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   Wait, aren’t we supposed to be talking about saving money, and your first tip is to spend it?
 
   Yes! Because when it comes to saving money on groceries, a freezer really is a girl’s best friend.
 
   The fact is that you can store almost anything in a freezer and extend its shelf life. This allows you to buy items like meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables, bread, and even milk at deep discounts, put them in the freezer, and use it whenever you need them. For instance, last week, our local store put boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.99 per pound. Since that’s $1 off the normal price per pound, I bought 50 pounds and saved $50! When you save that kind of money on meat and groceries, the freezer pays for itself in six months to a year. Today, most freezers are energy efficient and only cost about $3 a month in electricity.
 
   A freezer also lets you store leftovers to cook and reheat a week later. This doesn’t just save money; it saves time and energy.
 
   Here are a few tips on purchasing a freezer:
 
   Buy a chest freezer instead of an upright—they are cheaper and more reliable.
 
   Buy a basic, reliable model. Don’t worry about paying extra for the self-defrost feature or computerized models. They just add to the price, and they are completely unnecessary. (They are also more likely to malfunction.)
 
 


    Don’t even pay extra for shelves—you can get cheap plastic basics at the Dollar Store or even just keep things separated with plastic bags.
 
     All you need is a good, reliable freezer chest that allows you to store food.
 
     Then when you see an amazing sale—you can stock up and know your food will be fresh, safe, and ready to eat when you need it. Honestly, this tip will help you follow many of the upcoming Frugal Friday tips.

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     A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about the exorbitant price of groceries. She asked if I “coupon.” I admitted that I do not. I’ve heard stories about women who get their groceries for practically nothing, but it’s never really worked for me.

 

     Instead, I use grocery store apps to shop sales. It’s pretty simple:

 

     First, I downloaded the apps to the grocery stores that are convenient to me: a Giant I know I’ll drive past every week, a Walmart I know I’ll go past on my way home, and the local store that my Dad will eventually meander into to see his friends. (He used to work there.)

 

     Then, I take 15 minutes each week and scroll through the weekly circulars from these stores to see if any of the items I like are on sale. Because here’s a secret passed down to me from my Mom and Grandma (women who absolutely loved grocery shopping!).

 

     Almost every item goes on sale once every 4-6 weeks.

 

     For instance, I love Breyers ice cream—it’s all-natural and tastes fantastic. It’s also $6 a half gallon. However, once a month, it goes on sale for 2/$6. I buy enough for a month when it goes on sale and put it in my freezer. Essentially, I’m paying half price for an item I enjoy.

 

     This is true of almost everything—if you stock up when it’s on sale, you usually save 40-50%.

 

     I never buy meat at full price—EVER. I wait until it’s discounted, then I stock up and put it in the freezer.

 

     The stock-up sale works well with any non-perishable item, especially paper products. Last week, one of the stores we shop at had our soap brand at a ridiculously low price. It was almost 40% off the normal on-sale price. We took that opportunity to stock up. My philosophy is, “It can sit on my shelves as well as on theirs. Why should I wait and pay more later?”

 

     When you get into the rhythm of purchasing items on sale, you rarely have to pay full price for groceries.

 

     As for my friend, she gave it a try, then texted me and said how much money she saved. Shopping sales really works!

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When I started asking friends to share ways they were coping with inflation in this crazy economy, one of the first answers I got was from my friend, Bethany. Her answer to rising inflation: Gardening.

 

Yes, any food you can grow in your garden will be better for your health and your wallet. If you freeze the fruits of your labor, the benefits don’t have to end when summer is over.

But what if you didn’t plant a garden this year?

 

You can still eat healthier and cheaper now and all year long by visiting a farmer’s market. Personally, I love farmer’s markets. (I think it’s hereditary—-my Mom and Grandma loved them, too)

 

During the summer, I love to enjoy all the fruits and veggies. However, this year, like the wise ant in Proverbs 6, I won’t just be shopping for foods to enjoy over the summer. We’ll also be buying our favorite items in bulk and freezing and canning some for the winter.

 

Yes, I know this is old-fashioned. But it’s also really delicious, really healthy, and a great way to save money. Here’s how to make a farmer’s market work for you:

 

-Buy in bulk. While 5 tomatoes may cost $5, a half bushel of tomatoes will cost $10. That’s a tremendous per tomato savings.

 

-Ask for discounts if you buy more. Farmers love to haggle and want to sell products. Give it a try,

     -Don’t be afraid of imperfect fruit and vegetables for freezing or canning. A peach that is slightly smaller or was hit by hail tastes the same and will freeze beautifully. They also come with BIG discounts.

 

     -Shop near closing time. Many farmers go from market to market and don’t want to load up their produce and take it home. Prices get lower at the end of the day.

 

     -Remember, the work is worth it. I promise you I’ll be telling myself this as we can, but I’ll mean it in December when I’m feasting on the benefits.

 

     Whether you garden or visit a farmer’s market, enjoy the fruits of the season!

 

    Just in case you've never tried freezing fruits and veggies before, we will be featuring step by step instructions on Facebook every night next week. Check it out and give it a try!

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Did you know that if you sign up for a store’s app, they send you coupons that are unavailable to the general public? This is one of the ways that I’ve been saving a lot of money lately—especially at grocery stores.

 

For instance, in May, Giant sent its app users 4—yes, count them—4 coupons for $10 off a $50 order. That’s a 20% savings!!! The following month, it was $9 off a $90 order. While that’s not as much, it’s still 10% off things I would buy anyway. You’d better believe I was choosing Giant over other stores that month!

 

Most apps usually feature a digital coupon section where you can scroll through and click on available manufacturer’s coupons. When you check out, the savings automatically apply to your order without clipping and carrying coupons. Again, 5 minutes of scrolling through a grocery store app instead of Facebook saves big money.

 

Using apps helps save money at restaurants, too. Many restaurants have exclusive coupons and even free food available through their app. When we are traveling, Jamie often says, “Your sandwich was free because it was BOGO on the app.” One of my friends told me she has her teenagers trained always to check the app to see what’s free when they are out with their friends. Why pay for fries if they are free on the app?

 

The same is true for many department stores—signing up for the app saves you money and allows you to participate in rewards programs that save you more money. In this economy, every little bit helps.

 

So take a few minutes and sign up for your favorite store’s app—-you’ll be glad you did.