Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The $25 Shopping Cart, version 11.0

Two $25 Shopping Carts in one month???

That's right, folks! Since there will be two birthdays this month - mine and PGEW.com's - my gift to you is a double dose of The $25 Shopping Cart this month. And it's all thanks to an unexpected trip to WinCo after my farmer's market run last week.

I didn't intend to go to WinCo at all, especially not after already having spent $25 at ye olde farmer's market. Not because I don't like shopping or anything; one of my favorite sports IS shopping, so I will always go if I can afford to do so. But after having bought so much awesome produce, I didn't think it was necessary to get anything else. Part of why my $25 Shopping Carts are so successful has to do with the fact that I pay very close attention to what I have at home before I go shopping so that I build around what I already have and avoid duplicates in the kitchen.


Funny thing about food is that you end up eating it and it never restocks itself on its own (kinda like how money doesn't just grow on trees... I've always hated that). I generally keep a tally of what bare bones staples are running low and pick them up along the way on bigger shopping trips so I can always have something on hand, but this time around I was running low on a lot of stuff. So when my pal, Catherine, mentioned she'd be heading to WinCo (a large discount grocery store chain in the western US) to pick up a few things from their bulk section, I figured it was a good time to tag along and get some bare bones staples for my bare cupboards. Here's what I got:
  • 0.77 lb spiral pasta - $0.59
  • 0.60 lb fusilli pasta - $0.47
  • 2 Ghiradelli white chocolate bar - $2.29
  • 1.69 lbs navy beans - $1.25
  • 0.62 lb melty vanilla chocolate pastilles - $1.41
  • 1.40 lb black beans - $1.19
  • 0.15 lb curry powder - $0.40
  • 0.24 lb sliced almonds - $0.80
  • 0.97 lb brown sugar - $0.63
  • 0.87 lb brown rice - $0.46
  • 1..11 lbs red kidney beans - $0.87
  • 0.43 lb Grated parmesan cheese - $1.62
  • 0.92 lb orzo - $0.69
  • 0.49 lb raisins - $0.73
  • 0.47 lb dried cranberries - $1.77
  • 1 lb bag frozen peas - $0.88
  • 1 lb bag frozen broccoli - $1.19
  • 1/2 gallon nonfat milk - $1.19
  • 32 oz. container Greek yogurt - $2.59
  • 2 cuts petite sirloin steak - $3.50
Minus some cat food ($0.39/can! StuKitty & Hana scored!) and some cleaning supplies, I spent a mere $24.58 on a veritable cornucopia of Bare Bones staples! Ahhh, happiness! I even scored some materials for a couple of baking projects I've been working on.

Now, it may not look like an exciting lot of goods to most folks, but what I see is a ton of possibilities. With a variety of grains and legumes in my pantry combined with all the great produce I scored at the farmer's market, I have the bases for things like:
The sky's really the limit when you're stocked with whole ingredients that you can stretch out by making healthy, tasty and sometimes even inventive combos. With just about $50, I was able to buy enough food to feed myself - and the occasional guest - for a good two-and-a-half to three weeks. Anything I don't use produce-wise I can always freeze for use in future recipes. Had I gone the frozen dinner or pre-packaged meal "kit" route, my $50 would have been used up on maybe 1 week's worth of food. Sure, those things may be tasty & convenient but when it comes to value, you're not getting much at all. It takes a little effort, but when times are truly tough and money's super tight, it's best to give up a little bit of time & work in the kitchen to save yourself a lot of money.


  1. I LOVE Winco, it's the only place I shop. Occassionaly I'll hit fred meyers/kroger or the local hispanic grocery store but Winco is my love becuase I can get soo much on my tight budget.

    fyi i must tell you I've been disappointment since you changed your website. I barely get to read it because it makes my computer go crazy slow or just shuts it self down. i wonder if anyone else had this issue?

  2. I too have beening having a problem with your blog, either my computer slows way down or I have to shut it off and restart it.
    Love your blog and ideas though.

  3. I'm a financial planner and fellow money saver- I have been following your blog for a long time now and really love your $25 shopping cart series. I was finally gutsy enough to try it out myself: http://su.pr/1eMGzj. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. LOVE this list and your whole blog. I recently did a couple posts about the frugal shopping I do for my family - a lot of responses seemed to indicate people felt my prices were unrealistic or exaggeratedly low. I too shop at Winco and it's validating to see someone else's shopping list and see the amounts they spend! Thank you for posting!

  5. Thanks for posting the recipe suggestions along with the shopping list! It's super helpful.

  6. I love your recipes, and your $25 shopping cart series! I must say this post is my favorite because of the list of recipes you can create out of it. I've only recently learned how to cook, and its been such a struggle learning how to shop so that I can make things that are cheap and also healthy, its truly a challenge, as I'm sure you are aware. This post has been the most helpful because on your past posts I've been afraid to buy exactly the same thigns because of how unsure I am about cooking, I'm not quite to the point where I can successfully put things together randomly to make them taste awesome. BUT TONIGHT, I'm going to go out and buy all these things and try out all the recipes throughout the week, SUPER AMAZINGGGG....

  7. I just took a trip to the new Grocery Outlet at 17th & Capital and immediately thought of PGEW and was wondering if there's a new $25 shopping cart trip in the works?? I think I have just found my new "everyday" grocery store. I shopped for a weeks worth of groceries for a family of 4 and also bought a couple extra items (TP and cat food) and still walked out only spending $56!!

  8. My sister is always talking about how much she loves WinCo and now I can see why! I wish we had them on the east coast!



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