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Monday, October 2, 2017

September 2017 Grocery Spending Journal

Aug. 31 (I'd already tallied August when I decided to go out to Cash & Carry. So here it is in September.) I've wanted strawberries for the last few days, and avoided buying any at the regular grocery store, so those will be on my list today. We need other produce, too, plus mayo, ketchup, and I'll pick up some other sort of prepared or almost prepared supper item, for later fall and winter. So what did I end up buying? I bought 16 bananas (49 cents/lb), 12-ct bag of hoagie rolls ($2.72), 12.5 lb bag of popcorn ($5.87), 2 5-lb bags of frozen peas ($3.89 each), 1-qt frozen cranberry juice concentrate, to make 1 gallon ($1.99),  13 oz chili powder ($3.99), institutional-size bag Uncle Ben's cornbread stuffing mix, enough to make 47 servings ($13.49), #10 can refried beans, it's about 110 ounces, or just over 7 lbs ($5.15), 1 gallon mayonnaise ($6.79), 5-lbs shredded mozzarella ($10.77), 10-lbs carrots ($3.59), three 106 oz cans of crushed tomatoes ($2.90 each), two 19-oz blocks firm tofu ($1.59 each), box of 2 gals milk ($4.87), head of Romaine lettuce ($1.49), head of cauliflower (88 cents), 114-oz can of ketchup ($3.15), 4-lbs strawberries ($6.28), 15-dozen case of large eggs ($12.98). Total spent -- $106.39

You probably don't have a calculator in hand right now, so I'll do some math for you, to give you an idea of the price per "normal" package on a few of these.

peas-- 78 cents/lb
juice concentrate to make 64 oz cranberry juice cocktail -- 99 cents
chili powder -- $4.91 lb
refried beans -- 75 cents for 16-oz can
mayo -- $1.59/ 30-oz jar
ketchup -- 66 cents for a 24-oz bottle
large eggs -- 86 cents/dozen

I didn't always get my "best" price per unit on the items I bought (like milk, I can do better buying on Senior Shopping Day at FM), but overall I got very good prices on most items, compared to my best prices, and definitely saved over running to the local grocery store for an item we are out of. I can make refried beans from scratch for about half the price of canned. But this purchase is for convenience, at a time when I don't have freezer space to big-batch cook beans. My one splurge item was the cornbread stuffing mix. If I pick up some chicken or turkey sausage, the stuffing mix and sausage combo will make a quick supper.

Sept. 5. Senior Shopping Day at Fred Meyer. I bought a lot (long cash register receipt), but my spending wasn't too terrible. Here's what I bought: 5 half-gallons whole milk (89 cents each), 4 one-lb boxes whole wheat pasta (90 cents each), 5 15-oz jars natural peanut butter ($1.34 each), 10 new-crop gala apples (88 cents/lb), 2 46-oz jars of natural, unsweetened applesauce ($1.70 first jar, $1.97 second jar -- worked out to 63 cents/pint), half-gallon organic soy milk ($2.25), 3 packages of meat hot dogs (80 cents each), 2 8-oz cartons of marked down mushrooms (99 cents each), RXbar snack bar (free with coupon), Oreo candy bar (free with coupon), 7 loaves of bread (80 cents each), 3 packages of flour tortillas (89 cents each), 1 can decaf and 1 can regular coffee ($5.39 each), 5 marked down bananas (39 cents/lb), 17 non-marked down bananas (49 cents/lb). Total spent -- $50.86.

Coffee is still expensive this month. October and November usually see coffee priced at $4.99 a can. I will stock up my winter supply when I see that price. Most of the bread went into the freezer. 7 loaves is about what we use in a month. If I run out of bread, I will bake some from scratch. I use both whole wheat and white flour pasta. When I find whole wheat pasta below $1/lb I buy some. For white pasta, I look for 66 cents/lb or less. Last winter I bought a bunch of white flour pasta for 50 cents/lb. We're still using that buy.

Sept.9. A Saturday, out running errands with one daughter. We stop to pick up a rx at Fred Meyer, and buy 12 more gala apples, at 88 cents/lb. Spent $4.03

Sept. 10. Same daughter wants to return a purchase she made, so I give her a ride, and on the way we stop, again, at Fred Meyer, this time mostly for a gas fill-up on the car (using a 40 cents/gallon discount), but also go inside for peaches/nectarines, on sale at 88 cents/lb. I bought 12 nectarines for $5.22.

So far, I've spent $166.50. I'm thinking that I need to find money in the budget to add to my current grocery allotment. I may raise October's grocery budget to $175 or $180.

Sept. 22. We're doing okay for the month. I'm almost out of fresh produce and milk, but otherwise okay. I'm out for a meeting, so decide to stop by Fred Meyer to pick up my freebies, as well as milk and bananas. I bought 14 bananas, at 49 cents/lb, and 2 half-gallons of whole milk. There is a sign that indicates a buy 1/get 1 free deal on the milk, so I'm thinking not too bad. when I got up to the cash register I discovered that the milk deal is actually buy 1 at 49 cents, get 1 free!!! (49 cents/gallon for milk.) I also bought 2 6-packs of cinnamon raisin English muffins on markdown, and my 2 freebies -- a tea latte in a bottle, and a shelf stable single serve meal (a pasta and chicken thing). I spent $4.81 cents. The milk deal was so great that I went back in and bought 10 more half-gallons, for a total of $2.45. my 2 trips through the checkout came to $7.26.

Total spent for the month -- $173.76

Sept. 23.  I thought I would be done for the month, but we were short on produce and one of my daughters expressed a serious interest in getting more, so we stopped at WinCo (I had a bag in the car so 6 cents was deducted from my total). I bought 1 46 oz jar of unsweetened applesauce for $1.98, 72-ct package of corn tortillas for $2.18, 1 package of bologna for 98 cents (daughter's request), some kool-aid packets at 10 cents each (daughter's request), 2 packs of top ramen for 18 cents each (again, daughter's request), 1/3 lb of baking cocoa for $2.38/lb, 1 1/3 lbs of bran for bran muffins, at 43 cents/lb, 1.36 lbs of raisins, at $1.79/lb, 1 large cucumber for 58 cents, 7 black plums at 78 cents/lb, 2 heads of Romaine lettuce at $1.48 each, and 1 quart of soymilk for $1.18. As it turned out, my daughter wanted more than just produce. Ha ha! Spending-wise we did okay. This is a cash-only place, so I knew I was limited to how much I could buy. I spent $15.97.

Total spent for the month -- $189.73

I started the month with a budget of $150, plus $45.64 in surplus from previous months, bringing me to a total of $195.64 to spend for the month. I have just $5.91 leftover. I will have to increase our grocery budget. I will try $175 for October and see how we do.

What I bought

52 bananas
10 lbs frozen peas
1 qt. frozen cranberry juice concentrate
10 lbs carrots
3 #10 cans of crushed tomatoes
3 heads of Romaine lettuce
head of cauliflower
4 lbs strawberries
22 apples
3 large jars of applesauce
1 lb mushrooms
12 nectarines
1.36 lbs raisins
1 cucumber
7 plums

3 packages hot dogs
single-serve chicken/pasta meal (freebie)
1 package bologna

5-lbs shredded mozzarella
38 ounces of tofu
10  1/2 gallons milk
15 dozen eggs
3/4 gallon of soymilk

12-ct hoagie rolls
12.5 lbs popcorn
13 oz chili powder
47 servings of stuffing mix
#10 can refried beans
1 gallon mayonnaise
114 ounces of ketchup
4 lbs whole wheat pasta
5 jars peanut butter
meal replacement bar (freebie)
candy bar (freebie)
7 loaves of whole wheat bread
3 packages flour tortillas
1 can decaf and 1 can regular coffee
2 packages English muffins
tea latte in a bottle (freebie)
72 corn tortillas
4 kool-aid packets
2 packages top ramen soup noodles
1/3 lb baking cocoa
1  1/3 lb bran

I learn a lot from looking over my lists for the months. For one thing, I can look back and see how much of something I bought as a stock-up amount. But also, I can see where I may be able to trim a little, or where we really did okay.

For this next month, we are out of oil and almost out of sugar. I don't know if I will buy the institutional size packages of these items. I'm not baking as much as I used to, so this size might be too much for our family, for now. In addition to those two items, I will need produce, peanut butter, coffee and tea. I'll also be stocking up on any great deals, such as raw nuts. Last fall, I bought a year's supply of whole, raw almonds. I keep them in the freezer and only pull out a couple of cups at a time. Coffee goes on sale in the fall, too. So when I find the large cans at their annual low price I'll buy close to a year's supply of that, as well. Time to fill the pantry, I guess.

I hope your spending kept you within your budget. Have a great day!


  1. Hi Lili,

    Good job on the budget!

    I was in right at $500 and a few pennies for groceries. Just a bit more for the other stuff (cats, health, presc.) so that wasn't too bad considering what I got.

    We went to Amish country and stopped at their big grocery store. There was a lot of discounted and out-of-date stuff. I don't mind buying out of date so I spent $62 buck there but I was also there in early Aug. The rest was stuff at local stores. $125 a week isn't terrible considering I am also providing for our son who is not a child. He's a grown man just out of college and working. He carry's all his lunches with him which is more like dinner since he works afternoons and evening. He gets one year of free room and board so I'm happy to have something for him every day. We also have MIL over every Sunday and I make a decent meal while she's there since she is normally alone and doesn't cook much anymore.

    Since I am so well stocked in my pantry and freezer, I hope the next few months will be lower. We drink a lot of smoothies and we use a green (which aren't terribly costly), grapes (which are terribly expensive) and a fruit like a mango or orange or peach. Then we add in dates (those are expensive but we only use 3 for each smoothie), chia seeds, cooked oatmeal, and peanut butter. I had stocked up on a lot of PB but that's almost gone. But in exchange we don't eat so many eggs anymore for breakfast and not so much bread either. I guess we're balancing those costs out. I got some of the smoothie ingredients at the Amish bulk store so I have a lot of that left.


    1. Hi Alice,
      That Amish store sounds like a real gem. I'm glad that you have that close enough to stock up on some items every once in a while. Your smoothies sound delicious!
      Have a great day, Alice.

  2. Those are some great prices on your Aug 31 shopping trip. The refried beans are an especially good deal. The regular price of a one pound bag of beans is closer to $1.50 than $1.00 now, so that is a great price.

    You did a good job on your budget, even having a small surplus. You do a great job of keeping track of your grocery items. I could do much better in this department for sure. I hope you have a great day and a great week. :)

    1. Hi Belinda,
      thank you! I hope your week is off to a fantastic start!

  3. That's an unbelievable price on milk. Was it about to expire?

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I know. I'm not likely to ever see a price like that again. The milk was 4 days before the sell-by date. I froze all that we couldn't use within those days, and am now thawing it out as needed. It looked like they had a lot of jugs with that sell-by date, more than I knew I could freeze. So I hope lots of other folks were able to save a bundle like I did.
      Have a great day, live and learn!

  4. I also noticed the milk price. Wow! Amazing!

    I have had to stock up on clothing for my kids--they seem to keep growing--so I feel like we aren't terribly frugal around here right now. Good thing the food budget is an easy place to trim expenses.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I know -- even for milk about to reach it's sell-by date I think 49 cents/gallon is a steal. I suppose I did the store a favor of "disposing" it for them.

      Your kids are in that phase. It always seems to be more severe with the boys, and their pants/jeans. But you are clever and frugal, so I bet that you are one step ahead of their growth spurts!
      Have a great day, Kris!

  5. As always, you get so much for your money! I love reading these posts. Thanks for taking the time to do them.

    1. Hi Cat,
      I try, but I've also found that it is getting harder and harder to spend so little. Food was relatively more affordable in the 90s and 00s, for our family at least.
      I'm glad you enjoy the posts. Have a wonderful day, Cat!


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