Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving....

Last night I finished making sweet dinner rolls.   The easiest recipe I could find.   Thanksgiving is for all to enjoy.....even the cook.......

I found a recipe for rolls that start in the bread machine and you finish them off by hand.    

The cranberry sauce is scratch, but it was only cranberries, water, honey and orange peel.   Granddaughter helped by stirring and licking the honey measuring cup.   LOL

I will make pumpkin pies this morning.   

Clean up the house is to be a family affair.   Uncle is working.   

My goal is to make this a relaxing holiday.   No stress.     

Basics: Part 10 : review

The main mantra of Groceries on the cheap is to never pay full price for your groceries.  Obviously, paying 1/2 price affords you the luxury of having a built stock for emergencies.   It’s no secret that bleep happens to us all.   Being prepared is just a good thing. Paying half price for your food makes that happen without breaking the smallest of budgets.

Basically, there are small steps to take to make this happen.  One step at a time, inch by inch, this can happen even with the smallest of budgets.   The USDA has stats on how much it should cost for a variety of sizes of families and for a variety of budgets.  Google : USDA cost of food at home. 
Be sure to read the notes , there is a formula for additional monies for smaller families.   

  • Find the TWO stores that are cheaper and shop the cheapest prices on the things you need.  This is a biggie.   Its the easiest way to cut your food budget.   No one store has the best prices on everything.   Shopping two stores gives you the best chance of good produce, and a double chance of getting the lowest prices on the other things you need. 
  • 1/2 the average grocery cart is filled with drinks and snack foods.   Avoiding the snack food an pop etc will drastically lower your food bill and make you more healthy at the same time. 
  • Simplify your choice of protein.  Pick cuts of meats that you can buy for a RBP of about two dollars a pound.   Beef and salmon are an exception.   Buying cuts of meat that are versatile will make buying easier and buying them in bulk on a rotation basis will make them cheaper.   Buy as much as you will use in a month to six weeks.   Portion control it before you freeze it.  Cook ground meats and portion control them.   Putting the portion controlled packets in a gallon freezer bag will make retrieving more efficient.   It will also make it easy to see when you need to look for a sale more efficient.  Stores put a so called loss leader on the front page of their ad frequently.   
  • My mother used to say :  some people could have a bargain get up and bite them in thee butt, and they wouldn’t see it.  Don’t be that person.   Know the RBP of the things you buy on a regular basis. When they go on sale at that price, buy:  a) as much as you can (store limits), b) as much as you can afford , or c) as much as you need to meet your self imposed stock limit.   Whichever comes first.  Six weeks works for a lot of families.   If the item is a popular staple, they usually go on sale with that frequency.   If you use diced tomatoes, for example, at a rate of 4 cans a week, you need to keep 24 cans.   That’s a lot easier to do if you pay 39 or 49 cents a can instead of .68 to 1.00.   
  • Look for dairy sale and buy a months worth.  Check pull dates and check the verbage on reading them.   A lot of times, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt and eggs will be out a month.   Dairy usually goes on sale at least once a month. Cheaper at costco if you use that much quanity.   
  • Buy veggies in season at the lowest price.   
  • Portion control.   If you don’t put the entire roast on the table , you won’t eat the entire roast o the table.    America has an obesity problem....all I’m saying. 
  • Learn to scratch cook efficiently.   If you can, get the kitchen tools to help you.  A insta pot, blender or food processer, and kitchen aid mixer are all good tools.   There are all kinds of recipes on the internet that call for less than five ingredients.   Avoid buying too much ready made food.   One of the biggest mistakes you can make is buying a rotisserie chicken.   Chickens are often .88 a lb.   Check out the recipe for “easiest chicken ever” on the blog.   When you buy ready made mixes etc. you are paying for someone elses labor and many times it is just as easy to make the thing from scratch.   

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Basics : part 9: Retailers dirty little secrets.

Retailers (stores) have studied our shopping habits.   They have used what they found to their benefit to get us to spend more.   Knowing their dirty little secrets will enable you to not fall into their traps.
We have all heard the trick of to gong to the store hungry.   Not going with children or mates that would be likely to sneer garbage into the cart is a help also.

  1. It is no accident that there are drinks and chips and fancy crackers and bakery items when you first walk into a store.  The object is to tempt you and get you to start putting things into the cart.   
  2. It is also no accident that carts are getting bigger and bigger..  It is a natural tendency to fill your basket.   
  3. 1/2 the average grocery cart is made up of drinks and junk food.   Avoiding that statistic will save you a lot of money.   Set a separate budget for drinks and junk food.  When you see a separate ticket for them, you will spend less.  Considering that pop and chips are bad for a diet and your health, its a good thing. 
  4. Not all the items on an end cap is a special buy.   Know your prices 
  5. Have a good idea of what you are going to the store for.   Idly throwing things in the cart will bump up your bill. I don't have  a list, but I have a clear idea of the things I need.   Leaving it open to dairy, veggies and fruit, and our rotation protein is enough.  Also, I only buy things that are a good buy.   If it isn’t close to my target price, we don't buy it.   My short inventory of perishable list on our meal plan form tells me what we have to purchase.
  6. Manufacturers pay a slotting fee to the stores.   Basically they rent the desirable shelf space—the eye level ones.   Looking up and down will help you find the cheapest prices.
  7. The store brand is usually cheaper than the name brand.   Often times, it is the same product.   Those stores don't have factories.   They buy the merchandise and have the factories put a store label on them. 
  8. The music playing is to keep you in the store.  The longer you spend in a store, the more you are going to buy. Get in and get out.  
  9. The buy 10 , save 5 type sales are to get you to buy in bulk.  Often times there are a lot of junk food on their mix an match list.   Avoid the junk.   If there are shelf stable things that are at a RBP, try to find a coupon to go with them.   You can clean up if you study the list a bit.   Sometimes its just a “ We’ll pass event.”  If you can use a buy 10, save 5 type sale, coupons, and a basket coupon at the same time, you can clean up.  
  10. Many times 10 for 10 type verb-age doesn’t mean you have to buy 10. 
  11. Do the math.   Pricing smaller packages can be a bargain ....or NOT.   Check the package size.  Some of that small package cheese is 6 or 8 dollars a pound.   Buying a five pound bag at costco or on sale with coupons or not is usually a better buy.   Grated cheese freezes well.   
  12. Small packets of microwave oatmeal are not a bargain.   Even at a dollar, they are 10 cents a packet.   It takes four packets to equal 1 serving of bulk oatmeal.   A serving of bulk oatmeal is .08 an takes no more time.   Use a larger bowl than necessary.   Put 1 cup water, 1/ 2 cup oatmeal, and cook it for 1.5 minutes.   We like some cinnamon sugar and a banana or some raisins.  
  13. Retailers sell convenience at a high price.  Many things can be efficiently replicated with little hand on time and a whole lot less money.   Rotisserie chicken can cost 5.50 a lb for the meat you are going to eat.   A recent article states there are nasty preservatives in the as well.   Check out “easiest chicken ever” on the blog.   Especially if you just want cooked chicken for soup or a casserole or burrito.   

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Basics: part 8: are we eating too much?

Basics: Part 8 : Are we eating too much?

Portion control is important for several reasons, namely maintaining a good body weight and keeping a budget.    This information is from the best source on the internet I could find,  nothing can take the place of an consultation of your own nutritionist.    These are basic guidelines and should be taken as such.  I'm am not a nutritionist and you have to make your own decisions  regarding your nutrition. 

Dairy : 2-3 servings a day ( some of this doubles for protein )
A serving of dairy is
8 ounces of milk for an adult, six for  a child
1cup  yogurt
2 cups of cottage  cheese
1/2 cup  non fat milk
1 cup frozen yogurt

Vegetables - 5 servings a day

The basic guideline are for .08 grams per kilograms of weight.   In American language, that's .65 grams per pound of body weight.
Average is 56-91 grams for a male, depending in activity levels.
Average for a woman is 46-75 grams depending on activity level.   The 75 is if you are an athlete or do heavy manual labor at work. 

Animal protein provides all essential amino acids for the right ratio for us to make full use of them.    This only makes sense because animal fossils are like our own.   

In obese men, protein at 25 percent of total calories makes you feel full and helps you to loose weight.

Beef has 7 grams per ounce of protein
Chicken has 21 grams in three ounces of cooked chicken breast
Chicken thighs have 10 grams in a average thigh, 
Eggs have 6 grams - and good fat
Yogurt has 5 grams per serving average. . Greek yogurt has more.   Check the label.   
Note  bread and peanut butter.  - 15 grams of protein

My daughters nutritionalist when she was a toddler said not to give her juices.   She was better off eating the fruit.  Fruit juice from concentrate has more sugar than pop. 

Sugar, beer, and too much meat will cause your kidneys to go bad a I just read that and have some doctors info to assume it is true. 

It goes without saying, if you let your kid fill up on snack garbage, they won't have room for good food, especially if they are picky or light eaters. 

Personally, we stick to three to four ounces per person for meat for a dinner,   By the time we add breakfast, dairy, and lunch, we have more than enough to meet the RDA for seniors.   Obviously, a teen age boy in sports needs more calories and more meat,   They don't , however, need to eat a whole 2 pound roast.    Lol. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Kitchen Managment

Kitchen management is a tool to save time and stress at the dinner hour and deep clean the kitchen a little at a time.  

Recap of meals :

  1. Hamburger soup, bread 
  2. Pizza
  3. Pork stew rolls : cranberry sauce, rolls for tomorrow 
  4. Thankgiving:  turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans, relish tray , cranberry sauce , salad 
  5. Salmon and rice with peas 
  6. Leftovers 
  7. Breakfast for dinner 
Things to do : 

  • Make soup and bread
  • Wash potatoes and carrots 
  • Put thanksgiving serving dishes through the dishwasher. 
  • Gather special ingredients on tray. 
  • Make list and timeline for thanksgiving 
  • Wash kitchen floor 
  • Clean and disinfect counters, sinks, and drains.   
  • Wax east side cabinets.   
  • Clean out refrigerator and dump anything dead. 
  • Gather recipes. 
  • Fill the flour and rice canisters/ bucket 
  • Breathe.    

Basics; part 7: Oh NO - that dreaded scratch cooking

Basics : Part 7:  Oh No. that dreaded scratch cooking.....

I saved this one for almost the last.  It was one of my last hold outs.    I got our food budget down to 72.00 a week.   The stats  were close to 150.00.   But, I wanted to challenge myself to see just how low are expense can be and still eat well balanced good food.    It was a game by now,   My original object if this blog was to help people on low incomes or SNAP to stretch their food dollars so they could have good food and still build a small emergency stock.   I started cooking a lot more things from scratch and I cut our budget  to 53.00 a week and we still are building our stock. The USDA stats  are based on actual food eaten at home, they don't count  school lunches or stock .   We are sitting at 45 percent of the USDA stats.   We eat well. We eat fresh fruits and veggies, we portion control,  none of us are overweight.   We try to avoid extra salt, sugar, trans fatshydrogenated oils, HFCS and fake food. 

The words scratch cooking scares some people and they envision spending all day in the kitchen while the laundry stacks up , the house is a mess and you don't get to work.    Not so. I set out to scratch cook efficiently,    My mantra is that  if you spend  a little more time planning  and shopping wisely, you can spend less time cooking.   Of course, with a five yo in the house, the neat house doesn't always happen.   

The internet is full of scratch recipes-  some efficient, some not so much.   Developing your personal cookbook  one recipe at a time will take time.  It's totally worth it,   I have my first one from 1970.   I brought a new one up to date with more healthy choices-- times have changed and some things never change.   Grandmas recipes have just got a little more healthy, 

Spending a block of time to make your own mixes helps greatly,   You have the convenience of mixes, but not the cost  or preservatives.   Engage your children,   I have been following some people on u tube.   I have learned  a lot.   There is one family of nine  that all work together at maintaining their  quality of life.   Children as young as 1.5 years are "helping " in the kitchen. Consequently, their 13 yo can cook remarkable dinners.    It is a good thing to do at home since the schools don't have the same home ec departments they once had.  It is really a necessity if life to learn to cook.    My daughter never wanted to, my son wanted to learn to bake.   My granddaughter wants to do anything she can.   Engage them.    Mixes are good for learning fractions, counting, and children love to stir or push the buttons on the food processor.  My mother used to say that if children were helping, they weren't making a mess for you to clean up afterwords .   How true. 

 Making your own spice blends and mixes saves a lot of money,   You can get small amounts of spices in the bulk isle of some grocery stores pretty cheap. I needed dill one time .  It was six dollars for a tiny one by one inch bottle.   That much dill in the bulk isle was.    W a i t.   For it........   seventeen cents.  

Baking mix, pancake mix, or muffin mix are all cheap especially when you get bulk flour. 
Making your own bread can take all day, or you can make easy ones that take ten minutes hands  on time,    The time that you let something sit on the counter while you grocery shop, or do the laundry , or take the kids to the park doesn't count ! Lol. 

Anything you can throw in the slow cooker or insta pot and walk way from is a good thing. 

I don't have stock in insta pot, but I wish I Did! Lol.   It's one of the most versatile work horses in the kitchen.   It's a slow cooker, it's a rice cooker, it is a pressure cooker that is almost fool proof.  Remember to put it on seal to pressure cook , and remember to add enough water.   That s about it.   Don't put more than 1/2 full  when cooking anything that expands like pasta or beans.   Easy peasy.  And saves sooo much time!   Scratch soups in five minutes, Pork chops in three,   Chicken from frozen in 8 minutes..   considering that it is three appliances that  all  work well in one footprint, it's a real bargain. It also saut├ęs. 

Going out on a limb and trying to do  all this at once is a deal breaker.   Terminal burnout.  Take baby steps and build your talent.   Every little thing will save money.   The snowball effect is a 
wonderful phenomenon.  It works.   Give it time. 

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Meal Plans for week of November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving food is included in our budget calculations.  

Meal plans help take the stress out of the question “ What’s for Dinner”.  .

  • Hamburger Soup , bread 
  • Pizza 
  • Pork stew, rolls (make cranberry sauce and dinner rolls ) 
  • Thanksgiving :   Roast Turkey Breast, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, relish tray:  pickled veggies, stuffed celery, pumpkin pie with whipping cream.  
  • Salmon, rice with peas 
  • Leftovers 
  • Breakfast for dinner.  

Notes :   Having easy meals before the holiday saves some terminal burnout with marathon cookig of a thanksgiving meal.    Doing some things ahead helps too.   A spacer between turkey dinner and leftovers is a nice respid.   

The only things I bought for Thanksgiving dinner were the turkey breast , celery i would have bought anyway, and the pies.   I would have made pies, but GO had them for two dollars.   I cant buy the ingredients for two dollars.    I did buy sparkling cider for 1.33 a bottle.    It just makes things festive.  

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Grocery Outlet Haul

Grocery Outlet is a grocery /misc store that carries overstocks.   They do not take coupons., but often you can get good buys.   Sometimes their merchandise is products that had test markets that didn’t test well.

Cream of Chicken soup , campbells .66
Pies 2.00 - pumpkin and cherry
Sparkling cider 1.33 a bottle

Deli Swiss cheese slices 2.39
Smoked Gouda 2.39
Salsa .99
Lunchables .50

Total 16.72

Sparkling cider and pies are for Thanksgiving.

Dollar tree

Whole wheat orowheat bread
Flour tortillas

Fred Meyer Sunday ad

Holiday ads are not the best times for good prices on staples.    Too much of the ad is spent on booze and snack type items.   It is, however, a good time to stock things that we tradionally use for the holiday.   Summer picnic supplies are always cheaper around Memorial Day and the Fourth of July .  It’s the time to by a years supply of catsup and bbq sauce with coupons.  Baking supplies are their best prices now through the first part of December.   Closer to the holiday, prices go up for the last minute shoppers.   Planning ahead is the key.   

The ad.....

Turkey, Foster Farms 1.29 lb
Turkey breasts 1.59
NY Holiday roast 3.99
Honeycrisp apples 1.49 

Asparagus 1.99
Cranberries 2/5
Broccolli .99
Brussel sprouts 1.99
Berries 2/5 
Celery .99

Butter 2.99
Sour cream 4/5 
Pillsbury biscuits 2/3$$
Ice cream 2/6

Orowheat bread 2.49 (note:  its a dollar at DT and there are .55 coupons out thre. 
Fruit pie 3.99 

Basics : part 6 : bulk buying—when is it logical.

Basics, part 6 : Bulk buying: when is it logical

We covered protein, the most expensive part of your food budget.  To recap, picking bulk meats that are  versatile are your best bet in reducing the cost of protein.  Eating a vegetarian meal once or twice a week helps greatly too.    Buy bulk meat enough to rotate that meal for a month.  In other words, if you want to eat Pork for two nights a week, you will need enough for 8 meals.   Portions should be around four ounces.   The RDA for protein is 45 grams for women and 55 for men, minimum, for low activity people.     There are 61 in a 8 ounce boneless, skinless chicken  breast.

 Knowing the RBP of rotation meats is key,   Chicken breasts should be no more than a dollar and a half a pound.   In most places, you can get them for that.  Seattle is one of the most costly places to live and I can get chicken breasts with ribs for 1.50 and cut the ribs off for stock, pick the bones for more meals.   Pork loins are between 1.50 and 1.79.   Good (7 percent ) hamburger is 3.77 here.   Ground turkey a dollar  a pound chub  in other parts of the country, frozen.

Buying other things in bulk only makes sense if you use it regularity,   There are three of us basically.    I can still buy certain things in bulk.  Rice is one.   Rice has a long shelf life.   It is 8.47 for 25 lbs at Costco.   That makes a rice serving pennies.

Oatmeal is close to 8.50 at Costco for ten pounds,   We eat oatmeal everyday for breakfast and I use it for oatmeal, blueberry, banana bread and oatmeal cookies. 

Flour is  6.39 for 25 pounds.  25 pounds lasts us about three months,  I make our own  baking mix, cream soup base, muffin mix and bread.   Bread cost about .25-30 cents a loaf.  It takes about ten hands on minutes.    Making your own mixes means you can control the fats and avoid hydroginated  oils and too much sugar.    Cream soup base is a lot less than opening a can of cream of....soup and takes not much more time. 

Bulk yeast is a good investment if you are going to make bread.    For little more  the cost of one packet you can have enough for dozens of loaves. 

I don't buy pinto beans on bulk because we don't eat enough to use them up before they are hard to cook.     The cost difference is ten cents a pound.  I can  get 1.5 pounds at the dollar tree for a buck and they are non gmo and grown on the USA. 

Our Winco has a bulk food isle and some things are cheaper. .   It is especially good for anyone that wants to try something or need just a little bit  - yeast comes to  mind if you just want to try bread baking.  Don't give up, it may take a few loaves to get the hang of it.   

We like the chocolate and white chocolate chips. Dry milk, and spices.    Look on your area for a  bulk isle.   Our Kroger has one, but the prices are a lot higher.

Cold cereal in bags are a lot cheaper than in the boxes.   We don't eat a lot of cold cereal.  I buy chocolate rice crispies for rice crispy treats.   Store them in a sealed canister.   

Contrary to some opinions out there, bulk buying can be a money saver.   You need to exercise caution and buy the things that you use a lot of on a regular basis.  One pound  of rice at the dollar  tree is a buck. Twenty five pounds of rice cost 8.47.   For the cost of  8.5 pounds, you can have 25 poumds,    That's a remarkable difference,    That's almost three times as much.

It just makes sense. 

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Basics: Part 5 RBP- what is it.

Basics , part 5:  RBP. What is it 

Finding the best prices on food is not such a hard task.   It can be overwhelming, but not of you break it down to a few steps

You have already--

  • Identified sources of protein  that you will use in your meal plans.    These should be less than two dollars a pound of you are trying for a four dollar a day budget.   (Snap guidelines ) 
  • Identified the items you buy on a regular basis to prepare meals from those protein sources. 
  • Now, gather your ads,    Our Winco doesn't have an ad, so you just have to visit the store. Every Winco has different prices because they work  off of a list to provide prices lower than  the competitors.  It's important to note, that no one store can have the best prices on everything,   
  • Take a short inventory of your fridge,pantry  and freezer.    This will tell you what you are missing.  
  • Now, start circling everything that you need that is a good price.   Check for coupons to  remember what you clipped.   $$.    I usually do that for people on the Seattle area.  There are some sites that work in other areas.   Try favado.   
  • Soon, you might start seeing better prices at one store over another in an item.  
  • Circle, star, or tag any item you intend to buy,   I put a check mark on anything I might have a coupon for,   The best use of coupons is when you find a good buy and can stack a coupon with it.  You can't stack an electronic coupon with a paper one. Most  all stores take them.   
  • I have a meal plan form I made in excell.   It has seven blocks in one side of the landscape sheet and two columns on the other,   In one column I have listed the things we buy on a regular basis that are perishable to fill in meals,    The second column is blank so I can either mark how many we have or note that we need it.   This  makes doing an inventory a couple of minutes. 
  • Now, decide who has the RBP  on what you need.   Here, it is usually Fred Meyers and Winco,    Occasionally, we find a good sale with coupons at Safeways or QFC.   Costco is always go to to for bulk Purchases.    I continue to check prices, but unless something is in a huge sale, you can't beat the few things I get from Costco,   Not everything is a bargain at Costco.   Look for a rotation meat.    My standby if I can't find pork loin cheap is to look at Costco business.    It's in the next town, so I don't go unless I'm out of a few things that they have that regular Costco doesn't carry.  Costco has grains 
  • that were not part of our vocabulary in the fifties, and seaweed.   But, they 
  • don't carry corn starch, or large canisters of broth granules or some spices.    I bought a larger than large sack of salt and soda.   I will never have to buy them again! Lol.  They were cheap.    They can be used for cleaning as well as food.    
  • Having a target figure ( nothing to do with the store with the red balls ) for your basics list is basic necessity  in knowing if something is a stock up price.  Try to never lay full price  for your basic needs list.    Canned veggies should be less than fifty cents,   Ditto diced tomatoes, beans of you buy canned.   I want 149-1.69 a pound for pork loins,   I want .88-1.00 a pound for Foster Farms chicken,    (Locally grown ) hamburger  3.28 or less for 7 percent fat.   I want pasta sauce in glass for close to a dollar.   In cans for under a dollar, pasta ( Barilla) should be under a  dollar...preferably .50-.75 cents.    It is always a dollar at the DT. ( dollar tree) as is canned pasta sauce and they take coupons- up to four a  day, and some won't take two  coupons for two   of the same thing.    That's not the written coupon policy, but best not to argue.  They have the last word.   I want frozen veggies for under a dollar a POUND.   Many vegetables are in 12 ounce pkg.  Cheese  should be less than 2.35 a pound.  Different stores have different prices.   
  • If you live where there isn't a variety of stores, you probably have higher prices,because there is no competition.  Consider scoping out the next big town and finding the best priced stores.   You can sometimes get the store to send you the ad, or find it on line.  Or get a family member or friend to take a snapshot of other and Facebook it to you.  Find the best sale week and go once a month,   if it isn't  near other errands you,need to do, consider carpooling with a friend or neighbor.  Split the gas bill, or take turns.    We used to drive ten mikes to Winco once a month before we got one in our town.   I hear Aldi is expanding to almost double stores.  Think outside the box.    
  • The best prices you can get with coupons is when you can find something on a mark down table and have a coupon. ( I got two cans of s and w beans for .08  total.    ) or you have a buy XX things, save XX dollar sale .  Our Kroger has those often,    You have to make your choices carefully, a lot of junk food here sometimes, but with careful planning, you can match coupons and make out.  I saved 91 percent one time.   
  • You can also make out with a basket coupon ,   That's where they give you  XX number of dollars off a XX dollar basket of food.   Do the math,    Find the percentage of discount,    A five dollar off of fifty dollar basket is only ten percent,   If the prices are already high, it doesn't  pay.  This is another time when buying what's on sale with a coupon and adding the basket coupon can make you really clean up.   IF.  You stick to buying the maximum of the blanket or basket coupon.  Any amount over will lower your percentage off.   
Why bother, my time is worth more than that!  Is the most heard excuse about coupons and target shopping.    Let's break that down.     The average family our size spends 7800 a year on food.   We are at a pace to spend 2700 dollars his year and maintain a small emergency stock.    That's FIVE  THOUSAND dollars.    That's one nice trip to Disneyland or Hawaii.    Or covers the cable and the heat bill.   Or makes a car payment.     

Using every available tool to reduce your food costs just makes sense as long as it doesn't consume you.   

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