Saving money and adhering to a grocery budget has proven difficult this go round, even for a confirmed coupon user like me. There just aren't many coupons out there for the fresh stuff. There are ways, however, to slash your grocery bill elsewhere, so buying fruits and vegetables aren't quite so painful. It's taken me about two weeks to get myself squared away/organized/ready to save money, but now, I think I'm on track and will share what I've done with you.
1) There may not be a lot of produce coupons out there, but there *are* lots of coupons available for other things like: tea, yogurt, kefir, lunch meat, frozen vegetables, and frozen fruit. You can find them in the coupon fliers in Sunday papers, online at sites like http://www.coupons.com/, or http://www.redplum.com/, and by doing an internet search for the particular product you're looking for. And now is not the time for brand loyalty. If you find a coupon that will give you a better deal on groceries you need, use it!
I had to do a little digging, but I saved a lot of money on our groceries this week using coupons. I wish I could say I bought $300 worth of organic groceries for $9, but I'm not that kind of couponer. *sigh* I actually spent $118 .74 (without getting the meat I needed, which they didn't have *grrr*) but saved $53.15. $30 of that was with my store card, but the other $23 was from using coupons. Here are some I found that are pertinant to the 17 Day Diet:
$1 off 2 bottles Lifeway Kefir
.50 off 2 Birds Eye frozen vegetables
$1 off 1 pkg of Hillshire Farm lunch meat
.50 off Stash tea
$1 off Horizon organic eggs
.55 off when you buy 2 one dozen cartons of eggs (http://www.incredibleegg.org/)
2) Buy in bulk.
I was buying frozen berries to go in my yogurt and kefir, but was going through them really fast, and they're expensive. I saved money this week going to Sam's club and buying a gigantic bag of frozen strawberries. It wasn't very expensive and should last me another week or two. They also had large containers of Greek yogurt that were slightly cheaper than individual cartons in a regular store, so I stocked up on those too.
3) Be flexible.
I really wanted more kefir, but the grocery store was completely sold out last week, so I've been eating a lot of yogurt. It wasn't the end of the world. If kefir goes on sale and I can stock up, then I'll drink it instead of getting yogurt.
4) Make your own.
Kira found a recipe for making yogurt in a crock pot and we're going to try that out, because that would be a huge money saver, considering all the yogurt we (plus our kids) eat. In the spring, I am definetely planting a garden so I can also grown my own produce, too. I told Tom last night that his winter project is making me some raised beds for my garden.
5) Plan your meals.
This coming week, when I switch over to phase 2, there's a whole new list of foods I'm allowed. But since I'll be alternating between phase 1 and phase 2 days, and I only get 2 additional portions of starches every other day, I clearly don't need to go buy out the grocery store (even though I really want to). I was starting to get overwhelmed by all the choices (and sudden cravings for foods I haven't seen in two weeks), so I sat down and wrote out an entire week's meal plan, being mindful of my most severe cravings (beef and sweet potatoes?), and recipes that would make enough food for a couple of meals inexpensively. I decided to make a batch of the black bean and turkey chili (but I'm using lean ground beef because I despise ground turkey and can't find ground chicken anywhere). I also have a recipe for a delicious cabbage pie that I'm going to modify into stuffed cabbage to make it diet friendly. The lean ground beef will work in the chili and and cabbage rolls, so I'll save money there. Here's the recipe in case you want to try it too (I've put moifications in paratheses):
frozen deep dish pie shells (omitted)
2 T butter (substituted with bold beef broth)
1 lg onion chopped
4-5 carrots cut in small pieces
2 C cabbage chopped (plus leaves for rolling up in)
1.5 lb lean ground beef
1 C hot water
1 brown gravy mix
2T parsley flakes
2T parsley flakes
1 t salt
1/2 t savory
1/4 t pepper
(bold beef broth)
(cabbage leaves for steaming)
Saute onion, carrots, and chopped cabbage in butter (bold beef stock) until slightly brown. Remove. Saute meat in same skillet until cooked through. Lower heat, add water and brown gravy mix. Stir in herbs. Cover, simmer 5 min, and add vegetables.
Add to crust and slit top . Cook at 400F for 30 min.
(Steam cabbage leaves and prepare as you would stuffed cabbage.) I've never actually made stuffed cabbage before, so I'm going to have to look up a recipe for how to do that. I figure it can't be too hard and ought to taste yummy! If you try it, let me know what you think!