Sunday, March 4, 2012

Killing it at the dinner table.

Thank GOD I have my Internet back! I've been missing in action since Thursday because we were moving furniture from our bedroom and living room into the dining room and kitchen Thursday night. Then Friday we were getting our new carpet installed and then Friday night and Saturday moving furniture back and throwing stuff out that we don't want or need anymore, and donating a bunch too. Today was the first day to be kind of back to normal though I have none of my decor or photos up yet. But never fear lambwhores- a post with the new and improved rooms is coming!

But today I'm going to get back into my menu planning and grocery shopping sharing for you. I haven't stopped doing it, but I'm getting better at finding deals and knowing when to stock up on something with low prices. It's taken me a few months to figure out how the stores around me cycle through their sales and I finally feel like it paid off. Today I went shopping and spent $48.33 on two weeks of groceries.


So here is my menu for this week:

Chicken Stew
Taco Casserole
Sandwiches, Soup, and Salad
Chicken Parmesan
Cheeseburger Pasta (I'll share this recipe with you on Saturday)
Lasagna Rolls
Burgers and Fries
Fish Sticks & Macaroni
Skillet Chicken & side dish
Chicken Nuggets and Tater Tots
Hot dogs and Bow Tie Pasta/Veggie Medley

OK, now to be honest, two days in my 14 day span are going out for my birthday (Friday) and then dinner at my mom's (Saturday). Not every meal is going to be the most amazing thing ever, but it is stuff I have on hand already that I'm going to use to cut down on my grocery bill. I try to buy the least amount of groceries in the first half of the month because we are really broke the first half- all of our big bills are due by the 10th. The second half of the month is when I buy more items to stock up on like meat, side dishes, things I can freeze, etc.

I also make a little more of each meal so that Matt has food for his lunches throughout the week. Another tip is to buy something if it is a DEEP discount even if you don't need it right now. Last week one grocery store had 12 oz bagged cereals on sale for $.88. Now, I'm pretty well stocked up on cereal because I wait until it's a good deal on sale and then use my coupons that I find online or in the Sunday paper, but when it goes for $.88? Come on, now- that's a good deal and just as good as something in a box. I obviously got four bags because we eat cereal every day and it won't go to waste.

Almost every day for breakfast we have cereal like I mentioned but then one other thing. It might be waffles, it might be yogurt, it might be toast, English muffin, or bagels- it's whatever I could find at the best price that week. Olivia typically has a sandwich for her lunch, a side and a dessert. She's been having a lot of pudding because it keeps going on sale for $1 or sometimes even $.88 for a four pack, and to me, that's a deal. I know I could make my own pudding for cheaper, but I don't have the small containers and I like the convenience of the little cups. Sue me.

I'm lucky to have a grocery store in Duluth, Cub Foods, that often has amazing deals on meat. They rotate between buy one/get one for chicken breasts and pork chops (last week was pork chops, so I bet next week is chicken) so I get one deal and I make Matt go through another line for another deal. To walk out paying maybe $15 for four packs of chicken? Worth it. This week if you bought a three pound chub of ground beef, you got a free 16 ounce loaf of french bread, a free 12 oz bag of salad and a free box of pasta. Um, amazing deal. I didn't need ground beef, but I cut it into three one pound sections and froze them because that'll be a good thing for when I'm broke next month, and this month I am using the bread and salad for my soup/sandwich/salad night. SCORE. Another great deal is milk- it's 2/$6 at Cub this week and you can freeze milk, homies. And I'm almost done with my green peppers- this summer they were having amazing sales on green peppers, so I kept buying them and I chopped some and sliced some, put them in freezer bags and use over the winter. The bonus to that is that they have a more potent pepper flavor when you freeze them, so a little goes a long way in your dishes. I also got three packs of Danimals drink and yogurt things 3/$6 and then I had $1.50 in coupons for those, so even better deal. I also shop at two grocery stores- Cub Foods in Duluth and Super One in Superior. It's very rare that I get everything I need at one stores, but this week I was able to do it.

Another good thing I do is now that I have my menu planned out for the next two weeks, I am now starting to look at the coupons that I'm getting online or what I can find in the paper (get the paper TODAY because the first Sunday paper of the month has the P&G Brand Saver- great coupons for products not food related) and do my menu based on that. If I get lazy and don't do my menu planning until the day I shop, I can get it done in 30 minutes and that means clipping my coupons, too.

Basically, the secret is looking for good deals. If you see chicken buy one/get one on sale and it wasn't on your list? GET IT, it's not like you're never going to have chicken again. The other bonus to buying things when they are on sale to stock up is that you might get lazy and not want to grocery shop on your normal day, you will likely have enough stuff in your cupboards to bang out another couple of meals in a pinch. And buy store brand when possible. I know store brand macaroni tastes like shit, so don't buy that. But try out other stuff- tomato sauces and paste taste the same and are $.30 less. It doesn't sound like much but it does add up. Same thing with coupons- people scoff when I'm clutching my cents on a dollar coupon, but every little bit adds up and I'll take it.

My grocery bill today totaled $62.07, I saved $10.59 from advertised savings out of their ad and their coupons and $3.15 with my manufacturer coupons, bringing it down to $48.33. That even included two cases (24packs) of soda because we haven't had it in awhile, so those together were $14.

So the bottom line? You can do it. You have to actually look at the ads each week and you'll start seeing what's on sale. If roast beef is not on sale? Do not buy it. Only buy stuff when it is on sale, and if you can find a matching coupon? Even better.

Have questions? Let me know! You can either leave a comment on this post or send me an email at sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com!


ComfyMom~Stacey said...

Where do you check for your online coupons? We don't get the Sunday paper because we are never out & about on Sunday and my 'local' paper doesn't offer sunday only delivery.
I have 4 grocery stores around me & I check all their sales fliers online & then map out a shopping list & start at the far end of town and work my way back store by store. Fortunately they are all on the same long windy road through town.

Shannon @ Bungalow960 said...

You really are killing it at the dinner table! I try to shop store brand and sales as much as I can, it saves so much money.

Dana said...

Even though I really have no one to plan for but myself, I like hearing about your deals and how you save money. .88 for cereal? Awesome. Do you guys have Aldi stores around there? They are down here in the Twin Cities and have great deals if you don't care about off-brand stuff.

Shirley said...

You're a rockstar! We would never drink milk if we had to pay $3/gallon. Pretty muh every week you can find it for $1.57

Unknown said...

Try planning your menu completely dairy, wheat, walnut and mostly soy free. That's the boat I'm in these days. I *can* have grains but I'm pretty sure they are making me sick (horribly headaches, weight issues, and inflammation) so I'm cutting down. Breakfast used to be my favorite meal of the day and I had rice crispies with rice milk. It was rice overkill.
My groceries were 110 bucks for the weeks because of all of the fresh produce I bought. Last two weeks rocked and didn't shop at all. I went to Trader Joe's this time and frankly, didn't do too badly. I bet you got a ton more food than I did though.