I don't usually "do" coupons. Some people love them, while others hate them and shun them (with the thinking that they're really just a trap to lure you into the store, buy something you wouldn't normally buy or don't need, and spend more money while you do it). I don't really fall into either camp. Mostly, I just don't use coupons because they're not applicable to me. Sure, I might find one for one free bottle of Windex, but I never use Windex (or any other commercial cleaner, aside from one Seventh Generation all purpose cleaner--and even that has been pushed aside recently) because they're expensive and, usually, pretty toxic. I wouldn't want to bring that into my home no matter how cheap. Since most of the coupons out there are for products I wouldn't ever buy, or overly processed foods, I simply don't look for them anymore.
The other reason is that I often forget to use coupons when I do have them. Even if I bring them to the store, I'll walk out without using them.
However, I do have rewards programs at Safeway, Fred Meyer, and HG Market. (FB friends of the Market and people in the rewards program get special deals, which is sweet.) Because the rewards programs at the national stores track what products I spend my money on, the coupons tend to be more tailored to the things I actually purchase. (With Fred's, every quarter they send me a coupon for a straight-up $ amount off my entire next purchase. It tends to be only a few dollars, since I don't shop there so much, but it still helps. They have the best bulk buying in town, so I can essentially get a free bag of organic rolled oats from the bulk bin. Safeway's rewards program is also tied to Shane's AK Airlines mileage plan, so we're building up free tickets.) I've been making a conscious effort lately to try to use more of these coupons. After all, if I'm going to be buying the product anyway I might as well get it for a little cheaper. I made a little grocery list for the fridge, out of a large plain magnet, two paper clips, and scratch paper from work that rarely gets used. (It's too small to print on and most patrons use their own paper to write things down. Also, I've donated two full reams of paper to the library so I'm not "stealing" if I print personal stuff or bring home some paper.) One of the paper clips is unfolded so that part of it lies flat against the fridge, under the magnet. There are two little arms (about an inch apart) that stick out to hold the hole-punched paper. This way it's easy for us to write down grocery items as we think of them and the paper is big enough to write a full list, plus menus on the back. That way we can hang it back up once the groceries are bought and know exactly what types of foods we have in the house. The second paper clip is used to attach coupons to the grocery list. It helps me build menus when I know what I can get a good deal on.
This week we managed to use two coupons. One was for any organic spice (we needed some paprika) and the other was for two boxes of organic broth. I know, it's terrible that I don't make my own broth/stock, but the last time Shane and I tried it we didn't like the results so it all went to waste. (One of my projects for this year is to try it again.) Both of these will be included in meals I planned out. The broth will go to chicken soup and moose roast, the paprika into many meals, but the one I have in mind is a red beans and rice dish a friend sent to me.
Poor Shane has started doing the grocery shopping so that I don't have to waste my valuable free time doing it. However, I'm still the one who comes up with menu ideas and writes out the list. So this week he got at least three messages from me the day he was supposed to go shopping as I remembered things that should go on the list or could be taken off. "Don't buy celery. Did I write down frozen corn?" Poor guy. And after all that, he didn't end up doing the shopping. The truck was too cold to start, and then right after he plugged it in L called to invite us over for dinner. So we pushed it off another day, and I went shopping on Friday. (Shane was grumpy, so I went and gave him time to un-grumpify himself.) And to think if I hadn't gone I would have missed out on being flirted with by the high school boy with a fuzzy 'stache.
I really don't mind the shopping. I guess I'm sort of a control freak about it, since I'm the one with the zero waste project. This way I finally (finally!) brought my own jars to HG Market to be filled with meats. I'm the one who remembers the reusable bags. I'm the one who sticks to the list (except when it comes to fruit in the summer--if I see it on sale I'll snap it up because I know it will either be eaten or stored) and Shane's the impulse shopper. He'll come home with pizza rolls and twelve other items not on my list. (He's getting better about that.) At least with the list he doesn't forget things we really do need.
This week, I remembered the coupons. Even better, about half of the total we spent was on foods from the Market. They had lovely tomatoes, lettuce, and bacon. So I bought those. (Shane loves BLTs.) When I told him what I'd found he said, "I knew I married you for a reason!"
So with all that in mind, our grand total for this week was: $113. This amount includes money that I spent on a little thing of milk (for my tea) at the cafe, since we didn't have any at home, and my lunch the day after we had dinner with our friends.
Since we obviously didn't eat very much of this food last week (we had some food that my in-laws sent home with us, and Jersey Subs from their shop on the Peninsula, then dinner with J&L) most of it will go toward this coming week. I think the only think I'll have to buy will be tea (horrors--I'm out!) and maybe a few other things. All in all, not bad. We also had friends over for dinner last night. I'm proud of the menu: chicken soup, homemade bread that AG made, and a gingered rhubarb crisp for dessert since we really do need to start using up our rhubarb. It was all delicious, and a big hit. Chicken soup doesn't sound like much, but when I told one friend what I had planned for dinner she said, "I love soups. Yum! I've been craving so many of them lately." Me too. Something about the fact that it's below zero and still snowing makes soups the best choice in my mind. So warm and filling.