I have not completely lost my touch

So today I decided that enough was enough and I was getting back into my normal groove at the grocery store. I have been telling myself for a couple of weeks now that I really need to but every time I think about it I just wanted to run and hide. It was one thing to run into the store and grab a few things, it was another thing to get serious and do that big run. That takes time. Time was something I did not have a lot of extra to spare, so I would just shrug it off and continue in the same old rut a little longer.

The good news is that we were surviving. We were making it by just fine. I had managed to get things stocked up and we were fine as long as I did manage to muster up the motivation to go do that big grocery store trip once every few weeks or so it was fine. The problem was that the stocks on certain things were getting lower and lower as the weeks crept on. See time does not wait for anyone. It just does not care that you do not have enough time to squeeze one more thing into your schedule, it just keeps ticking away whether you want it to or not. It does not seem fair, but it is the way it is.

Alas, I decided after the week that I had this week where I was forced to take some time to reflect on various things, that this was one area that I was not okay with just letting it get by. I was not happy with just surviving so to speak. I could do better than that but when it came to the end of the week I was so tired that I did not want to go to the grocery store. I wanted to spend time with my family and catch up with them if I had the time for that. Once the week started, that was it, the week started and it was full swing and I was head strong into the weekly routine.

My reflection on the routine this week was a crazy review of the schedule and how insane it really is because it is just that this year. How thin can someone be spread before they snap? Well that is just what I was doing this week to some degree or another. Perhaps I was being pushed to that, but maybe it was time to simply take that look so I would see what it was really like from the outside looking in. I have been called “superwoman” more than once this week. Somehow I am okay with that. In other ways, however, I am not okay with that. This week, “superwoman” could not fly. I completely lost my cape this week. No super powers. No heroics. Nothing. I was stripped of all of that and was left vulnerable and human. Unfortunately, that is what I am – human.

The good news is that the reflection was something that I needed. You will most likely hear more of this in the days to come as I work through it all. Yes, my blogging becomes sporadic as I try to deal with things when I am not rational – at all. I prefer to be rational to some degree when I blog. Perhaps blogging is a release for me, but it is not intended to be my sounding board for every raw emotion. I prefer to have those emotions tamed a bit before releasing them.

At any rate, it was good. It made me realize that there were things that I needed to let go and there were things that I need to grab onto again because I had let go of them. See some things are good and some things are better. The key is to make sure that we distinguish the difference and do the better things. The problem comes in when the better things are no longer the “better” things and are only the “good” things again. Sometimes circumstances do change and things do change. It does not mean that things are not good anymore, it just means that due to changes of circumstance, they are just not better or best. I am recalling the words of a talk that was given at a Conference at church. I will have to go find the talk now. It was a great reminder to evaluate the things we are doing. Ultimately, it is a reminder to always re-evaluate the things we are doing from time to time to make sure that we are always doing the things that are best for us under current circumstances.

All of that being said, today I actually took action.

Last week I went to Sam’s Club and I did spent quite a bit there but there were some things that we “needed” because we were simply out of them. They were necessities. Okay, I will confess to a single splurge. I did buy a little “freeze meals” cookbook that was under $5. It was not a huge splurge. I will use it. I can totally justify this one. I use the other ones I bought quite a bit. Actually, I did buy the rotisserie chicken for dinner that night, but they are the cheapest in town at $4.88 and almost cheaper than any raw chicken I can buy and cook myself. The fact is, I still spent a bit buying those things. The good news is that one of those items I bought will last quite a while as it builds a good stock. The other items were bulk items but they are things we go through fairly quickly and the cheapest place to get them in the quantities we go through is Sam’s.

That, however, was not going to feed a family of five for a week. It was not enough. After a week of reflection and the ups and downs I knew I could not do it all week. I was truly grateful for the rotisserie chicken. Those are still on the menu and shopping list on a regular basis simply because I like them, they are quick and easy, and they fit my budget because I can and will make them. From the conversations that went on this week, they will be a weekly thing simply because it may be the only thing fast enough to make my life sane on certain days of the week. I tried something else and it was not fast enough. Since I do not trust my oven 100% enough to leave the house for more than a few minutes with it running while I am not there, most things are not an option any more. With my dietary issues the crock pot is not my favorite thing. It is not completely out but it is not my favorite. It is not a favorite of my children either. I will have to look more into some recipes that can be modified for our needs that might be more appealing to the kids. They just are not huge fans of the crock pot. To be real honest with you, it has its place but it is not my “I’ll rave about it” thing.

Today, however, I had my husband asking me for various things to put in his lunch for the upcoming week. Things that we did not have, of course. That on top of the things that I knew I needed to get for the boys’ lunches, I just needed to go to the grocery store. There was no denying it. I needed things to fix for dinner this week. The boys’ needed stuff for breakfast. There was no way around me going to the grocery store. Sure, I could just go for the absolute essentials again but it was going to cost so I might as well just get over the slump and do a “real grocery store run” that actually takes concerted effort and work on my part. Something that I know how to do and I am fully capable of doing.

So I set about organizing my coupon box. It was in sad shape after weeks…months…of neglect and simply ignoring it. Fortunately, that did not take too long. I had already taken time to sort through the various coupon inserts a few weeks ago so the bulk of them were already grouped together by date. They were just piled on top of the box not in the box where they belonged. I went through all the ones that were in the box and got rid of the ones that had expired coupons in them. That was all but two weeks of them. Then I set about relabeling each of the sheet protectors with the new dates and putting each week’s group of coupon inserts into the corresponding sheet protector. Once that was all done, I actually felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. It was amazing. I did not know how heavy that weight had gotten. It was more than just an unorganized box sitting there in the room mocking me as I walked by it. It was a part of something I used to do calling me to come do it again. It was a part of my past I had put it off repeatedly. It was still there nagging me though. See, grocery shopping is something that I do enjoy doing. It did not used to always be that way, but then it was that way. As long as I do it the way I know works for me, I do enjoy it. I just have to do it the way that works and makes it easy for me.

I made my list using The Grocery Game. I had actually made it prior to organizing my coupon box so I kind of knew what I would be looking for. It had been a long time since I had even logged into the website. I had logged in from time to time to see if certain things were on sale. Mostly I was looking to see if they were on sale and where to go to get those sales. I would pay attention to if the items had digital coupons or not, but I could not take the time to organize that coupon box or clip the coupons. I did not have the time to sit down and do that. It was just too much time. Once I had my coupon box organized, I had my list of coupons already printed out and it was quick and easy to sit there with my scissors and clip those coupons. This system makes it so easy. I am not saying that it makes it completely time free, it just makes it easy and it does make it so that I do not have to try and match the coupons I have (which is a lot) up to the ads and sales. Those can be a lot too because there are a variety of stores around here. I do not have the time to sit down and look at all the ads and compare them to all the various coupon inserts over months of time. I do not have time to go to the various grocery stores and compare the sales that are advertised and not advertised to the various coupon inserts over months of time. I do not have that kind of time in my schedule. I will be honest with you, I do not have that kind of will power or motivation either. There, I said it, I am lazy. This allows me to be this and still get great deals. I am perfectly okay with that.

Once I had my coupons clipped, I did have to adjust my list to account for the coupons I did not have. Evidently, I am missing a couple of weeks of newspapers. They are probably around the house somewhere. They were just not obvious when I went looking quickly this afternoon. I was in a hurry and I wanted to get it done and get out the door. Of course it was a process of getting out the door. I had my list though and my coupons and it did not really matter that I was missing some, I was going. That was what was important. I have learned over the years I have been doing this that when I do suffer these set backs – because I do – the most important thing is to just do it – to get there. The rest usually takes care of itself.

I do have to confess that I was a little worried as my stack of coupons was a little small. Kroger has since switched more to digital coupons. I was a little worried because my cart was full and that stack of coupons was small. Those digital coupons are less tangible in my mind. I got to the register and they started ringing it up and that total kept going up and up. I will confess to getting a little nervous. The total was already over $181 and there was still a lot of stuff on the belt and that stuff was going to add up quickly because it was stuff like yogurt, meat, eggs, and produce. I was worried. I had to remind myself that they had not scanned my Kroger Shopper’s Card yet so those discounts had not been applied yet and when they did that the digital coupons would also be applied. Still it was a little nerve wracking to watch that total soar to almost $250 by the time they got everything scanned.

By the time they got my Shopper’s Card scanned, I will confess to being a bit unnerved and actually hoping that I had done the math correctly on the various deals (counting the items so that I had the right quantities to get the discounts). Then I saw the total after the scanned the card and I started to smile. That was more like it. Then the coupons. My total? $141.21 for a full cart top and bottom. That is not so bad. I was much happier.

I know most people do not feel “accomplished” when they go to the grocery store, but I do. When I save 40-60% off my groceries, it does make me feel better. I feel much better when I save 50-60% but after not going to the grocery store consistently for more than the minimal to get by, I was okay with the 43% I saved at Kroger today. I did not get everything I needed at Kroger, but I did get a lot of stuff that we needed and that is what is important to me. Most importantly, I got a lot of the things that we needed to stock up a little bit for packing lunches. That can be something that is hard to stock up because they are burning through it fairly quickly when you have 4 people packing lunches. I had not lost my touch and knack for getting those savings and picking the better deals from the okay and good deals. I did walk away from some things that I had originally gone into the store for on my list. There were other things on the shelf that were cheaper of comparable quality.

I did end up at Walmart to get the last few things I did not get, but I knew that would happen. That was not so good for the budget. When is Walmart ever good for anyone’s budget?

The best part is I get to try this again next week and see if I can do any better. The good news is that I will not be buying 4 bottles of Tide, 2 boxes of Bounce dryer sheets, 1 bottle of Pantene Shampoo, and 2 bottle of Pantene Conditioner, or 3 tubes of Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste (all at Kroger). I already bought those items so I will not need to buy those items next week. Of course if the Tide is on sale again next week you can bet that it will be in the cart again next week as that is one item I go through a lot of with 3 active boys.

So if anyone asks how I contribute to the family, this is how. I do it by saving us money on groceries. It is not a lot, but every little bit helps. I make good food and save on groceries. It takes work, but that little bit of work pays off over time. If I had not been doing this for the many months before, we would not have been able to go as long as we did with just getting by on me buying just the minimum to get by at the grocery store.

Here is to better savings at the grocery store next week…

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