How Do You Stock Up On Meat?

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Note from Laurie ~ we’ve never been able to purchase meat in bulk because of limited freezer space, but I love Shannon’s tips and am hoping we can find someone here in Ohio who sells meat this way! Would love to hear what you think too . . .¬†

 

Okie dokie folks, I’m going to share something about me that not many people know. ūüėČ ¬†I think I’m a closet-wannabe-vegetarian!¬† I really don’t love meat (other than steak.) ¬†But my family loves (*loves*)¬†meat!¬† They think bacon is the best thing (yikes! can you see the heart blockage now?), and they love steak too.¬† But finding deals on meat is hard, so here’s what we do.

Grilled Ribeye Steaks & Onions

About 3 years ago while having a budget discussion with the husband I realized that I couldn’t keep my grocery budget at its current amount and buy very much meat. ¬†So, I asked around about buying meat from someone and found a couple from our church sells grass-fed beef.¬†Since then we’ve bought 1/6 of a cow, which lasts us about 9 months. ¬†It comes out to about $4.99-$5.49 per lb, which usually includes enough for:
  • 2-3 roasts
  • 15 lbs. of assorted steaks
  • 30-35 lbs. of ground beef
  • a couple other cuts of meat¬†

 


When we eat the steaks I always tell my kids to feel really blessed because it is a luxury that we enjoy eating like that. ūüėČ If you’re planning to buy a part of a cow it definitely helps to have an extra freezer because it definitely takes up some extra space ~ we have an extra fridge and my mother-in-law is sweet enough to store some of our extra meat in her deep freezer.¬† (She’s pretty awesome.) ūüėČ

 

For us, we’ve found that grass-fed meat is a wonderful option ~ it tastes better and smells better when making it, and is much less greasy. I still do occasionally buy meat from the store though, and we pick up chicken at Target on clearance or when Kroger has their BOGO boneless skinless chicken breast sale.

 

I know that paying a few hundred dollars up front to stock up on meat may not work for everyone ~ but you can still save on meat at your local grocery store! Visit Target and see when most of the “sell-buy” dates end. ¬†Then make another a trip a day or two ahead of that, and most likely you’ll find peelies for that meat (which you can take home and freeze.)
  
Have you purchased a portion of a cow before, or come up with other ways to save on meat?¬†Leave any tips you have in the comments section ~ we’d love to hear them!

 

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Target Clearance Bins: Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Fun Finds

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I ran to Target yesterday with my girls, and we were so excited with what we found in the clearance bins!

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Target has their Valentine’s candy marked 30% off still, but a¬†lot of their Dollar Bin items were marked down to 50% off, as well as Valentine trimmings and decor. So, we did our first Operation Christmas Child Shoebox shop! Here’s what we bought . . .

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2 cute kids girls coloring sets 50¬Ę each

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4 pairs of kids socks 50¬Ę each

 

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1 truck board book and 4 packs of Play Doh just 50¬Ę each

 

Total spent = $5.50 for 11 items to add to Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes next Christmas. Love that!

 

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Have you started to watch for deals on next year’s items to pack?¬†As you’re looking, check out this list of 50 Best Items to Pack in an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox. We love this ministry, and by looking for deals throughout the year we can stock up on a budget.

 

I’d love to hear if you’ve found any bargains this year ~ leave a comment to share!

 

 

 

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The Ultimate Guide To A Better Grocery Budget Part 3: Don’t Turn a Mega Sale Into A Mega Mess.


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New to this series? See Part 1 & Part 2. 

It’s week three of our four weeks to a better grocery budget series, and¬†we’re focusing this week on how to not allow a “Mega Sale” to¬†turn into¬†a “Mega Mess”.

 

What on earth? A Mega Sale can turn into a Mega Mess?

 

Oh yes, my friends. Indeed it can.

 

Kroger started their Mega Sale yesterday and it was my only option to shop this week due to the weather (watch the video to hear more.) 

 

My normal temptation is to get it all. 

 

To grab all the deals.

 

To not pass by a single thing that has the lovely blue tag screaming “I’m-a-mega-sale-price-so-you-really-need-me.”¬†

 

Because if the store tells me it’s a deal, it’s deal, right?¬†

 

However, while I still went over budget (a tiny bit), I did much better than I normally do because I was determined to stick at least a little closer to my budget. 

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So what do you do when you’ve spent too much?

1. Give yourself grace.

If you’ve overspent already, there’s nothing you can do to change it. Give yourself grace, determine to focus more on your total budget the next time you shop, and be thankful you have a nicely stocked pantry.

2. Determine to use what you’ve bought.

Once you’ve overspent, there’s no going back, but you can¬†make a plan to use what you’ve bought (saving money in the long run!)

 

Come up with a menu plan based on what’s in your fridge and freezer, skip eating out because you probably have plenty already at home, and determine to strategically shop the next time you head into a Mega Sale.

3. The next time you shop, be mindful of what the “deals” really are.

An easy example of this was on the Quaker Oatmeal. The Quaker was priced at $1.89 after the Mega Sale. However the store brand was $1.50,¬†and there was a $1/2 Kroger ecoupon on Kroger Oatmeal. Definitely the best price! Next time you shop, be really cautious of the “Mega Sale” deals to make sure they really¬†are your best prices. If they’re not, pass those by (and remember stores like Aldi may offer a better deal every day!)

 

Guys, I’ve said it a jillion times here, but there is¬†no other area in your family’s finances¬†that you have complete control over.¬†You can’t lower your car payment or mortgage or¬†electricity¬†bill today, but you can choose how much you want to spend at the grocery store.¬†

 

Determine to make 2016 the year that you transform your family’s grocery budget ~ you can do this!¬†

 

Whew. Hopping off my soap box now. ūüôā¬†

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Okay, ready to see what I bought? (It took two pictures!) Here we go . . .

 

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Kroger

2 Honey Nut Cheerios Mega Sale $1.49, used $1/2 Kroger ecoupon

2 Kroger Oatmeals 2/$3, used $1/2 Kroger ecoupon

3 gallons milk $2.19

2 bags Chex Mix Mega Sale $.99

5 cans Pringles Mega Sale $.99

Turkey Hill Ice Cream $2.50

Ghirardelli Brownie Mega Sale $2

2 3 pound bags Kroger Chicken Tenders $13.29, on sale Buy One Get One Free

2 Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Mega Sale $.99

1 box Lucky Charms Mega Sale $1.49, used $.50/1 Kroger ecoupon

Kroger Marshmallows $.99

Krusteaz Pancake Mix Mega Sale $1.99

Tostito Scoops Mega Sale $2.49

Krusteax Muffin Mix Mega Sale $1.69

Digiorno Pizza Mega Sale $4.49

4 Kroger Peanut Butters $1.50

2 Yoplait Gogurts $1.99, used $.75/2 Kroger ecoupon

Kroger Bread $.88

Kellogg’s Rice Krispy Treats Mega Sale $2

Sunny D Mega Sale $.99

1 1/2 dozen eggs $3.49

2 cans Kroger Green Beans $.69

Bananas $2.60

Kroger Dinner Rolls clearanced $.99

Kraft Dressing Mega Sale $1.49

Steak $5.99

Land O Lake Margarine $1.99

Kroger Shredded Cheese $1.77

Kroger Diced Tomatoes $.73

3 Velveeta Shells & Cheese Cups Mega Sale $.49

Broccoli Slaw $2.99

Organic Salad Blend $4.99

Degree Deodorant Mega Sale price $1.99, use $1.50/1 Kroger ecoupon

Axe Deodorant Mega Sale price $2.99, use $2/1 Kroger ecoupon

Dove Deodorant Mega Sale price $2.49, use $1.50/1 Kroger ecoupon

Sunny D $.99 Mega Sale price, can use $1/1 Sunny D coupon, use $1/1 Sunny D coupon (try zip 03102, if still available)

Buy 1 Colgate Sparkling White $1.89

Buy 1 Colgate Optic White $3.89, use $2/1 Kroger ecoupon

 

 

 

TOTAL GROCERY SPENDING IN JANUARY, INCLUDING WEEK 1  & WEEK 2 = $285.56 (and our cupboards are full.)

 

 

 

Are you joining me in trimming your grocery budget this month?¬†I’d love to hear how you’re doing¬†~¬†it’s not too late to start! Leave a comment to share any tips or suggestions.

 

 

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Before you shop, be sure to see how to get 20 items for 22¬Ę each this week ~ it really is a great week to save as long as you stick to your budget this week!¬†

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Looking for more ways to save on your grocery budget in 2016? Here you go:

Would you like FREE daily email updates of saving and an email sent out to you with more tips each week during this series? Go HERE to subscribe, and I’d love for you to leave a comment to share your thoughts on grocery shopping on a budget¬†– I love hearing from you!¬†

 

 

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The Ultimate Guide To A Better Grocery Budget: 7 (MORE!) Strategies to Save (4 Week Series – Week 2)

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Update Рsee our menu plan this week using the groceries below over HERE. 

It’s week two of our 4 weeks to a better grocery budget series, and I’m so excited to share how we’ve saved this week!¬†

 

Since starting the 21 Day Fix on Monday (so far it’s been pretty manageable and it feels so good to be eating more fresh foods ~ yay!), I realized we were going to need to stock up on more fruits and veggies each week. So I headed out to Aldi & Fresh Thyme yesterday (I had an appointment and both stores were on my way home), and stocked up.

 

This week I’ll be sharing 7¬†more¬†strategies to save when you shop, and¬†promise you can do this if work at it this month!¬†Here are the 7 things I want you to work on this week.

1.¬†Don’t buy what you don’t need.

Okay, this isn’t always true, but if it’s not on sale and you don’t¬†need it, wait for a better deal.¬†I was hoping to score a little more chicken breast this week, but it was $2.49 at Fresh Thyme (remember I paid just $1.49 last week), so I decided to wait and hope for a better price.

2. Skip the pre-packaged stuff.

I absolutely love pre-packaged salad and do usually splurge on it if I can find a decent deal at all. (I know that’s terribly lazy, but it’s one of my few guilty pleasures in life – ahem!) ūüôā However¬†when the cost was $3.99 this week at Fresh Thyme (and Aldi didn’t carry a similar brand), I chose to purchase¬†basic leaf lettuce and spinach that I can cut up myself.

The same is true with pre-packed chips, snack packs, and cereal (although this single serving cereal deal is pretty tempting!) But for the most part, skip the pre-packed stuff when you can.

But,¬†sometimes it’s worth paying for convenience. (I know, I totally just flipped my position on that one, huh?)

There are a few things I do buy simply out of convenience. If buying a $4.99 Aldi pizza means we won’t eat out on Friday night (and they’re¬†huge), I just saved myself $20 in pizza delivery. And buying minced garlic pre-minced for me is one of those things that’s just worth my time to make life a wee bit simpler¬†at our house.

3. Shop Aldi.

I cannot say this enough, but shopping Aldi alone can save you a bundle. If you’re willing to make a quick trip there to stock up on basic pantry staples, you’ll slash your budget by quite a bit, every single week!

4. Shop no more than once a week.

Y’all, this is¬†so important.¬†Before you shop, make a very clear list of¬†everything¬†you’re going to need for the following week, so you aren’t tempted to buy extra stuff on a second trip. Before shopping I used my Eat At ¬†Home Whole Foods shopping list, and I love knowing that I’ve got everything I need in my kitchen to make an entire week’s worth of meals!

5. Know your prices.

Go HERE for more info on how to find your stock up price.

6. Shop loss leaders.

Really stock up on those items that are there to get in the door. At Fresh Thyme that was the pineapples, strawberries, pork chops, and carrots, so I stuck to fresh items and skipped the rest of the store.

 

At Aldi the price on bananas this week was fantastic, so a great time to stock up on those as well!

7. Sometimes it’s worth paying more if it helps you not to make an extra trip.

I’m betting I could get a better deal on dish soap and even pasta at Kroger or another grocer if I had a few coupons, but to save myself an extra trip to the store I grabbed everything I needed at Aldi and Fresh Thyme. To make an extra trip to a store to literally just save pennies isn’t worth it each week!

 

 

Ready to see what we bought? Here we go . . .

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Fresh Thyme (have I mentioned lately I love that store? If you have a Sprouts in your area it’s very similar.)

  • 3.56 lbs Boneless Pork Chops $2.99lb. = $10.86
  • 4 packages strawberries $6
  • 4 lb. navel apples $1.99
  • 5 lbs potatoes $1.50
  • 1.49 lb tomatoes $1.03
  • bundle green leaf lettuce $.88
  • green onions $.49
  • 4 1 lb bags organic baby carrots $.99 each = $3.96
  • 3 pineapples $.99 each = $2.97
  • spinach¬†$.1.49
  • Total = $30.97, saved $28.65

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Aldi

  • 4 4 packs Fruit Bowls $1.69 each
  • 3 dozen eggs $1.39 each (that is a¬†great price – I haven’t seen them that low in ages at Kroger!)
  • 2¬†carton reduced sodium broth $1.39
  • 1 package Mac & Cheese $.39 (for my 15 year old as a quick dinner when heading out the door)
  • 3 gallons skim milk $1.89
  • White bread $.85, submitted for $.50 Mobisave rebate
  • mini marshmallows $.79
  • 2 bags powdered sugar $1.29 each
  • 2.45 pounds bananas $.29/lb = $.71 (GREAT price – I haven’t seen that in ages!)
  • Instant brown rice $1.49
  • Aldi take & bake pizza $4.99
  • 2 applesauce cups $1.49
  • 2 flour tortillas $1.19
  • big bag lemons $.99 (I didn’t really need these but couldn’t pass them up – I love having them on hand to freshen my sink disposal!)
  • 2 cans black beans $.59
  • Canola cooking spray $1.49
  • Penne Pasta $.99
  • Minced garlic $1.99
  • Fit & Active Light Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing $1.29
  • Dish Soap $189
  • Honey mustard $.99
  • Cheese ravioli $3.99
  • Cinnamon $.99
  • Total = $54.69

 

TOTAL FOR BOTH TRIPS = $85.66

 

TOTAL GROCERY SPENDING IN JANUARY, INCLUDING LAST WEEK’S TRIPS = $172.10 (and our cupboards are¬†full.)

 

 

 

Are you joining me in trimming your grocery budget this month?¬†I’d love to hear how you’re doing¬†~¬†it’s not too late to start! Leave a comment to share any tips or suggestions.

top10budgetbusters

Looking for more ways to save on your grocery budget in 2016? Here you go:

Would you like FREE daily email updates of saving and an email sent out to you with more tips each week during this series? Go HERE to subscribe, and I’d love for you to leave a comment to share your thoughts on grocery shopping on a budget¬†– I love hearing from you!¬†

 

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The Ultimate Guide To A Better Grocery Budget: 7 Strategies to Save (4 Week Series)

 

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So often people ask me how I really spend $100 a week or less on groceries for our family of 5, and goodness, I have to tell you it really (really) can be done. 

 

So, I decided this month to show you exactly what our family really buys (the good, the bad, and the ugly), so that you can see how we really make it work. Honestly, I don’t have tons of time to clip coupons (and I have seen more and more processed food coupons pop up, which don’t always work for our family), so this series will share how we do it without too much time clipping coupons.

 

I’m telling you what, the secret really is in the sale.¬†

 

Now, my friend Shannon¬†rocks her coupon trips each week, so if you’re looking for crazy savings they definitely can happen. But, if you’re pressed for time and realistically that’s not going to happen in your home, you can¬†still¬†(easily!) save big for your family.

 

I promise. 

 

Don’t believe me?¬†

 

Here’s my¬†my exact process, step-by-step this week so that you can join along too! I know it may seem overwhelming at first, but I promise,¬†you can do this.¬†

 

Ready?

 

Let’s get started.¬†

Before Shopping . . .

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#1. Make a menu plan and grocery list. (I used Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plan and grocery list this week and *LOVED* it. 

While I’ve always made a menu plan and grocery list, using Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plan was new to me.¬†But after one week I’m hooked and¬†highly encourage you to try it out. (Her special sale ends tonight and is $10.50 for a 3 month subscription – hurry before it’s gone if you think it will help!)

 

Normally I make my own menu plan which takes a solid 30-45 minutes, and I love that she did all the work for me.¬†(Especially for $3.50¬†per month or $.87 per week –¬†well worth $.87 to save myself 45 minutes of time!)

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I chose the Whole Foods Menu Plan¬†because we’re working on a healthier 2016, and the list was pretty simple to follow. (I loved that you got all three menu plan options though for one price!)

 

I did skip a meal that¬†I knew our family¬†wouldn’t eat, but we have enough in the kitchen already to make up a meal or two (and my family could eat breakfast for dinner every single night,¬†so I can always whip up something¬†when I need to.)

 

Even if we really don’t like the menus, I¬†love¬†that just by buying what’s on her list I have a stocked pantry¬†for 6 meals this week.¬†The menu and recipes looked great, but if I choose to make something else I can easily search All Recipes Ingredient Search and find something else in a pinch.

 

If you aren’t using All Recipes Ingredient Search when you need dinner done you have GOT to try it out. It saves dinner for our family at least once a week!¬†

#2. Shop your pantry.

Before heading to the store, I look over my menu plan & grocery list¬†and determine¬†what I already have in my fridge, freezer and pantry.¬†I also take stock of what we’re low on for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and household items for the week.

 

Since we were almost out of laundry detergent and conditioner I added those to my list this week, as well as milk, salad mix, fresh fruit, and chips for my husband to take to lunch.¬†(Y’all, he loves his potato chips and absolutely will not pack a lunch if potato chips aren’t there. ‘Nuf said.)

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At the Store

3. Shop two stores.

Folks, this is huge and I know may not work for everyone, but is well worth it for our family. I typically shop Kroger each week for major sales and loss leaders, but also make a trip to Fresh Thyme (or a similar store) for meat and produce at least every other week, saving our family a bundle.

 

If you have an Aldi, Fresh Thyme, Sprouts, or even possibly Trader Joe’s in your area, I¬†highly¬†recommend a trip once a week (or at least every two weeks), to stock up on meat and produce.¬†

 

Their sale prices are significantly lower than anything I’ve seen at local grocery stores (unless your grocery store has a rockstar sale), and it’s pretty easy to get in and out in a few minutes. I don’t shop anything else at those stores at all (really,¬†only produce and meat), but it saves a bundle and is well worth the extra trip at least every other week for our family!

 

(FYI – I don’t typically buy meat at Aldi, because I have the option of Fresh Thyme. I’ve heard people say they’ve been very pleased with it, but I love my Fresh Thyme meat and poultry and you just can’t beat the prices!)

 

4. Shop loss leaders.

I’ll detail this week’s store trips below, but this week when I shopped Fresh Thyme and Kroger I really watched for “loss leaders” – items that the stores put at such a good price¬†you’ll take the time to go to their store.¬†

 

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5.¬†Don’t be¬†brand specific.

If you need¬†a certain item¬†for a meal this week, buy¬†whichever brand¬†is on sale at the best price per ounce. For example, Del Monte¬†tomatoes were¬†“on sale” for $1.25 this week, but the Kroger brand was just $.73. ¬†From what I can tell, tomatoes are tomatoes (at least when you‚Äôre choosing between Kroger and Del Monte), and there‚Äôs no way my family will have any idea whether I use the Del Monte or Kroger brand in our recipes this week.

 

Now, there are some items which a certain brand really does seem better, but if you can give yourself a little freedom to try out the less expensive item, you might save quite a few pennies each week just for going with the sale item! And, if you really do love your Charmin or Quilted Northern (toilet paper seems to be one of those areas where people love their brands?)  watch Amazon or the drug stores for a really good deal.

 

Here’s one other example ~ in this trip I needed laundry detergent. Tide was on sale for $4.99 for a small bottle, or the HUGE bottle of Purex with Oxi was $5.99. I’ve been pleased with Purex in the past and it was a MUCH better price per ounce, so well worth it to stock up while it’s on sale!¬†

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6. Don’t trust the grocery store to tell you the best deals.

The grocery stores (and any retailer, really), are notorious for posting signs screaming *SALE* out loud at you just about every look, however often times those sales aren’t really a fantastic price. If you know that boneless, skinless chicken breast priced at $1.99/lb. is a stock up price and that $3.49/lb. isn’t, you’ll be able to skip a not-so-good deal for a stock-up-price deal simply by waiting for a better sale. (And I promise good sales do come around, so when you can, wait for the best price!)

 

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Fresh Thyme had boneless, skinless chicken breast this week for $1.49 per pound. Clearly it was time for me to stock up! Unfortunately, I¬†thought I was also getting a great stock up price on Organic salad mix, but Kroger actually had it for $.75 less per package.¬†I’ll be watching¬†that a wee bit more closely in the future.

 

7. Watch for easy coupon & savings deals at your regular grocery store (in my case, Kroger.)

Even though¬†we’ve got plenty of¬†toothpaste, I knew Colgate was on sale and there was a $.50 off Kroger ecoupon.¬†That coupon ended up making it $.50 per tube, which is my stock up price so I grabbed a tube while I was there.

I also picked up orange juice even though we have a bottle in the fridge, because it was $1.49 after the Kroger Mega Sale which is a great price. And I was thrilled to score 2 bottles of Herbal Essences for $.50 each after the Kroger $3/2 Kroger ecoupon – all I had to do was load it to my phone while I shopped.

 

Just taking a few extra minutes to quickly watch for easy deals helped me stock up on things we’ll need all month long.

 

***BONUS TIP.***

Each week there are basic groceries that we need, but we don’t have to buy everything in the store.¬†This week I picked¬†up laundry detergent, conditioner, chicken and toothpaste because they were well within my stock up price.

 

Last month¬†I stocked up on string cheese, peanut butter, cereal, oatmeal, bread and beef when they were on sale, so I won’t likely need those this month. (Except bread ~ we have enough for this week but not tons, thankfully there¬†are some rebates¬†though for free bread right now!) ūüôā

 

So each week I don’t have to buy everything because I know my stock up prices well enough that I can stock up when I can easily get a deal ~ and it makes shopping so much easier!¬†If you’re completely new to menu planning and shopping based on the sales this may take a few weeks to get the hang of, but I promise it’s so worth it.

 

WHEW. 

 

(Are you overwhelmed yet?) ūüôā

 

Okay, so here’s the low-down-nitty-gritty of how much I really spent at Fresh Thyme and Kroger . . .¬†

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Fresh Thyme

  • Bought 2.67¬†pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast at $1.49/lb = $3.92
  • Bought 2.13 pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast at $1.49/lb = $3.13
  • Bought 5 pounds red potatoes $1.99
  • Bought green onions $.49
  • Bought 3 pound bag green apples $3.99
  • Bought 3 yellow and orange bell peppers $.88 each = $2.64
  • Bought 4 containers strawberries 2/$3 = $6
  • Bought 2 containers organic salad blend 2/$5 (price was $1.88 at Kroger – I hate that!) ūüôā
  • Bought 4.86 pounds bananas $.55/lb. = $2.67
  • TOTAL = $30.71, saved $23. 25

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Kroger

  • Bought 1 organic whole chicken $8.71 (this was $1.59/lb and a little more than I like to spend, but the best price I could find this week)
  • Kroger Tomatoes $.73
  • 1 1/2 dozen eggs $3.19
  • Kroger Cornmeal $1.97
  • Kroger Sausage $2.50
  • Kroger Pizza Sauce $1.39
  • Kroger Shredded Cheese $2.69
  • Celery $1.99
  • Tropicana $1.49¬†after Mega Sale
  • Fresh Broccoli $1.41
  • Colgate Toothpaste $1, used $.50/1 Kroger e coupon = $.50
  • Kroger Honey Mustard $1.29
  • 2 Herbal Essences Conditioner $1.49¬†after Mega Sale, used $3/2 Kroger e coupon = $.50
  • 1 Purex Laundry Detergent $4.99 after Mega Sale
  • 3 gallons Kroger milk $2.19
  • Kroger Half & Half $1.29
  • Mission Tortillas $1.79 (could have used $.50/1 Mission Tortilla coupon if I’d had it!)
  • Bought Lay’s Chips (for my husband – sorry guys) $2.99 after Mega Sale
  • Bought 4 Armour Lunchables $1 each (keeping it real guys – my kids do some days take lunchables when we’re in a hurry!)
  • TOTAL = $55.03 + $.70 in tax = $55.73, saved $19.84

 

TOTAL FOR BOTH TRIPS = $86.44

 

After getting home I realized I *may* need to run back to the store for extra fruit cups for lunches and eggs ~ I should have checked on those before I left.¬†I’ll probably swing by Aldi for those if I happen to be driving by, and should be able to stock up¬†for less than $10, staying well under my $100 budget.

 

SUCCESS! ūüôā¬†

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve really tracked my grocery spending, so I was curious if I really still had $100 or less still in me. I am¬†thrilled to see we can still easily stick to this budget (and could save even more if I took more time to coupon.)¬†I’ll be sharing our weekly trips this month so you can seehow it really works, and would love for you to join in!

 

If you have questions about how to really change your grocery budget, I would love for you to share those ~ honestly, I love sharing all kinds of deals here on Passionate Penny Pincher, but my number one place that I love teaching folks ways to save is on their grocery budgets. 

 

As I’ve said (a jillion?) times before, there is¬†no other area in your family’s finances that you can so easily control, so choosing to really change your grocery budget in 2016 really can transform your family’s financial future.¬†

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Are you ready to join me?¬†Let’s get started! ūüôā

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Looking for more ways to save on your grocery budget in 2016? Here you go:

Would you like FREE daily email updates of saving and an email sent out to you with more tips each week during this series? Go HERE to subscribe, and I’d love for you to leave a comment to share your thoughts on grocery shopping on a budget¬†– I love hearing from you!¬†

 

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2 Ways We Battle Technology at Our House (& Why Our Kids Keep Their Phone Chargers In The Kitchen)

why our kids (1)

 

I have struggled to share much about what we do to combat the technology wars (because I know all parents have different views on this one!), but several years ago a friend of mine gave me the. best. advice for managing technology for our kids at home and I am so thankful.

 

So I decided it was time to share. ūüôā¬†

 

Our kids are 15, 12, and 8, and for Christmas my middle one got her first iPhone. (We so scored a decent deal ~ she got a refurbished iPhone 4 on Amazon for $59, which so far has been the perfect choice.)

 

The problem is, our 15 year old son has gotten my phone used iPhones when I¬†was ready for a¬†upgrade, so there was no way we could purchase a brand new spankin’ phone for her (nor did we want to pay full price!) However, since we don’t have a home phone she really did need a way to get in touch with us some times, and sticking to iPhones is just easier for our family.

 

But.

 

With those iPhones come a¬†lot of things we don’t love.¬†

 

I don’t love that they have full access to everything. (We’ve set up monitors for that, but they’re smarter than me so I’m pretty sure they can see whatever they want if they really¬†try.)

 

I don’t love that it makes it so much easier to access social media, and feel “less than” someone else at times. (This one just is so hard ~ while there are so many things¬†that I really do like about social media, this one hurts!)

 

And I don’t love that so often they become more interested in their phone than our family.

 

Ahem. Often times I don’t like that I become more interested in my phone than our family. yikes.¬†

 

But there are two simple things we’ve done that have at least limited some of the battles, and I’m so glad we started out this way. Ready?¬†

 

Here we go.

 

NUMBER 1

Our kids don’t have televisions in their rooms.¬†

 

They¬†just don’t.

 

In fact,¬†for 18 years we only had one television for our family of 5, which (for the most part) was just fine. Since moving and having¬†a basement in our new home we did add one TV¬†there, but it doesn’t get used all that often (and my kids choose to hang out in our main living area if they can.) By limiting the television sets in our home, our kids just naturally kind of hang out in our main living area.

 

As they’re getting older and have friends over, I do¬†love that we at least have the option of having the basement for them to hang out where we can still keep an eye on things but they are little more separate from the rest of the family. And for the record, I grew up with cable TV in my room way back in the 90’s, and I watched WAY TOO MUCH TV (all day and night long), and hid out in my room away from our family pretty much as often as I could. Because of that I’m glad we made this choice¬†from day 1 ~ it’s just been a better choice for our family (although I know all families are different!)

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NUMBER 2

THIS IS HUGE.

 

Seriously, HUGE. 

 

****OUR KIDS MUST KEEP THEIR CELL PHONE CHARGERS IN THE KITCHEN. ****

 

Always.

 

Which¬†works¬†perfectly¬†because since their phones are slightly used, their battery life doesn’t last all that long.

 

Secretly? I love that. ūüôā

 

So, why does that even matter you may be asking? 

  • Their phones have to be in the kitchen when they go to bed, or they won’t be charged¬†the next day.¬†This means the temptation to stay up all night texting friends or searching the internet is just gone.¬†Done.
  • They don’t spend hours in their rooms unsupervised with their phones.¬†Now, I’m not gonna lie, my kids are on their phones more than I want them to be¬†(mostly playing games), but I’m usually within 10 feet of them while they play. This means they aren’t watching videos that I don’t know about, and if they’re scrolling through Instagram I can usually check what they’re looking at over their shoulder.

 

Now, I know better than to think that they don’t have plenty of time to look up whatever when I’m not watching, but at least when they’re in our home I have a good idea of what’s going on.

 

And, after spending the last 6 years in the world of social media I warn my kids a lot about the dangers of the internet.

 

Before blogging, I had no idea that every single thing you do on the internet is being monitored in some form or fashion. 

 

I tell my kids ALL. THE. TIME. that Google knows exactly what they’re doing, and there’s no way to hide if they’ve been doing something they’re not supposed to do.

 

If all else fails, my kids have a healthy fear of the internet (and people watching them) which really does help at least for now.

 

The truth is, I know there are still tons of opportunities for them to mess up, but these are a few things that at least help limit what they look at online a bit. 

 

It is hard raising kids in a culture when there is just so much out there. But I have a 15 year old who will be off in college way too soon and we’re working so hard to teach him some boundaries here before he’s out on his own.¬†

 

There is SO MUCH OUT THERE and it is so hard when they feel like “everyone else in the world” has full access to everything.¬†

 

I can’t fix that at all, but these few things at least help a little.

 

If you have other suggestions on things that have helped limit technology in your home I’d love to hear them ~ and goodness, surely we’ll all survive raising kids in such a different world than we grew up in!¬†

 

Thank you Lana for the advice way back when to have kids keep chargers in the kitchen – I’m so glad we started out that way ~ it really does help!

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50 Best Items to Pack in an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

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UPDATE: my friend Cydil is a missionary in Albania and delivered boxes there last year. Take a minute to see pictures of kids in her community opening boxes last year (I love this!) Also, I spoke with my contact at Operation Christmas Child and they said candy IS allowed in American boxes, however Canadian boxes are now allowing candy this year (they ship to different countries and some of the countries who receive Canadian boxes will not accept candy.) Hope that helps!

 

 

I’m so excited because we just filled our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!¬†This is one of those ministries that’s just near and dear to our hearts, and I love that it allows my kids to help learn about ways to bless kids in other parts of the world.

Like I shared in the video, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch some of the Operation Christmas Child videos both on your own and with your kids.¬†It will give you an idea of who you’re serving, and get you a wee bit more excited¬†for¬†the children who receive your boxes this Christmas.

A huge (huge, HUGE!) thanks to Hobby Lobby for sending us a $100 Hobby Lobby Gift card to fill our boxes with. We were able to fill 8 boxes with t-shirts, flip flops, bandanas, craft kits, yarn and so much more thanks to their generosity.

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Curious what to pack in an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox for  younger kids? Here you go . . .

  1. crayons
  2. coloring books
  3. flip flops
  4. t-shirts
  5. ball
  6. bar soap
  7. bracelet
  8. bandana
  9. pencils & pens
  10. pencil sharpener
  11. duct tape
  12. travel size games – checkers
  13. deck of cards
  14. hacky sack
  15. harmonica
  16. yo yo
  17. hat
  18. glue sticks
  19. scissors
  20. small stuffed animal
  21. pom poms
  22. glitter
  23. small crafting kit
  24. post it notes
  25. highlighters
  26. small notebook
  27. chalk
  28. watercolor paint sets
  29. play doh
  30. small etch a sketch
  31. socks
  32. back pack
  33. plastic cup
  34. straws
  35. scarf
  36. jump rope
  37. glowsticks
  38. leftover halloween candy that’s not chocolate (be sure to place in plastic bags)
  39. matchbox cars
  40. finger puppets
  41. silly putty
  42. toothbrush
  43. toothpaste
  44. washcloth
  45. wet wipe
  46. travel pack of tissues
  47. lip gloss
  48. hair ties
  49. band aids
  50. hair brush

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For Older Boys:

  • Tools ‚Ästhammer, screwdriver, wrench or pliers, duct tape, measuring tape
  • Fishing supplies ‚Ästadd in a small fishing kit, fishing line, hooks
  • Binoculars
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Plastic Magnifying Glass
  • Watch
  • Handkerchief
  • Collapsible water bottle
  • Harmonica

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For Older Girls:

  • Small sewing kit
  • Clip on earrings
  • Bracelets
  • Barettes
  • Coin purse
  • Sticky notes
  • Watercolor paint set
  • Yarn
  • Colored Sharpies, highlighters or markers
  • A friendship bracelet with extra string so they can make more
  • Ink pad and stamp set

Also, here are a few ideas that Operation Christmas Child shared on their site as far as suggestions for all ages (as well as some items not to include):

  • TOYS: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.
  • SCHOOL SUPPLIES: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
  • NON-LIQUID HYGIENE ITEMS: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.
  • ACCESSORIES: t-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.
  • A PERSONAL NOTE: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may be able to write back.
  • DO NOT INCLUDE: Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

 

National Collection Week for Shoeboxes this year is November 16-23, and if you‚Äôre not sure where to drop off a box in your area you can go HERE to find a local collection site.¬†They do ask that you also give a donation of $7 per box to cover the cost of shipping ‚Äď learn more about that over HERE and donate online as well.

 

Additional tips that may help:

  • Pack toothpaste and soap in a plastic bag to keep the scent from taking over the whole box and so that nothing leaks.
  • Remove packaging from your items so that you allow for more room in your box and so that they don’t have much trash to throw away.
  • Don’t send anything that has directions/writing in English (i.e. toys with instructions, games that require kids to read English.)¬†Since these boxes go to non-English speaking country it’s worth only including things that are understood internationally.
  • Read more great tips and suggestions from a missionary in the field over HERE.
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Thank You.

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I’m sharing this over on the PPP Facebook page later tonight, but wanted to share it here too. I have to say, YOU – the ones who read PPP directly and don’t only hop over from Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest – the ones who take the time to read PPP¬†directly are oh-so-special to me because I know you come just to check in, and that means just the world to me. Thanks so much for reading PPP!¬†

 

Y’all, can I just say THANK YOU???? ūüôā
 
Yesterday I was looking around the PPP main site. It looked okay, and I felt like the deals were great deals, but I was afraid that maybe I just wasn’t doing it well enough. I worried that I really just wasn’t doing an awesome job of this crazy blogging business.

 

Again when I sat down to work this afternoon (after a busy morning at Bible Study and lunch out thanks to some wonderful help to keep things running here!) I just thought to myself there was no way people would keep on reading this stuff.

 

But out of the blue two sweet readers took time to say they liked PPP within 20 minutes of each other. And it just kind of gave me the courage to feel like maybe what we do here helps somebody out. (I know, I know, with a few hundred thousand folks hanging out you’d think I’d figure a few people would stick around, but I’m the kind of girl who’s shocked every single day that y’all hang out here ever at all!)

 

Anyways, in a world where all too often I see mean comments, snarky reactions, and just plain ole’ hateful attitudes some days, those sweet comments meant the world to me.

 

I’m so thankful for you. (Yes, YOU.) YOU¬†make my job SO. MUCH. FUN. and I wouldn’t be here typing each day if you didn’t take the time to swing by.

 

Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing your kind words. And thanks for giving value to a kinda crazy passionately penny pinching girl who loves to save a buck. You guys mean oodles to me! ūüôā

 

{WHEW! Sure didn’t expect that sermon tonight – but there you have it. Thanks for listening to a little random rambling today!} ūüôā

 

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See What $395 of Donated Groceries Looks Like!

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Note from Laurie: I love (LOVE!!!) all that Shannon was able to do to bless the people at 305 8th Street Group Home in Hunstville, Alabama! If you’re able, consider finding a group home, homeless shelter, or food bank in your area where you can donate an item or two this week. With over 1 million people visiting PPP each month, we really can make such an incredible difference! This really is the heart behind why PPP was started almost 6 years ago, and I love to think of the power we as couponers have to impact our community. Crazy blessed!

I am so excited to share this with you all!  Back in April I went to 305 8th Street Group Home to drop off some donations.  They handed me a Publix gift card for $188 that Publix donated to them, and asked if I could stretch it for items they were in need of.  What an awesome company to help the people in their community!

They knew that I‚Äôm totally a let‚Äôs-see-how-much-I-can-stretch-the-$188-gift-card-for kinda gal, but the items that 305 needed aren’t items that typically¬†have coupons. ¬†They¬†do go on sale Buy One Get One free frequently at Publix,¬†so throughout the past 5 months I’ve been buying items when they were on sale. ¬†I ended up getting $395 worth of groceries for the $188 gift card!

This will help 305 8th Street¬†so much.¬† So many group homes nationwide run on a shoestring budget. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but imagine if your family took a night off of eating out, ate sandwiches instead, and went shopping to grab a ton of items for those who are in need. ¬†Isn‚Äôt it amazing to think what just one meal out could do?!

 

After shopping, your whole family (kids included!) could swing by to drop the donations off.  It really could be life changing not only for you but also for your children as they see how they’re able to give.

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Whenever we teach coupon classes, Laurie and I always share that donating is the real reason we drive ourselves a wee bit nuts to share deals with you each day and get a few deals ourselves.  It would be so much easier just to swing by the store, get what we need and pay full price, but because we pinch a few pennies each week we’re able to give to those in need.

If you live in North Alabama area,¬†like¬†the¬†305 8th Street Facebook page to see their needs each week. ¬†And if you have time to swing by, you can’t help but to fall in love with the residents. ¬†They’re always willing to help bring in the grocery items out of your car, and¬†love talking college football. Such a wonderful ministry and a wonderful way to bless those nearby!

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How To Really Change Your Grocery Budget

how to really change (1)

 

I posted this several¬†years ago, but¬†goodness they’re such good reminders and still work for us!¬†¬†I have to confess that as I‚Äôve gotten busier I have occasionally purchased (*gasp*) pre-packaged snacks, but this morning I was in the kitchen filling up my Dollar Tree containers for the kids. (And our grocery budget¬†has gone up to $80-$90¬†per week as our kids have gotten older and I don’t have quite as much time to coupon.) I’d love to hear what other tips you all have for living frugally, beyond just clipping those coupons.

 

I‚Äôve had friends ask me how I keep our grocery budget between $40 and $50 weekly (we have a family of 5, and this includes all toiletries, diapers, paper products, etc.) First, I think I‚Äôm a little genetically predisposed to living frugally. If you visit my Dad‚Äôs house he‚Äôll probably tell you to use only half of the 2-ply toiletpaper ‚Äď I think he‚Äôs kidding but I‚Äôm not completely sure!

 

Also, my husband provides very well for our family so that I can stay home with our kids, and I hate to see his hard earned money wasted on consumable groceries that don‚Äôt last.¬† So I work really hard to spend as little as I can on groceries, because I‚Äôd rather have money to do the things we really enjoy, like giving, fun things¬†for our home, and vacationing (we love that one!)¬† Here are a few things that I’ve found work to pinch a few extra pennies in our home.

 

1. Constantly try to think of ways to use less.

We rarely use paper napkins (I have a huge stash of cloth ones) and we use rags instead of paper towels as often as we can (my hubby used to hate this one, but he’s finally come to a place where he sees the value in saving on these!)

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The dishwasher doesn’t run until it’s completely stuffed (saving on dishwasher detergent, water and energy), and I use half a dryer sheet instead of a full one or a very small amount liquid softener (even that‚Äôs a luxury, when I‚Äôm being really cheap I just¬†use vinegar!)¬† It’s rare that I¬†even¬†use disinfectant wipes to clean because they‚Äôre just too expensive, instead I buy cleaners at a really good price (less than $.50-$1 per bottle) along with good ole‚Äô fashioned rags.¬† I also try to use grocery sacks (the plastic ones) as often as I can for trash bags so that I use fewer garbage bags (I can never seem to find a good garbage bag deal!)



2. When it comes to snack foods, skip the snack-sized bags.

 

My kids have to take a snack to school each day, so I usually stock up on the very cheapest snacks I can find (they’re getting a little tired of Chex Mix, but it’s just so stinkin’ cheap!) and pack it in small plastic containers that I found at the Dollar Tree so I don’t waste Ziploc bags. I also sometimes bake homemade muffins or snack mixes and they have those for snacks.

 

My kids don’t get often get juice boxes or water bottles, instead they get plain old tap water in re-usable plastic bottles. (I did pick up some of the BPA free ones in the fall, so I feel a little less anxious about that whole plastic thing!) We really do stick to milk and water in our house and very occasionally orange juice when I find a great deal on it.

 

3. Stock up on meat when you see a good price on it.

When I find chicken breast or ground beef for less than $1.99/lb., I buy as much of it as my grocery budget can afford.  I also stock up on any basic pantry items when they’re really cheap, such as pasta, canned goods, frozen veggies, and frozen bread.

 

If I have leftovers of meat that won’t get eaten, it gets frozen to re-use in another meal. It really does hurt me to see food wasted, so I constantly think of ways to eat up everything we cook (another one that my hubby doesn’t always enjoy, but he’s willing to sacrifice to reach our long term savings goals!)

 

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***BONUS TIP***
Make a menu plan and grocery list. (I use Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plan and grocery list this week and *LOVED* it. 

While I’ve always made a menu plan and grocery list, using Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plan is new to me but I love it.¬†After one week I’m hooked and¬†highly encourage you to try it out. (Her special sale ends tonight and is $10.50 for a 3 month subscription – hurry before it’s gone if you think it will help!)

Normally I make my own menu plan which takes a solid 30-45 minutes, so I love that she does all the work for us. (Especially for $3.50¬†per month or $.87 per week –¬†well worth $.87 to save myself 45 minutes of time!)

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I chose the Whole Foods Menu Plan¬†because we’re working on a healthier 2016, and the list was pretty simple to follow. (I loved that you got all three menu plan options though for one price!)

 

I sometimes worry that my kids will have way too much to talk to their therapist about after growing up with this penny pinchin’ mama, but every once in a while I see glimpses of penny pinchin’ even in them. They love it when I come home with a new fun freebie (the free Nesquik was a big hit last week!), and they’re always excited to sample something new when I find a coupon on an item we haven’t tried yet.

 

I really hope to teach them that we don’t always need everything all the other kids have, even when we sometimes could afford it if we chose to. And along the way maybe they’ll learn that we’re called to use wisely what God gives us, and to share with others, hopefully creating lasting, meaningful joy (you can’t get that in a juice box, even though my 2 year old would disagree!)

¬†aldisamscostcoDownload the Ultimate Aldi, Costco & Sam’s Club Price Comparison Sheet to easily compare prices before heading out to the store.¬†

 

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Looking for more ways to save on your grocery budget in 2016? Here you go:

These are a few things that work for our family, but I know they won‚Äôt¬†work for everyone.¬† I also know that a lot of you do way more than this to save money ‚Äď do you have other penny pinching tips that help your family?¬† I‚Äôd love to hear them ~ leave a comment to share!¬†

 

 

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