September Groceries: The Final Total

My computer has been acting up like crazy here, and our TDS DSL mimics that of the old dial up service we used to have, so blogging has been tough lately.  You guys know I love adding pictures, and that process has been making blog posts considerably slow. I am working on a fix/replacement for this, so please just bear with me!

My first shopping trip was a huge success, which resulted in no extra trips to the store for something that was forgotten! That was a complete blessing, as we are so busy this time of the year that I hate to spend the little extra time I have in the store.

I did have one revelation during the first two weeks, and that was to make my grocery shopping trips twice a month instead of every two weeks.  Like I said earlier, we are pretty busy, things come up and shopping doesn’t always happen every two weeks or necessarily even need to be every two weeks, so I think twice a month will be best for us.

Menu planning and deciding how much of everything I need did take a bit longer with the first trip, but I knew how much I needed of most things we buy by the time the second trip came around, so it was much easier.

Right now we are going to stick with the $600 a month grocery budget and see how that goes. Our budget includes food, cleaning supplies, paper products, pet food, toiletries, over the counter medicine, and some car maintenance items.

The budget feeds 4 of us, which includes an 11 year old the size of most adults and we also often buy or prepare items for our oldest daughter who is away at college.

Sams Trip

I let K help take inventory of the items we had in the pantry and freezer before we went shopping.  This was our extra homeschool lesson for the day, and she really enjoyed helping out and learning all at the same time.  She also helped make our menu plan and list of all items needed.  It was fun teaching her how to plan a menu based on what you have and what is on sale.

We spent $88.08 at Sam”s on the items pictured above.  I was able to get about 6-8 months’ worth of allergy medicine for $29.87!  This probably kicked my grocery totals over for the month, but I won’t have to buy it for several months!

I really love getting my butter at Sams.  I just throw what I don’t need right now into the freezer, and we never run out.  The 4 pack was $11.48, which is better than the store brand at most stores I shop at.  Butter is one of those grocery items that are rapidly rising in cost these days.

Kroger Trip

The 50 lb bag of dog food I bought didn’t quite make it in the picture, but other than that, this is everything we got at Kroger for a total of $83.29 after using $11.96 in coupons.

I was able to get the Bagels for free from a Kroger home mailer coupon given to me by my dear step-mom, and I also got the pot pie for free after loading it onto my Kroger card the previous Friday.  If you didn’t already know, Kroger offers a freebie every Friday; you just log into your Kroger account and add the digital coupon to your card. It’s just that simple…..and free.

walmart1

Walmart was my last stop of the day.  Sorry the color is funky in some of the pictures.  It was getting pretty late by the time I got the shopping done, unloaded, lined up for pictures and then put away.

I’m hoping 5 gallons of milk is going to make it until the next shopping trip.  I’m not sure I can fit much more in the refrigerator, and I don’t really like freezing milk.

walmart2

The Kellogg’s cereal was being loaded in the buggy to be pushed up front when we got to Walmart.  They were selling it for $1 a box, and of course I had $1 off 3 coupons, making it just .67 cents each after coupons.

I have been getting quite a few of those Go Go Squeeze applesauce packs lately, and I figured that many of you might be wondering about this new trend.  They are on sale for $1.98 at Walmart now and I have been using many (as many as I can get a hold of) $1 off coupons to get them for $.98 each.  My kids love these for ballpark snacks and they are awesome for our homeschool group field trips.  Sometimes convenience items just have to make an appearance, but I always like it when they are healthier versions.

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walmart4

We used $12.80 worth of coupons, and price matched the soup, grapes, Libby’s vegetables and the orange juice.  I also received a whopping $.17 back from submitting my receipt to the Walmart savings catcher.

Our final total for Walmart was $257.11.  This was a bit more than I had hoped for, but considering all the extras I bought this week (oil, oil filter, medicine), it’s not too bad.

The week prior to this I had made a run into Sam’s while we were in the area and spent $11.53 on a big jar of pickled okra, 9 pack of raisin english muffins and a 10# bag of sugar.

In the end, the total for the final trip(s) of September was $440.01, making the grand total for September $672.86.  While I did go over budget by $72.86, I had that money in my grocery account from during the summer months when we were away from home a lot.

If I continue to go over budget, I will either plan cheaper meals or think about increasing the budget some.  In the end it will all depend on the family budget, food waste and what kinds of food we are eating.

What is your budget and family size?  If you don’t mind sharing.  

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September Groceries & Menu: First Trip

I have a love hate relationship with the grocery store.  I love to save money on food and other things my family needs, but I really hate taking the time to go get it done.  So early last week I decided that I would start planning my menu and grocery list for two weeks. That’s right, I will buy two weeks worth of groceries and make it last.  During the week I do not have a regular grocery trip, I will supplement with a quick produce, milk and bread trip if any of that is needed.

Let me tell you, this has been great for my sanity.  You see things have been pretty crazy around here between end of summer trips, school starting, planning our homeschool year, bills, budgets, college costs, and the list can go on.  Not to mention I was missing my thyroid medicine too much and began feeling really tired and groggy.  I am now making sure I get my medicine every day, and I will get my levels checked next week.  We have our first month of school planned, and I feel much better.

So, last week I planned the menu, made the list and set out for our first trip of 2 weeks worth of groceries.  I budget $150 per week, and will continue putting that much into my grocery account each week, which will give me my $300 for every two weeks.  I will adjust the budget along the way as needed for the recent steadily rising food prices. Meat is really going to be a big budget problem this year.  So I will be really trying hard to stock up when there are sales of the meat we use a lot.

September Groceries 1

September Groceries 2

September Groceries 3Those cans of chicken, tuna and beans are for hubby’s lunch and dinner.  He’s trying to eat less.

September Groceries 4

September Groceries 5

September Groceries 6

I did all my shopping at Walmart for the week using price matching and $10.00 in coupons to make my final total for this trip $232.85.  Under budget so far for the month of September.  That’s a good thing!

I feel like I didn’t have to spend too much more time planning for 2 weeks of meals and a two week list.  I was even able to add a couple meals to the freezer, which will be an upcoming blog post, but we gotta taste them first.

So onto the menu for the two weeks:

Breakfasts don’t change much around here, so you may always see some of the same items.

french toast
cereal
oatmeal
eggs and toast
muffins
fruit and yogurt

Lunches

Cheese Quesadillas
Sandwiches
Cheese, crackers and fruit
Smoothies
Noodles
Leftovers

Suppers

Sloppy Joe’s, chips and pickles
Scalloped Potatoes with ham
Coconut Lime Chicken
Lemon Chicken in slow cooker with rice and a veggie
Meatballs, hashbrowns and corn
Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Mashed potatoes and corn
Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake
Chicken, Broccoli Rice Casserole

Leftovers
Meals out of our house X 3

Extras

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Pudding
Banana bread
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Phew, I made it and so far we haven’t had to add anything, but never fear that if we do, I will keep you updated so we can keep the budget totals correct.

How often do you grocery shop?  How do you prepare for your trips?

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How Our Family Is Responding To Rising Grocery Prices – Freezing Produce

The USDA Economic Research Service recently published their 2014-2015 Food Price Outlook, and it basically says what we all have probably already noticed at the grocery store, and that is that food prices are rising.

While the USDA ERS states that food prices were relatively flat in 2013, we are noticing the crunch this year as the prices are increasing at a historical norm (about 2.8% per year since 1990), but meat prices will continue to rise due to the Texas/Oklahoma drought and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (pork).

So I have been trying to be a bit more diligent about preparing for the price increase.  While I may have to increase our grocery budget this year, but I am going to do all I can to try not to have to increase it too much.

This summer we focused on getting fresh produce in the freezer, whether it was homegrown, purchased from a farm, or on sale at the grocery store.

It is important for me to let you know that this has been a very busy summer for us, but I have managed to put up a record number of items in the freezer, and I even canned some jelly and peaches.  I must say though, that the pictures of these events went away in a very unfortunate wet cell phone death (not so frugal, but never fail I made do with a free used phone).

rising grocery prices

The first thing I have been putting in the freezer is tomatoes.  Yes, I do freeze them whole until I have enough tomatoes and/or time to process them.  I will be cooking these down for tomato sauce that I will freeze in freezer bags.

rising grocery prices

We then made a trip to a fairly local fruit farm and were able to pick 25 lbs blueberries, 46 lbs peaches and 2 lbs blackberries.  After eating blueberries fresh, adding them to yogurt and making muffins and pancakes, I froze the rest in 2 cup portions in freezer bags. I froze them on a cookie sheet before putting them in a bag, which allows me to use less than the entire package, as the berries do not stick together in the bag.

We also ate fresh peaches before canning peach halves and freezing peaches in 2 cup portions in a light simple sugar syrup.

The enormous blackberries were a blessing after spending several days picking tiny small berries in the wild around our house.  My arms looked like I got in a cat fight after picking the wild berries, but they were very good in blackberry cobbler.  I also used some of the big blackberries for a cobbler and then froze the rest the same way I froze the blueberries.

All in all this was a great family fun trip.  We scored the berries for $1.70 a pound and the peaches for $ .99 a pound.

rising grocery pricesOur garden has produced an amazing amount of tomatoes, okra, and grape tomatoes this year.  My lettuce, cucumbers and zucchini did not fare so well.

I did manage to blanch the okra and freeze it in bags for future use.  I had heard that you can freeze the okra without blanching it (makes it easier to cut without it falling apart), but I have not tried it.  Has anyone done this?  Do you have any okra suggestions for me?   I am pretty new to okra, but have found it easy to grow.

rising grocery prices

Our next project was to deal with 145 ears of corn.  What was I thinking when I asked hubby to order 1 bag of corn, and he insisted we get 2!  Crazy I know.  After my back recovered from shucking, blanching, cutting the corn off cobs and packaging for the freezer, I am really glad we purchased all that corn.  This cost us $40 for the 2 big bags.

rising grocery pricesNow our freezer is looking much more prepared for the months to come.  I’m not done yet, I have a few other things up my sleeve to get this freezer stocked, and I plan to share those with you guys as they come around.

What are you doing in response to the rising grocery prices?  Have any ideas you want to share?

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Grocery Budget: Second and Third Week of September 2013

It’s been a crazy, one of those I can’t seem to get anything done, weeks here at practicing frugal.  The week has been further complicated by some routine doctor and dentist appointments that seem to always come at the wrong time.

Not only that, but my to do list is over-flowing with things that need to be done, and although I try not to let it get me down, it sometimes just does.  I’m working on it though. Doing my best, cause really that’s all we can do.

I have so many things to be thankful for, that it seems silly to let things get you down. That’s what I have to remember.  I get to spend every day with two (of three) of the most special things on this earth.  We may not always have great days, but we sure do enjoy our time together.

….. and that’s what it’s about.

So now that I got that off my mind, we shall talk about groceries.

I didn’t get a regular shopping trip in, other than a Sam’s trip this weekend, so I just decided that since we had made it to almost the middle of this week, I would just get the groceries for the rest of the week plus the next (3rd & 4th week of September).

empty refrigerator

This is what the fridge looked like before I went!  I think we almost cleaned it out.  It made it much easier to tell what we had, and we didn’t even waste a thing!  We did get rather creative with some of our meals, like when hubby used evaporated milk for his oatmeal because we were out of milk.

I spent $48.18 at Sam’s on green tea, almonds, granola bars and some fruit.

I batched my grocery shopping with other errands and activities we had, so all the groceries I bought at Kroger and Walmart are in these pictures together (I didn’t get pictures of my Sam’s trip).  We got home so late that I took a picture of the cold stuff and stuff that was needed right then, leaving the rest for the morning.

groceries 9-24-13

Yes I bought crayons at Kroger.  They were half price at $2.49.  That box of 64 crayons sells for $4.97 at Walmart.

The truffles will make a great school treat, and I had a coupon for $2 off.

groceries3 9-24-13

I spent $111.91 at Kroger.  I was able to get the yeast, bagged popcorn and frozen corn free with either free coupons sent to me or the friday free coupon you can load each friday to your shopper card.

I spent $112.58 at Walmart.  The 5 gallon jug of motor oil I bought didn’t make it in the picture.  At over $16 a jug, it’s not cheap.

My best deal was the $.99/lb grapes!  They are absolutely delicious too!

The thing I hated to spend money on was a new pair of sewing scissors (ouch) since I think mine went away to college!

So my total for the last two weeks of September is $272.67, which brings my monthly total up to $550.94.  

I’m sure I may have to pick up some more fruit or something while I am out, so I will update next week if I do.

How’s your grocery budget coming along?  What do you do when things seem to get you down?  

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Grocery Budget: Second Week of September 2013

It’s been a crazy busy week here at practicing frugal, and I just realized that I hadn’t posted grocery shopping totals for last week.  Oh my!  The weeks are just flying by!

One of the biggest questions I have always gotten from my friends is about my grocery budget and what we buy.  I admit that when I read other blogs, I love to see how much they spend as well as what they get for their money.  I find that I often get some ideas for things I would like to try or ways to save even more money.

We budget $150 a week for a family of 4-5 (oldest is in college but is home often).  This money is for food, cleaning supplies, paper products, pet food, toiletries, over the counter medicine and some car maintenance items.  I would love this amount to be lower, but while trying to include more lean choices of meat and more produce, I find that this amount is probably right where it needs to be.

walmart 9-13-13

I did the bulk of my shopping at Walmart this week.  I wanted to make a stop in Kroger, had a list and all, but it just didn’t work into the plans.

Yep, those are lunchables you see.  You won’t see those in my pictures very often, but I sometimes buy them for the girls for a treat ….. and a field trip happening during a busy week.

I spent a total of $114.32 at Walmart.  Not too many deals, a pretty boring trip, other than grapes for $.99/lb (ad matched to Kroger).

walmart 9-13-13

I also spent $24.30 at Dollar General, but I cannot seem to remember what I bought.

My total spent on groceries for second week of September 2013 is $138.62, which is $$11.38 under budget.

My total spent on groceries for September is under budget at $278.27.  Yipee.  Now if only a good meat sale would come around.  

How are you doing on your grocery budget?  

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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Grocery Budget: First Week of September 2013

One of the biggest questions I have always gotten from my friends is about my grocery budget and what we buy.  I admit that when I read other blogs, I love to see how much they spend as well as what they get for their money.  I find that I often get some ideas for things I would like to try or ways to save even more money.

We budget $150 a week for a family of 4-5 (oldest is in college but is home often).  This money is for food, cleaning supplies, paper products, pet food, toiletries, over the counter medicine and some car maintenance items.  I would love this amount to be lower, but while trying to include more lean choices of meat and more produce, I find that this amount is probably right where it needs to be.

blackberries

I didn’t do a planned major grocery trip this week, since we still had quite a bit of food in the house from last week.  We had some busy evenings last week, so many of our meals didn’t get cooked.  Instead, we ate smaller meals, snacked and had a couple of meals out.

While we were out of the house for other reasons, I stopped to get the things we needed for the week.

We spent $45.36 at Walmart, $30.20 at Dollar General and $16.74 at The Mad Butcher.  I also used the grocery budget to pay for the couple meals we ate out, since they were not planned.  The total for the meals out was $47.35.

The total for the first week of Septemeber is $139.65.  I’m proud to still be under budget, even after including the unplanned meals in the budget.

Our unplanned meals out reminded me of how we handled eating out when we were in the midst of tackling our mountain of credit card debt.  If we ate out, the money had to come from the grocery budget.  This not only forced you to get creative if you were gonna get something to eat while you were out (hello Sam’s pizza), but it made us think more about wether it was worth it or not.  When you are faced with buying groceries or eating a couple of meals out, the meals out no longer look so good.

How is your grocery budget coming along?  How do you budget for eating out?  

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Grocery Budget: Last Week of August 2013

One of the biggest questions I have always gotten from my friends is about my grocery budget and what we buy.  I admit that when I read other blogs, I love to see how much they spend as well as what they get for their money.  I find that I often get some ideas for things I would like to try or ways to save even more money.

We budget $150 a week for a family of 4-5 (oldest is in college but is home often).  This money is for food, cleaning supplies, paper products, pet food, toiletries, over the counter medicine and some car maintenance items.  I would love this amount to be lower, but while trying to include more lean choices of meat and more produce, I find that this amount is probably right where it needs to be.

DSCN3257

Sadly, I only have a picture of my Target trip this past week.

The good news is that I scored some great deals at Target.   I fully intended on posting these deals after I bought them for all to see and be able to do, but the last week has been pretty hectic getting ready for school and working on home projects, that I just didn’t get it done.  I promise to do better at getting these deals posted as soon as I can in case any of you want to do them too.

I was able to get everything in the picture for a total of $14.80!  Amazing.  I was so excited.

Since some of these deals are not available anymore, (the coupons and savings most likely are, but the prices may be different) I will just give a quick breakdown of what I bought and what coupons I used to show you how you can often get some great deals at target.

  • Up and Up disinfectant wipes $1.87 (saved 5% using Target Cartwheel App) Final price $1.77.
  • Girls Circo Leggings on sale for $5 (saved 15% using Target Cartwheel App) and used a Target mobile coupon for $3 off $10 on childrens clothing.  Final price $2.75.
  • Girls Circo Tunic on sale for $5, used the above $3 on $10 mobile coupon to make the final price $3.50.
  • Snickers Bites $2.66, used a $1 manufacturer coupons and a $1 Target mobile coupon for a final price of $.66.
  • Market Pantry Wafer Cookies $1.26 (saved 5% using Target Cartwheel App) and used a $1 Target mobile coupon for a final price of $.24.
  • Market Pantry Apple Juice $1.89, (saved 5% using Target Cartwheel App) and used a $1 Target mobile coupon for a final price of $.84.
  • Dasani water $1.49 for the thirsty shopper
  • Up and Up hand soap $.89 x 2 (saved 5% using Target Cartwheel App) and used a peelie coupon for $1 off 2 Up and Up hand soaps.  Final price $.34 each.
  • Gillette Series shaving cream $1.97 x 3.  I used a $6 on 3 manufacturer coupon to make $.09 on this deal.  Hubby doesn’t use shave cream, he likes shaving soap. but big girl and I could care less what our shaving cream looks or smells like.  It’s free!
  • Market Pantry Soup $1.22 x 3.  I used a $1.50/3 Target Coupon to get these for a final price of $.72 each.  These are the big cans comparable to Campbell’s Chunky Soup.
  • Index cards $.50 x 4 (saved 10% using Target Cartwheel App) and I also used a Target Mobile coupon for $1/4 Up and Up school supplies.  Final price $.22 each.  I have no idea how the Cartwheel took 12 cents off.  It should have been either 10 cents for after coupon or 20 cents for before coupon, but I have no idea how it came to 12 cents.

I also have a Target Redcard (debit) that saves me an extra 5% (recommending the Debit card only, I do not recommend credit cards) on purchases as well as giving me free shipping.

I’ll take all the savings I can get without having to use credit!

To get Target mobile coupons sent to your phone, just text the word OFFERS to 827438. You can use each mobile coupon once.  If you want to do a deal again, you can get the coupons sent to another phone in your house to do a separate transaction.

I always give the Target Cartwheel coupons to scan first, then mobile coupons and then any other coupons.  Sometimes the cartwheel takes the percent off before the mobile coupon and sometimes it take the percent off after the coupon.  I think it really has it’s own mind!

I got home quite late after buying my groceries at Kroger, and I just didn’t have it in me to take pictures.

I did spend $67.12 at Kroger on items like milk, eggs, cheese, green tea, toilet paper, noodles, garlic bread, crackers, pickles, oatmeal and a bunch of produce.  I was able to get 2 bags of cuties for $.99 each off the marked down produce rack (this is one of the only stores around here that has one) and peaches, nectarines, plums and gala apples for $.99 a pound.

Hubby spent $19.07 at Dollar General on canned chicken and baked beans.

Our grand total for the week was $100.99 which brings the total for August (5 weeks) to $759.18.  Wow that sounds like a bunch, but this month did have 5 Fridays in it!  So I ended the month over by only $9.18.  I’m glad I was able to make up for going over so much earlier this month.

GROCERY TIP ~ The best thing about a grocery fund or envelope that you contribute a set amount to each week is that what you don’t spend one week is in there for future weeks.  You can afford to go over at a later date if you have saved up some money over time in the grocery account. You can take advantage of that great meat sale or whatever else comes up.  I find this extra money is very handy at holidays when the list is a bit bigger to cook those special meals.

How are you doing with your grocery budget?  Need help or have a suggestion?  Send me an email or leave a comment.  With the price of groceries steadily going up and the size of the product going down, we all need all the help we can get.