So far, my January challenge is working out well. I know, it's only 2JAN but I haven't really been to the grocery store since 22DEC of LAST YEAR!!! Ok - so last year was earlier this week but still...LAST YEAR!
I took my somewhat comprehensive list of what I had on hand and sat down to make up a few meal ideas. I also picked the brains of my friends via Facebook and was reminded of the website MyFridgeFood which will give you recipes based on the foods you have on hand. QUITE handy.
My meal plan for this week is/was pretty simple - I'm watching a friend's boys this week before their school starts back up so I don't have a lot of time to prep.
- loaded potato soup in the crock pot, steamed broccoli, salad, bread
- mini ravioli, salad, bread
- shake and bake tilapia, baked sweet potatoes, salad
- turkey, stuffing, green beans, cranberry chutney
- baked teriyaki chicken, rice, steamed veggies
- homemade refried beans, rice, salad (my bean recipe makes plenty so I'll save the rest for a meal next week if I can keep MacGyver and the kids from eating it all!)
- waffles (MacGyver is quite skilled on the waffle-maker...the kind you use on the stovetop, not the
electric kind and we'll make a double or triple batch to freeze), fruit, turkey sausage
With that meal plan, I hit the grocery store today. I didn't have many coupons in hand today (we don't get a local paper...I print coupons and buy them online which is cheaper than a paper subscription) but my list wasn't long and our local store had some good sales going on for the things that I needed in addition to the fact that most of what I needed was produce and you rarely find coupons for that. I spent $72.82 and the bulk of what I bought was:
- produce $17.00
- bread (didn't make it to the outlet store) $7.00
- frozen veggies $10.00
- dry beans $1.39
- olive oil $4.00
- 18 eggs $3.50
- chicken breasts ($1.99/lb which was cheaper than frozen) $7.00
- bacon $2.50
- chips (we're going to a friend's house to watch a bowl game) $9.00
- cheese $3.00
- pepperoni (making pizza for lunch with some frozen dough I have) $3.25
Between the lone coupon I had and my club card savings, I saved $6.80 (9%) and racked up a 10 cent discount on my next fill up of gas. Between the double coupons and the gas savings, our local grocery store beats the commissary (when you tally up the surcharge, the tip, and the gas necessary to get there) just about every time. I hit the commissary about once a month (or send MacGyver) for things like cereal and other non-perishable goods when I have good coupons. You can't beat $1 per box of cereal when it's what we eat on a regular basis.
The fuel rewards at our local store are fantastic. You earn a 10-cent discount per gallon of gas (up to 35 gallons) for every 100 points. Usually, $1 spent equals 1 point but they have a deal on gift cards - 4 points for every $1 spent. Each month, I budget $25 of my spending money for SBUX and I buy a $25 SBUX gift card at our store, earning me 100 points (25 x 4) and a 10-cent discount on gas. I do that twice per month so each month, I save $7.00 on gas for the $50 I spend at SBUX. Additionally, our local store has a SBUX in it so I also rack up fuel points when I get my SBUX at the grocery store!
Christmas was a great time for our fuel points account - we bought several gift cards at the store and wound up filling up the other day at a savings of $1.40 per gallon. We pumped 35 gallons so we saved $49.00 on gas. the next town over has gas (though the same company) for about 15-cents LESS so, when we can, we fill up over there. That, and moving to this new town, has helped slash our petrol bill in half!
The other thing that we do to help nibble away at both our grocery and gas bills is that we pay for our groceries using our American Express card. We have the Costco AMEX which 'rewards' us with a cash-back percentage (1% for groceries and 3% for gas). I keep track of what we spend so that we don't go over budget and that credit card balance is paid off every month using the budgeted cash. Anything left over from those budget categories goes to pay down our other credit card balances.
Assuming we spend $250 per month on gas and $400 per month on groceries, we realize a savings of about $11.50 per month by using this credit card. But we have to be diligent to pay it off every month. The goal is to decrease our credit card balances, not increase them.
So that is where we stand thus far. We'll spend $8.00 on milk tomorrow for a total of $80.82. I don't plan to have to go to the grocery store again until mid-month unless we need more fruit. We'll see! I also have coupons on order for several of the things I know I'm going to need later this month so that will help.