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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saving Money, Coupons, and Do They Really Eat That Much?

Does it seem as if all you do is buy food for your grandkids? Even the little ones eat, and eat, and eat! It's seems as if it didn't cost this much when you were raising their parent, although you do remember the time Waldo munched his way through the contents of your freezer in his early teens during a growth spurt. Add to this the fact that, as you get older, you probably aren't eating as much as you used to eat in a meal. Your doctor might even have you on six small meals a day instead of the standard 3 squares you used to cook when you raised your first set of kids.

There's no question that kids EAT. It also shouldn't shock you that it cost a LOT more to feed the little goobers. If you are not prepared for the change in your market habits as well as the cost you will incur, well, sit down, call your doctor and see if you need some more blood pressure medication. 

I spent $7041 last year on not just groceries, but napkins, paper towels, styro plates, disposable plastic utensils, toilet paper, paper lunch sacks, plastic wrap, foil, plastic bags for sandwiches, plastic bags for snacks (smaller), plastic bags for freezing produce (larger), wine and other adult beverages, dish detergent, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, bleach, fabric softener, scrub pads, and cat food. Some people separate the non-edibles and pet supplies from the real food. I don't. I buy them all at the same places, despite what late 20th century how-to books on budgeting say about the matter. That's about $585 a month on average.

When it comes to fresh produce, I buy only what we will use if it is not on extreme sale, or try to buy a minimum, anyway. Everything else, I try to bring it home and freeze it. I am thinking of a second freezer, along with the one in my garage (upright), as well as the one attached to my refrigerator. If prices are low enough on a produce item, such as they were on green beans this past week, I will buy a lot of it and freeze it. 

I shop sales almost religiously. I have a sense on when the best sales are for particular items at particular times of the year. And I am guilty, guilty, guilty of buying items some people would never consider purchasing, such as styro plates, plastic bags and soda pop. I suppose I could go to GFS or some other wholesaler and get those deep-sided heavy paper trays that are green-friendly. I suppose I could bring my own bags; thing is, I never remember them, and it's a whole lot easier to make a lunch and toss it into a very recyclable lunch sack. I'm not getting any younger.

My first store of choice: Big Lots. That's right, Big Lots. Yes, shopping must occur there with a watchful eye, but you'd be surprised what you can find there. My second store of choice: Walmart. My third store of choice: A local grocery that has some really good sales and specializes in Italian foods. 

I am not above buying day-old bread, and scavenge the "last chance" produce cart. Due to freezing temperatures, for example, tomatoes and bell peppers are priced twice to three times what they cost last year. However, I scrounged a few pounds of tomatoes at 49 cents a pound, and 99 cents a pound on bell peppers. The tomatoes don't freeze well, but the bell peppers do and did. I have a shelf on my freezer with organic baguettes I picked up on closeout for 50 cents each.

Big Lots does not take manufacturer coupons, more the pity. Walmart and my Italian grocer do. I freely admit that I have not always coupon'd well, and am just starting again. My kiddos are afraid I am going to turn into one of those people on "Extreme Couponing" and make them sleep with shelves of stuff we will never use. That isn't likely to happen, as I only get coupons for what we will use, and try not to let our decor reflect a taste in Early Warehouse.

It doesn't hurt any of us to trim our budgets. When it comes to raising a second set of kids, it's a necessity.  

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