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Friday, January 1, 2016

she sighed and finally said, "this should be enough" -- December 2015 Grocery Shopping Journal

December 1. Fred Meyer for Senior Discount day.  10% off all house-brand foods. Bought 6 half-gallons of whole milk for 89 cents/half gallon, 1 pint of heavy whipping cream for $1.79, 1 box of Stash tea for $2 (with coupon), 3 2-lb bags of confectioner's sugar, $1.35 each, .46 lb of pecan halves ($7.28/lb -- I had bought lots of pecans in November, but with this good price, I'll freeze these for using much later in the year), 1.45 lbs of blanched, slivered almonds ($5.60/lb), 1 mushroom, for a pizza (33 cents). Not a whole lot I was interested in food-wise this month. I spent $24.98

December 2. 2 stops at Walgreen's on my errands today, for cream cheese, 8-oz, 99 cents each, limit 4 w/coupon. I buy 5 so far (and got a raincheck for 4 more, as one store only had 1 package available). Spent $4.95 There's another Walgreen's on the way to choir practice tonight. I'll stop in there and also pick up something I forgot on my other stops (forgot my little slip of paper with my list at home).

Dec. 2 evening -- went by Walgreen's on way home from choir practice. I picked up 4 more packages of cream cheese (99cents/each) and 1 8-oz jar of Maxwell House decaf instant coffee (99cents). I'm not a huge instant coffee fan, but for 99 cents, I'll use it. There was a section of marked down items at the register. The coffee is the only thing that tempted me. (and I got the hydrogen peroxide that I forgot earlier in the day, 3 bottles for $1) spent on food -- $3.75

So far, month to date, I've spent $33.68

Dec. 5. I stop in to Walgreen's for more cream cheese, after dropping daughters at choir practice. No cream cheese, but I find several gallons of milk marked at 99cents. My fridge and freezers are full. The sell-by date on the milk is in 3 days. I see 2 of the gallons are whole milk. Even though we are well-stocked with milk, and couldn't possibly freeze or drink this milk, I buy 2 gallons of the whole fat milk. I do so with the intention of turning this milk into yogurt, and then straining a good share of it to make yogurt cheese. Homemade yogurt will keep up to one month, if the jars were properly sterilized, and kept in the fridge. This will prolong the usability of this milk by almost 4 weeks. An by turning it into yogurt cheese, to use over the holidays in place of cream cheese, I will save about half the sale price of cream cheese, in holiday foods that I make this season (a cheese spread one night, and a cheesecake later in the season). So, I got a raincheck on the cream cheese, to use sometime in the next 2 months, and I bought 2 gallons of milk. Spent $1.98

Dec. 5 Dollar Tree for a couple of "special" items for the holidays -- pretzels, crackers, one more box of mini candy canes. Spent $3

Dec. 8 Fred Meyer. They offered one extra Senior Discount Day this month. I bought 4 8-oz bricks of cream cheese, for 89cents each. Spent $3.56

Dec.18 QFC has half hams on sale for $1.29/lb, limit 2. I buy 2. Also, I found half-pints of heavy whipping cream for 25 cents each, to use within 1 week. I buy 4. Spent $26.19

month to date spending -- $68.41

Dec 18. Albertson's -- find 24 oz containers of cottage cheese marked down to $1. I buy 1. I use this for lasagna. Spent $1

Dec. 21. Fred Meyer for celery, lowest price I've seen this year in my area, 69cents/ lb. I buy 2 bundles, plus 1 1-lb box lasagna noodles ($1.17), and I find 6 cartons of repackaged eggs at $1.19/dozen. I spend $10.61

Dec.28. Fred Meyer for milk, on sale half-gallons for 99cents each, limit 6 w/coupon. I buy 6. Spent $5.94

Dec. 28. Go by Trader Joe's for bananas. They're priced at 19 cents each. I buy 14, and spend $2.66

Dec.30. Fred Meyer for gas, while there I buy 2 more half-gallons of milk at 99 cents each. Spent $1.98

Month to date spending -- $90.60

Items bought in the month of December

1 mushroom
2 bundles celery
14 bananas

14 half-gallons whole milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
4 half-pints heavy whipping cream
13 8-oz packages cream cheese
2 gallons whole milk
24 oz cottage cheese
6 dozen eggs

2 half hams, bone-in

1 18-ct box of Earl Grey Double Bergamot tea (one of my favorites)
6 lbs of confectioner's sugar
almost 1/2 lb of pecan halves
almost 1  1/2 lbs of slivered almonds
8-oz jar instant decaf coffee
1 bag pretzels
1 box crackers
1 box mini candy canes
1-lb lasagna noodles

Finally, what is in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer should be enough, for a while.

Coming into the month of December, I was $93.78 over budget. With a monthly budget for food groceries of $200.00, that left $106.22 to spend this past month. I spent $90.60, which is $15.62 UNDER budget!!

I never felt like I was depriving myself of anything, all month, never felt I was limiting my purchases severely. So, this must mean I have bought all I wanted to buy, and am well-set for the coming month or two. I'll still pick up great deals as I find them. And I will replenish milk supplies as needed. But January should not be a big spend month for groceries for me.


  1. Wow, I'm impressed! Even your over-budget amounts sound wonderful to me, but for you to come in under budget when you had less to spend is quite amazing! Great job! And good to see you back....Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Cat,
      Happy New Year!
      I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas.

      I was glad to not spend as much as I had been for several months in a row. I'm really hoping that I can bank some extra cash, in advance of stocking up again. But we shall see. I was also very fortunate, on many occasions. Like happening upon the repackaged eggs this month, the half-pints of whipping cream for 25 cents.

      Have a great weekend!

  2. Happy New Year, Lili! Your blog has been a great inspiration to me this past year and I am looking forward to learning more from you this year as well.

    Great job on sticking to your budget!

    1. Hi Laura,
      Happy New Year!
      I hope you had a lovely Christmas!

      Thank you. I do believe that I was very fortunate on many instances this past month. And that helped our budget quite a bit.

  3. Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year's day. You sound well-stocked and I know you always have a plan. :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      Happy New Year!
      And I'm hoping that you and your family had a wonderful Christmas, too!

      I think well-stocked sums it all up. I was making cranberry-oatmeal cookies today, and used up the last of one of the large bags of cranberries. For a second there, I was regretting that I "only" had 2 more 3-lb bags of cranberries. Then I realized that what I still have is quite a lot! And potatoes -- more potatoes than it looks like we can eat. I see lots and lots of mashed potatoes in our future!

      It'll be great to catch up with everyone, again!

  4. It seemed like a lot of dairy products this month. Was it more than normal?

    Happy New Year!

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Happy New Year!
      It does look like a lot of dairy, doesn't it? 9 gallons of milk for the month. I do still have 3 gallons of milk in the fridge, from last month. So, maybe we didn't go through as much milk as it looks like. I make a lot of smoothies, using whole milk and a bit of whipping cream, for one daughter, as her breakfast several days per week. That uses up a lot of the dairy. And all of that cream cheese is the bulk of what we'll use in a year. It keeps a long time in the fridge or freezer.

      The other thing with all of this dairy is that one of our local stores keeps using milk in half-gallons, as loss leader items. They used to alternate between milk and eggs, but lately it's been all milk, and no eggs, as loss leaders. So, more milk on sale means that I use more of it, in puddings, macaroni and cheese, yogurt, homemade ice cream, and topping granola or oatmeal.

      Very observant of you!

  5. Way to go coming in under budget, Lili! :)

    1. Thank you, Belinda!
      Happy New Year to you and your family!

  6. Great year ending finish, Lili :)....shows you have planned and shopped well in previous months and your pantry was well stocked with the essentials. I think it confirms that your monthly budget amount was not too low after all.

    Happy New Year!! I am looking forward to another good year of creativesavv tips and advice. You and your blog have made a tremendous impact in my life with my attempt to live more frugally. I feel so fortunate to have found your blog last spring. You have been a great inspiration, as many have said countless times.


    1. Hi YHF,
      Thanks. And I am grateful for all of the wonderful comments and feedback that I get here.
      Happy New Year!

  7. Ditto what YHF said, Lili. Thank you so much!

    Sure missed my daily fix of frugal tips, but hope that you really got to soak yourself in your family and festivities, and had a wonderful Christmas. I wish you and your family all the best in 2016!


    1. Hi Sara,
      The holidays are such a busy time, aren't they? I've really enjoyed having time with my family these past few weeks.
      Happy New Year to you and your family!

  8. Just curious. I know it costs a bit more but does anyone in your house miss fresh vegetables? I'm pretty well stocked on everything else so spend the bulk of my budget on produce.


    1. Hi Jen,
      Well, actually, no. We still have lots of carrots, apples, pears and now bananas and celery. So we get our fresh fruit and veg fix on those items this time of year. And for veggies, I'm still cooking squash and pumpkin, plus frozen peas and green beans and greens from the garden (the kale especially is doing well still). This time of year I'm glad to not be cleaning fresh vegetables, and just pouring out what I need from the frozen, several nights per week.

      I also am occasionally gifted with some produce when I volunteer at our church's monthly tea, items like cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes and sometimes berries or fruit salad.

      I think I speak for my whole family when I say that we're pretty satisfied with what we do have this time of year.

  9. That explains it and I'm more than a little jealous of the not cleaning vegetables. :) My body seems to prefer a 50% raw diet so I'm stuck with the veg scrubbing year round.

    Not sure how I found this blog (maybe non-consumer advocate?) but it is a very interesting read.


    1. Hi Jen,
      I can relate, as there are some foods that I just need more of, and my body just doesn't feel right unless I get them. You have to do what feels right for yourself.

  10. Happy New Year Lili,
    I'm glad you are back & I hope you enjoyed Christmas & New Year with your family.
    You did awesome with groceries in December, well you always do but to spend so little & correct your overage for the year is so impressive!

    1. Hi Rhonda,
      It was a busy holiday season. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and New Years!

      I am hoping that January this year will be like many other January's in the past, and not a lot of grocery spending. That should help in the long run. Thank you for your kind words and support!


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