Saving Money at the Grocery Store

Since I've become a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) I've been far more conscious of how much money is coming in and going out.  At this point, I'm more concerned about what's going out since we're still getting used to living on one income.  The biggest way I'm saving right now is by watching how much I spend on groceries. When my husband and I went over our budget my father-in-law asked us to estimate how much we spend on groceries a month. Both of us, without hesitating said "$400." Our credit card statement told a different story. It was closer to $800. The scary part was we didn't even realize how much we were spending.  

From that moment we totally changed the way we buy groceries. I'm finding that by following these steps I'm actually saving enough in my first three monthly grocery trips, that I'm getting my fourth trip free! Here's my weekly process. 

1. Keep a notebook (with a pocket for your coupons) in the kitchen. As soon as something runs out I write it on the list.  This helps so I don't forget anything when I'm at the store. I use to always forget something and that meant another quick trip to the grocery store. But I'd always end up leaving with way more than just the one item I forgot. 

2. On Thursdays I scan the online circulars to several local grocery stores. I write down what's buy one get one free and what's on sale ie 2/$5. I know that if it's b1/g1 I have to get two, but if it's 2/$5 I can get one at $2.50.  Make sure to make a notation next to the item on your grocery list if you have to buy more than one to get the sale price. Also indicate if you have a coupon so you don't forget to use it! 

3. I clip coupons wherever I can find them. Don't forget the internet (sites like couponmom, redplum, smartsource), the back of last week's grocery receipt, and the newspaper. 

3. I use my list of "on sale" items and coupons to create a menu for the week.  If chicken breasts are on sale I get two and freeze them. That way next week when they're not on sale, I still have some in the freezer.  You can always find coupons for rice and frozen veggies so I make sure I have enough "sides" as well! 

4. When I create my menu I also try to repeat ingredients in different meals. For instance if one meal calls for half a pepper, I try to find another recipe that calls for a pepper as well. That way nothing goes to waste in the back of the refrigerator. 

5. I avoid middle of the week grocery runs. This used to hijack my grocery budget! I could never just run in, get my item and get out. I'd always pick up something else along the way. Before I knew it I'd spend $35 or $40. Do that 3 times in a month and that's $120!!!!  

Each week I get more excited as the price on the register drops! I usually save about $25 on what would normally be about a $90 order! That means in three weeks I've saved $75, enough for my fourth and final monthly grocery run! 

**For more simple ways to save money see the links on the right side of the screen. 


Starting Holiday Traditions with Children

When I was growing up Christmas was always and exciting time.  Not only for the obvious reasons but because we came to look forward to the traditions our parents had established. We'd spend a weekend or two after Thanksgiving in the kitchen making every kind of Christmas cookie you could imagine.  The tins would be stacked 5 high in the garage just waiting to be eaten (and given away, boooo!!) We'd take a night every year to drive around and see the Christmas lights and pick which house was our favorite. We'd go to Christmas Eve mass. When we got home we'd slip into our flannel pj's...made new each and every year by my mom. We'd read The Night Before Christmas and slip into bed.  The next morning we'd open presents at home, then get into our dresses (again made with love by my mom) and head over to Grandmom and Grandpop's house. After dinner we'd sit around and watch a movie or play a game like Taboo. They were small traditions nothing too fancy, nothing extraordinary, but they were ours. 

My husband's family always drove nearly an hour to go to the same tree farm to cut down a real Christmas tree. It was something my sister-in-law held onto for years after her older brothers were long ready to give it up. But it was something that was special to all of them.  And they created a lot of good laughs and memories doing it! 

Now that my husband and I have a daughter of our own we're looking forward 
to celebrating her first Christmas. We'd like to establish a few traditions of our own that she can grow up with and look forward to. I think it's an important way for children to celebrate and more importantly make memories. These are things she'll look back on years from and hopefully think of fondly.  This year, for the first time we're hosting Christmas breakfast at hour house. Maybe it will become a tradition, maybe it will be something that each and every year we look forward to...getting both sides of the family together to exchange gifts and celebrate the true meaning to the season.  
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