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Thursday, October 1, 2020

A September Recap for Groceries

Happy October, friends!

In September, I shopped on 2 occasions, 1 time hitting 3 stores, the other time just 1 store (trips 3 weeks apart), spending $182.30. That amount is greatly supplemented by the use of our emergency pantry/freezer, which I stocked in late spring and early summer. I spent more than I had planned in September. (My goal is to keep monthly spending to about $100 to $150, bringing my average monthly grocery spending to about $250 to $300/month when the use of emergency pantry is factored in). However, a good chunk of what I bought this past month contributes additional stock for the fall/winter pantry and freezer.

I'm shopping in-person for the time being, and 3 weeks seems to be my comfort zone. Any longer and I begin to feel antsy about running low on a few key ingredients. Any closer together and I worry about not-completely-necessary virus exposure. 

Here's what I bought:

Walmart (twice in month)
jalapenos -- for salsa
kosher hot dogs --Labor Day weekend
1 loaf of bread, some sandwich meat, and sliced cheese for a picnic -- Labor Day weekend
2.75 lbs beef stew meat
a couple dozen bananas
2 heads cabbage
2 bags pretzels
1 box graham crackers
2 bags oyster crackers
2 boxes cheerios-type cereal
several decaf and regular instant coffee
3 lbs dried black-eyed peas
12 canned corn
8 canned carrots
10 canned green beans
13 gals milk, whole and 2%
4.5 dozen eggs
6 frozen broccoli
2 frozen broccoli/cauliflower mix
12 frozen apple juice concentrate
6 frozen orange juice concentrate
1 bag frozen French fries

Dollar Tree
6 bags frozen blueberries 

Cash & Carry/Smartfood Service
25-lb bag of carrots
50-lb bag of onions
#10 can tomato paste
1-lb yeast
5-lb frozen peas
6-pack green bell peppers
50-lb whole wheat flour

There are a few items that I bought that were just fun foods, since we're not eating out or getting take-out at all, such as French fries, sandwich meat, cheese, and a favorite bread just for a family picnic, good hot dogs for a cook-out, and the pretzels and crackers. These "treat" foods have been so enjoyed by my family; even the cold cereal was met with significant appreciation.

Going forward, this past week I did a thorough inventory and made up a shopping list of exactly what I want to buy in October to complete my emergency winter pantry/freezer. I am close to finishing and when I am done filling my stock, I'll be able to slide through the holiday season with minimal shopping. I'm not expecting a doomsday scenario with the virus, but my plan is to just stay out of stores this fall/early winter, if I can. I did read in the Wall Street Journal that stores are putting together "pandemic pallets" full of goods for this fall and winter in preparation for any surge in shopping. That's good news. No hunting for yeast, toilet paper, or flour. Last spring was a wild time to be shopping.

I'm still working away at the harvest this week. I picked the last bucket of plums this afternoon. I left about a dozen on the tree for my squirrel friends to find. Wasn't that nice of me? In reality, these were plums that I couldn't get to without risking life and limb. I started another batch of cucumber pickles, too, today. I feel so blessed this year. 

I hope that you're all enjoying a beautiful first day of October! Be back soon!


  1. Lili, my motto has been buy something if I find it that we will use over the winter. We bought a quarter cow when this whole virus started so I am good there. I am hoping to only do very limited shopping this winter. Stay safe and healthy.

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Oh, that makes me feel more like I'm "normal", that you're also hoping to limit shopping this winter. Thanks for saying that!
      That is so wonderful that you have all of that beef -- smart move. I'm sure you'll be really enjoying that all winter.
      Have a great evening, Cheryl.

  2. Wow, that's a lotta tomato paste. :) You use it for pizza sauce, right? I seem to only use it one tablespoon at a time.

    I still have a lot of yeast in my freezer so I feel good about that. I'm trying to stay ahead of the game on pantry staples. We had a good summer (mostly) with our garden and our freezer is very full. I feel like all of us are stocking up for winter in our own way and being mindful of being safe.

    We are anticipating a frost/freeze tonight and this weekend, so our garden is winding down. We haven't yet turned on our heat but I think that's going to happen very soon!

    Good to hear from you.

    1. Hi Kris,
      yes, it is a lot of tomato paste! A #10 can is equal to about 17 6-oz cans (the tiny cans) of tomato paste. I use tomato paste for pizza sauce, pasta sauce, tomato soup, ketchup, tomato juice, and occasionally a bit here and there in other dishes. I freeze the contents of each can in small containers. One #10 can will last us about 3 months.

      I'm glad that you, too, are staying ahead on keeping your pantry and freezer full. And I'm so glad that this was a good garden year for your family. Brrr, a frost already? Summer disappeared so quickly! We're having an unusually warm period right now. Although, with longer nights, we've needed more layers on the beds.

      Have a great weekend, Kris!

  3. As always, you seem well prepared and organized. We don't stock up like you do, but we do have a supply of essentials in case we have to quarantine for a few weeks. We put those together 6 months ago and are starting to rotate them out and replace them with new. This is in additional to our emergency supplies to get us through for a few days in case of disaster. Those supplies can be easily picked up and taken if we have to evacuate. In the meantime, we continue to shop regularly, with masks and social distancing, of course.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      You bring up an excellent point -- the differences in supplies needed for disaster supplies and a regular emergency pantry. Many items can double for both types of scenarios, but you really do need portable and ready to eat supplies for a disaster. It can't all be dried beans and uncooked grains. I am reminded each fall/winter that we need several ready-to-eat items on hand when our power goes out. Mostly, we end up eating pbj's and eating canned applesauce and/or raisins -- no cooking, no opening the fridge or freezer.

      I'm not as organized as you are with regards to disaster supplies. We don't keep our disaster supplies in a separate location than our emergency pantry, but I do know where the stash of ready to eat foods/beverages are so I could grab a box and fill it in about 5 minutes. Are your disaster-preparedness supplies regular foods that you buy in a grocery store or are they more along the lines of camping-style dehydrated foods or MRE's? Do you rotate those supplies into your regular meals, too?

      I hope that you're enjoying a lovely beginning of October, Live and Learn.

    2. Our supplies are things we buy in the grocery store that have a long shelf life and can be eaten cold (although some of them would taste better warm.) Because our emergency supplies are in the basement and in tubs, we don't see them regularly. We aren't the best of rotating them out, but we try. We pretty much follow the recommended guidelines for emergency preparation and also have toiletries, first aid/medicine, and copies of important papers with the food. We also have included some crossword puzzle books, etc. for a little entertainment, and of course, cat food and litter.

    3. Hi Live and Learn,
      You are very organized! Thanks for sharing -- your list gives me some inspiration to improve our emergency supplies.

  4. Hi Lili,

    I'll be the first to admit that I don't want to be caught a bit off-guard when this thing hit early spring. There were so many things that were bought out so I have been building a pantry/storage since then. I have filled it with things we will use and plenty of T.P and paper towels too. I'm not really afraid of shopping since I read an article that said that the virus does not land on products that are in the store. It's more the people I don't like to be around. I have plenty of yeast, flour, etc.

    With that said, I will say that we have a four adult eaters now three meals per day so we do a lot more cooking and very little eating out/take out. Dad's garden did well even though he had his major setback early spring (broke his hip) and we had tons of tomatoes that I canned. He had peppers, onions, carrots, cabbage, grapes, kale, beets. My freezer is also full to the brim. We are truly blessed.

    I pulled out my bread machine to make dough and then I bake it in the oven since I want a different shaped loaf. That is going over quite well.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I'm so glad that you have such a comprehensive back-up of supplies for this winter. I'm with you on avoiding the people. I can control what I choose to do but not what others choose. Every time I go out, I see people not following the mask guidelines -- no mask, chin masks, or exposed noses. I find it best to stay home.

      I'm also glad for your dad that he was able to garden this summer, as that seems to bring him so much joy and fulfillment. And what a produce haul for you and your family! You are well-set.

      That's a great way to use your bread-maker, mix/knead then transfer to pans to bake. You get the shape of loaf you like with much less work.

      Have a great weekend, Alice!

  5. Happy October Lili! I love your shopping lists! That was very nice of you to share your plums with the squirrel! Have a wonderful weekend!!

    1. Hi Lona,
      Despite all of the damage that the squirrels do to our fruit trees and garden each year, I do think they're cute and sometimes funny. I guess I was happy to share a few of our plums with the critters, after all, they do provide entertainment.
      I hope that you're enjoying a beautiful October weekend, Lona!


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