About the $5 Dinner Mom:
“I’m Erin Chase, also known as The $5 Dinner Mom.
I’m a child of God, wife of an adorable, supportive and godly husband and mom to 2 precious little boys (almost 4 and 2) with another on the way.
When I’m not couponing, grocery shopping or blogging, I enjoy date nights, training for and running half marathons, scrapbooking, hanging out outside (at 60 degrees or higher 🙂 ) , reading and hanging out with girlfriends!”
How $5 Dinners Came To Be:
“Back in late summer 2008, I began couponing. It started paying off immediately! I love to cook and I love the challenge of coming up with a meal that costs under $5. A few weeks before I started the blog, I’d shared with my husband that “this meal was only $3.85, or tonight’s dinner cost about $5.” One night as I was cleaning up the dishes from dinner I thought of the phrase “$5 Dinners”. The rest is history!”
First of all, you should know that Erin has this stuff down to a SCIENCE. At one point in the book, when she discusses meat prices, she says “I have tracked these prices for months and will share the best sale prices for my grocery store…” Kudos to her, I don’t know if I have the brain capacity to track meat prices for months. BUT since she did it, we- the readers, now have the awesome resource of this book.
You will be able to pick up great tips from Erin in this book as well as some great, yummy recipes.
For one: Erin stockpiles her freezer- do you? I took her advice regarding looking for sale meat “on the verge of going bad” (for me, I get it at WalMart) and knowing that I am heading directly home, this meat goes straight to the freezer. It seems, though, that Erin may have a deep freezer- which I would love to have- but it’s just not ideal for us right now. My freezer space is limited, so I can’t have too much meat packed in there, because then there’s no room for anything else.
Another thing I took from her book was having certain things on hand in your pantry. Many of her recipes (and other recipes I have found) call for certain staple items. So I’ve made sure to constantly stock up on these pantry must-haves.
Erin. Buys. Store brand. HOLLAAAA! (Sorry I had to say that) There is nothing wrong with buying store brand. I am a firm believer in saving money and this is one way to do that. I even cashed in my Honey Nut Cheerios for WalMarts Honey Nut Spins (good stuff).
One thing that I remember her mentioning was looking in a number of grocery circulars for different prices. You could probably drive through my town in one blink of an eye. We aren’t that big- we have one grocery store- Albertson’s and I think they know that since they are the only grocery store for a good 16 miles, they can charge whatever they please. Needless to say, their prices are very high- even their sale prices at times, don’t seem like sales. (Though I did get a box of Ritz crackers there the other day for $2.50).
I simply don’t have time to grocery store hop. I have to drive 16 miles to the nearest town to get to a WalMart or Food 4 Less, 20 miles if I want to go to the WalMart that the desert dwellers say is “less ghetto.” So for me, it’s WalMart because the prices are cheap and only WalMart because I live too far away from stores to go to a bunch of different ones.
She is also all about meal planning. Erin makes meal plans monthly (I do mine weekly) and I was so shocked to see that most weeks she only has leftovers once and some weeks she cooks a new meal every night!! Wow, Super woman.
Are awesome. Well, at least the one’s I’ve tried have been. Here are a few of my faves:
Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas
A Few Tips on how she does it:
Internet Printable Coupons
“$5 Dinners would NOT be possible if it weren’t for coupons…IPs, newspaper coupons and “ecoupons.” Although I don’t do “deals posts”…I’ll leave that to the other ladies and link you to them…I thought it might be nice to have “coupon source” here (you can print coupons from the left sidebar). Since I find them so valuable. And because coupons “are the next cool thing,” as I told Pauly Shore last week! His “backwards L.A. gangsta handshake is OUT. Coupons are IN!” (Sorry I won’t be able to get a clip of the segment from Friday…too expensive 🙁 You have to pay for the live segments. Tape segments are uploaded to their site.) About the handshake. Pauly Shore interrupted my cooking segment and tried to shake my hand. Backwards L.A. gansta style. I waved him off. It was not cool! Coupons are cool! He probably made fun of me in his stand up act that night. But at least I know I’m cool!”
How do you calculate your per meal cost?
“I remember the prices of just about all the products I buy. I generally buy the same products, so I have a good sense of the price. If I get something on sale and/or use a coupon, I will write the price down on the item with a Sharpie if I don’t think I’ll remember. I save receipts (mostly for produce costs). (Somehow the “price memory” part of my “mommy brain” is still in tact?!?)
For items like eggs, flour, ground beef…I calculate the cost for that meal based on how much it was and how much I used. So for flour…a 5 lb bag of flour costs $3 for me. There are about 22 cups of flour in a bag…so each cup of flour is about $.13. Eggs: a dozen eggs for me is $1.80, making each egg $.15. I typically use half a pound of pasta for our meals ($.50). Now that I use rice pasta for the boys, it’s a bit more expensive. Milk: Gallon of milk is usually $2.79, sometimes $2.49, so I calculate per cup based on $2.79. Etc. (And remember, I live in the heart of the Midwest, so my prices are likely lower than other parts of the country.)”
Other Money Saving Ideas
“Buy Store Brand. For me, that means buying Kroger brand! Everything! It is always cheaper if you don’t have a coupon for the product! I am not brand loyal to many brands. On occasion, brand name items on sale matched with a coupon will be cheaper, if not FREE!
Get a Reward Card. I save big $$$ by using my Rewards card. I also get coupons in the mail every 2-3 months for the products that I buy using my Rewards card. Ask if your store mails coupons to their customers (I know Kroger does), or if there are coupons on their website (like Meijer).
Manager’s Special Sections. My Kroger has “Manager’s Specials” in the Meat, Bakery and Deli departments. Prices are marked down on products that need to be sold right away. You can freeze it and use it when you need it!
Check your Receipts. Stores will likely reimburse you for the entire price of the product if you are charged incorrectly. Check with customer service at your store for their policies.
Take advantage of sales. Match coupons. Send in rebates. Watch the ads and coupon sections for the products that you like. You can often find “name brand” items for less than store brand. This happens rarely for me, but it is possible!
Shop with a list and a plan. Do NOT stray from the list. Impulses must be controlled. Impulse buys break the budget!”
See more FAQs here.
I love this book. It’s on my kitchen counter, I’ve got a bunch of recipes bookmarked for easy access to them. She has a ton of great ideas and she is quick to stress that her system is not one you jump into full-on, you need to ease into it slowly. I also think that you can pick and choose which of her ideas work best for you- that’s what I did.
You can find so much more information on the $5 Dinner Mom Website, including so many recipes complete with photos. You can also buy the $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook for yourself, I know they sell it at my local grocery store.
This book was given to me for review purposes by the publishing company representing the $5 Dinner Mom. All thoughts about this book are my own. Any information about the author and her system was taken directly from the $5 Dinner Mom website and was placed in quotation marks. I cannot guarantee the validity of these statements. See my full disclosure policy here.