Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Saving Money: What I *Am* Willing to Do

While deciding whether or not to continue with the couponing course I'd signed up for, I started to make a list in my head of the things I already do to save money. Not that I am the queen of frugality, by any means (that title belongs unequivocally to my mother), but there are some things that are already in place in my grocery shopping that I think may do me better to focus and improve on than couponing will (and thanks for the vote of confidence, Kar!).
  1. I try to grocery shop no more than once a week, and my often-met goal is to make it ten days to two weeks between trips. Sometimes this means that toward the end, we eat a strange dinner like egg burritos, carrot sticks and pear slices, but that's okay. I also have a little rule for myself about going to Costco only once a month. My motivation is bolstered by the fact that at least 3/4ths of the time, I take all three children grocery shopping with me--not something I want to do more often than once a week! (Oh, and in case you were wondering, I push one cart-full of groceries while pulling another cart-full of kids. We are a spectacle, yes.)

  2. In the past (it has seriously fallen by the wayside since Haley was born) I would A) shop the grocery store ads and B) stock up on items that were a great deal and C) buy only what was on sale that week. Three years ago, when we just had one child, our grocery/household bill was around $200 a month ($100 at Costco and $25 a week at the grocery store). Since I try to make it longer between trips nowadays, and since I am doing great just to have a list ready of the things we need when I have a good window of time to shop, I will usually only glance through the ad and while in the store, keep my eye out for items we use that are on a good sale, then stock up on them (meat, poultry, pasta, canned goods, baking ingredients, paper goods and others like foil, plastic wrap . . . see my hoarding tendency below).
  3. My "pantry" this past winter Just for the sake of being real (in case it appears that I am neat and organized), I thought I should post this picture, too. It was taken last week and shows how things often look around here.

  1. With few exceptions, I make our meals from scratch. (Not-from-scratch things we use on a monthly--or more often--occurence include tortillas, spaghetti sauce, boxed macaroni and cheese, yeast breads and pancake mix.) We rarely eat prepared meals (though this was not the case for the first four months of Haley's life). It was amusing to hear last week that according to my friend, I even make our salads from scratch--buying the lettuce head and the whole carrots, tomatoes, etc. and preparing it myself! This is how I grew up, so I had no idea that many people do not "make" salads. Let me just say salads are extremely affordable this way. On less than $5 a week, I can make 4 decent side salads three times a week (like the ones below). And that's getting the expensive tomatoes (on the vine) and lettuce (green leaf or romaine).

  2. Just a couple random other things I thought of:
  • I pack Casey's lunches most days (usually last night's leftovers--not something I was doing much after #3 was born, but as of February, I've become pretty faithful again)

  • we keep dining out as a family to about once or twice a week (Admitting that is embarrassing, but we spend less than $20--usually less than $15--each time. Does that makes it not sound as bad?).

  • Since the girls and I are home virtually all the time (Church and dance class are the exceptions), we save $ on gas since I don't drive our Pilot much, and because I rarely do other shopping besides the grocery kind, we save $ on other things (there is an exception here, too, and it's not good: Wal-Mart. It is really easy for me to spend a lot there.)

  • I also feed my 10-month-old baby table food as much as possible by keeping our mini food chopper ready and near. (I gave up making actual baby food after I had a second baby. Go figure.) And the baby food I buy is carefully selected as well (I buy jars or single servings of unsweetened applesauce instead of "baby applesauce," real bananas instead of jarred ones, quarts of plain whole milk yogurt instead of "Yo-baby," or whatever that insanely expensive stuff is, and boxes of Cherrios on sale instead of melt-in-your mouth sugary Gerber puffs.)

That's all I can think of at the moment regarding grocery-type savings. Now that I've chucked the idea of couponing, I believe I'll try to focus on shopping the ads, stocking up and being more purposeful about what I put in the cart when I find myself at Wal-Mart. Hmmm. . . perhaps that's my problem . . . maybe I shouldn't find myself at Wal-Mart.

What about you? What are your family's money-saving habits?

1 comment:

Karen Cowart said...

I don't coupon either, 3 little kiddos- seriously!!!- but I do check out the ads of my 2 favorite grocery stores, check my list, and then go to the one with the MOST of what I need on sale!!
Cooking from scratch also keeps you from buying weird snacks that catch your eye.