Monday, October 3, 2016

September 2016 Grocery Spending Journal

Sept. 2. I skipped WinCo last month, so I made my stop by there early in the month. I was all out of raisins and almonds, and almost out of sunflower seeds. These are staple, healthy snack items in our house. So, at WinCo, I bought a 72-count package of corn tortillas ($2.18), 1 quart of soy milk ($1.18), not quite a half-pound of almond butter ($6.99/lb -- can you believe, I've never had almond butter before, so I bought just a small amount as a treat), almost a pound and a half of raisins ($1.79/lb), 1  3/4 lbs of sunflower seeds, raw ($1.39/lb, cheaper to buy raw than roasted. I toast them myself, and save 40 cents per pound), 6 bananas at 48 cents/lb, 1/2 lb of raw almonds ($6.08/lb, raw whole almonds are cheaper, here than chopped or toasted. Again, I can chop and toast them myself and save 30 or 40 cents/lb), 1 whole wheat fig newton for me, as my treat for 30 cents, 1/3 lb of chopped dates, good for sweetening oatmeal ($2.18/lb), 1/2 lb of baking cocoa powder ($3.08/lb), and I saved 6 cents by bringing my own bag. Total spent $16.43.  I checked the price on graham crackers. It's about 2 cents cheaper per lb, to buy graham crackers at WinCo, over Dollar Tree graham crackers. So just know, if you don't have a WinCo, but have Dollar Tree, the 9 oz box of graham crackers from Dollar Tree is almost as cheap per pound, as WinCo.

Sept. 6. Senior Discount day at Fred Meyer. Our Fred Mayer is making Senior discount day really appealing. Last month, they gave me a carnation. Today, they had Starbuck's coffee and cookies, complimentary, plus they gave me both a rose and a carnation. Anyways, nice touch. To the shopping -- I bought 2 18-ct packages of large eggs for 89 cents each (limit 2), that's 59 cents/dozen. Also, bought 15 lbs of whole wheat pasta, various shapes, at 71 cents/lb (it's whole wheat, our preference, and only 4 cents more per pound than Dollar Tree white pasta), 2 large cans of decaf and 1 large can of regular coffee, at $4.49 each, 1 15 oz jar of natural-style peanut butter for $1.12 (I had a coupon, plus sale, plus Senior discount), 8-pack of cheap hot dogs, 81 cents, 8 half-gallons of whole milk and 2 half-gallons of orange juice, for 89 cents each, small jar of blackstrap molasses, $3.41, 1 Yoplait yogurt (freebie), and 5 cans of green beans and 1 can of corn for 45 cents each. Total spent on food, $42.84

(The pasta I had seen was on sale a couple of weeks ago. I looked at the shelf tag and the sale was good for several weeks, so I knew I could come back on Senior discount day and buy several packages at 10% off the sale price. It was a great deal for whole wheat pasta.)

Total spent so far, this month -- $59.27

September 13. WinCo, for raisins (not quite a pound at $1.79/lb), 7 bananas at 48 cents/lb, 1 small can tomato paste, 44 cents, package of hot dog buns, 88 cents, smoked almonds for $4.68, 1 box mac and cheese for 46 cents, 1 can tuna for 62 cents, about 1/3 pound of Hershey's miniatures chocolates at $4.98/lb, 2 frozen burritos, 48 cents, some baby carrots, $3.54, and 2 chicken pot pies, 85 cents. This was the beginning of my daughters time off from work, so we bought a bunch of treat foods. Every so often, we do this. But we try to minimize the damage (both to our waistlines and our wallets). Total spent $17.89

September 21. Albertson's for a half-pound of roasted turkey breast for sandwiches for my daughters and I. spent $2.87.

September 23. Cash & Carry for a few basics. I bought 50 lbs of onions for $8.24 (16 cents per pound), 1 gallon of mayonnaise for $5.39, about 34 bananas for $5.23 (42 cents per pound), and 2 cases of #10 cans of whole tomatoes at $14.22 per case. I spent $47.30.

Total spent for the month so far, $127.33

September 26. Fred Meyer, as we went through the milk much faster than I anticipated this month (I thought I had enough in the freezer). I found 1 gallon of 1% milk on markdown for $1.80, and paid full-price for whole (4%) milk (daughter still needing the whole milk), at $2.69/gallon. I also bought potatoes $2.49/10-lbs for later this week with a turkey, a half-gallon of soy vanilla milk, $2.50, a bag of Swedish Fish candy (Friday Freebie), a package of sugar free gum (Friday Freebie), and 1 Dove dark chocolate bar for myself, 50 cents. (After enduring a blood draw today, I feel I earned that chocolate bar.) Total spent $9.98

Total spent for the month, so far $137.31

September 30 (I thought I was done shopping for the month, but apparently not). Stopped by Cash & Carry for 10 lbs of ground beef (1 week sale, so I didn't want to miss this), $18.88, and 13 bananas at 42 cents/lb. Spent $20.89

Total spent for the month, $158.20

What I bought

Produce

60 bananas (oh my, goodness! Even I can see that is a lot of bananas!!!)
2 half-gallons orange juice
5 cans of green beans
1 can of corn
50 lbs onions
baby carrots
10 lbs potatoes

Dairy

1 qt. soy milk
3 dozen eggs
8 half-gallons whole milk
small Yoplait yogurt (freebie)
1 gallon 1% milk
1 gallon whole milk
1/2 gallon soy milk

Meat

8-pack hot dogs
1/2-lb of roasted turkey breast
tuna fish
frozen beef burritos, 2
frozen pot pies, 2
10 lbs ground beef, 80/20

Pantry

72-ct corn tortillas
.41 lb almond butter
1.41 lb raisins
2.22 lb sunflower seeds
.51 lb raw almonds
1 whole wheat fig bar (my treat)
.43 lb baking cocoa
.38 lb chopped dates
15 lbs whole wheat pasta
2 large cans decaf
1 large can regular coffee
1 jar peanut butter
jar of blackstrap molasses
1 gallon mayo
12  #10 cans of whole tomatoes
small can tomato paste
8 hot dog buns
smoked almonds
boxed macaroni and cheese
mini chocolate bars
1 dark chocolate bar
8 oz bag Swedish Fish candy (Freebie -- will go into someone's birthday gift this fall)
1 package gum (Freebie)


At the end of August, I had a surplus of $351.22 in the grocery budget. Add that to the regular budget amount of $190.00 and I had $541.22 available to spend for September. I spent $158.20, still below my monthly budget of $190. I now have a surplus of $383.02. Add that to my October budget of $190, and I have $573.02 available to spend in October.

About all of those bananas -- somewhere in the middle of the month I discovered that I'd rather have a banana for breakfast than anything else. It's quick, easy, portable and doesn't sit heavy in my stomach. And who knows, maybe whatever is ailing me is craving the nutrients in a banana. Anyways, some days I had 2 bananas, but everyday I had at least 1. So, if you figure I ate 30 of those 60 bananas, all by myself, the rest are easy to go through in a month's time, divided by 4 other family members.

This super large surplus in the budget is in large part due to me not stocking up just yet. in previous years, I have been well-stocked in frozen vegetables, canned tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, molasses, meat and butter, by this point in the year. I expect that the surplus will go quickly, once I begin stocking up. Just to give an example, a 30-lb case of butter will cost me between $60 and $70, alone. A gallon of molasses is just over $13 (and I am almost out of molasses). When and if I do find a great price on beef roasts, I imagine I will spend $30 to $50 for those.

When I'm shopping, I continue to check prices at Cash & Carry and compare to "best" prices in traditional grocery stores. It may surprise you, but canned vegetables are more expensive at Cash & Carry than by waiting for sales at Fred Meyer or other grocery stores. And fall is a great time for canned veggie sales at the supermarket. The canned green beans at Cash & Carry in the #10 size can (about 104 oz) were $4.27 each, which works out to 57 cents per 14 oz (which is about the size of the cans of green beans at a traditional grocery store). In comparison, by waiting for a sale at Fred Meyer or Albertson's, i can usually find canned green beans for 40 to 50 cents each. Anyways, for those of you who don't have an restaurant and institutional supply like Cash & Carry, there's no need to feel you're missing out on every great deal.

If you have a Kroger or Kroger affiliate that you shop, check online to see if they participate in the Friday Freebie offer. On Fridays, I go to the Fred Meyer (a Kroger affiliate) website and download the latest freebie offer onto my store card. It's that simple. Then the next time I'm in the store, I can pick up that item and get it for free. The offer on these items lasts for a couple of weeks, so if I don't get by Fred Meyer one week, I can pick it and the next item up the next time I'm there. Easy peasy, and no, I'm not paid to say any of this. Ha ha! I just think it's a great deal. They don't send me emails. There are no strings attached. Just something free, if I want it.

I've been getting some nice freebies, usually between $1 and $2 in value. I've been saving most of them, to use for holidays, or as part of gifts. I have a nice collection to give to someone in my family at Christmas, and another couple of nice items which will be appreciated at a birthday, very soon. These are all items that fall into the "luxury" category for our budget, such as bags of candy, bottled drinks and individual, heat and eat meals. As luxury items, they make perfect gift-ables for my family.

I hope September was kind to your wallet. Have a great day!

28 comments:

  1. You have a nice surplus coming into the last quarter of the year when a lot of things go on sale for the holidays. Glad to see some treats in your budget. We all need them then and again.

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  2. Hi live and learn,
    I think you're right on needing some treats now and then. It makes it easier to most stick to healthy eating, if I know there's a treat coming up.

    Enjoy the day, live and learn!

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  3. Wow! It's Oct. 3 already and I forgot to tally the Sept. totals. I'll do that tonight and report back. I think it was a "mild" month on the groceries but we'll see soon enough.

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      October really snuck up on me, too! I can barely believe we are now in autumn. I hope your budget did well for the month!
      Have a great day, Alice!

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    2. $415.11 for food and only $16.96 for cat, health & beauty, presc., and anything else. $432.07 for everything!

      Alice

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  4. Lili, I hope you can address this food question: my DD was officially diagnosed with IBS today and is to follow 2 diets: the GERD diet (http://www.aboutgerd.org/diet-lifestyle-changes/diet-changes-for-gerd.html) as well as the FODMAP diet( http://www.ibsdiets.org/fodmap-diet/fodmap-food-list/) Can you steer me to some easy substitutions and/or recipes? For example, turkey tettrazini was on deck for tonight, instead, I will make turkey divan using brown rice, broccoli, unsweetened almond milk and oil for the dairy usually used in my recipe. I will thicken the sauce with a corn starch slurry. I am thinking substitutes, such as lentils for beans in chilli but don't wish to start buying meat substitutes which tend to be processed, salty, expensive. Appreciate your thoughts.

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    1. HI Carol,
      Oh that is tough. I hope a new diet will help your DD feel like her normal self, soon.

      Your recipe for turkey divan sounds like it should work. Read the label on the almond milk, if buying commercial almond milk. Some alternative milks add stuff that's hard on digestion for someone already having a difficult time with some foods. I look for soy, almond or rice milk that is just the water, some cane juice, whatever the main ingredient is, a bit of salt and the vit/minerals. (Also, I've noticed in some alternative milks, the vitamin D is D2, not D3. From what I understand, D2 isn't as effective as D3, so I personally don't count any D2 as my D for the day. Plus, your body needs fat to use the vit D. A lot of alternative milks are very low in fat, so the uptake of vit D2 is even more limited, unless you're eating a meal along with the alt milk.)

      Brown rice was never my favorite grain, but it is now. When I can't eat anything else, I can eat brown rice. I also eat corn tortillas in place of bread, for toasted cheese sandwiches. (I know that FODMAP allows cheeses, but cheese can have some lactose. The longer a cheese is aged, the less lactose it has. Parmesan is aged long enough for me. Mozzarella is not.)

      Especially at first, stick to the most basic ingredients. Fruits, veggies, allowed meats, allowed grains, and the legumes that are allowed, but in limited quantities. I found with my own issues that the fake versions of some regular foods were just as bad for my digestion as the foods I was trying to replace. You've seen a lot of what I buy and prepare. My meals are very simple, with plain veggies and fruit as the side dishes. I do best with a diet that is basic and with home-cooked foods.

      For your chili recipe, I would bulk up the chili with brown rice and veggies, along with the limited amount of lentils you might add, instead of meat substitutes. You're right about those meat substitutes and all the extra ingredients. By avoiding them, it's one less package you have to read carefully when shopping.

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    2. (cont'd for Carol)
      The ratio of legume to grain that is needed for all the amino acids is lower on the legume side than most people think. You just need a small amount of lentils, added to brown rice, to get all of the amino acids. Plus, if you're adding meat to the chili, anyways, the lentils are just an "extra" in the protein dept.

      For myself, I'm also very sensitive to barley. I saw on the FODMAP that Malted Chocolate powder was allowed. This would be a huge no no for me. "Malted" usually means a barley product. So with boxed cereals, I always have tor read the label for malt, malted extract and barley malt.

      Rice is great. I use rice where others might use barley or pasta. Spaghetti sauce on rice is good. You can still make pasta for the rest of the family, but do brown rice for your DD. I tend to keep sauces separate from the grain portion in dishes, so I can use rice when I need to, for my grain, but the rest of the family can have what they're used to.Rice is also good in homemade soups, in place of barley or pasta. I'm not that impressed with GF pasta. It doesn't cook up quite like wheat pasta.

      For "bread" here's what I've done for my own bread, when going through really sensitive phases (and when on an elimination diet) -- I made large batches of rice flour pancakes, using home-ground brown rice flour (brown rice in my coffee grinder, sifted and re-ground), egg, homemade almond milk (easy to make), sugar, salt, baking powder, oil. The egg keeps the rice pancakes pliable for a few days, so they're more like bread for sandwiches. Much easier than baking GF bread, and cheaper than buying any GF bread products. I did a post on grinding brown rice into flour here:

      http://www.creativesavv.com/2013/06/grinding-brown-rice-into-flour-with.html

      And for breakfasts when I'm GF, I have leftover cooked rice, sauteed in butter with cinnamon, raisins and almonds tossed in.

      Maybe Sara, here, will also chime in, as she has had to deal with lots of dietary restrictions, herself.

      Good luck, and if you have specific questions, feel free to ask. Maybe I or someone else here has dealt with the exact thing. I hope your DD feels much better soon!

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    3. Thank you, Lili, for taking the time to type that all out. It's a real learnign curve at the moment, DD's emotions were running high when we briefly spoke today. Hopefully, she will calm down when I see her next.

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    4. Hi, Carol--
      I noticed your post and was thinking of dropping a note before I saw Lili mentioned me.

      My sympathies and prayers are with your daughter as she tries to improve her health through dietary changes.

      I'm sorry to hear that the doctor is asking her to follow TWO new diets at once, since this makes a difficult adjustment even trickier. I wish doctors would just pick one thing to start with, and add in the next once a patient has a good start on the first. (Sigh.)

      I second Lili's good advice, especially the potential problems with replacement foods, rather than just going with a simpler diet, as much as usual.

      I also would urge you and your daughter to do two other things. Realize that there will be meals when she'll make mistakes or just can't find something on her diet to eat, and encourage her (and yourself, cooking) to just do the best you can as much of the time as you can... but don't let it discourage you. Any improvement in her diet ought to make some improvement in her overall health, contrary to what some docs/books say. Also, be aware that removing whole categories of food suddenly, even if that food isn't "good" for her condition, may cause unintended consequences. Like, reducing/removing dairy greatly reduces calcium intake, and calcium, for a lot of people (including some IBS people), is super-important to proper digestion. Try to watch for these kinds of secondary problems. Took us a long time to figure some of them out.

      Unfortunately, our family has no experience in FODMAP, so I don't have a lot of specific tips to share; but we've done a lot of other specialized diets that overlap. I glanced at the list for FODMAP (excuse me if I get any of this wrong),and saw buckwheat flour as okay. You can make buckwheat pancakes with 100% buckwheat flour, and can be frozen and reheated or carried in a lunchbox. Cornbread can be made with 1/2 cornmeal and 1/2 pretty much any gluten-free flour she's allowed. Those are both pretty foolproof if she needs some "bread". Look on the internet for a gluten-free Irish soda bread recipe posted by someone named Chrissy. That also makes pretty good sandwiches.

      We've also found that you can substitute water for the milk in a lot of baking recipes, baking soda for baking powder most times (if she's more sensitive to BP), and that the more kinds of GF flour you mix together, the better the consistency of your baked good, generally speaking. Unfortunately, she seems to be denied both amaranth flour and almond meal, which are helpful in GF baking.

      You might also go to the Breaking the Vicious Cycle website for the SCD diet --which is all about digestibility, too-- and look at their legal/illegal list for more ideas on the digestibility of cheeses and beans and things like that. It's not quite the same, but might help. It's often a good diet for IBS, too.

      Hang in there. This sort of thing is a journey lots of families have taken. It's not an easy path, but food really CAN sometimes change your health, if you do your research, work on your expectations and attitude, and listen to your body. I hope your daughter will have wonderful results! Sara

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    5. PS... Carol, about the pancakes and cornbread, what I meant to say was you can use your normal recipe, just change the flour as mentioned. I don't think that part made sense. Whoops! :) Sara

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    6. Hi again, Carol. One other thing I was thinking, after posting to your comment this morning, let your daughter be very involved in her own food prep. She'll be more in control of what she eats and be able to pinpoint specific foods when she eats something questionable for herself. Since I do almost all of the food prep at our house, I know exactly what I'm eating, almost all of the time. And I can quickly pinpoint offending foods. It's up to me to decide is I want to deal with consequences, should I choose to eat something not on my okay list.

      It can be a drag to have to eat "different", but the benefit in feeling better outweighs inconvenience and feeling like the odd one. I found out I was lactose intolerant when I was 30, so I've had to eat "different" for over 25 years now. I've gotten used to it. And more and more restaurants now offer variety for those on restricted diets, and/or are happy to work with individuals. Like you can now get gluten-free pizza crusts at many pizzerias. I know a lady who orders a gluten-free crust, with cheese on only half of the pizza, for her son (she's also severely lactose intolerant), with extra meat and veggies on the non-cheese half of the pizza, so that she can enjoy pizza with her son (his half is just how he likes it, too).

      One more thing -- For myself, I have to be very careful with artificial flavorings of any kind. I had a problem with imitation vanilla flavoring in some flavored coffee a while back. Manufacturers don't have to disclose on packaging what's in the artificial flavorings. I've found that it's a whole lot easier to eat natural foods/flavorings.

      While all of this is probably upsetting to your DD, once she starts to feel improvements in her health, it will be easier to accept and embrace. And she'll discover new ways to eat some of her old favorites. And with time, she may discover that not everything on the lists is off-limits to her, personally.

      Sending hugs.

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    7. Carol and Lili-
      Lili just reminded me of another thing I noticed on the FODMAP -- artificial sweeteners. Ascesulfame potassium(K) is notorious for causing digestive upset in people with sensitive digestive tracts, so I was surprised to see it listed as okay. Some also have trouble with sucralose and aspartame.

      Like Lili's artificial vanilla flavoring, your daughter would probably be wise to either limit artificial sweeteners or at least pay close attention to how she feels if she does consume them.

      I think none of the main diets probably works perfectly for everyone. What works for us is a mix of different philosophies and plans. As Lili said, your DD might find that what works for her isn't quite as extreme as it seems now, and even learn to have new favorite foods from her new eating habits. That's happened in our family. :) Sara

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  5. I'm always amazed at how well you feed your family on so little. Great job! It is nice that you have the surplus for stocking up, and the fall sales should be starting soon. I understand what you mean though, the surplus does go quickly when stocking up. I have a large portion of my grocery budget set aside for stocking up on butter, flour, oil, and sugar. I'm also waiting on the Kroger canned vegetable sale, which is usually $0.49/can here, and the pasta sale, which is usually $0.49/lb.

    Have a great day!
    Angie

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    1. Hi Angie,
      Oh that pasta sale that your Kroger has sounds great. I'm not sure if our Fred Meyer matches that price, here. But I'll be looking for it, in case.

      Good job setting aside some grocery money for stocking up! Setting aside money for that purpose is really important for being able to take advantage of good sales and holiday-specific promotions.

      Enjoy your day, Angie!

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  6. Hi Lili,
    Great job on staying on such a great budget and still including some fun stuff. I hope you find the things you are looking for to stock up on going into the holidays.We were up early Saturday morning for us 5:30am ( We are night owls)We went to some Yard Sales and found some decor items. Then we stopped in at Ralphs because we were both getting hungry. We each got a bakery item at 50 cents.I got a maple bar and my daughter got a bear claw. Splurging is fun sometimes. We do not get to shop Ralphs too often as it is far from our house I do love it. We hit the perfect time to
    get the mark down meat. Lean ground beef,breakfast steak,breakfast sausage,bacon,a huge tray of sausage for gumbo or something Italian or pizza or all of them.We also got some marked down bakery cookies with M and M's for 99 cents and some other mark downs. My freezer is now full.I just have a side by side. It was fun getting all those deals. Sometimes at Vons they have great deals on the canned veggies and other loss leaders.I only buy loss leaders at Vons unless something is on super sale.I am looking forward to the holiday specials. :)
    Have a great Monday.
    Patti

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    1. Hi Patti,
      Your Saturday outing sounded so fun! I wish I was there!
      Great deals that you found at Ralph's, too. That must have been fun finding all of those markdowns.

      One of the things I love about the fall/winer holiday sales is all the baking stuff, including nuts like pecans, always go on sale, as well as the major things like turkeys and hams.

      Enjoy your evening, Patti!

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  7. Awesome job, as always, Lili! I, too, was under budget this past month. Not really sure why. I figured out my spending total so far for the year and I'm over $400 less/month than the USDA's "thrifty plan" for a family our size. That number will shrink when our farmer friend tells us our annual cow is ready, but I still expect to be at least $200 less than the thrifty plan. I realize that my diligence in price matching loss leaders from other stores at Walmart, along with buying in bulk, etc., has paid off. Yes, I found that out about Cash & Carry, too. I made potato salad for a wedding this past summer. I was sure the industrial sized mayo & such would be cheaper at C & C. Nope. Everything, with the exception of the onions, was cheaper at WinCo--even in the smaller bottles. I wondered about the price of $ Tree grahams. I thought they might end up cheaper than the WinCo brand (glad you figured out the math for me!). I think I remember looking at the $ Tree grahams & thinking that they are made in China, but now I'm not sure. I can't believe how much the price of the bulk cocoa powder has gone up! I do need to restock that this month the next time I'm near WinCo. Melissa

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    1. Oh. I forgot about the Fred Meyer canned goods. I do buy their canned green beans, tomatoes etc, when they're on sale there. I like that Kroger stores have committed to using non-BPA can liners. Melissa

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    2. Hi Melissa,
      Great work on keeping under your budget!! Yes, being diligent about spending and price-matching is paying off for you. that's awesome!
      Next time I'm at Dollar Tree, I'll check where the graham crackers are made.
      With Cash & Carry, I really have to do the math to see if something is a great deal or not. And sometimes I guess wrong, like with something I only buy once a year, like vinegar.

      Have a great evening, Melissa!

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  8. Seems like September was a good month, spending under budget, here too!! For husband and me, $209.04, less my father's one third reimbursement for ingredients we share like coffee, milk, cheese, eggs etc., total after reimbursement was $172.50. That included a Chinese takeout, and several fast food breakfast/lunches using coupons, case of beer, 2 cu garden soil, and prunes/prune juices for my digestive needs. What has helped are lots of deals at Kmart (coffee clearance, eggs @.29/doz after surprise pts). I spent a lot of hours at our Kmart stores, doing the 100% points back after clearance clothing for our grandchildren (I'm done, finally!!), then trying to find food items and other consumables at decent prices before the points expire in 2 weeks (still working on this). My focus was away from shopping the usual deals at other stores, so that kept our overall spending low. I consider the SYWR points as good as cash, so I enter it as fresh spending in my expense logs when the points are redeemed, and discount the items, often non food, when points are earned. This way, I'm not thinking the items are "free" when I use points, as the cashiers often remind me.

    YHF

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    1. Hi YHF,
      You had an awesome month! You really do work those rewards points to their best advantage. I approach any rewards dollars earned and spent, or buy one get one free deals in a similar fashion. The "free" isn't really free, in many cases, especially if I wouldn't otherwise buy the first one because of higher price because of name brand, or some similar situation. (B1G1 Jack in the Box comes to mind. I don't normally eat at J in the B, so I have to average the prices of the 2 items in a b1g1 deal, and ask myself if I'm willing to spend that amount of $ per each.)
      Good job, YHF! Have a great day!

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  9. What a cool blog and a weirdly helpful post series. If someone told me to go read a random lady's grocery shopping journal I would be like, wha...? But seeing how you made certain choices was really helpful, since it's something I'm doing all the time, too.

    I have a question: the trick to your super-low grocery budget seems to partially be buying in bulk. Do you find that you go through things faster when you have a ton of it lying around? Do you do something to try to counteract that impulse? When I've had a backstock of something because I took advantage of a good price, I feel like I'm more careless about conserving it, but I can't say for sure--and I've never bought in bulk to this degree before.

    Also, it seems like you have a balanced system that cycles through over the course of a year--did you have to have a certain amount of startup capital to get that going? I feel like I could be smarter about my bulk shopping but I'm not quite sure how.

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    1. Henrietta, you just made my day! And made me laugh! It does sound bizarre to read someone else's grocery spending journal, and actually either find entertainment value, or some tidbit of information that's helpful.

      Yes, I think my biggest savings come from buying in bulk when prices are rock-bottom (or close to). What I learned the very first year I began shopping like this was that we couldn't trust ourselves not to plow through any stockpiles of treats or goodies, likes chips, candy and soda. So, I only stockpile bulk basics, like dried beans, butter, cheese, flour, veggies and fruit, raw nuts and seeds, milk -- things that you either use in meals, or that require some sort of prep to make it palatable, and edible. Like with cocoa powder, I can stockpile cocoa powder because no one in my house eats cocoa powder straight out of the can. But I can't as easily stockpile chocolate chips, because everyone in the house will snack on those (when I do buy choc chips, I have to hide them, LOL). And there is a bit of carelessness on my part with stockpiles, too. When I'm running low on any given item, I use it very sparingly. I always see this with dish detergent. When we're almost out, I make sure we only use an itty bitty amount, and am very careful with pouring it out, etc. But when I've just laid in a good supply of dish detergent, I am more careless. I think that's human nature. In the long run, though, I save money because of my system. (A while back I commented that we were low on butter and gave my various tactics on how to "encourage" everyone in the house to use less. And as a result, we've been making my dwindling supply really last. "encouragement" can include "hiding" the butter in the fridge -- out of sight, out of mind, keeping it fridge cold, so that only a slice comes off on a knife, when going to spread on bread/toast, instead of a soft glob, blending butter with oil for homemade soft butter, and subbing oil in recipes for butter -- so yes, I do some things to counteract use of expensive ingredients.)

      I didn't have extra money to begin this, but for the first several weeks of shopping this way, I changed our diet initially, to spare cash in the grocery budget for stocking up. For instance, we immediately switched to eating dried bean meals most of each week, while I stocked up on various meats which I found at lower prices. We also ate heavily the cheap and in-season produce, and totally skipped anything more expensive in the produce dept. At first, my stockpiles were small, as much as I could afford at the time, like maybe only 1 or 2 extra gallons of milk for the freezer, when I found a great price. But with time, I've built a surplus of so many items that my budget surplus has grown to allow larger stockpiling.

      My best advice for stockpiling to best advantage would be to really limit purchase of convenience foods, commercial snack foods and non-nutritive beverages. Learn the sales cycles for your area and for particular foods. And be a little bit brave (but don't go overboard) on buying a little more than you might have, with things like whole turkeys or hams during fall/winter holiday sales. With an extra turkey and ham or two, you know you are prepared for the next big holiday, regardless of what prices or your income might be doing at that time. And if you discover you don't need that extra turkey for a holiday dinner, you can roast it for your own family at another time, as an inexpensive meat for many meals.

      Anyways, I hope answered your questions. please feel free to offer your own experience and comments as it sounds like we have similar shopping methods!

      Have a great day, henrietta!

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    2. You did, thank you! This is great stuff--and I so appreciate you taking the time to respond to my questions!

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    3. I should have added: specifically, the only buying things in bulk that are gross unless you put effort in to them is brilliant advice. I think that will be extremely useful to keep in mind going forward.

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    4. Glad to answer questions, henrietta! Have a great day!

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.