Thursday, October 31, 2013

The basics , part,2, shopping

Part of shopping , the planning stage, was covered yesterday.  I do this blog every month for a refresher or for new readers.  I do it off the top of my head, please feel free to read older blogs.

To recap, I analyze the ads.  Pick the two best stores of the chain stores.  Go with my list, get in, and get out.  The more time in a store, the more money you will spend.  The more people you take with you,the more you will spend.  Try not to take small children with you.  They are a distraction and shopping is business when you are doing it on the cheap.  You have to have a clear head to stick to a small budget.  LOL

Retailers have spent considerable time and money studying the average shoppers shopping habits.  They take advantage of all of our instincts.  There is a whole  blog on that issue.  Beat them at their own game.  70 percent of all things purchased are impulse buys.  Don't fall into the trap!!!!
Don't pick up anything you don't intend on buying.

All chain stores have food, there are a lot of alternative stores that have food too.
Warehouse stores like Costco and SAMs club have stable prices, somewhat.  Some things are cheaper, some are not.  Overstock stores have limited merchandise, but some of what they have is lots cheaper.  We have  big lots and grocery outlet. Always check pull dates, and know your prices.
Grocery outlet has regular coffee often and a wide assortment of cheeses! some cheaper! some not.
Big lots has a variety of things.  Kinda like Costco, here today, gone Tomorrow.  

Again, know your prices.

The dollar store has some food.  Like any other store, some prices are better, some are not.  Lately I have been finding recipe starter  2/1.00.  With a dollar coupon, it was free. Without a coupon it was

2.09 cheaper than SAFEWAYS and cheaper than making sauce from scratch.

Soap, deodorant and toothpaste can be had with a coupon for free.  This is  huge for people on snap that don't have help buying personal necessities.  There are coupon people that get TP for free too.  I have yet to find the illusive toilet paper coupons!   The best I can do is Costco.  LOL. Frozen veggies and French fries are a bargain unless you get a good sale.  Pepperoni is a buck and sometimes there are coupons that make it .50.

The bakery outlet is cheaper on bread.  Sometimes you can get bread on sale at the chain stores as cheap.  Remember, the chain stores aren't in the business of running a bakery or cannery.  They buy their products from the name brands that put the stores label on them.  my sister worked for a distributed.  She used to be able to bring vegetables home that were double wrapped with two different brands wrapping.  ( they used to come in waxed boxes.  )

Remember, the more specialized the store, the fancier the store, the higher the prices.  If you are on a really tight budget, it is not realistic to expect to buy specialty foods.  That doesn't mean that you can't buy healthy foods, defat your ground meats, or grind them yourself, and watch your fat, salt, and sugar intake.  It is especially important for the children.  Too much of our food has salt and sugar hiding in it.

All this takes time.  Once you are set up. You will probably spend no longer than you do now. Especially of you hot the neighbourhood store several times a week because you forgot so,etching, or just want something different for dinner.    Spend more time on the front end of the meal on the table train, and less on the back and you will be better off.  There are ways to cut clean up time and non-passive cooking time to save time .

That's about all I can remember.

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Finally, the ads

The ads.


Whole pork loin 1.99
Milk 1.89@
Tillamook cheese 3.99@@

Just for u
Sausage 2 lbs 2.99
Tuna 1.25

5 buck Friday
Grapes 3/5


Dave's bread 3.99@@

Top round, London broil BOGO nets 3.25
Black and raspberries BOGO nets 2.00
18 count eggs 1.99
Dreyers ice cream 2.99
Nally chili 1.00


Diced tomatoes

Cranberry sauce

Tuna .88
Chili 1.00

That's about all. I am seeing a big jump in prices.  Just because they say something is featured, doesn't mean that it is really on sale.  you need to know your prices.  .67 for beans is good.  I do note that they are store brand now, they used to be a national brand for that price and there used to be beans included.  I did  get beans from FM for fifty cents this summer.  The pork loin is good.  That's a lot of pork loin, perhaps you can share it with a friend or family member unless you are having a crowd for dinner.  ...freeze it for thanksgiving!?    Freeze 1/2!of ot for thanksgiving!?

Be sure to check the coupon connections if you are in the Seattle area.  Many regions have match up sites.Google  for the one on your area.

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Jane ,

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No ads , the basics, part one

Again, there were no ads yesterday.m there were no holidays, so I don't know what the problem was this time.

It's the first of the month again... Almost ... So I think well talk about the basics.

Groceries on the cheap was started because it came to my attention that people on snap weren't making it through the month on their allotments and needed help.  I knew how to make that happen.  I realize no everyone needs or wants to economize, but I also have found that people read the blog for new recipes or to find new ways to get out of the kitchen faster.  Hey, and everybody can use a little jingle  in their pocket ever now and then.  We just paid the property taxes.  My guess is that others have too.

Groceries on the cheap takes a three disciplined   approach to shopping and getting food on the table.
1) planning and organizing
2) smart shopping
3) cooking from scratch ( fast and efficient)


1) the first exercise is probably one you have done already.  Identify the economical sources of protein that your family will eat.  Now, identify seven to fourteen dinners that call for these ingredients.
2) now identify the things that you need on a regular basis to make these dishes.  No boxes here.  Were talking scratch cooking.

In our house, that would be beans, refried beans, canned diced tomatoes, cheese, some canned veggies, instant mashed potatoes,tuna.

3) start a price book, or spread sheet that tracks the prices of the few items that you use on a regular basis.  In most homes, that is ten or so items.

Name the product and the size of the package.
Date, where bought, price. Coupon??   Net.

Pasta, 16 ounces
3/12./13.       SAFEWAYS.     .38. Coupon

4) when the item is the lowest price you have seen ( rock bottom price) RBP, 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 supply.
Whichever comes first

If I use something once a week, I keep 24.; if I use something once a month,mi keep 6.  Things like catsup and mayo, I keep one ahead.  When I open my backup, I start looking for a sale.

This is a six months supply.  I keep six instead of three months because we don't know how long we will be able to work, and need a cushion to keep us long enough to adjust to a 25 percent cut in income.  Stores operate on a 8-12 week cycle for sales.  3 months should be enough, but a little extra safety net would be nice.

You don't  want to be caught with that dreaded F word....Full price, or what my mother used to call top dollar.  I want to pay 1/2.  That is doable with some planning.  I only buy at RBP .  I stock.  I don't hoard, I stock.  I don't buy 93 bottles of hot sauce because they are on sale.  I buy what I know we will use and enough so we don't have to pay full price.  By doing so, we eat well on an average of 65.00 a week for three adults.  That is less half the USDA stats for the thrifty plan for our family.  Now, my daughter does buy her own lunches, and we do go out once a week.  But, still, we are well under the stats.

Keeping a stock means that you are prepared for an emergency, be it you are too sick to go to the store, that ugly S (now) word in this part of the country, or any other thing that may crop up.  There is a certain sense of security knowing you van feed your family,no matter what!  It kind of like when our great grandmothers put food up for the winter on the farm.  It's not much different concept than the people that play the stock market, you want to buy low and sell high.  You buy when food is at it's lowest, and eat when it is at it's highest.

When the sale ads come out, divide a piece of computer paper in sections.  ( ours is four ) put the name of a grocery store on the top of each section.  Now, write down the good buys for
A)  a protein that is RBP .  Usually the stores will rotate a meat on what they call a loss leader.  They want you to come into the store and buy all the rest of your groceries at high prices.  Beat them at their own game.  I only buy what is  on sale, and the few things that I have to have.
B) perishables, fruit, and veggies in season, dairy and bread.
C) what is on your stock list that is RBP.

If you buy a meat in bulk quantity , enough to cover yourself for four meals, and batch cook it, portion control for your meals, label and freeze it, you are getting RBP and saving money, no waste.
Rotate the four weeks of the month.  You have variety at the lowest price you can get.

Now cross off anything that is a higher price than elsewhere.  Pick the TWO BEST STORES.  Plan your trip to use the least gas.  If the stores aren't close together, plan the stops near some other errand.  The kids school, the gym, the doctors, grandmas house,whatever!

Now check the coupon matching web site on your area.  In Seattle it is couponconnections.  You can google coupon matchups and your town, and get the one on your area.  They match the sales with coupons and tell you where the coupons are.  Many are on the Internet to print.  A few are in the Sunday paper.  I get the Sunday  paper at the dollar store.  I have a friend that saves the inserts for me too.

When you go to the store, take, your ads, your list, your coupon book,

Make meal plans after you get home from the store.  You can pencil in your ideas for 7 main dishes, but nothing is etched on concrete until you get home.  Too many times have I gotten to the store to find the meat is gone, in too huge of a package to be doable, or just looks like something I don't want to bring home.  One time, the apples were soft.  one time the pork roast was like 15 pounds and had already been frozen.

That's about it.

Thanks for stopping by

Please share, I am not advertising on my blog, I'm doing this solely to help people stretch their food dollars because they need or want to.  No child should live on top ramen and potato chips, and no child should wake up to no food on the house.  That is a terrible insecurity no child should bear!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Terrific Tuesday, recipe edition

I have come to the realization that any recipe you want can be found on the Internet. I knew that there was a recipe for grandmas apple cake somewhere.  I found it on the Internet.

I like easy quick recipes.  I am usually trying to balance a full plate, and fast and easy helps.

I especially like slow cooker recipes.  There is just something about coming home from work and having dinner waiting for you.  I must not be the only one, because Betty Crocker is full of slow cooker recipes even in the summer.

Pork shoulder roast was on sale last week.

Pork and sauerkraut

pork shoulder roast 3-4 pounds
Salt, pepper
1 apple, chopped
1 bottle beer
1 Tbls brown sugar
1 Tbls   vinegar

1 jar sauerkraut

1) salt and pepper roast.  Brown on all sides in heavy pan with olive oil .
2) place roast on cooker with remaining ingredients.

Cook on low 9.5 hours.

Remove roast from cooker.  Divide into meal sized portions, leaving one meal portion in cooker.  Add sauerkraut, drained.  Rinse if you prefer a more mellow sauerkraut.

Continue cooking on high for 30 minutes.

Cool saved roast.  Bag in freezer bags and label for pulled pork sandwiches.

Note: you can substitute apple juice for the beer.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Madness

It's Monday again,    Still our weekend.  I love retirement.  I don't miss that rat race at all. The money, not so much!  The days seem to run together.  I schedule chores to keep track of what day it is!   LOL

I haven't gone to rite aid yet, and need to use my up rewards.  Couponconnections is a valuable resource.  I am not finding a lot of bargains thos week.  The special toothbrush is about it.

Betty Crocker this time has a lot of slow cooker recipes, just in time for fall and busy families.  I love to put something in the crockpot and go about my business and have dinner ready when we are.  I batch cooked three pounds of sausage from Costco yesterday.  Surprisingly, there was little fat.  We had sausage quiche last night.  I  dovoded it into six portions. ( only two of us are meat eaters unless our son comes to dinner.  I usually add another protein to anything I cook with sausage anyway, so a little goes a long way.  Costco was cheaper than SAFEWAYS on sale.  It still was more than two dollars a pound, up from last year.  I used to get it for a buck in the 70's.

Sausage and bean soup
Sausage and eggs
Sausage quiche
Meat sauce might be the exception.

It might be important to note that you are not going to eat sausage five nights a week.  I batch cook.  Cook once, eat several times.  It is much easier.  You clean up once, and putting dinner together is a snap when your meat is already cooked.  .  It takes the longest time to cook.

Buying the most inexpensive meat for the week and rotating so you are covered for a month is the cheapest  and most efficient way  of providing your meat.

I usually can find chicken , pork loin or roast, hamburger, and and fill in with sausage or roast beef whichever I can find.  Roast beef is getting out of reach.  To make it on a tight budget, you need to keep the meat or protein at a two- 3 dollar average.  Four people, one meal, five bucks.  I am basing this on a three hundred dollar budget for the proverbial family of two adults and two school aged children.  If your family is a different matrix,you need to adjust accordingly.  

If  you get yourself down to rock bottom prices, then you can interject a treat when momey permits.  It is easier to add more than it is to reduce your spending. Buying anything you want is easy, sticking to a budget takes some discipline and effort.  The effort is worth it if it means you have a pantry at the end of the month and you are on snap or of you can afford a few luxuries if you aren't.  In our case, it means we can go out to happy hour dinner once a week with friends and I can buy a book or other fun thing for my grandbaby.  We still eat well and healthy, but we can afford more than just eating on a fixed  income .  

That's about it.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

The apple snack cake , not the right one!?!!!!!

Ok, the Internet did it again!   I found the snack cake
Not exactly the right one.  This turns out more like a bar that needs whip cream or ice cream on it.

In case anyone missed it, or so I can find it again.....LOL

3/4 cup oil
2 eggs
2 cups sugar

2-1\2 cups flour
1 tsp EACH OF
Baking soda
Baking powder

3 cups chopped apples
Nuts of desired

1) grease 9X13 pan

Mix wet ingredients together.
mix dry ingredients together
Mix the wet with the dry
Fold in apples ( and nuts of desired)
Pour into prepared pan
Bake at 350 for 60 minutes or until cake tests done.  ( toothpick in center comes out clean.  , )

Suddenly Sunday

After buying a pen set that didn't work, it reminded me of a good tool.  Your voice!  If you get something that is really bad, don't hesitate to tell the manufacturer about it.  Conversely, if you get something  really good, the same holds true.  Many times you can at least get a replacement and many times they will send you coupons.

One time I bought a can of green beans that had three green beans and a hole lot of water.  I called del monte and they sent me coupons for half a case of green beans.  They just wanted the markings off the top of the can and where I bought it.

Too much of the time, people are quick to complain when they get something bad, but don't ever praise for something that is good.

Just a totally unrelated note, Christmas is coming.  Rite aid has 7.00 " electric" for lack of a better word, toothbrushes with a in ad coupon and a manufacturers coupon that is in the Sunday paper that nets them 2.00.  Might be a fun stocking stuffer!

On another note, now is the time to stock anything pumpkin if you eat it throughout the year., it is on sale only now in the next few weeks, and there is coupons out there for canned pumpkin.

Thanksgiving is coming.  I found a good leftover recipe that could be adapted to be on the cheap. You could also make to any time of the year and substitute chicken for the turkey.

Turkey Skillet

3/4'cup chopped celery
1/2 a green pepper, chopped
Olive oil

2 cups  cubed turkey, cooked.

2 T slivered almonds

1 Tbs , plus 1 tsp flour
1/2'tsp of paprika
1/2'tsp basil, dried
2 cup chicken broth

1 -'8 ounce can pineapple , drained.  (Cut into chunks if sliced pineapple)

Sauté vegetables on olive oil until crisp tender.  Add turkey and almonds.  And cook on low heat until turkey is heated through.

Mix together in a small bowl, the flour,spices and broth.  Stir into skillet .  Add pineapple and cook 3-5 minutes until sauce is bubbly.

Serve with rice.

notes: you can buy almonds at our dollar store.  I try to keep a couple cans  of pineapple on hand , purchased when I find them on sale.  It's not something we use a lot,so I don't stock a lot.  I would substitute  red peppers or mixed peppers if I had them. ( my husband is not fond  of green peppers.  )
This would still be a good recipe and the cost is down to a realistic amount. So,eti es a splurge of a few nuts or a can of fruit can make a recipe seem special !

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I am still looking for my MIL so apple cake recipe.  I know it was from the mid west and a lot of people have it.  Also, you can comment anonymously , I would be interested in knowing what kind of recipes you use for turkey leftovers???

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fred Meyer Ads and rite aid / TOMORROW

Here are Fred Meyer ads

5 lb box sat sumacs 3.99
Milk 4/5 makes 1.25 ea or 2.50
Pasta, pasta sauce .89@@
Eggs 2/3
Celery .49
Tillamook ice cream 2/6@@

Rite aid

Soft soap  2.99 w 2.00 up reward makes .99
Power toothbrush. 6.99 less in ad coupon, coupon in Sunday paper, nets 1.99

That's about it.

Not much out there.  I spent 13.00 at the grocery store this week.  Another free dollars for staple items at Costco.  Bisquick, pumpkin bread mix, I didn't buy tomato soup on a box, but I was there for two dollars a box again. It  is closer to four dollars a box in the regular stores.
I checked the price of refried beans at Costco, they were cheaper at grocery outlet .  I did buy a sausage roll .  It was cheaper than SAFEWAYS 2/5.00 price.  I will fry it and defat it.

I can put it in sausage, vegetable bean soup, a quiche, or on a pizza or on pasta sauce.

ALBERTSONS is offering ten percent off your groceries on a Seahawks game day of you wear the jersey to the store.  My granddaughter has one, I wonder of that counts!!! LOL

That's all for now.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Freeky F riday

Like my granddaughter's HALLo-ween!!!  In a week.  Trick or treat candy is on sale everywhere.  I tried one year to give out an alternative ( like more healthy) alternative and gave out Halloween pencils.   I found them broken on two down the walk.  So much for healthy.  LOL

I love recipes for sweets that call for things I always have in the pantry.

Chocolate pie

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa ( not drinking cocoa)
1/4 cup flour
Pinch salt

 2-1/4 cups water

1 T butter
1 tsp vanilla

Baked pastry shell.
Whip cream

in large saucepan, sugar, cocoa, flour and salt. Gradually add water.  Stirring with a wisk.  Bring to a boil and stir for 1 minute until thickened.  Remove from heavy.  Stir in butter and vanilla.  Pour into baked shell and refrigerate several hours .    Garnish with whip cream.

 Blueberry pound cake

1 cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
6 eggs
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp soda
1 cup sour  cream
3 cups blueberries

Makes 2 loaves

In mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
Mix dry ingredients together.
Mix in  dry ingredients and sour cream , alternatively on thirds,

Place in greased loaf pans (2) and bake at 350 for a hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool ten minutes before removing from pans.

Note:  I have not been seeing blueberries fresh lately.  There are frozen at Costco.  Many tomes, they call for more than necessary to effect a good loaf.

Recipe can be cut in half for  a single loaf, or freeze for a emergency back up for company.
I would reduce real sugar and add some fake, or use all fake.  A good way to use up sour cream that needs to be used up,

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Terrific Thursday/ what to do with what you got edition

With our scheme of things, TOP seems to be the store of choice,followed by SAFEWAYS .  I do see that SAFEWAYS has increased the price of milk on J4U.

Top has save five dollars on produce when you buy 5 participating GM products.  Most of the items are ready made and high prices with the produce savings.  Cheerios can be found lots cheaper with coupons.  You can't take every "bargain at face value". .  

Freshetta pizza is 3.99 and there are coupons out there.  Beans are 15/10.00 or .67 each.  A food time to stock if you need to.  

I would prefer to use stock and batch cook a meat.  But, there are meals from the ads.  

Shrimp stir fry. ( SAFEWAYS 5 dollar Friday) 
Sausage quiche ( SAFEWAYS 5 dollar Friday)
Sausage bean soup ( the rest of the above and two cans of tops beans )
Loaded baked potatoes ( HORMEL chili is a buck on 5 dollar Fridays and there is a coupon out there) 
Sunday chicken ( SAFEWAYS 1.29) 
Chicken pot pies 
Tacos ( ground beef 1.99 or 2.99.  

That's picking from two grocery stores. It is is not as varied and healthy as it would have been if I had  planned meals from my stock and added one batch meat.  

My meat of choice would have been  the 2.99 ground beef at SAFEWAYS or the Pork shoulder roast.
I batch cooked ground beef two weeks ago when I got it for 2.00 a pound at SAFEWAYS.  

Alternative meals 
Shrimp stir fry
Pork roast, potatoes,carrots, salad and apple tart.  
Sausage quiche ( 12 ounces of sausage) 
Tacos, refried beans, rice 
Spaghetti and meatballs 
Mac and cheese, peas and carrots 
Vegetable bean soup

This is using stock and some things on sale this week.  It is using the Jane Matrix and limits the processed and fatty meats.  Remember to defat your sausage and ground beef.  Cook your meatballs in the oven over a rack lined  sheet pan.  Batch cook the pork roast and set aside pulled pork for another day.( sandwiches)

That's about all.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The ads

The ads for the week of Oct 23-29


20 percent ground beef. 1.99
Apples .99
Pears .99

Kleenex .79@@

Eggs 1.49@@

Sausage 2 lbs
Halloween cake
Shrimp lb
Grapes 3/5
Chili 5/5 $$


Apple juice .99@@
15 ground beef 2.99@@

Apples, pears 10/10
Nalleys chili 10/10
Dreyers 2.99
Green peppers .59
Cucumbers .59
Pork shoulder 1.79

Freshetta, new mans own pizza 2/10$$

French bread 2.00
London broil 2.99
Pork shoulder roast 1.69
Apples .87
Beans 15/10
Tillamook yogurt 10/5$$
Freshetta, dugout a pizza 3.90@@$$

That's about it.

@@'means with an in ad coupon
$$ means there is a coupon out there

Note there are several prices for the same thing.  Be sure to cross off the highest prices.
Check out couponnconnections on the Seattle area for coupon matchups.

Next time, meals from the ads.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Tuesday/ recipe edition

I thought that I would start writing this blog with some structure.  The first of the month will still be a rehash of the basics for anyone new. Tuesday, a recipe.   Wednesday ( or so) will be the ads.  Thursday, ideas for using the food in the ads and in season produce.  Sunday the ads for rte aid and Fred Meyer.

Tex Mex Salad.
Fresh or frozen corn
Black beans, drained and rinsed
Red, yellow or orange peppers , chopped
Tomato, seeded and chopped.

Fusilli with creamy sauce

Cook and drain 4 servings of fusilli, or corkscrew pasta.  Keep warm.

In a skillet, , cook 2 slices bacon , remove from pan and chop, place in bowl.
In skillet sauté 1 tsp minced garlic and  1/2 cup chopped onion in olive oil and add to the bacon.

Add 2 t flour to the skillet and gradually add on 2 cups of milk.  Add 1/4 cup sour cream, reducing heat.
Add 2 cups frozen peas, thawed and 3/4. Cup parm or other hard cheese.
Salt and pepper.
 Add bacon and vegetables back to the sauce.

Toss sauce with the pasta.  Garnish with basil/ and or parm.

Serves 4

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it's Momday again, funny how that works.  I broke down and went shopping Sunday, but only less than 30 dollars.  We needed bread and I have too much work to do to make bread that DH wouldn't eat anyway.  I did take advantage of good buys.  I got two pizzas for  3.00.  Ok I'm a pinch and cheap lunch.  Also I got reduced sodium chicken noodle soup for .52 a can with a coupon and up rewards.
That is more than RBP.   The rest of the cart was ice cream , fruits and veggies.

The grocers are due to go on strike tonight at 7 o'clock.  We are stocked for some time.
My grandbaby is really excited about Halloween.  I need to clean and decorate today.

The cold weather brings out the memories of hot soups, pumpkin everything and apple recipes.  I had the recipe for my MIL's apple cake, don't know where I put it.  We just loved it.  It called for salad oil, sugar and apples and them you mixed the dry ingredients and folded the two together.

Betty Crocker has e mailed me another batch. One osman impossible pumpkin pie that you do on muffin tins.  Sounds like it would be  a good one for individual dishes and simplifying a buffet table,
There are coupons this month for canned pumpkin.  Now is mangold time to stock baking supplies.  They all go on sale this time of the year, and almost never other times of the year.  For many people this is the only time of the year that they bake.

The Internet/ Facebook is full of recipes.  Most of them take expensive ready made items.  Most of the time you can scale them down or substitute ingredients and get the same results.  Case in point : a pizzeria Cassarole.  Ot took, sausage, pepperoni, cheese, and cottage cheese.  Que on pasta and pasta sauce.  That's one protein loaded dish!  You could choose between the sausage and the pepperoni.  Sausage can be defatted.  Pepperoni is cheapest at the dollar store--name brand.  Cottage cheese can be low fat.  And you can reduce the amount of the cheese.  Moderation is the key.  The simpler the dishes, the least expensive they will be.

Substitutions are on the Internet.  Usually I can find any information I need.  My sister gave me a substitution book for Christmas one year.  The Internet is a great tool that our mothers and grandmothers never had.  Also, there are great cookbooks out there that came out of the ww2 era that simplified recipes to compensate for war rationing.  Red velvet cake came put of WW2'because an ingenious woman tried to make a cake that looked like chocolate . Chocolate was in short supply.

I haven't found cheap apples yet.  I am still seeing two dollars a pound.  I haven't checked the fruit stand.

We like tex Mex food.  I especially like it because I can make one meal and satisfy everyone. Semi- vegetarians included.

Cheese Enchilada Casserole

1 cup (1/4 lb) grated cheddar cheese
1cup chopped tomato ( fresh or well drained diced tomato canned
1 cup cottage cheese
Sliced  green onion
2 tsp taco seasoning

9 six inch corn tortillas

Taco sauce
White cheese

1) combine  first 5 ingredients in a bowl.
2)  line a greased oblong  baking dish with three tortillas.
3) spread 1/2 the cheese mixture over the tortillas.
4) repeat layers ending with tortillas.
5) top with taco sauce and white cheese.
6) bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  Until dish is heated through and cheese is melted.

Notes.  At two dollars a pound for cheese,  1/4 pound is .50.  Cottage cheese was 1.67 last week.  Substituting  canned diced tomatoes saves more money.  If you have more tomatoes left over, make salsa.  Tortillas are cheap at grocery outlet and big lots.  This is easier than making enchiladas because the tortillas don't have to be softened and rolled.  A lot faster dish.

If you spend more time shopping, and less time cooking, you will be money ahead.   Think about it this way.  If you normally spend 150.00 for a weeks food and you cut the cost to 75.00.  The difference is 75.00.  Say you are just learning to shop differently and take an extra hour prepping your trip and shopping.  You will be making 75.00 an hour.  If you are in the workforce, you will have to make 90.00 to spend that 75.00. The savings are remarkable.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday savings

This blog is about buying your groceries as cheap as possible and buying as healthy as possible.  It is not about hoarding,

It is not about minimalists either.  

There are three types of shopping habits.  

1) go to the neighbourhood store, the most expensive store in town, and buy just what you need to last you one or two days....about 3-4 trips a week.  Your food is really fresh, or not, and you spend 110 to 120 percent of retail.  

2 go to the big box warehouse club once a week and fill your cart with ready made and anything that floats your boat that day.  Less trips, some of the items are cheaper, some not and you are bombarded with zillions of impulse buys.  You average retail, maybe a little less.  

3) plan your trips.  Go to several stores and buy the sales.  Buy as many as fits your plan.  You don't have a weeks groceries, because last weeks plan fills in this weeks plan.  You average 50 percent of retail.  It takes some prep time.  You are going to an average of two stores and you are planning your trip to maximize your gas.  You are also saving about FOUR  THOUSAND dollars a year if you are the average family. It uses less gas than the person that runs every day to the grocery store, it saves a lot more money than either of the alternatives, and it builds a stock.  

Let's talk about stock.  
A) you are never out of food, no running to the store because you are on the middle of cooking and don't have an ingredient.  
B) you are prepared if any disaster strikes.  Something  as simple as not feeling like taking  yourself to the store, that dreaded S word making it dangerous to go to the store, or the grocers going on strike and you not wanting to cross a picket line. 
C) there is some sense of security knowing that you have food in the house.  I would never want to turn a family member away because I didn't have enough food to feed them dinner.  
D) there is a smug satisfaction knowing that you paid half price for your food, and don't have to waste your resources on paying top dollar for your food.  

I thank God that I grew up with a belief system that paying top dollar for anything is stupid.  Buying the best quality of things that will last you a long time is smart, spending more than you have to on the rest of your necessities is not.  It has got me threw some really tuff times.  I was left with a child to take care of and 5.12 cents in the bank.  I couldn't have survived without some grocery smarts,  we can go without a lot of things, food is not one of them.

Enough on the naysayers.  To each his own.  I really shouldn't have to justify my belief system.

I'll get back to groceries on the cheap . I know that there are people that want and need to stretch their grocery dollars.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tomorrow"s ads for Fred Meyer and rite aid update

Since my husband brought me the Sunday paper, this is  so early.

Rite Aid

Allergy tablets and nasal spray are BOGO.
Candy for Halloween is a buck for9 ounces and two bucks for sixteen ounces, reg 3.00.

Most of the food is not a bargain.
Campbell's chicken noodle soup is 5/5 and there so a up reward.  Nets .60.  I also remember a coupon.  Will get back later with the particulars, my coupon book is on the car so I can't forget it! LOL. It was .40 cents off multiples.  I got five low sodium chicken noodle soup for 2.60.  Half retail.
Also our Benadryl 1/2 and some candy for entertaining.

Fred Meyers

Nabisco  crackers 3/5@@
Fm yogurt 3/1@@
Frank bread 2/4
Grapes 1.48
Fm frozen veggies .79. 12 ounces@@
Red Baron pizza 2/4@@$$
Ice cream 2/6 @@
Squash .88. Organic

That's about it.
 I was t going to shop......I stayed away on Friday.  LOL.   I got pizza for 1.50 net..  A really cheap lunch.  .375 cents.  So,e grapes and veggies.  And I was out of ice cream.  I aren't more than rock bottom because I need low carb.  I walked out of there spending less than 29.00.

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Dollar store

The following is a repost of my piece on  the dollar store.  I really did it as a lark.  I don't buy all our food from  the dollar store, nor would I have.  Although, a dollar store would have been a welcome site when we were at the beach with no food!    LOL

I buy a select few things from the dollar store,  most of the things are cheaper at the regular store.   I have been getting things for free lately, and free is a good price LOL.  The frozen veggies are cheaper when they are not on sale at the chain stores.  Recipe starter is .50 and cheaper than making it from scratch.  Enter a fifty cent coupon and it is FREE.  I got Betty Crocker potatoes for fifty cents.  Everybody needs some things you can use on a pinch.  

I GET THE NEWSPAPER EVERY SUNDAY FOR THE COUPONS.  They carry it all week so I don't have to rush down Sunday morning.  I check to be sure that there is a coupon insert.  There are usually two in the first Sunday.  A lot of coupons are for things I don't buy on the first place.  Sometimes, I luck out.  I save the inserts on a binder clip per month.  I just threw June away, most of the coupons had expired.  

I use couponconnections in the Seattle area to check for matchups.  Many times I can get really good buys at rite aid.  Like free or pay me to take something home. It is still not worth it if I can't use it or I don't know a place that would gladly take it.  I brought about two dozen toothpastes to the women's shelter.  It is my understanding that there is a domestic violence shelter opening up in our area soon as well.  They can always use individual packages of personal   products.

The dollar store ( Dollar  Tree) does have normal food as well as junk food.  They have rice, beans, and frozen veggies ...things normal scratch cooking mamas would buy.  I also find some cleaners and tissue there.

We have .99 stores on the area that sell drug paraphernalia.  Not all dollar  stores are  created equal.

The repost !

Now, after I got a tube of toothpaste from the dollar store for free, I have purchased nine toothpastes for a total of two dollars.  All of them are either Colgate or Crest.

I went virtual shopping via my notepad.  I forgot to bring my electronics, so I did it the old fashioned way.  It was my challenge to make a good meal from the dollar store for my five dollar criteria.
I have not tasted the food here.  It was a lark to see of it could be done.  I wouldn't recommend it because the grocery store is cheaper on some things.  

I found

  1. Meatballs, ziti, pasta sauce, and mixed California vegetables.  --5 bucks. (Two pkgs meatballs)
  2. Chicken strips, French fries, regular mixed vegetables,  - 4 bucks ( using a pound of strips
  3. Tilapia,  sweet potatoes, corn, and red peppers.  5 bucks (a pound of fish)(rice*) 
  4. Bean and rice burritos with cheese.  ( beans and rice scratch 1 lb for a buck each) tortillas 1.00. Cheese 1.00, salsa .  5.00.  * enough rice for the fish dinner. 

 Four dinners for 19.00 with beans and salsa left over.

I found (some items are cheaper on sale elsewhere) but, my criteria was a meal from the dollar store.  I did not include normal staples like butter, catsup, etc.

Chicken breast strips 8 ounces
7 ounces of meatballs
4 ounces of tilapia
16 ounces Calif  blend veggies
Mixed veggies
French fries
Onion rings
Sweet potatoes, corn and red pepper medley
Sargento cheese
Mashed potatoes
Uncle Ben's  rice blends
Elbow Mac
Raw rice
Raw beans
Pasta sauce

And some other  mixes I wouldn't buy, personal preference

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Finally friday

For the first time in at least 50 years, I am not going to grocery shop this week.  We have errands to run and other than a a few things to entertain  this week, I don't need anything.

My twelve year old car didn't pass the emission control test.  Ot cost a minimum of 150.00 to bail it out.

I'll do meal plans from my freezer and pantry.  It's a luxury to not have to shop if the grocers are on strike, or an family emergency happens. I have been out of work with kids mouths to feed.  It's nice to know that we can eat and I paid  1/2 price or less for most of it.

I have a Jane outline for meals.

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

It makes it easy to provide a variety of meals for the family, with less time.

My mother tried several ways to do that.  One time we had hamburger every day, a zillion different ways.  There was a period of time when you knew what day of the week it was by what was cooking on the stove when you got home from school.  Thursday was bread and pizza day.  Fridays was clam chowder or a yummy egg dish that puffed up on the oven.  It was fun to watch it fall when she took it out!

I digress.
Meal plans

1) tacos , rice and beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, taco sauce
2) beef tips , mashed potatoes, green beans, salad
3) chicken pot pie, apple pie
4) pork spareribs , French bread, corn salad
5) 4 cheese Mac and cheese, mixed veggies
6) eggs, hash browns, fruit and yogurt cups
7) shrimp stir fry.  Rice

There are a lot of things going on here.  tacos mean I can thaw some chicken shreds and not cook two meals to satisfy the semi vegetarians.  Rice is a stair step.  I'll cook a double batch for shrimp stirfry a second day.  Beef tips are ready made because I got the, cheaper than scratch.  Good for a work day.
The chicken pot pie uses the rest of the chicken from the tacos.  I got a lot of shredded cheeses from grocery outlet, we like a combination of cheeses for Mac and cheese.  It kicks it up a notch .  Eggs are a cheap source of protein, and again, I don't have to cook a double meal.

The cost of the taco meat was 2 dollars a pound.
The cost of the tips was 3.20 a pound
The chicken 1.00
Pork spareribs 3.00
Shrimp was 5.00 a pound
Eggs were 1.25 a dozen.  1/2 dozen .62.

Total protein 15.82.
Divided by 7 equals 2.21 cents a meal.  Average

Mixing your meats, balancing an inexpensive protein with an expensive one makes you have a variety of meals, and makes you feel like you are not deprived because you are cooking on the cheap.
Moderation is the key.  No one needs to eat a whole  pound a shrimp in a sitting. Eating vegetables and rice to makes for a balanced meal.  Your dinners  should average five bucks a meal when your SNAP is 300.00.  That is the average I have heard from people.  Five  dollars allows you five for breakfast and lunch.  Some children get free lunches at school. I average five dollars for three adults and the baby just because I can.  I want to be sure what I am writing is true.  In the Pacific Northwest anyway. Obviously, you are not going to buy two dollar and fifty cent asparagus and five dollar a gallon milk on this plan.  LOL but I usually have the biggest drawer of the fridge full of fresh fruits and vegetables along with the counter.  Right now, we have apples, tomatoes, bananas and a couple of oranges.  Grapes, lettuce, carrots, celery and salad greens and cucumbers.

I am basing these meals on our family,  our family has stats of 141.00 a week.  A family of two middle aged adults and two teenage boys, for instance, has a stat of 168.00.  I actually spend average of 72.00 a week.  These figures are for actual food eaten.  My 72.00 includes building a stock.  It will be interesting to see what I average when we start eating down the pantry.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

The ads, finally

Here are the ads.  Apparently, the grocery workers go on strike on Saturday.


Red Baron pizza 2.99$$
Orzo wheat bread 1.99
Pork sirloin 1.99

Beef tenderloin 11.99.   Wow!  

Radishes .59
Apples 5 lbs 5 bucks
Oatmeal .99. @@

Shredded cheese 6.00 a pound ( we paid 2.50 a pound for sharp last week, and 2.00 per pound for regular.  This is why you don't wait until you really need cheese to buy it!  That is a FOUR dollar a pound savings.


Pork sirloin chops 1.49
Chicken drums, thighs, legs .99
Grapes 1.99
Dave's killer bread 3.99
Crackers 1.99@@


Pork sirloin roast  10/10. ( that's a lot of roast). But a buck a pound.
Salad 1.00
Avocados 1.00
Clams, albacore tuna, chicken.  1.00
Milk 1.99@@
English muffins 2/1@@
Hillshire lunch,eat 2.49@@. Check cc

10 for 10. No restrictions
Fresh veggie packs
Cream cheese
Carrots , 2 lbs

Broccoli, cauliflower .99
Pears .99
Bread 2/5

That's about it.

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@@ means with an in ad coupon
$$ cc means there is a coupon out there, or check coupon connections in Seattle area
Wow.   Check out the price of beef!   Another case of striking while the iron is hot.  We paid two bucks a pound last week!  
Pork sirloin is a bargain, but seems like a lot of meat even for batch cooking.  Maybe split one with a friend or relative.  ????


Has anyone ever noticed that when you are sick, everything else takes a back seat to your getting up and well to get on with life and responsibilities.  I think that the same holds true, when you are short of money grocery shopping takes on a more important role in your life, because you have to eat, but you have to eat cheaper.  Throwing ready made food in a basket that looks good, is replaced by finding healthy food for your family within your budget.  It takes more effort to live when you don't have money and have to make ends meet.

My goal is to help people get through the process somewhat efficiently , and still cut the grocery bill in half.  What would you do with four thousand dollars?   The average family spends 150.00 a week.  If you save half, you would have about four thousand dollars a year more in you bank account.  Provided you had the four thousand in the first place.  LOL. When I was a single parent, I didn't have thousands to save, it was a matter of survival.

There was a study that came out recently that said that peoples IQ could actually go down when they were poor and struggling to make ends meet.  I'm guessing that it is the stress.  Once  you get the hang of it,  groceries on the cheap can lower the stress.  Having food in the pantry is a welcoming site.  The worry of what am I going to feed my kids slips away.  That's a good thing.

The whole key is to know your prices.  You don't have to know the price of everything in the grocery store, just the small list of things that you buy on a regular basis that you use  to cook your meals.
Only buy them when they are rock bottom prices.  It means that you can buy twice as many when they are on sale.  You have spent the same amount, but have one for another day.

Why pay 1.59 for a can of pasta sauce, when you can get two and have money left over?   It just makes logical sense.

When you find something on a really good sale that your family will eat, buy it and incorporate it into your meal.

My family loves blue cheese.  I found it at grocery outlet really cheap.  We like buffalo chicken pizza, and blue cheese and apple salad.  Apples are beginning to be in season and cheaper.

Stocking meat per week and rotating a sale protein on a monthly cycle, and using a meal plan matrix makes eating a variety of meals easy.  You have a road map.  You are rotating, so you always have a month worth of protein.  It doesn't take a lot of room,because you are dealing with already cooked meat and some meals are vegetarian.  It takes less time to make a batch of meat, and less clean up, and you portion control meals so you have less waste.

Blue cheese salad

Lettuce, or field greens
1 crisp tart apple, sliced thinly.


3 T vinegar
1tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup blue cheese,crumbles.  ( 1 ounce)

Arrange apple on lettuce
In small bowl,, mix together vinegar, mustard.  Add oil and wisk in,
Add 1/2 of the blue cheese.
Sprinkle the other 1/2 of the blue cheese on the salad.

You can eat gourmet meals on a thrifty budget.  It just takes some smart shopping.

If you care to comment, what constitutes a gourmet, yummy meal to you?

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wicked wednesday

Still no ads, like I had predicted. 

When I started this blog, I was under the impression that I would only have readers from the northwest.  I never dreamed that I would have readers from all over the world.  I was also green enough to believe that prices of groceries would be pretty stable between states.  We have national grocery chains , I didn't know the flux of prices.  

There is a flux of prices even here in Seattle.  Certainly if you go to trader Joes, PCC or Whole foods, you are going to pay more for your food than if you go to ALBERTSONS or SAFEWAYS.  

Regardless of where you are, or what your RBP is for your food.  You can save money on your food bill by using the techniques on the blog.  You may pay more for food, but you will pay less than the person that just goes to the store and willy,nilly buys whatever they want.  

What I would like to know, is where are you buying your food,  ie convenience store, regional chain, alternative store,  overstock store ? And what are you having to pay for say maybe cheese, a can of corn, and a whole chicken per pound.  ?     Rock bottom prices.  And what part of the country are  you from!  

It would be interesting to see the different prices.  

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Terrific tuesday

Last night we had meatloaf , baked acorn squash with brown sugar, and green salad. The old days we would have had baked potatoes too, but I am trying to watch my carbs.  If I had a lot of boys to feed, I might add the baked  potatoes.

My husband ground the beef from chuck that I got at SAFEWAYS for two dollars a pound.  I batch cooked a roast and taco meat, hamburger crumbles and a meat loaf Saturday.  We had roast beef a jus sandwiches in Saturday.  Sunday we went to my SIL's  for dinner.  Tonight we have our dinner group,so we will have roast on Wednesday and I will freeze the rest of the roast cut thin for sandwiches over the next few weeks.  I put them in a food saver bag and can have dinner ready on about 15 minutes on a work day.  I got the roast for two dollars a pound as well.

I usually analyze the ads on Wednesday morning, but Monday was a holiday so it will probably be late.  If I was in a hurry, I would look them up on the Internet.  Our major grocery stores are going to go on strike, so there is no hurry.  We don't have to go to the store for a while.  We did a dairy run on Sunday and I went to grocery outlet for cheese  because we had to go for supplies for the business and I always group trips for gas savings.

Once you get the hang of it, buying your groceries for 1/2 price is easy and very cost productive.
It is a matter of knowing your prices and taking advantage of sales when they come your way.

I will do ads as soon as I get them and we will all hope the grocery workers and management can avert a strike.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

The reason for living

I am a firm  believer that the only right we have is the right to be useful.  We didn't play when we were kids, we worked.  A lot of toys were not in my mothers budget plan.

I started this blog because I was asked to.  There were people that couldn't make it on food stamps, and  needed help.  I couldn't individually help each one, but thought I could help more people by writing a blog.

I have fallen on the dark side of broke before in my life and found ways to stretch a buck on food.  I can supply good, nutritious meals for about 1/2 the USDA statistics for thrifty plan.

It is my belief that no child should be eating watermelon and corn for dinner, nor should they exist on top ramen and potato chips., I know that is the extreme, but there are kids in that position.  Also, no child should have the insecurity of no food in the pantry.  That is a terrible  injustice in a country that can send aid to third world countries.  We need to take care of our own too.

You can eat well on full food stamps, but it takes some work and know how.  Unfortunately or fortunately , depending on how you look at it, I learned how by necessity.I wasn't in food stamps, but it would have helped if I had been.

This blog is my way of passing my knowledge  on to people that want and or need it.

I don't need remarks from minimalists that believe one should have a six digit income belief system on a lower five digit income.  Yes, my plan requires that we have a stock.  I believe the Mormons think the same thing.  I don't think that all the Mormons are wackos for stocking for an emergency,  it's called being self sufficient. My main objective is to never pay full price on the items I use on a regular basis to cook for my family.

It's true that a three months supply should get someone  by, but if you are In a precarious position, like your job is shaky and layoffs or strikes  are looming, six is better.

My plan works.  I' m not imposing it on anybody.  Whether or not you use anything in this blog is up to you.  Like someone once said on their blog when someone was criticizing , if you don't like it, no one is twisting your arm to read it.

I do wish I could teach a class somewhere and reach the people that really need it especially since our politicians seem to think it is ok to cut wic and food stamps. I know people will be needy.

They don't teach home ec the same in schools anymore and there is a whole generation of people that  think  Dinner comes out of a box.  Not the most nutritious and cost effective way to make dinner.

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Monday madness

I am proud of the fact that I can feed us for 1/2 the USDA stats for our family. It takes a little work, but the rewards are worth it.  I am trying to teach others so that they can get through hard times if they need to.or if they just don't want to waste money paying full price.  Feeding your family a well balanced meal in these times is a challenge, doing it on a thrifty budget is really a challenge.  It is doable with some  work and knowing some  tricks.

I am not expecting everyone to follow my plan.  I realize that there are people that don't have to desire to spend any time on economizing.  That's what makes the world go around.  This blog is for the people that have to or want to make both ends meat and grocery shop on the cheap while feeding their family a variety of nutritious foods.  Some  people get a new recipe to try out of it , some get an idea to get out of the kitchen faster.  Whatever you get out of it, I hope it helps you,that is my motivation.  I don't get momey for this blog, I just want to help,people with the tools they need to live by any means they have..  Been there, done that, and want to help people get through it easier than I did.  

I was really excited when I discovered that I had two tubes of toothpaste for my stash for the women's shelter.  I was paid fifty cents to take them out of the store.  At that rate, I will be able to get a lot more.  

I have been averaging fifty percent at the grocery stores.  It,does,mean that you need to go to two grocery stores a week.  Some weeks I have gone to one because the buys weren't there..  Some weeks I go to three because I can make best use of the sales and coupons. It all averages out.  

If you are trying to make it on SNAP, you can't go to the store and buy anything that strikes your fancy.  It takes some restraint and self control.  Planning meals helps to make the hard days easier.
Finding recipes everyone in your family likes is a real boon too.

I would like to reach more people, especially people that are going to be hurting when snap monies are cut.  I just don't exactly know how.  Anybody that has a great idea, please comment.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fred Meyers and rite aid shopping trip.

We did go to Fred Meyers and rite aid.  I figured that the stores were so busy, no one would be looking at me. I got toothpaste, four packages of sugar free chocolate, a package of sour patch and the OOP was 1.64 including the almost ten percent tax we have in Washington.  !  The toothpaste they paid me .49 to take out of the store.  I am starting  my stash for the women's shelter again.

Fred Meyers yielded k cups for 3.50' cheese for 3.99, milk for a buck and ice cream for two dollars.
Sour cream and cottage cheese for 1.67 each.  Freshetta pizza for 2.75.  Close enough to scratch to warrant the expenditure.

That's about all.

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Rite aid and Fred Meyers ads coupon matchups. UPDATED

I don't have the paper yet, I am using the Internet for these prices.  When I get the paper, I will change anything that is different .( if there is anything.  )

Note: @@ means that there is an in ad coupon.  $$ means that there is a paper coupon somewhere.  Check coupon connections.

Fred Meyer

Cross rib roast 2.99
Beta alert.... Peanut butter 2/3.00 @@
Canned veggies .50@@

Apples, pears, .98
Broccoli .88
5# potatoes .88
Cukes .59
Zucchini, squash .88
Milk .99   Usually ok and choc milk are the same price.
Gm cereal is 1.67 @ $$ nets .92
Cottage cheese, sour cream 1.67 ( 24 ox)

CHEESE 3.99. Limit 2

Freshetta pizza. 3.59 limit 4 $$. Makes it 2.75 @@@

Rite aid alert

Colgate max fresh toothpaste. With up rewards and $$ coupon is FREE.
Russel sat overs chocolate sugar free is a buck with rewards.,m

Also trick or treat candy and shampoo are inexpensive with coupons, see coupon connections.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Suddenly Saturday, updated

It's Saturday.  I was supposed to go to a funeral  this morning, but I look like I could try out for a horror film.  I think I shall save people the horror and stay home!  LOL

My husband volunteered to grind meat and put some summer yard stuff away.

The egg board has a few coupons in a limited supply.  I reposted it on Facebook.  I guess from talking to a lady at work that has chickens, this is the season for mounting and the hens don't lay a lot of eggs.  That's probably why they are more expensive lately.  Even at a higher price, they are a cheap source of protein.  Betty Crocker impossible pie only takes a few for a whole pie.  Added cheese and a small amount of meat covers you protein wise with little money.

When I went for the cheese at SAFEWAYS on five dollar Friday, the grated cheese was a smaller package than the  brick.  And they had sharp for the same price,  score!!!!

I like to mix several cheeses to make Mac and cheese.  So,eti,es I ise ot for a way to clean put the bits in the cheese drawer.  I get a seasoned grated cheese at grocery outlet.  Our family all like spicy, so that part of pleasing everyone is easy.

I want to pay between two and two fifty a pound for cheese.

Setting prices on things and not paying full price is another way to reduce your food costs.

I bought six pounds of meat for 2.00 a pound using specials and the 10.00( twenty percent if you plan your trip and spend a total of 50.00.  ) coupon.,

My husband ground it.  I cooked 5 batches of taco meat, 1 batch of crumbles, and a two pound meatloaf plus beef stock.  That would make 5 meals for a typical family for 12.00.  Or 2.40 per meal.
That makes a beef meal fall well within the five  dollar range.  We cooked all that plus putting a roast on the oven on about an hour and a half. We have 12 meals handled for is.  For a family of four meat eaters, we would have 8 meals.  The roast was 7.12.  You can have a roast beef dinner, roast beef a jus sandwiches and still have enough to put in a Cassarole.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Grocery shopping Friday.

I was being in the groceries and fell.  I was glad I hadn't bought eggs! LOL. I'm pretty messed up, but nothing is broken.

Indie save fifty percent at SAFEWAYS.  I got meat for 2.49 a pound, less twenty percent.  I got five dollar cheese ( sharp) and brats.  I tried to get the johnsonville coupon, but couldn't find one.

Lettuce was five for five and grapes were 3/5 either red or green.  When you have a choice, the darker the skin, or greener the lettuce, the more food valu it has.

Taco cause was BOGO and then I had a coupon, netted a buck a bottle.
Chicken wings were cheap.
All in all, I got a lot of protein and vegetables,

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Yesterday's shopping trip

I went to the store with my daughter yesterday before I went to work.  I will go to another store today to finish up.  I wanted to take advantage of the mega sale.  The bottom line  was 52 percent savings.
I used two coupons.  For a buck a piece.  Not exactly extreme couponing, but I am still happy with the savings.  I got the veggies that were on sale , pizzas and ice cream, and ten canned goods to get 15.  I got the kids pudding for a dollar and a penny.  That's for 12 servings.  A little more than 8'cents a cup.
Diced tomatoes were at my RBP.  And I got 2 cans of corn to fill in.  I found a recipe for bacon corn chowder and it sounded good.  Sometimes, a little fat can go a long ways to make something tasty.

This is not a weeks groceries, and you could not make a meal from it, but it was not meant to be.  By stocking instead to just buying what you need for the week, you can make a remarkable difference on your grocery bill and still eat well.

I will have a Safeway run to do for meat, cheese, and some  fruits and veggies.
I have planned the trip.  Again, there are not any coupons that work here.  If I needed yogurt, there are coupons for that and it is .50 for Yoplait.  The 5 dollar Friday brats , according to coupon connections, are johnsonville.  There is a buck coupon printable. Also, salsa is a buck with a coupon From the newspaper, only until Sunday.

Real food coupons  are few and far between.  You have to take advantage when you find  them and KNOW your PRICES!   That's the real key.  I get calls all the time, how much should this cost!  Or where is the cheapest.....  Knowing your prices and buying at the RBP is the key to half price groceries.  If you can do that and avoid the junk food and ready made food, you will have it made.

By stocking, and only buying what's at the  RBP, you can take advantage of the stores rotation of sales and wind up with a stock that will make well balanced meals continuously.

When you shop, you are going to buy
1) fruits and veggies that are in season and a low price.
2) a meat (protein item ) that is RBP to batch cook.
3) anything on your stock list that is RBP within your guidelines.

Honest, it works and cuts your bills in half.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013


It's Thursday, time to plan shopping trips.  I still have to download coupons and Betty Crocker has a bunch of new recipes that sound good.  A baked pumpkin doughnut .  Sounds like it could be healthy ( not fried  and pumpkin is good for you.  )

I have a menu matrix that I use to keep us eating a variety of foods and simplify meal plans.  It kind of makes it a fill in  the blanks exercise. This is what works for our family, you might haven't make up your own.

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

My mind set: I plan to buy and make hamburger this weekend.  I made a chicken on Monday.  Tuna is on sale at QFC.  I have a acorn squash , and carrots were on sale last week.  Salad is a buck at SAFEWAYS.  Cheese is on five dollar Friday at safeways.  This is a case    where most of the dinners are from sale items at two stores over two weeks ads.  I is easing into buying meat on a rotating basis.

1) meatloaf, acorn squash, salad
2) tacos
3) chicken pot pie.
4) pork chops
5) Mac and cheese, peas and carrots
6) vegetable egg omelets , fruit salad, toast.
7) Tuna Casserole, salad

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wonderful Wednesday

It's Wednesday.  I have had the grandbaby home for two days.  Time to get some more work done.  I finally got my paper from the UK and need to get Christmas behind me so I can take care of cleaning and decorating for Halloween.

I bought Halloween candy with rite aid dollars on sale.  We don't have a lot of trick or treaters.  Our downtown merchants stay open and give out candy.  Downtown is just one big party .  The police block off the roads so it so safe for the children and show some police presence.  Safe and sane Halloween!

On another note, I studied SAFEWAYS add again.  I hate to waste the ten dollar coupon, but it doesn't so any good if you pay full plus price on the things you buy.

Chuck steak or bottom round roast is 2.49.  Less twenty percent ( the 10.00 coupon) is two dollars a pound.  The 7 percent hamburger is 3.49, less the twenty percent is 2.80.  I think we will grind our own.  Hamburger hasn't been two dollars for a long time.  LOL

Grapes are 3/5 on Friday as well as
Salad 5/5
Cheese 2#

I am having a real hard time matching coupons to these like I did the last time.  Still, the meat and cheese savings are remarkable.

The other place I would go of I needed to would be QFC.  It's stock up time I'd you have diced tomatoes or canned veggies on your stock list.  The pudding is a remarkable price with coupons.  It is one of the items on the back pack kids list.

Note : this is a really good reason why you shop two stores and buy specials.

7 percent hamburger is 4.99 at QFC.  Grinding your own is 2.00.  That's three dollars a pound.
If it takes you twenty minutes to grind, and you buy ten pounds, you have saved 30.00.  Twenty minutes is 1/3 of an hour.  That means you would be making 90.00  dollars an hour.  No one has EVER paid me 90.00 an hour.    I know, this is an abstract that some people can't see.  None the less, you will be saving thirty dollars over just going to the store and buying your food.  Whether   you are buying two pounds five times, or you buy ten pounds once, you will still eat dinner.  The difference is that you will have thirty dollars to buy at least ten more meals of meat!

Buying in bulk at RBP and bulk cooking saves because
1) you portion control a meals worth of meat.  No waste.
2) you cook once, so you use less energy-- both yours and the utility bills
3) you clean up once.
4) with hamburger you can take the time to defat the crumbles and taco meat.
5) dinner time is quicker because you have a head start.  The meat takes the longest time to cook.  You are getting convenience without it starting with the "letter" $$$.

Tomorrow, meal plans from the ads.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The ads 10/8

Here are the ads for this week.  Please note that I post anything that is perishable , dairy or meat that is a good buy as well as the stock items that are good prices.  There can very well be a cheaper price on another ad.  After you use the list, you need to cross off anything you don't need, anything that is more expensive elsewhere, and check coupon commectioms or the coupon ,matching  site that is on your area.


Turnups, rutabagas, beets .80
Jivama .80
Nalley chili .80@@
Olives .80@@


Pork shoulder roast 1.79
Butter 2/4
Tomatoes .99
Broccoli,, cauliflower.  .99

Mega deal.  Buy 10 , get 5 free.
Nets. .67 each

Diced tomatoes
Starkist tuna
Snack pack$$

Coupons needed

Tuna, salmon .99@@
Red Baron 2.49@@$$
Hillshire farms 3/10@@

Eggs .98@@
Bread .99@

Remember the 10.00 coupon expires next week.
Pot roast 2.49
7 percent hamburger 3.49
Oscar Mayer lunch meat 1.99  buy 3
Apples .99
HORMEL chili bogo$$

5 dollar Friday
Salads 5/5

That's about all.  I am going to work a bit on SAFEWAYS ad to use the ten dollar coupon.  So far, ot will be hard to maximize the savings.
The roast at safeways is 2.49. Time to grind your own hamburger.
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Recap, the plan

Ok, we talked about getting started and planning your trips to the store.  We talked about cooking from scratch and not falling into the pitfalls that jack up the food bill.   And, we talked about scratch cooking to keep costa down.

Portion controls are a necessary topic too.  We only need a four ounce portion of meat.  That's about the size of the palm of your hand.  By portion controlling your meat before it goes on the table, you can stay within budget.  Take a look at the food pyramid.  Fill in the meal with whole grains, vegetables and some starch.  When my kids were teens, or had snack foods that they knew were free foods.  That is, I bought them for the sole purpose of allowing them protein rich snacks to tide them off until dinner time.  They knew that those foods were not part of dinner and they could eat as much as they wanted.  I never had to worry about the kids spoiling their dinner.  They all ate well and didn't have a weight problem.  We always had plenty of good food to eat in the house.

I made stew beef from a three pound hunk.of chuck  steak,  we had beef tips, mashed potatoes, gravy and salad one night.  We included my six foot four son.  We still had enough for me to have a lunch the next day and for my husband and I to have a dinner of stew the following night.

When I went to the nutritionist when I was first diagnosed with diabetes, she stressed a four ounce portion of meat, a small portion of starch, and Over 1/2 your plate was to be veggies.  A good  balance of foods is essential for nutrition and for keeping a sound budget., there are USDA guidelines for food on the Internet.

On another note.  The USDA has come out saying that foster farms has had some problems with salmonella.  They are not recalling the chicken,  ALWAYS remember to wash everything that touches or that you touch  with raw meat juices very good.  Cook your chicken until 179 degrees.  I have a probe thermometer.  Last time I got carried away working on my studio and it cooked beyond its

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The basics, part three: cooking

It's Monday. October 7th, time for the third part of the equasion.  Scratch cooking.

One of the easiest ways to derail your budget and run out of money on a fixed food budget is to buy your food ready made and in boxes.  That being said, there is always exceptions, but they are few.
Certainly, any pancake, waffle or pop up  item is off limits, they are way  over prices and easily cooked. Muffins or quick breads are an easy, fast, cheap alternative. I do use bisquick that I get at Costco.  I have a recipe for baking mix, but it calls for shortening  and I avoid solid fats.
Oatmeal from scratch is easy and not much more work than instant.

1 cup water
1/2 cup oatmeal in a microwave safe bowl.

1-1/2 minutes in the microwave.

I cook the oatmeal for 1 minute, stir and cook 30 seconds,  it seems to keep it from boiling over.
I add fruit and milk, or some raisins and milk.

Cold cereal is a given.  Avoid the sugary ones, they are expensive and whole grain Cheerios or corn flakes are better and I almost always can find coupons.

Some items for dinner are as cheap ready made, but not many.m instant mashed potatoes on sale cheap are sometimes cheaper than scratch.  I buy refried beans because they are time consuming to
make .  Ditto tortillas.  I usually keep a cake mix on hand when I can get them for less than the flour.

There are ways to cook from scratch that don't mean  that you have to slave over a hot stove for an
hour.  Unless, you want to.  Carla on The Chew  introduced me to the word, passive cooking.  I was well aware  of the concept, just didn't have a name for it.

The slow cooker and the oven can be your best friend in the kitchen.  There is something really comforting about the smell of dinner cooking all day, and I really enjoy having dinner done when I have worked the late shift and come home to dinner ready.  Many recipes are a dump and turn on
Recipes.  No  hard work here.

Fries on the oven from scratch are really easy.  I also get fries from the dollar store.  my family does not like the shot string ones, I like steak fries the best.  Oven roasted potatoes, and any root vegetables you can come up with including radishes.  Radishes take on a different taste.  They are really good.

Pre cooking meats helps make dinner time less hectic.  The meat takes the longest time to cook.  If it is already  done, putting a Casserole together and putting it on the oven is really quick.

I heat sliced meat in a broth.  If it is sliced thin  , you can heat the broth, put the meat on and torn off the burner.  It will heat through while you make the rest of dinner.

Meat balls are a real dinner boon.  You can do a lot with them.  Meatballs and spaghetti, meat ball soup, meatballs and gravy, meatballs with a cream sauce on noodles, meatball subs.  Get a basic recipe and dome over mix them.  When I batch cook, I put a rack on a sheet pan , make meatballs the size of walnuts and bake them off, the grease drips off the meatballs.  You are better off using a higher fat content for meatballs and meatloaf.  I use a 7-9 percent for tacos or crumbles.

If you cook crumbles, drain them in a colander, pour boiling water over them.  This makes hamburger have LESS fat than boneless, skinless chicken breast.  I return some crumbles to a pan with some water and my taco seasoning.  The recipe for many mixes are on an earlier post.  The crumbles I portion control and put on bags for meat sauce or pizza.

There is a recipe for pizza crust on an earlier blog.  Also the concept of almost free pizza.
There is also a recipe for pizza crust on the back of the bisquick box, although we don't like it.   Sometimes , Big Lots has a bag of pizza crusts really cheap.   Big Lots  has a twenty percent off everything sale ever so often.  They don't have a very long shelf life.  Use them soon.  If your family is like mine, there is no twisting arms to get someone to eat pizza.  LOL

Roasting a chicken is easy, and well worth your efforts.  It takes me about ten minutes to put a chicken in the oven.  It is a remarkable difference between a deli chicken and a cooked chicken.
never buy a chicken that is less than three pounds.  The ratio of bone to meat is a break even at three pounds.  Less than that you are paying for bone that you can't eat. you don't know where the deli chicken has been.  I prefer locally grown chicken.  You are paying early for a little bit of effort.
I can get chicken for a dollar a pound.  Grill pack chicken for a dollar makes boneless, skinless
chicken breast and pulled chicken.  Pulled chicken makes tacos, soup, and pulled chicken sandwiches.

Roasting off a pork loin makes a pork loin dinner and hot sandwiches.  You can cut off pork chops before you roast the loin.

I cook a beef roast when I can get it for under three dollars a pound.  That doesn't happen too much lately. But hopefully lower beef prices will return.

You need to average two to three dollars for protein a dinner to keep a five dollar dinner is get.  It is a game for us now. The operative  word is average.

If you add a couple of vegetarian meals to the mix, it affords a more expensive cut of meat sometimes.  Eggs, beans and cheese are still cheap sources of protein when you get them on sale.
Eggs have a month fridge life.  Buy them in bulk when they are cheap.  I like close to a buck.  Last time. I had to pay more.  They are still a cheap source of protein.  I want cheese for two to two forty a pound.  I am still getting this price.  I buy the one they let you buy even of I don't end it right then.  It has a bit of a fridge life, you can always grate it and freeze it.  I add a little cornstarch to it to keep it from sticking together.  About a tablespoon per two pounds of cheese.

The the main thing to remember is avoiding the F word.....   full price! LOL.

Don't let cooking from scratch overwhelm you.  Take one thing at a time.  There are books at the library, there is a Martha Stewart series on PBS.

Learn to substitute ingredients when a recipe calls for an expensive ingredient.  Just remember you are looking for the similar  taste and texture.  Celery can replace mushrooms and take up the bulk of onions.

That's about it.

There are blogs on scratch cooking every month.  I write off the top of my head like I am talking to you on my kitchen.  Each one is different.  Please feel free to read earlier blogs.

Every week I analyze the ads for the Seattle area, usually on Wednesday because our mail comes late on Tuesday afternoon.  You can usually gleam the best of the ads on coupon connections on line.  She, however, has been posting coupons I haven't been able to find.  It is a good resource that saves you a lot of time.  I print coupons for things I usually buy the first of the month.  There is a limited amount of coupons to print, so get yours when they are there.  I have a coupon binder that I put together cheap.  I don't cut the coupons from the paper.  I just put inserts together with a binder clip. By month and clip them when I need them.  I rely on coupon connections to tell me when there is a good deal.  I mostly use them for toothpaste and other deals that are cheaper  than scratch.  Sometimes  at rite aid, they will pay you to take things home.  If I can use the item, or I know where I can donate it where it will be needed, I "buy" it.  Toothpaste and baby food are a natural here.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

The basics, part two: shopping

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 decidedd it would be better of 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 n 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.  Simce 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 potatomchips.  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. Modified it 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.

Next time, cooking from scratch.

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

The basics, part one

It's the start of a  of new month.  I can't believe it is October  already.  The first of each month,mi 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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