Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Couponing for Necessary Items

Of course, we don't need packaged granola bars, cookies, cereal, carnation instant breakfast, pre-made soups, peanut butter, mayo, mustard, etc, etc... Couponing isn't only for processed foods & unnecessary things! I promise!

Here are some things everyone uses:

Toilet Paper
Paper towels Napkins Deodorant Razors Shaving Cream (of some sort) Soap Toothpaste
Laundry Detergent
Dishwashing Liquid
Cleaning Sprays

You can purchase these things for very very little. Most of these things (ok, not the paper products & laundry det.), I've bought for under $0.50. I can't stand the thought of buying these things for more, now! I will substitute something so that I can wait for a coupon, if at all possible.

Here's a picture of some necessary things that I bought today:
These were items I bought from Walgreens & CVS. I spent $1.94 for all of it. When I paid for it, not only did I use coupons, but I also used CVS "cash" or "Extra Care Bucks." I had $4.99 of it (so if I didn't have any CVS cash, it would have cost me $6.93).

After I bought the items, I received $3.80 in ECBucks to use on my next purchase.

So even though I buy cereal & granola bars & Oreo Cookies in bulk when there's a really good sale, those aren't the only things you can buy with coupons. You really can get things that you use on a day-to-day basis.

Happy Couponing!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reusable Bags

When the whole reusable bag thing started, I didn't really jump on the bandwagon. But now I really like them. I use them for all sorts of things - taking a trip, dividing the food bag from the toy bag and such, taking some loose items to church that won't fit in the diaper bag. But mostly I use them for grocery shopping.

Typically I leave them in my car so I won't forget them, but I do forget sometimes. It's just a matter of making it a habit. Sometimes I need plastic bags for trashcan liners, so I purposely will leave them in the car.

You can get ones with short or long handles. I like the long handles because you can easily throw them over your shoulder. You can also get ones that are insulated for those cold items. They are usually $1.00.

Some stores give you a $0.05 discount per bag that you use, I'm sure there are more:

Farm Fresh
CVS (must buy the $0.99 tag per bag and remember to bring it with you, not sure if this is a great deal...)

Doubling Coupons

Here are some common places that double coupons:

Harris Teeter:
$0.99 and under doubled everyday.
Every once in a while, they will have Super Double Weeks: $1.99 and under.

Farm Fresh:
$0.99 and under doubled everyday.
$1.00 and under doubled on Wednesdays.

$0.50 and under doubled everyday.

I've seen signs for double coupons here, but it's pretty rare, and pretty random.

Farm Fresh

Remember for today (wed) only, you can double your $1.00 coupons. (They double up to $0.99 everyday). Click here for this week's farm fresh matchups. There are some printables that you can use, in case you don't get the paper (but let this be a reminder to get the Sunday paper if you haven't yet!)

A couple things I'm taking advantage of tonight (these are the final prices after sale, coupons, and doubling):

$0.97 & $0.98 cereals.
$0.99 tostito chips (coupons are in the FF ad)
$0.78 Ragu sauces (coupons are in the FF ad)
$0.48 14.5 oz Delmonte Tomato Cans

****To get the best deals at Farm Fresh:

1) Buy items on sale, preferably their rock bottom price
2) Combine $1.00 coupons with items on sale
3) Double those $1.00 coupons on Wednesdays (Strategy: On Wednesdays, a $1.00 off coupon is more valuable than a $1.50 off coupon. This is because the $1.00 one will double to $2.00, but the $1.50 one won't.)

**Of course there are some items for which you won't find coupons, so in those cases, keep your eyes open for the lowest prices on that item and buy it in bulk when you see that price. Plan your meals around what you have in your pantry!

Cheap Crock Pot Meal

This week (Today thru next Tuesday) at Farm Fresh, boneless chuck roast is on sale for $1.68/lb. This is a great price, perfect for stocking up. I'm planning on getting 9-10 lbs tonight.

Here's an awesome recipe for Crock Pot Bbq Sandwiches, and how much I paid for each item. (Hunts Bbq sauce often goes on sale for 10/$10, so I get a few at a time at that sale)

2 lb Chuck Roast. ($3.36)
1/2 bottle of Bbq Sauce, any flavor ($0.50)
5 hamburger/sandwich buns ($0.94)

Cut off the obvious fat from the roast. Put it in your slow cooker in the late evening. Cook, covered, on low overnight. Plug your nose when opening your bedroom door the next morning (especially if you're pregnant!). Pour bbq sauce over roast at your convenience, and break up with a fork. Let it sit on low or on warm, with the cover on, until you're ready to eat it (that day, of course). Spoon the bbq on the buns. Side with chips, fries, or fruit, green beans, or cole slaw - whatever you're in the mood for.

The recipe makes 5 Sandwiches for $4.80 or $0.96 each!! I've seen chuck roast for $3.99/lb before. Why would you pay that much when you know how cheap you can get it? Think about how much you pay for one at Doumars or Arby's....Lots more than that.

Have anymore good chuck roast recipe ideas? Comment and let us know!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Reward Your Hard Work

What tends to blow my budget? Coffee. We just love coffee. I would love to go to Starbucks (not loving Dunkin' right now for a few reasons...) every time I got in the car: in cold weather - a nice hot vanilla breve americano, and in hot (if I'm not pregnant) - a VENTI vanilla breve iced coffee. Do you know how little actual liquid is in a tall or a grande iced coffee? Hardly ANY! I can drink them in two sips.

Aaaanyway, I'm trying something to help me gain two things: to keep myself under my food budget, and two, to allow myself to get coffee without feeling $guilty$.

My strategy. I've allowed myself a food budget. This includes house toiletries, too. However much I UNDER-spend that month, that is the amount that we can spend on coffee NEXT month. Isn't that sneaky? I'll let you know how it worked for March. So far I'm doing OK. But hey, it is March 3rd. Haha. I'd better be doing well.

So if you're having trouble sticking to a budget, try and give yourself a little competition. If you're that type of person. I pretty much thrive on competition, and it's usually with myself.

For any of you who are interested, when I am pregnant, and it's really hot outside, I like VENTI iced vanilla breve americanos. Very tasty. And if I don't mind spending more money (or if it's one of those serious hormonal days), I like green tea frappucinos. Oh so good.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Our Priority is the Home

Prov 31vs10.An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11.The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12.She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13.She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14.She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15.She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16.She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17.She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18.She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.

25.Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
26.She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27.She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28.Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29."Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all."

I believe that a wife's priority should be her and her husband's home. I don't believe a wife shouldn't go to work outside of her home, but that her priority should be the home. Even though I am a stay at home mom, I have to evaluate where my priorities are too. I can easily be entertained by TV shows, movies, friends, & horses and still be home.

A few verses above (notice, I did skip a few) that I noted while reading this tonight:

14. "Bringing my food from afar." If it's a very good price and I need it (and it's not ridiculous), I'll drive far to get it. I don't mind driving.

15. "She rises also while it is still night..." I'm definitely not at this point. Sorry Mark. ;-)

16. "She considers a field and buys it." Sometimes us wives that spend more time with house-stuff have the benefit of wisdom in related things. Not that we shouldn't approach our husbands with high priced decisions, but to know that we have the ability (and responsibility!) to learn all we can about it and bring that knowledge to the table in order to make the best decision possible. We are capable of learning about something by ourselves and helping with the decisions.

"From her earnings she plants a vineyard..." The money that she earns (*gasp* her job), she does something fruitful with it. It isn't wasted, it's used for the benefit of the family: for savings or for something the family has been hoping to get but didn't need, or maybe to start an investment in something that may make money later!

17. "She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong." I need to get back to the gym.

18. "She senses that her gain is good." I know God will bless me for my hard work. I'm not doing this for a blessing (I'm sure it's mostly to avoid the natural consequences), but because responsibility bears good fruit in every case.

26. "She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." I hope one day I can come close to this, because I fail everyday.

27. "She looks well to the ways of her household and is not lazy." Am I taking an honest look at my house - is it running as smoothly as it could be, does it need some changes? What can I do, with diligence, to make it run well?

28. "Her children (and husband) rise up and bless her..." Children don't rise up overnight. But they will. There is a light at the end of this seemingly pointless, but in reality, eternal tunnel.

My Pantry is Full....My Budget is Hopefully Staying Unbroken...

My stockpile is running well. This week, I spent about $40 on groceries because I had everything I needed in my pantry already. Including meat. It was a nice feeling. I'm waiting for a good price to stock up on Ziploc bags before I run out.

When you go into your stockpile for something, check and make sure that you aren't close to running out. If you are, write it down on a notepad, and, looking through the flyers/online sales, etc., keep your eye out for the lowest price around. If you've done a pricebook and know what the lowest price is, it should be going back to that price soon. If you can hold out buying it until it reaches that price (and if you run out, try and improvise with other things), you'll be maximizing your spending plan.

This is my weekly list, usually:

Sandwich Bread/Whole Wheat Rolls
One or more stockpile items I'm close to running out of, that are at their lowest price.

I rarely follow that well. But as long as I have a good stockpile, I really don't need to buy much else. It's been really neat seeing my pantry stay stocked, and my need list stay small.

Recipe Book is Coming Along

My recipe book is coming along. I'm going to take some pictures pretty soon. I've printed out quite a few recipes recently and have put them in a 1 1/2" pretty green binder. With sheet protectors. It looks awesome. Pictures to come.

I'm really looking forward to having all of my "regular" recipes in there, plus a few empty spots for the new "winners." I'll make one or two new main recipes a month (to stretch the budget) and decide whether or not it makes the book. I'll probably do new sides more frequently because 1) I have fewer side recipes, and 2) they are less expensive.

My last post on my recipe book, I said I wanted to write the cost of each meal (to feed about 4 people). I'm just going to write that in on every page (not type it) because I think the prices will change over time.

Why write the costs of the meals down? To make sure I don't make too many expensive meals in a week. Of course that's going to take a lot of time because I have to actually know how much the materials cost...

This is going to be awesome, too, because it will contain all our family favorites that my children will be used to. In 2006, my mother-in-law made all of the daughters a recipe book of her favorites. Some of those recipes made it in my book already, and I just love that they can be passed down generation to generation. I hope my future daughters-in-law appreciate that! *Fingers crossed*

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blog Feature - email subscriptions

On the left side of this page, you can subscribe to this blog if you enter your email address, type in a verification word when prompted, then click on a link in your email inbox to confirm.

Each time I update this blog, you will get emailed, and thus remember to read it. :-)

Double Coupon Week & Coupon Websites

Harris Teeter is having double coupon week at their store. I am planning on at least 2 shopping trips on separate days (because you can take advantage of the doubles only once a day). Check out the Harris Teeter link on the right column for all the stuff you could get free.

When you print coupons from websites, you sometimes have to install a coupon printer. Downloading the printer hasn't bothered my computer at all. Coupons (dot) com is the one I most frequently print coupons from. Other sites you have to put your information down.

If you have a problem with giving websites your email address, you can make a completely different email address up, and use that one each time you sign up for newsletters/special offers, etc. You can forward that email address to your regular one, and put it under a different label and check whenever you'd like (I LOVE gmail!!). That way your regular inbox isn't filled up with a bunch of offers.

New Addition to Blog

This week, I spent some time searching out Virginia blogs that post the coupon match-ups every time a new ad comes out.

I have been wasting some serious time looking for good deals at my local stores from other people's blogs. That's all well and good except when they live in Florida or in California or in St. Louis!! Their sales may not be the same as ours (and I've frequently had problems with this...).

Anyway, I FINALLY landed on this website (you may want to check it out): becentsable (dot) net and it has some really cool resources. You can become a paying member and get other cool stuff, or you can just search around for free.

I like Farm Fresh double coupons & Kroger & Food Lion. So I added some blogs you can click on (on the right column) that will give you updated coupon match-ups that are in your area (if you live here in VA). And if you're like me and don't get Food Lion ads in the mail, these will help.

If you don't live in VA, you can find your state listed on the becentsable website under "Grocery Store Deals."

Let's see if this works for me. I'll keep you posted. :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Our Computer Broke!

Our home computer broke. The hard drive failed - thankfully only 2 picture folders (that we know of) were corrupted. Bummer, though.

With that said, we're getting a Mac in the mail on Tuesday probably. I'm hoping that the it has some cool programs that will help me with organization.

I've fiddled around with a couple of recipes. I made shrimp soup the other night and while the recipe called for chicken stock or water, I used cream of shrimp soup with some milk, and also added old bay seasoning! And it actually was good! I never do that, but the fact that it was good was definitely a confidence booster for me. Maybe I do have some of my parent's talent for cooking.

I'm still brainstorming about my recipe book, though. Maybe I'll head to Office Max to get some good ideas. Or surf the internet some (wait, surf the internet? Do people even say that anymore?).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Little Comedy

I was just re-reading my last post, the parts where I'm probably going to have recipes more than once/in different sections and I thought about a funny Friends episode where Monica is searching through her wedding planning book that she created when she was growing up. The venues, bands, cakes, and flowers were labeled, cross-referenced, and color coated according to their themes and how they related to one another. Maybe one day I'll be that organized, but by that time I may be on the verge of OCD.

It does sound tempting to do, though...

Ok wait, maybe I am on the verge of OCD.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Upcoming Goals

I thought of something cool in the shower the other night. I'm going to work hard to compile cheap, quick recipes that Mark and I like in a recipe book (with sheet protectors). I'll probably use a 3 ring binder so when I print out recipes I can stick them right in the binder. If they are in cookbooks, I usually type them out and print them out.

My goals for my meals:

Prep in 30 minutes
Bake for however long I need to that evening.
Cheap (Under $10 for my family)

My goals for my recipes will tell:
how many servings it makes,
what season it would be best in,
how much prep and also cooking/baking time it takes.

I might print out a couple of copies of each recipe because sometimes one meal may fall under other categories. For instance, I want to know which of my recipes are good for Sunday meals - those I can either stick in the crock pot in the morning, bake while I'm at church, or get it on the table in 30 minutes from getting back home. Most of those meals will be fine for using at other times, too.

My "tabs" will include at least these:
Basketball game nights (or evenings when we have to get out the door quick)
Sunday Dinner
Large get-togethers
A log of my own recipes (what I tried, what I liked/didn't like, mistakes I made, etc)
Crock Pot Meals
Quick Sides

Also, I want to experiment with recipes more. I think I've been cooking long enough that I don't have to stick to recipes like I've been doing. Maybe I'll do one recipe every month where I don't use one at all. (Of course I'll have some spaghetti on standby if something terrible happens!). It's time to leave my comfort zone, lay down my pride, and get to making some good creations.

Something that's annoying me is that I have a tendency to let food go bad because I don't have the creativity to use it in something. Celery, Carrots, Green Peppers, Lettuce, Green Onions are a few of the vegetables I often let go bad. I want to figure out ways to use them up so I don't waste money.

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!