Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Food Budget and Coupons....(*Edited to Add Crystal Light Deal)

The Food Budget:
How do you create one? Well, here is a start…
Step 1: Take a month and track your spending to determine what areas you are spending your money on.  You write down everything. (You do this for all food—eating out, Turkey Hill stops, anything that is food you write it down.) You can also do this for other areas of your budget—but more about that another time. Let's take baby steps.
Step 2: Decide how you can cut costs.  (Hint-coupons and sales)
Step 3: Make a basic weekly grocery allowance.  Plan meals that will help you stick to that.
By February, you will be ready to make that food budget lower.Then, let me know how it is going.

Some tips to cut costs:
  • Shop with a list and stick to it.
  • Use coupons (More on this in future blog posts)
  • Comparison shop (More blogging on this too!)
  • Know when to stockpile and create one (The first stockpile post tomorrow)
  • Make more at home and double it up. When you make a recipe that you know you can freeze, make 2 of them and freeze the other one for a quick and busy night. Or plan to have leftovers from your menu planning. Making a better plan on how you can use your leftovers will save you money.
  • Grow produce. (OK, I have not done that and I don’t think I can do that well. My thumb is not green. But, we MIGHT give it a try this summer. I want to run the idea by Little Man. Thinking it would be our project. I know if my husband is reading this he is laughing!)
  • Give up the junk--better for your wallet and your body.
  • Shopping in off peak hours if you can will make you feel less rushed and you can process what you are buying better. I remember food shopping very early in the morning when my little man was a baby, he had gotten me up and I wanted to make the most of the day. So, off we went to the 24 hour food store.  Food shopping before 5 am is peaceful.
My one take away for coupons today is just because you have the coupon doesn’t mean you have to use it.  You can go “coupon broke”.

For a coupon to be used you need to ask yourself:
  1. Is this something I use?
  2. Do I need this?
  3. Is it making it free or next to nothing that I can use it in my stockpile? (After last night, I feel the need to clarify a stockpile does not have to devour your house and take up your life! YIKES!)
  4. And…would I buy this eventually even if I didn’t have a coupon. Coupons can make you go crazy buying things you don’t need (like say over 200 boxes of pasta!) or they can be a useful tool to help you stay in or under your food budget. I prefer to use them as a useful tool in getting my weekly shopping trips down to next to nothing.

I plan on doing Money Saving Tips on Mondays and will cover coupons in more detail each week, as well as, some great deals for different stores.  However, I am only sharing what I know and what I am learning and I have a LOT to learn still. But, what I know I am happy to share. I am also happy to point you in the direction of other ladies that know how to work the system well. 
After watching the show last night, I was in shock. I am after the good deals, I want to save money, I want to make coupons and stockpiles work for me. But, there is a point (at least for me) to say when is enough. I remember before Christmas giving coupons to a friend that could use them to get more shampoo. My stockpile was plenty for my family and I wanted to share that great deal with someone who could use it. Plus, a few other things, one there is such a thing as an expiration date, eating way too much processed foods isn't good for your body and having coupons can consume your life if you let it. As for me, I want to live my life, feed my family healthy foods and save money while doing it. I am NOT saying these people are wrong or living wrong as we are each different. I am just saying, that amount of stockpile is not for me.

Have a great day everyone!

**Crystal Light Deal-Explained**
Crystal Light has a somewhat new product called Pure. There are No artificial sweeteners, NO artificial preservatives and No artificial flavors and it's 15 calories per serving. At least that is what the box tells me. :)
They are doing a promo. It came on one of my print offs at Giant. If you buy so many between now and 1/23/11 when you buy 2 you get 1.00 off, Buy 3 get 2.00 off, buy 4 or more get 3.00 off your next shopping order on anything. Now, they have to be purchased in one shopping order. This week Giant has Pure on sale 2/$4.00. (It's usually 2.99 a box.) Buy 4 and you are getting $3.00 off coupon at the register. Not to mention when I have brought it, the register is also printing me .75 off 1 box of Crystal Light as a Catalina coupon. Which are coupons that print at the register after your purchase is made. So, today, I made a quick stop and got some more. I bought 4 of them to be exact. (We all like Crystal light--don't worry I won't stockpile 100 boxes or anything ;)). I also got veggie pasta--which was also on sale 4/$5.00 and I had 3 $1.00 off coupons. I only bought 3 of the pastas. I used my coupons that I had, $3.00 off, $1.50 off, and (3).75 off, plus each of the 1.00 off pasta coupons (3 total) and my bill which should have been $17.03 +tax, (apparently crystal light is taxed?!?) was now $2.35 including tax. Not bad for a 5 min trip. Oh did I mention I also got the $3.00 off coupon again. So, although out of pocket (which is what I count) was $2.35, I really made out on this deal--.65 to be exact.
Now, I can use that $3.00 on veggies, fruits, whatever I need next week. Questions, ask away. I am happy to help.

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