Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mommy Help! Part 3

Shopping Day
Yesterday I did my shopping. It took me about three hours for that as well. I ended up not changing my list much. I just took some of the premade frozen items like the hot pockets off of the list for lunches, instead me and the two at home will eat left overs for lunch. That'll work well.
Actually shopping day took me more than three hours. I was three hours physically in the stores, but I also spent another two hours before that shopping the adds.
The one list I used to create my shopping list allows me to put in the meal name and then in the different categories (dairy, meat, bread, etc) put in the ingredient and the amount. At the bottom of each column one row tells me how much I need of that ingredient for all recipes, then the next row I put in how much I have on hand, the last row calculates the difference. Then it creates a prepopulated list for each category that tells me how much I need. I really liked this list because every thing was broken down by department. So I took this list along.
But I still had one more list to create. The one with all the sales. I have another list that I have created myself. I created it in excel. It's pretty simple, but if anyone wants a copy just email me. Most of you know that Wal Mart, at least here, will match any competitors ad. So I have created a spread sheet where I list all items I need at the store, the next column I put the quantity I need, following that is (if needed) the store where I find the item on sale, the next column I put the sale amount or what I think the item will cost (anymore I'm getting pretty good at it), then the next column is a sum format that calculates the cost my how many I need to give me a total for that item. This column is helpful because when I get to the store I can also see what I budgeted for that items, and make adjustments if necessary. Many times I over budget on several items and a little under on another, so it tends to balance out that way. Then at the bottom is a final total so I have an idea how much I will be spending before I even get to the store.
Yesterday was the best I had ever done. Because of the first list that allowed me to write down every single ingredient and compare to what I have on hand I had a complete list, with nothing left out. Usually I would go to the store and remember items that I forgot to write down or I would get home and not have an ingredient and have to go back later.
So the first total I shared with you before was about $370. Way over the budget. I only had about $300 to spend. So right off to took off items I could do with out. I didn't make much difference, but some. Then I shopped the ads and created my ad match spread sheet. My new total was $353. So I went with it. I knew there were many items that I was over estimating because I didn't want a false sense of my budget.
So first was the Trading Company. I can't stand the so called fresh meats at Wal Mart. So I went and got the beef and chicken on my list. Also they have a better price (since no one else had an ad for milk) on their two packs of milk so I got milk, and they had a sale on a good whole wheat bread that I got there. My total there was right at $53.
Next was Wal Mart. I stopped and made a note on my list that I was $53 over to start with and had already spent that much. So I needed to keep my shopping at Wal Mart to under $250. So out came the calculator and pen. First I started with the more expensive items. I knew in order to make this work I would need bowls, freezer bags, and more seal a meal bags for everything I am going to prep and put in the freezer. Another problem with planning ahead and buying for two weeks is the fresh vegetables that go bad. So I will be preparing and freezing everything I can today which hopefully will make things easier for the next two weeks as well. Anyway to I found a large box of container for $10 and my seal a meal freezer bags for $19. Then there was Laundry detergent on the list. It was on sale for less than $17, usually it's more than $18! and then my husbands 3 cubes of Pepsi, again on sale for $5.99. Oh and don't forget the stinkin' diapers, generic brand for less than $11. So already I was just under $80. But I knew this was the bulk of my shopping cost.
Then I started getting everything else on my list. Yes I'm so cheap that I asked a very help (very rare at Wal Mart) Nathan in dairy to go back and look for their mild Cheddar for $4.76 that they were out of on the shelf. He came back and said they didn't have anymore. Then I showed him that it was almost $2 more for their mild of the same size. He picked up the mild and handed to me and told me to tell the cashier to match it and that Nathan said! That was the first time I had that happen. Thanks, Nathan. By the time I got to the register I had only three items to match. Sometimes I have about a dozen. But they seemed to be on top of the adds. Because when I left the house I had almost two dozen items from ads. It may seem like a lot of work, and sometimes feels like a waste of time, but on those days when they are not on top of the ads I really can save a lot of money.
Here's the kicker. I wrote my check for $250 and some change, and I was able to get everything on my final list. Most of my over estimating was in spices. You never know when you will be able to get the spices you need for fifty cents or $3. I had a long list of spices. This really was a major restocking of my pantry because I had done so poorly in my planning before that I didn't buy the stuff we could use for a long time and wasted our money on things that went fast.
Now I'm stocked and ready to start preping the food for the freezer, which will be my task today. So I will let you know how many misadventures I have in the kitchen today.
I don't' recommend doing all of this in one day. You will wear yourself out so bad. To keep your sanity and wits about you make this a three day adventure, menu and shopping list first day, shopping second day and then freezer and meal prep the third day.

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