Sunday, March 29, 2015

Coupon mania!

I just went to QFC.    My object was to get real food for the least amount I could.  It's  a game.  
My savings were 56 percent and I bought a bag if Easter grass for granddaughters Easter baskets for her class.  

I made baskets complete with Minnie Mouse and egg stickers and I have grass, chocolate that looks like carrots, plastic Easter eggs with candy eggs to fill them and a magnifying glass.   I didn't want to get them erasers, they might think they were candy and they are too young and I thought the teacher might kill me if I bought them my first choice which was whistles.  

I digress.  

I got 4 barilla pastas, 2 orzo and 2 white fiber shells. .69 and used two .55 coupons.  
I got 2 butters marked 5.29 for 1.99 each
I got two cheese goldfish packages ( great for on soup or instead of croutons on salad.  .99
I got two ore- Ida frozen potato packages for 2.49 and used a dollar coupon.  

That totaled my ten units.  

I am not by any means an extreme couponer.  But, I only buy what we will use and I don't spend forty hours a week doing it.    My tally for the first three months this  year is 75.00 a week assuming that there are 4.0 weeks in a month.  That's for four of us and I have a stock built.   We didn't eat 75.00 a week.  

The scoop on grocery stores in the area.

Ok.  Here is the latest.    Hagens bought out SAFEWAYS and ALBERTSONS.   Some of the SAFEWAYS  were turned into Hagens.  Some ALBERTSONS have become SAFEWAYS, and some SAFEWAYS and ALBERTSONS are left as they were.   Bottom line is that we have two companies controlling the chain stores.   Hagens and Kroger.  Winco is another.   They are not in our area, I think everett is the closest and we are hoping for one in Edmonds.   The location is convenient for the group of small towns in our area, , Shoreline, Edmomds, Mountkake Terrace and Lynnwood.

Then  we have the off price stores like big Lots, and grocery outlet.  They are not full service grocery stores, but have good buys on real food.   Warehouse stores , Costco and SAMs club.  .    And, what I'll call the princess stores, trader joes, whole foods, PCC -- for those with discerning taste , a appetite for speciality foods, and a whole lot of money to spend.  

The basis of this blog is supposed to be feeding nutritious food to families that have or want to feed their families on a budget.   Therefore, I deal mainly with the chain stores and off price  stores.

Fred Meyer ads
ham. 1.77
Butter 2/4@@
Strawberries 1.88
Dryers 2/5@@
Starbucks k cups 5.99@@$$
Sour cream, cottage cheese .99@@
4 lbs sugar 3/5@@
Best Foods 2/5@@
Fred Meyer vegetables .59
Fm frozen veggies .79@@
Cream od mushroom soup .79@@
Pie 2.99
Oranges .79

Smart source has a dollar off cheese coupon.
A dollar off any boxed potatoes--Betty Crocker
.50 off maxwell house coffee
1.00 off 2  Ore-Ida potatoes - I'm noting the buy 10 save five at QFC.

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Friday, March 27, 2015


Today we went to ALBERTSONS. I spent less than  twenty dollars and got mostly canned goods that were real food.   My husband picked up a can of enchalada sauce for me when I didn't have time to make ot from scratch.    It was 2.59.    ALBERTSONS had it for .50.    We had chicken enchiladas for dinner tonight. I just used black beans instead of chicken for the girls.   .
The tomato sauce that os 1.50 at Haggens was a quarter.    I got a cucumber, but they had no lettuce.
Bite sized muffins ( 11 carbs) were BOGO.

I have  averaged seventy five dollars a week for the past quarter.    That is somewhat below the thrifty figure for my,husband and I and we supplement the girls.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The ads


Chuck roast 3.99
Strawberries 2/5
Pears .99
Ham 1.88, spiral cut

Buy 10 save 5
Prices are net

Barilla pasta .69
Dryers 2.99
Butter 1.99
Ritz 1.99$$
Frozen potatoes 2.49

Eggs 1.79
Apples .99
M and M s  2/6$$


Strawberries 1.99
Half pork loin 1.99
Cake mix 1.00
Berries 2/5
Salad 4/5
Coffee 5.00

Strawberries 2.00
Sugar 1.99
Ham 1.99
Tomatoes 1.49
Flour 2/5
Haggen beans, tomatoes, veggies 15/10
Cheese 6.99

Ham 1.99

Quarters sale
Tomato sauce .25
Pudding 1.00
Cake mix 1.00
Enchalada sauce .50
Onions .25 lb
Berries 2/6
Cukes .75
Tomatoes 1.00
Salad 1.00

That's about all.   There is no one store that stands out!   QFC has good buys.   I like the canned goods sale at Haggens.  I don't need anything, but I would go for that if I did.    ALBERTSONS has the quarter sale on and it stands out.  As does five dollar coffee at SAFEWAYS.  

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Coupons I didn't find until too late.

I missed two coupons is week that I should have found, but didn't.   The pasta one appeared in my e mail is morning,  if I get near Freddie's,I  will pick it up.  Pasta has a very long shelf life , don't believe the pull dates on the package.  

Barilla pasta is .79 with an in ad coupon.   You can doubke dip or stack a store coupon with a manufacturers coupon.   Grocerycoupon has a coupon for a dollar off of four.   That nets .55 each and they have high fiber.  

There are coupons for .40 off six yoplaits on .   Yoplait is .25 for up to ten at Hagens.  
Six times .25 is 1.50  less .40 is 1.10 for six .  


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fred Meyers

I was out and about to a craft store to see about supplies.  I am looking for one particular thing.   We went to big lots.  I found facial tissue in larger boxes for cheaper than the dollar store.

Fred Meyers has chicken for .88.  Also grapes and ice  cream cheap.   They also have a coupon in the flyer for pasta for .79 including extra fiber.    Apples were also cheap as well as pears.   Cottage cheese was 4/5.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Notes on Friday

Believe it or not, I'm not going shopping today.  I have been posting a lot on shopping and ads lately.   Basically because that's where it all starts.  Economical meals have to start with  economical food.m

 A lot if changes are going on here,  Grocery stores around here are coming and going,   Prices are steadily going up mostly.   Haggens has replace some of the SAFEWAYS.  That is not a good sign for economical shoppers.  I am hoping Winco goes into the top foods building soon.  That will even out the field.    Coffee is the latest thing to take a huge jump.   We were getting it for five something.   Now it's 10.99.   I did find it for 6.49 at ALBERTSONS yesterday on a buy five save five.   You have to buy five of a list of things, mix and match.   Fortunately there is usually a buck thing that is believable,    I got tomatoes, salsa, coffee, salad dressing.   Salad dressing was 1.49 and I had a buck coupon off two.   That made my salad dressing .75.   It was Kraft.  

We eat a lot of tex mex.  It's healthy, makes even the vegetarians happy, and easy to cook and cheap.   A good combination of values.

Now that we have shopped, we need to meal plan.    I can still make five  dollar dinners.   That's five dollars for the dinner, not each plate.    This is supposed to be for the proverbial family of four-- two adults and two school aged kids.    We have three adults and a toddler.   I'm thinking about the same amount of food.  

Comparing even three years ago's  meals and the meals of today there is quite a difference,  it's rolling with the lunches if higher food prices.   No surprise that meat and cheese have skyrocketed,   I can still get cheese fairly reasonable by getting five pound bags at Costco wholesale and watching sales.   I buy blocks whether we are out or not.  Cheese gets better with age and we use it fast.   Meat is getting harder and harder.    Five dollars a pound for what we call the cheap stuff.    I can still get chicken cheap.   I did get pork tenderloin for five bucks a couple of weeks ago.  

This week, I bought no orotein,   I have a stash in the freezer and nothing was a good enough price.   I did get chili for a buck a can and yogurt for a quarter.   I had forty cent coupons for six.    Score!  
Cereal with  protein was a buck at big lots.   Also at grocery outlet.  

I digress.  Meal Plans .

  • Scrambled eggs, pancakes, yogurt parfaits.  ( yogurt, berries, granola) 
  • Spaghetti, pasta sauce, parm, green salad, homemade French bread.   Pudding.   
  • Chicken enchiladas, rice, beans.   Lettuce, tomatoes.  
  • Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, cut broccoli , salad 
  • Tuna melts, tomato soup
  • Pork stir-fry with left over pork cubes, stir fry veggies, top ramen noodles ( no packet) , oranges.  
  • Sloppy joes, French fries, carrot and celery sticks.   
Note: sloppy joes are with scratch sauce, buns were free from the bakery outlet, and French fries were a buck on sale in January.   It pays  to stock when prices are low.   It still makes the beef meal more pricey.   This is offset my a couple of meals that were under the five dollars.   I would prefer two beef meals because I think we need the iron.   I found chuck roast for four dollars a pound last week.  You can grind it and make your own hamburger.   I know where a mind would go with that, " just eat the roast."   But, you will find that you will eat more poundage of the roast than if it were stretched in a sloppy joe or pasta sauce, or on tacos .   Still, every,now and then, we have to splurge in a real hunk if meat!    LOL.   

If you are having a meal that seem to skimp a bit on the protein, make a desert or appetizer that compensates.   Like cheese and crackers, or pudding.    

Pizza is also a great five dollar or less dinner that goes well with everyone,  save bits and snatches of things that go in pizza as you are cooking other meals.   Freeze them.   Top a cheap pizza or make crust from scratch,   It's easier than you think.  See prior post for pizza crust with the food processor.   
When take and bake is five dollars at SAFEWAYS, it would feed two meals.  Just add your extra toppings.    I buy red peppers  when they are cheap and chop and  freeze them.  You can out the. Directly on the pizza from the freezer.   I buy canned sliced olives when I find them for fifty cents.  They are cheaper and less work than slicing them from a can of whole olives.   Costco is still the cheapest in sausage I have found.   Pepperoni when you can find it at the dollar store with a coupon is .50.  Made in America!   

Pasta is always on sale somewhere.   You can almost always find coupons,  with imagination, even the coupons that are for specialty pasta work without buying expensive whole wheat pasta.   I checked.   Whole wheat pasta takes longer to cook, has more carbs than some other pasta, and in my opinion tastes nasty!   If you get white pasta with fiber, it has less carbs than whole wheat.   The fiber is what makes it hit your bloodstream slower.   I also bought pasta with veggies in it.  They( family)  never knew the difference!    

I got eggs for 2/3 this week.  I had been getting the. 4/5.   I suspect Fred Meyers will do that again, but now I'm  set for another month or so.   We will probably need to have breakfast for dinner once a week for a while to manage the pull dates.    

About Wednesday, I clean the fridge and make an attempt to use anything that is on the edge.  It's a good time for a stir fry or fried rice.   

Guess that's all for now. 

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Albertsons and Big Lots

Today we went to ALBERTSONS and Big Lots .    I was disappointed with Bog Lots.  There was a big  sign in a new freezer section announcing that they now take SNAP..   Everything in the freezer section was over priced that I compared.   I bought very few things.  They had a couple of bags of sugar free mints.   They had cereal  with extra protein for a dollar that I didn't buy, and they had pudding for a buck.   I have found good buys in the food section before, but had in luck this time.

ALBERTSONS netted eggs for 2/3.  I haven't found an egg sale for weeks.   There were a bunch if five off five things on sale,   The best being salad dressing  that I had a coupon for ( nets .75) for Kraft.   , coffee for 6.49, and salsa for a buck,

I haven't found a good meat sale for several weeks now.    We had fish tonight.
guess that's all.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015


We went to Hagens today.  There  was a coupon in the flyer as an addition .   It had Yoplait for .25 limit twelve,    I have coupons too, but have used them.   Coupons,com has forty cent  coupons for six  of them and you can print two.  

I just bought things that were cheaper or the same price as my RBP.    I spent twenty dollars and a few cents.  

Honestly, they are up there in my list with Whole Foods , PCC, and Trader Joes.    Everything else was about 10 percent higher than the regular price in other stores.  

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Holy Cow!

My daughter went to PCC to get a special sugar substitute she wanted.   I asked her o pick up a bag if frozen stir fry vegetables .   holy cow!  10 ounces if stir fry veggies were almost three dollars!    I then glance thre the flyer she brought home,  mind you, these are to specials.   I think I'm in shock and I discovered how you could spend almost eight thousand dollars a year on food per person.  LOL.

Three dollars for a green pepper!    They area.69 at Fred Meyers this week If I'm not mistaken,   Tomatoes 3.99.   Asparagus.   4.99 a pound.    I thought it was high at 169.  

Needless to say, I was just reminded of why I don't shop at PCC.    Most of the items  listed on their flyer were  food  that sounded like ot could come from another planet!   LOL.  

   Never the less, I managed to make A close to five dollar dinner .  

Pieces of pork tenderloin leftover   1.25
1/2 box of tomato spaghetti. .40 ( bought in sale with coupon)
Mixed veggies 2.50.  
Cashew .50
2T basil pesto  ( 2.00 a jar  at Bartells ) .40

$5.05. For four people.  .  

Note, if the stir fry veggies were from QFC accross the street from PCC, they would have been about half of that price.

The tomato pasta was good and not terrible carb wise becausemthmvegetabkes and the meat took up most of the volume.  

There are still good dinners for five dollars.    I am basing  my five dollar dinners on a typical family of four-- two adults and two school aged children.   We are three adults  and one small child.  Probably comparable.   This won't feed teen age boys.   But, teen ate boys would warrant more money from snap.   The USDA stats are broken down into four monetary groups and age groups.   Then they adjust for your part of the country.   We are lucky enough to have three major chains close by and two more in next towns ( within five miles ) . Also, Costco, big lots, grocery outlet, and Winco in neighboring towns,    

The best trick for lowering your food bill is to know your prices, shop more than one store, and never pay full price .   Buy low and eat when the item is higher priced.   Dairy and eggs have a far out pull date.    Buy them on sale .   I'm running low on eggs, waiting for another sale. I misjudged.   Vegetables and fruit I buy whatever is in sale the cheapest in season.    We have a farmers market,the real kind, and can buy from them.   We also have a farmers market, I call the social kind that has jewelry, food, flowers etc.  It's fun,but not the place to go if you are serious about good  cheap food.
I want to pay a buck a pound for tomatoes, not five dollars a pound.  

Many people have the means to pay any price they want for food.   If you are able to do that, more power to you.  Everyone has to do what they think is best for their family.    If you are on a tight budget and can stay hime all day and cook everything from scratch, go for it.   Many of us either don't  choose to do that, or don't have the luxury of staying home, if you can call it that!  

This blog is assuming you are on snap and maybe part of the working poor, maybe not.   Everyone can benefit from tips and recipes, but I don't want to loose sight if the reason I started this blog in the first place.   I'm not going to tout that I can feed my family in a hundred dollars a month. That would not be realistic.   And, you can't probably do a five  dollar dinner in New York City either.   You can ,however, take the premise of shopping on the cheap and tailor ot to your situation and needs.   I studied  a lot of comcepts through the years.  Tried a lot, amd came up with a plan that works.   It doesn't take spending all day in the kitchen, your shopping time after organization is probably,no more than Anyone  else with a family, and there is always food in the pantry.  


  • Never pay full price 
  • Like playing the stock market, buy low, and  eat when prices are high
  • Shop at least two stores, plan your trip to not waste gas.   
  • Keep a stock of non perishables .   
  • Buy perishable on sale and in season.   Use up before they go bad.   
  • Plan meals from what is in your pantry and fridge and what's in sale after you shop.  
  • Design a matrix of meal plans that works for your family 
  • Buy one meat or protein that is on a RBP a week and buy enough to feed your family that meal for the designated times a month.   Rotate meats and meals.  My cook once,meat many times.   Saves time and money.   

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Grams Apple custard pie

10 inch pie plate , greased

Fill with 4 cups apples, sliced.
3/4 c sugar

Stir together in separate bowl
3/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2
1/2 cup bisquick
2 eggs
1/4 cup softened butter
1 cup sour cream.  

Pour over apples.
Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  


Fred Meyer ad is here for tomorrow.  

Snack crackers 3/5@@
Apples .89
Brisket, corned beef, point cut 2.99
Cheese 5.99@@orowheat bread or English muffins 1.88@@
Ground turkey.  3.99@@
Berries 2/5
Cukes .59
Nalley chili .99@@

That's about it.  

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Buy five save five

I see coupon mania here.

Classic pasta sauce in jars is a buck.
Freshetta pizza is 3.49
Speed stick gear deodorant 2.49 coupon for 2.00 makes it BOGO coupon makes it .49 for two.  
Cascade action packs 3.99 coupon 1.00. Nets 2.99
Tide 4.99. Less coupons .50 for one, 1.00 for two or 200 for three

Back when I see the results.

Ok. I'm back.  I got deodorant for .25 each.  Regular proce 3.49.   They marked it on buy 5 for 2.49.  I had a two dollar coupon and a BOGO coupon.   That made two deodorants  a total of .49.   SCORE,

I got high-fiber pasta for a dollar. It is less carbs than a whole wheat pasta and tastes a lot better and is easier to cook.

Gel tablets for the dishwasher for 499-250 savings by this a dollar coupon made them  1.50 for 20.

Tide  laundry detergent enough  to wash 32 loads was six dollars -2 dollars for the big event plus a dollar coupon made it three dollars.

My total bill was 53 percent off and DH bought lefse, milk, and bread not on sale.  

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

The weekly ads.

We have gone from two ads earlier in the month to four ads.  

The first matter of business this week is corned beef briskit because Tuesday is St. Patricks day.  


I have a three dollars off twenty coupon on my just 4 you.

Five dollar Friday
Grapes (2 lbs)
Pizza ( take n bake )
Ground turkey (2 lbs)
Ice cream 2/5
Brownie mix 5/5

Corned beef brisket flats 3.99
Strawberries 2/4
Corned beef points 2.99

Bacon 1.99@@
Tillamook 3/1@@
Grapes 1.88
Ice cream 2/5
Skippy peanut butter 3/5

QFC ( two weeks)

Buy 5,save 5 ( net costs) you can also use coupons with these )
Pasta sauce ( glass) .99
Freshetta pizza 3.49
Bacon 3.99
Sliced cheese 2.49
Gear deodorant 2.49
Dishwasher action packs 3.99
Tide 4.99

Tomatoes 2/5

10 lbs potatoes  1.49@@
Milk 1.99@@
15 percent hamburger 2.99@@
Corned beef 2.99
Pro wheat bread 1.99
Freshetta 3.99

That's about it.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Just some notes

Just some notes.

Kindle has free downloadable books.  There  is also an app  for other readers that allows you to download kindle.  I downloaded several eat cheap type recipe books yesterday.   So,e have alternative ingredients, some regular ones.   Alternative ingredients are those that you might find at the specialty stores..

I found it interesting that another blogger came to the same conclusion I have been toting for years.   She bought 4 bags of food at SAFEWAYS for forty dollars.   She was next to someone at trader joys that paid almost two hundred dollars for four bags.   Now, she didn't list the things bought at trader joes,no that isn't exactly a scientific comparison.   I went to trader joes once.   I found a box of strawberries, overpriced, but gorgeous strawberries and a basil plant that was a good price.   Period.

Buying groceroes in the cheap and balancing a speciality diet for health concerns is not an easy task.  Often times, your budget or snap does not take onto consideration you need to eat a speciality diet.   I think it can be done and I am about to embark on a journey to find out how.   I have been realitively good, but the doctor says I need to be better.   For below the normal stats.   I, sharing this because there are other people that need to eat on the cheap, that still want to eat well, but have limited resources.   When the wealth of the country is broken down, there are  a lot of us that are living near the poverty level.

We had a realistic retirement plan.m not over the top, but realistic.  We did not plan on helping adult children, nor did we plan on medical taking a third of our income.   I am thankful my mother taught us by example how to make the most of a grocery budget.   By adding an education gleamed by reading everything I could find to read, I came up with a plan.

Groceries on the cheap came about when I was asked to teach someone how to make their snap dollars stretch to cover the months groceries.  My,children said I should start a blog and teach more than the one person.  I was hearing of a lot of people on snap that were running out of money before they ran out of month.   With snap allotments being cut and grocery prices on the rise, the problem
was getting bigger.

No child should have to suffer the stress of having nothing in the pantry at the end of the month.  Basicly, not knowing where the next meal is coming from.  And, no child should  be eating top ramen and potato chips for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I went threw a period of time when I was a single mother without the benefit of much child support and without the benefit of welfare.  Most of my income was spent on childcare and rent.   There was very little left for insurance, utilities and discressionary spending -- food, gas, haircuts, clothes etc.
I had to make it.   I read everything I could get my hands on before the days of Internet and augmented what I learned from my mother.  I have developed a plan that works.    I'm sharing the plan for free!   I don't make money off this like others do.  My motivation is to help people love better for less.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

I see Asparagis, It must be SPRING!

Fred Meyer ads this week are featuring asparagus!    At 1.69 a pound....ugh!  

Chuck Pot Roast is 3.99
Hamburger ( good stuff) is 4.99.

Green onions or radishes are 2/1
Red Baron pizza 3/10
Frozen veggies are a buck
Oranges .69
Milk .99@@

Note QFC has the same price on milk without a coupon.   Also chocolate milk and oj

When boneless chuck is in sale for 3.99 it's cheaper to grind your own hamburger.  

I love radishes oven roasted with potatoes and carrots.  

No one store has the best prices.   If you are shopping at one store, you are not getting the best prices.  Of that's ok for you and you are pressed for time, that's ok.  Just know that if you need rock bottom prices, one store is,not going to cut it.  

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

How to read a barcode.

Ot seems the origins of the food we eat are not always specified on the label.   One way to know where our food is to know how to read the bar codes.

Now, that being said, I had a long discussion with the USDA and the FDA regarding made in China  food.   The FDA has monitors that oversee the standards on food in factories that goes to the US.   Charity, as my mother would say, begins at home.   We need to have more options to buy American.

I digress.   How to read a bar code

Begins with

690-692.  China
47 1. Taiwan
00-09  USA and Canada
30-37. France
40-44 Germany
49 Japan
50 UK

I though that was very interesting.  

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The ads

Here are the ads.  It's a mixed bags no one has a lot of great buys.  

Haggens, shoreline
grapes 1.98
Oranges 1.29
Apples .59
White albacore tuna .99@@
Orzo wheat bread 1.99@@
Cheese. 7.99***
Roma's 1.29
Dreyers 2/5@@
Free 1 lb bananas @@
Eggs .99@@


Grapes 1.99
Oranges .99
Tomatoes 1.99
Chicken .88
Five dollar Friday
Strawberries2 lb
Cheerios  . 3/5$$


Berries 2/5
Chicken .99
Milk .99
Cheese  5.99**
Pie 2.99
Tomatoes 1.99

Strawberries 2 lbs  3.99
Cinnamon rolls BOGO
Butter 1,99@@
Cheese 5.99@@

That's about all.  Note the prices of cheese-- all the same brand.  

Getting started-- a repeat post.

It's the start of a  of new month.  I can't believe it is October  already.  The first of each month, I usually go over the basics of groceries on the cheap.  Each time I write off the top of my head, so each one is a little different.

Groceries on the cheap takes a entirely different  approach to buying your food.  Instead of going to the store and buying all your food for a week, you go to two stores and replenish your food supply.  Because you only buy what is at a rock bottom price, you save money.  Or, if you have a male mentality, you spend less money.    I Spend about half of what the normal person does for our family and have done it for years.  

It takes a little planning at the beginning, but once you get yourself set up, you will probably spend less time than before.  Some of these things you probably already do automatically.  It's a matter of jotting them down on paper.  

Let's get started.  

1) write down the inexpensive sources of protein your  family will eat.  Do try new foods and expand your variety if foods.  My mother never cooked pork.  I first cooked it after I was married.  In our house that would be some beef, pork, chicken, eggs, cheese, beans and rice.  

2) write down  7-14 meals your family ears that use these protein sources.  

3) write down the key non perishable ingredients that you use to cook these meals.  Most families will have a list of ten or so items.  These are your stock items.  

4) track your stock items.  You can use a small notebook from the dollar store, or a spread sheet n the computer.  You want to identify the name of the item, the size of the package , the date, store, and amount  you paid for the item.  Odd you use a coupon!?   

5) when you find the rock bottom price ( I call it my target price) , buy 
A) as many as you can afford
B) as many as the store will let you buy ( limit) 
Or C) as many as you need to fill in your stock.  

Stores operate on a eight to twelve week cycle for sales.  If I use something once a week, I keep 24 max.  If I use it once a month, I keep 6.  For things like catsup, mayo and mustard, I keep one on hand.  When I open my back up, in start looking for a sale.  I found catsup for .80 this week, so I bought two.  

You never want to get stuck having to pay full price.  

When the ads come out.  I start  with a piece of computer paper, preferably  out of the recycle bin.  
I mark it off in quarters.  

Now, I write down the things on sale that are on my stock list and are rock bottom prices.  
Ditto the produce that is on season and the cheapest prices that I can use to fill out my meals.  
Dairy is next .  And a protein source that is at a rock  bottom price that I can batch cook.  

Cross off anything you don't need to stock, anything that is cheaper at a different store.  Now pick the top two stores.  Picking two stores gives you the best chance to effectively buy the best produce and take advantage of the sales.  Plan your trip with other errands to make the best use of your gas.  If your stores are far apart, split the shopping to piggy back the trip on your way home from other errands.  

If you buy a protein at a rock bottom price and buy bulk, batch cook it and portion it on meal sized containers, you will have less waste and cook more efficiently with less clean up.  Stores rotate their meat bargains.  Buy the bargain, and buy enough for a meal a week for the month.  By working on a four week cycle, you can have variety and spend less doing it.  This week, SAFEWAYS has chicken for a buck.  Next week I might find hamburger or pork loin or sausage.  

When you get home from the store, make out your meal plans for the week.  I just write down the main dish.  The rest of it takes care of itself.  I usually try for an easy dish the days I have the late shift.  You don't have to be rigid and follow the plan to a t.  Just have a plan.  Without a plan, it is too 
easy for the order pizza gremlins to rear they ugly head!   

Next time : the shopping trip

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The basics, part three

To recap, we have covered in part, the planning and the shopping.  Now the cooking.  What to do with the stuff after you get it home.

Precooking your meat saves a lot of time at dinner time.  It also buys your meat when it is the cheapest in bulk, and portion controls to so you get more meals for your buck.   I have a post on almost free pizza.  If you , for instance, fry and defat sausage, and portion it for quiche or soup making, and there is a little leftover, put it in a bag in the freezer door.  Ditto any other meat you can put on a pizza.  When you are chopping a vegetable that can go on a pizza, do the same.  When you have nough, make pizza.  There is an easy pizza crust recipe on an earlier blog.  Also, I got a pizza crust package at big lots for .50.  ALBERTSONS was supposed to have one for .50 as well, but I didn't find it.  Also, there is a bisquick recipe and a fridge bread dough recipe on an earlier post as well.  Many options.  You want to pay close to 2.50 or less for cheese.  Lately, Costco has been my best bet.  Cheddar blocks I have been fitting for 2.00 a pound on a sale, limit 1.

I got clams for a buck at ALBERTSONS this week.  Two cans makes clam cakes, or clam chowder.  Add a cheese biscuit and you have a good cheap meal.

A slow cooker can be your best friend in the kitchen.  There are literally hundreds of dump and turn on recipes out there.  Just be aware of the fact that if you pay dollars each for cans of soup, or other remade ingredients , you are defeating your purpose.  There is also a recipe for cream soup base on another blog or find a good sale.  I got soup for fifty cents at ALBERTSONS.  Look for recipes that are more scratch. I post them when I find them.

Sloppy joes are cheaper to make than hamburgers.  Again, use a recipe that doesn't call for a two dollar can of sauce.   Think ahead and pull some tomato sauce fom a large can if you are making
something else.  The larger can at big lots is cheaper than two smaller cans.  Big lots doesn't take food stamps, but they don't carry a lot of food either,  so your OOP is low if you are on snap.  Buns are at the bread store for free when you buy your months worth of bread often.

I write the basics off the top of my head every month.  Please feel free to read others.  We shop at two chain stores unless the sales are bad that week.  We go to Costco and Winco about every month to six weeks.  We go to the bread store when we are out of bread and I can't get it cheaper at the store on sale.  Grocery outlet and big lots are on a need to have or when we are in the area  for something else .  I just started going to Fred Meyers and rite aid on Sunday or Monday if the ads warrant it,  rite aid has up rewards that sometimes pay you to buy something.  If I am going to need it, I get it.  Then I use my up reward bucks on something else I am going to need that is cheap, has up rewards and preferably I have a coupon for.  I have been getting toothpaste for free,  along with mouthwash.

The dollar store is a good resource for some items.  I have been getting  recipe starter for .50.  It is 2.59 at SAFEWAYS,  this is another case of buying is cheaper than scratch at 50.  I would not buy it if it cost more,  frozen veggies are cheaper there as well usually.  Ditto pepperoni.  I was getting it for
.50 for what is 3.50 at the store.

I did a blog on dinners at the dollar store, just for fun.  We did not eat the dinners, it was virtual, so I can't attest to the taste of them, LOL.  The frozen veggies and potatoes are good.  My family doesn't like shoestring.  I bought peppers to use with shredded chicken and some soy sauce for stir fry with rice.  Rice is cheap at the dollar store.

I buy the .25 cans of tomato sauce for pizza , and to make a little sauce for the grandbabys    lunch.
It's worth it because there is no waste.

There is a recipe for No Brainer pasta on an earlier post.  It is my answer to a burger meal box.  Less non-passive time, so simple anyone can do it, and a lot cheaper.

If you once learn how to read the labels of the food in boxes, you will be amazed and probably almost never buy a box of something again.  I buy ready made in moderation.  If something is cheaper than scratch, which is not too often.  I got a cake mix for free, and another for .14.  A cup of flour costs .075 cents in bulk.  At seven and a half cents a cup for flour, it eas cheaper to buy a cake mix,  I like to keep one on hand so that I have it in case I need desert quickly.  We often have ice cream or some kind of fruit.  We are coming on to apple season.

Buy your fruits and vegetables in season, they will taste better, and be cheaper,

A good exercise would be to list the meats or other protein sources on a piece of paper, or on the computer, and then list under them the things that you can make with them.  The kids can brainstorm with you if they are old enough.  It gives you a variety of meals.

Pizza, soups, sloppy joes, oven dinners, hot sandwiches, all take almost no time to make.  An ovn dinner that you can put in the oven and walk away to do other thongs is a stress less dinner.

Thanks for stopping by

Please share. I am writing this blog to hopefully help people save on their food bill, because they have to, or because they want to. SNAP monies are going to be cut in November I hear.  Many people are still unemployed or under employed.  It is possible to eat for less and still eat good, somewhat healthy meals.  I can't help people if I can't reach people.  I am not saying that your food is going to magically appear cooked on your table.  It takes a little planning and work, but the rewards are worth it.  no child should have to wake up to empty cupboards at the end of the month.  The insecurity of that is a terrible  injustice.  And, no child should have a diet of top ramen and potato chips.
 Good food on the table cheap is doable.


The basics,part two

First, if you HATE to shop, deligate this to someone who doesn't, provided you can trust them to be diligent at their efforts.  One time, we needed some things at the grocery store to fill on because I had been recovering from an operation, and no one had shopped for two weeks.  I sent my husband to the store to buy a weeks food.  He came back with two pomegranates and beer.  LOL.  I decided  it would be better off if I sent my college age daughter with a budget.  She came home with two bucks to spare and enough to make meals for a couple of weeks of things I normally buy.

Ther are a lot of places that sell food these days.  Every week, I pick two of the chain stores based on what my needs are, and what prices they have.

Warehouse stores, over-stock stores, the dollar store, and drug stores also sell food.  Many times the alternative stores have better prices.  They only  buy bargains, so they don't have a wide variety,but what they do have many times is a really good price.

The big key here is that you have to know your prices.  You don't have to know all the prices in the store, but every family has key things that are their stock items that make up the majority of the non- perishable food in their pantry.  It's usually 10-15 items.  You can't know if something is a bargain if you don't know what the rock bottom price is in the first place.

We go to the chain stores once a week.  We go to Costco on a need basis .  We go to Winco when they send us a coupon.  It is a ways away and last time I went, the prices weren't that good.

We go to the grocery outlet and big lots when we are in the area for other things.  Grocery outlet has a wide variety of cheese, some is a good price, some isn't.  You need to be really mindful of the pull dates at overstock stores.

I hit the dollar store once a week for the Sunday paper.  They keep it all week.  The dollar tree takes coupons.  By watching coupons and not being brand loyal, you can get your deodorant, toothpaste and soap for FREE.  This is really big if you are on SNAP that doesn't pay for non- food items.  We are not on snap, but on a retirement fixed income, I take advantage of everything I can find of ot is something we can use.  I have started on my toothpaste fairy basket again.  LOL. ,last week, I got eight dollars worth of food for a buck at the dollar store.  I also buy catsup , frozen veggies, Kleenex, cotton balls, and window cleaner in bulk.

We hit the bakery outlet when we are in the area, or about every eight weeks.  I fill in if bread is cheaper at the stores on sale.  They have brown and serve baguettes sometimes, otherwise I get them from Costco.

There is a couple of posts  on the Phycology of retailers.   It really helps your bottom line if you can beat them at their own game.  It's well worth the read.

Snack foods and convenience foods are the biggest profit for retailers.  Avoid them like the plague.
That being said, there are a few things that are cheaper than homemade, or homemade is just too time consuming to go that route.  Tortillas come to mind here,  the cost on sale is so low, it's not worth it.  When in doubt, do  the math.  I factor in my time.  If I can make a decent amount per hour, I make scratch.  Besides, boxes have to have preservatives.  I want to use them in moderation.  The recipe starter at the dollar store is cheaper than making white sauce from scratch.  They don't always have basil and garlic flavors.  Last time they only had tomato.  Since I got it for free, it was cheaper.

My daughter and I made the  lemon pound cake she was buying at the big bucks coffee place.  I think I figured we made 212.00 an hour making it from scratch!   I wouldn't buy it in the first place, but the comparison was interesting.

There are web sites out there in Internet land that match up store sales with coupons from the paper and coupons that can be printed on the Internet ( .  You have to download the coupon printer drivers, but so far I haven't heard of any bad experiences from those that have done this.
The coupon marching site in the Seattle area is .  A google search should net you the one in your area.

Couponconnections is a fast search. She posts the really good deals in red, so you can check it out really fast.  I skip over any ready mades I less the price is really lower than scratch.  I can't make a cake mix  for free, or .14.  Flour costs .075 cents a cup in bulk.  I have been finding taco dinner mixes for little more than the tortillas.  They have both hard and soft shells to satisfy everyone.  When I quit finding them, I will go back to buying shells and using my own spice blend. Most of the time , coupons are for things I don't use.  By only printing the things you will use at the first of the month, and keeping the inserts from the paper in binder clips by dare, you can make the best use of coupons without spending a lot of time clipping coupons.  It takes a matter of a few minutes to pull up the matching site and scroll through the stores in your area.  If you do it after you have decided which store to go to, you narrow your search.  Then, the printables have a link, or you can go directly to the insert and pull the coupon you will use to make your purchases.

I love the word FREE, almost as much as the words that they will PAY you to take the product home. That only happens at rite aid for me.  But, when someone pays me a penny to bring a 3.00 tube of name brand toothpaste home, I am going to take advantage of it.  If I am not going to use it, I save it for the women's shelter or the food bank.

There are mix recipes on prior posts.  Buying mixes, and ready mades and snacks will bust your budget big time in short order.  Check the price of potatoes per pound.  Now, do the math on potato chips.  The exercise is eye opening.  Besides, chips have a lot of salt in them.  We feed our children 
far too much salt,sugar,  and fat.  It is hiding in a lot of our foods.  The first step in healthier children is to stop buying sugar coated cereal and salt laden snack foods.

My daughter and I dissected a hamburger meal box.  The results are quite remarkable (see earlier post) .  Since then, they have come out with a new box that is a bit better, bit I suspect not much. I also posted alternatives to the meal box.  The key words...better, cheaper, faster.

Keep in mind, in order to keep under budget on snap, you need to average five dollar dinners.....a meal, not a person.  Do your math.  If you get full snap, divide the amount by 30.  That's your amount per day.  Or, divide the monthly by 4.2 and that is the amount per week.  There are ways to make breakfast really cheap and many times kids can get lunch free or nearly free at school.  You can have leftovers.  Because of that, I concentrate on dinners.

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The basics, part one

It's that time of month again. I usually post the basics once a month for anyone new or as a reminder.

I started this blog when it was brought to my attention that people on SNAP were running out of money before they ran out of month. Food "stamps" don't come with directions. LOL.

Groceries on the cheap takes a three pronged approach at getting food on the table, cheap. Planning and organizing, shopping wisely and cooking from scratch. All scary thoughts in so,e people. It is not as intimidating as it sounds.

Planning and organizing.

Start by identifying the sources of protein that your family will eat. These need to be economical sources of protein. In our house that would be

Some cuts of beef

Now, list at least 7, preferably 14 meals that your family will eat that use these ingredients.
Gather the recipes if you need to.

Go over the recipes and list the ingredients you will use to make these dishes. ( the staple items: shelf stable.  )

These will be your staple items. You should have 10-15 items.
In our house that would be
Diced tomatoes
Refried beans
Some corn
Some green beans
Instant mashed potatoes
Pasta sauce
Black olives

The basic mantra is "never pay full price" you want to pay about 1/2.
When your staple items are on sale for the rock bottom price, you buy
1) as many as you can afford
2) as many as the store will let you buy or
3) as many as you need to fill I'm your space., whichever comes first

If I use something once a week, I keep 24. If I use something once a month, I keep 6.
Sales run on a 8-12 week cycle. Some people operate on a three month supply. I would prefer not to be on the edge. This won't happen overnight.

The money will happen because you are paying half price for your food.why pay 1.59 for a can of pasta sauce when can get two cans for less than 1.59. That is how you build stock.

There is not a lot of room on snap for expensive snack foods and ready made meals. There are tricks to make cooking as easy as the boxes! LOL. Taste better too.

Keep a notebook or a spread sheet on the computer of the items on your staple list.
Record on each top of page or line

Item and size of package
When purchased where, for what price and if you used a coupon.

Soon you will see a pattern and know hour rock bottom price. I post these periodically, bit that will only work if you live I'm the Seattle area, and my staples Re your staples.

Meat is a different schedule of sales. They usually rotate every week of the month. If you buy the loss leader every week on a rotating basis,you will be saving money and time.

Ie : chicken Grill packs were a dollar pretty much at all the chains a couple of weeks ago. I bought ten pounds of chicken. I de-boned the breasts (4 halves) and cooked the rest of the pack (hindquarters) I'm wTer with onion, carrot and salt and pepper. When the meat was falling off the bone, I let it cool, strained the broth and froze it in ice cube trays, and shredded the rest of the meat and packaged in on meal sizes portions. I have enough tp have chicken two nits a week for the rest of the month.

You can do the same with sausage, hamburger, and pork loin and sirloin roast.

You buy in bulk at the lowest price and cook ot all at once, less work and leas clean up. A win win situTion.

Make meal plans after you get home from the store. I have a formula. Your's might be different factoring what your family ears.

Ours is
2 beef
2 chicken or pork
2 vegetarian
1 fish

I do it after I shop because often something is on unadvertised special, not available, or doesn't look good enough to eat.

Tomorrow: shopping

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might be different according to your families tastes.


Went to visit a friend today and stopped by the bread  store.

Interesting observations.

Restraunt pack English muffins were cheaper than regular ones.   Sugar free cookies are not necessarily lower carb than regular ones.

I little ingenuity will use hamburger buns in the middle of winter. The price is right.   I love the word FREE when it's really free.   There are a lot of scams about free stuff.  They really only want you to listen to their sales pitches.    More BUY  my stuff.  I have been un subscribing to e mails all week.   I am sick of deleting e mails from my online and I don't have unlimited data.  

Last night we had loaded tomato soup and a cheese and ham sandwich on a hambirger bun.  

The night before we had scratch Mac and cheese and fruit salad.    I made the cheese sauce with a homemade mix for white sauce.    It took longer than I expected for it to thicken. But woth the cheese added it worked fine.  

I try for a matrix of weekly meal plans.  

2 beef
2 pork or chicken
2 vegetarian
1 fish or shellfish

Beef so we get amino acids and iron.
Chicken or pork because it's cheap and balances the expensive beef.  
Vegetarian to please daughter and further stretch the budget
Fish to round our menus.  

We are past due for the basics and it's the first of the month.  Don't forget to download the coupons for the month,  

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