April 13, 2011

More for Layla

I forgot to tell you that I meal plan to keep our groceries on budget. My monthly budget is $480 to cover EVERYTHING - milk, eggs, other fresh dairy, dry goods, canned goods, meat, produce, etc., and dining out.

I feed 5 people, 3 meals each day for all but 2 meals or so a week. Once a week we do leftovers, and we eat out like twice a month (sometimes more if I score really good deals).

I plan out lunches and dinners. Breakfasts are rotated. We either have eggs or yogurt with cold cereal, oatmeal, toast, or waffles (I make extra on a weekend and freeze them, then reheat/cook them in the toaster oven). BB packs a lunch each day that is the same - a tortilla wrap with the same number of slices of cheese and deli meat, a piece of fruit, some baby carrots, and either sugar-free pudding or sugar-free Jell-O.

Our meals are usually things that I can use the meat leftovers in another meal - I roast a whole chicken, and whatever we don't eat (we still only need one chicken but we're not too far from needing 2 to have any leftover), gets removed from the carcass, and used in casseroles, soups, or things like enchiladas or tacos, or even a salad. I cook down the carcass to make stock to use in other recipes down the line - soup etc. So, twice in a pay period (twice a month) we'll have something with cooked chicken in it from the leftovers. We'll do something "simple" twice in 2 weeks - such as soup and sandwiches, or pizza (I make my own to save even more money).

I would recommend buying in bulk whenever you can - if you have room, buy the 5 lb bag of rice instead of the 1 lb. Also, make sure you check the per unit price on items - that 12 oz box of Cheerios might be 2/$5, BUT the 39 oz box is on sale for $3.69 - which is actually less money per ounce, AND if you have that coupon, or your store card, you could get it for even less.

Check to see if you have any local discount grocery stores. I know, this immediately brings to mind the scene from "Look Who's Talking" where Kirstie Alley is imagining life with John Travolta's "always get a free lunch" mindset and he brings out the bag of dented cans with no labels making for a "mystery meal"...but that is just not the case! Bread companies are required to pull their product off main-stream shelves to guarantee freshness, but all those loaves of bread? They go to a bakery outlet - look for one! You can get high-quality products including donuts, crackers and soup mixes for 1/4 of what you might pay at your normal store!

Also - discount stores will often buy products from main stream stores for wholesale and will sell it for a huge discount to you - meaning you can get items like canned soup, veggies, baking mixes, cereal, sometimes even fresh produce (but you might have to buy a whole case!) at a fraction of the normal cost.

It's not spoiled, it's not dented, or missing labels...it just helps the manufacturers keep from losing money, and helps you save money. Look around - check online for discount grocers in your area.

ALSO - watch sales, clip coupons, and plan your meals around what is on sale & in season, NOT what sounds good at the moment. Unless you have severe allergies, or are following a special religious diet (Kosher or Hallel), you should be able to feed you and J for a pretty small amount.

Sure it means you'll cut out some things, but do you really need that giant box of Oreos, or the King Sized bag of Tostitos? Probably not! You might want them...but if it's the difference between paying off that first debt or not...those Oreos don't taste so good after a few bites.

I'm not saying you need to start going crazy like those freaks on Extreme Couponing (some of whom may be breaking the law by the way), just be wise - if Mangoes are on sale, and you're planning on grilling chicken, why not buy some and make a Pineapple Mango salsa, or a Mango Chutney? Avocados for cheap? Have a fiesta night and make guacamole for your tacos! Whole chickens on crazy good deal for $.69/lb? Buy as many as you can fit in your freezer, pop some in your crockpot with some water and seasonings, shred them up once they're cooked, then freeze the meat in containers or ziploc bags for future use, and skim the broth and freeze it up to make other things down the road. Strawberries are B1G1? Buy 6 - 8, and remove the stems, slice them up, and freeze them for smoothies, shortcake, or to top waffles and pancakes on a special meal/breakfast.

It takes some time, and some effort (ask FarmWife's Aunt Anita for help - she's awesome at this!), but you can honestly and ethically get things like toothpaste and deodorant for free, saving you money every month.

Sign up for loyalty rewards - if your favorite restaurant lets you earn free appetizers or desserts, make sure you flash that card and then remember to use those rewards for something special!

Write to companies and let them know you're trying to save money, can they send you coupons. Visit your favorite websites and check for savings online. Sign up for Groupon and keep your eye out for special deals on Facebook - Like your restaurants and get notice of special occasions coming up.

Phew...I think that's all the ideas I have right now...

1 comment:

Layla said...

I.....love you. I do.

It's all common sense, really. But it's just not something I've committed to thinking about. Thank you for helping me think about it. Now, I have to do it. It sounds like a lot of work (we're a..."I'm hungry, wanna run to the grocery store and buy whatever we see?" couple...so horrible) but we NEED to work at it. It's so dumb not to. Why are we wasting so much money? I just threw away two unopened bags of salad because I let them spoil. I was so angry at myself, but it's not the first time I've done it. I'm ridiculous sometimes. I think it's because it's just us....and we've never really had to worry until now. Not cool. My mindset needs to change (and is).

Thank you, again. PLEASE email me whenever you like - wishfullayla (at) gmail.com - that email is also on my blog, but could you do me a favor and pass it on to FW? I have no way to contact her - I had to drop her and all in common friends from facebook for a weird reason, but I miss her and would like to contact her in a non-blog way. Same for you.

Thank you!!!!!