Ok, so it's been a long time since I've blogged, mostly because I couldn't figure out exactly what to write about. I had a hip replacement and a knee replacement and those just aren't fun things to write about.
But, I keep getting asked by friends about money saving shopping tips. Since I've been asked over and over again, I thought I'd write about that and maybe just things that are happening in our lives at the same time.
I didn't just decide out of the blue to start saving money when grocery (and other) shopping. My husband was laid off and out of work for 16 months. In between those 16 months, he did work 2 temp jobs, both up in Alaska, once for 3 months and once for 5 months. He finally landed a full time, permanent gig, but alas, in a state 2500 miles away from us. So, now he's working full time, but until he can find something close to home, we are supporting 2 households on one income. Yes, it's a juggling act. So, I had to batten down the hatches and try and save money where ever I could.
The most obvious was our food bill. Now, let me start by saying that we aren't a junk food junkie type of family. Yeah, sure, like everyone, I'll make a frozen pizza now and then to just get the kids fed, but most of the time, I put wholesome, good tasting food on the table. I try to keep the grocery bill down and this is where I'll post my thoughts on how to do it.
Yes, I do coupon...but only for things I use anyway. I might try something new, if there's a good price and a good coupon, but if you are going to coupon, stay away from processed foods. They are more expensive, no matter how you cut it. Even if you can get that granola bar for a dollar off, it's not nearly as good for you or the kids as eggs for breakfast, which cost a heck of a lot less.
Yes, I'm a stay at home mom and not all the suggestions I have will work, especially if you are a work away from home mom. Here's my thing...it's my JOB, as a stay at home mom, to do all those things that work away from home moms don't have time for. I get it. I used to work full time and I know that some of the things I write about just aren't possible if you are working away from home. But some will work, too.
So, the first few tips...
Number one is know your prices. What is a good price to pay for chicken? What's a great sale price? It's really important to know if a sale price is 2 cents off or 80 cents off per pound. So, start by knowing your prices. It may sound daunting, but it really isn't.
If you get a newspaper, check the sale ads. If you do nothing else, watch the prices over a period of time. That same cheese that's "on sale" this week for $2.49 a package was just on sale last week for $1.89 a package. I would highly recommend subscribing to your local newspaper, if for nothing else, the sale pages from the local stores. You'll make your money back, in the long run.
Now, some people run store to store, but I don't for the most part. I like to do most all my shopping in one place and get it over with. Sometimes I'll run to a different store, if there is something outstanding and if I'm going to be nearby anyway. But most of the time, it's once a week and out.
For staples, like milk, eggs, butter, bread, etc., it's really important to know when a price is good and when it's great. When it's good, buy one, if you need to, to tide you over. When it's great, stock up. Eggs last a long time, so does bread, if you freeze it. Just put the whole loaf in a freezer bag before you put it in the freezer to keep it fresh. When the bread goes on sale for 99 cents a loaf, I buy 3-4 loaves and use one and freeze the others.
When canned veggies go on sale for 88 cents a can, I'm that crazy lady, loading 10 cans of peas and 10 cans of corn and 10 cans of green beans into the cart. Why not? That means I'm paying pennies a serving and serving healthy stuff. Now, here's another tip....when serving canned veggies...add a tablespoon of butter, then microwave, then chop up some fresh herbs and throw them in. So, for example, if you are making a can of peas, add butter, nuke and then chop up some fresh parseley and throw it in. It will freshen up the dish and make the presentation better, too. Takes only a minute, but makes a big difference.
Next.....menu plan and make a list. This is really important. You don't want to go into the store and wander the iles....you'll grab this and that and spend too much. Take out the sale ad and see what's on sale and use the sale things to make menu decisions. It's not as hard as you think.
So, say that a store has grapes and apples on sale this week, at a good price, then that means that my kids will have grapes and apples in their lunches. See, it's simple.
Start with the simple stuff and go from there. Even if you shave $10 off your bill, buying only fruit that is on sale, well, you've saved $10.!
Watch for the super sales....plan your menu around them. So, if pork tenderloin is a $5 Friday special, pick up pork tenderlion, better yet, pick up 4, use one and freeze 3. Pork tenderloin is usually around $10-11 a piece, so you are saving 50% and you want to stock up.
A caution....when you first begin, you might actually not save that much money, as you build your pantry and freezer. But, you'll soon see that using those items from your pantry and freezer and just buying a few, fresh things will save you a ton of money!
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