Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saving Some Money!

Hello everyone!

We are trying to save money on groceries.  We really hadn't been trying that hard.  We got really excited about all these new recipes we wanted to make and didn't really coordinate things to use the items we already had in the house nor did we limit our expensive ingredients.  Bad.  We recently made the gluten free switch so that was hard on our wallets as well.  We rid our house of all the gluten containing pasta, breads, snacks, flours, sauces, and other random food items as well as things like our knives, toaster and collander.  Thankfully a lot of those items are items you only have to buy once or once in a while!  However, they still made a decent dent in our grocery budget and I am trying to crack down on the bill!  I am not notoriously great at saving money at the grocery.  I have a hard time finding sales and coupons that coordinate and that I can use.  I also don't have the time or desire to go all over the place in order to get a sale and Kroger does not price match, which is annoying!  I am doing better though.  Our weekly bill this week was half of what it had been and that made me really happy because cutting it in half was my goal but I didn't think it would happen so soon.  I thought I would have a more difficult time but we will see whether it was just a fluke when I go to the store next week! ;-)

Again, I am not the go-to gal on coupons and saving money but here are a few tips you can hopefully use for saving money all around as well as at the grocery!  First of all, cut the cable or satellite.  It isn't necessary at all and now that things like Hulu, Netflix and Redbox exist it is easy to save money and still enjoy your movies or shows.  You could also trade movies with friends instead of buying more yourself and then trade back when you are done.  This has worked for us on many occasions!  We have recently traded entire TV show collections!  If you feel you simply must have cable or satellite then stay on the phone until you get a great price!  It works!  If one representative just won't budge then ask to speak to a supervisor or call back.  Usually you don't get the same person twice! 

Make your own laundry detergent!  This is a double money saver for us because we have extremely hard water and this detergent works so well that we don't have to use fabric softener!  It's also gentle enough to use for babies and people with sensitive skin! 

Cut your cell phone service back to the lowest minute plan and try to stick to it.  You may be surprised how well you do with this if you try!  We don't pay for texting either.  We can receive them but we don't pay to send them ourselves.  It is not something that is necessary for us! 

When you go out to eat, get water for your drink.  You will be healthier and save up to 3.99 a person!  That can add up!  My husband and I often share an entree at restaurants where the servings are double huge, Cheesecake Factory for instance!  If we get dessert, we split that as well.  You can also sign up to receive emails and coupons from most major restaurant chains.  They will send coupons for your birthday and anniversary.  We usually get a free appetizer with entree purchase, free dessert, or a percent off coupon.

At the grocery you can save money by taking advantage of sales and using coupons.  I am in awe of the people who seem to come out with extremely low priced or free groceries but I have not been able to get there yet!  You can get coupons online from SmartSource, RedPlum, All You Magazine, and Target.  Search other store websites for coupons before you go shopping and always look at the online ads as well.  You can also get them from the Sunday paper.  When it comes to coupons, I don't find a lot for the foods that we buy anymore.  There just aren't coupons for produce, or at least not that I am finding, and because of this I have actually found the Kroger plus card extremely helpful.  When you use the card, the store sends coupons to your home for the items that you use most or that they think you might use based on the other things that you buy!  This is how I got buy one get one free coconut milk coupons and how I get coupons for other organic and boxed items that we will actually use.  They even send me coupons for produce from time to time which is really helpful!  The other coupon sources listed above may not be helpful for me in terms of food anymore, but I do get household and personal items much cheaper.  If I buy diapers I always get a coupon and there are usually plenty of coupons for things like toilet paper, toothpaste, hair care products, deodorant, razors, soap, dishwashing liquid and other such items.  Some manufacturers have an email list similar to that of the restaurant chains, and they will send you coupons from time to time as well.  If there is an item you really like, check the website to see if they have such a list and if not, consider sending an email to let them know how much you love their product and they might send you samples or a coupon!  One website, Mambo Sprouts, does have coupons for healthier food items.  They will even send you an e-booklet.  Another thing I find helpful for saving money with produce is to take advantage of the sale prices!  If something is on sale.........I stock up and freeze what I won't use before spoiling.  That gives me plenty of fruit for smoothies or baking purposes!  This week at the grocery, bananas and grapes are on sale so I bought more than I would normally use and the rest went in the freezer!  Let's talk about organics!

Organic fruits and vegetables can be more expensive but definitely worth it.  Pesticides and other junk can get through the skin of your fruits and vegetables and even if you wash them, you are still ingesting all that yucky cancer causing stuff.  Blech.  There are some exceptions though!  You can soak your produce in a diluted vinegar mixture which can rid it of most pesticides.  Be careful not to soak too long, I was recently informed that 10 minutes is about all it takes otherwise the vinegar will start leaching things like calcium out of your food.  For example, I can't get organic grapes around here but once in a blue moon so I buy the regular ones and soak them.  This saves me money too because on the occasion organic grapes are available....they are twice the price!  I WILL NOT buy the grapes or other fruits and veggies that are on steroids. I just won't.  You know what I mean.......the grapes that are the size of golf balls and the apples the size of your child's head?  Yeah, those do not enter my house!  They taste terrible and who knows what was added to them to make them that big!?!?  There are some fruits/veggies that are more likely to be contaminated with heavy pesticides and chemicals and they are referred to as the 'dirty dozen!'  You should buy these things organic whenever you can!  If it just isn't possible you need to make sure you soak these in the vinegar mix!  Familiarize yourself with this list!  Write it on an index card and keep it in your purse or diaper bag so that you have it when you go to the store!  Just in case you don't click on the link, here you go:
The Dirty Dozen
Domestic blueberries
Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale and collard greens
Imported grapes
Sometimes it just isn't possible to get these foods organic and I understand that completely!  It is still far better to eat fruits and vegetables, organic or not, than to get some boxed junk with artificial colors, flavors and ingredients and *gasp* high fructose corn syrup! ;-)  The good news is that most of these foods are the same price as the inorganic ones!  Some foods that aren't on the dirty dozen list, like avocados, are the same price organic or not.....so I always go with the organic!  If it's the same price then why not?  A garden is a great money saver for the greens especially!  I hope that all of this helps.  I am sure there are lots of things I have forgotten, but I wanted to get this information to you because it has helped us a lot!  This is just a drop in the bucket of money saving tips, but again..........hopefully it helps!

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