Ok, as I may have mentioned before, I had the basic ideas of frugality long before I worked out how to do it properly. I knew I wanted to stock up on items we use a lot. I knew I wanted an extra freezer to store meat, bread, and milk at least. Some things I did right, like buying the freezer from the classified ads. Other things I did way wrong. I assumed that the best prices were always at the warehouse store. Sometimes a good coupon is better. Sometimes the regular price at another store is better – organic milk happens to be cheaper at a specialty grocery store than the warehouse store when I compare price per ounce. So, I started my price book. It took one afternoon at the four stores I frequent most. I’ve redone it since we started being more organically minded and added some items, taken some out, and added two more stores.
I still end up paying full price for things. I’m not a coupon queen or particularly advanced in frugality yet. Right now it’s about buying one or two things in quantity when there is a particularly good sale. Eventually I’ll maybe figure out how often cooking staples go on sale and be able to buy enough to get me through to the next sale. For now, I’m just sqirreling things away as I run across them.
One last thing. Make sure to use what’s in your stash. It sounds obvious, but I’ve seen people who collect food and products for some mythical rainy day. If you don’t use it and it expires or goes bad, that’s money you’ve wasted. There will always be another sale and someday you’ll be able to anticipate when that sale will be and stock up again. In the meantime, enjoy what you’ve bought. I have a rediculous amount of barbecue sauce, but I’m using it for chicken and ribs burgers and meatloaf. I don’t feel like I’m about to run out so I have to save it for the next recipe. That’s one of the great things about a stash, you know you’re never right about to run out of food in the house. If surprise guests come over, you know you have enough to stretch or throw together a meal. If a storm hits, you don’t have to fight the crowds for the last loaf of bread because you have two from the discount bakery, or day old rack at the grocery, in the freezer. Same with gallons of sale milk (bought on manager’s special a few days before they expire and frozen immediately) and batteries bought with the always available coupons.
Shop your stash and save money. Organize it in a way that makes sense to you – by color, by main dish and sides, by canned or boxed, whatever – and shop your stash when you meal plan for the week. Use what you’ve got and only buy what you need to fill in or what’s on stock up sale. It really will save you money in the end.