Friday, January 14, 2011

couponing for the rest of us

This is what happens when it gets cold in Florida and you have time to spend indoors. And this is much, much different from all eight months of summer when it's 150 degrees outside and you're inside all day lounging in the a/c, because in the summer you want to be inside. Suddenly you realize it's freezing out, you don't have the clothing, the blood, or the desire to step foot outside, and your house starts feeling claustrophobic. Everyone goes a little crazy.

Hey, hold on a second. Do you think claustrophobic has the word "claus" in it for a reason? Like as in Santa Claus? Bringer of new, house-cluttering toys? That is a heavy, heavy thought. I'll give you a moment to ponder.

Now, where were we. Oh yes - so it's cold here, we're suffering through our three weeks of what we refer to as winter but northerners probably call "shorts weather," and I have been bitten by the let's save money bug.

There's a scary thing about having a bunch of kids : they eat a lot. I did the math. From just the kids alone, we burn through 120 breakfasts, 120 lunches, 120 dinner servings, and 240 snacks in a month. I don't know who coined the phrase, "having a baby is expensive," because babies are a drop in the bucket. Maybe it would be different if I didn't breastfeed and cloth diaper, but the baby is the least expensive member of our household by a mile. It's when they grow up and start eating everything in sight that the little buggers get expensive. Two hundred and forty snacks a month! That sounds like inventory at a daycare center. I challenged myself this month to only purchase snacks costing 25 cents or less per serving, and to track all of our food and household expenses to see exactly where our money is going. I think it may be surprising. Perhaps terrifying.

The tracking began yesterday, the day the new grocery sale ads hit the internet. I like coupons well enough and scope out the deals that pertain to us (I'll never be a let's-eat-what's-on-sale-this-week kind of shopper), but then I stumbled upon Southern Savers. And I bookmarked their site. And I liked their facebook page. And I signed up for their coupon alert e-mails. Today alone, I gleaned a $3 off Glad trash bags coupon and a $1 off Hillshire Farms meat coupon, both items listed on their facebook page and on my list of things I needed. If you haven't checked it out, it is a must!

I'm amazed at some of the deals out there - yes, I have friends who do all the "extreme couponing" and I think that's wonderful, but it's not really for me. Mostly because I'm just not a Walgreens shopper. I'm barely a shopper at all. If eating wasn't a function necessary for life, I'd likely never set foot in a store. But when I can go to the Mueller's website and print $1 off pasta coupons and then go to Winn Dixie where the Mueller's currently costs $1 a box, that's free pasta. FREE food. Now you have my attention! If I can get what I already need from a store I'm already going to, you've won me over.

Here were a few of my favorite deals this week that we personally purchased. All the coupons should be on Southern Savers or in the Sunday paper :

Quaker Oats, the big fat can with the happy guy on the front. I use these for baking - I rarely buy the big can because even at Wal-Mart, the stupid thing costs like $4.79. Winn-Dixie had these on sale for $2.50, and I had a $1 off any Quaker Oats coupon. Giant can of oats for $1.50. Heck yeah! We're eating oatmeal cookies for the next month. Gotta do something with all those raisins left over from that Christmas strudel.

Mueller's pasta, almost any of their regular varieties in the one pound box. I think we stocked up on spaghetti and linguine. Winn-Dixie had these at their "locked in low price" of $1 a box. The Mueller's website had $1 off one box of pasta, and if you're on a Mac you could theoretically print a few of these out *cough cough* Free food = good.

Yoplait Simply Gogurts. I caved and bought the Gogurts. This was a first for our family - you'd have thought we were bringing home a box of adorable puppies. It kills me to pay fifty to sixty cents a carton for Yoplait yogurt that the kids frequently let rot in the refrigerator. Gogurt was on sale at Winn-Dixie, two packs for $4. I also had a $1 off two packs coupon, so I spent $3. There are 16 tubes in the two boxes, so that's less than 19 cents a serving. For 19 cents, the kids can have their yogurt and drink it too.

Jell-O pudding cups, my own personal treat. The kids are not allowed - mommy needs her chocolate fix. (Well, except when Coral gives me the puppy face. That gets me every time). These are usually close to $3.50 for one 6-pack. Highway robbery. Publix had them on sale at $2, and I had a $1 off two 6-packs coupon. That made them $1.50, or 25 cents a cup. Twenty-five smooth, delicious, chocolaty cents a cup.

They're mine, go get your own!

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