Tips to Reign In An Out Of Control Family Budget: Let’s Start in the Kitchen!

707538835876fc5c438018d57701bc2f.jpgUntil the end of the year, I’ll be posting some articles with realistic tips and methods to save money and reign in spending. None of these are going to the same old “Clip coupons, grow your own garden, etc.” that’s all over the internet- and honestly, here in Southern California, the old, standby advice isn’t going to help you. Grow a garden to save money? Water is so expensive here!

Clipping coupons and shopping grocery store sales/circulars will save you a fraction of the amount that it used to. In years past, I was saving 60-80% with coupons and store sales. Now, I’m lucky to save 50%.  With all of the restrictions on coupons (example: limit one like coupon per day- LAME), stockpiling to save money isn’t always possible without a lot of work/trips to different stores (and that’s not saving time). We’re moving past that, and delving into other ways to save money and take advantage of opportunities that are out there.

Today we are going to start with my pet project: Saving in the kitchen! If you feel like you’re spending too much money on food and groceries, here are my recommendations for getting the grocery spending under control:

  1. Go through your refrigerator/freezer and pantry. Make a note of the food that you have on hand. I like using the kitchen inventories here. This will also give you an opportunity to clean out food from the kitchen that has expired or that you won’t eat. Unexpired food that you won’t eat, can be donated to a local charity.
  2. Now that you have a handle on what you have in your kitchen, take a look at the list and come up with some recipes or meals that can be created with what you have on hand. You’d be surprised by how many meals you have in your kitchen! Make a list of the meals that you can make with what you have. And plan on having one or two of those per week. This will help keep grocery spending down. Make a list of meals that you can make but require one or two ingredients (like fresh vegetables), and add those ingredients to your next few shopping lists. By relying on what you already have in your home, you will be keeping your out of pocket down.
  3. Before you head to the store, take a look at the sale flyer which is available online, and see what is on sale. Plan meals around food that is in season and on sale. Continue to use coupons, but don’t go out of your way to subscribe to multiple newspapers per week to get a hold of lots of the same coupons.  Don’t forget rebate apps! Use of these apps gets us $10-$20/month cashback, sometimes double that, depending on what bonus offers are available- Fetch Rewards and Ibotta often have Bonus offers.
  4. Track your spending over a few weeks to see how much you are spending, and what you are buying. If you still find that you’re spending a lot of money on food, I would try shopping at a different store. I find that even with club card sales, and rebate apps like Fetch Rewards, some grocery stores (like Vons) are just too expensive to do my weekly shopping. I love starting my shopping at $.99 only. I am able to get a lot of snacks, name-brand treats, and fresh fruits and veggies there, and I am still able to stay on budget. Another fun place where I save money is Grocery Outlet. They have great prices on cheese, fruit juice, coffee, and frozen meat. They also have an interesting selection that changes weekly: snack food, protein bars/cookies, and cereal. If you are in the military, a military family, or a veteran, consider shopping at the commissary. Here is my article about saving money at the commissary. 
  5. Consider cooking more from scratch. It is healthier, and pantry stables are generally pretty cheap (the ingredients for a batch of chocolate chip cookies runs about $3.00 and yields 4-5 dozen cookies, while a package of chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store is about $4.00+ and is usually 3 dozen or so).  I buy fruits and veggies whole and break them down and pack them into serving size bags. You can learn more about that and Batch Cooking here.

If you are still having a hard time keeping your grocery budget in check, or if you are finding that the ends don’t meet, consider the San Diego Food Bank Neighborhood Distribution Program. No documentation is needed to receive food assistance from a
Neighborhood Distribution site where people can receive fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread, based on availability. Families are encouraged to bring reusable bags or
a cart with them to carry the food items.

There are programs out there to help those struggling to feed their families here in San Diego County. Here is my list of San Diego County Food Resources.

I work very hard to keep my family on a budget, I work very hard to make sure that we are saving money and taking advantage of as many deals and opportunities that present themself. I know that this is not something that everyone wants to do or something that everyone can do. There are so many programs and discounts out there available for various groups of individuals.

Tomorrow, we’re tackling saving money on the entertainment budget.

Freebies & Amazing Deals at Vons!

Vons has really been stepping up their game recently. Log on to your Vons account (either on vons.com or the Vons app), click the Just4U button, and search FREE in the search bar.

What you’ll get varies, but my free offers this week are:

A free Pizza and free yogurt! In addition to these great freebies I’ve also got a $5/$25!

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 9.46.43 AM.pngThis week Smart Ones Frozen Entrees are .99 when you buy four or more. I have a few buy 7, get 2 free peelie coupons from the last time I bought Smart Ones- I tend to buy the ones that have coupons on them, so I can save the extra coupons for future purchases.

We’ve been eating a lot at home lately, so we’ve pretty much emptied the freezer. I re-arranged some stuff, so I’ve got tons of room for an onslaught of entrees!

Here is my plan:

Buy 27 Smart Ones Entrees @ .99/each= $26.73

Redeem $5/$25 Coupon on Vons Club

Use 3 Buy 7, get 2 free Peelie coupons

Total OOP= $15.79

And as a double dip, I’ll submit my receipt to Fetch Rewards where I’ll earn points for my purchase.

 

 

 

Free Diapers at Vons!

Yeah, That’s right!!  FREE DIAPERS!

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 12.04.51 PM.pngGot a Vons card? Click here or log on to the Vons App, and click on baby care under just4U to see if you have an offer for free diapers!

If you don’t have babies, please consider picking it up and donating it to your local Food bank, a neighbor or friend with a little one, or your churches nursery.

Diapers make a great baby shower gift!!

Great Gift Card Deal at Vons! #vonssvgc16

You know I love a good Gift Card Deal! Right now through December 13, 2016 when you purchase $100 or more ins select gift cards (Amazon, JCP, Bass Pro, Starbuck’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Toys R Us, Kohl’s) you’ll score  $10 off your next shopping order (with $25 min. purchase at time of redemption)!

There are so many great ways to work this deal!

  • Use your points or cash back credit card to purchase the gift cards for a double dip! Our American Express Card gives us 5% cash back when we shop at grocery stores.
  • Pick up gift cards for upcoming holiday gifts, or…
  • Use the gift cards to stay on budget for holiday gifts! Because you can shop in store or online with giftcards, it’s a great way to triple dip (use a cashback online shopping website like ebates or Topcashback to redeem your gift cards. You will earn even more cash back!)
  • Don’t forget to check for coupons before you redeem your gift cards! This time of year JCP usually has $10/$25 or similarly valued coupons. And earn even more rewards when you sign up for JCP Rewards (it’s Free!).

Before you head to your local Vons, check your Vons Club deals online or through their app, and check to see if you have any other gift card deals or promotions available. I just checked my Vons app and I found these two deals under my Just4U.

So not only do you get $10 off your next purchase of $25 or more when you buy $100 in selected gift cards, but you could also score extra Gas Reward Points!

What I love about Vons Fuel Rewards Program is that I can use my earned discount at any Chevron, Texaco, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, or Carrs branded gas stations. Perfect for holiday travel by car!

I like that I can save up to .20/gallon at Chevron and Texaco Stations and up to $1.00/gallon at Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, or Carrs branded gas stations, depending on how many points I earn!

You can learn more about the Vons Gas Rewards program here.

Need to find your local Vons store? Look here

 

Once it’s time to redeem your $10 off coupon, don’t forget to stretch your budget further by adding exclusive coupons and deals to your Vons card through the app or Vons.com! And if you are looking for printable coupons, check out these great printable coupon resources.  And save even more money using Smartphone rebate apps like Ibotta, checkout51, and Mobisave. You can find a list of all of the money savings apps I use here.

Right now, you can enter to win a $75 Amazon Gift Card! Just in time for the holidays! Spend it on gifts, or buy yourself something nice! Click here to enter (the Rafflecopter may not be mobile friendly).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored post, thanks to Tatu Digital Media for including me on this awesome offer and giveaway! All opinions are my own!