Friday, January 17, 2014

~Weekly Shopping Travels ~

Okay!  Here it is, my weekly shopping trip for household groceries for January 16th!!  

My goal is to keep the groceries/basic household items at or under $100/week for our family of four, and I help out two of my brothers who need a bit of help making ends meet, so I do buy things in mind for them sometimes.  It's an ambitious goal, but over the course of the year, I think I can do this.  I typically buy beef, pork, and chicken in bulk at our local packing house, but sometimes run out before I get back out there for another order, or sometimes I find a great deal that it hard to justify passing up, that usually happens after a holiday.

This is what I bought yesterday for our weekly groceries.  Everything on this table cost a total of $114.75.  That was a pretty big success for me, because I bought some typically more expensive non food items this week, and a few 'treats for the family to keep them in line with my strict grocery budget'!  I was able to get the Purina One dog food, 16 lbs. for $16.99, typically it's almost $21.00/bag.  It was on special and I had a competitor's coupon for another $2.00 off.  Now the big thing here is that I got lucky, this store is not going to accept competitor coupons after January 21st, and the coupon didn't scan, and the cashier told me they would only accept coupons that scanned, but luckily, I called first to make sure they would take the coupon, then told the cashier and they had to override the system to accept the coupon, BUT, even though they accept the competitor's coupons until next week, they already had it out of their system!  ALWAYS SPEAK UP, MOST STORES ARE COUNTING ON YOU NOT ASKING QUESTIONS OUT OF FEAR OF BEING WRONG OR EMBARRASSMENT! But don't be, ask, it saved me $2.00 and the frustration of going back next month with a coupon they won't accept any longer!  I also got a much needed covered garbage can for the bathroom for $8.99 and some Loreal hair color for $3.99 with my $3.00 off coupon!  (Sometimes WE need to feel good too, and I got the better hair color for the price of the hair color that typically will do funny things to your hair!)  :)  Coupons also were used for the dish soap.  That empty crumpled baggie in the center of the pic is from a jalapeno/cheddar bagel I bought for 89 cents...not smart, but I forgot to eat and this was the first stop of three stores I was shopping at, so it prevented me from eating something more stupid and expensive later!

Deal of the day!!  I was thinking of buying a ham from the first store, Giant Eagle, but decided against it because it was a whole ham and we don't eat a lot of ham, so I thought I could save that 99 cents/lb. for something else.  Another thing I always do while shopping is LOOK FOR UNADVERTISED SPECIALS IN THE STORE!  As I mentioned above, sometimes certain meats or seasonal items will be drastically reduced after a holiday.  At Aldi, one of my favorite stores to shop at, I always look for their tags that just simply say 'Manager's Special' usually with a red tag. As I was walking past a freezer, I spotted the ham and the $5.00 off sticker!  I bought two for just under $10.00.  That was an exciting buy, because I put one in the freezer as soon as I got home, and the other I've cooked and already sliced for sandwiches, maybe some ham barbecue, and saved the bones for some split pea soup I'll make on Sunday or Monday!  I'll freeze most of the sliced ham too, I've found that it defrosts quite nicely!

Now, none of the stores around here offer the 'bring your own bag' discount anymore, it used to be 2-5 cents, depending on the store, but that nice little reward for not wasting plastic has gone away, but I love my shopping totes!  Totes in general, they can be used for almost carrying anything, not just groceries!  I haven't been to Joshua Tree National Park (in California), but my daughter and son in law have.  They have a lifetime goal to visit every National Park, and currently live out west, so they are getting a bunch off their list!  A perk for me is that they buy me a bag at most of the parks they visit!  I also have one from Yellowstone, and two from the Grand Canyon. One I got myself when we visited last year...awesome place, but that's another post!

My tally:  Total spent: $114.75
               Food:        82.00 (I still have enough to buy five more gallons of milk for the week)
               Non-food: 36.75
               Gas:           75.00 ~ so far, I'll probably have to add another $25. (I decided to keep track of this too, since gas prices are crazy.  This will help me stay on track with the cost of driving too!)
'Til next time, have a great day!!  :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My Weekly Shopping List ~ Scanning Through the Weekly Ads

My main resolution/goal for 2014 is to become financially healthy, and that is a big task that will require big commitment on my part.  I have always shopped the weekly ads looking for specials, but have often wandered and bought unnecessary or items that weren't on sale several times.  It usually has to do with family impulses!  I have to be on a mission to keep the rest of the family on board, and sometimes that will require me to buy things I might not have bought otherwise, but I will check for sales on their 'treat' items, and when I can buy them in bulk, I need to find a better hiding place!  I'll explain why further in the post ~ you'll spot the 'treat' items right away!!

Every Tuesday, we get the sales circulars in the mail, usually along with the coupon pack just like the ones that are in the Sunday paper.  I usually look through the new coupons before I check out the sales for the week.  I have three major stores I look at each week, they are Aldi, Bottom Dollar, and our local grocery store chain, Giant Eagle.  Here's what I'm looking at buying this week:

Aldi has a very nice produce section which I utilize in the winter and non-gardening months.  During the growing season, I grow most of my own veggies.  Anyway, Aldi has nice and very affordable produce.  I like that the handling is minimal too.  this week I'll be buying some pineapple to make some pineapple jam, grapefruit, bananas, and the organic spring mix lettuce mix, it comes in a plastic container which keeps the tender lettuces and swiss chards from bruising and being crushed, that's a big plus in decreasing waste of food, and the container can be either used for another purpose or recycled.

I've needed this for a long time, we adopted a dog from the Humane Society last year who loves to dig in the rubbish!  I've checked out small lidded garbage cans and the cheapest I could find was for $13.96 and it seemed, well, very cheap.  I  like the $8.99 price here, and they have an amazing buyer I'm guessing who can buy quality items at a great price.  It's non food, but a necessary item for this house!

  On to Giant Eagle, our grocery store chain. There prices are higher overall, so I sale shop with coupons there.  This week is Uncle Ben's Ready Rice.  I have a coupon for $1.00 off on 4 packages, and I like to keep some of the brown, wild grain and brown, or Santa Fe brown rice on hand for days when I suddenly realize I need a side dish in 5 minutes!  I tend to forget about side dishes sometimes, and with gardening season coming up in a couple of months, I'll need to prepare meals fast!  I usually buy the bulk brown rice, but we all forget sometimes, and there's no super quick way to cook brown rice, so this is a stock up item.  I'll probably buy 10 packages since the usual price, even at Walmart is $1.74.

Dog food!  I almost usually feed our two dogs Purina One dog food since years ago, my old Sadie girl dog had allergies to the food dyes and artificial flavors in the cheaper and colorful food, and we didn't know that for years, so now, I play it safe.  The usual price for this dog food is almost $21 for the 16 lb. bag, it's on sale this week for $18.99 AND I have a competitors coupon for $2 off!!  Yay, Giant Eagle accepts competitor coupons, so I'll get it for $16.99!!

We use Ken's Chunky Blue Cheese salad dressing for our homemade wings and for buffalo chicken dip, so when I have a coupon, I'll stock up on some of the blue cheese or the Aged Romano Italian.  I have a $1 off on 2, so I'll get  them for $1 each.

I like to buy produce in season, and oranges are a good price right now.  I'll buy these if they look good.  I'm a very picky produce buyer, that comes from growing up on a farm and knowing what really fresh food looks and tastes like!  (I've embarrassed friends who have shopped with me before by inspecting each and every fruit or veggie item I buy, but I pay good money for it, so why not?!?)

 Now on to Bottom Dollar, they also have a very nice produce section where they don't 'display' fruits or veggies, but leave them in the boxes/crates so they are usually not over handled or bruised  They usually have good buys on onions and potatoes, but I have plenty of local potatoes I bought at our local ag. auction this week, so I'll pick up some onions for 98 cents/3 lbs.  We use onions in so many things around here, I never have enough

And to impulse items to keep the family feeling special and loved!   We usually make our own cookies and cakes for snacks and desserts, but every once in a while, I'll buy Oreo's or Cheez It's.  This week the Oreo's are on sale with a limit of 4 per person/per day.  I'll buy 4 packages IF I can find a good hiding spot at home, otherwise, my family can smell them and will hunt the pantry!  It's crazy how my kids and hubby can go crazy over a store bought cookie when I am a good baker, and my kids like to bake too, but they do!!
It's always like they hit the jackpot when the come home to find a package of Oreo's in the cupboard!

So that's it for the week.  I try to buy sale items, so I will add staple items that aren't on 'sale' usually from Aldi, or from a specialty store that carries the whole grain flours and bulk spices, that sort of thing.  I also buy meat in bulk at our local packing house where I get locally raised beef, pork, and chicken at a great price and get great service and support local farmers and this small business at the same time!  My grocery shopping list may seem a little 'mish mash', but since I like to shop the deals of the week, I'm able to stock up on other items that make a meal come together.  Even including the bathroom rubbish can and the dog food, and the family splurge items that I have to hide, I'll keep our weekly list at our under $100 for a family of four.  That still seems like too much, being that I want to save $$$.  I guess it's a balancing act between being frugal, and the rest of the family not feeling neglected.  My hope is that once they see money saved, it will become easier for them to willingly participate in saving every where we can!!  What do you think?  Does your family pitch in to save the family budget, or is it a hassle? Do you have to hide away snack foods so they aren't all gone in a week?!?  Till next time, have a great day!!  :)