To Coupon or Not??

May 15, 2018

Hey Everyone,

I don’t know about you but I’m very tired of always reading on Pinterest or on websites that to save money on groceries that one of the best options is to coupon. Is that just me?

When I first started trying to save money I did use coupons and for awhile it felt good to see the numbers go down at the checkout line as the little slip of paper was scanned across the little screen. Once I got home though I’d find that the food I bought tasted like garbage, or wasn’t something that my family even ate, or was already expired. Basically, money wasted. But, hey, I saved 25 cents, so it’s got to be worth it, right? Wrong!!

As I’ve grown into the world of grocery shopping and budgeting there are a couple things I’ve learned. Work in your skill set, schedule, and plan. Being the only active person who cooks in the household it relies on me to plan meals and cook them. If Husband were to cook anything outside of frozen pizza, canned soup or boxed macaroni and cheese I would be afraid of food poisoning, the man cannot cook. During March/April-September/October the eating out budget is lowered a tremendous amount (from $200 to $15 a month) and our grocery budget is raised to $600 a month. Since payday is every other week $300 is put in the grocery fund and $200 is for the main shopping that period and $100 the next week to replenish fruits, vegetables and any missing ingredients from last shopping trip. This works well because there is more free time to plan a great menu and follow through with preparing homemade meals. Everything is planned out.

For the two week period I will take a blank sheet and list out the dates on the left side equally spaced, in the middle next to the dates I’ll plan the dinner meal I want to make including the sides, and next to it I will list the ingredients needed for that meal, often going to the fridge and pantry to see if the ingredients are already in there so there isn’t a duplicate, or to check expiration dates or see if it’s almost finished. Also, looking in the circular for good deals. Then I add the list to Cozi for when I am at the store. From start to finish it takes about 30 minutes. Because I have kids, who are also learning, I print off a copy of the list where the items are separated by store (Wal-Mart and Costco) and before we head to the stores I have my oldest write next to the item how much he thinks it will cost, and as we are going around the store I have him round to the nearest whole number the actual cost and keep a running total on the side. That way he is learning to count, rounding, associate dollar value, and a running record. He has come to realize that we buy fewer items from Costco, but they cost more money for one item.

Are there times when the menu gets a little out of order, of course! But we roll with the punches and just reorganize the plan and go from there. If I get the opportunity to do OT and husband is up to cook you can bet the Vodka Pasta recipe that takes 2 hours to complete is moved to tomorrow and frozen pizza is being done tonight.

Also, I can’t grow vegetables due to lack of space, time, and skill. So no money saving in that area. Maybe in the far, distant future, until then, NOPE!!

I do usually buy select meat in bulk and freeze it, eating sparingly through the next few months. However, with limited freezer space, space is well…limited. If we had space I would get a deep freezer to store more meat, bread loaves, and even homemade cookies. In the future.

To save on costs there has been a limited buying of snacks, and prepackaged food. If it isn’t in the house, there’s no way to eat it. Since that was implemented I have found that my boys eat more food at dinner time, and are a lot less picky.  My youngest still has a hard time just staring because he doesn’t want to sit down but once he does, he’s good. A salad is always served at the beginning, before the main meal and sides. There is almost an expectation that there will be a salad no matter what. The last time we went to Applebee’s my oldest ordered a salad on his own, which surprised the waitresses to hear from a 6-year-old.

Since October through December is OEP and then January through February is the Annual Disenrollment period (DEP), I’m busy working too much (35-40 hours OT, or 75-80 hours a week) to cook so I plan meals that Husband can easily cook, put in the oven or go out to grab something easy, otherwise we would starve and I’d become a raving monster. I’m more lenient and adjust our budget to reflect that adjustment. Good thing the 2018/2019 OEP/DEP will be my last one where I work crazy, many hours to where I can’t cook for my family, or sleep.

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