Money Saving Monday: Eat More, Spend Less Review

i-love-saving-money-copy

Man what a month it has been!  I travelled a total of 14 days during June and we moved in-between all that craziness!  The beau was gone just as much which means a) we still aren’t completely unpacked and b) we weren’t really doing anything resembling normal grocery shopping.  Since there was only one week when we were here for all of it, we did minimal meal planning and couponing.  It just wasn’t a priority this month.  However, I am super happy to report that despite all of this, we were under budget every single week.  Including splurges.  #win  Just please don’t look at my discretionary spending fund… *whistles*

Anyway, this week there isn’t anything particularly special about our spending.  In addition to the most perfect loaf of bread we picked up in the city, we went to Trader’s on our trip home, bought a handful of things that tickled our fancy (with the plan to go to the store again later in the week) and that was that.  Threw together a greens-grains-beans bowl last night (kale, Bulgar, and chickpeas) and voila!

Instead, this week its a special Money Saving Monday.  A little over a month ago, Emily Levenson, the fab gal behind Project: Food Budget, contacted me to see if I would review her new e-book, Eat More, Spend Less.  Of course I said yes immediately.  I truly loved doing P:FB, both for the challenge and the community.  I learned so much about couponing, self-discipline, meal-planning, my spending habits and motivations, and just being a savvy shopper.  These are the pieces I did my best to weave throughout my P:FB narrative, to inspire you and record my journey.  Therefore, I knew that Emily’s e-book would be a summary of all of that. And in this case, I was right.

Eat More, Spend Less: Mastering the Art of Food Budgeting
By: Emily Levenson, MSW,CHHC

Eat More, Spend Less (EMSL) is the perfect beginner’s guide to food budgeting.  Emily writes with both humor and grace, encouraging readers to have fun with this process and also to forgive themselves on weeks that aren’t “perfect.”  The guide, however, is also a great reminder for those of us who’ve been budgeting for a while now.  Though most of the information was not new to me, it was still good to see so many of hte lessons I’ve learned compiled into one quick read.

At 29 pages, EMSL is  concise and straightforward, all the while providing a plethora of important details and tools.  It is this very mix that makes the book so awesome.  Emily doesn’t just provide instructions on how to, say, set your budget or meal plan, she provides worksheets and examples that guide you through the process.  On ever page I felt like Emily was a spending-savvy girlfriend, guiding me through the maze of food budgeting with patience and without judgment. 

The book itself is divided into six parts:

  • Setting the Stage provides info on why budgeting is important and how it changed Emily’s life.
  • Setting a Budget takes you through the steps to choosing a realistic budget you can (mostly) stick to.
  • Budgeting Tools are the nitty gritty of the book and include tips and tricks for staying on-budget.
  • Budget-Friendly Meals offers guidance on stocking your pantry and a lot more detail on meal planning.
  • Resources include websites and books that will make this process more automatic and simple.
  • Appendix has all your worksheets (tracking your budget, weekly meal plan, etc).

Rather than just give you this information, Emily really narrates a story, one that is directed right at the reader (hence that whole “it feels like I’m hanging with my bestie” vibe).  She doesn’t just write about the benefits of food budgeting, but shares her personal experiences and challenges with it.  The book really goes beyond the basic and heavily discussed ideas about the topic and delves into some reasons that you might not immediately think of.  For example, Emily writes that food budgeting can help build your self-esteem.  Though this wasn’t something I was actively aware of in my own adventures, once I read it I realized that, indeed, setting and rising to a challenge each week was really confidence-boosting!  To that end, I also appreciate the Emily does not shy away from the fact that whenever we’re talking about money, a lot of ‘stuff’ can come up – anger, resentment, guilt, etc.  This fact is acknowledged and the reader is reminded that this is both normal and ok.

In the same spirit, the ‘Tools’ section begins with all your basic, budgeting 101-esque advice.  Meal plan, use a shopping list, buy food in season.  But slowly it shifts to more novel ideas like working splurges into your budget and finding an accountability buddy.  Though unconventional, these tips are so important and vital for budgeting success.  Having my P:FB family was so key for those weeks when I felt I had totally failed or when I just wanted to forget about my budget and go a little cray at the supermarket.   Splurging–on things I’d normally make at home (e.g. hummus) or dessert or the brand I really love–also helps budgeting to feel less restrictive.  And this, ladies and gents, is the second major theme of the book:  budgeting does not have to hurt (too much).  Splurges are good if they are planned.  Going over is ok as long as your overall trajectory is towards spending less.  So on and so forth.

Overall, I’d highly recommend EMSL for anyone who is interested in learning more about food budgeting and/or beginning to budget for themselves.  Between it’s ‘girlfriend guide’ tone and guilt-free message, its the perfect book for exploring the world of saving money on what you eat.  For those who have been in the budgeting world for a while, it might not offer too much new information.  However, as a refresher it is definitely ideal because it reminds readers so well of why they started to budget and what is so awesome about it.  Plus its a gentle nudge to go back to those basic tools that work oh-so-well.

Want your own copy? Eat More, Spend Less can be purchased at Emily’s site for only $8.99!  #bargain

Thank you to Emily for the chance to review this new book and remember why I love couponing and budgeting.  And a special shout-out to my P:FB comrades for all of their continued inspiration and motivation.  You all rock!

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

All views expressed in this post are my own.  A copy of EMSL was provided in exchange for writing a review.

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Project: Food Budget – This is It!

Holy crap…this is my last P:FB post.  😥  I’m actually really sad this project is over since I’ve had a blast, met some great friends, and learned a ton.  I hope these weekly posts have been useful for you!  Thanks to everyone who has commented and offered support and feedback.   🙂

Anyway, Emily asked that we go a little rogue this week and do a bit of reflecting on our participation in this project.  So here goes…

I’ve always considered myself a good budget-er.  That is what happens when, for better or worse, you become financially independent at 16 and are responsible for every dime you spend (car insurance included).  However, when I graduated college and was working full time both at UMass and Passion Parties (that would be 6-8 parties/month), I experienced wealth like never before.  Now, this is relative wealth since what I was making, combined, most people would scoff at.  Fact of the matter is, I was making more money than ever and I could spend it how I chose.  I was frugal about saving because I planned on going to medical school and am extremely grateful because it saved me from taking out a very very large sum of additional loans.

But somewhere along the way, I let budgeting slide.  Probably because, for the first time in my life I didn’t have to watch every single dollar and cent. <–I can still remember hand writing a weekly budget every week during high school. I didn’t have to budget so why should I?  The short answer is that I first became a foodie…and then a couponer…and then a grad student.  The longer answer is that just because I have the money to spend doesn’t mean I should spend it carelessly.  If there is an opportunity to save, I should take it.  Not because I’m living in a state of lack but rather because being frugal is just plain smart.  <–And I’d prefer to save my money for a vitamix.  *sigh*

P:FB came into my life at the perfect time when I saw my food spending getting out of control ($80-$100/week was the norm for just me) and one of my good friends had just introduced me to healthy couponing.  Like most things, I went a little overboard with the couponing at first but I’ve now found a good balance…I spend one morning a week (usually Saturday since that’s when the sales flyers come out) meal planning and couponing.  Does that mean I miss stuff?  Absolutely.  But it also means I stay a bit saner.  And, you know, there’s all my grad school stuff!

As I’ve taken this journey I’ve learned a few things about myself and my habits.

  • I effing love a good sale.  And its really hard to turn one down even if I technically-sort-of-really don’t need it.
  • I have no qualms about pulling from my monthly “fun fund” to buy a new ingredient.
  • Some weeks you just have to put your budget aside.  <–more so when this budgeting thing was just for fun!
  • Some weeks you have to pay the cheaper total price rather than the best unit price to stay on budget.  😦
  • I’m really good at massaging numbers to make myself feel better.  <–note to self: I am not defined by a $ amount!
  • Couponing is really fun…and can be time-consuming…but mostly its a great intellectual challenge.
  • There’s nothing quite like the high you get from a big haul!  <–especially if you haven’t eaten/drank too much caffeine
  • Group accountability counts for something.  I knew I had to post every week and I didn’t want to let myself or anyone else down.
  • I really love taking photos of food.  I’m not that good at it but man is it fun.  🙂
  • I’m glad I had a chance to “play around” with this before being put into a situation where I had no choice.
  • Going off of that, I feel blessed that this budget is not a be-all-end-all for me.  Even if I do go over, I can usually make the difference up with one Passion Party or, if worse comes to worse, can borrow money from someone.  Not everyone on  budget can say the same.

Given that I’ve had such a great time with this project, I do plan on continuing to do it.  I have to live on a budget now so it just makes sense.  That being said, I’ll be switching my food budget posts to Mondays.  This way, I can write up the posts while the food is cooking AND you can get to WF before the sales end.  🙂

OK so onto this week’s meal plan…

Weekly Menu

*Starred recipes are test recipes for the forthcoming Happy Herbivore cookbook.

After some excessive spending two weeks ago, I decided to use up pantry items this week and I based my meal plan on that + what was on sale/I had coupons for.  I must say, I’m pretty impressed given most of this stuff I just had lying around!  Including the spinach which I had gotten for free with a Cascadian farms coupon.  *woot*

Sunday Night Sushi Feast: avo, cucumber, and asparagus roles, seaweed salad, and homemade roasted edamame.

Mexican Salad with arugula,black beans, olives, red pepper, pineapple salsa, and hot sauce

*Loaded Baked Potato 1 – seriously you can’t even see the potato!

Sauteed Spinach with Silken Tofu and Red Rice

*Kale with black beans and vegan ricotta ^perhaps my favorite picture ever.  *note to self* photograph on the concrete again

Loaded Potato, take 2*
The most amazing chili* in the world
Lots of Cascadian Farms granola

Spending Savings

Farm stand: $6.50
Whole Foods: $20.07
Trader Joe’s: $5.65
Glut Co-Op: $11.00

Total: $43.22 🙂

Total Saved: $10.48 (~25%)

I’m really super impressed by this week considering the only place I used coupons was WF!  And everything I bought at Glut was really nto necessary (lots of nuts, tofu ricotta that was only $2.00, awesome crackers for the same price…you get the picture).

That’s it folks because its midterms and my big brother is visiting tomorrow so I need to tidy this place up a bit.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

 

Project: Food Budget, the real Week 50

Ok this week its week 50. Sorry about that. 😉

Weekly Menu

*Recipes from the upcoming 4th Happy Herbivore cookbook are denoted with a *.

Raw Zucchini Almond Pesto

Soup*

Sweet Potato, Red Pepper, and Coconut Milk soup

Quinoa, Pumpkin Seed, and Tahini Salad

Spending Savings

Co-op: $20.16
Farm Stand: $8.00
Wegmans: $23.02
Whole Foods: $12.00
Ecomom.com: $20.95

Total: $84.13

Another high week but I had an awesome Passion Party Saturday night so I let this slide. Plus I picked up a lot of necessities and got a ton of great deals that will last me a while. *woot*

Total Savings: $33.62 (40%)

what what!

Steals & Deals

Ecomom

I hate weeks where I need to buy face products. I use expensive products and they last a while but when I do need to buy them its always a bit painful. Luckily, I checked my coupon sites before heading out today and got 2 for 1 moisturizer. Let me explain.

Plum District (PD) currently has a voucher for $15 for $30 of products at Ecomom.com. PD is like Groupon for mom but they tend to have vouchers for websites that have mom-and-kid-stuff plus everyone-else-stuff. Websites like Ecomom where my moisturizer is the same price as at Target ($14.99) but where I don’t have to pay tax and where I can pay for one (by purchasing the voucher) but order two. #win

Baltimore Food Co-Op

Organic Zucchini: $1.00 each
Cucumbers: $0.50 ea
Nutritional Yeast: $7.69 for 8 oz <;–vitacost has been out 😦

Wegmans

Organic Carrots, 2lb bag: $1.69
Hydroponic Basil: $2.99 ea <;–here's to round 2 growing my own basil!
Organic Lite Coconut Milk: $1.99

Paper Towel 12 pack : $12.99
-$4.00 Wegmans cpn from random mailer
=$8.99 = $0.45 ea <;–12 big rolls = 20 regular ones

And my favorite deal:

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Whole Foods

Arrowhead Mills Cereal: 2/$7 (sale price)
-$1.00 Whole Foods cpn
-$1.00 Arrowhead Mills cpn
= $1.50

Jason Shampoo: $7.99
-$3.00 Whole Foods cpn
-$4.00 Jason cpn <;–from toothpaste box
=$0.99

Cliff Kit Bars: $1.49 ea
-B1G1 Free cpn
=$1.49/2 = $0.75 ea

Earthbound Farms Romaine Hearts: $2.79
-$0.75 EB Farms cpn
=$2.04

Earthbound Farms Bagged Salads: $1.99
-$0.75 EB Farms cpn
=$1.24

That it folks!

Until next time…

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 49

Holy crap we’re on week 50 49!  That means only two three official weeks to go.

Not that I’ll stop budgeting or meal planning or couponing.  So my question is: do you guys want me to keep going with P:FB-like posts?  Let me know.  😉

Weeks 48 and 49 47 and 48 were a bit *ahem* hectic.  The former was finals week and the latter was my break so I was home, spending far too much $ eating out and visiting friends and generally enjoying life.  I’m guessing that I was on-budget for the month of August, at least with my food budget, if not with my extraneous spending.  <–trying not to think about that!

Meal Plan

*Starred items are test recipes for the 4th Happy Herbivore cookbook.

Chili*
Corn Soup*
Parmesan Celery Salad  <–new favorite blog!  Thanks Emily!  And seriously everyone make this.  And yes, I used faux cheese.
Avocado Pasta with Zucchini Tagliatelle

Spending Savings

Wegmans: $38.03
Whole Foods: $33.72

Total: $71.75

Between an empty fridge, some deals that were too good to pass up, and the need for probiotics to help me recover from this weekend’s exploits ($16 on sale), it was a pricey week!

Total Saved: $19.76 (28%)

Steals & Deals

Wegmans
*Coupons up to $0.99 are doubled

2lb bag lemons: $3.49
Bananas: $0.49/lb
Organic Celery: $2.69
Salsa: $1.99

Barbara’s Shredded Wheat (29oz): $5.99
$1.00 Barbara’s cpn
=$4.99 = $0.17/oz = $2.72/lb

Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats (24oz): $3.79
-$0.75 Bob’s Red Mill cpn
=$2.29 = $1.53/lb

Cascadian Farms Frozen Spinach: $1.42
-$0.75 Cascadian Farms cpn
=FREE!

Silk Almond Milk (1/2 gal): $2.99
-$0.55 Silk cpn (here’s a $1.00 one)
=$1.89 = $3.78/gal

Whole Foods

Earthbound Organics Power Greens (16oz): $3.99 (sale price)
-$0.75 EB Farm cpn
=$3.42/lb

Olivia’s Organic Spinach (16oz)
-$1.00 Olivia’s Organics cpn
=$1.99/lb

That’s it loves.  Don’t forget to let me know if you want me to continue doing food budget posts once the project ends!

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 46

So finals start tomorrow (!), a fact which I embarrassingly enough didn’t even know until Monday since I had put an older version of the academic calendar into my editorial one.  Between this fact + getting in late on Sunday from Passion Power, let’s just say my eating this week was less than ideal.  And this post will be rather short….mostly because I’ve had a heavy case of the procrastination-blues for the past…well all week.

Tip of the Week

Rain checks are your friends!  Please remember this folks…please?  Because I didn’t this week and ended up paying twice as much for cherries as I would have if I had thought, “Hey, while I’m getting my money back for this coupon I forgot, I should also get a rain check for the cherries since this is the second day in a row that WF is out.”  <–didn’t happen.

Meal Plan

Well…there was a plan.  Once upon a time (aka Friday before I left for NJ).  And that plan got tossed out the window…partially because I got lazy and partially because WF was out of ingredients I needed.  <–see above

To stay semi-healthy and energized, I still had a green smoothie every morning.  However, cereal made an appearance for dinner at least twice.  And dessert made at least two appearances a day.  =/

Otherwise it was quickie meals.  For example, I made this Monday morning while I got ready.  I heated the water while I prepped the ingredients, cooked the lentils while I showered, then tossed everything else in while I finished getting dressed, packed, etc.  Averie’s one-pot meals are some of my absolute favorite because they are truly quick, easy, budget-friendly (I used only pantry items to make this), and chock full of amazing flavor. 

I also discovered that if you stir raw spinach into pasta (because WF ruined your plan to make this after you already cooked the most perfectly fluffy quinoa ever…) it wilts a little.  This is a big win folks.  It means you don’t have to dirty a second pan and you can get away with calling your pasta dinner healthy because it has greens in it.  <–you know you love me.  🙂

Now onto that budgeting stuff.

Spending Savings

Whole Foods: $38.18  <–the price you pay when
Rite Aid: $4.24

Total: $42.42

I’m calling it a win.  Just go with it folks.  😉

Savings: $11.22 (27%)  <–not too shabby for shopping on the fly, dontcha think?

My favorite deal this week was getting two packages of Ziploc bags for only $4 at Rite-Aid.  They were on sale 2/$5 and then I had a $1 coupon from one of the Sunday papers.  Even though I try not to use baggies too much (and totally wash-and-reuse until they fall apart), sometimes you need them for storing things in the fridge and freezer.

That’s all folks.  Hope my feisty-ness didn’t scare anyone…that’s just my Inner Passion DIVA being coy.  Or something like that.  😉

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

 

 

 

Project: Food Budget, Week 42 + An Announcement

Welcome to another edition of what I ate, what I spent, and what I saved.  This week marked the beginning of mid-terms (!) and as I write this I’ve spent the past many hours relaxing with cooking round two and watching episode after episode of Brothers & Sisters in a post-exam celebration.  I’m enjoying every second while I can since I have another exam next week so its back to the books tomorrow.

In the meantime, I must say that I’m proud that I’ve been able to stay so on track with my eating given the change in schedule.  I am still stress eating in a way I wish I weren’t and though my choices are different (some would say healthier), the underlying problem is still there: I get to the end of the batch of (insert food here) and realize then that I’ve fallen into an old pattern.  It may have been grapes and whole grain bread this week but it is the behavior itself that is the problem.  One of my reasons for wanting to overcome this habit is so that I don’t want to pass it on to my future children.  Yes I think this way – blame it on the psychology background or anything else.

Anyway, enough about my emotional eating habits…let’s talk food!

Weekly Menu

*I am happy to announce that I’m recipe testing for Happy Herbivore’s fourth cookbook!  I am super excited that the HH team asked me back as a tester and I cannot wait to see what Lindsay creates this time around.  For those just joining, I was a tester for HH’s soon-to-be-released third book.  Each week testers are required to choose three recipes and provide feedback about each.  I cannot disclose recipe names or details to anyone but I can tease you with photos…on weeks I take photos that is.  😉  Test recipes are denoted with a star*.

Over the Rainbow Cabbage Salad

Shaved Kale and Avocado Salad (Crazy Sexy Diet)

Harvest Soup (Crazy Sexy Diet)

Curried Sweet Potato Soup (Happy Herbivore Cookbook)

Pesto*

Spending Savings

Farmers’ Market: $19.00
Trader Joe’s: $10.90
Wegmans: $14.54

Total: $44.44 (saved: $6.00)

I’m slowly but surely bringing that total down.  And I’m still well within my July budget. 🙂 Last week I literally ran out of food so this week I had made my mind up that I wouldn’t make the same mistake.  I also wanted to purchase some convenience foods (Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers, Alexia fries, microwave brown rice)for those nights when I just want to toaster-oven and go!

I actually purchased most of the convenience foods at Whole Foods.  My wonderful momma sent me a gift card and I wanted to get the most food for my buck so I ended up doing some massive couponing and had my best haul in a while.  In fact, I only purchased convenience foods if I had a coupon.  I don’t mind paying full price for produce, but if its in a box then I refuse!

Whole Foods: $19.29
Saved: $28.00 (145%) <–that’s what I’m talking about!!! 

Steals & Deals

Wow…its been forever since I’ve done this section.  I stumbled upon some awesome savings at Whole Foods that I wanted to share with you.  If you haven’t checked out my Guide to WF Couponing yet, now would be a good time. 

Seeds of Change Rice: $2.99 (sale price)
-$1.00 May/June Whole Deal cpn
-$1.00 Seeds of Change cpn
=$0.99 each

Pacific 7 Grain Non-Dairy Milk (32 oz): $3.19
-$0.75 July/August Whole Deal cpn
-$1.50 Pacific Foods cpn
=$0.94 each or $3.76/gal

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Milk (32 oz): $1.99
-$1.00/2 May/June Whole Deal cpn
$1.00/2 Blue Diamond cpn
or- 2 $0.50 Blue Diamond cpns
=$0.99 each or $3.96/gal

Saffron Road Frozen Meals: $3.99 (sale price)
-$1.00 July/August Whole Deal cpn
-$1.00 Saffron Road cpn
=$1.99 each  <–I had free product coupons but this is still a great deal, especially since they do have vegan options.

Alexia Fries: $3.49 (sale price)
-$1.00 Alexia cpn
=$2.49 each

I just realized its also been a while since I’ve shared the P:FB love!  Don’t forget to check out the other amazing bloggers who are a part of this movement.  Each of us has a different budget, number of mouths to feed, location, and belief about what food we should be eating.  🙂

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

A Simple Guide to Whole Foods Couponing

Source

***UPDATE*** Whole Foods recently released a Corporate Coupon Policy!  This is super good news because all stores, no matter where you are, follow the same rules.  And its the most inclusive policy out of the ones they used to have.  As usual, I suggest printing and having it with you when you shop.

***UPDATED*** Here is a copy of the Mid-Atlantic WF Coupon policy.  I suggest printing it and having it with you when you shop.  Check the comments for the North Atlantic  link.

If you are like me, you’ve undoubtedly heard this quip about Whole Foods.  In fact, now that I’m in grad school, I’m hearing it more and more.  Fact of the matter is, most of us are in a similar position: we’ve got tens of thousands of dollars in loans (or more), we’re living off of savings or loans, and we have no or minimal steady income coming in.  Yet being Public Health students, we want to live a healthy life.  For many of us, that means supplementing our Farmer’s Market trips with a stop at Whole Foods, the major option for organic products in downtown Baltimore (the two Trader’s are out in the county and otherwise its Safeway).

Lucky for my classmates, and all of you, I happen to be a budget-and-couponing loving shopper who truly believes that shopping at Whole Foods can be affordable with a little work + awareness + know-how.  I’ve figured out how to “work the system” to my advantage as much as possible and therefore save myself money while sticking as much as possible to my food values.

So here you are….my quick guide to making Whole Foods affordable.

Where to Find Coupons

  1. Whole Foods. Whole Foods has this great booklet that gets released bimonthly called The Whole Deal.  You can pick them up in store (usually right near the entrance with the weekly sales flyers) or print just the coupons you want right at home.  Each coupon is is good for three months.  For example, the coupons in the  the May/June Whole Deal don’t expire until the end of July.
  2. Online.  My favorite sites for all natural coupons themselves are Mambo Sprouts, Common Kindness and RecycleBank.  The latter two require accounts and are free to join.  RecycleBank is a website that allows you to complete tasks for points and then buy coupons with these points.  I was able to get Earth Friendly dish soap for $0.99 at Wegmans a while back thanks to this site.  I usually visit it a couple times a month and do a ton of activities in bulk.  Right now I’m also loving Earthbound Farms’ Organic Step Forward Program.  Again, it’s free to join.
  3. Online Part II.  Lots of “regular” coupon sites (Coupons.com, RedPlum, etc) also have all natural coupons.  To save you time + money, there are couponing blogs that do the legwork of finding out where such coupons are for you.  My favorites are Healthy Life Deals, Organic Deals, The Thrifty Mama, and The Greenbacks Gal.  Hip-2-Save also has an epic coupon database where you can look forcoupons for a specific product.
  4. The Weekly Newspaper.  Try to find a neighbor who gets the weekend newspaper and doesn’t use the coupons.  In Baltimore, the coupons come Saturday for subscribers and Sunday for those who just buy it at the store.  There won’t be a ton in here but hey, every dollar counts.
  5. VegFests, your local co-op, mom & pop natural stores.  This is where I get the bulk of my really good coupons.  If it is for a product I use a lot of, or can be convinced to use a lot of, I will grab a small stack.  It is important, however, to always ask before just grabbing away.
  6. The manufacturer’s themselves.  Goya lets your print coupons from their website once/month.  Attune sends out a monthly newsletter that almost always includes them.  Food for Life will mail them to you once every couple of months or so. E-mail the company, and check out their website and facebook page.  I was impressed at what I found.

How to Use Coupons

  1. Stacking.  Stacking coupons means that you use more than one coupon for the same item.  This is usually done by using a store coupon (e.g. one from the Whole Deal) with a manufacturer’s coupon (like one you get out of the Sunday paper).
  2. Combing coupons + sales.  I love doubling up on coupons and sales.  A couple weeks ago, for example, Whole Foods had Earthbound Farms Power Greens on sale for $3.99 (save $1).  Between that and my coupon, I saved a total of $1.75.
  3. Using both of the above.  This is the best deal you can get!  Not only is something on sale but you also have a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon for it, saving you the most amount of money possible.  🙂

Here’s an example to put it all together.

Nature’s Path Granola Bars: 2/$6.00 (reg. $4.69 ea) <–item on sale
-2 $2.00 Nature’s Path coupon <–manufacturer’s coupon
-$1.50/2 Whole Deal coupon <–store coupon
=$0.50 or $0.25/box <–awesome deal

Other Ways to Save

  1. BYOB. WF gives you $0.05 for each bag you bring to the store.  This includes reusable produce bags<–$ saver + good for the environment = big win
  2. Buy in bulk. If you buy a case of any item, you get a 10% discount. Products usually come in cases of 6 or 12 and you can find the exact number either by asking or looking in the lower left-hand corner of the price tag.  You can use coupons with cases but you will not get the discount if you get a case of something that is already on sale.  This may vary by store.

FAQs

  1. How much time do you spend doing all this each week?  I know it seems like a lot!  And at first it might feel that way too.  But eventually it becomes second nature.  I spend between 1 and 2 hours on finding + printing coupons, meal planning, and organizing my grocery list.  I tend to get lost in grocery stores and spend 4-5 hours shopping BUT when I’m not meandering the aisle I can do it in about 30 minutes.  I organize my list + my coupons by the rows of the store.
  2. What the heck do I do with those $x.00/2 items coupons?  Wait for the product to go on sale 2/$x,00 (like I did with the granola bars above).  Or use them with another coupon.  Or do both.  😉
  3. How do I know what’s on sale?  Whole Foods’ sales run Wednesday to Tuesday and the flyer can be found from their homepage.  There likely are more sales int he store than listed and this is where those coupon blogs come in handy again.  Each does a weekly match-up.Baltimore folks: I have yet to find a good match-up for our stores.  I will update this when I do!  For now, I suggest using Healthy Life Deals’ Cheat Sheet.
  4. Are there any couponing “rules” I should know about?  Here’s a crash course in Couponing etiquetteBe nice, be respectful, be honest, be fair.Do tell your cashier ahead of time that you will be using a lot of coupons andlet anyone who comes in line behind you know that it might take a while.
    Do not snap at the cashier if s/he isn’t sure what to do, steal all of the sticky coupons off the x container (sometimes manufacturer’s will put coupons right onto their products), try to use one coupon for another product, etc.  The grocery industry can easily pull these awesome savings out from under us at any time.  Don’t contribute to a negative couponing culture.
  5. So I’m going to start saving $100s with this, right?  Like on Extreme Couponing?  Um, not so much.  Consider this the part where I talk about managing expectations.  Some weeks I save more than I spend.  I try to do it every week but it still doesn’t happen.  Have I saved several $100s since I started couponing in the spring?  Undoubtedly.  But some weeks I save less than $10.  My thoughts are: if I want to buy x product and there’s a coupon available, why not use it?  I would have bought it regardless so all I’m doing is keeping extra $$$ in my pocket.  Understand that extreme couponing takes time…to learn and to dedicate to it.  For now, the basics will still help you out…poor grad student or not.  😉
  6. Ok but sometimes the sales price isn’t the best deal for that item.  What gives?  So true!  This is where unit prices come in.  I try to think of everything in terms of pounds, gallons, rolls, etc.  The 10oz package of quinoa that costs $3.99 is actually more expensive per pound than the 1lb bag that costs $4.99.  I like to pay less than $6.00/gal non-dairy milk, $0.25/roll of toilet paper or paper towels, etc.  You can calculate the unit price yourself or just look in the upper left-hand corner of the price tag.

There you go!  I hope this guide was super helpful.  I want to send a shoutout to Kristin for teaching me all she knows and opening my world to natural food couponing. Thanks girl!

Questions?  Leave ’em below and I’ll do my best.  😉

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 41

Happy Thursday lovelies. 🙂 I’m writing this post on-the-go so I apologize if there are any errors. I’m not totally used to writing posts on my phone! Probably because I’ve never done it before….

Anyway, this is week one of the cleanse and boy did I miscalculate my food needs. I ended up making two extra trips I the grocery store just for more greens. I kind of forgot how much I consume during the cleanse! Add into that the fact that I’ve been eating more to fuel my hardworking brain and … well you guessed it, I went over a bit again. Thankfully when I budgeted for the year, I did $200/month which actually works out to be a closer to $50/wk so I’m still ok and, to me, that is what counts as I continue acclimating to my new lifestyle. 🙂

I don’t have any photos of the food I made on my phone but I don’t want to leave you without anything to feast your eyes on so I figured I’d tempt you with some delightful dishes I’ve eaten over the past few weeks. Apparently I can’t insert these wherever do keep on scrolling to indulge your senses! 😉

Spending Savings

Whole Foods:$9.58
Wegmans:$25.95
Trader’s:$11.88
Farmer’s Market:$9.50

Total Spending:$56.41

Of that I saved about $15.00.

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The best “MD Freak Storm” dish ever: sauteed arugula, Thai sticky rice, and homemade refried beans.

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Fried deliciousness at Sticky Rice.

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Veg sushi at Sticky Rice.

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Decidedly not-vegan brownie trio from a wine bar in Fell’s Point.

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Burrito with grilled plantains + summer squash + corn from Golden West.

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Curry falafel sandwich from the Gypsy Queen food truck.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Weeks 39 + 40 AND a GF Giveaway

Wow…its week 40 already!  That means only 12 more official weeks for P:FB!  <–that’s insane!

This is going to be a quickie check in, not only because I haven’t been keeping close track of everything but also because today marks my first day of classes! 

Given the events of the past few weeks (moving, losing power, etc), my budget has been a bit up and down.  The week I  moved in…well I can’t even tell you how much I spent.  I was constantly running to the closest store (which happened to be Shoppers…not the cheapest IMO) to grab lemon juice or flour or something else mid-cooking/baking that I believed I had…but didn’t.  Try not to do this folks…its gets expensive and annoying!

I promise more food porn posts coming soon.  And by food porn I mean mediocre pictures of outstanding, drool-worthy food that looks good despite the fact that my photography skills are far from good.  <–not saying this to self-patronizing but rather to let you know that photography just isn’t a top priority of mine.

Now about that budget…

Week 39: $30.50 (savings ???)
Week 40: $69.90  (savings: >$30)

So if you are wondering what happened this week, its called stocking up on overpriced non-perishables so I can eat semi-healthy without access to a fridge.  Then of course, I did have access to a fridge but not an affordable grocery store so…I paid the Giant prices (double entendre fully intended)  Luckily, the beau paid for half of those since he was worried about me eating.  And I have enough larabars + raw sprouted trail mix to last me for months.  <–seriously.

Giveaway Alert!

Wegmans just recently debuted its Food You Feel Good About (FYFGA) gluten-free line.  FYFGA products are made without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.  As part of the debut, they sent us obsessed loyal customers coupons for some goodies.  Since I don’t really need the products, I thought I would do the nice thing and share the love with you all!

Up for grabs…

Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Gluten Free Sugar Cookie MixSugar Cookie Mix (only 70 cal/cookie)

Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Gluten Free Fusilli
Fusili corn pasta (only 2 ingredients: corn + water!)

Though I haven’t had either of these products, I have sampled and purchased many private-label products from Wegmans and have been impressed with them all.  The sugar cookie mix also has a 5 Star rating on the Wegmans site.  just sayin’.  😉

To enter: just leave a comment below.  Giveaway ends on Sunday, July 7 at 11:59pm.

That’s it for today folks.

Yoga/beauty/food,

Kait xo

 

Project: Food Budget, Week 36

Tip of the Week

Over the weekend the beau and I went grocery shopping together.  Now he and I grew up in very different financial environments.  Mine lead to couponing; his led to a typical guy nonchalant attitude towards spending a little extra on food.  Now we all know that I am all for buying quality products from outstanding companies.  But I’m also all for saving a buck when I can. The difference between he and I, however, and I suspect this is the same difference between couponers and those who don’t use them, is that I value the savings.  A lot.

Now don’t get me wrong: the beau loves using coupons when they are available.  He just doesn’t see the big deal in only saving a buck here and fifty cents there.  Whereas I figure, if I want to buy x anyway, I might as well take the free money I’m given.  Because after all, coupons are just that: free money.  Even if you don’t do match-ups and just use your coupons to buy what you’d already be buying, you are still saving money!  So use your coupons ladies and gentleman.  Take some time to go through your paper or check out some online resources.  They are there: free money just for the taking.  Put it to work for you.

Oh and don’t forget to tell me how good it feels when you have your first (big or not-so-big) haul.  😉

Weekly Menu

Its the weak of peas and salad…more specifically, Mama Pea’s recipes and trying to keep up with Ang’s Salad Challenge.  I have had a mini stock of tempeh that I had gotten super cheap at the end of May ($0.99 each!) and wanted to use before the move to Baltimore (so as to not have to take one more thing with us!). Now I don’t love tempeh but I do love the things Mama Pea does with it.

Tempeh Spaghetti

Pasta Primavera – the beau threw this together with kale, summer squash, red pepper, and a tempeh/shallot/tomato mix that just worked beautifully with the olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice sauce

Curried Sweet Tater Tot Casserole

The best “I drank too much wine and ate too much casserole last night” breakfast ever.

Magic Kale Salad with Roasted Beets and Almonds(?)  <–I’m seriously obsessed with this dressing + lacinto kale.

Spending Savings

Whole Foods: $38.46 😀

Savings: $8.25

Alright.

I bought almost all produce this week so the sales have changed already.  I will point you to a couple of my fave coupons though:

Don’t forget to check out the other Project:Food Budget bloggers!  We’ve all got different size families, budgets, and food values.

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo