Thursday, August 5, 2010

Because sometimes you just can't figure out where all the money is going...

I would like to take a couple moments to sing the praises of coupons, special offers and sale ads.
I would also like to give you my favorite bit of advice that I've ever received and it has been compiled through the wisdom of my girlfriends and the wonderful role models that I have found in my mother, grandmothers and aunts.

Step 1 - Plan Ahead

I start on Sunday - shopping day - and make a menu. And we stick to it, no matter what. We dig out the Kroger ad, check and Martin's Supermarket for the sale ad that fits our budget and menu the best for that week and start making The List. The List is 6 days of meals made at home. The rules state that we have to use things already in the pantry, and don't buy anything that isn't on sale.

Step 2 - Anticipate

We've been in theatre production mode for 4 weeks now. Being at the theatre every night does NOT mean we eat out every night. The menu revolves around what can be made simply and quickly on nights when there isn't much time between work and the next place to be. Salad, hamburger helper, sandwiches, whatever. Also, make things on Sunday or Monday, that can be eaten again as leftovers later! Pork roast on Sunday after church can be pulled pork sandwiches on Monday evening. See, you just made 2 meals out of $12! Working late on Wednesday? That's why God gave us the crock pot! But you have to plan ahead!

Step 3 - Buy in bulk

Last week I bought 5 pounds of ground hamburger. Not because I was have guests, but because if I bought that much, it was $1.89 per pound instead of $3.59 per pound. The Menu was strategically made to include tacos, hamburgers, and pasta dishes that could be made with hamburger. I divided the giant package into 3 pieces and put them in freezer containers and then into the freezer and grabbed them as necessary.

Step 4 - Organize!

Get your pantry stocked with things you eat weekly! I make peanut butter and jelly for Alex at least 2 days a week, so peanut butter and white bread are always things that I keep on hand! I also keep a large supply of pasta shapes of all kinds, canned tomatoes, dried beans, boxed potatoes, pizza sauce, flour, sugar, cold and hot cereals, rice and pancake mix. Believe me, if a blizzard happens this winter, or the economy completely tanks and food prices become staggering, I don't plan to be caught unawares. My home usually has at least a week's supply of food ingredients in it at all times. I also try to can fresh and farm produce when it's in season. Roma tomatoes make the best sauces, and at 77 cents a pound right now, it would be rediculous to go buy pasta sauces at a couple bucks a jar.

Step 5 - Be Positive

Stop telling yourself that you're too busy, tired, overwhelmed and stupid to make this work. You're none of those things. It takes longer to drive to a restaurant, sit and wait and then eat than it does to cook dinner and it costs 5 times more. Don't have the strength to drag the kids to the store? Call Grandma, Aunt Sue or the neighbor's teenage daughter. Or go late at night. There are 24-hour superstores for just that reason. Discipline in key to success in anything. I didn't become a concert pianist because I smiled at the piano from across the room every day. You didn't get successful in your job by wishing things would happen. You have to committ and stick with it. And for crying out loud, stop telling yourself those negative things! You can do it!

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