Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Triple Coupons at Harris Teeter

My favorite grocery store is having triple coupons this week. Normally that is a great time for me to stock up on pantry staples, but the last two occurrences of triple coupons have had very few deals that interest me.

Our local newspaper puts out a list of free/cheap items on their shopping blog. We don't eat many prepared foods, and there are only so many bags of free rice I can use!

Free food always seems too good to pass up, but I've already started giving away my stores of free Wacky Mac & rice because it seems wasteful just to keep them sitting on a shelf for months on end. Of course, I'm not a big fan of stockpiling anyway.

I've thought about getting the free items just to donate, but I don't know if I'm up for adding another item to my to-do list. I'm barely keeping up as it is!

For me, I think the best strategy right now is NOT to stockpile. My store has triple coupons about every 2-3 months, and many of the same items seem to be free/cheap each and every time.

So for me, I'd rather save the energy it takes to prepare and shop to get the free groceries, and spend the time relaxing instead!
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

My menu plan last week was a big success!! It is so encouraging to see how smoothly our evenings go when I have dinner nearly ready soon after my husband gets home. He can spend time with our girls while I get everything on the table, and there is no hemming and hawing over what to have for dinner!

Here is my plan for this week:

Pasta w/ veggies sauteed in garlic & oil, cucumber & tomato salad
Stuffed bake potatoes with pureed butternut squash
Cooking out on the grill, with corn on the cob
Baked sweet potatoes with frozen veggies on the side
Dinner out, if the kids cooperate!
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thrifty is the New Frugal

Check it out! I'm hip! :)

CNN Money says that "Thrifty is the New Frugal"

I love the concept of "conscious consumption" in the article. I agree that buying something just because it's on sale, or just because it's cheap, is not a sensible philosophy at all. The real questions are

- Do we need the item?
- Can we afford it?
- Could I do or make this myself for less, with reasonable effort?

I'm not rushing out to buy things just because they are on sale, nor am I denying us things that we need or forcing us to do without. It's all about getting the most VALUE for your money!
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We flew by the seat of our pants for meals last week, and of course we seem to have eaten out more than normal! So, I'm getting back on track with a meal plan this week. Here is what we have on tap:

Polenta with peas & parmesan, frozen veggies
Quinoa & black beans, with a side of sauteed zucchini
Green bean casserole over couscous, Jicama/Orange/Carrot Salad
Mac & Cheese, spiked with butternut squash puree (see Sneaky Chef)
Frozen or homemade pizza

I'm trying some new recipes this week, so hopefully I'll stick to my ambitious plan! See more meal plans at OrgJunkie.
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Average Groceries Expenses

I read an interesting article about expenses in the US, as calculated by the government for estimating living expenses.

Here are the estimates given for food expenses:











To compare my family's expenses, I looked at our grocery expenses for the past 12 months (April 2008 through March 2009.

For this period, my family consisted of myself, my husband and my 1 year old daughter. Using the 2 person estimate seems more fair of a comparison, although I could make an argument for using the 3 person estimate since we buy things for my daughter (organic milk, organic meat, some formula & baby food) that we wouldn't otherwise buy.

Here are our expenses:

Total GROCERY: $4281
Total per month: $356.75
Total per week: $82.33

I don't know if the food estimates also include dining out, so I'll note that here as well. Our dining out expenses for the same period:

Total DINING OUT: $2900
Total per month: $241.66
Total per week: $55.77

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with our grocery spending. I'd like to try and be more diligent about with my shopping and cooking, and hope to maintain our spending level now that we are a family of 4 instead of 3.

I do think that our dining out expenses are too high, and I think we can work to decrease that by dining out less frequently and using restaurant coupons.

Still, it's interesting to know what the government considers "average" for food expenses, and see how we compare to that measurement.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Personal Finance for Moms- Resources

To wrap up my Personal Finance for Moms series, I've listed a few resources below that I've found to be helpful in my own financial life.

These are good sources of additional and in-depth information.

The Motley Fool
- personal finance & investing
Money Magazine - money 101
ABCs of Investing - educational posts on the basics of finance and investing
MSN Money- News, blogs & message boards. Definitely check out the (very active!) message boards.

I hope you found the Personal Finance for Moms series to be informative and helpful. I'd love to get your feedback, so please share your comments!!
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here is what I have on tap for this week:

Easy Skillet Recipe
(made veg with TVP) w/ frozen veggies on the side
Dinner out
Spinach & Pasta Bake
Homemade or Frozen Pizza
Cooking out on the grill

I tried a new no-yeast/no-knead bread recipe. I haven't tried the bread yet, but it sure is an ugly, dry-looking loaf. I followed the recipe and maybe should have added more water. Still on the hunt for the perfect easy bread recipe!

I also have a batch of no-sugar granola in the oven!
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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Homemade Muesli

I've been looking for a new breakfast idea to break up the cereal and oatmeal monotony. Homemade muesli is similar to oatmeal, but with lots of other stuff added in to jazz it up!

I used this page as my starting point and just used the ingredients I have in the pantry.

To make 4 servings, I mixed 2 cups of oatmeal with 1/8 C wheat germ and 3/4 C of the nuts & seeds we had on hand. Then I added 3/4 C raisins and craisins to top it off! I mixed all this together and stored it in the pantry.

To serve, I put 1/4 of the mix into a bowl, covered it with soy milk OR apple juice and let it soak over night in the fridge. In the morning, I added a bit more of the same liquid and then microwaved for 1:30.

It was a yummy and frugal breakfast!! See more ideas at Frugal Friday!

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