Stay Connected

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September grocery money journal -- mid month

I keep a journal of how much I spend on groceries each month. It's a running total, so I know where we stand with that part of the budget, at all times. And it's a place I can reread and find motivation to keep on doing what I do. I share it here, in case there's something in this that could help someone else.

Sept. 4 I was in the garage putting something in the second freezer and noticing just how much we have stored away. Later I was in the garden and realized we still have a lot of good produce left. I am hopeful at this point that we won't need to spend all that much for the first half of the month. If I see a good sale on something, then I'll buy a supply. And there are a couple of things that I'd like to pick up later this month, powdered milk being one of them. I'd like to have a container of cocoa mix for my kids to help themselves to, when it's chilly. Making my own mix means I get to control the sugar content.

We've just been eating out of the freezer stash from last week's cooking spree. Tonight it was pot roast. When I froze it, I hadn't thickened the gravy. Sometimes the texture of gravy changes when frozen. So I just froze the pot roast in the unthickened liquid. Then tonight I whisked the liquid with flour and made the gravy. I dug potatoes from the garden and picked chard, those with the carrots and beef and gravy was a great meal. Over the weekend, we used the mexi-mix for bun tacos and burritos. I also made a large batch of refried beans to add to the mexi-mix. And they were so good, we forgot to add cheese. For tomorrow's dinner I have some baked chicken pieces thawing in the fridge. I'll top those with pasta sauce, and serve with some French bread and pesto (thanks, Mallory -- I made the Moosewood recipe, really yummy!)

Sept. 7. Finally spent some grocery money for the month. I bought 1 banana and a package of tortillas. The banana was for a fruit salad. We still have loads of apples, pears and some blueberries, so I thought a banana would be a nice addition. It was just 18 cents (a cut banana, but still in great shape). The tortillas were for bean burritos for dinner last night. Yes, I could've made the tortillas, but my neck and shoulder have been especially painful this week, and didn't want to strain them further. Total grocery cost -- $2.17.

We're eating out of the freezer, garden and pantry. I'll need more pantry staples in a week or two. Running low on oats and probably other things.

Sept. 8. Made biscuit dough cinnamon buns. Quick and easy. This was one of the first things we made in Home Ec when I was in the 7th grade. I used to make them at home on a regular basis, as a kid.
This morning, breakfast was cinnamon buns, apples, milk and coffee. Simple, but a good Saturday breakfast.

Had to go out to the pharmacy. While there I found coffee on sale for $4.79 a can and olive oil for $2.99 a bottle. I just picked up 1 of each. Sometimes I just don't feel like doing a huge pile up of food items in the pantry. So far this month I've spent $9.95 on groceries.

Sept 9. Last night was my teen daughters' night to make dinner. They like doing this, and it gives me a break. Having them cook one night a week has replaced part of my "want" to go out for dinner a couple of times a month. I'd still like to have the experience of eating out, trying new foods, no dishes to wash up etc, but now I don't seem to want it as often.

Picked up a can of pumpkin for scones and to make pumpkin pie coffee syrup. While at Fred Meyer I found chocolate chips for $1.59/12 oz bag. This was their house bargain brand, so I bought 5 and will see how they do in cookies. Also, swung by their bulk bins and bought nutmeg and almonds (almond milk for my lattes is much richer than rice milk; rice is okay for cereal and cooking). Another $12.97 spent.

Sept. 10. I'm making another batch of salsa this week, so need canned tomatoes and onions. 50 lb bag of onions was about $9, which works out to 18c a pound. I load them into the drawers of our spare fridge. They will keep for about 4-5 months in the fridge. I will have used them all up before they begin to rot. Tonight, I'm making mustard-glazed onions to go with dinner. I just couldn't wait to eat some of those onions! Also got more whip cream (for lattes), and a 5 lb. bag of cheese (about $10.50). That brings my spending for September up to $47.68 so far. I am running low on milk, eggs, garlic and oats. We'll just have to see how the rest of the month goes.

Sept.11. Stopped at the produce stand near the girls' school. I picked up some garlic, zucchini, to make more pickles (our garden did not produce much zucchini this year), jalapenos for more salsa, and I tried not to look. I really tried not to look, but it got me. I caught sight of a very full mark down bin, out of the corner of my eye. I was trying to keep my produce spending way down, as our garden is bursting with lots of veggies and fruit. Well, to my other produce I added a bag of sweet peppers for 99 cents. Not bad -- 2 yellow peppers, and 4 green pepper.  I chopped and froze the green ones yesterday while waiting for the potatoes to cook, and I'm using the yellow ones in vegetarian chili tonight. One thing I've learned about the mark-down bin. Only buy marked down produce if I can plan on chopping and freezing, or cooking it within 24 hours. It never has much more time than that, before it's too far gone. Another $4.51, brings me to $52.19 for September, so far.

Tonight's the first night in a while that we haven't had a freezer meal. I just wanted something different, so when I picked up the peppers I knew it would be chili. I'll have enough left over to freeze in lunch portions, which will be nice to have ready to go. With the chili I'm making pumpkin scones, and pears for dessert.

We are down to 1 gallon of milk and 11 eggs. I will need both of those to get through the month. Otherwise, perhaps more canning supplies and that's about it (unless I find some spectacular deals). It would be so nice if I could bank more grocery money for November and December holiday spending. But I won't be counting any chickens so soon.

Sept. 13. I didn't freeze the leftover chili, but added some macaroni noodles, for chili mac, and made toasted cheese sandwiches to go with the chili mac.

Sept.14. Bought a gallon of milk and 5 nut roll candy bars (clearance for 10c each), put away for a special treat sometime. Hoping to find milk marked down, but no luck. Spent $3.09 today, bringing the mid-month total to $55.28.

I made sourdough deep dish apple pancake with yogurt cream for dinner tonight. Very yummy! A very autumn-like meal. We've been having a lot of those lately, with apples, pumpkin, pears. Where did summer go?

Sept.15 Since school started, lunches have mostly been sandwiches (garbanzo bean spread, peanut butter and jelly, sunseed butter and jam, and egg salad -- but not all together!), fruit from our trees (apples and pears), and one or two other items, either yogurt, crackers, a cookie and/or a muffin. Breakfasts have been cereal from the dollar store (I'm "the greatest mom ever" -- I bought chocolate Cheerios!), toast, and muffins with milk or coffee.

And so I wonder, how much, or how little, will we spend for the second half of the month.


  1. What a great deal on the onions, Lili!
    I love sunflower seeds and thought I would like the sunflower butter, and it tasted just like sunflower seeds. I think I was expecting it to taste like peanut butter, lol. It is such a neat concept to me for some odd reason. lol
    Like last month and in July, I enjoy reading your grocery journal, Lili. It is interesting to me to see how other families are making it work for them. :)

    1. Hi Belinda,
      I know what you mean, about the sunseed butter, and expecting it to taste like peanut butter. I did the same thing at first. Peanut butter is sweeter, IMO. So this took me by surprise. I got used to it, though, and now when I have peanut butter, I'm surprised it doesn't taste like sunflowers seeds! I'm still hoping peantu butter rpices will drop this fall, though. It would be easier to just buy jars of peanut butter, instead of making the sunseed butter. Sometimes, I just have to do whatever it takes, though.

      Thanks for reading, and I hope your weekend is pleasant!

  2. Love this Journal and it is so nice to be Mid-Month and have spent so little! Way to Go ...Love the chocolate cherrios bit, my kids think I am the greatest when we get cold cereal too!

    1. Hi Poor to Rich,
      Thanks. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of the month will go well, too. But I'll just have to wait and see. Grocery prices seem to up across the board. It's hard to find a good price on milk these days, and meat prices are just ridiculous.

      Yeah, I love being the "greatest mom", just for buying junky cereal from the dollar store! And I have to admit, I thought the chocolate Cheerios were good, too!

      Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!

  3. I'd be interested in your recipe for hot chocolate mix. I usually buy the house brand but it is super-sugary and it doesn't seem to dissolve well (the more expensive brands are less clumpy).

    1. Hi Kris,
      I've used a variety of recipes over the years. This year I'm debating between doing a dry milk added recipe, and one with just sugar, cocoa powder, chopped chocolate pieces and salt, to mix with purchased milk.

      Powdered milk prices seemed high to me this past week when I was beginning to price it. It make be less expensive to have a mix that the kids could stir into microwaved mugs of milk. I'm planning a post in the next week on what I decide.

      In any case, to get the sugar to dissolve well, you need to use a finer grind of sugar. Remember our discussion on super fine sugar awhile back? That's what you need. And you can make granulated sugar into super fine in a blender or coffee/spice grinder.

      The other advantage for our household to doing a mix without the powdered milk, is I can have it too, mixed with an alternative milk.

      I'll get something put together in the next week or two, as I want to figure this out for myself, too!

      Thanks for reading!

    2. If you don't mind, could you post both? Sometimes (I'm thinking of camping trips) it's just so much easier to have the powdered milk version.

      I never thought about the finer grind of sugar. :)

      No rush on any recipes!

    3. Sure. And now that I've thought about it a bit, I'll want some with powdered milk for any winter trips we take.

  4. It's interesting to hear about prices in another part of the country. I would be thrilled if I could find a gallon of milk for only $3.09.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I agree. I like hearing what everyone else is finding at the stores. So, I'm wondering just what you find milk selling for there?

      When we first moved to the Seattle area, everyone said how expensive groceries were here. And they were somewhat higher than in Utah, where we'd lived before.

      But I also think how much a family spends on groceries depends on where in any metropolitan area they live. We live in an ideal place -- close to a large city, so there are a variety of types of places I can shop, but far enough out that we're not paying the in-city going rate for food items. We're in the suburbs, which means there are loads of shopping options. But we're also close enough to a farming area that we can get great deals at local farms and produce stands.

      Thanks for reading!

  5. Wow! We're working on eating up the "main dish" items that are in the freezer. My spending for the month has been a little higher than yours though...I'm right at $100. However, I did buy several weeks worth of cheese for just under $50 that is counted in that. We bought extra eggs and tomatoes for visiting family. So I don't think we're doing too badly.

    By the way, I love chili mac, but my daughter won't eat it to save my life. :-(

    1. Hi Shara,
      Well, in a normal month, I would be right around $100 for now. So I do think you're doing extraordinarily well! And you've had to work at finding foods that fit into your new eating regime. That's expensive, especially at first.

      Cheese is one of those foods that I don't think we eat all that much of. Since I don't eat it more than once every 10 days, I don't tend to cook with it that much. When we eat vegetarian (which is about half the week), it's more vegan (beans and grains), than dairy and eggs.

      And I don't know if you're counting anything other than just people food in your tally. For me, it's only people food, no paper/cleaning supplies, not pet food. Those things I figure into a different part of the budget, since I don't usually buy them at the grocery store.

      Those are some things that could make my spending "look" much less than someone else's. And it's all relative to where you live and your shopping opportunities. As I was saying to live and learn, I think I live in a pretty good spot for grocery shopping. I'm close enough to a whole lot of shopping opportunities.

      I think just about everyone I've met through blogging about frugal living spends way less on groceries than the average American family.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. To anybody reading this journal, I just want to add that we're actively trying to spend as little as possible on groceries for these months. Last year, in November and December, I found that I spent almost double our usual monthly amounts, with holiday cooking/baking, stocking up on deals, etc. This year, I'm trying to "bank" some extra grocery money just for November and December, so we won't face January already in the hole, in this category of the budget. So, don't think that this is all it takes, on average, for us to feed our family.

  7. This is amazing. I don't spend usually more than $20 a week on groceries when shopping at the farmer's markets this summer, but Friday I spend $30.71 on foods for my youngest son and his family while they were visiting. It's sometimes quite expensive to buy food for people who eat differently from how I do.

    1. Hi Lois,
      I do find that I spend quite a bit more on groceries when we've got guests staying with us. I try to cook more to what they're used to eating. It would be really unkind of me to subject their digestive systems to the amount of beans and grains that we eat. So I'll tend to buy more meat, make more elaborate lunches and breakfasts, and have lots of snacks on hand. And that all adds up. But that's okay. I see it as a treat to have the guests here, so am happy to do things to make their stay pleasant. I'm sure you felt the same about having your son and his family visiting.

      Thanks for your thoughts!


Thank you for joining the discussion today. Here at creative savv, we strive to maintain a respectful community centered around frugal living. Creative savv would like to continue to be a welcoming and safe place for discussion, and as such reserves the right to remove comments that are inappropriate for the conversation.


Be a voice that helps someone else on their frugal living journey

Are you interested in writing for creative savv?
What's your frugal story?

Do you have a favorite frugal recipe, special insight, DIY project, or tips that could make frugal living more do-able for someone else?

Creative savv is seeking new voices.


share this post