Saturday, March 31, 2018

March Grocery Shopping - Week 4

March 31 Grocery Shopping

On Tuesday, when I went grocery shopping at two stores and stocked up, I didn't think I would go grocery shopping again, before the end of the month! 

But, one of the stores had advertised that their specials this week would include daughter's favorite brand of coffee on sale for $4.99/12 oz. package, if bought in multiples of two ($6.99 if bought singly; $9.99 regular price).  And, their strawberries were on sale for $1.25/1 lb.

So, since I had $20.50 leftover in the March grocery budget, I decided to buy some coffee for her and a container of strawberries for myself.  At first, I was going to buy only four packets of coffee, but then, I decided to splurge and get six, two of each flavor, and use $10 from my gifts/miscellaneous budget for the two additional packages.  The coffee has been put in the fridge until her next visit home.  

The coffee came to $29.94 and I spent a total of $31.19 for the six packages of coffee and container of strawberries.  

3/31 Receipt

The receipt tells me I spent $31.19 and I saved $32.74!  LOL!  I love it when the receipts tell me I "saved" $X, because I never look at it that way!  Simply because I most probably wouldn't have bought those items at full price!  I might have bought a single packet of coffee at full price if daughter was visiting this weekend, because we have come to the very end of the coffee I had bought for her, on an earlier sale.   She usually leaves two packages here and takes the rest back, with her; with any luck, I am able to buy more coffee on sale for her before her stock runs out!  She has tried buying other, less expensive brands of coffee, but doesn't like them as much.  So, she will pay full price for this particular brand of coffee, if she has to, which isn't that often, because I buy it on sale for her. 

So, in March, I have spent:

3/6 = $7
3/14 = $13.73
3/27 = $19.43 + $14.34 = $33.77

3/31 = $31.19 
Total = $85.69

March grocery budget = $75 + $10 from the gifts/miscellaneous budget = $85

I have gone over the budget by $.69, but I am not going to stress about that!  I will make up for it in April; my April grocery budget will be $75 - $.69 = $74.31.

While I was at the grocery store, I made a note of few of the prices.  This store is one of the major grocery stores here, part of a chain of supermarkets, not one of the no-frills/discount stores or an ethnic grocery store.  I shop at this store when they have good sales (like the coffee) and some other items like bread and milk, but not for a lot of my fresh produce.  If I shopped here for my produce, my grocery bills will be higher!

Grocery Item
Supermarket Grocery StoreNo Frills Grocery StoreEthnic Grocery StoreComments


 $.99 @

 3/$.99 = $.33@ (this week)


 I will buy from No Frills store

Apples (small); various types


 not advertised


Apples (large); various types



 $.49/lb (Golden Delicious)

 They always have one kind of large apples on sale, each week, but the variety changes from week to week; last week, it was Granny Smith apples on sale


 $.99 @






 n/a; usually $.69 or less

Green beans




Green bell pepper



 $.39/lb (last week)


 $.50 @


 3/$1 = $.34@

Broccoli Crowns 



 $.49/lb (last week)

Blackberries (6 oz)



 $.99 (last week)

 Strawberries (1 lb)



$2.99 (last week) 

I try to buy them at $.99/lb., but I will pay up to $1.50 if only for me; $2.99 only if I am buying for the almsgiving or rosary gathering. 

Obviously not an exhaustive list, but just to give an idea of prices and comparisons.  I could do a similar table for meat/fish, too, if anyone is interested.  Ham is on sale this week, with prices varying from $.99/lb.(full half ham, fully cooked, bone-in) to $1.49/lb. (spiral sliced, fully cooked; same brand as the $.99/lb ham.) to $2.49/lb. (spiral sliced, fully cooked, store brand) at the supermarket store.  The full half ham is $1.99/lb at the no frills store and the spiral sliced ham is $2.49/lb. (same brand of ham; the "no frills" store has the same parent company as the supermarket store).  Often, these special, seasonal items sell for more at the no frills store than at the supermarket!  One really has to study the prices; one can't assume that the no frills store will automatically be less expensive.

I am blessed that I have several stores in which to shop (there are more stores in my neighborhood, but these are the three stores I go to on a regular basis), a car, and I can drive myself to my grocery store of choice or all three if I wish to.  Not everyone has these options.  However, if I had to pick only one store because I have to rely on public transit, then, the no-frills store would be the most convenient (1 bus), although they didn't list a lot of specials in their sales ad this week; the other two stores would require taking two buses and transferring.  Doable, but not as convenient, especially on the weekends when the buses don't run as frequently.  

If I could only shop at the regular supermarket grocery store, then, I would buy what was on sale this week:  green beans and Brussels sprouts at $.99/lb. over the broccoli and asparagus at $1.99/lb., for example.  Apples at $.99/lb. (often 2-3 apples per lb) over a single mango for the same price.  And, I would have bought the strawberries (I had some after I came home and they were delicious!).

How did you do with your grocery shopping, this month?  Did you manage to stay within budget?  Did you go over?  Did you come under?

This is what happened when I tried to take the picture of my grocery shopping:

Coffee, Strawberries, and a Photo-bombing Dancer! 
I had to distract him with a broccoli leaf so I could take the other picture, at the top of this post!

Making a Start on Friday

Traffic was delightfully light when I drove myself to the office, on Friday morning - I guess a lot of people either had a holiday (some offices closed for Cesar Chavez Day today instead of last Monday), or took the day off to observe Good Friday/Passover.  My morning commute only took half the normal time!  The evening commute home, however, was the total opposite!  Bumper to bumper traffic, partly because there was a baseball game this evening and I drive past the stadium on my way to and from work!

I had a fairly productive day at the office.  I went through another old planner (from 2014) and tossed it.  I decided to keep the newer planners for now and brought them home.  I might go through them, later, and decide to toss them.

Today, I made some inquiries about obtaining a monthly transit pass.  This is in case I decide to take the subway to downtown (and then, the bus from there to the office).  The regular pass is $100/month, but I qualify for a senior pass because I am over 62; the senior pass is only $20.  I have to submit an application with a photo (the transit center where I made the inquiries said they can take the photo; the senior pass has to have a photo for identification purposes).  But, it will take 4-6 weeks for them to issue the card and mail it to me!  So, I'd still have to get a regular transit pass in the meantime.  I didn't apply yet, because I wasn't sure if I will ride the subway to work or not, but I took an application.  At least I made a start on that!  

I also made a start on the retirement plans!  I registered to attend a retirement seminar!  The seminar will provide information about the process, available benefits, and so forth,  So, that's something I will be doing in the next few weeks.   There are several forms to be downloaded and filled out, too, and submitted with copies of various documents, but I don't need to do that until after I attend the retirement seminar and get more information.  Just registering for the seminar seemed like a big step, to me!  Suddenly, it seemed more real!  I need to make a list of questions I have, so that I remember to ask them if they are not covered in the seminar.

After I came home and had my tea, I spent the evening playing sudoku online, reading some blogs and commenting on them, and watching news programs.  I also exchanged emails with a friend and video chatted with daughter, who had the Cesar Chavez Day holiday today.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Safe commutes to the office and back
- Making a start on retirement planning
- Being able to find out about obtaining a transit pass
- A sunny, warm day
- Friend M was able to fix the broken sprinkler head

How was your Friday?  

Friday, March 30, 2018

Thursday's Accomplishments

Today, I went to the office and had a fairly productive work day.  Two of the three overhead bins have been emptied and the remaining binders and manuals will probably fit into one box, perhaps two.  I have a few more files to sort through, but I can do that, tomorrow; the rest of the 4-drawer file cabinet has been emptied. 

During my lunch break, I paid my property tax bill and went for a walk.  Today's walk was along one of the routes I had already posted about, so I didn't take any new pictures.

I stopped at the pharmacy on my way home from work to pick up two medication refills that were ready.  I inquired about a third (one that I had called in) but it required reauthorization from the doctor and they said they hadn't heard from the doctor, yet.  I might call the doctor's office, tomorrow, to ask about it. 

It was 7:00 p.m. when I got home and I was tired.  I had a cup of tea and a ham sandwich (lunch had been rice, fish curry, cabbage and lentils with an orange for dessert; I had some almond-flavored cookies as a snack) and rested a bit.  Later, I cooked the chicken drumsticks - half was made into a curry and the other half sauted with onions and some spices.  Then, video chatted with daughter for a bit and wrote an email to a friend.  It was already 11:30 p.m. when I said goodnight to daughter.  It is 12:30 a.m. now.  Where did my evening go?

Today, I am grateful for:
- A safe commute to the office and back
- A productive day at the office
- Minimal drama at the pharmacy
- A nice cup of tea
- Being able to pay the property taxes

How was your day, today?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Paperwork on Wednesday

Today, I went to the office.  We had yet another staff meeting where we discussed the up-coming move to the new building.  I am not looking forward to this move because it means I need to find new parking as I will no longer have parking in the building (I will have to hand in my current parking permit and request to be put on a waiting list for parking at the new building).  Or, I shall have to find another way to commute to work.  I could take the subway, but that means driving to the subway station where I might or might not find parking (or taking the bus to the subway station), taking the subway to downtown, then, taking another bus from the downtown subway station to the new office building.  It is doable, of course, and I have commuted by bus to downtown, before, but it's not as convenient.  Nevertheless, I am grateful to have a job to commute to.  

I spent the evening doing some much needed paperwork.  I have a bad habit of procrastinating on paperwork and just letting it all pile up!  I went through and sorted the stack of paper that had piled up on the table in the family room.  I was actually looking for my property tax bill, since the 2nd installment is now due, and I seem to have misplaced it!  Eventually,  I found it - inside a file folder, along with several other file folders of documents that needed to be filed!  I will pay it, tomorrow, after I take a photocopy of the payment.  Of course, if I didn't find the paper bill, I would have paid it online, so the payment would have been made, anyway.

I also gathered most of the income tax documents I needed to file my taxes.  There are one or two other items I need to pull out from my files to add to them (including a copy of the property taxes I will be paying tomorrow) and they will be ready to be taken to the tax accountant, maybe Friday evening or Saturday.

Then, I filed the rest of the stack of papers.  

After which, I felt too drained to cook the chicken I had bought, yesterday.  Instead, I cooked some rice and had that with leftover from what I cooked on Sunday, for dinner.  I will cook the chicken, tomorrow.  After dinner, I video chatted with my daughter.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Getting my paperwork sorted and organized
- A sunny, warm day
- A safe commute to work and back
- Having a job to commute to
- A pleasant walk in the afternoon sunshine

How was your Wednesday?  Do you procrastinate on paperwork, such as filing?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Productive Tuesday/March Grocery Shopping Week 3

I stayed up late, last night.  It was 2:30 a.m. when I went to bed.  I was ambitious and set the alarm for 8:00 a.m.!  But, when it went off at 8:00 a.m., I turned it off and slept again.  I was dreaming that I was being shown the preserved body of Moses (somehow, I knew it was Moses; I have no idea why I was dreaming of Moses!), when the telephone rang.  It was just a few minutes after 8:00 a.m., and it was my cousin P.  I thought she was calling to tell me that something had happened, a medical emergency or a death in the family.  But, no, she was calling to ask me if I had a fax machine.  No, I don't.  I have a printer which can make photocopies (and scan, according to daughter - it is her printer, actually, and I rarely use it), but that is all.  Cousin asked if I had been sleeping and I said yes; she apologized for waking me up and told me to go back to sleep.  I guess she forgot that I told her I wasn't going to work, today.  Anyway, I didn't want to fall asleep again, so I woke up and had a cup of tea.

I checked my emails and replied to blog comments.  Then, I decided I will at least get started on some of the paperwork:

- I had received a bill in yesterday's mail from one of my medical providers - it was for a copay for an office visit in December 2017, when I had met my deductible for copays for the year and wasn't required to pay a copay.  I had received a letter stating so from my insurance company, and, although the letter said they had sent notifications to my health care providers, I had also taken it upon myself to make photocopies and hand one to each doctor/clinic I went to during the rest of the year.  I know I gave a copy of the letter to the front office of this particular doctor, but, apparently, it never got to the billing office.  So, this morning, I called their billing office and they claimed they didn't have a copy of the notification.  Then, I called the insurance and gave them the information and they said they will contact the medical provider's billing office and take care of it.

- Then, I paid the gas bill ($214.53) and the municipal services bill (water/electricity/sewer/trash collection services; $197.37).

- I realized my checkbook cover (yes, I still write checks) was a bit grubby, so I took it off and washed it. 

Checkbook Cover
I made it with some scrap fabric that I had - it is fully lined and it has two pockets inside:

Checkbook Cover - Inside

I keep the checkbook in one pocket, inserted so that the check leaves face up and the check register in the other pocket.  The elastic loop in the middle holds a pen in place and I keep a book of stamps in the same pocket as the checkbook - that way, anytime I want to pay a bill, I have everything I need on hand (yes, I know, one can pay bills online, but I like to support the post office).  When closed, the other elastic loop goes around the button to keep the whole thing closed.

- I did a little bit of filing, including the receipt from the water pressure regulator replacement, yesterday.

The small pile of mail from yesterday, that was on the coffee table has been dealt with.  The slightly larger pile of mail on the dining table (from last week) has also been dealt with.  This is progress for me.  There are more piles of paper (mostly filing), to be dealt with, in the family room; I have started on that, as well, but not finished.

I called the pharmacy to request a refill - they need to request reauthorization from the doctor for it, but I spoke to one of the pharmacy workers whom I know by name, now, and she is one of the more reliable ones, so, hopefully, I'll get my medication filled without a lot of drama!  Fingers crossed on that one!

Then, I put away the dishes that were drying from yesterday, cleaned that side of the sink (I have a double sink, but I keep the dish drainer in one side, so that side of the sink gets cleaned only when the dish drainer has been emptied, completely).  Then, I washed a few more dishes from last night and this morning.

I am looking at the clock as I type this and it is 1:00 p.m.  I still haven't gone grocery shopping!  But first, I need to eat something for brunch! 

It is now, 9:30 p.m.

After I wrote the above, I responded to a few more blog comments and then, had brunch - the last tortilla (from the packet bought on 2/19) with some fish curry.  Then, I cleaned the bathroom.  Finally, around 3:00 p.m., I went grocery shopping!  I went to two stores and bought everything I wanted:

3/27 Groceries
I went to two stores.   Bought most of the items shown in the picture from the first store.  Bought the milk, butter, mangos, and bread from the second store.  Butter was on sale for $2.59/lb., which seems to be the new stock up price for us!  There was a limit of 4 packages, so I bought four.  However, the store ads that came out, today, show that it will be on sale for this same price, next week, too.  I might or might not buy two more packages.

Store 1: 
2 lbs.+ chicken drumsticks (6 drumsticks) @$.69/lb = $1.78
1 lb. package ham cold cuts = $1.99
2 cans mackerel (15 oz. cans) @$1.49 = $2.98 (I had used up the cans I had on hand)
6 cans coconut water, @$.79 = $4.74 + $.30 deposit (a treat)
1 bottle soy sauce (500 ml) = $1.99 (was out of soy sauce)
2 lbs.+ apples (4 apples) @$.49/lb
2 containers (6 oz. each) blackberries @$.99 = $1.98
1lb.+ red potatoes @3lb/$1 = $.39
1 green bell pepper @$.39/lb = $.16 (the red, yellow, and orange bell peppers were $.99/lb)
1 cucumber = $.34
Carrots @$.39/lb = $.30
Green beans @$.99/lb = $.42
Broccoli @$.49/lb = $.19
Red lentils @$1.29/lb = $.81
Total = $19.43

Store 1 Receipt
Store 2:
1 loaf white sandwich bread = $1.00
3 mangoes @3/$.99 = $.99
1/2 gal. milk = $1.99
4 lbs. butter, @$2.59 = $10.36
Total = $14.34

Store 2 Receipt

For the most part, what I bought today were this week's specials (the milk and soy sauce were regular priced).  That is how I shop - I buy what is on sale and plan my meals around what I've bought.  According to the grocery ads that came out today, with next week's specials, papaya will be on sale for $.49/lb, so I didn't buy any for $.79/lb. this week.  I needed eggs, but they weren't on sale; I still have one egg, so I will wait to see if eggs go on sale after Easter!

So far, in March, I have spent:
3/6 = $7
3/14 = $13.73
3/27 = $19.43 = $14.34 = $33.77
Total = $54.50
Amount left in March grocery budget = $75 - $54.50 = $20.50

I doubt very much if I will go grocery shopping between now and the end of the month.  Most probably, I will carry that $20.50 to April.

In between shopping at the two stores, I put gas to the car ($3.34/gal; I spent $27.00)

I met friend A and her husband at the first grocery store - they were doing their weekly shopping, as well! 

After I came home and took the pictures of the groceries and put them away, I made myself a ham sandwich and had it with a cup of coffee.  Later, I ate one of the mangoes.

I will cook the chicken, tomorrow.  I asked the butcher to cut each drumstick in half for me - it cooks faster, that way, and absorbs more of the spices.  I'm not sure if I will make a curry with all of it and freeze some or if I will make something else.

I feel I should have done more paperwork in the evening, but I didn't.  Instead, I exchanged emails with a friend, wished my niece's son for his birthday, sent an email to my sister-in-law, and spoke on the phone with cousin N who called to check on me.  Later, I video chatted with my daughter.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Cousin's call in the morning wasn't about any emergency or bad news
- I was able to wake up early (for me) and get a few things done
- Insurance will probably take care of the medical billing
- I had a successful grocery shopping trip
- Keeping in touch with family and friends

Plans for tomorrow include going to the office!

How was your Tuesday?  Did you have a good day?