Welcome to $5 Dinners.com! I am so glad that you are here. I hope this will help you get acquainted with the site. My goal is to make $5 Dinners for my family every night of the week. Be inspired to come up with your own “dollar amount” based on your family size and regional food prices, and challenge yourself to make frugal AND healthy meals!
Here is a general overview of how I do $5 Dinners. And don’t forget to check out all the Recipes that I have $5 Dinners I have made. I share a Free Weekly Meal Plan each Sunday night full of dinner, breakfast, snacks, and dessert recipes. You can also find free printables including my monthly menu planning template here. And don’t forget to check out my “Tips for Shopping with your Kids“!
And here is a compilation of previous posts and tips that will help you get started on your jurney to grocery store savings!
Internet Printable Coupons
$5 Dinners would NOT be possible if it weren’t for coupons…IPs, newspaper coupons and “ecoupons.” Although I don’t do “deals posts”…I’ll leave that to the other ladies and link you to them…I thought it might be nice to have “coupon source” here (you can print coupons from the left sidebar). Since I find them so valuable. And because coupons “are the next cool thing,” as I told Pauly Shore last week! His “backwards L.A. gangsta handshake is OUT. Coupons are IN!” (Sorry I won’t be able to get a clip of the segment from Friday…too expensive 🙁 You have to pay for the live segments. Tape segments are uploaded to their site.) About the handshake. Pauly Shore interrupted my cooking segment and tried to shake my hand. Backwards L.A. gansta style. I waved him off. It was not cool! Coupons are cool! He probably made fun of me in his stand up act that night. But at least I know I’m cool!
How do you calculate your per meal cost?
I remember the prices of just about all the products I buy. I generally buy the same products, so I have a good sense of the price. If I get something on sale and/or use a coupon, I will write the price down on the item with a Sharpie if I don’t think I’ll remember. I save receipts (mostly for produce costs). (Somehow the “price memory” part of my “mommy brain” is still in tact?!?)
For items like eggs, flour, ground beef…I calculate the cost for that meal based on how much it was and how much I used. So for flour…a 5 lb bag of flour costs $3 for me. There are about 22 cups of flour in a bag…so each cup of flour is about $.13. Eggs: a dozen eggs for me is $1.80, making each egg $.15. I typically use half a pound of pasta for our meals ($.50). Now that I use rice pasta for the boys, it’s a bit more expensive. Milk: Gallon of milk is usually $2.79, sometimes $2.49, so I calculate per cup based on $2.79. Etc. (And remember, I live in the heart of the Midwest, so my prices are likely lower than other parts of the country.)
Can you tell me about Cellfire. If you don’t want calls to your cell phone can you still sign up for the coupons? I do not have internet or text message on my cell.
I am brand new to Cellfire.com so I’ll tell you about my experience. If anyone else has more information or tips, please leave a comment and let us know! I signed up for Cellfire in less than 5 minutes. It is a free service. You type in your cell phone number and it texts you a confirmation code. So, YES, you do need to have text message services on your phone. You type the confirmation code back in on Cellfire.com and you can then go to the “ecoupon” page. You have to type in your Kroger card number. You can then load the coupons onto your card.I did not explore the other options, but it seemed like it was possible to get coupon codes sent to your cell phone via text message to be used at many different vendors. I did not sign up for that program. I got a free box of Oatmeal for my husband! Love that free stuff!I have received no other text messages from them, or phone calls!
How often should I check the sites to get new coupons? I’ve checked every day for the last few, but haven’t seen anything new. Is it one day of the week, or month?
First, “ecoupon” sites. Shortcuts.com adds a few new coupons every week (it seems). P & G esaver is on a 8-12 week program. Their current offers expire December 31, 2008. There will be new ones to load after that. Cellfire.com ecoupons that I just loaded expire TODAY, so I imagine you will be able to reload next week. Upromise is a program you can sign up for and get “ecoupons” that go into a college savings fund for your child. It’s easy and free!Next, printable coupons. I still don’t have this one figured out! I check them every other week or so. I also check deals blogs (see list in my Blogroll) as they will post the link in their deals posts. Many of the deals blogs will have coupon bars in the side bar that you can print from! “Deals mamas”, please chime in on this one!Last, check out sites like Coupon Loop and Hot Coupon World, as they have coupon databases that you can search for specific printable coupons (Thanks Mommy Snacks for this tip!)
Is it more frugal to buy boullion or soup base, or is it better to shop ready-made broth specials? I buy the Toni’s chicken soup base at Sam’s, but I actually don’t hear much about Sam’s or Costco being used in frugal shopping much??
I believe it would be most frugal to use boullion cubes over ready made broth. I have not done a price comparison, but think this is right. The BEST and FREE way to do it is to make it yourself. I do this in two ways. I will strain off the juices from a pork or beef roast and then freeze the juices. When I need a beef or pork broth for a soup, then I thaw the juices and mix in some water. Free! A great way to make chicken broth is to boil the bones, let the broth cool and then freeze it! After roasting a chicken in the crock pot, pick off all the meat and then boil the bones. You can buy the cheaper variety “bone in split breasts” and cut off the breast portions (for your boneless chicken breast), and then boil the bones to make a stock. I freeze the stock in Ziploc baggies!As for Sams, I am no longer a member. I have found that it’s cheaper to match coupons with sales at regular grocery stores. I used to just buy diapers there, but believe I have found a cheaper way.I do diapers 2 ways. I am very much a “Huggies snob”, so here’s what I do!1. At CVS or Walgreens, I buy the “Jumbo packs” when they are on sale and have a Extra Care Bucks or Register Rewards bonus. I also use a paper coupon. I then submit my receipt to Caregiver’s Marketplace (CM). CM is a free program for caregivers. If you have child who is younger than 5, then you qualify for the program. They have a LONG list of products that you can get money back by submitting your ORIGINAL receipt. Huggies Jumbo packs are on that list. They will send you $1 for each package you buy. I have received $14 back from them since I started doing this. My best deal so far was at Walgreens several weeks ago. Package was on sale for $9.99 and I got $2 back as a Register Reward (like cash on your next purchase). I used a $2 off coupon and then submitted my receipt. So I got a package of Huggies Jumbo for $4.99! I got more than one package for my “stockpile”. At Kroger, I use both the Huggies “ecoupon” from Shortcuts.com and paper coupon as well. When the Jumbo packs go on sale for $9.99, the final cost is $6.99 for a package after the coupon, ecoupon and CM rebate. Not as good as CVS or Walgreens, but still better than $11 for a package!
I was wondering if you have to give the cashier the coupon after each product or if you can just hand her all the coupons after everything is rung up? I have avoided coupons like the plague because when I was growing up I thought it showed that our family was poor. Now I realize it is smart to be saving money.
Coupons are definitely not to be avoided and they are definitely not just for the poor! Only the really smart girls and guys are using them! I do believe coupons will be “COOL” again, especially in today’s economy! My attitude about coupons has greatly changed in recent months. We are a one income family living in a two income world! I have now taken it upon myself that my way to “contribute to the family’s income” is to SAVE. My “job” is to spend a few minutes each week making money by saving money! I always have a STACK of coupons when I’m shopping, and yes, I hand them to the cashier at the end. (A cashier recently commented that if you have a “free item” coupon that she/he has to write in the amount spent on the coupon, to please give that to her/him at the time the item is rung up so she/he doesn’t have to scroll back through the receipt looking for the price! So help a cashier out!) I pay close attention to the “rules” on the coupon and to make sure I am getting the right product. I don’t like to get “beeps” at the register (where the computer doesn’t recognize the coupon and it’s trying to reject it), and I want to keep a good reputation at “my stores”. I have only run into 1 unhappy cashier. They are usually impressed with my savvy shopping! My favorite thing to do…call me cheesy, I don’t care…I love to give them my Kroger card after they finish ringing up my transaction. I see the total before savings amount, and then watch the number PLUMMET! After all the store savings and then coupon savings, my total is usually close to or more than half of the original price! I’m a BIG money saving NERD!…a smart nerd that is!
Other Money Saving Ideas
Buy Store Brand. For me, that means buying Kroger brand! Everything! It is always cheaper if you don’t have a coupon for the product! I am not brand loyal to many brands. On occasion, brand name items on sale matched with a coupon will be cheaper, if not FREE!
Get a Reward Card. I save big $$$ by using my Rewards card. I also get coupons in the mail every 2-3 months for the products that I buy using my Rewards card. Ask if your store mails coupons to their customers (I know Kroger does), or if there are coupons on their website (like Meijer).
Manager’s Special Sections. My Kroger has “Manager’s Specials” in the Meat, Bakery and Deli departments. Prices are marked down on products that need to be sold right away. You can freeze it and use it when you need it!
Check your Receipts. Stores will likely reimburse you for the entire price of the product if you are charged incorrectly. Check with customer service at your store for their policies.
Take advantage of sales. Match coupons. Send in rebates. Watch the ads and coupon sections for the products that you like. You can often find “name brand” items for less than store brand. This happens rarely for me, but it is possible!
Shop with a list and a plan. Do NOT stray from the list. Impulses must be controlled. Impulse buys break the budget!