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Monday, October 31, 2016

October 2016 Grocery Spending Journal

October 3. Stopped at Imran's the ethnic market next to Home Depot, for 2 green peppers (2/$1) and 5 very ripe bananas (29 cents/lb) for making banana bread. Spent $1.49 (Oddly, the very ripe bananas were getting eaten up and I had to hurry to make any banana bread at all. Lesson learned, buy more bananas when that cheap!)

Oct. 4. Fred Meyer for Senior Discount day. Again with the nice touches, I got a cup of Starbuck's coffee plus a cookie when I walked in the door, and a carnation when I left. Oh, I spent a lot of money today. I know it's all good, stock-up stuff, but boy did it feel weird to spend close to $200, on food, OTCs and gardening supplies.

What I bought -- 1 head of cabbage (49 cents/lb), 4 large cans of coffee, 2 decaf, 2 regular ($4.49 each), 4 15-ounce jars of natural-style peanut butter ($1.35 each), 3 butternut squash (69 cents/lb), just over 2 lbs of walnut halves ($5.39/lb), 8 half-gallons of whole milk (90 cents each), 1 gallon skim milk ($1.75), half-gallon soy milk ($2.51), almost 10 lbs of whole almonds ($5.39 lb, plus I had $1 off coupon to use on these nuts), 3/4 lb dry-roasted edamame ($4.49/lb), 2 bags chocolate chip ($1.97 each), 1/10 lb black pepper ($19.79/lb), 2 half-gallons orange juice (90 cents each), 2 large jugs of unfiltered apple juice ($3.99 each). Plus, I picked up my lunch for today here. I stopped in after a long doctor's appointment. By the time I was almost done shopping, it was near 2 PM, and I was beyond needing to eat. I went to the deli section and bought a kale salad, a pot sticker salad and turkey breast, spending $5.98. It turned out to be enough for 2 days of my lunches. So, less than $3 per lunch isn't all that bad, for a take-out lunch that was healthy. Total spent on food today -- $130.42

October 14. My trip to WinCo. I bought a little over a lb of candy corn, at $1.48/lb,  1/2-lb of baking cocoa, at $3.08/lb, 2 lbs of raisins, at $1.79/lb,  4 acorn squash at 78 cents each,  2/3 lb of sunflower seeds at $1.70/lb, 1 lb of chopped dates, at $2.14/lb, 5 lbs of carrots for $2.28, 72-ct of corn tortillas for $2.18, 10 bananas at 48 cents/lb, 5 bags of chocolate chips for $1.68 each, a loaf of bread for $1.98, a package of English muffins for 88 cents, a 12-ounce package of bacon for $1.98, 5 Hershey's miniatures at $4.98/lb, and trick or treats for $3.98. I received a bag refund of 6 cents, using my own bag. total spent, $38.30

October 21. Fred Meyer to pick of 3 freebies, and get milk on sale. I bought 8 half-gallons of whole milk for $1 each, and 2 half-gallons of orange juice for $1 each. I also found 2 containers of coffee on clearance for $3.99 each, and got my 3 freebies -- a box of BelVita breakfast biscuits, a Hershey bar and some Airheads. Total spent today -- $17.98

October 22/ Stopped by Dollar Tree to pick up some non-food items, but also bought 1 box of crackers, to use in coffee hour, after church next Sunday. Spent $1

October 23. This month has been an aberration from my usual shopping and spending, for groceries. More evidence that I'm just not myself, these days. I'm coming down with a cold, feeling tired and yucky, and needing lunch and dinner for all of us, today (Sunday). We stop at Albertson's on the way home from church, and visit the deli. We decide on fried chicken for dinner, and some salads and meat for lunch. There was enough salads leftover from lunch that for dinner I could stretch then with the addition of some fruit, cooked pasta and cucumber, for us all at dinner. And there's enough leftover fried chicken to pull apart to turn into dinner for Monday, in something, and then use the bones in soup stock. So, we spent $18.89, and managed 3 plus meals out of it all.

Total spent for the month, so far -- $208.08

October 26. Stopped in to Trader Joe's for bananas, bought 16 bananas for 19 cents each. Spent $3.04. (Trader Joe's is in same complex as Hobby Lobby. My art student daughter likes HL art section better than Michael's. So when she needs something like paper, paint or pencils, this is where we've been going. And I can go into Trader Joe's to get bananas while she shops for art stuff.)

Total spent so far this month -- $211.12

October 28. WinCo one last time for the month, after an appointment nearby. 3 acorn squash at 78 cents each (I find the largest, weigh them, and only buy the ones over 3 lbs, for a per pound of at most, 26 cents), 2 bags of shredded coconut for holiday baking (green tag this month, so on sale), $1.38/each, 4 more bags of on sale choc chips (2 milk, 2 semi-sweet), $1.68/each, pound of raisins at $1.79/lb, 25 lb bag of carrots, $7.98 (32 cents/pound), 8 6-ounce cans whole olives, 78 cents/each, 4 cases (12 cans/case) of corn, peas, cut green beans, French cut green beans, 33 cents/15-ounce can, more candy corn (used a lot of it in trail mix for coffee hour at church), $1.48/lb, some wrapped candies for future treat-making (undisclosed varieties as some members of family read this). 3 bags for 6 cents each refund. Total spent $47.50

Total spent for the month $258.62

This month clearly deviates from my usual spending patterns. I feel like I bought too many prepared items, and way too much sweets. Maybe it's time for some changes, or maybe this was a one-off thing. Not so much in the dollar amount, but in the extra items I bought. We all need a break from time to time, if we can afford it. So, I'm trying not to be hard on myself for needing that break.

What I bought this month:


2 green peppers
31 bananas
1 head cabbage
3 butternut squash
4 half-gallons orange juice
2 large jugs of unfiltered apple juice (about 90 ounces each)
3 lbs raisins
7 acorn squash
1 lb chopped dates
30 lbs carrots
48 assorted cans of corn, peas, green beans


12 ounce package bacon


4 large cans coffee
2 bags coffee
4 jars peanut butter
2 lbs walnuts
10 lbs almonds
3/4 lb dry-roasted edamame
11 bags chocolate chips
1/10 lb black pepper
2 lb candy corn
1/2 lb baking cocoa
2/3 lb of sunflower seeds
72-ct corn tortillas
1 loaf bread
1 package English muffins
5 Hershey's Miniatures
trick or treats (individual bags of pretzels)
Hershey bar (freebie)
Airheads (freebie)
BelVita breakfast biscuits (freebie)
1 box of crackers
8 cans of large olives
2 bags of coconut
1 lb wrapped candies, assorted, for treats in the future


16 half-gallons whole milk
1 gallon skim milk
1/2 gallon soy milk

Ready-made meals

deli kale salad
deli pot sticker salad
deli sliced turkey
3 deli salads (about 1 cup of each: seafood, slaw and fruit/jello/whip cream)
8 pieces fried chicken
deli turkey and ham

This month, I had $573.02 available to spend on food items. I spent $258.62. Going in to November, I had $314.40 as a surplus. Add that to my usual $190, and in November I have $504.40 available to spend.

I'm not usually a big canned veggie person, but at 33 cents per can, that's a deal I can't pass up, especially as canned veggies are just so easy for winter. I bought and ate way too much sugary stuff this month. I have to curb that, as it is not good for my health. I'll try better next month. I did buy a lot of nuts in October, which will last for several months. I'll be looking for good sales on pecans in November. My buy price for pecans is between $9.50 and $9.75 per pound. I'll buy 3 to 4 pounds, if I find my price. And of course, whole turkeys, potatoes, celery, sweet potatoes and pumpkin or squash.

I've mentioned this before, but I often buy the 25-lb bags of juicing carrots for our fresh-eating carrots. Once I get the bag home, I go through it all, and sort out the ones that are likely to go bad the fastest. I set those aside, peel, trim and chop or cut for sticks to be eaten right away. The rest, I bag in paper bags, in 5-lb increments, then over-wrap in a plastic bag and store in the garage fridge. These carrots will keep like this, with no extra attention, for a couple of months. I sometimes, chop and freeze about 5 to 10 pounds, too, for convenience use in cooking. At 32 cents per pound, these make a thrifty substitute for all or some of the pumpkin in pumpkin pie/cake/muffins, as canned pumpkin is usually around $1 per 15 ounce can. Just an FYI, if you're living on a tight grocery budget, like I am.

I hope that October was gentle to your wallet!


  1. Hi Lili,
    You're month was full! I'll tally my all-inclusive spending tonight when I get home and am sure I'm done spending for the month. We found a couple of good sales on Sat. We needed ground beef and a store nearby always discounts meats in the morning so we went it and found the reduced ground beef but also some chuck roasts and a cubed steak. Hubby wanted the cubed but I don't like them. We then went to another store close to the recyling center where they often discount dairy on Sat. mornings. Sure enough, gallons of 2% and 1% were only 50 cents each. I prefer skim but for 50 cents we bought a couple and froze most of it. We don't mind frozen milk that has been thawed so it is worth it for us to do this. That store also often has turkey pieces reduced and I like that a lot especially cooked in my new pressure cooker. But Sat. they didn't have any reduced turkey pieces. But they had italian sausage brats which we bought and promptly removed the casings to be used in other dishes.

    We had a lovely dinner of roast beef with mashed potatoes and green beans on Sunday. The kids are given the leftovers to take back to college (only one kid came home but she brought back food for her brother)and this way they get a meal courtesy of mom to start their week out.

    Even though it is the end of Oct. our weather has been pretty decent. Sat. saw temps in the low 70s and that was perfect for an afternoon of cleaning up leaves and we also did the neighbor lady's backyard since we knew she and her kids (single mom) would never be able to get that all done. They help a single woman across the street do her lawn as well as their own lawn so we just help her! See the domino effect? We trimmed a tree for her that had a huge limb dangling and would be dangerous if it fell. Me and hubby had a wonderful time working together cleaning up. But sadly there are so many more leaves that have fallen that we're not close to being done.

    1. Hi Alice,
      What a lovely comment. I just loved hearing it all, from the help you gave your neighbor, to you and your husband outdoors working together, to the grocery shopping and family Sunday dinner. Just nice.

      I hope your spending came in at a good point for the month. It sounds like you found a few very good deals, so I'm guessing your budget was happy this month.

      Have a great day, Alice!

    2. My all inclusive total was $459 and a few pennies. Not bad since I'm always running into a deal that I can pass up (mostly meat).


  2. Sounds like you continue to do well with your purchases. I know you feel like you spent too much, but from what I've learned about you, I think October will be the exception to the rule. Isn't it nice that you had some surplus to work with?

    We are experiencing the "why" of frugal living. Looks like we need to replace our furnace--thankfully, it doesn't spin us into crisis mode, as we have funds available for the not-so-fun-but-necessary purchases.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Oh no! Ugh, replacing a furnace has got to be one of the most un-fun things to do with savings. But you're prepared, so that is really awesome. I hope you can get your new furnace installed before snow flies.

  3. Impressive as usual. I fear I've done a pretty horrible job of frugal shopping recently. It's been a combination of convenience items and summer fruit - my eternal weakness.

    I'm trying not to be too hard on myself though since I've been working a lot (both on money-making stuff, and home upkeep) and time has been at a premium. I was finding that I'd resort to eating really unhealthy stuff because it was convenient, and in the long run, I just don't think that's a good approach.

    The way I see it, you have to balance priorities. After pretty much ignoring work of all sorts for the past 3-4 years while I've been dealing with other stuff, continuing to ignore it wasn't really an option. So I can choose to spend my limited free time on cooking and bargain hunting, or I can spend it biking with CatMan and taking care of myself.

    Ultimately, my relationship and my health are more important to me than the balance of my savings account. Eventually I'll get caught up, the pendulum will swing the other way, and I'll be able to devote more time to frugal habits. In the meantime, I'm going easy on myself.

    I guess that's my long-winded way of saying that I don't think you should be too hard on yourself. It sounds like you've been dealing with a lot - especially where your health is concerned, and there comes a point where you have to put yourself first.

    1. Hi Cat,
      You have a point. We do have to find balance, and allowance for changes. For me, I hit a wall, where I really couldn't continue doing everything that I had been doing. Even if I'd thought to just push through it all, it wasn't going to work that way, this time. So, for now, I have to accept that, sometimes, I'll have to go for a little convenience.

      I'm glad you're doing things that really matter to you. I hope you can get a few more bike rides in before the roads become wintery and a mess.

    2. I find that when my schedule is crazier, my grocery bill goes up--convenience takes precedence over savings. You are both normal--at least, by my standards! :)

    3. Good to know I'm normal in one way, at least!

    4. Maybe, Lili, you body was trying to tell you something, that you were doing too much and there was a price to pay. That's how I interpreted it recently when I had a cold one week and a UTI the next. It's been intense here for good reason, but I've got to slow down a bit, because we've been going nonstop night and day with these two houses. I've glad you've found ways to slow down a bit. I'm going to try to follow your example.

      Ditto on too many sweets this month. I know they weren't doing me any favors.

    5. I'm sorry to hear about your health issues, too, live and learn. I do think all that you and Ward are doing right now, with two houses, would be exhausting for anyone. Hopefully the bulk of the work needed will soon be done, and you can just relax and enjoy your new home. UTIs are not fun at all! Take good care of yourself!

  4. Lili,
    You had a great shopping month. I am in aww. The reason we are frugal on groceries is so we can have some easy
    things when we need/want. I say bravo You did great. Do you have bread outlets in the PNW. They are great
    if you have freezer space. They all closed here.:(
    I am need to find chocolate chips on sale and nuts.
    Sounds like you are ready for some holiday baking.

    1. Hi Patti,
      You're right, being frugal gave us money to spare in the grocery budget to cover an off month. The nearest bakery thrift is 30 minutes away, in a direction I never go. Years ago, we lived near there, and I did frequently buy bread for the freezer. Trader Joe's has pretty good prices on nuts and chocolate chips. And the traditional grocery stores will have them on sale in the next month, too, I would think. I hope you find the baking items you want, soon!

      Have a great day, Patti!

  5. I second everyone else's comments. Well done, Lili--even with the deli splurge. We splurged on Little Caesar's pizza for the kids Sunday night. We were at church nearly all day & were trying to get things ready for our Reformation party the next. The house needed a good scrubbing & my husband & kids were still writing the play about Church history that the kids would perform for the party. So I pushed the easy button. I bought 3 pizzas. We saved one & the kids ate it for lunch the day of the party (even though they had French bread pizza for dinner that night). My sanity was worth the $15. Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      We haven't done Little Caesar's in years. I'll have to add that to our back-up plans for the future. Their pizza makes a decent-enough last-minute meal, along with some canned veggies or carrot sticks.

      Yes, on a very busy day, your sanity is definitely worth spending $15! I hope you all had fun at your Reformation party!


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