I'm not your typical food storage type girl. I just don't like spending money on items I will not use (and will have to learn to use if, for some reason, we need to start living off of our food storage--wheat grinder, anyone?--Ok, I know there are some of you out there, but it's not me). I homemake pretty much everything, but I just can't/won't do certain foods--not until I have to, I guess.
What I did yesterday, is a way I make up for my lack of zest in wheat-grinding and pasta-making (though I do that on occasion just because it's GOOD). And because we live primarily on one person's salary--Devin's-- I feel it's my job to spend as little money as possible (I work teaching 12 piano lessons weekly to pay for my health insurance--and I LOVE it-- and do an elderly couple's finances because we have been working for them for a few years and they are just so close to passing it would be so difficult for their family to take it on, but in essence, I am home taking care of the child(ren) and home). The hang up? Couponing takes me WAY to much time. And that's time that I don't want to put in when I work what I do and want to be a mommy the rest of the time.
I started using this site and this site to make my efforts worthwhile-->minimum time that yields the maximum results. And I mean VERY little minimum time...absolutely NO MORE, and probably significantly less, that what I would do anyway to plan out meals and a grocery list for the week (I shop once per week. That is my max. I will not go more than once to the store in a week--saves money AND time, as long as I plan well).
Sorry, no pictures, but I left Smith's yesterday with 3 FULL TO THE BRIM carts (yes, they closed down an entire lane for me, and yes, they were super annoyed to have to be checking me out), and then added another from Food4Less and a half of one (which is actually a much larger cart in comparison) from Costco. I used no coupons, but bought 285 items for $369.05. That comes to roughly $1.30 per item. I am sure you have watched Extreme Couponers, and they have much better percentage savings than what you are probably calculating in your head (even though I estimated saving at least $130 from what I would have spent going to Walmart for those same items), but what I have found is that they don't count the money they spend in getting those coupons, the amount of time and work involved, and the fact that much of the stuff isn't always that usable (some of them have LIFETIMES of certain product just sitting in their garage)--at least for OUR FAMILY. Not to mention, I don't find nearly as many great coupons in the Western US as I have seen in the East.....but, like I said, I don't spend that much time on couponing.
What you don't know is that despite the fact that my husband looks almost like a stick figure, he eats as much in one sitting as my ENTIRE immediate family did at a meal during my growing-up years. He just eats and eats....and eats. He is often referred to as the human garbage disposal (and rightly so). For that reason alone, we have to have SUBSTANTIAL meals to keep up with our family. We only have 3 of us, right now, and we better watch out if we have several boys that eat as much as him. He already eats 4+ meals per day. It could be exhausting to keep up with; not to mention, it would literally eat us out of house and home. We need to be able to stockpile, not wait for coupons and build up the pile over time.
But last night, I bought enough pasta noodles, canned vegetables, sugar, canned fruit, canned beans, tuna, canned tomatoes, spices and seasonings, canned chicken, and deodorant to last us a year (until next year's case-lot sales). And enough quaker oatmeal, ramen, cheese, apples, rice, potatoes, bell peppers, onions, bananas (and I means TONS), ground beef, chicken breasts, milk, tortillas, cases of water, and butter to last us several weeks to several months (and I would have bought more of some of this stuff if I already had an additional freezer in the garage).
These are all things I use (and can therefore rotate) in meals I make or meal recipes she offers on the website, which is also a HUGE time-saver. This also means I will have to shop for a LOT less throughout the year. I do these HUGE shopping trips, for certain items we use regularly, a couple times per year, and then only need to purchase our produce, dairy (though not even all of it once I get an additional freezer in my garage and can start freezing more of the things that freeze well--catching my hint, Dev :O)), bread (if I don't end up making it myself--this is something I DO NOT like eating after it's been frozen), some meats, and other perishables that we need for certain meals that week. But I plan the meals around the things with the best sales, so we continue to save money.
I'm sure some of you are saying "well, I could do better than that," but it works for us, we end up having a food storage, I don't have a lot of anxiety over it, it's quick and simple, and for us, it just works!
What things do you do to save you time and money? I am all about efficiency!
P.S. I spent about 45 minutes (with a toddler, so that makes it take longer) planning the grocery list and meal plan, 2.5 hours purchasing, loading, and unloading the items (again, with a toddler), and 1.5 hours organizing it all (AGAIN, with a toddler, and that will NORMALLY be MUCH less because I will eventually have a very set system in our house for where all the food goes. I just haven't done my large shopping spree yet since we've been in the new house and needed to figure out exactly what I wanted to do). Also, I do SOME coupon shopping at times using Hip2save and just by quickly going through the ads I get in the mail (we get many coupons for free in NV) to get coupons for items I buy regularly, like Silk, that never go on really good sales, and we have to have it for Camden's milk allergy.
Also, see this interesting clip if you haven't yet: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=15514795. Either way you do it, you're saving BIG!
And see my sister-in-law's website for garage sale tips and ideas. I bought pretty much every item of furniture we have in that way and have saved THOUSANDS. I also buy clothes, shoes, toys, etc. Saving money is FUN! garagesalesrus.blogspot.com/