Monday, October 26, 2009

November is coming!

November is fast approaching and I've got a big challenge for the month! I have a lot of people ask me if I really keep my monthly grocery bill under $200 (averaging $50 a trip) and even though I say yes, some people are still skeptical. So, November will be named: Note Taking November--Tracking My Spending. I am going to post my grocery bill (the food portion because we have a little bit built in the budget for our other items) every week and I'll include coupons or deals I used and where I used them so that maybe you can use them, too! We'll see if I really am able to keep to my limit. What about you? What's your monthly grocery budget? Are you really able to stick to it?

Money Saving Monday

Ok, it's no lie...I have a thing for diet coke. That was probably the hardest thing for me to give up during my pregnancy and- no joke- the entire time I was in labor I kept telling myself that at the end of it all I was going to have a big ol' fountain diet coke to reward myself...and I did...and it was wonderful. Anyway, during our weekly trips to the grocery store, I always stop beforehand at our neighborhood sonic and pick up a large diet coke to shop with. It's great. I usually hit there right as happy hour starts (so my drink is half priced) and I enjoy every last sip of the thing.

So you're asking yourself, where is the money saving? (besides the fact that the drink is half off) Here it is: Check your receipt! Don't only do it at Sonic. Check it everywhere! Sonic will give out receipts every once and a while that ask you to take their survey. It takes about 2 minutes and at the end you receive a code that will get you a free route 44 drink on your next visit (keep the receipt and write the code on it because that's your ticket to the freebie)!

Most places have some kind of survey that they want you take and have some kind of giveaway or drawing attached to it. Can't hurt, and it helps them understand what you want better!

Monday Meal Planning

OK! The sickies have finally left my house (well, I have it now, but I can manage myself better than I can manage my baby) and so our menu planning is back. I'm really excited about this week because I feel like we'll get real meals all week instead of the slacker meals I was preparing while the baby was sick. Here ya go:

Oven fried chicken and yellow squash

Cube Steak Parmesan

Chicken Spaghetti

Beef Stew w/ rice

Homemade pizza

Glazed Country Ribs with new potatoes

Breakfast for dinner

Check out "money saving monday" since I didn't get a chance to do a frugal friday last week. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Just wanted to post a quick apology for being out of commission here. I've had a sickie nine month old for almost 2 weeks and she's just starting to come out of it so we've been doing a lot of "clean the pantry" meals here because she's requiring so much attention. I WILL be back! Probably before Friday because I do have a great frugal friday post for this week. What have you all been cooking? I need some guest posters for when this kind of thing happens!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Tips

This week's tip: don't be afraid to downsize.

This has been on my mind all week and I kept pushing it to the back thinking it wouldn't make a good post, people would probably just scan over it and not think anything of it, but I felt like it needed to be out there because it's something I struggled with. But seriously, especially those mom's (or soon to be mom's) who really want to stay at home but don't see a way to do it.

Don't. Be. Afraid.

It may mean a smaller place. We went down some square footage after we had our little girl and I don't really notice much of a difference. In the long run, I'm SO much happier in a smaller place but staying at home with my daughter that it just doesn't matter. We could live in an apartment this small our entire lives if it means that I can stay home (ok, we may need to upsize just a bit if I get the 5 kids I want...but you know what I mean).

It may mean a not filling your grocery cart-- do you really NEED that bag of chips or can you find a snack that's cheaper and works better to fill your family? I stopped buying the junk that filled our pantry. I was queen of snacks--always had something to munch on. But those snacks a lot of time just filled my cabinets and were only pulled out once or twice before being thrown away because they got stale. I now pick a snack a week, buy that and then we don't buy anymore until the one we have is gone.

It may mean, and usually does mean, downsizing on the amount of times you go out to dinner. Before seminary we went out at least once a week, even if it was just to a fast food joint. In the 4 months that we've been here, I can count on one hand how many times we've been out to eat. You know, the truth is, after about two weeks of not eating out--I didn't really notice it anymore. Now, when we do decide to go out (usually because we've got enough coupons that one of us eats free), it's a huge treat that I look forward to all week.

Downsizing really isn't all that scary when you know why you're downsizing.

Have a FF tip that you want to share? Link your blog post to your comment so we can all see!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Meal Planning

Monday: Chicken in red sauce

Tuesday: Burgers and new potatoes (we really don't have this every week, I've just been trying to get it in our menu for a couple weeks and any night we're ready to have them something comes up)

Wednesday: Taco Spaghetti (didn't make it to the table last week either)

Thursday: Big Ol' Burritos

Friday: Homemade pizza friday

Saturday: Baked Whole Chicken

Sunday: Breakfast

Friday, October 2, 2009

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Tips

Frugal Friday is back! I took a couple of weeks off to compile my ideas and make sure that I could give you really good tips on Frugal Fridays. This week's Frugal Friday tip is: plan on sale, buy with coupons.

When I sit down to do our weekly meal plan, my thought isn't: what am I in the mood for this week? Instead it's: what's on sale this week and how can I fit that into my meal plan?

This is how it works. I think Monday and look at the meats that are on sale at the different grocery stores I frequent (provided I don't already have meat set aside in the freezer). This week at Harris Teeter, Whole Fryer Chicken is .57 a lb, that means that next week we'll probably be having some kind of roasted or baked chicken for a meal. Now, our meal can't just consist of chicken. We need some kind of veggie. So, I look through the adds again for veggies that go well with the chicken and notice in my Kroger add that broccoli is on sale for .99lb (we usually get 1/2 lb of broccoli and it feeds us fine). Perfect. So, there's my Monday meal. Then I go back through the adds again for the rest of my week. It does take time. It's not easy, it takes creative planning, but if you REALLY are in it to save money and keep things healthy then it's very worth it.

**Side note: I know, in my past FF post I said I buy local veggies and talked about buying veggies at Kroger in this paragraph--I buy where I can get something fresh and inexpensively and sometimes that does mean purchasing from the grocery store. You just have to be aware of the prices both places.

Part two of this Frugal Friday is buying with a coupon. In addition to sitting down with the weekly adds, I also sit down with the weekly Sunday paper and look through online adds for coupons. I have a coupon organizer where I keep all of my coupons by their kind (grocery, meds, cleaning products, etc). I then look at my weekly adds and see if I can combine any of the store deals with the coupons to make them cheaper.

I also look for products that we use all the time in the coupons to see if I can get them cheaper. For example, my 8 month old L-O-V-E-S yo-baby yogurt. She has it every morning for breakfast. The only problem is that it's not cheap. This week I found two coupons for yo-baby: .75/1 and .50/1. Then I shop around and find the store that sells them the cheapest (since they are manufacturers coupons and I can use them anywhere). I know that Harris Teeter will always double my coupons if they are under $1 so I know that with these coupons I can get it cheapest there. If I use the .75 coupon then I can get my yo-baby yogurt for $1.49 (they are $2.99 full price, the .75 doubled makes it $1.50 off and leaves me with the new total). I can only print this coupon and use it once so in addition to that one, I'm going to use my .50 coupon and get another batch of yogurt leaving me with the new total of $1.99 (again, .50 coupon doubled leaving me with new total). This leaves me with a total saving $2.50 and I've got enough yogurt for two weeks. Whew!

Couponing is tricky and you really have to know the ins and outs. I had to be taught how to use them most efficiently and am still learning. BUT, they are a wonderful tool if used correctly and can save you a lot of money. In my last grocery trip I tendered close to $30 worth of coupons. Keep at it and you'll be saving the big bucks soon!

Do you have a frugal friday tip? Post a FF post on your blog and leave the post address in your comment.

Do you coupon? Let us know how it works best for you in the comments--I always love to learn new tricks!