How to Coupon

How to Plan Meals from Your Stockpile

Posted on Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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hamburger, food, recipesA stockpile can be a money saver. That is the main reason why people put together a stockpile. However, you won’t save any money unless you actually remember to use the foods that are in your stockpile. A good way to do that is to plan meals that use the foods that you already have.

Get organized.
Take the time to plan at least a week’s worth of meals for your family. Figure out what to have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Start by seeing what you have in your stockpile. What meal can you make from those foods?

Many people will use a white board for this task. That makes it easy to write down your plan and erase it when the week is over. This extra effort at the beginning of the week will save you time later (on school or work days).

Shop your stockpile first.
After you figure out what meals you will be making this week, it is time to shop for the ingredients. Start with the ones sitting in your very own stockpile. This prevents you from spending money on something that you already have.

Make a grocery list of the ingredients that you are lacking. While you are at it, take a close look at your stockpile. Are you about to run out of something? Add those products to your grocery shopping list (even if you aren’t planning on using those foods this week).

Gather your coupons.
By now, you have likely become an expert at finding and using coupons. This time, get a bit more focused and target the coupons for the things you are going to buy on your next shopping trip. See what special coupons and savings are offered through the loyalty card of your favorite grocery store.

Do your homework.
Before you head to the store, make sure you check their weekly ad. You may find sales that you weren’t aware of. Or, you could discover that a sale you thought was happening has ended. That is disappointing, but it is better to find it out now than when you are at the register.

It is possible that a different store may have a better deal on the things you need. One good way to save money is to keep an open mind and avoid brand (or store) loyalty. Your shopping bill should be smaller as a result of the effort you put into figuring out what you absolutely need to get this week.

Repeat the process.
At the end of the week, erase the white board. Time to start all over again! This process will make it much easier for you to plan meals from your stockpile. Having an extra busy week? Leave the white board alone, and save yourself a step.

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Tips for Stockpiling in Small Spaces

Posted on Thursday, October 10th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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Progresso SOupCreating a stockpile is a good way to save money. Some people become almost “addicted” to stockpiling groceries (and other household products). What can you do when your stockpile outgrows the space you set aside for it? Here are a few ideas for stockpiling in small spaces, and finding new places to store your stockpile.

Under the beds
Get some of those cardboard “under the bed boxes” or some plastic totes. At least one of these options should fit under your bed. The plastic totes, with air-tight lids, can hold scented products like deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, and all kinds of soap.

On the back of the door
Repurpose a plastic, pocketed, shoe holder into a place to store some of your stockpile. It hangs on the back of any door, has see-through pockets, and holds a lot of stuff. Use it to store packets of gravy, spices, and flavored rice. Open the boxes of instant oatmeal, and store the packets in this holder. You can also store small packages of coffee, tea bags, and anything else that is small.

Repurposed soda box
An empty box of soda (the kind that holds 12 cans) is a helpful tool for creating more space. Use one box to store cans of soup. This works best if you are someone who stockpiles several cans of the exact same type of soup.

It is also a time saver. Take out the can in front, and the stock automatically rotates forward for you. Stack a second repurposed soda box on top of the first one and you gain extra storage space.

Over the Toilet
Look at all that empty space you can make use of! Pick up one of those pre-made shelving units that is designed to stand up over the toilet tank. Use those shelves to store deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and extra rolls of toilet paper.

Over the Washer and Dryer
You might be able to put up some sturdy shelves over your washing machine and dryer. Those shelves would be a great place to store laundry detergent and other household cleaners. Tall shelves could hold a stockpile of paper towels (or more toilet paper).

Top shelf of the closet
Parents of preschoolers can utilize the top shelf of their child’s closet for extra stockpiling space. Young children cannot easily reach that shelf, so they probably don’t care what goes on it. Store child-safe products on that closet shelf (just in case your child climbs up and gets into them). It is a good place to store family sized boxes of cereals.

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Non-Food Items to Stockpile for Emergencies

Posted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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National Pen flashlight keychainIt is always a good idea to prepare for a potential emergency. Some emergencies are weather related, and others are more of a financial emergency. Whether you are facing the possibility of dealing with a tornado or a furlough, it is useful to have certain items in your emergency stockpile.

Typically, when a person thinks about creating a stockpile, they are interested in storing food in bulk quantities that they purchased at a low price. This prevents the need to buy the same types of food when the sale is over and the price increases. Your stockpile can help you get through emergencies.

Keep in mind that there are also non-food items that should be a part of your emergency stockpile. FEMA suggests the following items:

* First Aid Kit – take the time to make sure it has all the supplies that it should
* Flashlights – in case the power goes out
* Extra batteries – for the flashlights
* Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties – “for personal sanitation”
* Local maps – printed out on paper would be best
* Manual can opener – so you can open the cans of food that you stockpiled
* Cell phone chargers – just in case your batteries run low

Here are a few items that some (but not all) families will need:
* Prescription medication – extras of all the medications that you and your family require (make sure to periodically check the expiration date).
* Allergy safe foods – so your allergic family members will have something safe to eat
* Infant formula, diapers, baby wipes – for the needs of the little ones
* Pet food – Pets need something safe to eat

Here are a few other “common sense” items that you will need in case of emergency:

* Toilet paper – for the obvious reasons
* Sanitary napkins – Yes, they are designed for “feminine hygiene”. They also can be used as bandages.
* Plastic tarps – so your family will have protection from rain and/or a dry place to sit down
* Extra clothing – store at least two full changes of clothing for each family member in your stockpile.
* Blankets – in case you are in a cold environment when an emergency happens and lack heat
* Towels – massively useful

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What to Stockpile for Emergencies

Posted on Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 at 7:00 am
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Free Bottled Water!There are two main reasons why a person decides to start a stockpile. One is to save money on groceries, by purchasing things when they are on sale and storing them until they are used. The other big reason is to ensure a supply of food, water, and other necessities in case of an emergency. Here are some tips about what to stockpile for emergencies.

An emergency situation can happen at any time. Often, they are weather related. If you live in an area that has earthquakes, or tornados, or hurricanes, it is possible that you could experience an emergency situation that is brought on from natural phenomenon.

Weather isn’t the only reason that an emergency can happen. Sudden unemployment, being furloughed, or a government shutdown can be considered as an emergency situation. If something happens fast, is beyond your control, and is not something you can fix on your own – it is an emergency. What should you stockpile to get you, and your family, through hard times?

Real Simple has some advice about what to keep in your pantry in case of emergency. You are going to need foods that will stay good for a long time. Choose foods that do not require refrigeration (in case the power goes out). Some of what they suggest includes:

* Peanut butter – source of energy, healthy fats, and protein
* Crackers – they suggest whole wheat or whole grain as a substitute for bread
* Trail mix and nuts – source of energy and protein
* Dried raisins and apricots – source of potassium and dietary fiber
* Canned tuna, salmon, chicken, or turkey – canned meat has a long shelf life
* Canned vegetables – again, long shelf life
* Powdered milk – source of calcium and vitamin D, doesn’t require refrigeration
* Multivitamins – to make up for the nutrients you are missing

The Red Cross also has some excellent suggestions of things you should stockpile in case of an emergency. They suggest that you gather up a two-week supply of food and water. Here are some suggestions about water:

* At least 2 quarts of water, per person, per day. Obviously, the water must be safe to drink.

* If you are in a place where the weather is hot you are going to need more water. Kids, nursing mothers, and people who are ill are going to require additional water to drink.

* Extra water for cooking, food preparation, and hygiene. They suggest 1 gallon of water per person, per day, for this purpose.

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Big Changes in Walmart Coupon Policy

Posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 at 1:40 pm
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Walmart Logo (matchups)There has been a change in the way you can coupon at Walmart, and trust us you’ll like it. As many of you know Walmart has a policy called “Ad Match Guarantee”. Essentially Walmart is willing to match the price of other store deals, but with a few limitations. Walmart’s new policy is to match the following types of ads:

  • Buy one, get one free ads with a specified price 
  • Competitors’ ads that feature a specific item for a specified price
  • Preferred shopping card prices for specific items that are in a printed ad
  • For fresh produce and meat items when the price is offered in the same unit type (lb. for lb.; each for each)

 

Here are some things to keep in mind in regards to Walmart’s price matching program:

  • Walmart will match any local competitor’s advertised price
  • Walmart does not require customers to have the ad with them to honor a competitor’s ad
  • Items purchased must be identical to the ad (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc.)

 

And most notably their price matching program is not valid for the following scenarios:

  • Items that require a separate purchase to get the ad price
  • Items with no actual price that require a purchase to get free product
  • Items that require a purchase to get a competitors’ gift card
  • Buy one, get one free (BOGO) ads with no actual price given
  • Going out of business or closeout prices
  • Competitors’ private label price promotions
  • Ads when the actual price for items cannot be determined
  • Internet pricing

For further clarification on Walmart’s change in coupon policy click here.

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Tips to Keep Your Stockpile Fresh

Posted on Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 at 7:00 am
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woman grocery shoppingYou have started your very own stockpile. You planned ahead, compared prices, and shopped with coupons. Now, you are going to have to figure out how to maintain it. The trick is to keep up to date with the organization of your stockpile so nothing goes to waste. Here are some tips that will help you to keep your stockpile fresh.

Rotate Your Stock
This tip is one that grocery stores have been using for years. A store that is filled with food, and that needs to sell the food before it goes bad, must discover a way to reduce waste. One way they do that is by hiring people to rotate the stock. You don’t have to hire people to help rotate the stock in your stockpile, though. It is easy to do it yourself.

ONE: Like goes with like.
Grocery stores have a system that they follow in order to keep track of stock. They put one specific brand, of a certain type of food, on the shelf together. You see a box of Cheerios at the front of the shelf – and know that there are more boxes of that type of Cheerios behind it (all the way to the back of the shelf).

You need to set up this same pattern in your stockpile. Like goes with like. Make a row from the front of the shelf to the back of just one type of product. Everything will be easier to find.

TWO: Check the expiration date.
The product that is closest to its expiration date needs to be in the front of the shelf. The product that is at the very back of the shelf has to be the one that has the longest amount of time between today and whenever it expires. The ones in between go in order of expiration date. When you go to your stockpile to get something, you will end up grabbing, and using, the food that will expire first. This cuts down on waste.

THREE: Stock the shelf correctly.
You have just come home after a grocery shopping trip. Don’t just shove that food into your stockpile anywhere it happens to fit. Don’t put it on the floor and figure you will get around to organizing it “later”. Do it now!

Check the expiration date of each and every can, box, or package that brought home. Check the date of the same type of product that is already in your stockpile. Typically, the new product will have the longest expiration date, and will end up at the back of the shelf. Scoot the rest of them forward, put the new one in the back.

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Things You Should Not Stockpile

Posted on Thursday, September 26th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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Fruit & Vegetable PlatterA stockpile is useful in many ways. It helps you to save money, because you can buy things when they are on sale and store them for later. A stockpile is a good resource to pull from when money is tight. That being said, there are some things that you should not stockpile. Here are some tips on what to avoid.

Fresh produce
It can be very tempting to purchase several boxes of fresh strawberries from a Farmers’ Market. They smell so good! Grocery stores often package fresh fruit or vegetables in bags or boxes. Sometimes, the price per produce is less if you buy a big quantity than if you buy a few pieces.

You should not stockpile fresh produce. It is simply not going to last for more than a week (if you are lucky). The main purpose of a stockpile is to gather up a lot of food that will not expire for a long time. Can your family really consume all that produce before it goes bad? If you don’t know how to can it, and don’t have the room to freeze it, you will end up wasting money when you have to throw it out.

Products you will never use
You found some awesome coupons for a particular brand of soy sauce. So, you went to the grocery store, filled your cart with them, and brought them home for your stockpile. If your family loves to eat stir fry, this might be a good idea. You typically go through a lot of soy sauce. It will get used.

What if your family doesn’t like soy sauce? What if a family member cannot eat it due to allergies to either soy or gluten? In that case, you just wasted your money. There is no good reason to stockpile foods that you will never use. It doesn’t matter how awesome that coupon is.

Baby Formula
It sounds like a good idea, at first. What parent wouldn’t want to have tons of baby formula stored in their stockpile? Sleep deprived parents may love the idea of being able to get away with a few less trips to the store.

There are several reasons why you should not stockpile baby formula. Containers of powdered baby formula do not last forever. Most will expire within a year. Check the date on the package while you are at the store. How much time does it have left?

There is another big reason why you shouldn’t stockpile baby formula. It is not unusual for a baby to have an allergy to a particular type of baby formula (or to be unable to digest it). If that happens, you could end up with a stockpile of baby formula that you cannot use.

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Before You Start a Stockpile…

Posted on Tuesday, September 24th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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Shopping List and Food PantryAre you thinking about starting your very own stockpile? There are some things that you should consider before you rush out and buy a ton of groceries. Ideally, you want your stockpile to be functional, easy to keep up with, and a money-saver. Here are some tips to help you get your stockpile started.

Where will you put it?
All that food has to go somewhere! The first thing you need to do is figure out where your stockpile will go. Look around your home. Where do you have some extra space? Choose a spot that is going to be easy for you to access and not in the way of your family’s day to day life.

Some good choices include:
* A closet that is in or near the kitchen
* A pantry
* Along one of the walls in your garage
* A room in your basement that you already use for storage

Keep in mind that food (even canned foods) can be affected by extreme temperature. How hot does your garage get in the summer? Does your basement become as cold as your freezer in the winter? If so, choose a better, more temperate, location for your stockpile.

How much freezer space do you actually have?
It is incredibly easy to overestimate the size of your freezer. This can lead to a waste of both food and money! Before you stock up on meat, chicken, or other frozen products, take the time to figure out how much your freezer will actually hold. Buy too much, and you will have to eat the food before it goes bad. That’s not going build your stockpile!

What products does your family use?
Every family has a couple of brands that they prefer over others. How picky is your family? Some children will fuss about eating food that did not come in a name brand package (even if the ingredients are the same).

Stock up on the brands that your family likes. Those foods will get eaten! Look for coupons for those brands. Yes, you might save a little extra money if you buy an off-brand, or a brand that is not preferred. However, if your family won’t eat it, then you won’t really be saving money at all.

Do you have time to maintain a stockpile?
Your stockpile is not going to organize itself. You are going to have to put some time, and effort, into keeping things manageable. Ideally, you want to put like items together and use the oldest products first. Disorganization makes that extremely difficult.

Think of your stockpile like a garden. It is going to require regular “weeding”, “planting”, and “crop rotation”. Do you have the time to put towards your stockpile? Don’t start a stockpile if you are too busy to maintain it.

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What to Stockpile Before the Holidays

Posted on Thursday, September 19th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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HolidaysIt won’t be long before the holidays are here. You can save money if you plan ahead and stockpile the non-perishable foods that you will use in the upcoming holiday season. Here are some suggestions about what to stockpile before the holidays.

Bags of Halloween candy – Many stores have already put these on sale! Do some “homework” and compare the savings offered by one store with another before you make a purchase. Don’t forget to look for coupons to use that will help lower the cost even more!

Canned pumpkin pie mix – Pumpkin pie goes well with Halloween celebrations, is a staple dessert at Thanksgiving, and a welcome addition to Christmas dinner. How many pumpkin pies will you be making? Stock up on the canned pumpkin now while it is easy to get and before the price goes up.

Cool Whip – It goes great with pie. Put unopened tubs of Cook Whip in the freezer and it will last a long time. This is possible because it doesn’t actually contain any dairy.

Boxes of mashed potato mix – Dried flakes of mashed potatoes can last a long time. It appears that the “plain” varieties hold up the best (so avoid the “flavored” ones). You can get large boxes, or multiple boxes, from Costco or Sam’s Club. Some people like to remove the potato flakes from the boxes and put them into zipped plastic storage bags. This helps prevent moisture from getting to them. If you do this, be sure to label the bags!

Canned cranberries – Not everyone enjoys cranberries, but they are a traditional part of Thanksgiving dinner. Pick up some canned cranberries now, and you won’t have to buy them later. Canned items stay good for a long time. The price will go up as we get closer to Thanksgiving.

Stove-top Stuffing – According to the Eat By Date website, an unopened box of Stove-Top Stuffing lasts for 6 months past the expiration date that is printed on the package. The same is true for an unopened box of dry stuffing mix. Buy some for your stockpile now, and it will still be good at Thanksgiving. Make sure you check the expiration date on the packages you buy.

Cans of Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup – This is a key ingredient in a green bean casserole. Right now, there are plenty of coupons for Campbell’s soups to be found. Those will disappear as we get closer to Thanksgiving. Stock up now and you will get the biggest savings.

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How to Save More Money With Coupon Matching

Posted on Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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ReceiptDo you know how to do coupon matching? It is not as difficult as you might think! It also isn’t a skill that is specifically taught to people when they are in school. Here is a quick lesson on how to do coupon matching (for those of you who are new to couponing).

Step One: Find the Sales
What’s your favorite grocery store? Visit the store’s website and look for their current weekly ad. Or, stop by the store and pick up a copy of their current sales paper. Take notes as you browse through it. Pay close attention to the foods that your family will need to buy on your next grocery shopping trip.

Step Two: Find the Coupons
Now, it is time to find coupons for the foods that are currently on sale. You are going to match the coupons to the sales. You will end up saving money on the product (because it is on sale) and then saving more money through the use of a coupon.

An example might help clarify how that works. Let’s say that a particular brand of cereal is on sale this week. Normally, it costs $4.00. This week, it is on sale for $3.50. Just like that, you save $0.50. You have a coupon for that particular brand of cereal. The coupon gives you $0.50 off when you buy a box of that cereal. Put the coupon, and the sale, together and you save a total of $1.00. That $4.00 box of cereal only cost you $3.00!

Step Three: Read the Coupon Policy
Does your favorite grocery store allow you to do coupon matching? Some will, and others will not. Before you visit the store, take the time to familiarize yourself with their coupon policy. What if your favorite store doesn’t allow customers to do coupon matching? If that is the case, you can go back, pick a different store, and follow these same steps.

Other Tips to Consider:
* Don’t forget to load digital coupons to your loyalty card. You might be able to match them with the current sales.

* You can save even more money with coupon matching if you take the time to create a meal plan first. Figure out what your family will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner this week. You might want to start by learning what is on sale, and planning the meals around that.

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