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Adventures at the Teeter

January 12, 2010

Over the holiday season, I would go “shopping in my cabinets” trying to see if I could exhaust my pantry, cabinets, and fridge/freezer before I went to the store. I am so tired of my willy-nilly weekly shopping trips that look more like Supermarket Sweep than my new job as Director of Household Nom-nomage.

It’s the HUGHES GROCERY STORE! (that’s my last name, in case you were unaware)

It is so laborious to go to the grocery store with a 6 month-old. I know I could go on the weekend, or call my mother-in-law for help, which is what I will start doing. However, until I had this Eureka! moment, I would haul HC with me to the store. It’s too cold, I’m already in my John Deere fleece pajama pants my mom made for my brother that I stole from him back in college, and I can’t find my shoes anyway in this mess.

I was doing great there for a while. I cooked most everything from scratch. Sometimes I used recipes. When I didn’t use an existing recipe, I would write one with what I made. We also got by with going to holiday gatherings/meals etc. Going shopping in the kitchen is really enjoyable. Reflecting on my bare cupboard, I was out of flour because I made my own pie crust and pizza dough when I ran out of the store bought kind! I am telling you–shop in your cabinets and you will be so surprised at how long you can go on what you find in there. Just check the expiration date so I don’t have to rename this website “Mama See Mama Do Mama Gives Family the Itis” or something.

Here it is, right after the new year, and I am out of EVERYTHING, including butter, flour, sugar, cans of beans, cans of tomatoes–you name it. As crafty as I am, I cannot make a dinner out of teabags, club crackers, and mustard–or can I? Hmmm…nah.

My food budget is super tiny, and we’re trying to live within our means. I channeled the 3 sister-wives from Big Love and sat down at my kitchen table with a big cup of coffee for a family meeting with just myself.

Lettuce Pray

I made out a list of dinners I’d like to cook, from my overdue copy of Once-A-Month Cooking: Family Favorites and my recipe 3-ring binder. Once I had a possible list, I searched Savvy Dollar for all the Harris Teeter coupons, since Super Doubles is going on. I also checked my e-vic specials. I made a Master Grocery List that only contained items that were couponed, on sale, on special, BOGO, B2G3, etc.

Remember that I had to restock my pantry and that I really do cook on average about two meals a day from scratch. Ideally I’d get up to all meals a day, but there are things to sew and walks to take and grammar lessons to create and blogs to stalk! After I had spent the entire morning planning and scheming, I drove straight to Cook Out and ordered a bacon cheeseburger tray with chicken nuggets, cajun fries, and sweet tea! Total gross deliciousness!

All fueled up with HC asleep in her carrier, I started my plan of attack. I filled up my entire cart–even the bottom. I kept all my coupons in my left pocket. When I found an item, I transferred the coupon to my right jeans pocket, which already had my debit card and license in it. If it wasn’t on my list, on sale, or store brand, I didn’t buy it.

There are some kindergarteners out there as tall as my receipt

Another criteria I tried to stick to was, “Can I pronounce these ingredients on the back?” Ideally, I’d be shopping only organic, fair trade, local, in season, free range, etc. but I am not quite there yet. Instead, I just focused on a majority of my purchases being that way, examples being organic pears, wild-caught tilapia and salmon, pronounceable ingredients on fresh italian sausage, pronounceable Triscuit rye crackers, hormone-free milk, etc. I’ve made a lot of changes already and am pretty happy with where I am on the spectrum of  Real Food Revival, Food Inc., Omnivore’s Dilemma, etc. Hey, to justify the Cook Out, Cook Out is a locally-owned fast food restaurant that uses fresh ingredients. So there!

My total receipt was around $270, with a total savings of $113!

Stay tuned for all the food I make from my trip–of course I’ll be writing about and photographing my dishes. Time to pretend like I work for a food magazine, right?

And to end this crazy posting, I used all cloth bags. Quick, someone give me a cookie (but make sure you had a coupon for it).

Post your savings, coupon tips, resources, experiences, etc. in a comment!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Carl Slingblade permalink
    January 12, 2010 1:49 pm

    I’m your boy, name’a Carl. Uhmmm-hmmm. Can you make me some biscuits? I don’t mean to put you out none. I like ’em with mustard. I like them french fried taters. Maybe I’ll tell you sometime what’s in them potted meat tins. Arrrright then.
    Flowers is pretty. I’ve always said that.

    • January 12, 2010 2:10 pm

      Of course! I will make you Southern Living Angel Biscuits from scratch and you can eat them with all the mustard you want.

  2. jennifer permalink
    January 12, 2010 1:56 pm

    Wow…I love this. Please write more, I am laughing so hard and I’m home sick today, but still laughing!

  3. January 12, 2010 2:10 pm

    You did awesome! I thought you were gonna say you spent $500! haha! Go savings GO! This is my favorite site for HT deals

  4. Erin permalink
    January 12, 2010 3:26 pm

    Good for you for getting a month’s worth of grocery shopping in one day! I can only aspire to that sort of forethought, planning and organization. The fact I’m down to weekly shopping trips is a small miracle.

    A few months back I downloaded a copy of Environmental Working Group’s “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides,” which is comprised of two lists: the 12 most important types of produce to buy organic and the 12 least important. No sense in spending double for organic onions when conventional ones are pretty safe, especially since we go through a couple pounds a week at my house.

    I’m old school so I printed out the pretty, purple pocket-sized PDF version to keep in my planner , but an iPhone app is also available for the technologically savvy. Here’s the link:

  5. Mom permalink
    January 12, 2010 4:08 pm

    Not to point out that this is genetic or anything but I take my coupons from my completely organized coupon box and put the ones I am using in my pocket all with barcodes on the bottom. I also put my debit card there so I can have an organized checkout. I also loved how long my receipt was and especially how much I saved. The thing I loved the most was how much I actually saved by cutting out the coupon and using it. If you save money in the area of food consumption then you might have more money for traveling! That’s why you want to seize the savings in areas you can control.

    • January 12, 2010 11:44 pm

      You do NOT put them in your pockets, too! This means Hannah Claire must have back pockets in her clothes! The pocket system works great.

  6. Kati permalink
    January 12, 2010 4:28 pm

    Just wait until HC realizes there are cookies at the Teeter. The only way I can make it through HT for triples or super doubles is a stop at the free cookie bin. They both start getting excited as we round the corner and see the alligator head. You know it is triples when your 1 year old’s fleece jacket is white with cookie crumbs because he has been to HT every day for a week.

  7. January 12, 2010 8:25 pm

    hey girl- i am in love with your blog! and the best part is i can hear your voice and better yet your laugh at certain points.
    I am meal planning on a weekly basis now- shopping once a week- it is an awesome improvement from before. It is TOO COLD to go out all the time! And my charlie is walking now, so getting her to stay in the cart is a problem…….
    anyway, looking forward to some recipies!

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