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December Grocery Shopping Plans

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Christmas Stockings The Prudent Homemaker

December's shopping will focus on seasonal deals, including citrus and holiday specials. I also will be stocking up on a few staples.

For an idea of what we have to eat in December, you can check out my winter menu. I don't follow that menu exactly. I use it to plan meals based on what I have on hand and seasonal sales.


Here are my priorities for this month:


Fresh Food:

1. Clementines.  I love clementines! I first had them in Lyon, France, and I look forward to them every year. It's tempting to spend the entire month's budget on clementines, but of course, that won't do. I'll look for sales (the lowest they get is $1 a pound) and buy them only on sale. There are sometimes coupons, too, so I'll be looking for those as well.

2. Hams. These will be on sale for Christmas. How many I buy will depend on prices (I'm hoping under $1 a pound) how much room I have in my freezer, and how much I have left after buying clementines! Ha!

3. Oranges. These are my husband's favorite, and they are much less expensive than clementines. I'll look for sales of .20 to .33 a pound or less and buy 120 pounds. These will last for months in the fridge, and even for a while in the cold garage before I have room for them in the fridge. I'll buy 3 full boxes of them to get this many. Last year I found them for .20 a pound on sale right before Christmas and I stocked up then. If I find them at this price, 120 pounds is only $24.

4. Onions. I bought 50 pounds in November at .16 a pound. I expect to find another sale before Christmas as a similar or slightly higher price of .19 to .20 a pound. I'll buy another 40 pounds or more. I will slice a good number of them and put them in my dehydrator to use throughout the rest of the year.

5. Mozzarella cheese. I'll get this at Sam's Club.

6. Potatoes. I bought 190 pounds last month on sale, but I usually buy 300-400 pounds in November. I'm hoping to buy more this month for .10 to .20 a pound. How much I buy will depend on the price we see, but if I can get them for .10 a pound, I'll buy another 100 pounds. You can read about how I store potatoes here. If I don't see any good sales, I won't buy potatoes.

7. Apples. Apples will be on sale this month, Right now I see a sale at Albertson's for .88 a pound on several varities. Food 4 Less has Granny Smith for .50 a pound. I'd really like to get enough apples to make sauce, but Granny Smith isn't my favorite sauce apple (I've used them for sauce before). If I can find any other varities for .50 a pound, I will buy enough to make sauce. Otherwise, I'll buy Galas for fresh eating only. How much I buy will depend on price. Update: I may skip buying apples at all this month and just buy oranges, since they should be a lower price later in the month.

8. Milk. I will use at least one gallon to make yogurt.

9. Cream cheese. These should go on sale for $1 for an 8-ounce package. This is the time I buy them and stock up. Expiration dates are 6 months out, but unopened, they'll last a year in the refrigerator. Update: It looks like sale prices are $1.25 each this year, but there are 2 $1 off coupons for Challenge brand cream cheese on the coupons.com site, and each can be printed twice, plus a $1 off e-coupon on Kroger affiliate sites, and these are on sale right now for $1.29 each when you buy in multiples of 4 at Smith's right now.

10. Whipping cream (maybe, depending on sale prices).

11. Pork roast. This is a huge maybe, but I think I may find some sales on loin roast or shoulder roast. Right now Food 4 Less has shoulder roast for $1.49 a pound. That store is rather far from me, so I'll probably wait to see if anyone else has any other deals on either of those cuts this month.


1. Oats. We use around 75 pounds of oats a year. Winco carries a 25 pound bag for $14.75. Last year I had just bought some when I noticed a sale on them the next week for $9.80! Winco doesn't advertise their sales, so I'll have to keep checking to see if they have this deal this year. I plan to buy 50 pounds this month if they go on sale. If they don't, I may wait to buy these until next month. Update: These are not on sale right now but I will look again later this month.

2. Barbeque sauce. I'll buy this at Sam's Club.

3. Balsamic vinegar. Our Sam's Club is no longer carrying this. The next lowest price I've seen in Costco, but it's much higher than wheat I used to pay at Sam's Club. I don't have a Costco card, but my mom does, so I'll have her pick up a bottle for me.

4. Parmesan cheese. I used everything I bought in October to make pesto. Target has a great deal on this right now.

5. Corn syrup. This should go on sale this time of year for candy making and baking. I use some to make pecan pie, and I also want to try making some homemade marshmallows this year. I just want a little bit. 

6. Black beans and white beans. I'll buy a 25 pound bag of each for $15 a bag at the LDS Cannery.

7. Olives. I will buy a few cans of olives on sale with coupons that I printed last month for .50 a can. Update: Winco has these at .98 a can, so they are .48 a can after coupon.  I had 2 coupons and bought 4 cans. There is a good chance this coupon will be available again this month, and I'll pick up 4 more cans then.

8. Update: This is a new addition. I just found out that Winco has mandarin oranges for .58 a can. I may add some of these to my purchases  this month when I return there.


Non-Food Items:

1. Hairspray. I read that my hairspray might have an unadverstised sale this week at Target, so I'll check it out. I use Salon Graphix Unscented aerosal spray (I have to use an unscented spray because of my husband's fragance sensitivites). This rarely goes on sale and I've never seen coupons for it. Update: These are buy one get one 50% off through 12/6.

2. Diapers. Target has a gift card deal on these again this week. I buy the Target brand on sale, with coupons, and when they have gift card deals--and often they have all three. I'll buy 2 boxes this week and get a $15 gift card back. I'll use the $15 gift card towards some of the other purchases later in the month.

3. Paper Towels. I use rags for cleaning, but I do use a few paper towels to drain things when cooking--especially potatoes. I buy the Target brand on sale with a coupon when I buy them. There is a .75 off coupon right now on Target's website and an extra 5% off on Target cartwheel.

4. Borax. There's a $1 off coupon right now on coupons.com. I use this to make laundry soap.


Special Treats:

1. Peanut M&Ms. There will be sales and coupons on these, and both Cyrus and my husband requested some for Christmas. I have a Target coupon to stack with a manufacturer's coupon, plus a Target cartwheel deal. Now I'm just waiting for a sale.

2. Candy canes. I'll look for a box of 12 for .99 or a better deal, if I can find one. Update: One the 4th, I found two boxes that I had bought on clearance and hid! So, I will wait to buy candy canes until they are on after Christmas clearance.

3. Marshmallows. I'll look for .99 a bag for a 16 ounce bag and buy them then (some bags are only 10.5 ounces, so I'll look carefully when comparing sales). Winco had these for this price last year.

4. Hot chocolate. There should be some good coupons and sales for this this month. Target has a sale this week. Update: I don't get the newspaper, but coupons often come in the mail here. They are usually a smaller copy of the Smart Source. Unfortunately, mine didn't combine these. More may come this month.

5. Melting chocolate. Sam's Club carries white and dark melting chocolate as a holiday item. 


 Meyer Lemons Square The Prudent Homemaker


Right now in the garden I have meyer lemons ripening. I have a variety of herbs, green onions, and lots of Swiss chard. I have radishes and carrots. Later this month my lettuce will be big enough to have salads.


This post contains an affiliate link. You can read my disclosure policy here.

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October Grocery Shopping Plans

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This post contains an affiliate link.

I grocery shop with a monthly budget.

I start with the things that are low in our pantry. Those are my priorities. Once I have worked on filling those, I will make other purchases based on what is on sale.

A couple of notes about last month's shopping:

A reader alerted me to the fact that Winco has their own brand of Parmesan cheese, and it is lower priced per ounce than what I had been paying at Sam's Club. I bought 3 containers, which is equal in size to one container at Sam's Club (and a savings of $3). This is half the amount of cheese I had planned to buy, but now I will be able to add that in to Winco trips more often.

I didn't buy any pork roast. It was on sale, but at $2.49 a pound, I wasn't ready to commit. I realize I will have to either do without or up the price per pound I will pay for meat. If I up my price per pound for meat, we will have to up our grocery budget, or have even more meatless meals. (One of my readers just pointed out that it is on sale again this week--again, it's $2.49 a pound. I'm trying to decide if I will up my price per pound and buy two of these this month, as this is our favorite cut of meat).

That said, I actually did make the exception and paid $2.48 a pound for turkey breast (in the sandwich meat section) at Sam's Club, which we sliced for sandwiches and took on vacation. Normally I would not buy this, but we had eaten all of our hams and decided that this expense, along with a 5 pound block of cheddar cheese from Sam's Club (which we also sliced for sandwiches), would come from our trip expenses. We also also bought 2 loaves of bread, a bag of pretzel sticks, and treated the children to ice cream cones while on vacation (also vacation expenses).

While on vacation, I used a gift card to a store that I had from a few years back (we don't have that store here). I was able to get a bottle of face lotion, 3 dozen eggs, and some candy with that. If I can keep the candy hidden long enough, it will go in my husband's Christmas stocking. (He knows I have it, so that may not work!)

I never did see a good sale on sour cream, so we went without.

We did not go through our oil or our margarine last month (some months we go through more than others, depending on what we have) so while I will continue to buy oil, as our supplies are still low (I want to build it back up to a year's supply of oil), I will put off buying margarine unless we really need some.

I bought pears last month to can at .25 a pound. I bought 72 pounds of pears for $18. These are still green in the fridge. I'll bring them out to ripen and can this week.

This month, the supplies that I see low are the following:


Tomato Bullion



Parmesan cheese

Brown sugar

Non-Food Items:

Baby Wipes


Fresh Food:





Mozzarella Cheese


Halloween candy (not really fresh food or a non-food item, but it won't be sitting around in the pantry!)

I'll be watching blogs for deals on Halloween candy. We don't have a large number of children come through our neighborhood, so three small bags of candy is usually enough for us at home. We will also have a church trunk or treat, so I'll need additional candy for that. There are certain to be sales and coupons for these. However, I may end up buying the least expensive bulk candy choices from Winco, which are all $1.58 a pound, and include things like smarties and butterscotch. I'll make my choice based on what ends up being the lowest cost.

For October, I'll buy 30 pounds of potatoes. Potatoes will be a better price in November, and I'll stock up then. We've had lots of rice and pasta in the summer, but when fall comes, we are very happy to have potatoes again. For those who are new readers, check out my potato page on my website for information on how we store and eat potatoes.

I will look for another deal on apples, since they are in season. We ate the 40 pounds I bought in September. I will buy another 40 pounds, unless I can find them for under .99 a pound, in which case, I may buy more.

For the bleach, I'll be looking for some coupons and sales at Target for their brand (Up and Up). I use this to wash rags, clean the kitchen sink and inside the toilets. I still have a $5 gift card left to use at Target that will cover this.

I'll buy two gallons of oil. We didn't go through two gallons last month, but that's okay; by buying a couple of gallons a month I can build up our supply.

I'll buy two containers of tomato bullion, as we are totally out. We love this on rice; it's simply one teaspoon of bullion to one cup of water. Last month we had black beans with this rice and salsa (plus some cucumbers from the garden on the side) for lunch three times, and the children loved it, so I am looking to put this simple meal into rotation more often. (To season the beans, I mixed them with a little onion powder, salt, and a little lime juice). This option is much less expensive than buying tortillas and having bean burritos, since tortillas are .10 each, and with 9 at each meal, it can quickly become too expensive. For those who cannot find this bullion, it's the Knorr tomato bullion, and I buy the 4.4 pound container at Walmart. It's in the Hispanic foods aisle (the chicken bullion is there too, for the reader who was looking for it, but I just found out that our store has an even larger container of Knorr chicken bullion in the bulk section for .02 less per ounce).

I buy brown sugar in 4 pound bags from Sam's Club. I'll buy 5 bags for a total of 20 pounds. This is the C&H brand, and I haven't had any trouble with it ever going hard (Store brands go hard within a month; I don't know if those are beet sugar as opposed to cane sugar, or if it's because they have thinner plastic packaging, but there is a difference there. As a bonus, the ones at Sam's Club are still less expensive than the store brands during holiday sales.) Once the sugar is open, I put it in a container with a lid and a soaked brown sugar bear, which helps keep it soft.

The baby wipes I will get from Costco. I really like their brand; they are large, soft, sturdy, and aren't perfumed. I don't have a card there, but my mom does, so when I need some, she picks them up for me. A box will last me 6 months.

Winco has carrots for .39 a pound in a 10 pound bag. I'll buy one bag of carrots, plus the apples there.

I'll buy 4 gallons of milk, one of which I will make into yogurt using some starter that I have in my freezer. I may buy 3 more gallons towards the end of the month.

I'll buy 8 pounds of salt (two boxes at $1.10 a box) from Sam's Club.

I'll buy 5 pounds of mozzarella cheese from the Sam's Club, to use on pizza and other meals.

Albertson's has eggs on sale for .99 when you buy 4 dozen (this week). I'll have my husband pick up 12 dozen for me. They also have potatoes on sale for .20 a pound ($1.99 for a 10 pound bag of russets).

I'd like to buy as little as possible this month, so that I can have extra to spend in November. October is an important month for eating from the freezer and pantry. My freezers are much more full than normal this time of year, so we'll be eating from then to make room for turkeys in November and hams in December, and frozen peas and broccoli that should go on sale during those months. I really don't see a need to buy any items besides these this month (unless I find a really great deal), which will give me much more going into next month.

Are you planning to buy less in October to save up for holiday sales? For my Canadian readers, are you buying more in October during holiday sales?
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September Grocery Shopping Plans

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I grocery shop with a monthly budget.

I start with the things that are low in our pantry. Those are my priorities. Once I have worked on filling those, I will make other purchases based on what is on sale.

This month, the supplies that I see low are the following:


Vegetable oil (Note: the oil I buy has 0 grams of trans-fats)

Powdered milk




Non-Food Items:

Toilet paper

Oxi-Clean Stain Remover Refill Bottles

Fresh Food:



Margarine (Note: the margarine I buy has 0 grams of trans-fats and 6 grams of fat per serving)


Sour Cream

I'll be making a trip to Sam's Club to purchase toilet paper. We price toilet paper by the length, not by the roll, as some rolls are twice as long as others. The cheapest toilet paper we have found is POM from Sam's Club. Sam's Club started sent out sales fliers, where they are reducing the price of items for 3 weeks. Those items have a limit on how many you can purchase at that price. This toilet paper is on sale for $4 off a box, with a limit of 3 boxes (through the 21st). $12 off my budget makes this item definitely worth stocking, even though I'm not real low on this item.

I will be buying 2 containers of Parmesan cheese while they are on sale ($1.75 off, limit 2). I will buy a 64 ounce container of mayonnaise, 25 pounds of rice, and 4 pounds of salt at Sam's Club.

While the lowest way to purchase powdered milk is in bulk, my priority right now is making sure that we have more in the pantry, so I will be purchasing a smaller amount locally. I prefer instant powdered milk (as opposed to non-instant; you can read more about why and how I use powdered milk here). I will be buying the Kroger brand (from Smith's) in the biggest box they carry (4.4 pounds), and price will determine how many boxes I buy, but I hope to buy 2 or 3 boxes this month. California produces 1/5 of the nation's milk, and with the drought, I expect prices on milk will continue to rise (they rose 7.5% since last year). This will help us to fight inflation. Right now we are still using powdered milk I purchased in 2009, at a much lower price.

I will buy 2 gallons of Great Value vegetable oil and 2 refill bottles of stain remover (I have two 50 cent coupons for the stain remover) at Walmart. (update: Our Target now carries these and they are on sale this week for $4.74. I will be switching this item to my Target list, since Target seems to have sales on these types of items more often than Walmart. I ended up buying these at Target).

I'll make a trip to Winco to buy margarine. I buy the 3 pound tubs of Gold and Soft for $2.48 a tub. Once in a while I can find a coupon to make these about 50 cents lower, and sometimes they go on sale (note: they are currently on sale for $2.26) . I will purchase 4 tubs.

I will buy a few gallons of fresh milk at either Sam's Club or Winco. I'll make yogurt with one of these using some starter I saved in the freezer last time.

I will watch for a deal on eggs before buying any. We still have a few in the fridge that I will use sparingly in baking until the next sale.

With the money that is left, I will look for sales on pork roast and apples, both of which are usually on sale in September (note: Winco has Gala apples for .98 a pound. I purchased a bushel box, which was 38 pounds. These will be good in the fridge for months, if they aren't eaten before then). I also realize there is a possibility of seeing a case-lot sale in September. I will wait to purchase the powdered milk until later in the month, when Smith's is likely to have these items on sale, so that I just make one trip there.

I'll watch for a sale on sour cream. Lately, Alberston's has had the best sales on this. I wait until it is on sale for $1 a pound. My husband's office is in the same parking lot, so if this goes on sale, I'll have him walk over and get some for me.

I will watch Totally Target to see if there are any toiletry deals on items that I use that are worth stocking. The tampon deal at Target this week looks good; Target and Winco are in the same parking lot, so I will make one trip for both stores. I will take reusable bags to both stores; Target gives 5 cents off for each bag and Winco gives 6 cents off for each bag. I may make a second trip to Target later in the month if I see any great deals. Both of these stores are just a few blocks away, so it's not a huge expense in gas.

My new budget is $275 a month. Since I decided to stock up on butter last month at .50 a pound, I am $20.61 over budget into this month, so I will plan to spend $250 this month. The butter was frozen and will be used for baking throughout the next year.

Meals for the month of September will be based on what we have in the pantry, freezer, and garden. I have lots of chicken in the freezer (as well as some turkey, ham, pork, and corned beef--though I will be saving the corned beef until November, most likely, when potatoes are in season), and plenty of beans (black, white, and pinto) and lentils and mung beans in the pantry. I have frozen peas, spinach, and peppers, and a variety of frozen fruits, including peaches, blackberries, mulberries, figs, apricots and plums. In the pantry I have canned peaches, pears, grapes, tomatoes, tomato sauce, green beans, corn, pineapple, mandarin oranges, applesauce, pumpkin, pickles, mushrooms, salsa, beets and grape juice. I also have raisins, dried cranberries, dried figs and dried onions. I have carrots in the fridge, as well as some lettuce (I traded my mom 2 cucumbers and 2 pounds of butter for some lettuce today). Most of the frozen and canned food is from my own garden.

The garden is yielding apples, pears, green onions, herbs of all kinds (including an abundance of basil), Swiss chard, red noodle beans, and cucumbers.

My fall menu can be seen here. I don't follow this exactly; I base my meal plans on what we have and what is ready in the garden.

I don't have lettuce in the garden yet, but I will be planting some later in the month when the temperatures cool down (soil temperatures are still 10-15º too hot). That should mean lettuce in late October and November (I hope!). I'm planting Swiss chard seeds, radish seeds, parsnips, and beet seeds later this month as well. Our first frost can be as early as mid-November, but it is usually not until the second week of December.

The reason I can shop this way is that I maintain a well-stocked pantry (which you can see here) and freezers.

Notes: I already went to Walmart, Winco, and Target. I've bought 2 gallons of oil, 2 refill bottles of Oxi-Clean stain remover, 2 boxes of tampons, 4 gallons of milk, 2 large (26.2 ounces each) containers of Nutella (at Winco for $4.98 each in the front aisle when you walk in the store; I used 2 $1 coupons on these; they will be used on crepes in the months to come. This was a huge treat; I saw the coupons when I went to print the tampon coupons, so I decided to print them, and if I found a great sale I would use them; if not, I would toss them.) 4 containers (12 pounds) of spreadable margarine, and 38 pounds of apples. I've spent $93.18, leaving me $181.82.  Sam's Club will be around $80; that leaves me $100 towards some pork roast (if I see a good sale; if it's too high, I will pass) sour cream, powdered milk, eggs, and anything else I see worth stocking this month. I also have a $5 gift card to Target to use on my next trip that I got this time.

Non-prepared food is not taxed where I live; prepared food and non-food items are taxed at 8.1%

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