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Monday, July 3, 2017

June 2017 Grocery Spending Journal

June. 4. Picking up a daughter late on a Sunday. She needs her bus pass filled so we swing by QFC. Their bus/customer service desk is closed. Rats! I'll have to get up early tomorrow and take her to the transit center before she needs to get on a bus for class. Oh well, while here, I'll check some aisles. I buy milk, four 1/2 gals (99 cents each), 1 half gallon of almond milk (1.99), 12 "baking" bananas, 49 cents lb (I dug through all of them and found two bundles still in the okay-for-eating stage), and 1 large loaf of bread for $1.25. The price on bread is way too high, but we need bread, and I won't have time for even the simplest bread this evening. Bread, milk and bananas -- a person could live on that for a couple of days, if need be. I also bought some birthday candles for fall birthdays, on clearance. Total spent on food -- $9.26

June 6. Senior Discount Day at Fred Meyer. First thing, they brought back the coffee and cookies for seniors. They hadn't been offering that for the last several months. Having it again was a pleasant surprise. What I bought -- 10 half-gallons of milk, for 89 cents each, 1 half gallon almond milk, $2.25, 3 packages of store brand hot dogs for 80 cents each, 2 packages of Hebrew National hot dogs for $2.99 each (saving these for the 4th of July and maybe another cook-out), 1 package of hot dog buns for 80 cents, 1 16 oz can of frozen orange juice concentrate for $1.35, 15 bananas at 39 cents/lb, 1  1/4 lbs of strawberries for 99 cents, 4 dozen eggs for 89 cents/dozen, 3 packages of flour tortillas for 89 cents/package, 1 bag of sour chewy candy for free (a Friday Freebie), 4 5-ounce cans of tuna for 62 cents each, 2 bags of potato chips for $1.69 each, 3 boxes of graham crackers for $1.35 each, 1 box of saltines for 89 cents,  4 packages of ramen soup for 25 cents each, and 1 16-ct box of frozen corn dogs for $3.37.  Total spent -- $47.15

Yes, that was my shopping cart, and no, I haven't completely lost my mind. A couple of prompts for this diversion from my regular shopping. I noticed a week ago that one daughter had bought herself some ramen for a quick to make lunch. So I thought I would just keep some on hand for her. I also thought saltine crackers might be nice to have on hand to go with homemade soup or salads, or to make PPJ on crackers (always a favorite), or melted cheese on crackers, again quick lunch thought. The tuna was for easy to make sandwich dinners. I'm not a huge fan of tuna, but the rest of the family will like it, and tuna sandwiches or tuna salad on garden lettuce would be a quick and easy dinner. The graham crackers, potato chips and Hebrew Nationals were a special this week, so I thought I'd stock up for holiday BBQs (4th of July just around the corner). And the corn dogs were a great deal for super quick dinners that I know my family would love. After coupon and discount, they came out to 21 cents each. About as fast as getting any sort of take out, but a fraction of the price. A change from my regular shopping. But I think I should be able to stay within my spending allotment, even with this shopping. I'll make a run by the produce stand or ethnic market for produce soon.

June 12. Desperate for produce, but struggling with fatigue this week. I chose to go to Cash & Carry for produce as they have most of what I want, at okay prices (better than supermarkets, overall). I could have run to several stores, but the way I've been feeling, that just would not be sensible. I bought 50 lbs of yellow onions for $7.95, 10 lbs of potatoes for $1.57, 3 lbs of dried cranberries for $7.37, 18 oz of fresh blueberries for $4.28, 4 lbs of fresh strawberries for $5.98, 10 lbs of cooking carrots for $3.98, 5 lbs of baby carrots (snacking) for $3.28, 5 lbs of frozen peas for $3.99, 5 lbs of frozen green beans for $3.99, 2 lbs of frozen broccoli for $2.27, 1 head of Romain lettuce for $1.18, 2 head of green cabbage for $1.38 each, 12 bananas at 47 cents/lb, 5 lb block of mild cheddar for $11.18, and 25 lbs of salt for $4.59.

Yes, you read that last one correctly, 25 pounds of salt! For the past two senior discount days (May and June) I have had salt on my list, but somehow have spaced out and totally forgotten it. We have been using the popcorn salt, the pickling salt, the Kosher salt, all of the expensive salts, for ordinary cooking. When I got to Cash & Carry I thought I'd just pick up the salt there. But it was over a dollar for a canister (26 oz)! I'm used to paying 55 cents for a canister. So, I wondered, what's the price per pound on salt in the big bags? And how long would a big bag take us to use?  I got out my phone and used the calculator function to figure the cost per 26 oz, same as a canister. In the 25 lb bag, that much salt is 29 cents. That's a little over half price of buying salt with my discount at Fred Meyer. As for how long it would take us to use it all, I figured we would go through this much salt in no more than 3 years. I'm still in the "lots of baking and cooking from scratch" phase of life, so this is probably pretty accurate. And salt keeps indefinitely, plus I have the space.  Anyway, total spent at Cash & Carry -- $67.73

Total spent so far this month -- $124.14

June 14. My daughter suffered a concussion at work this week. The doctor recommended she eat a very healthy diet, while recovering, and especially blueberries.  She finished off the fresh blueberries bought 2 days ago, so I went out to buy frozen ones for smoothies. I went to Dollar Tree and bought 6 10-oz bags of blueberries, for $6.

June 15.  My husband and two of the kids are meeting the kids' aunt downtown for dinner. The third kid has a concussion and is resting so stayed home with me. I asked what she would most like for dinner and she agreed that burgers would be great. I picked up a large burger and large order of sweet potato fries for us to share. It's an expensive burger place but about the only fast food burgers that I like. $9.37 for our dinner.

June 16. One daughter wanted a ride to Fred Meyer after church to pick up something for her dad for Father's Day. While she was getting what she needed, I picked up a loaf of bread ($1.25) and 2 dozen eggs (79 cents/dozen). Total spent $2.83

June 23. After dropping a daughter off at work my son and I went by Fred Meyer. Eggs are on sale for 79 cents/dozen. My son got 2 dozen eggs, and I bought 2 dozen eggs, plus a loaf of bread (89 cents), 4 very ripe bananas at 39 cents/lb, 1 bottle of sparkling iced tea (freebie), 1 package of beef jerkey (freebie) and 1 large bottle of Ocean Spray juice (freebie). Total spent $4.71.

After we picked up our groceries at Fred Meyer, I went to Starbucks and bought an egg white-spinach wrap, and met my son at Five Guys where he got a burger, fries, water, and the free peanuts. Total spent $14.72. I grabbed the bottle of sparkling iced tea that I got for free at Fred Meyer and the two of us had a long lunch together on the lovely patio outside of Five Guys.

Total spent this month -- $161.77

June 24. Out running errands. I stop at Trader Joe's to buy bananas. I bought 14 bananas at 19 cents each, spending $2.66.

I also stopped at Grocery Outlet, to pick up Epsom Salts. I also bout an 11.5-oz can of vanilla-flavored coffee, for $1.58, and 3 17-oz bottles of sparkling flavored water, for 50 cents/each. (These last ones are a favorite treat of mine. I've gotten them as freebies from Fred Meyer on several occasions.) Total spent $3.08

This month, I used the grocery money to buy a couple of fast food meals to have with kids, on a one-on-one basis. It seemed like an appropriate time to do this. Financially, it worked out fine. I just hope this won't come back to bite me later.

June 26. One daughter and I spent a good part of the day at Pike Place market, in downtown Seattle before she went to her studio to paint for the afternoon. We snacked on all of the free samples and then bought ourselves some lunch. We stopped at a specialty cheese shop and bought the smallest package we could find of the smoked flagship cheddar, then went to the bakery and each chose a pastry, and finally stopped at a stand with fresh cherries and bought a tall cup of fresh cherries to share. We picked up free cups of ice water at every place that we went. I didn't track prices, but I started with a $20 bill, and I think I have about $2 and change leftover. So, I spent about $17.50. A "meal out" with each of my kids this month.

Total spent for June -- $185.01

What I bought

57 bananas
1 large can of orange juice concentrate
5  1/4 lbs of strawberries
50 lbs of onions
10 lbs potatoes
3 lbs dried cranberries
18 oz blueberries
10 lbs cooking carrots
5 lbs baby carrots
5 lbs frozen peas
5 lbs frozen green beans
2 lbs frozen broccoli
1 head Romaine lettuce
2 heads green cabbage
1 33 oz bottle of mixed flavor juice (freebie)
60 ounces frozen blueberries

12 half gallons 2% milk
2 half gallons whole milk
2 half gallons almond milk
10 dozen eggs
5 lbs cheddar cheese

5 packages hot dogs
4 cans of tuna
16 corn dogs
a package of beef jerky (freebie)

3 loaves of bread
30 flour tortillas
1 bag of sour chewy candy (freebie)
2 bags of potato chips
3 boxes of graham crackers
1 box of saltine crackers
4 packages of ramen soup
25 lbs salt
1 bottle sparkling iced tea (freebie)
small can of flavored coffee
3 individual bottles of sparkling flavored water

3 meals out, 1 with each kid

The meals out with my kids were expensive for my budget, but worthwhile, for them and for me. I can afford it for right now. When I can no longer afford these, I'll figure something else out for one on one time with them.

I still had a surplus of $154.76, and a regular amount of $150, giving me a total of $304.76 for June available to spend. I spent $185.01, which leaves me with $119.75 in surplus to roll over into July.


  1. Dear Lili,

    I hope you are well and that life has become a bit more joyful for you.

    I would say you had some good one on one times with each of your kids. I believe that is necessary also. I asked each of my three kids if I could do something for or with them individually last week. The girls said yes and the boy said he was fine. Our time together didn't include a restaurant or food but it did include goodwill shopping and groceries. My oldest had never been in Aldi's and didn't know how the cart system worked so we went there. She lives in Honduras.

    My budget had a bit of a bust this month. It has been like a mini restaurant around here. Food for five at multiple times during the day has created a lot of dishes, a lot of food purchases and a lot more garbage than I'm used to. Not food getting thrown away but packaging from food getting thrown away. I think stores have way too much packaging on food.

    My budget total for food was $488.62 and all the other stuff was $37.65 totaling $526.21. But this is very normal for a full family of five (for us anyway) so it wasn't extraordinarily high. Such is life.


    1. Hi Alice,
      That was nice that you spent time with your daughters. Is your daughter who lives in Honduras home for the summer, or just a short trip? I hope you can enjoy lots of one on one time with your children while they're there.
      You are so right about all of the packaging. It really adds up for garbage. The plastic packaging is the worst. Things like the clamshells aren't recyclable in my area. At least with cardboard boxes, they can go into recycling.

      I hope you have a great week, Alice.

  2. Lili...I think it was wonderful that you took one on one time with each of your children...not only good for them, but great for you also. You had money in your budget. Budgets allow us to allocate to the things we want to do and still have funds for the essentials. I am always amazed at well you stretch your money and serve delicious and balanced meals.
    I also hope you are feeling better and things are going better for you and yours!
    I agree with Anonymous...way too much packaging! One of my current goals is to be aware of packaging and plastic coming into my home and out...then come up with ways to reduce that volume. Previous generations didn't create this kind of trash and recycling can only do so much. Wish my grandparents were still around to tell me more I could do to reduce waste.

    1. Hi Linda,
      You're right about recycling. And it does use additional energy to process one thing into another. Many folks used to reuse as much of the packaging as they could. But then they didn't have as much of it to deal with on a weekly basis. I wish that produce, at least, would not be prepackaged, and that stores would use paper sacks, again for fruits and vegetables. There are only so many clamshells that I can reuse.
      Thanks, I'm going to keep making room in our budget to do things with each kid, each month. It was good for them and me.
      I hope that your day is off to a great start, Linda.

  3. A month like this is what you have been planning for. A month when you can spend a little of the overage on something other than stock up. While it is still remarkable shopping, things were more lax that usual for you. Which means you were able to spend some quality time with your children, not go always for the absolute best price and take care of yourself. Important things.

    Since you keep track of every single penny, was it hard for you to occasionally stray from you normal habits this month or did it feel freeing?

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I think my grocery carts have been looking more ordinary, in recent months, buying frozen corndogs, pails of ice cream, chips and such. And the time eating out with kids is probably a more "normal" thing for many families.
      I don't think that I thought too much about straying from stringent habits with shopping. For right now, for me, it just felt necessary. I did hate seeing the cash in my wallet go so quickly, though, when getting burgers and such. I'll try and think of other ways to spend one on one time with my kids in the future. Thanks for your thoughts on this.
      Have a great day, live and learn.

  4. What a great deal on the onions, Lili. I wish we had a Cash and Carry here. You get such good deals there. Good deal on the salt too!

    I hope your daughter is OK after suffering the concussion. And your lunch with your son sounds like a nice afternoon. I know I love spending time with my daughter.I'm glad you were able to spend one on one time with each of your children this month. The money spent is definitely worth it.

    And I've noticed a lot of dishes here too this summer as we are home more often than usual, but it goes with the territory I suppose. LOL

    I hope you have a great Monday and even better 4th of July. :)

    1. Hi Belinda,
      I do get some really good deals at Cash & Carry. Even when the onions are at a higher price, there, it's still a great savings over supermarket prices.
      My daughter seems to be doing fine. She hasn't complained of any lingering symptoms in the last week. Thank you for asking.
      One way to look at all of the extra dishes to wash is that it means you're eating all of your meals at home, which saves on take-out/restaurant costs, as well as the gas to go places. The dishes can pile up, though. I sympathize with all of the extra washing.
      Have a wonderful 4th of July, yourself, Belinda! I hope you and your daughter do something really fun for the holiday.

  5. Great job with the budget and with the one on one time with the kids. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

    1. Hi Sandy,
      Thank you. With kids moving on in their lives it feels especially necessary to make time for each of them, on their timetables. I'll just try and do it a bit more frugally next month.
      I hope that your week is off to a wonderful start, Sandy!

  6. I have found one thing that is almost always worth the expense is experiences. Think of the one on one time and meal as an experience. Your next experience can be something totally different and less costly, but it's never bad to mix things up a bit.

    1. Thank you, Anne. I think the expense was a worthwhile one. It gave me opportunities to talk with my kids just one at a time.


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