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.

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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.

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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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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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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 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.

walmart august 2013

We didn’t get out of the house much this past week, so most of our shopping was done at Walmart.

I did spend $16.02 at The Mad Butcher on ground chuck.

I sure can’t wait for a good sale on ground chuck!

walmart 2 august 2013

We needed more non-food items this week which tends to push the total on groceries up a little bit quicker.

We spent $138.96 on the items in all 3 pictures (except the ground chuck) at Walmart. Missing from the pictures is a large case of water and a large case of hugs drinks.  Hubby likes to keep these in his shop fridge for times we are working outside or just for a treat for the girls.

I was able to use $7.55 worth of coupons.

walmart 3 august 2013

My grand total for the second week of August is $154.98, which is over by $4.98.  Not too bad.  If my budget didn’t have a little wiggle room in it, I could have easily put off one of my non-food purchases until a later date.

The total for the first two weeks of Augst is $360, which is over by $60.  I am hoping that with 3 more weeks to go (this month has 5 Fridays), I can bring it down a bit.

While checking out at Walmart, the checker was telling me about some changes to that store’s ad matching policy.  Needless to say, the Walmart Ad Matching Policy is not always the final word.  I found out that the store used to ad match another local store’s Buy One Get One (without an ad price) ads.  The whole time I could have been getting these great Buy One Get One items using the Walmart low price.  Now the store has a new manager that will not match these ads.  The checker proceeded to tell me that anything in addition to the written Walmart policy is up to each individual store manager.  Since I had always just gone by the written policy and I didn’t ask a knowledgeable store employee about their ad matching policy, I missed out.

In the future I will now know which checkers to ask about the policy and any changes made to it.

Always ask about your store’s rules for ad amtching.  You may be pleasantly surprised and find out that they do more than the online policy states.

How are you doing with your grocery budget?  What do you do if you go over?  Does your store ad match differently than the online policy?  

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Grocery Budget: Final Week Of May 2013

People are always asking me how we get our groceries for such a small amount compared to what they spend. So I post our grocery trips here so you can see what we buy. We currently budget $150 a week for a family of 4 to 5 (big girl is at college most of the time) food, non food grocery items, cleaning supplies, pet food, health and beauty, over the counter medicine and some car maintenance items. This amount is still a bit higher than I would like, but I am learning that with the items included in our budget and the price of items in our area, this amount is really not that bad. When you are trying to eat a healthier diet consisting of leaner meat, lots of fresh produce, and more real food, your grocery bill will tend to be a bit higher. You just get creative and find other ways to save.

Just a reminder that this month there are 5 Friday’s, so that means the grocery budget for the month is $750 total instead of the normal $600.

Kroger 5-31-13

I spent $61.66 at Kroger on these items (44.1# bag of dog food missing from picture).  It was time for everyone to get new vitamins and they were on sale B1G1 for 50% off.  The milk was also on sale for $2.99, which is a great price for this area.

I had hubby and the kids with me and as you can see, they team up and ask for certain “other” things to be purchased.

I can take kids with me and stay to the list and budget, but kids and hubby make things go differently!  So who do you guys think the problem is?  (ha ha)

walmart 5-31-13

I spent $83.42 on these items at Walmart.  It seems like this week we needed more non food items than we normally do.

Hubby also spent $22.04 at Dollar General on green tea, chicken and a couple of energy shots.

My total for the week ended up over at $167.12, but my total for the 5 week month came in under budget at $733.57.  

Not too bad I suppose.  I didn’t shop as many deals and sales or use as many coupons as I normally would, so I think it turned out okay.

Finding any great deals?  How is your grocery budget going?  

Don’t have a budget?  Check out my series on creating a budget, it’s a great way to control your money instead of letting it control you.  

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Grocery Budget: First Week Of February

I started the week off with working a 12 hour night shift, so I’m a little behind on my grocery post for the week.  I did manage to get the groceries bought as well as take advantage of some deals at stores other than Walmart.

People are always asking me how we get our groceries for such a small amount compared to what they spend.  So I post our grocery trips here so you can see what we buy.  We currently budget $150 a week for a family of 4 to 5 (big girl is at college most of the time) food, non food grocery items, cleaning supplies, pet food, health and beauty, over the counter medicine and some car maintenance items.  This amount is still a bit higher than I would like, but I am learning that with the items included in our budget and the price of items in our area, this amount is really not that bad.  When you are trying to eat a healthier diet consisting of leaner meat, lots of fresh produce, more organic items and more natural foods, your grocery bill will tend to be a bit higher. You just get creative and find other ways to save.

Warning:  I got home late from shopping and running errands, so the picture quality is less than good, but at least you can see what I got.

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This is what I picked up at Kroger (the dried fruit and energy shots are from Sam’s) this week.  I was able to take advantage of the mega saver sale and get some of these items for very little or even free.

The chicken in the next picture was actually purchased at Kroger as well.  I told you it was late.  My brain was already asleep.

The Kroger mega saver sale allows you to purchase 10 of the items on the mega sale and then save an extra $5 for each set of 10 you buy.  It is limited to how many sets of 10 you can do in a transaction, but I have never reached the limit.  I have purchased 3 sets at one time (30 mega saver items).  If you buy the wrong item on one of your items or forget one, the $5.00 won’t come off the bill at the end of the checkout process.

The weekly ad lists some of the mega saver items in it, but there are so many more when you get in the store.  Unfortunately, the sale is over for the week, but they are having a 50% off sale now.

Some of the great deals I got with or without the mega sale are:

  • .39/lb ripe bananas and organic bananas (the only store around that sells them like this)
  • the chicken noodle soup was .79 each (.75 at Walmart) and I had a $.40 coupon that double to make them .59 each after coupon
  • bone in chicken breast at $1.29/lb
  • hefty freezer bags $.99 after mega discount
  • Mahatma Rice $.68 each after mega discount and 3-$.50 coupons that doubled
  • French’s Spicy Brown Mustard free after mega discount and 2-$.50 coupons doubled
  • Finish Dishwasher tabs $.84 each after mega discount and 3-$2.15 off one coupons
  • the cat food was free after a recent coupon for a free 16 oz package or $3.25 off a bag.  The only store I found around here that carried the box was Kroger.  Now I wish I had more of these coupons.

The things I didn’t mention were bought at a good price compared to Walmart or it was something Walmart doesn’t have.

I ended up using $21.75 in coupons after doubling and I saved 55% on my bill after coupons and sales, bringing my total spent at Kroger to $36.87  Of course if I had just bought the mega sale items and free items(which those extreme coupon people do), my percentage would be higher, but I buy all things I can get at a good price together on the same receipt at the same time.

I spent $36.16 on the items from Sam’s.

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I spent $10.32 at Target on the following good deals:

  • the tissue was $1.39 and I used 2-$.50 off Target coupons to get the tissue for $.89 a box.  If you use the rectangle boxes, you could get them for $.49 after Target coupon.
  • printer paper was is on sale for $2.98 and I used a $.50 off Target Coupon to get it for $2.48.  This was a great deal and I wish I had printed 2 of the coupons!  To tell you the truth, I didn’t know the paper was on sale, but I needed some and had the coupon, so i thought I would check the price while I was at the store.
  • fruit snacks were regular price at $1.89, but I used a $1.00/2 Target Coupon for them to make them $1.39 each.
  • the stickers were $1 in the dollar section at the front of the store.  Every homeschool mom needs stickers.
  • the poise pads were $.84 each after a $3.00 manufacturer coupon paired with a $2/2 Target Coupon.  For .$84 each I will use these in place of the other pads.  They will all do basically the same thing in the end.

I spent $10.32 at Target after coupons and my 5% Red Card discount.  I have the Red Card Debit card that takes the money out of my checking account, gives me 5% off and free shipping.  Can’t beat that, and it’s not a credit card!

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I spent $70.06 at Walmart on the items in these two pictures.  I used only $.40 in coupons, but 40 cents is 40 cents!

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I spent a total of $153.41 on groceries this week.  It is $3.41 over budget, but I know I am pretty sure I will be under budget this next week as some of these items will feed us for more than one week.

We will be eating the following meals for dinners(watch out there is a couple new things):

Since this post is already getting so long, I’m skipping our lunches and snacks this week.   They are about the same as they usually are.

How did you do with your grocery budget this week?  Did you find any great sales?  Have anything new on your menu?  Leave a comment telling us about it, we love to hear from our readers.

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