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Friday, July 31, 2015

July 2015 Grocery Spending Journal

My new grocery budget is $185 per month. I went over last month by $3.91. So, for the month of July, I have $181.09. Yay! That's a lot of moolah for groceries this month! The trick will be for me *not* to get carried away with the idea of feeling like we have loads of grocery cash, but stay my course of practical purchases.

July 2. Cash & Carry for 10 lbs 80% ground beef, $25.90 or $2.59/lb, 1/2 gallon heavy whipping cream, $7.45, 1-lb box cornstarch, 99 cents. Spent $34.34. (In case you wonder about the heavy whipping cream purchase, this is in large part as a way to top off some calories for my daughter needing to gain a few pounds. Any that is leftover, we'll use to top desserts, for the rest of the family. 1/2 gallon will last us 1 month. But we may be able to get her weight up to her healthy zone, in a month or two, adding whipping cream and more meat to her diet. So, not a long term monthly expenditure.)

July 5. stopped at Imran's ethnic market for apples, 39 cents/lb. Spent $1.69

July 6. Dollar Tree for my once/month stop. Only food item is soy milk (1 qt.). Spent $1

July 7. Fred Meyer -- Senior Discount Day -- love it! Everything I bought qualified for the 10% off, even the bulk bin items next to the nutrition center. Instant dry milk powder (enough to make 8 quarts, though I'll be using this in recipes, and not to mix up liquid milk as that's too expensive a use for this product), $6.11, 18-oz canister of dried plums, $4.49, dried dates at $2.49/lb, 85 cents, whole almonds at $6.29/lb, $1.95. Total spent $13.40

Cash & Carry. The weekly item this week is boneless pork loin, at $1.59/lb. Sounded like a good change of pace for us. I bought a 9.62 lb pork loin (to divide into smaller roasts for the freezer), for $15.30, a 5-lb jug of honey, for $15.29, a 4-lb bag of raisins for $8.59, 5-lb box of frozen cod fillets for $18.90, 10-lb box of pork breakfast sausage links for $18.99, and a 2 gallon box of milk for $4.18. Total spent $81.25

Month to date spent (I know I'd better figure this out soon) -- $131.68

A very meat-heavy month, so far.

July 9. Albertsons, they have 1-gallon milk on sale for $1.99/gallon, limit 2 w/coupon. I pick up my 2 (both whole milk). Spent $3.98.

July 18. Albertsons, they have medium eggs on sale for 99 cents/dozen, limit 4 w/coupon. I pick up my 4, my 2 daughters and I get cookies that were samples in bakery, then leave. Spent $3.96, and now I have fresh eggs again!

July 24. Albertsons, medium eggs on for 99 cents/dz, limit 4 again, bacon for $2.59/16 oz, limit 4 w/ coupon. Spent $14.32

Cash & Carry for 50-lb sack of white sugar, $20.99, 50-lb sack of all-purpose flour $11.99, wedge of Parmesan cheese (2.29 lbs @ $4.48/lb) for $10.26. Spent $43.24

On the Parmesan cheese wedge, I checked the price per pound at Albertsons and it was over $11 per pound, so Cash & Carry seems to be a great place for that. While Parmesan cheese falls under "luxury item" for our budget, it is aged over 12 months, which means I can digest it. When I make pizza for the family, it's best for me if I leave one little section without mozzarella, and only put sauce and other toppings. That little section is mine. But if I have aged Parmesan, I can put that in my little slice, and have cheese, too. Cash & Carry's regular price on that Parmesan is $5.59/lb. I paid $4.48/lb.

total spent for the month -- $197.18, over by $16.09. I did buy some treat items, but I'm glad that I did, this month. We are eating very well. The list of what I buy isn't always representative of the variety in our meals. If I were reading this list, I too would wonder, "what in the world is she feeding her family?!!" It really does look unbalanced, doesn't it? That's the nature of stock-up shopping. But in case you missed yesterday's post, Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for the week, go back one day and you will see that we're eating well and balanced.

What I have bought for the month of July:

10 lbs ground beef
9.62 lbs boneless pork loin
5 lbs frozen cod fillets
10 lbs breakfast sausage links
4 lbs bacon

16-oz box cornstarch
1 quart soy milk
medium-size box (to make 8 qts of liquid milk) of instant powdered milk
1 cup dry roasted almonds, unsalted
5 lbs honey
50 bs white flour
50 lbs granulated sugar

1/2 gallon heavy whipping cream (this is the really good stuff, 40% fat, they should put warning labels on these cartons, "warning, you could get seriously addicted to this whipping cream". It has such a high fat content, that I can have small spoonfuls of this, whipped, if I want. Most "heavy whipping cream" sold in supermarkets is 36% fat.)
4 gallons milk
8 dozen medium eggs
2.29 lbs Parmesan cheese

9 Red Delicious apples
18 oz dried plums
1 cup dried dates
4 lbs raisins

(This is for live and learn -- it's my homemade "magic shell" for ice cream. I'll post my directions on Monday.)


  1. "what in the world is she feeding her family" made me laugh because I fit that category as well. I sometimes/often shop to fill in as well and my stuff looks really funny at the checkout. What does the person behind me think?

    But then again, I am really bad at judging the person in front of me when I see hotdogs and buns, 5 bags of chips, a frozen lasagna, ice cream, ice cream bars, tv dinners, tortilla chips and salsa, mac and cheese, etc. I'm pretty sure that is food for the next few days but I should be careful about that. Someone looks in my cart and sees "filler" items often doesn't look too healthy either!

    Thanks for you kind words yesterday. We're busy but we for sure don't go hungry. We had 2 deep dish pizzas last night made with stuff from the freezer. I also made two small dishes of smores dessert to be split but I can't say we loved it.

    Tonight I don't anyone will be home for dinner and I might just be alone. Maybe just a slice of toast with jelly for me.

    We're starting out a new month and I am going to budget almost zero for groceries. I will need milk and eggs sometime during the month but I will try to stay out of the stores. We had too many bills in July (car insurance, home insurance, property taxes, tuition bill for a summer course) so we just have to eat from the freezer and dad's garden!


    1. Hi Alice,
      You just never know what's going on in someone else's family. I try to remind myself of that when I see shopping carts filled with commercial junky food. Could be a birthday party, for all I know.

      Good luck this next month, with your tight budget. In some ways, not shopping simplifies life. Just think of all the time you'll save not stopping at the store.

      Maybe you could spend part of a weekend doing some bulk cooking, to give yourself a break every now and then throughout August. I know I would benefit from that right now. I've been feeling a bit resentful on some evenings, that I don't have the option to just go get some take-out for the family. Hmmm, I'll have to think on that, with what I could do in bulk this month.

      It;s hard to believe tomorrow will be August. The summer has flown past, this year. I hope you have a very nice, peaceful little diner by yourself. Toast with jelly sounds like my kind of dinner!

  2. I had similar thoughts to Alice--we had out-of-town company over yesterday for lunch and a day at the beach. I didn't have enough food so I did a grocery run which included hotdogs and buns as well as store-bought cookies (for our camping trip next week--they are sturdier and less likely to get yucky in humid conditions than cookies that I bake). It didn't look like a healthy or "necessary" food run, but hotdogs are a cheap, easy crowd-pleaser, and when we camp, I bring treats that we don't typically eat at any other time of the year--Pringles, etc. I, too, have been guilty of judging other's grocery carts and that's not a good thing.

    We eat a lot of pork loin--it's a less-expensive meat. My hubby sometimes grills it with a rub on it and that's tasty! He also learned from America's Test Kitchen (I think that's the source ... ) that you can slice it into pork chops--we love them grilled, as well. Just a thought. :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      When we go on vacation, we also buy or I make some treats that we don't normally eat. I may make something like a trail mix with chocolate bits mixed in as a treat, whereas on a regular day, my trail mix is just nuts and dried fruit. And we'll buy Pringles, too, as a can of those can be stuffed in a daypack and the chips don't get smashed. So you just never know why a family is buying what they are. When my mom had cancer, her appetite was way down and her weight would slip dangerously low. I would pick up a fried chicken tv dinner 3 or 4 nights a week for her. Not the healthiest dinner in the world, but she would eat it all and it had a lot of calories. We just don't know someone else's circumstances. I do find fun, though, in checking out other people's shopping cart. A spectator sport, of sorts.

      I've been wondering about cutting the pork loin into chops. So it works well? I will give that a try with some of this pork. So, very big thank you!

    2. I prefer bone-in chops for pan-frying as I think they are more moist, but they work great on the grill.

      We like Pringles for the same reason--they don't take up much room and they don't get smashed. I tried a friend's Lays Stackers recently and they were good (in case you come across a great sale!).

    3. We sometimes buy Lay's stackers, as Dollar Tree carries them. same thing -- don't get crushed in a backpack!

      I hope you have a fantastic camping trip, next week!!

    4. We eat a lot of pork in our house -- whenever we see a really good deal on boneless pork loin, we buy a couple -- we cut some up for pork chops, cut some for small pork roasts and even make some of it into smaller portions cut up for stir fry. Beef is too expensive to have very often any more. And pork works very well as a substitute for beef or chicken in many recipes.

    5. I third or fourth the idea of using pork as a substitute for beef or chicken. The cheapest cut of pork that I can find is frozen pork butt, on sale for $1.49/lb. I thaw it half frozen and cut all of it into stir fry slices, then pan fry with some garlic, and refreeze in batches. I've even found it easy to do the same with our prolific garden (potted) kang kong. Every few days, I have enough to fill a ziploc bag of blanched leaves and stems which I can microwave and top with siracha mayo or simply blanch in soup based broth for my own individual consumption. Otherwise, I felt compelled to think of how to cook an entire pan of this vegetable and to eat as leftover for days. I love when I can stock and cook ahead for days when I am too preoccupied (lazy).

      I know it is quite embarrassing how paltry and poor our shopping cart looks compared with other shoppers, especially when at the warehouse clubs. We sometimes leave with a 10# bag of carrots and 25# bag of flour, that's it. But I feel very satisfied that I can make do with just basic ingredients. And the more ways and food recipes that allow me to bypass a ready made alternative, the happier I am. My husband is pretty impressed that I am able to keep our food budget around $400-450 consistently (for 3 people in Hawaii). I know if I really tried (and made a fuss about his snacks), we could reduce our monthly food spend another $100 easily.

      Good job, Lili, buying all those meat items within your monthly food spend.


    6. Hi, Lili--

      I'll add mine here with the rest of the ladies. We like pork for lots of things, too. For a boneless loin, I like to roast it with a rub-- usually poultry seasoning, gran. garlic, pepper, paprika, more or less, though if you'll serve it with fruit or barbecue, 1 T ground allspice, 2-3 t cracked pepper, and 1 t salt makes a delicious rub I found on the internet. (Trust me, this is much more incredible than it sounds, especially with cranberry or blackberries in one of your side dishes!)

      Anyway, once the roast is done, you can certainly slice and eat it fresh. Yummy, of course!

      But we find you can also make it stretch quite a long way if you let it cool, and either thin-slice it for sandwiches (cold with dijon is delicious, or hot with gravy, etc.) or small dice it for burritos, morning egg scramble, salads, pizza, etc.

      Either of these "configurations" will freeze/thaw well, too; so your one day heating up the house with the oven potentially nets you a lot of easy/easier meals later. :D


    7. What do you know...all this talk about pork being a cheaper alternative to beef (and chicken, even) netted an even cheaper score than my usual rock bottom price of $1.49. After commenting yesterday, I checked my email and our local supermarket sent their usual Friday/weekend specials alert....pork shoulder for 88 cent/lb. Good price, but not sure how it will turn out slicing for stir fry. There is a huge bone in there, and the pork is Hormel brand in shrink wrap, not the usual butcher cut. Well...Sara's rub recipes sound like a good way to cook the large boned slab. May not be a good price point after all, but I plan to use the bone to make soup broth.


    8. Great deal, YHF! My hubby found pork shoulders super-cheap like that a couple of years ago, and I'm just finishing up the last couple from the freezer this month. Ours were Farmer John, I think, but the same cut/packaging you mentioned.

      We usually turn the shoulder cuts into shredded pork by boiling it (usually with lots of seasonings) until it falls of the bone. It makes a TON of great shredded meat (but slice some of the sections in half cross-wise before shredding, so they won't be too long to be practical.) I made one into BBQ pork for sandwiches, and one into tamale filling (both back in the freezer waiting for a family reunion this month.) Other times, I've also packaged it mostly un-seasoned in pound packages to use as you would boiled chicken or any other bulk cooked meat.

      I imagine you could cut it up before cooking and/or after, for other uses; and with the bone out, you could probably come up with some good hunks big enough to slice for stir-fry. And roasting's always a tasty option. But boiling is also a time-thrifty way of getting a lot of meat cooked (for multiple dishes, if you prefer) from your super-cheap purchase. :)

      Happy cooking! Sara

    9. Thanks Sara for some very good tips...I forgot I could boil the entire shoulder. To make BBQ ribs, I usually boiled the ribs in ginger first then season, so likewise why not with an entire pork shoulder! This is not the smoked variety Farmer John that is fully cooked, yet looks so much like it. This is the first time I've seen it sold this way in the supermarkets. Usually I don't like meats in shrink wrap, just have to remember to open the wrapper before thawing it to prevent salmonella poisoning. Thanks for the suggestion to boil the whole slab, would never have thought to do that!!


    10. Yum, BBQ ribs! Wish I had some of those today!

      The Farmer John's my hubby found were NOT cooked or smoked, so I think the very same thing you have. I'd never seen them before, packaged that way, either! Always an adventure when he brings home a cut of meat I'm not familiar with. Thank God for internet recipes, sometimes! :)

      The boiling is so brainless, it works great for a day I'm multi-tasking around the house. :D

      And if you season the water well, the meat starts with some flavor before you do whatever else you'll do with it; and you can also use the stock after. I usually use the liquid from the pork shoulder as the liquid for the masa dough when I make tamales, which add some extra flavor and saves me the cost of another stock/broth option.

      Good luck with your shoulders! Sara

    11. I'll be cooking up a pork loin roast this week. BBQ pork sandwiches sounds really yummy to me right now! I'm going to rub that roast really well with seasonings. thanks, Sara, for your rub recipe!

  3. Hi Lili,
    You really got a lot for your grocery money, I am always impressed with all you get. I shop that way too, what ever is on sale & stock up. People probably wonder when they look in my cart too! Wow I wish we could get eggs for 99 cents a dozen, I don't know about your area, but here the price has really gone crazy with all the bird flu stuff. They are over $3 a dozen now & rarely on sale. I did find a sale for $2.50 a dozen this week, fortunately we do not use a lot of eggs.
    A couple of our grocery stores do have good markdowns on meats at times, if they are going out of date in a day or so. Sometimes I find good deals that way, but I have been noticing they are getting harder to find. One store makes their own burgers with things like cheese or onions & peppers added into the meat. The regular price is expensive, but if I can find them on mark down I always snag them for the freezer. last night I found a small pack of 2 burgers that was about 3/4 of a pound for $1.33, can't beat that, I can't even make my own burgers for that price. I wish they had more marked down, but maybe next time!
    I get the Lays stackers at Dollar Tree too but they do not always have them. We always take them or pringles on vacation too. We were away last week & although we do eat out we always carry a cooler with drinks & a bag of snacks & treats as at least that saves us money on that sort of stuff. No hotel vending machine purchases anyway!

    1. I just read your egg post & see that over $3 a dozen is going on in your area too, I am behind in my reading this week & should probably have read the older posts first before commenting!

    2. Hi Rhonda,
      You know what I think? I think supermarkets are tightening up their stock. I've noticed much less milk makes it to markdown these days. I think the markets are working harder at not having surplus nearing sell-by dates, and needing to make markdowns. It makes good business sense for the stores, so I can understand that. I also think there are more and more folks shopping the markdown bins, these days. Shoppers are becoming savvy, meaning more competition for us! Oh well, I'm happy someone gets a good deal.

      Those burgers you found on markdown sounded absolutely delicious!

      I price eggs in every single store I visit. They were $2.79/dozen at Target this morning. when I find eggs in my price range ($1.89/dozen or less), I'll stock up.

  4. I find it interesting to read in the comments that most people take Pringles on vacation. We also take Pringles as a treat on our car trips. Who knew that it was a special treat for so many.

    I enjoy looking at what people in line around me are buying. Sometimes I play the game of imagining what they are going to do with their food. Sometimes I ask them about something i see in their basket that I have been thinking about buying, but haven't tried yet. And other times, I ask how much something is and go back and get a bargain I missed. I learn a lot this way.

    Thanks for the ice cream picture. It looks so good. When I was a kid, we made our own chocolate sauce that we cooked on the stove that hardened on the ice cream. I look forward to seeing your updated version of that.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      who knew that Pringles/Lay's Stackers would be such a big vacation item? Even when we fly, I'll pack a can or two, as they don't get smushed in my bag, and give us a nice treat to take places for the day.

      Your cooked chocolate sauce sounds delicious.

  5. Your grocery spending journal posts always inspire me to do better. I am also in the boat of those who stock up so sometimes have a lot of one item in my cart. I'm guessing you must have quite a few garden veggies to round everything out...would love to hear more about your garden in a post sometime.

    1. Hi Cat,
      The garden is pretty productive right now. We don't have a huge surplus of anything, but enough for every meal, for all five of us. I'll write more about what we're getting from our garden right now, soon.


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