Frugal Living Without Gogurt or Hamburger Helper

by Katy on February 3, 2010 · 50 comments

I have a love/hate relationship with coupons. I love being able to bring my grocery bills down, but I’m unwilling to do so at the expense of the quality of food that I feed my family. And I’m not talking about national brand vs. generic, I’m talking about questionable ingredient packaged food vs. real food.

In other words, no Gogurt or Hamburger Helper, no matter how cheap.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on coupons. I still clip through the Sunday paper, and am particularly enamored of the $10 off $50 Safeway coupon that runs at the beginning of the month in The Oregonian. So much so, that I redeem one at the beginning of the week, and then another at the end of the week. (That way I’m pretty much set for a month’s worth of food, except for perishables.) I also make sure to always use four coupons per trip, which is how many they’ll double.

Today I went to Safeway and bought:

  • 1 box of Cheerios
  • 3 boxes of Chex cereals
  • 5 pounds of sugar
  • 2 boxes of rotini pasta
  • 2 packages of chocolate chips
  • 5 pounds of flour
  • Peanut butter
  • A box of brownie mix
  • 6 cans of El Pato chili sauce
  • 1 can of El Pato salsa
  • 1 package of tortillas
  • 2 pounds of shredded mozarella
  • 2 gallon of skim milk
  • 1/2 gallon of whole milk
  • Sour cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • 2 Blistex lip balms
  • 4 loaves of bread
  • 4 whole chicken breasts
  • 1/2 pound of rock shrimp
  • 1/4 pound of Krab meat
  • 4 avocados
  • 2 onions
  • Broccoli
  • 1 pound of deli sliced ham
  • 2 bags of tortilla chips.

The total for all this food was $56.73.

And with the exception of the brownie mix, nothing was particularly packaged or junky. The tortillas chips were a special purchase for Superbowl Sunday, which is more about normally forbidden snackage than the actual football game. I still have a large amount of Granny Smith apples and oranges from another store that has better (and cheaper) produce.

I don’t spend more than a couple minutes per week clipping coupons, yet I save a ton by combining them with sale items. I could set up a pantry that would allow me to really stock up on specials deals, but have never felt like I needed one.

I shop to keep a generalized supply of ingredients in the house rather than ingredients for specific recipes. This is what works best for me. Kristen at The Frugal Girl shops for her meal plans, which keeps her organized in order to feed her family of six. Neither method is better, it’s just our own personal style.

Safeway is not actually the cheapest grocery game in town, as Portland is home to Winco, which is even more affordable. However, the nearest store is pretty far from my house, and in a sketchy area of town. (I have witnessed illegal activity in the parking lot.)

People complain about the increased prices of foods, but I’ve found that I’m still able to buy huge amounts for very little. And most importantly, I’m able to do so without buying weird food just because they feature prominently in the coupon circulars.

Are you able to balance healthy eating with coupons? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Hiptobeme February 4, 2010 at 1:28 am

I am new to couponing and I am in the same camp as you are. I don’t buy crap just because they knock fifty cents off the price. I do combine coupons with sales and I am not loyal to stores, brands, what have you. I admit that I am loving going through the circulars and gasping delightedly when I see a super cheap item that I have a coupon for. Whoever gives me the best quality item with the most volume, for the best price, gets my buck, coupon or no. My latest and greatest deal was getting four cans of Bush’s baked beans for .98 on special. I had dollar off coupons, so they paid ME 2 cents to take those babies home. (I live in Canada, if you were wondering why I was so psyched about this price 😉


Brenda February 4, 2010 at 5:30 am

I wish we got the double coupon deals you get. Our stores honor the coupons at face value. However one local grocery store will print out coupons with your receipt and if you have spent a fair amount they sometimes print out a coupon for $5 off your next $50 purchase. Not as good as the deals you get, but every little bit helps.


NMPatricia February 4, 2010 at 5:35 am

I absolutely love this column!

First, I guess I am really out of a loop that I really don’t care about being in. (How is that for a really awful sentence!) I don’t even know what gogurt is! And having lived in Salem (OR), I know about WinCo. The one where I shopped was in a pretty decent area of town and I STILL witnessed illegal activity in the parking lot. I never went there after dark. I was scared of the parking lot.

I don’t use coupons usually because they print coupons for the stuff I buy. Either it is fresh produce or dairy. I agree with you that if you shop carefully, you can have a pretty decent budget for food. (And here it goes, I can hear the gasps over the ‘net) I shop at Whole Foods. The options in my town are WF, Albertsons, Sunflower ( a new up and coming pseudo-WF), and Smiths ( a local chain owned by Krogers as is Fred Meyer). I have done the whole price book thing and WF is totally competitive with the others if not outright better. I don’t buy all the boutique food nor much packaged food. I shop there sales. I once found my cereal there cheaper than at Target. So coupons are not an issue for me, nor useful.


Katy February 4, 2010 at 8:44 am

Although I don’t shop at Whole Foods, my high school best friend is their V.P. of produce, so they hold a special place in my heart.

I <3 her, which spills over (in my addled brain) to Whole Foods.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Jeanine February 4, 2010 at 5:42 am

I really enjoy couponing. Unfortunately for me, the area that I live in doesn’t have a good selection that comes in the paper or in the mail for ANY products.

I’ve tried to combat this buy printing coupons from select product sites, and subscribing to the closest actual city’s Wednesday & Sunday paper. The probem with this is that most local retailers will not accept the printed ones, and having to pay for the huge paper twice a week and I only want the circulars. Such a waste.

I wish there was a system that a person could upload a coupon onto some sort of card….like a debit card, and completely do away with all the paper. I can see a process like that making it easier on all parties involved, because I will for sure forget to take my coupon book to at least one shopping trip, but I wouldn’t EVER forget my debit card!


chppie February 4, 2010 at 10:41 am

Border’s bookstore emails coupons to their club members (free) and let you know that you can just write down the bar code or show the coupon on a web-enabled phone. Peet’s coffee and tea also accepts electronic coupons. I haven’t yet seen a supermarket do that. Even Costco makes you use the printed ones.


Shymom February 4, 2010 at 12:51 pm

You can download coupons to your Safeway clubc ard (it’s tin he same area on their web site where you print coupons) here in Northern California and then use them when you scan your card at check out. I haven’t done it yet simply because even though I take a coupon to the store I often times don’t use it because of a better priced store brand etc. I’m not sure how I would keep track of prices/coupon value if I didn’t have the coupon in my hand.


namastemama February 4, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Upromise also puts coupons on your card to use at the store. My problem is that only my area doesn’t have any national chains that offer the store cards, i.e Safeway, Kroger etc.


Mamadrums February 4, 2010 at 9:33 pm

You can upload coupons to multiple club cards at Lot’s of packaged, processed foods. But once in a while there are store brands.


Katy February 4, 2010 at 10:50 pm

I do load e-coupons onto my Safeway Club card, but I have zero memory of what they might be. I get sent an e-mail whenever I redeem one and it’s always a bit of a surprise. For example, this last grocery trip used a 55 cent Cheerios coupon, which I hadn’t known about.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Robyn February 5, 2010 at 12:18 am

Does your local library subscribe to out-of-town newspapers? What do they do with the manufacturer coupons for those papers? Recycle? Could you volunteer for the library for a few hours? Tidy up the newspapers bound for recycling? You may need a good bit of luck….


Jeanine February 5, 2010 at 11:19 am

Thanks so MUCH for all the tips!

I had no idea some stores did have an electronic coupon deposit. I will look into that this weekend.

In so far as the library, they do subscribe to the out of town paper, but they will not share the coupons. It’s not a bad thing though, because they donate them to the local shelter.

Again, thanks for this tips!


Louise February 4, 2010 at 6:21 am

Because we live in our RV and travel constantly, finding local coupons is difficult. But I find that fresh ingredients, not fake processed “food,” are usually pretty reasonably priced. I buy generics until they prove themselves lower quality than major brands. I also stock up on items that are on sale in any given store when I happen across them, since we tend to eat the same things over and over. When your total grocery list is only about 25 different items, it’s easy to memorize the unit prices.


Kri-ND February 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Off topic, but our dream is to eventually live full-time on the road, once the kids are settled in their adult life.

I am jealous!


Lindsay February 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

I had to giggle about your Winco reference. Being a Portlander too, I know exactly what you are talking about!

I actually shop at Fred Meyer. The Hawthorne one is really convenient to my house and was recently remodeled. I find it’s cheaper than Safeway, but maybe I should give Safeway a second try.

As for coupons, I rarely have luck. I do use them for things like cereal and shampoo when possible. I try to pick up a flier on the way into the store and see if there are coupons or sales on things I already planned to buy.


Katy February 4, 2010 at 8:59 am

I also shop at Fred Meyer, although mostly for loss leaders, ($3.99 blocks of Tillamook cheddar cheese at the moment!) and produce. They also have very good prices on fruit, which can be the difference between $1.99 vs. 89 cents per pound on apples.

However, they treat their employees terribly, with split shifts and such and Safeway is unionized. The Hawthorne Fred Meyer that you mention is yes, LEED certified, but when they did the remodel, they brought in out of state electricians to save money over our unionized electricians.

Here is a link to the info about this practice:

I somehow always leave Fred Meyer in a bad mood because of being unable to find an employee to help me find something, or because someone was rude to me. That NEVER happens at Safeway.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Lindsay February 5, 2010 at 8:00 am

I never realized that about Freddies. Definitely something to consider. I will admit to leaving Freddies in a bad mood from time to time. In fact, there are certain checkers’ lines I won’t even go through no matter how short the line! Their grumpiness may have a valid explanation for sure.


Hydra February 6, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I don’t have a preference of one store over the other, but just so you know, Fred Meyer’s ‘grumpy’ employees are also unionized.


nancy from mass February 4, 2010 at 8:03 am

I also do not sacrifice quality when buying food. I hardly EVER buy processed food. (I’m more of a ‘buying provisions’ girl). I subscribe to Mambo Sprouts though and get great ‘heathly’ manufactures coupons from them. (Sign up!) I wish I could find coupons for produce – that’s where most of my budget is spent. I do shop at Whole Foods (not whole paycheck for me) and they have great store brands at really good prices. I just wish I could find better bulk flour prices for brands I like to buy.


Judy February 5, 2010 at 8:35 am

Thanks for the Mambo Sprouts connection. I check out their website and signed up for their coupons. Looks like a good site.


Cate February 4, 2010 at 8:27 am

I use coupons mainly for toiletries (which, especially when combined with sales, makes certain “preferred” products even cheaper than the store brand), dairy (Organic Valley frequently puts out coupons for milk and other products), and occasionally I’ll come across the random coupon for tea, peanut butter, or even oatmeal. I’m not coupon crazy, but I do make sure to clip the ones I know we’ll use, and leave the others behind. I probably save between $5-10 per grocery trip, which is nothing to sneeze at even if it’ll never get me on TV. 🙂


Lisa February 4, 2010 at 10:35 am

Coupons are great for those who use them wisely (for items they normally buy on a regular basis). I seldom use them because the ones around this area usually aren’t for anything I would use. Still, by shopping sales, cooking from scratch, and carefully considering purchases, we eat well for minimal cash outlay.

And Katy- this is sort of off topic, but I noticed you listed your sugar purchase as 5 lbs. Most stores here sell it in 4 lb bags and have for some time. Are you still getting 5 lbs, or did you believe that you were?


Katy February 4, 2010 at 11:10 am

I went and checked, and indeed it was 5 pounds.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl February 5, 2010 at 3:40 am

The stores here sell 5 pound bags almost across the board too.


Lisa February 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

That figures! Our area stores changed to 4 lb bags ages ago (without posting any kind of notice, of course!) but continued selling it at the 5lb price. Producers changing sizes has been an underhanded way of charging more for less.


Eleanor February 4, 2010 at 10:39 am

Katy, like you, we avoid prepacked, processed foods. In Georia, we have Publix, and not only do they double coupons up to .50, they accept all competitor coupons. I look for $5 off $25 from Harveys, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc; Publix takes ’em, and I can use them for fresh foods!
Thanks for the tip on your grocer accepting a $10 off $50, meaning for every fifty dollars, get $10 off with a coupon (spend $100, use two coupons. ) I had not thought of stacking those coupons in that manner.

Also, Publix offers weekly BOGOs, which regularly include staples (such as olive oil) and sometimes fresh foods. I know that about every 6-8 weeks Pompieian Olive Oil will go BOGO. I pring 2 $100 off coupons from the Pompieian website and stack them on the BOGO for a real deal.


chppie February 4, 2010 at 10:48 am

While I try to use coupons they frequently aren’t for things I buy. My local market does have produce specials on specific days and I try to take advantage of those. But what’s been on my mind in the last couple of posts is that we all seem to be describing cooking from scratch differently. I assume that the brownie mix is an exception but where do you draw the line on “scratch” ingredients, a premixed sauce that you wouldn’t take time to make yourself, a partially prepared convenience, like taco shells? It would be interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. What is scratch and why?


Katy February 4, 2010 at 11:16 am


Interesting question. The brownie mix in definitely NOT in the category of “from scratch.”

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


WilliamB February 4, 2010 at 11:36 am

Good question. I’m stumped, too. Is using canned beans from scratch or not? Jarred salsa? Fresh salsa you buy from someone else? Lasanga you make, using jarred tomato sauce and dried noodles[1]? What if you make the tomato sauce, but using canned tomatoes? After all, it is the middle of the winter. What if you use home-canned tomatoes? Does it matter who grew the tomatoes – self, local farmer, store bought?

Thinking about it, I realize one factor I consider is how much effort I put it. Jarred tomato sauce, jazzed up + dry pasta = not scratch. Jarred tomato sauce, jazzed up + dry pasta + grated cheese + soft cheeses + sauteed mushrooms and onions = homemade lasanga.

[1] Only the most hard-core would describe pre-made noodles as not from scratch.


Queen Lucia February 4, 2010 at 10:58 am

Katy, I enjoyed reading your grocery list, as you bought exactly the same kinds of things I buy! I try to plan meals but lately I’m finding that just having a good supply of the food we generally eat is good enough to get us through most days. So I may change my practice.

The only coupons I use are $ off entire purchase, which I usually have in the entertainment book my mom gets us each Christmas. I rarely use product coupons as, like everyone else says, I just don’t buy those things. I shop at Top Foods in WA state and use their weekly flyer to shop around the sales, and usually spend around $75/ week. I wish it were more like $56! I look for those $10 Safeway coupons, but I don’t think they offer them here, darn it.


Kristin February 4, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I’m in Massachusetts. I don’t generally clip coupons because I find that the things I buy (unprocessed real food) rarely have coupons. I do hunt for the $1 off of 2 boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats, especially when HBOs are on sale 2 for $3.

I scan circulars to find out who has stuff on sale that I actually need. I’m waiting for a sale on flour, sugar, chicken and beef stock so that I can stock up on those things.

My goal for this year is to feed my family of four and 2 large dogs for $100, including diapers (both girls still wear them) and dog food. Full disclosure– one of my daughters is only 11 weeks old, so she doesn’t really dent the food budget yet! But the extra I’m eating while nursing does. 🙂


Kristin February 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Sorry– $100 a week, not $100 for the year! But if anyone knows how to feed all of us on $100 a year, please let me know.


Katy February 4, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I was wondering. 😉


Jenna Wehrman March 22, 2011 at 9:39 am

I think that cloth diapering would be an excellent way to help out your grocery bill. 🙂 Cloth diapering is great!


Robyn February 5, 2010 at 12:06 am

A local grocery store here (Utah) puts flour &/or sugar on sale about the first week of November (to encourage holiday baking??) and sometimes the end of January (to encourage restocking after holiday baking??). I sometimes find chicken/beef stock in the “caselot” sales in/near August (twisted back-to-school/back-to-basics/winter-is-coming-you’ll-need-soup thinking??).

This calendar may not translate to other locations, but perhaps these would be the times of the year that a more obsessive search of the sales flyers might net a sale on staples? HIH.


Melissa February 4, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I clip coupons coupons for the things we use (it usually only ends up being a few coupons a week, other than that $10 Safeway one- yippee!) and double them. It doesn’t take off a ton, but it’s better than nothing. I never get enticed to buy something unhealthy just because there’s a coupon for it, though. (This doesn’t mean I never buy anything unhealthy, of course. Hello, ice cream, nice to meet you.) And I was feeling kind of bad about getting the occasional box of gogurts (for my older son’s lunchbox), until I read your list and saw krab meat with a “K”, which made me feel better. If it’s not crab, then what do they do to it to make it taste like crab? Seriously, I really want to know. ( I’m not anti-Krab, by any means. Unless they make it out of something weird, then I might be.)


Kri-ND February 4, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Like most of you, I use coupons if it is something I would buy anyway, or something I wanted to try, but wouldn’t pay full price for.

My husband love Life and Kashi Go-Lean cereal. He is a disabled veteran who gets up at 3am every morning to go to work and never complains. If he wants cereal, I make sure he gets his cereal. I do use coupons for cereal on a regular basis.

I shop on the base twice a month, and companies offer coupons for the Commissary that they don’t offer in the civilian world, so I use more coupons on base than I would ever use off base.

I recently had a coupon that combined with a lower price, and allowed me to get Crest Pro-Health toothpaste for .99. Those are the kinds of coupons I use most often; shampoo, soap, deodorant, etc.

I do go through the local grocery store sale flyers each week, and while it is rare, I do occasionally find something on sale that is the cheapest I would find, like .59 per head for Iceberg lettuce(getting it this weekend), and I don’t know how that matches up in other parts of the country, but that is very cheap up here, where it is a long way to truck up foods, and in the winter you can’t go to the farmers market.


Jinger February 4, 2010 at 3:28 pm

A little OT, but I saw you mentioned Super Bowl treats. I hope you will cheer for New Orleans. The team is the biggest morale booster of the city in the past 4 1/2 years. We Who Dats are euphoric! This video says it all.


Tonya February 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

I too use the “stock the pantry” approach to cooking. It seems like if I stock up on basic supplies when they are cheap, that I always have the makings of a good meal. I like to look in my pantry and decide what I want to cook for dinner, rather than plan menus. But different personalities like different meal planning (or in my case, non-planning) approaches.

That said, my kids love Gogurts in their lunchboxes, and they each get one daily. I figure, they’re eating some dairy, and it probably is better than the slop they would get in the cafeteria at school! So I don’t shun the convenience foods altogether. I find that the savings I rake in from using coupons on snack foods, toiletries, cereals, and things like Gogurts allows me to splurge on organic, local produce for our family!


Amy H. February 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Sigh. That is a terrific amount of food for $56.73, particularly from Safeway. I am envious! I wish we got $10 off $50 Safeway coupons here in NorCal. I’m going to go check the coupon part of their web site . . . I have a Club Card but have never downloaded coupons to it.

I am another voice for Whole Foods. Their store brand (365) is very reasonable and very good. Other things I regularly buy there: organic fat-free milk (It comes in glass bottles, which you return for the deposit. It is so delicious!); ground beef; sparkling water ($.89 bottle); frozen half-baguettes from La Brea. Just stay away from the prepared foods and the produce and one can do rather well.


Caroline February 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Food seems like it’s way cheaper in the US, that list would cost of lot more than in Western Australia.


Caroline February 4, 2010 at 5:47 pm

sorry, i meant that list of food would cost a lot more in Western Australia!


namastemama February 4, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Caroline, You are so right. Americans (in the lower 48) spend a small percentage of our income on food compared to other countries. I invite you to check out any books my Micheal Pollan that explain why this is. It’s also killing us and we have an obesity epidemic. We are also lucky however because of our temperate climate and abundant rainfall we, as a country, can produce a lot of food. One of our states, Iowa, has some of the richest land in the world. Hey- but you’ve got that Vegemite. Which by the way, my sis brought back some from Australia after Christmas and she loves it. I thought it was horrid. Take care 🙂


Sara February 5, 2010 at 6:05 am

I am one of those semi-crazy coupon people – I actually really enjoy it and its become a bit of a hobby for me. Now, I’ll never be to the level of some of the folks who regularly post about getting $100 worth of food for $5, because like you say, most coupons really are for processed junk food. However by shopping sales and coupons I regularly save 30-50% – but most of this is from sales, I usually save $10-$20/week with coupons. I’m in NC and my stores double coupons up to 99 cents, and sometimes have events where they triple coupons or double up to $1.98 coupons, so you can really make a killing.

My husband and I get some amount of processed food, ie we love Kashi cereal (ok i love all cereal, hello honey bunches of oats!), yogurt, canned soups, sometimes ice cream, kashi crackers and the like. All of those things I regularly use coupons for. In addition, I almost always have coupons for the staples – sugar/flour, yeast, whole grain bread, organic milk, canned tomatoes, pasta, brown rice, frozen veggies, etc. Unfortunatly there are rarely coupons for fresh produce, and we tend to spend 1/3 to 1/2 our grocery money on produce every week. We save on produce by going to the Farmer’s Market and growing vegetables in pots on the patio in the summer (plus its local and yummy!). In the winter we are lucky to be able to go to NC’s largest asian market, which is 1/2 mile from our house and on the way to the grocery store – buying produce (as well as tofu, spices, noodles, edamame, and other asian ingredients) there saves us at LEAST half – 8 ounces of organic soba noodles at the grocery store was $4.50 and I could barely bring myself to buy them, and then when we started going to the asian market again in the winter I get them for $2!

When it comes to meats, we really stock up on sales. Chicken breasts will often by BOGO or even B1G2, and pork is often 1/2 price. During a recent coupon event I got about 6 packages of organic minimally processed gourmet chicken sausage for $2/pack, when normally they are $5. Our (tiny) freezer is always full of this kind of stuff.

I think coupons are worth it from a money saving perspective – we used to spend 110-120/week on groceries, and now we spend $50-$70 week, and can usually buy our TP, paper towels, etc within this budget with coupons and sales. When I think about it from a time perspective, though, I definetely spend at least 3 hours/week dealing with coupons, finding internet coupons, reading coupon websites, etc – so really I’m spending at least 3 hours to save $40 or $50, which is less than I could make if I worked those hours. On the other hand, I can’t jusr randomly work three extra hours and get paid for it, and I really enjoy couponing.

To save time on couponing, I would suggest using a coupon clipping service if you don’t want to buy the paper – that’s what I do. I usually spend about $4/month ordering coupons, and this way I only get the ones I need and can get lots of the ones that are valuable to me (hello 15 $1 off coupons for greek yogurt that goes on sale for $1!). I like The Coupon Clippers and also use Coupons and Things by Dede sometimes. Reading coupon blogs helps alot too – they post the store adds with coupon match ups so you don’t have to figure it all out for yourself – I like A full cup and hot coupons world.

Can you tell I love doing this stuff? I think it will come in even more handy when I have a family and a deep freezer, as well as decent pantry space!


Jean February 5, 2010 at 7:14 am

Glad to see how many people are also trying to buy and cook REAL food–so who buys all the weird stuff in the grocery store?! “Scratch” is going to be different things to different people–I work full time plus keep my husband’s business books in my “spare” time, so we buy bread and pasta–whole grain only! I am missing my local farmers market in the winter months–the ladies in my office complain that it is not cheaper than Walmart or the grocery stores, which is sometimes true, but I am buying produce that was locally grown and picked that day by the person who grew it , not trucked in from who knows where and harvested by persons not paid fairly for their labors.
I do use the dairy coupons from the Sunday inserts, and coupons for juice and canned and frozen vegetables, and it amounts to a $5 to $10 per week savings. I find that my local Aldi’s has the best deals on produce and since it is practically right around the corner we shop there frequently. If you have one of these in your area and haven’t been in a while, check it out. They have greatly expanded their selections, and upped their quality, and you can’t beat their prices on some things. You can buy real vanilla for less than the imitation stuff at other stores and they have the best price on oatmeal. I find that my best deals on matching coupons with sales is at Walgreens for personal care products–they will let you use their coupon and the manufacturers coupon so I wind up with very nice shampoos, hair products and bath products for cheaper than generics.


Alice February 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Katy how about some meal ideas for those of us trying to cook from scratch more? I would love to hear what you make from that list of shopping! Thanks.


Jeanne Grunert February 7, 2010 at 8:37 am

I taught myself how to cook from scratch using recipes from Cooking Light and easy cookbooks. My favorite is the Fannie Farmer cookbook (I got it used, paperback, for $5). Plan simple meals: a meat, potato or starch, and a vegetable. The potatoes and vegetables or pasta and vegetables are the easiest to cook.

I made a list of my family’s favorite meals and put it on the fridge. We shop by the sales, picking up only what we can get on sale or with sale+ coupon. I then check the list and make meals with what I have. I plan my meals for the week on Sunday.

Simple to cook, inexpensive meals from scratch – these are a few. I omit the meat (vegetarian) but my husband and elderly father in law eat meat.

Monday: pork chop, baked sweet potato, green beans. Heat oven to 350. Coat pork chops with bread crumbs. Place on rack on baking sheet. Piece sweet potatoes with fork, place in Pyrax bowl. Put pork chops & potatoes in oven, bake for 1 hour. About 10 minutes before they’re set to be done, put the green beans in a microwave bowl with water, microwave high 6 minutes. Serve. That’s an easy meal.

Other easy meals – spaghetti with meat sauce and mushrooms. Just cook the spaghetti (12 minutes). Fry up some lean ground beef (or omit for vegan/vegetarian). Add ground beef and a drained can of mushrooms pieces to sauce, add some oregano and basil, heat and serve together. We get 6 servings for about 50 cents or less per serving if we buy all ingredients on sale.

Many, many more ideas…..just keep things simple. Buy on sale. Make your list of family meals everyone likes. Plan a week in advance.

Good luck!


Julia February 16, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Katy, I liked what you said about not shopping at Fred Meyer because of labor issues. We have them here and I hate them, for many reasons. Also, count me among the many former Whole Foods fans who no longer shop there because of CEO John Mackey speaking out against health care reform. He said people don’t need better health care, they should just eat “whole foods”, not so coincidentally available at his store. Hey, I’m a hippie vegetarian Prius-driving eco-freak who eats quite well, thank you, but I know it can’t cure my lifelong affliction: depression. I need additional treatment for that, and because my husband’s company chooses to not cover mental illness, I continue to suffer, my husband suffers, and my son does, too. That’s the reality of health care in America, and on this issue, I’m voting with my dollars, and my dollars are no longer spent at Whole Foods.


judy June 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I have been looking for comments about Aldis food store. I shop there once a week, they have great deals on produce. You must bring your own bags or buy a bag from them. The carts are locked up and you must put a quarter into a slot and then return the cart and the quarter comes out after you chain it up. I just bought their olive oil and I am trying to find out if it is labeled cold or expeller. Has any one bought their Carlini Olive Oil?


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