Thursday, February 18, 2016

HOW I GROCERY SHOP ONCE A MONTH ...PART 2

Hello Friends , Thanks for coming back to visit . Today I will be sharing more of my Once a Month Shopping Tricks and Tips with you !
 
Most months I choose to do the majority of my shopping at my local Meijer store ( if not in your area they are a big box type store carrying everything from clothing to groceries and lots in between ) , I choose to shop there the most because of the great sales they run , the perks of their customer reward/coupon program , as well as the variety of goods available along with the freshness and quality !
This monthly shopping trip I not only came in under my estimated total/budget , but I did so while purchasing many " EXTRAS" for side dishes , extra meals etc...Those extras come in handy during months where money is tight or sales aren't as spectacular . I'll share how to get those extras a lil later in this post. I also earned $15.00 in REWARDS from the customer loyalty program for doing my shopping with them , I can choose which rewards I want to try and earn by reaching pre-determined spending amounts set by the retailer in various departments throughout the store . Those REWARDS are basically cash that I can use for purchases later on (usually valid for 4-6 weeks I believe) , I usually use those for items that I may run out of during the month like milk, bread or I use them for clothing needs to purchase clearance clothing or treats for school. If you have a favorite local store , I urge to you to find out if they have a customer loyalty program , usually free , and offer exclusive savings, coupons, rewards for it's members . Also check to see if the store  has a Facebook page as many offer special "freebie" codes or coupons to its followers, there may even be a private savings group for your store on FB as well , a place where members post savings alerts, coupon match ups and bargains, and savings tips and tricks!
Other ways to save are coupons( online, printed insert, text,magazine etc..) , tracking sale rotations, unadvertised store specials, you can also write or email your fave brand manufacturers and let them know you love their product and many will send you in return coupons of much higher value then any you will find in print or online .
 For example I emailed Johnsonville , told them we loved their bratwurst , they not only sent a lovely reply , they sent several $$ coupons for that product , which allowed me to get their brats for $0.99 a package during the next sale rotation, but they also sent coupons for FREE products!!!  It's amazing what a lil time and a few kind words can do for your wallet. Last May I was able to use coupons, and sale tracking to fill my deep freezer full of enough meat products to last almost 8 months ! Now I won't guarantee all will send you a "kickback" but most will or they will direct you to their customer loyalty program where you will get offers if/when they come available . I will share more details on coupons and sale tracking and other places you can save in Post 3!
One reason I spend so much time on my menu, list , and organization is not only to save money but to save TIME! I go into the store on a mission , with a detailed list there is less chance of being DISTRACTED BY ENDCAP sales traps ...you know the ones I mean ...things you would NEVER normally seek out in the aisle or consider purchasing ...but LOOK it's so AWESOME by the hundreds on that endcap... I just have to buy it !!! I also try not to shop hungry or with children ...those last two tend to lead to lots of UNNECCESSARY PURCHASES and LOTS of expensive JUNK FOOD :)  
I also prefer to  shop the 3rd Wednesday of the month... in the morning hours ...yes it seems strange ...however I have found that shopping on that day, at that time not only allows me to enjoy a virtually EMPTY store to shop at my leisure ( and I get to avoid ROAD RAGE with my shopping cart) , but  that many UNADVERTISED SPECIALS and DEPARTMENT CLEARANCE items are available then ! Don't be afraid to ask departmental employees when they normally mark items down...items close to sell by date are HUGELY reduced and still perfectly good to prepare soon after purchase  or to be wrapped for freezing for later use.
 
 Now ...about those EXTRAS .  Extras are items I find unadvertised or possibly even clearance , most usually pantry staples or items/brands we normally use and enjoy...I have two rules when it comes to those items( 1. ) I only buy the name brands we have tried and love and  must have a coupon to go with the sale to make it at least 50% off and  worth straying from my list( 2.) I will only try a new brand/ item if I have a coupon and after coupon that item is less than $1 or FREE :)
I also usually buy my meat in bulk and once home divide it into the portions I need for my menu and place in freezer bags until I am ready to use UNLESS....it is marked down meat and I have a clear schedule and feel decent that day then I will precook and portion prior to freezing , saving myself time later. Prep work can save you lots of time and money later on especially in regards to markdowns and perishable items.  
 I also know that I am not saving as much as I should or have in the past ...I could save TONS more if I purchased no boxed /canned , ready made ...and purchased only farm fresh meat direct and grew, canned and froze more produce or purchased from the local farm market.
Once upon a time I would have never purchased many of  those items but with my health issues being what they are , I sadly have to use more of those items and cook many items semi-homemade if you will . Hopefully some day in the future I can get back to more homemade !
That's about all I can think of right now , hopefully it makes sense and I haven't forgotten too much , and I hope you will come visit again soon ...and until we meet again...ill always be ...just a lil raggedy ! hugs
 
MY ESTIMATED SHOPPING TOTAL/BUDGET

MY ACTUAL SHOPPING TOTAL FOR THIS MONTH
THIS TRIP/MONTHS SAVINGS

THIS MONTHS COST BREAKDOWN EXCLUDING "REWARDS" SHOWN BELOW ( TO BE USED AT LATER DATE )

MY CUSTOMER LOYALTY SAVINGS BREAKDOWN AFTER THIS MONTHS TRIP

CUSTOMER REWARDS I ACHIEVED BY DOING MY SHOPPING WITH THEM THIS MONTH ...BASICALLY CASH TO BE USED AT A LATER DATE


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

HOW I GROCERY SHOP ONCE A MONTH ...PART 1

 Good Evening Friends ! My apologies for being a HORRIBLE blogger last week , my health gave me a real hard way to go  , add in a holiday , and a sick Princess and I just wasn't able to make it back ...I'M SO SO SORRY!! I hope y'all can forgive me !
Awhile back I mentioned that I ONLY grocery shop once a month , and that I would be doing a post for those interested in the " HOW" in the  very near future ...well this is " THAT POST " !!! In actuality it will probably be easiest to break  it  down into....maybe 3 posts !

First , let me explain the " WHY?" ...I am the " main provider " for my family , I say "main " because on occasion... Mr. Chuck or my Mom  will bring by a few groceries , should we run short ( usually due to  buying less, because of higher than expected living costs that month, higher pricing on out of season items  or unforeseen circumstances that take money from my grocery fund ie; school costs, over the counter meds etc..) . Our household consists only of myself and  the Princess, however Mr. Chuck though he has his own home , visits pretty much daily so he eats his meals here as well ...fair trade I reckon  since he transports us to and from the Dr.  , the grocery , school, wherever we need to go, he also usually takes us out for a meal once a week ( a treat we otherwise would not get to enjoy )  !We also like to  have an occasional meal with other  family members now and again  . I have applied for disability and that can be a long , slow process so until that goes through ...I have $602.00 a month to provide for all our living costs , food, basic needs ...I know folks that have car payments higher than what I support my family on! So now you know why it is soooo very crucial that I save as much money as possible any way I can ! I have also found that I spend far less money making one trip to the store , than I would if I went weekly. There are a few other detailed lil "tips " which I will share in a later post .

So , let's begin with the " HOW" ...
(1.) The first thing I do every month, a few days before I plan to make my trip to the store ....I go through all my cabinets, the pantry, fridge and freezer and take inventory of all the items I have on hand ...I then drag out my list of  "our fave meals" ( sorry I didn't take a pic of this to  post , basically just sit down and type/write up a list of all the foods your family enjoys , I keep a hard copy of this in a clear page protector  for repeated use, I then while planning can use dry erase marker to mark my choices for the month and erase to begin again next month ), I also keep a list of " EXOTIC/NEW RECIPES " next to my laptop on my desk( I also note where the recipe can be found for example Pinterest, cookbook, magazine etc) , those are the  recipes that we would like to try !I then mark the items that I think we would like to eat this month
(2.) I then get out my menu "guide" which will help me in step 3 ...you can make your guide to fit your family's individual needs ... maybe you want a Meatless Monday ,  or Surf and Turf  or maybe you have sports practice on Wednesday nights and need to plan a crock pot meal etc...the sky is the limit and it needs to be what fits your family's tastes and needs
(3.) Next figure out exactly how many days you need meals for and how many meals each day you plan to shop for ...I needed 28 days , however one night a week we either go out to dinner with Mr. Chuck or eat leftovers , therefore I only needed 24 days , with 3 meals each day (total of  72 meals)  ,  I also  needed 4 additional days with just breakfast and lunch( total of 80 meals )  ,  I also try to prepare at least one "snack item " for each week ( please note I do not usually add sides to my menu because I usually have plenty of frozen, fresh or canned veggies or pastas stocked up in the pantry or freezer, purchased when they are at deep discount and I have a coupon to go with the sale  )
(4.) On a sheet of paper numbered with the amount of meals you need ( I do dinners on one side , lunches , breakfasts, snacks on the backside ) CREATE A MENU ... I first place meals ( based on my guide) using what  items I had on hand when I took inventory , that way items are getting used up in a proper amount of time and I am not purchasing items that I won't need ( unless it is a pantry staple that needs replenished) ...then I place meals based on  our "fave foods list ", and " exotic/new foods"  and  that I think I want to use this month ...
(5.) Gather your local grocery/ big box stores weekly ads or get on their websites...and scan the weekly add for  items you will need , also watch for "AMAZING SALES " ...you know when pork loin is $ 1.49 a pound... yet you have chicken on the menu and its $3.99 a pound , you will then modify your menu and your shopping list to fit the sales , if you coupon you will also see if you have any coupons to further compliment the sale prices ( please note that on my menu for breakfast I buy only a few items that I can interchange all month long , I also only purchase lunches for Princess for the weekends or non-school days, as most days we have plenty of leftovers from the day before that I and Mr. Chuck can eat for lunch )
(6.) On a separate sheet of paper( with your inventory list handy, and any needed recipes  ) write down every item you will need to purchase for each Menu selection ,as well as any  pantry staples that need replenished, and any personal  toiletries and household items  you will need( because yes I also buy these items all at the same time if possible , so in a later post when you see my cost breakdown , you will be know this is also for ALL of our personal and household needs)  ... this will be your rough draft of your "SHOPPING LIST"
(7.) I then make my final SHOPPING LIST ... I sort my items by department , listing their estimated price( prices can be found in the ads, or  estimated once you get used to your fave stores pricing and sales rotation, most prices can also be found on the stores website )  , and noting if I have a coupon for the item and how much it is for and if for a specific size ...  after listing every item by category/store location , I then total my estimated costs for each section noting the totals in the LEFT hand margin...I then add up all the sections which will give me my ESTIMATED BUDGET for that particular store, which I then place on the top of the page  ...if you plan to use more than one store because of sales etc ...make separate lists and budgets for each store ! For example I sometimes buy my meat at a different store , or my toiletries and cleaning supplies at the local Dollar General store ( Ill share more on that in post 2 when I share info on how I save )

I know this can be time consuming ( planning takes me approx. 3-4 hours a month, shopping takes approx. 1 hour and 10 mins) ... but trust me it's worth it in the long run ! The hours you now spend running to the store weekly can eventually be spent doing things you love or spending more time with your family !  I also know that this can be overwhelming for " first timers"  however I hope I have explained the process clearly enough that everyone can understand, however I  will do my best to respond to all questions left via comment or email .
 Now time for the particulars " I AM NOT AN EXPERT , nor do I claim to be , I am merely passing on what I do personally  and though it works for me , it may not work the same for you !" .So ,in other words ... if you don't save TONS of money , please DON'T BLAME ME !
 I thank you for visiting and hope this post will be of help to someone ... I will be back tomorrow with Post 2 of this series ...until we meet again ... Ill always be ...just a lil raggedy ! hugs



MENU GUIDE

SAMPLE MENU ...THIS IS OURS FOR FEB/MAR

ON THE BACK OF THE SAMPLE MENU ...FOOD SELECTIONS FOR LUNCH , BREAKFAST , AND SNACKS

I GO THROUGH MY FAVE STORES WEEKLY AD AN CIRCLE ITEMS THAT I NEED AND ALSO NOTE IF I HAVE A COUPON FOR THAT ITEM



MY FINALIZED SHOPPING LISTS COMPLETE WITH SECTIONS, PRICING, COUPON NOTATIONS , AND SECTION TOTALS

MY BUDGET FOR MY ABOVE SHOPPING LISTS AT MY LOCAL MEIJER STORE ( WHICH HAPPENS TO BE WHERE I FIND THE BEST PRICES USUALLY )

Friday, February 12, 2016

Tests, The Teacher and Treats !!!


 Good Evening FRIENDS ! Where on earth did the week go ? I had BIG plans of blogging /reading EVERY day however , for whatever reason , LIFE HAPPENED  and I just didn't make it to blog land :( ! I'm so sorry , hopefully the bitter cold predicted for the weekend will give me a lil extra time to get caught up !
  So, as for the week ...Monday and Tuesday were HORRIBLE pain days , so I spent as much time in bed as possible . Wednesday I had an afternoon appointment with the new neurosurgeon for my MRI results . Upon reviewing the test and seeing me unable to sit in the exam room  ,instead  leaning on the counter bawling like a baby  , he feels my pain is intense and real but ... the test did not show what he thought it would ! Apparently he originally felt like I most likely had an infection in the soft tissue between the vertebrae or a narrowing of the nerve canal . So...since MRI did NOT show anything alarming he has now ordered additional tests , one of which will be a CT scan of the bone in the lumbar, and sacral regions of my lower spine . He feels that I quite possibly have a "structural issue" with the bone? My hardware has loosened ?  My fusion may not be solid? Who knows ...I just hope they find an answer quick , the pain I've been dealing with recently is worse than any I've EVER had to deal with and my patience is running very thin  !


A NORMAL SPINE( I HAVE A NEW DISC, SCREWS, PLATES, RODS  AT L5S1)
MY SPINE ...CAN YOU SPOT THE TRIANGLE? THATS MY NEW DISC/CAGE THAT BRIGHT WHITE LAYER ALONG THE BACK RIGHT  IS MY WINTER BEAR FAT ...ROFLMBO

PRETTY SURE THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED :)


OR MAYBE IT WAS LAUGHING AT THIS ...BLOG KITTY "BURIES" HIS FUZZBALLS UNDER THE TRASH CAN , THEN CRIES FOR DADDY TO GET THE FLASHLIGHT AND DIG THEM OUT SO THEY CAN PLAY ....I LOVE HOW HE HUNKERS DOWN TO SUPERVISE ...HE ONLY HAD 7 UNDER THERE :)





 
 Thursday was spent alternating my time between lying in bed and creating goodies for Princess and her third grade classmates for their Valentines party !

 Do you remember that " creepy" doll head I shared last week ?

Well....she's now quite the "CONVERSATION PIECE" , a OOAK  creepy creation for Princesses teacher ...a connoisseur of the strange but fun!  That ole doll head is now  so "creepy cool" the teacher even let out a SQUEAL of delight when she unwrapped her ! Or was it a CACKLE??? LOL Either way ... I'm pretty sure , I got an A in the 3rd grade today !!
 The kids finished off personalized necklaces, made cootie catchers, picked out a book to keep at home , I read them a few Valentine books , they  handed out cards and treats , then enjoyed a healthy snack ! Though the school considers " cookies, cakes, sweets, treats etc.... contraband" and  not acceptable on school property ... the kids can receive some of those  items but they must be taken home and consumed there  ! Their sweet talented teacher made each child a GORGEOUS sparkly , Personalized ,YUMMY cookie to take home to enjoy ! I always enjoy my time with the kids  at school, but boy does it ever wear me out !!


OOAK CONVERSATION PIECE DOLL
COOTIE CATCHER ..DO YOU REMEMBER MAKING THESE AS A CHILD ?
THE HANDPAINTED PERSONALIZED NECKLACES I PAINTED FOR THE CLASS , THEY WERE STRUNG ON YARN AND THE KIDS ADDED BEADS OF THEIR CHOICE
PRINCESSES PRETTY COOKIE FROM HER TEACHER (  sorry its sideways Im not sure how that happened)
ONE OF THE HEALTHY SNACKS THE KIDS ENJOYED ...CONVERSATION CUTIES ;)
 


Leaving you with a glimpse of Valentines Décor in the kitchen ! The kitchen is the only room in the house completely "non prim " ...decorated more "VINTAGE"  with my red/white enamelware, Coke and Jack Daniels signage and collectibles ! I hope to return tomorrow to finish sharing the rest of the "LOVE" décor in our home as well as a few Valentine gifts I am making !Sweet dreams to all ..and until we meet again ... I'll always be ...just a lil raggedy ! hugs
 
A LIL SNOWLADY SCATTERING LOVE
 


CONVERSATION HEARTS AND JACK ~N~COKE  ONE OR THE OTHER BOUND TO GET THE CONVO STARTED :)

MY DIRTY LIL VALENTINE SECRET ! TRUTH!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A MANTLE FINISH

HELLO FRIENDS ...just a quick post to share the finally finished mantle ! I'm quite pleased with how it turned out ! If you are on my Facebook sorry to duplicate ! Hope each of you are enjoying your weekend thus far . We are , took Princess to ToysRUS to spend Birthday money that was burning holes in her pockets , also had a nice lunch out, now just lounging around enjoying being together  ! Enjoy yourselves and hope to visit again soon and until we meet again ...Ill always be...just a lil raggedy! hugs
 





You can't take this silly kid anywhere ! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

HOLD EM , FOLD EM, OR MAYBE HANG EM ?

Good Evening friends , so glad you came by , come on in , can I  get you a nice cup of coffee? tea?  cocoa (maybe with a splash of RumChatta ) or lots of marshmallows ? We can sit at the dining room table and visit as long as you like , it's nice and toasty inside but... warm wishes and  great friends are  always welcome !
Today has been a very stressful but enlightening day , Princess and I had a few issues with one of our neighbors over something quite menial , and though it wasn't handled  quite as lovely as I would have liked , it has been handled none the less ! Around here we play the hand we are dealt very  carefully , because you are only dealt that one hand , but on occasion an outside "source" ups the ante , and all we can do is stumble through it and do the best we can to turn it into a learning experience  in hopes that it never happens again !
 

MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE :)
 This evening after homework was complete, dinner eaten , and showers taken, the Princess went to play in her room and I went to work on spreading around a lil more LOVE in the dining room , because as Princess tells me " ONE CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH LOVE " and we have very lil , at least the decorating kind :)  !!!

I don't have many Valentines decorations , so we are trying to make some worthy of reusing , out of things we have around the house , as Princess LOVES to decorate for holidays and the more "BLING & SPARKLE" the BETTER!!! Which makes it hard to stick to my Prim-ness ...however they are only lil once and Someday she will be grown and I can be as Prim as I want... but am sure I  will wish I had all that Glitter back instead !
So tonight , I made a Valentine  playing card/ rag garland for our mantle . I had seen the idea on Pinterest ( imagine that ! lol ) and there was no link back to the directions nor the  original creator ...so if this was your brain child please let me know so I can give you proper credit !

 Anyhoooo ... it was so simple to make and I really LOVE how it turned out , I used 2 decks of playing cards ( from my moms goodwill pile ...THANKS MOM) , I used some more of that red/white thin bakers twine from my Aunt( THANKS AUNTIE ) , and I used fabric scraps left from our heart table runner project from last week , a hole punch and it was as Princess says ..."EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZEY"... took maybe 45 mins to make both . Don't pay no mind to the top of the mantle as it's my decorating "PROBLEM CHILD " , I always seem to struggle to decorate it  and feel that I am content with how I did it , do you have one of those areas in your home ?   I have hopes of finishing it and the rest of the homestead by the end of the weekend  and sharing it all with you here soon  !








If I am feeling good enough to get out of bed for a short time , I hope to make the "Valentine branches " below to tuck inside some of my crocks ! I also would like to apologize for not visiting everyone as consistent as I would like , but I do try but can't blog on my phone or kindle for some reason and it's hard to blog via laptop  lying down and I can't sit or stand too long either . I do read all your blogs , I just do not always comment ...for that I am sorry , but I have hopes of trying to catch up this weekend ! Well I guess that's all the excitement I have to share for now , y'all are welcome to stay as long as you wish , I enjoy your company , Sweet dreams my friends and until we meet again ..Ill always be ...just a lil raggedy  ! hugs