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:
- Spicy Turkey & Chipotle Pepper Soup
- Mushroom, Spinach & Gouda Quesadillas (though I’ll use Monterey Jack instead of gouda since that’s all I have on hand)
- My Favorite Grilled Steak Sandwiches
- Quinoa w/Mushrooms, Tomatoes & Scallions
- Deviled Egg Sandwiches
- Quinoa, Edamame & Sweet Pepper Lettuce Wraps
- And whatever else happens to strike my fancy when I’m in experimentin’ mode!
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!