulk, like the bean patties, really simplifies scratch-cooking.

      That's a really good price on the pintos at Sam's, especially for your area. Lentils used to be as inexpensive as green split peas here. Their prices were comparable for years. Then a couple of years ago, lentils' price jumped. So, I'm hoping to see it come down again. I like having lentils on hand in the warmer months, as they cook so quickly, and are a good addition to salads.

      Keep up your good work on grocery spending!!

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  3. Thanks for the encouragement :) It definitely feels good and I hope we can duplicate the low spend this month. However, I am still unhappy about the amount we spend on nonessential foods. Still hovering in the 35-50% range of food spend. I've dissected our food budget into roughly four categories: fruits/veg (incl. canned, frozen, fresh, garden supplies), protein sources (meat, fish, dairy, nuts and legumes), carbohydrate/fat/alcohol/snacks/eating out (dressings, sauces and spreads incl.), and nonfood toiletries. The last food category is the one I am focused on since it represents foods I don't want to consume in too large quantities. My goal is to reduce this to 25% of our food budget.

    YHF

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    1. YHF, I think that you're doing great. It's a process. You've analyzed where your grocery money is going and working to reduce non-essentials.

      Isn't it astounding what those non-essentials cost? At 35 to 50% of your food spending, you could buy a lot of produce or meat for that same amount of money. I sometimes like to imagine what I would buy if I had the $150 or so per week, that I see folks with in line at the supermarket.

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    2. Process...very good point! After all...it's been only a few months.

      I am trying to convert my husband lol...he loves his snacks. But he also cooks so I am trying to think of foods we could make that can take the place of store bought snacks. We do popcorn, and there are a plethora of popcorn based recipes I could try. But it all sounds more fattening than plain popcorn. We try to limit our snacking but when it's already bought we seem to end up consuming it and buying more. I already only buy when the snacks are on sale with coupons, so I have to devise a better plan like hard dollar limits. Notice the sales and coupons are endless for these types of foods.

      YHF

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    3. YHF, have you tried making up something like a platter of cut veggies, pita "chips" (just homemade pita bread, cut into wedges and baked till crisp) and hummus, to keep in the fridge, for your snacking? Would your husband go for something like that?

      For us, we had to change the way we viewed snacking. From empty calorie foods like chips and cookies to more nutrient dense, mini-meal type foods. Personally, I feel better if I eat a balanced snack, so this really worked for us.

      Muffins are another good "instant" snack food. Quick to just grab and eat. And they can be made savory as well as sweet.

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    4. My husband likes to purchase certain snack items...he literally craves them. Occasionally I crave soft serve ice cream. I think we have to just buy these types of food less often, and slowly make the adjustment to wholesome snack foods like you mentioned. I have been looking for bean muffin recipes or any type of bean based dessert. I am very interested in making our own crackers and dip. I forgot about vegetable snacks...yes it can be done!

      YHF

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    5. I have a recipe for garbanzo bean chocolate cake. I'll see if I can find it. I believe it is flour-less.

      My daughters love making crackers! I find them tedious to do, so let them at it, when they're in the mood! But I make crostini, a good substitute for crackers. I'll post my way of doing that either later this week or early next. Crostini keeps well, in a closed tin or plastic container, too. It has that crunchy-ness that I sometimes want, and can handle dips and spreads.

      Lavosh is another easy cracker to make. I did a post on making that in 2012
      http://www.creativesavv.com/2012/08/making-lavosh-crackers.html

      Lavosh is not much harder than making tortillas.

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    6. Thanks, I would love to try flour-less recipes and those with less sugars (using applesauce and other fruits instead). I'm scouring the internet these past few days looking for the site I saw months ago but sadly can't find it. It was written by a women with a list of bean dessert recipes on the left hand side bar. I wish I bookmarked it but at that time didn't think I would like to try beans in a dessert. Now I'm determined to incorporate it in our diet lol. My husband is a bit skeptical that it could taste good.

      I love your cracker ideas...yes I read your Lavosh post and will give that a test run too.

      YHF

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  4. I've never frozen cottage cheese. Do you do anything special and does the consistency change?

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      For the most part, cottage cheese thaws into what it looked like going into the freezer, curds and whey. The creamy portion separates, as you'd expect. But I use cottage cheese as a filling in lasagna and canneloni. It bakes and melts pretty much the same. And no, I just measure out portions for recipes into containers, so that I don't thaw more than I want at a time. Otherwise, nothing special for freezing.

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    2. Thanks. I may try it. I mostly eat cottage cheese with salads or just by itself. However, it would be handy to have some in the freezer for the occasional time I cook with it. I don't buy cottage cheese all of the time because it is expensive so I usually only cook with it when it's on sale.

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    3. I forgot -- I also use the thawed cottage cheese to fill blintzes. Adding an egg helps firm up and hold the cottage cheese together inside the crepe. Blintzes are a great way to use up the last 1/2 cup or so of cottage cheese, when you think it's nearing its expiry.

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  5. YHF talked about stores selling a lot more prepared type foods instead of basic ingredients and I noticed that many stores including the smaller stores do exactly that. I've weaned my family from those prepared items for a couple of years but it's getting harder to find basics especially in the smaller stores.

    I sometimes observe people in the checkout lanes at the store and see all the prepackaged foods they buy for the week. Tacos in a box, lasagna kits, cans of ravioli, frozen premade anything, garlic bread. Somehow, I wonder if those things are healthy. I make my own spaghetti sauce from home grown tomatoes, homemade garlic bread, homemade ravioli even.

    I just feel that if we don't begin the faze out this stuff people are never going to know how to cook and our medical issues will skyrocket (I think it already has).

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      Did you ever watch the Jamie Oliver series, "Food Revolution"? What surprised me was that even the schools were using these junky, prepared items, like frozen chicken nuggets and fries in the lunch program. Those things were cheap and easy for the staff in the kitchen.

      Your home-cooking sounds delicious and your family is surely appreciative. Food simply tastes better, IMO, when you use whole foods ingredients.

      You're doing a great job, and helping your kids to appreciate the flavors of a variety of foods. This will pay off for them in the future.

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    2. Alice, I totally agree...such a sad realization. I think we are snowballing into more and more dependency on the system for our needs, and ironically by doing that the system responds by creating greater dependency. Soon no matter how hard we work with even less time to care for ourselves and our loved ones, we still won't make it. The only solution is to resist the calling...as Lili and so many other "urban homesteaders" are trying to do.

      YHf

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  6. Hi Lili,
    Great job on the grocery budget,Do you use the spinach to make veggie lasagna? yum My daughter used to work for a veg family and made many wonderful meals without meat . Like you do. She makes veggie lasagna,enchiladas,tamale pie with black beans instead of meat,black bean
    burgers etc. She had a month of veg recipes without repeating yum.I am so excited she ordered a casseroll sp? crock pot for me,so I can make things like lasagna. We do not have an oven.Have a wonderful mothers day.
    Patti from San Diego

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    1. Hi Patti,
      Yes, my veggie lasagna is spinach and grated carrot mixed in with the cheese filling. It sounds like your daughter learned how to prepare many yummy veggie meals!

      How exciting -- a new crockpot! I hope this simplifies some of your cooking, as well as giving you a "tool" to make a wider repertoire of dishes!

      Wishing you a lovely Mother's Day, as well, Patti!

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.