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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October grocery money journal - month end

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.

Oct. 15. I wanted to add some mushrooms to a beef stew I was making so stopped at my favorite produce stand (yes, we still have a highway produce stand open in October -- they close just after Hallowe'en, big clearance sale then). While there, I bought 3 heads of garlic and a 2-pack of marked down bell peppers. Total spent $3.16. The peppers will go in chili tomorrow. Month to date -- $135.27

Oct. 17. Stopped at the grocery store for some pecans for more Pumpkin Praline granola. The granola is baking right now and smells heavenly! Total spent -- $2.08. Month to date -- $137.35

Oct. 20. Bought candy today. Hallowe'en candy, not for the trick-or-treaters, but for us! My reputation for serving healthy food to my family is now tarnished. Yes, I have to make a confession -- I love candy! I bought those mellowcreme shapes. They have the taste and texture of candy corn, but are in the shapes of bats, ears of corn, sheaves of wheat, pumpkins, jugs of maple syrup and moons. These are a family tradition for us. Every fall, I have to find these. Sadly, last year I could not find them anywhere. I about made myself crazy looking for them. Then this year, as I'd given up on our ever enjoying this treat again, one of my kids googled this stuff and found out they were indeed still available. We thought we'd have to mail-order them, when I lucked out and found them in the drug store. So, $2.68, and very worth it! (Sometimes you just have to have a special treat!)

Oct. 21. Both daughters and I have colds today. In no mood to make dinner, I went out and picked up a Little Caesar's pepperoni pizza. I also made a tomato salad with the fresh tomatoes ripening on the counter, and we had some applesauce from the freezer, and some whole wheat sourdough bread (just to help stretch that pizza. Pie for dessert, courtesy of the nice ladies at our church's tea time. My daughters washed all their dishes yesterday afternoon, and their rewards were 3 almost whole pies, and a half Costco bag of trail mix. Pizza was $6.56, including tax, bringing the month-to-date total to $146.59.

Perhaps you've noticed, we do a fast food thing about once a month. Last month it was Jack-in-the-Box, this month, pizza. Just something we do. Keeps us from feeling deprived. It's one of those small treats that feels bigger than it really is.

For lunch, today, I made a really tasty sandwich spread from cooked black beans, salsa, olive oil and salt. Just ran it all through the food processor. This was really good.

Oct. 24. Stopped at the craft store and bought the food coloring for finishing the pumpkin cookies. Used a coupon. Total spent $1.37, bringing to-date total to $147.96

Oct. 25. A frugal win today! Two daughters are away at a retreat overnight, so just the 3 of us for dinner. I considered getting take out. I really thought I'd do that. But then I remembered how much I need to clear some space in the freezers for turkeys next month. So, from the freezer, I pulled out some sourdough bread, soup, and applesauce. I also made some deviled eggs and we finished off the last pie. A double win, really -- cleared space in the freezer and didn't spend $$ on take-out!

Oct. 26. Shopping and errand morning. I stopped in at Subway and bought a 3" flatbread breakfast sandwich. Very yummy! And especially so as it was free, with a gift card someone had given me as a thank you. Went to Fred Meyer to find some much needed items. They carry just about everything -- can be a tremendous temptation. But I was armed with coupons and the sale flyer. The only "groceries" I bought were a can of coffee and a truffle for myself, total spent $6.99. Next stop Trader Joes for Lactaid milk for me (I'm trying to rotate my "milks" as I develop intolerances fairly easily). Milk was $3.99 (yikes! maybe I should just pour chocolate syrup on my oatmeal -- it'd be cheaper). Total to-date spent for the month-- $158.94.

Oct. 29. We're still eating quite a bit from the garden. Saturday's dinner was  prepared by my 3 kids. They made Sourdough Apple Deep Dish Pancake. 

For Sunday's lunch I made a pot of pumpkin soup, using a slightly under ripe pumpkin and some potatoes from the garden, and Italian sausage from the freezer. 

Tonight we'll be using turnip greens, broccoli, potatoes  and pears from the garden (but not all in the same dish -- it's a pot roasted beef with mashed potatoes, sauteed turnip greens, broccoli and onions, half of a squash, and some fresh pears).

I baked some breakfast goodies this morning, pumpkin-spice cinnamon buns and apple muffins. We'll alternate those items with oatmeal, for the week.

Oct. 30. Again, no spending, but trying to eat up what's in the freezer. Tonight's dinner was sloppy lentil Joes, on homemade burger buns, green salad from the garden (it's been mild here this month), the other half of the squash and plum gelatin. When I'm trying to use up some fruit (like the last of the fresh plums I had in the fridge), I cook it with water and some sugar, then puree and mix with unflavored gelatin -- homemade fruit gelatin. I do this frequently in the spring with rhubarb (here's my recipe for a creamy version of rhubarb gelatin).

Tomorrow is Hallowe'en. We're either having Chili Mac, or Beefy Chili (vegetarian chili that I'll add some chunks of beef to) with corn-on-the-cob. I've got the chili thawing in the fridge overnight. Then right after dinner we'll make the popcorn balls, have some apple wedges, eat candy, and watch a movie while waiting for trick-or-treaters.

I can see that I'm getting low on supplies, needing flour (both wheat and white), sugar, oil, salt, cornmeal, cheese, and eggs, plus probably a lot of other items, as I've let supplies run down this month. I'll pick these up Friday, on the way home from daughters' school, so they'll fall under November's budget. 

November will be a big spending month, with Thanksgiving and fall stock-up sales. I'm thinking 3 whole turkeys (we did 4 turkeys last year, and I had 1 dissenter in the ranks over the prospect of doing 4 turkeys again, so looks like it'll be 3 this year), 1 bone-in turkey breast (we like the white meat the best), and 2 half hams -- this is all if the price is right. I've been clearing space in the spare fridge and freezer to store all this.

Also, Nov. 1 is the big clearance at my favorite produce stand, before they close for the winter. I'll pick up produce with good keeping qualities, like carrots, oranges, garlic and winter squash. 

That's it for this month. I hope everyone has a happy Hallowe'en!


  1. Last time you went shopping for pantry goods such as flour, I wondered how you would be able to use all of them. I guess you do because you are getting low on those supplies. How low do you let things get before you replenish them?

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I think I'm down to about 4 pounds each of whole wheat and white flour, enough to do a couple of loaves of bread and a cobbler or two, I think a one week supply. I do bake a lot, and my two daughters also like to bake : )

  2. I myself am going to be looking for good deals on beef and cornmeal, plus anything that includes corn or is fed by corn or has a by-product of corn in it. The drought in the Midwest SEVERELY affected the corn crop this year. The prices on these items will be greatly affected. I have seen lists of corn-based or related products, and am going to see what I need to restock before the prices get really high. Anything with high fructose corn syrup too, sodas, etc. which we really don't drink anymore,
    will likely increase too.

    1. Hi Valarie,
      I've already noticed an uptick in corn-related prices in our markets. Corn tortillas were up by about 50% earlier this month. Part of that was due to higher fuel prices, but I'm sure a good part was the corn crop failure.
      I hope you find some good deals. And you're smart to be looking for them now. I suspect the very high prices will hit this winter.

  3. Looks like you had a pretty good month. We're going into November relatively well stocked for at least the first half. I'll see where we stand mid month and restock if necessary.

    1. Hi Shara,
      you're up and about! Take care of yourself.
      Yes, the month went well. But I can already see how November will be much more expensive. I'm guessing double our budgeted amount. But that's what the surplus from previous months is for.

  4. Looks like a good month food wise, Lili. We still have a little bit of produce coming in too. The farmer's market will close here pretty soon though like yours is about to do. I see soup on your menu and chili too, both great to have in this cooler weather. :)

    1. Hi Belinda,
      it's good to hear from you!
      Lots of soup and chili at this end. I even like to package up a few portions for lunches on these dreary days.
      Take care!


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