Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The $25 Shopping Cart, version 12.0

Hey there... remember me?  ;)

I've been sans internet at home for over a week now and it's killing me, so I've been everywhere I can think of to find a place with wi-fi that isn't too far away and that my moody computer will deem acceptable.  Yesterday, many of you suggested I try the library, but the only one I knew of was still going to cost me a day pass for light rail, and right now $6 might as well be $600.  Even Starbucks seemed like a cheaper option.  As luck would have it though, I was on my way home from a short walk yesterday afternoon and took a different route, since the fall foliage was even more lovely one particular street than any other in my neighborhood.  As a result, I stumbled upon what I consider to be the greatest discovery of the year: a library in my neighborhood.

Okay, okay, so it's been here for over 70 years.  I feel a little dumb for not knowing that there was a library so close to me all this time, especially since I've lived in this part of Sacramento for about 5 years now.  But the important thing is that I found it, it has internet that my computer likes, and it's only 4 blocks from where I live.  All it needs is a kitchen for me to work in and it's pretty much nirvana.

ANYWAY...  that means I can post again!  Since we're already 10 days into the month, I won't bother with a What's In Store post so I can launch right into the good stuff: like my most recent $25 Shopping Cart excursion.  This is probably the last one I'll be able to do for awhile, since Poor Girl is still unemployed and waiting for her SNAP appointment to finally arrive, but I'm grateful that I was able to even do this small run thanks to some of your generous donations.  In order to make the most of the few bucks I had, not to mention that I hadn't yet done an official  $25 Shopping Cart from this particular store, I headed to the new Grocery Outlet in Midtown to stock up on some goods.

This branch of Grocery Outlet opened this summer and brought another much needed grocery store to the Midtown area.  Except for my Safeway on 19th & R and the Co-op, there really aren't many food store options for us Midtowners.  Located on 17th & Capitol, it's a great central spot for anyone to access.  Despite being a small store, they carry a wide variety of quality foods and other products, and even have an impressive wine & beer section.  Though it's still very new, I'm always impressed with the cleanliness of the store and the overall friendliness of the staff.  But my favorite part would definitely have to be the insanely low prices they offer.  You all know I love me some Trader Joe's because of their low prices, but Grocery Outlet is a whole other animal in that respect.  Observe...

  • 1 8 oz container baby portabella mushrooms - $1.49
  • 1 8 oz bag baby spinach - $1.99 (I can do better at TJ's, but this is still a good deal)
  • 2 red onions - $0.50/each
  • 2 yellow onions - $0.50/each
  • 2 white onions - $0.50/each
  • 2 bunches green onions - $0.50/each (yes, that's a lot of onions, but you can never have enough onions in the house!)
  • 1 package Canadian bacon - $1.99
  • 1 6 oz block havarti cheese - $0.50 (!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • 1 6 oz block Kerrygold Aged Cheddar Cheese - $1.23 (at this point, I pretty much fainted)
  • 2 large russet potatoes - $0.50/each
  • 1 butternut squash - $1.29
  • 1 bag split peas - $0.79
  • 1 Foster Farms "Picnic Pack" (8 drumsticks & 8 thighs) - $4.14
  • 1 12 oz bag brown rice pasta shells - $1.99
  • 1 package of napkins - $1.59

As if that wasn't enough, I was even able to cater a bit to the furbabies:

  • Meow Mix Wholesome Goodness wet food for my gravy lovin' StuKitty - 3/$1
  • 26 lbs Arm & Hammer litter - $7.99 (!!!!!!!!!!)

Total for everything, including the cat provisions: $31.42.  CRAZINESS!!!

That means that without the kitty stuff, I only spent about $22 on food for me.  And it's stuff I know I can stretch to make several different meals.  I had this idea in mind when I purchased that large flat of chicken legs & thighs, as I was actually leaning more towards the whole chickens they had available for just $0.99/lb.  However, I knew that it would be easier for me to bag the pieces separately before freezing them, giving me more room for variety rather than cooking the whole chicken.  I also had visions of warm, comforting split pea soup dancing in my head once I saw those split peas, and I'm sort of regretting not getting a few more bags.  With the few frozen veggies I have in the freezer and some more grains & beans in the cupboard, I should be set for a few weeks of interesting eating, thanks to Grocery Outlet's crazy cheap prices.

There's only one bad thing about G.O.: if you don't get an item right away, you're pretty much never going to see it again because of the close-out nature of the store.  So if you can afford it and you're absolutely in love with a certain product, try to get more than one (this is the only time I suggest doing this!).  Actually, I take that back.  The OTHER bad part about G.O. is that it is quite possible to become intoxicated by the super low prices, therefore causing one to be in danger of overfilling one's shopping cart and possibly overspend (I speak from experience).

Other than that, I find myself visiting this new Grocery Outlet a lot more than my standard go-to stores.  I can walk to it for free and the prices are definitely Poor Girl friendly.  So they don't carry Chevre with Honey or some of the other oddball things I consider to be so wonderful at Trader Joe's; their location, ever-changing inventory, and ridiculously low prices are swiftly making this the first grocery store I visit.  Even before TJ's (Shhh!  Don't tell them I said that!).


  1. Is there a CSA farm anywhere near you? Many will give you a week's box of produce for a few hours' help harvesting and boxing ...

  2. I'm so relieved you found a place for internet. I love reading your blog & was really feeling bad for you. Here's hoping that things look up soon!!

  3. In addition to the CSA idea, most of the food pantry organizations will also give you a box of food for helping pack food for others. You probably qualify for a free food box anyway, but since you have time to help you can help and feel you "earned" it instead of it being given to you as "charity". I always feel better about earning things this way, it helps me feel productive and like I'm working for my supper.

    Have you posted to your local craigslist in the services section, offering to be an in-home personal chef? I know a lady here in San Jose who goes to another home 1 day a week and cooks up several meals, one for that night, one to go in the fridge for the next night, a few more that go into the freezer for following nights. You would be AWESOME at this, and all the better because you can provide the service for a low (food) cost so it would cost much less than most personal chefs charge (who always buy the premium expensive ingredients).

  4. I'm really jealous, especially about the cheese. That's a steal!

  5. Hey, neighbor! I've found that the little Tea Shop on S Street right down from the co-op (the zen of Tea or some such name as that) has good free wi-fi and you can sit in the parking lot or outdoors and use it. Tea/Coffee in there is expensive of course. Also, don't forget Panera on J has free wi-fi and you can access it from the parking lot or on J street as well. Short range but still. I went to the new GOutlet store and it was a 'bad dirtbag' day with the usual motley crew of beggars and drunks outside. I will stick with Trader Joes, thanks!

  6. I work a couple blocks from Grocery Outlet. We were so excited they opened. Myself and my coworkers have been there plenty of times during our lunch hours to pick up there deals. I actually keep an insulated bag at work, in case I find a frozen item I have to take home on light rail. They have the organic tomato boxed soups like Trader Joes but for .99. That with frozen tortellinis tossed in and seasoned makes a great meal and cheap. Keep up the good work.

  7. I love G.O.!! I try and stop by often, because their specialty stuff, like the cheeses (triple cream Brie!!) go fast. I picked up a Lemon Zest Stilton last night from my G.O. in Red Bluff. Yes, it cost more than I'm used to, it was $11. But it is huge 1 pound, and it is soo good!!! For a family of four that works out to only $2.75 per person and a quarter pound of cheese each. Can't beat that.

  8. Hi,

    I have been a reader for some time, am while I can understand being unemployed, here are some things I did while I was and it made all the difference:

    1. Make sure your elderly in the neighborhood knows that you are available for light chores that they can't do any longer. One day in AZ is shoveled snow and made $100.00 in about 4 hours. Another time, I had a wonderful time once when I set up an elderly woman's Christmas tree and got paid and a meal out of the deal. She turned me on to someone's teacher son/daughter-n-law who need a house cleaner (once a week for $100.00 for the day)and the house was already spotless. Who knows? They might want YOU to cook for them, spurning a new column about elderly and nutrition....

    2. I again espouse doing a menu re-vamp for the holidays for Loaves and Fishes, WEAVE, or the Mustard Seed School and ask a camera crew/TV crew to tag along.

    3. Ask Dave Bender to put in a good word for you to do the company Christmas party

    4. I once went to help the senior food give away people to pack their boxes and they gave me two boxes for three hours of carting boxes to the cars of those who could not carry them. I even got a few tips for doing so.

    5. Go back to school. Seriously. if there is money there, go part time, get your FAFSA Grant (can be up to $3000.00 a semester) and work part time. Yeah, I hear it all the time from my two young ones but I would rather go back to school full time than do my job on some days.

    6. Write an article or two and start submitting them to magazines and publications. Who knows?

  9. Wow, I didn't even know there was one in Sacramento! I just checked out their circular online and will definitely be visiting them soon. Thanks for the heads up!

  10. Thanks for the post! The one reason that I've stayed away from Grocery Outlet is that I've seen dairy products (particularly cheese) for really low prices but also expired according to the expiration date. Maybe those dates aren't really that important, but it kind of turned me off, especially because it made me wonder how old the rest of their inventory is.

  11. I'd love to see a follow on to each of your $25 shopping trips that shows the $25.00 week menu you made.

  12. Your page is amazing. Don't stop posting please

  13. ...Every post... a wider smile on my little cheeks! She has cats too!
    Your honesty (and inventiveness) touches people...don't give up.

  14. Have you thought of marketing to elderly
    and/or ill people who would love to have
    someone come to their house and cook a
    week's worth of meals? I know of 2 patients who have that set-up and they
    love it.

  15. Creme Fraiche 99 cents!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Love GO! Elk Grove and West Sac

  16. So I thought of something that might help out with the furbabies. If there are any feed stores within a reasonable distance from your apartment, you can usually get 40-50lbs of the equivalent of Feline Pine (marketed for horses, but is the same) for less than $10. I do that for my kitties, and it's awesome because it lasts forever and is really good at covering kitty pee pee smell

  17. I damn near fainted at those cheese prices. Nice score on 'shrooms, too.

    I am brand new to your blog, but I just wanted to throw this out there: we use wood heating pellets for cat litter. They are identical to Feline Pine, just much, much cheaper. A 40# bag of wood heating pellets costs $3.50-$5.00 here, and lasts at least a month, longer in the summer when my two kitties venture into the yard. One of my cats is a male Maine Coon (rescue acquired, no breeder), so huge, thus we go thru more litter than a typical two cat family. This smells better, is healthier for cats (who seem to like it more, they never "miss" and go on the side of the box anymore), and is more environmentally sound in addition to being SOMUCHCHEAPER than clay litter or Feline Pine.

    Just an FYI.



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