Sunday, August 29, 2010

chicken, anyone?

people i talk to are constantly amazed by how little M and i pay for groceries, household items, and pet supplies. this year, just for the fun of the challenge, i decided we should try to stick to a budget of $100 per month for all these items. so far, we've only gone over budget one month, back in may when kroger had an amazing meat sale, with whole tip sirloin for $2.99 a pound and fantastic prices on other good cuts of beef. on average, we've spent $110 per month.

my friends want to know how i do this. i've tried to explain it to a few, but it can be a little confusing to the new couponer to learn things like stacking e-coupons and paper coupons, using a manufacturer's coupon with a store coupon, etc.

today i'm going to share the single most helpful tip, in my opinion, for saving on grocery items. here goes: learn what the low sale price is on an item and wait for that sale price and then stock up on enough of that item to last til the next time it goes on sale. for example, we're currently having to resock our freezer after the TERRIBLE LOSS last month of most of what was in our completely packed outside freezer. one thing we're completely out of is chicken. i like chicken; however, i do not like to deal with chicken bones and skin and strange bits for the most part. which means i like to buy boneless, skinless chicken breast. regular, non-sale price is generally around $3 per pound for non-organic chicken breast. will i pay $3 per pound? not if i can help it! this week (through tuesday for those of you who are local) kroger has their brand of boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.88 per pound. this is just about as low as it gets. it's not quite half-price, but close. since we have no chicken, and i like to make several chicken-based meals in any given week, we bought 10 pounds on friday, and will divide it up into packages of the right size for a meal for us, then vacuum seal them and freeze. i plan to go back and get another 15 pounds or so while it's still on sale, and that should last us for a few months.

many couponers recommend that people make a price book, which is basically a small note book you carry around with you and write down regular and sale prices of items you buy. that way, you can figure out what's a good price and what's not and also figure out sale cycles. stores tend to run the same types of items at their best sale prices somewhat cyclically. for instance, ham is always cheapest around easter and christmas, turkey in november and december, school supplies in july and early august, soups during the winter months. M loves basic campbell's chicken noodle soup. regular price is something like $1.29 per can. during the winter months, it tends to run 2 cans for $1 and sometimes 3 cans for $1. this time of year is also when you see the most soup coupons, too. pair your coupons with a sale, and soup is almost free!

the correlative (is that the right word?) to this rule is to plan your grocery shopping around what's on sale. this is especially helpful if you don't have an extra freezer. for example, i tend to buy produce based on what's in season and thus on sale. summertime is corn season, and prices have been as low as four ears of corn for $1. we've had a lot of yummy grilled corn on the cob this summer, as well as yellow squash and zucchini. if i were a less lazy and more industrious person, you can apparently prepare corn on the cob in a certain manner, remove from the cob and freeze for later. i say thank goodness for that green giant! right now brocolli seems to be a good price, and in a couple months, sweet potatoes (yum!) are at their yearly low prices. so, instead of buying $4 per pound asparagus right now, ask yourself if you'd be just as happy with .99 per pound broccoli. sometimes, though, only the asparagus is going to make you happy, so go ahead and splurge. if you've been developing saving habits, the occasional splurge will still fit into your budget.


Bree said...

eating according to season is the best way to do it - it's cheaper, the produce is fresher and therefore higher in nutrients and it reduces your carbon footprint as the goods aren't being flown or trucked in from far off places where they are in season!

Good girl! Keep up the good work :)

AllieKatMom said...

Sounds great, but do you run all over the place to shop sales? I need more help that that, I am sooo dumb when it comes to saving money on groceries

amy and the bad cats said...

amy - within 5 minutes of y house, i have a kroger and a randalls, plus 2 walgreens, 2 cvs, a foodtown, a foodorama, and a small HEB pantry. i check prices online or in the flyers that come in the mail before i shop.