Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Great Grocery Project Part 2

So far this month I have spent about $540.00 on groceries.  That is more than I would normally be spending, but remember that we were without an oven for a few weeks.  Some other things that have been going on which increased this month's spending, but I will go over them in more detail when I do my end of the month analysis next week.  All things considered, I am comfortable (but not thrilled) with how the spending was going.

I am just going to share a few money saving things that I have done since my last post in this series.

Money Saving Tips:
Right around Thanksgiving (the Canadian Thanksgiving is coming, as well as Rosh Hashanah this coming weekend) means lots of great deals are to be head on baking and various "Thanksgiving related" food items.  I carefully read the flyers all year, but during September and October I pay very close attention and there are a few sales I always watch for:

1.  Frozen Turkeys - Many times, I have written of my love for frozen turkeys.  This is still one of the best deals for a great protein out there.  They used to always go on sale this time of year for around 0.88 a pound.  Lately, the price seems to have bumped up to 0.97 a pound, but that is still incredible value for money.  No Frills had them on sale for this price last week, Food Basics has them on sale this week, and I would not be surprised if this week's flyers show that Walmart will have them on sale next week.  I have been picking up 2 turkeys a week and popping them in our deep freeze.  I try to get 6-8 turkeys a year at this price.  Not only is the price right, but roasting a turkey is super easy.  You really can't go wrong...

2.  Pantry Items Sale - This is the time of year to be buying things like canned pineapple (for cooking and baking), StoveTop stuffing (I love it), cranberries, cake mixes, icing, baking supplies, etc.  This week, Food Basics had some great pantry items on sale - mostly for $0.99 each or less.  I stocked up on the above mentioned items which will result in some significant savings long term.  I am looking forward to reading this week's flyers to see what other deals I can find.

3.  Reduced for Quick Sale Items - One of my favourite grocery stores is a high-end privately owned store located near my work.  This store has a one page sale list every week.  This is part of their marketing strategy - they have very few items on sale, but what is on sale is at an excellent price.  I went to the store last week to pick up some fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts which were on sale at a great price.  While I was there, I quickly checked their Reduced for Quick Sale Items.  There were some beautiful Filet Mignon medallions 2 days before their "Use By" date and reduced by 50%.  I love filet mignon, but we never buy it because of the price.  I snapped up two medallions and we thoroughly enjoyed eating them that evening.  The other reduced item I picked up was bananas.  The great thing about this store is that because it is a very high-end retailer, they often put things on the reduced racks before other stores would.  I was able to pick up a package of 14 large bananas for $0.99.  We ate some of them fresh, but most of them were used for some make ahead and freeze baking.
What did we make with all these bananas?

Southern Living's Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread.  I love this recipe - and it makes two loaves.  

Ricardo's Double Chocolate Banana Bread.  Seriously, this recipe will change your life. - amazing and incredibly moist.
Image from www.ricardocuisine.com

Paula Deen's Not Yo Mamma's Banana Pudding - An incredibly rich (pudding, cream cheese, cool whip, butter cookies...) and delicious banana pudding.  I did find it a bit runny - I think that if I made it again I would actually make the pudding according to the package directions and then mix it in as the recipe instructs.  The recipe says this dish will make 12 servings, but it is such a rich dessert you could likely get about 20 servings out of the 9x13 pan.

4.  Clearance and Reduced Items - This one is not a grocery savings but it was a money savings for this week.  Almost all of my adults Christmas gifts this year are going to be DIY, actually some of them will be DIH (Do It Husband) because I cannot handle certain materials while pregnant.  Anyway, I needed to pick up some Kyrlon spraypaint for my projects.  I went to Michael's Craft Supplies where I had a coupon for 40% off one item.  While there, I noticed that some Hunter Green Krylon spraypaint was on clearance for $3.49 a can (regularly $10.99).  This was not the colour I had planned on using, but I realized it would be great for Christmas gifts and would pair really well with a gold glitter.  The savings allowed me to purchase the Hunter Green on clearance, a small can of gold glitter spray, and this freed up my 40% off coupon for a can of textured white spray paint (40% off $16.99).  Hurray savings! I am looking forward to sharing some of these DIY projects and gift ideas once they are complete.

That is it for now.  Next week I will post the full monthly analysis of the grocery totals.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Great Grocery Project - Part 1

As I mentioned before, we are going to be very carefully tracking and analyzing our grocery expenses over the next year - looking for ways to save money without cutting back on the quality of food that we eat.  The plan at the moment is to provide brief weekly or bi-weekly updates, and then at the end of each month a details analysis of where the spending money went.

Let's just say the first week and a half of September did not go exactly as planned.  We are in the middle of an unplanned total basement renovation which is taking up lots of time (and money of course!) and our oven broke.  We spent two weeks without an oven.  Needless to say, this meant we spent a lot more money on prepared foods and quick snacks than we normally would.  Thankfully, we ordered a new element and my husband was able to repair our oven.  That sound you hear is a huge sigh of relief on my part.  Hopefully this means that over the next few weeks our grocery spending will even out again.

I'm a little sad to say that I spend $176.87 on groceries over the past few weeks (mainly due to the no oven dilemma).  But this is life, and it will all even out.

Over the weekend I went to No Frills and there was a great sale on cabbage.  I have an amazing Creamy Coleslaw recipe from Bonnie Stern's Friday Night Dinners that is super easy to make and delicious.  I plan on making a large batch of coleslaw this afternoon to eat with our dinner, and also to throw in our lunches for the next few days.

A new grocery store with an excellent produce section (I'm a bit of a produce snob) opened a few weeks ago right between where I work and where my son goes to daycare.  This is really great for me, because I like to buy fresh produce regularly so that none of it goes to waste.  Wasted food = wasted money.  The new store will be a great place for me to stop and conveniently pick up whatever fresh produce I might need, thereby (hopefully) meaning even less food waste (or money wasted!) in our house.

Big Money Saving This Week:
The big money saved this week in our house came from household items rather than grocery, but is worth mentioning.  Regular readers know that I am a big fan of Shopper's Drug Mart Optimum Rewards.  This week, many regular items we need and use were on sale - so I redeemed 95,000 ($170.00 worth) of Optimum points.  With this points redemption I was able to pick-up:

4 packs of President's Choice Bathroom Tissue ($4.99 each)
1 Box of Pamper's Swaddlers Diapers ($22.99)
1 400mL bottle of La Roche Posay AP Lipikar Baume lotion (33.00)
1 bottle of La Roche Posay Children's Sun Block ($29.95)
1 Box of Pampers Training Diapers ($22.99)
1 Box of Pampers Newborn Diapers ($22.99)
1 Box of Always Pantiliners ($5.49)
3 various sizes packs of Energizer batteries (for a total of $29.97)
2 24 bottle cases of PC Spring Water ($1.99 each)

The subtotal of all these items came to $209.44.  I redeemed $170.00 worth of Optimum points and ended up paying a balance of $39.44.  That's a pretty great savings!

Our other big savings this week, was repairing the oven.  Yes, we spent more on groceries by going without an oven for almost two weeks - but if we had rushed out to buy a new oven immediately after ours caught on fire and broke we would have been spending between $1000-$3000.00.  Instead, we ordered a $50.00 party from Amazon and my husband repaired our oven himself.  Hurray husband!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Great Grocery Project: Introduction

The past few months have been pretty crazy around our house.  My husband was in a serious car accident near the end of winter, thankfully (very thankfully) he is just fine - his car however was totaled.  Although we did get some (some) money through insurance we had to unexpectedly purchase a new car.  *the sound of money flying out the window*

About a month ago we found some water leaking into our basement.  I'll spare you all the details, but as a result we are now having to do a completely unplanned total basement renovation.  *the sound of money flying out the window*

Last week, our oven caught on fire.  We think (we hope) that it was just the element dying and needing to be replaced.  The replacement part is ordered and I am hoping when it arrives this week that will solve our problem, because I really really do not want to have to buy a new oven right now.

These things happen.  They are unfortunate, but life goes on.  Everyone in our house is in good health and that is really what matters.  Close friends of ours have a child fighting a terminal illness, and I am positive that they would take 100 unexpected basement renovations if it meant they could save their child or alleviate some of her suffering.  Perspective.

I am also pregnant again and about to go on maternity leave.  This means my income will be reduced by 50% for the next year.

Needless to say, with all the (major) unexpected expenses and the maternity leave quickly approaching we have been combing over the budget.  I regularly budget for our groceries, but I am really looking to cut down on our expenses - which brings me to the Great Grocery Project.  Over the next year, I am going to be carefully (minutely) tracking our grocery spending and hopefully sharing some helpful money saving tips with you along the way.  My goal is to reduce our grocery spending without compromising the quality of our food.  We drink a lot of milk and eat a lot of cheese in this house, and I don't really plan on cutting back in either of those area.

Watch this space - I will be posting regular (probably bi-weekly) updates and tips as we go.

P.S. - They Friday Night Dinner Project is nearing completion.  I have about 5 menus left, and I will be completing them as the food budget allows.