An elementary couponing trip.

Through someone’s Facebook status, I heard about Southern Savers and have been slightly obsessed ever since. I hate feeling guilty going to the grocery store and always knowing in the back of my mind that I could be saving money if I knew how. Well, I’m learning how!

First lesson I learned: Don’t try to spend nothing. It’s impractical, and you’re not going to get what you really need that way. My goal is to average about 50% savings between sales and coupons.

publix

This is what I got. I spent $45.64 and saved $47.38 ($38.68 in store sales, $8.70 in coupons) BUT, I forgot a $5 coupon at home, and because Publix is awesome, they are going to let me get that $5 back if I show them my receipt and the coupon the next time I go in. So that will mean I’ve spent $40.64 and saved $52.38. I passed my goal of 50%!

Southern Savers is incredible because she does all the hard work for you. When you get the coupon inserts in the paper, stick them in a folder and don’t even look at them. Every week, she will post the sales/coupon matchups and show you the best deals that week. Then you can just go find those specific coupons in the paper and leave the rest alone. No needless cutting of coupons you don’t need or won’t use. And you can print out shopping lists with specific coupon matchups to take with you so you can get in and out of the store in half on hour and already have your coupons ready to go. I feel much less crazy-cat-lady that way. 

list

I forgot my list (of course), but since Publix has free Wifi, I accessed it from my iPad in the store.

If you can’t tell by now, I’m a Publix fangirl. 

As you can see, I got 2 Freschetta pizzas (our favorite that we can rarely afford), produce, 2 HUGE jars of natural peanut butter, Ritz chips, Vanilla wafers, applesauce, granola bars, produce, chicken broth, crescent rolls, pasta sauce, french bread, salad dressing, 2 bottles of good olive oil, and 2 cans of vegetables, and I paid $40 (after I get the coupon money back).

I feel pretty good about it and we have a ton of snacks for our road trip to Texas this weekend.

Check out Southern Savers! There is an introductory video on the right side of her page. Watch that first — it will make it all less scary. J is totally on board with me too — and I feel excited when I get home from the grocery store, not ashamed or worried! That is a good feeling.

In the past I’ve spent about $50/week on groceries, which is a little high for just two of us, and I’m still sticking about to that, but I’m getting so much MORE for that money. My pantry/freezer/fridge are STOCKED. As I build up stock, I will be able to spend less and less each week.

Here’s to saving! I promise, it’s fun, rewarding … and slightly addictive. Give it a try!

– L

My go-to “milk”

BD Almond Milk

A friend of mine asked me last night what my favorite dairy-free products are, so that sparked this post. For many years now I have been figuring that I am lactose intolerant and experimenting with different products to get around that. This girl loves her milk, her cheese, her ice cream … oh, Dippin’ Dots … it’s a problem. I originally tried Lactaid, and used that for a while, but it is still dairy and I still had stomach problems, that I just dealt with for a while.

But, then I married my husband. He’s dairy allergic (his throat swells up when he eats it), so I knew I would have to buckle down on my dairy-free knowledge. The main rule I have learned is:

Don’t try to replace every regular, dairy-full recipe with dairy-free alternatives. You’ll spend a fortune. Find good recipes that are naturally dairy-free. 

Easier said than done, right? It’s a work in progress, but I’ve actually found that I enjoy not paying for all that dairy. It’s not the cheapest stuff!

However, our one consistent dairy-free purchase is Blue Diamond Almond Breeze. It’s soy and dairy free, which I love. The main flavors are Original (Sweetened or Unsweetened) and Vanilla (Sweetened and Unsweetened). They also have Chocolate, which I’ve never tried. J likes Sweetened Vanilla, and I like Sweetened Original. It tastes the most like milk to me.

I still don’t drink it straight like I did milk, but we use it on cereal, in smoothies, and the Original works beautifully in every recipe I need milk for (Vanilla does not. Trust us, we’ve tried. Sweet Vanilla Almond Chicken and Rice Soup was not a hit).

I’ve also tried So Delicious Coconut Milk, which was much too strong for me, and rice milk, which I didn’t enjoy at all. I still miss my real milk, but Almond Milk is a fantastic second choice. Another fun feature is that because it isn’t dairy, it has a much longer shelf life. We never hit the expiration date on these, and when it’s on sale I can stock up.

Speaking of which, it’s on sale 2/$5 at Publix this next week, and some stores have an extra $0.55 coupon! Go try it. It’s normally $3.25 at our Publix, or $2.88 at our Walmart (which doesn’t always have all the flavors in stock).

Have a lovely, dairy-free Thursday!

Lauren

Moleskine Monday

At some point I might actually establish a schedule of what I post on what days, but until then — I’m feeling some Moleskine love today.

moleskine

My weekly planner has lived in my purse since my freshman year of college. I somehow survived one semester without one (and missed a few assignments due to said lack), and have used one daily ever since. I originally started with the small version, but I upgraded to the large a few years ago and have loved it.

As seen from the above picture, the left side of each opening is a week’s schedule, and the right side is a ruled sheet that I use for notes/lists.

I am a scheduler & list-maker and always will be, so I realize I am probably more excited about these than the general public, but I highly recommend these planners to anyone and everyone. Mine keeps me sane, organized, and it’s a wonderful place to keep my lists and even coupons in the handy little pocket in the back. There’s a handy bookmark to easily find the current week, and there’s an elastic strap that keeps it tightly closed so it doesn’t get wrinkled up in your purse.

Also, there’s fun little stickers to remind you of bills, vacations, anniversaries, etc.

Get one! They’re cheap, and they even have 18-month versions that start in July, so get one today! This is the exact one I have.