Thursday, November 9, 2017

Shopping Goals: November, 2017

This time of year, shopping goals become "goals" in the relative sense as "goals" are more like, "Hey, you need to get this!"  With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I decided to give my new "system" a run for it's money.

Basically my new menu and shopping "system" was supposed to work like this.  At the end of the previous month I would sit down and plan out a basic menu for the month ahead.  Nothing TOO specific (as with me a really specific menu is destined to fail and fail big), but just a general sense of what we would be eating that next month.  The few areas where I wanted to plan kind of more in detail was when it came to desserts and things like breakfast dinners.  This way I could sit down, figure out how much eggs, flour, milk and other staples I would need down to the cup (or egg as the case would be) and then I could just plan on going through that much staple types of foods at a minimum, so could figure out when I needed to replenish them before I was "running out" of them.  For instance a 5 lb bag of flour usually gives me about 11 to 12 cups of flour (I think...I wrote it down, but I'm not getting up to go and find my paper), I could figure out a dozen eggs as needed, etc.  Any milk I would need for baking on top of what we normally drink per week (with a milk loving son and a milk loving husband...we go through 3 to 5 gallons a week) would be factored in and I was HOPING to pick up enough groceries to last us through two weeks without much effort by figuring it all out.  Even things like eggs I could pick up a month's worth at a time, or close to, I figured, thus saving me having to potentially purchase something at a higher price if I found a sale on something cheap before the new "month of system" kicked in.

It was a system destined for failure.

What I failed to factor in was that while it all worked FABULOUSLY on paper, there were a couple key points I was missing.  One was time.  With speech therapy twice a week, psychology appointments, a husband having to have dinner on the table at 4:30 every day so he still had time to get ready for work before taking off for the night on top of me having time to get his lunch packed for the day and growing children who would decide that while they loved a food one minute and then decide they could not care less about it the next while going and consuming copious amounts of other foods...well things were already not going well and I hadn't even really started yet.  Already the "system" was getting thrown off and I had to go and make an additional trip to the store for more, or different, foods depending on what was going on.  Or quickly had to just throw something different than I had even come close to having planned on to get my husband out the door on time for work (which happened more than I care to admit the last couple of months).  Then, due to lack of time during the day (with other appointments on top of speech therapy or if I needed to do an errand or something), dessert schedules quickly started getting screwed up if I had all my other ducks in a row on something for dinner and so I ended up with more eggs than I needed and things as I didn't have time to bake or prepare a dessert when I had planned.

So, was a nice thought and my brain keeps seething with a way to make it all work right.  I have tried the once a month menu thing and found that I just can't stick with it no matter how hard I try as I like to cook too much.  Preparing a menu for a month ahead just seemed like it took all the creativity out of cooking for me and that just made me unmotivated to follow the menu very quickly. 

Now, I have found that the figuring out roughly how many eggs I would need is KIND of working out ("kind of" is an operative term *laugh*), as if I have extra eggs I find that I just use them to make egg salad, french toast, or custard or something, so they don't go to waste (having chickens did do me a favor in that department as I have more experience using up eggs now).

So, anyway, if I can ever get the "system of menu planning to grocery shopping flow chart" figured out so it works well, I'll let you know.  For now it's just "Get this, it's on sale.  Redo menu as needed.  Wing it." with an overall budget worked out for groceries.  At least that "system" (if it can be called that) is working, so until improvements are made to the grey matter running the show, it'll have to stand.

So, back to this month.  This month's shopping goals are going to focus a lot around Thanksgiving and getting ready for it as here in the US our Thanksgiving is the last Thursday in November.  Since my husband's place of work is open 24/7 he's working on Thanksgiving this year.  My daughter, bless her heart, sat there looking sad when she heard me tell her that as I was trying to figure out the logistics of getting dinner on the table early, but not too early (so the husband had time to get plenty of sleep, but also having time to eat a big meal and actually have time to enjoy it and time with the family as well) on Thanksgiving and she made a comment that it didn't seem fair that dad would have to leave right after the meal.  She then looked up and smiled asking, "Mom, could we have it another day when dad can be home instead of on Thanksgiving Day?  So he can enjoy it to?"  I sat there a minute and said, sure we could, as my husband has Friday that week off.  My husband was happy and touched that my daughter thought of him when I asked him if he'd be okay with it (I knew he would be).  So, we'll be having Thanksgiving a day late this year :).

Other goals are just things I need and have been waiting for a great sale for.  Like butter.  It will go on sale for 2.50 per lb once in a while right now, but it seems like lately there's always a limit of 2 on it when that happens, so I'm KIND of hoping that they have a decent sale on butter coming up so I can stock up again as the prices at the bulk store on butter...well it's kind of getting ridiculous and is almost as expensive as picking up butter at the regular prices at the store.

So, anyway, let's get to the goals for this month!

Regular Stores:
  • Cranberries, two bags (one for cranberry relish for Thanksgiving and one to make into cranberry sauce later on).    
Done!  I got these at Carrs this week as they are on sale and cranberries tend to start selling out up here as Thanksgiving approaches.
  • Vegetable stock, 1 gallon. 
Done.  I had a few quarts of home made in the freezer from cooking down vegetable scraps, but I got a few quarts for a cheap personalized price at Carrs this week as well...this is another item that just disappears from the shelves as Thanksgiving approaches.
  • Butter (if a good sale comes up with the normally does go on sale, so here's hoping) 
  • Boiling Potatoes (for home made rustic Au Gratin potatoes for Thanksgiving)...This one might get done with russets if we are tight on money come Thanksgiving or a good sale fails to come about...we'll see how it goes.
  • Russet Potatoes (just because they go on sale super cheap this time of year and the Alaska Grown ones will actually last for quite a while).
  • Navel oranges, 2 (done.  Got those with the cranberries)
  • Fresh herbs (for turkey and for potato dish at Thanksgiving)....if I can't afford fresh herbs we'll make do with dried.
  • Vegetable oil (I'd like to get a couple more bottles as I have been going through it more now that I'm baking a lot more).
  • Heavy Cream ( a good personalized price on it, so I grabbed it when I went shopping...this is another item that sells out as Thanksgiving approaches at the stores).
  • Buttermilk (for biscuits for Post-Thanksgiving meals).
  • Stuffing mix (it is the season for watching for sales on it and I really like to have it around for casseroles and things throughout the year)
  • Au Gratin potatoes.  Once again, tis the season for sales.  Fred Meyer had these on sale this week for .99 a box...once again, true to form with Fred Meyer, by the time I went on Tuesday they were sold out of them and I couldn't find a cashier who had rain checks at their register to write me one, so I gave up.  I picked up a few boxes at Carrs yesterday when I had to run in for medication for the son (more on that later) on sale for 1.66 per box (or 3 for 5.00), but hoping to pick up a few more to be stocked up for a while.
Bright side is that I am stocked up DECENTLY well on things like Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken soups, so I can save money not having to buy those this year and I'm good on canned veggies and fruit, so yay for that.

Normally I'd be all gung ho to go and get a turkey when they are on sale for cheap when you spend a certain amount (or free if you spend like 100.00 or something in a shopping trip), but I am kind of torn about it.  On one hand, it is cheap meat if I spend 50.00 on other things as you can get the turkey for .50 lb about, but on the other hand...I already have a turkey in the freezer, turkeys SHOULD be on sale through Christmas pretty much and well...we'll see how money goes.  Right now it's tight and spending money on a turkey I don't need RIGHT NOW just doesn't seem overly practical.

So there you are folks.  My shopping goals for this month.  How about you?  Got anything you need, or want, to get this month?


  1. You know menu planning at my house is Kim plans God laughs!

  2. When you say that things run out at the supermarkets around Thanksgiving, does that mean they don't get restocked quickly like they would at a store in the US but not in Alaska? I guess I'm wondering about how the supply side of things work up north. In Mass, the stores sometimes run out of sale items but staples like heavy cream or veg broth would quickly be refilled if a store should run out/low. It sounds like pricing is not the only challenge in grocery shopping in Alaska. Happy holidays to you and your family.

    1. I’m in the UP of Michigan. When our main store runs out of something, the next delivery is on Thursday. If it ran out and no-one noticed, it takes two weeks. In the Summer, during tourist season, we have three deliveries a week. We still run out! Maybe that’s how Alaska is.

    2. We are five weeks out on ordering up here, so it becomes retail Stratego trying to figure out how much to order and when. Biggest problem is that we are low man on the totem pole when it comes to getting things as well. Stores regularly will go months with something empty on the shelves. They order it, but corporate doesn't send the item. This time of year the stores over order by a !ot, but still don't get enough of stuff in. And in the case of produce if we get it in we get the seconds that stores in the Lower 48 wouldn't buy a lot (I have noticed this has gotten better the last coup!e of years, though), but we still pay our prices for the item. It's just a part of living up here.

  3. All I could think of while I read through your post is what a sweetheart your daughter is, to want to change the day of your Thanksgiving so that Dad can be there and you can celebrate as a family. You are raising such great kids! <3

  4. How sweet of your daughter to want daddy to be there to enjoy the day! great idea.

  5. I have ‘menu plan’ on my list of things to do just about every week. It works great when I do it. Maybe in the New Year.
    How nice that your daughter came up with the idea of waiting for Dad! She’s a keeper!
    The only thing I may need is cranberry sauce. I have a can of whole berry but husband does’t care for it. Otherwise, I think i’m set, thankfully. This is going to be as low key as possible.

  6. This time of year really is difficult, isn't it? So much to purchase. So much parental guilt to make sure our kids enjoy the seaaon. So little money. Most days I view it all as a fun challenge, but some days I wish it was all a little easier. My plan for November is basically just the same as every other month...stretch the meager budget as far as possible. Only in November, every day meals have to be even simpler than usual so that there's extra for fun holiday stuff. I was blessed with a box of food from my brother and sister in law (They were cleaning out their freezer) which included several pounds of cheese. I was joking with my oldest daughter that our new challenge is to figure out how many different things we can make with cheese and potatoes! We also got our yearly hog from the butcher today. My parents raised it and paid for feed. We're just paying the $200 butchering bill.

  7. Your post made me think of Thanksgiving a few years ago, we had a giant snowstorm and lost power for the better part of 2 days and one of the 2 days was Thanksgiving! We ended up having our turkey on Saturday that week and it was just as good :)

  8. When I worked in the hospital we would get one of the holidays off a year - either Christmas or Thanksgiving. Then switch the next year. So we celebrated many of the holidays on a different day than the actual calendar day. One year my youngest asked what day his birthday was this year and I thought that odd. He just wanted to know what day we were picking to celebrate it since I was working on his B. day. lol

  9. I thought I left a comment, but I must have not, or pushed the wrong button, or?????

    Anyway, here's my 2 cents worth on menu planning.

    I have tried every way possible, but never as detailed as your plan. I agree that it is easier to do it on paper than with real family members who NEVER, EVER eat the way you have them pegged to do. I recently went through a time period where they were eating like horses! Tons and tons of food, none of it what they usually ate, and lots left over of the normal foods. Hmmmmm. Anyway, they are over that now, and are smoothed out to more typical eating. Whew!

    I think it's whatever works for each person, and I find that it often changes for me. I do one thing for a while, then another, then another, and so on. I can see that getting too detailed would backfire for me, though. A more general plan works better. Even having a well-stocked freezer and pantry works better than nothing, but the best way for me to do that is to make sure I go out there and decide on what I'm making first thing in the morning, or even the night before. Then, it is thawed and a plan has been made. I used nothing more fancy than that method for many, many years. Thinking it up is often harder than cooking it for me.

    1. I agree with you Becky. The hardest part of cooking for me is thinking up what to fix. When the boys lived here someone always liked whatever was put on the table. Now there are just two of us. I have thrown away more food this year than I care to know about. Right now I have stopped cooking. I ask my husband to tell me what he wants and I will cook it. If I don't have it, I will go to the store and buy it. He can't think of anything either, so I cook for me and let him scrounge.
      Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry