Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sale Ads and Coupons: Burden or Blessing, part 2

As I continue to wonder if my frugal philosophy of becoming a master tightwad by paying close attention to the sale ads and shopping by the best deals each week is really all that, well, frugal, I thought I would share more of my thought-provoking correspondence with Brandy of The Prudent Homemaker. This gal knows how to s-t-r-e-t-c-h a dollar, let me tell you!

We talked in my last post about buying food at rock-bottom prices (you do have to pay attention to the ads for that) and stocking up accordingly. Then you can somewhat ignore the rest of the ads that feature more meager savings. Brandy had a lot of great advice about food to stockpile this fall at the best prices you'll see all year.
November is the month to stock up. If you have a place that doesn't freeze, like an unheated basement, where you can keep the potatoes at 45ยบ, then consider stocking up on potatoes.
[Moms In Need of Mercy here: I just bought 2-10# bags for .99-cents each at Safeway. There was an extra insert with this coupon in it.]

Usually, Smith's (and a few other stores) have turkeys on sale during November for $6-$8 each, when you spend $25. You can get the tom turkeys (16lbs or larger) for this price. Number one, look for the turkeys closest to 20 lbs. This means getting the turkey for about .33 a pound! That is some CHEAP meat, even with the bones! The butcher at Smith's told me that this really IS a loss-leader for them, as they pay about .67 a pound for those turkeys.
[Me again :) Our Safeway has turkeys under 16lbs for $5.88 with a $10 purchase; over 16 pounds for 6.88. The cashiers said the $10 purchase can include your turkey!]

Now, you've got to spend $25 to get the turkey at that price. It's one per person, the ad says, but really it's billed as one per transaction. This means that you can do this again.

What I do is spend the $25 on potatoes (which are usually on sale at the same time for .10 a pound), and then I buy the turkey. Then, I do it again. If I need something else, I buy that, too (like celery, which will be real cheap then) as part of my $25.

My grandma will also see if the next person in line is buying $25 worth of food and no turkey. If not, she'll ask them if she can add a turkey on to their order, and pay them the cash for the turkey. They assume she's having a TON of people over for Thanksgiving and she needs 2 turkeys, and they say "sure." She'll go get another turkey this way.

Celery, Cream Soups
So, in November, my plan is to buy turkeys, several hundred pounds of potatoes, a little celery (I'm going to try drying it this time, because I use dried celery in soups and I am running out), and Campbell's Cream soups [on sale for about .50-.60/can during the holidays]. For those, I buy enough to last a year, because they're only this low once a year.)

That's all I plan on buying for food in November. I have enough diapers and toiletries to last me for a while.

Our budget is looking tight again. Right now I don't know if we'll have any money to pay January's bills (i.e., the mortgage and utilities), unless my husband has some more sales. It would be foolish for me to buy food if I can't pay the mortgage in January. To make what we do have coming in go further, I don't plan to buy food in December or January, and after that, either, if we don't have any sales, or if the sales we have aren't enough to buy food, too. We won't go hungry, because we have food in our pantry.

[you can see the Prudent Homemaker's quite gourmet menu plan here]

In fact, though I've spent less each month than I used to, I've spent it better than I used to, and even after living on our food storage for 2 years, I have more in my pantry than I had before we started living on our food storage. I've even worked at filling in the gaps; I have more trash bags and dish soap now than before.

I'm still short on things; I need more powdered milk, more diapers and wipes, and some other things. I'd love to have more cheese in the freezer, for example. If we have some more sales, I will buy some more food and diapers (especially for the new baby that we're expecting in February!)

But, I have what I have, and we can make some well-balanced meals from what I have without going to the store if we can't. We'll have food to eat, and a roof over our heads.

And if I lived where you live [Mountain West], I wouldn't have to worry about being stuck inside during storms, or needing to go to the store for milk when there's snow that hasn't been cleared, or when there's an ice storm, etc.
Thanks again, Brandy! What a great source of money-saving inspiration and ideas! I would also to be on the lookout for great sales on apples and pears right now. I just bought several pounds of each for .50/lb. We used the apples; and I plan to slice the pears and freeze them in a juice solution (water/sugar--you can Google and find it...I made a light sugar solution with 6.5 c. water and 3/4 c. sugar; boil for 5 minutes; cool and pour over pears; then put in freezer bags).
In closing, I do think it is helpful to look at the ads, and use coupons if you can to maximize your savings even more. For example, our Safeway has Gold Medal flour for $1.50 for a 5lb. bag. I have a .50 off coupon, which they will double. I would be silly not to go buy flour for .50 for a 5lb. bag.
The point I am coming to realize, though, and what I am trying to say in these posts, is that I should be better about ignoring the other sales that actually make me spend more than I truly need to. This week, all I really need is more milk, bread (or make my own) and some cheese. I will buy the flour because it's the lowest price I'll probably ever see it at for a long time (and I use lots of flour). Buying only these items would cost me about $10. But going to the Smith's mega-event and shelling out for 10 participating items--even though I'll use them later--will cost me much more. And I don't need any of those items at the current time. So for me, it would be most frugal to stick to what I truly need.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on making the most of your grocery money. Do you think ads prompt us to spend more in the long run, even though we save on the sale items? Feel free to share any other great shopping secrets you've learned!


  1. hey write or call and tell me where you found 99 cent potatoes!! I need to look more for sales, so let me know what else you found. I saw 5 lb bag potatoes for 79 cents, but not that great of a deal!

  2. Hey Liz!
    It was at Safeway last week (maybe they still have the coupon or would honor it?). They were 1.99 and there was a coupon to make them .99.
    I saw the Albertson's .75 deal for a 5# bag. That's not too bad.
    Brandy said Smith's will have potatoes and turkeys on sale closer to Thanksgiving. I'm not sure for how much. They have sales for 10# bags for 1.99 quite frequently. Hope that helps!!

  3. Vons (which is your Safeway) had the same coupon here for the potatoes. Their regular price right now for potatoes is $2 for a 10lb bag, which is still not bad. We try to buy potatoes for .10 a pound or .20 a pound.

    Smith's has had them for .10 a pound for years, so I am watching the ad. It's usually right before Thanskgiving.

    Vons is going to have the spend $25 get a tom tukey for $7 (16lbs and up) through December 1st (there was a sign there on the turkeys when I went to go get one yesterday). The hen turkeys are $5 each (up to 16lbs). I always get toms because you get more meat. Also, the turkeys at Vons were around 22-23 pounds! For $7 each, that is fantastic! The checker told me that the turkey price is while supplies last, and that they largest turkeys will go quickly. I have seen that before as well.

    You don't have to have an extra freezer to get several turkeys. I have been able to get 7 with a regular freezer each year. We freeze 3 whole, and defrost and cook the other 4, eating at least one whole one before Thanksgiving and freezing the meat from the others to use in recipes (anything that you would put chicken in works great!) For .33 a pound, including bones, that's not a bad price for meat!

    Also, Walmart is running a deal right now. Turkeys are .40 a pound (and they had some 22 pounders). You are limited to 2 turkeys at a time. There is NO minimum purchase required.

  4. I was going to comment about the Wal-Mart turkey deal, but I see that someone else already mentioned it. I just picked up mine for $4.62. I almost got two, but needed to check my freezer. I'm thinking I will get another. Turkey's aren't just for Thanksgiving!

  5. Sheila,

    Turkeys take 4-5 days to defrost in the fridge. So, you can have one in your freezer while one is in your fridge, defrosting.

    And, then you can go get another frozen turkey on sale after you've cooked the defrosted one (or while it's still defrosting) and put IT in the fridge. If you keep doing this, and eat some turkey while putting some cooked, frozen turkey in the freezer, you can fit 5 large tom turkeys (20lbs each) easily in your freezer. I have done 7 each year with just the freezer above the fridge.