Monday, September 30, 2013

My Lazy Mama's Guide to Couponing

My recipe binder, and where the week begins
Meal planning is one of those things that seems really overwhelming to a lot of people. For me, it's like a comfortable anchor in my week that I've come to look forward to. A few months ago I added some subtle couponing to the mix and have been really surprised at the difference it has made.

Once a week I put on my comfy pants, make a cup of coffee, and go to town. It makes the daily hustle a little less painful and avoids the 5 p.m. dance of screaming hungry children. (Note: it's less of a dance and more of an unbridled meltdown, just in the essence of full disclosure).

Here's my method.

1. First I go to this website and see what is on sale at Publix, our local grocery store, for that given week. We only shop at Publix and Costco. While I'd love (LOVE) to have a closer Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, it's just too difficult for me to get there right now. I base my list fully off of what's on sale that week. And here's the real shocker- I only do printable coupons. I don't get the newspaper and spend hours cutting and storing them. I print what I need for the week and that is it. This site makes it incredibly easy, and I always save at least $25.

2. After making a list of what's on sale that I'd like to buy, I take a look in my freezer/pantry and see what else we need to make meals for the week. I browse Pinterest, my cookbooks (favorites: 1,2,3,4), and a list I keep in my recipe binder of our favorite go-to meals. I try to cook really simple things with few ingredients and I always take our schedule into account. Wednesdays and Fridays are busy for us, so these days are always leftovers or a crock pot meal.

3. I try to buy the majority of our produce at the farmer's market either on Friday or Monday. I find the cost just slightly lower than at the store, but since we eat very few processed foods I like knowing the produce we consume isn't coated in waxes and nasty chemicals.

4. I also check these sites for coupons. One offers a good variety of natural and organic options and the other focuses on Amazon, which I love so much I would marry if given the chance.

5. I also check Costco's coupons. Our goal is to make one trip there a month and stock up on gluten-free granola, organic chicken, organic eggs, cheese, frozen organic berries, fish, and other dry goods (paper towels, Lara bars, stuff like that).

I then post our menu both in a weekly calendar on the fridge and in my planner.

For me, it's worth the hour of work in cost savings. But as you know, my time is incredibly important to me and if it took any more than that, I'd likely stop. I'm never going to be the person that can only spend $60 a week at the store. I have to growing children who both eat more than I do, and eating organic is extremely important to me. But, any little bit I can save is a win for us.

I am far from perfecting this process, but I've definitely found what works for us. We still eat out once a week, and there is always one night a month that gets too crazy and we wind up eating pizza, and that's ok. It's about Grace Not Perfection, ladies.

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