GroceriesI have a much larger grocery budget than usual this month, due to surpluses from previous months. But I want to take care that I don't blow it all too soon.
First off, the week leading up to St. Patrick's day should yield sales on cabbage and corned beef. While I don't do a traditional SPD dinner, here, I do always pick up a few heads of cabbage.
Then, we have my daughters's 21st birthday. I'll make a special meal for that dinner. I'm not sure what that will be and whether or not I will buy anything extra for that dinner. We often take our kids out to a restaurant for birthday dinners. But this year, we're doing things a little differently. We'll eat a home-cooked dinner and scratch-baked cake, and push that birthday dinner budget (another budget category, "holidays and celebrations") to their special 21st birthday gift.
As it is their 21st birthday, they will receive as their birthday gift, a trip to San Francisco, for a few days over their spring break. Neither have been to SF before. I took our son, there, about the same age. So, it just seemed right that I should take the two daughters there, to mark this occasion. I studied the airfares over several months, and checked daily, twice daily at times. I booked the flights the afternoon that the prices fell. (Really, I had checked the prices in the morning, and still high, then by mid-afternoon the fares had dropped to half.)
I looked into many possibilities for places to stay, and best dates, price-wise for that stay. It was an amazing difference in lodging cost, just moving our dates to one part of the week, from a few days later, and staying one night less than we'd originally planned.
So, in lieu of a restaurant birthday dinner, we're saving that money, to put towards this trip. And in order to eat on the cheap while in SF, we plan on bringing some food items from home, for putting together a couple of picnic meals, and all of our snacking. Some of those items that we'll bring, we'll be buying as extras for our trip, such as shelf-stable packages of hard salami and some sliced cheese, with a loaf of bread and some crackers, plus nuts and dried fruits. We'll also do a little grocery shopping while there. But the SF grocery stores are notoriously more expensive than suburban supermarkets. We will be paying for all of our groceries in SF with grocery money from this month's grocery budget.
I do feel fortunate that what my daughters want to do in San Francisco is not in the budget-busting category. They want to see a play, go to an art museum, see the Golden Gate bridge, shop in thrift stores, and visit Chinatown.
We also have Easter to plan for, at the end of the month. I have little bit of Easter candy from last year, including a bag of jelly beans, that I'll put into small dishes on the Easter dinner table, as I did last year. (I used sherbet dishes at each place setting, filled with jelly beans. It was a fun thing to have on the table and enjoyed by everyone -- especially my friend's mother who joined us.) I have a ham in the freezer, and potatoes and frozen green beans. I'd like to buy some yams and asparagus to go with the dinner. Prices for both of these are always lowest at our local produce stand, which opens the Thursday before Easter. We'll likely have a rhubarb pie for dessert. Easter breakfast/brunch will be put together with what we have, here, so no extra expense other than the yams and asparagus.
Other food items that I'll be buying in March -- cabbage, mid-March, St. Patrick's Day ads (depending on the price, but likely 3 to 4 heads, they'll keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months), 50-lbs of all-purpose flour (at the Cash & Carry), fresh fruit like apples and bananas (the ethnic market and Trader Joe's), cocoa powder (Trader Joe's, our best price on cocoa powder in the area), carrots (a 25-lb sack, if that's the best price per pound, at Cash & Carry, 25 lbs would last us through the spring months), butter (supermarket, good sales often just before Easter, looking fro $1.99/lb) and of course, eggs, eggs, eggs and more eggs. I am hoping for another 99 cents/dozen sale at Target or Walgreen's. Last year, Walgreen's did not have eggs in their ad, but when I went into the store, they were in sale. Last Easter week, I bought 22 dozen eggs. Given that I still have about 7 dozen eggs in the freezer, 22 dozen later this month would be enough to last until late summer, I believe. I will freeze most of these eggs that I do find for around $1 a dozen. I am assuming prices will have gone up on eggs, as well, and the deal on eggs might be $1.19/dozen or thereabouts. I have 2 hams in the freezer, already. I may buy 1 more ham during Easter week, if $1.49/lb or less. That would give us 1 ham for Easter, another for around Mother's Day, and the third ham to be baked in early fall. Spring is also a good time to pick up whole chickens, in our area. I like to buy a couple of whole chickens for the freezer, to cook on the grill in summer.
These items are what I plan to buy, given the right price. I'll also pick up other deals, as I find them.
HouseholdFor household shopping, we need coffee filters and shampoo (Dollar Tree), acetaminophen, ibuprofen, vitamin C, laundry detergent or more bar soap for melting for homemade laundry soap, I'll use my senior discount at Fred Meyer, for the OTC's, and hope for detergent to go on sale at Cash & Carry, or else buy the bar soap at Dollar Tree.
GardenSeeds for annuals, fertilizer for the vegetable beds, a couple of replacement boxwood for the 2 that didn't survive, in the hedge, some pavers to complete a walkway in the yard, lily bulbs and garden soil and/or compost. I have a couple of gift cards to Home Depot that I will use for much of this. The gift cards were bought by me, when Fred Meyer was offering 4 X the fuel rewards on gift cards in December. They do this a couple of times per year. I buy gift cards then, to stores I frequent, to get the maximum of fuel rewards that I can use in a month.
The lily bulbs are cheapest per bulb in the "value pack", as opposed to 5 bulbs per pack. The "value pack" often gives you an assortment, you don't get to choose the variety of bulb. But the cost savings (several dollars, if buying 30 or more bulbs), more than compensates for the lack of color choice, for me. I priced the value pack the other day, for $12.99/15 bulbs (or 86 cents/bulb). In comparison, if I want a specific variety, 5 bulbs are priced at $8.99 (or $1.80/bulb). And if I use my Senior discount, this takes another 10% off the per bulb price, down to 77cents per bulb. I am hoping to use some of these lily blooms (if they coincide with some summer events, here), for part of some floral arrangements. If the timing doesn't work out, at least I'll have some pretty flowers for coming years. (I'm going to start these in pots on the deck, too, like I did for the daffodils, with hopes of getting a jump start on growth.) These lilies will be planted in the same general area as the daffodils, within view from both the house and the deck.
It didn't seem like I had much on my shopping list. LOL But in rereading what I've typed, it might be an expensive month. Fortunately, we are only spending what we have already set aside.
Are there any specific deals you usually find in March, or whenever Easter falls?