I have taken a new approach to grocery shopping over the past month. Before that I had been using the Grocery Game to help me decide what was a sale and so on and when to stock up on a rock bottom sales price. I had been using coupons from the Sunday paper, in store coupons and had started to dabble in some online coupons.
Over the past couple of weeks I have moved to a different level. I have subscribed to manufacturer's websites in order to receive free coupons. Examples of sites I have subscribed to are Kraft, Kellogg's, Chinet, Procter and Gamble, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury. I have subscribed to other sites that have also helped me such as Surviving the Stores, and Housewife Hacks. Housewife Hacks is a site that is produced by a homemaker who lives in Des Moines, Iowa which is about 1 hour from where I live. I also love Econobusters. Bottom line, I have come up with more sources for coupons and finding the sales at grocery stores.
This week I tracked the actual time it was taking me to clip coupons, search for coupons, organize coupons, make up a list for the three stores I visit, drive time to those stores, shopping at those stores, drive time home, putting the groceries away and then recording my sales in my spreadsheet. What I learned did not surprise me. I spend 1 day in this venture. For many people that would be too much. For me, any money saved is valuable to my family. Clipping, searching, organizing coupons and making up a list is done in the evening when my family is home and I sit at the computer (in the living room) and also at the dining room table. I am surrounded by my family carrying on a conversation and such. We are together in the same area of the house.
I takes me about 7 minutes at the most to drive from my house to the furthest store to shop. I live in a small town so drive time is minimal. I pass the two other grocery stores on my way to Super Wal-mart so there is no zig zagging around.
Grocery shopping at those stores is a day out of the house for me and perhaps would be defined as a social day. I always encounter people I know and that I haven't seen for awhile. Also I have come to know a lot of the people that work at those grocery stores. I don't spend a lot of time talking to people but it is nice to see people that you know, chat for a moment and connect with them.
Then there is the bringing the groceries in the house and storing them. I lift weights twice a week and I consider lugging groceries in the house as helping me stay in shape. Okay - I may be reaching here, but I kind of take pride in lifting those heavy sacks and getting them from the garage, across the back yard, on the back porch and into the house. Also, our black lab is there to greet me hoping that I have bought her dog treats.
Then I have to put those groceries away which can be overwhelming on days when I have found a great deal and stocked up. I have one room in my basement that I use as my stockpiling pantry. I have to lug many of those groceries to the basement. Before I do that I take a marker and write the expiration dates on the labels.
Lastly, I sit down sometime the next day or evening and I enter the results in my spreadsheet.
Okay, this is a lot of work. And while probably my least favorite part of it is spent in the getting ready phase - couponing and such - I love the end result and I love the hunt. Yesterday I encountered an acquaintance from my church at one of the grocery stores. She had coupons out and was looking at the sale on yogurt. The sale was 10 Yoplaits for $2.00 but the store was running an in store coupon for 10 Yoplaits for $1.00 that day. The yogurts were due to expire over the next week or so. She was so excited as she had a lot of coupons for Yoplait and the end result - all of that yogurt was going to be free for her. She told me that she has recently been using coupons and can't believe the money she is saving. We shared a few tips and I felt like I had made a couponing friend. My family does not like yogurt so I told her I would pass on all my yogurt coupons to her. We joked how I could slip her an envelope of coupons at church.
Being a SAHW and SAHM can be isolating so I have come to enjoy my day out. I wouldn't enjoy it if I had young children to take with me to the store though.
I think that this day of prep, shopping, putting away and reporting "feeds" my business woman's soul as I am employing skills that I used in my former job.
Yesterday I reached what I would call my stockpiling pantry limit. I have spent more per week this month due to the deals and now my room in the basement is full of food. My freezer is full also. Now I can "shop" from my pantry and freezer. I have reported in a prior post that in years past the best food deals in our area happen right up to Thanksgiving and then after that they taper off. I know that now is the time to buy and stock up. Any deals of non perishables from now on will have to be really, really great deals in order for me to add anything else to my pantry or those items will be items I will donate.
A sample of deals I got this week are as follows: Tones spices (small containers) were on sale for 50 cents. The lowest I have seen these are 69 cents. I had two coupons that were $1.00 off two; and three coupons that were 35 cents off one. I bought a total of 7 spices and paid a total of 45 cents for all 7. There was an in store coupon for Planter's mixed nuts or cashew nuts - 11 oz. container for 99 cents. Also 8 oz. blocks of cheese were on sale for 99 cents and crackers were on sale for $1.50 and I had coupons for $1.00 off two boxes. Do you sense a theme here? I plan to give away some food gift baskets for Christmas. Crackers and cheese are always a great give away item and so are nuts. Del Monte canned vegetables were on sale for 48 cents per can and I had a coupon for $1.00 off 8 cans. I was also able to buy another turkey for 40 cents a lb. and found room for it in my freezer. This time I got a 15 lb. turkey. There were a lot of other great deals also.
Now my goal is to reap the reward of spending $125 more this month to add to my already stock piled items. I am going to keep track of how long we can live on these stock piled items and only purchase milk, eggs, produce and what is absolutely necessary to get by for as long as we can. I need to set a spending limit per week on this and keep it is as low as possible.
So now the hunt is on with a new goal - making things last. I need to also come up with a goal to see how long I can live on those stockpiled items. How many weeks, months...?
I will post a picture of my pantry room in an upcoming post and will then acknowledge what my goal is for living off of these items.