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Guest Post: I’m A Coupon Failure (Alternatively titled “How To Save Money At The Grocery Store”)

After Jamie’s post earlier in the week about Extreme Couponing, we thought it would be great to get a guest post from someone who still manages to save money without using coupons.  Shaina’s post at her own blog was perfect for us, so we asked her to share it with our readers.  Enjoy!

I admit it. I’m a coupon failure. I can never find any coupons that really save me money. Maybe it’s because I don’t catch the sales, maybe it’s because where I live I basically have a Wal-Mart(and not a super one), a Slone’s Market and two small grocery stores. I’ve considered hitting up our local Kroger, but at almost an hour away, I don’t know if it would be beneficial.

But, I still don’t spend a lot of money at the grocery store. I EASILY spend less than $60 a week to feed our family of three. And when I’m on the ball and actually meal plan hardcore, I can spend around $40.

So how do I do it? Just some simple principles.

1. Don’t buy brand names! For some reason a lot of people have hang-ups about buying the generic brand. Now, I will be honest. No store brand of Oreo’s is ever as good as the actual Oreo’s, but I shouldn’t be buying Oreo’s anyway, so this doesn’t really matter! In most things, I actually PREFER the store brand. Especially in Graham Crackers. EVERYONE should try Wal-Mart brand Graham crackers. Just saying.

But in all honesty, buying the generic brand can save you LOADS. Mylicon Drops for babies hover around $8-12 an OUNCE. Is it liquid gold? Store brand for the same amount? $3. That is INSTANT money in your pocket. And it’s the exact.same.thing. Same goes with Tylenol (acetemenophine) & Motrin, or any drug really. Also, Ziploc bags are usually a dollar or more MORE expensive than the store brand. These are just random examples, but you get the idea.

2. Stop buying processed food. You will be healthier and happier for it. 95% of the food I feed my family is home-made. Now, I won’t lie… I have Chef Boyardee in my cabinets, but I also have over 20 lbs of uncooked pasta to make my own. We don’t buy Hamburger Helper, or Macaroni & Cheese in a box… I merely make it from pasta, milk, butter, cheese, spices & hamburger. I control what goes in it. I control the sodium, the monosodium glutamate, the hydrogenated oils… none of it makes it in! I do buy some things like tomato sauce (not pasta sauce, that’s a rarity for me, but just plain ole tomato sauce) but, as we garden more this year, I hope to cut down those purchases as well!

3. Cut out the junk. Stop buying pop. Stop buying Little Debbie cakes. Stop buying potato chips. You do NOT need them, and you will not die without them. Junk food is some of the most expensive things we buy at the grocery. Now, I listed all those things, and I admit that I’ve bought all of them (except the pop) this past week. Right now I’m in a very awkward place of trying to figure out how to go from packing Carl leftovers every day to packing him a cold lunch every day, and I have to be honest and say I’m not doing well! My world is rocked and I’m not acclimating well! We do still buy the occasional coke when Carl and I are out and about, but we no longer keep it in the house.

I heard a statistic once that if you wanted “junk food” make it yourself, because 90% of the time you wouldn’t take the time to do so. So, if you want Little Debbies, bake a cake! For the same amount of money it takes you to buy 6 little cakes, you can have an ENTIRE sheet cake with icing! Yes your children may rise up in revolt against you for a week or so, but when they’re teenagers, they’ll thank you that they don’t have to stress out on the diet roller coaster as much.

4. Step away from the convenience foods. Foods like shredded hashbrowns SEEM like a good deal. Raw, frozen potatoes! This is so much faster! Yes, well, it is, but you’re also paying the same for one (1lb) bag of frozen hashbrowns as you could for a 10lb bag of raw potatoes. In an upcoming post I’ll show you how easy (albeit slightly time consuming) it is to make your OWN frozen hashbrowns for a QUARTER of the cost.

I buy frozen biscuits, but honestly? I really shouldn’t be. I have an awesome biscuit recipe. I could just as easily make up a ton of them and throw them in the freezer, and I plan on doing so soon, because it’s getting ridiculous buying them. I DO buy frozen veggies because they’re usually cheaper than the fresh ones. But I never buy “convenience” frozen veggies (like diced onions).

5. STOCK YOUR PANTRY! This is by far the most important one. Your pantry needs to be stocked, and it needs to be stocked WELL. I plan on posting on my blog (and maybe here?) a list of things you need to have on hand to have a healthy and happy pantry. If you keep them on hand you can make any variety of meals without having to run to the store 5 times a week!

Shaina is from the hills of eastern KY. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Carl and mom to a almost 18 month old baby girl, praying for God’s timing for baby #2! She blogs at The Diva’s Mom.

You can read Shaina’s other guest posts for us here!

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  1. LOVED THIS! it was perfect! I do a lot of the things she already does and I average about 60-75 a week on groceries for a family of three. I just wondered if there was any way to do it any better! Great tips and nice guest blogger ladies!

  2. Great post, Shaina! Thanks for sharing it with our readers!

    I’m a total coupon failure too. I did the whole binder with baseball card sleeves in it for about a month but it was way too overwhelming. I do NOT have the patience for clipping coupons and scouring deal sites and newspaper ads for the best deals. It’s just not worth it to me. My time can be better spent.

  3. Thanks ladies!!

  4. Jess Loveless says:

    LOVED this article! I laughed out loud when I read to cut out the Little Debbie Cakes. That’s something my husband and I always reference when we talk about junky and pricey food that we just don’t need! We are also trying very hard to get back to a simple and more raw diet. It’s difficult when you are used to those processed junk foods though. It’s seriously like you go through withdrawl – like a drug! But it is so worth it, both for your body and your bank account! 🙂 I love your idea on making your OWN frozen hashbrowns! I’m going to try this next grocery trip! Thanks for all the great tips!

  5. Thanks Jess!

    My husband still craves junk food a lot. I still have to buy Ramen noodles for him to be happy!

    I have a tendency to buy new bags of potatoes when I still have 4-5 potatoes in the old bag, and then I start using the new bag… so I had a about 4-5 bags of those leftover potatoes! That’s what I used!

    It really is addicting. I still get SEVERE coke (and not the illegal kind!) cravings almost daily!