Showing posts with label grocery shopping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grocery shopping. Show all posts

Thursday, March 17, 2016

50 Ways You Are Not Being Frugal


Being frugal is not hard, but many people make mistakes in their frugal journey in life. Saving money, making smart decisions, choosing used over new, choosing quality over cheap, and being conscious where your money goes is time-consuming and somewhat exhausting.

However, most people believe they are being frugal without even realizing that they aren't being frugal at all. We all like to think we are frugal until we make these mistakes:

1. Grocery shopping without a meal plan or a list.

2. Letting food go to waste in the refrigerator.

3. Eating lunch out instead of eating up the leftovers.

4. Buying brand new clothes when used will do.

5. Refusing to use coupon codes when shopping.

6. Buying store bought cookies and cakes instead of making them yourself.

7. Buying cleaners you can easily make yourself.

8. Holding on to things that no longer have any use to you.

9. Not taking care of your things.

10. Throwing away broken items instead of fixing them.

11. Buying new clothes instead of mending clothes

12. Buying a new car every year or so instead of driving your perfectly good 10 year old car.

13. Paying for insurance without shopping around.

14. Buying coffee instead of making your own and filling a thermos.

15. Paying someone to mow when you are physically able to do so yourself.

16. Paying the mechanic to change your windshield wipers.

17. Buying new when used will do.

18. Not taking care of your vehicle with regular oil changes and tire checks.

19. Ignoring free samples

20. Paying for something that you can get for free.

21. Shopping because you are bored

22. Buying materials instead of repurposing what you have.

23. Buying a item you will only need once for a project instead of borrowing or renting the item.

24. Paying for services you don't use.

25. Subscribing to monthly overpriced boxes or subscription services.

26. Not taking advantage of employee benefits like clothing allowance and tuition assistance.

27. Using credit cards and not paying them off every month.

28. Buying name brand OTC medicine and almost anything else when generic will do just fine.

29. Keeping unwanted or ill-fitting items instead of returning them for a refund.

30. Going out to the bars and eating out every weekend instead of enjoying a beer and a good meal at home.

31. Throwing an item away when a component breaks instead just buying the component and making the item usable again.

32. Leaving the furnace or air conditioner run when you have windows and doors open.

33. Driving around town wasting time and gas for one errand instead of running all your errands in one day and with a plan.

34. Buying an expensive pair of glasses when reading glasses from the store will do.

35. Paying daily to go to the gym, YMCA, or the pool instead of buying a season/year pass.

36. Buying a season/year pass for the gym, YMCA, or the pool and not using it enough to make it pay.

37. Buying brand new egg cartons for selling eggs when friends and family have a ton of used ones to give you.

38. Buying plants for the garden instead of trying to start your own seeds.

39. Being a "short order" cook at mealtime and making everyone their own meal instead of making one meal to serve everyone.

40. Creating a higher garbage bill by throwing recyclables in the trash.

41. Using single use coffee cups and water bottles instead of carrying a thermos or water bottle with you to refill.

42. Ignoring bills and letting the interest rack up instead of making payments and staying in touch with the creditor.

43. Continuing bad habits when you cannot afford to do.

44. Failing to plan ahead for emergencies by not having a savings account or things with you to care of the emergency.

45. Borrowing money instead of saving money for vehicles, campers, and recreational vehicles.

46. Having every light in the house on instead of just in the rooms you are using.

47. Forgetting to use gift cards and discount cards.

48. Blowing your budget just to impress your friends and family.

49. Going into debt during the holidays just to give your kids everything they wanted.

50. Using credit cards instead of cash to pay for vacations and gifts.

Recognize yourself in any of these?

I am not perfect either. I have written most of these knowing that I have committed these frugality sins. However, I have lived and learned and you can too.

A mistake is a mistake. It shouldn't rule your life and you should be able to forget about it. Next time, you do a little better at being frugal and being conscious about how to spend your money. You don't forget about what is free and you don't forget to take advantage of that online discount. Being frugal takes practice!

What frugal mistakes have you made?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 3 and 4 Update!


So...I am being a bit of slacker on keeping you all updated on this shopping challenge.

Probably because I didn't want to admit I was a complete failure.

Month 3 went smashingly. As I predicted, I made one small trip to the store right before Christmas for apples and Texas toast bread for our traditional apple fritters, French toast, and bacon on Christmas morning. What I took to my parent's house on Christmas Eve, I had all the ingredients for - cavatini and banana bread.

I was well pleased with myself about Month 3. Month 4 has proven to be more difficult.

I started out making my monthly trip to the grocery store and Walmart a few days early due to my schedule. I spent $200 between the two stores for groceries at Aldi's and pet food at Walmart. This was a little high in my opinion, but doable.




I also decided to take delivery of my Amazon Subscribe and Save for January because I had a lot of things on there that we needed. I had stuff on there for school lunches, pet treats, and some health and beauty items. I also placed a small order on Amazon for a few other needed things for the house.



Here is where the rest of the month went downhill quickly.

Did I explain what was going on in January? Rob was moving in. In fact, he did 2-1/2 weeks ago. He is not the reason or the excuse for my downfall. I had to adjust my food budget a little bit and prepare food for one more person which is not at all difficult. I did make another trip to the grocery store.

My downfall? I have been cleaning and purging, organizing and reorganizing, and generally tearing my house apart to make room for him. (I was not entirely successful.) The house also really needed an overhaul. There is a lot more work to do with bedrooms being moved and some repairs needing to be made. 

Taking on a whole house purge, organization, and reorganization is not conducive to a Once A Month shopping challenge. Not at all. I have been buying totes, baskets, small organization tools like hooks, and stuff to fix the broken things that I have finding. I have been trying to make do with what I have and have come up with good solutions that cost me nothing. 

I have no idea how much money I spent in month 4. I am pretty sure I busted my budget which is not okay, but life is goes on. I know I probably spent closer to $300-350 for the month. I try to keep the household expenses to under $300. 

In the process of this, I have lost my groove in meal planning and grocery shopping. I am hoping to get back on track in month five. At the very least, I want to keep the grocery trips down to twice a month. I haven't been buying a lot of personal items because we are pretty well stocked up on those things. I did only shop for pet food once and only had to buy one more bag of cat food ($70 for pet food). I did take my Subscribe and Save for this month also totaling $54. So month five is looking a bit more promising.

How are you doing in the Once A Month Shopping Challenge? My friend Daisy at The Organic Prepper gives her update here. I want to hear about yours!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, December 14, 2015

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 2 Update & Month 3 Beginning


Month 2 Update:

November started out with really great intentions. I was set up for the month with one grocery trip and two trips to other stores. I was hosting Thanksgiving and thought I knew how many people were coming. 

Then two days before Thanksgiving hit. We made a trip to the store when I figured I did not have enough food (I was wrong, of course). We had more people coming along with bad weather and I started to panic a wee bit about having enough food. So I went to the store and spent another $50 I should not have spent. 

If that was not bad enough, I went back the next day too! However, I am not sure I am counting that since it was Rob's food I was buying and being reimbursed for. He just couldn't make to the store after he got off work (he's a trucker).

I also made a trip to Dollar General. I had a $30 gift card that I had earned a while ago for trying a product and taking a survey. It wasn't a specific card to Dollar General, but could only be spent in certain stores and Dollar General was the only one close to me. I had this card for awhile and realized it expired the end of November! Eek! No matter what the experiment is, I cannot throw away free money! I did, however, make it into another experiment that I hope to blog about this month yet. 

I did cancel my Amazon Subscribe and Save this month. I didn't feel right about taking it and I didn't really need anything that was being shipped. My kids might argue with that, but they will live.

Month 3 Beginning:

Month 3 actually began last week. I did grocery shop a few days early and without a detailed list, but I was driving by an Aldi's. I do not pass up an Aldi's when I drive by one because they are usually cheaper than my regular grocery stores. 



Case in point: This month I spent $120 on groceries for almost the same stuff that I bought last month for $175. I was able to get a half-gallon of Paige's milk for $2.79 each versus paying $3.99 at our local stores. Almond milk is about the same. Produce is almost always cheaper as is spices. 

I am almost in love with Aldi's and try to do all my grocery shopping there. And with some big changes happening at my house in January, shopping cheaper will become even more important. Rob is moving in with me at the end of January! Yeah (like jumping over the moon yeah!)!

Like I mentioned, I did not have a list. I really hope that doesn't end up being a disaster. I do keep a list on my phone of things I run out of so I know I need to get those things. I also don't have a specific meal plan for December. I am trying to use up expired and soon to expire food in the pantry right now so meals are being based around that.

I also made a trip to K-Mart to get two bags of dog food, six cans of wet dog food (I had 2 - B2G1 Free coupons), two bags of treats (B1G1 Free coupon), three small bags of cat food, and 1 bottle of conditioner. I spent $64 there after coupons and discounts.

I made a trip to Target also to get under eye concealer (K-Mart doesn't carry my favorite brand), two bags of whole wheat flour, and some Christmas cards. I spent $20 there with coupons and discounts. 

I think this month will go better. I am still Christmas shopping, but hope to get that done soon. I also usually make French toast, bacon, and Apple Fritters for Christmas brunch. I did not buy any Texas Toast Bread for the French toast because Aldi's did not have any. I might try my hand at making French Bread for French toast. Otherwise I will be making a very short trip to the store for that and more apples if they supply doesn't hold out. Dane eats 1-2 apples a day so that is a distinct possibility!

I also don't know what I am bringing to my parents for Christmas there. Most of our family meals are potluck, but those bringing food are usually assigned a food group like bread, vegetables, salad, and whatnot. I should probably ask my mom what she wants me to bring! Hopefully that won't mean a trip to the store either!

As you can see, I am not perfect. I try and I do love this challenge because it is keeping me out of the stores and on budget. I will have some new challenges coming up with this challenge, but Rob knows about this so he won't be surprised. If he wants something, he will just go get it himself. 

How did your month go? What surprises are you anticipating for this month?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 2 and November's Meal Plans


Here we are, Month 2 of the Once A Month Shopping Challenge!

I tried to be a little more prepared for this month. I have officially made my three planned stops as of yesterday. The first stop was to K-Mart to get:

2 bags of dog food
2 bags of cat food (grain-free for the cat with a sensitive stomach)
1 bag of cat litter
1 bottle of shampoo (for me)
1 bottle of shampoo/conditioner (for Dane)
2 bottles of conditioner (1 for me, 1 for Paige)
2 bottles of Vitamin C gummies (buy 1, get 1 free)

I cannot find the receipt right now, but I know I spent $76 with taxes and we saved $25 with coupons and discounts. Some things like cat litter have gone up a bit and that surprised me. 

The second stop was to Menards. I have this receipt! At Menards, I bought:

1 Plastic Window Kit to cover my inside windows
1 Plastic Door Kit to cover my back door until I get a new storm door
1 Garden Hand Shovel to replace the one the dog chewed up
2 different size drill bits because the ones I had were dull
1 set of sticky mouse traps
1 bag of Fast Set Repair Mortar for the basement drain. We have caught snakes coming up through the sides of it where the cement has crumbled. 

I had a Menards rebate check for $10. My total after that was $19. Not too bad! I also got another rebate to mail in when I bought the window kit. 

The third stop was to Fareway. This trip was for groceries and this one hurt! I won't list everything because this was a big grocery shopping trip that included Thanksgiving. I am hosting it this year!



The highlights and deals:
Frozen vegetables for $.77 (I bought 6 bags)
Shredded cheese - 8 oz. packages for $.99 each (limit 3)
Pork Sausage for $1.99 a pound (I got 3 - 1 lb. packages)
10 pound roll of 85% ground beef on sale for $2.99 a pound (I got one roll)
Store pasta on sale for 10/$10.00
A lot of produce 

I spent $174.00. I am still in shock, but I am trying to step back and realize if this is for the whole month, that is not bad at all. I shopped a lot of deals and saved quite a bit that way. I did have to buy meat which always kills me. I bought two roasts in addition to the meat listed which were $18 total. That is just expensive, but both roasts will provide two meals and 2-3 days of leftovers afterwards. That is not bad.

I already have the turkey and ham in my freezer for Thanksgiving. I bought potatoes, stuffing, apple cider, cranberries, and fried onions for the green bean casserole. I have a lot of food in my pantry already for side dishes. Plus our holiday meals are potluck so many other people will be bringing more food. 

The November Meal Plan is going to look similar to October's meal plans. I will be incorporating more slow cooker meals that are low carb for me. The kids will probably have rice with them, but I need to be more diligent about sticking to eating better. I have my freezer meals for the slow cooker and we are also trying Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef and Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja. I can't wait to try them!

November Meal Plan
Chili (slow cooker)
Beef Stew (slow cooker)
Mongolian Beef (slow cooker)
Ropa Vieja (slow cooker)
Chicken Noodle Soup
Cavatini (for sports banquet)
Pork Chops and Roasted Vegetables
Homemade Pizza
Fajitas
Tacos (2 times)
Baked Rigatoni
Taco Chili Mac
Turkey Pot Pie
Spaghetti
Slow Cooker Roast Chicken and vegetables
Chicken Loaf, rice, and vegetables
Fritatta
2-3 Freezer Meals
Thanksgiving 
Thanksgiving Leftovers
Leftovers from slow cooker meals

I realize the leftovers are a tentative thing. I usually make a lot when I make slow cooker meals so we have plenty of leftovers. However, I am living with the joy of a growing boy. If he is hungry and even remotely likes the meal, he can eat a lot! Holy moly! Paige can also eat a lot too which makes for an interesting meal time some nights. 

As always, I make my own bread and snacks for myself and the kids. We have chickens that produce eggs which is my breakfast almost every morning. This month, I am going to try to make my own tortillas (those are more expensive than ever!). 

How is your shopping challenge going? What are you planning for meals for November?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month One Update


My first month's Once A Month Shopping Challenge will be done in just a few days. I will probably go grocery shopping a few days early due to how my budget works and when I get paid. However, I wanted to give you an update so you can see how it is going so far. 

The successes:

I feel like I have been freed from shopping. Really! We have found so many creative solutions to problems like Paige's Halloween costume. The kids have been on board with this challenge and they like it so far. They even went grocery shopping with me for the month. They thought about things I had forgotten to write down and what I had not fully planned out (cold lunches).

For the first three weeks, this challenge went smashingly. We are naturally frugal as a family so this challenge didn't hit us too bad. We had a lot in food storage and full freezers which helped greatly. We made a good dent in the upstairs freezer and hope to get more done there in the next month. 

We made bread like usual, brownies, molasses cookies, and energy balls for snacking on and to add to cold lunches. 

Like I thought in the original challenge, we did not need to purchase any personal items like shampoo, conditioner, and whatnot. I know we will need to this next month, but I need to take inventory today.

I actually don't like shopping so this was a win for me. I just need to plan a little better!

The failures:

This last week was the failure. Rob came down for the weekend, Paige had a sleepover, and Halloween happened in one weekend. I went to the grocery store and Kmart twice each! 

The truth of this was I didn't have these things on my radar when the month started. I also believe in having things that the guests would like on hand. Rob is not exactly a guest, but his morning beverage of choice is Diet Coke and I got him some. We got some ice cream that Paige could have for her sleepover. Dane conned me into buying more Go-Gurt that was on a really good sale because 11 year olds are good at spotting those things. We also got pumpkins for carving and garlic bread for lunch. 

Kmart runs involved a new phone charger, face paint for a Halloween costume, a tiara for Paige's costume, make-up remover wipes, pots for replanting herbs, and more potting soil. 

I was bummed that I had to place an order on Amazon today. However, we need fish filters and weekend feeders for the goldfish and I got some more gifts for the holidays so the hit on my budget will not be so bad by Christmas. The fish filters are $16.00 cheaper on Amazon then buying at our local store. I also got an eight pack of stainless steel earrings ($8.00) since I have really sensitive ears. The only jewerly I were is earrings so this is important to me. Some of the sizes are not ones I would wear, but I will turn those into stocking stuffers. 

And then there is the matter of the Halloween costume. I bought one off of Ebay for cheaper than I could find it otherwise. Dane insisted on being the Joker and we had nothing we could make work for that. Grrr...but he was a good Joker!



However, it will only be one order for Amazon and one order for Ebay. Nothing else left to buy for this month. I hope. 

What I had already planned on:

I did stop at Walmart one weekend and pick up dog food. I had that already figured in for a shopping trip, but I am already thinking I should have bought a bigger bag. I ordered chicken feed through my work and that should last us two months by my last calculations.

What I forgot about:

My Amazon Subscribe and Save order. I won't actually receive it until the new month starts, but I am not sure where that falls into this challenge. I use this to get things I use a lot cheaper. This month's order included protein powder, cod liver oil soft-gels, vitamin D gummies, green tea, ground cinnamon, dog treats, and face wash

Coming up for next month:

We will need cat food and dog food next month. I also need to pick up a bag of cat litter since our current bag will probably not last another month. I will probably pick up a chicken feed block too to help combat boredom and fighting in the chicken coop.

I am still planning my grocery list. I have kept a careful list of what we ran out of so I would remember to get those things again. I am not sure where we are having Thanksgiving yet, but I have two whole turkey breasts and two hams in my freezer that can be used if at my house. No matter where we have Thanksgiving, it will be a potluck affair so I just need to have the basics. I have plenty of things on hand for desserts. 

I will probably do some more Christmas shopping during the month so I am not doing it all in December. I will have to also do some birthday shopping for Paige since her birthday also falls in December. 

How are you doing in your challenge?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Shared on the From The Farm Blog Hop

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Want To Save Money? Learn To Live On Just Cash.



Money is necessary. It is not evil and it is not good, but it keeps gas in your car, heat in your home, and clothes on your back. Most people need to have money for one reason or another. We would all like to believe that we don't need money, but we would be lying to ourselves. 

However, money is not the problem. The way you use money can be a problem. 

Many people rely on credit cards, floating checks, and not paying bills to pay for groceries. I know all about these tricks because I have been guilty of doing all three at one time or another. Most people have done that or worse. 

In fact, my budget went bust in September due to a high rise in school expenses. I did not have that much money budgeted for school expenses (budgeted $100, actual cost $250). In addition to higher school cost in August (budgeted $125, actual $225). These were not my kids' faults and the expenses needed to be paid. High school is a little more expensive at this school. However, it didn't help my checking account.

So I started going back to some tricks to get me by when my budget goes bust and my bank account needs a break.

The first thing I did was join the Once A Month Shopping Challenge. Only shopping, especially grocery shopping, once a month will help my budget greatly. My spending was halted immediately. I had been making 2-3 shopping trips a month to just the grocery store. That is done. 

The second thing was to pledge to use cash for any other miscellaneous expenses this month. However, I am not withdrawing cash from my checking account. Like I said before, that account needs a break. I will pay bills, gas for my vehicle, one grocery trip this month, and any other major incidentals from my checking account. 

However, I am still using cash first before using my bank account except for bills.

How am I living on cash this month? 

1. I am having an online garage sale. I am selling our unwanted things on Facebook garage sale pages and Craigslist. I already have a seller account on Ebay and some things have been listed and sold there too. 

2. I am taking cans and bottles back to the redemption center. In Iowa, you can get five cents back for every redeemable bottle or can. We do not drink a lot of pop or alcohol, but we had enough to get rid of all the same. Plus we get cans and bottles thrown into the ditch in front of our house. That is not cool, but it ends up being our gain.

3. I am selling the excess eggs from my chickens. 

I could also make things to sell, but I am not very crafty and do not have a lot of materials on hand. I could also pick up some writing jobs, but a lot of times I do not get paid for a few months. However, I am always looking for new ways to make some extra cash.

If you do have these options available to you, be creative. You can only withdraw a certain amount of money from your bank account to use. You can also pick up some small side jobs like mowing, raking leaves, or shoveling snow. 

What has this "living on the cash that I have been earning" done for me? 

1. I am not just spending recklessly. Every spending decision is weighed carefully. Will I need that money for admission to an event at school, dog food, gas for the car, or something else? Will the kids need something? I don't always know so I try not to spend the cash. 

2. No more extra spending. I had to buy dog food on Sunday. I walked into the store, grabbed the dog food, paid for it, and walked right back out of the store. Before this month, I might have grabbed a few other things that we didn't need right away. Now that is not an option.

3. I use cash first before using my debit card or check book. If I have cash, that is what I use. The other two things are only to be used in emergency situations.

4. I enjoy free things even more. I have always taken a lot of joy from the free things in life. However, this has amped it up a bit more. I love free! I also appreciate when sudden surprises show up like a friend bringing me a soda today, just because. 

5. I have been trying really hard to waste less. I am actually working on becoming a zero waste household, but we still have a few obstacles to overcome. I am a naturally frugal person who doesn't like to waste anything, but I find myself unconsciously wasting food or things we have. I am working harder on being better at not being wasteful. 

Life really is easier living on cash. I know a lot of people say if they have cash in their pocket, they feel like they should spend more freely. In that case, those people need more self-discipline and an alignment of their priorities. 

Cash, on the other hand, can help your frugal tendencies because you don't want to spend it. I talk myself out of a lot of purchases when I have to spend just the cash I have on hand. 

I am also enjoying this challenge. I will probably continue it as long as I can. I have four kids so I have a lot of things to get rid of!

What is your feelings on cash? Are you a cash only household? 

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October Monthly Meal Plan - A First In My World!



In junction with my once a month shopping trip to the grocery store, I needed to work out a month of meals to make. This was actually pretty easy for me because we have a lot of the same meals from month to month. I usually try 2-3 new meals a month as well, but I don't always get it done.

From October 8th, when we went grocery shopping, this what I have made so far:

Thursday: Frugal Refrigerator Clean-out Frittata

Friday: Slow Cooker Roast Chicken with Rice and Peas

I put the carcass of the chicken back into the slow cooker, filled it with water, added 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, and left it on low to cook all weekend.

Saturday: Breakfast and Lunch were find your own or leftovers. Paige and I were at State Marching Band Contest. Supper was Chicken Broccoli Casserole using chicken leftover from Friday's meal and broth from the slow cooker.

Sunday: Baked Oatmeal for breakfast, Chicken and Noodles for lunch using chicken from Friday night and broth from the slow cooker. Whatever broth was left in the slow cooker was canned Sunday night. Dane and I had popcorn for supper while Paige had supper at youth group.

I am not planning out the meals specifically by the day for the rest of month because I want some freedom to use up leftovers or for a change in our plans. For example, last night I made some chicken thighs that I had used a half package of for a meal last Wednesday. They needed to be used up as well as the extra rice from Friday night's meal. I added a can of green beans to it to round out the meal.

The same will go for tonight's meal. I have two Italian sausages that need to be eaten up before they become dog food. Paige will be at a cross country meet so this will be perfect for Dane and I. We had some renegade potato chips make it into our house that I cannot have, but I will have Dane eat some with his meal. I will have leftover rice again if there is any left.

For the rest of the month, this is the list:

One-pot Chicken Lo Mein
Crazy Crust Pizza
Homemade Pizza
Roast in the Slow Cooker with Potatoes, Carrots, and Onions
Homemade Mac and Cheese
Chicken Noodle Soup
Spaghetti
Corn Casserole
Pork Chops and Roasted Vegetables
Tacos (most Saturday lunches)
Chicken Loaf, Rice, and a Vegetable
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, and Corn
Beef Stew
Ham Steaks and Eggs
3-4 Freezer Meals - these are mostly soups or stews
Chicken Fajitas

This may not seem like enough meals, but we will be gone two weekends. I am also allowing space for leftovers that we may need to eat. If we have the whole family home (five people plus boyfriends and friends), I have everything to make lasagna or chili and will do so to feed a large crowd. Some nights we are really busy and will have just fried eggs with toast, sandwiches, or quesadillas.

For breakfast on the weekends, I usually make overnight oatmeal, baked oatmeal, pancakes, or eggs and toast. On special occasions we will have French toast or apple fritters. If I am not feeling so great or it is a weekday, the kids can eat muffins, granola, yogurt, cold cereal, and oatmeal packets. I usually eat leftover breakfast from the weekend or eggs and toast. Some times I will fry up a bunch of bacon to eat during the week too.

If you are curious about any of the recipes, I can do a blog post on them if they are mine or I can put a link to them below.

Do you do a monthly meal plan?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, October 9, 2015

Do You Want To Join The Once A Month Shopping Challenge?


Do you want to save money? Do you want to shop at the store less?

I know I do! I used to shop only once a month for groceries and I have fallen off the wagon. Sad, but true.

However, my friend Daisy at The Organic Prepper has issued a Once A Month Shopping Challenge! She is challenging fellow bloggers and readers to only shop once a month for the next six months with a little leeway for the holidays. Check her out here to see the rules and what she has planned! 

Yesterday was my grocery shopping day. I got paid on Tuesday, but was a little too busy (and lazy) to run to the store. I knew I would need some cheese, milk, meat, and produce to make through the month. 


I am going to tell you all some things up front so you will know where I am in my grocery shopping and food storage as well as what challenges we have:


1. I have a very full refrigerator right now. Some of the leftovers were ignored and need to be fed to the dog.

2. We are following a more unprocessed, low carb diet for my health. I hope I can get through this month on what we have. Having to eat more protein to keep my energy up has been very eye-opening!

3. Paige is lactose intolerant which really limits what I can use for dairy and substitutes. She drinks lactose-free milk and I use unsweetened almond milk in my baking and some cooking. However, I can see making a run just for milk. She drinks at least a half gallon a week. I bought three half-gallons of Lactaid knowing we had a full one in the fridge already. Dane and I do not like the taste of milk and normally just drink water.

4. I have a very full freezer with at least ten freezer meals in it. I hope to use up some of the older meat this month. I also have a full pantry which needs some using up of the older food.

5. We make almost everything homemade with bread, snacks, and breakfasts being the big ones. We have chickens which means we have a constant source of eggs. 

6. I take cold lunches or leftovers for lunch everyday. Paige takes a cold lunch at least twice a week.

7. We will be gone at least two weekends this month to Rob's place. We still make our own meals, rarely eating out (too expensive), and cook a lot on the grill. One of those weekends, we will be at his sister's house, but again everything will be about the same as if we were at his house.

With that in mind, what did I buy yesterday at the grocery store for the month?

1 - 16 oz. bag each of shredded Mozzarella, Colby Jack, and Sharp Cheddar cheese ($2.99 ea.)
16 oz. container of sour cream ($2.19)
1 - 8 oz. chunk each of Colby Jack and Monterrey Jack cheese ($1.66 ea.)
8 oz. container of sliced mushrooms ($1.99)
1 head of broccoli ($1.48)
1 box of saltine crackers ($1.49) (I have not learned to make these well yet.)
1 box of Go-Gurt for Dane ($2.00)
1 big box of fruit snacks for the kids ($5.99)
2 whole chickens ($.99 a pound - $7.94 total)
1 pound container of sliced ham ($3.99)
2 - 2 pound bags of carrots ($.88 each)
3.17 pounds of pears ($.88 a pound - $2.79 total)
1 box of organic spinach ($2.50)
1 bunch of green onions ($.88)
10 pound bag of russet potatoes ($2.49)
3 pound bag of yellow onions ($.99)
4 pack of mixed bell peppers ($4.99)
3 - 3 pound bags of Jonathan apples ($.99 each - $2.97 total)
2 bottles of reduced sugar grape juice ($.99 each - $1.98 total)
1 - half-gallon of unsweetened almond milk ($2.97)
4 pack of Activa yogurt for Paige ($2.50) (Paige can handle this yogurt.)
1 - 32 oz. container of plain yogurt ($2.99)
3 - half-gallons of Lactaid milk ($3.99 ea.) 

Total spent with tax was $81.69. A lot of this was on sale which is how I determine what I am going to make for meals for the month. 

I still have to make a run for pet food and possibly chicken feed. The kids should not need any personal products and we should be good on household items. 

I also still need to find Dane a Halloween costume. He is outgrowing everything! And, of course, he wants to be the Joker this year. 

In the next few days, I will post what I am making for meals for the month as well as any snack food and breakfast. I am still finalizing some of this due to still evaluating what needs to be used up.

Please join us in The Once A Month Shopping Challenge! I promise you will learn a lot about yourself, your shopping habits, and your family!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, June 26, 2015

10 Preparedness Items You Should Be Buying Every Month


As crazy as it seems, some people make prepping harder than it has to be. Learning skills can be hard, but the end rewards are so worth it. The work can be hard, but the pay off is that jobs get done and you have accomplished something for the future.

However...preppers still need stuff. We can produce a lot of our own things and survive just fine. We still need the items that will make survival easier now and, heaven forbid, if anything bad happens. We need things to keep our lifestyle simpler and easier if something happens.

Over the eight years or so that I have been prepping, I have some things that I buy almost every month. Some months when the budget is tight, I might not purchase any of these. Then I appreciate having these things on hand!

Below is my list of things I buy every month. I don't make one big trip and buy all these things in one trip. I add them to my cart at the grocery store, department store, online shopping, and whatnot. I spend a little bit every shopping trip or online order to spread out the cost over the month. 

10 Preparedness Items You Should Be Buying Every Month

1. Canning lids, rings, and jars. I buy canning lids every month. Without fail. At least 3-4 packs of them. I pick up canning rings and jars when I have more room in the budget. I don't really think you can have too many of these things. 

2. Soap in any form: bar soap, body wash, dish soap, laundry detergent, castile soap, all purpose soap, disinfectant soap, etc. I usually buy at least 2-3 things of soap every month. Castile soap is probably my favorite soap, but I keep a good variety at home. I really don't think one can have too much soap when you have kids, have a garden, and have livestock. Staying clean is a good thing.

3. Toliet paper. Enough said. I really don't want to be without it. 

4. Paper, pens, and pencils. Especially paper. I write a lot down just to remember it. My kids use a fair amount of paper, pens, and pencils for school even though they have computers. We use paper and pencils to draw and to entertain. Paper is important. 

5. Ammo - whether ammo for guns, arrows for bows, refill cartridges for anything else. Really, this can not understated. I also think if you buy a little every month, you might not draw as much attention to yourself. 

6. Food that will store well: salt, rice, beans, honey, spices, etc. Again, enough said. Food is more than important. It is necessary. Learning how to cook long storing food is a necessary skill. We need food and water.

7. First aid items and medicine. I buy ibuprofen and/or naproxen every month as well as 2-3 first aid items every month without fail. I don't want to be without it even though I have plenty of natural remedies on hand too. Something you just need the little pill to take the aches away. 

8. Seeds. I realize you might not be able to find these every month. As soon as they come into the stores, I start buying. I look for seeds that will actually produce food like squash, beans, peas, carrots, etc. I do not buy flower seeds unless they are edible. During the winter, I buy packages of heirloom seeds already packaged in mylar and oxygen absorbers. I have a garden already, but if you don't, please get one started. Gardening is a skill you can't be without.

9. Water. As important as life itself. You need water and liquids to stay hydrated. You and I will not live long without fliuds. Enough said. 

10. Reading materials and reference materials. I think this is underestimated by a lot of people, but a good reference library is necessary. As much as I have learned about everything, I still look up things. IN BOOKS. Whoa. I also keep books for enjoyment and to relieve stress. Maybe someday, the internet might be not as reliable or may be heavily censured. You might just want to have a paper copy of things you want to remember. 

This is my list of things I find necessary to stock up on every month. I find other things necessary to have too, but this list is my buy every month list. Your list might look different and that is okay! 

What do you stock up on every month? 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September Grocery Spending

In light of my No Spend September Challenge and my goal to keep my grocery budget under $130, I thought I would share what I spent.

Please keep in mind a few things:
1. I have a fairly decent pantry and food storage area that is fairly well stocked.
2. We do have some dietary needs and try to be dairy-free as possible due to lactose intolerance. We also try to keep processed sugars to a minimum.
3. No meat is bought unless it is under $2.00 a pound and can be stretched over 2-3 meals.

On September 7th, at Sunshine Foods, Chatfield:
(We were having a cookout/campfire with the neighbors at Rob's house. This is not at all normal food for us to buy! I also know that their prices are higher than ours and what I would like to pay!)
1 pkg. Graham Crackers  $2.39
1 pkg. Fudge Striped Cookies  $1.70
1 jar Sweet Relish  $1.73
3 pkgs. Hot Dogs Buns  $4.47
2 pkgs. Hot Dogs  $1.98
4 pounds Peaches  $5.12
2 pounds Apples  $4.08
1 Yellow Onion  $1.13
Garlic Toast  $2.99
1 half-gallon Lactose-Free Milk  $4.55

Total: $30.43

On September 8th, at Aldis:
10 pound Potatoes  $2.99
3 pounds Sweet Potatoes  $1.49
2 pound Pinto Beans (dried)  $1.79
Ricotta Cheese  $1.79
Parmesan Cheese  $2.39
2.15 pounds Bananas  $.95
2 dozen Eggs  $2.90
4 half-gallons Lactose-free Milk  $11.16
1 half-gallon Whole Milk  $1.89
1 half-gallon 2% Milk  $1.79

Total: $29.14

On September 9th, my trip to Fareway included:
Boneless Pork Roast (on sale)  $5.04
10+ pounds of Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts   $19.99
3 pkgs. Shredded Cheese  $4.00
1 qt. Buttermilk  $1.25
1 Mac & Cheese  $.88
1 Lasagna Noodles  $1.89
Celery  $.99
1 pound Carrots  $.69
Cauliflower  $2.99
Garlic Cloves  $.50
1 bottle Soy Sauce  $.98
2 jars Spaghetti Sauce  $1.96
2 pkgs. Organic Sugar  $7.38
15 pounds Pears  $13.27

Coupon Savings: $2.75
Total: $60.07

On September 21st, at Fareway:
1 pkg. Shredded Mozzarella  $2.00
2 pkgs. Turkey Pepperoni (pillow packs)  $6.58

Total: $8.58

Combined Total: $128.22

I did spend an additional $15.00 in groceries that I paid cash for that was not included in the budget because it was extra earned cash. That included: watermelon for a family gathering, bananas, avocados, yogurt starter, and a few other things but I can't find the receipts. I did keep to my allotted monthly budget for September because I did discuss in my original No Spend post that extra earned money was not going to be included in the budget.

I have lowered my budget in October to $100 a month! Yikes! Hopefully, I can keep it!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Want to Save Money on Groceries?


I know I have written before on saving money on groceries. As my life has revolved and my beliefs changed a bit, a few things have become clearer. I spend about $250-$300 a month on groceries. I am actually trying to drop that amount to $200 a month because I believe I can. I have a few ways that I have dropped my grocery bill to what it is now and I would love to share those with you.

1. Stop buying the crap. Yes, I said it. Stop buying the processed, pre-made, unhealthy crap for yourself and your family. Stop buying the soda, candy, fruit snacks, potato chips, cookies, crackers, juice, and whatnot. If it is packaged to appeal to kids, don't buy it. If it claims to be low-fat, low-sugar, and healthy for you, don't buy it. I can usually find ways to counter those claims for so-called "healthy" foods and you pay a lot for very little.

2. Eat foods that are created by nature. Most of the time they are cheaper. If they are not cheaper, they are healthier for you and that is worth the cost alone.

3. Eat less meat. Meat is expensive and getting more expensive all the time. Eat some meals without meat. Make meat as an accompaniment to meals and not the main course. Stretch the meat out. If you use a pound of ground beef for something like casseroles, try using three-quarter pound instead. You can also use lentils, beans, or oats to stretch the ground beef out while still eating healthy and getting protein/fiber.

4. Buy in bulk. I am not talking about the 10# cans of vegetables or baked beans. I am talking about flour, oats, chocolate chips, sweeteners, oil, honey, and other baking/cooking staples. Store them in buckets and glass jars. They will last awhile and you will save money.

5. Cook from scratch. I can make a loaf of bread for a quarter of the price of a store-bought loaf. I make my own cakes, cookies, granola, and other baked goods for our household. I buy the ingredients to make my own stir-fries instead of the prepackaged stir-fry kits. I make my own yogurt with very little difficulty and cost. Yes, it may take a little more time, but the savings are totally worth it.

6. Look at the store/off brands. I will usually buy whatever price is the lowest without compromising my eating beliefs. I shop at a lot at Aldi's because their prices are usually cheaper than the local grocery stores and they have started carrying organic goods. I buy a lot of store/generic brand items. Sometimes they may only be a few cents cheaper, but those cents add up!

7. Cut down your grocery trips. Go once a week, bi-weekly, or once a month. The less you shop, the less you spend.

8. Always carry a list and write down the sales. Read the sale flyers and shop from those. Plan your meals around what is on sale and stock up when items are on sale.

9. Shop online. I shop a lot online to save money and get great deals. I use Amazon and Vitacost a lot to get the items we use at a great price! I always, always go for free shipping!

10. If you have multiple grocery stores to shop from, spread the love. If different stores are having great deals, shop at those stores. Some stores, like Fareway, will price match other stores within a reasonable distance. Just don't waste gas driving out of your way to get the deals.

I hope these tips help you on your next shopping trip!

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!
Erica


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Once A Month Grocery Shopping


Do you hate grocery shopping? (Um, yes I do. If you like it, that's ok!)

Do you want to save time and effort? Do you want to save money and be frugal? Would you like to look into your pantry and see all the food you have to make a meal without thinking about it?

Of course you would!

Something I have been doing the last three months is doing my major grocery shopping only once a month. This has been such a blessing to me in the way of freeing up my time, being more organized, and creating less stress. I have been saving money because I am not in the grocery store every week and making impulse purchases every time I am there. I feel good knowing that I have at least a month's worth of groceries at home in case of emergencies.

I usually end with more than a month's worth of groceries because I plan for thirty days of meals, grab and go breakfasts during the week, and breakfast and lunches on the weekends. And y'all? We never eat that much and that often at home. We end up eating at a ball game almost once a week. If I am down to just one kid at home, we eat simpler meals like eggs and toast or leftovers.

Once a month grocery shopping is overwhelming at first unless you plan for it. The first thing I did with my planning is write down all the meals we like to eat. I made a list for lunches and suppers and a list for breakfasts with the thought that these can and will be used interchangeably. I went through my cookbooks and binders and wrote down my list. Some day I will get my list typed and I will share that list with you.

Once I had my lists ready, I made my grocery list. There are several ways one could do this. You can print off a master grocery list and make a list from there. You can make your own master grocery list. I don't use a master grocery list, but I can definitely see the benefit of using one! I start a list almost right after I make my once a month grocery trip. I write down what we ran out of, what we need more of, what I would like to have more on hand of, what I need to stockpile, and so on. Then I add to the list the ingredients for the meals I want to make for the month.

At this point, one would benefit from organizing the grocery list to the layout of the grocery store so one could get through the store faster and more efficiently. I will get to this point some day. Sigh.

Time to go to the store! I try to make this fun because, again, I really dislike grocery shopping. I have brought my children along because extra hands make the work easier, especially if you are shopping at Aldi's. I have brought a friend along and we made it into a girls' night out! One could take their spouse or significant other along and make it into a date night. Having someone else along makes the time go faster and gives me someone to bounce ideas off of.

Most of the time, my once a month grocery trip spans two stores. I like Aldi's because of the money I save there, but they do not carry everything on my list. I usually end up at Fresh Connections, Fareway, or Hy-Vee to finish off the grocery shopping. I know of people who go to Aldi's or the store of their preference and then just order the rest of their groceries online at places like Vitacost or Amazon.

I do usually end up making a small trip to the grocery store in the middle of the month for milk and produce. I will also go back to the grocery store if the store is having a super fabulous special going on and I want to take advantage of the deal. Lately, that hasn't been happening as much.

Once a month grocery shopping does take some planning in other ways. I always try to keep on hand the ingredients to make bars and cakes in case we are called upon to provide bars or a cake. We have gotten very good at making brownies and pumpkin bars from scratch. I also try to keep the ingredients to make a fruit salad in case we need a salad for anything. Keeping those ingredients on hand will keep you from running to the store and will save you money because you will not be using gas and you will be less likely to make impulse purchases while at the store.

Doing the once a month grocery shopping will take a few months to get the hang of it. I actually started this five months, but I struggled the first two months until I got my lists in order and became organized about shopping. I also had to get an understanding of what we used every month in the staples like flour, sugar, rice and oats so I could stay on top always having those things on hand. We make a lot of food from scratch so keeping the staples on hand is extremely important.

My hope is to help you simplify your life and free up your time so you can spend more of it doing things that you love and need to do to survive. I believe once a month grocery shopping is one of these things!

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Printfriendly

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...