Frugal February – Part 3

In my house growing up, no matter if it was the first of the month or the 28th of the month, the cabinets were always full of food. My mom was an expert on shopping well and keeping our pantry stocked. As I grew up, I lived in many different types of homes, with all different kinds of people.  I’ve lived with alone, I’ve lived with roommates, and I’ve lived with family. In all of those homes, no matter how many people lived there and how much money we had, the kitchen cabinets always had the basics, but each home has their own version of basics. I recently asked several people, on Facebook, for their top food staples, basically, what do they always have on hand.

Here are the top 15 kitchen staples:

  1. Canned Beans
  2. Chicken Thighs
  3. Cheese
  4. Rice
  5. Peanut Butter
  6. Pasta
  7. Eggs
  8. Pasta Sauce
  9. Potatoes
  10. Milk
  11. Ground Beef
  12. Stock or Broth
  13. Flour
  14. Canned Tomatoes
  15. Frozen Potatoes.

Having a well stocked kitchen is key to avoiding eating out, and saving money! This is Frugal February after all, we HAVE to talk about saving money! It is all about how you shop, and how you prepare to shop.  I remember, so clearly, watching my mom get out her weekly ads for the Lucky’s, Safeway, and Raley’s (the three big grocery stores in our hometown), and sit down to make her lists, then she would go up and down each aisle to make sure she didn’t miss a deal, and grocery shopping would take HOURS!!! I don’t have that kind of time (or patience for people, for that matter). Thank goodness for the internet, making it easier to get the grocery shopping done quicker and more efficiently. Now, I have apps for my three main grocery stores, King Soopers, Safeway, and Sprouts, and I check them weekly, and then decide which deals I want to make sure I don’t miss. Here are my top 3 tips on how to prepare for a successful grocery shopping trip:

  1. Check your weekly ads.
  2. Take inventory of your cabinets and refrigerator before making shopping lists.
  3. Learn to identify the real deals versus the fake deals.

Let’s break this down…first, check weekly ads. Pretty self explanatory, yes? Kind of…most grocery stores run their their ads Wednesday through Tuesday, except Sprouts, which runs their ads Wednesday through Wednesday.  That means, on Wednesdays at Sprouts, you have double ad day, you get two weeks of ads in one day. The reason this is such an important step, is because this is how you save money, because if you know what you are looking for, you are less likely to overspend on your budget or stray from your list.

Second, taking inventory is extremely important, if you don’t know what you have, you don’t know if you need to stock up.  How many times have you been at the grocery store and wondered if you still had eggs in the refrigerator or if you needed more pasta? If I don’t have my list and I don’t double check my inventory, it happens all the time!

Third, this one is a biggie…and yes, there are fake deals out there! Just because it is on the front page of an ad, or it says “Buy One, Get One Free” doesn’t mean it is a good deal.  For example, if a grocery store is running a buy one, get one free special throughout their store…these are normally name brand, more expensive items, and even with the discount, the per unit price may not be such a great deal.  You may be able to get a different brand, not even on sale, for less than the BOGO deal. But this is why you have to know your ads, and your market, every city is different. And, last but not least, a deal is only good if you will use the item…it is wasteful to buy an item and never use it. If your family doesn’t like apples, it doesn’t matter how cheap they are, if no one will eat the apples!

Frugal February Bonus…I add this mainly because I love a good deal. You know how when a girl buys a dress with pockets, then someone compliments said dress, the girl says “Thanks! It has pockets!”…that is how I am with deals! I brought some of Todd’s homemade chili to work the other day for lunch, someone said “That smells amazing!” and my response was “Thanks! Todd made it! We got the meat for the chili on sale at King Soopers for less than $4!”…and then I get the “you’re weird” look as they back away! Anywho…here are a few deals I found in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area in this week’s ad!

King Soopers:
American Beauty Pasta – 12-16 oz, with digital coupon, 4 packs for only $2, that works to only $0.50 per unit!

Ore-Ida Frozen Potatoes – $1.79 per bag with digital coupon (I have rarely seen these for less than $2 per bag).

Safeway:

Digital coupon to save $20 off purchase of $100 or more!

Sprouts:

Strawberries, Blueberries, or Blackberries, 3 for $5.

Jumbo Hass Avocados for $0.88 each.

Comment on this post with your favorite deal of the week!

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Frugal February Part 1

Welcome to Frugal February! This month we are tightening the reins on our budget, and getting control of our finances. We have already trimmed out budget in several areas, but our food budget is always a struggle. We, obviously, like to eat, and eat well. But, at the same time, we aren’t fancy people, and our food doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. This month, we will focus on saving money in the kitchen! We are limiting how many times we go out to eat, and budgeting more carefully when grocery shopping. For the last week, we started by not eating out for dinner. Regardless of our tight budget, we still had some delicious dinners, even after spending only $40 for a weeks worth of groceries. We did simple meals like hot dogs and mac & cheese, along with tacos (a weekly staple in our house).

My favorite meal this week was the Italian sausage sandwiches. The Italian sausage was only $2.77 for a pack of 5 sausages, we got a pack of rolls for $0.87, we got some fancy fromage, a Tomato Basil Jack cheese, from the cheese case at King Soopers for $2.55. The french fries were $2 from the frozen food section. We only ate 3 sandwiches, and half the bag of french fries, which means we will still have a couple rolls left, 2 sausage links, and a half a bag of fries left for another meal. We will have hot dogs and french fries one night, and then sausage and pasta with garlic butter rolls another night. For $8.19, we will get 3 meals, which breaks down to only $1.37 per person per meal. I say this is a Frugal February victory!

I grew up in a home where my mom got paid once a month, and she had to make that one paycheck stretch to feed our family of five, along with all the strays (not animals, but rather our friends who stayed with us) my mom collected over the years, on a very tight budget. Todd’s father is a minister, and his mom fed and took care of their family, on a modest income. Our parents taught us both to cook on a budget, however, we openly admit we don’t always eat on a budget. Sometimes life gets in the way of the budget. We both work a lot, and work on our feet all day, and sometimes we just do not have it in us to cook dinner when we are both getting home after 8pm. When we decided to start Frugal February by not eating dinner out for 10 days, we knew it would be a struggle for us, and something we would have to do with great intention. We will not be perfect, we will budget for small dinners out, but we will work hard to spend little and eat well.

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