Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How I saved my sanity by becoming an X- crazy coupon lady

When I began couponing 10 years ago..my goal was to be an extreme coupon gal. I'm pretty sure that goal was accomplished. The adrenaline that pumped through my veins as I entered the store was exciting!! Looking back I'm pretty sure I looked like a crazed animal coming to ravage the shelves! I saved money too..let me tell you. I would come home with $200+ worth of groceries having only spent $80. What a thrill!! My head hurts just thinking of the stress! Yeah, I had a problem. I'm pretty sure it was an addiction. Is there a group called Couponers Anonymous?

Yet, I was exhausted ALL.THE.TIME. We were not eating as healthy as we normally did and frankly I saw some attitudes in my kids that were ahem...let's say - were less than desirable. Hmmm, what could be wrong?

Then as I began to look at how much time I was spending on gathering coupons, cutting coupons, laying out my plan penny by penny, matching up each coupon offer with each store, mapping out where I would start and how many stores I would drive to, to accomplish my goal... It was really out of hand. I was spending over 4 hours a week just searching for and clipping coupons! Not to mention how many stores I drove to just to secure my "treasures". It felt like a full time job. My kids were not getting mommy time and when they did get my attention - they didn't get the best of me because I was strung out.

Something needed to change. I truly was exhausted and my family was suffering. On top of that we were eating terrible. Foods with all sorts of additives, artificial ingredients and more. Our bodies were not responding well to this sudden diet change.

My husband and I sat down and took a good look at our budget, the recipes we really love and I created an all new plan for our lives. We would no longer be purchasing every sale item that had a coupon. The bottom line would not be how little I could spend but, on staying within or beneath our grocery budget and saving what we could with coupons.

Now, let me preface this "couponing" strategy with this word. I have found that for me and my family, there aren't too many coupons out there for the foods I buy because I tend to make everything homemade from fresh or dried foods. If we are being honest, the majority of food coupons are for boxed, canned foods. I do buy some canned items and I will often find a coupon for them. This is a choice we made and certainly not meant to knock anyone who chooses to purchase and use boxed and canned items. Please hear my heart on this. I know there are many families who just need to feed their families as inexpensively as possible. I completely understand this. Mama - just getting food on the table for your family is awesome! I would rather know that a family is sitting down to a meal together than be concerned if they are eating boxed food. We had a time when I was just happy to get food on the table and it sometimes came from a box, bag or can. NO JUDGEMENT HERE!

I have always been a planner. I have always planned ahead and thought about the future. While I was a crazy couponer, I would still sit down with the sales ad's and design a menu plan, like I always have. I just chose items that I normally wouldn't buy because I HAD A COUPON WOOHOO!!

With the desire to streamline my time and save as much money as possible, I had to dig into my purchasing history a bit. Good thing I have such terrible CDO (ya know, OCD in the correct order!? ha.ha.ha.) I had a spreadsheet with original prices, sale prices and the coupons I used for each item separated by store. I began to research (isn't Google awesome?) and found several blog posts and websites devoted to saving money without couponing. I began to get some great ideas for how I could still save money and feed my family.

So I pulled my hair back, sat down with a big glass of tea and I wrote out a list of forty-five dinner meals that I know my family likes. My theory was if I could get forty-five meals listed I could make ninety days worth of menu's by using each recipe twice. I created a set night for certain meals. Then broke down the list and wrote under each weekday.

Meatless Monday
Tex-Mex Tuesday or Try something new Tuesday
Wacky Wednesday (you never know what I will fix)
Thrifty Thursday (inexpensive meal)
Family Friday
Smorgasbord Saturday (clean out all leftovers)
Cinch Sunday (always a crockpot meal)

Next, I look ahead at the sales flyers and see what is on sale that I need for my recipes. I had to do a LOT of math (not my favorite subject) to determine where I can purchase meat cheaper. For my family of 8, I need to buy in bulk on most everything. Especially since I shop for two weeks at a time. Below I will try to break down where I buy my groceries and how I save on them.

Chicken -Unless there is a meat sale at Kroger, the best place for me to get chicken is Costco. I get a 10 pound bag of Perdue chicken for $23.99. That's about $2.40 a pound. Now, I know Kroger often puts Tyson bone in chicken on sale for $.99 a pound. I used to buy it all the time. However, for me, I have to choose hormone free chicken due to some health issues I'm dealing with so I agreed to allow room in the budget for that.

Beef- My husband is a heart patient. So I try to ensure I feed him accordingly. The Dr said buy 93/7 beef. I can't afford that. So I compromised and buy 90/10. Sam's Club sells it in large packages and I get about 5 pounds for $16-$17. I stretch my beef by adding beans into recipes.

Veggies- This one is a little more complicated because it really depends on what is in season and what is on sale. The best thing would be to can or flash freeze veggies when they are in season. I have not embarked on canning yet (I am hoping to soon). However, I have done a lot of flash freezing and I love how easy it is. I tend to buy a lot of veggies at Aldi. They have great prices on a variety of vegetables. I buy carrots at Sam's because I get a 5 pound bag for about $2.50. Otherwise, Kroger and Publix are my go to for fresh veggies.

Bread - I will buy bread at Publix only when Arnold is on sale for B1G1. I grind my own wheat and make bread but I do buy it like I said when on special. There are times when my plans get wrecked and bread doesn't get made so having some in the freezer is helpful.

Fruit- I only buy fruit if it is on sale. I buy what will fit in my budget after other more important ingredients are accounted for and when it is gone, it's gone. Again, canning when in season would probably be ideal. I do buy natural applesauce and usually store brand as long as it doesn't have any additives. I also buy canned fruit in it's own juice occasionally. We don't eat banana's or exotic fruits so we don't need much room in our budget for fruit. In the summer I do buy grapes and freeze them. The kids LOVE them! Great cold treat on hot summer days too! Who knew?

Other groceries - I buy dried beans and make my own. I make seasoned black beans, refried beans, etc... I recently received a catalog from Azure Standard and have determined I can purchase dried beans, organic oatmeal, rice, etc... in 50 pound barrels and save a lot of money. I also make anything and everything I can homemade because I have found it is so much less expensive. I will be sharing some those recipes in future posts so stay tuned!!

Toiletries - This is where I use coupons like a mad woman. For instance - recently Kroger had Charmin on sale with a mega event for $5.99 when you buy 6 items in the event. This was for a 12 roll package. On top of that I had a coupon for $1.00 off and some $.50 off coupons which double to $1.00 which makes it $4.99 and that is my buy price for 12 rolls. Rarely will I see this for less. Now, Charmin is obviously a top of the line toilet paper. I know that on any given day I can go to Walgreens and get Quilted Northern for $4.99 for an 8 roll package. Often, they have a coupon for $1.00 off of that and then I have a manufacturers coupon for $.50 off. This makes it $3.49 a package. So I will buy that.

I order paper towels and a few other items through Amazon's subscribe and save program. With the subscribe and save program you save just for subscribing but if you have 5 items a delivery you save an additional 15%. You can go in and cancel right after you receive your order if you don't want to continue getting shipments or you can set up 1,2,3...month intervals for delivery. So far I am really liking this program and am planning to continue using it.

Laundry detergent -All brand was $2.99 at Kroger. I had some $2 coupons so I got them each for $.99! They also had a promo of get a free Snuggle product with the purchase of 2 All detergents. So I got Snuggle dryer sheets free ($2.99 value).
Purex were also on sale for $2.99 and I had a $1.50 off coupon for each so I only paid $1.49 each. So I spent ~$5(+tax) for 166 loads of laundry. That will last my family a little over a month

Cleaners- I am an essential oil guru. I love my oils and have found they work well for so many things. I use Thieves cleaner I make from thieves oil and witch hazel. I use it when there is any sign of illness in the house. I use Mrs. Meyer's cleaners for most everything else. Through a subscription on ePantry I save alot on these products as well. They are a fraction of the cost that I would pay at local stores. Coming soon we are going to be having a special for ePantry! Be on the look out for that!

While this may not work for your family, this is how I saved not only money but my sanity and now have more time with my family as well.

How do you save on groceries?

No comments:

Post a Comment