Weekly Menu: September 20th – 26th

The last few months, I’ve been coming in well under my monthly grocery budget of $250/month, and I shared how I am saving to buy a quarter cow. Well, I’m happy that this boatload of beef has graced our freezer! Our Cozy Den ~ Feeding a family of 6 on under $250/month!

I don’t remember exactly how many pounds it is, but last time we got this much beef, it lasted our family 10 months!

As my husband and I were loading it into the freezer, he remarked to me that we had some old stuff in the freezer that we should use up first. And it got me thinking, “We kind of have some old stuff everywhere that needs to be used up…”

So I decided that this week is officially Pantry Cleanout Week.

I’m not buying any groceries. We do have some fresh carrots, tomatoes, and peppers that I’ll be pulling from the garden. And I got 2 gallons of milk free from WIC, so my grocery total for the week is $0.

I won’t lie, this is going to be tough. I absolutely abhor staring into the cabinets trying to figure out what to make with what I have. That’s why I usually stick to making menus, and my favorite tried-and-true recipes. But I’ll be doing a lot of improvising this week, which takes up a lot of precious brain-space.

Our Cozy Den ~ Feeding a family of 6 on under $250/month!

Some of our pantry stockpile!

A lot of this stuff came from random places — they might have been items I got for free after a coupon, that were free with another purchase, or they were located on a clearance shelf for pennies. Some are things people gave me, things that their family didn’t like or wouldn’t eat, or from a friend who was moving away and needed to get rid of the rest of their groceries. I never turn down free food! Other items were things I made ahead of time, when like homemade tomato sauce from tomatoes in my garden, or homemade cinnamon syrup, or soups and casseroles that I doubled and froze for later. Many of these things have just been taking up shelf/freezer space, and now it’s time to eat them!

I’ve never set aside a whole week for pantry cleanout before, but if it works out well, it might be something I try to do more often. It is certainly going to be a huge money saver, as it means I buy NO groceries this week!

Come on back next week for my regularly scheduled weekly menus!

Our Cozy Den ~ Feeding a family of 6 on under $250/month!

Bulk Shopping at GFS

Bulk Shopping at GFS ~ Our Cozy Den

I started posting my weekly menus this week, and I explained that the majority of my meal planning and food comes from my big pantry shop. I do this once — sometimes twice — a month, and almost exclusively at a store called Gordon Food Service, or GFS.

Here are the reasons why I LOVE to shop this store!

1. There is no membership fee.

Anybody can go in and shop, any time. You don’t have to pay to become a member like other bulk-buying stores.

2. Price are low!

For most products, the prices are lower per ounce than my local Walmart. There are some things I do still buy at Walmart (see below for what those are), but most things are cheaper at GFS.

3. Coupons!

I don’t really bother with regular coupons any more — like the kind from the newspaper. But I do love my GFS coupons! I get them in an email a few times a week, along with sale circulars. GFS often sends me coupons for $5 off $50 and $10 off $85. I usually wait for the $10 coupons, and I can also combine them with $ off coupons for specific products.

Bulk Shopping at GFS ~ Our Cozy Den

Chicken breasts for $1.99 a pound, PLUS $10 off your total purchase = BIG SAVINGS!

4. Gordon Go Points

I’m not quite sure the parameters for getting a Gordon Go card. I’ve been told by some that you have to have a business to qualify, but I’ve been told in other stores that regular customers can get one. Either way, I accumulate points on all of my purchases, and I can use those at checkout for extra dollars off my purchase!

5. Small stores

I love that the stores are pretty small. I don’t have to trek 100 miles through a warehouse with my 4 children. It has everything I need, and not a bunch of junk that I don’t need. They don’t seem to try to “upsell” me the way other stores do. And it’s mostly just whole ingredients – not a ton of packaged junk, which we try not to eat anyway!

6. Great service

Every time I visit GFS, the employees are so kind and helpful. They are nice to the kids, knowledgable about my purchases and coupons, and just plain friendly.

What I Buy:

I buy almost everything we eat at this store. This includes:

  • Meat: chicken, beef, & bacon
  • Pantry staples: flour, sugar, vinegar, shortening, olive oil, spices & herbs
  • Dairy: shredded cheese and individually wrapped cheese sticks
  • Snacks: peanuts, almonds, salsa, popcorn (I bought a 50 pound bag of popcorn last year, and it should last us 3-5 years I think!)
  • Canned goods: large 1 gallon cans of tomato sauce, that I use to make homemade enchilada sauce, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, etc; along with large cans of vegetables to serve with dinner or make soups.
  • Breakfast foods: oatmeal
  • For larger parties & events: burgers, buns, hot dogs, chips, appetizers, and condiments
  • Large bags of brown rice
  • Frozen items: vegetables, fruit, potatoes, & french fries

Most of the things I buy only once or twice a year, because the bulk packages last so long. Many last even longer, like the popcorn and brown rice. So in any given month, I don’t buy all the things on this list. I write down the things that I’m running low on, as well as the things going on sale, and things for which I have a coupon (see #3 above). I am always trying to hit that magic number of $85 to use my $10 off coupon, so I will get whichever pantry items I need until I hit that number. I don’t go too far over it, because there’s no sense in spending money on something for which I can use a coupon later!

This is an example of what a month’s shopping might look like for me – these are the items I purchased last month (in June).

Bulk Shopping at GFS ~ Our Cozy Den

My total was $91.50. Then I got $6 off the chicken, taking my total down to $85.50. Take off my $10 coupon, and my new total was $75.50! I also earned a $.50 rebate on the flour, and 445 GO points. If I include those as money saved, then I spent $73.

I will continue to post my monthly/semi-monthly GFS shops along with of the rest of my shopping with my weekly menus, so you can see exactly what I’m getting each month!

Things I Still Buy at Walmart:

  • Eggs – it’s cheaper to buy the 5 dozen box at Walmart for $6.99, and we get 1 of these per month, usually.
  • Pasta – the boxes of pasta are usually under $1/pound at Walmart. I haven’t found it cheaper than that in a long while.
  • Corn tortillas – we go through two of the big packs a month (the ones that are $3 at Walmart)
  • Small fill-in stuff – like when I make lasagna and I need ricotta cheese, or I make tacos and I need shells.
  • Chips – we don’t eat a ton of chips, because they aren’t healthy. But Byron likes to snack on chips & salsa, so I get 1-2 bags a week of the 64¢ chips.
  • Fresh produce – and I price match the ads from other local grocery stores to get the lowest possible prices.

GIVEAWAY!

{this giveaway has ended, winner will be announced soon!}

Win A GFS Gift Card ~ How we feed our family of 6 for under $250 a month! ~ Our Cozy Den

Fine Print: giveaway is open to readers who live within the service area of a GFS store. Giveaway ends 7/26/2015, and a winner will be notified by email after that date. This gift card was purchased by me (Christy), and the giveaway is in no way sponsored by GFS.

So that’s it!

I’d love to hear — have you ever shopped at GFS? Do you do bulk shopping somewhere else? Do you think that shopping at this store could save your family money?

You can find a GFS store near you by clicking here!