Big Shopping in Tennessee

Brett and I did part of our monthly food shopping yesterday, or I should say he took me to do the shopping. I go into the store while Brett stays outside with Kai and walks him around. We’ve tried leaving him at home a couple of times but there have been less than ideal results, even when he’s left in his crate (he tears his beds to shreds). Anyway, yesterday we did our monthly stop at Costco and a bi-monthly one at Trader Joe’s.

Food shopping is once again a pleasure compared to the struggle it became in Hawaii to not go over our budget. Our current monthly food allotment is $500, $100 less per month than we budgeted in Hawaii, although so far we have been spending less. We do one Big Shop in the middle of the month, and another at the end.

I was a bit concerned about the Costco trip yesterday because we were out of several things that I knew would drive the total up, including two cans of coffee (regular and decaf), a case of oat milk, and three bottles of wine. We were also out of a couple of snack items we keep on hand: peanut butter filled pretzels that Brett enjoys, and fig bars that we all like (K loves them). I also wanted to buy a Halloween House kit for K to decorate when she’s with us today or Friday.

Our Costco swag, and . . .
. . . a case of lemon green tea. We each have one a day (and recycle the bottles).

I found four items not on my list: Pacific Foods organic roasted red pepper and tomato soup (our favorite), two bags Cretor’s Chicago mix popcorn (which I adore), almond thins with papaya and passionfruit, and box of beer batter cod for fish & chips. This is the absolute maximum of bulk shopping we can do now because we don’t have room to store any more.

The total for everything at Costco was $206.51, including tax. The same items would have cost us somewhere closer to $300 at the Kaua’i Costco, maybe more. I didn’t buy meat (we buy that at Trader Joe’s or ALDI now), bread items, desserts, pre-made casseroles, nor any giant bags of produce, all things we pretty much had to purchase at Costco on Kaua’i. The only produce we buy at Costco now are organic apples and bananas, and an occasional bag of frozen blueberries. It’s very nice to have other options these days.

Everything from Trader Joe’s.

After Costco it was on to Trader Joe’s. I accidentally left my list at home so I knew I had to be on my best behavior there. I picked up the apple cider doughnuts and pumpkin ravioli Brett had asked for, and a couple more boxes of the pumpkin pancake mix to get us through the winter. Otherwise I couldn’t remember much of anything else on the list and did my best to not go crazy. TJ’s has so many pumpkin items out right now, but I was able to pass most of them except for one box of the pumpkin sticky toffee cakes – Meiling told us they were very good. The only splurge item was a chicken pot pie. I didn’t buy much produce because we still have plenty on hand.

Total spent at Trader Joe’s was $75.89, There’s no way to compare that with costs in Hawaii because there are no Trader Joe’s there! I know though we would have paid a whole lot more for the same or similar items versus what we pay here.

Total spent for this October Big Shop trip was $282.40, which means we have $217.60 left to spend at the end of the month. I plan to go to ALDI and may visit TJ’s again, but if all goes well we’ll probably end up with somewhere around $100 left over we can put into savings. For now though our cupboards are full.


13 thoughts on “Big Shopping in Tennessee

  1. Oh, that Cretor’s popcorn is wonderful! We first found it at Sam’s last year and had several bags before it went away for the season! TJ’s does have an awful lot of goodies and it’s hard not to go crazy there as well. But, like you, space and budget limitations keep us in line.


    1. I sure wish Cretor’s was something Costco carried year-round – I LOVE it! We got it once a year in Hawaii – it sold out in less than a week.

      I could so easily go crazy at Trader Joe’s, especially if I had a freezer. Some of their items have gotten too expensive over the years though – when our daughters were little a box of battered cod was only $2.99 but I think the same box is now over $7 or $8 and out of our price range. I still pretty much stick to the $3.99 items.

      I’m so sad TJ’s is no longer making the pumpkin toaster pastries – they were my favorite fall item.


  2. Being a fan of all things pumpkin, I need to make a trip to Trader Joe’s now. The pumpkin pancake mix is a winner. I have a recipe for them, but it makes way too many for the two of us. I’ve frozen them in the past, but I like them best fresh. The snacks foods at Costco will break our budget if we don’t watch them. DH is hooked on Stacy’s Pita Chips.

    We are in the middle of apple season here, and I bought a variety of them at 79/lb. Now I need to use them, so I’ll be making applesauce, apple crisp, and apple pie, I guess. 😊


    1. They had a whole shelf of pumpkin items that I spotted just before I was ready to check out – it all looked so good, especially the pumpkin hand pies, but I was able to resist. The pumpkin pancake mix is very good – we’re going to stock up as we have pancakes about once a week.

      We have cycled through the Costco snack items and there are only four we consider getting now: peanut butter filled pretzels, the fig bars, Cretor’s Chicago mix popcorn, and Kirkland trail mix. Otherwise everything else is too too, or too expensive for what you get.

      You got a great price on those apples! I miss going to the annual apple festival at Portland Nursery. We could sample over 60 varieties of apples, and then purchase about 10-15 different varieties each year for about 59 to 69 cents per pound. We stocked up every year, and yes, I did a LOT of baking!

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  3. It is good you are having such a good time shopping and saving money on groceries.


  4. It’s amazing how much cheaper things are on the mainland compared to Hawaii.

    I went to Trader Joe’s the other day and bought the maple leaf cookies, the pumpkin mini ice cream cone, and the pumpkin spiced Jo-Jo cookies. There were many other pumpkin items I could have bought, but I exercised some self-control. It wasn’t easy! Looking at your photo of what you bought there I see you also have the miso ginger broth. I’d be interested to know what recipes you use that for because I’m never quite sure what to do with it! I’ve never seen the kalua pork spring rolls or the cha siu bao buns at my TJ’s so I’ve added that to my list and will ask the staff next time I go. They always are happy to look items up in their database. I also will look for the pumpkin ravioli and pancake mix!

    In the Costco photo, are the fig bars similar to Fig Newtons?


    1. We got used to the prices on Hawaii, or as used to them as we could, and after several years away from the mainland had no idea how low prices were. So, it’s been a very pleasant surprise/shock for us.

      The kalua pork rolls are very, very good – they’re now our favorite. This will be our first try of the char six buns – fingers crossed we like them too. I use the miso-ginger brother to make potsticker soup – easy peasy. Heat the broth and toss in some frozen potstickers (or wontons, if you prefer). When they’re almost done, toss in a bag of baby spinach and swirl through the soup. That’s it! I give each person five potstickers.

      Our TJ’s here was sold out of the pumpkin JoJo’s (Brett asked for them too) and the pumpkin mini cones the other day. I’m going to get another couple boxes of the pancake mix when I go at the end of the month. The pumpkin bread and muffin mix is very good too.

      I’m excited to see their Thanksgiving products – we used to get their stuffing mix, turkey broth, and little boxes of turkey gravy – those were convenient to have on hand. Best cranberry sauce came from Costco though; same for *good* turkey gravy (better than homemade!).


    1. I like the idea of peanut butter pretzels, but they are just too salty for me so I leave them for Brett. I much prefer the cheese and caramel popcorn. I used to love the butternut squash ravioli from Costco, but haven’t seen it this year. Our Costco in Portland used to sell an amazing, locally-produced Alfredo sauce that went perfectly with the squash or pumpkin ravioli – sure wish I could buy it now!

      By the way, it’s very easy to make pumpkin ravioli at home using canned pumpkin, cheese, and wonton wrappers! I’ve tried it before and they turn out well as long as the wrapper are well-sealed before boiling.


  5. I always enjoy your blog posts! I loved when you were posting photos of your meals.. I know that is probably quite a lot of work and you’re still getting settled, and have a new puppy,etc.. but maybe soon you’ll post some. When we visited Hawaii , last time was quite some time ago..we have been to Kauaii many times… we always rented a condo and cooked a lot at home.. but the grocery prices were stunningly high.I can ONLY IMAGINE how expensive it is now!! It’s nice to have choices, as you do now! Thanks for sharing your journey.


    1. I thought about doing pictures again, and tried taking pictures for a few days, but the lighting in our apartment is AWFUL and the food really didn’t look good. Maybe I’ll give it a try again and see if I can do better. I actually enjoyed doing those posts in the past. We are eating differently here so maybe it would be interesting again.

      Prices on Kaua’i were just nuts when we left. I don’t know how we would have every survived there without Costco or the farmers’ markets. We developed some very good skills for maintaining our budget but toward the end even those weren’t enough. I am sod enjoying shopping and meal planning once again here.


  6. I’m addicted to the peanut butter pretzels (I prefer the TJ’s version over Costco, but will eat both). For oat milk, I find that I can get it much cheaper at the grocery store, if you have the iBotta app. They frequently have $2 off/1 large container offers. My store sells it for $3, making it $1 for 64 oz. Of course, this is the refrigerated kind, not shelf stable.


    1. Meiling told me the other day that TJ’s makes *chocolate covered peanut better pretzels*!! I looked got them the other day – Brett would love them – but I couldn’t find them.

      We like the oat milk from Costco, and the shelf stable containers fit out needs for now. Our one big complaint with the milk though is that it won’t froth for cappuccinos! We had some thicker varieties in Mexico so eventually I’m going to have to find one here and I’m thinking the refrigerated varieties might do the trick.


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