Isn't it funny how time has a way of changing us? Two years ago, I had mostly bare cupboards, an empty freezer, and a handful of generic condiments in the fridge. Now I truly feel like I'm living in the land of plenty. Nothing against generic BBQ sauce, but I'm not giving up my Sweet Baby Rays!

Fast-forward to today, I have an overflowing freezer, a full fridge, better tasting meals (by far), plenty of flavor, I've lost 75 lbs. (and kept it off!), and have set up what I affectionately call "The Market".

The Market is my pantry: not the little one in my kitchen, the one I've created for myself in the basement - complete with shelves (one sturdy shelf, one not so sturdy shelf), and a series of boxes for my collections. My collection of popcorn or my collection of marinades, or even my collection of granola bars. It becomes a collection when there is an abundance of an item that simply will not fit on the shelf. Not that I'm complaining!

What does all this mean to me? There is no running out to the store because I don't have any ________. It means I shop in the market twice a week, have plenty of choices in my meal-planning, loads of ingredients, a variety of lunches, 9 different cuts of pasta, more than 12 different marinade flavors, dozens of spices, nearly every cake mix flavor I've seen on a store shelf, and cereal - do we have cereal?!?! 5 different flavors of Cheerios alone!

Every 2 weeks, I spend 30 minutes straightening the market, doing any rotation that is necessary, checking expiration dates, maintaining a list of items that we're running low on. When I finish taking stock of the market, then it's time to gather a bag (or 3) for donating. After working with what I have, I know what I simply have too much of, and make sure it gets used or given to those in need.

How do you build a market of your own? Every time you see a decent price on something advertised in the stores, make a point of searching for a coupon to go with it. Search online for all the TMF coupons (Try Me Free). Make a point each day of signing up for some coupon, freebies, or anything that can help you save a little bit of money. I'll never forget how surprised I was to find a coupon for $1 off Butterball Turkey Bacon, which was on sale for....$1 a pkg. Yep, it was FREE.

The market took about 3-4 months to create (and that doesn't include buying and assembling the shelves!) and that included heavy couponing. To me, heavy couponing means completing a transaction, on average, every day. I shop often, even running the same transaction a couple of times or until I get stocked up. If the coupons are good enough, I'll spend 2+ hours on Saturday morning grabbing some extra deals, though I like to save gas and shop/hound during the week, on the way to and from work.
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7 Responses
  1. Lisa Says:

    Love the nickname for your pantry!

  2. Amanda Says:

    Annie's Market sounds like a very upscale place that carries a lot of locally-grown and organic items. And takes coupons, of course. Love it!

  3. frugalsuz Says:

    That sounds awesome! I think we need to see some pics...(wink wink)

  4. Great Post! Love the idea of having your own market! I hope to reach that goal someday :)

  5. I'll try to get some pics up tonight, I keep meaning to, but since I just restocked/organized, it's presentable for show!

  6. coupongeek Says:

    I wish I was as organized. I need to organize my Market, too! I'm totally with you on the craziness of it all. I was spending 4 times the amount on groceries 3 years ago and had nothing to show for it. Now, I squeak out at probably $40-$50 a week, including most household items (but not all baby items) and I have a massive overflow of food, after donations! Don't you wish we stumbled into this marketing dream earlier?! What's crazy is, I had a 2 hr commute just by train everyday and just think of all the Qs I could have clipped and deals I could have come up with! :)

  7. Coupongeek - I wish there was more time in the day for couponing! I always kick myself when I miss a good deal or freebie, there isn't neough time for all the couponing and shopping I would love to do!

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