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Monday, December 2, 2019

My Grocery Shopping Plans for December

For  November, I had a loose budget of $163.64 to $193.64 allocated for groceries. I spent $156.96. At the beginning of November, I decided to borrow $30 each from January's and February's grocery budgets, to cover holiday expenses for November and December. (I spend less in January and February, as there are far fewer special deals and no significant holidays that call for extra grocery spending.) With that in mind, I have $171.68 to spend for December's groceries.

I don't know about you, but our refrigerator and freezer is overflowing with food. There is little room to store any new purchases and few needs. I will buy some seasonal items plus a few basics to get through the month. In addition, I'll watch for deals and promotions throughout the month.

Our garden is still giving us a very small amount of produce, kale, radish greens, sorrel. However, I expect that will slow to an end over the next week or two. We also have our indoor sprouts and microgreens plus lots of squash and pumpkin.

With a dwindling garden and a small grocery budget, I'm looking for the less-expensive produce. In winter, that means lots of fresh cabbage, onions, carrots, avocados, and oranges, supplemented with some canned vegetables, such as green beans and tomatoes. I did not find any stellar deals on canned veggies before Thanksgiving. However, this week, Fred Meyer has the Kroger 4-packs of canned veggies for $1.99, or $1.79 with my Senior discount, working out to 44 cents per can. I'll be stocking up on canned green beans and corn at that price.

For meat, we have leftover turkey, chicken leg quarters, ground beef, canned tuna, and a small amount of smoked salmon in the freezers and pantry. The only meat that I'll be buying this month

Fred Meyer Senior Discount Day ($41.19)
milk, 4 gallons 2 %, 1 gallon whole, 2.06 each (10.30)
coffee, 2.69
canned green beans, Kroger 4-pack, 1.79, 10 (17.90)
canned corn, Kroger 4-pack, 1.79, 4 (7.16)
bacon, 16-oz, 3.14

Cash & Carry/Smart Foodservice ($49.26)
mozzarella cheese, 5-lb, 11.97
carrots, 10 lb, 4.55
cabbage, 2 heads, 1.65 each (3.30)
lentils, 25-lb, 17.45
all-purpose flour, 50-lb, 11.99

Walmart ($10.64)
decaf coffee, 2, 3.57 (7.14)
6 avocados, 50 cents ea (3.00)
1 bell pepper, 50 cents

Bartell Drugs ($16.98)
mixed nuts, Imperial, $2.50/14 oz, 6 cans (15.00)
almond milk, qt, 99 cents, 2 (1.98)

In addition, I'll be buying the following items later in the month, seeking out the best deals:

1 bag of tangerines
case of oranges
half ham

So far, I've allocated $118.07. I expect with the above additions, my spending will rise to about $150 to $155. This still allows close to $20 for any special deals, extra milk, or holiday foods. 

If this looks like a meager list for a holiday month, keep in mind that I have some special items tucked away for making special meals and treats, such as canned pineapple, fruitcake fruit and whole almonds (for a loaf of holiday bread), and a couple of types of juice to go with our Christmas breakfast, dark, milk, and white chocolate chips, plus marshmallows, nuts, candy canes, food coloring, sprinkles, and peanut butter for baking and candy-making, some Christmas candy bought last year on clearance, ingredients for homemade cocoa mix, and lots of spices and flavorings. Those commercial cookies, sweet breads, cakes, and pies all look very tempting in the stores. However, with some effort, I can make a variation on most of what is found in shops right at home in my own kitchen.

That's what is on my shopping list. Are there any special items on your list for the month?


  1. Beautiful job planning, Lili!

    I also have a very full freezer but we do need some refrigerator items. We have everything we need in terms of meats, frozen veggies and other items in the deep freezer. We will need to do some fresh items in the next 3 to 4 days.

    It has become winter here and that means we pull out the crockpot for soups, stews and things like that. Thankfully, putting a crock pot meals means very little planning and just throw it together!

    Today we have a similar meal as a 7 can soup but mine won't have all kinds of cans. Instead it has homemade beans, frozen veggies and no velveeta cheese but maybe cream cheese or just sour cream. A second crockpot has chicken in it mostly for my hubby who can't have beans, corn, etc.

    We were gone for a long weekend this Thanksgiving weekend to our daughter and son-in-law and helped them finally move into their house. Glad to be back home again.


  2. I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Like Alice, it was good to see family but I'm glad to be home. Now I need to work on Christmas decorating!

    I'm not sure we do a lot of extra spending for food for Christmas--I've been snapping up the chocolate chips on sale at Aldi and last week I bought butter, but some of that is intended to last through much of the year, not just this month. We will buy a ham and I will probably pick up eggnog at some point. I bought pecans today in anticipation of making your spiced nuts again, Lili. They are SO good (but addictive .... ).

    I have a lot of my Christmas shopping done--no, I'm not a Black Friday shopper--I dislike the crowds in the stores so I try to be on the ball and get the bulk of it done before Thanksgiving.

    Happy Monday!

  3. Hi Alice,
    It sounds like you had a nice Thanksgiving weekend with your daughter and SIL. That's wonderful!
    It sounds like you have a couple of crockpots. Do you have 2 full-sized ones? I hadn't thought to have more than one full-sized one, but I can see how beneficial another one could be. There have been times when one was in use and we'd wanted to start another soup or dish, but had to wait until we emptied the one.
    Have a great day, Alice!

  4. For anyone, here, who prays regularly, please say a prayer for Ruthie, one of our blog friends here. She was in an accident the other day and is recovering. She suffered whiplash and a bruised sternum, so I imagine she has some pain.

  5. Hi Kris,
    I'm glad that you had a good time visiting family over the holiday weekend. It's good to see those who live far away, even if only for a few days.
    I'm getting there with the gift-shopping. I did a small amount on Black Friday, simply because we were out anyway. One of our local stores offers donuts, coffee, and juice early on Black Friday, so our family uses this for a free breakfast. We check out the deals while we're there. I'll be working on decorating the house this week, doing it one small bit at a time.
    We'll make eggnog again (using this recipe). It's pretty easy to make. The only caveat is it doesn't keep a long time like commercial eggnog does. That's okay with us.
    I'm glad that you like the spiced nuts. I bought some mixed nuts yesterday to make into the spiced nuts to use for gifts and ourselves.
    Have a great day, Kris.

  6. So sorry to hear about Ruthie. Thanks for keeping us posted.

    Lili, I have 2 crockpots and I find it to be helpful even for the four of us. Actually, I now have 3 as I have inherited my mom's old one. I'm saving it for when my kids get an apartment and need an easy means for meals.

  7. Lili,

    We have my old college crockpot mom bought for me so thats mmmmm, hmmm, 37 years old. It's only a 3 quart and used it for raising my family. A couple years ago, Goodwill had a small (perhaps 2 quart?) that I bought for $1. The crock had a small chip on the handle part and it was underneath so it didn't interfere with any cooking. We use that for small things. I've thought of upgrading my old one but it still works so I'll keep using it. Don't fix what's not broken, right?

    Prayers to Ruthie.


  8. Hi Kris and Alice,
    that's interesting that you both have multiple crockpots. I guess I'd always thought of crockpots like I do other small appliances, such as you only have 1 toaster or 1 blender. I'm going to rethink this and keep checking thrift shops for good condition crockpots.
    Thanks, both of you, for your input!

  9. Making my grocery list this morning, though not for the month. We are trying to eat down the freezer, but planning to pick up some of the great sales on chocolate chips and so forth, and hoping butter is still priced lower at Aldi as I need to stock up. Heading on a couple more backpacking trips this month, so trying to set my family up to eat at home while I'm gone.

    As for the crockpot/slow cooker discussion, I've generally always had two the past many years, until the past few years, when I now have just one slow cooker but two Instant Pots (one IP brand and one Wise brand), aka electric pressure cookers. The IPs have a slow cook feature. My older two slow cookers both broke (one) or quit (one, which had been my grandmother's for many years prior to my owning it) within months of each other. I found, with the kids getting bigger, that a 7 quart one was a better fit for our family. Then, first purchased a 6 quart IP, but it's a bit small for family meals, so we added the 8 quart Wise brand. That's better for our family size, but I still use the smaller one for making something such as a smaller batch of soup or broth. Also, both with the slow cookers and the IPs, it has been nice to have two because I make broth from chicken bones quite often, and it's nice to be able to get a meal going even while that's cooking.

  10. Hi Cat,
    clearly I have been missing out on the benefits of multiple crockpots and instant pots! This is good to know.

    I hope you enjoy your backpacking trips later this month. they sound like great fun and very challenging. I like pushing myself, so this is something that would appeal to me. Do you find that your family is more inclined to not eat as well when you're not there and you haven't left enough healthy prepared stuff for them?

    Good luck with the sales on butter and other baking items!

  11. Lili,

    Yes, if I don't have some things lined up, my family will tend to eat out more, which isn't good for the budget. My husband is willing to make simple things, but he's not much of a cook. For my last longer trip, I purchased more ready-made type things than some times, not the least expensive option ever but a small fraction of eating out with our size family. Even getting JUST tacos to go from the big chain is now a $28 expense (no drinks, just 24 tacos) for this crew. So a $6 meal of potpies seems reasonable. Or a meal of Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken (3 bags) and fried rice (2 bags)saves at least half if not more over Chinese takeout. At times, I've cooked more ahead, but just haven't had it in me lately. Maybe before long I'll get it together again. :/

    The other great use for an instant pot is cooking rice! Another reason why I like having two. I can be cooking a main dish in the large one and rice in the smaller one. I've never owned a rice cooker but am sure enjoying that setting on the IP.

  12. Hi Cat,
    When I've had to go out of town and leave some family members behind, I have found it best to leave more food than we'd normally eat, especially more of the treat foods, like chips, cereal, cookies, and less-expensive convenience foods. It just makes life easier for them and worries me less. So, I totally get it.

    That's good to know about an instant pot as a rice cooker. I'll keep that in mind, Thanks!


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