Saturday Savings

I took advantage of a few kid-free moments this week and ran to the grocery store hoping for some meat markdowns. I’ve noticed the meat department at my local high-end grocer marks down meat late evening, so if I can plan to swing by after kiddo bedtime, or first thing in the morning, I can usually score some great deals on meat. This week it was ground beef and pepperoni which I was happy for since we’d used all the beef I had stored in the freezer. And my kids love everything pizza, so the pepperoni is a treat for them. Right after it’s photo session the hamburger went straight to the Crockpot to brown and bag for time-saving meal prep later on.

Here’s what this week’s shopping trip looked like:

Highlights:

  • Manager’s Special ground beef: marked to $1.79/lb
  • Macaroni and Cheese had peelies making them $0.94 each. A box this size will last my kids 2+ lunches. And I DO feed them boxed mac and cheese!
  • Capri Suns were a splurge (on sale for $1.49 a box), but when I can I like to stockup on juice boxes/bags for lunchboxes, picnics, and long car trips. My kids think I’m a mean mom since I don’t let them drink them otherwise, but then I become supermom when I do pull them out!

And then later on in the week . . .

Highlights:

  • FREE ice cream (Kroger “best customer” coupon)
  • $0.37 boxes of taco shells (had $1 off peelies on them!!)
  • $0.55 cake mix
  • $0.79 Manager’s Special frosting (perfect!)
Thanks to coupons, our total for the week was:
$61.12

Money Saving Tip: Use cash! It’s a simple concept, and yet, I’ll admit, it’s been a tough habit for us to stick to. Some months we forget to withdraw cash at payday and so we just use the debit card all month. Or some months the envelope is empty before the end of the month, and so we just use the debit card to finish out the month. We never go over, (as in overdrawing),and we don’t have credit cards, but swiping that sweet little debit card sure makes it easy to fudge our budgeted amounts. Not gazelle intense, for sure.

It’s true what they say though–cash is easier to budget because you can physically SEE how much you have (or don’t have).

With the new year we dedicated ourselves to using only cash again. January was a little rocky and the envelopes were pretty bare by the end of the month, but so far February has been going really well and I’m excited about the amount of money we’ve already saved by just putting the debit card away.

{My CUTE new cash envelopes}

Do you use cash envelopes? What’s your experience? They say give it three months until it becomes a habit. Did it take you that long?

Saturday Savings

It’s been a couple of months since I did any serious couponing as I gave myself permission to take some time off from chasing deals while we adjusted to life with a new baby. But this was a good stockup week at Kroger, and I was excited to get back into it and start the new month off fresh with my newly-filled cash envelopes. It feels kind of funny to show off my groceries, but survey results showed you want to see more couponing inspiration. So here you go! 

Best deals: (prices AFTER sale matched with coupon)

  • Canned Tomatoes: $0.29/can
  • Whole Wheat Pasta: $0.50/box
  • Pasta Sauce: $0.74/jar
  • Turkey Meatballs: $0.99/bag
  • Taco Shells: $0.37/box
  • Protein Bars: $0.16/each (planning to add these to our 72 hour kits)
  • Cereal: $0.99/box
  • Formula: $0.99/can
  • Blistex: $0.19/each

Yes, I’m a breastfeeding mama, but after a manager special markdown and a coupon, the normally-priced $16 cans of Enfamil were $0.99!! They’ll be nice to have on hand for the occassional night out.

Total Before Coupons: $181.35

Total After: $67.42

Money Saving Tip: When the deals are hot–stockpile.

When the deals are hot, don’t buy one can, buy six (or whatever number you choose). Items typically reach their rock-bottom price every six to twelve weeks, and keeping a “stock” gets you through the next sale and helps you avoid having to pay full price later on. If the weekly budget allows, I typically buy enough of an item to last my family three to six months (although my current goal is to work up to a year’s supply).

How is your money saving journey going?

REALISTICALLY Feeding My Family on $60 a Week

It’s another week of grocery shopping around here!

I wanted to point out that the trips I show here are REAL and realistic extreme couponing, not like you will see in that show. I worry about the damage the ”extreme couponing” show has done to the couponing reputation. These trips I show ACTUALLY feed my family of five, whereas the “extreme” deals just show a sensationalized, edited-for TV version of “reality TV.” And I hope we all know how “realistic” reality TV actually is.  

So now that we’ve gotten THAT out of the way, onto the deals.

Houchens: $15.36

Although there are a few grocery stores in my small town, I’m pretty loyal to the high-end grocer, Kroger. However, I heard that a local chain of IGA accepts coupons and had a few some good deals so I decided to check them out. My favorite deal was on the Gain–after the sale and coupon it came out to $1.24 each. My family goes through about one bottle (32 loads) a month, so this will last me a few months.

Kroger: $42.82

Best Deals: (prices after sale and coupon savings)

  • Gogurt: $1.12/box  (freeze for lunchbox treats, afterschool snacks, desserts, etc. )
  • Prego: $0.99/bottle
  • Easy Mac: $0.49/each (I’m getting lazy late into this pregnancy and these make quick kid lunches.)
  • Tollhouse cookie dough: $1.34/each (freeze for at-home date nights, quick desserts, etc.)

I realize that by looking at this week’s Kroger trip it looks like we eat a lot of processed junk, but it’s definitely not all we’re eating this week!! Our freezer and pantry are well-stocked. Check out this week’s meal plan.

REALISTIC tip: Remember, when you shop, you’re looking at the sale cycles. And it’s amazing when a coupon aligns with that sale for an even better price, but you can still save A LOT of money even without coupons. When a product is at it’s “rock-bottom price” that’s when you stock-up. Not crazy, extreme hoarder stock-up (seriously, what the heck are you going to do with 100 tubes of toothpaste?), but enough to last your family until the next sale cycle (which typically comes every 6-8 weeks). That way you never (or at least that’s the goal!) have to pay full price for something you need, you just “shop” the pantry or freezer.

My realistic total for the week: $58.18

Feeding My Family on $60 a Week

I’ve been getting a lot of requests to keep sharing couponing deals, so here are details on how I shopped this week:

CVS: $3.27 and earned $11 in ECB

The key to keeping the out-of-pocket cost low when shopping at CVS (as well as other drugstores like Rite Aid and Walgreens) is to purchase weekly deals that offer Extra Care Bucks (UP+ at Rite Aid and Register Rewards at Walgreens).  Then on your next shopping trip, use the ECBs like cash and “roll” them into another product that is also producing Extra Care Bucks. 

So here’s what I did this week: Huggies were on sale for $9 a package. I used three Huggies manufacter’s coupons, a CVS $4 off a $20 purchase coupon, and the ECBs I received from last week’s purchase. It brought my total way down, and then printed off a $10 ECB I can use on my next purchase.

The chocolate bars deal was similar…They were on sale for $0.99, I used a BOGO coupon, and it printed off a $1 ECB, so FREE chocolate! Yes, please.

Kroger: $40.42

We didn’t need much at Kroger so most of my total went to fresh produce, meat, milk and eggs. But thanks to couponing, I can do that! 

Best Deals:

  • Yoplait Delights: $0.49/each
  • Bagged salad and spinach: $0.99/bag
  • Bacon: $1.99 (bought 4 pkgs.)
  • Kraft Salad Dressing: $0.99/bottle
  • Pepperage Farm cookies: $1.29/bag (after-kids-go-to-bed treat!)

Weekly Total: $43.69

I shopped at the beginning of the week and I’m thinking I’ll probably need to run back for another gallon of milk, some bread, and more fresh fruit to get us through the weekend, but I have a little bit of wiggle room to work with.

If you’re new to couponing, don’t get discouraged. I can only keep our total this low because I’ve been doing it for a while and can rely on my stockpiled pantry and freezer items. It does take a few months before you start seeing a drastic change in your budget. When you first start couponing you might not spend less at first, but you will start buying MORE food/supplies for that same amount. Then the next time you need ranch dressing (or whatever) you just go shopping in your pantry instead of having to pay full-price at the store.

Feeding My Family on $60 a Week

Well, I overspent again this week, but justified it with scoring a great stock-up deal on ground beef which I cooked up, packaged, and froze. The freezer now has enough hamburger for at least 10 meals, so it was worth going over the weekly budget a bit. I also spent a lot more at CVS than usual, but got some things we were running low on.

CVS: $22.61

Best Deals:

  • Tampons: FREE plus overage
  • Ritz Crackers: FREE
  • Body Wash: FREE

Kroger: $49.55

Best Deals:

  • Pillsbury Biscuits: $0.17/can
  • Tucks: FREE plus overage
  • Cheerios: $0.99/box
  • BBQ Sauce: $0.60/bottle
  • Juice boxes: $1.29 (for school lunchboxes)
  • Manager’s Special 80/20 Ground Beef: $1.37/lb (stockup!!)
  • Reynolds Wrap (50 ft rolls): $1.14/box (I use this a lot with freezer cooking)

We’re still munching on lots of apples and applesauce from our trip to the farm, have plenty of other meats and veggies in the freezer, lots of tomatoes in our garden, and a stocked pantry so we’re eating well.

Total for the week: $72.16