May 1. We are very low on fruit for the week. After church, one of my daughters and I were discussing driving by the ethnic market to pick up some fruits and vegetables. But before we left the church, one of the coffee hour ladies offered us a large tray of grapes and 2 tangerines. Providential? I think so. So we skipped the stop by the market, and have enough fruit for a couple of days.
May 3. Senior Discount day at Fred Meyer. I plan out my shopping for this day over the course of about 2 weeks. I make note of items that we're almost out of, as well as items I've been meaning to buy, that would qualify for the discount. This month, I bought 6 half-gallons of whole milk, 89cents each, limit 6 w/ coupon, 4 64-oz jugs of apple juice, 89cents each limit 4 with coupon, 1 large can of decaf coffee (around 25 oz) for $4.49, 3-lb can of shortening, for $4.04, canned green beans (6) for 44 cents each w/coupon, 3 12-oz packages chicken/pork hotdogs for 71 cents each, 6 red tape bananas at 49 cents per pound, plus 1 free loaf of Sara Lee bread (Friday download coupon), 1 box of veggie fertilizer ($4.92). I spent $28.37
Fred Meyer puts their half-gallons of milk on sale w/coupon, limit of 6 about every other week. Also included in this coupon is refrigerated orange juice. I often pick up a jug of orange juice as part of my 6. But this week, there was another coupon, for apple juice, limit 4. So, I used the milk/oj coupon, only for milk, and bought the limit of the apple juice. I was able to get an extra half-gallon of milk, at the sale/coupon price, plus the Senior discount on top of that. And with the canned green beans and cheapo hotdogs -- these aren't items I would usually buy, however, we're low on veggies, and the green beans will help in that area, and cheapo hot dogs are really good once grilled, IMO. The free bread is white bread, not at all something I enjoy, but I can think of a couple of family members who will think they died and went to heaven, because there's white bread in the house! And it was free!! Hard to pass up "free".
May 5. My once-per-month jaunt down to WinCo. I bought 5 lbs carrots ($2.28), 1 bundle of celery, (98 cents), 1 1/8 lbs of dark rye flour ($1.13/lb), 1/2 lb of sunflower seeds ($1.36/lb), a little over 3/4 lb of steel cut oats (62 cents/lb), 1 1/3 lbs of raisins ($1.79/lb), 1/2 lb of chopped dates ($1.98/lb), a little over 1/2 lb of whole soy beans (85 cents/lb), 72 ct. corn tortillas ($2.18). I received a 6 cent bag credit, for bringing my own bag. Total spent -- $11.66
May 5. Also, stop by Cash & Carry (restaurant supply). I made one of my daughters very, very happy with one purchase. We'd completely run out of sugar, here. This week, white sugar is on sale, in 50-lb sacks for $19.99. I bought 2 sacks (100 lbs -- a year supply). I also bought 2 one-pound bags of garlic granules ($3.88 each), 1 head of green cabbage ($1.39), 1 3-pack of celery ($2.27), 1 10-lb bag of carrots ($3.89), 2 #10 cans of sliced olives ($4.88 each), 2 cases of Ocean Spray dried cranberries, 12 pounds total in 2 boxes ($10.76/box) and 22 bananas (45 cents per pound). I spent $89.86.
So, when I was at Cash & Carry, I noticed that celery and carrots were priced better there than at WinCo. Even though I'd just bought carrots and celery at WinCo, I still wanted more (I had wanted 10 lbs of carrots at WinCo, but I didn't have enough cash on me). I went ahead and bought the 3-pack of celery and the 10lb bag of carrots at Cash & Carry, even though I'd just bought some of both at WinCo. It's just something I find myself doing when I feel I paid too much at one store, then find something for less at another, kind of averaging out the price spent for those items. I don't feel so badly, this way. And as a bonus, we now have a lot of fresh veggies for the month.
May 5. Last stop at Bartell's to pick up my husband's prescription. While there, I found Stash tea on sale, B1G1 free, so I bought 2 boxes of my favorites, and spent $3.49 total.
For the month, so far, I've spent $133.38.
May 15. Fred Meyer to buy 5 half-gallons of milk and 1 half-gallon of orange juice, 99 cents each, limit 6 with coupon. I also buy almost 2/3 lb of fresh asparagus at $1.88/lb, and I pick up my last two Friday Freebies, a Lindt Truffle bar and a Curate dark chocolate and pistachio bar. Spent $7.12, and I used my coupon for double fuel rewards on weekends (reusable coupon, good on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this month).
After church was given about 1/2 pound of fresh strawberries to take home to sick daughter.
May 20. For the month, so far, I've spent $140.50, and I've shopped on 3 days, making a total of 5 stops. Because I take my time thinking through purchases and checking prices on various items, I estimate I have spent about 6 hours grocery shopping this month.
May 21. One daughter and I worked at a charity tea today. In addition to lunch for both of us, we were given enough sandwiches and fresh fruit for tonight's dinner, and an entire cake. Unrelated to the tea, today we were also given 2 lbs of fresh mushrooms.
So, I've had this building surplus over the last few months. Going into May, it had run up to $203.20. Add that surplus to this month's budget of $190, and my amount I could spend this month was $393.20.
Mt total spent this month was $140.50, which was $252.70 less than what I had coming into the month to spend. That's my new surplus going into June, plus $190 budget. I now have as much as $442.70 that I can spend this next month.
I am trying my very hardest to hang onto this surplus and build it just a tiny bit more. My plan is to use this surplus for meat when I find great deals this summer, and in the months of August, September, October, November and December, for those items that I want to stock up on, like extra turkeys, hams, pecans, coffee, chocolate chips, butter, frozen veggies, canned veggies and dried fruit -- when their prices are rock-bottom. It sounds like a large surplus, but in truth, it really won't go all that far.
As a result of working so hard within the budget, I have not bought many treat items. In fact, if I look at this shopping list, aside from the freebie treats, my only real treats this past month were the 2 boxes of good tea, a can of decaf coffee and maybe the asparagus (if you call that a treat, more like a luxury vegetable).
We've had a lot to work with in the pantry, freezer and fridge. As I've been cleaning out the freezer, I've found such lovely foods as whipped cream, cream puffs, frozen strawberries, cake, a donut, a pork roast, some bacon, and some breakfast sausage. All of these foods have helped make a small budget seem not so restrictive. We'll have to see how this next month turns out.
What I bought this month:
I've started including all of the freebies we get in the month, as they do add to our available foods. Not mentioned, below, are several free meals throughout the month: my son's weekday lunches, provided by his work Monday through Friday; my husband was out of town for 3 days this month and had his meals provided; my daughter and I worked at a charity tea this month, where our lunch was provided; I attended a women's conference with lunch provided. All of these free meal opportunities do help our small budget stretch. That is 33 single meals in the month, or the equivalent of 11 days of all of one person's meals. Added to that, all of the free food we receive, listed below. Without mentioning these opportunities for meals and free foods, it might seem inconceivable that the purchased food, alone, could possibly feed 5 adults for an entire month.
36 oz hotdogs
11 half-gallons whole milk
4 64-oz jugs of apple juice
6 cans of green beans
2 tangerines (free)
large tray of red grapes (free)
15 lbs carrots
4 bundles of celery
1 1/3 lbs raisins
1/2 lb chopped dates
1 head green cabbage
12 lbs dried cranberries
1/2 gallon orange juice
2/3 pound of fresh asparagus
1/2 pound of fresh strawberries for one daughter (free)
fresh grapes and cherry tomatoes, about 5 servings total (free)
2 pounds mushrooms (free)
1 large can of decaf coffee, 25 oz
1 loaf of white bread (Friday Freebie)
3-lb can of shortening, for pie pastry
1 1/8 lbs of rye flour
1/2 lb sunflower seeds
3/4 lb steel cut oats
1/2 lb soybeans
72 corn tortillas
100 lbs sugar
2 lbs garlic granules
2 #10 cans sliced olives
2 boxes of good tea
Lindt truffle bar (Friday Freebie)
Curate dark chocolate and pistachio bar (Friday Freebie)
turkey, egg salad, crab salad sandwiches for 5 people at dinner (free)
1 scratch-baked 2 layer cake (free)
1 box tomato/veggie fertilizer
In addition to shopping, the garden provided:
a constant stream of salad greens, cooking greens and rhubarb