Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Deals to Meals

When I left my full-time job on Baby's due date, I instantly became a more frugal person. We knew that money would be tight living on one income, and after cutting back on all of our little luxuries, I realized that the last area of our budget with any wiggle room was groceries. I got really into couponing. Did you know that couponing is a verb? To hard-core coupon ladies it is. You know the ones; the lady holding up the line at the grocery store while the clerk calls the manager over to argue about some restriction on triple coupon day. That was me, for a while. I followed Coupon Mom's system and even printed my grocery list (for visits to several different stores) on an excel spreadsheet every week.

As I learned more about cooking, though, I eventually gave up on clipping coupons. I discovered that the best way to save on groceries is to cook from scratch whenever possible. No coupon on canned beans will ever beat the cost of cooking dried beans. You'll never find a sale price on bread that's cheaper than your own homemade version. I'm sure I lose out on a couple awesome deals, but couponing is just not worth the headache anymore!

Having said all of that, though, I did just discover an intriguing new service called Deals to Meals. They, like several other services including Coupon Mom and The Grocery Game, help you create a shopping list by identifying items at their lowest sale prices. What makes Deals to Meals unique is that they also provide a weekly menu plan created with items currently on sale and some that may already be in your food storage. They also identify the quantity of each item you should purchase if you'd like to stock up on enough for one person or family for one month or even one year.

The cost of the service is $4.95/month, but I just signed up for their free 2-week trial to check it out. It seems like a good idea for those of us who are fed up with coupons but would still like to save on groceries. I'll let you know if I am sold!

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