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February's Grocery Shopping Plans

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Beets in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

The garden is less productive than it usually is this month, but I'm hoping to have more to harvest towards the end of the month. I've cloched several lettuce seedlings to get them to grow faster. 

I have a few green onions (fewer than previous years, but we've also been using them more, so I will be planting more seeds this month), lots of beet greens (and beets), some chard, lots of thyme, lemons still hanging from the trees (plus the baskets and baskets inside), and a few other herbs. 

We're working on eating down the freezers, and I'm using up fruit we've frozen from the garden, and eating home-canned and dried produce as well.

I never did get to Target last month, so I'll look for sales this month on items I usually purchase there.

 

Smith's:

(These sales end 2/02)

American Beauty Pasta $0.49 a pound when bought in multiples of 6

Oranges $0.39 a pound

Gala Apples $0.99 a pound

 

Sam's Club:

Milk

Eggs (they had 5 dozen eggs at $6.24 last month; I'm hoping that price continues)

Flour Tortillas

 

Target:

Oil of Olay soap (there is currently a $1 off coupon on Coupons.com)

Secret unscented deodorant (I'll look for coupons; it's also possible to find a good sale at Smith's occasionally, so I'll look at their ads as well)

Valentine's peanut M&M's (coupons.com has coupons, and Target usually has a Target coupon you can stack with this, plus a Target cartwheel offer to stack, plus a sale. I'll watch for these.)

Vitamins (I probably missed a sale, but I've been a bit busy in the garden lately. . . .)

Salon Graphix unscented hairspray

Borax

Washing Soda

 

Walmart:

Hand dishwashing soap (they were out when I went last month)

Oxi-clean spray in the refill bottle

 

Costco:

Feta cheese

 

Other items for which I'll watch for sales:

Sour Cream

Asparagus

Broccoli

Potatoes

Almond extract (I found out last month that our Sam's Club no longer carries this. Does anyone have a suggestion on where to find the best price? I am considering checking at Winco and Costco.)

Frozen petite peas (I'm hoping for a great sale at Albertson's, since everyone loves them).

Bananas

 

Tagged in: Grocery Shopping
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My post, What I'll Spend for Food, has been one of my most popular posts. Several readers have asked for an updated version that includes current prices, as prices have risen since I have written that post.

At the time I wrote that (3 years ago this month) sales for both us and our agents were far and few between, and my grocery budget was $100 a month for our family of 9. A year later, were were able to increase our budget to $200 a month, and two years later (last January), as sales had begun to increase in our city, for both us and our agents, I increased our budget to $300 a month. (Note: For those who don't know, my husband is the broker and owner of a real estate company, and we have around 40 agents at our company).

This didn't mean I greatly increased our price points on most items, however. I still aim to find the lowest possible prices and buy items at that price.

With growing children whose appetites are increasing, I an serving larger portions than I did in 2013. I currently have a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, as well as 5 younger children. My son has the typical appetite for a growing boy his age, and my husband tells me I haven't seen anything yet when it comes to how his appetite will increase even more over the next few years! 

And so, I expect that the need to increase our budget will continue to grow, as our children continue to grow.

For now, I am keeping my budget at $300 a month for our family of 9. This includes both food, toiletries, and cleaning items. I have been asked if it includes "paper items", which I believe means disposable items used with food. I don't buy a lot of items in that category, but I do buy Ziploc freezer bags, toilet paper, and paper towels. We don't use paper towels for cleaning or for drying our hands; we use paper towels for draining oil or grease from foods that need it. (Some people have suggested using newspaper or paper bags for this, but we don't get the newspaper, and I take reusable cloth bags with me when I shop).

Keeping my purchases within my price points means I won't buy items if they go above that price. We will choose something else (see my post "Comparing Apples to Oranges"). It also means waiting to purchase items when they get this low.

I have had some readers tell me my prices are low, and some tell me they are high. My readers are from around the globe, and prices vary a lot depending on where you live. Our "local" produce in the grocery store (and yes, the ads mark it that way) is from the next state over, because I live in one of the driest deserts in the world, and food is not being produced here. What might be the lowest price for me may be vastly different for someone on the other side of the country. When making a price book for yourself, study the ads for 12 weeks (the typical grocery cycle) and sometime in that 12 week time period, you will see the lowest prices on most items come around. 

There are exceptions, of course. Some items go on sale 1-2 times a year at their lowest price. This is always the case with in-season produce, and also the case with a few holiday special items. I wait to purchase these items all year at their lowest price.

Where a range of prices is listed, that is the typical lowest price sales range in my area.

Note: For my readers outside the U.S., 1 pound equals 0.453592 kg.1 pound is 16 ounces.

Berries in Colander The Prudent Homemaker 

Produce:

I keep my produce price to $1 a pound or less, with an exception noted below. Several items that used to be on my produce purchase list are now no longer on my list, since I grow them instead.

Russet Potatoes: $0.10 to $0.25 a pound, always purchased in a 10 pound bag. I still occasionally find them for $0.10 a pound, but there is a usually a limit of one bag at this price now. I generally find them on sale in season (fall-winter) on sale for $0.20 a pound.

Apples: $0.79 to $0.99 a pound. Again, I find the best prices in fall and winter. I also grow apples in my garden; my best producing tree is a Dorsett Golden, that is ripe in June.

Oranges: With the razing of so many orange groves in California in 2015 due to drought, as well as several store closings in our area that used to have cheap oranges, this price has changed. The lowest I found this year was $0.68 a pound, with typical sales prices going to $0.99 a pound this winter. I currently have two small orange trees planted in pots, but they are young and not yet producing.

Limes: I buy a bag of 12 from the .99 store, or else I use powdered lime juice (which tastes as good as fresh) from San Francisco Herb Company.

Broccoli: This is in season in winter, and I pay $.99 a pound for crowns at Winco, and blanche and freeze it when it is on sale. I also grow a bit in my garden. If I can find it for less, I'll buy even more at once.

Petite Peas: $1.00 a pound, frozen, bought on sale at Alberston's a few times a year.

Asparagus: $0.99 a pound in season in spring, but I also grow some in my garden.

Corn: Canned corn comes in a 15 ounce can (16 ounces equals one pound). I'll pay $0.33 to $0.45 on sale a couple of times a year. For fresh ears, I'll pay $0.20 to $0.25 each. I do not grow corn, as our extreme heat means it rarely tassels and the plants burn in the harsh sunshine.

Green Beans: Canned green beans comes in a 15 ounce can (16 ounces equals one pound). I'll pay $0.33 to $0.45 on sale a couple of times a year. The only beans that grow here in our heat are the yard-long beans, and they usually need some afternoon shade to keep them from cooking and burning on the vines. I grow them, but not enough for our family. Most of the year it is too hot for even this type to flower.

Bananas: $0.59 to $.79 is the typical price here.

Carrots: $0.40 a pound in a 10-pound bag at Winco

Onions: $0.38 to $0.48 a pound

Clementines: $1.00 a pound in season in winter

Strawberries: $1.25 a pound in season. I grow both red strawberries and white, miniature alpine strawberries (shown in the picture above with blackberries from my garden) but not enough for my family. When they are in season in the spring (typically March/April here) I buy a lot on sale to make jam, to freeze, to make popsicles, to make shortcakes, and to eat fresh.

Milk and Eggs The Prudent Homemaker 

Dairy:

Milk: $2.59 to $3.15 a gallon for whole milk are the lowest sales prices in my area. I also use milk to make yogurt.

Sour Cream: $1.00 to $1.25 a pound on sale.

Butter: $2.00  to $2.40 a pound. This is a seasonal deal at this price. I freeze butter to use thoughout the year in baking and occasional sauteeing.

Spreadable Margarine: $2.54 to $2.79 for a three-pound tub of Gold N Soft Light. I use this on toast, baked potatoes, etc.

Eggs: Egg prices in the U.S. doubled last year.  I now occasionally can find them on sale for $1.25 a dozen, but it's a rare price. I buy a lot at that price. (typically 15 dozen at a time). The American Egg Board says that eggs are good for 4-6 weeks past their sell-by date, so keep that in mind when stocking up on eggs.

Mozarella Cheese: $2.17 to $2.5 a pound, bought shredded in a 5 pound bag at Sam's Club. (In summer I sometimes will also buy a 5 pound block).

Cheddar Cheese: $2.39 to $2.79 a pound, bought in a 5 pound block at Sam's Club

Parmesan cheese:  $1.32 a pound, sold ina 24 ounce container at Winco (shelf-stable Winco brand)

Feta cheese: $4.66 a pound sold in a 24 ounce pound container at Costco ($6.99) or Sam's Club (Sam's price is $8.48, or $5.65 a pound)

Cream Cheese: $1.00 for a half pound block, on sale usually November-December. It lasts all year in the fridge in the cheese drawer, so I buy a bunch when it goes on sale. I don't freeze it, as it changes texture, and we generally use it on bagels.

 

Meat:

My rule is still nothing over $2 a pound, with one exception (noted below). That hasn't changed. Since beef prices doubled, however, it cut beef off our menu. I've read rumors of it coming down in 2016, but we'll have to see if that actually happens.

When I see meat on sale at these prices, I stock up and put it in my freezer. We have two fridge/freezers, plus a stand-alone large freezer.

Chicken, whole: $0.79 to $0.99 a pound. I look for chickens that are 4 to 5 pounds.

Chicken, thighs/legs, bone-in: $0.69 to $.0.89 a pound. This usually comes in a 10 pound bag at this price.

Chicken, boneless skinless breasts: $1.99 a pound. I don't buy this cut real often.

Turkey: $0.79 to $0.99 a pound. I buy the largest birds I can find. Turkey prices have increased greatly, as have required sales amounts to purchase turkeys at holidays.

Hams: $0.99 to $1.69 a pound, on sale at the holidays

Pork Roasts, boneless: $1.89 to $1.99 is a typical sales price that we see a few times a year.

Pepperoni: This is exception to the $2 a pound or under rule. I buy pepperoni a few times a year for putting on our homemade pizzas, and it is $2.96 a pound at Sam's Club, sold in a 3 pound bag. It doesn't take much to cover a pizza, so I don't use much in a meal.

 

Pantry/Bulk items:

Pasta: 3 times a year I can buy pasta on sale for $0.49 a pound, so I stock up then. The exception is farfalle, which we like in some dishes. I buy that on sale for $0.75 to $0.79 a pound.

Pinto beans: $0.53 a pound, bought in a 25 pound bag at Winco

Black beans: I stocked up on these last year at $0.68 a pound, but that source no longer carries them in bulk, so when I buy more I'll need to pay $0.99 a pound at Winco.

White beans: I stocked up on these last year at $0.68 a pound, but that source no longer carries them in bulk, so when I buy more I'll need to pay $0.81 a pound at Winco.

Kidney Beans: $1.04 a pound

Brown Lentils: $0.97 a pound

Long-Grain White Rice: $0.34 a pound, bought in a 25 pound bag at Sam's Club.

Basmati Rice: $0.80 a pound, bought in a 25 pound bag at Sam's Club

Oats (Old-fashioned, also called Rolled Oats): $0.65 a pound, sold for $16.15 for a 25 pound bag at Winco

Wheat: $0.28 a pound for white wheat, and $0.24 a pound for red wheat, bought in a 25 pound bag at the LDS Cannery

All-Purpose Flour: $0.31 a pound, bought in a 25 pound bag at Sam's Club

Yeast: $2.39 a pound, sold in a 2 pound pack at Sam's Club

Baking Soda: $0.423 a pound, sold in a 13.5 pound container at Sam's Club ($5.72)

Baking Powder: $0.096 an ounce, sold in a 60 ounce container at Sam's Club ($5.78)

Cornstarch: $0.093 an ounce,  sold in a 35 ounce container for $3.28 at Sam's Club

White Vinegar: $1.99 a gallon, sold in a 2 gallon package at Sam's Club

Balsamic Vinegar: $10.99 a liter at Costco. (This is the biggest price increase I have; I paid about 40% less at Sam's Club, but our store no longer carries this item.)

Salt, Iodized: $0.32 a pound, sold in a 4 pound box at Sam's Club

Salt, Kosher: $0.74 a pound, sold in a 4 pound box at Winco

Salt, Canning/Pickling: $0.32 a pound, sold in a 4 pound box at Winco

Sugar, Granulated: $0.398 a pound, sold in a 10 pound bag at Sam's Club

Sugar, Brown: $0.698 a pound, sold in a 4 pound bag at Sam's Club (I don't make my own, as molasses is fairly pricey and we go through a fair amount of brown sugar).

Sugar, Powdered: $0.68 a pound, sold in a 4 pound bag at Sam's Club. I don't make my own, as my blender has never turned sugar into powder with any success. I only occasionally use powdered sugar.

Vanilla Extract: $8.98 a pound. I'm considering making this but not I'm not sure if the price will be much lower. However, this has gone up a lot.

Chocolate Chips: $1.99 a pound, bought in a 4.5 pound bag at Sam's Club

Almonds: $5.99 a pound, bought in a 48 ounce bag at Sam's Club

Popcorn: $0.48 a pound, bought in a 50 pound bag at Sam's Club. We pop this on the stove with a little vegetable oil.

Vegetable Oil: $4.98 for a gallon at Winco

Olive Oil, extra-virgin: $5.99 a liter, bought in a 3-liter container at Sam's Club

Knorr Chicken Bullion: $4.44 for a 2.2 pound container at Sam's Club

Knorr Tomato Bullion: $4.8 for a 2.2 pound container at Walmart

Canned Tomato Sauce: $2.89 for a #10 can (6 pounds 10 ounces; 106 ounces) at Costco

Canned Tomatoes: $3.28 for a #10 can (102 ounces) at Sam's Club

Cranberries, Dried: $2.66 a pound, bought in a 48 ounce bag at Sam's Club

Raisins: $2.12 a pound, bought in a 2 30-ounce bags at Sam's Club

Poppy Seeds, mustard seeds, cream of tartar: Under $2.50 a pound at San Francisco Herb Company. I also buy other herbs there, such as cinnamon.

 

Meyer Lemons in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

Items I don't buy because I grow them in the garden:

I have a .24 acre lot in the desert, with over 40 fruit trees, most of which are semi-dwarf trees. My garden is watered with drip irrigation. We have 6 months of above 90º temperatures, running April through October, and summer days in my part of the city are typically 110º to 113º. We have sunshine almost every day of the year.

I aim to always have something ripe in the garden. You can see my garden calendar here. I live in a U.S. zone 9a.

I grow almost all open-pollinated seeds. By so doing, I am able to collect my own seeds to replant each year, saving me the need to purchase seeds for everything every year. There are a few seeds and plants that I still need to purchase each year, but that number is becoming fewer each year as I see success with collecting my own seeds.

Lemons: We have 6 lemons trees, with 2 large enough to produce. I dry and freeze zests, plus freeze juice to use throughout the year. We make our own lemonade with these.

Peaches: We have three peach trees-two in back and one in front of the house (with the two in back large enough to produce). The two  producing ones are Desert Gold, a semi-freestone that ripens in May, and Early Elberta, a freestone peach that ripens in July, and typically givens me enough peaches to can a dozen jars, plus all of the peaches I eat fresh.

Apricots: I have three apricot trees, with one large enough for good-sized crop. The producing one is a Royal Blenheim, and it is ripe in June. The other two trees are Katy apricots, and one of them (in the front yard) gives us a few apricots at the end of April/beginning of May.

Figs: I have a Mission Fig tree. Mission figs are unusual in that they double crop. I get a crop in June and again in August.

Blackberries: I harvest these in May. The heat and sunshine make them small (they need to be grown here with afternoon shade so as not to burn on the vine).

Grapes: I grow Thompson's Seedless, Red Flame Seedless, some seeded large green grapes that were all marked Red Flame (but aren't!) and I have a Concord vine, though it rarely produces more than a handful of grapes. My grapes ripen from late June to early August.

Pears: I have a small espaliered 20th Century Asian pear, as well as 2 Bartlett pear trees that have never grown very large.

Pomegranates: I have 2 potted pomegranate trees.

Green Onions: These reseed themselves in the garden each year, and are a cut and come again vegetable. I grow and harvest these year-round. To read more about green onions, read my post "How to Grow Green Onions and Collect Your Own Seeds." I bought green onion plants 9 years ago, and I haven't had to buy any since, as they reseed themselves.

Snow Peas: I plant these in fall for an April harvest.

Swiss Chard (silverbeet): I grow Fordhook Giant chard. This is an open-pollinated type that self-seeds. I also collect seeds from this. It grows year-round in my garden.

Beets: I grow these in the garden fall-spring. I grow open-pollinated types and allow some to go to seed each year. We eat the greens as well as the beets.

Turnips: These grow fall-early spring.

Lettuce: I harvest lettuce in the early spring. Last year I collected quite a few lettuce seeds from one variety.

Radishes: I grow these fall-early spring.

Artichokes in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

Artichokes: I harvest these in April. Artichokes are a pernnial plant, that may or may not return each year. I planted some new plants last fall.

Armenian Cucumbers on Scale The Prudent Homemaker

Cucumbers: The only cucumbers that don't go bitter and still produce female flowers in our heat are Armenian cucumbers. These can grow to arm's length without becoming bitter. I use these to can pickles.

Tomatoes: I buy plants at the nursery to set out in February. Our last frost date is February 15th, and come April/May, we'll see temperatures of 100º, which stops my tomatoes from flowering until the last week of October. Consequently, I am unable to grow enough to can, so I buy canned sauce and canned tomatoes, but fresh ones come from the garden.

Herb Arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

Herbs: I grow enough of the following herbs that I don't need to purchase them: Basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, tarragon, garlic chives, onion chives, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint and thyme. I make my own herbal tea from some of these.

Larkspur and Rose arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

Flowers: I grow my own flowers in the garden from bulbs, seeds, perennial plants, and the occasional annuals. One flower I like to buy is orchids. You can see why I think orchids are a frugal flower choice in my post here. I like to have enough flowers to make arrangments all year long. Here are my tips for growing more flowers for less.

 

There are, of course, other items that I will buy on occasion, but these are the typical items I buy on a regular basis.

I'm sure you're wondering why some items aren't on this list, such as cold cereal, bread or salad dressing. I don't buy these items. For my list of more items I don't buy, see here. For bread and cracker recipes, click here, and for salad dressing recipes, click here.

 

I've also had questions about what stores I have available in my area. We're blessed to have several stores not far from here, which leads to better competition and lower sales prices. Within a mile and a half, I have access to Walmart, Target, Winco, Costco, and Walgreens. Within five miles I have two Smith's (a Kroger affiliate), Vons, two CVS, another Target, another Walmart, and two Albertson's stores, as well as Sam's Club.  I rarely visit the drug stores (CVS and Walgreen's), and I don't have a Costco card (but my parents do, so if I need something from there, I'll go with them). This leaves me with a lot of choices and options for sales. In adition, the LDS cannery is not far from here (where I purchase bulk wheat berries). I order spices online from San Francisco Herb Company.

Our grocery ads (for Smith's, Vons, and Albertson's) come in the mail on Tuesdays, and our sales here run Wednesdays through Tuesdays. (Drug store ads come in the mail on Thursdays for sales running Sunday through Saturday).  I don't subscribe to the newspaper, but a free local section comes with a smaller number of Smart Source coupons on Thursday (compared to what subscribers get). I print coupons online from Coupons.com, Red Plum, and Target, as well as the Target Cartwheel offers. 

I'm sure I've left a few items out, so if you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I'll update the post with any missing items.

Lastly, I'd like to encourage you to make your own price book with the lowest sales prices for items in your area, wherever you are in the world. This will help you to know when to stock up on items, making your money go further on the things you already buy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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January's Grocery Shopping Plans

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Oatmeal 

I went to make lemonade the last week of the year only to discover that I was out of sugar.

In general, I don't run out of things--especially sugar! Staple items are things I always have on hand.

I'll be remedying that problem right away. I have 7 or 8 baskets of lemons on the counter and lots of calls for lemonade!

This is also a good month to watch for sales on vitamins and cold and flu medicines. I'll be looking for sales and coupons to combine to stock my medicine cabinet.

 

Sam's Club:

Sugar

Baking Soda

Baking Powder

Salt

Almond Extract

Almonds 

Craisins

Chocolate Chips

Ghiradelli chocoalte melts (if these are on clearance--they usually are in January, as they are a seasonal item for the holidays)

Barbeque sauce

Ketchup ($3.68 for 114 ounces)

Milk

 

Target:

Vitamins (mutli-vitamins and invidual vitamins. I buy the store brand mens', womens', and children's from Target. There should be sales and possibly coupons and a Target cartwheel to stack.)

Children's Pain reliever/fever reducer (store brand plus sales/coupons)

 

Costco:

Tomato Sauce in a #10 can

Balsamic vinegar

Crumbled feta cheese

 

Winco:

La Victoria Salsa

Canned water chestnuts

Oats

Almond flour (for a specific recipe that I want to try this week)

Milk

 

Albertson's:

Frozen petite peas. I have a raincheck from last month that I can use to get these for $1 a pound.

 

Walmart:

Hand-dishwashing soap (store brand)

 

I'll watch for sales on:

Apples

Broccoli (in season this month)

Ice cream

Sour cream

Eggs

Onions

Potatoes

 

 

 

 

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Grocery Shopping Plans for December

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Swiss Chard in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

Last month I ended up straying from my planned list a little. I know there was a possibility of a .49 cent pasta sale, and I didn't put it on my list, but when it did end up happening, we bought quite a bit. I also stocked up a fair amount on some items from my list, which meant I had to pass on other items. And some things, like oranges and onions, never did come down to the prices I was hoping to see. I'm hoping oranges and onions will come down this month, especially the week before Christmas.

December is a great month for holiday sales: baking items, hams, and citrus fruits.

Oranges. I'm looking for a price under .33 a pound. Normally they are .97 a pound here, but a sale close to Christmas can bring them down, sometimes as low as .20 a pound. We've had a lot of grocery stores closings in this area, so I don't know if we'll see prices this low or not, but if we do, I'll buy half a cart's worth of oranges. They last several months in the refrigerator (or in a cold, above freezing garage) so we can eat them next month, too.

Onions. I am hoping for under .25 a pound, and then I will buy 50 pounds. So far the lowest price I have seen on yellow onions (yellow are usually the lowest priced option) is .48 a pound. I'm hoping for lower before I stock up.

Clementines The Prudent Homemaker

Clementines and/or mandarins. I buy these on sale for $1.00 a pound. There are occasional coupons for these as well; I used one last month for $0.50 off. They come bagged in 2, 3, and 5 pound bags, and this is the season for them. These are one of my favorites, and my family's favorites, too. All nine of us can easily eat a 3 pound bag's worth at the end of a meal, so I'll buy a fair amount of these.

Potatoes. We bought less than 100 pounds last month--a big change from our usual November purchase of several hundred pounds. My family can easily go through 40-50 pounds a week in the colder months when potatoes are on sale. I'm looking for $0.10 to $0.20 a pound for russets. My plans to dry some have been halted at this point; I'd still like to do it, but physically that is too much for me right now.

Apples. I'll look for sales at .79 a pound or lower on Galas and/or Fujis. Both are good keepers and will last a long time in the fridge drawers (or even in the cool garage; they store well at 34ºF.

Frozen sweet peas. I thought I would see a sale on this, but I never did. The price I was looking for was $1.00 a pound or lower. Most places sell 10-12 ounce bags. Albertson's has their brand (which we prefer) in a 16 ounce bag, and it occasionally goes on sale for $1 a bag. These are specifically marked "sweet peas" or "petite peas" and are sweeter and more pleasant than the regular peas. I go through 1 1/2 pounds at a meal, so if I find this price, I'll buy a large quantity for the freezer.

Pork roasts. Several cuts of pork roasts should be on sale this month. I saw great sales last month on boneless pork loin roast, but I didn't buy any, since I had spent my money on other items. I'll look to purchase some this month on sale, including pork shoulder roasts.

Hams. I bought two hams last month and we ate one. I'll look for another one on sale this month.

Milk. I plan on buying lots of milk this month, both to drink and to make yogurt. Prices have been a bit lower lately; I've been paying $2.57 a gallon for whole milk.

Cream cheese. I bought some on sale last month (they were $1 a package when you buy 10). If I see that sale price again, I'll buy at least another 10 packages, if not more, to last us through next year. Expiration dates are 6 months out, but unopened they will last at least twice as long as that with no change in quality.

Orchids. I didn't find any great prices on orchids last month, though a reader did mention some prices to me that she saw at Home Depot. I know Trader Joe's typically has small ones for $8. Grocery stores have great prices on orchids during the winter. Sam's Club has also had them before.

Marshmallows. Sales should have these at .99 a bag.

Meyer Lemon Tree The Prudent Homemaker

We're harvesting lots of Meyer lemons from the garden now. We also have Swiss chard, beet greens, beets, green onions, and herbs. A warmer than usual December and January are predicted, which should mean faster growth of our winter seedlings, including beets, lettuce, radishes, turnips, and more.

 

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November's Grocery Shopping Plans

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Thanksgiving The Prudent Homemaker

November is the month of Thanksgiving in the U.S., and a lot of food sales revolve around this, starting at the beginning of the month and increasing as we get closer to the fourth Thursday of the month.

Sales tend to revolve around holiday items: turkey; stuffing (and all ingredients, including canned creamed soups, chicken broth,  mushrooms, celery, etc.); cranberry sauce (both canned as well as fresh cranberries), potatoes; yams; sweet potatoes; marshmallows; pie ingredients and toppings (canned pumpkin, pecans, brown sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk, spices, pie crusts, flour, butter, whipping cream, cream cheese); green beans (canned, frozen, and fresh) and toppings; canned corn; and frozen vegetables.

Butternut Squash Soup ingredients

Seasonal items tend to go on sale as well, including squash and apples (as well as the above-mentioned vegetables).

Sales on meat are plentiful: chicken, pork roasts, and beef roasts are usually on sale this month.

Meyer Lemons 2014 

In my garden this month, I have lemons ripening. These are about 6 weeks early this year, so I'll be making lots of things with them, as well as putting a lot of them in the refrigerator drawers, where they will last for months. I have fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, basil, Thai basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, and several mints), Swiss chard, beet greens, grape leaves, long beans, Thai peppers, pomegranates, and green onions. I should have some alpine strawberries later this month; the cooler weather has them flowering again.

White Alpine Strawberries The Prudent Homemaker 

My lettuce is coming up. The lettuce that self-seeded earlier didn't like our return to temperatures in the 90's and decided to bolt. I've planted some 29-day varities as well as 52 days types, so I'll be harvesting next month.

 

Unlike other months, I don't have a plan on where I'll be shopping. I'll be following the sales flyers to decide the best deals.

We've had a change in stores in our area (a few have closed down and others have opened) in the last few years, and some have dramatically changed their policies on minimum purchases required for a discounted price on turkey. How many turkeys I buy will depend on minimum purchase requirements and the price per pound. I am also limited on freezer space this year, as we lost our garage fridge/freezer earlier this year. This will mean that I will be buying fewer turkeys.

 

Turkeys

Cranberries (I will look for sales and freeze them to can cranberry juice in December)

Whipping cream

Cream cheese

Sour cream

Eggs

Frozen sweet peas

Canned green beans (there should be coupons to combine with sales on canned goods; in years past I have been able to buy them for as low as $0.20 a can).

Canned corn

Pork roasts

Milk

Evaporated Milk (if I find a good sale and coupons on this)

Potatoes (several hundred pounds worth, if I can find a good deal and good quality; you can read how I store and use potatoes here)

Apples

Squash

Onions (I'll be looking to buy 50 pounds if I find a great price. I'm hoping for $0.20 to $0.25 a pound. So far the lowest price I have seen is $.49 a pound).

Canned olives (these usually start going on sale in November and stay on sale for the next couple of months. I expect to see a few coupons as well) On another note: I was unable to find more than a handful of olives to pick this year, unfortunately, so I will have to wait until next year to post how I make olives.

Canned pineapple (last year these were on sale for two months)

Hot cocoa mix (sales and coupons are to be expected over the next two months)

Marshmallows

Clementines

Oranges 

Shampoo 

Orchids. You can read more in my post about orchids. My mom buys orchids for $8 each at Trader Joe's. I'll have her pick some up for me if she goes this month.

 

Since I'm not able to physically go to the store this month, I'll be making lists and printing coupons, and sending my husband to pick up items.

 

 

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October's Grocery Shopping Plans

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Elsa and Armenian Cucumber The Prudent Homemaker

An Armenian cucumber from last year

I've been writing this series on my blog for a just over a year now. Here is last October's post. As you may have noticed, I shop first to fill gaps in my pantry and secondly for fresh items that the garden cannot provide.

In October our temperatures start to drop into the 90's and 80's. It's a busy month in the garden where I will be planting a lot for my fall garden. I have a lot of seeds to plant, both collected from the garden earlier this year as well as those leftover from spring planting.

We've already seen russet potatoes at .20 a pound at Winco (last month). That is as low as they went last year, so I'll be buying potatoes this month if they go that low again and if they look good. My large purchase of potatoes is usually in November, when it is cooler and they will last longer. This year we want to try doing something different. We like to eat potatoes all year, but of course they are on sale at the lowest price in the fall. We are going to try drying some in our dehydrator to see how they turn out. I've read some tutorials on the process. Our November purchase of 300-400 pounds usually lasts until sometime in February. If I can find them for .20 a pound or less, I'll buy more to dry during this month and next month to last us further into next year. If they're .25 a pound, I may not buy as many this month (which is where they are currently priced). How many I purchase will also depend on the quality of the potatoes that I find. I won't buy wet, green, or moldy potatoes (and sometimes that is what the stores have!)

I'll be watching for sales on onions over the next three months as well. Last year I did this same thing with onions, buying a 50-pound bag for $8. We ate many fresh and then dried the rest in the dehydrator to last us when prices were higher. This year I'd like to get 100 pounds if I can get them for that price, so that we can dry more, as we can easily go through 100 pounds in a year. So far the lowest price I am seeing is .48 a pound, but if I can find them for .20 to .25 a pound, that's when I'll stock up.

Apples are a seasonal stock-up item for us, too. I can usually find them on sale for .98 a pound for Galas. If I can find a much lower price (.50 to .78 a pound) I'll buy between 40 and 80 pounds and put them in the refrigerator, where they will last several months. Jonagolds are our favorites, but they are not a good storage apple, so if I find any on a good sale, we will eat them right away.

I'd like to buy some pumpkins and butternut squash this month as well. I'll be looking for the lowest prices (under $1 a pound, and hopefully $0.68 to $0.78 a pound on sale for the squash). For the pumpkins, I'd like something to decorate the house for a while that can be eaten sometime next month. I think the lowest priced option may be to purchase a pumpkin that isn't priced by the pound. If this proves too expensive, however, I'll pass on the pumpkins.

Armenian Cucumbers The Prudent Homemaker

I'm hoping that as the temperatures start to fall, the Armenian cucumber vines will start to send forth female flowers in abundance. They are already starting to set some fruit as the temperatures have dropped below 100º (the ones in the shade; those in full sun are still only putting forth male flowers). I currently have 9 cucumbers growing, and I'm letting them get nice and big so that we will have more to eat (they can get as long as my arm and twice as wide without becoming bitter). I'm letting one grow big and yellow-orange so that I can collect seeds from it. Since Armenian cucmbers are technically melons, rather than turning bitter as they grow, they actually turn sweet when they turn colors, and they taste like a melon rather than a cucumber at that point.

The garden is full of herbs right now (the most prolific being basil and thyme). I will be collecting and drying them to use throughout the rest of the year. I will also be making pesto with the basil from the garden and freezing it.

As the weather cools, the beans should start to produce again.

Swiss Chard in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

The self-seeded Swiss chard (it is Swiss chard, after all, and not beets) is growing rather abundantly. Since Swiss chard is a cut-and-come-again vegetable, I can harvest it and have it grow back in 10 days.

I also have a few heads of lettuce that somehow managed to self-seed in the garden, despite the heat (they are growing in almost complete shade). I'll be planting lots of lettuce seeds this month, but we may also have some ripe in the garden as well by the end of the month. 

I'm cutting grape leaves from the garden. They have a wonderful lemony flavor and are great in soups or on chicken. We are still eating chicken from the freezer and are working to eat down the meat in the freezer to make room for stocking up when the sales come.

On Labor Day, my mom served corn on the cob with a delicious chili-lime seasoning that we sprinkled on top. I love limes, and I was impressed with the way the powdered lime in the seasoning tasted like fresh lime juice. I decided to see if I could buy powdered lime juice in bulk.

Rice and Beans

Here's how I use limes: Years ago, I first learned to eat rice and beans from a Brazilian woman who served it to me in Geneva, Switzerland. As a college student, I was making this recipe one day when my Mexican roommate's mother was visiting. She was watching me cook, and then she piped up and said, "That would be even better if you added lime juice." I bought limes the next time to try it and I loved it like that! Bottled lime juice does not taste the same, but the powdered lime juice does! Limes are not always on sale (and I lost my lime tree to frost last year), so having some lime juice powder on hand would be good. I looked and found that San Franciso Herb Company carries it, so I am ordering some. They have a $35 minimum order, so I will add some other things to my order as well.

For Halloween candy, I've already decided to purchase it from the lowest priced Winco bulk candy section. Last year this was the cheapest option, even after all coupon and sale combinations. Winco puts this candy on sale a week or two before Halloween just for this purpose, so I'll purchase it then. I won't need much; last year we only had 5 children come!  

I didn't find any deals in the store at Target last month for children's vitamins. I'm going to look again for sales this month, as well as on individual vitamins.

I increased our grocery budget from July to September from $300 to $400 a month. This month I return to our $300 a month budget.

 

Winco:

(I made one trip already for the first three items and will go back later in the month for the other items, as well as to check prices on apples and onions. Winco doesn't send out ads.)

 Sour cream (currently marked on sale at $1.05 a pound)

Parmesan cheese (important in making pesto for the freezer)

Flour tortillas ( I normally get these at Sam's Club but Winco is closer and I wanted some sooner)

Potatoes (unless I find a better deal elsewhere)

Spreadable margarine (I buy Gold N Soft lowfat in a 3 pound tub for under $3; we use this for toast and on potatoes)

Candy

Milk

Cumin

 

San Francisco Herb Company:

Lime Juice Powder

Ginger

Cinnamon

Cream of Tartar

 

Costco:

Tomato Sauce

Balsamic vinegar

 

Target:

Bleach

Washing Soda

Borax

Vitamins

Dental floss (Sam's Club quit carrying this in bulk; if anyone knows a better price, please share!)

Antibiotic ointment (there is currently a 25% off Target Cartwheel offer on this)

 

Not sure where yet:

Apples

Onions

Pumpkins

Potatoes

 

 

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