I haven’t been posting as much lately because, well. . . Christmas doesn’t exactly inspire increased interest in frugal living and healthful eating. Three weeks from now, I’m sure more of you will be logging on for resolutions, but right now, that sort of thing would just be irritating, right? Anyone want a lecture on how bad sugar is right now? I know I don’t!
However, I do have to take this teachable moment during which we are all food shopping like CRAZY to reinforce a couponing trick that transfers quite well to The Poorganic Life.
Here’s what happened. Recently, one of my “real food” blog heroes from 100 Days of Real Food published a new menu and shopping list. On her Facebook page, she suggested that her readers should try to see who could follow the menu for the least amount of money. In my characteristically thoughtless way, I immediately commented, “GAME ON! That’s what I do.”
I’m such an idiot.
Why did I pompously claim that I could shop for and make her menu on the cheap when shopping from a list is the GREATEST MISTAKE of frugal shopping!
What?!? you say. I thought having a list was good. I thought having a list kept you from buying things you didn’t really need.
Okay, you’re right. I guess I should clarify. There are TWO KINDS of lists. In the spirit of the season, we’ll just call them “The Naughty List” and “The Nice List.”
The Naughty List is a list of items that you or someone in your family needs immediately, and you will purchase regardless of the price of the item. A list made from a menu is usually a Naughty List. That is why this time of year, when our holiday menus are pretty “standard”, a lot of us have Naughty Lists. You will waste a lot of money only shopping with a naughty list even if you “stick to it”.
The Nice List is a list of items compiled by a genius coupon blogger showing you what items are on sale AND matching those sale items up with coupons. If you filter through a blogger’s Nice List for the items your family uses, you will ultimately SAVE money.
Before learning to coupon, I almost always shopped at ALDI with my Naughty List. When I needed an item, I just tried to find a good price, but ALDI and Walmart almost never have sales.
After I learned about couponing, I began to shop with a Nice List, buying items ONLY when they were on sale. Often I could match a sale with a coupon.
Since I’ve switched over to Poorganics, I’ve applied the same principal even though Poorganics doesn’t require as much couponing. I know what items we buy, so when they go on a Nice List, I buy them. (Sometimes I have to research sales and create my own Nice List for Poorganic foods since there aren’t a lot of Poorganic bloggers.) Truthfully, I usually have a small Naughty List of items for which I search for coupons in a database. For the most part, however, if I keep up with buying items when they are on sale or when I have a coupon (whether or not we are out of that item), I can usually anticipate our need so that I don’t buy items at FULL PRICE.
Does this make sense?
SO, when I downloaded the shopping list from 100 Days of Real Food and bragged about staying on a low budget, I realized that I’d basically just downloaded a big ol’ Naughty List. Because a lot of the items were not currently on sale, I ended up spending MORE than if I had just created a menu from foods that I had purchased with a Nice List. It would be better to take the individual recipes from the menu and purchase the items when they are on sale. Following someone else’s menu is NOT usually poorganic unless the menu is written for THAT sale week in your area.
Well, how should I shop? you ask. Well, if you know NOTHING about couponing, you may want to start by reading The Coupon Skinny. But here’s how couponing goes poorganic. . . .
- Create a list of 20-30 items that you buy A LOT. If you want to be poorganic, don’t even include anything that is a “cheat.” Here are my Top 20.
- Peanut Butter
- Follow a blog that will show you when these items go on sale. Learn what a good price is for these items. You can even keep a price book recording the price variations on these items.
- Whenever your items are on the Nice List (on sale), buy them, whether or not you have run out. (Be reasonable though. Sales do come around again.)
- Buy enough when they are on sale, so that the item won’t show up on your Naughty List. (Items that are not on sale.)
- If you have items on your Naughty List, (I always have a few), look for coupons in a good coupon database. Even if you don’t get the newspaper, many coupons are printable.
- Make your menu AFTER you see your Nice List. Depending on the menu you create, you may need to add a few items to your Naughty List, but lots of times you will find that you can eat entirely from what you’ve purchased on sale.
ONE TOUGH THING FOR HARDCORE COUPONERS: If you want to switch from a couponer to a poorganic, you must stop buying “good deals” on garbage food JUST because it is free or cheap. (This is hard; I know.) Spending a few dimes here and there for food that isn’t good for you will take away money that you can use to buy more expensive, more filling, quality food. Instead of grabbing a bunch of PopTarts or cereals on sale, buy Oats and make some granola or oatmeal. Instead of sale crackers or chips, buy popcorn, nuts, or dried fruit. The healthy food DOES last longer. Also, make money at the drugstore so that you can buy healthier food. Focus your couponing on non-food items and just THROW AWAY all the coupons for items that you don’t want to be tempted to buy–even if they are free. It is actually REALLY FREEING! 🙂
That’s it. Any questions about Naughty and Nice Lists? What foods keep showing up on your Naughty list?