menu planning and store sales.

 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. vs. 18

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the importance of menu planning and how beneficial it can be for you and/or your family. To see that, check it out here. Well, I recently have been trying to improve the way I do menu planning.

Planning meals is a great way to be organized and save money; however, if you use it to try a lot of new recipes with all of these ingredients that you don’t have/are expensive, then your grocery bill sky rockets..and you wonder: “How did that happen?!”

A couple of days ago, I shared a website with you all about how to find recipes using whatever is already in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. It was called “What’s in your fridge?” This was a challenge to utilize what food you already have and plan your menus around that.

Well, today I want to talk about how to plan your menu based off store sales. This is another money-saving tip with your grocery bill. Before making your menu, get an inventory of what you have in your home, as mentioned before. THEN find out what your local grocery stores have on sale that week. After that, decide what’s for dinner in the upcoming week.

Here are ways to find your local store sales:

1. Store fliers/weekly ads.

These can be found online, in newspapers, or in the store.

Here are the links to find the grocery stores’ fliers  that may be in your area:

Aldi

CVS

Dierbergs

Dollar General

Dominicks

Jewel Osco

Kroger

Meijer

Save-A-Lot

Schnucks

ShopRite

Target

Walgreens

Walmart

2. Sign up for emails through Money Saving Mom

This is a great resource and a little bit more convenient than the first option. Money Saving Mom allows you to go to her store deals link and sign up for any local store sales. Then every week, she will send them to your inbox. It’s that easy!

3. Talk to others. 

If you have friends who are also wanting to stay on a budget, get a system where you each share sales, coupon, etc with each other. My mom calls me frequently just to tell me that blueberries are on sale at one store or pork loins are $1.99 a lb at another store.

What to do next?

Once you know what stores have sales, plan your meals.

For example:

At Kroger this week, Ragu Pasta Sauce is on sale for $1.49. At Aldi, Happy Farms Shredded Cheese is on sale for $1.79.

I already have ground beef, spaghetti noodles, onions, eggs, diced tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper at home.

So I can purchase the sauce and mozzarella cheese on sale and buy cottage cheese regular price (or look online for a coupon).

Then I have all the ingredients I need for Lasagna Casserole from Money Saving Mom.

Also, for lunch, I can plan to eat cottage cheese 2 days that next week and find another recipe where I use mozzarella cheese for another dinner that week.

See how that works? It saves you more money rather than just picking out  a recipe that looks good and having to buy most of the ingredients in that recipe.

Use what you have in your home, shop the sales, AND go to multiple stores. Go where the deals are!

You may say, “Well, doesn’t it use more gas whenever you go to multiple stores?” Yes, but if they are all within just a few minutes within one another, it is more cost effective to shop at different stores (wherever the deals are) rather than stay at one place in fear of using a little bit of gas.

What are ways you are able to save a couple of bucks on your grocery bill? 

Remember: It’s about spending less so you can give/save more.

* This is part of the Somewhat Simple link party.

an introduction to couponing.

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. vs. 20

So I have this friend. She’s probably one of the most hospitable people I know. Whenever I am sick, she brings me a “care package” of vitamins, hot cocoa, soup, etc… She also will randomly bless with me with beauty products. And almost every time I go to say, “thank you,” she lets me know that most of the items she was able to get couponing! And instead of keeping them for her and her hubby, she wants to bless me with them. Gosh, what a friend. So today she is the guest blogger giving us some tips and a simple introduction to couponing. She doesn’t have a blog; however, she will see your feedback through this blog. So give her some love and let her know what you think!


How would you like to start saving money on your grocery bill? Well after the famous TLC show, Extreme Couponing, I decided I would give it a try. I thought that if I could start saving just $50-$100 a month, it would be worth it.  That is a savings of $600-$1,200 a year! Sometimes when we can see the big picture, it makes it more worthwhile. On average, I usually spend about 2 hours a week. However, some weeks I don’t spend much time at all, especially during the holidays. But its up to you how much time you will set aside for this. The more time you put into it it, the more money you will save.

Here are some helpful hints just to get you started:
Where to find them: Start by ordering your Sunday paper. The Southern Illinoisan (for our local region) has a special 20 for $20. If you live in this area, go to their website. Trust me… you will make that dollar up in no time. You can also ask family and friends to save their Sunday coupons for you. Once you have your coupons you can cut the ones you use and put them in a small coupon booklet that you can keep in your purse. You have no idea how many times I am at the store and see something on sale that I have a coupon for! Since I had it with me, I was able to use it. You can also store them is by putting a date on the front of the paper with a marker. There are many websites like Coupon Mom that give helpful tips on couponing.  On her website, all you have to do is go to the store you like, and she will give you a rundown on all the sales with the dates on the coupons for it. Another great resource is Money Saving Mom.

Know Your Stores: Get to know 2-3 different stores and their policies. This will take time and effort, but once you have it down its not that bad. My three stores are Kroger, CVS and Walgreen’s because they are close to home. I also like the drugstores because of their rewards programs. Coupon Mom has a Drugstore video that explains how to save at these stores. Kroger also has what they call “manager’s specials”. These are items that have been price-reduced. If you don’t know where they are located, just ask a clerk. I usually like to go through the items and see if I have a coupon for it. I have gotten some great deals that way.

 Develop a Stock Pile: Buying items when they are at their lowest price is great. However, when you do this, you often accumulate a lot of stuff. You may be thinking, “I don’t have that kinda space!” Well, I don’t have a big home either, but you don’t have to. All you need is a small space in your pantry and/or your closet where you can store these items. If something is on sale, I try to buy at least six items or more. These items are usually nonparishable items like pasta, can goods, beauty products, etc…. My husbands loves that he can just go in our closet and get toothpaste, body wash or deodorant when he is out. It’s like having a little store in your house. Of course, this will take time to build up, but it will be worth it. 

Expired Coupons: What to do with your expired coupons? Well, you can donate them for military families to use. They are allowed to use expired coupons for up to 1 year after the expiration date on base and at the commissaries abroad. Now you don’t have to throw away an expired coupon. Just go to Coupons to Troops.

 Donate: Once you have been doing couponing for a while, you can donate to a local food pantry, family, or friends. I think the best part about couponing for me is that I get to share with others the blessings God has given me.

-Mayra Miranda McHugh

our first piece of furniture.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. vs. 26

The Mister and I bought our first piece of furniture for the home we will be moving into when we get married. It was an…interesting experience. Fun, yes. But not really like I had imagined it.

First let me start over. He and I have this “vision” of what we want the wedding to look like. Everyone just wearin’  their Sunday best, old looking furniture in the yard, fall leaves on the ground, delicious tasting pie, and lots and lots of boogie. Not booze…boogie. You know, DANCING. Just to be clear.

Anyway, so over the past I don’t know..8 months or so of being engaged we have been on the lookout for furniture that we want to incorporate for the wedding. Well, there’s this new store in Carbondale called Kirkland’s. I kinda thought it was like a Hobby Lobby style place (no offense to the furniture lovers there). I love that store. However, I wanted a little more rustic looking furniture. However, I was wrong about this place called Kirkland’s. They have some stuff we really like!

We agreed not to purchase any furniture for the wedding that we won’t use in our home. Well, we found something we like. Not only thought that, but I also had a Grand Opening $25 off coupon to use. This piece of furniture, at the wedding, is going to be under the big tree that we will be standing under when we say, “I do!” And yes, I WILL be saying it with an exclamation point at the end of my sentence on the big day.

So here it is…

The funny part about this shopping trip was Mister Cook. I kept saying, “Aren’t you excited?! Don’t you love it?” Since he wasn’t giving me the screeching, jumping-up-and-down reaction I wanted, I kept probing him for more. So he decides to start dancing around the store while speaking in a high-pitched girly voice saying phrases like, “I love it! This is SO much fun! This is a great store!”

Ok. I got the point. Later on he preceded to say, “Sarah, just because I love to watch theater shows with you, enjoy dancing with you, and you call me boisterous..does not mean I care about furniture shopping like you do.”

Very valid point, Mister Cook. I must say, I have a great soon-to-be-husband. He’s beyond what I could have ever hoped for. I can’t always expect him to react  in the ways I do. Yes, he was smiling while in the store. He was positive. And he was happy to be there. No, he was not jumping up and down while using the word EXCITED every 3 seconds. And that’s ok. God designed us differently. And I like that.

So needless to say, our first furniture shopping experience was a success. We got a piece for the wedding (which by the way, will be all decked out with flowers coming out of the drawers and such next time you see it), have a nice table for our future first home, and learned a lot about our differences.