I looked through my blog posts and realized that I have not blogged about couponing in about 7 months. There are several reasons as to why this huge gap, but the most significant reasons boil down to two factors: time and intensity. First, I have learned a few more lessons, but I have not slowed down in my blogging to categorize and sort all my life lessons in this area, much less figuring out how to state my thoughts in a meaningful way. Also, because of the constraints on my time, I fell off the proverbial “wagon” and have slacked up on my coupon gathering; I have yet to see the value of newspaper clipping, although I read somewhere that a significant percentage of coupons come in the newspaper. Hmmm…must be what we eat. Though Kroger blesses me every now and then with a very customized set of coupons, overall, we simply do not need the processed foods and numerous cleansers that make up the bulk of the online and hard-copied coupons that are available. Insult added to injury is that our area does not double or triple coupons like those
driven spotlighted on Extreme Couponing. Having said all of that, I still save on average about $30/ week from what was my previous bill.
Over the years, I have collected a number of special sauces, grains, and isolated cans of items that I do not even remember why I purchased. I love the whole grocery “making” process, from the planning, to the shopping, to the restocking of shelves at home, and definitely the saving. I consider it a part of my ministry to the family. Yet, after reading a recent article on how recipes can actually force you to spend more money at the store, I began to look at these leftover pantry items differently. If I focus not so much on the titles of the sauce as on the ingredients, I have some excellent substitutes. Moreover, with the sophisticated technology that now exists, how hard is it to Google ‘substitutes for _____________,’ or to search for ‘recipes with ______________ as an ingredient’? One more focused on the exactness of taste would say that this notion is sheer crazy talk, but I am not looking at an exact replica of tastes (although taste is very important); I am looking at savings. With this latter focus in mind, let me say that plain yogurt with a hint of lemon juice is a great mayonnaise substitute. Oatmeal is a much healthier bread crumb than the store-bought variety. And does teriyaki sauce really taste that much different than soy sauce? Okay, maybe I went too far with that last example, but you get the point.
Recently, I have fallen in love with a spice company that allows me to buy those most common spices in bulk. While perusing through their many choices for rubs, I settled on a chipotle, spicier flavor combination. Around the time that it arrived, I noticed that I was running low on black pepper. Guess what? When I compared ingredients, I made a quick decision to give that chipotle double duty. Now let us hope that I can remember to slacken up on the number of shakes when I add it to our favorite dishes!!
So, starting with the foods you have in place at home before making out that grocery list is not news. But using the remains of those one-time ingredients to create new taste combinations and keep a few dollars in your pocket might be a different take on your home inventory.
Here is another perspective on realistic starting places in planning menus and shopping for your family, especially for those who might not look as forward to this task as I do. And though I am not a fan of grocery store bought organic foods for all the reasons I mentioned in this post, there are a couple of great articles here and here on how to shop for organic foods for those with families that like to eat, and eat often.
Happy shopping, saving, and most of all, happy eating!