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Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Shopping and Gas This Week -- Last of May/Beginning of June

I grocery shopped in person at Fred Meyer (Kroger affiliate) this week. It had been 2 weeks since I last bought milk and we were, as I predicted, completely out of drinking milk at this point. I still had some slightly sour milk in the freezer, which I used. I made a small batch of biscuits one evening and some waffles over the weekend with this sour milk. My family still had plenty of homemade yogurt and cheese to get their dairy fix, though. I do have some powdered milk in the pantry. But I consider this to be true emergency milk. Running out of milk for two or three days doesn't constitute an emergency, IMO. 

So, I needed milk. I bought 1 gallon of whole milk for making another batch of yogurt and 3 gallons of 2% milk for my milk-lovers. The last time I shopped, I bought 2 gallons of 2%. This is my compromise while the price of milk feels high -- one shopping I'll buy 2 gallons and the next I'll buy 3 gallons. Milk, by the way, was $3.09 per gallon last week. I went online just now and milk has been marked up to $3.39/gallon. Thank goodness we don't drink organic milk. Name brand organic milk was $8/gallon at a store near me.

I found the "new" clearance section in Fred Meyer. Very little food items in that section. But I did find a deal on tissues (89 cents/box of 144 ct -- I bought 6 boxes, next winter's supply) and a box of foil that had been damaged for 99 cents. I slowly perused every aisle that I thought might have clearance items. In the packaged deli section I found 4 1-lb chubs of pork sausage marked down to 99 cents each. I bought all four. So, I'll tell you something about the sausage. When we were traveling to and from Arizona, one of the items that wee all really enjoyed from the included breakfasts was the sausage. In the car, we had talked about me buying some sausage for occasional breakfasts. Once home, I priced out the least expensive pork sausage. Cash & Carry Chef'Store had 6-lb rolls for $2.71/lb. Walmart carries the same brand in 1-lb rolls for $2.88/lb. I didn't get top buying the sausage, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find four 1-lb rolls on clearance at Fred Meyer for 99 cents/lb! 

In the meat department I found some 24 oz marinated pork tenderloins for $3.99. I only bought one of those, even though there were several. I'm not a huge pork fan (unless it's ham, bacon, or sausage), so this one will be enough for us. I'll may use it on Father's Day. As just a regular sale item, I bought 1 large family pack of bone-in chicken thighs at 99 cents/lb. Once I got the package home I divided it into 3 meal packets. And I also bought 2 bunches of bananas at 49 cents/lb. In total I spent $27.03. I had other non-food items on my list. One daughter needed some disposable cups for a sub teaching project and I needed another bag of potting soil for starting more radish seeds under lights indoors. My indoor radishes seem to grow better than outdoor ones. Even though I have a garden growing outdoors, I'll be growing the radishes indoors this summer.

It looked like there was still plenty of food in the store, but it did look like there was less of everything, fewer packages, items moved to the front of the shelf with no back-up stock behind those items, fewer choices in brand and style of many items. The produce department does not look bountiful, although there is still produce there. The tofu section was still down to just a couple of cartons. It's been almost a year now that tofu seems to be in short supply. Such an odd item to have low inventory. They were pretty low in inventory of infant formula, as well. On their website, you can still order most formula brands, but there are limits. On Walmart's website, they have more formula in stock in the store than Fred Meyer, it appears. But again there are low limits to how much one can buy.

In addition to shopping at Fred Meyer, I placed another online order for chocolate chips and cocoa powder through Walmart.com. (Yes, I did a little panic shopping.) I was pleased with how well the chocolate chips shipped the last time. They packed them in a foam-lined box with ice packs. The ice packs were completely melted by the time I received the box, but they still felt a little cool. More importantly, the bags of chocolate chips felt like the chips maintained their shapes and didn't melt into a large blob. So I bought another 6-package lot of chocolate chips and a few more cans of cocoa powder. I believe we have about how much chocolate and cocoa powder that I'd normally have going into the fall and holiday baking and candy-making season.

The least expensive unleaded gas is hovering between $5.30 and $5.50/gallon in my little town. One town over I can find gas for $5.09/gallon at a couple of stations. 

Inflation, inflation, inflation. I do feel we're being squeezed from every direction. Our homeowners' insurance comes due in July. It too went up quite a bit. But, we have our garden. I know we will be provided for, and abundantly so.

How was the shopping in your area this past week?

19 comments:

  1. I'm mainly noticing the price of produce.... watermelons in our area (Oklahoma) are going for $10 each at the local farmers market. Strawberries at Aldi's have usually been $1.99 a pound and this week their flyer advertised that as the Memorial Day sale price, so I guess the "regular" price will now be higher as well. We finally found some turkey bacon, which was a pleasant surprise, haven't seen that stocked for a long time!

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    1. Those better be really big watermelons! I haven't checked prices on melons in our area yet. I hope they're less expensive once summer begins. I don't grow melons of any kind here, so I have to buy them.
      I am so glad you found turkey bacon! I haven't seen it at Fred Meyer in over a year. I did get some at Walmart last fall, however. I bought a few packs and froze them.
      I hope you find more (good) surprises in the stores in coming weeks.

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  2. The price of gas has gone down a few cents this week to $4.44/gal at the cheapest station. We continue to have a cracker shortage at Aldi's but we have been able to find peanuts again. In the last few months milk has gone from 1.89/gal to 3.39/gal and price of meat has sky rocketed. However, my husband was able to find a pork should for 0.99/lb that we got and put in the freezer.

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    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Lower gas prices is a very good thing! I hope this spreads across the country. We went up about 10 cents/gallon at the least expensive places in the last week. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that we all see prices come down soon.
      Wow! That's a huge price jump on milk in just a year. I'm glad Ward was able to pick up a pork shoulder for such a great price!

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    2. Is the Aldi cracker shortage you speak of by chance on saltines? Because they have been out of saltines here in my area for a good while.

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  3. Great score on that sausage! My daughters went to salt lake city last weekend and had some car issues on the way home so they stopped in Idaho falls and went to Fred meyer while trying to diagnose the problem with dad. Dd called me to see if I wanted chicken, so I was able to get some. I bought some back in April and it just tasted so much better than the brands I can buy here.

    Last time Iooked gas was $4.42 here. Not sure what milk is. We don't go through much so I spend extra to get a brand with better dates. It's actually been difficult to buy milk for the last couple months. For me the supply chain issues have been more frustrating than the rising prices.

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    1. Hi Diane,
      Up until 2 years ago, I never would have thought that some brands of chicken would be better than others. Then I bought a couple of whole chickens from a brand that was unfamiliar to me (it was all I could find in spring 2020). It was the worst chicken I've ever had. I am so glad your daughters were able to get a good brand for you while they were stopped with their car issues.
      That's interesting about supply chain issues on milk. So far, I've been able to buy what I need. But I do think even the milk coolers look more sparse than they used to. I agree on spending a little extra on milk for a better brand. I tried Walmart's Great Value milk in 2020 and had yogurt failures and milk that separated badly after freezing and thawing. I switched back to Fred Meyer for their milk and my yogurt turned out fine again. At the time, it meant I was paying more for milk. Now Walmart's price has caught up with Fred Meyer's. It makes sense to spend a little extra if it means you will waste less.

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  4. Aldi has chocolate chips for $1.79/16 ounces right now, which is the best price I've seen for awhile, so I bought several packages. I may buy more next week if it continues to be that price. Thanks for the heads up on impending chocolate shortages!

    Our gas prices are ranging from $4.58 to $4.78/gallon. My husband has been going to a Daily Deals store occasionally to pick up some items--breakfast sausage being the main one. He gets sausage that is close to the expiration date and we freeze it for later use. He's been paying around $1/pound. He found milk for $2.99/gallon in our small local grocery store the other day and he plans on stocking up again on it tomorrow. It's $3.89/gallon at Meijer so that's a good savings.

    I don't know if any of you have a Menard's close by, but sometimes we find good prices there on food items (odd, I know!). Passing that along in case it helps someone!

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    1. Hi Kris,
      that's a good price on chocolate chips! I've been able to buy 12-oz semi-sweet in 6-packs for $1.74 each if bought online. If I bought them 1 bag at a time, it would now cost $1.98 each (had been $1.74 each for a couple of years).
      Interesting about Daily Deals and Menard's. I'll have to look around for what we have that's similar. Thanks for the tip!

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  5. Hi frugal friends--I suspect that my washing machine and dryer may need to be replaced soon. I'd appreciate any feedback you have on traditional vs high efficiency washers. I had a plumber tell me a few years ago that the newer high efficiency washers break down more frequently. Also, feedback on dryers would be useful, too! I'd like to do my research now before the need becomes urgent. :) Thanks!

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    1. I have heard horror stories on the front end loaders so I would try to fix what I have. If you need new look into Speed Queen. I believe they are made in the US and may cost a bit more but I've heard they are reliable.
      Alice

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    2. Hi again, Kris. I've also heard that front end don't last as long, need more repairs, have issues with mold, and also may wear fabric out quicker (I don't know on that one -- just something someone said a week ago). However, the water savings may be important in some areas. I hope your machines can be repaired to run longer. What I would wonder is if there are some high end brands of front loaders (like what you use at a laundromat) that last longer and don't have all of the issues the household ones do. I'll be interested to see what others have to say on this.

      We had an incident with the washer over the weekend. It leaked onto the floor. It may have been a loading issue (daughter washing puffy pillow). Anyway, we've been keeping an eye on it with every wash. It may be okay, but it kind of ruined one weekend day. Our dryer keeps running. My husband has been able to repair it a couple of times, using YouTube videos.

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    3. We replaced our washer with a HE one about 8 years ago now. With 5 kids home (now done to 4 but the married one lives in an apartment and often brings her and her husband's laundry over to wash), it gets a workout! My brother used to be an appliance repairman, and advised me to steer clear of front loaders. In addition to the mold issues, he said there's a bearing that holds the weight of them that often goes bad. So, with that advice, we went with the top-loading HE washer, with no agitator. Bonus to this is that we can wash our king-size comforters, sleeping bags, etc... with no issues. Ours is a Kenmore Elite.

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  6. Kris... I got a new HE washer last summer. All my local appliance store had in stock and we're going to carry. It was my second HE. Really, really disliked my first and it didn't last but seven years....had been told repairs are outrageous. It had no visible agitator. However, I really like my new one which does have an agitator. If you are shorter, you may have trouble reaching the bottom of the tub.
    On the gas price front...4.89 here in S. iN.
    Went to WM for my monthly stock up. The rest of the month it will be loss leaders at the local Kroger affiliate. Surprisingly, bananas were only 23cents a pound. I was shocked. Of course I stocked up. However, I didn't get several things on my list as I was just overwhelmed how much they hard increased. I've been using from pantry and freezer and wanted to replenish. Decided to see if I could get those things on sale later. I'm not not talking just a nickel or dime...I'm saying like 25to 35%0at least.
    The garden is starting to bear as well as fruit is bearing. We will just change around the menu some.
    I've been asked to bring watermelon to a family gathering Sunday. I had been hearing they were ten dollars some places in the country. Nice that we could get a nice large one for a little over four dollars. Sometimes I just have to do things when it is for family.

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    1. Hi Linda,
      that's an amazing price on bananas! I've been wondering how bananas can continue being relatively cheap, after all they have to be shipped to the US and fuel and all. Anyway -- good deal. I like your plan -- a once a month major stock-up, then just loss leaders for the rest of the month. Yes, I know what you mean about some prices up a lot. I've been thinking about how we'll handle more price increases. A producing garden is a huge help. At least you can rely on yours and skip the produce section of the store for several months, maybe longer if you have enough to can or freeze in peak season.
      Oh, what a wonderful thing to be able to do for your family gathering -- bringing the watermelon. That will make the event all that more special, especially if some folks are buying fewer melons this summer due to cost. I hope you all have a fabulous time together!

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  7. Well, I went up to Oklahoma City today for a medical appointment, so also went to Costco while there. We like certain items from there, and find several things to be at a good price. Some items seemed to be the same price, while others had jumped up by quite a bit. 20 lbs of organic flour, for instance, went up by $2 since I was last there about 3 weeks ago. The gluten-free sprouted rolled oats I purchase (celiac disease) have gone up by $1 on the 5 lb bag. Still a better buy than anywhere else, but definitely seeing lots of jumps, which all add up.

    Grateful we can afford to buy groceries, but some days it feels a bit disheartening trying to keep seemingly-bottomless teenagers full without breaking the bank. Still, we're starting to harvest a bit more from the garden: beets, a few of the potatoes (most ready in a couple more weeks), an onion (again, most ready soon). Brainstorming ways to plant more and keep the garden producing as long as possible into the fall.

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  8. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts on a washer. My current one is well over 30 years old and has a suds saver feature on it. The suds saver was giving me problems several years ago so I stopped using that feature. Now I'm having issues with it causing rips in my towels and sheets. I will try to remember to use the delicate cycle in the future, but in the meantime I'm gathering information so I can (hopefully!) make an educated choice for when we do decide to get a new one. You have given me great food for thought. I appreciate you all! :)

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  9. Prices have been creeping up here, but I was still finding many of the usual sales occurring. This week I noticed how the prices had changed here. I'm thankful I am able to absorb these costs in my budget but worry about so many people in my community who probably can’t. I need to make some strategic purchases for our church’s food bank.

    My garden is coming along. I have radishes to harvest. Before, I would’ve composted the leaves but after learning better here, I’ll use them. My lettuce is growing but not yet mature, so bought Romaine at the store. I’d read about “regrowing” Romaine from the stump and had tried this-unsuccessfully. After watching a YouTube video from Self Sufficient Me, I decided to try again. After planting the “butt” of the Romaine, I have a full-grown plant now in the garden! The shape is different, and I will pick the leaves kind of like loose-leaf lettuce from a central stalk, but it worked! I’ve got a cabbage stump growing well also. I’ve been less successful with celery. I was growing a carrot top to hopefully harvest seeds (no roots from a top). The celery and carrots have seemed more sensitive to our recent hot weather than the lettuce and cabbage. So, some may want to try this. The NZ Youtuber I think planted them directly in the garden. I put them in a bowl of water and planted them once I saw signs of growth. It has been a fun experiment, especially since I failed before. Our Romaine heads run 3 for 2.99, so I feel like I’m reducing that cost with my re-growing.

    I got a watermelon at Food Lion @ 2.99-a smaller seedless one and surprisingly good. I haven’t priced any at a fruit stand. That was a good price on the roll sausage. I just paid 2.99/# and that was half price. I’m not sure if our changes in prices are usual seasonal changes. The 8# of potatoes for 3.99 are now 4.99. I don’t have Aldi near me. When we make monthly trips to visit our mothers, we pick up the wide pan bread my DH likes there. It was 1.25/loaf, a huge savings over 4.29 reg price in the store (which I didn’t pay). I’d stock up when half price at 2.15 until my next Aldi run. Was in Aldi a month ago and the bread was 2.09, so huge rise there. Our items are limited, but I think that is because I live in a resort area. Yearly, when out of town visitors arrive, it's like locusts. Many items are gone, and we never have markdowns as everything put out is purchased. For instance, yesterday I was ISO cucumbers as my main store was out of them along w/ BLSL chicken breasts. I need to check my chocolate stash. Don’t want to be low on that item! Oh, and our gas is 4.49 most everywhere :(

    Have a good weekend! Lynn

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  10. Gas is nearly $5 a gallon. There are fewer clearance buys and prices are climbing steadily. Fortunately rotisserie chicken is still $4.99 at Costco and Sam's Club. I really have a difficult time shopping at need and paying regular price. It takes more frequent shopping to look for bargains, but with gas prices rising it is probably not worth the time and gas to find an occasional good deal. But it is fun. Yesterday was our 47th anniversary, and how did we spend it? Shopping for bargains!

    Laura

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