Many people have been asking me recently if I'm still bargain shopping and freezer cooking. I have to admit that I did get a bit burnt out after months and months of buckling down. Now that the debt is gone, the pressure isn't quite the same. That doesn't meant that I like spending our hard earned money on retail priced items when it could be put to better use.
So, I'm back at these days, but am looking for more balance. I simply can't keep up with the individual deals that I read on blogs here and there or run into the store at a moment's notice. And I refuse to clip every coupon that crosses my path. There's just no way.
I've found a some new-to-me websites that are quite helpful to this end. I like these because they are simple, give me the bottom line (how much am I actually saving) and then allow me to print off a list of only the deals that I actually want. I can even get a total for what I will spend.
Coupon Mom and Inexpensively are now on my list of favorite sites.
What's working for me is printing my lists from these two sites and sifting through my coupons twice a week while I'm waiting in the car during speech therapy. I keep my coupons in their original inserts with the date boldly written on the front. These are then placed in chronological order so they are easy to navigate. I keep these on a clipboard in the van. Then sometime during the week I'll steal away by myself and run into each store just for the items I have planned. That usually entails a stop by CVS, Walgreens, Kroger and Meijer. If an item is 80% off or less and I can stock up, it's worth the trip to me. I total, I'd say I'm spending about 30-40 minutes planning and an hours driving/shopping. I'm saving around 60-70% in the end or about $50 a week.
I'm also doing my best to stock up on seasonal produce when it hits its lowest price of the season. Of course, buying that much produce requires some diligence in preserving it for the future, but it beats paying a premium price later. Pumpkins and apples seem to be the theme. This week it was 3lb bags of apples for $.99. Needless to say, I'm up to my eyeballs in applesauce right now!!
When restaurant.com ran their 9/9/09 special, we decided to purchase a few certificates at 90% and give them a try. I was a bit skeptical at first. But amazingly, it worked wonderfully. We were able to enjoy a delicious Cajun meal which totaled for $35 for about $18 (tip included) as well as treat my in-laws to a big barbecue meal for their birthdays. I'm looking forward to using this site particularly when we are traveling and tend to eat out a lot. Most of these restaurants are local fare instead of chains. Bonus.
Finally, I'm planning on taking the last week of the month off from shopping altogether. This will require some planning ahead, but more than that it will force us to be content with what we have, which is always a good thing.
Within a few weeks all this grocery shopping/stocking won't be relevant as we are going a different direction in our diet for a while. After Thanksgiving, we (yes, all nine of us) are going on a little adventure of our own in the world of cuisine. But, I'll save that for another day.