Pin #26: How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

Reduce grocery bill

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half from Living Well Spending Less.

In the last few months, the hubs and I have committed to reducing our expenses so that we can become financially independent, thus giving our family the flexibility to travel and take on new adventures (you can read about our journey to financial independence on hubs’ blog), so to support that endeavor we’ve been looking at all of our spending. And man, we spend a LOT of money on groceries!

We’ve started buying in bulk at Costco, but when I saw this pin from Ruth at Living Well Spending Less, I was intrigued. We’ve had some success with coupons in the past, but Ruth gives 5 tips about ways to cut your grocery bill — and only one of those tips refers to coupons. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of her post

  1. It’s Not About the Coupons… “Always, always, always buy food when it is on sale. And by this I mean really on sale, as in 30-50% off the regular price”
  2. Stockpile, Stockpile, Stockpile… “Most items go on sale every 6-8 weeks, which means you need to buy enough to last your family that long… because you are shopping the sales each week, you will be buying a larger quantity of a smaller variety of items, which means your overall grocery bill will still go down. The goal is to build up your own mini-grocery store in your pantry which you can then use to plan your family’s meals.”
  3. Eat Less Meat… “Meat costs usually account for a significant portion of people’s grocery bills, so cutting out even a little will make a big difference over time.”
  4. Change the Way You Meal Plan… “Instead of running to the store for your dinner supplies you’ll be able to run to your stockpile–a ready-made grocery store right in your own home.”
  5. Learn to Match Coupons to Store Sales… “Coupons can and do save you a ton of money on your grocery bill, but only if you follow these other steps first.”
reducing grocery bill

How I felt grocery shopping with no list.

So the last couple of weeks I’ve tried out Ruth’s method. The first week was kind of half-assed – I used my pre-planned list (we’re a “plan the week’s meals out on Sunday afternoon” kind of family), I didn’t really stockpile but I did luck out and stumbled upon some great sales. The next week I decided to go in full-on Ruth mode and didn’t take a list to the store with me.

And let me tell you… THAT WAS AWKWARD. Like I said, I’m a LIST kinda girl when it comes to the grocery runs. Walking around the grocery store trying to figure out what the good sales were and just stockpiling sale items because they were there – I felt like I was walking around with my undies showing and everyone else knew except me. BUT, I did rake up some big savings – $23 the first time, $35 the second and $6 on the third quick trip. Granted, I no longer know what I’m making for dinner every night, but I’m starting to see how Ruth’s approach can help save a lot of money.

I’m going to continue this approach for the next month or so – I’ll be sure to update this post when I’ve got a few more insights on how well this starts working for us in the long run!

Cutting-Grocery-Bill-In-Half

Pinterest In Real Life: Savings are seriously starting to add up.

What about you? What do you think of Ruth’s recommendations? Share your favorite tips for saving at the grocery store in the comments section!

Also, I submitted this post as part of the very fun and very cool Pin Tester Movement. Be sure to check out pins that other folks have tried… And next round submit your own!

Pin #24: How to Clean Your Top Loading Washer Tutorial

How to Clean Your Top Loading Washer

How to Clean Your Top Loading Washer from
One Good Thing By Jillie

Until the advent of Pinterest there were all sorts of things that I didn’t know that you could clean… that I didn’t even know needed to be cleaned. Pins like dishwasher cleaning and this clean your washing machine pin. But now I realize there’s some very gunky stuff going on in places that are supposed to be reserved for making things fresh again.

This includes our washing machine, which in 10+ operating years has never been cleaned. Adding insult to injury, it’s been taking a good beating the last 7 months since we started using cloth diapers. Peering in to the abyss of the washer, I realized that some pretty nasty buildup had accumulated on the agitator (the big spinny thing in the middle). Eek. So I decided to give Jillie’s How to Clean Your Top Loading Washer tutorial a try.

The tutorial is pretty easy – Round 1: fill you washer with hot water, add 1 quart bleach, let it agitate for 1 minute then allow it to soak for an hour before letting it complete the cycle. Round 2: do the same thing except this time with a quart of distilled white vinegar.

THE RESULTS

So how’d it work out? Well, the pics tell the tale pretty accurately. While the washer in Jillie’s tutorial came out nice and shiny, mine was still awfully grimy. Looking closely at the after pic, you can see that it’s about 20% cleaner than when we started but honestly I didn’t notice that difference until lining the pictures up side-by-side.

Pinterest In Real Life: How to Clean a Top Loading Washer Results

Pinterest In Real Life: How to Clean a Top Loading Washer Results… not much difference.

My results could be due to the fact that there was 10+ years of gunk to clean versus Jillie’s washing machine which was only 6 months old. Also, I did let about an hour lapse between when the bleach cycle finished up and when I started the vinegar process. However, I don’t feel like that could make too much of a difference. In fact, I ran the vinegar cycle twice in hopes that I’d see better results. No dice.

It wasn’t a total wasted effort, though. Since I had the cleaning supplies out already, I spent about 10 minutes scrubbing the agitator to clean off the remaining residue and the fabric softener container in the middle. NOW I feel like my washing machine finally clean!

Pinterest in Real Life: Washer clean after a final round of hand scrubbing.

Pinterest in Real Life: Washer clean after a final round of hand scrubbing.

Have you tried this tutorial? I’d love to hear how it worked out for others. Leave your responses in the comments below!

Pin # 18: Chip Clip from Clothing Hanger

Chip Clip from Clothes Hanger
from a poster at Craftster.com.

Okay, okay, this pin is so obvious and so simple that this review post almost feels like cheating so I almost didn’t write it up. But then I thought that it’d be selfish of me not to share this simple revelation the masses. (Or at least the 17 of you who read this blog.)

Tired of just tossing (or hopefully recycling) all those plastic hangers that come with clothes from Target or  anywhere else? Well, the fine folks at Craftster.com posted this simple tutorial on how to convert those hangers into chip clips. This concept is especially pertinent for our household because it seems we never have enough chip clips – they’re either broken or have gone MIA. So, armed with a baby clothes hanger and a box cutter I got to work.

How’d it turn out? Pretty nifty, that’s how. Give it a whirl – your fresh tasting chips will thank you.

Pinterest in Real Life: Chip Clip from a Clothing Hanger.

Pinterest in Real Life: Chip Clip from a Clothing Hanger.

 

Pin #5 – Pot & Pan Organizer

Rev-a-Shelf Pot & Pan Organizer

Rev-a-Shelf Pot & Pan Organizer

Thanks to some very generous friends and family, we were able to use gift cards and money from our wedding to finally get a nice set of pots and pans. The problem that we didn’t expect when we got our 11 piece cookware set was how were were store everything. Then I happened upon this gem while scrolling through Pinterest… a pot & pan organizer system.

Rev-a-Shelf in real life – not as pretty, but just as functional

I did a few searches for it online to find a better price – at almost $300 on the Rev-a-Shelf site that was an expensive pill to swallow to get organized… but since we finally had a nice set of pots and pans, we knew we needed something that would help take care of them better and be easier to access everything. Eventually I found the 21″, 2-tier Rev-a-Shelf on Amazon for under $175, so we got it!

It’s been one of the best investments we’ve made to help organize the mass of pots, pans & lids.