Non-Consumer Mish-Mash — Instagram, Link-O-Rama-Mama & Extremely Frugal Grocery Shopping

by Katy on October 7, 2013 · 26 comments

It’s time again for Non-Consumer Mish-mash, where I write a little bit about this and a little bit about that.

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My son and I fly out to New York City tomorrow and we won’t be back in Portland until next Monday. I’ll bring my laptop, but I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for blogging. However, I’ll keep my Instagram account updated.

So this is a perfect opportunity to start following me on Instagram, where I post pictures from my daily life. And you know I’ll make sure to snap photos of any and all things frugal in New York!

Click HERE to follow me on Instagram.



There are always a ton of great links being put up on The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group, and as much as I’d like to dedicate a full blog post to each and every one of them, I simply don’t have the time or mental focus. So how about a little linky love instead?


Extreme Frugality at The Grocery Store

Because my hospital work shifts have dried up recently, I’ve taken the proactive step to be extremely careful with money. (You may have noticed a glaring lack of Goodwill, Badwill, Questionable-will posts lately, but that’s because I’ve been staying away from the temptations of thrift shopping.) It’s been an interesting experiment with extreme frugality without making it a blog stunt. Just the other day I did a big Safeway grocery shopping trip where I clipped coupons, matched them up with store sales, and took full advantage of digital coupons.

I also bought all our Halloween candy, as coupons were matching up with sales. But since no Halloween bargain is a bargain when it’s gobbled up before the 31st, (I’m looking at you, Katy Wolk-Stanley!) I bagged everything up and took it over to my next door neighbor’s house for storage. (They know I’m crazy, but still love me unconditionally.)

Here’s what I bought at Safeway. Total price was $72.42

  • 7 boxes of cereal.
  • 3 jars of pasta sauce.
  • 1 bag of pretzels.
  • 8 boxes of pasta.
  • 2 jars of 100% juice.
  • 9 bags of Halloween candy.
  • 1 can of clams.
  • 2 bags of string cheese.
  • 3 boxes of cream cheese.
  • 1 round roast.
  • 1.7 pounds of broccoli.
  • 2.97 pounds of bananas.
  • 1 head of green leaf lettuce.
  • 2 red onions.
  • 2.81 pounds of carrots.
  • A 10-pound bag of potatoes.

By combining sale items with couponing, I was able to shave 49% from my grocery bill. I did buy a $10.45 roast, which hardly seems frugal, but it fed the four of us plus an extra teenage boy with leftovers. Which I categorize as a bargain!

I do not consider myself a couponer, but with a few minutes a week, I’m able to find bargains like BOGO string cheese, to which I added manufacturer’s and double coupons. I also used digital coupons for the lettuce, avocados, cereal, broccoli, onions and cream cheese. Paper coupons were used for the pasta sauce, candy, string cheese and cereal.

I know that the cliché of a couponer is someone who’s filling their basement shelves with air fresheners and unusable amounts of shampoo, but there really are ways to make couponing work for the rest of us.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina October 7, 2013 at 10:04 am

I don’t think “leftovers” and “teenage boys” can be used in the same sentence. I have a teen girl and a 10 year old boy, who even at ten and being a string bean can out-eat all of us! can’t wait to hear about your adventures in NY!


Karen October 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

OMG! The Halloween candy. I have to give it to Scott and tell him to hide it in his car or the garage or something.


Katy October 7, 2013 at 11:16 am

The first time I asked my neighbors to do this, they thought I was joking. Now they don’t even bat an eye.



NMPatricia October 7, 2013 at 11:40 am

When I bought Halloween candy, I would give it to one of my sons to hide. He didn’t like candy, so no temptation for him. But me…. Short job.

And I agree. If you were able to get a roast to stretch as far as 5 people – three teenagers, you done good, my girl.


Katy October 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I’m glad to hear I’m not the only who has zero self control when it comes to having candy in the house. 😀



Trish October 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm

what do you use the clams for?


Becky October 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Your mention of grocery shopping savings reminded me of my very proud moment last week, when I finally met a long-standing goal – I “saved”* more than I spent! “Saved” $94.65, spent $87.39. We’re a family of 5. Like you, I matched up store sales, store coupons, & manufacturer coupons. And it’s all things we’ll actually use & a few items donated to church.

*I always say “saved” because who’s really paying full price? Who doesn’t have & use the store “savings” card? Also, for 95% of my items, if it’s not on sale, I’m not buying it. And, as my husband likes to say, the store marks up the cost of the item, so they can put it on “sale” for you. Mind games.


Karen October 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm

You asked on FB if the blog was running. Loads slowly, maybe takes twice as long to load. Comments coming up, but slow.


Ann Y. October 8, 2013 at 2:48 am

Love the idea of hiding the candy….once the bag is open it is all over. Yes, I love your take on coupons….do not want to be an extreme coupon person and then be a hoarder with everything I “saved” on. But it does save and is “a process”….CVS reward card, 25 % off coupon, manufacture coupons and several bonus buck store coupons made big savings for me. Buying razors, toothbrush refills for the spin brush, generic allegra, and hair color ( another saving when you do it at home)…well, the largest allegra is 70 bucks… it all came to 140 something bucks….but with coupons I got it down to 75…..and got 20 dollars back in bonus bucks. Yes, I spent, but I saved…”spaved” !


kris October 8, 2013 at 3:51 am

Thanks for the link to The Prudent Homemaker…what a great site! 🙂


Sara October 8, 2013 at 5:11 am

I did start to wonder, while looking at The Prudent Homemaker, wouldn’t she be eligible for food stamps? That would’ve given her *some* money for food each month.


dusty October 8, 2013 at 6:49 am

I thought the same thing, cause I have no idea how she feeds all those people.


The Prudent Homemaker October 8, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Sara, it’s not something that we feel right about doing.


The Prudent Homemaker October 8, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Plus, my pantry is far from empty!


Sara October 9, 2013 at 10:35 am

I did wonder if it was a personal belief that you held. And you’re right, your family seems to be surviving and thriving!

Thanks for sharing.


dusty October 8, 2013 at 6:54 am

I would love to know how to use coupons correctly. I cut them out of the Sunday paper and it adds up to about 2.00. I tried getting on different coupon websites but I never see anything I buy or need a coupon for, the same problem with manufacturer websites, the coupons are never for products I use. I don’t have a smart phone so getting them that way is out. I would love to get some coupons for lettuce or avocados? How do you do that? If I missing something, please someone let me know. Thanks


megyn October 8, 2013 at 7:16 am

I avoid the candy drama by purchasing non-candy items to give out (it also has to do with reducing waste & the crappy contents of most candies). Last year, I gave out organic raisins, and this year I’m giving out little packages of crayons and stickers. As long as I keep them away from our boys, I’m good to go.

I was excited about the Prudent Homemaker site, but she reminds me of THOSE frugal people that scratch everything just to save a dime…like getting rid of cell phones and telling people to get rid of their pets. If we’re going THAT route, my kids are WAY more expensive than my pets. UGH!

I do LOVE that tire house…and to do that with two young kids AND both parents teaching full-time?! Heroes!


The Prudent Homemaker October 8, 2013 at 8:16 pm


Our income was cut 75%. We had 8 months of no income in 2007 (not a job loss, but my husband is in real estate and no one was buying while the houses were literally dropping $10,000 a month in value) and our income has continued to decreased drastically since then. Our mortgage was 25% of our income when we purchased our house. Now our income is barely more than that–and renting a place would be more money than where we’re at now.

So, yes, we’re extremely frugal out of need, but we also find ways to make life beautiful, even with long-term poverty-level income.


megyn October 9, 2013 at 6:35 am

I have no problems with frugality when needed, but the whole “get rid of pets” thing is a HUGE issue. Our family barely gets by, and we do what we have to in order to get by. BUT I would NEVER get rid of a pet for the mere fact that they cost money. I’ve taken side jobs or done what’s needed to ensure my pets are properly cared for. In my opinion, if you adopt a pet, you adopt for life. Their life is no more or no less valuable than mine. Getting rid of a pet due to price is showing your children that their hungry tummies are FAR more important than that of their dog’s or cat’s along with teaching them that they can just shirk responsibility for a living thing rather than doing what’s needed to continue to care for it. Like I said, if you were THAT concerned with money, get rid of the kids, not the far cheaper pets.


The Prudent Homemaker October 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm


Here’s where I’m coming from.

I know too many people who have lost their homes, and cannot afford to buy food for their own children, but are still buying pet food. When it’s that bad, it might be a good idea to find a new home for a pet in a loving family who can take care of that pet and afford to feed it, rather than making one’s own 3 children go without food to feed 3 cats. I so wish I wasn’t giving a real example.

I think it’s okay to find a new home for your animals, where they will be loved and fed, rather than finding a new home for your children. That’s just me. If you feel the other way, well, I think that tells your children a whole different message. If you’re faced with homelessness, the children need to come first, not the pets. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.


marie October 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I’m in Canada and we don’t get anything like the coupons you do in the US. The only ones that come in the newspaper are for products I never use….though we did get some good cat food ones at the store a few months ago and used them at all the sales.
The way I save money on groceries is to make the majority of our food from scratch. I no longer buy lotion, shampoo, soap, cleaning products, those items besides being bad for the environment are bad for your wallet.
The link you posted about the cheap toys and working conditions in China is one of the reasons I avoid shopping except for thrift stores…and that’s also good for my wallet.
I also have to add(to be fair) that’s it’s just me and my husband here-apart from the 2 greedy kitties. So or grocery shopping is lighter than most. Oh! another confession I also have a problem with the Halloween candy….my husband hides it from me, and he’s good at it too…I know because when I hunt for it after he goes to bed I can never find it 🙂


Katy October 8, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I am so happy that I’m not the only woman who is unable to coexist in a house with unopened chocolate candy!



The Prudent Homemaker October 8, 2013 at 8:23 pm


Thanks for the linky love today! I had the sweetest comment from one of your readers on Facebook who came over from the link! She said, “I just read your blog for the first time and I am blown away! I love it! I mean LOVE IT!”

Thanks Katy!


Katy October 9, 2013 at 3:17 am

I just found your website and blog as well. I look forward to delving through the archives.



Maggie October 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Couponers don’t always have unrealistic amounts of shampoo hidden away! A lot of my friends who I clip coupons with do, but I’ve gotten really good at only using them for things we’ll use. If I find a deal where an item is free or close to it, I’ll buy it and donate it, but for the most part our pantry and cabinets are free of excess crap. We shave 30-40% off of every trip to the commissary!


Katy October 9, 2013 at 3:15 am

I know. I’m just referring to the typical couponers profiled in the TV show “Extreme Couponing.”



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