I am really looking forward to this month. I’m proud of sticking to a low (low!) budget in January for our pantry challenge, but I’m ready to loosen the reigns a bit. Join me as I shop this month! In addition to regular weekly shops, I will also be stopping into my warehouse store for coffee beans, chicken breast, dried fruit, some assorted cheeses and some other items that are either best priced there or I can’t easily find other places.
February 1 — I drive out to the other side of the city to Lucky’s Market. This is my largest haul from that grocer, yet. I spent $5 on four boxes of tofu (a really great price for this area), $.50 for a bunch of cilantro, find eggplant for $.88/ea (I buy three), avacados on sale for $.50/ea, and honeycrisp apples for $1.48/lb. I also grab 4 limes for $1, two bunches of organic kale for $.98/ea, and red grapes for $.88/lb. My total is $20.45. I used my reusable produce bags, too, which felt good.
February 1 — I stop at Aldi on my way home an pick up bananas for $.44/lb, cauliflower for $1.99, mini cucumbers for $1.89/bag, multi-colored peppers –these were on sale for $1.49 so bought two, half & half for $1.89, organic milk for $2.95, 2 tubs of low fat cottage cheese at $2.29/ea, organic vanilla yogurt at $2.99, pretzel slims (Aldi version of pretzel chips) for $1.69/bag, regular tortilla chips for $.99, big dipper tortilla chips $1.49 and a small tub of ricotta cheese for $1.69. My total at Aldi is $26.31.
For the first week of the month (on the first day of the month!), I spent $46.76. I bought a lot of produce, which will definitely at least two weeks, and possibly into a third.
February 5 — Argh. I leave shopping for Super Bowl treats too late. I had planned to purchase ready made wings but was a little horrified at the prices for a party platter. So instead I decide to make my own. Unfortunately, I have to shop at Publix since I don’t have time to get over to Aldi. Bummer because a 3lb bag of wings at Aldi is on sale for $4.99 while the same size bag is over $9 at Publix. I also need to purchase hot sauce, but am confused about which size is BOGO. My coupons don’t work and I have a TON of hot sauce on hand now. I also grab some salad dressing, dip and crackers, using coupons and rebates to make their final price not too bad. Still. My total is $32.48.
February 10 — I stop by BJs after an earlier appointment. While out I received an email about some work that needs to be completed this afternoon, so I’m in a hurry. As a result I forget to get raisins. However, I do pick up everything else I really need. Dried plums (I really don’t know why we can’t say prunes…), coffee beans, boneless skinless chicken breasts, a large clamshell of organic baby spinach, crumbled feta, lots of peanut butter crackers, and grated Parmesan. I spend $57.73. Most of these items will last at least one month, probably more.
February 10 — After BJs I also run into Aldi. I grab bread, bagels, tortillas, marshmallows, apples, bananas, green onions, granola bars, crunchy peanut butter, and three pounds of strawberries, which are on sale for $.99/ea. I spend $21.75.
At this point I’ve spent $158.72 so far in February. It’s a short month, with only two more likely shopping days. If I stick to basics, I should be more than set for the month.
February 12 — I need to stop by Walgreens to pick up medication for my husband. While there I pick up a bag of Santitas tortilla chips to go with the guacamole we have leftover from our fajita meal. I spend $2 on the chips.
February 15 — I head out to Aldi, the Dollar Tree and Walgreens. At Aldi I buy a couple dozen eggs, which are on sale for $.89/doz. I also pick up cabbage, mini sweet peppers, 4 containers of baby bella mushrooms, green beans, mini cucumbers, potatoes, apples, carrots & bananas. They are having some fabulous produce sales and so even though I didn’t plan it, I stock up. These are all items I use either regularly OR use as much as possible when available. I also grab 5 cans of tuna (I had counted wrong in my inventory and we were actually out), a few boxes of mac & cheese, frozen peas, bagels, and raisins. I usually buy raisins at BJs, but forgot and didn’t want to make another trip. My total at Aldi is $29.50. At the Dollar Tree I pick up graham crackers for my cheesecake crust; I spend $1. I stop by Walgreens because I have some coupons that will allow me to pick up 4 full-size Snickers bars (my favorite) for $1. While there I succumb to the allure of reduced prices on Valentines day candy, too. I spend $2.23.
February 17 — I have to run out to Publix. Right before my book club; not idea but a burned bean crisis and a lingering work project have made my schedule a little messy. I buy white beans to replace the ones I burned, frozen garlic bread, pasta which I get for less than $.40/lb with a coupon deal, grape juice, strawberries and cottage cheese. My total at Publix is $21.32 and I am racing home to beat the clock before book club starts.
At this point I have gone over my $200 budget — I’m at $207.22. I’ve also realized that the budget is going all the way out the window this month as I’ve just been notified that Zaycon will be delivering chicken breasts to my area on 2/21. If I want some, I need to get my order in ASAP. I’ve wanted to try this service for a while now, so jump on it. I pre-order one 40lb box of boneless skinless chicken breasts.
February 21 — I have be at the pick-up site for my Zaycon order between 10 and 10:30 this morning. Luckily it’s just a couple of miles from my house, although they are using the parking lot of a church I’ve never visited. It’s a little confusing but once I’m there my pick-up goes really smoothly. The regular price for the chicken breast is $1.69/lb, but I have a new customer discount to apply, so my total for the 40lbs of chicken is $54.08. I also combined my errands and ran into Aldi while I was out — I needed a quart of half and half for my coffee (emergency!!); I spent $1.89 on that purchase.
February 23 — I’m back at Aldi. This time I spend only $13.53 and am really only there for fruit as we’re really low. I buy apples, oranges and bananas. They also have green peppers for a good price, so I pick up two packs. We also need milk and cottage cheese. At this point my approach to my February grocery budget is “in for a penny, in for a pound.”
My total for the month at this point is $276.72. And normally I’d be done. But I’ve just received the Winn-Dixie flyer in the mail and see that they have smoked sausage and beef stew meat at a really great price during their “weekend sale” (they promote a few items at a really good price each weekend, only available for two days). So…since I’ve decided that I’m going to really focus on another pantry challenge in March AND since doing my freezer inventory has revealed a relative lack of beef stored by, I plan to purchase the maximum of each item.
February 25 — My parents are visiting and while they and Michael are weeding the garden beds, I run out to pick up mulch and also stop by Winn-Dixie to grab the items mentioned above. In the end I take home four 14 oz packages of beef smoked sausage and 12lbs of beef stew meat. I know that some serious foodies scoff at buying the pre-cut stew meat, but for me it is a real time saver. It’s also more convenient because I can portion the beef into weights that will serve my two-person household well. My total is $42.27 and I think I am FINALLY done with my February grocery shopping.
My total for the month is $318.99 and I’ve gone over budget by $118.99. As I mentioned in a previous post about my budget…even though I allocate a monthly number to groceries, in fact I am working from an overall annual budget. Dividing that number by 12 just helps me keep a ballpark figure in mind as I shop. I’ve found that even if I go over some months, the months that I am under tend to even out over the course of a year. It turns out that using the annual calculation, I only need to make up $41. 26 in March. Normally I would plan to spend even less than that during a pantry challenge month, but I need to restock up on the protein powder that Michael uses. That will cost about $60. So it turns out that I will in fact be keeping a lean budget in March if I want to get my spending back on track. 🙂
- January — $122.27
- February — $318.99
- March — $158.74 (projected)