Tag Archives: shopping

Grocery Series Part III: How to save money

1 Jul

In the past year my shopping habits have changed drastically. I used to shop in order to save money. I was still eating “healthy” but I mainly focused on couponing and getting the most food for my  money. Now I’ve changed priorities and realized that if I am going to look for ways to save money, compromising on what I put in my body is probably not the best way to start. According to Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food), Americans spend the LEAST percentage amount of their income on food compared to other nations. Coincidentally we are the most unhealthy…..

I’ve already talked about ways to prioritize what to buy organic and how to eat local, but I will admit these foods are still more expensive than conventional and industrial raised products. But are you willing to sacrifice quality over quantity? Here are some things I’ve cut out to save money to put into ethically raised animals and local produce:

1) Dairy

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{Moo Cows better to look at then to drink from}

I know, I know…dairy is supposed to be good for you (calcium and stuff). If you eat Paleo dairy is out- but that’s not the main reason I nixed it. Industrial dairy has been processed to the point where it’s doing more harm than good in my opinion. And organic dairy is expensive. I buy Austin organic milk and that’s it. I’ve given up cheese, yogurt and milk myself.  I know we all love our Chobani, but that $4-5 a week adds up! And don’t even ask me where I’m getting calcium. There are plenty of other sources! Google it.

2) Cereals and processed snack products

Cereal

(source)

I read in Omnivore’s Dilemma that a $4 box of cereal takes 4 cents of commodity corn to make. Cereal is ROBBERY IN A BOX. And can we just take a minute to think about what nutritionally cereal does for you? Oh that’s right, nothing. When health claims start appearing on boxes of Lucky Charms, we’ve really gone off the deep end as a society.

I know it is delicious (and you can get it cheaper using coupons). For me, it’s a food with no brakes, so I simply can’t afford to have it around at all.

Same goes with all those snack bars, protein bars, granola bars infused with fiber. I know! I used to buy them! But it makes more sense to use that money for more nutritionally sound and un-processed food.

3) Frozen Meals/Canned Soup

I used to buy lean cuisines or smart ones, or canned soup for lunch all the time. They are pricey as well. Now I make enough dinner every night to bring leftovers the next day.  Now that I really think about it…….

4) Anything processed or packaged at all.

If you’re buying processed food, don’t tell me you can’t afford organic. Don’t even get me started on soda.

 

Other ways you could assess if changing the way you eat and shop for food would work….can you cancel cable? Why is watching your favorite sitcoms more important than what you put in your body? (*To be fair, I’ve suggested this multiple times to my fiancé, but still get a resounding NO. He’s not on board. If it was just me there’s now way I would have TV).

What about spending habits elsewhere? It’s important to look at your budget and where your money goes before deciding it’s “not worth it” to care about what goes into your body. I know for me, I really need to stop getting sucked into “blog food fads”. LOL Almond flour, Larabars and fancy nut butters also are a money suck. But there sooooo gooooooood :(  If I can cut back on some of this I would have more money to buy local organic produce (I still buy a lot from the grocery store- hey at least it’s not soda).

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{yummy but big money suck}

How do you feel about prioritizing what you put in your body over other life expenses?

Is eating organic realistic? Why or why not?

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Bridesmaid Dress Shopping

18 Feb

I’ve been absent all weekend and missing the blog world due to me FINALLY being able to head home for some much needed wedding planning. I wasn’t sure what to expect when going bridesmaid dress shopping. I wasn’t 100% sure going in what color I wanted; I just wanted to make sure that everyone was comfortable and looked good. I’ve been in a lot of weddings and those dresses are expensive! It is unfortunate when you have to spend so much money on something that you hate. So I didn’t want to put anyone in that situation. Here are some images I found on Pinterest that I used as inspiration:

Photography by alexandrameseke.com, Floral Design by rebeccashepherdfloraldesign.com

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Photography by ryanrayphoto.com, Design   Coordination by lavenderjoyweddings.com, Floral Design by bowsandarrowsdeluxe.com

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a great color combo  Photography by ashleybartoletti.com, Florals by http://www.robertsonsflowers.com/, dress by Jcrew.com********want these colors

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Bridal Bouquets, blush, white and green

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colors

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I knew I wanted something pastel- ish, and was hoping for a champagne, light peach, light pink, grey or pistachio. I also knew I wanted it to be light and airy, perhaps a chiffon or organza fabric. A short dress was also a must. I was even playing with the idea of doing different colors.

We started at trying on some styles that a consultant picked out for us.

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This one only came in this particular color. My sister is the model.

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Several people were a fan of the one shoulder. This was my favorite at this store!

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I loved this one! For some reason no one else did Sad smile

We were pretty much striking out at the first store. The consultant was kind of pushy (which I hate). I really didn’t want to feel rushed. I can understand her wanting to make a sale and the fact that the store was really busy, however this is my wedding, and I don’t want to be pressured into making my girls buy something I wasn’t sure about. So I told her we were going to try another store and come back….

This store was so much more accommodating. We didn’t even need an appointment and we basically tried on as many dresses as we wanted and no one pressured us at all.

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Cute…but a little too ‘poofy’. I loved the white one! But it only came in white, ivory or black and I really didn’t want them to clash with my dress.

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Loved this style!

So what did we end up picking? After trying on A LOT of dresses and realizing that not ONE dress really looked good on everyone (did I really expect that?), I decided to go with a particular designer and fabric type and let the girls choose whatever dress they wanted within those parameters (similar to the second picture I have up at the top of the post). I had really wanted to do ‘same color different dresses’, but thought it would be too difficult with all of my bridesmaids located in different areas. But most of them found one they liked that day! The others got to search online. The color:

https://i1.wp.com/1.images.billlevkoff.com/staticcdn/products-pictures/colors/320/320-a6c285d0dfbf263118.jpg

Pistachio! This is actually a sample of the dress one of my sisters chose. Here’s her in the actual dress (not the color).

dress

I am excited to see the total look when everyone’s together. One of my girls chose a dress with straps, and the one-strap also made an appearance.

 

Basically they can pick any Bill Levkoff bridesmaid dress in chiffon, pistachio color. I can’t wait to see how they all come together. I think it’s a good choice since not everyone has the same body type and I want them to be comfortable. The day was a success! I felt super appreciative of my sisters, cousin and sister in law who powered through that long day with me.

What do you think of bridesmaids wearing different dresses? Yes or no?

How to grocery shop on a budget using coupons

2 Dec

coupons

It’s Sunday, so for me that means weekly coupon organizing, grocery shopping and weekly meal planning. I was excited about how much I brought home today at Tops for under my budget, so I decided to write a post about it because this is something that I’m sure many people struggle with.

I’ve been using coupons for more than a year now, but it wasn’t until recently that I started really becoming more serious about it and learned to budget my shopping so couponing actually was worth it. A couple of my friends turned me on to the website I am THAT Lady, a coupon blogger from Syracuse who posts weekly deals and coupon match ups. Ever since, I have been following her blog and have learned to do my own coupon match ups with local stores. Her blog is a great place to start if you are wondering the basics of couponing.

Today I was able to get all this stuff at TOPS for $26 bucks!

groceries

(Missing Austin’s whole milk which was in the fridge and cost $3.47)

I’m no extreme couponer, but not too shabby. I was able to get some great deals. The original total was about $50 bucks. I paid $26.

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Before you become too coupon happy, here are some guidelines that I generally like to  follow:

1. Set a budget. When I first started couponing, I literally wanted to go get everything that was on sale with every single coupon I had at every single store. This resulted in unneeded food and items that I wouldn’t really eat/use otherwise. Just because you have a coupon for it doesn’t meant you HAVE to have it. I set a budget of $200 a month for Austin and I. This includes toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, etc. This doesn’t include when we go out to dinner (which we try to limit, obviously). Before buying something, I really ask myself if I NEED it. If I don’t and it’s not in the budget, I don’t get it.

2. Shop the sales. I literally do not buy an item if it is not on sale or if I don’t  have a coupon for it. The ideal situation is that the item is on sale AND I have a coupon for it. This allows you to stock up on things at a very low price. For instance, I didn’t really NEED cans of corn and beans this week, but it was on sale and I had a coupon that allowed me to get it at .25 a can. So I stocked up. This way when I do NEED it, I’m not paying $1-2 a can (gasp). The only reason I would buy something that does not have a coupon or is not on sale is because it is a basic staple we need like milk, bread or meat.

corn

I also got some ground chicken on sale. If you look in the meat dept sometimes they mark down meat that needs to be sold that day. I’ll freeze this asap and use next week. Got two of these. Score!

chicken

Sometimes, if you are able to combine a coupon and a sale item AND your local grocery store doubles coupons (TOPS does), you can even get items for FREE! Case in point: free turkey bacon today! It was on sale for 2 for $3 and I had a .75 coupon which doubled.

bacon

I love free food.

3. Plan your week. This is the most time consuming part. I spend about an hour every Sunday looking at the ads, planning out meals and cutting and printing coupons. I look forward to it…which is kind of sad lol. I’ve learned to plan my meals around what is on sale/what I already have in the cupboard. For instance, I know that I already have chicken in the freezer, and Ken’s blue cheese dressing and wing sauce was on sale at a local grocery store. I also had a coupon for the dressing. So tomorrow we’re having buffalo chicken wraps. Sometimes it stinks if you like printing up fancy and elaborate dinners with lots of ingredients, but over time I have learned to incorporate my love of cooking and reading food blogs with my love of …um..money?

4. Go to many stores to get the best sales. Be aware that you will probably be going to more than one store if you want the best deals. I usually go to 2-3 different stores including Rite Aid each Sunday. I am THAT Lady has a great blog section for how to shop at each store if you are interested. Some people say it’s worth going to Wal-Mart and just getting the cheap generic stuff without coupons, but I definitely prefer this way of shopping. Even though I go to more than one store, I don’t have to deal with all the hooligans, terrible lines, crappy service, broken carts (can you tell I hate it?) in Wal-Mart and I get name brands for the same price or even cheaper. If I’m desperate and don’t have a lot coupons for the stuff I need or there aren’t good sales, I’ll begrudgingly go to Wal-Mart. I’m lucky in that my town is relatively small and it’s really not a big deal to go to different stores since they are all right near each other.

kitties

A day of couponing makes Frank very tired!

If you want to get into couponing don’t be scared! It can be very overwhelming, but just remember to stick to a budget, buy things on sale and make sure you plan. Start by using a coupon blog that does match ups and sooner or later you will be able to do your own match ups.

Question: Have you tried couponing? What are your tips and tricks? Or do you think Wal-Mart is the best bet? Comments people!

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