July 9. Coming home from a day at the farmer's market (and no, I didn't buy anything at the market, but enjoyed the atmosphere, had samples and got some good ideas), we stopped at WinCo, mostly for the bulk bin items. I bought a pound of milk chocolate chips (for making candy this week), at $3.11/lb, about 2 pounds of raisins, at $1.79/lb, about a half pound of chopped dates (to add to overnight oatmeal), at $2.14/lb, a half pound of instant milk powder, at $4.19/lb (breakfast shakes and peanut butter balls), about a half-pound of soy beans, at 85 cents/lb, a pound of raw, whole almonds at $5.99/lb (for making candy and non-dairy milk), 1/10 of a pound of unsweetened coconut (for adding to homemade soy milk, adds flavor and fats), at $3.15/lb. I also bought another 72-ct package of corn tortillas for $2.18, and 9 bananas at 48 cents/lb. I received a 6 cent credit for bringing my own bag. Total spent -- $20.69
July 9. Next stop on the highway coming home, I ran into Cash & Carry, primarily for all-purpose flour (50-lbs for $11.68), but also bought a 2-gallon box of 2% milk for $4.40, 10 lbs of carrots for $3.89, a 3-pack of celery for $1.67, a gallon of mustard for $4.19, and 12 oz of onion powder for $3.71. Spent $29.54
July 13. Dollar Tree for ketchup. I am making some sloppy joe filling for a church supper, and I was given very specific instructions for making it (no modifications to the recipe). So, while I might ordinarily make my own ketchup substitution, I couldn't for this night. Fortunately, it only cost me $1, which I think I can handle in my budget. Spent $1
Total spent for the month, so far -- $52.23. I'm doing okay for the month. We're almost halfway through and I've spent under 30% of the budget. Cheddar cheese is on sale again at Cash & Carry, so I may pick up a few 5-lb bags, later this week or next. And I need milk, always.
July 15. Fred Meyer, mostly to get milk, on sale, and pick up my 3 Friday freebies from the last couple of weeks. What I bought -- 5 half-gallons of whole milk, 99 cents each, 1 half-gallon orange juice, 99 cents, 5 bananas, marked down, 49 cents/lb, 1 lb of organic mushrooms, marked down, $2.39, 1 package of hot dogs, 89 cents, and the freebies, 1 2-liter of cola, 1 46 oz bottle of cranberry, cherry and blueberry juice, 1 Gatorade snack bar. I spent $10.11
July 21. Cash & Carry for the sharp cheddar on sale, $8.98 for a 5-lb bag, I buy 3 bags, plus 15 bananas, at 42 cents/lb. Spent $29.91
July 22. Fred Meyer, for the coffee on sale. I find 1 can of Folgers 1/2 decaf, 1/2 regular for $4.29 on clearance, and buy 2 cans FM brand reg, a 1 can decaf, at $4.99 each. I also find organic mushrooms on markdown for $2.30/lb, and I get my freebie, a can of Mt Dew Kickstart. Spent $21.65
Total spent so far -- $113.90
July 29. This should be my last grocery shopping of the month. Went to Fred Meyer for 5 half-gals of whole milk and 1 half-gal of orange juice, all 99 cents each with coupon. Also stop by produce markdown section, and buy 2 8-oz packages of mushrooms (99cents each), and 6 red-tape bananas, at 49 cents/lb. Next I head to the meat marked down section, and buy a 14 oz package of chicken Italian sausage (5 links), reduced from $4.99 to $2.49. And finally, I go to the clearance rack in the back and find almond paste for filling pastries, 8-oz containers for $2.69, I buy 2 and will save these for a special almond-filled pastry. I also got my Friday freebie of a 17 oz bottle of peach sparkling iced tea. Spent $16.76
Total spent for the month of July -- $130.66
Coming in to the month of July I had a surplus of $239.89. Add that to my budget of $190, and I have $429.89 available to spend on food this month. I underspent by $299.23. That will be my surplus going into August, which when added to the monthly allotment of $190, will give me $489.23 that I could spend, if I find good enough deals to want to stock up.
What I bought:
2 pounds raisins
1/2 pound chopped dates
10 lbs carrots
3 pack of celery
12 oz onion powder
1 gallon orange juice
2 lbs organic mushrooms
1 lb whole mushrooms
46 oz bottle of cranberry, blueberry, cherry juice (Freebie)
1 8-count package of hotdogs
14 oz chicken Italian sausage link (5 links)
1 pound milk chocolate chips
1/2 pound soybeans
1 pound raw almonds
1/10 pound unsweetened coconut
72-ct package corn tortillas
50 pounds all-purpose flour
1 gallon yellow mustard
1 bottle ketchup
2 liter of cola (Freebie)
1 Gatorade Fuel bar (Freebie)
4 large cans coffee/decaf (25 to 29 oz each)
1 can Mt Dew Kickstart (Freebie)
1 bottle sparkling peach ICE tea (Freebie)
16 oz of almond paste for baking
1/2 pound instant milk powder
2 gallons 2% milk
10 half-gallons whole milk
15 lbs sharp cheddar cheese
Mid-month, we were given enough sandwiches and produce to last through 2 family dinners. Also, several of us attended 2 church dinners, eliminating the need to provide for those meals. Our garden continues to provide most of our produce. Every morning, I slip outside to pick an apple from the tree to have with my breakfast, and my daughters take salads and fruit from our garden in their lunches each weekday. My son still gets all his weekday lunches provided at work, gratis.
I didn't find any stellar deals on meat this past month. It's just as well, as I've got the extra freezer unplugged for the summer, and we're still using up meat from prior purchases.
In going through my supplies, I've noted that we're running low on butter. I'm down to about 9 1/2 lbs. of butter. At our regular usage, this amount will last us until the end of September. Awesome butter sales aren't found, much, until around Thanksgiving (in November for U.S.). That leaves me with about 6 to 7 weeks either without butter or having to pay a lot more for it. So, I'm having to do some sneaky things, like keeping the butter in the fridge, all of the time. And not putting the whole stick into the butter dish at one time, but only half. When it's kept out, in a dish on the counter, we seem to go through the butter much faster. So, I just keep popping it back into the fridge, and that slows the consumption down. And by limiting how much goes into the dish at a time, it seems to nudge people into using just a little less. I know it works for me. I'm also going to return to making our own soft butter (that post, with instructions, here). Utilizing these strategies, I should be able to stretch out our butter supplies an extra month. Also, this week, Fred Meyer has butter on sale, with coupon, for $2.50/lb, limit 2. $2.50/ lb is not an awesome price. However, this week is the week with the Senior Discount shopping day on Tuesday. So, I'll take my coupon on Tuesday, and buy my 2 lbs of butter at $2.25 per pound. That will help. And I'll keep a watch on prices around town for deals on butter.
One thing to keep in mind, if your family spends a whole lot more on groceries, than mine: all 3 of my kids have their own earned money, if they want packaged snacky foods, they buy them. So, I'm not spending any money on those things. I save a lot by practically never buying prepared snacks like chips, packaged cookies or breakfast/snack bars, boxed cereal, and sugary drinks (other than a couple of bottles of juice per month). Instead, we snack on fresh fruit, raw veggies, popcorn, nuts and seeds, raisins, toast/bread, peanut butter, muffins and homemade cookies. And I've shared with you our available beverages -- iced herb tea, homemade lemonade, orange juice, smoothies, milk, black tea/coffee (hot and iced) and water. The bonus is, snacking/eating the way that our family does, is so much healthier for us.
There are times when one of my kids would like some of the packaged stuff. And they're all free to buy what they want, with their own money, or they can try to replicate the item they crave, with a homemade version. Last weekend, one daughter really wanted a milk shake, and was lamenting the fact that she didn't have lots of spare money (most of both daughters's earnings goes towards tuition). She said that if she did have more money, she'd go buy a milkshake at McDonalds (was this a hint for me to buy a shake for her? Oh well, hint not taken!). I told her how I used to make myself milkshakes/frosties with milk, chocolate syrup and ice cubes, in the blender. She tried it and was thrilled to have made a shake for herself, for free. Same daughter had a pot-luck to attend at work, on Friday. She was asking what she could bring that wasn't dessert, as there were already lots of sign-ups for dessert. She didn't want to use her own money to buy something. So she came up with a batch of scratch biscuits. And then, the other day, she really wanted a couple of cookies. Not enough to bake a whole batch, just a couple. She found a recipe online that made 1 large cookie. So that's what she did. She's learning! I'm proud of her for finding and trying ways to make a substitute for an item she wants.
It's been important to me, to not only teach my kids how to cook for themselves, but also to learn how to accept a substitute for something they might want. Sometimes, our career choices are less than lucrative, but profoundly fulfilling in other ways. I want my children to be able to live free of the pressure to have everything that everyone else has. Most of us won't get to have everything we want, and accepting substitutes is a big help towards living with that reality.
Whelp, that's it for grocery shopping in July.