Monday, May 30, 2011

Shopping Lists

From Oct 31, 2009
One of the best aids to staying within your budget is to make a shopping list and stick to it. I have typed up a list for my regular shopping. One side of the paper is for the discount store for household items. The other side is for the grocery store. I post this on the ‘fridge and just circle the items I need.

As I make and do more things at home the list actually gets shorter because I am buying few items and these are the most basic foods. When the sale papers come out I take a look and see what is on sale. I really try not to buy anything that is not on sale. Things that will keep on the shelf or in the freezer I try to stock up on when they go on sale. Butter, cheese and milk all freeze well, so if you have the space, stock up.

Learn to do your own canning so that when your garden is producing well or there is a terrific sale on fresh produce, you can stock your shelves with home canned goods. Yes it takes a little investment to start this, but you can buy things a little at a time. Yard sales are great places to pick up extra canning jars and sometimes other equipment that will make it easier and faster. The canning kettles will last nearly forever and the glass jars will make many round trips before they are retired because of nicks or chips in the rim. Even then they can hold dry goods on the shelf.

I bought a gadget on Ebay that peels, cores and slices apples and will also work on potatoes, for less than $20 with the shipping. Now when apples are on sale or friends have bumper crops it is a breeze to process them, especially for making apple chips in the dehydrator. Have you priced dried apples lately? I dip mine in an acid solution (so they don’t turn brown); made with lemon, lime or even just vinegar and water. Then  add a little bit of cinnamon. These make great snacks or additions to home-made granola. If you have a dehydrator, live in a warm sunny climate or even have a pilot light in your oven, you can dry fruit and vegetables without too much trouble. Any time you have a dab of this or that which is going to be spoiling and you can’t use it up fast enough, just slice it and dry it. Then instead of being wasted it is right there on the shelf, ready to use when ever you need it.

I’ve done this will celery, onions, mushrooms, carrots, then mix them together for nearly instant soup or to flavor roast chicken or beef. This year I’ve dried grapes, plums, apples and bananas. Extra 7 bone steak became beef jerky. (marinate in soy sauce with crushed garlic and a little brown sugar first)

But I have digressed. Make your list. Make sure everything you will need until your next payday is on your list. Check your sale paper and plan negotiable things like what fresh produce and which kind of meat you will buy based on what’s on sale.  Write your budget amount for this shopping trip in big red numbers at the top of your list. Take your list to the store with you along with your calculator and any coupons you have. Try to leave your spouse and children at home if you can. Comparison shop, always compare the price by the ounce, pound or other unit. Bulk packaging is not always the cheapest, sometimes, especially with a sale, a smaller size might have a cheaper per ounce price. Also, compare prices between stores. It might be worth it to shop 2 or more places, at least occasionally for great sale items.

Most of the time I do not bother with coupons. 99.9% of the coupons out there are for packaged convenience foods which have too much salt, sugar and chemical additives and not nearly enough fiber, protien, vitamins and minerals for the price. You can make them much cheaper at home, so why pay extra?
My list for household goods is even shorter, toilet paper, laundry soap, bleach, ammonia, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant. Occasionally trash bags and light bulbs. Again, I try to wait for a good sale and stock up. This coming month I’m going to try doing this shopping just once for the whole month. The less time you spend in that discount store the less you will be tempted to buy things that are not on your list, just because they are a good buy or on clearance.

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