My Groceries Overfloweth

Sometime last fall, I began following a local blog to help me spend less on my shopping--mostly groceries, but often many other things too.  What began as discovering good deals at the grocery store evolved into a coupon frenzy and personal challenge to see how many coupons I could use to save more money each time.  The result?  I cut our grocery budget in half several times and had a stocked pantry and fridge.  The biggest challenge?  Not buying things I wouldn't purchase without a coupon or things that aren't in our best interest to eat frequently, like frozen prepared foods and processed snack foods.  While we occasionally enjoy junk food, it is not a good idea to have large amounts of it on just gets eaten, and rather quickly I might add.  I learned to organize my coupons in a way that worked best for me and stock up on things that we buy out of necessity when they're on sale, like toilet paper, baking supplies, tomato sauce, etc.  Sometimes I will still bring home snack food when it ends up costing pennies.  Usually if there is something on a good sale AND I have a coupon, it does end up costing pennies.  It is always exciting to watch my total grocery order keep getting lower and lower as coupons are scanned. 

The last several months have been pretty busy around here and I've had a hard time finding time to clip and organize coupons, so I just haven't used them much at all.  My last real coupon shopping trip was in February.   Returning to using coupons is of course one of the things on my "list", so last night I sat down and printed and cut internet coupons and clipped newspaper coupons, made my shopping list, tried to plan a few meals for this weeks menu (peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches are sadly still on the menu) and planned a 5 am shopping trip for this morning. 

I didn't actually get to the store until 5:30, but this is definitely a great time to shop.  I've really never considered shopping so early, but a friend does so weekly, and I think I may adopt the idea too!  It was nice to be shop the aisles leisurely, although I think I was a little too leisurely this morning as I didn't get home until 7:30!  Carribou latte in hand, coupon file in the cart, shopping list on top, I was armed and ready to spend less money and restock my very empty pantry and fridge.  My #1 rule right now is to buy it ONLY if it is on my list and if it isn't, I can ONLY buy it if it is on sale (really on sale, not just $.10 off) AND I have a coupon.  There are always things that are on sale that I have a coupon for, and often things that I may use frequently that I have a coupon for that aren't currently on sale.  Today I stood firm and knew that if I'm going to shop and use coupons consistantly this summer, I would have to wait until the item was on sale to use my coupon unless I've run out and NEED to buy it. 

All of that being said, I filled my cart to the brim, mostly with things that were on my list...a few things that weren't on sale, but needed for a menu meal, and a few things that weren't on my list, but were a really good deal that I couldn't pass on.  (I know, it kind of looks like it is full of junk, but really, there are lots of fruits, veggies, and meats in the bottom!) 

I love it when someone comments on how much I have in my cart.  They usually inquire about the size of my family and I get to say there are 10 of us (Julia counts right now!)  It is fun to use buying groceries as a positive testimony for the blessing of having a big family.  "That's a lot of bags" the bagger said regarding my pile of 18 reuseable bags.  "There are a lot of groceries", I said.  The chatter continued between myself, the checker and the bagger.  "Really?  Seven kids?  Do you have to shop like this all the time?"  "Generally."  "Wow, you're really busy!"  "Yes, I am.  I love it!"  "Will you have help with these when you get home?"  "Of course.  My kids are really great helpers!"  "This is the longest receipt I've ever seen", said the checker.  "I've had many that are longer" I replied, smiling.  I think I may leave a positive impression about having a bunch of shopping could be a pain, but I enjoy that people can see my joy in doing it.   I got frozen juice for $.74 each, 64 oz Minute Maid OJ for $3.00 (less than 1/2 price) and 1# of deli sliced turkey for  $.99.  It wasn't my biggest savings, but I did have coupons and discounts that saved my $42.67!  The two gentlemen helping me were impressed.  I'm sure I've given them something to talk about for a while today..."this crazy lady who was shopping at 5:30 this morning had a huge cart full of groceries for seven kids and then she pulled out 42 coupons!"  LOL.  Glad I enjoy this so much! 

Hopefully, I will have groceries to offer meals for at least 2-3 weeks.  I'm sure I'll need to return to the store for fruit, but I think everything else should be covered, including snack food and quick meals as we continue through busy baseball nights, and even a couple of campfires.  Smores are necessary in the summer you know! When I returned home, I did have really great help unpacking them!