Okay, I'll see how many questions I can answer from the last few posts. ;)
I've found stocking up a little at a time is the best way I've been able to do it, too. These days the only time I do a big "stock up" (and even that is not a lot) is when a great stock up sale meets a week I have extra money to spend. I'm always surprised how quickly the weeks go by and I'm stocked up on essentials, just by adding a little to the cart for the pantry when I shop.
I no longer can afford a very deep pantry overall but I try to have at least one or two of basic items on hand... and more of essentials. I keep a grocery list on the frig just for those items I need for the pantry. It's also a good idea to have a list (written or typed out) of those essentials you want to keep on hand in the pantry, as well as the "extras" you want to purchase when on sale. The older I get, the more I need to write it down... ;)
I do use coupons but I'm not what you would call a real coupon shopper. My husband cuts out the coupons in the Sunday Supplement (those he knows I'd want) and then gives both the cut out coupons and the Supplements to me (just in case there is a coupon there he didn't know I'd want). It's something he has done for years. It makes him happy. What can I say... engineers are a different breed of humanity.
I also subscribe to a couple coupon sites online (like Coupons.com) but I've found the very best coupons are available when you sign up through a product's website. Seventh Generation is one of the websites where you can sign up to print their monthly coupon offers, quite often $1.00 off coupons! Kashi is also good, they send out samples of their products which also contains coupons. Their last cereal sample had one $3.00 coupon and a few $1.00 coupon off of that particular cereal (which was also GOOD!).
I'd say I use the cut out coupons less than half the time because the store brands are often just as good and at a better price than many coupons. Also, I don't use many prepared and prepackaged items... which is what so many of the coupons are for in the Supplement and online coupon subscriptions.
I often find great coupons for paper items and coffee. Millstone has a $2.00 off coupon once in awhile which can be used on their K-cups if you have a store nearby that sells them (I think it is at Target where I can get Millstone K-cups). I also look for McDonald's coupons and other restaurants... very often a buy-one-get-one-free offer.
If I can save substantially on a prepackaged item with a coupon, I will purchase that item to keep on the pantry shelves... especially if they are also on sale... so we cut out coupons that are what we call "maybes". I store the cut out coupons in an accordion file folder which was originally to be used for greeting cards.
Since it is just the three of us (and two of the three are guys), we don't use a lot of toiletry items so I don't utilize anything like the CVS specials. One thing I have learned from experience... some of these do save money and I've also bought things I didn't need in the long run. But others have really saved money on much needed items.
This happened so often in my food co-op (we'd all order things we hadn't planned on ordering to make minimum order requirements) that when we went on Disability, my good friend just let me order what I needed through her and I wasn't tempted to order extra. Unfortunately, she moved to Europe.
I originally started grinding my own wheat in the 1990s when it was recommended by a doctor for building the immune system. My first wheat grinder was a hand held device that took a muscle man to work. We ended up doing some research and ordered an electric wheat grinder although I kept the hand grinder (it's someplace on my shelves) in case it was The End of The World As We Know It and someone could still grind wheat without electricity. Laugh if you will... :)
There are now hand held wheat grinders that are much easier to use but if you are going to grind wheat often, the electric grinders may be worth the price. They cost about the same as a good food processor.
The very best place to find information and to purchase any such items is The Urban Homemaker... here. Marilyn is an expert in all things bread making but she also offers many products that are of highest quality.
Our budget has been so tight, I haven't ordered for years (since before her hubby suddenly passed away) but it is still owned by the same family and they are good people. Her husband once called my daughter to talk her out of a wheat order because she could purchase the same wheat much cheaper closer to her home! That is character...
I expect she may know about Vita Mix although if anyone reading grinds wheat with one, leave a comment if it works well. Yes... there were at one time electric grinders that ground the wheat too hot but I'm not sure if they are still sold. Once again... I would contact The Urban Homemaker (link above).
Regarding King Arthur flour... I just found out from a friend of mine that flour which contains bromine leaches iodine from the body. Since I already have thyroid illness, that was good to know! King Arthur says on the package that it does not contain bromine.
I always use King Arthur flour for everyday home use but I have used other flour (good quality) for when I'm making large amounts of Christmas cookies, etc. Also... regular King Arthur flour can be used nicely for making bread if you don't have room to store both all-purpose and bread flour.
My old posts and other sites
The links to my older Coffee Tea Books and Me posts regarding Recession Ponderings, Stocking Up, etc. are located on the side bar under Deepening the Pantry links... you have to scroll down awhile. Clicking on each Label title will bring up all the past posts under that name.
After those links are listed, there are links to other blogs and then articles... all having to do with stocking up, simpler living lifestyle, etc. If you are interested in learning more, there is great information there.
Alas, I'm certain my old 1990s posts from the emergency preparedness website are long gone. But I've learned even more since then so that is okay.
We do have an Aldi nearby and I love that store. Just like any other "store brands", there are some items I like and some I don't. They are especially good for dairy and produce and I like to check out their specials (you can sign up to receive a weekly Aldi e-mail each week, too).
Perhaps the most import practice I do to save money and find sales is to look through the grocery sales supplements in the newspaper where they advertise their sales and loss leaders. I also shop about four different stores... three fairly close to me and one (Target) is in a nearby town. We usually plan a stop at Target when we are near that area.
I don't keep a written price list (suggested in the Tightwad Gazette books as well as in Laine's Letters website) because I purchase a rather limited grocery list and I know which grocery stores have the best prices on those items. The grocery supplements will tell me if there is a sale in a store where an items is usually a higher price. My husband, however, does keep a written price list for the items he purchases.
My favorite grocery store would be far too expensive to shop at exclusively but it also has some of the best sales (and it is the store that puts meat on clearance when it nears the sale-by date). Kroger can also be pricey but it has wonderful 10 for $10 sales, as well as putting packaged produce on clearance near sell-by dates. Wal Mart is not always the cheapest, either, so you have to know your prices.
I buy my honey at the Farmer's Market each summer and I prefer to purchase produce and even flowers there when I can... fresh, local products and it supports the farmers directly. That is the best of all... Well, in addition to planting something yourself. ;)
I hope this answers all the questions!