Commissary Day Recap
I thought I’d give you a picture essay about my Commissary Day yesterday.
In the front of the store, there is a little lounge area with free coffee and a big coupon exchange section. We stopped there first so that I could get my coupons in order.
Then we began. There is a method to shopping for every three months.
The first is expect to spend a lot of time in the store. If you have young children, like me, expect them to want snacks, be entertained, need a drink, need a nap, have a fit. It comes with it. I had two carts. This first one has two levels of carts. In the top, I put the boys’ “things” including their leftover lunch from Burger King. I did use the bottom to put some groceries, but I really saved it for the end.
Here is Jeb at nap time:
The next thing to expect is that you’re going to need more than one cart. I pushed the boys and pulled a cart. At aisle 8, the cart was full and I had to park it and get another one.
If you use coupons, you need to be organized with them. I organize mine by how items are grouped in the store so that when I get to a specific aisle, I can pull out a stack of coupons instead of a huge binder and just quickly sort through them. I only bring coupons that I’ll actually use. Our local paper does not have a Sunday issue, so to get full advantage of Sunday coupons, I use CouponMom.com. I collect coupons for several weeks before my planned excursion.
Carry a calculator with you. Sometimes, the best deal isn’t the best deal, and until you figure it out, you don’t know. For instance, yesterday Kraft Mac & Cheese was on sale, 5 boxes for $4. They had shrink-wrapped 6 boxes for $5. Which is the better deal? The advertised sale is not the better deal.
I go down every single aisle, even if I don’t think I need something. Because chances are good there’s something that’s not on the front of my mind that I’m going to see when go by it and realize that I need it (an example from yesterday: oven cleaner.)
I filled 3 carts (though in fairness, one of them was the little cart the boys were in and that only had meat in it.)
The best way to figure out how to shop in such bulk is to pay attention to what you use. Write down the supplies you use and the items you run out of every week, then every month, then every three months. Write down your menu every week, then every month, then see what you’ve eaten in three months. That gives you an idea of how you need to stock up to get through three months.
My total was $1,016. That’s a large number. It’s hard to spend money on groceries with a number that requires a comma separator. But I saved $17 with coupons (which isn’t “a lot” in terms of what I spent, but because I don’t use a lot of pre-packaged items, there often aren’t coupons available for what I do use – and I don’t buy something just because I have a coupon), and other than a weekly trip for produce and milk/eggs/etc., I won’t have to go grocery shopping until sometime in January. Basically, I spent $340 a month for the base staples and meats for my family of 5.
The boys were amazing. More than one person stopped me to “congratulate” me on having such well behaved children. That always makes me happy. Here we are letting them shake their jiggles out before our 2-hour ride home:
So, now I have $1000 worth of groceries. What do I do with them?
The important thing is to start with a clean storage area. Clean out your refrigerator before you go. Straighten your freezer, organize your shelves.
I am blessed in that I have a huge laundry/utility room. We’ve put shelves in there that allow me to stockpile in large amounts.
The shelves are organized and at a glance, I can easily tell what I have, what I need, what I don’t need.
In my freezer downstairs, I keep dinner meats.
In the freezer upstairs, I keep breakfast meats.
Notice in the fridge those big bulk hamburger meats? Today I will weigh them and break them into 1-pound packages, then use my seal-a-meal and seal them for storage in the downstairs freezer. I saved 80 cents a pound buying the meat that way.
And, I’d like to thank you sincerely for reading this blog. It’s because of you that I got all of my groceries put away last night – so I could take pictures. Putting groceries away is the only chore I like less than laundry – and that’s saying a lot. :-)
I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
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It’s so funny to see someone shop the way I do although yours is on a tad bigger scale to account for the longer cycle (generally I walk out of Sam’s each month with a cart and a half). Thanks for cataloging this. I may hit you up regarding menu planning at some point. I’ve never been good at that because of my shoot from the hip type cooking, but saving money may win out!
Di – I’d do Sam’s if it was cheaper than the commissary. I checked one day – I went in with my commissary receipt and spent about an hour cost-comparing. I save a significant amount at the commissary, even with the 2-hour drive. Even flour – if I bought a 50-pound bag of flour at Sam’s, I’d spend more than if I bought 5 10-pound bags at the commissary. It’s crazy!
SOME things are cheaper – dog food, heavy cream (I use it to make my milk), some produce. So, I go to Sam’s about once a month (and spend WAY too much buying things like WWII memorabilia books – lol.)
You are awesome. I don’t have the time or the patience to do that. I can’t even shop with Nolan any more. I end up forgetting half of what I went in for because he’s too distracting. It’s not his fault. So I try to only shop when he’s at MDO. But once a year, after we get our tax refund we go to Walmart and do a major stock up. We also have the case lot sale twice a year so I buy staples then like trash bags, TP, ketchup, etc. I wish we had a commissary.
Wow! You guys are stocked for the next year! We’re not sure we have enough food in our house to last until M gets paid on Tuesday. LOL Good job!
Wow, I’m quite impressed….not so much with the volume of food, but with the behavior of your children. LOL Just kidding, I’m actually impressed with both. I’ve tried shopping every two weeks, instead of every week, and it has yet to work for me. Those stops in the store just for milk/produce/eggs would kill out budget.
I have 5, ages 7 and under, and I’m at the point where I only want to shop with 1 or 2 of them at a time. I hate being away from my husband while shopping, but I need my sanity!
wow! that’s a lot of food! i only wish i had the storage to do that! breaking it down by month you do great! even if you don’t use any coupons! i was just saying to dh that i wish we had room for a deep freezer! i went shopping yesterday and have no room in my tiny freezer anymore. i wish i had gotten more but knew i didnt have the room!
Great Job Hallee! Although the thought of putting all that away, let alone carting it all in the house would be overwhelming enough for me!!! I dont think your total for three months is all that bad either! ;)
Heather: That’s why I don’t do the “once a month” cooking challenges that a lot of the homemaking blogs do. I don’t have the storage room for the prepared food because I’ve stored unprepared food! LOL
Dawn: Oh my heavens, it took me a long time to carry all that in. My house is not on a level lot, so I have to carry up a flight of stairs to get to the front door. Kaylee has a broken thumb and a hurt back (my poor child – lol) so I did it all. And once I got it in, I then had to carry most of it downstairs to put away! Needless to say, despite my migraine this morning, I don’t think I would have felt guilty not running even if I didn’t have a headache.