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Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 2016 grocery spending journal

March 1 It's Senior discount day at Fred Meyer. I felt really prepared, my list made, coupons in my purse, calculator with me. But the shopping didn't feel like it was going right. You know? How some days it just feels like all is going as planned? This wasn't one of them! I think I let myself get bothered by rising grocery prices on a few items. And that just put a wet blanket on my happy shopping day! LOL!

Anyway, I did buy some necessary items, using my senior discount, and coupons. Again with the canned corn, I had another coupon to use, plus my discount, 6 cans at 44 cents each, a large box of powdered milk (great for smoothies) for $7.55,  a little over 2 pounds of raw sunflower seeds, at $2.24/lb (almost twice the price that I paid in the fall, but still way cheaper than tree nuts, for snacking), 1/2 lb of oat bran for $1.43/lb, almost a 1/3 of a pound of raw, whole almonds at $5.84/lb (I had intended to buy more almonds than that, but I bought the very, very last of the whole almonds), a couple of tablespoons of celery seeds for 45 cents, 1 gallon of whole milk for $2.33, and my free (with download coupon) individual container of plain, Greek yogurt. Also, not a food item, but for our vegetable garden, I bought 1 package of vegetable and tomato garden fertilizer for $4.91. Total spent on food, $25.15

I've been using the celery seeds to add to soups and sauces, for celery flavor, as whole celery has been kind of expensive this year.

Not food, I also bought acetaminophen, ibuprophen,vitamin C, some summer flowering bulbs, all with my senior discount combined with a couple of coupons, and buy one get one free offers.

I watched the cash register like a hawk today. One of my coupons didn't scan, and that was taken care of at the register. Then on the way out the door, I was checking my receipt, and found several items which should have received the senior discount, which did not. I took my receipt to the service desk and got everything amended. It was a difference of about $5, so worth taking those minutes to read the receipt.

March 1 On the way home from Fred Meyer I stopped at Dollar Tree, for soy milk (2 qts), a bag of pretzels, 24 oz. spaghetti, 24 oz penne (both work out to about 66 cents/lb). The penne pasta was new at our Dollar Tree this time. So it will be a nice change of shape for us. Spent $5 on food items (but also bought 1 tube of toothpaste, 1 package of dental floss, 1 package of coffee filters and 1 bottle of shampoo).

Total spent for the month so far, $30.15.

March 8. Fred Meyer has milk on sale, 99cents/half-gallon. I buy 5 milks, and 1 orange juice (same price). Also buy 1 large eggplant (99cents), about 9 lbs of bulk polenta (on closeout for 59cents/lb), almost 3 lbs of sunflower seeds (dry-roasted and salted, $1.39/lb), 1-lb package of breakfast sausage, on markdown for $1.49, 6 packages of Lil Smokies, beef cocktail sausages, on markdown for 99 cents each (13 oz packages). I also got my free (with download coupon) Lindt truffle candy egg. Total spent $23.52

March 8. While out running errands, I also stopped by Imran's (local ethnic market) for produce. I bought 21 small Pink Lady apples (49cents/lb), 10 bananas (49cents/lb), 3 green bell peppers (3/99cents), and 1 package, 72 ct, corn tortillas for $2.49. Spent $8.23 (I paid 12 cents more for the corn tortillas than I could have at Cash & Carry. I was remembering the price incorrectly, and I was hungry when shopping. Hard to make a good food decision when I'm hungry. But on the up side, at Fred Meyer, the polenta was 16 cents per pound cheaper than if I'd bought a 25-lb sack at Cash & Carry. So I came out $1.37 ahead on the polenta.)

Total spent for the month so far, $61.90

March 10. I had to make a return at Fred Meyer, so I went into the food section, and snagged a few deals. I bought another 5 half-gallons of whole milk, a 1 half-gallon of orange juice (limit 6 total, w/coupon), for 99cents each. I bought another large eggplant for 99 cents. I also bought 2 quarts of lite mayo for $1.49 each, a bottle of creamy Italian salad dressing for 49cents, and 2 small bottles of chipotle mayonnaise for 59 cents each. I picked up 3 packets of seeds for the vegetable garden, at buy2 get one free (spinach, Romano beans and snow peas). Total spent today, $15.56

Total spent for the month, so far, $77.46

March 11. Cash & Carry for all-purpose flour (I have a birthday cake to bake!!). Fortunately, one of the brands is on sale, $11.99 for 50-lbs. I also pick up 1 gallon of lemon juice on sale ($4.39) and 3 heads of green cabbage ($1.25 each). The cabbage are riced per head, not per pound, so I choose the heaviest-feeling ones. I've had the cashiers weigh them for me in the past, and they weigh right around 3 lbs each. So, I"m figuring they cost about 42 cents/lb. The lemon juice is on sale, about $1 cheaper than usual. I don't need lemon juice right now, but the spare jug can stay in the pantry until my current container is empty. Total spent, $20.13

March 11. Trader Joe's is just down the street. I like their price on bananas and cocoa powder. I buy 14 bananas at 19 cents each (and they were very large bananas this week), and 1 9-oz. container of cocoa powder at $2.49. Spent $5.15

Total spent for the month so far, $102.74

March 13. Walgreen's is right next to St. Vincent de Paul's Thrift store (Sunday is/was 99cent day). I stopped into Walgreen's for jelly beans, on sale w/ coupon 50 cents for 7 oz bags, limit 4. I buy 4, and spend $2.

Total spent this month so far, $104.74

March 15. Running a bunch of errands today, so stopping in places to pick up food for our trip.

World Market -- Cost Plus, for hard salami, 8 oz for $3.99 (doesn't need refrigerating until opened).
Target (right next door) for sliced provolone cheese, $2.64 for about a half-pound, 10 oz of raisins, $1.99, 3 containers Cup Noodles, 29 cents each.
Fred Meyer, for 1 box of 4 servings of Cup of Soup, Cream of Chicken, $1.49, a little over a half-pound of raw almonds, for $5.99/lb, and my free item for the week -- a Marie Callender Chicken Pot Pie
Walgreen's for 4 more bags of jelly beans, at 50 cents each.
total spent on these errands -- $16.51

Spent for the month, so far -- $121.25

March 16. Dollar Tree for Sweet Potato fries, for my daughters's birthday dinner. I bought 2 bags, as my son's girlfriend will be coming over, and I wanted to make sure I'd have enough. One bag is a wee bit on the skimpy side when it's just the 5 of us. Spent $2 (and I really didn't buy anything else there today -- that's a first!)

Spent for the month, so far -- $123.25

March 20. China town, SF, bakery for 3 buns for our lunch, $2.80 spent

March 23. Fred Meyer for butter (6 lbs, $1.99 each w/ coupon), 6 half-gallons whole milk, 99 cents each, about 3 lbs yams (99 cents/lb). Spent $21.08

March 23. Target for eggs, 99 cents/dozen, bought 20 dozen. Spent $19.80

total spent for the month, so far --$166.93

March 24. WinCo -- not very convenient for me, but it was in the general area where I was running other errands. Thought I'd stop in and check their prices, especially looking for asapargus at a good price. I bought celery (1 bundle for 88 cents, I weighed it and it was about 1  1/3 lbs, so a good price per pound for celery for this year), 5 lbs of carrots for $2.28, 10 lb bag of potatoes for 98 cents, about 3 lbs of bananas for 48 cents/lb, 1/3 pound of wheat bran (for bran muffins) at 43 cents/lb, haf pound of steel cut oats for  62 cents/lb, a half-pound of raisins for $1.79/lb, and almost half-pound of date pieces for $2.14/lb. This was 1 full, large paper grocery sack plus the 10-lb sack of potatoes, for $8.28, total (asparagus $1.88/lb, more than I wanted to pay)

March 24. Almost home, stopped by Imran's ethnic market for produce. Bought 5  2/3 lbs of Pink Lady apples, at 49 cents/lb, 3 green peppers for $1, yams for 79 cents/lb and asparagus for $1.79/lb. Spent $7.14

total spent for the month, so far -- $182.35

March 29. Wanting to check Easter clearance, I went by Fred Meyer on my errands. In addition to a few things for Easter, I also found turkey bacon (12 oz packages), on markdown for $1.39. I bought 3. Plus, 2 gallons of skim milk marked down to $1.75, and some red tape bananas at 49 cents/lb. Total spent on groceries -- $8.41

Total spent for the month of March -- $190.76

My new monthly budget is $190.00 for groceries. So, I spent 76 cents more than the regular budget. However, I had a surplus coming into this month of $124.24, giving me a total budget of $314.24. So, going into April I once again have extra I could spend, if needed. My budget will be $313.48.

Included in March's grocery shopping were snacks and lunch fixings for my trip (and to leave at home with my husband), all food purchased on our trip, stocking up on eggs for spring, some asparagus for Easter, and a couple of items for a birthday dinner. Considering all that went on in March, I think we did pretty well on grocery spending.

I'm glad I checked out WinCo. I'll be going by there once per month, I think. Their bulk bin section is fantastic. Prices on many items that I like to buy from bulk bins at Fred Meyer, were lower at WinCo. As it's a further distance from home, I'll have to make sure I keep our supplies from there, well-stocked at home. In particular, the wheat bran, raisins, dates, sunflower seeds and almonds will be on my list regularly for WinCo.

What I bought this month

32-oz box of instant nonfat dry milk
1 gallon of whole milk
16 half-gallons whole milk
2 gallons of skim milk
1  5.3 oz container of Greek yogurt (free item)
2 qts. soy milk
half-pound sliced Provolone cheese
6 lbs butter
20 dozen eggs

1 lb of breakfast sausage
6 13-oz packages of Lil Smokies beef sausages
8 oz hard salami
Individual chicken pot pie (freebie with download)
36 oz turkey bacon

about 2 lbs of raw sunflower seeds
about 1/2 lb of oat bran
almost 1 pound of raw, whole almonds
a couple of tablespoons of celery seeds
24 oz spaghetti noodles
24 oz penne pasta
1 bag of pretzels (snacks for our trip)
about 9 lbs polenta
about 3 lbs of roasted, salted sunflower seeds (snacks for our trip)
Lindt truffle egg (free item)
72-ct corn tortillas
2 qts of lite mayonnaise
2 8-oz bottles of chipotle mayo
1 16-oz bottle of creamy Italian salad dressing
50 lbs all-purpose flour
9-oz container of cocoa powder
3  1/2 lbs. of jelly beans
3 containers Cup Noodles
4-serving box Cup of Soup
3 buns, 2 w/meat, 1 w/durian
1/3 lb. wheat bran
just over a pound of steel cut oats

6 cans of corn
2 half-gallons orange juice
2 eggplant
39 Pink Lady apples
37 bananas
6 green bell peppers
1 gallon lemon juice
3 heads of green cabbage
22 oz raisins
2 bags of frozen sweet potato fries
4  2/3 lbs yams
10 lbs potatoes
1 lb asparagus
1 bundle celery
5 lbs carrots
1/2 pound date pieces

Vegetable garden
1 package of vegetable garden fertilizer
vegetable seeds (Romano beans, snow peas, spinach)


  1. As always, impressed by your low grocery spending and what all you got! Curious, though, is there no tax on groceries where you live? Coming from Ohio where there is not, it was a rude awakening to find there IS here in Oklahoma, 9% in fact (it has crept up over our almost 19 years here). So the two bags of sweet potato fries would cost $2.18 here, as opposed to $2. On my large grocery stockup yesterday, almost $25 was tax, gulp!

    1. Hi Cat,
      Oh my goodness! I didn't realize you had tax on food items in OK! I think that's horrible. No, no tax on food items here in WA. I can't remember if CA or UT have a food tax. (The only other two places I have bought food. But in Chinatown, SF, our buns were not taxed, ad I thought they would be, as it was a bakery, and like take-out.)

      They can tax all kinds of other things, but I think taxing food is a low blow to the citizens of a state. Not everyone can have a garden or raise their meat/eggs/dairy. Yet we all need to eat. If they want to tax non-nutritive foods, like soda, chips, coffee, I'm fine with that. I'll be the first one to say my daily coffee is not a "need", but a want.

      All of the other stuff I buy, like at Dollar Tree, for cleaning, beauty and healthcare are taxed.

      One thing I do at Dollar Tree, if I only need one package of something to be taxed, like dishwasher detergent, I'll go ahead and buy 2. If I buy 1 $1 taxable item, on 2 separate shopping trips, I'll wind up paying 20 cents in tax (9.5% here). But if I buy those same 2 items in the same shopping trip, I only pay 19 cents in tax, as the store rounds up to the nearest penny. Just a penny, but that could happen several times in a year, and I certainly wouldn't pass up 5 or 10 cents if offered for free. So, I prefigure tax, when it's easy to do like at Dollar Tree.

      Do you have state income tax in OK? We don't have state income tax, but our sales tax in my area is 9.5%, as I said, and we have fairly high property tax, here. They have to come up with revenue somehow. But I don't think basic, supermarket food should ever be taxed. Another very compelling reason for you to keep your garden and raise chickens!

    2. We do have state income tax. And toll roads. And property taxes. I think they tax everything here, lol. Our sales tax is "only" 9%, but encompasses food as well as everything else aside from prescription medications and diabetic supplies. Interesting how the various states do this differently!

    3. Cat, we are getting more and more toll roads, here, too. One of them is a bridge across a major lake in the city. But for the time being at least, there are options to not pay tolls. For instance, with that bridge, you can drive further south and take a "free" bridge across. And the tolls roads are for single drivers who want to use the HOV lanes on the freeway. You can slog it out in traffic, and skip the tolls. Obviously, I prefer that they are leaving some options for us, with the toll roads/bridges. But my guess is that won't last forever. Our roads and bridges are aging and need replacement, and the money has to come from someplace.

  2. I've thought about suggesting WinCo to you before, Lili, but figured you must not have one close as you didn't shop there. We have several where I live. Their bulk bins are cheaper than Fred's. The only thing I can't find in the WinCo bulk spice section is whole nutmeg. I have to buy that at Fred Meyer. WinCo also has 25 lb bags of oats, black beans, pintos, etc. I buy those there, too. Much of their dairy is priced very well. Produce is hit and miss (quality and price--at least in our area). Many staple items are cheap there, too, especially their in house brand. I bought about six cases of canned green beans there for 33 cents per can before Thanksgiving. Next year, I'll buy more, because we've long since run out. I'm finding I'm leaning on canned green beans (sauteed in bacon grease and our knock off of Trader Joe's Every Day seasoning) for a side dish. Quick and easy for me when I've already put time and effort into the main dish and chopping up the butternut squash or whatever else. Glad you found WinCo! Even a monthly trip is worth the effort. That's all I used to do, as my errands never took me by one of their stores. Now my daughter goes to the allergist once per week to get an allergy shot and WinCo is right across the street, so yay for me! Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      I'll check WinCo's prices on 25-lb bags of beans and grains the next time I'm there, and I'll definitely keep the canned veggies in mind for next year. Thanks for the tips! I'm glad one finally opened near us. The only other one in the area would have been even further out of my way.

      I'm so glad for you that you can now make a weekly run by your WinCo! I'm sure that convenience is very welcome with your very busy days!

  3. Food tax...We have that here, 4 1/2 percent across the board. Our property tax is quite low considering home prices here, which have gone through the roof (except where we live). That's the reason I won't move despite living way out west, low taxes (about $75/mo) is nice when we're retired. Also, nicer home means nicer everything, which ups the budget.

    Back on topic lol...I also like to be prepared when shopping. Have a list, coupons, calculator, and my unit price spreadsheet, breaking down store and price per ounce. Since having stocked up, I can pretty much shop the sales and clearance exclusively. I bought over $10 in 90 percent off Christmas candy at Walgreens, so I can wait for another clearance deal on candy. Also, has 100 percent (sorry no symbol for this on Kindle fire) rebates on single serve candy, similar to your Fred Meyer downloaded freebie.

    This month, we went a bit over budget, even after subtracting $80 for 5 days of cooking meat based meals for 4 grandkids, about $250. But this month, we had our Costco membership renewal, so that was an extra big hit.

    Spending $2.80 for meals on a trip is wonderful!! Saving on meals is a big factor where we took our R&R vacations in the past, especially since we were gone over a month, that and cheap where else but Vegas. For us islanders, Vegas is our 9th island lol. I calculated the amount saved on food and hotel was at least $100/day, there vs visiting a neighbor island.

    Also, I weigh bagged bargain produce to find out the price per pound too. And I also have days when a shopping scenario doesn't go as planned (probably as you said because prices were higher than expected)


    1. Hi YHF,
      Is your Costco membership the same as on the mainland? When your in Las Vegas, do you ever go to Costco there and compare prices? Will you continue with your yearly trips to Vegas now that you're retired? That's amazing that it's cheaper for you to fly all the way here, than to island hop, there.

      Considering you had your Costco membership to renew, your overall spending sounds like it was pretty good.

    2. We mainly use our Costco membership on the mainland to buy gas. But I believe prices are pretty similar from what I have been reading on the internet.

      Now that we're retired we don't feel the need to R&R so we are not planning to go anywhere this year, maybe not until 2018 or 2019. Well 'll see, if we do take a trip it will be a shorter one. Definitely food and hotel, and car rental, is cheaper in Vegas than the neighbor islands. As for plane tickets we have always used credit card miles/points, but that too will not be there for us in future trips since we don't have work related spending. But, after many years of going Vegas, we actually don't mind a break from that as well. We wanted to go somewhere cheap and familiar, so that worked out great. I thought I would welcome planning international travel once retired, but so far I have no interest.


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