I have decided to embark on a new hobby. Well, not sure if "hobby" is the correct term for it, but I do enjoy it and it saves me time and money. Saves me time? Well, it is a LONG drawn out process but in the long run it saves me time.
Nicholas and I have a super bad habit of going out to eat. On average we were eating out about 4 times a week. Now, I'm not lazy and don't like to cook. I actually love it. But by the time I get around to deciding what for supper it's too late to pull anything out of the freezer. So, we decided to try something new for the month of June. This weekend I worked on a menu. I have a menu planned for the entire month. Not only do I have that. I have a list of the groceries I need. As well of all the preperations that can be done ahead of time. And not to forget, I have coupons ready for many of my items.
First I will explain my coupons. I have become a coupon nut. I've read many blogs about couponing. I've experimented. And each time I get better at understanding how it works. The keys I've learned is first to know the stores that double coupons, as well as the stores that accept internet coupons. I've learned that Meijer works best for me. Not only do they double coupons up to $0.50 but they also allow you to stack coupons. What does stacking coupons mean? Well, I'll use one of my examples....Ashalyn loves LOVES loves the yoplait yogurt. I regularly get a coupon for $0.40 off one box of gogurts and $1.00 off two boxes. So at Meijers the boxes of gugurts are $2.49 a box. So the key here is to buy 2 boxes. Totaling $5.00. For that transaction you can use 2 $0.40 off coupon because you are buying two single boxes. (and that coupon doubles) so already you are at $1.60 off. But on top of that you bought two boxes and the $1.00 off coupon can be used as well! That's one FREE box of yogurt and some money off your second box. On rare occassions I can find the deal B1G1 (Buy 1 Get 1) and you can still use all three coupons, so then you get both boxes free plus an overage which goes towards money off the rest of your purchases. So with all that being said, I get lots and lots of GREAT deals.
With coupons on the average shopping trip I save 54-60% off my total purchase. A quick peek into my couponing (for those that aren't interested in couponing please excuse my rambling on, but I highly recommend this for anyone looking to save a dollar!) My last miejer shopping trip I didnt need many groceries but I needed our essentials. However, i got a few extra things because I couldnt pass up the deals and the FREE items. I got a box of band-aids, 3 containers of Huggies wipes, plus a big bag of wipe refills, 2 jumbo boxes of huggies diapers, Nick's deoderant, 1 laundry detergent, 2 3-pack bars of soap, 2 taco seasoning (these made me money to take them off the shelf) 2 boxes of cake mix, 2 frostings, 10 individual yogurts, 2 boxes of gogurt, 2 chex mix, dishwasher soap, 4 lunchables, a 2-liter, and 2 20oz pops all for $56.70. Plus a coupon at the registar for $10.00 off my next purchase, a $5.00 gift card (promotion they ran with the diapers if u read the ad) $1.00 off my next purchase and free cincinatti reds tickets (another promotion....however, we cannot attend because its for a game during the week and Cinci is too far away!) But...granted if u include the $16.00 I got at the end, technically I got all that for $40.00. And the two boxes of diapers without coupons are $19.99 a piece! So basically I paid for the diapers and got the rest free! My total savings for that transaction was $73.74. So, with that extra money we saved...we were able to go out to eat since we were gone all night grocery shopping.
Next, I'll share how I include Ashalyn in this all, since you know I DO NOT like leaving Ashalyn that long. First when I'm cutting out my coupons....I give her a pair of kids scissors and we work on her cutting skills. She still hasn't mastered this, nor is she close, but with each time I give her the scissors and part of the newspaper (she doesnt get to help with my coupons yet, but she does cut up the rest of the paper) she is intrigued by them. She opens and closes them (great hand coordination practice), she LOVES it! And then at the store, I also use it as a learning experience. When I buy more than one item we count them as we put them in the cart. We talk (social communication) as we see things or we take the time to talk to others in the aisles. (she gets many people with her wave!) She's mastered the art (she learned this on her own, I still don't know how I feel about it) of standing on the end of the cart. (muscle development) and honestly we laugh together lots in the grocery store. I'm sure it sounds like a harsh thing to make a child encounter an hour long shopping trip but we have fun and she usually loves it! And with all the money saved we are able to spare a $1.00 for her to spend at the register. She gets the dollar and she hands her item to the cashier and we allow the cashier to hand her the change. If she has pockets she puts it in her pocket and she knows first thing when we get home to head to her piggy bank. Usually there isn't much left but I am learning the importance of "saving" and I want her to learn that as well. And hopefully one day she will understand the concept of the value of a dollar! And not to mention, her piggy bank is ALMOST full and we will be off to add it to her bank account soon!!!
Now that I've rambled on about the coupon part of this new journey I'll explain the next (this shouldnt take as long) for those still reading. The menu. In my menu I have simple meals and elaborate meals depending on the day. For instance, our Monday's are our busiest days, so those are more simple meals. I've allowed us still to eat out once a week. Because that is one thing we enjoy most as a family. Our night out to enjoy each other and have conversation around the table where no work is required on our part. We can just enjoy ourselves worry free! And with this, I mentioned I made a list if all the preparations I can do ahead of time. So I have a day picked out at the end of this month devoted to cooking. I chose a day that Nicholas is home so he can help with Ashalyn. But my day is going to be devoted to browning all the hamburger I need for the month and freezing it. For tacos, enchilladas, spaghetti, you name it. Going to make the cookies or granola or zuchinni bread that I send with Nicholas for break. Basically anything that can be made ahead and frozen I'm going to do. Meatloaf, enchilladas, chicken cordon bleu, meatballs...those area all meals that can be prepared and frozen in casserole pans til ready to pop in the oven. And then to top it all off....it saves me on dishes! I HATE doing dishes. So...instead of everytime I want to make tacos or spaghetti having to clean the pan I brown my meat in, I only have to clean it once!! So...not only does it save me time during the week on meal preperation but even after the meal with clean up!!
I have a full house with babysitting and my last child doesnt leave til 530. so that makes it hard to get a good meal started when we eat at 6 usually. So, it is easier to hop in the truck and go out to eat. I'm hoping with this newfound "hobby" that I can run to the kitchen pull something out of the freezer and pop it in the oven!! Saving us the money it costs to go out as well!!! I definately owe this thought to Rebekah Miller (as I know her!!) and may even document and picture my cooking day as she did! I enjoyed reading about her day and experience!!!
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