Monday, September 19, 2011

Couponing + Chili Recipe


I have used coupons since I got married and was in charge of my own pantry, but August 30th I went to a workshop in Chattanooga about couponing. The workshop was done by a ministry called "Time 2 $ave." It opened my eyes to a new way to save money and give to others. I decided I wanted to share some of this information with everyone because of how it changed my pantry and my pocketbook. (*Time 2 $ave has no connections to this post...)

 The biggest change for me was moving from a "we NEED this item this week" to "we USE this item" shopping. Basically instead of buying items at full price with one random coupon when you are in a pinch and need it, you buy items in bulk when they are on sale and you have a coupon for each item. It may not be when you need the item, but it should be so cheap that it makes sense to stock up on it.

For example, I bought two loaves of bread for $.34. I had two coupons for $.55 off one loaf of bread, and the bread was Buy One Get One free (BOGO). The store doubled the coupons, so I got $1.10 of each loaf of bread, but since it was BOGO it was like getting $2.20 off one loaf of bread while the other was still free. Thus, the $.34 for two loaves of bread. Here is my receipt for visual people:
Oh yeah, I got a nickel off for bringing my own bag.
Next is how much you should stock up on. Sales tend to go on a 10-12 week cycle. Meaning you should stock up on items you use often to last you 10-12 weeks. It sounds like a lot, but when you are paying $.34 for two loaves of bread, I'm pretty sure you'll make room like I did.

I get my coupons from the newspaper (I usually buy at least 4 papers each Sunday), and online at sites like Coupons.com, Smartsource.com, and Redplum.com. I also recently subscribed to All You Magazine because I heard they have crazy amounts of great coupons in each issue.

Now there are two types of coupons: manufacturer, and store. You can use both on one transaction. So if you have a Target coupon for Dove deodorant, and have a Dove Coupon, you can use both to purchase the deodorant!

As I stated before some stores also double coupons.

With the amount of coupons that you're likely to gather, you'll need a way to organize them. I use a binder with baseball card sleeves. I also have tabs for different categories so I know where to find my coupons.
My lovely binder full of gold.

My tabs.

Coupon gold!
Yes, the savings I have gotten with couponing have been WONDERFUL! (This has been the best grocery budget month in a VERY LONG time) But I think my favorite part about couponing is being able to give to others. Our church recently started a food pantry, and I have scored so many great deals on canned items, toothpaste, etc. That I have been able to give to others without actually taking much money out of our monthly budget at all! (Lots of free toothpaste! :D) And it doesn't stop with items you buy. When you coupon like crazy, you clip a lot of coupons, but don't use them all. I found out that you can mail expired manufacturer coupons up to 6 months old overseas to our military and they can still use them! (If you want the mailing address let me know.)

I love couponing, and I don't think I will ever go back to my old way of shopping. I save way too much money not too.

If you have questions, I'd be happy to answer them, but I also suggest you check out Time 2 $ave. Their website probably can answer your questions; plus they post daily deals on their site.

Lastly, I want to share a recipe that I use from my nicely stockpiled pantry. This is a favorite of my hubby and I; and I have almost all of the items in my pantry at any given moment... Quick and cheap meal!

Chili Recipe

Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Beef
1 Medium Onion
1 can Light Red Kidney Beans
1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans
1 can Diced Tomatoes
1 can Tomato Paste
2 pkgs McCormick Chili Seasoning

Optional:
Cheese
Saltines
Sour Cream


Directions:
Brown the ground beef in a large pot, dice onion and saute with beef. Add both cans of beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, two cups of water, and both packages of chili seasoning. Mix well. Let simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until completely heated through.

I like to serve it with cheese and saltines. The hubby likes cheese and sour cream.
Recipe makes about 8-10 servings.

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