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Friday, August 21, 2020

An August Recap for Groceries

Hi friends!

I often feel that my life doesn't relate much to the lives of others. I guess I feel peripheral, if that makes any sense. Despite that, today I thought I'd write a little bit about my mundane life, anyways, because there might be something in it that resonates with someone.

For the last several months, I've been using a variety of methods for getting my groceries while minimizing my risk of this virus, including Walmart's curbside pick-up service, Walmart's shipping, Target's shipping, Amazon, and more rarely, a quick in-the-store-grab-and-pay for a small basket of specific items (no more lingering or browsing the grocery stores). 

This morning, I did the Walmart curbside pick-up part of August's grocery shopping. They were sold out of Great Value mayonnaise this week, so I ordered Market Pantry mayo through (as part of a larger order to get free shipping). When I place an online order for groceries, I not only open a tab on my laptop for Walmart, but also for Target and Fred Meyer. Target's mayo was 3 cents more per quart than Walmart's, but it's available to ship this week. I compare prices and decide if it's worth it to me to shop a second or even third store for specific items. 

Yep, comparison shopping did not come to an end for me with this pandemic. I just acquire the groceries differently now. This month, I shopped 3 places --, Walmart online/curbside, and in-person Fred Meyer. 

For a while, I was using the earliest pick-up time slot, 7 AM to 8 AM. That was often the only time slot left during a week. Fortunately for this night owl, other time slots have opened up. This morning, I opted for the 8 AM to 9 AM slot. One daughter was coming with me as she needed to swing by Hobby Lobby for an art supply. (See, we're still batching errands, too.)

What I noticed about this month's grocery order

As in July, I spent far less on food than in April, May, or June. August's total grocery spend came to $92.18. This low total reflects that we're eating from our stores of food, plus the items that I bought did not include meat or cheese (stocked up on those in previous months) but were primarily canned, fresh, and frozen fruits and vegetables, some pantry items, and several gallons of milk bought early in the month.

Walmart has the option for them to make substitution choices if my requests can't be met. I always tick this box, as the substitutions have been a pretty good deal for me. In two instances, I was subbed a significantly larger size of the foods at no extra cost to me. This order, there was 1 non-food item with a favorable substitution --  a 34-oz bottle of hand sanitizer for the price of an 8-oz one. I was not as thrilled with the other substitution on this order. I had ordered frozen cauliflower, but was subbed the broccoli-cauliflower blend. This wouldn't be an issue, except I'd planned on using the cauliflower in places where I might have used pasta. I can still pour marinara sauce over the cauli-broccoli mix, but it won't have the same visual effect. Oh well. You win some, you lose some. My disappointment is not great enough to return the substitution. I can still use this product and it did not cost me anything extra. I'll try for the cauliflower the next time I place an order.

July's order came with a couple of surprises. They were marketing gadgets, fridge magnet clips, but still very useful to me. These large clips are useful as chip-clips to hold bags closed. This month's surprise was even better -- a free sample of a fresh peach. The peach was boxed and marked as a sample, so I know this wasn't an error. Lucky me, I get a free treat! I don't know if including these surprises is a new "thing" with Walmart, but I'm happy to accept them.

So what did I buy in August?

fresh carrots
canned beets
canned carrots
oyster crackers
graham crackers
box of donuts (took these to the beach with coffee as a morning treat)
frozen wild blueberries (cheaper than the non-wild ones, go figure)
frozen cauliflower and broccoli blend
frozen peas
frozen broccoli cuts (cuts are less expensive than the regular frozen broccoli)
frozen brussels sprouts
frozen apple juice concentrate

The fresh produce will supplement what we have coming in from the garden and will be consumed in the next few weeks. We'll use some of the canned and frozen produce now, but a good chunk of it is tagged for use this fall and winter.

The weather this week has been all over the map. Early in the week, we were roasting in 90+ degree heat and eating cold salads for dinners. The temps have since plummeted 20 degrees and brought rain and clouds. Last night I made baked beans, mac and cheese, carrot sticks and watermelon for dinner -- a much more fall-like meal for our household. I have homemade burgers planned for tonight, but only if it dries up around here.

That's about it for this week. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


  1. I'm glad that you have been able to do all that you do in providing for your family.

    I used Walmart pickup early on in this crisis but as the weeks went by I was unable to find things I needed nor could I get a pickup slot. So I abandoned that idea and now go into stores for my groceries. Also, the limits were a bother especially if I needed to purchase a minimum of $30.

    I waited it out a bit and then hit the stores with a stock-up in mind. This was when the limits were not enforced and then I bought cases of canned goods and other non perishables. My husband was not to keen on the idea of needing a "reserve" but he will get over it. I also bought plenty of toilet paper and paper towels, shower soap, shampoo, laundry detergent and things we could store and use over time.

    My plan was to go alone and make a mad dash for what I needed in order to be in and out within 15 or 20 minutes. No lingering in any aisle looking for deals or casual shopping.

    We are a busy household once again with four adults--two working from home and two working outside the home. My food budget did go up a bit but that's ok since I won't be going out much when cold winter weather is here. Freezer is full, pantry is stocked and I've run out of room to store things. I now store things above my kitchen cupboards in glass jars.

    But all in all, life is good!


    1. Hi Alice,
      Great job on stocking up!
      Mine is still a work in progress, but I'm getting there.
      Have a great weekend!

  2. I think food procurement during a pandemic is not a peripheral life experience! I have found it helpful to read how others are managing these days. We all have different needs and are in different life situations (and geographical locations) so everyone's techniques will look a little different.

    I'm still doing in-person shopping early in the morning. Our local Meijer is also my pharmacy. For awhile, they were offering pharmacy hours starting at 7:00 am, but have recently moved to 8:00 am, so I've bumped my shopping time back a bit. I'm not seeing the crazed crowds in the mornings like I was early on in the pandemic.

    I'm working on a fall re-stocking. Is it necessary? Who knows, but I want to be prepared if there are more shortages again. It's easier for me to accumulate little bits at a time. Except for meat, I think I'm where I want to be.

    We're getting a lot of garden produce so my meals have centered around using up giant (gifted to us) zucchini as well as tomatoes. We have a lot of green beans but can always freeze those.

    Summer has sped by and now we're preparing for our kids to do a hybrid school schedule. A little nervous about that choice but our district seems to be taking a very conservative path and they definitely learn better in person than online.

    So that's my meandering conversation! Good to hear from you Lili, and all my fellow commenters! (Hi Alice!)

    1. Hi Kris,
      Thank you for your thoughts!

      As for will this be necessary, it may not. But then again, I'm still hearing of new shortages all of the time. (This week's is pepperoni shortages.) I don't want to spend excess energy this fall or winter trying to find that one item that is in short supply. I want to simply be living my life. So for me, stocking up will give me peace of mind not only now, but also later on.

      I understand the anxiety over school starting. No one knows yet how best to do this. Time will tell. Hopefully some of the earlier starting schools will serve as guidance for how to handle things for schools that begin closer to Labor Day.

      Have wonderful weekend, Kris!

  3. Hi, Lili--

    A disabled friend of mine has used some of the same grocery options as you during the pandemic, and she's had, overall, very positive experiences. I haven't heard about any free goodies, but she's been very happy with the quality of produce and thoughtfulness of any substitution. (One place she orders from, I think that the shoppers actually call her and ask if they don't have what she wants?) She tries to tip generously because it means a lot to her to have such great service.

    DH is still doing almost all of our regular fresh shopping, for a couple of logistical reasons which make it more practical; so I've been keeping my lists simple, and of course am not "shopping" or comparing. DH seems to be improving his label-reading (though we both have to remember reading glasses in the store to do so! LOL) and substitution choices. It's been a positive experience doing this as teamwork, actually.

    Your post reminded me, though, I've fallen out of the habit of checking the on-line circulars for deals. We live too far from the stores to get them in the mail (DS gets them for his stores, and reads them religiously.) Supplies are still a bit iffy, so all my lists for DH include "if you can find it", "if it looks good", etc. But I really should be looking at the flyers for better timing to try and get things cheaper, if they're available, anyway.

    I'm still working on the long-range projection/plan, however, because (hi, Kris!) I think now's a good time to be as fully stocked as possible. So, I hope to have my plan in place and do one or two blitzkrieg solo shopping trips in September like Alice's (hi, Alice!) I've continued to do some mail-order stock-up of dry, canned, and other longer-term storage items; but supplies there are still iffy, too; and overall, we still don't have nearly as much pad as I'd like to have. I'll be curious to see if my solo shopping trip will be fairly successful, or if I'll still find a lot of short supplies.

    Enjoy your cooler weather. Our whole family has heatwaves everywhere for at least another day... and still days longer for some of us. I'm looking forward to fall.

    Take care, everybody! Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      I did the personal shopper then deliver route too, back in March and early April. It's a good service for someone who can't get out. My shoppers would text or in-app message me when something was sold out and offer a substitute. My only issue was the extra fee. But, looking at this from the opposite side -- personal shopping was a way for some folks who lost jobs to earn money temporarily. And that's a good thing.

      Your plan sounds like a good one. You should be able to source just about everything you need between online, your husband's in-person, and one or two in-person shops yourself.

      Have a wonderful weekend, Sara!

  4. Hi Lili,
    Your posts almost always resonate with me! I am so thankful for the frugal online community and grateful that you are a part of it!
    I have been doing mostly in-store shopping. I do have a question - when you order produce with your grocery pick-up, have you been satisfied with what was chosen for you? (I have visions of teens who are not well-versed in how to choose the best produce options.)
    We can feel fall coming on here in SW Virginia. I already miss the longer evening light.
    Have a nice weekend, everyone!
    Jo Ann

    1. JoAnn, I have a friend who does the Shipt order service for her elderly mother and her experience has mostly been good but one week she had what sounded like a young man who wasn't very helpful with substitutions, calling her with questions, and so on. I'm not sure if you can specify a specific shopper but that might be a good question to ask.

      Hi Sara, JoAnn, and Judy! :)

    2. Hi Jo Ann,
      The fresh produce is hit or miss. I always order bananas with my pick-up orders and they've always been really good condition. However, a month ago, we ordered celery that was looking rather ragged. That could have been poor choosing or just that all of the celery at that time and at that store was looking not-great.

      The downside to curbside pick-up is that you don't have the opportunity to speak with the shopper while they're shopping, to ask about condition of the produce as you would be able with Shipt or Insta-cart. Most of my Walmart curbside produce has been very good, but then again, I mostly order basic items, such as bagged carrots, heads of cabbage, bags of onions. If I were ordering highly perishable produce, like fresh berries or peaches, I would do a curbside pick-up at one of the higher end grocery stores in my area.

      Have a wonderful weekend, Jo Ann!

  5. Hi Lil, I agree with the above comments about enjoying and being encouraged by your blog. I think it is important to see how people keep on keeping on and you are a great example of this. Thanks for allowing my two cents worth!


    1. Hi Judy,
      Thank you for saying that. It helps a lot! Your two cents are always welcome.

      Enjoy your weekend, Judy!

  6. Hi Lili:
    Just wanted to let you know I appreciate your wonderful blog very much. A lot like you, I have a very limited grocery budget. I shop very carefully and also look for very budget friendly recipes. I watch Diane Kochilas on PBS a lot. She had a recipe for Lentils, Orzo and Caramelized onions that looked great. I know you eat a lot of lentils, as do I and thought I would share. She has it on her website. Thanks for teaching me how to eat well on a budget....Cari

    1. Hi Cari,
      Thank you for your kind words. And double thanks for the recipe suggestion. I just looked this recipe up and think I could make this, using another type of pasta (finely broken spaghetti noodles might work). I'll make this dish this next week. I have just about everything for it except the bay leaf.

      Enjoy your weekend, Cari!


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