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Monday, May 2, 2016

April 2016 Grocery Spending Journal

April 5. Senior Discount day at Fred Meyer. I bought a lot today, but not much in the food section. I bought 1 box of vegetable garden fertilizer for $3.93 using the senior discount, 4 half-gallons of whole milk and 2 half-gallons of orange juice for 89 cents each, using an in-ad coupon, plus the senior discount, 6 15-oz jars of natural-style peanut butter for $1.35 each, on sale and using the senior discount, 11.5 oz can of decaf coffee, for $3.23, using a coupon plus the senior discount, and a freebie of  3-oz package of Doritos chips snack mix. I spent $20.60. Not many food items I needed this month, there.

April 6. Had to go to Home Depot, so stopped at Imran's ethnic market just down the street. I bought 24 Pink Lady apples at 49 cents/lb, 9 bananas at 49 cents/lb, 5 green bell peppers at 5/$1, 1 bunch of celery at 99 cents. Spent $7.39

April 11. Dollar Tree for my once per month visit. I buy 2 quarts of soy milk, 1 box of graham crackers (for making s'mores) and 1 package of Ritz-style crackers. Spent $4

April 12. World Market for Olive Oil. I'm not picky about many brands. However, olive oil is another story. I have a favorite brand California Olive Ranch. WM has some of the best prices in town on olive oil, especially when on sale. I bought the 750 mL bottle (about 25 oz) for $6.74. It's reg. price at WM is $8.99, still a great deal. spent $6.74

April 13 Trader Joe's for bananas and cocoa powder. I buy 15 bananas at 19 cents each, and 1 9-oz container of cocoa powder at $2.49. I spent $5.34

April 13 Just down the road from Trader Joe's is WinCo. While there I check the cocoa powder in the bulk bins. It's $3.08/lb, $1.35/lb less than Trader Joe's. I've just found my new place to buy cocoa powder! Even though I just bought 1 container of cocoa powder at TJ, I went ahead and bought just over 1/2 lb of bulk cocoa powder. It's dutched, so I thought I'd do a comparison with Trader Joe's, which isn't dutched. I also buy about 1/3 lb gluten, at $2.61/lb (for improving my homemade bread), 3/4 lbs of rye flour, at $1.13/lb,  1 1/2 lbs of raisins at $1.79/lb, and a 5-lb bag of carrots at $2.28. I spent $8.61 (I also bought a supply of bathroom tissue here, the 20 roll Scott's 1000 sheet. These were bonus rolls, so each 20-roll package was the same amount of tissue as 22 rolls. I bought the last 2 bonus packages. Price was $12.97 per package.)

Total spent for the month, so far -- $52.68.

April 16. Stopping in at Albertson's to pick up eggs (99 cents/dozen w/coupon, limit 2), and 1 lb of strawberries for my cake. $2. Total spent $3.98

Total spent month to date -- $56.66   This is pretty awesome for mid-month. And it covered a birthday dinner! We'll see how much I need to spend in the next 2 weeks.

April 19. Stop at Safeway for 99cent/dozen eggs, limit 2. Spent $1.98

Also go to Fred Meyer, for 99 cent half-gallons of milk, limit 6. I also pick up a gift card (with 4X fuel reward) for Mother's Day, and my 2 freebies from the last couple of weeks, a flavored water, and a dip for chips. these freebies will be added to my other freebies to give to my husband, as a treat on his birthday. Call me big spender! On groceries, I spent $5.94.

April 21. At Home Depot picking up garden supplies, so I stopped in Imran's (next door) and bought 13 Pink Lady apples (at 49 cents/lb), 5 small yams (at 79 cents/lb), 3 avocados (59 cents each) and 1 bundle of celery (99 cents). I spent $6.37

April 22. Cash & Carry, for laundry detergent (on sale, in the huge buckets. Last tome I bought this it lasted 6 months. This time I bought 2 buckets, hoping to not think about laundry detergent for a year. If these last 6 months each, the cost will be around $2.61 per month, more than melting bar soap for laundry use, but less than buying Dollar Tree's Sun laundry powder, almost 1/2 price of Dollar Tree's Sun powder.) Also wanted the sharp cheddar cheese on sale in 5-lb bags for $9.48 (I bought 3 bags), and 3 bunches of bananas at 44 cents/lb. On food, I spent $31.60.

Went by the mall and got my free bagel at Panera, to give to my husband. No charge. My daughter was with me. She also had Panera's free bagel, every day in April, on her card. So, she got one, had it split and toasted, and the two of us shared her free bagel, with free butter and free glasses of water. After, we walked over to See's to buy a small bag of 4 chocolates for my husband's birthday. We each got a free chocolate, as samples. The birthday chocolates are part of my husband's gift, so don't come out of the grocery budget. I managed to get 4 bagels at Panera, for free, over the course of the month.

On to Fred Meyer. I've been using my Home Depot gift card purchased there earlier in the month, to pay for pavers for the yard. Fred Meyer has had a 4X fuel reward on gift cards the last couple of weeks. This offer is only good fro another day, so I wanted to take advantage of it one more time. I also get my Friday freebie (a bag of gummy worms, to go with other freebies to give to my husband), and bought 5 half-gallons of milk and 1 half-gallon of orange juice, each 99 cents w/ coupon, limit total of 6, and a 1 lb container of fresh mushrooms on markdown for $1.79. Total spent on food, $7.73.

For the month, so far, I've spent $110.28

And that's where the spending for April ends. I had a surplus of $123.48 going into April. Add to that my $190 budgeted amount, for a total $$ available of $313.48, for April. I underspent by $203.20. Going into May, I'll have $393.20 for the month.

Last year, in May, I spent about $176. Some prices were higher, last year than they've been this year, like with beef. I was paying about 50 cents more per pound for ground beef last spring, compared to about a month ago. Egg prices seem to be coming back down a bit, from their high last fall. But many other foods are either at the same level in price, or increased, in our area. It's getting harder to find great deals on produce. And coffee prices have steadily risen over the past couple of years.

I'm having to shop around a lot more than I used to. But that's all part of the challenge. I'll do my very best.

We were fortunate, this month, that there were so many freebies available. Many of these items were "treat" items, things I'd never buy. So feelings of deprivation never arose. But also, having a couple of birthdays in the month meant more homemade cake and pie. Having home-baked treats around, although not good for my waistline, really offsets any feelings of doing "without". I'll have to remind myself of this in future months.

What I bought:


no meat -- I can't believe I went the whole month and didn't buy any meat at all!


3 half-gallons orange juice
37 Pink Lady apples
42 bananas
5 green bell peppers
2 bundles celery
1  1/2 lbs raisins
5 lbs of carrots
5 yams
3 avocados
1 lb fresh mushrooms


15 half-gallons milk
2 quarts soy milk
4 dozen eggs
15 lbs sharp cheddar cheese


6 15-oz jars of natural-style peanut butter
11.5 oz can of decaf coffee
3-oz package of Doritos snack mix (free)
1 box of graham crackers
1 box of Ritz-style crackers
750 mL olive oil
a little over 1 pound of cocoa powder
1/3 pound of gluten for bread-baking
3/4 pound of rye flour
individual bottle of flavored water (free)
package of spinach-artichoke dip for chips/crackers/bread (free)
4 bagels (free)
2 See's chocolates (free)
4 oz. package of gummy worms (free)


1 box of veggie fertilizer


  1. Good job, Lili!

    I tallied my all inclusive spending for April and it was around $350 which is much lower than other months. I don't think I bought meat either this month. We ate from the freezer. Yesterday at 8 am my daughter decided to come home from college for the day and MIL decided to come for lunch but I had nothing planned. I took a frozen bone in pork roast out of the freezer and put it in a pan and cooked it from frozen at a temp. of 350 degrees. I had two boxes of scalloped potatoes in the pantry (easy foods for the month while hubby is recovering) and MIL brought a jar of red cabbage with apples. That was lunch and it was good. No dessert but no complaints either.


    1. Oh, I forgot to mention that I also had the daily free bagel from Panera but with all the care my hubby needed the first few weeks of April, I completely forgot about it and NEVER USED IT ONCE! How awful that I just couldn't get there for a freebie!

    2. Great job on the groceries, Alice! And you threw together a wonderful last-minute lunch.

      Don't feel too badly about not getting the bagels this time around. I have freebies or special discounts that I sometimes have to pass up, for one reason or another. You had a more important role to play, this year, with your husband's surgery, and all it entailed. There will be other promotions like this one that you'll be able to use.

  2. You've done very well, Lili, as always! I have yet to tally my receipts, but know that I've pinched back as far as grocery shopping goes. Like you, I aim to have some treats about to side step any feelings of deprivation.

    1. Hi Carol,
      Thanks. I will be keeping up with making a few treat foods to ward off deprivation this month. I started with a pumpkin chiffon pie with last night's dinner. But I should also make some cookies to have around, too. The cookies you received at your meeting last week looked delicious, and were surely appreciated once they were "discovered".
      Good luck going forward with using up your supplies in the next 2 months!

  3. No meat purchases, and all nutritious foods..wonderful!!

    We spent more than our $200 allotment this month, between $227-278 (the range is due to some cooking/stocking up for dad from our foods). but a lot was bulk buying for stock. However, I do feel we did quite well considering we bought some garden supplies, and ate out 5x at McD. I know a splurge but we used the BIGIF coupon on the receipt after doing a survey. And McD had a Monopoly promotion that had some instant win free foods on the BIGIF Egg Mcmuffin wrapper, that kept us going back. I hope to curtail our shopping this month, and focus on money saving activities in and around the home, using up supplies, learning to make do/do without.


    1. Hi YHF,
      Good job on your budget,especially considering you had garden supplies and some stocking up to do. And it sounds like you have a solid plan for this month.
      I am in the process of working out my shopping and "fun activity" plans for May.

      Have great day!

  4. We are seeing a big drop in egg prices--69 cents a dozen for loss leaders, 89 cents a dozen on a frequent basis at Aldi. I've also been able to get milk for $1.49/gallon at Aldi. Now that I think about it, cheese has also decreased in price but I can't remember the exact amount. Gotta love those lower dairy prices.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Oh my goodness! I am hoping your loss-leader prices will carry out west for us, too! But I am glad to find eggs here for 99 cents/dozen, during a non-Easter week. That 69 cents a dozen makes having egg dishes for dinner extremely affordable. I see a lot of quiche and frittata in your near future!

      Have a great day, Kris!

  5. I have noticed that egg prices are dropping, but haven't seen any prices like Kris.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I'm just hoping Kris's prices are a sign that lower prices will make it to other areas of the US. I also expect that chicken prices will drop some, too.

  6. Hi Lili, I have recently started making my own soy milk and wonder if you've ever tried it? I Get two quart jars per 1 cup of soy beans AND I also save the leftover pulp (know as Okara) which I use when I make bean burgers. I bought a medium sized package of non-GMO beans at my local Asian grocer for about $5 and have found the process to be incredibly simple. Just cook, cool and drain the beans and then blend with filtered water. Then strain through a nut bag or cheesecloth and warm over low heat for about 10 minutes and flavor as desired. I use it to make homemade mayo and yogurt too. It works out to under $0.50 a quart. Blessings!

    1. Hi Mrs. Armstrong,
      I've never made soy milk. Thanks for the directions. I'll check WinCo for whole soybeans, and give this a try. I do make rice and almond milk from time to time. Can I ask, when you make a batch, do you just make enough for a week at a time? Or have you ever made a large batch and frozen part? Does it keep in the fridge, longer than a week? Thanks!

    2. I haven't made more than 2 quart jars at a time BUT if you put the hot milk in (right after the warming stage) to a clean jar and seal it, it can keep unopened for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. Also, the recipe I use says NOT to pre-soak the beans to avoid a beany taste. Rather bring several cups of water to a boil, boil the beans for 1 minute, then remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Blend in two batches with 3 cups of water each (about 10 -20 seconds tops) then strain, pour it all in a pot and simmer 5-10 minutes. You may then flavor with vanilla, salt and sweetener if you would like and pour into jars. I have frozen the Okara but not the milk. Please let me know if you try it. If you can find a good price on beans, it really is economical, better tasting than store bought (I think) and you can control what is in it.

    3. Thank you, Becky. I'll be checking Winco for soy beans this month and give this a try.

  7. Can also make tofu from soy milk (using a coagulant). A long time ago, we purchased okara from our local tofu factory very cheap (also supermarkets sold this). I love seasoned okara, makes a great vegetarian side dish. Haven't thought to use in bean patties, but may give it a try, thanks!!


    1. I have used the soy milk to make non-dairy butter (really easy), mayo and non-dairy yogurt (not as easy). The okara makes a really great mock crab cake if you add mashed tofu, capers and Old Bay (and a bunch of other stuff). When I made my "burgers" I added curry powder, breaded with Panko bread crumbs and my husband lightly fried them. They turned out really nice and even froze well.

    2. Yum...Okara crab cakes sounds so delicious. Would love to make this. We add kamaboku (Japanese fish cake) and shiitake mushrooms to our okara, and it takes on the taste. Thanks for your recipe suggestion...I haven't bought in a long time, hope the tofu factory still sells cheap okara, so cheap since it is just a by-product.

      Do you use a soy milk maker? We made tofu before over the stove. The process is the same up to adding the coagulant.


    3. YHF, what is the coagulant? And where do you buy it?

      Becky, are bean burgers made with the okara less beany than using something like black beans or pinto beans?

    4. The coagulant we used was calcium sulfate (I googled because I forgot the exact calcium compound), which we bought from the tofu factory. Also can use nigari, or magnesium chloride. Amazon sells the coagulant, but at much more than I remember paying about 20 years ago, when we were experimenting. Last night, I told my husband that we should go back to making our own tofu since we buy so much, and now drink soy milk too.


    5. First, I make my soy milk in my Vitamix. However, Lili, I know you have an older blender so disregard the 10-30 seconds bit and process it up to 90 sec. until it's creamy. I have never added a coagulant to the soy milk but do add probiotics or a yogurt culture to my soy yogurt.

      Regarding the "bean burgers", I basically made up a recipe to use up things in the fridge. I think it may have been smashed chickpeas. I also threw in some homemade mayo to act as a binder but you could use an egg. I know in the mock crab cakes, the recipe calls for tofu. The okara gives the cakes a flakier texture. Hope that helps!

    6. Mayo in the mock crab cakes sounds delicious. Making soy products will be our next project. Thanks so much for your help and good suggestions!!


    7. Thank you, Becky and YHF! Your help is very valuable! Hmm, I'm going to try using some mayo as a binder sometime, and see if it holds them together any better or makes them more moist than when I use egg.


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