Tuesday, February 4, 2014

All Things Food and Meals: Part 3

We have now the final part in the food and meals (I briefly thought about supplying what a week of meals looks like in this house, but I'm sure you all have your own recipes and meal plans).  This will mostly be about where I shop, my take on couponing, and a little money saving.  Last time I was telling you about my deep freeze...mark my words, it will save you money in the long run and it's so convenient having meat and other staples on hand!

Couponing.  I am a gal that will clip coupons out of the Sunday paper, and every now and then print one off online.  I attempted to join a few sites with some prime coupons, but after the third one that wanted me to install some thingy onto my computer just so I could print one off, I gave up.  Just too much hub-bub for me to print off one or two coupons.  If this is your cuppa tea, hats off to you!!!

You know that show 'Extreme Couponing'?  I love to watch it, but I really can't justify having 68 jars of peanut butter, diapers for a small town of 5000, and kitty litter that could fill a dump truck...eeeeven though you don't own a cat.  Cool to watch, but not for me.  The main reason I'm not a huge couponer is because I am a generic brand buying woman.  Now, years ago, I was a name brand snob when it came to food.  And don't get me wrong, I still have a few items that I MUST have a certain brand of, but I would say that 85-90% of our groceries are a generic or "off" brand.  This has saved my family a lot of money on groceries.  My favorite place to start my grocery shopping adventure?
Yeppers!  Aldi.  I absolutely adore shopping at Aldi.  The local one by me is clean, organized (my fave part) and inexpensive.  Now, because I've been grocery shopping a LOT in my time, I'm very familiar to prices of certain products we purchase on a regular basis, and I'll be the first to say that Aldi is NOT always the cheapest.  But, MOST of the time, it is.  You see, after I compile my grocery list, I ALWAYS go to Aldi first to see what I can mark off the old list.  Hands down, the most wonderful part about Aldi (besides it being organized), is their produce.  Here is an example of what I purchased just last night at Aldi (although I was disappointed they were out of a couple of produce products, but that happens when it's on super sale and in the weekly ad they put out):
I spent a total of $49.50 on all of these groceries.  Quite a bit of produce (package of 4 mini cucumbers, large package of jalapenos, celery, carrots, cabbage, zucchini and cherry tomatoes), 3 different types of breads (regular butter round white loaf, burger buns and sourdough loaf - this is particularly yummy, especially when used to make a pizza grilled cheese), fruit rolls (like Fruit by the Foot...and I just ate 3 rolls while typing this - true story), oj (first time buying this, pretty tasty), french onion sour cream dip (also a first, delish), disinfectant wipes, chocolate covered pretzels (the white choco ones are fab, but I had Peanutty with me and he wanted those for his special something at the store so...impulse buy), butter round crackers (much like Ritz), ketchup (TBA on this one, we usually purchase Great Value at Walmart), two packages of thin crust pizza (we usually make our own out of the $.50 package of 'just add water', but we wanted thin ones this time...and they were on sale - these come 2 crusts and 2 packets of pizza sauce PER package), tortilla chips, peanut butter (this will be my first time EVER deviating from Jif pb -I just had to look up how to spell Jif...pathetic), and flour tortillas. I am a very big snob when it comes to meat.  We will purchase meats from the Beef Guy (a local man that raises cattle - and no, that's not his name), Fareway or Hy-Vee for meats.  I do not, and will not deviate from this because I know it's good from these places and I don't want to waste money testing out an $8.00 roast.  After Aldi, I move on to:
Walmart has a very large selection of their very own generic brand, 'Great Value'.  There are still a few items that we are very particular about, such as:  Mt. Dew, Coca-Cola, Nestle coffee creamer, potato chips, just to name a few.  We are huge fans of Malt-o-Meal cereals, they offer a decent selection at a very low price.  Plus, we go through cereal VERY quickly in this house - the kids love to eat it as their snacks. Just like Aldi, Walmart's Great Value items are not always the cheapest.  I had trained my eyes to go right for the Great Value packages until a couple years ago when I was getting ready to purchase a boat load of green beans (it was holiday time and that means GBC!!!  That's green bean casserole for those of you who don't abbreviate things like I tend to do).  I was stocking my cart up when a kind old man was also purchasing a boat load of GB's.  He pointed out that Green Giant green beans were actually $.22 cheaper (ok, I'm not 100% sure what the difference was but I know it was significant) than Great Value.  I thanked him and then proceeded to switch out the GB's from my cart.  Also around the holidays, Swanson chicken broth gets REALLY cheap.  We tend to buy Great Value (Aldi has their own brand as well, TBA on these as well), but we also make our own and freeze it.

Veggie gardens are a glorious thing to invest your time, a little money and water in to during the summer.  While I'm not really the gardening type, I'm thankful my husband and kids are!  It's a great way to get fresh produce and save money as well!!!

Our grocery budget not only includes food and consumables, but within this budget is also paper products (tp, paper towels, napkins), toiletries, and cleaning supplies (Hubs makes our laundry detergent).  So, to keep a close eye on our food inventory is so helpful.  Especially when we know that the grocery bill will be a little expensive (because in our house it always seems like tp, shampoo/conditioner, and dishwasher tabs always need to be purchased on the same trip!), at times like these we try to arrange meals based on what we already have - reducing the cost of consumables to make room for the cost of the other junk!

The one tip that I truly believe in is:  STICK TO YOUR LIST!  Impulse buys will getcha every time, and Littles (children) will also getcha every time!!!  So, there it is.  The way I meal plan, shop and try to save money.  It works for us, but I know there are many ways to tackle All Things Food and Meals!!!

*Side note:  Thanks to one of my good friends, it was just brought to my attention that there is a wonderful Washi tape website that will make you want to spend your life savings.  Ok, maybe not THAT much but it's still marvelous!  Enjoy:www.cutetape.com

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