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Thursday, February 13, 2014

So just what did I buy with my extra grocery money?

I know, we're all a bit curious how each other spends their money. So here's how I spent my "extra" money.

If you'll remember from last Saturday's post, I said that it looked like I'd have about $10 to $15 left in our grocery budget, at the end of each month for a few months.

All of your input really helped me to come to some conclusions.

  • on a small grocery budget, nutrition counts
  • I can make a lot of treat foods, like pop-tarts, but I can't make fresh produce or meat
  • in winter there are always some holes in our diet, mainly fresh salads
So, while running some errands yesterday, I stopped in Trader Joe's and the Cash and Carry restaurant supply (down the road from each other). I had other items to pick-up, so used this time to check prices and make selections.

This is what I chose:

  • 2.5 lbs of bagged fresh spinach leaves. The best-by date is Feb 20. I'll use this in both salads, as well as lightly sauteed with garlic in olive oil, for the next week, and any remaining spinach can then be lightly steamed and frozen. Spinach is high in folate, Vits. K, C and A, some Omega-3s, Vits. B1, B2, B6, and several minerals, including iron. Spinach also is high in oxalic acid and phytic acid, both inhibitors of iron absorption. To get maximum iron from spinach, it's best if bought fresh, then lightly steamed, and served with a source of Vit. C. ---- My garden spinach won't be big enough to harvest until sometime in late May, so this is something of a treat for us.
  • 2.5 lbs of packaged whole mushrooms.  Mushrooms contain protein, fiber, the B vitamins, and many minerals, including selenium and copper. Mushrooms may also contain Vit. B12 (a vitamin otherwise exclusive to animal sources). The amount of B12 varies substantially. It's carried through a beneficial bacteria which piggybacks on the mushrooms.  ----  Mushrooms, when cooked, have a meaty texture which our family really enjoys, a nice change from so many of our vegetarian dishes. Fresh mushrooms can be sauteed in butter, then frozen. So if we tire of them, none will be wasted. I have a small amount of ground beef in the freezer. I'll add some chopped mushrooms to the ground beef, in a marinara sauce to serve over pasta tomorrow night.
  • 13 bananas. Trader Joe's prices their bananas per piece -- 19 cents each. If I carefully select only the largest bananas, I can buy them for 39 cents per pound or less.   ----  This is our fresh fruit for the next week. They'll be good in fruit salads mixed with canned pineapple, or in smoothies, or just as is for fresh fruit.
  • 72 count package of corn tortillas.  ($2.18, for 72. This works out to 36 cents a dozen. I see 12-ct. packages of corn tortillas at the regular grocery store for about $1.)   While I make our flour tortillas, corn tortillas are a bit trickier. The best I've been able to do with making my own corn tortillas is to make them half wheat flour, half corn flour. Corn tortillas can be frozen. When I buy a large package, I freeze some of them in ziplocs of 6 corn tortillas each.  ---- In choosing the corn tortillas, I was looking for something of a treat for our family. Corn tortillas are a change from most of our bread products. They can be toasted in the toaster oven, with cheese or butter/cinnamon & sugar on top. Or, they can be cut into triangles for making homemade tortilla chips.
For all of this, I spent $14.51. That was our "extra" spending for this month. I wonder what I'll choose next month?


  1. Great choices, keeping nutrition in mind, with a treat tossed in. WTG!

  2. Interesting choices and once again you got the most out of your money. I almost bought bananas yesterday, but they were still a little too expensive for me. I may break down and buy them next week anyway.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      The mushrooms and the corn tortillas turned out to be my "impulse buys". I saw, I wanted. Bananas are one of those fruits that we just expect to be cheap. So it seems odd when they're so expensive at the grocery store. Our local grocery store has them for 79 cents/lb. Hope yours are more reasonably priced!

  3. I didn't know corn tortillas were hard to make. I accidentally bought corn flour last fall (instead of cornmeal) and have been trying to use it up ever since. I found an online pancake recipe that my family enjoys. My husband would like me to make tortillas but I can't get excited about it--and now I know from you that they are hard to make!

    I would have made similar produce choices. At this time of the year I make occasional splurges on produce--usually we are a "buy in season, buy local" family but this is when winter starts to drag for us and fresh produce really hits the spot.

    1. Hi Kris,
      maybe I'm just doing it wrong, with the corn tortillas. Afterall, many folks have been making them as their daily bread for centuries. But compared to flour tortillas, they just seem involved to me. If I had a tortilla press, they'd be easier to make. I have to roll them between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper. I just find them to be difficult. Can you tell I don't like making them?

      My daughters bought corn flour last year for a baking project for Spanish class. I'll ask them what it was, as I can't remember. But whatever it was, I don't remember any big failures with it.

      Totally agree on needing a bit of that fresh produce to get through the long season of frozen, dried, canned fruits and vegetables. It begins to feel like I'll never have a salad again. And I love my salads.

  4. This is completely off-topic, but today's post at is really neat--about the history of hobos--it's a fun read.

  5. Great selection, Lili. I always buy the big bags of tortillas as we go through so many of them. They are a much better bargain than the smaller bags.

    1. Hi Belinda,
      and they seem to keep so well, both in the fridge for a few weeks, and then in the freezer for a couple of months. I laugh at my own self, for buying the small packages, years ago. If only I knew then what I know now . . .

  6. I really like your choices and now I'm craving tortillas :)

    1. Hi Liz,
      Thank you! Tortillas are somewhat ordinary for most of the US. I wonder if they're much more expensive in your part of the world?

  7. Like your choices. The spinach can be used in soups, too (I use it or other greens in my lentil soup).

    1. Hi DW,
      Soup will be on the meal plan in a week, using any leftover spinach. Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. will you do a "how to make flour tortillas" post about ?

    1. Hi frugal spinster,
      That post is right here:

      I actually prefer these homemade flour tortillas over store-bought. The commercial tortillas seem too "bready" to me now.

  9. Great choices! I haven't ever had much luck at making corn tortillas either, but I have a friend who does a fabulous job.

    Spinach and mushrooms are great in just about everything. I've got this recipe saved on my list of meals to try.

    1. HI Shara,
      Thanks for that link. That recipe looks very delicious! It inspired me to make something sort of, but not quite, like it for an easy dinner on Sunday. I used loads of mushrooms, and it was flavorful.


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