In going over the budgets for the next few months, we need to trim again. We have some costly expenses coming up. They're all good things, but expensive, nonetheless. So, I've trimmed the food budget, once again, to $190 for the month. I'm pretty sure we can make it on this amount, especially if I'm careful about treat items. It's just $10 per month, but that, combined with cuts in other areas, and we should be on solid footing for our little extra expenses this spring and summer. More on those to come!
I have a carry-forward surplus of $97.89, from January's very lean grocery shopping. So, for the month of February, I have my $190 plus 97.89, for a total amount of $287.89 available to spend on groceries!
Feb. 2 Senior discount day at Fred Meyer. I offered my daughter a ride to the transit center today, as it would save her one leg of bus rides (about about 75 cents in fares). Since there are actually 2 Fred Meyer stores between home and the transit center, I knew I could do my FM shopping right after dropping her off. I went to the FM which is closest to the transit center (not my usual one). As it turned out, I had to go to both FMs, as the first one was completely out of whole almonds. But I was able to snag deals at both stores, and take advantage of a "limit 4" coupon, at both stores. So, all worked out okay. Here's what I bought:
1st FM -- in the markdown bin, 3 10-ct boxes of instant cocoa ($1.07 each, instant cocoa at Dollar Tree has been packaged in 6-ct boxes for the last year or so, so this was a deal, I'll use it in gifty type things, as I usually make cocoa from cocoa powder when making for the family). Also in the markdown bin, Starbuck's Christmas Blend ground coffee, 10-oz bags, I buy 2 ($2.99). Still expensive for ground coffee, but will be nice for a treat, now and again. I froze one bag, hoping I'll not use it until next November/December, we'll see on that. Also bought 4 8-oz bricks of cream cheese (sale w/coupon, 99 cents, plus my discount, making each one 89 cents). Not included in "food" shopping, I bought an orchid plant as a gift to our host/ess this coming Sunday. They've invited us for Chinese New Year celebrations. I was very surprised at how relatively affordable orchids are now. I used to buy these for my grandmother and mother back in the 70s and 80s, and paid $25 to $30 per plant then. At Fred Meyer, they were $9. And I bought vitamin D3, B1G1 free, plus discount on the first one, so a good deal. And part of my working on spending less on household/health and beauty items this year. On food, at this Fred Meyer, I spent $12.75
2nd FM -- 16-oz whole organic mushrooms, marked down to $2.29, whole almonds ($6.29/lb, about half a pound), raw, hulled sunflower seeds ($1.34/lb, about 2/3 lb), the limit 4 cream cheese coupon, bought 4 for 89 cents each, 1 gallon marked down skim milk ($1.79), 16 oz whipping cream ($1.99), 2 dozen repackaged eggs at $1.07/dozen. At this Fred Meyer I spent $15.65, and they have a gas station onsite, so I was able to fill my tank for $1.68/gallon.
I use whole milk for one daughter. I still have 1 1/2 gallons of whole milk at home for her. With this 1 gallon of skim milk, I can use that for my other two kids, with a bit of whole milk added to each glass to bring it up to 1% or 2% milk fat. I can also use the skim in cooking, and could use it in a pinch for first daughter, in a smoothie, by adding lots of other fats, like peanut butter. The whipping cream we really didn't need right now. I'm not having to add any to milk for my daughter at this point. But I kinda developed a bit of fondness for whipping cream mixed with almond milk, in my tea and coffee. So it is a bit of a splurge! Just living it up! As well, the whipping cream will be nice to top desserts for the family, so I won't be drinking this stuff up by myself!
Feb. 3 stopped by Trader Joe's to pick up bananas for the month. I bought 28 bananas, for 19 cents each, spending a total of $5.32. I also got a sample of steel cut oats, turkey bacon and maple syrup, plus a small cup of coffee, for free.
Feb. 4 Cash & Carry I mentioned I was running low on brown rice, so I bought a 50-lb sack. This is a year's supply for us, $20.19 (about 40 cents/lb), also bought 2 gallons of white vinegar ($2.37 each), a bag of 15 medium avocados for $7.98 (53 cents each), Asian dumpling wraps, they're square like wonton wraps, 98 cents, 5 containers of tofu, 18 to 19 ounces each, varying firmness ($1.15 each), 5 lbs of sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded ($10.45), really great to find sharp Cheddar at this price, a 72-count package of corn tortillas ($2.37), 3 3-lb packages of frozen, chopped spinach ($2.48 each). I spent $59.90
If it looks like the makings of lots of Mexican and Asian food, well you're right! I'm hoping to make wontons (for soup), enchiladas, and tortilla chips for chips and bean dip and nachos. The frozen spinach will be an extra veggie for us. These 3 packages will last a couple of months. The soft tofu will be for smoothies for me, added to frozen blackberries, bananas and orange juice.
Feb. 4 Dollar Tree. The only food items I bought here today was a 12-oz box of crackers, similar to Ritz crackers (it was a bonus pack) and a quart of soy milk. Spent $2
This was not my usual Dollar Tree, but one near Jo Ann Fabrics. This Dollar Tree didn't have almond milk, or much of a food section compared to my usual one. But I was able to find all of the other items I needed, like toothbrushes, toothpicks, q-tips, shampoo, sandwich containers, toilet cleaner "dunks", a squeegee, and a large bottle (50 ounces) of liquid hand dishwashing detergent.
So far, this month, I've spent $95.62.
Feb. 7 Fred Meyer for milk and orange juice. I find 4 gallons of skim milk marked down to $1.75, and buy 4 half-gallons of whole milk for 99 cents, plus 2 half-gallons of orange juice for 99 cents each. Spent $12.94
Total for month so far, $108.56
I'm tracking my spending closely this month, and will do a tally after each spend. The good -- I am well-stocked in milk, now, enough to get through 2 weeks. The bad -- I've spent over $100 in one week.
Feb. 22. I didn't go grocery shopping last week at all. One week left to the month.
Feb. 24. back to gardening means back to Home Depot, now and then. Which also means a stop at the ethnic market for produce doesn't cost anything extra in gas (just down the street a half-block). It's worth looking around some of your stops for errands, to see if there's a small ethnic market in the neighborhood. Anyways, I bought 7 bananas, at 39 cents/lb (it worked out to 15 cents each banana), and 11 apples, a mix of Fuji and Pink Lady apples, at 49 cents/lb. Also they had green bell peppers marked down for 33 cents each. I bought 3. Total spent at Imran's -- $4.35
Total for the month so far, $112.91
Feb. 25 My day for Cash & Carry. I buy 10 lbs lean ground beef (80/20), for $19.90, 5 lbs of frozen peas and 5 lbs of frozen green beans, both $3.74, and a 35 lb box of soybean oil (8 to 9-month supply), for $16.90. Total spent, $44.28.
Total for the month so far, $157.19
Feb.26 Fred Meyer for milk (on sale 99 cents/half-gallon) and orange juice (same price). I buy 5 milks and 1 orange juice. Also, butter is on sale, $1.99/lb, with in-ad coupon, limit 2. I buy 2. I found small boxes of Valentine's Sweatheart candies (the kind with messages on each heart), for 9 cents each. I bought 5. I'll double bag these and save for next year's Valentine's day, using them in decorations or to top cupcakes. Store-brand canned corn was on sale for 60 cents/can. I had a coupon soon to expire for 40 cents off 3 cans. So I bought 3 cans, spending $1.40 for 3, or 46-7 cents each. not a stellar price, but I ran out of corn this week, and Cash & Carry was out of the sale bags of frozen corn yesterday, so having these 3 cans will mean that I can make corn pudding for supper some night soon (it's one of those wonderful comfort foods for my family). I also got my Take5 candy bar for free, with my download coupon. So, in addition to the coupons I used, I also had a $9.31 reward from Fred Meyer, from fall quarter. We practically never qualify for a reward, with exception to fall quarter (rewards are tallied quarterly at FM), when I buy a few gifts there, and stock up on giftcards, at the 4X fuel reward in December. After applying my $9.31 reward to today's shopping, I spent $2.46.
Total for the month so far, $159.65
I am $15 short of a 50 cent per gallon fuel reward for next month. I may go back to Fred Meyer over the weekend, and spend just a little bit more, if I'm in that area, maybe buy more butter and milk, or do next week's shopping on Monday (new ads come out on Sunday at FM, here).
Feb. 28. My Girl Scout cookies came in, today. We bought 1 box of Thin Mints. Spent $4.
Feb. 29. I didn't get out to Fred Meyer over the weekend (busy at home). So, my spending for the month stands at $163.65.
My available amount to spend was $287.89 for this month. So, I now have a surplus of $124.24 to add to March's budget of $190. Or a total of $314.24 for the next month!
What I bought in February:
1 lb fresh mushrooms
9 lbs of frozen chopped spinach
3 half-gallons orange juice
11 apples (Fuji and Pink Lady)
3 green bell peppers
5 lbs frozen peas
5 lbs frozen green beans
3 cans corn
8 8-oz packages cream cheese
10 gallons skim milk
4 half-gallons whole milk
16 oz whipping cream
2 dozen eggs
5 lbs grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 qt soy milk
2 lbs butter
1 package Asian dumpling wraps
5 containers tofu
72 corn tortillas
10 lbs lean ground beef (80/20)
3 boxes of instant cocoa packets (total of 30 packets)
20-oz Starbuck's Christmas blend ground coffee
1/2 lb whole, raw almonds
2/3 lb raw, hulled sunflower seeds
50 lbs long grain brown rice
2 gallons white vinegar
1 box crackers
35-lb box of soybean oil
5 small boxes Valentine's Sweetheart candies
1 Take5 candy bar (freebie)
1 box of Girls Scout cookies
What I have a lot of, still -- frozen fruit (some apples, lots of blackberries, rhubarb, plums and strawberries), butter and eggs, cream cheese, baking ingredients, peanut butter, meat, frozen green veggies, frozen pumpkin, canned tomatoes and tomato paste, jams, jellies, pickles and salsa. What I am low on -- all-purpose flour and milk.
This would be a good month to bake a cheesecake or 7, with all of the cream cheese I now have. And I'll start baking more pies and quiches, to use up the frozen eggs and frozen fruit.
My larger amount to spend this next month sounds like a whole lot to me. But I'm also keenly aware of how quickly that money can go, with just a few big stock-up items, like butter or meat. I'll try not to be too spendy this next month.