Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Bare Essentials Challenge: This Week's Shopping Trips

Well, this was a week where I really didn't need anything much, so of course this was the week I found some awesome deals and had to get them *laugh*.

First up my family and I stopped by "Bushes and Bunches" a local greenhouse business that runs a fruit and vegetable stand on the side as I saw that they were open for the year and really wanted to stop by and see if there were any good deals.  And ohhhh yeah did I find some!

They had 30 lb boxes of potatoes on sale for 25.00, which works out to .83 a pound, which was right around where my target was for potatoes around St. Patrick's Day, but I could never find a deal below .99 lb.  They had a bunch of different potatoes:  fingerling/peanut potatoes, fiesta potatoes (they have pink lines running through them), viking potatoes (a good white potato...kind of like a Yukon Gold potato), blue potatoes and red potatoes.  I was having a hard time deciding on which type I wanted as some of them I hadn't had before and the ones I had tried I loved, so I was sitting there undecided.  The gal who worked there wasn't busy and in a totally awesome move made me a variety box of all the different types!  And the best part was because she made one for me the box ended up being 34 lbs vs 30 lbs =D.

I can get months out of these types of potatoes by storing them in my fridge.  The gal who worked there assured me that the wax box would help to keep them fresh and that I should just tuck the potatoes in at night like another child under a heavy blanket to keep the light out and they would last a lot longer in a cool dark location that way.  So, I'm looking through my heavier materials to make a potato blanket really quick *laugh*.
While we were there I also discovered that they had big bags of grapes on sale for 2.50 per BAG!!!  Right now the cheapest I can find is 2.99 lb, so I grabbed a bag lickedy split.  And in another awesome move they threw a second bag in for free!!!  People, you are looking at about 20.00 worth of grapes, at least.  For 2.50!  This is why I love shopping local businesses when I can :).

I'm also seeing frozen grapes in our future as the grapes are ripe and I worry about them going bad before we can use them all.  I've heard it's possible to can them, but I've never had home canned grapes, so I'm not sure if it is worth doing or not.  Anyone ever done that?

So, all totaled I spent 27.50 at Bushes and Bunches.

Next up is a trip I took to Fred Meyer earlier in the week.  They have seeds buy one get one half price this week, so I grabbed some lettuce seeds and some green onion seeds for the garden.  I also picked up some Easter clearance Hershey eggs (minus a peelie coupon thing my mom sent me for .50/1 Hershey's bagged chocolate, but it didn't exempt holiday chocolate, so I used it), a reduced package of pudding for 1.89 (my husband likes these in his lunch and while he doesn't like the butterscotch flavor, my daughter does, so it worked out well), a thing of red banded bananas for .69 lb (worked out to be .84 for the bunch) and my Friday Freebies from the last couple of weeks.  Missing from said picture is the weekly Coke I bought (didn't feel like hauling it upstairs).

All totaled I spent 20.39 at Fred Meyer.
And then I went back to Fred Meyer as my friend gave me her freebies for Freebie Friday (thanks Stephanie!) and since I was in town for my son's therapy I decided to hop over to get them.  And, just because I could, I stopped and checked out the produce reduction area and ran into another cart of produce in the 1.00 bags!!!  And oh the things I got!!!

I got a ton of apples, which are set to become applesauce this weekend, which I am hoping to can.  I also got some limes (which I'll make creamy limeade with...I'll share that recipe when I make it as it is a wonderful summertime recipe :), some lemons, some grapefruit, some poblano peppers (which are getting cut up and thrown into the freezer pronto tomorrow as they are really wilty) and some pears (there were three, but one was so mushy that I washed and ate it as soon as I got needed doing ;).  I also got my freebies and a few cans of cat food.  All totaled I spent 12.65 (of which I do not regret one penny!).

Total spent for the week:  60.54

And the best part about being pretty much right on budget (I raised my grocery budget to 60.00 so I could start buying produce and seasonal items again)???  I MADE it without going over as payday is tomorrow!  Woohoo!!!  

A couple of groceries I bought that I didn't take pictures of is I got 4 more pounds of butter while it was on sale at Carrs (I went on Tuesday right before it went off sale with the Easter sales).  I had gotten 20.00 by selling an herbology book to a friend of mine that I was no longer using, so I used that cash to buy the butter (and a few things from the used store this week). 

Overall, this week was all kinds of awesome on the shopping front.  How did you do???


  1. You did great! Fresh produce is so good but just expensive at regular prices.

    1. I am totally of the same mind. I have such a hard time shelling out the prices they want at the store for fresh produce, but when I can find a great deal I jump on it and stock up as it tastes go much better than canned goods. I usually don't can this time of year, but I'm making an exception because of all of this *laugh*.

  2. Oh my, you did really well with your grocery budget this week, Erika! You could even make a nice fresh fruit salad mix with some of it. So glad you had the opportunity to use your money on some bulk purchases of fresh produce this week.

    Last weekend I braved the stores on Saturday (it was insane in there because the stores were closed on Friday and Sunday) and bought 4 smoked hams on sale for $5.97/800g and 4 fresh pineapples on sale for $1.49 each (that's a really good price for around here). We have a meat slicer, so I had my husband slice all the hams into luncheon meat, then packaged it up and put it in the freezer. Sliced ham at the grocery store is usually at least $1.25/100g on sale, and buying it this way made it $0.75/100g. I then cut up 3 of the 4 pineapples and put them in the dehydrator, plus pureed some with applesauce to make fruit leather at the same time. The dried pineapple turned out amazing and it will keep for a lot longer than a couple weeks in the fridge! Then yesterday, my husband and I went to a local grocery store and bought 8 packages of assorted luncheon meat for sub sandwiches for $1.99/pack (normal price for these are around $5-$6) that still had a month left on the expiration date. We put 2 packs in the fridge to use now and froze 6 packs for later use. I'm pretty pleased we were able to stock up the cold meat options for our pantry this week!

    1. Do you do anything special to the pineapple to dehydrate it or just dehydrate it straight? I never thought to dehydrate one. I always end up freezing a part of one when I get one and using it up sometime in the future (usually at canning season). I love the idea of dehydrating one though. I bet it's tasty!

    2. I just cut it up in thin wedges and put it in the dehydrator. It turned out really tasty too. I'm sure you could mix it with sugar or soak it in a sugar/water mixture, but I feel like that defeats the whole point of preserving "healthy food". My daughter says that pineapple tastes sour and is reluctant to eat it, though she did snack on some.

      She's still loving the fruit leather and I make that by putting some applesauce (homemade with no sugar added) and some fresh pineapple in my magic bullet and blending to a puree before pouring it onto the fruit leather tray that came with the dehydrator. Again, no sugar added but the applesauce acts as a sweetener. One the puree is dried, I cut it up into serving sizes and roll them in waxed paper, similar to fruit roll ups. The leather has a nice chewy texture, similar to fruit roll up. Without any sugar, they are much healthier and a great way to get nutritious fruit into my daughter!

  3. You did great, Erika! You got some nice deals this week. High Five to you! :)
    We had no fresh fruit on the house so when I saw some good deals on produce I stocked up on fruit (grapes were on sale here too and i got 2 big bags also- i freeze them if we cant eat them all before they go bad, we love them as a frozen treat!) and i got a nice deal on some green peppers. I always feel happy when there is a full fruit bowl on the table and the veggie drawer is full. :)
    You made me giggle about your "potato blanket." A neighbor once gave us about a hundred pounds of potatoes that a farmer friend of his was going to just bury and throw away. We stored them in our dark basement and they seemed to last forever. I love how the lady at the store gave you a nice variety- that would have made my week! :)

    1. I was thrilled with the Poblano peppers mainly because bell peppers are platinum plated up here. You're talking 2.00 a piece for them. I remember there was a sale at one of our local stores like three years ago where bell peppers were like .79 lb. I bought TONS, food savered and froze them and they lasted forever. It was great, unless you needed fresh fora salad or whatever...I could defrost them and then dry them out a bit so they weren't too soggy, but they always ended up being a bit chewy doing it that way. But, it was a lot better than spending full price on peppers, that was for sure :).

      Up here you can get russets CHEAP in the fall if you are willing to purchase in bulk. A lot of people buy hundreds of pounds of potatoes and use them all winter long and such, but I like the other varieties of potatoes better, which unfortunately those are the more expensive types *laugh*. 30 lbs will still last me a long time if I can store them right, so I'm thrilled :).

  4. The produce looks delicious!
    My grandma canned grapes any time they were very cheap and we ate them frequently the following winter; they are even more delicious than the canned grapes you get in canned fruit cocktail. I think you have to peel them first, so it might be a lot of work. I suppose whether it's worth it to you depends on how much you like frozen grapes, or would prefer an alternative. Also, I think I recall they need less sugar than most fruit to can, because they're so sweet. Another alternative is to just can the grape juice...I think the Prudent Homemaker might have a recipe on her site (or reference the one she uses) for this.

    1. Long ago, I remember canning grapes. I was making canned fruit cocktail and had leftover grapes. So, I just popped them in the jars, put on a super-light syrup (probably 5:1 or 6:1) and canned for 20 minutes. (I'd check on-line to see if that time has changed in all these years.) I made 1/2 pints and used them that winter when I made a fruit salad as an addition. I didn't peel them, as the peels were tender and I didn't have time for that. But, we ate them.

    2. Thanks ladies! Good to know that canned grapes taste good :). I'll have to look at my Ball book and see what they recommend. Personally I can't see putting forth the effort to peel them as canning cherries you can keep the skins on when you do them whole, so I can't imagine grapes would be any different. I'll look into it, though, to be safe!

  5. Sweet potatoes like to be warm and white potatoes like to be cool when stored. Funny how that works. I can my sweet potatoes and then they are cooked ready to use. If any of your grapes are wrinkled, don't throw them away. Put them in the dehydrator and make raisins. They won't shrink to the small size of store bought ones and you will be tempted to leave them in there until they are smaller - then they will be rock hard. I made that mistake.
    You could put a few of everything you bought into the dehydrator at once. A few: grapes, a piece of apple, pear, banana, orange skin (to put in tea), some sweet potato slices and way off in a corner on top all by it's self - hot pepper.

  6. I adore limeade but I've never heard of your version!

    I envy those farmer stand prices. Here we are, heart of farming community and no matter if it's a farm stand, or farmers market, produce is ALWAYS at least 50% more expensive than the grocery store. It's crazy. I won't pay $4 a lb for tomatoes when I ca get them $2 a lb at kroger. Same with everything

    1. We're the same here, too, Sarah! I don't understand it either, since there is no middle man for the farmers to deal with. I guess they are trying to profit from the fact that it is "fresh from the farm" instead of "shipped in".

      The only exception for us is apples. We go directly to the apple orchards and can buy bushels or half-bushels of "C-grade" apples (the ones that aren't perfect) for really good prices in the fall. We buy one or two bushels every year, then spend days making apple pies and apple crisps for the freezer, and making applesauce for canning (or freezing if I run out of canning jars). We always keep a just enough aside that we can eat fresh before they go bad. This year, now that I have a dehydrator, I will probably run several batches of apple slices through it as well!

    2. There are a few orchards nearby, I should check into that this fall! I'm glad that you mentioned that!

    3. We are usually the same way up here (I went to a farmer's market a couple of years ago and was offended at the prices...I mean 8.00 for a lb of green beans??? That was just nuts!), except I can usually get good deals on potatoes and carrots. Other produce, like fruit, you just pray that someone makes an ordering mistake and ends up with tons of extra and needs to just liquidate them at the cheapest price necessary to get rid of them (like the bushels of apples I got last year) or they have deals you can get on produce in another way.

      Bushes and Bunches gets their fruit in from out of state and a few other things (due to the fact that stuff like that doesn't grow up here well) and they found that they pay the weight maximum on the truck no matter what so they just have an agreement with the produce company they order from to load up the truck with whatever and they'll figure out if it'll sell at premium or not (they get the overflow fruit CHEAP as it's usually something the produce company is keen to get rid of extras).

      They'll even have the produce company deliver so many pounds of whatever to a truck that is going to have crates of seeds and other things for their green house business just to meet the weight amounts they need to get the most of their money.

      Because of this, I've gotten cases of nectarines (which were the BEST canned peaches ever!) for like 10.00 from them one year, I've gotten numerous bunches of free bananas from them that were past their prime and I got the bags of grapes for super cheap, etc. Thus why I shop there obsessively during the summer and fall months *laugh*. It's almost like thrift store shopping for me...the thrill of the hunt and the find are half the fun (although having the produce is even better ;).

  7. I can help you with canning grapes, I usually can grapes in the summer / fall when they are in season. This is the only time they really taste good and they have a decent price. I don't want to pay high prices in the winter for something shipped from Mexico or China.
    So, I wash grapes, make a light or medium syrup ( how much sugar depends how sweet you like your fruit )and can them as you do with peaches, cherries etc .
    No need to remove the skins, I can cherries this way to with the pit still inside.
    They taste really good and we really enjoy eating cherries and other fruit in the winter.
    Hope this helps.