Coming Unhinged at Target

by - May 24, 2010

To make a very long story short (because my three page post was deleted by the magic that is Blogger), I went, I walked, I searched, I growled at children, I was completely defeated, I put things back on shelves and donning a dress with Chacos and no umbrella, walked to my car in the midst of a torrential downpour with a sopping wet stack of unused coupons and not a single bag of goods after spending nearly an hour and a half in Target.

About two minutes into my drive home, the rain let up and I called my mom sobbing out tears of self-pity and loathing of coupons and unruly children. She assured me that coupons were primarily a marketing ploy to get you to buy things you don't need, and she had me laughing at what a picture I must have made for the people hovering at the doors of Target staring at the rain as I very pregnant and very slowly, passed through the crowd and unflinchingly trudged to my car, which was not parked near the door.

After nap time, I loaded up my people into the Jeep, I dropped them off at Bojanges and went next door to Walmart where I filled my cart with produce, dairy, two weeks or more of meat, juice, every last can of Carnation Instant Breakfast on the shelf, and was out of there in under 30 minutes to pick up my boys. I had left my stack of coupons at home and only grabbed the couple ones I needed - juice, Scooby's favorite snacks, and cereal. Ironically, some of my purchases came with coupons attached to the packaging. The best part is that I escaped with the remnants of my sanity still intact.

I think I've come to realize that couponing just doesn't work for me. It doesn't align with some of my ultimate food goals and ends up driving my purchases rather than acting as a supplement. I do want to establish a system for our family, however. My haphazard shopping and lack of planning has lead to frequent visits to local eateries, which financially and health-wise isn't working for us. Here are some of my goals. Please feel free to help me brainstorm! And please, don't bother telling me about how coupons are wonderful and do work and all that. I'll keep my eyes open for coupons for the things we regularly use (yogurt, cereal, juice, cereal bars) but I won't be spending hours searching and clipping any longer, and I won't be store hopping to chase the deals - except perhaps for diapers and wipes. We seriously rarely buy chips, snacks, deserts, specialty items, etc, so most (not all) coupons don't serve us much purpose.

Without further ado, family food goals:

  • Minimize the purchase of prepared foods, those high in preservatives, salts, or more than 5 ingredients on the label.
  • Primarily shop the center aisles for things such a baking supplies (grains, flour, noodles, spices, broth, tortillas, etc).
  • Utilize my bread maker several times a week.
  • Increase consumption of fruits and veggies.
  • Buy meat fresh in bulk or when on discount and freeze.
  • Cook a meal on the weekend that is good for freezing as single servings for Joe to take to work.
  • Plan out weekly meals to be made from scratch that are both simple and healthy... and Joe approved.
  • Shoot for grocery shopping only one day a week.
  • Limit the grocery store shopping to things that I can't make from scratch (or with relative ease), can't get at the Farmer's Market, or don't grow in my garden.

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11 comments

  1. I can help you Paige! Seriously, sometimes I think I'd enjoy being a nutritionist. I'm passionate about food & using what we have around the house to save & make meals with - thereby saving us money and eating healthy. I ONLY clip coupons that we use and yeah, that's not a lot. We don't eat pre-packaged foods.

    It does take a bit of a time commitment though. Ben and I spend about an hour a week just planning out our meals for the following week. Not including the cooking of course. But our list is soo much shorter now than before.

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  2. Thanks, Michelle. I'd really love some recipes for things that freeze well for quick lunches... especially Tex-Mex like enchiladas and burritos. I think meal planning really will be key for us transforming the way we do food around here. We aren't big into pre-packaged either, but totally get lazy and order pizza or go out to fast food if dinner time is close and there isn't a plan.

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  3. i sympathize. i wish i made the effort more to meal-plan. i think i've surrendered to the fact that right now it won't be happening while i'm working a full-time job outside the house. any tips you get & want to share are awesome. i love reading & culling ideas for the day that comes when i will make that more of a priority.

    as for the food choices, we are doing much more of that. it does take some planning though, so de-railing does happen. but i've noted a difference in how i feel & my waistline since we've made some changes to eat more fruits & veggies & less meat.

    the trick is finding meals that are tasty & delicious for both of us. eric's always been a less-processed fan so getting away from that wasn't particularly hard. right now given time & energy constraints, my biggest issue has been getting more variety since there are plenty of nights when a bowl of fruit & cottage cheese or roasted chickpea salad was totally my dinner thing for three nights in a row.

    these are days when having a live-in chef sounds like a plan.

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  4. I totally agree. I tried the coupon thing for awhile and I did manage to beat the system and get free mustard but most of them were for cereal, snacks, etc. And they all seemed to have high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient. They were all also for brand names that even with coupons were more expensive than the store brand or other brand names that are on special that week at the store.
    All of your plans sound super. For reals. 2 things that we also do (I don't know if they will work for you, but just suggesting): 1. we've started buying our meat at the farmers market, it's more expensive but I felt like we were eating too much meat anyway so I just cut back on our portions, upped our other proteins (beans, etc.) and the cost difference makes up for it that way. 2. the crock pot. Saves tons of time, smells good during the day & yums!
    Good luck! Let me know if you find out any more good tips! I've got a couple of good recipes for the bread maker if you'd like them. :)

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  5. Sharon, I'm with you on a live-in chef, but maybe more frequent shared meals with friends is a reasonable substitute. As of now, our life is entirely void of potlucks. I guess as long as infants are in the picture (or working full time for that matter), having enough time to prepare and share - and getting out of the house - are just tough.

    Regan, those are great suggestions! Already, I feel like we have cut our meat portions in half. Joe and I will share a chicken breast or an 8 oz salmon steak when we do opt for meat. Typically ground beef ends up on a taco salad, which lessens the serving size. I don't think I even realized that the farmer's market sold meat.. I mean it seems obvious thinking about it now, but my mentality has been that chicken comes from a store. Send those bread recipes my way!

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  6. I'm totally with you about the coupons. HATE the way they make me feel- so I don't even look anymore.

    And I have the same problem at 4pm when I realize I have no plan for dinner and am overwhelmed by it all. So I've started keeping an emergency meal plan list on the inside of one of our cabinet doors where I have record some super easy meal ideas to use in a pinch (ex: pesto on pasta or bean taco salad). It has saved me a lot of guilt about ordering out when I can't come up with something fabulous after work.

    Good luck! Your plan sounds good an your goal worthy!!

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  7. whenever you cook, make 3x what you need and freeze the excess:
    take a pyrex dish (9x9 or 9x13), line it with a piece of foil or parchment paper big enough to cover the whole pyrex dish. then pour in the food and put it UNCOVERED in the freezer. once it's set, pop the food and lining out of the dish, keep your dish, wrap the foil or paper around the whole frozen meal, and return it to the freezer. That way you keep your dishes, but you can fit 30+ meals in a smaller freezer because they're all the same shape/size. then when it's time to eat it, drop the lined frozen meal in the pyrex dish and put it in a 400 preheated oven for 45 min-1 hr, depending on what's in it.

    we freeze any pasta dish, pasta sauce (with veggies and meats), risogtto, enchiladas (I have an easy recipe for that too), soups, casseroles, etc. also, make 3x the pancakes and waffles you need when you make those, and freeze them spread out on wax paper then drop all in a ziploc in the freezer. same with herbs - put fresh herbs in food processor or chopper, pour into ice cube trays, freeze, then dump into ziplocs in the freezer. also garlic cloves freeze.

    we plan our meals around what's on sale in the produce/pasta/canned beans/meat aisles, and buy tons of cheese when it's on sale (shredded freezes well).

    a friend of mine teaches meal planning, couponing, and decorating classes at theintentionalhome.blogspot.com

    sorry for the novel. ;)

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  8. I just LOVE to hear other people say they HATE couponing!! It truly made my day. Clipping coupons for stuff I would not normally buy (no matter how great the deal)just means I'm spending more money. Is it just me or does anyone else feel that they might be shot for saying such horrible things about coupon clipping!?!

    Keep up the great work Paige... you're an awesome mom doing awesome things for your family!

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  9. Regan- you said it best. I couldn't agree more. I find coupons annoying and worthless in the long run.

    Paige- your goals sounds great! It shouldn't be hard to increase your veggies with that amazing garden you grow so well. Planning meals makes eating well even easier. Since D and I are both working full time, I've resorted to planning a month's meals at a time. I post it on the fridge and stick to it 95% of the time. We shop for groceries once or twice a week, and on Sundays I try to do a little prep work that helps later on in the week (making and freezing rice, beans, bread, sauces, casseroles, etc). We cook almost every night now (can't afford to eat out anyway!) Lunches are leftovers, fish is our primary "meat", and vegetables are our friends!

    I'll send you my favorite freezer vegetarian recipe for Sweet potato black bean burritos. If I can save you from just one trip to bojangles it'll be worth it (haha!)

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  10. Jamie, I'm so envious that you have that wonderful fish market! I buy Whole Foods frozen wild caught salmon which is way more affordable than buying fresh (at least in that store).

    I'm loving all the suggestions of having several recipes on hand and freezing stuff for later. I just picked up some pretty inexpensive vacuum freezer ziplocks and depending on how much time I have until this baby comes, I'm going to get cooking :)

    Anna, yes. I feel the same.

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  11. i sympathize. i wish i made the effort more to meal-plan. i think i've surrendered to the fact that right now it won't be happening while i'm working a full-time job outside the house. any tips you get & want to share are awesome. i love reading & culling ideas for the day that comes when i will make that more of a priority.

    as for the food choices, we are doing much more of that. it does take some planning though, so de-railing does happen. but i've noted a difference in how i feel & my waistline since we've made some changes to eat more fruits & veggies & less meat.

    the trick is finding meals that are tasty & delicious for both of us. eric's always been a less-processed fan so getting away from that wasn't particularly hard. right now given time & energy constraints, my biggest issue has been getting more variety since there are plenty of nights when a bowl of fruit & cottage cheese or roasted chickpea salad was totally my dinner thing for three nights in a row.

    these are days when having a live-in chef sounds like a plan.

    ReplyDelete

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