I’m going to tell you right now that I do NOT clip coupons from the paper. I have absolutely nothing against it, though. I basically have an addictive personality and once I get into it, I turn into the folks like you saw on Extreme Couponing or whatever that show was called (we don’t have cable)>.. 🙂 I also honestly don’t have the time to spend or the energy to burn on it now – it’s kind of like a sport!
What I do instead may cost a bit more money, but we end up with some great deals and nutritional food anyhow!
First, we have a membership in a local CSA with Porter’s Community Farm. We pay a flat rate at the beginning of the year and then all during the growing season throughout the year, we get a VERY generous share of the farm’s produce. Last year we had produce from about March-December!! It was AMAZING and he’s expanding it this year. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. My favorite is the summer when we get summer and winter squash, onions, tomatoes, cantaloupe, Israeli melon, watermelon, garlic, and tons of awesome varieties of peppers… there’s more, but those are my favs. 😉 Our farmer uses organic farming practices, so this is my FAVORITE food to feed my family. It’s so clean and fresh! PLUS we get an egg share, so we get fresh eggs weekly. YUM!!!
I’ve always found my CSA share to be absolutely wonderful. It helps us to eat locally and in season at the peak of ripeness/freshness. I also love the experience of being able to take my kiddos out to the farm to harvest their own food! We also save table scraps to feed “our” chickens and the kids love running around in the wide open space. Our CSA is a unique deal because it is located on the farm, so we pick up and pick out our shares. It’s fun and helps me with the science portion of homeschooling. 🙂 Math, too, since the kids help me with quantities, weights, sorting, measuring, etc.
I love that with the CSA, I have plenty of produce to preserve, make large batches of things with, or share if I want to. I’m totally psyched for the 2011 CSA year.. I can hardly wait!
Next, I sometimes participate in Bountiful Baskets. For a flat rate of $15 (plus $1.50 processing/handling and $3 for first timers to pay for the basket they sort the produce in), you receive a medium sized laundry basket FULL of produce. The varieties vary weekly, but the picture above is an example of a typical week’s share. They usually have a few extras each week, too. Specialty breads, much larger quantities of some of the produce (like a 20 lb box of apples, for example), granola, etc are some of the things I have seen offered locally. Some sites offer an organic option as well. 🙂
Third, I looooove to shop HEB for their meal deals and their own coupon deals. I’ve happened upon a TON of cheap food and such while shopping there. A lot of times they will have a meal deal where you’ll purchase the protein of a dish (grilled chicken breasts or fajita meat or ham or something) and then you get all the rest of the components of the meal free (including bread, veggies, condiments, cheese, drinks, etc). It’s an awesome deal! They also usually have “blow out” (clearance) items on a few of the end caps… I just got a TON of baking stuff for about 80% off this week by shopping that section of the store!
Finally, I have used Angel Food Ministries before. They provide you with a nice full box of food for a modest price. It is supposed to be enough to provide a family of 4 with dinners for a week plus a breakfast item and dessert item. They also have supplemental boxes each month and now they let you order whatever you’d like without having to purchase a basic box like they did require in the past. I’ll admit that some of the meat has been questionable… For example, the “chicken meatballs” are certainly not ground chicken and spices.. you’ll find soy and beef and tons of salt, etc. However, I have found that this is just as healthy as going out to eat and MUCH cheaper – so if you’re stuck in a rut of going out because you don’t have convenience foods at home, this can certainly help. This box usually has some kind of produce and milk and eggs in it, too
What about you? What are your best ways to save on groceries??
I am adding in 2 more places that I like to go to for saving cash on groceries!
My friend Crystal thought I should mention it and she is right!
We have a place in town called the Hispanic Cultural Center. It takes Sam’s Club “seconds” – so the box might be missing a granola bar, the expiration date might be really soon on a big bulk box of cereal, the cardboard might be dented on a soap box, etc… Anyway, they sell these items for SUPER cheap. A big Sam’s size box of Chex Mix trail mix bars for $2, a double pack of Special K for $2, a big triple bag container of goldfish (HUGE) for $4, etc. Love it!
Another place I go is to a place called Helping Hands. They have Albertson’s day old breads! Not just plain bread but the specialty stuff from the bakery. I also frequently find cakes, pies, cookies, and donuts from the bakers. They also have things like Twinkies and those little gem donuts sometimes too. I go on Saturdays after noon and it’s just a quarter a piece! I use my deep freeze and stock up when I find something awesome! 🙂
You might want to find out what places around you get these kind of items!
Also – something I didn’t mention before – look for meat markdowns and dairy markdowns at your grocery store. It’s amazing how cheap that stuff gets sometimes for having a sell-by date of that current day!