$25 Shopping Cart v. 16.0 (Safeway + Just 4 U program)

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For this sixteenth edition of the $25 Shopping Cart, I had planned to go to Smart & Final.  While it’s really meant for restaurants & other businesses, this smaller warehouse-type store actually has some pretty decent deals on everyday items that aren’t sold in Costco sized packaging (a huge plus for those of us living in postage stamp-sized apartments).  But then I got my latest email from the Just4U program at Safeway, and it was so packed with great deals & coupons that I had to push back the Smart & Final trip for another time.

I realize that Safeway is not a chain found in every city or state, but it’s big enough that most people have heard of it.  I’ve shopped there for years, preferring it over other large chains because of their selection & prices.  I’ve been a huge fan of their Club Card specials since they started that whole thing about ten years ago, but last year they launched an even better savings program called Just 4 U, and it is phenomenal!*

Part personal shopper, part coupon service, the Just 4 U program is an extension of their regular Club Card membership that offers personalized deals on items you buy most, in addition to regular specials.  While some of the coupons don’t really apply to me because they’re designed for larger households or only offer discounts for heavily processed foods, I absolutely love the personalized deals section.  Not only are the deals amazing, but many of the special prices can be used over & over again, as opposed to the one-time use of most coupons.

Anyway, this time around they not only tempted me with things like affordable milk and eggs, they offered up a special coupon for $3 off one’s entire order.  When you’re working with a $25 budget, those $3 go a long way, so that was definitely tempting.  The only catch?  You have to buy produce.  Um, OKAY!!!  (Like that’s hard for me to do, lol.)

So, with my coupons loaded onto my club card, my Safeway shopping list emailed to my phone, and my running inventory of what I already had at home (one of the keys to having a successful $25 Shopping Cart), I walked the 10 blocks & started shopping.  Here’s what I got this time around:

  • 1 quart of skim milk – $1.25 (on sale)
  • 1.5 dozen eggs – $2.49 (on sale)
  • 1 head butter lettuce – $1.99
  • 1.4 lbs hot house tomatoes – $2.79 (on sale at $1.99/lb)
  • 8 oz. carton of mushrooms – $2.00 (on sale at 2 for $4.00)
  • 1 loaf Safeway Kitchens nut & oat bread – $2.50 (on sale at 2 for $5)
  • 2 bags frozen mixed vegetables (Asian blend & Santa Fe blend) – $5 (on sale)
  • 0.76 lb sirloin steak – $3.18 (on sale)
  • 2.91 lbs turkey necks – $3.70 (on sale)
  • 1 package whole wheat pizza dough – $0.99 (!!!  It was also on sale at 30% off)
  • 1 lb sweet cream butter – $2.49 (on sale)
  • 1 16 oz bag of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips – $0.99 (on clearance at 50% off!)

Grand total for the trip with all my coupons & specials applied: $26.37!  Woo hoo, just a buck & some change over what I’d projected!  Thank goodness for those extra deals because I sure couldn’t have done this without them.

While it’s not the awesome score of random products that I’m used to picking up at other stores, it’s still a pretty impressive spread.  Because I knew I was well stocked on things like pasta, rice & other grains, I made sure to buy things to augment those bare bones staples.  The steak & veggies will help make several one-dish meals when combined with the aforementioned staples, and I’ve decided there’s no such thing as having too much pizza dough on hand (seriously, that was my favorite score of the day!).

Also, I realize some of you may be scratching your heads (or saying “Ew!”) at the idea of turkey necks, but believe me when I tell you that those things make the best turkey broth in town!   The bones give it a really rich flavor, and once the broth is made, you can freeze it to use in later recipes.  The meat can then later be used in things like my Spicy Turkey & Chipotle Pepper Soup, Turkey Shepherd’s Pie, etc.

Speaking of what I can make with the ingredients I purchased on this trip (combined with my bare bones staples & other ingredients already in my kitchen), here’s some of what I plan to put on my menu these next couple of weeks:

With most of those meals making at least 2 servings apiece, eating well for the next couple weeks is going to be pretty easy.  Remember, when you go on your own $25 Shopping Cart (or $50 or $75, depending on how large your family is), think in terms of whole ingredients that you can combine with other basic staples so that you can stretch your meals as far as possible.  As long as you don’t fall into the pre-packaged dinners-for-two trap, you’ll have great success in making every one of your food dollars count, no matter what store you shop.

Thanks for checking out this edition of the $25 Shopping Cart!   Next stop: Smart & Final.  Or the Sac Natural Foods Co-op.  Or……  :)

Where would you like to see Poor Girl go on her next $25 Shopping Cart trip?  Share your ideas in the comments below!

* I am not paid or compensated in any way by Safeway to talk about the Just 4 U program.  I just happen to be a big fan of the savings it’s brought me and wanted to share it with folks who may not be aware of the deals they’re missing. :)

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singer. writer. artist. champagne taste, 2 buck chuck budget. good cook. kooky. chocoholic. patron saint of cats. talker. listener. thinker. sometimes to a fault.

10 Responses to "$25 Shopping Cart v. 16.0 (Safeway + Just 4 U program)"

  1. Angelia says:

    I love cash and carry which is are smart N finale. I love the containers and the bulk frozen veggies. You can’t beat the stir fry mix in the frozen Isle. I haven’t used turkey necks before, but I will have to try them for the broth. I recently saw a posting on the Hillbilly housewife web site on vegetable broths she makes as a replacement for chicken broth.I loved the results, just add a table spoon of olive oil to the veggie broth and it tastes like chicken in recipes. She made the veggie broth with radishes, carrots, celery, onions..ect. and I found it very good and extremely affordable. Thanks for the posts!!

  2. Jan says:

    I love the Safeway savings plan. I use it often. Thanks so much for clarifying the turkey neck purchase. Good to know. I’d love to see you take on a Costco challenge, though you’d have to probably double your budget. I LOVE YOUR BLOG.

  3. Poor Dad says:

    Hi Kim!

    I’d like to see your take on what you can achieve when couponing isn’t an option; what you’re able to shop for without discounts or sales. How would you augment your shopping cart to make your dollar stretch the same distance? What items would you buy? What items would you forego in place of others? Call it the “No Sale Challenge”!

    Love your site, love the concept. Keep up the great work, and eat well :)

    - PD

  4. Becky Tanner says:

    I love this blog! So many wonderful foodie things you create, Kimberly! I love barley & tofu! Anything new to make with those, either together or separately? Thanks for sharing your brilliance with us all ~~ becky

  5. Carlyn says:

    I would like to see you shop at Trader Joe’s. My family likes organic products.

  6. Steph says:

    Finally found your blog today, and I love it! I’m a fan of Safeway’s personalized discounts too.
    Have you considered doing a $25 challenge at Denio’s? I shop there for “clean 15″ produce, and sometimes I find “dirty dozen” organic items there too (but mostly I go to the Auburn farmer’s market for local organic produce).. I get all my spices there as well, from a lady who sells just about every spice and herb (culinary and medicinal) in bulk. I especially like the smoked sea salts – cheap from her shop and a little flavor goes a loooong way. Great way to enrich the flavor of vegetarian dishes.

  7. Pluto_Child says:

    I’m new to your site and super excited to see someone so close to home (I live over in Lake County and you’re in Sac, not the Bay like I’m used to seeing when it comes to food blogs). You shop at my favorite stores too! Farmer’s markets, TJ’s, Grocery Outlet, and your local overpriced Co-Op (it’s all about the bulk and spices!!).

    The one store I’d love to see you hit up sometime in Sacramento is 99 Ranch. I know it’s a bit out of the way for you so it’d have to be a special occasion but I think it’d be worth the trip. This was my favorite place to shop when I lived down in the San Diego area. I couldn’t find any other store that could come close to their produce prices. I could come out with two heavy bags stuffed with produce and meat for less than $30 on a very regular basis even when I splurged on an exotic fruit or meat product.

  8. Janai says:

    We finally got the Just4U program up here in the Pacific NW! I was so excited to sign up and see how much I could save and created my own “$25 Shopping Cart” challenge. Here is what I was able to get for $23.52!!!

    - 1 dozen eggs – free (for signing up!)
    - 1/2 gallon Lucerne milk, $0.99
    - assorted bell peppers, 4 @ $0.88 each
    - Hass avocados, 4 @ just $0.88 each!!
    - 1.19 lbs tomatoes on the vine, $1.77
    - 1.86 lbs (4) zucchini, $1.82
    - .40 lbs jalapeno peppers (5), $0.36 (seriously!?)
    - 1 large bunch cilantro, $0.99
    - 1 large punch parsley, $0.99
    - 1 lb. peeled baby carrots, $0.79
    - 1 whole pineapple, $2.49!!! (I feel I really scored on this one!)
    - 1.70 lbs boneless thin cut steak, $7.19 (maybe not the greatest deal on this, but it’s cut thin for carne asada)
    - 1 package of Mission Artisan tortillas, $1.99

    I also got a coupon for an additional $3.00 off the produce for spending $10 or more on produce!

    I have several recipes in mind that I can use all these items for items for breakfast, lunch and dinner and these items will feed me well through the week and then some.

    Thanks for giving me the inspiration and the realization to know that you really CAN eat well on a minuscule budget!

  9. Twig says:

    My parents are ridiculous and almost never buy food. Your website has seriously helped me survive. Thank you so much!

  10. Stephanie says:

    Quinoa is so expensive! Have you found a good place to get it for a reasonable price? I love it, but cannot justify the cost.
    Thanks for your blog. I just found it and will check it out often!
    God Bless with you and your Mom’s issues!


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