June 18, 2015

How to shop smart using coupons without buying processed foods!

As many of you know I started using coupons at a very young age. I never go shopping without coupons. Many people think that you can't find coupons for things that you love but you can. I use coupons not only on household items but for my groceries, clothing, makeup, accessories, and shoes. For my online shoppers, there are coupon codes as well. The one thing I want to talk to you about today is grocery shopping.

I was one that used to buy so many frozen foods that were processed simply because I had a coupon for it and it made it free. You pay for it in the long run--with your health. I'm on the road to becoming more healthy again after falling off the wagon. Two years ago I decided to start my weight loss journey. I was overweight and unhappy. I was feeling lethargic and always complaining about the way I looked but I never did anything about it.

Finally after a trip to my doctor's office and a look at the scale. I made a promise to myself that I would never let go of myself ever again. I started to run, became a vegetarian, drank smoothies every morning and read every single label on every single thing I ate. I shopped a bit better when it came to food choices. Our family was on the road to becoming fit. I lost a total of 72 pounds and had gained my confidence back.

Fast forward to April of 2015--all of that weight has come back on. I was not happy. How did I start this again after I had promised myself? I was in school and what many of you don't know is that I also work full time. It's hard juggling that when you have two kids to take care of.  I spoke to my doctor and I told him I was determined to do this again after breaking my promise. I was pre-diabetic and the last thing I needed was to be subjected to what I've witnessed my own mother go through. I'm glad to say that I started my diet and eating healthy (with a combination of exercise) on April 2nd, 2015 and since then I have lost a total of 15 pounds.

I started reading labels again, writing everything down of what I ate and started meal planning with healthier items on it. I wasn't going to go all vegetarian again. Reason being that the first time around, my protein levels dropped really low and that's the last thing I wanted. I clip every single coupon that comes out in the Sunday paper and that I print online. On here you'll see that I'll do coupon match-ups for stores--lately it's been Target.

I want to just let it be known that you can buy whatever you want but I will no longer buy processed food. If I have a coupon for it, I just simply will not use it. I'm going to show you that you can still save money and eat healthy. For meats I always look for sales. I buy my meat at Giant Food Markets. You'll notice also that meat is much cheaper in the morning then it is in the afternoon. The earlier you go, the cheaper you'll find it regardless of what sale the store is running. This is because of the sell by dates are close by. You can always buy and freeze it. Meat can be frozen up to a year! Yes a year.
Before you put meat in the freezer, you should ALWAYS write the date on it--that way you don't have to question how long it's been in the frozen. Some meats, like I said before can last in the freezer up to a year. The list below comes from foodsafety.gov

Hot dogs - 1 to 2 months opened or unopened

Luncheon meat - 1 to 2 months opened or unopened

Bacon - 1 month

Sausage, raw (from chicken, turkey, pork, beef) - 1 to 2 months

Hamburger & other ground Meats (ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, & mixtures of them) - 1 to 2 months

Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb, & Pork

  • Steaks - 6 to 12 months
  • Chops - 4 to 6 months
  • Roasts - 4 to 12 months

Fresh Poultry

  • Chicken or Turkey, whole - 1 year
  • Chicken or Turkey, pieces - 9 months

Leftovers can also be frozen. We usually have leftovers and we tend to freeze them and we have a night where we all choose what we want to eat and I reheat everything. I could want the brisket I made the week before, the kids could want the chicken bbq I made days before that and my husband could want the pork chops I baked in the oven. It's a must that when we have leftover night, we watch The Incredibles. You understand the reference and comparison right?

Here is how long you can freeze your leftovers for:

Cooked meat or poultry - 2 to 6 months
Chicken nuggets or patties - 1 to 3 months
Pizza - 1 to 2 months

I'm sure you're looking at the top like "Wait nuggets, patties? You make your own?". Yes I do. I make my own chicken nuggets and my own chicken patties. I'll make a tutorial and blog another time.

You can pretty much find coupons for produce as well or use the coupon rebate apps. Those will get you money back and are worth every single penny. You won't get all of your groceries for free like you've seen on those shows but let's get real, do you really need 20 boxes of unhealthy frozen processed tv dinners? No you don't! Eat healthy, buy grains, buy produce, buy real food. I cook every single day and on the days I don't feel like cooking, I bust out the frozen leftovers. I just went shopping 2 days ago and bought meat, produce, breakfast items, organic juice, and some lit & fit yogurt for the next 2 weeks with my meal planning and I only spent around $140. Considering that before I scanned my shopper's reward card and my coupons, the total was close to $200.

I use coupons on sauces, ketchup, bbq sauce, butter, some spices, etc. You pretty much get the idea. But I will not buy processed food. I listed hot dogs up top but in this house the only hot dogs we eat are smart dogs. They are vegan hots and are so good! A little pricey but very good and worth it.

For meal planning I write recipes down in a planner. I buy my monthly planners at Target's Dollar spot. They should be around $1-$3. I like the big ones since I write big and very detailed. Be vigilant of what goes into your body. Be healthy, and most importantly stay healthy. Know that saving money and budgeting can happen when you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle and buying fresh and real food. Giant has a new magazine I just posted about called Savory Fast, Fresh, & Easy. They have so many healthy, easy, and fast recipes there for families that have a budget and they make it easy for us. They have the items tagged in the store when they're on sale. How awesome and convenient is that? Let me know how you make out and if you have questions, just click on the envelop you see at the top right side of my page and I'll be sure to respond.

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