Meanwhile…Melissa needs a Mentor

Happy 2009 my fellow blog sisters… I know this is probably an anticlimactic salutation since it is already January 7th and all of us are back in the hectic swing of life. I don’t know about you, but I love a new year and all of the hope that it represents. It’s sort of like a new binder or a new journal. I love blank pages. I even love the smell of blank pages. Well, on our drive from Houston to Atlanta I was full on in my dreamy state thinking of all the lofty things that I want to get right this year…like, I am going to pray WAY more often or I am going to call people rather than text them (already buried that one in the grave). And then it happened…GASP. Colin said to me, “Darling, we need to talk about the budget I have planned for us for 2009.” Budget? And then I opted for the semantic argument which I hoped would stop him dead in his tracks by saying, “What exactly do you mean by that word, budget? Can you exegete that for me?” He ignored my question entirely and later handed me twelve envelopes with labels for January- December 2009. Yep, folks, Mr. Fitzpatrick wants me to gather each of my receipts, no matter how mundane (like a pack of gum from the convenience store), and place them in the month-appropriate envelope. And he is going to review them. Can you imagine? I haven’t been this terrified since I took my SAT’s. Now, don’t get me wrong the two of us don’t spend heaps of money (we simply don’t have heaps of money) but Colin’s point is that we can do better. Apparently a new year is about living more skillfully, more wisely. And so, in light of me being the very submissive wife that I am, I have gotten my heart in gear and I am really trying to jump on my husband’s bandwagon. I even ran out of Nordstrom right after I met my friend for lunch at Nordstrom Café…I kid you not, I was like Joseph fleeing from Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39. One more minute in Nordstrom and I would have been a very fashionable sheep fattened for the slaughter. Sigh. You really should have seen that jacket I passed up. It was oh so fine.

Okay so this is my specific question for you: How can I save money at the grocery store? Obviously I know how to avoid the Mall (though at times it appears to draw near to me) but I am downright lost as to how I can save serious bucks at the grocery store. What do YOU do to save money on groceries? How do you make your food last the longest? Do you have any tips or any secrets to offer me? If your resolution for 2009 was to mentor a fellow-sojourning woman this year, now is your chance. Mentor me. Please? I would have asked my Mom who is normally the ultimate mentor but as it is she avoids the grocery store at all costs.

Are we almost to 2010 yet? I’m exhausted.

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201 Responses to “Meanwhile…Melissa needs a Mentor”

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Comments:

  1. 101
    Vickie says:

    I am a religious coupon cutter. I buy 2 papers every Sunday and I clip coupons from magazines and I also print them on-line. I NEVER shop without my coupon binder (a double 3 ring-binder with sleeves where I file my coupons). I shop where they have BOGO free and I will match their BOGO free with manufacturer coupons and get double savings. Go to moneysavingmom.com. This is a wonderful website. There are others as well.
    Hope this helps!
    God Bless!
    Vickie

  2. 102
    stockdaleE says:

    Melis!! My advice is to ask the Moody SDR… I’m SURE they wouldn’t mind shipping you their leftovers every week–then you wouldn’t even have to go to the grocery store. SICK! Oh Mooody! Miss and love you so much!

  3. 103
    Cheryl says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, but my best time saver and money saver is…when boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale…or even whole chickens, I buy a bunch of it and either bake it all or boil it with celery and onions and poultry seasoning…shred it and freeze it in 1 and 2 cup portions. Then you always have it ready for a King Ranch or a Quesidilla or a chicken salad or chicken and rice casserole, etc. Do the same thing with large batches of ground beef…some of it seasoned with Mexican seasonings or Taco Seasoning, some with onions and garlic, etc and freeze it the same way. Also – because I’m not real pleased with Campbell’s (who also makes Swanson broths) for reasons I won’t go in to here, I refuse to purchase any of their products, so whenever I cook the chicken or get a good beef bone or turkey carcass…I go all out and make wonderful homemade stock. A freezer is really a necessity for us so we can take advantage of sales on bread products, meat…we purchase almost all of our meat at Costco due to quality and price, and then re-package it in to portion sizes to suit us. So – that’s my main suggestions! Cheryl

  4. 104
    valerie says:

    My mom is my mentor. We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up. She seriously could buy a whole chicken or a roast and we'd have several meals from those.

    For the roast..she'd fix the roast for lunch then we'd have it for dinner as roast sandwiches. (there were six in our family) It was the same with a pot of beans. She'd cook the beans & have cornbread & fried potatoes for the first meal and then we'd have soft bean tacos with the leftover beans. Everything she made was always so delicious too.

    🙂 Keep your eyes open for money on the ground. Seriously my husband and I have a contest going to see who finds the most this year. He will win…he's already ahead of me by about .20. Last year he was mowing and ran over a $20 and the bank still took it and gave us the money. 😉

    You can do it!!

  5. 105
    valerie says:

    P.S. sorry, my husband also has a huge garden in the summer and we love the veggies and that helps a ton.

  6. 106
    Ti-Leigh says:

    My husband is the cook in my family. He will generally make the food for the week on Sunday afternoon. We’ve cut down on meat and make lots of beans and soups, then mix them with rice.

  7. 107
    Heather says:

    so here’s what we do…

    pick a theme for 5 nights. here’s ours:

    Mexican
    Italian
    Comfort Food
    Breakfast
    Pizza

    the other two nights are
    leftovers night
    wildcard (eating out/grilled cheese/whatever)

    then plan your menu around those themes and using the sale paper to decide what to buy. it helps when finding receipes and you always have an idea of what is coming. sometimes the hardest part is just deciding what to fix so these themes seem to really help us.

    good luck. oh and i’d so lobby for a once a quarter shopping trip for your reward at grocery saving!

  8. 108
    newmanfamily says:

    Ok, I am not great at this either, especially since I like to cook and try new things. I do better if I plan our menu for the week, write down everything I need, and buy those things. If I go without a menu I just buy random things that stay in pantry forever. Also, the don’t go to the grocery store hungry always rings true. Also, I used to waste a lot buy halfing casserole type recipes when it was just my husband and myself. We have two little ones now but still don’t need a big dish. I will cook half in a 8 by 8 pan then freeze the other half.

  9. 109
    Bob's Wife says:

    Like others, I shop our local BJs with coupons (they let you use more than one). I also stock up on meats at our most expensive market (Giant) which has the best quality, as long as I buy when it’s half price (or close to it). Keep ther freezer stocked. I get my circulars online, and have discovered the “expensive” market has gotten better pricing now that we have a Super Wal-Mart. Good for consumers! Plan a menu by what’s on sale, and have one meal a month of black-eyed peas, corn, and turnip greens. Very inexpensive, very healthy, and helps you get through the end of the month!

  10. 110
    calista says:

    A lot of grocery stores, in my area Kroger, mark their meats down early on Mondays. Any meat that didn’t sell on the weekend, they get out of there. Take a cooler if you have a lot of errands to run. This is where a deep freezer comes in handy. It is usually about 30% off.

  11. 111
    Anonymous says:

    I don’t know if you’ve gotten this tip, but I love thegrocerygame.com, as well as thecouponmaster.com . Good luck!

  12. 112
    Aunt_Nette says:

    ok-so how to save money at the grocery store and and resturants. (even clothes shopping) carry only cash. This is a daring new idea. Plan your menu and buy the store brand names. On average people will spend 12-15% more if they “charge it”, It does not matter if you pay the credit card off every month. By saving 15% or more in groceries and resturants every month, it will make a big dent in your savings and paying off loans. My cousin uses the envelope system for many of his needs. Groceries, entertainment, fuel for his car and eating out. And when the envelope is empty he does not borrow money from another envelope. (That would be cheating). BEST OF LUCK

  13. 113
    Pat says:

    Melissa,
    Here are my tips:
    -use a list.I have one on my computer done in excel, with the items listed by the aisle they are in at the store where I shop most frequently. Then, I just print out the list and put a check by the things I need (I read this is a book somewhere–sorry,can’t remember the name or author to give credit). It keeps me to items I need,plus jogs my memory to check for items I may be running low on (to stay out of the store between trips)
    -use a slow cooker, to use cheaper cuts of meat, plus have the relief of coming home and the meal is ready
    -the women in our Bible study group at church said that during the depression they would add oatmeal to meatloaf, etc to extend the meat to get more servings–plus you have the added health benefit of oatmeal.
    -plus all the other wonderful suggestions listed by the great siestas!

  14. 114
    Carol says:

    Do you have a (your grocery store name) card that gives you discounts on different products each week? Then use it for items that you can use in your menus, or even store if they have a longer shelf life. I save good money regularly that way 🙂

  15. 115
    Pam says:

    Melissa,
    There are a bunch of goog ideas out there, thanks for bringing this up. I have a few things to add.
    1) Shop the perimeter of the store. When you picture the grocery store, the perimeter has most of the things you really need (notice the word need). Produce, meat, usually the dairy, and bakery. Junk food is in the middle.

    2)Coupons are great if you actually eat chewy granola bars, but check the ingredients on any item that has a coupon, it usually is full of stuff you don’t need and probably shouldn’t eat. The coupons are dangling carrots put out by the manufacturer. Just eat a carrot and you’ll be money ahead.

    3)Use rice and beans as staples. A chicken curry sauce over rice is cheap.

    4)When you boil a any vegetable or meat, save the water for broth.
    It makes great sauces.

    5)Read Laurels Kitchen, an old hippy book about the benefits of wholesome cooking and taking care of your family.

    6) Eat Manna. Simplify. AKA If you really want to eat cheap, eat rice and beans with small amounts of meat and lots of veggies and salad for a month straight. You’ll save money and the lack of all those choices will give you time for so many other disciplines.
    7) Pack lunches for you and your husband when you go to work.

  16. 116
    Anonymous says:

    Hey Melissa!
    Tips from a fellow foodie on a very tight budget…

    1. Beans – You can do so much with them, and they’re so nutritious. Soups, salads, bean burgers, beans and rice, etc.

    2. Lentils – CHEAP! very nutritious and versatile. I even have a recipe for lentil spaghetti!

    3. Chicken bouillon cubes instead of canned or boxed broth. So much cheaper.

    4. Go to a Latin or Asian market to buy rice. You can get big bags for MUCH cheaper.

    5. Don’t buy anything pre-made. Make your own stuff from scratch.

    6. Eat oatmeal (the big tub, not the box of ind. wrapped flavors) instead of cereal. It’s cheaper and lasts longer.

    Those are the main things I can think of right now.
    Hope they help!

    Jessica
    Greensboro, NC

  17. 117
    Joy in the Burbs... says:

    Kroger now let’s you download coupons to your Kroger card. Go to Kroger.com and follow the links to do it.
    I use coupons, shop sells, buy in season the fresh stuff. Check the managers special at the end of the meat counter. Always markdowns at Kroger.
    also here is a link to a frugal idea for lunch meat on my blog:
    http://joyintheburbs.blogspot.com/2008/09/blurb-from-burbs-ii.html
    A way to save on electricity:
    http://joyintheburbs.blogspot.com/2008/11/blurb-from-burbs-iii.html

    hope these helps.
    ♥
    Joy

  18. 118
    Nancy from Otis MA says:

    I have gone from cooking for 9 to cooking for 2. It takes getting used to. I have read several of the comments and noticed they talk about the green bags. They are reusable but for how long? I still shop at Costco, so I still buy in bulk. I purchased a Food Saver and package and enough of whatever for a meal and freeze them. Have you seen the vacuum containers. They have a green tint with a small valve on them and come in a set. We were throwing out lettuce because we couldn’t eat it fast enough and after purchasing these, we can keep a head of lettuce for 3 weeks. These containers do not need the purchasing of bags that the Food Saver does or a special machine to create a vacuum. You just close the lid, and push it down several times and the small valve on the lid creates a vacuum. They are also a lot cheaper than the Food Saver. You can get a whole set at Costco for about $30. I know this means spending money to save money but consider it an investment, not a cost. You will like that concept, I am not sure how your husband will handle it.
    Like the other comments, make a list and don’t waiver, EAT OFF THE WALL!!! of the grocery store. Stay away from the processed stuff as much as possible. Don’t buy what you don’t like even if it is on sale. AND ABOVE ALL, DON’T SHOP HUNGRY. I liked the idea of using cash. If you use an ATM card or credit card you spend more than you should.
    I can’t comment of the price of groceries down there, but here in MA it is very high. My husband asked me to get him some apples a couple of weeks ago and the store only had organic in the kind he likes, 4.99 a pound. Yes, he went without.
    You are a great example of the Prov. 31 wife for all of us. Keep up the good attitude.
    Blessings!

  19. 119
    ACR says:

    Melissa, I just discovered an interesting article at yahoo.com/finance called “What supermarkets won’t tell you.” Has great tips!

    Happy Shopping . . . I mean, budgeting 🙁

    Ann
    Bedford, VA

  20. 120
    TRUTHSHARER says:

    Melissa:

    I am writing – after #548 comments – so this will probably never EVER reach you but it looks like you got plenty of advice already. All I want to know is: Who is Colin? Boyfriend, Fiancé? Husband? I’ve been so busy teaching your Mom’s Bible studies that I must have missed something along the way. I don’t have time to read the Blog everyday because I’m commited to writing one of my own but I love to hear what’s new with your family. I see Amanda is having #2. That puts your Mom way behind me for catching up on grandbabies [we are the same age you know]. I’m working on #8 coming this spring. Guess you better do more than clip coupons – that is – if you’re married yet – all in perspective child.
    So let me know who the ‘dude’ is! Thanks for sharing!

    Looking Upward and Choosing JOY,
    Stephanie [from NJ]

  21. 121
    sallyrabe says:

    Melissa, I don’t know if you already got this idea, but a few months ago I joined the “Grocery Game” and have been saving hundreds at the grocery store since then. I don’t know if it is available in your area, I live in Columbus, OH. The first month, you won’t feel like your saving money, because you’ll be stocking up. I spent about $1400.00 the first month, BUT, I saved over $900.00. I have even been able to get some FREE things also, especially toothpaste for some reason. The Grocery Game matches the current sale prices with coupons it knows you have received in your newspaper. The combined savings is astronomical!!!!Just check out their website, http://www.grocerygame.com. Have fun!

  22. 122
    Anonymous says:

    could not remember if I included this website in my post or not!

    http://thepioneerwoman.com/

  23. 123
    Bobbi says:

    Melissa, I really have thought about this topic/posting since it went up. I pitched up my suggestions way back around comment 90. The second comment I made was about looking at the cumulative total you spend on an item over a year and calculating how mcuh you have to work in pre tax dollars and hours to pay for it.

    Since then God has been heavy on my heart about spending (today was a major shop at the gorcery store) and I went hunting for a word from Him. Ecc. 5 is an eye opening chapter on the value of work, money, abundance and stuff. The best underlying principles and perspective for setting a budget you can ever contemplate. Maybe it will help you in Nordstrom’s and the grocery store…it’s helping me.

  24. 124
    Missy says:

    Hang with me here, people who open my cabinets think I’m nuts!
    All my items are labeled in the cabinets, I can open the doors and know exactly what I have and what I need, it saves time making menus and it’s easier for the kids to put the groceries away too!
    Good Luck!

  25. 125
    Susan Murphy says:

    I have four kids and living on a Policemans salary . Let’s see I go to the Dollar tree and get all my paper products. I buy bulk meat and freeze it. I buy frozen veggies too.

    Most important never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach or in my case with any of my kids . Stuff magically finds it self in the basket and I don’t send my Husband to the store cause He comes back with the most expensive stuff or the wrong stuff .

    Have an awesome New Year!

  26. 126
    Teresa says:

    There is a lot of great advise in these comments. One thing that I do is shop at a salvage store in my town. Most towns have something similar that receive the boxes that have been dented and so forth. This saves me a tremendous amount of money. I don’t know if there is one in your area, but it is definitely worth looking into. To avoid going to very many stores, I take my adds to walmart and they match prices, that is helpful too! Happy shopping!

  27. 127
    Shay says:

    Prayer and fasting….it’s even in scripture!! 🙂

  28. 128
    Erin says:

    Melissa,
    Some of my friends and I have started a supper swap. Katy cooks Mondays, I cook Tuesdays and Janna cooks Wednesdays. This works great for us because:

    1. We all have small kids and can’t cook every night (I never cooked before I had children.)

    2. Most recipes make a huge amount – much too much for two people. This way food is not wasted.

    3. We have a mid week chance for fellowship when we are dropping off the meal.

    4. I find cooking much more exciting when I am making food for other grown ups.

    We all feel like we save a bit of money doing this. I would also say, when you eat out, split something with your husband, and even cheaper, get it to go!

    Hope it goes well!

  29. 129
    Jeffrey says:

    Always, always make a menu and then a shopping list from that menu.

    Always, always buy only what is on your shopping list; only deviate if you realize you forgot something for your menu that week that you failed to put on your shopping list.

    I have done this for years and have managed to stay within our budget.

  30. 130
    Anonymous says:

    Some practical advice:
    1. Pray before you enter the store
    I fully believe God will honor
    your desire to respect your
    husband.
    2. Clip coupons~ both in the paper
    and on line. There are lots of
    coupon sites.
    3. MAKE A MENU~ stick to it and
    buy only what you need~ down to
    snacks.
    4. Buy store brands when you can.
    5. Buy in bulk when possible at
    at SAMS, B.J’s, Cosco, etc.
    6. Actually use leftovers~ if you
    cook a ham on Sunday, then use
    the leftovers in a casserole on
    Tues. or for sandwiches.
    7. KNOW you are such an incredibly smart
    woman~ “God is a rich store of
    salvation, knowledge and wisdom”(Isa. 33:6).
    I love your desire to be a Godly
    wife. Melissa, you are an inspiration!! Love ya!

  31. 131
    Pam says:

    And there’s more…

    -Use the library, yes for books, but also for free passes to museums and cultural centers around your area.
    -Check out free internet phone service, don’t know if I can use brand names on the blog but it is something like Sk–e. I’m checking it out.
    -Use the bread machine that you most likely got for your wedding!
    -Don’t buy coffee out unless it is a special coffee outing, buy a thermos cup and take it from home.
    -Get rid of cable TV.
    -Take your long distance service off of your land line and use your cell phone or the free phone I suggested above.
    Oh you’ve really got me thinking about this!! I’m thinking about getting a van down by the river and living off the grid!!!

  32. 132
    Tara says:

    Something that has worked for my husband and me, in addition to buying store brands, sticking only to what’s on my list, and not shopping when I’m hungry, is dividing the monthly food budget into weekly allotments. I don’t limit myself to only bargain items. If it’s something that sounds really good, I go ahead and get it. But I know that X amount of dollars is all I have to spend for food until Friday rolls around again. Doing it this way helps me feel free to buy what I like, so I don’t get bummed about sticking to a budget. And if I misspend and don’t have enough to have good meals till the end of the week I know I usually only have one or two days till Friday and I’ll get a whole new grocery budget. The extra couple of days at the end (on the weeks when I misspend) we use to eat up that food that you buy, but it sits in the pantry because your never in the mood to make it. Hope this is helpful!

  33. 133
    Anonymous says:

    I have for years used a system mixing coupons with sales. I have a pantry that I stock up on the sale and coupon items and then work my meal plans around those items. I have a deep freeze so I can store up the meat and other freezable items. Now that I work full time and have less time to watch the adds I use a service that does it for me. It is call thegrocerygame.com – I find it well worth the money in time it saves me doing this one my own. In addition I buy staples like milk and butter at either the big box stores or a deep discount store like an Aldi.

  34. 134
    Jess says:

    Hi, Melissa! I rarely comment since so many comment before me by the time I've caught up, but this is a subject I have explored for the past 18 months. I have a slew of ideas for you…in fact, I am sharing at our Mom's group at church this week on how to be thrifty (and still eat good tasting food). So, if you are interested in more than I can leave on this post, e-mail me (or anyone interested for that matter can e-mail me) at jess AT stevansheets DOT com or visit me at my website at www DOT jessicasheets DOT com.

    Here are some fast tips:

    1. Plan your menu for two weeks and shop for what you need for those meals (snacks included). I do this with diapers and toiletry items, as well.

    2. Buy larger amounts of meat because you know how much you will need for those two weeks (i.e. buy a five lb pkg of ground beef and divide into 1 lb pkg yourself at home and freeze them until needed, buy froz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts and defrost what you need when you need it, etc…)

    3. When you have to go in between weeks to get more milk and bread–ONLY get those things on your list. No matter if Ben & Jerry's is on sale for under $3 a pint! (You will find you can do without those things once you have a list)

    4. Shop with cash so that you can't overspend! Seriously, you will put back that package of dark chocolate dove ice cream bars when you realize you can't get them and that gallon of orange juice!

    5. Coupons, of course, are life savers, but learning an organization system that works for you in key. I have a website you can go to for help with this. She helped me! But, you can do the above ideas without coupons and still walk away with better deals.

    I have so much more, but can't imagine how long this post already is! E-MAIL Me! I'm a youth pastor's wife and stay-at-home mom of a 21/2 year old with another coming in June so I have to spend as little on groceries as possible in order to buy diapers!

    You'll get the hang of all of this! It just takes time!

    Jessica Sheets
    jess@stevansheets.com
    http://www.jessicasheets.com

  35. 135
    Michelle Bentham says:

    Dear Sweet Melissa…

    I wish I could give you some grand advice. One of the greatest little tools I have ever seen is the Grocery Game. It will exegete the Sunday Coupon ads for your area and tell you when the best times to shop and get the best deals are. For the “Thrift Illiterates” of the world this is a great thing. Frozen veggies go farther in our home than canned. Make one night a week leftover night…(If you have leftovers) or you could freeze your leftovers to make it last. I buy meat in the bulk family packs and cut them down to size as the larger packs are cheaper per pound. I don’t know. My mom always bought the pantry full using coupons and then would say, “Now don’t eat that.” Which quite frankly my father admitted over Christmas drove him nuts. But, it was effective – the cupboard never went bare.

    Dave Ramsey has some great ideas and you might check to see if there is a coupon exchange in your neighborhood or at your church where you can garner extras of what you would use in exchange for less of what you wouldn’t.

    Our church had great financial classes we took that gave lots of these ideas… If I find the notes I will send them along to you.

    Pray before you shop. Ask God to give you good deals and run from the sale rack at any department store.

    I almost always shop clearance, and I get the hottest trends from Marshall’s and Ross on a thin dime. You have to look. But hey half price is half price.

    Anyway… I hope this helps. You are precious.

    Blessings.

  36. 136
    mgschnorr says:

    Once a week (at least) make a pot of soup and use up anything you have in your refrig . . . they are never the same! Also use up leftovers on homemade pizzas on Friday nights — chicken & potatoes, a little bit of ham and some pineapple, veggies of all sorts . . . my family loves my soups and pizzas and they really stretch our food budget. Do you have a Trader Joes nearby? Good prices on nuts and dried fruits and other things too.

  37. 137
    ab says:

    Coupons- but use http://www.couponmom.com it does all the work for you- and it is free. (The Grocery game site that was recommended earlier is not- I have used both and grocery game did not save me money due to its monthly fee.) Select the store you want to go to- check the items you want to buy and it will organize a grocery list for you. I always save at least 50% on my grocery bill at Publix because they double coupons. And also- Walmart is cheaper- not a pleasant experience- but cheaper. You do what you’ve got to do! I don’t want to go back to work full time so I can be with my kids- this helps our family make it work!

  38. 138
    Anonymous says:

    You can plan, which I’ve done, but you can also wing it! Go to the store and buy what’s on sale – and that’s what you eat that week. It also makes good sense to stock up when things are on sale – i.e. when cereal is 5 boxes for $10, or paper towels, or frozen veggies. I’m not a coupon clipper, but I do use the store coupons I get in the paper or pick up at the store. Now go to it, girl!

  39. 139
    Fran says:

    I am excited about putting on the solid armor of God via my spiral-bound notebook! I have memorized my first verse of 2009 and can’t wait to post my 2nd! Yes, we can!!
    Thanks, Beth!
    Love,
    Fran

  40. 140
    Laurie says:

    Melissa,

    I download coupons to my little Kroger key thing that I carry around on my key chain and it takes the discount off automatically when I buy the item. I know other stores do that, too. Go to http://www.kroger.com to see how it works.

    I also go to the coupon websites and download & print their coupons because they don't print all of them in the paper.

    http://www.smartsource.com
    http://www.redplum.com

    Hope this helps. I also noticed that someone else told you about Deal Seeking Mom. . . .she is a great one for tips on saving $$$ at various stores!

  41. 141
    Nancy B says:

    Melissa,
    Great to hear you and Colin are on your way to financial freedom! Here are a few suggestions from someone Mama Beth's age who also has adult daughters:

    1) We give our adult married kids a quarter of a beef each year for Christmas. ( May have to go up to a half as their families grow) They appreciate having meat in the freezer and it is much healthier as it comes straight from the farm to a local butcher. Something they can use all year long. More useful than new clothes, toys, etc. and stretches their food budget and tastes so much better than what you can buy at the grocery store.

    2) Check out your local Dollar Store for cleaning products, paper goods, and their groceries are ususally MUCH cheaper. Some of the store brands we like and some we don't. Try one at a time.

    3) Use Quicken on your computer to keep up with all your receipts, checks, etc. It is great to see exactly where you stand financially at any time.

    4) My husband & I have a deal — I can use a credit card as long as I can pay it off each month.You have to be very disciplined to do this and entering every receipt in Quicken helps. I use Discover and cash in my cash back rewards once a year for things I want to splurge on for being good!

    5) Keep powdered milk on hand for whenever you need just a little for a recipe and don't want to make a special trip to the grocery store. You can also mix up a half a gallon and add it to a half empty gallon of whole milk. Your hubby will never know the difference!

    Nancy– Goree, TX

  42. 142
    Keri Ann says:

    Wow — 548 comments? I hope you’ve got some extra time on your hands! I haven’t read all the comments, so I might be repeating someone else’s tip, but check out http://www.couponmom.com . I HATED coupons until I started using her system, which is too hard to explain here. Download her e-book that lays it all out for you.

    Oh, and someone mentioned menu planning…I’ve recently hit upon something that has worked well for me time-wise and budget-wise for 5 months now. I plan a two-week dinner menu, then repeat it for the last 2 weeks of the month. It’s easier for me than doing a week or a month at a time. And you can buy sale items ahead of time because you know what’s on your menu pretty far in advance. Oh, and we don’t throw away nearly as many leftovers because they just go in the freezer to be pulled out two weeks later when that meal comes up in the rotation again. We’ve definitely saved money doing this.

  43. 143
    Anonymous says:

    Best advice I have is to PLAN your meal menus for the Month or Two-week period…or however you shop…and then simply shop to your menu. Always go for the store brand, unless of course it is spaghetti sauce or something important like ketchup…
    NEVER, and I mean NEVER, go shopping hungry…
    AND…don’t take Mr. Fitzpatrick with you. They always buy more junk food than we ever do!(but he will still blame the overspending on you!)

    Chances are, if you follow these simple rules, he will soon realize that all that is in the house to eat is “real” food at mealtimes, and he will soon ditch the budget idea, because he liked the way you shopped before!!!

  44. 144
    Anonymous says:

    PS…once a month cooking is kind of fun once in a while…and will save you a TON of money.

    Do it with friends, otherwise you will be totally exhausted just by the shopping!

  45. 145
    Mo says:

    We stretch or budget in several ways. Now, I don’t usually share these things because people think I’m crazy or trying to be perfect and I am neither. So here I go. First pray for the Lord to show you how to do this. It’s amazing to see how God works. Then,
    1. I make my own laundry soap. Just google the recipe, it’s easy and I make it for 1.60 vs. 13.00 for the same amount.
    2. I bake bread in the bread maker.
    3. I make homemade cleaners, like 1 tsp. cornstarch in a spray bottle of water instead of window cleaner. Works wonderful.
    4. I bake muffins, granola, breads, etc. for breakfast instead of cereal.
    5. We stay away from processed foods and stick to fresh/frozen fruits and veggies as snacks from store or farmers markets.
    6. Buy from bulk section in store where you can get the amount you need vs. a whole bottle. Like 1 tsp of curry for 5 cents.
    7. Make vegetarian meals more or cut the amount of meat in a dinner.
    8. You can make dishwasher soap with the same ingredients as the laundry soap.
    9. Don’t make too many recipes. First look at what you have in your house and see how much you can make from what you have. Then fill in with random ingredients. With recipes you can get locked into buying things just for that meal which can be a waste at times.
    10. Find a friend or two who you borrow/trade/swap ingredients with and this can save you on spices especially. Think of it as a team effort.
    11. Cut down on paper products. Use cloth napkins, real plates, don’t use a paper towel for something a real towel or rag will work for. Buy toilet paper in bulk.
    12. Make your own coffee. Buy syrups and creamer and it will be cheaper in the long run and healthier.
    13. Don’t waste food. You can wrap leftovers in a bread dough and make a “pocket”sandwich out of it or have a freezer bag in the freezer that you add leftover veggies and meat, then after a few weeks you can make a soup or stew.
    14. Make your own bread crumbs/croutons.

    I do these things along with many of the other suggestions given by others.

    I hope this helps.

  46. 146
    Amy Edge says:

    I have made a commitment to be a better steward of my money and seen results in the last three months. One tip is about groceries. I used to walk down the aisles and get what I thought we might eat in a week. I would get different kinds of meat and canned soups for standard family recipes. Basically I stored up food we might or might not eat. Now I am committed to going to buy for certain meals. I am not so organized that a whole week is planned out. I am going with three dinners and sometimes just two planned out. It has helped me to go with a list and try to stick to it. Don’t get sucked in by end caps. Godspeed at the grocery!

  47. 147
    Sandy in NC says:

    From 42 years of experience, raising my children, practicing the gift of hospitality that God has given me, & now having my 3 grandchildren next door: set aside a block of time to compare prices on at least 20 specific items that you would routinely use, at various groceries (not apples to oranges, but exact items & brands.)After you determine who really has the best prices, make that your store. Unfortunately, I think that the "big box stores" (especially Super Walmarts) offer the best prices & the best selection without you having to buy an extra large size of everything. I love the regular groceries, but to really save I go to WM. Coupons are great, but I'm not good about remembering to use them. The most important thing is to stay out of the stores! So the less often you can go, the more you will save. I too use the green bags & they work. I hardly ever buy pre-made or mixes, except for brownie & cake mixes. It isn't any more difficult to put together a great meal with fresh ingredients than it is to use the prepackaged items. Once you select your store of preference: set aside another block of time & with a notebook in hand, write down the layout of the store, section by section. Then make a master list of items that you use in order of the layout. Make copies of this & tape one inside a kitchen door to mark items as you run out of them or determine what you need for a recipe you want to use. When you got to the grocery, take this with you & follow it. It makes grocery shopping easy, fast, & saves you from impulse buying. I did this when our kids were young & it made a huge difference! Hope these ideas help!

  48. 148
    Anonymous says:

    I am laughing my head off at your blog because I was there 12 years ago. I had been on my own since age 17 making my own money, spending as I pleased. I had even spent time as a missionary overseas and when I got married at 45 my darling one asked for all my receipts AND my PAYSTUB!!! I nearly passed out!

    12 years later I have discovered the best way to save money at the grocery is to plan my menu in advance (something sanguines find exceeingly difficult) and make a grocery list; be creative with leftovers – leftover ham, bell pepper, and onions mixed with rice and soy sauce make a great stir fry; and never, repeat NEVER go to the store when you are hungry. I am a loser with coupons so I stick to store brands and watch the ads. We also have a freezer so I will buy meat on sale and freeze it for later.

  49. 149
    The Rhoneys says:

    My best friend and I do a “supper swap”. She cooks on Mondays, I cook on Thursdays. We cook enough for both our families. Usually a casserole and a side like rice and a salad. We live very close to each other and talk several times a day. We swap suppers and we only have to cook 1 time during the work week because we always have enough for leftovers. We save $$ and most of all precious time!!!

  50. 150
    Tracie says:

    This one is sort of small but it kills two birds with one stone. Buy the larger quantities of ground beef instead of one pound at a time. You usually save several cents per pound. When you get home, go ahead and brown it all up with salt and pepper, onions, peppers, whatever you normally do for casseroles and chili, etc. Then freeze it in the portions you normally use. Then when you come in from work, you are one step into the dinner-making process AND you’ve saved some money.

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