Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Latest Grocery Shopping Trip- and Challenge For Myself

 photo 20150113_195504_zps4d40fa35.jpgYesterday I went to the grocery store, since there were a few items I needed to stock up on- I'd completely emptied out my stores. But the thing is, I've been back at tracking my grocery shopping to the cent this past month, and yesterday was the last day of the month I was tracking, so I wasn't in the mood to add a big bill to our thankfully relatively low monthly bill... and on top of that, we were well stocked on most stuff, had enough vegetables and nearly enough produce, and I knew that if I bought more produce I'd likely end up having things spoil on me...
In short, I knew that while I needed to replace things already (there's only so many times I can borrow yeast from my next door neighbor), I had no need to do a big shop, but knowing myself, I get tempted by all the sale items, etc...

So, I told Mike that I'd go shopping, and I'd set myself a limit- only spend 28 dollars at the store. He gives me a look and says "Do you think that is even possible?" I thought it over, and adjusted it- I'd send 57 dollars and no more. That, I felt was doable.

I went to two different stores. The first store I wanted to only buy cinnamon sticks and dried mint... but... they were out of mint, and I saw quinoa was on sale. I like quinoa- its a nice change of pace from our staple rice, buckwheat, and corn here... but it is a fortune! It generally goes for $5.20-$6.50 per pound here, and the store was selling it for $3.89 per pound... so I bought 4.4 lbs, in addition to my cinnamon sticks.
Total- $17.88.
Only $39.12 left of the 57 dollars I'd been planning on spending...

At the next store, the first place I went was to the reduced rack, hoping I'd be able to find bananas there, but no such luck. Bananas are a staple in our house at the moment, as they're one of the few foods that my 9 month old daughter, Rose, eats well consistently, and she needs a lot of food... and we also use them for smoothies. So despite them not being an amazing price, I bought 4 lbs of bananas for 61 cents a pound.
I was guestimating the prices of the produce, because they purposely have no scale in the produce section of the grocery store because they don't want you to weigh your produce- they want you to overbuy... Its frustrating.
I even asked a worker there if he could guess how much my produce weighed, and he gave such precise weight guestimates... down to the last ounce... so I was sure he knew what he was talking about.
I found apples and star fruit (never seen it before there!) on the reduced rack for 39 cents a pound, so the worker there guessed that each of the containers of fruit I got were 2.75 lbs (they were 4.5 lbs) so doing the math in my head I assumed that I was spending much less on fruit than I was... so I kinda overestimated the amount I had left to spend.

As I went along with the shop, I subtracted how many dollars the item I'm putting in my cart cost, so that I'd know how much I had left, and wouldn't put in too much stuff.

I got 2 lbs of potato starch, which I use to make my gluten free flour mixes, as well as some yeast- found a new company that had much more yeast for a much lower price!

And then I spotted tuna fish- which wasn't on my list... but tuna typically costs here $1.42 or more per can! I saw tuna being sold in 4 packs for $2.82- only 70 cents a can! So I got two 4 packs.

I bought 1 liter of milk, since yesterday morning my friend gave me some milk kefir grains (my last ones died) and I wanted to start making milk kefir again, so I needed some milk for that.

I also bought 3 packages of gluten free sliced bread for $1.40 each- they typically go for $5.71 per loaf here.

I needed tomato paste- so I took 3 cans, which weren't such a great price... but fortunately at the register it showed that they were 34 cents less than their labeled price (and no, there was no sale written anywhere on the shelf)...

I also bought a container of all natural peanut butter- one of the things on my list- we were all out and it's a staple in our house...

By this point, I wasn't sure if I reached 57 dollars or not, but I wanted black tea- we were nearly out and I use it for making kombucha- and white vinegar- for cleaning... so I put them in my cart and decided to see how accurate my shop was, and decided if my shop total was low enough, I'd get them...

Well, I did reach 57 dollars... but decided to get the tea and vinegar anyhow, because it wasn't too much extra.

 photo 20150113_195504_zps4d40fa35.jpg

My total shop was $60.60. Not bad.
Yes, I went a bit over, but not much.

Still proud of my self control...

Lets see how long I can go before my next shopping trip... Because my fridge is full and my stockpile is full, and other than dried mint, I think we're completely stocked up...

When you go shopping, how do you decide how much to spend? Do you just buy what you need and spend whatever it is? Do you have a budgeted amount for groceries and take that much in cash with you? Do you add things up as you go through your shop, or do you put things back at the register if you spent more than you wanted to? If you bought what I bought, how much do you think such a shop would cost you?


  1. I do the following: we get flyers for several supermarkets, advertising their sales of the week. I make up a menu plan based on the sales. And then, during the week, I'll hit up one store at a time. I ride a bike, so it's hard to carry a lot of stuff and balance a kidlet on it, so that definitely helps me keep my purchases in check.

    At the market, I've gotten pretty good at guessing weights: two apples make up 1 lb, thereabouts--anything that's apple-sized (oranges, pears, persimmons) can be guesstimated accordingly. Carrots are usually 5-6 per kg, bananas are similar.

    1. So how many stores would you say you generally go to each week? I generally carry my shops back by bus, but i've gotten good about carrying large amounts by bus, so that doesnt stop me from overshopping. We dont have circulars with sales written in them (or at least not most of them- maybe 10 sale items will be listed)... I'll try to figure out how to guess weights. What about potatoes or tomatoes or cucumbers?

    2. I typically go to two, maybe three stores a week. I don't make it out to the market that often in the winter, truth be told--wet roads are terrible to ride on, and that's even without the worry of slipping with kidlet on the bike. There are four supermarkets within easy biking distance, so it just depends on what I'm doing with the kidlet that day, whether we're going in one direction or another and what's on the way there. And I should also add that I count the butcher we use as part of one supermarket, since he's located in the same shopping center (and he sells produce, tea, and spices as well, so it's not just meat).

      Tomatoes are generally in packages of 5-6, and those are supposed to be around 500 g (so a bit more than 1 lb). I don't know if they're the same size as where you are; I'm under the impression that the tomatoes here are a little on the small side. If you choose apple-sized potatoes, then that's the same as an apple. Most produce contains a similar % of water, so that's why I say if it's sized like an apple, it should weigh about the same as an apple. I find that cucumbers (if they're the same seedless types that are sold here) are about 300 g (3/4 lb, thereabouts) each, but I haven't a clue about the smaller pickling ones. I hope this helps.

  2. I so admire your posts! To me it looks so hard to cook everything from scratch...but I love that everything is so gives me a lot to think about and work towards! Thanks for writing this!

    1. Thank you. Its funny that this is specifically the post you talk about cooking everything from scratch- because I bought processed food- gluten free bread... :-D Listen, sometimes it does get hard to cook everything from scratch... and thats when I don't. My lazy meals are gluten free bread or pitas with peanut butter and honey or peanut butter and homemade jelly (which is sitting in my fridge, i'm not making it right now)... or instant mashed potatoes and eggs or tuna fish.... I can't say my meals are always perfect, but I do try, because of cost and because of health... I'm happy to give you inspiration though.
      If preparing food from scratch stresses you out, try to think of low cost, low work involved recipes- like chicken wings and rice in the crock pot with some chopped veggies...

  3. The gluten free bread looks really nice...almost the texture of wheat bread.

    1. It is. :-D Texture and taste are great. Health is another aspect- it has both soy flour and eggs in it that I try to avoid, but its great for when i just have no energy... and right now, at this sale price, the cost isn't much higher than regular bought sliced gluten bread. I havent done an exact price comparison to my homemade gluten free bread though, but I think its close...

  4. the meat department has a scale. why not lug the produce over there? or remove the excess at the register?

    1. You can remove excess at the register, but its always easier to not put something in your cart than decide to take it out after. And the meat department locally won't let you weigh produce there.

  5. Why do you use such weird amounts? Why $28 and not $30? Or $60 instead of $57?

    1. I convert costs from our local currency. So the 28 dollars and 57 dollars are more "round amounts" and less weird in our local currency. :-D

    2. Oh ok. What's your local currency? Are products similarly priced? As in would $28 there get you more or less than $28 would here (US)?

    3. I keep my location off my blog, so don't share what my local currency is. But some things are cheaper locally than in the US, some are much more expensive. For example, some beans that would go for 50 cents a pound in the US dried would go for $2 per pound here. Chicken on average is over $2.50 per pound.... Produce tends to be somewhat cheaper here, etc.... Boxes of cereal go for over $5 per box usually...

  6. Where I live you can bring any local flyer to the store, and they'll price match for you. You can also bring your smart phone and show it to them.

  7. I don't even set a budget anymore, but this year I've decided to set a limit at $80 a week. I'm not sure that I can do it.

    When I was really setting a hard budget, I'd shop at 3 stores a week, on the way home from work. It is VERY hard to do that now because I have 2 kids not one, and they are at 2 different places (school/ daycare).


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