Part two: shopping wisely.
Lets recap. We have analyzed the ads. We know what stores have the best buys on the things we need. We are stocking our food when it is at it's lowest price. We are stocking enough to last us until the next sale, being careful not to overstock. Statistics say that every family has about six or so meals that they really like and have often. We can take advantage of this when planning our shopping list. No one store has the best buys on everything.
Pre planning your shopping trip goes a long ways to help us get in and put of the store. My only hang up is when I don't know the store or they change things around.
Once you are up and running, there will be few things that you HAVE to have. There are a few things that are staples that I always buy, preferably at the cheapest price. Things like milk, sour cream, eggs, etc. buying a lot of one thing because it is on sale makes shopping more streamlined. You are putting less variety of things away.
After you have analyzed your chain store ads, go to a coupon matching site, and check out any good matches for the things on your list. In the Seattle area, we use couponconnections.com . She is based on Lynnwood, Wa. There are others of you are in another part of the country. Many coupons are for ready mades and things that are never on a thrift plan food plan. There are coupons for dairy products and staple items at times. There are also coupons for some necessity non food items that make them free or nearly free. Like toothpaste. No, I haven't found free toilet paper yet. ( a coupon joke going around ). LOL. I have a coupon binder. I only clip printable coupons that I will use. I get one paper at the dollar store a week. I check first to see if it has a coupon booklet in it. I have a girlfriend that brings me hers when she can so I get multiples of any that fit my criteria. I use a binder clip per month for them. When the matching site finds a good match for something on my list, I go to the right insert and clip the ones I need. I group them in the front of my book before I go to the store. I also take my list from the ads and place it in the front sleeve of my binder for quick reference.
Impulse buys make up 70 percent of a stores sales. You can bet that they make the most profit along with the stuff stacked for you to see while waiting in line. Avoid impulse buys. Again, take your list and stick to it. I only vary if I see an unadvertised special that is a really really good buy on something I can incorporate into my meal plans. If you haven't tried something before, don't buy a zillion of them. Try one. If something is at or below my target price and I haven't tried the brand before, I get one to try. I don't want to be stuck paying for something no one wants to eat. LOL.
There is not much room for snack foods, and ready mades and mixes in a thrifty budget. It really Sabotage your budget fast. That being said, there are a few exceptions. Sometimes of the year, instant mashed potatoes are cheaper than scratch. I buy canned beans because beans and rice have a really short fridge life. I buy ready made refried beans and tortillas. All, of course at rock bottom prices. There are a few things that if you get a good enough sale and add a coupon, are cheaper than scratch. If you know your prices, you can take advantage of them.
Flour costs .075 per cup. When cake mixes were on sale and I had a coupon, one was free and one was .14. It was obvious that a box was cheaper than home made. Homemade does not have a lot of extra preservatives.
I usually keep one or two cake mixes on hand.
A hamburger meal box is another story. My daughter and I dissected one. Please read the blog on this. It is a real eye opener.
The bakery outlet has brown and serve baguettes and bread sticks so,eti,es really cheap. I keep them in the fridge. They last a long time. If I don't have that, I use a refrigerator bread dough. It makes really, really cheap bread or bread sticks. Just remember to bake it with a pan of water in the oven and watch your baking time.
Never, never, buy a two pound deli chicken. Any chicken under three pounds is a bad buy. Three pounds is the break even point for the ratio between bone and meat. I am still getting chicken for a dollar a pound. It takes about ten minutes to roast off a chicken ( non passive time) . The last couple of times, I got grill packs. I would prefer whole chickens, but I de bone the breasts myself, and cooked the hind quarters for tacos and other dishes. De boning chicken breasts saves a ton of money. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the most expensive way to buy chicken. De boning your own is really easy and makes you a lot of money. Then use the bone part for chicken stock.
Along with the stock from cooking the hindquarters for shredded chicken.
Buy fresh fruits and veggies in season. They will taste better at their peak, and they will be cheaper too. Frozen fruits and vegetables and French dries are usually cheaper at the dollar store. Baking, or convection baking your fries is healthier than frying them unless you have a commercial fryer. Commercial fryers sear off the potato your French fries absorb very little oil.
Ground beef comes in several different fat to meat ratios. The formula for comparing prices is
Base price times 1.xx. Xx is the fat content. Ie. If 20 percent hamburger is 2.00 a pound. The price of meat is 2.00 times 1.20 or 2.40. I get 7-9 percent hamburger. It is not the best fat content for burgers or meatloaf. You can get away with meatballs by adding something to create juice so they don't dry out-- apple, onion. De fat ring your ground meat can make it have no more fat than a boneless, skinless chicken breast. When a roast cut of meat is cheaper than hamburger, I make my own.
Often, dairy products are cheaper at Costco.
We most generally have oatmeal for breakfast. Some cold cereals in the summer. With coupons matching sales, Cheerios can be almost free.
I have been buying recipe starter at the dollar store for 2/1.00. It is 2.59 at SAFEWAYS last time I checked., AT .50 it is cheaper than scratch.
Buying more you can use before it goes bad is not good economy. It's a fine line to manage. The difference between hoarding and stockpiling is a hoarder will buy much more than they can use. Like 93 bottles of red pepper sauce. A stockpile is just enough at a low price to last you until it hits a sale again. Males go on a 8-12 week cycle.
Meat usually goes on a four week cycle. Often it is a loss leader. Take advantage of that. Buy enough to serve one meal ( or two ) a week for a month. Batch cook it,portion it onto meal sized portions, and freeze. Rotate your meats. Less cooking, less clean up, and less waste. I rotate hamburger (2 meals a week) , chicken, pork loin, sausage, and roast when I get it cheap enough.
Next time: cooking from scratch and meal planning.
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