31 Ways to Save in 2011: Saving on meat


One of the most common questions I get asked by people who read my blog is – how do you save on meat?? If you read my Menu Planning Monday posts, you’ll see that we really do eat meat  So, the answer is ~ I stockpile meat, too! A few years ago for Christmas, I told my husband that all I wanted was a second freezer for my garage, and Santa came through. So, we have a freezer that is basically full of meat and I ONLY but meat when I get an awesome deal on it, so if there is a great deal on meat one week, I might put the bulk of my grocery budget for that week toward meat and the basics (milk, bread).

Here are a few tips for saving on meat:
*Look for markdowns – Every grocery store I have ever been to has a section for marked down meat. Sometimes they do these markdowns early in the morning and other stores will do them late at night. Over time, I have managed to figure out when my stores do these markdowns which kind of gives me “first dibs” at the newly marked down items. It never hurts to ask at your store about when they do the markdowns so you have a heads up.  From my experience, marked down meat is typically 30-50% off the original price.

*Use your OYNO catalinas – When I post the grocery deals and match-ups, I typically also post any good catalina deals that are going on. I use the “OYNO” (on your next offer or on your next purchase) catalinas to help offset the cost of things like meat because there aren’t coupons for those items very often. Sometimes there are also wine tag coupons for meat and every now and then, I get personalized customer loyalty card coupons for a certain dollar amount off of a meat purchase.

*Look for good sales and stock up when meat is on sale – I pretty much only buy meat if I can find a good deal. Here are some examples of what I consider good stock up prices for meat:

Beef roasts – $.99/lb-$1.99/lb (yes, you can really get it for that cheap on sale – I’ve got several roasts in my freezer right now to prove it)

Beef round steak – $.99/lb

Ground beef – we ONLY use the 93/7 lean beef, so $1.99/lb is a “stock up” price on this for me

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – $.99-$1.69/lb (it’s hard to find it for $.99/lb these days although it does happen every now and then…so, I consider $1.69 to be my “stock up” price when I’m getting low) – I know that “bone in” chicken or whole chickens are much cheaper but this is much more convenient for me, so I’m willing to pay more

Pork chops (again I buy boneless) – $$.99-$1.39/lb

Pork spare ribs – $.77/lb-$.99/lb

Pork roasts – $.99/lb

Ground turkey – $1.99/lb (again we buy the 93/7)

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

31 Ways to Save in 2011: Start a change jar!


Two years ago, my husband and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class and we have been using cash for all of our everyday purchases ever since.  Since we’ve been on a “cash only” system, we end up with a lot of change.  That first year, I mainly looked at it as a “bonus.”  I used it at the vending machine at work or to treat myself to a Sonic drink first thing in the morning or during their “Happy Hour” when they are 1/2 off.

Last year, we decided to do something different and we started a change jar.  Any time we would have extra change, we would toss it in there.  We started in January and by the end of May, it was full.  We were going on a family vacation and I decided to cash it in to use as “fun money.”  My husband and I each made a guess as to how much was in the jar:  he guessed $30 and I guessed $60.  We were both surprised to find out that we had accumulated $98!  Those pennies, nickels, dimes and sometimes quarters really do add up!

We filled the jar again by Thanksgiving and cashed out for an Amazon gift card which was used to help pay for Christmas presents. 

Even our kids have gotten into this and have started throwing and change they find into the jar.  After just six weeks, our jar is already halfway full!

If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to save this year without taking money from your paychecks, a change jar is a great option!  It works for us.  I hope it will work for you, too!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

31 Ways to Save in 2011: Saving money by finding deals at the dollar store!


If you’re looking for ways to cut expenses, dollar stores can be a great resource.  In my area, we have the $.99 Store and Dollar Tree and I have found some great deals at both stores.

Here are some of my favorite dollar store bargains:

Books:  you never know what you’ll find in the book section – I have found some great board books for my kids and some great hardcover books for myself by spending a few minutes browsing (this is definitely hit or miss)
Cards:  cards for all occasions are 2/$1 at both stores – you can’t beat that!
Coloring books:  if your kids love coloring books, you can’t beat getting them for $1 (and sometimes they are 2/$1!), and they usually have educational workbooks and flash cards, too!
Craft supplies:  if you have kids who love craft projects, you’ll find lots of great, affordable options at the dollar store!
Gift bags:  gift bags of varying sizes are $.79 at the $.99 store and $1 at Dollar Tree (these retail for $2-3/each at other stores, so this is definitely a steal!).  They have wrapping paper, boxes, and tissue paper, too!
Holiday themed items:  if you’re looking for seasonal partyware, you can’t beat their prices
Party supplies:  whether you’re having a themed party or you’re just looking for paper goods in coordinating colors, you can find it all for $1/each (cups, plates, plasticware, table cloths, napkins, and even banners or other decor) – I haven’t seen prices that cheap anywhere else!
Pregnancy tests:  I know it sounds crazy, but the tests from the dollar store are really accurate (I’ve got a 3 year old now to prove it!), so why spend $7-10 on a “name brand” one?

Sometimes you can even find name brand ice cream (Dreyer’s) for $1!

Just remember – $1 can add up quickly and if you end up buying a lot of things you don’t need, it’s no longer a bargain.  You may want to leave your kids at home.  Mine are suckers for all the “junk” that they have there, too!

What are your favorite “dollar store finds”?

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

31 Ways to Save in 2011: Cut grocery expenses by using Angel Food Ministries


If you’re looking for ways to cut your grocery expenses, but you haven’t quite figured out coupons yet, Angel Food Ministries may be a good option to help you cut your grocery expenses (if you are a seasoned couponer, this is probably not the best option for you because you can probably get better deals by using coupons and tracking sales cycles).  Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization that has been helping to provide grocery relief to families across the country since 1994.

In the past Angel Food Ministries has offered a box of food each month for $30.  This year, they have a variety of boxes to choose from starting at just $16.  They have something for everyone, including a gluten free box for $25!  There is even an “After School Fruit and Veggie Box” which includes snacks such as applesauce, trail mix, carrots, celery, apples, pears, and oranges.  They also have steak and chicken boxes available!  There is no limit on the number of boxes you can order.

There are no income guidelines, but they do accept food stamps! All items are fresh and most of them are name brand. There are a variety of churches and other organizations in areas across the country that are responsible for distribution of the items. You have to place your order early in the month and then you pick it up on a specific date.

To view the full monthly menu click here and then click on “This Month’s Menu”

To locate a host site near you, click here.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

31 Ways to Save in 2011: Saving on auto insurance


Auto insurance is a must have, but it can also be a huge drain on your monthly budget. Here are a few tips for keeping your auto insurance manageable:

Shop around ~ Get new quotes for auto insurance from competitors every 6-12 months.  Circumstances change (maybe an accident or ticket fell of your record or maybe you’re not driving as much) and it’s always good to see what other options are available.  You can usually get a quick fairly quickly online.  If you really like your current insurance carrier and a competitor offers you a lower rate, it doesn’t hurt to call your current company to see if they will match the competitor’s rate.

Take advantage of “bundled” options ~ You can usually save more money on auto insurance if you take advantage of multi-car discounts or if you have your auto and homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance through teh same provider.

Membership has it’s privileges ~ Many insurance providers offer discounts to members of various professional organizations.  It never hurts to ask if a discount is available!  If you have a teen driver, also ask about discounts for good grades.

Take defensive driving ~ By taking a defensive driving course, you can usually get a discount on your auto insurance premium.  There are many classes available online and you can also check out DVDs to complete the course.

Raise your deductible ~ Raising your deductible (even from $500-$1000) can have a significant impact on your insurance premiums.  It’s worth it to at least investigate the difference!  If you do increase your deductible, make sure you have enough money in an emergency fund to cover it!

Pay in lump sums or by EFT ~ If you make payments monthly, you are probably paying $3-5 extra every month for a “service fee”  Make your payment in lump sums (6 months or annually) to save money.  If you can’t do this, look into payment by EFT because there are usually additional discounts if you choose this option.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.