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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 2016 Grocery Spending Journal

May 1. We are very low on fruit for the week. After church, one of my daughters and I were discussing driving by the ethnic market to pick up some fruits and vegetables. But before we left the church, one of the coffee hour ladies offered us a large tray of grapes and 2 tangerines. Providential? I think so. So we skipped the stop by the market, and have enough fruit for a couple of days.

May 3. Senior Discount day at Fred Meyer. I plan out my shopping for this day over the course of about 2 weeks. I make note of items that we're almost out of, as well as items I've been meaning to buy, that would qualify for the discount. This month, I bought 6 half-gallons of whole milk, 89cents each, limit 6 w/ coupon, 4  64-oz jugs of apple juice, 89cents each limit 4 with coupon, 1 large can of decaf coffee (around 25 oz) for $4.49, 3-lb can of shortening, for $4.04, canned green beans (6) for 44 cents each w/coupon, 3  12-oz packages chicken/pork hotdogs for 71 cents each, 6 red tape bananas at 49 cents per pound, plus 1 free loaf of Sara Lee bread (Friday download coupon), 1 box of veggie fertilizer ($4.92). I spent $28.37

Fred Meyer puts their half-gallons of milk on sale w/coupon, limit of 6 about every other week. Also included in this coupon is refrigerated orange juice. I often pick up a jug of orange juice as part of my 6. But this week, there was another coupon, for apple juice, limit 4. So, I used the milk/oj coupon, only for milk, and bought the limit of the apple juice. I was able to get an extra half-gallon of milk, at the sale/coupon price, plus the Senior discount on top of that. And with the canned green beans and cheapo hotdogs -- these aren't items I would usually buy, however, we're low on veggies, and the green beans will help in that area, and cheapo hot dogs are really good once grilled, IMO. The free bread is white bread, not at all something I enjoy, but I can think of a couple of family members who will think they died and went to heaven, because there's white bread in the house! And it was free!! Hard to pass up "free".

May 5. My once-per-month jaunt down to WinCo. I bought 5 lbs carrots ($2.28), 1 bundle of celery, (98 cents), 1  1/8 lbs of dark rye flour ($1.13/lb), 1/2 lb of sunflower seeds ($1.36/lb), a little over 3/4 lb of steel cut oats (62 cents/lb), 1  1/3 lbs of raisins ($1.79/lb), 1/2 lb of chopped dates ($1.98/lb), a little over 1/2 lb of whole soy beans (85 cents/lb), 72 ct. corn tortillas ($2.18). I received a 6 cent bag credit, for bringing my own bag. Total spent -- $11.66

May 5. Also, stop by Cash & Carry (restaurant supply). I made one of my daughters very, very happy with one purchase. We'd completely run out of sugar, here. This week, white sugar is on sale, in 50-lb sacks for $19.99. I bought 2 sacks (100 lbs -- a year supply). I also bought 2  one-pound bags of garlic granules ($3.88 each), 1 head of green cabbage ($1.39), 1 3-pack of celery ($2.27), 1 10-lb bag of carrots ($3.89), 2 #10 cans of sliced olives ($4.88 each), 2 cases of Ocean Spray dried cranberries, 12 pounds total in 2 boxes ($10.76/box) and 22 bananas (45 cents per pound). I spent $89.86.

So, when I was at Cash & Carry, I noticed that celery and carrots were priced better there than at WinCo. Even though I'd just bought carrots and celery at WinCo, I still wanted more (I had wanted 10 lbs of carrots at WinCo, but I didn't have enough cash on me). I went ahead and bought the 3-pack of celery and the 10lb bag of carrots at Cash & Carry, even though I'd just bought some of both at WinCo. It's just something I find myself doing when I feel I paid too much at one store, then find something for less at another, kind of averaging out the price spent for those items. I don't feel so badly, this way. And as a bonus, we now have a lot of fresh veggies for the month.

May 5. Last stop at Bartell's to pick up my husband's prescription. While there, I found Stash tea on sale, B1G1 free, so I bought 2 boxes of my favorites, and spent $3.49 total.

For the month, so far, I've spent $133.38.

May 15. Fred Meyer to buy 5 half-gallons of milk and 1 half-gallon of orange juice, 99 cents each, limit 6 with coupon. I also buy almost 2/3 lb of fresh asparagus at $1.88/lb, and I pick up my last two Friday Freebies, a Lindt Truffle bar and a Curate dark chocolate and pistachio bar. Spent $7.12, and I used my coupon for double fuel rewards on weekends (reusable coupon, good on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this month).

After church was given about 1/2 pound of fresh strawberries to take home to sick daughter.

May 20. For the month, so far, I've spent $140.50, and I've shopped on 3 days, making a total of 5 stops. Because I take my time thinking through purchases and checking prices on various items, I estimate I have spent about 6 hours grocery shopping this month.

May 21. One daughter and I worked at a charity tea today. In addition to lunch for both of us, we were given enough sandwiches and fresh fruit for tonight's dinner, and an entire cake. Unrelated to the tea, today we were also given 2 lbs of fresh mushrooms.

So, I've had this building surplus over the last few months. Going into May, it had run up to $203.20. Add that surplus to this month's budget of $190, and my amount I could spend this month was $393.20.

Mt total spent this month was $140.50, which was $252.70 less than what I had coming into the month to spend. That's my new surplus going into June, plus $190 budget. I now have as much as $442.70 that I can spend this next month.

I am trying my very hardest to hang onto this surplus and build it just a tiny bit more. My plan is to use this surplus for meat when I find great deals this summer, and in the months of August, September, October, November and December, for those items that I want to stock up on, like extra turkeys, hams, pecans, coffee, chocolate chips, butter, frozen veggies, canned veggies and dried fruit -- when their prices are rock-bottom. It sounds like a large surplus, but in truth, it really won't go all that far.

As a result of working so hard within the budget, I have not bought many treat items. In fact, if I look at this shopping list, aside from the freebie treats, my only real treats this past month were the 2 boxes of good tea, a can of decaf coffee and maybe the asparagus (if you call that a treat, more like a luxury vegetable).

We've had a lot to work with in the pantry, freezer and fridge. As I've been cleaning out the freezer, I've found such lovely foods as whipped cream, cream puffs, frozen strawberries, cake, a donut, a pork roast, some bacon, and some breakfast sausage. All of these foods have helped make a small budget seem not so restrictive. We'll have to see how this next month turns out.

What I bought this month:

I've started including all of the freebies we get in the month, as they do add to our available foods. Not mentioned, below, are several free meals throughout the month: my son's weekday lunches, provided by his work Monday through Friday; my husband was out of town for 3 days this month and had his meals provided; my daughter and I worked at a charity tea this month, where our lunch was provided; I attended a women's conference with lunch provided. All of these free meal opportunities do help our small budget stretch. That is 33 single meals in the month, or the equivalent of 11 days of all of one person's meals.  Added to that, all of the free food we receive, listed below. Without mentioning these opportunities for meals and free foods, it might seem inconceivable that the purchased food, alone, could possibly feed 5 adults for an entire month.


36 oz hotdogs


11 half-gallons whole milk


28 bananas
4  64-oz jugs of apple juice
6 cans of green beans
2 tangerines (free)
large tray of red grapes (free)
15 lbs carrots
4 bundles of celery
1  1/3 lbs raisins
1/2 lb chopped dates
1 head green cabbage
12 lbs dried cranberries
1/2 gallon orange juice
2/3 pound of fresh asparagus
1/2 pound of fresh strawberries for one daughter (free)
fresh grapes and cherry tomatoes, about 5 servings total (free)
2 pounds mushrooms (free)


1 large can of decaf coffee, 25 oz
1 loaf of white bread (Friday Freebie)
3-lb can of shortening, for pie pastry
1  1/8 lbs of rye flour
1/2 lb sunflower seeds
3/4 lb steel cut oats
1/2 lb soybeans
72 corn tortillas
100 lbs sugar
2 lbs garlic granules
2 #10 cans sliced olives
2 boxes of good tea
Lindt truffle bar (Friday Freebie)
Curate dark chocolate and pistachio bar (Friday Freebie)

Prepared food

turkey, egg salad, crab salad sandwiches for 5 people at dinner (free)
1 scratch-baked 2 layer cake (free)


1 box tomato/veggie fertilizer

In addition to shopping, the garden provided:

a constant stream of salad greens, cooking greens and rhubarb


  1. Wow, Lili! I'm tired reading all of this. It sounds like you have been every waking moment.

    I think it would be cool to document all that you do but sadly my days are so full that the best I can do is get a final total of all my spending only breaking down into groceries, health and beauty, prescriptions, cat and "other" category for a total breakdown each month. I'll do that tonight after I know there is no more spending today.

    We feel like we have been buying large quantities of groceries the last half of this month (and we have) due to the large family size but this is already calming down a bit. We also ran out of just about everything in the last two weeks so I feel like we've been in the store more than I like (weird things like yeast, flour, pickle relish, canola oil).

    I hosted and impromtu holiday get-together yesterday and I made fried chicken and brats for 10 people. I made potato salad, cantaloupe and lemonade and my parents brought a rhubard custard and hubby's mom brought orange fluff and watergate salad. Then we had a big watermelon after dinner and ice cream bars for dessert. There was a lot of laughter and many games of bananagrams for a wonderful afternoon/evening.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Knowing what you spend in total is HUGE, Alice. Tracking is spending totals, breaking down into categories is what allows you to see where your money is going, and that is extremely valuable.

      I have months like that, too, when we run out of the "invisible" groceries, the things you don't think about, but when you run out, it creates headaches, and extra work trying to do without, like yeast.

      Your Memorial Day get-together sounds like a very nice time for everyone. I have to ask, what's a watergate salad?

    2. It's the green fluffy dessert made with a can of crushed pineapple in it's own juice (not syrup) mixed with a package of pistachio pudding and cool whip. You can add mini marshmallows also.

    3. Thanks! I'm not sure if I've tried that before.

    4. I've had it and it's very good.

    5. The version I know includes chopped pecans. Yum : )
      Jo Ann

  2. Wow! Great job again and the grocery shopping. You are building a very good extra stock up fund. I am really trying to stay in budget with all the extra things that had to be fixed lately. I have been using a lot of pantry items
    this month. My daughter bought and planted 6 bell pepper plants for my birthday this weekend. They are in pots. Hope they grow well. They look really nice. Do you now what to use on snails that is not poison to toddlers. We have a lot of both at our condo complex.
    Thank you,

    1. Happy belated birthday, Patti!
      What a wonderful gift! Snails. I'm guessing they have the same weaknesses as slugs (except crunchier when you step on them, eeew). Copper tape is supposed to keep them from invading. They won't cross the copper tape, so you put it around the edge of the planter, or around each plant. Also I think diatomaceous earth is non-toxic. It has lots and lots of tiny sharp edges. Some people try smashed up eggshells as a substitute for the DE, but you have to smash them up pretty fine and have a solid line all around the plants. You can also try garlic. This was an old-fashioned pest control for slugs and snails. It's a deterrent. You can also buy or make a trap which toddlers can't get into. You fill the trap with beer, snap a lid back on and check daily, replacing the beer. Making a trap is as easy as taking a margarine container, cutting a hole in the lid big enough for a snail to crawl in, then sinking into the dirt so that the lid is at soil level.
      Those would be my best non-harmful suggestions. Make sure the pots are away from damp or lush areas on your patio. Good luck with them!

  3. You will definitely use that surplus if you still have it in the fall when you stock up on all of the sales on seasonable items. In the fall, you do enough stock up it's hard for me to imagine where you put it all. But have your system that works very well for you and your family.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I do have a good-sized pantry, about 5 feet by 5 feet, square. It has a door to it, so when it's bulging and very untidy, I just keep the door closed. You can fit a lot of stuff in a 5 X 5 X 7-foot cube. It would be a minimalist's nightmare, though!

  4. Lili,
    Thank you :) I can tell my brain was not going yet this morning. I will try those ideas. Right now I have just been on snail watch I found 5 this morning at 6 am they seem to be active then. Have a great day.

    1. Hi Patti,
      sometimes, picking them off is as good as all the other stuff. Snails and slugs are most active in the dark, dusk and dawn. You can set little traps with damp newspapers, set nearby, not a lot, just a small pile. Then in the early AM, go out there, lift the newspaper and you'll find several to smash or whatever you want to do.
      Good luck!

  5. We need to buy a box of fertilizer for tomatoes (less Nitrogen). My husband is out in the garden now to transplant tomato seedlings that popped up unexpectedly near our kang kong bed. Besides requiring different fertilizers, they share the same pest, aphids. I read that planting garlic and chives might be good deterrents to the aphids. So chive seeds are on our shopping list.

    You've done so well with your May food spend, wow that is a nice surplus of ready cash for bargain sales.

    For just the two of us, and reimbursed for my dad's food, we should be hitting lower than $200 a month. But again this month, we went over, $217.59, and that includes returning the case of soymilk and a case of vienna sausage to Costco. We found a better deal later in the month on the sausage, and because we're planning on returning the soymilk, might as well return that case of vienna which costed $1.80/case more at Costco.than the loss leader sale at our grocery store. I don't like that sausage but my husband and our grandkids love it. We also ate out a few times (McD BIGIF lunch, JITB BIGIF breakfast, and Starbucks offer of a breakfast sandwich with purchase), plus bought husband's favorite fried chicken at our market's deli ($7.49 for 10pcs), and 2 rotisseries (Safeway and Sam's), plus paid for Sam's membership (but got a lot of food freebies and GC). Stocked up on Tang (four 22qt cannisters) and honey ginger preserves which he likes to eat with beer. Looking over our list, I guess I'm back to my old ways somewhat...buying readymade what pleases us rather than eating entirely from scratch. I've been thinking about this all morning...seems our budget is working out fine, so maybe it is ok to treat ourselves sparingly (as you can see, nothing was a big splurge like fine dining lol).

    Have a beautiful day in PNW!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      I think it's okay to have some treats, if your budget can handle it. It's when a budget can't make room for the treats that changes need to be made. You'll notice, I did buy some good tea, which is about 3 times the price of cheapo tea. When I am too stringent, I begin to feel deprived, and that's when I go overboard and totally bust the budget. Your meals out and deli treats are still quite frugal. It's not upscale dining you're talking about. I think you're doing well!

  6. Well, I calculated out my expenses for May. We doubled from April and most of the winter months due to the doubling of our family size. That's not a surprise. The other categories didn't change much so it was all in food! It's now June 1 and hubby is doing the grocery shopping already and since we are very empty in our cupboards I'm afraid it will be a big haul plus we need softener salt! Yikes!


    1. Hi Alice,
      I would guess your grocery expenses will be quite high with your full house for the summer. Brace yourself! Do you know the Serenity Prayer?
      But your house will also be full of love all summer long, and you can't put a price on that!


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