Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ghettofabulous Groceries

Is anyone else on a budget here? Our grocery budget is pitifully small due to house payments, etc., and all the other grown up stuff we have to do . . . sigh. I don't know how we would ever feel full if it wasn't for good old food storage and the sheer amount of eggs we eat. We use food storage everyday, literally. By now my kids probably wouldn't know what they were drinking if they had regular milk uncut with powdered milk.

I mentioned my frustration to some new friends here because I felt like I was doing my best by using a calculator and getting produce from the local farmer's market which is about 60% cheaper than the grocery store. Three of my friends from church suggested that I try the Surplus Outlet which is just down the road from the prison and reptile land. I am not kidding, it really is THAT  W.T. hearabouts in them thar parts. So I drive half an hour to it and I miss it because it is one of 4 tan warehouse looking buildings on the same road. 

When I finally get there, Ian gets all excited because they have Spiderman Cheese Nips for a dollar a box. I get excited too. Aren't Cheese Nips $2 or more a box? But alas, the expiration date is for December 2007. I didn't risk it. Over and over I would pick something up and the expiration date was past already. I didn't let it stop me from shopping there, but I did check the  expiration date of every single thing I bought.  

Surplus Outlet is the Marshalls or ugly cousin of grocery stores. There are great bargains to be found underneath, behind and between tons of yucky, dented, contents leaking out of the packages foodstuffs. 

After some serious digging around I did find some great stuff: Almond Joy cookies for 25 cents a pack, unsweetened single serving applesauce for 10 cents each, a can of Black Pearl olives for 25 cents, fruitabu flats (like stretch island fruit leathers, same company) for 50 cents a box, Corn Chex for $1.29, Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry Juice cocktail for 99 cents, Justice League Teddy Grahams 99 cents, box of 12 Trivial Pursuit strawberry Pop Tarts 99 cents, etc., I ended up spending about $ 40 and the checkout lady estimated that I would have spent easily $100.

So what if a label or two was torn and the tops of the plastic juice bottles were smashed in?Who really cares if the applesauce cups were free from their original packaging? Does it really matter if all the cans I bought were dented? Big deal that I felt like I needed a shower after shopping there. The end result was that my kids were thrilled that I bought all kinds of junky and semi-junky treats for their lunches that I usually can't fit within our budget. The fact that they will just have to eat some of them faster than usual because of looming expiration dates don't bother them. 

It was really hard to pass up a box of dog bones for 75 cents, oh wait, we don't have a dog . . . . YET. It would be almost worth having a dog if I could buy its food, etc., for so cheap.  That dog would pay for itself and protect me from the two SCARY looking Deliverancesque (April you know what I am talking about) garbage truck drivers sporting head to foot filthy camouflage and chin to bellybutton length beards that stopped at the same gas station I did and kept trying to talk to me (don't worry April, Ian was safely locked in the car). That pepper spray keychain I bought at Runner's Corner would serve me a lot better if I actually put it on my keychain instead of in my sock drawer. 

What are some ways you all save money on groceries? 

There is a website called miserlymoms that gives tips on how to save money, but some of the recipes sound pretty unpalatable (mystery burgers made with cottage cheese, Lipton onion soup mix and oatmeal). I don't think I am that desperate yet. On the website they figure out how much the meals cost per serving which is kind of neat. I think I will stick to ground 99% fat-free turkey breast even if it does cost more than ground chicken or ground beef.


Thomas Family said...

Where do you live again? This might not be helpful if you don't live in Utah. It should work anywhere, it just takes some effort. When I lived in Provo there was a lady there that worked for the Daily Herald. They called her the Savvy Shopper and she held meetings teaching people how to shop with coupons. My friend got me to go with one to her and it was really interesting. So basically, you cut the coupons from your Sunday paper every week and use them when the items go on sale. I had 3 papers delivered each week and it costs like 15 dollars a month, which I EASILY made up in one shopping trip. She would send out a free email every week telling you where the good deals were and what coupons to use. The best is if you can find a store that matches prices from other stores and has double coupon days (Smith's) Now, the problem is that she doesn't work for the Herald anymore and I think they discontinued the emails, but there is a website.
You can explore the website and see lists of things that are on sale and the coupons to use on them. They might offer emails, I'm not sure. I haven't tried this since I got back from Switzerland. It sounds crazy, BUT I saved SOOOOOOO much money! And it was fun! You know when Albertson's has their huge 10 for $15 dollar sales and cereal, granola bars, fruit snack, oatmeal and all that? I was getting boxes of cereal for free and paying like 25 cents for snacks for the kids. I really built up a lot of food storage with it too. I didn't pay for toothbrushes or toothpaste for like a year. It was really amazing. I think I saved some of my receipts that showed I spent like $50 and saved $100. I got SO many amazing deals! I think most newspapers would give you a good deal on the subscription where ever you are, but the hard part is keeping track of the coupons and what is on sale that week. I hope all that wasn't too confusing. Let me know if you have questions about it. I'm currently trying to figure out a way to do it again down in St. George, but without the weekly emails it is a lot of work.

knitaholic310 said...

I live in Lewisburg, PA. I wonder if there is someone like that lady around here. Thanks for the tips.

Katy Anderson said...

You probably already do this, but I think that meal planning is really helpful. I try to plan meals for a week. I write down all the ingredients I need and try to stick to that list when shopping. Also, I try to pick recipes that overlap ingredients so I don't let stuff go to waste. This may have been mentioned, but see if you can shop somewhere that will price match other stores. Last time I went to Wal Mart, the cashier had a list of sale items from other stores and gave me all the discounts.

Chelsea Anne said...

I started shopping at Smith's because they gave an extra 5% if you attended a university. Maybe there is a store in PA that gives discounts for professors? Just an idea