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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February 2018 Grocery Journal

A new month, a new budget. I have $158.18 in the grocery budget for February. It's a short month, so that should help.

Feb. 3. Saturday mornings have become a time for one daughter and I to do a little grocery shopping. She chooses foods that she wants to eat for the weekend, and I pick up foods for my other daughter for her to make quick lunches. (The other daughter has been busy on Saturdays, in rehearsals, so I pick foods for her.) Fred Meyer is my low-cost option. What I bought this week -- 3 marked down apples ($1), 6 bananas (49 cents/lb), 1 small bunch celery (99 cents/lb), 3 lbs onions ($1.49), 1 green pepper (79 cents), 1 English cucumber (69 cents), 1 box of granola bars ($2.19), 1 loaf of whole wheat bread ($1.50), about 5.5 lbs of petite sirloin steak, beef ($2.97/lb), 2 regular yogurts (40 cents each), 2 soy yogurts ($1.39/each), 1 lb box of strawberries ($1.97), 1 gallon milk ($2.59), 1 package hot dogs (89 cents). I also bought a marked down individual spinach, bacon, cranberry, parmesan salad bowl for $1.99 -- my lunch after shopping. Tuesday will be Senior Discount Day, so I didn't want to buy a whole lot today, just enough to get through a few days. Total spent today -- $37.05

Feb. 6. Senior Discount Day at Fred Meyer. I bought 3 lb container vegetable shortening (4.47), 3 jars peanut butter (1.61 ea), organic raspberry spread (3.17), 2 large jars applesauce (1.79 ea), 2 cans tuna (72 cents ea), 3 half gallons milk (89 cents ea), half gallon soy milk (2.25), 2 frozen orange juice concentrate, 12 oz (1.34 ea), 24 oz string cheese(4.49), 4 8-oz bricks sharp cheddar (1.50 ea), 5 lbs carrots (2.69), 3 lbs onions (1.49), marked down onion, 1/2 lb (10 cents), 2 marked down avocados (45 cents ea), 2 yams (99 cents/lb), 2 English cucumbers (69 cents ea), bundle celery (99 cents/lb), 1 lb tofu (1.52), 5 soy yogurts (1.25 ea), 12 yogurts (36 cents ea), 2 boxes whole wheat saltines (1.35 ea), box graham crackers (1.79), box granola bars (2.06), 2 packs ramen soup (25 cents ea), 2 packs flour tortillas (89 cents ea), 5 oz bag cooked bacon bits for salads (2.18), 2 14-oz chicken Polish sausage (2.49/ea), 2 18-ct eggs (1.87 ea), 5 lbs potatoes (1.59), turkey bacon (2.24), 1/4 lb dried blueberries (3.10), .11 lb pepita seeds (67 cents), .12 lb dried cranberries (44 cents), 3 marked down apples (66 cents/lb), bag of spinach (1.79), large bag salad kit(3.79), 3 marked down bananas (39 cents/lb), marked down meat, cheese, veggie and dip tray (5.39), whole wheat hot dog buns (1.12), 5 loaves whole wheat bread (1.35 ea). Total spent --$106.67

Total spent for the month, so far -- $143.72

I think that we're pretty well set for the month. I'll make one more stop at Fred Meyer later in the month, hopefully spending $20, to pick up produce and whatever else my daughter wants for weekends. I think the milk, bread, cheese and egg situation is good for the month. Those are staples that I need to keep on hand. If a great sale on another regularly-used item comes up, then I will spend more and go over budget. But that can't be helped, if it's something I need.

Feb.10. One-day sale on butter at Fred Meyer, $1.99/lb, limit 5 lbs (w/ coupon). I buy my 5, and 3 loaves of bread, marked down to 79 cents/loaf, package of 2 donuts, marked down to 49 cents total, 3 marked down apples (about 66 cents/lb), a large jar of salsa (2.50), 1 Clif bar for my daughter (1.25) and my freebies for the week of a 2-pack of aluminum foil baking trays and 1 box of Valentine's candy hearts. Total spent $17.56

The butter sale came at just the right moment, as we had run out of butter earlier in the week. Unfortunately, this was a one-day, limit 5 per household, with downloadable coupon type of sale. No wiggle room for buying any more than the limit. Provided we don't do a lot of baking, I think we can make this stretch for 2 months. The salsa and Clif bar were items that I could have picked up on Tuesday, and received a discount, but I forgot them. I would have saved 38 cents if I had remembered. Oh well. I can't fix that now. The package of 2 donuts will be divided into 4 portions for Sunday or Monday's breakfast. A fun treat, and only 25 cents per donut.

Total spent so far -- $161.28

Feb. 14. Valentine's Day. Went to Fred Meyer to pick up some asparagus ($1.67/lb), mushrooms $1.89/lb) and strawberries ($3.49/lb) for the special day.  I'll use steaks from earlier this month, and shrimp from the freezer (bought in December), potatoes, and bake a small cheesecake for tonight's special dinner.
Spent today --$7.23

Feb. 21. Last shopping of the month. I bought 1 box of 8 donuts on markdown (99 cents), 4 individual yogurts on markdown (19 cents each), 3 lbs of strawberries ($5 for 3 boxes), 3 marked down apples (about 66cents/lb), 3 bananas (49 cents/lb), almost a quart of soy yogurt ($6.49), 1 Hershey's candy bar (freebie). Total spent -- $14.75

Total for the month -- $183.26

I've added information on what I buy from markdown racks to the list below, after such items. I add this to show how I shop, in a sense.

  • When I first enter the grocery store I head straight for the markdown produce rack. The rack is filled early to mid-morning every day, and is reloaded throughout the morning. I plan shopping for that time period. I always find something I want on the rack. 
  • In addition, there is packaged produce in the cooler/sprayed area, like bags of salad, veggie trays, mushrooms that are marked down in their regular area of the store. Those items are more hit and miss. 
  • After checking the marked down produce, I next head to the milk, bakery, and general merchandise marked down racks (all adjacent to one another).  
  • After markdowns, I check for the freebie of the week (often limited amounts available).This does mean a little extra leg work, as I survey all of the marked down racks/areas, and freebie items before buying the rest of the groceries. The marked-down produce makes fresh produce in winter affordable for our budget. 
  • When I have finished my shopping, I circle back to the produce department to see if the produce markdowns have been reloaded. They often have been. 
  • At Fred Meyer, I find better prices on meat as loss leaders, than on markdown. But I do know that many other stores have great prices on marked down meat.

For the time being, we are feeding 3.5 people almost all meals per week. One family member is receiving about half the week's meals in a treatment program for an illness. I don't have a lot of time for chasing sales right now, and less time/energy to cook from scratch. My garden is dormant, and I preserved extraordinarily little from last years garden (some herbs, blackberries, and 2 pumpkins). I had some meat in the freezer and staples in the pantry from fall shopping, but no large stashes of canned goods.So, what I am buying this winter is a good indication of what we are living off. I've splurged on several occasions. It's just been that sort of month. I went over my budgeted amount by $25.08. March should bring us closer to the $200/month allotment.

What I Bought:

2 packages hot dogs
5.5 lbs beef steaks
2 large "ropes" Polish sausage
1 package turkey bacon
2 cans tuna
container cooked bacon bits

Dairy Case
2.5 gallons milk
25 individual containers yogurt (4 marked down)
not quite qt of soy yogurt
1 lb tofu
2.5 lbs cheddar
1.5 lbs string cheese
1/2 gallon soy milk
3 dozen eggs
5 lbs butter

5 lbs strawberries
2 bunches celery
1 green pepper
3 cucumber
12 apples (markdown rack)
12 bananas (3 markdown rack)
1 single serving salad (markdown rack)
6.5 lbs. onions (1/2 lb markdown rack)
2 large jars applesauce
2 cans orange juice concentrate (enough for 98 oz juice)
2 avocados (markdown rack)
2 yams
5 lbs potatoes
dried blueberries
dried cranberries
bag of baby spinach
large bag of salad kit
large meat, cheese, veggie and dip tray (markdown rack)
1 lb mushrooms (markdown rack)
1.12 lbs asparagus

2 boxes granola bars
9 loaves bread (3 markdown rack)
1 package hot dog buns
2 boxes whole wheat crackers
1 box graham crackers
20 flour tortillas
vegetable shortening
3 jars peanut butter
1 jar raspberry spread
2 packs ramen soup
pepita seeds
1 package Valentine's candy (freebie)
1 Clif bar
2 donuts (markdown rack)
jar of salsa
1 box of 8 donuts (marked down)
1 Hershey candy bar (freebie)


  1. Hmm, no luck posting a comment in Firefox, time to try Chrome. Anyway--good to hear from you again. I recently read an article in Reader's Digest about how to save on groceries. You could have written it! I already do all of their suggestions, thanks in large part to what I have learned from you and other frugal bloggers over the years.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Sorry about the trouble with firefox and posting comments. I mostly use Chrome, but for some needs I use Safari.
      Are you one of those readers who can't resist an article in a magazine on saving money? The lure of the cover headlines, right? Gets to me, too, every time. Even if I already know some of the information I still like reading it.
      Have a great day, Kris!
      (Thanks for the compliment, BTW!)

    2. Yes, I seem to have a magnetic attraction for articles about reading money as well as articles about healthy living. Sometimes the affirmation that I am on the right path is good. :)

      Firefox is the browser I have to use to open my work email at home but it doesn't work as well as Chrome in other settings.

      Enjoying springlike weather before we are back to winter tomorrow!

    3. Oh no, more winter. Our winters are different here, but I still don't care much for them. Bring on spring!

  2. Hey, there, Lili, my dear!

    Another good month. You're my frugal hero! :)

    We know it's hard to juggle these household responsibilities when there is trouble or illness in the family, but usually even more important. Sigh.

    I loved your "grocery store tour" strategy explanation. I especially liked the tip about rechecking the produce mark-downs.

    Our saving grace for grocery savings lately has been focusing on nutrient-dense ingredients, and keeping menus very simple (some would say "repetitive" -- giggle). No frills, but there's a lot of wholesome, tasty stuff you can make from the same 2 dozen items over and over, mix-and-match. :)

    Hang in there, my friend! Hugs-- Sara

    1. HI Sara,
      Your strategy of using the same basic ingredients in different ways is a lot like ours. It works, and a little repetition doesn't hurt. There will be time later, for you and I both, to have more variety.
      Good to "see" you here, today. I hope all is well with you.

  3. Good to hear from you! Great job as always on the grocery shopping and keeping it inexpensive. I'm sorry to hear someone has been unwell.

    I've changed my grocery strategy a bit the last several weeks and have been able to keep our numbers lower, too. Not as low as yours but that's to be expected feeding seven, I suppose. Hoping you have a better month in March!

    1. Hi Cat,
      Good job finding a way to keep your grocery costs down, too!
      Thank you for the kind thoughts. Things are improving in many areas.
      Nice to hear from you, as well! have a great weekend, Cat!


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