Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bare Essentials Challenge: This Week's Shopping Trips

Well, I have finally decided to raise my grocery budget by 10.00 per week to 60.00.  I really didn't want to do it, but with produce coming into season (thus cheaper and better quality) and such, I really feel like I need to do it just because I'm going to be going consistently over the 50.00 I set myself for a grocery budget.  I'm sure some weeks I'll be able to beat said number, but this way I have a little wiggle room anyway.

This turned out to be a good week for sales after all.  I was thinking that I'd have to pass on corned beef this year as 3.49 lb was the cheapest I was seeing it for sale, but when I went to Fred Meyer I found out that the points weren't advertised on their ad, only the flats and the points were 2.49 lb!  Not the 1.99 or less per lb I was hoping for, but I was willing to suck it up and deal with it.

I picked two corned beef briskets and used my 3.00 off your meat purchase of 15.00 or more coupon on them and it worked out to be about 12.00 for both corned beef briskets.  I took that amount off of my holiday meat shopping budget, so I won't be counting it on my weekly grocery budget, but I was so happy to have gotten them that I just had to share *laugh*.

And now onto the rest of the shopping!

The milk should actually be in with my Carrs shopping, but I put it here because I broke up the groceries into "fresh or frozen" and "shelf stable" categories this time.

When I went to Fred Meyer I got my free pot pie while I was there.

I got grapes for 2.99 lb on sale for my daughter's lunches (and as dessert for a "light" type of night).  I always have problems with Fred Meyer and their produce in that they never pick over the produce to remove rotten grapes and things, while Carrs seems to be better about doing that when they put stuff out.  So, I am sure the produce guy was going to be ticked at me later, but I picked out any grapes that were rotten or near rotten from the bag before I put it into the cart.  I just refused to pay for fruit that we were not going to eat.  Sorry produce guy!

I got my son some of the Natural Harvest Whole Wheat Bread.  My mom sent me a coupon for .75/1 on that brand, my son really likes it (still trying to sell him on home made bread) and the one loaf will last him quite a while for toast.  It was on sale for 2.99.

I was going to get my daughter Tyson chicken nuggets for her lunches while I was there, but they were out, so I ended up getting her Foster Farm ones instead for 6.49.

I also got two bags of discounted apples for 1.00 per bag.  I nearly went nuts with the reduced fruit as they had a cart full of it, but the reduced citrus was in really bad condition, so I just went with the two best bags of apples I could find.

The milk was 3.69 regular price.

All totaled I spent 25.53 toward my grocery budget in that photo.

 I ran over to Carrs because of 5.00 Friday sales.  I got cat litter and a big bag of dry cat food for 5.00 each (I had a 1.00/1 coupon for the dry cat food, so that actually ended up being 4.00), a party sized bag of Cheetos on sale for 4.99 and two containers of flavored water for my daughter's lunches (since the kids were going back to school on Monday and I wanted to make sure I had enough to last her through the week and the weekend).  Final cost 20.98 (with the exception of the milk in the first photo up top).

Total cost toward grocery budget:  47.51.

I then went and got another gallon of milk this week on that 50.00 too, so I went a bit over budget by 1.12.  Not too bad, though, overall.

So my total spent for the week was 51.12.  Meat purchases (of which I set aside money for holiday sales and meat shopping this month) totaled 12.49.

By the way, notice the lack of Coke in the photos above?  I ended up sending my husband to the store earlier last week (after my "ouch" shopping trip to Three Bears and all) and had him pick up Coke while he was there.  I then put some cash float money I had back into the bank later to help cover the cost of the Coke as I had it to spare from my monthly grocery budget.  It worked out alright and allowed me to skip buying Coke for a while as I didn't realize how little soda my son was drinking while he was sick (since I was sick too) and we ended up being super stocked with Coke.  How well stocked?  I think I might get through all next week without having to buy Coke too.  I'm happy with that situation anyway :).

So, there you are folks.  My shopping trips for the week.  How did you do?


  1. Great buys! I might have gone crazy on the produce too. It's funny how you mentioned a previous post you still managed to stay in your previous budget, that happened to me this week too, even though I didn't hit any seller deals, and didn't buy any meat, so I tucked it away for next week. I was sad to see though, I'm only about a week and a half ahead on my menu thouh, so need to sit down and see what I can come up with. It's been nice being so far planned out, but guess made me lazy in future planning.

    1. *Laugh* I have such serious failings when it comes to planning my menu too far out. It's like subconsciously I look at the menu and go, "You're not the boss of me! I'll show you!" and then it starts to go awry big time *laugh*. I discovered through trial and error that week to week is really the best I can accomplish on a meal plan and actually stick to it. So congrats on being able to keep ahead on that and stick to it :).

  2. Are you planning to have a garden in the summer ? I live in Texas, we already have 70-80 degrees during the day, and I have planted a big garden this year. This is the first year a garden here since we just get the house few months ago, so we have to see how everything will grow here ( I don't have the best soil )
    Anyway I like to read your posts, I am trying to stay on a budget myself, it's not the easiest thing to do since we eat lots a fresh fruits and vegetables and it's hard to resist pick your own farms and farmer markets.

    1. I do plant a garden every year, although right now I have a pretty small plot prepared for gardening (HOPING to expand and get a greenhouse someday should money allow). I will be growing my own lettuce come summer along with some other plants (and hopefully some later crops toward the fall like turnips from seed), but unfortunately for me our growing season doesn't really kick off until the beginning of May and then I have to wait until everything grows to the point you can harvest it. And some crops, like apples, we don't have a lot of varieties of trees I've been able to find that are allowed to grow up here or can grow up here. So, I end up having to come up with a balance between what I can grow, what is realistic to grow and what I plain am going to have to buy. So, I do end up buying produce for a lot longer than those with a longer growing season. We live for summer up here, though, that much I can say and I keep my eye out for ANY great deals on produce I can find :).

      There was a point where I really tried to live on fresh fruits and vegetables and I had to buy all natural meat to avoid additives like broth in the meats as we were on a strict diet for my daughter to see if we could help her stomach condition and then...allergies. We were eating gluten free to see if that would help her, then it was gluten free and dairy free and potato free. Then we had to do corn free due to an allergist diagnosed corn allergy. Then we were garlic free due to my son's garlic allergy, and coconut free, and oat free. Due to those things I had to make EVERYTHING (including extracts) from scratch and we couldn't do a lot of canned goods due to allergies and such. My grocery budget gave me hives as having to buy fresh produce and not canned, gluten free flours, specialty online chocolate and organic products for my son...the list just kept going on. My grocery budget at one point was 400.00 a WEEK just to get the fresh produce and other items to keep my children's diets somewhat balanced up here, especially since my son's diet became super restrictive, even for him, because when we had to cut things like chili powder out of his diet and make our own, he stopped eating so many things, including chili, chicken and noodles, cheese sauce and other items. It was scary, depressing and expensive and he lost SO much weight when he was super skinny before that.

      I was so, so grateful when we lost a bunch of the allergies, especially the garlic allergy so we could feed him things like Pringles again (not ideal, but at least it helped to put weight back on him). The life threatening peanut allergy is scary, but is at least affordable to have to deal with compared to everything else we were living with.

      But, yeah, I now just strive for a balance and an affordable balance at that. I am grateful to be able to buy canned goods and some shelf stable processed foods, but I also, when produce is actually worth buying up here, do strive to buy as much as I can fresh just because it does taste better :).

      And I totally went off on a tangent there. Ahem. Sorry *laugh*.

    2. Erika, have you ever tried buying fresh produce when it is in season and on sale, then blanch and freeze it for use in winter. I'm pretty restricted to how big of garden I can have, because I live with my mother (if it was my yard, I'd change and add a few things). But last fall, the grocery stores had 10lbs bag of carrots on sale for $2.50. We can't eat 10lbs of carrots before they go bad, but I bought up 2 because of the cheap price. I did a couple days of marathon peel, cut and blanch sessions, then laid out the processed carrots on bake sheets in the freezer. Once frozen, I put them into large freezer bags. We're still eating them.

      I've done this with broccoli when it is on sale for $0.99/bunch, buying up 4 or more heads. Right now broccoli is anywhere from $2.50 to $3/head! I do the same with cauliflower. I've also tried buying corn on the cob, blanching it then cutting it off the cob. However, it is a lot of work doing that and my family eats a LOT of corn, so I'm not sure it is working out very well. I had to buy bags of frozen corn this winter, despite my best efforts. Still trying to make it work though!

      As for the garden, I really do sympathize with the short growing season. However, there are veggies that are cold tolerant and have shorter maturing times (peas are a good example). When looking at gardening stuff on Pinterest, take a closer look at what most people refer to as "fall gardens" for ideas on what to try growing. Those veggies tend to be cold tolerant and produce in a shorter period.

      As for fruit trees, will something like cherry trees grow there? They are one of the first fruit trees to produce fruit here in Ontario and are very expensive to buy. You will need to have 2 trees to cross pollinate, but would definitely provide a really nice treat that would otherwise be out of your budget range, not to mention how pretty the flowers are in spring! Peach trees and plum trees also produce earlier than apple trees do and may be options for your area, though you'd have to check if they can tolerate your winters up there (I think they are not as tolerant of the cold). I know you may have already thought about these things, but just thought I would put out my suggestions.

    3. The biggest problem with produce up here is it is so hit or miss even in season. Like strawberries were on sale for 2.50 a pound this week, but I for the life of me, couldn't find a pound that wasn't half rotten, so I ended up having to pass the sale by.

      If I find a good deal and the produce is decent, you bet I jump on it and process it for winter time. I'm still working out way through the two bushels of apples I got last year for 7.99 a bushel (it was wonderful!) and I've been lucky enough to stumble into some sales on things like nectarines one year and such at different points.

      I try, when I plant the garden, to plant at least ONE plant with the idea of preparing it for winter. I do like to grow lettuce as it saves me from having to buy lettuce for 2.00 a head all through the summer and I always grow chard or last year it was kale (couldn't find chard to buy). I normally grow potatoes and get a decent crop of them...last year not so much as it was just too hot for them, but the tomatoes grew well and I still have a couple of small baggies of tomato sauce in the freezer :). And after growing cabbages my second summer here I don't think I'll need to buy sauerkraut after again *laugh*.

      This year, so far, I'm THINKING of trying to do a co-planting/rotation crop garden to get as much as I can from our three month to three and a half month growing season. I'm thinking of trying spinach this year as it's supposed to be really quick to mature and harvest so you can get like three crops of spinach by the time summer is over and I could use that as both a dark green to blanch and freeze and also as lettuce for salads. I have turnips seeds that I'm hoping to do a crop of potatoes first and then put the turnips in after. Supposedly turnips can take a frost even and they'll get sweeter in the ground afterwards, so I'm hoping that works out okay.

      I bought carrot seeds, but I keep going back and forth about planting them as we can get carrots decently cheap up here during harvest time and I can get locally grown carrots pretty cheap throughout most of the winter months. So, I'm still kind of up in the air on that one.

      Fruit doesn't like to grow up here due to the permafrost in the ground, so we have pretty shallow rooting trees up here. Then there is the fact that it can still get cold at night even in the summer, the constant sunlight in the summertime and the super long and cold winters. So, we have a few types of apple trees that will grow that I know of (cold hardy varieties) and some berry bushes grow up here (raspberries, blueberries, etc) but fruit trees don't seem to do much. I have found some different types of fruit trees that will work in our growing zone, but they won't ship up here due to agricultural laws (which I need to look into more). I even found a type of grape that will grow in our zone. Really I'm still on a learning curve. Before I moved here I always had container gardens or like two plants, so it's been a learning experience every year as I try to expand my little garden plot to grow that much more food. I'm hoping we can put in some raised beds, proper ones, in the next few years and if I could get a greenhouse...ahh the things I could grow!

      I'm keeping my eyes open for sales and things on produce from week to week and hopefully I'll be able to find some awesome sales to put some up for next winter. I like to hit the veggie stands and things during the summer months in the hopes that there will be a bumper crop of something that they want to liquidate (where I've gotten some awesome deals before :). I really am hoping for a great sale on cherries, frozen or otherwise, so I can put up some cherry pie filling for later use and I am probably going to end up buying apples as cheap as I can for apple sauce and apple pie filling...I'll just budget out some money for that.

      So yeah, here's to a good growing season and some awesome sales :).

  3. My grocery budget is crazy right now! It's all over the place. While we were camping, we did great because I cooked the food I had purchased and taken with me. Ever since we got home, we've done nothing but leave so they can show the house, and we've ended up eating out quite a bit. So, I really have no idea how much I've spent on food, but it's more than usual because of the restaurants. I'm just not beating myself up over it--it's a cost of selling the house. If this process takes a long time, we can start doing picnics when the rain slacks off a bit. I do have gift cards for some of this extra expense, but not all. Tomorrow, the one scheduled showing will allow us to eat here, and the 2nd one has not panned out, yet, so I think we can eat here all day. Tonight, Rob barbecued pork chops from our pigs--the first thing we've tried so far. Yum!

    1. Man, I can only imagine. I've never had to show a house, but I imagine that it is a lot of work keeping the house clean enough to show on a tight schedule and then eating out...yeah I can see where that would just end up being an expense you'd have to just resign yourself to. I hope your home sells quickly so you don't have to worry about dealing with all of it for long!

      It's so cool that you are getting to eat meat that you raised yourself! I keep going back and forth about keeping chickens and rabbits here. We have enough land to do it without problems, but every time I think about doing it I see more lynx tracks in the yard and wonder between that and the eagles if the poor animals would last a winter up here even with a heater and hutch. One day I'm hoping to get a fence built, but until money improves I know that's not a foreseeable thing to do, so we're just going to have to deal with what we have.

  4. I will say that we have bobcats and mountain lions here, as well as lots of coyotes. We've actually seen a coyote kill a cat and drag it away--by the time my husband got out the gun, unlocked the ammo that is stored separate, and went after him, it was too late. (We are super cautious with our guns because we have so many kids--we would never want anything to happen to them). We've occasionally seen bear scat on our property as well, but not for a while. We've lost quite a few chickens to coyotes, raccoons, hawks and skunks. Of course, deer are abundant and eat anything that's not fenced, but only plants, of course. So, free-ranging is not the "healthy" option for our chickens. We often let them out for the day, and put then back in for the night, so they can eat the bugs and stuff, but Rob raised all of the turkeys inside the barn. They were in a stall and could walk around, but could not go out. The pigs are not bothered by animals, at least not so far.

    That being said, it doesn't take a large enclosure for laying chickens and they will return home for the night as long as you lock them up for a few days at first so they know where they live. Rob always raises baby chicks inside the barn and only lets them out when they are big enough to avoid hawks, etc., and meat birds never really want to take walks anyway. He has to separate the waterer and feeder so that they HAVE to walk back and forth. Cornish Cross chickens are THAT lazy. So, you are right about needing some protection for animals.

    1. Yeah we had a mama and baby bear in the neighborhood last year and it was wandering around while I was waiting for my daughter's bus. After that day there was no more bus for the daughter (the bus was 2 hours late on top of the bear, so don't think I'm being overly weird or something *laugh*)...I drop her off and pick her up now.

      I know how you feel about the deer. We have moose and they can decimate a garden like nobody's business. My neighbor across the street kind of envies my little garden as it's right against our house and then on top of that our camper is parked next to it, so there's a narrow corridor to fit through that moose probably find a bit claustrophobic, so they tend to leave my garden alone...definite benefit to the small footprint.

      Good to know about the chickens, though. If money improves building a hutch and a shed/barn might be a more viable option. I'd love to get a rabbit hutch as I think not only would the kids like playing with the rabbits, but then you can get a good amount of meat overall from them. Ah dreams and thinking :).