cost

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S-t-r-e-t-c-h ….

Published July 19, 2016 by lynn k scott

….those grocery dollars.  It never fails…expenses keep coming in, paychecks seem to get smaller and yet your family insists on eating…and more than once per day!  It seems it’s a never ending food cycle.

I feel your pain and understand completely.  While I only have three mouths to feed, my daughter is pretending she is at least two people and we haven’t even hit the teen years yet!  There is hope.  There are ways you can stretch your food dollars bills.  Odds are, you have heard of some of these, but hopefully, at least one suggestion will be new.

The first option is coupons.  Yes, I said, and you might dread it; but they work.  I used to be an extreme couponer and in CA, that’s not easy.  However, there are deals to be found you just need to know how to access them.

  • Read the coupon policies for the store(s) you shop.
  • Learn how to stack coupons:  a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon used on the same item.  If the item is on sale….WOO HOO…maximum savings!
  • Read the coupons.  Some will only let you buy four of the same item in the same trip or same day.
  • Match coupons to sale items.

Next…shop multiple stores.  I know some will say, “I don’t have time to make several trips.” I respond with your wallet can’t afford you not to (true for many people).  Don’t drive all over creation.  Plan your trips and hit several stores in the same area.

Use saving apps on your cell phone.  Have you heard of ibotta?  It’s almost like coupons on your phone.  Granted, there is a pre-selected group of coupons to choose from.  You simply click on the items you use.  Sometimes you watch a 10 second video, other times you answer a question or sometimes the item unlocks immediately.  You can save anywhere from $0.25 to a dollar or more.  You simply purchase the item, scan the UPC code, take a picture of the receipt and “send”.  Once you reach $20.00, you can cash out your earnings.

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Another app is the savings catcher on the Walmart app.  You simply scan your receipt into the savings catcher and it will scan other stores in the area.  If the item you bought was cheaper somewhere else, you get the difference.  When you cash out, you can do so right to your phone and the cashier can scan the bar code right from the phone!

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There are many more apps, including apps from your grocery store, but I’ll stop there.  Ask your friends and family which ones they use.  I know my friends who hate to clip coupons will use the apps instead.

Shop local.  Learn where your local produce stands are.  They are typically local to your community and tend to have some great deals.  The one close to my job, I can get 10 pounds of potatoes for $2.00 almost all year long.  I can get Granny-Smith apples usually under $.50 a pound.  Go where the savings are.  You’re helping a local business owner meet his financial obligations too!

Buy fruits and vegetables in season.  To this day, I still meet people who have no idea what that means.  “In season” is when the fruit or vegetables are grown and harvested.  For example, cranberries are common and cheaper in the fall.  Blueberries are in season, right now, as I type this.  You can pay $1.98 for 18 oz. of blueberries in season, compared to $4.00 for the same package when they are out of season.  Know your seasons and plan your meals around them.

Buy meats that cook low and slow.  That sounds a bit odd to people.  However, the tougher cuts of meat such as pot roast, corned beef, stew beef, etc. tend to be cheaper than the nicer cuts of meat; tri-tip, london broil, etc..  They require longer cooking times and normally at a lower temperature.  If you don’t have a crock pot…GET ONE!  They come in very handy for these cuts of meat, will cook all day without you standing over them and will be fall off the bone tender when you’re done.

What’s in a name…brand that is…There are just some brand named items that are equally as good in the store brand version.  Stop paying for advertising of the brand and start thinking about the item.  Are the primary ingredients the same?  Odds are they will work or taste the same too.  Read labels and see what I’m talking about.  I’m not saying to give up your favorite shampoo or favorite snack, just know, the store varieties have something to offer.

Lastly, for the purpose of this post anyway, make a list and stick to it.  If  your like me, you make the list of needed items and then forget it when you’re ready to go shopping.  Once you’re primarily done with the list, put it in your purse, pocket, with the car keys…somewhere you will remember it.  If that hasn’t worked, many cell phones are able to record lists or notes.  There are even cell phone apps that are strictly for shopping lists.

So there is a handful of saving suggestions; just the tip of the savings iceberg really.  It’s enough to get you started, at any rate.  If you have suggestions on making those grocery dollars stretch, please feel free to leave a comment.  There are so many more options available than this humble list.

 

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Call Me Dr. Doolittle

Published August 4, 2015 by lynn k scott

Animal lovers; you either are or you aren’t.  I would throw myself in the “am” category.  I get it from my mom.  We had animals throughout my youth.  We took in strays, we took in retired working dogs, oh there’s a cat who needed home….sure, we’re a domesticated zoo (or it felt like one at times.

Recently, we joined a homeschool co-op.  So far, it’s been a wonderful experience.  My daughter is making all sorts of friends and the moms are truly a fantastic group of ladies.  We meet at two different homes, depending on who is hosting.  Last week, the home we met at had a variety of pets.

My daughter walks over holding a little ball of fur.  Her heart had been captured by none-other than “Hammy the Hamster” (as she called him).  Ut-oh…I see where all this cuddling, cooing and petting is going….Yup, to the dreaded, “Mom, can I have a hamster?”

Sure enough, we didn’t even make it home and the question slipped out of her mouth before I killed the ignition upon pulling into the driveway.  Oh boy!  Her dad was going to be “thrilled” at this latest animal prospect.  Her dad never had pets growing up. Our first rescue was almost cause for divorce.  Yup, I was getting the dog and he could stay if he chose to.  Sounds harsh, right? Nah!  Did you miss the title of this blog??  *smile*

Deterrent.  What could I use as a deterrent to the child who remembers everything?  Ah ha!  I research and presentation report. Yeah, that’s the ticket!  Ok, I foolishly thought she’d fall for that.  Oh no!  My ever-vigilant, hamster-wanting child welcomed the challenge.  Heck, she even bumped up the start of school by a week so she could start on her paper.

She insisted on visiting the library last weekend to check out books on hamsters.  She voluntarily took those books to daycare and wrote and entire page of facts and general information about hamsters for her presentation.  That caught me off guard.  She was please as punch at her progress.

Later that evening, I wrote out questions she needed to find answers to in order to present her paper.  She did all that before dinner so she could move her parental presentation to right after dinner instead of the following day.

Considering she has never stood in front of anyone, spoke about what she learned and was doing so on a subject of great interest, I’d say she did a fantastic job.  She closed her “argument” with if allowed to get a hamster, it would help teach her responsibility and help her grow as a person in pursuit of caring for animals.

Uggh!  She played the responsibility card and she sounded sincere.  Knowing her father had said he didn’t want a hamster in the house, he leaves the presentation saying, “it’s up to your mother”.  Well, shoot.  she knows I can’t turn away a pet opportunity.  In fact, I know she’s counting on it.

Final delay tactic; going to the pet store to price out supplies and the cost of adding a rodent to our home.  I should mention, she had asked her Godfather if he’d buy her the hamster, if I agreed.  What a kid, securing the financial part of her endeavor. She’s one smart cookie!

That’s the Bulk of it

Published March 6, 2015 by lynn k scott

I can’t believe as much as I am into cooking and living in the kitchen (or so it feels like), I don’t have a category for food and/or recipes.  Well, this post will take care of that.

It occurred to me when I did the post on being frugal, I left off one of my favorite ways to save at the grocery store:  the bulk bins! Not all stores have bulk bins, but those that do, it’s a great cost saver.

bulk bins

Winco bulk bins – Google search

Here’s why bulk bins are in.

  • You buy what you’ll use.  The picture shows spices and herbs in bulk containers.  Most recipes call for a couple teaspoons or tablespoons at a time.  Why have so much left over?  Not necessary.
  • You don’t buy a new jar/bottle each time.  If you cook at all, I’m sure you have a bottle for parsley, dill, onion powder, etc. already at home.  I bought dill last week from the bulk bin.  When I got it home, I put it in my existing dill jar.
  • Cost:  Buy a McCormick’s brand bottle of dill and you’ll easily spend $4.00+ for the same thing.  Even buying store brand will cost you over $2.00.  No sense in paying for advertising and jar costs.  I think I put in 5 spoonfuls and it cost me under $0.50.
  • Freshness:   Why store a spice by the bag or jar for months, esp. one you don’t use much.  Buy a bit here and there.  The store is constantly cycling out product as people use them.
  • Specialty items:  One item I need to use on occasion is Xanthan Gum.  It’s used in gluten-free cooking.  Now, there are premade flour blends that have the Xanthan gum in them.  It’s really quite convenient.  My only complaint is for 14 oz. of the flour blend, I have to pay $11.00.  Now, when I use the bulk bins for a gluten-free flour mixture, I can also pick up a couple of tablespoons of the Xanthan Gum.  I spend a lot less for the same type of flour and I combine them myself.  This specialty item, the Xanthan Gum, is over $18.00 per pound.  I don’t need to spend all of that at once.  I’d much rather spend $3.00 than $18.00 for the same item and use what I need.
large bulk

Winco bulk bins – Google search

  • Variety:  Perhaps you need a cup of this and a half a cup of that.  Did you really want to pay for two separate items, pre-packaged?  No?  Then head to the bins and gather up what you need.
  • It’s “green”:  Ok, I’m in CA, being green is in.  I’m still more of a turquoise than green, but I try.  The bins contain the same quality as the items that are prepackaged, you just aren’t paying for that package.  You have lots of containers at home that you can recycle and put your bulk items in.  See being green isn’t completely horrible.  I still find turquoise a better color though.  😉

From coffee to spices, to dog treats, to flours and mixes, bulk bins are becoming a popular store attraction.  People are learning to eat healthier using the items from the bins and cooking at home (another cost saver over eating out).  Next time you’re out, check out the bins you typically walk past.  See what all the fuss is about.  I bet you’ll be glad you did.

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