December 30, 2009

End of the month report—December

We budget $350 each month.  This includes all groceries, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, medicines/herbals, and hygiene items (razors, deodorant, etc).

In December we spent $307.60—We were $42.40 under budget.   We didn’t stock up on as many items as we had thought.  I had budgeted $40 for a deer processing fee, but my husband was unable to go hunting this month.  Instead, we will be bartering with my sister for some of the venison from the deer that my brother-in-law took this winter. 

With that money we bought $664.86 worth of items.  If I’m doing my math correctly, we had a savings of 53.73%.

What did we buy with that money?

Free items— 28 free Ecotrin, 3 cans of dog food, 2 cans soup, 1 mustard, 2 Kikkoman soy sauces, maxi pads, 2 contact solutions, hair barrettes, Neutrogena face wash for men, 1 saline nose spray, 1 bag of spinach, tub of Cool Whip

Some of the items listed above  and below were donated to our church food pantry.

What did we stock up on?

  • The main item that we added to the stockpile was organic popcorn from Three Rivers Market.  We bought a little over 8 pounds of it. 
  • I bought 3 boxes of Lipton tea at Walgreens and 6 cans of tuna at Kroger this month.

Other purchases—In looking at this list, I am painfully aware of how much the loss of my grandmother and the many travels that we took to help with the house and for her funeral affected our eating and cooking.

  • $10 for locally grown using organic measures pastured milk. We would have spent more had we not been away from home for my grandmother’s funeral.
  • $40 given to my cousin to help pay for the BBQ and Crawfish tails we bought to feed out of town guests for the funeral.
  • At Kroger—bread, sodas, 2 more Kikkoman soy sauces, 2 hams, 6 sausages, marshmallows, organic chicken, 2 boxes sugar free jello pudding (for my father), 1 lb of Community coffee (per my Dad’s request), carrots, organic peanut butter, organic ketchup, 2 cream cheese, chili mixes, cornbread mix, confectioners sugar, brown sugar, organic ff milk, boiled custard, cheese, apples, lunchmeat, bananas, cabbage, flour tortillas, crackers, Bar Keepers Friend, sugar free cookies(for my father), clementines, vital gluten (for bread making), cranberry sauce, coconut (for my father), celery
  • At Walgreens—I used the Ecotrin deal to pay for some supplies for out of town guests while at the services in Memphis.  I bought 2 Nivea lip balms, 3 Pringles, 4 pork rinds, 2 packages of cheese, 2 packages of lunchmeat, ranch dip, 2 packages of cookies, milk, plates, and cups.  Later in the month I bought—4 boxes of cereal, 2 tubs of peanut butter, 1 tub of mayo, 2 packages of holiday plates for our daughter’s school party, 4 cans of broth, candy canes, candy as stocking stuffers, and saline spray
  • At Ingles—2 four packs of Marcal eco-friendly toilet paper
  • At Three Rivers Market— organic celery and the popcorn mentioned above
  • From Frontier co-op—teas, coffees for gifts, citric acid, organic ginger, organic cinnamon
  • 4 dozen eggs from a friend who owns chickens

So, what could you glean from this post to help with your budget and shopping?  Maybe I should ask what did I learn from the review of our grocery expenditures this month? 

  • To give yourself a break when you are under stress.  I’m very grateful that we have as many foods stocked in our pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  The stockpile allowed me to take time with my family during this difficult month instead of focusing as much on couponing or shopping. 
  • Even though we were travelling for much of the month, we did not eat out much during those travels.  We brought foods with us to reduce the expenses.  Packing sandwiches prevented us from having to eat gross fast food.
  • You can shop locally when you are away from home.  We bought BBQ and crawfish tails from local people for the funeral.  Because we came together as a family and all chipped in, the burden was not on any one person.  Our family is one of those large ones that you see on movies like Big Fat Greek Wedding.  When I say that we were feeding out of town guests, know that at one small meal there were about 20 people in and out. 
  • Planning ahead helps.  We were able to save a ton of money because I had been planning for months for Christmas dinner.  Read my post here to give you some ideas on that.
  • I wish we had bought more organic and more locally grown items.  I missed a milk delivery.  I missed out on an opportunity to chicken sit for a friend (when we do so we get the eggs).  I missed one of our meat farmer’s Knoxville delivery, and I didn’t think far enough in advance to buy his locally made sausage before he sold out.  Many of the items mentioned above are not organic—I’ll need to recommit to that in January.
  • I’m glad we have a garden.  I didn’t need to buy onions, herbs, or bell peppers (the peppers were frozen this summer).  I picked turnip greens, kale, beet greens,  herbs, and onions straight out of the garden for immediate use.
  • I’m amazed at how much cheaper it is to buy organic spices in bulk and to split them with friends instead of buying small bottles in the grocery store.  The next best option is to buy them at a local co-op like Three Rivers, buying only the amount that you need for your recipes.

I hope this post helps some of you in your grocery shopping, budgeting and meal planning. 


  1. where is frontier co-op? I have never been there. I have only been to three rivers and earthfare... Robin

  2. Robin, I decided to dedicate an entire post to answer this question. I really hope you'll be able to take advantage of the Frontier Wholesale Co-op deals. The site isn't very easily navigated, but there are some good deals to be had! If you are reading this later, check December 30th for a post about Frontier for more information.