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Thursday, December 29, 2016

December 2016 Grocery Spending Journal

I'm posting the end of the month grocery spending journal, now, as I'll be posting our weekly Cheap & Cheerful Menus, tomorrow, and then it's on to New Year's! So, closing out December's budget today, and anything I spend between now and January 1st will fall into January's budget.

Dec. 2 Cash & Carry for all-purpose flour, 50-lbs on sale for $9.99. I had planned on buying 2 bags (100 lbs), but they only had 1 bag left, and that bag had a tear. They offered me $3 off that bag. They taped it up. It didn't look like much had leaked out, no more than 1 lb. So, I bought probably 49 lbs of all-purpose flour for $6.99, or about 14 cents/lb.

Dec. 3 Dollar Tree, I buy 1 box of graham crackers, 1 box of Wheat Thin type crackers, and 1 box of Ritz type crackers -- spent $3

Dec. 9 WinCo -- I buy 8 packages of semi-sweet chocolate chips, at $1.68 each, 1 bag of coconut for $1.38, 2 bags of marshmallows for 98 cents each, and cocoa powder, for $2.06. I received 12 cents in bag credit.Total spent -- $17.72

Dec 10 Fred Meyer, Senior discount day. I bought half-gallon of almond vanilla milk for $1.99. I received a 16 oz jar of roasted peanuts, free, a bottle of Kraft BBQ sauce, free, and a small bag of Werthers caramel candies, free. I spent $1.99

Dec. 13 Fred Meyer, another Senior Discount day. I bought 4 15-oz jars of natural peanut butter, at $1.35 each, 1.27 lbs of salted, roasted almonds, at $4.49/lb, less a $2 off coupon, 3 packages of hot dogs for 80 cents each, 4 packages of flour tortillas for 89 cents each, 2 8-oz bricks of cream cheese, for 89 cents each, less a 45 cent coupon, 4 red-tape bananas at 49 cents/lb, 1 head of cabbage for 49 cents/lb, 6 half-gallons of whole milk and 4 half-gallons of orange juice, at 89 cents each. I spent $27.37

Dec. 14 Target, picking up stocking stuffers. I also buy the 70 oz bottle of Market Pantry Medium Salsa, for $4.99

Dec. 14 WinCo for some items for a veggie platter. I bought broccoli crowns ($1.10), baby carrots (98 cents), celery (98 cents), grape tomatoes ($1.48), Ranch dressing mix (58 cents) 16 oz mini-marshmallows (98 cents), 28 oz bag of tortilla chips ($2.98). Total spent $9.08.

Total spent for December, so far -- $71.14

Dec. 19 QFC for shank hams, unsliced, at $1.29/lb, limit 2. I also find turkey bacon on markdown for $1.39/12 oz package. I bought 7 packages. Total spent $39.64

Dec. 20 Fred Meyer for another bonus Senior Shopping discount. I bought a half-gallon almond milk for $1.79 (coupon plus discount), 2 lbs of BarS Meat franks, marked down to 79 cents/lb (went into the freezer right away), 5 lb box of mandarins for $5.99 (this will be the only box of mandarins I buy this year, likely, as they are so much more expensive than navel oranges), 1 bundle of celery at 69 cents/lb (83 cents for a the bundle), box of white cake mix (Friday Freebie), 2-liter of 7UP soda (Friday Freebie), package of Tim Tam cookies (Friday Freebie).  Total spent today -- $10.19

Total spent for December, so far -- $120.97

Dec. 25 I bought a $15 gift card to Jack-in-the-Box, at Fred Meyer, for the bonus fuel points. We used this gc on Christmas Day, along with $3.95, for a total of  $18.95

Dec. 26 at Fred Meyer for discounted items. I bought candy for Valentine's Day and next Christmas, but the cost of these will come out of our holiday budget. I also bought a 16 oz container of marked down candied glace cherries (the kind used in baking and fruitcake), for $1.79

Total spent for December 2016, $141.71

What I bought:


4 bananas
1 head of cabbage
4 half-gallons of orange juice
70 oz jug of tomato salsa
3/4 lb broccoli crowns
1 lb baby carrots
2 bundles of celery
3/4 lb of grape tomatoes
5 lbs of mandarin oranges (tangerines)


2 half-gallons of almond milk
2 packages of cream cheese
6 half-gallons of whole milk


4.25 lbs of mixed meat hot dogs
23 lbs of bone-in ham
5.25 lbs of turkey bacon


1 box of graham crackers
1 box of Wheat Thins type crackers
1 box of Ritz-type crackers
8 packages of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag of coconut
2 bag of mini marshmallows
2/3 lb cocoa powder
16 oz jar of peanuts (freebie)
Kraft BBQ sauce (freebie)
bag of Werthers candies (freebie)
4  15-oz jars of natural peanut butter
1.27 lbs of smoked almonds
4 lbs of flour tortillas
Ranch dressing/dip mix
28-oz bag of tortilla chips
1 box of Pillsbury cake mix (freebie)
1 package of Tim Tam cookies (freebie)
2-liter of 7UP soda (freebie)
49 lbs of all-purpose flour
16 oz glace cherries


Some fast food for Christmas snacky dinner -- chicken strips, onion rings, egg rolls

Not nearly as extensive a list of foods this month, compared to November. Our pantry, fridge and freezer are simply too full, right now.

My budget coming into December was $190 plus a carry-forward surplus of $11.84, for a total amount available to spend of $201.84. I spent $141.71. I now have $60.13 in surplus to roll over to January.

Our fridge, freezer and pantry continue to look full. We received a Honey-Baked ham, still frozen, as a Christmas gift. As we'd already planned our Christmas dinner, I put the ham in our freezer. We now have 4 hams. I'll use one on New Year's Day, that will leave 3 half hams for this next year. I also have 1 whole turkey and some turkey leftovers, still in the freezer, plus some turkey bacon, ground beef and hot dogs. We're set for meat, unless I find a great price. We seem to be well-stocked in baking ingredients and canned goods. I'll need vegetable oil and yeast, soon, but nothing els, really on the "need" list.

Later, next month, I'll do some planning for special meals this spring (birthdays, Valentine's Day and Easter), to make sure I set aside some of the meat and goodies for those specific meals.

I hope your budget fared well this month.


  1. I'll tally my month later this week. I bought one bag of clementines for MIL and she only wanted 1/2 the bag so I took home the rest. That is the only bag I will buy also since they were very expensive. I think I only need a gallon of milk and nothing else really. The kids will all leave in 3, 4 and 5 days so no use stocking my refrigerator.

    I probably spent a bit more on my budget this month since I helped the girls buy things for their travels all which will count in my all-inclusive budget. I have a lot of bills due in January and February so I need to put a stop on just about all spending and only get milk, eggs and some fresh fruit. Everything else has to come out of the freezer. This happens every January so it's no surprise.

    I have a fairly decent stocked freezer including a turkey and some whole chickens for something special that might come up. I see two flatbread pizzas in there that I got discounted at Aldi a few weeks ago. That might be nice for New Year's Eve. There are homemade eggrolls and breakfast burritos, lots of jams and green beans, some chicken and ground beef, bratwurst and breakfast sausage, carrots, shredded mozzarella, strawberries and rhubarb and peaches. I'm sure there are lots more but I can easily create many, many meals from what I see in there.


    1. Hi Alice,
      My guess is you probably kept your spending very low! And it sounds like your freezer is pretty well-stocked to get through January. I wish you well in getting through the month on a tighter budget.

      Clementines ARE expensive, aren't they? At over $1 per pound, they fall in the produce "treat" category for me. I'm glad that we enjoy oranges almost as much.

      Have a great day, Alice!

  2. I haven't priced out clementines per pound, but Aldi has them at a good price and I like it that they come in smaller bags so you don't have to get through an entire crate at once.

    Good for you for having a surplus to carry into 2017. And for having a stocked freezer and pantry. That's a good feeling. :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      I love that you have an Aldi nearby. They sound so affordable. Maybe someday they'll make their way out west. we are making the mandarins last, and really enjoying them. I try to remember to appreciate their fragrance as I peel them.

      Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year, Kris!

  3. I love the grocery posts...Here is a very long reply....

    I was able to get clementines this month at Aldi 3lb bag for 2.69. I served a bowl of them at our Christmas Eve dinner for our extended Italian family (this is a tradition) We love clementines and I treated my small family to a second bag as I knew that the bag on Christmas Eve would be devoured.

    I did spend $189 of my $200 monthly budget stocking up this month plus the additional $20 ($.47 leftover) I budgeted for Christmas Eve dinner for 9 (which included 2lbs of shrimp).

    I need coffee creamer (our weakness and a splurge item), Zantac or equivelant store brand item, celery, canned diced tomato and to restock my butter supply after all of the gift baking. I will use my remaining $11 (plus $2 extrabucks and drug store gift cards I have been given so no cost to me)to restock as many of these items as possible before next month's eat down the pantry/ low spend challenge.

    I am reducing the weekly budget from $50/week to $20 so I can include fresh produce and any free items or those I can find on deep discount since I am a coupon shopper (budget includes dog food, health and beauty items, paper products. This does not include any prescription meds, gas or regular bills such as mortgage, utilities or any medical or repair costs that may occur) We are very well stocked on frozen veggies/fruit (5 bags of frozen bananas, 1 bag each of frozen blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, 8 bags of frozen green beans, 4 broccoli, 2 corn, 2 chopped spinich, 2 riced cauliflower, 1 cauliflower, 1 brussel sprouts) meat (many packs of bl/sl chicken thighs/breasts, turkey burgers, ground beef plus, thick cut pork chops, 2 pork loin roasts, 1 pork tenderloin, 1 smoked sausage, 1lb wild salmon, 1 lb sea scallops, 1 whole chicken, 1 whole turkey, 1 package italian sausage, 1 package smoked sausage), 4 1/2 gallons of almond milk, dry beans/ rice/ pasta, spices/ seasonings and coconut/ olive oil. We also have snacks leftover from the holidays such as 1/2 bag of pretzels rods, 1/2 bag of tortilla chips and salsa, a giant veggie tray with dip that a guest brought and many many leftover Christmas cookies. I have 1/2 loaf of bread, 1/2 pack of whole wheat english muffins and 3 middleastern flat breads. I will add 1 loaf of bread to the list mid month if we need it, but we do not eat much sliced bread (really only my son for his beloved PB$J sandwiches). Sadly there is not leftover shrimp, but I think that we will survive. At the end of January I will reassess the pantry to see if we can continue on the $20 weekly budget for Febuary.


    1. Wow, Saryn! It sounds like you are very well-stocked for getting through January! Good luck with your plans to get through January on so little budget. That will certainly get your year off to a great start.

      How wonderful that your Christmas Eve budget allowed for shrimp. And I am sure you all really enjoyed it! I'm so glad for you. And wise to buy a second bag of clementines, just for the family. I bet they really appreciated that. Little splurges like that, are always appreciated, aren't they? In the grand scheme, they don't break the bank, but they come just infrequently enough to be very welcomed.

      Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year, Saryn!

  4. I have tallied up my spending for the month and I am so all inclusive total was only $290.59 with only $161.07 for food and the rest for cat stuff, health and beauty and stuff like that. And we had kids home for half the month as well as Christmas! Will try to do the same thing for January.

    My son commented that he noticed I had not once done a big grocery haul and I realize I don't do that anymore. My son also sat with me and I showed him how I make a budget and he is taking a finance class for January interim class. His college also uses January as a one class per person and it is mostly a fun month because it is slow. Feb. starts the second semester. He made himself a budget based on how I do mine and then he will go into his finance class and hopefully learn more finance things. He will need that as he graduates in May.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Good job! Yes, I think not doing a big grocery shopping in the month probably saved you a lot of money. It forced all of you to eat more from what you hand on hand. Many of the on-hand food items likely were of the less-costly staples, than some of the foods you might have added to the household, if making a large shopping.

      Your son's interim class sounds very interesting and helpful in his future. Sitting down with him and showing him how you budget was an invaluable teaching moment. Your son must be about the same age as my daughters. The "real" world is just around the corner for them, too.

      Have a great weekend, Alice! Happy New Year!

    2. I ended up with a last minute shopping so I have to add another $78 to the total of 290.59. Blah!

      My oldest daughter is 23 (almost 24), my son is 22, and youngest daughter is 20.

  5. I stayed within my normal range in December. Honestly, I was hoping against hope that butter would go on a good sale, but it never did. My butter stash is beginning to run low and I don't like it. The Thanksgiving butter sales never materialized this year, either.

    Also, Fred Meyer seems to always put Tillamook cheese blocks on special around Christmas and they didn't do that this year.

    I did buy clementines there for $3/3 lb. bag, plus I had 55 cent off coupons. Clementines are favorites of my kids, but I only buy them around Christmas. I did buy a big bag at Costco at the beginning of December for $1/ lb. That bag disappeared in 1 afternoon, but that was the first clementines the kids have had this year, so they kind of went overboard.

    Great job on your budget, Lili! I'm hoping to do a modified pantry challenge in January, as it's a long month & I've got to make the paycheck stretch. Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      In the last 3 years, I've noticed many changes to what I had thought were the "regular" sale items at grocery stores for the fall and winter holidays. For butter, is the Cash & Carry in Richland anywhere near you? I sometimes find really great prices on butter at Cash & Carry in winter (late January/early February) Their ads come out on Mondays, FYI, You might want to check their online ads routinely, for butter. You can also do a price search, online, for any item they carry.

      It's been frustrating, these past couple of years, trying to guess what will be on sale. Good luck with your pantry challenge.

      Happy New Year, Melissa!


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