Menu Plan Monday – April 6, 2014 – Saving Without Clipping

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

 

Breakfasts:

  1. Cereal
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs, toast, fruit
  4. Zucchini Bread Muffins
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Eggs, hash-browns, toast, fruit, meat

Lunch:

  1. Eat Out
  2. Pizza, pepperoni and ground chicken
  3. Chinese Style BBQ Pork, rice, beets
  4. Caribbean Pork Chops with Mango Salsa, side salad
  5. Eat out (with gift card)
  6. Sweet-n-tangy Roasted Pork Tenderloin, carrot salad
  7. Spaghetti and Meatballs

Supper:

  1. Russian pancakes, scrambled eggs, grilled salami
  2. Domino’s Pizza (using rewards code)
  3. Tangy Black Bean Soup, corn bread
  4. Curried chickpeas, rice
  5. Grilled Peaches and Pork, side salad
  6. Veggie and Cilantro Hummus Sandwiches, chips
  7. Tomato soup, peanut butter and honey sandwiches

 Tangy Black Bean Soup in bowl

A few years back you would have found me shopping with a coupon binder full of coupons.  It was so full I ran out of room to add more baseball card holder sheets, which is how I organized my coupons.  I was often able to save about 50% at the grocery store.  This was also a time when I was working outside the home, which allowed me a lunch hour to sort the coupons.  It was also pre-kids and in a different location than we live now.

I think I have mentioned before how I don’t coupon now like I did previously.  For one, I don’t work outside the home and therefore don’t drive past as many stores.  I have to make trips just to go shopping, or convince my husband to stop after church.  While that may make sense gas wise, we end up spending more.  My #1 savings strategy is to not take my husband along.  I found it just works better for us that way.  So, unless I need milk or something quick so he can stay in the car with the kids, I don’t like going after church.

Secondly, we no longer live in a major metropolitan areas, so the choice of stores is limited.  We have one store in Small Town, though 8 or 9 in Big Town or Other Big Town if I want to drive 30-40 minutes. There is also another store In The Country if I want to drive 20 minutes in the other direction from either of the Big Towns.

One of the biggest factors to me not couponing as much as I used to is that the coupons just are as good.  The values are lower, the cost of a newspaper is higher, and there number of coupons are greatly reduced in this area compared to where we used to live.

So what have I done to help keep the cost of our grocery spending down?  I have begun using different methods.  While my coupons do not look like they used to, I still use them.  One of the ways is to get money back for buying a product.  Rather than saving on the front end (at the cash register) I am saving on the back end of the purchase (after it has been completed).

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www.ibotta.com

Ibotta was the first grocery savings app I used when we switched phones a new months ago.  I do not have time for “complicated” and this app fit the bill as far as my needs.  Each week they list various offers for stores near you.  You purchase the product, do the required activities on Ibotta (takes less than a minute), then submit a copy of your receipt (take a picture with your phone).  Usually within 24 hours Ibotta will process your receipt and the appropriate funds will be added to your account.  When you reach $5 or $10 you can redeem for cash or a gift card.  A very simple process that requires no cutting or sorting.

The process to reach $10 (my goal) was a bit faster than I thought it would be.  We don’t use a lot of processed foods.  Okay, the photo below does not help sustain that statement.  I guess it should be more like “We don’t use as many processed foods as we used to use.”  For this reason I didn’t think the total would add up that quickly.  Even using one or two offers a week, I reached and surpassed my goal in two months.

You are able to combines sales, manufactures coupons and the Ibotta rebate.  I look at the offers before going to the store, see if there are any that line up with what I am buying, then check again for any that may make an item a good deal.  Using this method I have been able to redeem rebates for:

  • milk
  • bread
  • eggs
  • coconut milk
  • almond milk
  • gummy, fruit flavored snacks – the kids loved this one
  • body wash
  • cereal
  • two local restaurants
  • frozen fruit juice

I love the variety of categories and the selection which updates weekly.  The one downside is that each rebate can be submitted only once per week.

small town reduced price grocery shopping

Another way I save money is by shopping lower priced grocery stores or clearance sections at our regular stores.  I was able to find 10 lbs of dried black bean yesterday for $.50 a pound at GFS.  This is the second time I have done so.  This time however I will NOT be cooking up all 10 lbs at once.  That is a lot of beans to have in the freezer.  🙂  You  never know what you will find, so a quick walk-past may well be worth the time.

This past week I even found several great deals at the Small Town grocery in their reduced section. The photo above shows my shopping trip.  Turns out my husband likes the $.20 bag of chips I picked up … though he may never get to eat them again.  That is one of the downfalls of shopping this way.

I was also able to find breakfast shakes to go, 4 for $1.20.  These will be great for when the kids and I have to leave early, need a snack to take along, or are just short on time.  I also found:

  • laundry detergent gel pack ($.05 per load)
  • snack mix ($.50/bag)
  • un-iced Pop-tarts to send for snacks at school ($.30/box) – I was actually needing a snack to send with my kid anyway so this worked out nicely.  I don’t think I have bought Pop-tarts since …. yeah, my one kid didn’t even know what they were.  Very unlike how I grew up.
  • salad dressing ($.35/bottle)
  • peppermint cappuccino coffee mix ($.50)
  • lotion ($0.50) – this will be used as part of a gift.
  • reduced bread ($.70/loaf) – I made these into cinnamon bread for future breakfasts.

While these items may not be “must-haves” on our list, they do make life a bit more enjoyable.  Being frugal is not about self-sacrifice, but about saving money while you enjoy life.  I would not pay $4 for the coffee mix, but will greatly enjoy knowing that it will cost me less than $.10 for a cup one evening.

In all my “extras” cost just less than $15 extra to my shopping trip.  As I was already below what I had meant to spend this amount was within my spending goal.

pantry restock shopping trip

This particular trip above shows results from two different scratch-n-dent or salvage grocery stores at the beginning of last month. I have learned which items from these stores I like and which I avoid, due to “best by dates” or packaging mishaps.

  • I LOVE the Nescafe Momentos and don’t care if they are past their “best by date” a bit or the corner of the box is dented – it is coffee after all.  In the store these cost about $6 a box.  At a coffee shop, these would be $3 or $4 a cup.  I am able to get them for just under $2 at these stores ($.25 per cup), and buy all theyhave when I happen upon them.  You never know if they will be there the next time you go.
  • The bread in the picture is Pepperidge Farm, but only cost me $1.09 per loaf as opposed to $3.xx at Small Town grocery store.
  • The shelf stable Organic milk was $.25 per carton, verses $1 each.
  • The salad dressing is one thing I have to really pay attention to as far as dates.  It is easy to forget to look, as the dressings look fine for quite some time.  These can be found for $.50-$.75 per bottle.  Not a huge savings over some sales you may be able to catch.  I can’t always get to those sales, so this gives me a way to stock up between times.
  • The Pull-ups are one item that I am sure are always past their “best by date”.  I haven’t noticed any changes in them, though diapers may loose some of their stickiness on the tabs over time.  It has not been an issue if I don’t try to undo and redo the tabs or sides.

My husband loves that I find new “favorites” for us at a lower price, but doesn’t like that I can’t always be consistent in finding them here.  I tell him that he needs to learn to be patient, as well as enjoy what he has right now and learn to deal with disappointment when it comes.  He does not enjoy my “encouragement” at those times.  🙂

 

Linked up with OrgJunkie.

For more ideas also check out This Week For Dinner.

Also check out Confessions of a Homeschooler’s  April’s Monthly Meal Plan.

This post contains affiliate links.

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