A reader recently posted a very good couponing question:
Until now, we have planned our weekly menu depending on how much we have to spend for that week out of our food budget. We usually shop at Winco for the best deals (their non-sale prices are really good) with a few things at Trader Joe’s. The problem is that by the end of the week, our cupbords, fridge, and freezer are basically empty and we begin again the following weekly shopping trip. How would I change my shopping habits to not only get the best deals, but also to build up a pantry? I expect that I will probably have to spend more the first few months because we’ll be getting enough for weekly meals but also catching deals and buying in bulk, right?
One thing I remember when I first started to coupon is that I questioned whether or not I would be able to build up a pantry and not have to eat rice in beans in the process. I can honestly say that I live a much better life now that I coupon. I am going to try to lay out some steps to help answer this question.
- Plan your meals: When I say this I don’t mean just pick whatever you want to eat that week and go buy it. Take a look at what you do have in your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry and plan out of that. If you need meat that week find the best deal and create a meal or two out of that. I love to use allrecipes.com to give me ideas. If you used their advanced option you can plug in ingredients that you have and it will give you a recipe Just remember to plan your menu around the sales.
- Set aside a certain amount to build up your stockpile. Say $25 a week. While this may seem like a small amount, you will be amazed at how much this will last when you are using coupons. Keep it in a cash envelope so that you know how much you have left. If you have money left from the previous week add it to the next. You never know when meat will be on a super buy. For instance Chicken is at Food Emporium this week for $1.69lb. I just went and got 29lbs!
- Know how much you should buy. When something goes on rock bottom price take a minute to think of how much you will need. If you eat spaghetti once a week then you will know that you need 52 jars of it. I like to buy six months ahead of time because by that time it will be on a great sale again.