Archive for the ‘Spend Less – Save More’ Category

Take Control of Your Freezer – Meaty Matters.

Consider stocking-up on meats as you find them on sale. A low price is only a bargain if you can use that cut of meat. Look for your family’s favorites. If you find a good price on a cut of meat that you are not familiar with, do some quick research online or in your cookbooks to find a recipe you would use.

Once you get your meat home, do not just throw your meat into your freezer. Remember that your grocery store packages the meats for refrigeration in their cases, not freezing in your home. Also, you have probably bought your meat in bulk; it takes a long time to thaw ten chicken breasts. If you only need four per meal, shouldn’t you freeze them to meet your serving needs? You need to make a few modifications to get them freezer ready:

  • Invest less than fifteen dollars in Reynold’s Handi-Vac Vacuum Food Storage System. You’ll get a battery-operated, hand-held device that removes air out from specially designed zip-top freezer bags. Of the systems readily available at this price point, I think it is the best. Air is your enemy when it comes to freezing foods, and this system gets the air out.
  • Open each package of meat and discard the grocery store packaging as well as any fat you wish to trim off.
  • Consider how you’ll use each cut of meat. For example, if you plan to serve some chicken in a marinade, go ahead and mix the marinade now and put it into your freezer bag with the meat. When you are ready to thaw it, your meat will be completely marinated and ready to cook india kamagra.
  • With chicken pieces, either freeze in one bag what you will eat at one meal, or to use fewer freezer bags, use this simple technique:
    • Find the largest shallow dish that will fit in your freezer, either a 9 x 13 casserole or a cookie sheet.
    • Place the chicken pieces on it, being careful that they do not touch each other. Place them in the freezer until they are hardened on the outside, usually about two hours. Then put them in your freezer bag and remove all the air.
    • When you are ready to use them, open your bag and easily remove just the pieces you need; they will not freeze together in one huge lump because you individually froze them first. With the Reynolds Handi-Vac System, you can reseal your bag and place it back in the freezer for your next meal.
  • After you seal and remove the air from each bag, use a permanent marker (not a ballpoint pen) to write the date and contents on the bag. Gently smooth the contents out so the bag is flat. Stack them in your freezer, and enjoy the convenience of pulling out meat that is ready to cook. Plan on thawing each bag overnight in your refrigerator before use.
  • Keep your frozen meats on the freezer shelves, not in the door. Plan on using them in no more than two to three months.

You can also use your Reynolds Handi-Vac System to save space. When I buy frozen garlic bread, the box used to take up space for weeks in my freezer as I used a few slices here and there. Now, I take the slices out and freeze them in a bag as noted above; I copy the cooking instructions on the bag in permanent marker and recycle the cardboard box. You save freezer space while keeping the food fresher, and you can easily reseal the bag after removing what you need for a meal.

Take Control of Your Freezer – Expand your horizons.

Your freezer can keep more than popsicles and pizza for you. Did you know that with certain simple precautions, you can freeze butter? Milk? Cheese? Why not buy these items en masse when they go on sale today and reap the benefits tomorrow. A few tips to remember:

  • No matter how low the sale price, it is only a deal if you can afford to pay for it today. Instead of stocking up on everything that is on sale this week, start small if that is what your budget permits. If milk, cheese and butter are all on sale, but you only have $10 extra to spend on groceries, just pick one item and buy the extra inventory you can. If you do this each week as you have extra money and as things are on sale, eventually you will have a freezer full of things you can use that you bought for way below retail.
  • With dairy items, only buy what you will realistically use in the next two months. According to Kraft’s website, their block and shredded cheeses may safely be frozen that long in the original, unopened packages.  Schepp’s Dairy’s customer service line confirmed that their milk and butter can be frozen safely for up to two months. On milk, take these simple precautions before freezing:
    • Open the container and pour out one cup per gallon, as the milk expands as it freezes. Place a small piece of plastic wrap over the container opening, and then put the lid back on.
    • Freeze in an upright position.
    • Thaw in the refrigerator over several days. Once thawed, use within one week.
    • In whole milk, fats may separate slightly upon thawing. Shake well before serving. This is not an issue with low-fat or fat-free varieties.

Take Control of Your Freezer – Clean out before you clean up on sales.

The freezer is often the least-examined, most often forgotten section of anyone’s kitchen. How often have you opened it and winced in pain as frozen blocks fell out onto your big toe?  Have you ever found something buried in the back of your freezer that is months past its expiration date or that you do not remember buying?

Take a few minutes to seriously look inside and see what you have. You do not have to clean out the entire freezer at once; commit to cleaning out one shelf a day, fifteen minutes at a time. Throw away anything that you know you will not use or that has spoiled due to freezer burn. As you find things frozen in large plastic containers or cardboard boxes, re-package them in smaller freezer zip-top bags.

Take stock. Once you know what you have, make a list. If you have a freezer full of chicken breasts, it does not matter how cheaply you can find them on sale if you do not need them. Consider keeping a short list on the front of your freezer that lists your “extra stock” of items you find on sale. This helps you remember to only buy what you need and can readily use.

Take Control of Your Freezer

As we discussed last month, food is the largest expenditure for most Americans after housing and transportation.  What if you could make a few minor changes in how you view food shopping and reap major savings? And the more planning you put into your food shopping, the more you can reduce your spending on eating out. Think about it: how many times you ended up at a restaurant or drive-thru because making dinner at home seemed overwhelming or impossible due to missing ingredients.  So grocery shopping matters!

Did you know your freezer could be saving you money every week on your grocery bills? Even if you do not have a deep freezer, you can stock up on basic essentials at rock bottom sale prices.

A few simple steps will be helpful to get you in saving shape. I will post one each day this week.

Make Your Own Sales – Part 2

In my first post on making your own sales, I told you how to save by shopping the sales ads for all the grocery stores in your area. Making a trip to a particular store you might not normally shop at could save you money if you use the sales to increase your savings.

 

Here is another way to use the grocery stores’ sales circulars…

 

Make Your Own Sale at Wal-Mart. For my family, I do the majority of our shopping at Wal-Mart. Many people do not realize that Wal-Mart will match other store’s advertised prices with a few qualifications. Start by asking to speak to the store manager or the grocery manager and make sure you understand the policy at your local Wal-Mart before you load your grocery cart. The following is based on my consistent experience, as well as the experience of other “ad comparison shoppers” I know.

 

  • You must present the ad at check-out, and expect to show the cashier the ad’s date to prove the sale price is current. So take the entire ad with you, not just the page featuring the items you want http://ukviagras.com/ed/levitra-uk/.
  • Wal-Mart will match actual sale prices, but not “buy one, get one” or “percent off” sales.
  • Brands and sizes matter, so if the competitor’s ad offers their store-brand sixteen ounce jar of pickles on sale, do not expect to get that same price on a national brand or a different size jar. You would need to purchase Wal-Mart’s store brand to get the sale price.
  • Some locations honor sale prices on meats and some do not. Be sure you understand your location’s policies.
  • My experience has been that Wal-Mart’s every day price often beats a competitor’s sale price, so that is why I write the details about the competitor’s price on my grocery list. If Wal-Mart’s price is cheaper and you still decide to buy it, cross the item off your list and toss it into your basket. If the competitor’s ad price is cheaper, circle it on your list and place it in a special area of your basket (I use the front area of the basket for this) so at check-out, I can easily find the items and my notes on which ad features the better price.
  • Take a clipboard with you. It seems like a small point, but having your ads and your list clipped together on a firm writing surface makes all of this much simpler.

It may take you a few trips to get comfortable with using competitor’s ads at Wal-Mart; I have been doing it for a few years now, and I regularly save at least $10 – $20 every week just by using competitor’s ads. Add to that the savings in time and gasoline because I do not make multiple trips to multiple stores, and my savings go up even more.

Make Your Own Sales – Part 1

Everyone seems to be looking for ways to cut costs in the current economic crisis. Have you looked at your spending and thought, “What is left to cut?” If you are like most shoppers, your grocery bill can be cut dramatically without sacrificing quality and variety for your family.

If someone offered you $10 to $20 each week to make one small change to your grocery shopping, would you do it? That could be $500 to $1,000 per year. That is what I save for my family each week by using this tip. Commit to trying it for the next four weeks and see how much you save.

Check the sales. Each week, grocery stores compete for your hard-earned shopping dollars by printing flyers that show all their sales. If you are in the DFW area and would like to receive these flyers delivered to your home for free, go to www.DallasNews.com/briefing.  The Dallas Morning News recently started printing “The Briefing,” a smaller scaled-down version of their traditional paper. Instead of daily delivery, “The Briefing” is only delivered Wednesday thru Saturday. If your home is within the delivery area, you may be able to receive it for free. Why does this matter? The Wednesday edition of “The Briefing” contains the grocery store ads, which are like gold to the shopper who has learned to use them.

We discussed in a prior posting the importance of making a list before shopping. It keeps you focused in the store and helps you buy only what you need, not what the grocery store wants you to take home. Hopefully you have adopted this habit and are considering each week what you need for the meals you plan to cook as well as for special items, like cookies for the potluck at your office or poster board for your child’s school project.

After your essentials are on your list, sit down for fifteen minutes with a marker and pen and go thru each store’s ad. Even if you do not regularly shop that store, still go thru the ad. You are looking in particular for anything that your family use regularly, which includes paper goods, cleaning products, dairy items and meats, produce…you name it.  As you find an item on sale that you use regularly, make a note on your grocery list of which store (I abbreviate with the first letter of the store’s name), the item, the item’s size (the nine ounce bag of your favorite chips may be on sale, not the sixteen ounce size), and price.

Spend Less, Save More

Saving Money in 2009Whatever you call the current economic situation-a downturn or a recession-you are probably more aware of every dollar you spend today than you were a year or two ago. For everyone, one of the biggest expenses you have every month (after housing and transportation) is food and groceries. In this first installment of a multi-part series, we’ll begin to look at ways to save money on food while still living well.

Grocery shopping is something most of us do on “auto-pilot.” We go through the motions each week and often give little thought to the investment we are making. Your grocery dollars add up, quickly. Are you doing everything you can to make the most of them? (more…)

Savings May Help More Than Paying Down Debt

Financial experts have told people for years that they should have six months worth of living expenses in savings, but many have changed that target to nine to 12 months of living expenses. 

First we should define living expenses. Generally it is the minimum payments and amount of cash needed for food and fuel that you must have to support you and your family http://itsph..n-gabapentin/.

In the current economy, many people have been foregoing saving in order to pay down debt. Financial advisors suggest that you should continue to save until you have enough to sustain your family for one year in the event that a wage earner in your home loses their job.

The new conventional-wisdom is that you should not overpay your mortgage or pay down credit card debt, until you have enough cash in your emergency fund.