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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bi-weekly Grocery Shop

Food experimentation and figuring out the exact amount I'm paying for different types of food has been on my mind a lot lately. Yes, so far I've only shared my basic starch and bean price comparison, but since then I also bought a whole bunch of different types of meats with a gift card that I had to a high end grocery store. Anything I'd buy at that store would be more expensive than I typically pay for groceries, so I decided to use them to buy all that meat, as I didn't want to up the amount I spent on groceries this month. (The meat wasn't eaten now, for the most part. Once cooked and weighed, it all went back into the freezer for use at a later date.)

The amount spent actually was divided up into 3 stores over 2 days (2 last Tuesday and 1 today). Total spent- 65 dollars out of pocket. I ended up spending 5 dollars less than I would have otherwise, because I checked my grocery receipt from last time very carefully and saw that I was charged for orange peppers instead of green peppers- for which there was a 5 dollar price difference! I brought the receipt to the store on Tuesday, explained my case, and even though I had no proof that I didn't really buy those orange peppers, I was firm enough about what I spent and what I didn't that they gave me 5 dollars in store credit.
 It's definitely worth looking over the receipts to check  for errors, even if you only do it when you get home. (Best is to check  it as they're ringing up the groceries, but between loading up the conveyor belt, keeping an eye on the kids so they aren't pulling candies off the aisle displays, and the fact that I don't read the local language quickly enough to notice mistakes immediately, I can't check for mistakes until I get home.)

Not pictured: mustard, tomato paste, more bananas, more tomatoes, more kohlrabi, more oranges, 2 types of beans
So, what did I buy, and why?


Starches:
Whole grain couscous- for a healthy starch price experiment. I bought at a store that sells by weight so I could just buy 100 grams for the experiment and not more.
Regular couscous. 100 grams. Also for that experiment. (Not as healthy, I know, but I wanted to see if it would weigh the same amount.)
Quinoa. Cost experiment. Only 100 grams.
Red quinoa. Ditto.
Buckwheat. Ditto.
Millet. 1 lb. For the experiment.
Unhulled barley. Ditto.
Rolled oats. 2 lbs.
Steel cut oats. 1 lb. The oats were on sale if you bought 3, so I did.
Pasta. 4 1 lb packages. Because they were on sale if you bought 4 at a time.


Cheap Proteins
Kidney beans. 1 lb. To supplement my bean experiment, because I realize they're a popular bean I left off last time.
Cranberry beans. 1 lb. Ditto.
Flax seed. Because it's really healthy, and a good supplement to our breakfasts, and it works well as a cheap and healthy egg substitute when ground. (I have a blender attachment that works as a grinder.)
Chia seeds. For a different food cost experiment. And because it's insanely healthy.
Sunflower seeds. Because they're pretty much the cheapest nut I can buy, and they're a healthy fat.


Dairy
Milk. 4 liters. (Approximately 1 gallon, if I'm not mistaken.) I got less than I would usually as they're
Yellow cheese. (It bugs me that I don't know the US equivalent of this cheese. This is similar in texture to meunster and mozerella, just with a different taste.) A small amount, to be used as a condiment.
Feta cheese. A small amount. Cheap, cheap, cheap, and tastes good too!

Other
Tomato paste. 6 cans. I buy the cheapest I can find, and the most concentrated I can find, because this works out cheaper than buying tomatoes and making sauce from fresh- even from the reduced rack! And works out a ton cheaper than buying ready made jars of tomato sauce. But this is getting a little expensive, so I'm trying to figure out a good solution here.
Grape juice. 2 bottles. Bought the cheapest kind there is, and larger bottles, so I get more for my money. (It just takes more self control not to finish it all up at once.)
Mustard. This was a little more expensive than I usually get, but I got it because it is chemical free, and the mustard I'd been using until now had food coloring and artificial flavorings in it.
Ketchup. No, it's not Heinz or Hunt's or any other name brand ketchup. This is cheapo stuff, that fortunately doesn't have any scary ingredients or anything... Yes, the taste isn't perfect, but you get used to it! Homemade ketchup- I don't know if I can get it any cheaper than the dollar I pay for a bottle of this cheap stuff. (I pay $1.40 for a can of tomato paste... Hrmm, on second thought, if I stretch out that tomato paste, maybe I can make homemade ketchup cheaper. I'll get back to you with a verdict!)
Garlic powder. A TON! I bought this by weight, because this is my most used spice, and I wanted to not run out any time soon.

Produce
I got these first at one store as loss leaders, and then from another store as loss leaders. So I just have a ton of produce, that I bought nearly all for 12 cents a pound!
Kohlrabi. 7 lbs. Loss leader from both stores. We love this vegetable and could eat it till there's no tomorrow! My Lee will take Kohlrabi over treats any day!
Eggplants. 3 lbs. Loss leaders. Again, looking for recipes for these. I have some, but I need some more variety. Ideally a recipe that doesn't involve tomato, a lot of oil, or using the oven.
String beans. 3/4 lb. These weren't loss leaders, but they're such a light weight vegetable that you get a ton for a little bit of money, so once I saw the price coming down even just a little bit, I bought some.
Red potatoes. 3.5 lbs. These weren't on sale. I bought 3 potatoes. Large ones, but still. Eep. They cost me a lot. They're also part of the dirty dozen in which it's preferable to buy organic. Don't think I'll be doing this again.
Onions. 4.5 lbs. Loss leaders.
Beets. 6 lbs. Loss leaders, and we love these! I discovered an amazing recipe for beet salad, so now I have my go-to recipe for this delicious and highly nutritious food!
Tomatoes. 7 lbs. Loss leaders in two stores.
Cucumbers. 5 lbs. Loss leaders.
Zucchini. 4.5 lbs. Loss leaders. I was especially excited about this, because even though I love them, they haven't been on sale for a while, so I just haven't bought them.
Carrots. 2.5 lbs. These weren't loss leaders, but I really love them and their price wasn't too bad, so I went ahead with them anyhow.

Grapefruits. 4 lbs. Loss leaders. I really should stop buying these because we don't eat them so much. They're a pain to eat, I don't know many recipes with them, and too often they come close to spoiling. I'll try not to get them next time!
Sweeties. (Aka Oro Blancos). 1 lb. Loss leaders, and we loooooooooove these!
Oranges. 7 lbs. Winter has finally arrived, and with it, the requisite cold. Oranges have lots of vitamin C, and my kids are able to down these like hotcakes, fortunately. I bought these as loss leaders in both stores, because I knew they're get finished.
Bananas. 7 lbs. Again, loss leaders in 2 places. My kids loooooooooooooove bananas, as do I and Mike. I love to find these on sale, because they make my kids so excited! (I think 1 bunch of bananas lasts in my place for a grand total of one day, tops 2!)

And lastly...
1 package of Mentos. Spike grabbed one off the racks by the aisles and opened it before I could get it away from him. Of course I paid for it, though I never would have chosen to buy something like this. Goes to show you why they say to go shopping without your kids.
Though paying a babysitter would cost more than the occasional treat you'd buy for your kids in the store, so I do take them along.
Lesson learned though- keep Spike strapped in to the stroller so he can't walk over to shelves and pull things off!

Spike enjoying a pilfered tomato.
Yes, it's whole. He doesn't care!
Yes, he's wearing short sleeves
and no pants. Until yesterday, it
was close to 80 degrees here!
Yes, I broke my rule about no
kids pics. Why not? Just wanted to
show you just how much he loves
his maters.
So, the bulk of this shop was a week ago. Then again this week. And then a lady in the community said that she got a few crates of leftover veggies that people were going to throw out (they got so much that their fridges were overflowing and had nothing to do with them, so my friend brought it home to distribute to the community here so it wouldn't go to waste). From her, I got a shopping bag full of radishes (great recipes, anyone???), a large amount of eggplants and green peppers and a huge shopping bag full of spring onions (think I'll be doing some dehydrating and freezing with these).

With the grocery shop to those three stores, all the meat in my freezer left over from the experiment, and the new produce I got free yesterday, I think I may very well be able to last 2 more weeks until my next grocery shop ($55 dollars out of $65 were spent a week ago, on the bulk of the shopping trip. 10 more dollars were spent this week because there was a sale at the local mom and pops. If I wait two weeks from today for another shop, that'll be 3 weeks between "real" grocery shops, not just 2.). Think I can manage it? I'll be trying my very best, and I think I'll be able to do it!

What's the longest you've gone without any grocery shopping (including produce/dairy runs)?
Oh, and what produce is enjoyed most in your house by you? Your spouse? Your kids?
If money were no object, what fruit or vegetable would you buy limitless amounts of?
In our house, I'd fill an extra fridge with persimmons, bananas, cantaloupes, grapes, blueberries, purple sweet plums, nectarines, peaches and mangos. Alas of that bunch, only bananas and cantaloupes ever go on sale, so we rarely purchase the others...Oh well.
As for veggies- we really like them all, but tomatoes, avocados and corn are favorites around here.

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