Christmas 2004

Like many others, I internalize the pressures of  holiday gift giving. Sure, I like the creative challenge, but however much I try to keep the expenses under budget they always seems to spiral out of control. I try not to get too anxious about the holidays until after Halloween, but the subject keeps coming up over at The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group, so I thought I would address it head on.

Because I try to only buy used, thrifted gifts need to be picked up throughout the year. However, I’m going to thrift stores a lot less often, so my normally plush stash is thin and puny.

Thin and puny!

I did screw up my nerve a few years and approached certain family members about no longer doing gift exchanges, and with the exception of a few people, everyone was up for it. So we no longer exchange gifts with cousins, adults on my father’s side of the family or adult siblings. My husband and I stopped exchanging gifts as well. (We continue to give each other birthday presents.)

My husband’s family tried a choose-a-name gift exchange a few years ago, but it was an enormous disaster for us as the person who set it up included my children, which meant that they were then just as responsible for buying gifts as an adult would be. Also, the organizer didn’t want to set any general amount to be spent, which made the whole endeavor very vague and subsequently expensive. Everyone else saved money, and my family spent at least four times the amount we normally would have spent. (I picked my own son, which meant I had to give him the level of gift he normally would’ve received from his generous grandparents.)

Thankfully that experiment was not repeated.

Here’s who we do exchange gifts with:

  • My mother and step-father.
  • My niece and nephew.
  • My mother-in-law and father-in-law.
  • Our 16 and 19-year-old sons.

However, there are also a number of holiday birthdays to contends with, so I lump those into the holiday budget as well. (December 11th, 16th, 23rd and 27th!)

This may not seem like much to others who have larger families and multiple nieces and nephews, but it really does add up.

Luckily, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve:

  • My husband was awarded a catalog from his employer for blah-blah-blah years of service and he gets to choose one item for free. (They sent two, as apparently they’d forgotten the last milestone year.) We’ll look through the catalog with an eye for checking off a substantial gift for one of the kids.
  • We have a Sears credit card which awards points to be exchanged for gift cards. (We use the card for expenses related to the non-profits that my husband volunteers for, so all expenses are reimbursed.) Last year we chose a Shell station gift card, as that was money we’d be spending anyway, but this year my husband chose $80 in Sears gift cards for some reason. But we’ll figure out something, anything from Sears that can work to winnow down our gift giving needs. Hopefully we can stretch this credit using sales, coupons, etc.
  • I was sent a review copy of a book about making earrings, which despite being a lovely book was too off topic for the blog. However, my ten-year-old niece loves to make earrings, so she’ll get the book. I also found a darling child size bracelet on the sidewalk and will include that as well.
  • I’ll take books into Powell’s bookstore for credit and use that towards gift giving. (I have an enormous box of my childhood and teenage era books in my father’s attic that I need to go though.)
  • I have two gift certificates for 100 free photo prints from Costco, leftover from a long forgotten camera purchase. Since these gift certificates lack expiration dates, I’m going to figure out a way to use them towards some kind of gift project.
  • I have a number of $5 Amazon gift cards I earned from doing my web searches through Swagbucks. Plus, I use my mother’s Amazon Prime account to get free shipping.

I do like to make some of my own gifts, whether they’re food related or a craft project. Last year’s Portland Timbers-theme painted stool was a huge hit with my younger son, and gets daily use and appreciation. (And remember the manga chair I made for my older son? I’m here to tell you that teenage boys can appreciate homemade gifts!) I also give the boys a new pair of pajamas every year, which I’m always able to find brand new at Goodwill. (Many men apparently receive pajamas as gifts and then just turn around and immediately donate them.)

I like to give what I call the “anchor gift” along with a few “satellite gifts.” In other words, one main gift with a sprinkling of smaller gifts. And as much as I grumble, I really do like the creative challenge of figuring out the perfect gifts for those on my list.

Whew . . . sorry about the brain dump of a blog post. And P.S., aren’t my kids cute? I think that photo is from 2003 or 2004.

Have you been able to simplify your holiday gift giving traditions? Or do you even want to? What are your sure fire gift ideas? Please share your thought in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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A Lifetime of Daily Frugality

by Katy on October 15, 2014 · 64 comments

Frugality is like any other discipline, It only works if you make it a part of your daily routine. It doesn’t matter if you got a free pair of boots from a friend if you then celebrate by taking everyone out for drinks. If you’re in a position where you really need to be frugal, it requires that you unapologetically put it front and center.

I’m frugal every single day. I have no breaks, and that’s okay. Choosing a frugal life does not mean a life of deprivation. I still eat delicious meals, get together with friends and want for nothing whatsoever. I cook 95% from scratch, socialize without spending money and would rather mend something that replace it with something new (or even used) any day of the week.

That chicken soup with dumplings that I made from the drumstick bones? It became my lunch yesterday and then my breakfast for today. It also created an extra quart of chicken broth, which I used as the base for last night’s Rosemary White Bean soup. And when I walked over to Fred Meyer yesterday to pick up a few things, my plan had been to buy two half-gallons of milk instead of a full gallon. Why? Because when Fred Meyer has their half-gallon on sale for $1.25, it becomes cheaper to buy it this way. However, this milk won my purchasing loyalty:

Clearance milk

Every day, and every purchasing decision revolves around my frugality.

At this point you may be thinking that my life sounds like an enormous bummer. A life without joy.

You are wrong.

Being frugal is freedom, not a limitation.

I’m able to not panic over the potential news that my husband may be about to go on strike. I’m able to send my sons on amazing exchanges to Japan, which are not cheap. Our bills get paid on time, our cars are paid off and our student loan payments are a thing of the past. (My husband went back to school in 2001-2005.)

We eat bean based soups at least a couple of nights per week and we wear our clothes to death!

And every day we putter along with our unassuming frugal ways.

Do you see your own frugality as a noose to be banished the moment money loosens up, or is it more of a longterm lifestyle? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Barbara and Christie who each won a copy of Ashley English’s “Handmade Gatherings.”  Thank you to Roost Books for making this giveaway possible!

handmade_gatherings_lg

It’s been awhile since I’ve hosted a giveaway on the blog, but today is a very special treat because I have copies of Ashley English’s newest book for two, count ‘em two lucky readers! (Thank you, Roost Books!) You may remember Ashley English from her previous books A Year of Pies, Keeping Bees, Home Dairy, Canning & Preserving and Keeping Chickens. Yes, this woman is pro-to-the-ductive (and married my my old college friend Glenn!)

Today’s giveaway is for Handmade Gatherings: Recipes & Crafts for Seasonal Celebrations & Potluck Parties, and is amazing! I’ve been carrying it everywhere with me, thinking I couldn’t put this giveaway together until I’d finished it. But the book is so massive, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and share my bounty.

This amazing tome is half cookbook, half beautiful photography and half great ideas for inventive potlucks. So many of us refrain from entertaining, as the prospect is downright intimidating, but English shows quite clearly how these events can be put together while still paying the mortgage and keeping one’s supposed sanity. And in case you have traumatizing memories of 1970’s Jello salad potlucks or college era potlucks of nothing but chips, salsa, and Rolling Rock; English is here to tell you that potlucks have grown up!

To enter to win your own personal copy of Handmade Gatherings, just write your name in comments section below. I will randomly choose two winners, Thursday, October 16th at midnight PST. Please enter one time only.

Good luck!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 13, 2014 · 21 comments

Bean soup mix

  1. I planned a get together with my friend Leslie today, and instead of going out for coffee, we stayed in and I served tea. She had a Starbucks reward, and used it to pick up some pastries. We then went for a walk and enjoyed a nice long chat. Money spent? Nothing!
  2. I used a $2-off-$5 meat coupon at Fred Meyer to pick up a large pack of drumsticks. I then boiled up the leftover bones to make chicken soup for last night’ s dinner. I did have to add a single chicken breast to ensure there was enough meat, but it was still a perfectly nourishing meal.
  3. I foraged in my pantry and forced myself to prepare one of the bean soup mixes I’d put together for Christmas 2012. (Yup, that’s no typo!) It was pretty tasty, although the resulting soup pretty much resembled thinned out refried beans once I’d pureed it. Everyone ate it on night #1, but I was the only one who would eat the leftovers. Alright by me, and no one can accuse me of not getting my recommended fiber for the week!
  4. I’ve been listening to free library audiobooks through the Overdrive app on my iPhone 4. I just finished listening to Anne Lamott’s Word by Word, which is a speech she presented at a 2004 writing conference. I loved it so much, that as soon as I was done listening to it, I listened to it all over again. The advice she gives may be directed towards writers, but the lessons about being honest and present in the moment are without category.
  5. My sixteen-year-old son is very good about getting himself up and off to school with time enough to take the city bus. And since he’s my only student now, I no longer make the five mile round trip drive to school and back each day. And since the school district provides free bus passes, we’re buying a lot less gasoline this year!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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It’s Time to Talk About Money

by Katy on October 12, 2014 · 46 comments

I think about non-consumerism all the time. I think about keeping my family’s finances under control and sourcing free and almost free necessities and keeping my house decluttered and creating a lovely home without budgeting any money for the cause and how to scrounge extra money and frugal yet tasty meal planning and how little laundry detergent I can use before the clothes start to smell and finding great library materials and batching my errands to save gas and finding great free entertainment  . . . and . . . and . . . and . . .

And then I talk about non-consmerism. Even though it’s taboo and considered tacky to talk about money in this country, I say it needs to happen. Because others always think they’re the only ones worrying about money, and how to pull everything together with limited resources. (I know there are some who have limitless resources, but there are few and far between in my social circle.)

When we don’t talk about money, people think that having limited financial resources is shameful and to be kept a secret.

I was once talking about frugality with a patient at work and she was shocked. She’d come to America from a third world country and thought that American born people had no financial worries whatsoever. I explained that very few Americans aren’t working to figure out how to make their money stretch. It was an eye opener for her.

Just yesterday I picked my son up from a sleepover at a friend’s home. I’d never been to this friend’s house before and I was impressed with their affluent neighborhood and gorgeous historic home. I then talked to my son about it as we drove home to get ready for soccer. We talked about how their house might seem fancy to us, but that others have that same reaction to our house. We may know that we bought a revolting fixer-upper and that all our all our stuff is either free or from thrift shops, but others don’t. But when my son’s lower income friends come over, they see us as having a fancy house. But that kid whose family owns a house in a lower income area? He’s impressive to someone who doesn’t own their home! And that friend who lives in an historic home in an affluent area? They likely have friends who live in an even better houses.

It never ends. (Unless you’re Bill Gates, in which case it does end.)

I then sat on the sidelines of my son’s soccer game and had this same conversation with a fellow soccer mom. I know that she sees our home as fancy, but I want there to be transparency about how much work it took to create our nice home. I want there to be an openness when it comes to talking about money.

My husband and I do not have the money to spend out without consequence. It would be a great story if I could say that because of the buy-nothing-new Compact and associated frugality we now have fully funded college funds and hugely plush savings accounts, but that would be a lie. Neither my husband nor I have high paying jobs, and our fixer-upper house sucked us dry in the early days.

I could keep my family’s money matters a secret, and then you could enjoy the false impression that you’re the only family that scrimps and saves. But that do you a disservice.

Having conversations about money has been greatly beneficial to me. Both because I’ve been able to share ideas and inspiration, but also because I then get a chance to learn new tricks and sources.

None of us live in our own hermetically sealed bubble. We live within communities and we are not alone. But when we abstain from talking about taboo subjects, we keep ourselves isolated from others.

Honesty in communication is not to be feared, and deepens relationships.

So let’s talk about money, let’s banish the shame of not being wealthy.

Let’s banish the money taboo.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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October Grocery Challenge Update

by Katy on October 10, 2014 · 14 comments

october grocery challenge

Here we are, ten days into the October Grocery Challenge and it’s time to check in with how my family is doing.

Which is poorly.

Not poorly in the sense that anything’s wrong in our lives, poorly because my family of four has spent $182.88 on groceries so far, which doesn’t bode well with my goal to spend under $450 for the month. (And my secret goal to actually keep it under $400.) However, I’m not beating myself up too badly since I knew we’d be spending out this week due to celebrating my older son’s 19th birthday. It’s not unusual for my mother and step-father to take us out to eat for family birthdays, but this year we mixed things up and hosted them. (Can’t be too much of a mooch!) My son absolutely loves steak, so I planned a steak dinner, which becomes prohibitively expensive when eaten in a nice restaurant. (We ate at Morton’s a few years ago, and I think the bill came to over $500 for the six of us!)

Here’s how much we’ve spent on groceries so far for the month of October:

  • 10/2 Grocery Outlet – $25.35
  • 10/3 Safeway – $39.41
  • 10/6 New Seasons – $13.97
  • 10/7 Costco – $80.76 . . . hellooooooo rib eye steaks!
  • 10/9 Fred Meyer $23.39

Which adds up to $182.88

Multiply that by 3, and you get $584.64, not a sustainable budget. However, we’ve been eating with an emphasis on frugality since Tuesday, and will continue to shop and cook with the budget in mind. Although my mother’s birthday is on the 21st this month, so I’ll have to start thinking about a special yet not insanely expensive meal to serve.

Here’s what we’ve eaten for dinner this week:

  • Monday: Frozen homemade baked ziti, which then became lunches for a few days.
  • Tuesday: Rib eye steaks with baked potatoes, roasted green beans and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.
  • Wednesday: Fajitas, which used up the small amount of leftover steak.
  • Thursday: Roasted potato, egg and black bean burritos, which used up the leftover baked potatoes.
  • Friday: Mixed bean soup with cornbread.

See how that one expensive meal lent itself to a few other meals?

I do have a decently stocked pantry, although I’ll replace and take advantage of sales as much as I normally would. I haven’t been doing meal planning more than a day in advance, but that works well for me. I plan based on what I have on hand, and what needs to get eaten up. And I generally shop based on having standard ingredients on hand, rather than what I need for specific meals.

And a big thank you to everyone who shared their steak cooking tips on the blog, as they were very helpful! I ended up bringing the rib eyes to room temperature, sprinkling with kosher salt and pepper, searing in blazing hot cast iron pans and then finishing them off in a 500º oven. (After placing a pat of butter over each steak.) I knew they were appreciated because everyone was completely silent during one point in the meal, which was a first!

Are you trying to keep an eye on your food budget for the month of October? Please share your progress in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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If there’s one category that all Goodwill thrift shops share, it’s a wide variety of organizing containers. Whether it’s bins, boxes, crates or ceramic canisters, Goodwill is sure to provide.

For example the targeted savings bank for a “New Wheels Fund.”

photo 3

Sometimes the Goodwill containers are a bit baffling. Like these standard empty beer bottles:

photo 2

Call me picky, but when I pay $1.99 for a beer bottle, there needs to be some actual beer in it!

Beer bottles - detail

Of course, standard kitchen storage is a common find at area Goodwills as well.

Flour:

Flour canister

Sugar:

Sugar canister

Farts:

Farts canister

Finally, I can keep my farts in a contained environment!

Oh Goodwill . . . you never fail to provide.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 7, 2014 · 27 comments

  1. I deliberately planned all the activities for my son’s birthday day of adventures to be in the same neighborhood. Previous years have found us driving back and forth across town to get to everywhere we needed to be. No reasons to waste money on gasoline. Plus, we got to walk around the neighborhoods with no time pressures.
  2. I needed to pick up milks and a loaf of French bread at New Season’s last night. That was all I needed, but I had a coupon for a free half-gallon of milk if I spent $10. I didn’t want to overspend on stuff I didn’t need in order to save money, so I bought green beans to go with tonight’s dinner. This brought the price over $10, which then made the milk free. I had been tempted to pick out some treat to bring the trip over $10, but this worked out better, both for the wallet and my waistline. (I know the true savings would have been to make the bread myself, but I’d had a busy day and wasn’t home long enough to put together a batch of bread dough.)
  3. I am buying my son a good pair of left handed scissors for his birthday, but am choosing to support a local business. However, I see that they honor competitor’s coupons, so I’ll print out a Joann Fabric 30%-off coupon to bring the price down.
  4. We are preparing a special birthday meal at home for my son instead of going to a restaurant. It won’t be impressively frugal as I’m preparing steaks, but steak at home for six people vs. steak in a restaurant for six people makes this a very budgetary meal. (BTW, I’ve only prepared steak a few times in my life, so any and all tips are extremely welcome! I’m planning on doing the cast iron pan method using this method.)
  5. I took my behind the scenes tour of Goodwill yesterday, yet didn’t buy a single thing. Which I think deserves some special kind of medal. (A used one of course!)

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to lately?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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It’s Okay to be Cheap!

by Katy on October 6, 2014 · 45 comments

Happy Birthday!

The word “cheap” gets a bad rap. It’s grouped in with “miserly” and is rarely used as a compliment.

“Wow, that awesome lady sure is cheap!”

Nope.

I used to try and distance myself from the word, saying that I preferred “frugal,” but the plain and honest truth is that I am cheap.

Cheap, cheap, cheap!

I don’t like to spend unnecessarily, and I prioritize having enough money to pay my bills. I don’t want to work more than part time, and if you ever see me in a retail store, you’ll know that I’m being held prisoner.

Cheap.

But I make zero apologies for my cheapness. Because without my focus on the nickels and dimes in life, my family would be in serious financial trouble. I do not owe the world an outward appearance of wealth, and I’m comfortable making cheap decisions, even when those cheap version is slightly less desirable.

Need an example?

Tomorrow is my older son’s nineteenth birthday. Because the actual day falls on a Tuesday this year, we spent yesterday, (a Sunday) celebrating him. We have a family tradition where I plan a “Birthday Day of Adventures,” and the four of us spend the entire day going from activity to activity that caters to the birthday person’s specific tastes. It’s all a surprise ahead of time, and it’s an extremely fun way of making the birthday person feel special. (It’s part of how I’m transitioning my kids from gifts of things to gifts of experiences.)

But since I’m the one doing the planning, it veers towards the cheap. I take full advantage of available discounts, and I hoard any credits I’ve accrued throughout the year.

I decided one of our activities would be to see a movie. My first thought was Guardians of The Galaxy, as I knew he’d enjoy it. However, it’s still only in first run theaters which would set us back $36 for tickets, plus the cost of parking. (It would have been a downtown theater.) Instead I found a showing of the movie Chef at a great old refurbished theater which cost only $2 per person, (plus the parking was free!)

I chose to be cheap.

Would my son have liked to see Guardians of The Galaxy? Sure. But it’s mindless Hollywood entertainment that’s great fun while it’s happening yet completely leaves your mind by the time you’re home. Plus it’ll be in second run theaters and on DVD within a month or so. I figured he would like Chef, even though he’d never heard of it.

Guess what? My son really enjoyed Chef. He liked that it wasn’t yet another formulaic Hollywood blockbuster with nothing to offer beyond mindless entertainment. He values having stuff to ponder, and he’s old enough to understand that the $40 we saved by seeing a second run movie completely covered the cost of the Indian buffet lunch we’d just consumed.

It was a cheap decision, but it was the right decision.

When we spend beyond what we can afford, it’s the same as admitting that there’s shame and embarrassment of living within a budget. No one should make you feel bad about staying out of debt. Period. Living beyond your means in the here and now robs your future self.

Do you feel bad about being cheap when it’s all that you can afford? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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October Grocery Challenge

by Katy on October 3, 2014 · 61 comments

october grocery challenge

There are few budget categories that have as much wiggle room as food. Sure, you can turn off unused lights and use a clothesline to bring your electric bill down, but those measures only have the potential to save you tens of dollars. But put an effort into saving money on your food budget? That’s where you have the potential to save hundreds upon hundreds of dollars.

Although I do keep an eye on how much we’re spending on individual food items, I rarely take the time to look at how much we’re spending per month. (I’m so focused on the trees, that the damned forest takes over!) And since my family of four made an effort to not eat out last month, I took a few minutes to tally up how much we spent on food during the month of September.

$707.70

Crap. That’s a lot of money. Yes, I stocked up on sale Tillamook cheese ($4.99 per 2-lb loaf!) and I filled the freezer with 12 loaves of outlet Dave’s Killer Bread, but still, that’s so much more than I’d like to be spending.

This number includes one takeout meal from a Mexican restaurant, pizza before a soccer game and two forays into my hospital cafeteria. It also included any non-food items (like cat litter) purchased from a grocery store. However, I buy shampoo, conditioner and soap at The Dollar Tree and household detergents from Costco. And feminine hygiene products? I don’t buy them at all, since I have a Moon Cup. And single use items like paper towels or napkins? You already know I never buy those!

My husband and I went to the grocery store a whopping total of 36 times, although I usually walk to both Fred Meyer and New Seasons on a single trip, as they’re both just a few blocks from the house.

We can do better.

New month, new goals. I would like to stay under $450/month, but I’m a realist and know that life gets busy and I’m not the only person picking up groceries in my marriage. Then again, I also know what my husband needs to see when he opens the cupboards or refrigerator door in order to not head out for a $50 bag of Trader Joe’s goodies. (If we’re out of any staples, he will spend at least $30 – $50 on food that’s unrelated to any particular meal.)

On the other hand, I may be cheap with my money, but that doesn’t mean that I’m cheap with my food. I buy the quality brands I want, but I use coupons and stock up when it’s on sale. I take advantage of the monthly Safeway $10-off-$50 coupon to buy the stuff that never goes on sale and I know when brand loyalty makes no difference. I keep the kitchen stocked with fresh fruit, but it’s what’s in season/on sale. And when we buy meat, it’s almost entirely from New Season’s, which ain’t cheap. Also, we’re feeding two teenage boys!

Here’s what I plan on doing to bring our grocery budget down for the month of October:

  • I will meal plan to avoid last minute trips to the store.
  • I will shop nontraditional grocery stores to take advantage of available bargains. (The Grocery Outlet, ethnic markets, Costco, etc.)
  • I will continue to use paper coupons for the items I normally buy. (For example, I’ll use coupons for Tillamook sour cream, cereal, pasta, etc.)
  • I will cook from scratch whenever possible.
  • I will take advantage of Safeway’s Just For U digital coupons when putting my grocery lists together. (Coupons for eggs, milk, tea, etc.)
  • I will keep the cupboards and refrigerator organized in order to minimize unnecessary purchases and food waste.
  • I will keep a few made ahead frozen meals to combat busy nights when takeout sings its sweet siren song.
  • I will make sure I have a plan of what to bring for my work lunches. (My husband is better than me when it comes to making his lunch the night before work.)

Life is busy, and we’re feeding four adult-size mouths in this house, so I suppose I should cut myself some slack; but I know that being organized and deliberate will not only save us some significant cash, but will likely better our meals and decrease meal time stress.

Although I’m starting this challenge three days into the month, I think we’ll do alright. Just yesterday I shopped at The Grocery Outlet and took advantage of their crazy good prices. I was good about avoiding temptation, (no chips made it into my cart!) and even used a $3-off-$25 coupon from my Chinook Book.

Here’s what I bought:

  • Large bag of tortillas $2.99
  • 5-lb bag of potatoes 79¢
  • 2 tins of smoked oysters $1.98
  • 4 32-ounce cans of organic tomatoes $3.96
  • 1 large bag of assorted plums and apples 99¢
  • 1 bag of assorted bell peppers 99¢
  • 1 box of lovely Italian Pizelle anise cookies $1.99
  • 1 large bag of salami ends and pieces, which I’ll freeze to have on hand for homemade pizzas $4.49
  • Garlic salt 99¢
  • Garlic powder 99¢
  • 2 cans of pumpkin puree $1.98
  • 2 bags of dried black beans $2.18
  • 8 assorted cups of yogurt $3.66

Total $25.32

Today I’ll spend my $10-off-$50 Safeway coupon, which should A) fill our cupboards and B) keep us out of the grocery stores for awhile.

Although October includes two family birthdays and Halloween, I think we can stay within the set budget if I just make sure to stay on top of things. I put two huge pasta dishes into the freezer the other day, so that’s taken care of, and with all the stuff I stocked up on last month, we should be good.

Do you see your food budget spiraling out of control? Please share your thoughts and money saving tips in the comments section below. And if you want to follow along in whatever way seems right to you, then please add your two cents as well.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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