Grocery shopping - January 2012 (H Mart & Costco)

Groceries from H Mart
Groceries from H Mart

A friend took me shopping this week and we stopped at H Mart, an Asian grocery store. I got the last few things needed to make egg rolls and sushi. :)

Spring roll wrappers $1.99
Spring roll wrappers $1.29
Dried mung beans (to sprout) $3.99/lb.
Fresh ginger $0.18
Red cabbage $1.83
Rice vinegar $2.49
Green onions $0.39
Baby bok choy $0.57
Rice vermicelli $1.29

Total at H Mart $14.02

Then last night, we went to Costco. It had been 3 1/2 weeks since our last Costco trip, with just one QFC trip in-between to get eggs and oranges.

My fridge was getting pretty empty:

Fridge before shopping

The freezers still had frozen fish, chicken, veggies, fruits, and butter. :) AND 3 pounds of ground beef that I found when I organized everything! :)

Now, about Costco. I spent over $400! Before we went, I planned out my freezer cooking plan for this month. I realized that I was going to need extra eggs, milk, cheese, meat, and veggies if I was going to put a bunch of dinners in the freezer (hopefully a couple months' worth) AND still feed everyone for the next ~2.5 weeks until our next shopping trip.

I've tried stretching shopping trips or "eating from the pantry" without planning for it (i.e. BUYING FOOD!) and it was a disaster. I mean, we do need to eat. ;) The only reason we can wait 2 weeks (or longer) between shopping trips is because I buy EXTRA milk, extra veggies, extra fruits.

Shopping less frequently saves time, cuts the urge to impulse-spend, and helps me make sure I use up my whole 10-pound bag of carrots from Costco... but we don't actually eat less food. ;)

Fresh produce from Costco

Fresh produce:

Organic carrots (10#) $5.99
Celery (3pk.) $2.99 (x2)
Broccoli (3#) $4.29 (x2)
Brussels Sprouts (2#) $4.79
Grape tomatoes (2#) $5.99 -- item requested by Eliyahu for his b-day meal :)
Mini cucumbers (2#) $4.59 -- same as above :)
Bananas (3#) $1.39
Mini peppers (2#) $3.99
Anjou pears (6#) $3.99
Spinach (3#) $4.59
Clementines (5#) $5.99 -- another of Eliyahu's requests :)

Meat and dairy from Costco

Meat and dairy:

Milk ($2.53/gal.) $25.30 -- I froze 2 gallons of this
Sour cream (3#) $3.89
Ground beef ($2.99/lb.) $19.08
Ground turkey ($2.29/lb.) $15.02
Shredded mozzarella cheese (5#) $11.99 (x2)
Turkey breast lunch meat (2#) $6.14 (x2) -- new item we're trying :)
Heavy whipping cream (1/2 gal.) $6.99
Shredded cheddar jack cheese (5#) $12.45 (x2)
Sliced American cheese (5#) $10.99

Other food

Eggs (5doz.) $7.89 (x3)
Burrito-size tortillas (40 ct.) $5.59 -- for freezer burritos
Corn tortillas (100 ct.) $3.32 -- for enchiladas (for the freezer)
Pasta (6#) $7.89

Frozen food

Frozen food:

Organic corn (5#) $5.59 (x2) -- this corn is the best!! :)
Organic peas (5#) $5.89 (x2)
Organic green beans (5#) $5.99 (x2)
Strawberries (6#) $8.99
Blueberries (5#) $13.99
Sweet potato fries (4#) $4.49 (x3) -- trying these w/the coupon this month!

Pantry staples

Pantry items:

Prego sauce (134oz.) $5.64 (x2)
Applesauce $7.85 -- I use this in Joshua's lunches
Baking potatoes (20#) $6.99
Cheerios (37.5oz.) $5.69 (x2)
Chunk pineapple (#10can) $4.65 (x2)
Peaches (#10can) $3.99
Pears (#10can) $4.19
Rolled oats (10#) $7.39
Craisins (48oz.) $3.98
Organic raisins (2#) $7.79
Special K cereal bars (35ct.) $5.38 (x2)
Sugar (10#) $6.59
Ziplock sandwich bags (500ct.) $6.59 (x2) -- probably should have just got 1 of these

My very full fridge
The fridge is very full now!! :)

And... I think that's everything! I did need to buy postage stamps, but I'm not sure if that should count as my "grocery budget"... and I also spent $12.95 at Target this week for night light light bulbs, duct tape, body wash, and a tongue cleaner.

Note on light bulbs:

Our Costco has energy-efficient light bulbs for a super good deal (instant rebate), making them as low as $0.49 for a package of 4!!!! They've had this deal for quite a while, but I haven't seen it advertised. There are several kinds to choose from (I love the "daylight" ones!), and a few have a limit of 4 packages, but some are unlimited.

Anyway, I usually skip the light bulb aisle at Costco, but this deal is worth stocking up! :)

I will share my freezer meal plan next (hopefully later today!), which is basically lists of my favorite freezer-friendly meals that I want to make over the next month or so. :)

Pantry Challenge

As you can see, it's not "eating from the pantry" for us right now! That will come in the next few months... :)

For me, this pantry challenge is a continuation of fewer shopping trips, getting my freezers organized, and starting to make and store some freezer meals.

Be sure to visit the other bloggers who will be chronicling their January pantry challenges:

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
The Finer Things in Life
Getting Freedom from Debt
Good Cheap Eats


I want to get stocked up and freezers full so that I can have a winter "eating from pantry/stock" session for say December 2012- Jan/Feb 2013 I think it would be so nice to be able to avoid crowds and not have to be out in the cold any more than I have to be.

In order to do this I am keeping a detailed list of our menus and everything needed to make whats on our menus.

Hopefully with gardening, coupons and sales I will be able to meet this goal for the coming winter, we will see.

Thanks for sharing!! Your posts are so informational and inspiring!!!

Thanks for your comment, Dana! I love your plan of using gardening, coupons, and sales to plan for "eating from the pantry" next winter! It definitely takes a plan to do well. :) I remember my mom's canning shelves... so full in October, and most of it eaten by the following May/June! :)

Wow--that is a great price for milk! Sam's here is $3.08 at least... I freeze all our milk so that I have only 1 gallon at a time taking up fridge space! I've been wanting to try doing some freezer meals...I'll be checking yours out to see if I'm ready to tackle that challenge!

Yes, milk and cheese are great prices at Costco!! :)

The last time I pulled a gallon of milk to thaw, it took 3+ days in the fridge and we were using icy milk. ;) I need to remember to thaw one before we're on our last gallon! :)

When I was young my dad froze our whole milk and it had small bumps in it, we probably didn't use it fast enough. Does your milk do the same thing? I think thats why I won't drink milk as an adult.

How is this accomplished safely (re: expanding in freezer)?
Where can I find good freezer recipes?

I loved seeing what you bought. I can't wait to read about your freezer cooking. Will you use the canned fruit as a side dish for meals? How long does a large can last for your family? I'm always hesitate to buy so much in bulk because I'm afraid I won't use it all. Thanks!

Yes, the canned fruit will be put in Joshua's lunches (in containers) or served as a side dish with meals. We're just getting into the #10 cans of fruit -- I think our last can of pineapple lasted 3-4 days. I don't open more than one at a time unless we're having company! :)

Love your plan of action! Can't wait to see your freezer meal plan. Your shopping trips always inspire me! Love that you are buying #10 cans of fruits! We started doing this recently when I started grocery shopping on a monthly basis. It saves us so much money. When all the fresh produce is eaten I can open up a #10 can of peaches, pear, applesauce...etc. and that fruit will last a few days. It is so much cheaper than the 8-10 cans of peaches it would take to make that one can of #10 peaches.


Thanks, Katie! And that is exactly what I like to do... use the fresh veggies/fruit within the first week and then supplement after that with frozen or canned. There's variety, it's affordable, and I get to skip shopping. ;)

It's probably so funny that I find your grocery trips fascinating, but I do :) Can't wait to see what you're going to cook up with all of this.

Thank! :)

I too wondered about the fruit. Do you eat it all from the can or do you freeze some of it? How long can you figure it will be good if you keep it in the fridge? We have a big family and I've thought about buying fruit that way, but didn't know if we'd use it all up in time.

A good idea for fruit cocktail to change it up a little: Drain fruit, thicken a cup or two of the juice. Add a can of cherry pie filling and the thickened juice to the fruit and serve hot. This would be a good variation to the same ole jar of fruit.

We don't need to freeze any of the can of fruit; I figure it will keep 6-7 days in the fridge, and we use a can in 3-5 days. I usually just serve it plain... but we have variety because some weeks we're eating fresh fruit or whatever was on sale. :)

We do this as #10 cans of fruit. It last us (family of 5) about 3-4 days. I generally only buy peaches, pears, or applesauce (applesauce in #10 cans is so much cheaper than jars!). If it get boring (which is rare) I serve some whipped cream atop the fruit. I will add cinnamon to applesauce for a little different flavor and sometimes will make an applesauce cake as a snack. It never goes to waste. If I let them my kids could eat a whole #10 can in one sitting...but I do not let them do that.


How do you keep all those vegetables from spoiling? Do you freeze them raw?
It looks like you are very organized!

I don't freeze the veggies raw. I'll use the spinach first since it's the most perishable. (I'm making quiche and spinach rice casserole for the freezer, so that will easily use that huge bag!)

I'll be using the broccoli in some freezer meals, too, which is why I got the second bag. If I wasn't planning to make freezer meals next week, there's no way we could eat that much broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts, etc. all in 1 week! :)

The cucumbers and tomatoes will be gone as soon as I let the kids dig into them (on Sunday when we celebrate Eliyahu's birthday). ;)

The celery and brussels sprouts should easily keep for a week or longer... and carrots last for weeks. :)

I love our local Asian market--super deals and lots of stuff to look at. To store your fresh ginger, peel it and pop it in the freezer. (double bagged) Use your microplane grater to grate off just what you need--no need to thaw.

Can I ask why you buy pre-made pasta sauce? I've been making my own (using a #10 can of diced tomato from Costco, approx $2.50). I figured out my per meal cost was less than $1--after onions, garlic, etc. Just wondering.

Thanks for the ginger tip!! Will definitely try that. I love fresh ginger, but rarely have it on hand.

The pasta sauce -- umm, because I'm lazy? ;) No, really, I just haven't bought the #10 cans of tomatoes but I should because Joshua just reminded me that he doesn't really care for the pre-made stuff. Maybe next month! :)

Umm.....Lazy, I think not! You are supermom compared to most!

That's a good price for oats. I pay .89 lb for thick rolled oats at my local co-op/ natural foods store. The organic would be $1.19 lb. Sometimes they have 10 lb bags for a discounted price but I honestly can't remember what I paid last time. It might have been $7.95 but I don't remember if that was organic or regular. I'm curious as to what others pay. From what I've seen, even from Azure Standard, I feel pretty good about the prices of what's available to me.

I've been lazy about researching prices on bulk things like oats -- I mean the 50-pound bag type of "bulk" that we did in Ohio (not the 10# box from Costco). ;) I should call around and see if there is a better price somewhere if I buy a whole 50# bag! We eat a lot of oatmeal. :)

I've been buying my oats from an Amish community near my in-laws and I get rolled oats for $0.69/lb or less. I think last time I bought them it was around $0.60/lb.

I just love your grocery shopping trips! So real, so organized and so yum!

Aw, thanks. :)

Where do you store 15 dozen eggs??? I only noticed about 5 dozen in the fridge. Hubby and I are headed to Costco tonight for our "date night"! :) I just wrote "light bulbs?" on my list ... I will check that one out!

Ahhh, the eggs. That little middle-left shelf is full of eggs (two trays in the back and then two cut-to-size trays in front of them). The bottom shelf, behind the package of ground beef, has three trays of eggs (2.5 dozen per tray). Plus, when I got home from the store I realized I still had 18 eggs left from QFC, hiding in the "normal" carton you see!!! So I am super stocked on eggs, which will be okay since they keep well and if I make quiche or pancakes for the freezer, that will use quite a few. :)

Let me know what you find in your light bulb aisle! I told a local friend about the deal back when we first saw it and she got some too. :)

I never knew you could freeze milk. Does it change the flavor at all? I have really enjoyed a number of your recipes lately. Thank you for making my life as a busy Mom simpler.

From my experience (freezing "regular" milk from the grocery store), freezing milk doesn't change it much (if at all). I don't drink it plain, but the kids do and they don't seem to notice a difference. I do have it on cold cereal, on oatmeal, etc. and haven't noticed a difference. :)

Save the juice from your #10 canned fruits. You can use it as a sweetener in iced tea, homemade ice cream, etc. If the fruit is packed in '100% juice" you can give it to the kids to drink...but just a little as normally the fruit is canned in pear juice and that is a laxative...better than prune juice..FYI.


I love to use the juice to make fruit slushies -- fruit juice + frozen fruit! Yummy! :) We don't usually buy juice, so getting it from the cans is a treat. :)

You can also put the juice in popscicle molds and freeze!! Yummy, healthy popscicles!

It also looks like my Once-A-Month-Shopping ;-)

Are you making spring rolls then? I wanted to make some with the clear soft rice papers on them, but I have to find the papers!

I like to make my own sauce, but have not done it for awhile. It taste so much better!
I buy oats from Azure usually, but more recently, I bought them from a MT mill and it was about $16 for 50 pounds. I think from Azure, it was like $18-20.

Well, we made egg rolls over the weekend (fried)... I don't know how authentic my recipe is but it's tasty. :) I don't have it online yet though! :)

I've bought those lightbulbs with rebate - they're great.

Well I think you did fabulously - I just had a really pricey Costco trip myself [after staying away a long time] and am highly impressed with you LOL. My fridge does look a lot like yours at the moment but I don't think I got as much stuff, despite it being mostly 'fresh' foods. You bought a ton of milk - I bought a ton of cheese - I know that much!

GOod luck with your plans. I'm starting a pantry challenge this month and loved your comment about the fact that we don't eat any less regardless of what I buy!

Yay for cheap light bulbs! :) I forgot to mention that the one downside is that (at least here in WA) we still pay 9.5% sales tax on the original light bulb prices... so the $0.49 light bulbs had a bit of tax (I think almost as much!!). :P

Mmmm, yeah... I like having FOOD in the house! :)

I appreciate all your tips and experience. I never knew you could freeze milk. Does it change the taste at all? Thanks for helping me feed my family and keep it simple!

From my experience (freezing "regular" milk from the grocery store), freezing milk doesn't change it much (if at all). I don't drink it plain, but the kids do and they don't seem to notice a difference. I do have it on cold cereal, on oatmeal, etc. and haven't noticed a difference. :)

You're welcome! :)

I love your grocery list posts. : ) We have a Sam's membership and use it a lot, but I'm curious to see how Costco prices compare. (I have a Costco membership as well from my parents, but rarely use it since Sam's is closer.)

Can I ask about the eggs and milk? Do you go through that much milk with drinking or is some for baking and meals? And do you make eggs often or is that also for baking? We go through a good bit of milk (and eggs) but I'm not sure how I would store it all. :)

By the way, we have made your pepper steak recipe several times lately and LOVE it. One of my new favorites - especially for cold winter nights. : )


Hi, Stephanie! :)

We go through 3-4 gallons of milk a week, normally. I sometimes buy extras so we don't run out -- like I might buy 8 gallons to last 2+ weeks... that way we're not "forced" to go to the store sooner than we really want to. :)

Same with eggs -- we go through about 5 dozen in 2 weeks, normally. I bought extras of both the milk and eggs (and cheese!) this time because a lot of my freezer meals (quiche, spinach rice casserole, pancakes, macaroni and cheese, etc.) called for a bit of those ingredients and I didn't want to run out. :)

Glad you like the pepper steak recipe! :)

Just made my very first loaf of your whole wheat bread in my very first Zojirushi Bread Machine---it truly is the BEST bread we've ever tasted! And the machine is amazing! I made it JUST the way you said to do it and it came out gorgeous : )

I also made your Mom's recipe for Beef Barley Soup today and that's a total hit, too : ) I did a little adding because I shop at Costco and I needed to whittle away at our celery and carrot stash: added 5 stalks of chopped celery to the recipe and cooked them with the onion, beef, and garlic when browning the meat. For the last hour, I also added some carrots (cut up as "pennies")---and used the "optional bullion" ---a delight!

Your shopping trip is an inspiration :D Thanks for all your tips and ideas, Tammy!

Wonderful! Thanks for letting me know! And I will pass your compliments along to my mom. :)

I was just wondering what Eliyahu requested for his birthday meal? From the few things you posted he requested, it sounds really

LOL! Well, his meal was chicken gravy and biscuits, clementines, fresh veggies (particularly little tomatoes and cucumbers), and chocolate cake.

We found out at the meal that the reason he requested chicken gravy and biscuits is because he loves biscuits with honey butter drizzled on top... so it wasn't about the gravy at all. LOL! :)

I am really looking forward to your post on freezer meals getting ready for baby #5! I am due with my first (although really 2nd because I have an adopted 4 year old stepson I am raising!) also in March and am trying to get the house in order and meals prepped. I love seeing what you are up to on here, another stay at home mommy like me who loves to cook healthfully and thrifty.

Thank you! :)


Well I finally found someone who purchases more at Costco than I do ... you! Have a couple of comments & questions:
- if I read your list correctly, you've not previously tried the Alexi Sweet Potato Fries? them. No junk added; just frozen sw. potatoes already cut up! Great time saver. We sometimes add a sweet spice "crust" to ours before baking and it produces a great aroma and special flavor. Will be glad to share in a post if you would like; just let me know.

- I've never frozen milk. Do I just put the plastic gallon container straight into the freezer? Would it work with skim milk because that's what we drink.

- I'm planning on posting on Grocery IQ, a shopping database app that runs on my I-pod or can be used on an I-Phone ... it is a great tool. Is that topic / tip appropriate to share on your Tuesday Tips?


Hi Robin! :)

Nope, we hadn't tried the sweet potato fries before but now we have and I love them! Ruth and Moshe like them too; Joshua and the boys are so-so on them. :) And yes -- so easy (and pretty healthy!) with no waste (peeling, etc.)... and fast! :)

What do you toss yours with before baking? I'd love to hear! :)

I put my plastic milk gallons right in the freezer, still sealed. I think it'd work just fine with skim milk (probably even better!). :)

Mmmm, on the kitchen tip, I think so -- especially if you can give some tips for using it (or describe the ways it helps you personally)! :) Basically why/how it has helped you rather than just a link to the app. :)

I noticed that you got 2 different rice rolls. Are they different size? We normally get the same ones all the time, so I wasn't sure.


The spring roll pastries were the same size, just different brands. I wasn't sure which one we'd like best so I just got one of each! :) We made all 50 of them this weekend. It was a joint effort -- Joshua grilled chicken, I did the veggies and assembled everything, and Joshua fried them all. Thirty are wrapped and frozen! (I don't make egg rolls very often, so figured we'd just do a bunch while we're doing them!) :)


Kim in Cali

No video, but I did take a few pictures. It was dark when we made them Saturday night, and I was in a hurry when we fried the last few on Sunday, so, not really good photo opportunities. :) I'll definitely share the recipe some time though! :)

You look just like me. Only I don't have time to blog anymore. We have 6 children and have been Sam's Club shopping for the past 8 we just got into the large Asian grocery store and wow! produce galore!! and at such great prices. I'm delighted. I am so encouraged by your blog because I realize we cook a lot the same type of things and I know that if you're doing well, so am I. :) Keep it up.

Thank you! :)

I thought I seen a post before about you freezing cheese? I may be wrong. If you do freeze sliced and shredded cheese how do you do it? Or if you have a post about it can you please share that with me? I buy the small bags and freeze them. I would like to start buying the big bags at Sam's and freezing it. Slice cheese I am not sure will keep good for sandiwiches will it? Or do you need to use it for melting in dishes?

Mrs. Paradis

I freeze all kinds of cheese. Blocks of cheese can get crumbly after freezing. This is okay if you want to shred it for in a recipe -- sometimes it just crumbles and you don't even need to shred it! It melts all the same in the end, anyway. :) But it can be hard to slice cheese (especially thinly) after it's been frozen. (Slice before freezing.)

For shredded cheese, I buy it in the big 5# bag at Costco and either freeze the whole bag OR split it up into a couple Ziplock freezer bags and freeze smaller portions. I just thaw before using -- or sometimes can break up the frozen shredded cheese and use it still-frozen in recipes if I've forgotten to thaw. :) It does that pretty quickly though! :)

I've frozen sliced cheeses and don't usually notice any difference after freezing. The only consideration would be if the cheese is dry or prone to cracking, the slices will be even more prone to cracking after being frozen. But just this week I pulled a package of slices Swiss cheese from the freezer that I got at Costco (unopened, so it was vacuum-sealed and had no freezer burn), thawed it, and it's been just like it would be when newly purchased. It's one I got with a coupon probably 6+ months ago! :)

Thanks for all your information on the different cheese.I am goiing to try this.

Mrs. Paradis

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