The $25 Shopping Cart, version 15.0

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This week, something wonderful happened: I had my very first feature story published in The Sacramento Bee.  Not something from my blog, not a story about me – a real, honest-to-goodness article written by me!  It may not seem like a big deal to some folks, but for someone who’s dreamed of being a writer all her life, it’s quite a milestone to finally get published.
The $25 Shopping Cart, version 15.0
The article I wrote was on a gal who was recently featured on TLC’s Extreme Couponing show.  She’s actually from Elk Grove, a suburb located south of Sacramento, so I was able to meet with her for a quick shopping trip a few weeks ago.  We decided to go to a Bel-Air in Elk Grove, which worked out perfectly because I’d already planned to do my next $25 Shopping Cart at one of their stores.  I figured I’d wait to see what I could learn from my shopper before I went shopping myself, and that was the right choice to make.
The $25 Shopping Cart, version 15.0

Raley’s & Bel Air stores are beautiful and filled with all sorts of products, but their prices have always seemed a little high to me the few times I’ve been in one.  I’m used to Trader Joe’s, Grocery Outlet, and heavily discounted Safeway items, so to see some of the higher prices was definitely a shock.  But with the new couponing secrets I learned from Kelly, I felt confident I would leave the store quickly with a nice cart of food items that would last me the next 2 weeks.  Here’s the loot I scored:

  • 1 4.3 lb flat of chicken thighs (on sale at $0.99/lb) – $4.23
  • 1 large acorn squash (on sale at $0.69/lb) – $1.10
  • 4 bananas – $1.25 $0.25 ($1 off with manufacturer’s coupon from Dole)
  • 1 head of butter lettuce – $1.49
  • 4 French Butter pears (on sale at $0.99/lb) – $1.30
  • 1 16 oz. package of thick-cut bacon – $3.99 (with a special weekend store coupon)
  • 1 8 oz block medium cheddar cheese – $2.50
  • 1 dozen large eggs – $1.98 $0.00 (free with special weekend coupon, after spending $20)
  • 1 16 oz. bag frozen sweet yellow corn – $1.50 (on sale @ 2/$3)
  • 1 16 oz. bag frozen peas & carrots – $1.50 (see above)
  • 1 lb sweet cream butter – $3.38 
  • 0.37 lb Israeli/Pearl couscous – $1.11
  • 0.71 lb orzo – $2.48

Grand total, including store coupons & manufacturer coupons: $24.78!

As nice as my little cart of groceries ended up being, I have to admit this was the most nerve-wracking $25 Shopping Cart experience ever.  Even Whole Foods didn’t cause such panic!  I was seriously stumped at one point because I couldn’t find anything that I wanted that I felt was reasonably priced, and the things that were somewhat reasonable were things I don’t normally use.

Still, I persevered; Poor Girl would not be stumped!  I just had to wind slowly through every aisle to scan prices & selection before committing to certain items.  Kind of like what I do when I’m at the farmer’s market – I do my rounds, then I buy from the stands with the best selection at the lowest prices.  I made good use of their group of store brand items at low everyday prices called “Raley’s Dailies”, found the best items in their bulk section, and, of course, I used some coupons.

So what can I make with my loot?

  • Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • Bacon & Cheese Frittata
  • Chicken & Orzo Soup
  • Pear Salad
  • And plenty of other soup, salad and sandwich recipes when I add the fruits of this harvest to the bare bones staples I already had at home.

So while Raley’s may not be the closest grocery store to me, nor the one with the most affordable prices in town, it’s still possible to get some great deals – if you know what to look for & take advantage of their valuable coupons.

That’s it for this edition of The $25 Shopping Cart!  Any ideas for the next trip?  If you’re local to Sacramento and know of a store I haven’t tried (check out the full list here), then leave a comment below and I’ll add it to my list.  New recipes coming later this weekend, so stay tuned!  🙂

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