Grocery Shopping

My Grocery Budget for 2018 and January’s Shopping Plans

Lemonade 2 The Prudent Homemaker

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This year, our grocery budget is $200 a month (down from an average of $300 a month last year).

Our income in 2017 was half what it was in 2016. We also increased our expenses significantly in 2017, as we added life insurance, we had some hospital bills, and we started paying for online college classes for our eldest.

With a variable income, we never know what our income will be each month or for the year. Because we have increased our expenses, we need to cut from other areas of the budget. We don’t have a large discretionary income, so cutting the grocery budget and the clothing/garden/miscellaneous budget are the two places we can cut.

Here’s how I intend to make $200 a month work for our family of 10 this year:

I intend to grow even more in the garden and do a better job with our fruit harvest. I wasn’t always fast enough on everything last year and the birds got to most of my grapes and a large number of figs. I intend to use paper bags on my grapes earlier in the season to keep the birds away. I also will be spraying the grapes a couple of times early in the spring (i.e. January and February) with neem oil, before they leaf out, to keep the powdery mildew away that has posed a problem (and destroyed part of the fruit) the last two years.

I am planning to grow even more Swiss chard, green onions, lettuce, and beets. My children went from not liking canned pickled beets much to suddenly welcoming them at the table. I’ll plant lettuce seeds (which I’ve collected from my own open-pollinated lettuces) every two weeks for a continuous supply of lettuce from March through late April/early May (at which point it get too hot here, as it is well over 100ºF).

I will plant my warm-season seeds shortly after our last frost date (which is February 15th). Sometimes I get these in later than I hope and it is too hot by the time they are large enough to flower for them to put forth any flowers. If our warm weather keeps up and no frost is predicted, I may plant earlier and cover the ground with glass jars to warm the soil (I already took a chance with some cucumber seeds last week this way, so I’ll see if they come up).

Last year, I rearranged the garden beds and added some concrete mesh we already had (I unrolled 5-foot tall cages to make them flat)  and my eldest son and I put them in the garden so that I can grow more vertically in the same space. This will be an advantage this year. I already have snow peas coming up under most of these trellises. I’ll plant Armenian cucumber seeds under the others come February 15th.

I also changed up a bed along one whole side of the garden, which gave me more space to grow lettuce, tomatoes, basil, and squash last year. I will use the same space for lettuce, poppies, squash, and herbs this year (the tomatoes will be grown in another space).

My garden budget is separate from my grocery budget. It includes things like replacement valves, drip lines, sprinkler heads, grass seed, manure, organic fertilizers: bone meal, Epsom salts, soil sulfur (to lower the ph, as our soil and water here have a ph of 8.2), and blood meal, vegetable seeds, flower seeds, fruit trees, vines, bushes, other plants, etc. 

I already have flower seeds and vegetable seeds to plant this year, both from collecting seeds in my own garden and seeds I’ve purchased in the past. I don’t need to buy any this year (though I may add a few new varieties of both to try). This is a blessing as I am decreasing the garden budget this year. I have also planned for a lowered budget, as I have been buying open-pollinated and heirloom seeds, and collecting them to plant in my own garden.

We’ll continue to eat from the freezers and pantry, and I’ll stock up on items as they get low.

We’ll continue to practice the principles from when I had an even lower budget of $100 a month. You can read those tips in my Eat for $0.40 a Day series.

 

Here’s how I’ll spend my $200 this month:

 

Winco:

Canned tomatoes. I am completely out of canned tomatoes. I used to buy 28-ounce cans of these, until Sam’s Club started carrying 102-ounce cans of these for an even better deal. Sam’s Club no longer carries them in this size (and Costco doesn’t either), so I will be comparing prices of the store brand of canned tomatoes (I’ll start with buying some at Winco). I use these in lots of recipes (especially soups), and I cannot grow enough tomatoes to can them (I have tried!) Update: After a year of not having these, it looks like my Sam’s Club might be bringing them back, but as a store brand instead. A reader’s suggestion to look at another Sam’s Club in town had me looking online. They didn’t have these in the store when I was there last month, but it says online that they have them now, so I will check!

Canned pineapple. These go on sale for $0.99 a can from November to January at Winco. I will stock up on these to use in fruit salads and on homemade pizza (and in the occasional carrot cake).

Canned olives. These also go on sale at Winco from November to December for $0.99 a can. We use these in pasta salad and on pizza. I will stock up on these for the year.

Potatoes. Winco carries russets around $0.25 a pound all year. We eat even more in the winter. and can easily go through 50 pounds a week in winter. You can see how we like to eat potatoes here.

Broccoli. Broccoli is in season in January and February. My whole family loves broccoli. I will look for a price of $0.99 a pound or less (I’m hoping for $0.77 a pound) and I will blanch and freeze broccoli to use for months. I will also watch the store ads to see if I find a lower price elsewhere. However, Winco sells just the crowns, which means I don’t end up with a lot of stems for the same price (or less) as I find elsewhere.

Onions

Spreadable margarine

Eggs

Milk

Vegetable Oil

 

Target:

Vitamins.  There are always sales on vitamins in January, and Target usually has additional Cartwheel offers on top of sales prices to get them even lower. I will look for both multivitamins and individual supplements of the store brand that we use.

 

Walmart:

Dish soap

 

Sam’s Club:

Mayonnaise

Toilet Paper

Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Mozzarella Cheese

Flour tortillas

Canned tomatoes in the 102-ounce (#10) can

 

 

In the garden this month, I’m harvesting Swiss chard and Meyer lemons. We’re also eating fresh tomatoes from the garden that we picked green and have ripening in baskets as well as butternut squash and pumpkin from the garden.

 

Some of the meals we’ll have this month:

 

Crepes 500

Oatmeal with brown sugar and almonds

Crepes

Eggs and toast with canned fruit salads (including home-canned fruit and frozen blackberries and pomegranates from our garden)

Homemade yogurt with jam and granola

Cheese grits with eggs

Fried diced potatoes with onion

 

Minestrone Soup The Prudent Homemaker

Black beans and tomato rice

Minestrone Soup with French Bread

Rosemary White Bean Soup

Swiss Chard Soup with Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

Vegetable Noodle Soup

Pasta e Fagioli

 

Butternut Squash Soup ingredients

Pizza

Spaghetti with green beans on the side

Enchiladas with Swiss chard

Butternut Squash Soup, Herb Roasted Chicken, Swiss Chard, and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Baked Potato Bar

Pumpkin pasta

Turkey Devan

 

For more frugal winter menu ideas, check out my winter menu here.

 

Note: If you’re new to my site, you should know that my grocery budget includes food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies for my family.

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132 Comments

  1. I’m always in awe of your ability to keep feed your family well on a tight budget.

    I haven’t checked, but I wonder if Amazon has the large cans of tomatoes and if so how their prices compare.

    I’d love to know how you prepare your pumpkin pasta. I have an abundance of pumpkin. I’ve been using it in chili, breads, and desserts.

    All the best to you and your family for 2018!

  2. I have been anxious to see your grocery plans for 2018. I always find so much I can improve on. Tried your recipes for barley soup and pasta e fagioli this week. Both were good and frugal. And barley was a new ingredient for us. Question: how many tortillas do you buy and do you freeze them? Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. This month, I will need to buy paper towels. We will buy milk, bread, and apples as we need them. Other than that, we should be fairly well stocked up on things. I’m sure I will have to buy a few things later in the month.

    Our local grocery store has paper towels on sale, but it isn’t the best deal I can find. Later in the month, they have a better coupon – but we may need them before then. They also have sausage, bacon, boxed macaroni, hot dogs, vegetable oil, granola bars, parmesan cheese, saltines, and toilet paper on sale this month at prices I will stock up on.

    Speaking of paper towels, I’m thinking of trying to switch to more cloth towels in our kitchen. Has anyone been able to do that with much success?

    I will make chicken broth with scraps later this month. We will probably eat several pasta meals, as I have quite a bit of pasta and spaghetti sauce in the pantry.

    We are having a party for my husband’s birthday. I am trying to spend no more than $300 on this party. It will be a fairly big party with lots of family. We will have pork loin, which I already bought from a previous months’ grocery budget. I will try to use some of this month’s grocery budget for some of the food. So far, I’ve only spend $19.01 on invitations.

  4. Hi Brandy,
    Love your blog, it helps to keep me motivated. I’m in Australia so I enjoy seeing what you do in your part of the world.
    I’m wondering if you take into consideration the country of origin when you buy your groceries eg where your tinned tomatoes come from? Here in Australia it can change the price point if it’s imported vs Australian made. I try to take Australian made into consideration when I’m budgeting, where possible.
    Just interested what you or others think about this? Enjoy your week & thanks for your honesty & help keeping us all ‘on track’.
    Best wishes,
    Amie

  5. We use cloth for wiping the table and counters and for cleaning. We use paper towels for draining fried potatoes. We’ve done it this way for years. I have a bucket on top of my washing machine for the dirty cloths to go into, and another for dirty cloth napkins and bibs.

  6. We bought bar cloths at Sam’s club and use those in place of paper towels! We have completely eliminated paper towels and Kleenex (I made two ply flannel kleenex) and they are eco friendly as well as softer and cheaper to use and reuse!

  7. I’m curious about your garden budget. Would you mind sharing how much you allow yourself monthly?
    We racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills in 2017. So in order to pay those off, we are cutting everywhere we can. I look forward to trying out some of your recipes!

  8. I switched to “un-paper towels” a few years ago and love them. I made mine out of a few different materials. First I did a cotton backing with an absorbent baby diaper cloth fabric that they’ve changed and is terrible now (also only came in white so stained easily). Most recently I’ve been using flannel (darker colours to hide stains better) as the wiping part and cotton scraps as the backing and am liking it as well. you could really use any scrap fabric. I have some heavy duty ones that I made using bath towels that I got from the thrift store and cut up. For me, I don’t bother with the snaps and putting them on a towel roll but, have when I have gifted several sets to people. They have said that it helps them with the transition.
    I wash mine in hot water with all my other kitchen towels and dry like normal. Pinterest has tonnes of different types and ways to make them. I made mine the size of a full size paper towel but, can make any size that works for you.
    I have a special laundry basket in my kitchen for them that I throw the in. If they’re wet, I hang them around the edge to dry but, otherwise just throw them in. Living in an apartment and laundry being expensive ($5/load to wash/dry), I only do a load every other week with those when it is a full load and never had any issues. If i’ve cleaned up something really messy, like pasta sauce, I rinse out and hang on the side of the basket to dry.
    I use them for everything from wiping down counters to cleaning the bathroom. I use cotton tea towels (flour sack) for drying hands and covering when proofing bread (I wet them and wring them out before covering the bread).
    I do keep a roll of regular paper towel around for the really messy situations (vomit etc.).

  9. We have been so blessed with the produce market that we discovered in October! Their slightly bruised beefsteak tomatoes we bought 25 pound boxes for $3!!! We canned like crazy! We got broccoli tops there in 3 pound bags for $1! We blanched and froze about 15 pounds! Apples, bananas and oranges – 40 pound boxes for $5! I never know what they will have until I get there but it has been a way that we have been able to expand our produce pantry exponentially!!
    With the pineapple, have you considered canning your own? When pineapples are 99 cents each, I buy several and can get about 3 pints from each pineapple. I do not add sugar or juice, only hot water (which gets infused with the pineapple flavor). It’s a very short processing time and for me, it’s well worth my time.
    This month we are trying a “no-spend” challenge where with the exception of fresh produce and milk, we are going to spend no money on food and live on our food storage! I’m excited to try this! Already today I canned 18 pints of sweet and sour sauce and made 40 banana coconut delight cookies without buying anything!
    Good luck, Brandy! We raised 11 children and like you, learned to stretch our food dollars!!

  10. Amazon Prime has a six month free trial for college students, (ie, anyone with an email address that ended in .edu), which includes free two-day shipping. Perhaps Winter has such an email address now.

  11. Katie, I have a miscellaneous budget category that covers clothing & shoes, the garden, gifts, books, household items, etc.–basically, anything that isn’t a utility or food. Sometimes we need more of one thing or another. I spend more on the garden in the first couple of months in the year, but later I won’t buy anything in that category and will instead purchase shoes or something else my family needs. It really depends on what we need. I will need some dirt in the garden and I will buy tomato plants to put out in 6 weeks. I am considering a few seeds but I really have enough so those are more a want than a need.

    I fund this category very last from our income, so sometimes I don’t put anything at all towards the miscellaneous category if it is tight. Food gets funded first, so if I’m not grocery shopping for the month, I’m also not buying anything else, most likely. I’ll just pay bills and work to keep those as low as possible. Also, if we have medical bills to pay, those come before anything in this category and get funded first.

  12. Canned tomatoes would be very heavy to ship!

    Winter is taking independent study university courses. She does not have a school email yet as she has not been accepted anywhere. She will apply as a transfer student with college credits when she has finished some courses.

  13. Just make sure to thoroughly check for the cabbage worms before you use it in a dish……no one here will touch broccoli cheese soup. They didn’t think my joke about added protein was very funny 😀

  14. I use paper towels to drain bacon, but use rags for everything else. Old t-shirts, worn out flannel sheets, and various pieces from clothing items that have worn out have all gone to make rags. I just cut up peppers to make chili tomorrow and had to drain them because I don’t like to store them wet so I just laid them out on a rag to drain and then I dried them off with that same rag; it works out fine. I go through a roll of paper towels in about a year at this point. I definitely recommend switching to rags.

  15. I find your growing season fascinating!! We are in Southeast Alaska, very limited growing season, if it’s not too wet and the slugs take over like last summer. I wish we had the shopping resources like you do, I buy what we need when it’s on sale and meat when it’s 50% off – and then figure out what we’re eating from there. Barging food here adds up, and our $5.99 gallon of milk reflects that. If you know of anyplace that ships free or very affordably – for food – I am all ears!! Really enjoy your lovely pictures, you have a lot of talent!

  16. That’s too bad about the tomatoes! I have one #10can left. I just checked my Walmart and Sam’s no longer carries them!

  17. I’ve been paper free in the kitchen for a couple of years now and TP free in the bathroom for piddles for about a year. Cut up old t-shirts word great for the bathroom and I knit dishcloths (quit smoking a few years ago and still have to do something with my hands while watching TV or visiting). I find no difference and those big rolls of paper towel sure take up a lot of room in the pantry, and in the compost bin.

  18. Check on the Sam’s club website for the large cans of tomatoes at the various Sam’s Clubs in Las Vegas. Sometimes
    they ship to one site but not another nearby. Happy new year to you and yours.

  19. Have you looked into CLEP tests? They can be much cheaper then taking the online classes. Just make sure they will transfer to the college she wants to attend.

  20. We switched from paper towels to rags years ago and have never looked back. I have two stacks in a drawer in the kitchen. One is for rags that will be washed, the other is for gross things use. Like when the dog throws up, I just clean it up and then throw away those rags.

    We do use paper towels for draining grease but there what I do is put one layer of paper towels over a section of newspaper. That keeps it sanitary but uses fewer towels because the newspaper absorbs what the one layer of paper towels could not. I also save brown bags I sometimes get in the grocery store and use those instead of newspaper. I still get a local paper on Wednesday and Sunday, to keep up on small local happenings that a news channel would not carry, and for the coupons. If I have a lot, I shred it and use it for packaging if mailing something or put it in the compost heap.

  21. Confused about the 102 oz. or #10 cans. Last time I checked, these were still available there. Or did you mean they no longer carry the 28 oz. cans? We buy #10 cans of tomatoes and other veggies; we store whatever we don’t use for one meal in a half gallon mason jar and plan meals to incorporate the leftovers through the week. One 102 oz. can of tomato sauce usually makes our family of three two large pots of tomato-based stew or spaghetti sauce. We plan stew or spaghetti sauce leftovers for lunches.

    So sorry to hear your food budget must be lowered, but you are true inspiration to the art of frugality.

    Good wishes for you and your family in 2018.

  22. Do you have any other wholesale stores near you? We have 2 different “Cash and Carry” stores near us that cater to small restaurants and other businesses but are open to the public. They have no membership and all the canned goods are in #10 cans (about 1 gallon). If your warehouse stores no longer carry the tomatoes you need this may be a great option! It’s also a good option for shredded cheese and some other things. You just need to know your price points! Which I know you do. They even have sales which makes a good time to stock up.

  23. Hi Brandy and happy new year to you and your family. ..just a thought about the tomatoes have you tried Smart and Final? Or Cash and Carry? They are for businesses but anyone can shop there and there is no membership fee. There may be one near you I have not checked but it may be an option

  24. Hi Brandy and happy new year to you and your family. ..just a thought about the tomatoes have you tried Smart and Final? Or Cash and Carry? They are for businesses but anyone can shop there and there is no membership fee. There may be one near you I have not checked but it may be an option

  25. I agree — I was just pondering whether they might have any with prime shipping. (Although even with shipping they might still be more expensive.).

    Do you ever use tomato powder to add to recipes? I don’t know if it would work for the meals your family likes or not, but I find it easy to keep on hand and add to a lot of things. I can sometimes use less tomatoes and add more broth with tomato powder because the flavor is intense.

  26. I love reading your groceries plans. I get so many new ideas. You make so many things from scratch (and purchasing this for ease could possibly be the reason), but why not make your mayonnaise? I find this super quick and easy to throw together with my immersion blender – of course, I’m not making it for 10! Happy New Year!

  27. Check Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program for the tomatoes. Shipping is free for everyone, no prime membership required. They deliver on a set day each month and you can cancel your subscription almost any time (unless an item is already in transit).

  28. Pineapples are usually $3 each where I live in New England. Occasionally, Aldi has them for $1.49. I’ve never seen one at a regular grocery store for less than the Aldi price and I’ve been buying my own groceries for over 20 years!

  29. I always love seeing your plans for the month!

    I’m trying to eat more from the pantry this month, just to rotate things. I’ve already planned to make vegetable stir-fry (using carrots & peppers I blanched and froze during the fall sales, and possibly some homegrown sprouts as well) over sushi rice (I don’t like rice but can eat sushi rice); Dutch apple pie using apples from my freezer; pesto focaccia using pesto gifted to me; cheddar potato soup; pesto & pasta w/ frozen veggies on the side; pumpkin gnocchi; pizza (meat and homemade sauce from the freezer); and yoghurt, to name a few things. Once I’ve managed to rotate some things, I’ll do a big stock-up of sale items, probably next week when I can carpool with family. The only things I really need though, to take me though for at least two weeks, are cheese, milk, and fruit, and I could probably even get by without that by using some of my canned and frozen fruit, and changing up other meals.

    Speaking of tortillas, I have some tortillas in the freezer that I should pull out and make veggie and black bean quesadillas with. I always make my tortillas, and they usually last for several meals. If you have the time, that might be something to try, Brandy! They’re super-easy to make, and obviously much cheaper. I use this recipe, and just use oil for the fat (although I’ve also used butter and coconut oil with great success): http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2013/03/homemade-flour-tortillas/ Word of advice, let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes, and better longer, so that the gluten relaxes and it’s easier to roll out.

    Oh, and if you can only find broccoli with crowns, you can always make a slaw with the crowns (http://approachingfood.com/broccoli-slaw/) I use a pre-made dressing, but you could easily make up a mayo-based or vinaigrette-type dressing.

    Happy eating! (And growing!)

  30. Hi Brandy! I’m wanting to do a much better job in my garden this coming gardening season but I better check my soil first! Since I am fairly new to gardening, what ph level is ideal for a standard garden? Is there a kit I can buy at my local nursery?

    Thank you

  31. This is very impressive. You are a true master gardener. For some reason I feel compelled to tell you to be very careful using the neem oil. I used some very cautiously this past summer and ended up in the ER with a severe allergic reaction…we are not sure it was the neem oil, but I wanted to tell you just in case!

    I am having a horrific problem with gophers in our backyard right now! I have no idea what to do as I do not want to poison them due to having a dog and 2 large trees in the area with organic fruit that we eat! However, they are destroying our yard. 🙁

    Wishing you and your family a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  32. January’s shopping budget is about spending minimal after Christmas. We have a budget of $100 for the month and may come in lower.

    After January I will stick to our budget of $120 per week for my family of four, with an aim to come in at $100 and have that $20 buffer. Our budget includes food, toiletries, laundry and cleaning products. We live in Australia, with high grocery prices and cost of living.

  33. I too can pineapple when it is on sake for $.88 or. $99. I just use the light syrup recipe out of the ball book of canning. One pineapple usually yields 3 pints and it tastes so much better than store bought canned.

  34. Food budget plans for this month are pretty small; I purchased several new boxes of canning jars that ate up a lot of our available food budget, so we’re only at around $75 left for the month. That said, we have quite a lot of food in the house. I’ll need to pick up milk, string cheese (as school starts up again soon), and eggs (the 60 count box is only $6.36 at Walmart, which is double the price I used to pay in my old city but is the best price here), but other than that I don’t have much on my list.

    I’m probably going to pick up some egg noodles (I have forgotten to do so for the last 3 grocery trips, so hopefully I remember this time!) and some more onions, but otherwise that’s really all I need to get.

    I wish you well in 2018!

  35. Brandy,

    Just when I think you cannot become more ambitious and frugal, you do. Your husband is one very blessed man!

    I cooked, de-boned, and froze a turkey last week.
    In addition, we have started buying dry beans and cooking them, which is a huge savings over canned beans. The beans cooked at home taste so much better too!
    Another idea I have is purchasing whole birds, whether they be turkeys or chickens vs. purchasing chicken breasts or other parts of the bird.
    We have a potluck at church every Sunday. My salad is always gone, but not the main course I bring. Because the food sits out so long, it has to be thrown out. I told my husband I am going to start bringing less food no matter what because I am not OK with throwing out that much food and therefore money every week.

  36. I bought a bag of shop towels at Costco and use them for everything in the kitchen. I only use paper towels for draining fried tortillas for tacos and tostados.

  37. Pineapple goes on sale for $2.99 each here, and they are TINY. You would be lucky to get a pint and a half from one! Definitely not those big ones that you ladies are getting three pints from. At $3 each, not counting the cost of sugar and all of the canning time, I would come out behind on these by canning them at home.

  38. I am on their site now. They are showing them! But they have not had them at my store in over a year and I used up all of mine. I will look and see about a different store or if I can get them ordered to my store, because $2.98 for a #10 can is impossible to beat!

  39. They haven’t had #10 cans (i.e. the 102 ounce cans) of diced tomatoes at my store in over a year. They switched brands of tomato sauce; they used to have 2 and now just have one. But another reader in a comment above suggested I check their site and see if another Sam’s in town has them, so I will check!

  40. It’s $11.48 for a gallon of Best Foods mayo at Sam’s, and we go through that quickly. That would be pretty costly in oil and eggs. My husband only likes Best Foods, and he’s the mayo lover, so this is something I buy for him. I’ve tried a ton of other brands and he ate through those jars (we didn’t waste them) but he didn’t like them at all, so I get this. He’s rarely specific about something but this just tastes so much better to him!

  41. I feel bad that you pay so much for potatoes. We picked onions off the road on our way back from Boise at Christmas. We found white, yellow and red. I have small bags of dehydrated onions in the freezer. I just pull one out whenever I do soups or things that need onions.

  42. Our local nursery sells kits, so I iamgine yours will too. What your ph is is really dependant upon your area. Some places are really acidic and do great growing things like berries, camellias, rhodedenrens, gardenias, etc. Other places, like here, are very alkaline. Gardeners with acidic soil can add lime to their soil if it is too acidic. Alkaline gardeners can all soil sulphur, which is what I do, to lower the ph. A nutral ph will grow most things, but sometimes you want it more acidic. I can’t grow acidic loving plants here; even our water is highly alkaline, so even potted plants end up dying on me.

  43. Steph, I have used neem oil for over a decade without any problems. I always wear long sleeves, pants, and boots, and I shower after I spray.

    Since you are allergic to it, I would suggest trying diatamaceous earth mixed with water in your sprayer instead for your trees when they are dormant. It’s another organic option and it isn’t an oil (it’s a powder).

  44. Only Idahoans pay less, I think! My readers who are east of the Mississippi pay no less than $0.40 a pound if they’re lucky!

    Only Winco has them for $0.25 a pound year-round here. I can sometimes find them still for $0.10 a pound at Thanksgiving like I used to, but now there is a limit of one or two bags at that price. I have seen russets for $0.50 a pound or more in season here at the regular grocery stores. Those are the 10-pound bags. The large baking potatoes, red potatoes, and Yukon golds are much higher per pound.

  45. do you grate and freeze the woody part of broccilli heads? great in soups and stocks ……i really am that mean and nobody has noticed …lol

  46. Thank you again for sharing, Brandy. If you are ever able (time can be hard to find, I know), I’d love you to post more about the meals you chose to make in a particular week and why. For example, “on Tuesday I gathered a huge basket of Swiss chard so I made soup.”. I think knowing more of your thought-to-action process would be so helpful!

  47. Hi Brandy,

    I’d just like to wish you and your family a Happy New Year. I always find your ideas inspiring.

  48. I joined Weight Watchers this summer and have lost about 25 pounds. It changed the way I eat and shop. I can no longer eat many carbs. Carbs are my favorite and most affordable. Any suggestions? I use Joseph’s pita and lavash and Healthy Life English muffins and buns. I would love to have recipes to make my own. I use Zucchini As noodles but so not the same.

  49. This all looks so good! I’ve always admired your combo of storebought and home-grown ingredients to save money. Good luck this month!

    Our January goal is to continue with our goal of eating healthier. I know it’s a month of resolutions for many people, but this is just something we’ve been doing since a November health scare. I think we might get a Costco membership again because I’d really like to eat only organic chicken moving forward.

  50. I hardly use paper towels at all. I use towels, dish cloths, and sponges for all of my cleaning. We use cloth napkins for all meals and snacks. Cloth napkins seem like an investment at first, but we’ve been using the same napkins for years. I add to my stock occasionally when I find a great buy at a discount store, but more often have bought them at garage sales and thrifts stores.

  51. I was thrilled to read that sometimes your family can go through 50lbs of potatoes in a week. We are only a family of 3, but there was a time last winter when we went through 25lbs in a week. I was a little alarmed, so I didnt serve anything potato for a few weeks after that!!!

  52. We use old clothing that we cut into rags for just about everything around here that needs wiping up or cleaned. We also use old dish towels cut in 1/2 once they develop holes, or get really yucky. I have a basket for the clean ones, and we just run the used ones through the laundry like any other towel or washcloth. I use paper towels for things like grease, draining fried foods like Brandy does, and wiping up any mess that I absolutely cannot bring myself to mentally want to touch or have my rags touch–pretty rare. So, the multipack of paper towels that I was given when we moved into this house over a year ago still has one or two rolls remaining. We use very few of them.

  53. Your comment reminds me of when I was a girl. Potato trucks would go around the corner by our house and often lose a few off the top and they would roll onto the side of the road. My mom would send us girls out to pick them up, and we had free potatoes that way. After I got married, my husband ended up following a cauliflower truck a few times, with the same result–free cauliflower that fell off when the truck rounded the corner! But, that’s been many, many years ago, and we have to buy those things now:).

    I got some potatoes for 10c/lb around Thanksgiving, and they are often 20c/lb around here (Oregon). Sometimes, they go higher, though. We eat a lot of them, though, because we love them and they are inexpensive food.

  54. Your meals look great! I always love the beautiful pictures of food you take. We had quite a few extra people around during the holiday season over the past few weeks, so went through quite a bit of food. So, I bought quite a few extra groceries, mostly on sale, during December.

    When I get around to January, and things settle down, I traditionally want to spend less so I can save money, better organize myself, eat healthier, etc. This year is no exception.

    I’m in good condition for meat at this point, so don’t anticipate buying more this month unless I find a wonderful deal on chicken. There is beef, pork (including ham), fish we caught last summer, and a little chicken in the freezers, along with the veggies, fruit, and some bread I got on mark-down.

    I checked my pantry and seem to be in great shape for most items, except peanut butter. I can’t find any at all. Which means that a certain child has once again emptied the jars by the spoonful, since I recently had quite a few out there. So, I’ll go get some more and store it in the locked shop. When I find another really great sale, I’ll buy several, and bring them into the house one at a time at a reasonable pace. Because we have had a houseful of special needs kids for so long, this is a situation that has occurred more than once over the years, and in fact, sent one of our sons to the doctor when he had moved to his group home because they didn’t regulate it well enough. He ate so much, it truly made him ill. So, I want there to be peanut butter, but a reasonable amount, not 1-2 cups a day being consumed by any one person. I just need to pay more attention, and I got pretty busy over the last few weeks and didn’t. My bad:)

    Right now, my husband is eating a lot of produce, so that’s what I will buy each week, along with dairy. He has lost over 40 lbs over the past few months, so I want to keep encouraging him with the foods he needs to keep up the good work. Maybe his efforts will rub off on me!!

    I’m also running low on olives, so will get more at Grocery Outlet, where they consistently run around 79c/can. It’s an off brand, but they are fine.

    I have put some money in weekly envelopes for groceries for the month. I will be happy to spend it if I need something, but even happier if I end the month with some left in there. I’m hoping to discipline myself to pass up some really good deals this month, and end up with some $ left over at the end. If so, I will probably do a Costco run with the extra, in February. I am pretty well stocked up on food, even soda, and am finding it easier to stay that way once I caught on to carrying some of these more desirable items out to the locked shop for storage. Then, when it’s my turn to take some sodas to a family gathering, they are still there to take!! I was able to grab 20-24 packs of 7-up and Coke for $3.99/box last Friday. I had stopped buying chips before the holidays, and once these few chips that are lingering from the holidays are gone, I won’t buy more, except tortilla chips for nacho dinners. They are also a preferred food:), but are expensive and keep the kids full of not-good food. My aunt sometimes brings them some on Sundays, so they won’t suffer:)

    Looking back on what I wrote, I see it’s a bit more about what I’m NOT buying this month, rather than what I AM buying. It will be good to really hit the home-canned and frozen produce hard, and use some of the pantry items that have lingered for a while, and some of the bulk items like dry beans, lentils, split peas and rice, that I always have on hand. It’s good to rotate those things, to keep them fresh. I hope to make a weekly menu, and specifically target some items I want to use up, rather than just grab what’s in front on the shelf:)

  55. I’m going to Safeway after work today to pick up a few things that are on sale, and then for the rest of the month I’m limiting myself to buying just dairy, eggs, and produce. Oh, and my husband’s lunches (he has to have his frozen entree meals). We have plenty of meat, grains, and beans in the freezer and pantry (and I need to defrost our big freezer before our half pig arrives next month). My nine-year-old asked if she can start doing some meal prep for me before I get home from work in the afternoons, so that we get done with dinner faster and can have more time to read together in the evenings. I’m hoping that if we work together I’ll be better prepared with meal plans and evenings won’t feel so frazzled! She’ll chop veggies for me and get out ingredients. Then we’ll cook together once I get home.

  56. About a month ago our Aldi’s had russet potatoes for $1.29 for 10 lb. I bought a bunch! And last week they had Yukon Gold for 99 cents for 5 lb. I was excited both times!!! And I always think of you! 🙂

  57. Gaila, I am a Smart & Final shopper in the same town as Brandy–good idea. Brandy, there is a Smart & Final at the corner of Sahara and Durango. I know that is out of your immediate area, but they DO have the big #10 cans of tomatoes. They have whole, chopped, diced, pureed and tomato sauce. Also, they have just introduced some sort of shopping service so you might be able to order in bulk and just pick up using that.

  58. Brandy, you might want to keep an eye on the loss leaders at Sprouts. I run in there almost every week for whatever is on sale. This store is where I’ve managed to get butternut squash at $.77 a pound (as opposed to $1.19-1.29 elsewhere) and week before last they had pineapples for $1 each. I bought 4 and they are sitting in chunks in Ziploc bags in the fridge–I’ll be canning them today. There is a Sprouts at 1XXXX West Sahara. Again, it’s not all that close to your area, but you could exit the 215 at Town Center and not be too far away. This week, if I remember correctly, butternut is $.88 a pound at Sprouts.

  59. Paper towels are so wasteful financially and environmentally – once you get into the habit of using cloths you’ll never look back! I cut up old tshirts etc and use them. Like Brandy I throw them in the washing machine and wash on the hottest wash I do each week (usually whites – towels, bed linen etc). I received a free roll of paper towel earlier in the year and saved it for Christmas cooking, I used so little I think it’ll see me through til 2020!!

  60. Marcia, our van gets 8 miles to the gallon, so driving 30-40 minutes one way for a deal would cost me more in gas. A Sprouts was recently built closer to me at 14 minutes from here. I did the math when they had clementines on sale and it wasn’t worth the gas. I have so many options within a mile and a half, so I stick to those places. Sam’s is 5 miles, and I go there once a month or less.

    I grow butternut squash in my garden and it is a good keeper, so I have several right now keeping cool in the garage. I try not to buy butternut squash.

    I’m glad it works out well for you, though!

  61. Broth. My secret food budget stretching weapon. I love to make broth in the crock pot. I store it in an half galllon jar in frig for a week. Any kind chicken, beef, veggie, herb and now Parmesan are all excellent with rice and veggies. I save the rinds of Parmesan cheese and add it to stews and soups but I just read of adding the rinds to water for broth. My New Years break has included the book, “Bread is Gold” by Massimo bottura. I checked it out from the local library.:)

  62. I haven’t used paper towels or paper napkins for years. I have one roll of paper towels in case someone taking care of my dogs and cats can’t do without them but other than that it’s cloth all the way. Old dishcloths (hand knitted or crocheted by me) get passed along to cleaning rags and old dish towels are used for cleaning windows, etc. and also used to drain foods or wiping up messes. They all get washed and reused. If it’s a yucky spill then an old rag will be used to clean up and then get thrown away or into the compost (cotton is compostable).

  63. Walmart has raised all of their online grocery prices. They’re significantly higher now than those in the store. I’m so ticked.

  64. In our grocery sale ad today, a 5# bag of russett or yukon potatoes is $3.49/lb. Alaska prices are out of this world. When I see prices elsewhere, I am even more shocked by ours. Makes me even more committed to making the most of our gardening efforts during our short growing season.

  65. Dear Brandy,

    I never miss a post. I have been following your blog for years. You encourage me so much in every area of life. I am by myself now and some days its real easy to want to pull into the drive through although I have a written budget that I should follow religiously. I am truly going to try to do better this year and take some of the advice I have been reading about for years from you and your readers and put it into action. Thank you so much for lifting the hearts and lives of so many and helping us to find a better place and perspective from which to view this world. Blessings to you and your precious family.

  66. Hello Brandy,
    Thank you for sharing all your wonderful tips. I am hoping to make January much more frugal than December and I love all your bean recipes.

    I also want to thank you for the tip of buying 108 ounces of tomatoes then seasoning it for a lovely Marinara sauce. In my area I could not find those cans at Costco(Sam’s club is not close enough to make sense). I did find them at a restaurant supply store for a similar price, last time I checked them were $3.65 for a #10 can. I wonder if there a one near you?

    Also…you gave me encouragement to try begin to grow my own food. I have a couple of herb plants that I have not killed yet…I will get trying until I get it.

  67. January Food Goals:

    Clean out pantry and reorganize. It used to be so neat and easy to find what I wanted but the last few months I’ve just let it go. It *HAS* to be organized this week. I will take inventory of everything and make notes of what I need to buy.

    Clean out laundry room so I can put my new chest freezer in there. It was a gift for Christmas and I already have 2 extra turkeys that were given to my sister and her boyfriend, waiting for me in my mom’s freezer!!

    I will check the stores to see if any other turkeys or hams are on clearance. If so, I will buy them to cook throughout the year.

    I really, really have to get on a budget for groceries. I used to be super frugal with my grocery budget, and years ago lived in an area with a grocery outlet. I rarely spent more than $20/week back then on food and house products. I can spend $20 at Walmart in one day now. I hate it. I have become so wasteful with food too. After my boyfriend moved in last summer, it seems that my budgeting skills went down the tubes. I am cringing at the thought of all the leftover Christmas food I have to throw out because I didn’t freeze it. I am hoping to get back to where I used to be now that I have a sizable chest freezer to store things in.

  68. Potatoes are 60 cents a lb this year, where I live, in the deep South. I was lucky to find some for 40 cents a lb around Christmas.

  69. My 4 months of SNAP were well used and there is very little of anything that I don’t have stockpiled in this house. I imagine that I may spend a small amount on a few fresh vegetables and fruits but there is little needed or desired here. My daughter and I both need to lose some weight so I am going to serve better options and eat healthier. No fancy diet planned, just long term changes. I have a financial issue to deal with that is pretty rough. Thankfully, I can manage the issue and will have it resolved by March. Meanwhile, I will not make a food budget and happily food is just not one of our problems. I need to meal plan, experiment and be patient. I am so grateful for all the great posts that have helped me so much. I discovered a bag of barley and right away knew to check Brandy’s recipes for ideas.

  70. Hi Brandy,

    I have recently started watching a lotnof YouTubers who post about groceries and menu planning. Have you thought about starting a channel?

  71. I would highly recommend row covers (aka garden fabric). Our last frost date is March 15 but temps are usually adequate for starting many things though not hot weather crops (tomatoes, okra, sweet potatoes etc) in Jan. The row covers let light and rain through but protect the plants from cooler, even freezing weather. I reuse it year after year. 5+ years for the current batch. It comes in different weights. Mine provides 6-8 degrees buffer. If we happen to have a hard freeze (unusual) I just double up. I haven’t lost a plant yet to the cold while using it.

  72. My budget for January is $200. I will be picking up toilet paper, fresh vegetables, dish soap and dog food on Friday. My daughters will be fixing a meal this coming week so I will be buying for that as well. I hope to have $50 leftover for the remainder of the month when all is said and done.

    I am always happy to read how others will be saving money. It is encouraging to me!

  73. Hi Jess!
    We’ve been paper towel-less for over 2 years. So what do we use?
    – A mop rag for cleaning up spills on the floor.
    – Other rags (often cut up old clothes) or a sponge for cleaning counters and tables.
    – Cloth towels for drying.
    – I buy a pack of paper napkins probably twice a year for guests.
    – For really bad messes, like spilled cooking oil I’ll use my napkin stash, an old newspaper, a rag that I just toss afterwards, or even toilet paper.
    – I used to use paper towels for cleaning up after cutting raw meats, but now I cut them in a pot or in the sink with scissors, which makes for easy clean up.

  74. Jess I have 2 daughters with 3-4 kids that do not EVER buy paper towels. They use a cooling rack(like for a cake) to drain bacon or other greasy foods and just scrape the “fat” into a empty can like a veggie can. The one will use her bacon and sausage grease to fry potatoes,cabbage, greens etc in. They keep a stack of rags (bar towels are good) on the counter.
    Daddy uses 3 rags of different colors…white for grease so he can bleach it afterwards, mixed colors for dishes and dark color for wiping up spills on the floor. You will just have to stop buying the paper towels and load up on “rags” or you will out of habit use the paper towels instead of the rag

  75. This will be a great bonding experience, all the while helping you out. Some of my fondest memories of my mother are from the times when I was helping her in the kitchen…

  76. Ummm, can you share more about these worms? Small enough to see? only in fresh broccoli?

    I’m still getting over the trauma in finding a moving worm in a bag of pre-washed greens lol!

  77. Love the photo of the crepes with the matching flower sitting off aside and behind the plate – gorgeous.
    Beets are one of the few things that we seem to plant every single year, even this past summer when I pretty much planted nothing else. Normally I also will can pickled beets. But I have been a bit busier with work than normal and ended up just parboiling and freezing some. We’re actually having some tonight with our supper. Love them tossed with a good gob of butter and a bit of sea salt – yum.
    I’ll have to remember your link for your carrot cake recipe. That’s my dad’s favorite cake and I have been intending to make one for the past couple of years. His birthday is in March and I will aim to make it then. He’s not fond of cream cheese. But I know I can come up with another icing that’ll work. We use a cinnamon flavored white frosting at work that I think would go very well with it actually. Yum.
    No shopping plans for me really. Our freezers are both still plenty full and the cupboard is still pretty well stocked. I haven’t cooked/baked a whole lot for the past month or so. Sadly that means that we ate out more than we should have. But I am getting back into the swing of things and making our meals again now that I am feeling better.
    Thanks for all that you do on your site, Brandy. You are a wonderful inspiration and I always feel so good while and after I have looked at your postings.

  78. I do not buy paper towels… ever. If we have them it is because my parents have bought them – they are seniors and live with us. Over the past year or two I have added to my cloth napkin basket and I keep that at the table all the time. I have never missed paper towels. On the rare occasion that we have bacon, that is the only time that I have to get a little creative at finding something to drain it on. But coffee filters, paper plates and napkins left over from eating out, all work very well in place of paper towels.

  79. Some years ago, my next door neighbor planted a bunch of potatoes. Her daughters would occasionally bring some over to us. After about a month, they brought us a big bag of them. I was shocked at how many. The youngest one says, “Please take them. I just can’t eat any more potatoes! I’m starting to dream about them!” We had such a laugh over that, but sure enjoyed that gift!!

  80. We’re on a horrible tight budget this year. We got two unexpected bills in Dec. that really threw us for a loop in our planning. Plus, this was just a hard year on us financially. I expect our grocery spending to be less than $100 this month. I usually take such advantage of the post Christmas sales for food & other stuff, but there was no way that was going to happen this year. I imagine that all I’ll buy is fresh stuff like seasonal produce, dairy, & any oops products I run out of. I’m hoping that wont’ be the case because I did inventory lol!

  81. I bought all my cloth napkins at the thrift store. Most looked like they had never been used.

    I, too, am mostly paper free in the kitchen. I only use paper towels to drain grease but may switch to brown bags/newspaper after reading this post.

  82. Brandy, do you have a Sprouts in your neck of the woods?

    This national chain often has broccoli and other veggies at really low prices — and broccoli was 78 cents a pound a few weeks ago. One of the best parts: on Wednesdays, they honor both last week’s sale items, plus the current week’s sale prices.

    Also, there’s got to be a dented/remainders store in a large city near you. (Ours is called Friday/Saturday in the Denver, CO area — see http://cindybrick.blogspot.com/2013/10/groceries-on-30-week.html ) Our store sells #10 cans of both mandarin oranges and tomatoes for $3-4! That would stretch your budget even more.

    I admire your courage and versatility at holding to a budget this low, and am looking forward to seeing you accomplish it!

  83. (I just left a comment re Sprouts. Brandy, watch the sale ads carefully — the right week (weeks, if you go on Wednesday) will REALLY save you.)

    Btw (gently said), it’s ‘Turkey Divan,’ not ‘Devan.’

    thanks for writing this blog!

  84. We prefer the Best Food mayo also — but Costco’s Kirkland Brand is made by Best Foods and tastes exactly the same. If you don’t have a Costco membership, maybe you have a friend or family member who could pick up that item for you.

    I always love seeing your plans for the month — especially the reminders of some things you plan to cook, as that inspires me to seek out some more frugal options.

  85. Good luck on your No Spend Challenge! I just did a No Spend November and was pretty please with how it went. I wrote about it on my blog and gave a few tips to prepare.
    I hope you can share your results!

    Happy New Year!

  86. Yes I too need to do a much better job of keeping a budget for food. We are a family of 3 so I aim for $400/mos. I find for personal supplies I go to my local dollar tree for toothbrushes,deoderant,bar soap (2-3pk),cotton balls,Q-tips,cloth like band-aids,hydrogen peroxide,alcohol,dryer sheets(cut in half),etc which saves me a ton of $. I buy my Dove body wash 3 pack at Sams for $15 and will last us 3months,shampoo/conditioner with the pump for much less waste and always add water to thin it our for more uses. For tampons and pads for DD we use generic Wal-mart brand tampons and always pads. I will usually buy 2 boxes of everything which lasts for months for her. All household items come from Sams:Dishwasher pods, garbage bags,TP and P Towels,laundry detergent pods, vinegar for all household cleaning. I only have to buy this stuff maybe twice a year. I have an Aldi’s less than a mile and kroger a couple hundred feet. I am shopping at Kroger more as their clearance markdowns are amazing saving me more money than Aldi’s for name brand stuff. In the last few months we have almost cut out all eating out which was a big deal for us. I am also picking up 2 extra shift a month at my job to bring in extra $400. I plan on staying debt free and am starting to save for a used car for DD who will be 14 in Feb. Planning on putting away $300/mos in car fund. The only thing I owe as far as debt is my home which will be paid off in 9 years when I am 55. Super pumped about this. Then I can help youngest DD pay for college so she can have very little debt and start her adult life off with a small home. Overall I am super positive about 2018 and a year hopefully of getting ahead. Also continue to build me emergency fund.

  87. I do this too. We can go 6 months on a roll of paper towels. I have a bag of brown paper bags cut up and ready next to our ziplocks. We also use old towels cut up as paper towels. They go in the regular wash. If its something really gross I use old newspaper to start and then can get away with one paper towel. It will take a little while for your family to catch on but they will. Just hide the paper towels at the beginning.

  88. Check to see if your local university tests soil. One local university has agricukture programs and their extension offices test for either free or nominal fee.

  89. Stacey,
    I have found that I like zucchini noodles better in new dishes. So I use them in new-to-me recipes that I don’t have the mental connection to regular noodles yet. It makes them taste better

  90. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 . Brandy you accomplish so much with your budget and I am in awe of what you can do and how you make your money stretch through careful planning.

    Our grocery budget for 2018 is $310 for every 6 weeks bearing in mind our groceries in general here can and are twice to 3 times the price and vegetables and fruits probably higher than that in price in than in the United States as we live in a small country town. Our general strategy is to buy most groceries when we see them on 50% off specials and look out for meat bargains in particular to fill the freezer. I will continue to get our grocery gift cards from our roadside assist club each 6 weeks which gives us a further 5% off our grocery bill.

    Most importantly we aim to be under in all our budget categories this year as we are saving for a 50% deposit to have our new home built.

    Onto Januaries budget which is lean at $227 due to us buying a few treats for Christmas which was a ham, 2 boneless pork shoulder roasts on special, 6 months worth of toilet paper at around 40% off usual prices and a few other things. We plan to eat down the meats we already have in the freezer and have worked out it is far cheaper to buy the boneless roasts as we are not paying for bone and can roast , slice and have multiple meals for the two of us with salads as it is so hot here as we are in summer.

    Budget permitting we plan to further stock up on another months worth of –
    – white sugar.
    – rolled oats.
    – plain flour.

    Other items we will purchase are –
    – Tinned mangoes.
    – Tinned apples.
    – Tinned two fruits.
    – tinned mushrooms.
    – tinned corn.
    – tinned cat food.
    – peanut butter (we are completely out must admit an oversight by me for not checking).
    – mayonnaise.
    – olive and vegetable oil.
    – macadamia and cashews.
    – Sour & thickened cream, cheese.
    – powdered milk.
    – eggs.

    Other maybe purchases –
    – Tinned chicken.
    – Tinned spam.

  91. Cindy, the regular price for the #10 can of tomatoes at Sam’s Club is $2.98. They haven’t carried them at my store in over a year, but according to their website, I should be able to get them again (they changed brands to a store brand). I don’t know if they carry #10 cans of mandarin oranges but I should look for when I make my Museum Pasta Salad.

  92. Congratulations to your husband, Becky, on his weight loss!! My husband is also a larger man and losing weight is a challenge for him due to chronic pain issues. He is working on losing a little at a time.

  93. Speaking as someone with food allergies (I’m Celiac, so no gluten, also allergic to dairy & soy) I can honestly say that Brandy’s recipes are easy to adapt. If I’m making something with pasta – LOVE her Pasta Fagioli soup – I cook the GF pasta separately and add it to the bowl, then add the soup on top. GF pasta gets disgusting in soup if you cook it in the soup water! I have my workarounds – and her recipes are so straightforward it’s easy to sub in my safe ingredients. Sometimes I have to adjust cooktimes, but that’s trial & error. I’ve made some interesting mistakes over the years!

  94. I am always interested in reading about how one makes a very tight budget stretch to feed their family. This post is no exception, Brandy. Thank you for sharing your budget, and plans on how you will use it.

    This month I am challenging myself to a smaller budget. I normally get $300 every 2 weeks to use for groceries and any other needs (that’s $600 for the month). This month, I am going to try cutting it to about half my normal. Now my challenge is not weather we can eat on this budget. In fact I am positive we have enough in our pantry and freezers that we could easily live off of just that. My challenge will be to get my family on board with this little. They tend to get panicky if something they normally have runs out and insist it is now a high priority need to buy it ASAP. This will definitely be a challenge! To add to this challenge, I am still going to try and add to my pantry stock, should there we good sales this month. I have gift cards and I have lots of loyalty reward points that I can use to buy things should I need them. So, we shall see how this goes…

  95. Kate, Best Foods and Hellmann’s are actually the same. They call it Best Foods on the West coast and Hellmann’s on the East coast. I don’t know why, but they are made by the same company. I like the Burman’s mayonnaise from Aldi as far as taste goes, but it seems to go bad faster than the Hellmann’s.

  96. If I understand correctly, it’s Hellman’s on the East coast and Best Foods on the West coast. Otherwise, they are the same as far as I’ve been told. I’ve never tasted them side by side:)

    Brandy, I’m glad you are able to get your husband the kind he likes. Even if it costed a little more, it is worth the few pennies difference to do something nice for him. From all you say, it sounds like he is a very good sport in so many areas. A real “keeper.” I’m glad you do nice things for him.

  97. Thank you. It has been a challenge, but it’s really starting to show now, so he’s encouraged. This has been going on since July, but he lost most of it in the past month or two. Slow and steady!

  98. I have to say that kids like yours and mine like what they like, and they like very little else:). So, when my niece and nephew come over, they get what they want. I understand. Good luck, and maybe you can have enough “preferred” food on hand to carry you through, or buy a bare minimum more frequently. Some of my own kids are very food specific, as well, but that works sometimes, especially if I think of another favorite to substitute!

  99. I have allotted $60 for groceries for January. I don’t need anything except actual food this month and the pantry, freezer and fridge are pretty full so I should be able to make it work. I’m concentrating on dairy, fruit & veg. The best way to meet this goal is to stay out of the shops! I picked up a few odds and ends this morning and I’m hoping to not make another trip until next Tuesday or Wednesday.
    I’ll check the flyers on Friday to see if there is anything worth a trip out but it will have to be a really good deal to make me spend!

  100. Have you spoken with the store manager? Maybe he/she can order them for you. I belong to BJs and have asked for products and they have ordered them for me. Several items they didn’t carry but now do because of requests.

  101. I have allotted $100 for January. Our regular budget is $450. We have some big bills(college tuition and home owners insurance) and I don’t want to touch more of our savings for groceries. I will only be looking for clearance prices. I usually stock up on hams, candy, and beauty supplies after Christmas. Milk and fresh fruits will need to be purchased. We have a 6 months supply so I’m not worried. Lots of soups are on the menu this month. I will be making another turkey towards the middle of the month and that will stretch into a bunch of meals. We received several gift cards to restaurants for Christmas so if anyone feels deprived I could always use one of those.

    Brandy, thank you for this blog. It is a wonderful thing you do. I am making your minestrone soup for dinner with potato pancakes on this cold evening. Happy New Year!

  102. It’s actually my mother that is the problem. We have a freezer full of meat, but if we are running low on chicken breasts or ground beef, she insists we must get more ASAP! We have a huge bag of powdered milk in the pantry, and we use it all the time for cooking/baking, but if we are down to the last sleeve of milk, we must get more milk ASAP! The reason I don’t want to run to the store every time we run low on something is because I always buy more than just what I need. It’s a too many cooks in the kitchen situation, really.

  103. I soak fresh broccoli in salted water in the sink for 1/2 hr or so. Any unwanted protein will float if you stir up the water. I add about 2 tablespoons of salt to 1/2 sink of cold water, then rinse well when the soaking is finished. There will be no salty taste.

  104. Thank Brandi for this wonderful, warm, international community that you have created.
    January goal
    For January’s food bill I hope to spend $40.00. I have 22 frozen meals in the freezer from December and tomatos and Kale in the garden. Additionally I picked up butter, long life milk and wraps from the clearance store, after Christmas.
    I have already spent about $24.00 on the dog’s chicken neck and so only $20.00 for me.

  105. WOW — based on prices I’ve checked (mostly at Wal-Mart, admittedly), the #10 can price for tomatoes here is at least triple that…if not more.

    I rely on Friday/Saturday, but there are only two of us. Which means I open one only when we’re having guests…or the freezer’s empty enough to handle the exra. They have a dollar sale on #10 cans every once in a while…the last one netted artichoke hearts and black olives, as well!

  106. I used to order all my sundries from Walmart.com now it is no longer a savings. Sad! I have had good luck with loss leaders on Stater Bros Digital Deals.com some fantastic buys. But you have to pick them up in the store.

  107. Soups and stews. Whole chickens are one of the cheapest meat options and you can use the carcass to make a very nourishing bone broth, which then becomes the basis of hearty soups. There are a ton of low carb recipe ideas on pinterest! One of my favorite soup recipes is minestrone made with one cup of cooked kidney beans and without the pasta. The beans have carbs, but if you divide the cup of beans into four servings, you can get a fair amount of protein and fiber to without going overboard on carbs. Add shredded cheese or grated parmesan for a bit of extra protein.

    There are many vegetables that are cheaper per pound than pasta and because they are much more nutrient dense, you can often eat less and feel full. Rutabagas, frozen broccoli, fresh and canned tomatoes and cabbage are usually cheap, as are frozen green beans. Butternut and other winter squashes are cheap, too but may be too high in carbs to eat often.

  108. Do you have a Trader Joe’s near you? When I priced the organic chicken at Costco, I realized it wasn’t any cheaper than TJ’s (and, on occasion, a great sale at Whole Foods).

  109. After going over budget buying bulk neem oil for my 25 fruit trees, 30+ grape plants, and 36 gooseberry and currant bushes, I’m going to have to stick to $50 food budget for fresh fruit/veggies this month.
    I’m still want to pay $400/mo on mortgage. I only bring home $750/mo and have life insurance and $45 cell phone. So the food budget is where I have the ability to cut.
    I can’t go without neem oil this summer as Japanese beetles attacked my plums and grapes. I’m trying to be more preventative this year and spray weekly.

  110. Bummer. That makes it hard. Is she open to putting the grocery money for the week/month/whatever in an envelope in the cupboard and each person pull out what they need and when it’s gone, it’s gone until the next time? That’s what we used to do with we lived in a multi-family situation. It does take 2 people on the same team, though, and you’d have to look pretty far to find someone more frugal than my mother, who was one of the group at that time:)

  111. As an older woman, I developed a female issue some years ago with toilet paper. Dr recommended I switch to using cloth, so I turned to pinterest for ideas. I came up with flannel wipes. I took white flannel cut in 7.5×5.5 rectangles I sewed three (three ply) together on my serger sewing machine around the edges, then sewed a straight stitch from corner to corner making an x in the middle. I have used these for years now and wash them with bath towels on warm. I have solved my female issue, but in return have reduced the amount toilet paper I need to purchase. This isn’t for everyone, however it may be a way to reduce some costs. I don’t use them for #2. Then I got the idea to make some pretty ones for blowing my nose instead of using paper Kleenex

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