Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Clearance Racks and Coupons

Many grocery stores have a rack or small area dedicated to clearance items. Most of the time there is nothing we want. Ok, only twice but it does provide entertainment. If you do find something, don't forget to check your coupons. I haven't found in any store coupon policies that say you can't use coupons on clearance items.

We found two 12 ounce bags of Starbucks coffee that were on clearance and we had one coupon. There was also a catalina deal for Starbucks coffee where if you bought two you got a coupon for $2 off a future order. We didn't know if it would print because they were clearance items but we decided to try it. The catalina printed. The coffee ended up being about $1.75 a bag. In the same shopping trip, I had a found my favorite brand of facial cleanser on the clearance rack. At 50% off it was already an amazing deal. I got it for free using my coupon and a store doubler. The point of the story is to keep an eye on the clearance rack and your coupon book.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Reasons we can eat on the cheap

Eating out, beer, and buying coffee costs a lot compared to the food and meals I can make at home. While keeping track of my food costs, I realized there are a few reasons why we am able to keep my food costs pretty low. The most important is that I have the space to store extra food. And boy do we do! Our pantry is very well-stocked with healthy, versatile non-perishables. Some of the grains we always have are rice (both white rice and brown rice), millet, oats, bulgur, and couscous. Then there are the legumes. We love, love, love dal curries and really enjoy playing with our basic recipe. Just for dals have yellow split peas, green split peas, red lentils, and baby dried split garbanzos. We have a collection of dried beans that we don't use too much. I do love dried navy beans for white bean soup. The collection of canned beans is huge. Let's not kid ourselves; dried beans are cheap. I really like using canned beans for most things. A regular sized can is the right amount for most everything we cook, I like the texture, and I don't have to cook them. I don't want to bore you further with the contents of our cupboards but basically there are tons of canned beans, baked beans, stock, canned vegetables, tuna, tomatoes, olive oil, flour (whole wheat and white all-purpose), tomato soup, plus a couple boxes of mac n' cheese, coffee, crackers, and assorted other items. Last but not least, there is the pasta. There are the 95 POUNDS that we got for free, in addition to the probably 30 or so pounds we already had.

Why have so much food?! We bought everything when it was at the cheapest point we thought we could get it so we would never have to make an impulse buy. We have enough of everything that we just try replacing some of the things occasionally when we find it a price we are willing to pay for it. Or not pay, in the case of the pasta. We can never be guilty of whining about not having anything to make for dinner. We are able to make a number of basic meals from just things in our pantry.

There are a couple tricks to making this work. One is checking the expiration date when you are shopping and getting the longest dated items you can. The second is organization. On our canned stuff we write the expiration date on the top of the can in sharpie so we can see it easily. We have to reorganize and take inventory every couple of months. We don't have a ton of space so we make the most of what we have.

Most of the food is in the cupboard with some of the dried goods in jars on a rack so it is hidden from eyesight. If we don't see it, we tend to forget about it. We have taken to setting a few things on the counter to remind us to use them. It's been working. We see it, remember that we have it, and it is a reminder that we really like the things we can make with it.