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Yes, You Can Afford It

By Kellene Bishop

Photo c/o chathamjournal.com

Photo c/o chathamjournal.com

Let’s face it.  Watching your bags of groceries get smaller and smaller while the price goes up and up will overwhelm anyone–especially if you have food storage on the brain plus providing food for your family.  I don’t care how wealthy you are, paying more money for less groceries is upsetting, right?  Two nights ago I taught a class specifically to aid individuals in obtaining MORE groceries and other items for less.  To emphasize the message I created several dishes for the group of 40 people with serving sizes plenty for each person to try several tastes of each dish.  I made a dessert and two main dishes all for a total of $4.92.  I often tell people that it only costs $1 per person per day for a year’s supply of food.  But with the benefit of couponing, I find that price to be quite generous.  Why?  Because I am able to obtain so many items for FREE or even better, for less than free. 

Here’s an example of how I get something for “less than free.”  Albertson’s recently had a sale on General Mills cereals.  My husband enjoys Cheerios and I consider them relatively healthy.  I had a coupon for $1 off of a box of Cheerios.  They were on sale for $1.99 a box.  However, Albertson’s also distributed one of their own coupons which allows me to double the value of any coupon presented, up to a $1, on any product purchased.  I had my $1 off, Albertson’s doubled it, which made my box of Cheerios cost me negative 1 cent.  ($1.99 – $1 – $1 = $ -.01)  This kind of scenario happens in the stores I shop over and over.  To be honest, I never shopped at Albertson’s or Walgreens or Rite-Aid before because those stores were “too expensive.”  Now I can’t afford to shop at the warehouse stores!  Who needs to rob a bank anymore?  Taking groceries from a store is much more lucrative, legal, and fun.  And I have not yet been shot at trying to do so. 🙂

These kinds of discounts aren’t isolated solely to groceries.  I’ve purchased pain relievers, cough medicines, deodorants, toothpastes, feminine needs, razors, paper goods, bandages, and even rat poison at a deep discount.  In fact, I’m no longer impressed with “50% off” sales.  I tend to focus on “free,” “almost free” or “hey, we’ll essentially pay you to take this product out of the store for us.” 🙂

So here’s a question for you.  How many times would YOU want to get that kind of a deal?  If you could consistently get these kinds of deals on first-aid, medical supplies and groceries do you think you could easily accumulate your necessary food storage and some emergency preparedness supplies?  Of course you could!  The numbers of times you can get such a deal is limited only by your willingness to be aware of what’s going on around you in the form of sales, coupons, specials AND the number of newspapers and online coupons you’re willing to obtain.  I personally subscribe to five Sunday newspapers and regularly check 6 easy coupon websites.  More importantly for you to consider, I look at this as a part-time job.  I make my own hours, determine how much I make per hour (which turns out to be about $50-$100 an hour), work from the comfort of my own home.  Try getting a part-time job under those terms any other way today. 

coupon-binderThe biggest question I’m asked when teaching people about couponing is how much time it takes.  Usually this question is asked in an overwhelmed tone by the person, already anticipating that it will be yet one more thing on their massive list of things to do.  I usually spend about 2 hours on a Sunday night hunting and gathering my coupons.  I use a guillotine-style paper cutter to cut them so I can usually cut out 5 to 10 at a time.  Sometimes I have to cut the coupons down a bit more, but I use spring-loaded scissors for the task as not to wear out my hands.  (Of course, I purchased the scissors and the paper cutter on sale.)  Then I organize my coupons in a heavy, zippered, three-ring binder, divided into all of the categories of interest to me.  Then I insert the coupons into heavy duty baseball card holders.  I’ve researched a LOT of other methods for organizing coupons and I assure you that I’ve found this to be THE best way by far.  (Please take my word on this matter. You can go off and try to be a pioneer, but you know that they always come back with arrows in their back.) 🙂 I never have trouble finding or seeing the coupons.  They never fall out as the result of an errant slip, and as a result of my organization, I’m not a nuisance to someone who’s in line behind me. 

savvy-shopper-avatarIn addition to my own efforts, I’ve found a great ally who does all of the “watching” and accounting of the coupons for me—Amy at www.savvyshopperdeals.com.  Twice a week, Amy tells gives me a gauge as to what’s a good sale, a great sale, or a kick butt sale on her website.  I can go on her site, tell this amazing software what I’m looking for, what percentage I want to save, what store I want to shop, etc., and create my grocery list right there.  What I end up with is the perfect grocery list that tells me what stores the items are located, what coupons I need to have on hand (plus where they can be located, whether it be a website or a newspaper ad) and she even tells me what AISLE the products are in.  Best of all, this service is completely free.  This way I don’t have to waste time hunting through all of the ads.  I simply spend a little bit of time on her site after I’ve got my coupons organized, and I’m off to stealing…er, I mean buying groceries.  (Note: Right now Amy is local for Utah stores, however, she’s in the process of going NATIONAL very soon.  I’m excited for the rest of you.  Know though that there are similar services and forums online in your area as well.)

Couponing has several benefits.  Not only can you feed your family every day for cheap, but because you ARE feeding your family every day so affordably, it makes you think twice about going out to eat.  With easy recipes you don’t have to feel the need to “escape” to a restaurant for a break.  On those rare occasions when I do go out to eat now it’s only for something that I probably don’t know how to make like those dang biscuits at Texas Roadhouse.  I almost always have a coupon when I go out to eat now.  Even then I’m looking at my food and telling myself, “Do you know how much in groceries I can get for the price of these two meals?!”  Yes, I’m officially “coupon corrupted.”  But seriously.  Couponing really does change your perspective on money.  After you’ve had the experience of ringing up over $100 of groceries only to pay $4.92 for them, you sure think differently about paying for those “extra upgrades” in life.  When I see a quarter on the ground now, yeah, I’ll pick it up—‘cause that could pay for a couple meals if I use it right! 

There’s the stigma that couponing isn’t worthwhile and that it only saves you money on junk.  Part of the reason why I made great food for my class the other night was to dispel this stigma.  Here’s two great recipes that I used last night to show them just how yummy “cheap” can be.  (By the way, due to couponing, I got over $30 in free pork for this recipe the other day!)

Easy BBQ Pork (My total cost: $3.49. Serves 10-12)

In a saucepan over medium heat mix 2 jars of chili sauce and 1 regular sized jar of grape jelly.  Warm through. 

In a casserole dish, Dutch oven, or the sauce pan, place your cooked pork. (Canned, Hormel, Spam, etc.)  Drizzle the chili/jelly mixture over the meat and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the meat is warmed through.  This tastes better if you are able to have sliced pork simmering in the mixture instead of whole large pork roast, etc. Y ou simply can’t get enough of the bbq sauce flavor.

Serve over cooked rice.

tuna-roll-coupon-cooking-Tuna Roll (My total cost: $1.11. Serves 8 – 10)

2 cans of tuna, drained

½ C Miracle Whip

½ C of Italian shredded cheese mix

½ package of cream cheese, cut into cubes

1 can cream of celery

½ T. granulated onion

1 T. Italian seasoning

2 cans of Pillsbury crescent rolls or crescent rounds

***

1 can cream of mushroom

1 C of parmesan cheese or 4 cheese Italian cheese mix

1/4 C of milk

Sprinkle of parsley

1 stick of butter

1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed 

Mix the tuna, mayo, cream cheese, cheese mix and celery soup together in a bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Roll out the crescent rolls until they are in a flat rectangle.  

tuna-roll-first

Spoon the tuna mixture over the bread dough.  

tuna-roll-two

Carefully roll the dough like a “jelly roll”.  Place in a “Pam sprayed” casserole dish.  Bake at 350 for 12- 15 minutes.

tuna-roll-finished

In another bowl mix together the cream of mushroom soup, the cheese, and ¼ C of milk.  Stir consistently until nicely thickened.  Then spread over the cooked tuna rolls. 

Mix together the crumbled Ritz crackers and the melted butter. Top the dish evenly, then sprinkle a little parsley on top.  Return to the oven for about 10 minutes.  Serve warm.

I have so much more that I’d love to share with you on this topic, but that’s simply not practical on a blog.  So I’ll keep chipping away at different components on couponing and hope that in the meantime you’ll think twice about embracing this way of affordably gathering in your supplies.  

I’ve known folks who have been on food stamps who have been able to stand on their own two feet thanks to couponing.  I also personally know of a family of 7 that spends only $100 a month on groceries and HALF of that is for food storage.  Given that the value of our currency is in question and inflation keeps rearing its ugly head, I can’t think of a better way to fight back than to take advantage of couponing.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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