Grocery Shopping Challenge and More Free Produce

 photo IMG_0579_zpsc6f569f9.jpgAfter seeing how high my grocery bill total was last month ($619), I decided to try to do my best to lower our grocery bill this month, and we have been doing pretty well. We now have 10 days more of the month, and I set a cap for the amount I would like to be spending on groceries- $514. As of yesterday, we'd spent $432 on groceries, so that gives us just $82 left if I want to not exceed my goal of $514. So it's a challenge that Mike and I will try to do- see if we can last the next 10 days on just $82. The clincher? As of this morning, my fridge was nearly bare- other than the fruit I picked yesterday, some onions, and a watermelon, we had no produce in the house. And we go through a lot of produce in our family. What makes this harder as well is that part of what we spent so far this month- $75- was spent on a bulk purchase of 50 lbs of green buckwheat.
So, here's my challenge- feed the family gluten free, healthy food, and not get past the $514 mark. And if we fail? Then hopefully we won't go over by a lot, and we'll still be spending less than we did last month.

Today, I really felt like things were going the "right way" for me, that I got so many little "gifts" from the universe/God, to help me with this challenge.

First, when I went to bring my kids to the bus stop this morning, on the way back, I saw someone had put out a big bag of potatoes (with one zucchini) free for the taking, because they were going away and needed to empty out their fridge first. So I scored about 7.5 lbs of free potatoes, and .5 lb free zucchini this morning.

Then, I went to the farmer's market, because I needed to buy jaggery, sunflower oil (for making mayo), pectin (for making jam out of the plums I got yesterday for free), as well as produce. I also wanted to get some teff flour to be able to use in some gluten free baking recipes. I managed to find these all for good prices, and paid $17.85 for that.

I still needed produce though, but didn't want to have to spend too much.

I decided that before I'd buy anything, I'd peruse the market, see what was being offered where, what was being tossed out that was still good, etc...

I did one round, picking up what I saw that was good that was being tossed, then went shopping at my favorite "reduced rack" stalls, and then did another round, seeing if there was anything else good I could find.

In the end, I got 5.5 lbs of cabbage (2 heads, one purple, one green), 3 lbs sweet potatoes, 6.5 lbs tomatoes, 7 lbs zucchini, 5.25 lbs carrots, 3 lbs pumpkin- a total of 30.25 lbs for a grand total of $8.50, working out to 28 cents a lb, from one store.

From another store, I got 5.8 lbs eggplant, .5 lb hot peppers, and 5.5 lbs kohlrabi, a total of 11.8 lbs for $2.22, working out to 19 cents a lb.

So, from my shop today, out of the original $82 left for shopping at the start of the day, leaving just $53.41 to last the next 10 days.

But, that wasn't all I got.

I got so many free things!

2.1 lbs peaches
.2 lbs apricots
2.2 lbs zucchini
2.86 lbs cantaloupe
2.4 lbs yellow peppers
.55 lbs tomatoes
.2 lbs potatoes
.2 lbs sweet potatoes
1 hot pepper
.8 lbs onions
2.64 lbs leeks
2 lb fennel
5.5 lbs celery
For a grand total of 19.65 lbs totally free.

Add that to the 8 lbs I got free this morning, and you have 29.65 lbs...
Add that to the 11.8 and 30.25 lbs from the two different reduced rack stores and you have 71.7 lbs of produce that I got today and paid $10.72 for. This averages out to 15 cents a pound for all that produce. Awesome!

Here's my produce haul. (Not counting what I got this am.)

 photo IMG_0579_zpsc6f569f9.jpg

And oh, of that $53.41... my husband bought a tray of 30 eggs for $8.50 today... so only $44.90 left. Lets see if we can manage this one!

I'll try to update you, to let you know how it's going, if we actually manage to stick to the limit...

Have you ever given yourself a challenge like this? Did you manage? What were your tips to managing?

(P.S. I think in terms of produce, I may need to shop again before the end of the month, but might be able to get away with not. And I need rice. But other than that, I think I have everything we'd need to last until the end of this month... But... time will tell!)

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. How do you get stuff for free...many times I have gone, and we haven't ever seen anything 'being tossed' We are on foodstamps and struggle to buy non gmo and organic food...I try to plant what I can...

  2. Your reduced and free produce looks so much better than what I can find where I live. First, I have never seen reduced/free produce at any local farmer's market, even at the end of the day. I guess they just don't do that here. Our regular grocery stores do have reduced produce on a daily basis. They fill up a medium size plastic sack with assorted fruits and vegs. and sell it for 2.00 a bag. Sometimes you can get great deals - like 10 bell peppers or bags of mushrooms. However, usually it is fruit that is so ripe its already wet, mushed and sweating. They do mark down 16oz boxes of mushrooms and organic salad mix to .99 and that is a great deal for here. I have never seen anything like you are able to get.

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