Category Archives: shopping

The never-ending turkey

b6a5fb57-fd2a-4b5c-9561-7b29ec234ec3As most turkey fans (and chest-freezer owners) know, the best time to buy a turkey is a few weeks after Thanksgiving. I normally smoke a turkey on the holiday itself, but this year I did a breast roulade that resulted in no leftovers, s0 when turkey-clearance time came around ($1.19/lb.), I went big. Very big. Like, 22 pounds big. It was by far the largest bird I’ve ever worked with (trying to spatchcock a turkey that weighs more than a medium-sized dog is not up there on the list of tasks I enjoy), and while at the time I swore I’d never do it again, nearly a month later we’re STILL eating turkey sandwiches, turkey enchiladas, and turkey soup, and my deep freeze is packed with gallons of smoked-turkey stock. It’s hard to argue with weeks upon weeks of meals for $26.50, so yes, I will probably do it again. Read on to see how it went. (And, above, enjoy a photo of a particularly bountiful day at the Fred Meyer meat-clearance section.)

Continue reading

Groceries: week of June 11-17

It may be hard to believe, but we only spent $15.25 on groceries this week—and we’re eating a lot of meat. Beef, even. Most of this is due to making use of odds and ends left over from prior weeks’ meals and grocery trips. Cheese left over from a Grocery Outlet trip, beef and shallots left over from last week’s khao soi, tortillas left over from last week’s Mexican lime soup…you get the idea. This week’s list is, in fact, a perfect example of the benefits of planning meals out in advance: We make sure we’re using things we already have on hand and we only have to go to the grocery store to supplement.

Continue reading

Groceries: week of June 4-10

Have you heard this news, about the flame retardant showing up in peanut butter? Because as you may recall, I, a pregnant person, have been eating peanut butter nearly every day for lunch for the past month or so. Needless to say, I was not happy to hear this, both for obvious reasons (while I am admittedly on the upper end of the pregnancy-paranoia scale, the risk of the baby suddenly bursting into flame inside the womb has not been of great concern) and because we had just purchased an enormous amount of peanut butter last time we went to Costco. It was filling, cheap, and delicious on homemade bread, and now I’ve got to stop eating it completely. It’s most likely going to drive our weekly budget up a bit as we experiment with lunch substitutes; this week we’re going to try bread and cheese, since 8 oz. blocks of Cabot (sharp cheddar and pepper jack) are still on sale for $1.99 at Grocery Outlet.

Continue reading

Groceries: week of May 28-June 3

Not bad on the budget this week—only $23.19 spent on produce, dairy, and a few extras to supplement what we’ve already got on hand in the pantry and freezer. The garden is teeming with herbs and snow peas, and the strawberries should be ripening any day now, which should keep us in snacks and sorbet for at least a couple of months. See below for the complete receipt breakdown, and what everything we bought this week will be used for.

Continue reading

Groceries: week of May 21-27

Just a weekly budget update for those who like to see how these things work. As I mentioned yesterday, because I’m pregnant I’m having to eat larger servings than I was in the past, as well as purchase and eat more fruit, which can get pricey even when it’s seasonal and on sale. (Our strawberries and raspberries aren’t ripe yet.) Still, between avid meal planning, smart shopping, and cooking from scratch using raw, unprocessed ingredients, we’re coming out pretty much on budget. Read on for the specifics.
Continue reading

Costco: What’s worth it, what’s not?

Some people are surprised to hear we have a Costco membership when it’s just the two of us. I admit, paying to shop someplace is a hard sell for me, especially when we only go a few times a year. If you’ve never been to Costco before, only been a couple of times, or never really inspected the shelf prices, it’s easy to get carried away; not only can the selection and the store itself be kind of overwhelming, but the fact you’re paying for the privilege of shopping there makes it easy to assume everything you come across is going to be a great deal. Of course, this is not always the case, especially if you’re already making the effort to buy groceries in bulk and on sale. That said, the past few years have taught us a few things regarding what to buy (and what not to buy) in order to come out ahead.

Continue reading

A word on coupons

There are admittedly quite a few food-budget blogs out there in the Intertubes, and you may have noticed that many—if not most—of them seem to rely heavily on couponing. And I don’t mean cutting a coupon out of the newspaper circulars here or there for something you already buy; I’m talking devoting otherwise useful portions of one’s waking hours to seeking out coupons, collecting coupons, organizing coupons, and amassing a pantry full of things like enough packaged rice pilaf and 2-liter bottles of soda to last through 2525. If you’ve ever wondered why I don’t do the coupon thing*, check out this guest post I wrote for Flying the Nest, a blog full of great budgeting tips for newbies and experts alike.

*Spoiler: “I was nearly 30 years old and didn’t even know how to cook a pot of beans.”

How to make fresh herbs last for a month or more

It’s happened to us all: You buy a bunch of parsley or cilantro, use about a quarter of it, and three months later find yourself excavating a bag of green slime from the bottom of the crisper. At our supermarket herbs average anywhere from 49 cents to $1.99, which, for a one-time use, adds up fast. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Continue reading

Rules for living on $35 week

Continue reading

Groceries: week of Feb. 4-10

I’ve been asked several times in the past couple weeks what a typical grocery-store trip looks like for us. As I’ve mentioned before, we shop once a week at the regular supermarket for perishables to supplement the bulk staples we buy on thrice-yearly stock-up trips to Costco and Winco. (Our basement looks not unlike a fallout shelter with buckets of rice, dried beans, and sugar; 50-pound bags of flour; gallons of canola and olive oil; and a chest freezer full of individually wrapped portions of meat bought on markdown.) This is in addition to whatever is harvestable from our garden and the eggs we get from the chickens. Because sometimes the perishables last for more than a week, such as a bunch of cilantro or a block of cheese, this requires planning all our meals several weeks in advance. It doesn’t exactly leave room for spontaneity, but at the same time, we’re never left scrambling. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of this week’s purchases and what we plan to make with them (some meals are using produce left over from past weeks, some of what we bought this week will carry over into future weeks). Because we plan so far in advance it’s difficult to shop based on what happens to be on sale, but because seasonal produce pretty often tends to be, our planning is always done with that in mind.

Continue reading