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Monday, October 31, 2022

October 2022 Grocery Journal

the finished trick-or-treat bags

Oct.2 Big grocery shopping day. I checked prices online for both Fred Meyer and Walmart, thinking I would just shop at one of the stores. But there were deals I wanted at both stores. So I went to Fred Meyer first, then Walmart right after. The two stores aren't super close to each other, but driving to both and home makes a loop, so I was okay with the small amount of extra gas.

First stop, Fred Meyer -- I went straight for the dairy section, hoping to find milk on markdown. The only "milk" product marked down was a half-gallon of pumpkin eggnog, exp date 10/6, $2.39 (reg. $4.69). I'll freeze what we don't drink in small containers later this week to pull out a little at a time this fall. I didn't buy any other milk here, as I knew milk was less expensive at Walmart. Next stop the egg cooler. I had a coupon for eggs and even with coupon, they were so much more expensive than Walmart. So I didn't buy eggs here either. I swung by the clearance aisle and picked up 2 small containers of colored sugar crystals for cake and cookie decorating, 1 blue, 1 red, 39 cents each. These keep forever, so I know we'll use them eventually. Next I hit the meat aisle. Whole chickens and chicken thighs were 99 cents/lb. I bought 5 whole chickens and 2 large packs of chicken thighs. I may go back in the next day or two and pick up another couple of chickens and 1 more pack of thighs. This is a good price for meat for us. I had a coupon for a free bag (any variety/size) of Private Selection frozen vegetables (the premium store brand). After considering the different kinds, I chose a 16 oz bag of edamame. We'll enjoy this added to stir fries and fried rice. Total spent at Fred Meyer -- $50.57. I also bought trick-or-treat candy, but that doesn't come out of my grocery budget, so I don't include it here.

Second stop, Walmart. I had planned on being in and out as quick as I could. I quickly found 5 bananas (58 cents/lb), 2 gallons 2% milk ($3.27 ea), and 1 60-count large eggs ($7.72). I spent the next 20 minutes searching for sliced pepperoni. I even asked an employee for help finding it. She took me to the spot with other pizza fixings, but the pepperoni there was the expensive kind. I knew there were more choices somewhere in the store. So I searched and searched. I finally gave up and went to the meat section to buy Italian sausage to cook up for the pizza. I picked up 3 lbs of the sausage, turned around, and there staring at me were a bunch of different packages of sliced pepperoni. I put the sausage back and grabbed 2 mega packs (21-oz each) of Great Value pepperoni ($7.68 each). Total spent at Walmart -- $30.69

spent for the day -- $81.26, that's more than I spent in the entire month of September!

October 5. I didn't go back for more chicken at Fred Meyer. My freezer is too full. If I see a price of 99 cents/pound again for bone-in chicken, I'll buy more then.

October 12. You know that eggnog I bought on markdown? I wound up freezing part of it, my family drank part, and 1 1/2 cups lingered in the fridge. A week past the expiration date I thought it was probably on its way to not so great to drink. I made a batch and a half of eggnog scones with that last bit of eggnog. Problem solved. This large batch made 24 scones. I'll freeze some of them to bring out later.

October 18. No car last week or this week. It's getting some body repair after an accident caused by my daughter in September. I've had a couple of moments when I thought "gee, we could use some such and such. I'll just run out and pick it up." Only to then realize there's no car and no possibility of a car for a while longer. Oh well, I'm saving money by not going to stores. And my shopping list grows . . .

October 24. We have the car back (no, it's not fixed -- long story). Due to a poorly performing pumpkin patch, I decided to go buy some pumpkins and squash at the produce stand on the highway before it shuts down for the year (in one week). WinCo is on the way, so we (one daughter and I) stopped there first. All of their pumpkins were out in front and the large Jack o'lantern types were priced at 28 cents a pound, pretty great price for this year. All of their squash and sugar pie pumpkins were much more expensive, between 99 cents/lb and $1.49/lb. We decided to not get pumpkins just yet, but check out Country Farms (produce stand) price first. We did go inside WinCo because I had other things to buy in the bulk bin section. I bought some Parmesan ($4.98/lb), wheat berries (79 cents/lb), 3 gallons of milk, 2 for drinking/cooking, 1 for yogurt-making ($3.27 each), 4 cans of black olives (98 cents each), and some trick or treat candy from the bulk bins. I don't include the trick-or-treat candy in my budget. Those come out of a holiday budget. I spent $16.52.

We drove down the street (about 2 blocks) to Country Farms where, to my surprise, big pumpkins were 50 cents/lb (compared to WinCo's 28 cents/lb). Their sugar pie pumpkins, which are denser, meatier, and less stringy than Jack o' lanterns, were 79 cents/lb (compared to WinCo's at $1.48/lb). So I bought 6 sugar pie pumpkins. While waiting to check out, the lady in front of me had a huge cabbage for making kraut. I know this stand sells kraut cabbages for much less than regular green cabbage. So I hunted around to find them and picked up one of the smaller kraut cabbages (9.66 lbs). These were priced at 39 cents/lb (compared to the green cabbages priced at 79 cents/lb). I also perused the marked down bin and found a bag of 3 green peppers for $1.29. I spent $21.33 at the produce stand.

Back up the street to WinCo where I chose 4 good-looking Jack o' lantern pumpkins at 28 cents/lb. I spent $9.83. I prefer sugar pie pumpkins for oven-roasting cubes of pumpkin and use Jack o' lanterns for making pumpkin puree for baking and soup. You can roast cubes of the cheaper pumpkins, but they are a tad stringer than the sugar pie ones.

Total spent today -- $47.68. Spent for the month -- $128.94

Both WinCo and the produce stand are on the drive to rehearsals and shows for my daughter. She has a rehearsal on Thursday and may make stops to pick up an extra pumpkin or two (the less expensive ones) and another head of kraut cabbage.

While I was paying for the 4 Jack o' lantern pumpkins at our second stop at WinCo my daughter walked over to Dick's. Dick's is a Seattle area walk up burger place. There's no seating inside, you walk up to the window to order and folks either eat in their cars or take their burgers some place else. My daughter bought 1 hamburger and split it with me. A single hamburger is $2.30 at Dick's. They discount this burger by 10 cents if you get it plain. They charge for what you get, meaning if you want ketchup, they charge extra for that. Dick's is more expensive than McDonald's, but I like that their employees are paid well for fast food -- beginning at $20/hr and $25/hr after a 12-week (I believe, but not certain) training period. They also provide free health insurance for all employees. So, I just like this place and how they run their business. But I'm not a fast food burger type of gal, so we don't go there very often. Anyway, my daughter paid for my half of the burger. Sweet daughter.

October 26. My daughter was going to Value Village, so I tagged along so I could go to Walmart (right next door) and save gas for a second trip to this center. The only food items I was planning on buying were ketchup and decaf (I also bought OTC meds and toiletries). The tags on the shelf indicating price per unit are sometimes wrong, so I used the calculator on my phone to find the best price per ounce on the ketchup. I bought a 64 oz bottle for $2.98 and a jar of decaf instant coffee for $3.93. Total spent -- $6.91

Total spent for the month so far -- $135.85

October 28. I got this panicky feeling of stockpiler's remorse earlier this week. I began to feel like we could never use all of this produce before it spoiled. So, I told my daughter not to pick up extra pumpkins or kraut cabbage. 

Our grocery spending for the month of October ends with $135.85.

I spent more in October than in September, but both months are lower than my budgeted amount to spend ($275/month). That's because we stocked up on pantry staples in the summer, going way over my budget for several months in a row. I will need to be under budget for November, December, and January to compensate for summer stock-ups. I hope we can do that.

Just to note -- I buy very little convenience snack foods. When my daughters get a hankering for chips, commercial granola bars, jerky, or the like, they buy their own. My husband and I do snack, but our snacks are mostly homemade foods, like muffins, toast, popcorn, leftover pizza, spiced apple compote, granola, pan or oven-fried potatoes, sandwiches, etc. Everybody gets what they want and are willing to pay for. Both daughters also like to treat us to extra snacks from time to time. This week we have a box of store brand pop-tarts and some Target brand mini candy bars courtesy of both daughters. When I'm making lunch for the household, I try to make it a filling one, so that we snack a little less.

what I bought in October

dairy and eggs
1/2 gallon eggnog
5 gallons milk
5 dozen eggs
~1/2 pound Parmesan cheese

42 ounces sliced pepperoni
5 whole chickens
2 family packs chicken thighs

fruits and vegetables
5 bananas
6 sugar pie pumpkins
4 Jack o' lantern pumpkins
1 bag frozen edamame
1 super large head of cabbage (kraut cabbage)
3 green peppers

~1 pound of wheat berries
4 cans black olives
1 jar instant decaf coffee
64 oz ketchup
2 containers cake sprinkles

If you made it all the way to here -- Bravo! Sorry I was so long-winded this month. I'm posting this early today, as we'll be busy later this evening. Have a lovely evening!


  1. Always interesting to hear about your purchases! Y'all eat very well on what you spend, though I know that's because of your diligence in shopping as well as your gardening.

    I've been working at keeping our expenditures lower, too, though am not nearly as good at it as you are. Still, the last couple of months have been substantially lower than usual for us: September was less than half what we've typically allotted, and last month was 5/8 exactly. I'm allowing a bit more for October, at three-fourths our former typical monthly amount, simply due to wanting to stock up on a few items that typically are for sale this time of year, though not typically inexpensive (gluten-free crispy onions, for instance, which are something I have trouble finding at other times of the year, as well as gluten-free stuffing mix).

    1. Hi Cat,
      those GF foods are expensive, aren't they? I'm glad you can find them on sale this time of year and can stock up. Your cuts in grocery spending sound very, very good considering how expensive so many food items have become.

  2. I did my tally last night for October and we were at $453.70 with an additional $101 for restaurant food. I bought subs for my dad, my brothers and their wives and kids one day while doing a day project for my dad. I also know that the $453.70 is not all food we consume in a month since I find deals that can be frozen and used at a later date. I know prices are higher lately but my total seems to remain the same so I am surely shopping less and getting less product for my money.

    1. Hi Alice,
      That was extremely kind and generous of you to buy the shared meal for your extended family while working on something for your dad. I'm guessing it was very appreciated.
      That's the way to manage this food inflation -- find a deal and stock up for when prices aren't so favorable.

  3. I have never differentiated between the different kinds of cabbages. When I have made kraut, I have just used what ever was available either home grown or in the store. What are the differences?

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Kraut cabbage leaves are thicker than regular green cabbage leaves. I've read that kraut cabbage is typically a later variety and more of a "keeper". There were no green leaves on my head of cabbage, either. All white. But perhaps the green leaves were removed for transport. Some of the heads were absolutely huge! Bigger than a basketball. I searched for the smallest one and bought that.

  4. Good for you that you and your husband are able to snack on homemade foods, not expensive convenience items. My husband 'needs" his favorite snacks which we buy on sale or clearance from Costco. I snack on lunch leftovers if I am hungry later in the day since we don't eat dinners. I've suggested that he do this too but he hasn't yet. Our food total this month was slightly higher than previous months. I carve out items that were given to our children and grandchildren but we also share cooked foods with our grandson which have not been taken out, plus I include eating out, toiletries, laundry soaps, and vitamins. No garden this year. We average $456.68 per month for the two of us since January. If my husband didnt buy expensive snack items, I think we could shave off another $50 per month. I don't want to be a nag so I'll just set an example for him. We're probably too old to unlearn bad habits, but I continue to try.

    Have a great day,

    1. Hi Laura,
      Considering you live on an island, I think you're doing very well with your grocery spending. I don't include vitamins or other non-foods, and those would certainly increase my spent amount.

  5. As usual, your low monthly total amazes me...while you eat healthy and scrumptious meals. I went 12% over budget this month but the preview us two months were 33% below so not concerned. This month stocked up on sale meat and things for the upcoming holidays when I got good prices, etc. so, the garden is basically done which makes a huge difference. Now I need to change my mindset to using pantry, freezer or home preserved foods. Takes me awhile to shift it seems. Doctor wants me eating lots of fruits and veggies so trying to do that ecomically. I do also include cleaning and beauty products in my budget also. Those are very limited here but have gone up a lot.

    1. Hi Linda,
      A 12% increase after a 33% decrease for 2 months in a row is a very good average, and especially so as you stocked up on foods for the holidays.

      Yes, I get it with shifting your mind as the season changes. For me, I was feeling like we didn't have enough vegetables, so I bought the kraut cabbage. When in reality, it was just that we didn't have tomatoes, summer squash or green beans from the garden. When I realized that we actually do still have a lot of produce (just most of it long-keepers or cool season garden veggies), I got that stockpiler's remorse feeling. So now I'm trying hard to include all of this produce in lunches and dinners. Good luck to you as you shift your mindset with your own circumstances.

  6. That was a great price you got on chicken! You will have many tasty meals from that.

    Our milk prices have decreased in the past month or so, but eggs have increased. I find myself in stocking-up mode because it seems like there are so many unpredictable factors in shopping. I keep thinking that surely one of these days things will even out, but so far, that hasn't been true.

    Your trick or treat bags turned out so cute! Did you get many? We had 23, which is more than we had been getting the past several years. I was prepared for 25 so I cut it close!

    1. Hi Kris,
      Our milk came down about 5 cents/gallon and eggs went up about 30 cents/5-dozen in the last month. But the eggs are still super high for us. I was spending an average of 95 cents/dozen by buying 5-dozen cases back in 2020. And milk is up about $1 a gallon since 2020.

      Thank you. We had 18 trick-or-treaters, down from the last 2 years of about 25-30. How many we get depends on the weather and day of week. It rained all day yesterday and didn't fully let up until later in the evening last night. Plus it was a school/work night. We did get 1 super cute bunch of girls -- the first one (about 8 or 9 years old) let out a an audible gasp when she saw the bags. That made it all worthwhile. The rest of the kids were super nice and polite, too. I was very happy to see each and every one of them. I hope they all had fun and enjoy the treats they got (here and at other homes). And I hope you had a good time handing out your treats. 23 doesn't sound like very many either. Now, you get to enjoy some leftovers!

  7. $135 for 4 people is truly amazing. I was high last month-around $500, but over $100 of that was for my husband’s food for his hunting trip. He wants what he wants, so I have to buy it regardless of the price. I didn’t have much on hand from his list. We’ll see what November brings-hopefully some decent sales. Really hoping potatoes come down in price, or at least that they are larger. It’s maddening to pay super high prices on teeny little potatoes.


    1. Hi Diane,
      well, as I mentioned, I did go way over budget during the summer months as I stock-piled for the pantry. So there just wasn't a whole lot I needed this month.
      Yes, November is historically the "deal month" in my area. I have always found so many great deals this month. I'm hoping potatoes come down in price, too. What we grew is enough to last through December or barely into January. WinCo had 10-lb bags last week for $2.48. I think 99 cents/10-lb bags is unrealistic this year (what we always paid before 2020 as loss leaders the week before Thanksgiving), so I'm hoping for about $1.50/10-lb bags. We'll see if any stores have these sort of loss leaders this year. Keeping my fingers crossed for deals for all of us!


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