Friday, September 7, 2012

How I saved money this week: Volume 1

Just an update, meal planning has gone really well.  While we haven't stuck with the specific meal for the specific day perfectly, we have had the meals I had planned within the week.  On Monday, we had pizza for lunch instead of dinner and on Tuesday I realized that I still hadn't gotten ricotta cheese (for some reason I couldn't find it at the grocery store when I went last week, so I was planning on just getting a big container at Costco but totally forgot!).  So we still had some ham and we had that on Tuesday night and moved the lasagna to Thursday night.  Anyway, other than the ricotta cheese and having to get more milk, we stuck with our meals and didn't go to the grocery store!  That was a big goal of mine!

Now, for ways I actively saved money:

First, this is actually something that Tim did for us, but we cleaned out our storage unit.  Right now, everything is spread out in our garage while we go through everything and decide what is keep, give, and trash.  Technically we aren't able to really save this money because it is the exact amount of Robby's tuition for Mother's Day Out.  But thankfully, that means it cancels out that expense, which makes me feel a little less guilty for him going.

Second, I made our own crackers.  Technically, they were supposed to be goldfish crackers but I didn't make the little cutter to make the fish, so I just cut them in squares.  I used this recipe and they are SO good!  I need to make them a little thinner so they are more crispy and less chewy.  But the flavor is wonderful.  Tim said he likes them better than goldfish.  Robby liked them, too, and actually ate fewer of them at snack time because they were more filling.  They were extremely easy.  Way easier than I ever imagined.  If you have a food processor, you're set!
I gathered all my ingredients: 8 oz of freshly shredded cheddar cheese, 1 Cup of flour, 3/4 teaspoons of salt, 2 Tablespoons of cold water
 I put everything in the food processor and pulsed it until it was mixed and looked kind of gritty.
I added the water slowly until a loose dough formed.  I molded it into a flattened ball and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.  The recipe calls for just 20 minutes, but I somehow got distracted by a kid or two and that turned into a couple of hours!
 I rolled out the cheese dough and instead of using a cutter, I just cut strips and made square(ish) shapes.
 Lined them on parchment paper.

And baked at 350 for 15 minutes.  They aren't pretty.  If I were making these to give to someone or take somewhere, I would have made them much better.  I think I have heartedly expected them not to turn out very well so I didn't worry too much about how they looked.
This recipe made enough to fill a quart size ziptop bag.  Since I always have these ingredients on hand, they don't cost me anything.  The only thing I'm at risk of running out of would be the cheese and this recipe calls for about $1 worth of cheese when I shred it myself.  I would imagine I'm saving about $2 for every batch of these I make since we aren't buying them.  Plus, they taste better!  I'm considering using whole wheat flour one time and seeing how those turn out.  I'll let you know!

Third, I couponed.  I've done a couple of coupon clipping trip, mainly to CVS or Walgreens when they were having specials on health and beauty products and I had coupons.  Usually those trips ended with me saving a little but mainly I would get the rewards cash or coupons back, which I guess is still saving money, it just wasn't saving a ton of money on that specific trip.  This time, I spent two days worth of nap times finding baby food coupons.  Target is having their big baby sale through the 8th and I knew I wanted to take advantage of all the baby food they had discounted.  Thankfully, at Target you can use Target coupons, combined with their sale prices, combined with manufacturer coupons.  Before I went, I organized all my coupons by brand, made sure Tim was taking care of the boys (there was no way I could have focused on this if I was also having to keep up with them), and promised myself not to purchase anything that wasn't on sale AND that I didn't have a coupon.  My budget to spend was $100 and I had to stick to that.  I happened to go to the baby section through another section instead of down the main aisle, the way I usually do.  Since I went that way, I was able to see quite a bit of baby food that was clearanced on an endcap. I first checked the expiration date because I have found clearanced food items before that were a month or so away from their expiration and that doesn't save any money if I have to throw it out before we use it!  All was good, and I started going through my coupons and finding the matching foods.  Then I headed to the main baby food aisle.  I mainly had coupons for Gerber, but it was all on sale and I had two coupons for each baby food item I purchased, so I got most Gerber items for around $.10-$.15 each.  Other coupons I had were for the baby food pouches.  While these are more expensive, even with the coupons, we have found that these work very well for us.  They are super easy to feed from when we use the little attachable spoons and once Charlie is able to suck from the pouch himself, I can just hand them to him when we are in the car and he can feed himself.  We used these all the time when Robby was little.  I would stock up on them when they were on sale at Babies R Us or Target, but never had coupons also.  All of those I got for under $1.  Now, I know the way to REALLY save money on baby food is to make my own.  I do make some items, mainly the items that all I have to do is mash them with a fork, but I can't seem to get my act together to make all the food and freeze it.  But I have a few ways of saving when it comes to baby food that don't include making it from scratch.  We buy applesauce in bulk from Costco.  As long as it is only apples and no sugar is added, it's the same as baby food apples.  We get three HUGE containers of applesauce for around $4.  One of those packages lasted us through Robby's entire time of eating baby food.  We add it to baby cereal, feed it alone, and add it to other baby food to add another flavor/component to the food.  Doing that also stretches the baby food to last longer.  And since baby food isn't a replacement for bottles yet, we only feed an actual baby food one time a day, the other times is oatmeal or rice cereal.  Anyway, I was heading to the checkout after filling my cart full of baby food and a few other items and I just knew I wasn't going to be able to stick to my $100 budget.  I said a quick, silent prayer that God would bless my basket and bless my wallet and keep it within what we can afford.  I know that sounds silly, but I had to do that at the grocery store the week before, too, because we had such a strict grocery budget that I had to keep to.  Well, y'all, God answered my prayer because when I checked out I was shocked.  I quickly passed the $100 mark and got up to $158.  I wish I could have a total of how much it all would have been not counting the sale prices.  If my calculations on everything is right, it was around $210.  I handed her my stack of coupons, totally expecting the camera crew from TLC to show up.  The cashier started scanning them and I just watched as the total dropped and dropped.  My grand total for the baby food was $98.54!  I had to get some aftershave for Tim, so that brought my entire total a tad over $100 (but I had a coupon for that, too!).  I was so excited, that I called Tim right away!  I kind of understand those crazy couponers now.  I texted my friend Catie and she totally nailed my feelings when she said it gives us a high when we save a good amount of money.  That's very true!  Here is everything I purchased:

It is enough food to get Charlie through his baby food phase!  I could not believe that I got so much (a few items are missing because Robby could reach up on the table and get some so he was carrying them around while I was trying to take a picture.)  I don't think I'll become a crazy coupon person, but I do think I will pay closer attention to what coupons are out for items I already purchase.  It didn't take all that long for me to find coupons online to print, but it did take quite a bit of time to match them with my list.  I definitely don't want to buy things just because I have a coupon for them and I want to be sure that I wouldn't get a better deal simply by purchasing the store brand.  I think I will need to start shopping by myself though because it definitely takes a lot of focus to keep everything straight!

How did you save money this week?  I'd love to hear about it!


Anonymous said...

awesome! I love Target and their coupon policy! We also have a Target card so we get an additional 5% off every purchase which adds up. This year so far we've saved $60+ by using our Target card.

I stocked up on some staples for me at the outlets this week when they were having 40% off clearance. I got a couple of shirts for $2-3!

Tim and Randi Weigle said...

Yes! I signed up for the Target debit card while I was there! I already do all of our household shopping there, why not save 5%?? Don't you love getting a good deal?