I know a lot of people struggle with using coupons. They don't have easy access to them or their stores don't have great coupon policies. I wanted to remind people there are still ways to save money.
My goal is to not pay full price for anything. I know that is not always possible but with a little planning ahead you can make it happen. For groceries and home products I start with the sale ads each week. I know what a good sale price is on most items and can usually tell you off the top of my head if it's a good price or not. To start doing this you can make a price book that tells you what something normally sells for and what the sale prices are. That way you have something to check to see if it's a good price or not. I go through the ads and make my grocery list from that. Rarely to I make a list based on what we need. Some times you do have to do that but around here it is rare because I do stock up on stuff when it's on sale and we don't use a lot of milk or anything like that. If I did I would be buying it from Aldi because that is the best place to buy things if you don't have a sale and a coupon.
This week I picked up bone in Chicken breast for 99 cents a pound which is my stock up price. I got 3 packs that each has 2 breasts in it. I brought them home, pulled off the skin, and threw it all into my crockpot with some water. Once they were cooked they pull apart super easy and you can discard the bones and fat. Then I separate it all into meal size servings and freeze it. So I have my chicken all ready for dinner that I got for the best price possible. Saves me both time and money. Took about 10 minutes of my time to put in the crockpot and then to pull it off the bones and bag it once it came out. Now I just have to pull it out any time I need some. :)
I also bought a bunch of apples for 59 cents a pound and have been using them for all sorts of fun stuff. Today I made homemade applesauce in the crockpot. YUM I want to try making apple chips soon. My son loves those. Yesterday I was lucky enough to pick up a big bag of overripe pears for $2 and made them into pear sauce. That was pretty yummy too. I even froze some of the applesauce for later.
I always check the markdown shelves especially the produce one at Meijer. They often have great things that sometimes are not even bad but the rest of the package that they had been in was. So I get the good stuff at a nice reduced rate. :) Saves me a lot of money and we get fresh fruit and veggies. A lot of it I freeze for later use. Beats the price of buying the stuff that is already frozen too.
I also make my own bread with the help of a bread maker. My own pizza dough also with the help of the bread maker. Dough freezes well too so you can make it and put it in the freezer for later. Or bake the bread and freeze it for later. :) I love cooking things ahead and being about to just pull them out of the freezer when I am ready for them. Taking a little extra time or even just adding extra to whatever you are cooking can save you time on the those busy nights and you won't be tempted to get fast food if you have yummy food in the freezer ready to go.
My other favorite thing is making a huge pot of refried beans. For less than $3 I can make a huge crockpot full of them. Then I take tortillas and cheese and make up burritos and freeze them. They are then ready for my husband to just grab and go for his lunches. Another thing I do for his lunches is make extra of our dinner so he can take that as well. He is the envy of his office because his wife packs him a lunch with homemade food in it. :)
So think outside the box when it comes to saving money. Extreme couponing is making it harder and harder to use coupons so I need to do all I can to keep saving money. :)