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A Day in the LIfe of a Vintage Housewife: Grocery Day

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Yesterday was grocery day! We usually shop on Saturday or Sunday mornings but there are few pleasures in life like grocery stores on a Monday morning. No chaotic parking lots, long lines or aisles full of people, just me and my list and all the time in the world. Pj was off work so we took advantage of the morning. In this post, I show how I spend my grocery days, not only shopping but planning menus, cutting my budget back, saving money by cooking from scratch and making the most out of a very full and busy day as a modern housewife.

7:00AM I wake up to Pj talking about giving Olivia some overnight oats that were actually made 3 nights ago and I forgot about them. I yell from bed "No! Pitch that shit, it's old and slimy! There's waffles and berries in the freezer" and with that, it's probably time to get out of bed. Today was "favorite hat day" for Olivia so I let her choose from my vintage hat collection. She picked this pink 1950s bow hat to match her pink Littlest Petshop shirt.



Since Pj is getting Olivia ready, I take a few minutes to pick out a dress and brush out my pin curls before the bus comes. I pick a simple early 50s dress and my gray ballet flats. Every morning, Olivia and I sit on the porch and talk about the mama bird building her nest on our porch or the flowers in the garden. Rhys is just inside, enjoying cartoons and breakfast, usually but today he's outside with all of us.



7:30
After she gets on the bus, Rhys wants to go for a walk. Its a beautiful morning so I put my makeup on and we go out.



My daily makeup products include:
|face|
Neutrogena oil free moisturizer for combination skin
Maybelline Baby Skin instant pore eraser
Revlon Colorstay foundation for oily/ combination skin in 150
ELF blush in Glow
Coty Airspun loose powder in translucent
Wet n Wild Geometric Highlighting Powder in Sun Ceremony
|eyes|
ELF brow palette in medium
Maybelline Full n Soft Waterproof mascara in Very Black
Wet n Wild Fergie Creme Eyeliner in Little Black Dress
Too Faced Matte Eye shadow palette (tufted suede, velveteen bunny and chinchilla are the ones I use daily)
|lips|
Besame lipstick in Carmine



Wow, that's a lot of makeup.

After makeup, Rhys says I look "byooo-full" and we go for a walk to the river

It's the train!

8:30AM
We made the mistake of going for a walk before having breakfast so I'm hangry for the walk back home and Rhys is feeling it too so he hitches a ride home.


 At home, I throw together a quick breakfast of sauteed asparagus, over medium egg, feta cheese on a home made English muffin with iced coffee and a bowl of berries.



After breakfast, we hit the road to the grocery store and I make sure I have my menu and shopping list I made yesterday, grocery bags and my Aldi quarter. Both of the stores that we shop at use the Quarter cart return system so I am very protective over my Aldi quarter. It all started back when Pj's office job had soda machines with a can of soda for 25 cents so finding a quarter in this house was near impossible.





How a modern housewife earns money by saving money
As a housewife, I spend a lot of time finding new ways to save money and cut back on spending. In this modern day, many families don't have any idea how you can live on a single income. I admit, it gets hard from time to time but I think I'm always learning new ways to be smart with our money. A housewife doesn't receive a pay check but I bring money into the home in other ways. Some by blogging but mostly by saving what we do have and spending my time in the home wisely.



I'm doing a shopping challenge this month to try to cut our grocery budget down and plan weekly menus that I will rotate each month.  Like many families, we spend way too much money on food so I'm trying some different methods of cutting back. 

My grocery money saving rules:
  • I plan 2 meatless dinners and a home made soup for lunch throughout the week. Usually something easy like pasta con broccoli, stir fry, broccoli or potato soup or our favorite, fondue night!

  • We plan meals that stretch a small amount of meat like stew, beef stir fry, loaded baked potato night, kabobs or tacos. 

  • We plan one dinner at a sit-down restaurant per month and one lazy, fast food or takeout dinner per month, to use when we want to

and sauce from House of Yumm


  • I make English muffins, french bread and Greek yogurt from scratch weekly. Here's the difference:
                store bought English muffins $2.99 for 6            or               home made  .70 for 12
               french bread   $3.49 for twin baguettes                or              .60 for twin baguettes
               Greek yogurt  $3.39 for 2 cups                            or               $2.49 for 6 cups

Just making these 3 things from scratch every week saves my family 316.16 per year! With that, I can plan a weekend vacation to Lake Michigan, buy a new piece of furniture, tires for the car, pay for Christmas and birthdays or just sack it away into our savings account. Maybe next I'll start making pickles or jelly or sauerkraut or pasta. The breads and yogurt are easy too, I maybe spend 30 minutes total in the kitchen, the rest of the time is just waiting for things to rise and do their thing...and kneading bread dough is incredibly therapeutic!



The home made versions of each taste so much better than the store bought versions. My kids love to snack on the breads too, so I buy less junk like chips and fruit snacks. My kids love to help in the kitchen so this is a great way to get everyone to pitch in with the work!

11:00AM
At home, I make breadcrumbs and yogurt. For my breads, I set dough starters and rising dough on the rack outside my kitchen to rise and bubble on this beautiful warm day.






 The yogurt will have to sit in the kitchen overnight and be strained tomorrow.


I made some breadcrumbs from stale bread that I'll use in meatloaf later this week. My food processor made a crazy noise, which is why I made a strange face. I added some Italian herbs and these breadcrumbs smell amazing!



Guys, I was terrified of making my own yogurt. I don't drink milk because the idea of a liquid getting solid in a few hours grosses me out but I did it and holy cow, it is amazing! I can't get enough of it and the kids love it too. If you make your own yogurt, save a cup for the starter culture for your future batch (you can freeze it) and hand wash your cheese cloth to use again and again! The difference between Greek yogurt and regular is that it is strained longer. I add vanilla and sweetener to my yogurt right after I put the culture in. If you add it after it is strained, it will get thin and runny and will need to be strained again, which is hard when you're impatiently waiting for a fruit and yogurt parfait. Here are the recipes that I used:

Crusty french bread from Food.com
English muffins from The Kitchn
Greek yogurt from Mainly Homemade

Pj said I was making a weird face, so I made a weirder one.


I set my dough to rise outside and clean the kitchen


Look at that hair! I can't wait for my bangs to grow out, cutting them was not the best idea.



Planning Meals and Price Checking
Noon-ish Pj works on a You Tube video and I check our receipts for this week's grocery budget. Instead of having to plan a new menu every single week, I plan 5 weeks of meals that will rotate each month. If we get tired of something, we can always try a new recipe and switch things out seasonally but this is a huge time and money saver because I will know each week exactly how much each meal will cost and we can finally settle down into the same grocery budget every week instead of spending very little one week and going over budget the next.

First, I add items and prices from our receipts to a master list on my computer. This makes it easy to know which stores have better deals on which items regularly. Since I already shop at discount grocers, I don't bother clipping food coupons because Aldi and other discount grocers sell groceries for less than the cost of sale and couponed food elsewhere. I generally only shop at 2 stores so price comparisons are pretty easy. You wouldn't think this would make a huge difference but it absolutely does!


I shop at Aldi and Ruler Foods (which is a discount grocer owned by Kroger stores). Aldi cucmbers are 49cents. Ruler cucs are 78 cents. Black olives are 99 cents at Ruler and $1.19 at Aldi. So, when I plan my lists, I do one for each store and add the items to each list according to price. Sometimes, there are taste or quality differences too. We don't buy a ton of produce from our Ruler Foods store because things seem to go bad sooner than Aldi produce so most of our fresh produce goes to Aldi, no matter what. Ten cents isn't a big deal but if you can take a few minutes to save 10 cents here, there, here again, before you know it, that's adding up to dollars, which may amount to hundreds over the course of the year.  Here's my list this week, with washi tape to mark off what I already have:



Now I go through the receipts again and see what we bought this week that we didn't need to buy or what meals cost more than I anticipated. Last week, I planned a soup that turned out to be very expensive for a soup (it used pre-packaged tortellini, pork sausage, fresh store bought herbs) so I cut it out entirely and replaced it with ham and swiss sliders instead, which the kids prefer anyway. Last week, we shopped before eating too, so we bought a bunch of junk we didn't need and bought things that were actually much cheaper at another store. So, this week I was more conscious of that. 

I love this sign on the St. Charles Rock Road. At night she lights up and twirls her baton


I checked the Aldi sales ads this week and found some good buys like eggs for  89 cents per dozen, a whole roasting chicken for $4.74 (Which I stretch into at least 3 meals) and a bag of chicken breasts for $1 less than the usual price. We have a deep freeze in the basement so I'm always on the lookout for dairy, meat and produce that we can buy at a discount now and freeze for later use. The chicken came from Ruler foods, which puts sale meats out in the early morning, so it pays to get there early!



Even with our unanticipated sales buys, we bought 7 days of groceries for about $30 under budget, which makes me so happy!

It's almost 1:00 pm and I have an hour and a half until we have to leave home again so I work on a new wall hanging and get my bread and muffins on their second rise while we're out.



We pick up Olivia from school because we have to take Rhys to the doctor for his pre-K check up at 3:30. He is not a happy camper but Pj had a pack of Yo-Kai medals for our brave boy. While in the waiting room, I crochet a snood.



5:00 PM Back at home, I pop my breads in the oven and move my yogurt to a table where it will hang out until tomorrow morning and wind down while some potatoes bake. I cook the English muffins in the electric skillet. They were supposed to rise all night in the fridge but the last time I did that, they turned out hard and flat so this is how I do it now.  Also, my hair is a disaster by now





7:00PM After dinner and clean up, we all get into comfy lounge clothes, veg out, have bath time and get ready for bed. I've had a bit of a sinus thing lately so I curl up with some tissues and a cup of root beer. I pick out Olivia's clothes for tomorrow, make sure her library books are in her backpack and make a little to-do list for tomorrow,which will include rocking out on laundry, sewing a skirt and maybe organizing my basement craft storage.



9:00PM  At the end of the day, I feel like I didn't get much done since I spent a great deal of time in the kitchen, at the doctor's office and at the grocery store but looking back, it was a really productive awesome day!  This time next month, I can grab my pre-made grocery list and go shopping, knowing that my menu will be way under budget and I planned easy meals for the week. Little things like fresh English muffins, a few bucks in savings from my hard work and happy full bellies make me feel that my job as a housewife isn't a lazy or wasteful one but a very important job that makes me feel like my talents and time are being used very well.


I hope that you enjoyed a day in my life. If you liked this post, check out my other Day in the Life of a Vintage Housewife, just a regular kind of day at home with my kiddies! 


22 Responses to “A Day in the LIfe of a Vintage Housewife: Grocery Day”

  1. I make all of our bread and yogurt, too. I have only bought bread a couple of times in the last four years. I've wanted to try adding vanilla or other flavoring to my yogurt, but wasn't sure how it would effect the cultures if I did it before it was finished. I'll have to try it on my next batch!

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    1. I was worried too. So I called my grandma, who also makes yogurt sometimes and she wasn't sure but she did say "you're feeding wee beasties and yeast in bread likes sugar right? Maybe its the same?" So I went for it and it worked great!! It actually turned out thicker than my last batch! I put in a splash of vanilla and maybe 1/2 cup of sugar for a gallon of milk

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  2. I adore your "a day in my life" posts. And your budget system is amazing, very inspiring. PJ ought to be proud of you. PS: I think your hair still looks glam at the end of the day. :)

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    1. I am very proud of her, I also think she look glamorous at the end of the day.

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    2. I am very proud of her, I also think she look glamorous at the end of the day.

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  3. I loved reading this, your day was precious, and it is so nice to hear a young lady enjoying what I have enjoyed for more than 35 years! It gives hope for our future! Thank you for sharing your day with me!
    Jilly oxo

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  4. I LOVE this day in the life post!
    Amber in Kentucky

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  5. Beautiful! We don't eat grains but still spend about $1000 per year less on groceries than most Americans. Saving is such a good feeling - hoping to increase that number this year:)
    PS I agree with Sanne. Your hair always looks great.

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  6. Oooh, now I want to go make my own bread!

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  7. Okay so I'm totally inspired to make bread and learn to crochet a snood...among other things.:)
    I so enjoyed this post! Please do more like it.
    You are amazing....thank you for sharing this cool post!

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  8. Very interesting read. I spend way too much on groceries. I feel it's an excusable indulgence but regardless, consciousness is a good thing too.

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  9. Hi! I just started looking for more vintage and sewing bloggers, and I'm so glad I found your blog! You are absolutely lovely and inspiring! :)

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  10. Thank you for inviting us into your day and life (and grocery shopping trip). This post was a real delight and instantly made me think of when magazines such as (fittingly :)) Life used to profile "everyday" homemakers during the 40s and 50s.

    ♥ Jessica

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  11. Lovely post! You have truly embraced the point home economists long to drive home- managment of a household is just important to its bottom line as is the income that is pumped into it. Thrift if chief. I applaud you. And can I get your English muffin recipe?

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  12. What a great, down-to-Earth blog post! I started baking my own bread when the "non squishy" kind went up so high in price. I have a garden, so I grow extra green peppers to dice up, freeze flat, then pack in bags for cooking. Peppers get pricy, especially in winter. With 4-6 tomato plants, I get plenty of tomatoes to can for chili and soup. Canned tomatoes skyrocketed in price 5+ years ago. I've been making yogurt for ages too. The strained liquid can go into bread. There are so many great bean dishes out there - lentil soup, chili beans (so easy). I grow cilantro and mashing up cooked beans, diced cilantro and a little garlic and cumin and salt makes the best burrito filling or nacho topping! If you don't hate cilantro. You can grow and freeze some fresh herbs to that extra-fancy taste in the off-season. Canning is a lot of work, but worth it in price and taste and it's just so satisfying. Best wishes! WS

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    1. So many great ideas!! I desperately need to get a canner. We did do the hot water bath method a few years ago for pickles and jelly and it was so fun! Last year, our summer was so cool and wet, nothing did well in the garden but I'm hoping to do better this year. We're doing squash, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and of course, a good stash of herbs. I love cilantro!! Basil is also a favorite. Home made pesto is so easy and it saves a lot!

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  13. I used to be so careful with our grocery budget, but when our income got a little more comfortable, I haven't been as careful. You've shown me that even a few things that I have time for can make a big difference! Also, I sympathize with the bang thing. Although when I cut mine, I also seem to cut really thick ones that really take a long time to grow out. Here's to bang-growing solidarity!

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  14. Wonderful post!! So refreshing to see young women embrace what they can do for their family as a homemaker. WE make everything from scratch, here, too.
    My husband was a farrier for many years. When his customers found out that we have 12 children, they would ask him if I work. His answer, "You bet she does!! 24/7! And probably harder than I do."
    Here's another money saver for you. Instead of using parchment on your baking sheets when making bread, such as french bread, bread bowls, or pizza dough, sprinkle a little bit of cornmeal on them. No sticking, and much less expensive than parchment. Save that for the cakes! =)
    Also, I'm curiousas to why you strain the yougurt. We have made it here for many years and never strain it. It doesn't separate, and is nice and thick.

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  15. This is a great post. I really enjoy your blog, as another SAHM who enjoys wearing vintage and runs after two kids all day! Like you, I make our bread/muffins/waffles/yogurt/chicken and veggie stocks.
    I recently downloaded "Good and Cheap: Eating Well on $4 a Day", and it's a great resource for flexible menu planning. We're going to try our hand at tortilla making later today, which should take a good whack out of my grocery bill if we can pull it off! Here's the cookbook link if of interest: http://www.leannebrown.com/

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  16. Love your blog πŸ‘. Since it's just the hubby and me these days cooking is so much easier (I still prefer cooking for all of us). I have been forced to cut corners since I can't work anymore so my favorite 2 money savers are making scrambled eggs with last nights leftovers and using left over meats for some fried rice. It may sound funny but I sometimes prefer my fried rice or eggs to the meal that helped make them.
    Blog onπŸ˜€

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  17. Love your blog πŸ‘. Since it's just the hubby and me these days cooking is so much easier (I still prefer cooking for all of us). I have been forced to cut corners since I can't work anymore so my favorite 2 money savers are making scrambled eggs with last nights leftovers and using left over meats for some fried rice. It may sound funny but I sometimes prefer my fried rice or eggs to the meal that helped make them.
    Blog onπŸ˜€

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  18. Really lovely post - I just found your blog again, and it's so nice! I work part time at the moment, but enjoy doing as much around the house as possible. Do you make your yogurt on the stove? I would be curious how that works as opposed to the crock pot method. Guess I may need to invest in a thermometer, because I've been going through yogurt and making at home seems like it could be a good money saver! Also, can you use skim milk? Obviously it's probably not as rich as another type, but the greek yogurt I buy now is fat free, so I was curious if skim would work all right for homemade. I loved this day in the life post - it's a lot like what I hope my future life will be like in a few years :)

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I read every single comment (even on old posts) and they make my day! If you have a question, please email me at brittanyvavoomvintage@gmail.com. Thank you for reading me!