New Year Grocery and Pantry Challenge, how did you do? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 245 Old 12-28-2009, 08:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am trying to figure out a great way to track my grocery spending and use up stuff. So as always, a pantry challenge is always a great way to use up, save some money or just declutter up your pantry, cabinets, freezer etc.



Our family includes: myself, DH, and our two young growing girls.


So for the year:

We buy our beef side in Jan 2010. This in the end will run us about $1000 with gas to pick it up, storing in the freezer and all the other costs. Add pork which we will buy again in Nov, that is about $400. We get a delivery weekly of organic produce and dairy. That is right about $40 weekly.

So we are spending already $236 a month on average. (even though the beef is paid in full at the beginning of the year, I factor that into the average monthly). Add a trip or two to Trader Joes, the regular grocery and Aldi once a month we are about $500-$550 monthly.

I need to track my groceries and figure out where we are spending at. Granted, my costs for what I am getting are very low compared to several people I know IRL. But its always fun as a game for me to audit things such as this.

So who wants to play? Either do the pantry challenge or the grocery or both.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#2 of 245 Old 12-28-2009, 10:06 PM
 
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I'm in. I've got lots in the pantry and little in the bank.
So, a preemptive question..Is there a way to serve canned green beans (I somehow have 4) that actually taste good or should I just donate them to the food bank?

Mama to 3:
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#3 of 245 Old 12-28-2009, 10:13 PM
 
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I'll play.

We just took delivery of our split side of beef. I bought from a different farmer this year and paid a total of $2.50/lb. for grass-fed organic beef. We've had a few steaks already, and so far we're pleased with the quality. In addition to that, the rest of the freezer is full of chickens that we raised and butchered this past summer. So aside from a bit of pork and lamb here or there (and maybe a few ducks from a friend who raises them), we've got enough meat for the forseeable future.

I participated in a few pantry challenges in the summer and fall, and my pantry is starting to look a bit bare. One of my goals for January is to use up the assorted strange cans that I have sitting around. I also have a TON of beans and I'd like start making beans once a week for dinner. I made beans tonight, but DH and I were the only ones who ate the dinner. Oh well, I'm willing to give it time and try some different recipes and hope the kids become more ammenable to beans .

I track my spending by every 4 week period (instead of every month). My grocery spending has been around $400-500/4 weeks during the last part of this year. There are 6 of us- me and DH and our four kids (ages 6-10). I have been budgeting $500, but I've been able to feed us well on less, so I'm dropping the budget to $400 in the next budgeting period. The above numbers DON'T reflect the amount I spend on bulk meat or on chicken feed.

In terms of tracking food, I don't generally track how much I'm spending on fruit vs. dairy vs. processed foods. I also don't have a price book anymore, although I intend to start one again. I've been shopping at a larger number of stores, and my brain just isn't big enough to remember all of the prices at every store. AnnetteMarie posted an idea of using index cards threaded onto a ring for a price book, and I think I'm going to try that.

And as if I don't have ENOUGH goals already listed.... I have a goal of cooking more in 2010. Lately I've been doing a lot of assembling and heating, rather than actual cooking and I'd like to change that. One of my resolutions for 2010 is to try a new recipe once a week.

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#4 of 245 Old 12-28-2009, 10:23 PM
 
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Subbing for ideas, but not ready to start.
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#5 of 245 Old 12-28-2009, 10:30 PM
 
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We spend about $100 (no meat purchase) to $150 (with meat purchase) at the grocery store every two weeks (on pay day) for grocery and sundries. We go back the next weekend after big purchase for produce and milk. That usually takes $30. I buy the meat only when they're on sale, and buy enough to last a month.

I buy store brand everything if I can help it. That helps me cut down the cost. We have a produce store close to our house that sells dirt cheap but good produce.

We garden in the summer and preserve a lot of the veggies that could last a whole year.

So, roughly about $260 - $380 a month of grocery and sundries for a family of 5.

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#6 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 07:09 AM
 
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I need to do both. Our family is DH, myself, and DS who just started solids.

Our pantry is pretty full and I need to:
Take inventory and use up things close to expiring
See what we need to stock up on and keep my eye out for sales
Donate things like jarred baby food that people keep giving us-give them to friends who will actually use it
Clean it! I think I will pull everything off the shelves and give the shelves a good cleaning. Should make the first three things easier to do.

Our grocery bill is getting ridiculous. I would say we're averaging $150-200/week. That's insane and while we can afford it, it's still a waste IMO. That amount does include organic dog food and paper products like tp and we rarely eat out. Oh, and we also have to buy bottled water for drinking.

Pros:
DH will eat anything.
I am a SAHM so I have time to cook, relatively speaking as we have a baby.
We have storage space for dry goods so we can stock up.
We love leftovers, so practically nothing goes to waste
I can, and do, use some coupons but with the way we eat I don't find coupons for a lot of things

Cons:
Meat and produce are insanely expensive in our area. Once the farmer's markets open up in the spring, the produce expense will drop dramatically.

I need to go to the store with better lists and cut out the (sometimes daily) trips to the store with the baby. I need to suck it up and get up early on Saturdays, leave DS with DH, and go with a plan in place.

Having a high needs baby really just threw me off and I am ready to get back on track!

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#7 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 08:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isosmom View Post
I'm in. I've got lots in the pantry and little in the bank.
So, a preemptive question..Is there a way to serve canned green beans (I somehow have 4) that actually taste good or should I just donate them to the food bank?
Great recipe for your green bean.
Cook a little bacon - 1/2 lb. in a frying pan and add a diced onion. Cook together 5 minutes. Add a can of diced tomatoes and 4 cans of drained green beans and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Simmer an hour and they are delicious.

Tammy--wife to a great military manjoy.gif
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#8 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 10:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isosmom View Post
I'm in. I've got lots in the pantry and little in the bank.
So, a preemptive question..Is there a way to serve canned green beans (I somehow have 4) that actually taste good or should I just donate them to the food bank?
I add them to casseroles and soups. I find I like them less and less over time, and DS refuses to eat them.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#9 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 10:42 AM
 
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Given my recent discovery about how much we're actually spending on groceries, I need this challenge! I'll admit that my goal isn't to get down to as little as possible. I want a balance of healthy foods and low costs. Still we spent $1300 on food in November (both grocery stores and restaurants) and something similar in December, so...

I'm going to track all of my grocery spending in January and start looking at some bulk options.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#10 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Welcome to the newbies! I see a few old timers, but when we add new people and combine the seasoned people, it makes for a very creative and resourceful challenge!

I am going to the grocery today and we get our weekly produce delivery. That should set us up for the next few weeks.





Quote:
Originally Posted by annethcz View Post
I'll play.
. One of my resolutions for 2010 is to try a new recipe once a week.
We did this a few years back and its nothing but rewarding! Its so much fun and you will be surprised either what your family will eat and wont eat. A few things I literally crossed my fingers on the kids ate up like there was no tomorrow. Its also fun when your family starts requesting it!

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#11 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 12:49 PM
 
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I've been doing this a little on my blog, mostly to save money for a really nice Christmas dinner, but could use the support. So sign me up!

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#12 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 12:55 PM
 
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I'm in.

Right now we're eating down the pantry. I realized I never made a plan for the stored food, just kept storing and stuffing the freezer and never really cycling old out and new in.

So we are trying to eat the freezer right now and I am coming to understand that if I put something in the freezer, I have to have a plan as to when it comes back out. I'm a bit better about the pantry, dry goods stuff, but the freezer is a black hole of hoarded food.

Goals for 2010

Stop hoarding in the freezer
Grocery shop for 2 weeks at a time
Continue to look for the cheapest prices
Make better yogurt

V

V

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#13 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 02:13 PM
 
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I am in. I can relate to the "Freezer Hoarding". We have 3 freezers full of...well who knows what but they are full and I know whatever is in there was on sale.

I would like to do the pantry challenge and use up some of what we have. I imagine I will still have to shop for some fresh produce/milk but other than that I plan to significantly drop the food bill for January. No eating out or ordering in either!

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#14 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 02:25 PM
 
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I'm in, as long as I can remember to check back, lol.

I was just telling dh this morning that I was going to go thru the freezers and try to eat them down as much as possible. We have rabbits that we'll need to butcher in a few weeks, and then it'll be hog trappin' time again. We also have some neighbors who are not doing very well right now financially (I just saw the dh drive down their driveway, home from work early again because there's nothing for him to do), and I thought I'd offer them a couple of chickens and a ham or something. I also have a bazillion berries from my co-op order this summer.

We also have tons of jam and pickles and home canned potatoes.

As far as food budgeting....I hate to say that I've not kept track at all. My adult dd buys $150 of groceries per month. Other than that I'd say we've probably been spending about $120/week for a family of 7 (4 adults and 3 kids). Still not bad, but I could make it better.

I'm hoping to snowball some student loan debt in 2010 so we can snowball the mortgage after that. Also hoping to have much better luck gardening in 2010. Sheesh, this last year's garden sucked.

Happy Homesteading Homeschooling Homebirthing Beekeeping Dready (& a bit redneck even) Mama to 4 fab kids :  dd (23), dd (13), ds (11), dd (5)

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#15 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 06:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are pretty good about not food hoarding. Such as we eat the entire side of beef and are ready for the next one the following year. That said, we still need to eat out the freezer and make room for the onslaught of meat. For about 12 weeks, it takes up almost the entire freezer so we need to eat out our ready made meals. As we get closer to spring, I will have more room for such things as a tray of lasanga etc.

then when the beef meat supply starts to dwindle, I need to make room for the hog we buy in the fall. That is not as bad though on the space it takes up.

When I started my weekly dairy and produce delivery, it was to eliminate trips to the grocery which it did pretty much. But I would like to get to a once a month trip to the grocery and that is all I need instead of 2-3 like I do now.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#16 of 245 Old 12-29-2009, 07:38 PM
 
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i'll join! Although i 've kind of already been living from the stockpile aside from pershibles for the past month, I haven't been shopping in a week which is good for me, we've been snowed in! I will venture out tomorrow we are out of bananas and I need to get up to the gym once before the new year's hours start.

I have been pretty good at tracking my spending, but completely let it slip after thanksgiving. I don't think that we've spent more, but we have ate out more, but we've been busy with the holidays and my cousins wedding. Well actually we haven't ate out all week, but I really would like to go without eating out for january also.

My grocery bill has varied from 100 a month to 400 a month which is includes eating out and all household items. Normally it is about 275 a month on average. My goal for january is to shop from my pantry and use up what we have, this may also extend to february depending on how much head way i've made on the stockpile. I still plan to spend about 25$ a week on basics and try to not eat out, but i will alott 50$ for the month just to be safe and if dh eats out. I have set one new criteria for 2010, to transition to more organic and natural products, so this will begin also in january, so any dairy/poultry bought must be organic/cage free etc. I will also try to avoid the dirty dozen, be scouring for organic deals and sales and printing more organic coupons to use! I would like to replace conventional snacks etc. with natural/organic ones, but first must use up what we have!

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#17 of 245 Old 12-30-2009, 08:57 AM
 
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One thing I've decided to do is buy a small freezer in order to buy a month's worth of meat and frozens at a time. (I get paid once a month) Also, I plan to buy all non-perishibles at the beginning of the month. Then, all I need to buy on a weekly basis is the produce I will need for the week and since we don't do dairy, I'm not worried about that.

The big issue is my son. He can blow through a bag of chips in a day. And our soda habit. I think we went through about 10 12-packs in the last month. Give or take a few. I drink regular Pepsi and DH drinks Pepsi One.
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#18 of 245 Old 12-30-2009, 02:14 PM
 
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I'll join I just purged old unused food that was buried and put other stuff in a bag for the food bank. I then organized the rest, and listed recipes I could use to make use of my abundant pantry. I should be able to shave ALOT from my grocery spending, I mean *alot*

Pineapple upside down cake for dessert tonight

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#19 of 245 Old 12-30-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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I track all of my expenditures using mint.com. So I know what I've spent and where I've spent it for groceries for the last year. I have significantly brought my costs down month over month. I cook most things from scratch but do have access to a bakery outlet which I might be phasing out. I do bulk purchasing of staples.

Otherwise, I have also found a trick that has helped me tremendously of late, cook book swaps with friends and family members. The internet is great and all, but lately I've done better with the cookbooks. I'm not overwhelmed and I've branched out some from the usual which is in itself fairly varied.

I also try to stick with 3 vegetarian dinners, 2 meat dinners, and one salmon dinner per week. The last night is either leftovers or inlaws - depending on how friendly I'm feeling. We do go through insane quantities of produce.

HTH

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#20 of 245 Old 12-30-2009, 02:56 PM
 
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Wednesdays is my usual grocery shopping day. I made my list for today and it has all of 8 things on it. That makes me laugh because usually my list is 2 pages long. There are going to be some creative meals happening for the next month around here!

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#21 of 245 Old 12-30-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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This month needs to be very frugal, I have other bills I want to pay off and there are many birthdays.

So, I am eating out of the freezer, we put away a lot over the summer and the pantry is pretty stocked.

I am thinking of making some homemade sauce for pasta and pizza, chilli and various pesto based dishes.

I need more flour in order to make stuff from scratch but otherwise we just need eggs, milk, and some fresh fruits/veggies each week. I am hoping to stay under $5o a week.

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#22 of 245 Old 12-31-2009, 12:34 AM
 
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We're moving (confirmed an hour ago!) for 1 Feb., so we're officially in 'eating down the pantry' mode now!

In particular, we have an (over)abundance of tinned salmon and tinned beans to eat up. Lots of other odds and ends.

While I'll miss having DH at home (his parental leave ends on 8 Jan), after baby in Jan 09 and an eventful year, I look forward - by mid-Feb, at least - to getting back into a little bit of 'routine' and re-establishing good habits, both in terms of cooking and spending!

~Sara
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#23 of 245 Old 12-31-2009, 10:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We have a larger walk in pantry. One side is food and the other is storage for different kitchen things we dont need to use everyday-larger stockpot, roasting pan etc. Over the year the storage side gets a bit hap hazard with pulling stuff out to use etc. Now that all the holiday cooking is done, its time to organize it again.

On the food side, I had a can of coconut milk so I made coconut risotto last night. Very yummy. I need to make up a tomato sauce to use up some of the tomato as well.

I should also put fresh baking sodas in the fridge, freezer and large freezer.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#24 of 245 Old 12-31-2009, 12:23 PM
 
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i wanna try this. i'd like to sell the house and think a paired down pantry will look better and help is save money for expenses.
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#25 of 245 Old 12-31-2009, 01:40 PM
 
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I'm in. We also got a 1/4 beef and about 1/4 pork or so. I have a bunch of stuff in the freezer, fish, some chicken, some produce. I need to be much better at actually using the stuff I have!! Right now I have figured for about $350 a month in groceries, but I wonder if I don't spend more than that on average? I didn't totally factor in the beef and pork plus I spend $50-$100 in a bulk order about once a month. So I really think I need to be more realistic when it comes to groceries. I'd like to be honest with how much money I'm spending. I'll tally up the meat purchases and come back to report.

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#26 of 245 Old 12-31-2009, 01:56 PM
 
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I am so in! We are a family of 11 (9 children and two - very outnumbered! - parents)

My plan for tonight (New Year's Eve) is to completely empty and scrub my refridgerator, and throw out all the "science projects" currently lurking in it. Then I will invenotory all of our food, make a meal plan for the month and write my grocery list from my meal plan.

Thanks for starting this challenge, Amy!
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#27 of 245 Old 12-31-2009, 05:28 PM
 
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I'm in for January. I just had a baby two weeks ago (yay for the tax deduction) and I won't be working for the month of Jan, so our income is down by a third for the month. I'm pretty much doing away with the eating out budget, and the "lunch at work" budget for DH, so I need to be on top of packing his lunch in the morning and cooking for the evening. I have a lot of freezer meals that I prepared when I was pregnant, and I'll be relying heavily on those. Otherwise I'll be stretching our WIC foods as far as they'll go, and trying to keep our grocery spending down to about $50/week if I can manage it.

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#28 of 245 Old 12-31-2009, 05:31 PM
 
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I'm in. I'm in the process of taking an inventory of our pantry. I just discovered we have SEVEN cans of whole berry cranberry sauce. How did that happen?? What can I make with it??

I also have four cans of green beans, six cans of whole kernel corn, and four cans of cream style corn. Suggestions for recipes welcome.

I have tons of pasta (eleven boxes of various kinds) and 10 lbs of rice.

I'd like to try to make a dent in our pantry surplus. I'm hoping to eat through the pantry so our grocery bill for January will be low.

Mama to DS 10/04, DD 12/06, and DD 11/09 my baby
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#29 of 245 Old 12-31-2009, 06:09 PM
 
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Sweet potatoes are cheap this time of year. Make cranberry sweet potato bread! MMMM!

Or sugar cookies cut out into circles. Then put a tsp of cranberry sauce in the middle and fold over and crimp. Bake til lightly golden.

Happy Homesteading Homeschooling Homebirthing Beekeeping Dready (& a bit redneck even) Mama to 4 fab kids :  dd (23), dd (13), ds (11), dd (5)

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#30 of 245 Old 12-31-2009, 06:18 PM
 
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So for lunch we had spaghetti that used up 2 jars of sauce, 1 big can of puree, and a small amount of maple sausage, some smoked ham, and some turkey breast and cheese that needs to be eaten up. That really helped clean out my fridge and the smokey flavor in the sauce was a real hit w/the kids!

Tonight I'm making pan fried whole perch, blue gill, and crappie that my dd caught back in May. I'll use up the rest of my cornmeal for spoonbread, the rest of the yummy pinto beans we had yesterday, and some spinach in the freezer and more cheese for a spinach souffle thing. I can probably whip up a berry crisp quickly, too. That'll use up some of the bazillion pounds of various berries that I have (loganberries, boysenberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, dark sweet cherries, brazosberries, and strawberries!!), and some of the 8,000 pounds of oats I have, plus some of the 20 pounds of butter I bought on sale last month, lol.

Happy Homesteading Homeschooling Homebirthing Beekeeping Dready (& a bit redneck even) Mama to 4 fab kids :  dd (23), dd (13), ds (11), dd (5)

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