My Latest Extremely Frugal Shopping Trip, and How I Am Now Shopping Without A Car

It's been a while since I posted pictures and write ups of my last grocery shops, but I really love doing that. The reason I haven't been sharing them? To be honest, since most of my grocery shops weren't really that frugal recently, been buying too much expensive and unhealthy processed foods since I was working a lot and didn't have the energy to be cooking frugal cheap things...
But yesterday when I went grocery shopping at the farmer's market, I was so proud of my "score" that I decided that I have to share it with you- I hope you'll agree with me that it was as amazing as I thought it was!

This entire shop- sorry, no idea how many pounds it was, but you can get an idea from the picture- cost me $62.77, of which $33.71 was produce. Yes, all those many pounds of produce for only $33.71!

So, what did I get and why?

First I stopped at the ethnic store I go to that sells jaggery, since it literally is the cheapest non refined sweetener I can get, and I was running low. Since I don't come there so often and didn't want to be stuck buying either the more expensive kinds sold locally or using white sugar, I decided to stock up and bought 5 kilos, or 11 lbs. At $2.33 per pound, that cost me $25.71 on the jaggery alone, and then I also bought some dried wood ear mushrooms, an entire bag full for $3.34 which isn't super cheap but they rehydrate very nicely and just a little bit of dried mushrooms makes an entire pot of Asian soup absolutely delicious, so it's worth it for me.
Total for that shop- $29.05.

Then I needed some produce, since we were running very low.

Scouting out the first produce store that has a reduced section, I saw them selling nectarines for 39 cents a pound, so I bought a bunch, total $4.57. (I bought more than shown here since the kids and I ate a bunch on the way home.)

At my next favorite stall, I saw Gideon selling reduced rack produce very cheaply. Most of the produce was 25 cents a pound, other than celeriac, which was being sold for 28 cents a root. I bought 5 celeriac roots, some beets, a few canteloupe, and onion, for a total of $4.28.

By this point, my stroller was becoming a bit heavy, and then I go to R's stall where you can get super cheap produce, as long as you trust him to give you a good price and don't ask him prices of every item... and I saw he had watermelon. Great looking stuff, only I didn't really have room in my stroller, and the watermelon would smash everything anyhow.

But let me backtrack a second.
I have this stroller.
This really ugly stroller. It's one I got free from someone a while back, and its half broken since I work it hard, but it gets the job done.
Did I mention it's ugly?
I have another stroller at home, this Phil and Ted's stroller that I got hand me down from a friend as well, that I want to like... but it didn't work well for me- I didn't like the inflatable wheels, they constantly deflated, it didn't push well, it was broken enough to affect how it pushed but was still usable, but I kept it anyhow as a back up, just in case, since I can't be without a stroller, as it is my means of transportation- I jokingly call it "my car"- and when my stroller finished dying, unless I wanted to buy a new stroller to use to carry my groceries, I'd be stuck.

When I was on the train on the way to the market, this woman looks at me and says "Are you Penny?" She knew me from Facebook and said she recognized me. I asked if she'd recognized my kids or me, and she said she recognized me... and my stroller. It totally wasn't meant as offensive, and I didn't take it as that, but it did remind me that I needed to do something about that situation. I couldn't portray myself as a professional, living a "good life" on a minimal budget, if I walked around regularly with something that looked like it belonged in the trash. I may be frugal, but I want to be presentable, and even if I am dressed nicely, if my stroller that comes with me everywhere looks so bad, enough that people are able to recognize it... yea, wake-up call to do something already.

Anyhow, so when I saw that watermelon, combined with what happened earlier that reminded me that I needed to find an alternative grocery transportation method, I decided to try to find a foldable metal shopping wagon to use for my groceries. In the past, I'd used a collapsible shopping cart, but they always broke within a short period of time, so they were a complete waste of money. I assumed a metal one would serve me better.
I made my way to the one shop in the area that I was told would have such carts, and saw two metal carts- one smaller one for $25, and a bigger one for $31. I knew I needed as big as possible, so decided to go with the larger one, but before I did, I went to the shop keeper and asked him to be completely honest with me- were the carts actually good quality or would they break on me? I told him about how all my foldable shopping carts in the past broke after only a few uses, and asked if the metal one would last longer and not break.
The owner told me that if I want to do regular shops, the standard carts would work for me, but if I wanted something extra heavy duty to last a long time, he had another one that wasn't displayed- instead of being made from aluminum or some other flimsy material, its made from stainless steel, and cost $51. That one is much better quality and should last for a long time, even with extremely big and heavy shops. I decided it was a worthwhile investment and bought that.
Let's fast forward- when I got home, I saw that it folded nice and small, and because I had that, and now am able to use my ugly stroller as a back up, I was able to toss the giant and bulky and non useful Phil and Ted's stroller, and now my entrance that was so cluttered before with those two strollers is now so much more spacious and pleasant to walk into, so for that alone, it was worth spending those $51!

Back to the farmer's market.

I checked out another stall that had produce, most for 32 cents a pound, and bought cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, and purple onion, for a total of $8.
Then I went back to the stall with the watermelon, and the seller there told me that if I buy a second watermelon that a worker dropped, so it broke in half, in addition to the first watermelon I was getting, he'd give it to me at a great price. So I got two giant watermelons, a bunch of pumpkin, some zucchini, and a butternut squash, all for $10.

Fresh produce total- $26.85. As I said before, no idea how it averages per pound, but for that amount, it certainly is a great deal!

Last but not least, I bought some olives from a vendor, a few different types, for a total of $6.85. Originally I went to the stall to buy because I wanted to use some olives in a recipe I'm perfecting for my foraging cookbook, but I'll admit it, I didn't get just what I needed for the recipe- I also got more because it is a delicious Paleo approved treat.

All in all, a great shop!

Have you gotten any amazing deals lately? What were they?

If you ever go shopping without a car, what do you use to transport your groceries? A cart like this? A stroller? Something else? Would you have bought such a cart in my case, or continued to use the stroller?

Penniless Parenting

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


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  1. I have a small market within walking distance. Occasionally I will take my toddler in her stroller over for just a few odds and ends.

    1. How many things do you fit in the stroller together with your toddler, or do you have your toddler walk?

  2. I love my metal shopping cart. It's served me well for over 10 years, but now its starting to warp.

    1. Good to know they can last that long! Do you use yours heavily?

  3. Very nice cart! I never hesitate to spend a little more on things I really use a lot and need higher quality. You could also put some hooks on the side so you could hang some lighter bags on the outside with things you don't want crushed like bread. That way you can fit even more. I wonder how many kids you could fit in that thing! Lol

    1. Thank you! That suggestion for hooks on the side actually sounds really great- I was thinking that that is one of the down sides of this over a stroller, since i hang things from the handles of my stroller, but hooks on the side would solve that issue. I was also thinking of maybe adding some bungee cords to use to tie down larger things on top perhaps.

  4. We had a cheaper cart that we used to use, but when it broke I started using a backpack because I couldn't find a good quality one. Looks like you did!

    1. Backpacks are great but i like actually putting my backpack down in my stroller between carrying it since mine gets very heavy very quickly...

  5. Penny your amazing. I love how you take care of yourself and are aware of the image you project.

    1. Thank you! I really appreciate that! A big part of me realized a while back that I cant convince people to want to do things frugally if I look like a pathetic sad pauper. I may BE "penniless" but I don't want to actually look that way. It is manageable to look decent and present yourself well even when not spending a lot of money.

      In fact, I got into a discussion the other day with people- I showed them what I was planning on using as the cover for my book, which is entitled "Penniless Foodie in the Wild" and it has a pretty color with spring rolls filled with wild greens plated beautifully on some nice dishes, and someone commented that it looks too pretty for something entitled "penniless", that penniless people dont have things that look that nice, and I said that thats precisely the point--the cookbook will be frugal recipes that don't look like they come from a pauper's kitchen, but theyre cheap enough to do so. :-D That dichotomy is my life. :-D

  6. happy you got the cart. you will get great use out of it. I also would like to get one, but I don't live so near the store and need to take a taxi home. you also got great deals on your fruits and veggies. where I shop, we don't get such good deals.

  7. Oh my goodness!
    I would love to get my friend a cart like that for her birthday!
    Is there a brand name??
    Devorah in the south

  8. I did in a stroller over a summer living in Honolulu with no car and a family of six that ate a lot of food. The stroller was literally on its last legs and I actually davened that the airline should lose it on the way back to the mainland. Guess what? They did and they gave me enough money to get a nice stroller to round out my stroller using days.

    BTW, what are the dimensions of this cart you just bought? Can the wheels come off? I have been looking for a really sturdy one for my friends in Tokyo.

  9. I was wondering what jaggery is exactly? And what kind of ethnic store do you find it? (Hispanic, Asian?)

  10. The only time I shop someplace without a cart is the library book sale twice a year. I want to use a nice metal cart but I just end up carrying a canvas sack for my books. Now that I have a kindle, I'm kinda glad I didn't invest in one as I am ridding my library of paper books.

  11. Yeah I'll usually cook super fresh on the weekends when I have more time but I stock up on quick stuff to get me through the week. Rack of chicken breasts, rice etc.

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