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Thursday, June 12, 2014

May Grocery Money Journal (spent $37.50 per week)

May 1. The produce stand, hoping for markdowns, but not much there. I buy 1 yam (79 cents/lb), 1 head of cabbage (50 cents/lb), and 1 seedless watermelon (39 cents/lb). Spent $3.90. These items will round out some of our garden and freezer produce for the next week.

Dollar Tree to pick up a bunch of items. While here I get 8 jars of peanut butter. Spent $8. This should last the month of May.

Cash and Carry for a few items, but it will be expensive. I buy 35 lb container of vegetable oil ($22.58), 50 lb sack of pinto beans ($29.25), 50 lb sack all-purpose flour ($13.19), 1 gallon soy sauce ($5.59), 6-lb container Crisco shortening ($9.58) and 2-lb bag raisins ($4.59). By buying the veg oil and pinto beans in such large volume I estimated that on those two items alone, I saved us $21.25, over buying smaller quantities at a time. The pinto beans work out to 59 cents/lb! And the veg oil, about $5.16 per gallon. Anyway, I spent $84.78.

Last stop, Trader Joe's for bananas and tofu. I buy 12 bananas (19 cents each) and 1 lb of organic tofu ($1.49). The tofu is for lasagna later this month, to replace ricotta cheese (too much dairy for me). Spent $3.77 Month to date spending so far (and it's only the 1st of the month -- yikes!) -- $100.45.

May 7.  Country Farms, produce stand for 2 small avocados (2/$1), 3 small bunches leaf lettuce (99 cents), 3 grapefruit (99 cents), 7 pasilla peppers ($1.29), 1 cucumber (50 cents), and a head of green cabbage (50 cents/lb). Total spent -- $5.78

Fred Meyer for whole milk (1/2 gallons, $1.25 each, limit 4), natural peanut butter, 16 oz (3/$5), bought 6, some turmeric ($11.79 lb). Spent $15.94

May 11. Country Farms for marked down produce -- found cantaloupes, 50 cents each (bought 4), 3 red peppers (99 cents), large eggplant (99 cents). Spent $3.98

May 13. coupon for cheese at Safeway -- $4.99 for 2 lbs, limit 1. spent $4.99. total month to date -- $131.14 -- not as bad as I thought it might be, but our freezers are beginning to empty out. That's to be expected for this time of year. I'm not anticipating much to go on sale between now and end of the month, with exception to hot dogs and soda pop near Memorial Day. So, the rest of my grocery money will likely be used on produce and milk. We have enough meat to last through autumn, the garden is producing, we have eggs to last through June, so I think we're doing okay. We'll see how the second half of the month goes.  As a point of reference, May 2013, I spent $258.92.

May 19. Fred Meyer still has milk on for 4 half gallons/$5, limit 4. I stop in on way to get daughters. Spent $5.

Also make a stop at Trader Joe's while out and pick up 13 bananas, at 19 cents each. Spent $2.47.

May 20. Albertsons has hot dogs on sale w/coupon 3 package limit, 88 cents each. I choose the chicken franks. Spent $2.64.

May 21. Again this week, Fred Meyer has the milk coupon 4 half gallons for $5. My daughters need special no-slip shoes for work, and Fred Meyer is recommended as a place to find them. (I mentioned on my facebook page, a couple of weeks ago how my two daughters are sharing one pair of shoes for work.) I buy the milk, my daughter buys the shoes. I spent $5.

May 23. another stop this week for milk, and powdered sugar. I've had these 2 coupons on my desk all month, 1 a store coupon for C & H sugar, $1.67/2 lb bag, and 2nd a manufacturer coupon for C & H sugar, any product 2 lbs and up, 40 cents off, making my price on 2 lbs of powdered sugar $1.27. I buy 4 milks, and 1 bag sugar, spending $6.27.

May 25. Last shopping of the month -- Fred Meyer one last time (Fred Meyer seems to have more good sale prices this month than any other store in our area), this week for coffee (33 oz cans, $5.99) and marked down sour cream (containers are slightly squashed), 79 cents for 16 oz. I buy 2 cans of coffee and 2 containers of sour cream, spending $13.56.

Total month to date spending on groceries for May -- $166.08

I came in $3.92 under budget of $170. I'll add this $3.92 to the rolling surplus of $55.79, for a carry-forward surplus of $59.71, available for future months. I averaged $37.50 per week, which is $6.02 less than last month's weekly average of $43.52.

How much I spend each month fluctuates with available deals and loss leaders, combined with seasonal price adjustments on staples, and how much is growing in my garden. Late spring greets us with a good portion of our produce needs. By May's end, our garden was giving us rhubarb, spinach, kale florets, chard, mustard greens, lettuce, garlic greens, chives, oregano, thyme, sage, mint, lemon balm and pea tendrils to add to meals.

This month, I stocked up on a few staples, such as coffee, Crisco shortening, pinto beans, soy sauce, all-purpose flour and peanut butter. I was also able to buy enough milk to get us through mid-June, and found many markdowns on produce at the produce stand. We're fortunate that we have a freezer full of meat (ground beef, hams, turkey and whole chickens), and a garden for our produce. Those two will help keep our grocery bills down through the summer months.

So, we're still in a tough place, financially. I need to cut our expenses further. I'll be reducing our grocery spending beginning with June. I'll be taking it in small increments, and see how it goes.

If you are feeling discouraged about finding low prices on food, stay tuned for Monday's post. I think we can put all of our ideas together and build a master list of all of the places to look for grocery deals.


  1. I know that you enjoy cooking (most of the time), but do you ever find it a challenge to use up things before they go bad?

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Well, not really. Sometimes, one of the kids will put something into the fridge and then forget about it, and I'll not know I can or should use it up, so it will spoil.

      How we keep from wasting food --
      First and foremost: We are 5 very hungry people who eat almost every last scrap that I make. Our problem is more of, is there enough of "that" to go around for lunches? Leftovers are quickly gobbled up.

      But also, I freeze a lot of stuff. If it looks like something could go bad soon, I prep it and freeze. My freezers are filled with all kinds of oddball things.

      And I have a couple of no-fail ways to use just about any leftover in the fridge. If it's sweet or could go with other sweet things, it becomes muffins. If it's savory, then it goes in either a breakfast casserole or pot of soup. I do an audit of fridge contents every few days. Sometimes, those are the easiest to prepare dinners, so I actually like to check for leftovers that need using up!

    2. I should also add that most of my family has cast-iron guts. I've been known to "risk it" with some questionable leftovers. I guess you could say I'm a risk-taker. I live on the edge, with leftovers, that is.

  2. Hi Lili,

    I live exactly like you do. We also are a family of five hungry people. We waste nothing. I do one thing differently and that is no baking sweets anymore. The reasons are two-fold: my son and daughter are overweight and we don't have the money for extras as we are helping pay for college for all three kids.

    I am a risk-taker also in that I buy foods on discount racks at grocery stores. This is food that should be put in a compost pile will end up on my table as a meal. I am very creative in how to prepare meals without recipes because that's the only way some foods I buy could ever be palatable. Last night was chicken enchiladas using turkey and all the leftover white stuff in the fridge--sour cream, half and half, cottage cheese and this was the enchilada sauce. I, however, am not able to keep my grocery bill down to $37.50 per week. My groceries include prescriptions, pet food and litter and even socks and undershirts as I don't break those out. I'm still at between $106 to 143 per week. Two kids were in college last year but I helped buy their groceries and shampoos and socks, etc. so they are still added into my bill. I might be close to your $37.50 but I doubt it. Maybe I will try to split those out next school year when all three kids are gone to college to give it a trial run.


    1. Hi Alice,
      It sounds like you're doing a great job with your household expenses, taking advantage of items that many people wouldn't take a second look at, and preparing them into enjoyable meals.

      Those college tuition, books and fees are a killer aren't they?! All three of our kids are helping even more financially than we had anticipated. That's a help. But still, university costs are definitely squeezing our budget.

      I don't include anything other than human food in my grocery tally, as that figure can really vary from family to family. Some families shop at places like Costco or Sam's and so pick up all sorts of things when they "grocery" shop. Or they buy soap and laundry detergent when at the drugstore buying makeup or panty hose. So, I separate everything out. I do have a household consumables category, for soap, shampoo, toothpaste, foil, freezer bags, etc. But that's kept separate. We don't currently have any pets. Those costs could really add up.

      Your enchiladas sounded very yummy, and I loved how you put it with using all the leftover "white stuff". That is how I cook as well. I think it makes meals more interesting.

  3. I think you're doing quite well! I've had a few weeks lately where the bill has topped $60 for 2 of us. (Though some of that was stock-up -- and I include pet food and cleaning/paper supplies in my budget.) This week, however, we'll probably hold at $31 -- all food. I like your idea of the grocery deal list!

    1. Hi DW,
      I think the items like pet food and cleaning and paper supplies does add quite a lot to expenses. And especially considering you're including those items, even topping $60 for a week is actually extremely good. There's a calculator that I linked to on my facebook page on Thursday, that will calculate how much you "should" be spending, according to the USDA, based on number of people in household and age and gender. You would probably find that you are way underspending, according to their calculator.
      I think you're doing great!
      I've been listing every place I've ever shopped or compared for food items, but I am positive that there are more possibilities, and I look forward to everyone's input.

  4. hi lili
    at the beginning of the months,i buy all my items what i need,like toilet paper,
    soap,dish soap etc. than i look the weekly specials from the supermarket,and buy what i need. today have i found half prices for bananas,
    and turkey breast filet 1 kilogramm for 7,00 euro minus 30%, that was a good price. than have i found a sour cherry tree for a half prices.
    i have 50,00 euro in the week for us four.....i buy from this money all my food,cleaning ,dog food etc.
    warm hugs regina

    1. Hi Regina,
      it sounds like you have a good system that works for you. I had to look up what 50 euros is in USD. It looks like it's about $67 USD. That actually sounds low for Europe, as I've always thought prices were so much higher there, than in the US. Plus you are including all your household supplies in that amount. You must be working very hard to make your money stretch!
      The sour cherry tree will so nice to have for years to come! Enjoy!


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