Organizing Groceries & Saving Money!

This year, I have decided to work on my organizational skills when it comes to groceries and shopping.  I think I do really well keeping our grocery budget (just food) at $60 per week for our family of four but I really wanted to plan better.  Yes, I stayed at or under the budget each week but sometimes I would have to “borrow” from the next week’s budget to get something I forgot for this week, etc.  Sometimes I was making 3-4 trips a week to get groceries and just like a lot of you folks, I just don’t have time to do all that!

I decided to pick a month and do my menu planning and grocery shopping before the month began.  Yes, I am a wimp so I picked February because it was the shortest month… 🙂  It was to be an exercise in self discipline, planning ahead with menus and only making one trip to the grocery store (be it a LONG, overwhelming trip). I began this process last week by sitting down and organizing my menu planning and taking an inventory of my freezer, fridge and stockpile.  One of the things you have to be careful with when you stockpile is making sure you actually use the stuff you purchase.  So I developed my February menu by using most of the foods I already have on hand and then I made a list of what I would need to complete the month.  My biggest challenge has been planning for the fresh fruits and vegetables.  At the beginning of the month (the first 10 days or so), it’s easy to plan bananas, apples, salads, etc. but what do you do the rest of the month?  I decided to depend on canned fruits and vegetables (store-bought and self-canned at home from our garden) and dehydrated fruits and veggies for later in the month.  As for milk, our church buys milk and orange juice each Sunday for the breakfast they serve before Sunday School.  Our family has been blessed to be given the leftovers each week so we rarely have to buy milk or orange juice.

So today, I gathered the grocery coupons I have been accumulating, my sales ad (Kroger), my reusable bags and my two children and headed to Kroger.  Not long after walking in the door did I realize I had left my grocery list at home!!!  What a way to start this commitment to organization, huh??!!  ugh….

Once I entered Kroger, I began my regular routine – I stopped by the Manager’s Special section first and ran up on some really good buys.  Then I circled around to the bakery Ooops! cart where they put marked down breads and finally, we stopped at the produce overripe section.  I found a box of 8 organic kiwi (normally priced around 2/$1) for .49!  I bought 3 boxes.  Yes, they will need to be used very soon but they will dry very nicely in my dehydrator for the end of this month’s snacks.

With the help of The Krazy Coupon Lady (absolutely amazing free couponing website), I knew which items were on sale and matched them with good coupons to get some great deals.  Surprisingly, it only took me an hour and 30 minutes, start to finish.  I ended up with two carts filled to the brim!  At the checkout, my total was $301.03 before the sales and coupons.  My total after discounts was $145.31.  (And as an added bonus, I had a $100 gift card as a gift from our church that helped bring our total out of pocket to $45.31.)

And for those naysayers who complain that people who stockpile are silly (putting it nicely), let me share this story.  A family came by our church last Sunday night after Bible study and needed food.  Our church’s food bank has been dwindling since there is so much need in our community right now (as in most communities).  They specifically asked for children’s drinks and a bag of sugar.  My husband (who is a minister) called me and asked if we had anything to give to them.  Praise God our stockpile was there.

It has been a challenge preparing for this month but I will let you know how it’s going as the month goes.  For those of you who are interested, here are some photographs of my menu plans for the month.  (The third week of the month, we will be at JBC for homecoming so I didn’t plan many cooked foods for that week.)  You may notice I only plan 3 lunches and 3 dinners for our family.  The rest of the time, we eat leftovers or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, whatever is around that’s convenient.

By the way, I’m teaching a class on how to do this on Saturday, February 25th.  Here’s the link for more information or to sign up!  http://ibloom.co/events/savemoney

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It ain’t over, yet…

It ain’t over, yet…  🙂

Last year at this time, I was miserable.  I had so much extra weight on me.  My self esteem was suffering and I didn’t want to go through “another year” of setting the same old resolution only to get off track by mid-January and lose hope AGAIN.

This year, I was miserable because of health issues.  I’ve had a shoulder injury which has caused some excruciating pain at times and ended me up in the Emergency Room.  I’ve been sedentary since the Wednesday before Christmas and on lots of pain pills and muscle relaxers.  For about a week, I could not even wash dishes, vacuum, lift anything heavier than a fork or do laundry.  (Oh, darn, right??)  I’m realizing what a true gift my health really is.

So, here we are on New Year’s Eve, 2011.  No, I have not hit my initial goal of losing 50 pounds, in fact, over the holidays, I gained about 5 pounds and just in the past week (since the ER visit with my back) I have gained an additional 3.  I’m weighing in somewhere around 164.  So, I have a decision to make.  Do I let it get me down that I’ve gained 8-10 pounds back or do I use that as a springboard to motivate me to keep going forward with more energy and determination?  I choose the springboard.  I found this photo posted on facebook:

This is my motivation.  I haven’t made it to my goal yet but I’m not as far from it as I was this time last year.  My journey began January 18th, 2011.  It does not have an ending point, a destination of sorts.  It will be a lifelong journey for me so I’ve settled in for the long haul.  It’s not a diet.  It’s a mindset.  A lifestyle.  I know at this time of year, there’s the big fitness push, all the TV commercials, all the books on the shelves, all the talk is about getting fit and healthy, getting organized, getting out of debt, etc.  If you do choose to try and live healthier this year, I challenge you, don’t let it be a fad – do it for real this year.

 

I’m starting somewhere around 164 this year, last year I was 204.8.  Some resources I have found useful over the past year:

 

The book GOALS by Tommy Lanham – to step by step this book really helped  me set small attainable goals with a purpose… ones I can actually accomplish!  I can’t tell you what a difference this book has made in my personal journey.  It’s a short, easy read that has the potential to change your life if you let it.

 

A life coach – I have worked with a life coach through most of this journey.  It really helps me stay on track when I know that each week, I have someone asking me, “How’d you do this week?”  “Did you do your 5 workouts?”  “What do you feel you need to do this week?”  My life coach has helped me focus on what’s important and the REASONS I have to lose weight.

 

A sponsor – I have a dear friend of mine who has lost so much weight.  She understands it – she “gets it.”  She didn’t have surgery, do fad diets or starve herself.  She understands how much of an addiction this can be and howhard it is.  I can call her in the middle of Kroger with 2 boxes of HoHo’s in my cart and she will tell me to walk away… ask me how I know!!  🙂  She will be 100% honest and even though she’s 10 hours away, she will kick my butt if I don’t stick to the plan.

 

www.MyFitnessPal.com – this is a website I have been using to track my food intake, count calories and connect with others who have the same goals I have.

 

I have not been doing my devotions and reading my Bible like I should over the past few weeks.  The hustle and bustle of the holidays has gotten me off track spiritually and I really do believe that when I’m off spiritually, every other aspect of my life suffers, including the weight issue.  I’m starting off tomorrow with 3 new books.  Made to Crave, the Made to Crave devotional and The Maker’s Diet.

I’ll keep you posted on my opinion of these books.  I do want to encourage you to read, educate yourself and challenge yourself.  If you immerse yourself in information about health & wellness, you’re much more likely to stick to losing the weight and making healthier choices.

 

Brian Tracy says “You are what you think about most of the time.”  If you think about how much you miss those doughnuts or those sweets, that’s what you will focus on.  Instead, think about health, read about it, start your own blog about it, talk about it with your spouse, family members, friends.  Surround yourself with information and health and it will be a great start to this journey.

So, there you have it.  My renewed commitment to my health, my God and my blog.  🙂  If you want to receive a notification when I post a new blog (typically 2-3 times per month) then click on “Yep, I’m in, sign me up!”   Let me know if you’re on the same journey and let’s cheer each other on!  God bless you this new year!