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Monday, March 5, 2018

Keeping a monthly log of what I buy is a money and time-saver

So, this month, this is how I have changed things just a little bit and I believe I will save both money and time.

Taking the most advantage of Senior Discount Day
I copied and pasted my "what I bought" section from February's journal into a Word document. Then, I went through the list, item by item, determining if I bought too much, too little, or just the right amount of each item. For the items that I buy at Fred Meyer, if they are house-brand, I save 10% if I buy them on the first Tuesday of the month. If I don't buy enough of the item, then I find myself back at the store paying that 10% extra. So, after going through my list, I adjusted the amounts accordingly, so that I can buy closer to the right amount, and take advantage of sales and discounts on specific items. Here's an example, I save 10% on soy yogurt at Fred Meyer on Senior Discount day. Soy yogurt is expensive stuff, so that can add up to a couple of dollars of savings if I buy enough to get through the entire month. On Senior Discount day in February, I did buy some soy yogurt, but not nearly enough to get through till March. I subsequently bought more at the full price. Misjudging how much I would want cost me 93 cents.

Comparing prices between what I paid this past month and Cash & Carry's online info 
After adjusting amounts (and deleting any items that I don't want for March), I used my price paid info for Fred Meyer in my journal and the product/price search on Cash & Carry's website to see which store sold each product at the best price. Cash & Carry is not always the best-price store, even when buying in institutional sizes. I noted on my list where I would be buying each item. My list now entails 1 stop at Cash & Carry, 1 stop at Fred Meyer, and 1 stop at Dollar Tree.

By doing just these two things, adjusting amounts to what we actually need for the month, and sourcing the better store for each item, it looks like I will save about $10. This is on top of savings that I already realize each month through sticking to a mostly "basics" shopping list, and shopping at the low-cost stores and shopping loss-leaders.

Saving time making my list
The time-saving aspect is that 80% of my list was generated by my previous grocery journal. The other 20% will be items which come up on sale in March, and the few items of which we completely ran out. How simple is that for making out a shopping list -- cut/paste into a Word doc -- easy-peasy done.

I made my stop at Cash & Carry, as they had items on sale through yesterday that I wanted to be sure to pick up. Tomorrow is Senior Discount Day at Fred Meyer. My list is long, but at least I am organized. Up and out early it shall be!


  1. I am also re-thinking how I buy things and even where I buy things. Aldi will have to be the place I go for dairy, cereal and just about everything food related except meat. I find their meat to be very expensive. Then we move on to Daily Deals which is a discount store. They buy overages from other grocery stores and sell at reduce prices. They don't have everything like a grocery store would have but they do have a lot of deli meats and cheeses, frozen ground beef and sausage and lots of other frozen items. After this store we go to Save A Lot where we get most of our reduced priced meat. With these three stores, we get almost everything we need except shampoo, cat food, and few other things that these stores won't carry. That's when we hit the big store like Meijer. I get way more groceries at the smaller stores than I would get at the big store for the same amount of money. As a result, my freezer is packed to the brim when the goal was to eat from the freezer during the winter. It's a nice problem to have. For February I was somewhere around $400 so that wasn't too bad knowing that a lot of the purchases weren't used in February.


    1. Hi Alice,
      There's a chain in the west called Grocery Outlet that sounds like Daily Deals. I used to shop there often, but the convenient one closed, so I have to drive further.
      That's so nice that your freezer is so well stocked. It must be such a good feeling. Have a great day, Alice!

  2. Anything that makes things easier is a good thing. We are mostly Aldi's shoppers with Costco thrown in for a few things. Every once in a while we go to other stores for an ingredient we can't get at Aldi's which has a limited selection. We may not be getting the absolute best deal on everything, but we average out pretty well. We also try hard to limit our food waste which helps.

    Hope shopping is successful with your new system, Lili.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Now that your kids are grown, do you still find that Costco is a good deal, with the cost of membership? Do you find a lot that you want to buy there? I have been on the fence for years about Costco. They opened a new one closer to us, so I keep thinking about it.

      The good thing about my shopping today was that I don't think that I forgot anything that we needed, unlike other months. Have a great day, live and learn!

  3. I like this way of shopping, Lili. I need to do that myself.

    1. Hi Belinda,
      It did really simplify my planning for shopping. I wasn't guessing how much to buy to get through the month. We'll see if it all works out by the end of March.
      Have a great day, Belinda!

  4. I envy all of you. I live in a small town out in the middle of nowhere. I only have one grocery store and they are expensive even with their sales. I have a Dollar General and a Shopko Hometown Store but both of those have a very limited selection of food items. And to get to a Wal-Mart or Dollar Tree I have to drive 100 miles.
    I spend about $200 a month on my groceries for one person and then I consider myself lucky.
    I have been debating on whether I should update my price book and whether I should keep an exact list of the food and its cost for a few months. Guess there is no time like now. It should be an interesting few months.

    1. Hi Susan,
      I was talking with someone about food deserts last week. While your area would probably not quite be considered a FD, you do have limited choices for shopping, and higher prices. Very difficult if on a fixed income. Updating your price book sounds like a good project for these months when it's too chilly to spend much time outdoors. You might find something helpful in the process.
      Have a great day, Susan!

  5. I really like the idea of keeping track of how much your family goes through of each item. I'm trying to get better about this & even trying to implement at church, where I have to keep track of communion supplies. If I know how much we go through in a Sunday, it's a lot easier to decide how much & when to reorder! Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      I am hoping that this will save me extra trips to the store, and a bit of money. I did spend a lot today, but I think between the 2 stores I got the best price per unit on nearly everything I bought. (I did buy cabbage and some bananas at more per pound at Cash & Carry, just so we could get through the weekend. I could have saved even more money if I was willing to drive to WinCo this week. It's out of my way, so I'll do that just before Easter.) I have hidden away some of the duplicates of items, so we don't eat them all in the first week! Good luck with your own tracking. You may find it helpful. Have a great day, Melissa!


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