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Thursday, August 29, 2019

September's Grocery Plans

Yes, we really did go through 9 gallons of milk this month! I thought maybe we might have 1 extra gallon leftover. But nope -- we must be heavy-duty milk consumers. Well, 3 of those 9 gallons were made into yogurt. Does a 6-gallon milk consumption sound any better?

Making the Plans

This week, I've been reviewing what we went through this past month, surveying the pantry and freezer, and working on the shopping plans for next month. We need milk again, as well as yeast for baking bread. We have enough eggs, chicken, and beef to last through September. In addition, September should be a good month for our garden. Even though we have a huge stash of blackberries, we will need some pieces of fresh fruit for lunches. I don't want to spend or allocate all of our budget for the month, up front, but instead want to hold some back in case I find some unexpected great deals or to save for fall sales, later. I will be watching for canned vegetable sales, and deals on fresh green peppers and bottled lemon juice.

At the end of August, we have $7.08 of the budget remaining. Add to that a coupon for $5 off any purchase at Fred Meyer plus the $135 that I have allocated, so we have $147.08 to spend on food.

Budget - $135 plus $7.08 + $5.00 = 147.08

My List

cocoa powder, $2 worth
chocolate chips winco/Walmart 1.88/12 oz – only if < 1.88/12 oz, otherwise wait
powdered milk, $1 worth - bulk bins
coffee creamer, $1 worth - bulk bins
raisins, $1 worth - bulk bins
check chili powder price < 4.91/lb

peaches 3 lbs/$1, 9 lbs – before 9/4
jalapenos, 5/$1

Fred Meyer (Senior Discount Day -- get up and out early, hoping for milk on markdown)
Simple Truth coconut milk, ½ gal. (45 cents w/ $2 off coupon)
milk, 6 gals 2%, 3 gals whole, 2.06 ea (18.54)
tea bags, One of the Perks, 100 ct., 1.07
decaf tea bags, One of the Perks, 100 ct., 2.24
hot dogs, 1 pack, Heritage Farms, 75 cents
Chicken of the Sea canned tuna fish, 69 cents, 5 oz (get 5)

decaf coffee, 3.57
bananas, 10 lbs (later in month, over a couple of visits), 4.20
House Foods tofu, firm 16 oz 1.44 (2)
Great Value frozen orange juice, 12 oz, 1.23 (3)

Cash and Carry – will wait to see what specials are, hold out if I can until 2nd set of specials mid-month
Red Star yeast, 2 lbs 7.38
Fiesta pinto beans, 50 lbs, 21.98
10 lb bag carrots, 4.57, check also for 25-lb bags of juicing carrots
onions, 50-lb bag, 12.55
cheese, 12.50/5 lb bag, this is a maybe (still have some cheese in freezer)
Simply Value canned whole tomatoes, #10, 2.89
chili powder, 3.99/13 oz, First Street (4.91/lb)

So far, $114.27 max for grocery planning. I may or may not buy cheese and/or chocolate chips. And I may add a little bit of fresh produce as I find deals on veggies that don't grow in my garden.

My usual run down the highway goes something like this: Sprouts, WinCo, Cash & Carry, and Walmart. These stores are all along the same major highway in my area. So, if it sounds wasteful for me to stop at Sprouts for a bag of peaches and some jalapenos, or WinCo for a few items from the bulk bins, understand that the actual extra gas usage is not too bad for each individual stop. Fred Meyer is not along this run and has a specific day of the month for my shopping tied to a discount. Fred Meyer also sells gas at a competitive price, so I plan this shopping stop separately from the rest.

The cocoa powder, powdered milk, and coffee cream powder are for making cocoa mix (yes, it is that time of year again, isn't it?).  I was going to get some tea, but decided to save these items for November. I've got enough other teas on which I can rely for 2 months. The pinto beans, yeast, and onions will be stock-up items for the month. And I'm adding to our stock of canned tuna. We don't eat a lot of canned tuna but it is one of the meats that is shelf stable, so I think it's good for an emergency pantry. And the canned oj is to add to what I think we will want this winter. I have a few cans in the freezer already. I am buying a few cans each month to build up a supply -- Walmart's price is pretty good.

As you can see, I'm holding back a lot of our money this month. I'll spend about $35 to $45 at the farm stand's end of season sale on November 1, buying apples, pumpkins/squash, garlic, cabbage, and sweet potatoes. In addition, when the November minimum-spend-to-buy-a-turkey deals come out, I want to have plenty of foods on my shopping list to be able to get the cheapest price per pound on our turkey.

You know, there's a part of me that enjoys making out this list, but also a part of me that feels quite stressed by it all. Will I have enough to get us through the month? Is there enough produce, meat, and easy to grab food for my household? It really would be easier if I shopped once per week and loaded up my cart, without too much thought to cost. But this is the best way that I can ensure we keep to our budget and still eat well.


  1. Your shopping list is very thorough - I always learn something from you!
    How do you prepare the tofu? I really like it, but my husband not so much. I have occasionally purchased some on sale and then I can't figure out what to do with it!

  2. Hi Ruthie,
    I do a few things with tofu. I marinate cubes and add to stir-fries, I add chunks to the blender when making smoothies, I puree tofu and mix in with melted chocolate chips and vanilla extract (good in a pie shell or cups as a mock chocolate mouse), and I fry marinated thin strips of tofu. The frying takes time but wow is this ever good. I've made this before where we've gobbled it up before I could serve it for dinner. Oh, I also make a cheesecake that uses part cream cheese, part pureed tofu. I love that one, and it is lighter and has more protein than traditional cheesecake.

    I added tofu to the shopping list because it's a good source of tryptophan, which helps boost serotonin. My husband isn't wild about tofu, but I've found ways that he does enjoy it, such as the chocolate dessert or the fried tofu. Mostly, my daughters and I eat it. I like adding cubes of it to a bowl of veggie soup or a garden salad for myself to add protein.

    Also, you can divide a package of tofu and freeze it in portions. When it thaws, the texture changes a little, but it is still very usable in smoothies, stir-fries, pureed, or added to soup.

  3. Hi Lili,

    Your grocery plan looks amazing. I just don't use much groceries anymore with just 2 1/2 of us. But I remember those days with 5 big eaters. Sometimes we had 8 gallons of milk per week in an extra refrigerator in the garage. We no longer have an extra fridge.

    I have made a decision to not buy canned items anymore. They take up too much space in my garbage since we no longer have a recycling center. I now buy bagged frozen veggies only because it takes less room in the garbage. Sad.

    Question about coconut milk. I use the canned kind for curries, oatmeal and other things and that canned kind has the cream on the top. But I see coconut milk in cartons in the dairy section of the grocery stores. Are they the same thing? Are they interchangeable? The canned kind is milky and creamy but I don't think the carton kind is. Carton is cheaper as well.

    Right now we are in California for a major medical surgery for my husband that could only be done in LA. Spending two weeks or more here. Kind of lonely here with no way to get around, no hotel, and very little food and water. Everything is too expensive. I am on a big diet due to these circumstances so maybe I'll lose some weight. I stay with my hubby in the hospital 24/7. We went from airport to hospital and will do the same in reverse in a couple of weeks.


  4. Alice, I'm sorry to hear about your husband's surgery. How stressful. Praying for you!

    I have used both the refrigerated carton coconut milk as well as the canned coconut milk and I haven't found them to be interchangeable. The canned version reminds me more of evaporated cow's milk while the refrigerated style is more like traditional cow's milk. I'm sure I'm over-simplifying it, so maybe someone can give greater clarity.

  5. Hi Alice,
    First of all, I will keep you and your hubby in my prayers for his surgery. I pray it goes well and his recovery is short. I wish I had some advice to offer with getting some less expensive food for yourself. About the only thing I can think of would be to take Uber to a local grocery store and buy some produce, bottled juice, and nutrition bars. When I was a teen volunteer in a hospital, the cafeteria actually had reasonable prices. But this last winter when my FIL was in the hospital I could see that that had changed. It was almost as expensive to eat in the cafeteria as it would have been to eat in a casual restaurant.

    On the coconut milk, there is no cream at the top in a carton, and I don't think it's quite as creamy as the canned type. We still use it in curries, though. It does have a nice coconut flavor. And I love using it for my milk, since it's lactose-free.

    Wishing you well, Alice. Take good care of yourself. Has your husband had his surgery yet?

  6. Another thing about the canned vs. carton coconut milk -- canned has about 3 X the calories and loads more grams of fat as cartons, so it is definitely a richer product. The carton version is fortified with calcium and Vit D. Like Kris said, cartons are more like a drinking milk (sub for soy or almond milk for me).

  7. In surgery right now! 10 am CA time (I don't know what zone that is)
    Thanks for all the prayers!


  8. You're in Pacific Daylight (savings) Time (PDT) zone. Saying prayers for your husband.

  9. Praying for you and your husband Alice.

    Lili, I can see where this would definitely be stressful. Hats off to you for a job well done. Just a question, have you considered substitutions? I have been thinking about doing a low spend for September. I'm going to try to figure out some substitutions for some of the items that I need. This may or may not work for you.

  10. First Alice will be praying and thinking of you and your husband. Lili as usual good food choices. If anybody can pull this off you can.

  11. Hi Lili,
    Loving your lists and meals.
    I was looking for the 50# bag of onions today. They don’t know if they will get them. Your price is awesome.
    I take a couple of weekends and just sauté the whole bag. I package the onions in foil and freeze. It’s available all winter and then I usually repeat the following fall.
    Alice, holding you, your husband and family in my thoughts and prayers. Some hospitals have a hostel/ dorm for patient families.
    If this is not available, praying for peace, quiet and sustained resting time.

  12. Lona said...
    . . .I can see where this would definitely be stressful. Hats off to you for a job well done. Just a question, have you considered substitutions? I have been thinking about doing a low spend for September. I'm going to try to figure out some substitutions for some of the items that I need. This may or may not work for you.

    Hi Lona,
    Thank you!
    I'm trying any substitutions I can find. If you come across any good ones, please share. Good luck to you, Lona!

  13. Thank you, Cheryl. I appreciate the vote of confidence.

  14. Teresa said...
    I take a couple of weekends and just sauté the whole bag. I package the onions in foil and freeze. It’s available all winter and then I usually repeat the following fall.

    Hi Teresa,
    that's such a great idea. Thank you for sharing. I'll leave some of them fresh, the ones I think we can use soon, but chop, cook, and freeze the rest. Thank you for this tip!


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