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Monday, November 4, 2019

November's Rather Loose Grocery Plans (and What I've Bought Already)

Ending October, we were $11.36 over our grocery budget. I now have a base budget of $135 per month. In addition, I've decided that we'll take a small amount of money from January and February's grocery budgets to use in November and December, a total of $60 to be used at any point in November and December. January and February are notorious for few and far-between grocery sales. Spending some of those month's budgets in the months where there actually are a lot of sales just makes sense. And, I have a $10 budget for Thanksgiving dinner. So, for the month of November, I have at minimum $163.64, but up to $193.64 (should I choose to spend all of the "borrowed" $60 this month.) Because I am borrowing from a future month, I want to make sure that I buy almost all basic foods (so we don't gobble everything up, but have some foods leftover going into the new year), with just a few treat foods.

The exact items and their amounts are rather loose this month, as it is too early to know which items will be advertised on sale and what their prices will be. As a result, my list and the pricing is vague for some items.

My November shopping began on the 1st, as this is the day of our local produce stand's annual clearance sale. Friday morning, I got myself out of the house by 8 AM. No shower, no breakfast. just downed a cup of coffee, got dressed, grabbed my boxes and left. I've learned that if I want a good selection and the space in which to make my choices, I need to get there as close to 8 AM as I can. And once again, this proved true. There were already 5 or 6 other shoppers when I pulled into the parking lot. This is a produce stand, so it was very cold at this early hour, so cold that I wore mittens as I was choosing apples and squash. The fact that another 5 or 6 shoppers got there before I did shows the kind of dedication these shoppers have. Anyway, by the time I checked out, the stand was mobbed with people.

This is what I bought for $26.64:
about 16 pounds of apples, mostly yellow delicious (33 cents/lb) with some fuji (50 cents/lb).
4 heads of garlic (50 cents each for large heads)
7.26 pounds of yams (79 cents/lb)
about 36 pounds of winter squash, some butternut (39 cents/lb), some banana (33 cents/pound), and some Red Kuri Hubbard squash (33 cents/lb)

That's about 60 pounds of produce at less than 50 cents per pound.

So, now for the rest of November's list.

Walmart 28.83
Great Value pumpkin 15 oz, 78 cents (18 cans) 14.04
Great Value decaf coffee, 3.57 (2) 7.14
Great Value solid shortening, 2.98
Great Value garlic powder, 98 cents
Great Value frozen orange juice, 1.23 (3) 3.69

Fred Meyer 38.21 Senior Shopping Day on 11/5
4 gals milk 1.79 (limit 4) 7.16
Kroger cream cheese 90 cents (10) 9.00
Kroger butter, 16 oz. 2.25 (8) 18.00 (don't know if there's a limit, it's not listed in the online ad)
Kroger Powdered Sugar, 32 oz 1.35 (3) 4.05

Dollar Tree $2
1 qt. soy milk, $1
1 box crackers, $1

WinCo around $29.05
canned veggies if price is around 39 cents/can, a couple of cases of mostly green beans and some corn, around $9.50
mini marshmallows, 98 cents
pecan pieces, $3 worth
chocolate chips (3)
coconut (1)
sparkling cider, $2
5 dozen eggs, about $5.25
powdered milk, about $2

Cash & Carry 17.45
First Street lentils, 25-lb bag, $17.45 (works out to 69 cents/lb)

Will also need/want:
1 additional gallon of milk, $2
russet potatoes, 40 pounds, $6.00
celery, about $2
whole turkey, around $12-$14, depending on deal
6-8 cans of cream of mushroom soup, about $3

The total for all of the above comes to $167.18 to $169.18.

Second Senior Shopping Day at Fred Meyer (Nov.12) $16.15
Kroger eggs, 18-ct., 1.35 (6)
Smidge & Spoon granulated sugar, 4-lb, 1.61 (5)

Albertsons 3.56
1/2-gallon milk, 89 cents w/coupon (limit 4)

New total -- $186.89 to $188.89

I noted that butter is on sale at Fred Meyer this week through Tuesday, yet there is no limit announced in the online ad. If I'm allowed, I will buy 8 pounds. If there's a limit, then I will have additional money to spend on other bargains this month. Also, I don't know what WinCo's canned veggie sale is this year. Two years ago, the price per can was 39 cents. Last year, the price was 49 cents/can. I can buy Great Value brand canned green beans or corn for 50 cents/14.5 oz can, or 96 cents for the 28 to 29-oz can ( about 48 to 49 cents for 14.5 oz.) At WinCo, I'm hoping to find a price per 14.5-oz can that beats Walmart's price. I will hold off on picking up the lentils at Cash & Carry until the very end of the month, just in case I find another deal on something else. I'm thinking that $17.45 could go a long way toward other deals.

I would say that for the most part, I'm pretty responsible about pre-spending or borrowing from future month's budgets. I rarely buy treats with borrowed money, unless there is a birthday or other special occasion for a person or couple of people. Still, I don't like to do this on the regular, as I feel it could be one of those proverbial slippery slopes. How do you feel about borrowing from the budget of a future month? Is this something that you're comfortable with, or do you always stick to a set amount without going over? what's on your grocery list for this month?

For readers in the PNW, is updating its site with the latest in turkey deals for the area.  Plus, the same site has an updated article for how to spot a good price on this year's turkey. That article doesn't look like its been updated (the time stamp still says 2018), but it has been, as you'll see when you read further into the text.


  1. If you are disciplined about borrowing from the future like you are, I think it works okay. In fact, I don't know how you could get more disciplined than you are. And smart about it all. It's all about averages.

    I know that you very carefully budget for all of your expenses including planning for future things that might show up. And that you've decided that the food budget is where you think you can have the most impact on reducing expenses. However, do you ever borrow or take from category to category? How often do you reevaluate the total picture to see how you want to allocate your income?

  2. Ah yes, we are in the season of sales. Chocolate chips at Aldi are $1.29/package so I bought 4. In the past, these sales have extended through Christmas, but sometimes I am surprised so I thought I'd buy ahead. I do a lot of baking for church/teen events and I like to keep chocolate chips on hand. Glad to see you are taking advantage of the savings now--I think you are smart, especially since you are buying staples, not goodies.

  3. Hi Live and Learn,
    We have had to take from other categories before. Most of the time, we borrow from our long term savings. These instances are for the large, unplanned necessary spending that go beyond what we have set aside for specific categories, such as our very high medical expenses the past 2 years, car repairs, and furnace/water heater repairs/replacements. When we do borrow in this way, we then work hard to repay ourselves. Otherwise, we'd deplete our long term savings and be unable to live well in the years that we won't be able to physically work. I would rather feel "poor" now than feel "poor" when I'm 90. And I reevaluate how much is allocated for each category every month as I set up the next month's budget. I make small changes, to see if we can handle them. If we can, then the next month I make another small change. We're doing okay. I just have to be careful most of the time so we can afford the things that matter most to us.
    Have a great day, Live and Learn.

  4. Hi Kris,
    That is an awesome price on chocolate chips. I'd buy several packages at that price, too! I'm hoping for $1.78/package at WinCo. I bake for our church every couple of months. I don't bake as much as I used to for our family, though. I don't think I enjoy baking as much as I used to. Maybe I'm just burnt out.

    This next Sunday is my week to bring treats again. I'm trying to think of something non-sweet to bring that fits with what I have on hand. We go to a later service that ends around noon. I think it would be nice to have something non-sweet in addition to the usual cookies. Any suggestions? For protein, we have chicken, ground beef, shredded cheese, cream cheese, eggs, and raw almonds. I have several types of pasta, and brown rice, as well as flours and oats. I have canned tomato products and pumpkin, plus fresh squash, apples, and oranges. I'm thinking there might be some sort of entree that I could make as appetizer portions, or maybe some sort of savory snack. Suggestions welcome.

  5. Pumpkin bread mini muffins could be a nice brunch item. How about ham balls or small meatballs without a lot of sauce with a toothpick in each one? Or do mini muffin quiches.

    I hope not to have a turkey this year. I prefer chicken and we have a lot of that in the freezer. Our expenses for Oct. were a bit higher than I would have liked. Mostly from needing food after having missed most of Sept. and needing to restock and then buying a few things specifically for my low carb food. We also bought some meat on sale that is for use during the winter month that we put in the freezer.

    I'm also not buying a lot of baking items since I really need to give that up now. I will make my husband once in a great while but the risk is too great to nibble if I make it for events. I have so much pasta in the pantry from my Amish store run this summer and now I can't eat it but I will still make things for the kids when they come home. No potatoes unless I am planning a roast or something for when family comes. It is working but I do miss my mashed potatoes and bowls of rice!

    I have a wonderful jello that will be made often as it is low carb and sugar free. My husband even likes it even though he doesn't eat jello (too many hospital stays with too many servings of jello!) but he will eat this jello that I make.


  6. Didn't you serve a smooth soup in small glasses for one of your parties? Would that work, or is it too fussy? I was also wondering about cheese straws. I've never made them but they look easy. They do use a lot of butter but I did find an oil-based version here, although there were no ratings:
    I'll try to put on my thinking cap and come up with more. Do you have any russet potatoes? I've heard of people making nachos out of them.

  7. Sigh. That was me, Kris. Again. I blame my cat who is laying on my arm while I try to type.

  8. How about mini-crepes? You could pre-make the crepes and stuff them with whatever sounds good, sweet or savory.

  9. Hi Alice,
    I love your ideas. The pumpkin mini muffins are a possibility, as are small meatballs. No ham yet. Thank you for the suggestions!
    I prefer chicken over turkey, myself. But it is nice to cook a large turkey and have all of that meat leftover. For mashed potatoes, could you substitute cauliflower for part or all of the potatoes? What's your jello?
    Have a good evening, Alice.

  10. Hi Kris,
    My mom used to make cheese straws. I made them once, but don't remember if they turned out as good as my mother's or not. That's a possibility! I also like the idea of bringing soup as well as mini crepes. No potatoes yet. Thank you for your suggestions, Kris! I'm also thinking mini cream puffs filled with chicken salad. A lot of this depends on how much work I want to do on Saturday.Thanks for your ideas. Yours and Alice's are very helpful.
    Have a great evening, Kris!

  11. Biscuit bombs seem to be the hip thing in most recent Pillsbury emails. It’s basically a hot pocket with biscuit dough as the pastry shell. Easy to eat in social situations and you could fill them any number of ways. Chicken with a basic red sauce and pinch of mozzarella would make killer mini chicken parm-ish calzones. Maybe mushroom and peppers for a vegetarian version.

  12. Lili,

    For the jello, I make a sugar free raspberry jello with crushed strawberries made according the directions. Let it set. Then I whip up sugar free vanilla pudding and put in about 1/2 a container of "light" whipped cream and gently mix it together. Put that over top of the jello. It is so good and my husband will eat this. Yes, I use raspberry jello with strawberries because it's what I had on hand and that is a very good combination. But you can use whatever jello/fruit combo your family likes. I think I might just use a little bit less water in the jello as well as a little bit less milk in the pudding to make a thicker jello. Basically it is an almost sugar free dessert and very light on carbs.

  13. Hi Vanessa,
    Your hot pocket idea sounds wonderful. I could do an empanada dough to stuff, possibly. Hmmm. I'll think on this. Thank you for the suggestion, Vanessa.

  14. Hi Alice,
    That jello/pudding combo sounds delicious. What a yummy thing to have that is low-carb. Many years ago, I bought a Weight Watchers mix for sugar-free chocolate mousse that was very tasty. It was Easter and one of our guests was diabetic. This was a huge hit with all of us, so much so that I would sometimes buy that mix just for my family.
    Thank you for sharing your low-carb dessert recipe!


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