Money Saving Mini-Series: Discount Food Stores

Money Saving Mini-Series 2017

The final post I have for this mini-series is on discount food stores. I have to say that I am very thankful that I have some of these in my area. They don’t accept coupons but the prices there are low enough that it isn’t really necessary. One is Deal Mart and it’s almost a chain around here. There are several in the surrounding cities. However, we didn’t go to Deal Mart this month. Instead we went to Bargains Food Outlet.

Bargains is much bigger, close to a large Wal-Mart in size. They have pallets of food stacked up in addition to the aisles you see in normal stores.

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Pallets of canned goods (Sorry that it’s blurry!)

When we are low on funds, we like to shop here or Deal Mart first because of their low prices. Not all of their goods are cheapest however. Near me, the milk at Aldi is under $2 while at Bargains it was over $2. You just have to become familiar with the stores and their prices around you to help you save extra money.

The reason their prices are so low is because they have damaged and sometimes expired goods. I read once online that the expiration date is more for the stores to know when to swap something out. Just be careful when buying expired and damaged goods, like this corn. I saw worse ones but didn’t want to step in front of someone looking at a shelf to take a pic. 😉

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Bargains_3 A couple damaged products. Not all of the goods are damaged as you can see. Some are fine. Sorry for the 2nd blurry one. I thought it had taken it fine so I started walking. 😀

One of the best things about these stores is taking advantage of some damage. Like the boxed rice is fine as long as it doesn’t have any holes. Holes in something could let bugs in so we avoid those. Food that isn’t pretty enough to make it to the big box stores like Wal-Mart are sold cheaper here.

On a side note, even Wal-Mart lowers their prices for their ‘ugly’ goods. Hubby and  I have found messed up cakes and other baked goods for cheap because the icing was ruined or it was about to go out of date. Like on the ‘We Made Too Much!’ cart. Or even in the bakery itself, which is where we found this cake.

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Just because it isn’t pretty doesn’t mean it won’t be delicious! Yum!!

One of the best deals hubby likes at Bargains is their chicken tenders. They are larger than nuggets but not as big as regular chicken tenders but for a 10 lb box, you pay only $6 or $7!! Depending on their prices when we go. Since we don’t have a deep freezer, it takes up a lot of room in our little side by side fridge freezer so we don’t get it very often. They have plenty of other meat deals in boxes like this and while there is a sign  up preventing us from opening the boxes (by law apparently) that also means no one else has messed with what we want to buy. 😉

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Hubby loves their chicken tenders!!

Here is a few more things we got at Bargains besides a box of chicken. Some of the items are ‘expired’ of course but they will be eaten up fairly quickly.

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Some cheese crackers for hubby to take to work. Brand name and 2/$1!
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Haven’t tried these yet but they look yummy!

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The produce there isn’t the best but hubby found a decent bunch of bananas there that were too bruised on the bottom to eat alone but they made some delicious and filling muffins!

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Hubby loves this cereal!

As you can see, this cereal was expired technically, but we bought strawberry and blueberry. I haven’t had any from this box but the blueberry didn’t taste stale at all.

We also found some puffs for a good price! Now, I don’t normally buy baby stuff there because the pouches could be hiding mold. I have seen too many stories online of moldy pouches to wear I check each one before I give it to my daughter. But these puffs were fine. I shook them to make sure they weren’t stale and clumped together and these have a clear plastic wrap on the inside I found later that will help me to decide whether to buy them again or not. But so far they look fine and she loves them!

If you have a discount food store near you, then I recommend checking it out! Hopefully it will help you as much as it has helped us!

Did you enjoy this mini-series? Learn anything new? If you have anything to add, please share it in the comments section below!!

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Money Saving Mini-Series: Couponing & Apps

Money Saving Mini-Series 2017

In my opinion, the best way to coupon is to use only the ones you really need and double them when and where you can. When you start couponing, it’s best to become familiar with store policies as well as the rules on couponing.

Always be polite to your cashiers. And remember that not everyone will be familiar with their coupon policy so if you think it may be a problem when you go shopping with a lot of coupons, print a copy of the store’s policy to take with you. Remember, they’re just doing their job. 🙂

However, one of my favorite stores doesn’t take coupons and that is Aldi. Their prices are extremely cheap for their store brand so they don’t really need the coupons. They do have national brand items such as Pop-Tarts but those are usually just as expensive as Wal-Mart.

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Here is a short list of stores that accept coupons, a bit on their policies as well as links to their full policies if you click on their names.

Wal-Mart: You’ll have to scroll down a bit to read Wal-Mart’s coupon policy. They accept coupons printed at home, manufacturer’s coupons, soft drink container caps, coupons printed off at the registers( aka Catalinas) and competitors’ coupons (with some stipulations).

Target: They accept manufacturer, Target, print-at-home, and coupons off of their Cartwheel app (which I definitely recommend!) Become familiar with Target’s sales and the Cartwheel app to make the most of your savings! You can also get a Target RedCard and save 5% on all purchases! And it can be a debit card so you don’t have to run your credit to get a credit card. All you need is a blank check! 🙂

Publix: My local Publix accepts some coupons from competitors, so be sure to check your local Publix! The online policy says this too so ask you local Publix to be sure. They also accept manufacturer coupons, Publix coupons, and Internet coupons which I’m assuming are the print-at-home variety. I once used a sale, combined with a Publix coupon and manufacturer coupons printed from coupons.com to save big on organic Gerber baby food pouches!!

Bi-Lo: The policy says they accept competitor coupons and a sign is hanging in store so be sure to check your local Bi-Lo when you go! They also accept manufacturers, Bi-Lo’s, and Internet coupons. Bi-Lo does double coupons with some restrictions: up to 5 coupons on like items, 60 cents or less unless posted in store, and only of the manufacturer variety.

Winn-Dixie: They accept manufacturer coupons, Winn-Dixie coupons and Internet coupons. I don’t shop here so I’m not sure on their sales and how well coupons save money here.

Ingles: Ingles does double coupons, but you must have an Ingles Advantage Card. They are free though. Their doubling doesn’t start until after $10 orders and only 3 coupons will double. Check the policy page for the rest of their doubling info.

Lowe’s Foods: One of these opened up recently near me but I haven’t checked them out yet so let me know if you have and tell me what you think! The policy states that they accept store coupons, manufacturer’s, print-at-home and competitor’s coupons (local and some national stores). They also double, “super double” and “triple” coupons so check their policy page out if you have one near you!

Lidl: Pronounced LEE-dl, this store is similar to Aldi. I’ve been a few times and love it! Their prices are between Aldi and Wal-Mart. The link is to their coupons page. I couldn’t find an official coupon policy online but I know that with their app, you can also ‘clip’ Lidl coupons. Sometimes they will send coupons for an amount off an order in emails such as $5 off of an order of $30 or more you can print off and use. They are new in the United States so if you are lucky enough to have one open near you, definitely check it out!wp-image-734318608.jpg

Now that you now what your stores’ coupon policies are, you need to find some! You can get coupons through emails, in the mail and newspaper inserts, stickers on store items or in little store printers on shelves (yes, that’s still a thing. 😀 ), and pamphlets like from Publix.

One of the most convenient places to get coupons though is online. Then all you have to do is ‘clip’ them and print them off. One of my favorites is Coupons.com. They have a website and an app. One of the best hacks I’ve found is using multiple devices. Since the app is free, you can download it to multiple devices and print 2 per device. I’ve done 2 on my laptop, 2 on my phone, and 2 on my hubby’s tablet to get 6 of the same item! I did this when I was saving money on those Gerber pouches!

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The second best way to find coupons is apps. There are over a dozen apps out their designed to save money but here are a few main apps.

  • Coupons.com: It has only 36 stores with coupons. The only stores I use are Wal-Mart and Target. They have coupons you can ‘clip’ and then a section of printable coupons.
  • Ibotta – couponing and rebates app. Choose the rebates you want to use from the available stores and then scan and send in your receipt. Get cash back.
  • Checkout 51 – same as Ibotta but with less options. Just a list of coupons that change weekly. Get cash back.
  • Berry Cart – This app has coupons on organic items. I don’t buy these often because even with coupons I can’t afford them but if that is your thing then I recommend this app.
  • Southern Savers – This app has many ads for stores in the South from Wal-Mart to Bi-Lo, Publix to Winn-Dixie, Aldi to Dollar General, Earth Fare to Lidl, Staples to CVS. It’s like the Southern Savers website and has national chains along with local-to-the-South stores.
  • Target Cartwheel (which I LOVE): Contains Target sales where you add your deals to your profile, scan the barcode at checkout and you save money! I love that the deals are divided into categories.

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Store apps:

  • Lidl – has the weekly specials and some coupons. Just got one in the area so still figuring out the app.
  • Aldi – Similar to the Aldi site. Has a QR code reader for products and sales ads.
  • Sam’s Club – Similar to the Sam’s Club site with a barcode reader.
  • Walmart – Similar to the Wal-Mart site along with the Savings Catcher to find lower prices and allow you to get the difference on a Wal-Mart egift card or BlueBird card.
  • Target – Similar to the Target site with a barcode scanner

There are also these apps:

  • Saving Star – Save money by adding loyalty cards or scan receipts then you get cash back. I don’t use this one however.
  • MobiSave – Scan the receipts and get paid through PayPal in 24 hours. I don’t have PayPal so I don’t use this one either
  • Flipp – This one has weekly ads in one place
  • Krazy Coupon Lady – Sends daily information about deals, coupons and sales. I get the emails instead of downloading the app.
  • Favado – This app has sales ads so you can look at them all in one place as well.

 

 

Do you have any couponing tips I missed? What about money saving stories like I had with the Gerber pouches? I’d love to read them so be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!!

Money Saving Mini-Series: Basics First!

Money Saving Mini-Series 2017I got a request to write a blog post on what I knew about saving money. I decided to turn it into a mini-series because I knew what I’ve learned wouldn’t fit in just one blog post.

With that in mind, I typed up what I knew that way I could sort it out for this mini-series. I’ve been researching money saving ever since I first got married and we rented our first apartment several years ago now. Having a baby nearly a year ago now has made money saving even more important.

So I decided the first post should be about the basics. These are some things you should put into practice. We are still working on some of these. For a few of the tips, I’ll go into deeper detail in the rest of this series.

Onto the tips!

  1. Creating a budget: First off, find out how much you and your family have to spend and stick to that budget. Eat at home as much as possible and cut costs where you can. The USDA created a chart for families to discover the best budget for them.
    USDACostofFoodJan2017
  2. Cut out what you don’t need: Don’t buy the new phones. If you can live without it, turn off the TV and just watch Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Video. Don’t go see movies in theaters but borrow them from Redbox, the library, etc. I’ve read that even turning up the thermostat a few degrees saves money! To cut gas spending, try combining days out during the week when you’re running errands.
  3. Eating out: Don’t do it if you can avoid it. Bring water, snacks, even meals like sandwiches. We do this frequently, even when we don’t go shopping like if we’re going to be out all day.
  4. ‘Shopping’ in the pantry: Check and see what you have in your pantry that you can use while making your list (see #9 & #15). That saves money and prevents buying an item again that you don’t need.
  5. Don’t shop hungry: It will cause you to buy unnecessary and often unhealthy snacks and prepackaged food that you and your family really don’t need. My family brings snacks and water so that we don’t eat out if we know we’re going to be out all day, which happens when we shop. See #3 and #15.
  6. Shop weekly sales: Find the stores you go to most often online and look at when their sales start. Some start on Sunday and others on Wednesday but it depends on the store. Usually, you can sign up for their email list and the ads will be sent to you. When you check sales ads, look for coupons to increase your savings! (#7)
  7. Couponing: With shows on families using coupons to get outrageous savings and even getting paid by the store, I’m sure everyone has at least tried their hand at couponing. But let me tell you that it is not easy. Sometimes, they’ll buy things they don’t need to save money on some items or get paid to shop but that seems like more work than it is worth. Most people I know that are trying to save money do so because they have a family to feed and take care of and it’s hard to do major couponing with young children. I’m not saying it’s impossible but unlikely to be done on a daily or even weekly basis.
    I plan to go into more detail on coupons in following posts in this mini-series. In any case, I generally love couponing! When I can of course. 🙂  There’s a bunch of coupon apps (will also be a separate smaller post). There are also pamphlets and websites you can get coupons from.
  8. Apps: I’ll go into a bit more detail in another post with the coupon apps in the couponing post. Some stores have apps now with the sales ads in them. Like Target has an app in addition to the Target Cartwheel app (which is ah.maz.ing btw.) I don’t use these apps as much though.
  9. Meal planning: Meal planning with the weekly ads is one of the best ways to save money. You find out what is going to be on sale and create your menus around them. It helps by saving on money for meat as well when you buy what’s on sale. You could opt out of meat and go vegetarian at least once a week. We don’t implement that but we do eat a lot of leftovers around here. 🙂 I’ll be making a separate post with a sample of our meal plan later on.
  10. Make what you can to save money: Make as much homemade food as you can and skip processed convenience foods when possible. Homemade pizza, bread, mac n cheese, etc. But, if it’s easier to buy a couple of loaves of bread than make them then do it. Saving time is a consideration too when you go shopping. Like, I can make my own bread but Aldi sells loaves for $0.65-$0.89 a piece so we go with that more often. Also, when you have a large family and it’s not conceivable to make 5 or 6 large pizzas, then just buy some frozen ones! Our favorite frozen pizzas are Sam’s brands at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Here they are about the same price as Little Caesar’s and not as greasy. 😉
  11. Price compare: This one goes along with #10 and is a pretty common tip. Check the prices where you go when you can and get what’s cheapest. Check your previous receipts to determine how much you’re spending on various items Buy in bulk if necessary but if it’s cheaper to buy 2 or 3 of the smaller items, then do so.
  12. Buy in bulk: Another major common tip is buy in bulk! But not everything. When you buy in bulk, compare the unit prices to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Like recently I was at Aldi and saw they had some chocolate chips on sale but I wanted to compare the bigger bag at Sam’s. So I took a picture of the price card with my phone and waited. If it had been cheaper, I would have bought multiples at Aldi but the Sam’s bag is 3 cents cheaper per oz (I believe that was the unit price on that). So not only would it save money to get the big one but also waste because it’s less plastic.
  13. Stock up: When sales happen and you have the extra cash, stock up on dry goods! Like with the back to school season, peanut butter and jelly is on sale so now would be a good time to stock up on it. Around March I believe, frozen food is on sale so then would be a good time to stock up on it, if you have a deep freezer (which we are working towards buying for reasons like that). Same goes for meat. Aldi usually has great prices on meat so then would be a great time to stockpile for lean times and no sales.
  14. Check discount food stores: I will be making a small separate post on discount food stores but here are some quick tips until then. They have damaged and ‘technically’ expired goods. But as long as you are careful and critical of what you buy, you should be fine. Evaluate what you’re buying and check for punctures, cracks, and bugs. Yes, bugs. We were at a discount food store (we don’t often go to anymore) where they had some applesauce pouches and tiny fruit flies were covering a couple of busted boxes. Yes, it was nasty. But we don’t buy pouches from those stores. Aldi is a much better place to buy them from. Also check the expiration dates. Some things are ok a bit past but others…not so much. If you don’t feel comfortable buying something past the expiration date, then don’t. It won’t be worth the few pennies saved if someone gets sick!
  15. Weekly or monthly shopping trips: If possible, go shopping only once a month to save money on gas and impulse buys. If not, try and go only weekly instead of every couple of days. We go shopping every 3 weeks because that works best for us. I check ads when I can and buy what I know is cheap if I can’t, meal plan each time, and ALWAYS make a grocery list! If you sometimes forget your lists at home, try typing them up in a memo on your phone or taking a picture of the completed list as soon as you finish writing it. Not being able to cross things off is better than not having the list and guessing then missing a key ingredient!

Have any basic tips to share with a beginner? Share them down below in the comment section!

Saving Money

I think I’m going to try to start posting maybe once in a while about how I’ve saved us money this week. You know, some tips or tricks I’ve used. I don’t know how often I’ll do this though. I’ve been really into trying to save us money while also trying to fix better meals so we don’t always eat frozen dinners or microwave meals every night.

This past week, I searched the ads in the local paper and cut coupons to decide on the grocery list and menu for the next week. I usually do this, but during this past week I was a little more diligent. I found that Publix has their Campbell’s soup for $1.39 verses Walmart’s $1.50. I checked the ads over several times before going to the store and buying the soup. I didn’t want to go through all the trouble and have Walmart not honor the ad. Their AdMatch thing is very particular. It has to be the exact same item or they won’t accept it. Which is kind of a pain but oh well. What made this more awesome was I had a coupon for $1 off 3. I know that doesn’t sound like much but since I didn’t know when they were going to be on sale again, I decided to use it. Plus, I love their Sirloin Burger with Country Vegetables. That one’s my favorite. Thankfully, Walmart accepted it. This week, our bill was under $90. Granted, we got a few extra things but we try to keep it under $100 a week.

One of the extra things we got was a hand mixer. My wonderful hubby just randomly decided to get me one this week, though I’d said I just needed it sometime before Thanksgiving so I could make some Snickerdoodles cookies. Except I can never find cream of tartar anymore. So I plan on subbing baking powder for it and the baking soda. I’ll let you know how they turn out. Last time I made them, everyone loved them. 🙂 Even though I just completely omitted the cream of tartar. They turned out ok.

At least now I can make his pancakes easier next weekend with the hand mixer and my new mixing bowl set (the other extra thing we got!).
Kayley