Saturday, April 30, 2011

Freezer Cooking: Taco Night

I had the makings of some nice soft tacos about to go bad at my house (wilting lettuce, staling tortillas, etc...), and since my husband had picked up ground beef on Wednesday (20lbs of it @ $1/lb...froze half, and put half in the fridge), I decided that tonight should be taco night.

Since I began freezer cooking, I think I've become allergic to making just one meal at a time, but I didn't really have time to "cook" multiple meals tonight.  So, what I did was this:

I took half of what was in my fridge, roughly 5lbs, and cooked it up and added taco seasoning.  We ate our tacos tonight, and then I bagged up the rest.  You can't really tell from the picture, but the larger bag contains 4 smaller bags of pre-cooked, pre-seasoned taco meat.  They are in perfect meal sized portions for our family, so whenever we need to have tacos again, I will not have any cooking to do.  I will just need to thaw it and gather up the toppings!  If I decide to make a dish that needs taco meat, I will just need to thaw it and pour it in.

This is going to be a great time saver on busy nights in the future, and it maybe took me 10 minutes longer to brown the larger amount than 1 lb would have taken, so the cooking time was pretty much the same.

Tomorrow, the other 5lbs is going to get turned into hamburger patties and meatballs.

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Sunday Coupon Preview 5/1


Tomorrow's paper is going to get the month of May of to a great start!  You can head over to the Sunday Coupon Preview site and have a look at all the great coupons you can expect.   You should get at least 4 inserts, and some areas with have a 5th Pepsico insert.  I stopped at a local store today to get a few items, and while I was there I grabbed an extra double pack of the early edition, to go along with the one that will get delivered tomorrow.  Here is what I found inside one of them:
There were two Smartsource, one Redplum, a P&G, and the Pepsico insert (and one of mine had an extra copy of one of the SS ones...score!), and they all included some great coupons.  Last time there were 4 inserts in the Sunday paper, not a single extra paper was to be found around here, and I was expecting that to be the case tomorrow, too.  That is why I grabbed extras while they were available.  If your area has an early edition, you might think about doing the same!

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Shopping Trip 4/30: Tom Thumb and Aldi

I did not make it out to the store last night.  Once my husband got home, we got busy with dinner and whatnot, and before I knew it, it was almost Aldi's ridiculously early 8pm closing time.  I had also decided to completely forgo CVS this week, so that was one less thing on my to do list.

This morning, I took my oldest girl and we went out shopping.  Today was the last day of The 4 Day Sale at Tom Thumb, and I wanted to pick up some of the Kraft dressing they had for $0.99.  I paid only $0.49/bottle after my $1/2 coupon.  While I was there, I also decided that I was not going to miss out on getting extra Sunday papers this week, so I picked up a double pack of the Sunday Early edition that our newspaper offers.  Yes, our papers are quite costly!  But this week it will be worth it (I'll post what I found in a bit).

4 bottles of dressing @ $0.99 each (reg. $2.99) = $3.96 - 2 $1/2 coupons =$1.96 plus the papers.

After this stop, we drove down to Aldi, just another block away (I'm trying to combine as many trips as possible since gas jumped up another $0.10 yesterday..sheesh!).  At Aldi, I always buy their store brand of whatever we've run out of for the week, and whatever produce they have on sale because they have AWESOME produce prices, and usually pretty good looking produce.

Here is what I got today.....excluding the cat ;)

For all of this I paid only $30.14 including tax.  Included in that is a gallon of milk, that was now up to $1.79 after being $0.99 for soooo long (I know this is still very inexpensive compared to most parts of the country, but I'm kinda sad about it), 3 dozen eggs @ $0.49 each, 3 large sweet potatoes that were sold loose at $0.15 each (of course I picked out the big ones), 3 mangoes @ $0.29 each, 2 celery @ $0.59 each, 2 strawberries @$1.19 each, a $0.79 cantaloupe, and that large watermelon for only $3.99.

This trip, added with yesterday's trip  and the meat purchased earlier in the week, puts my spending at $108.64 for the week for items that sell for over $200.   This is quite a bit over my normal $70 budget, but that sometimes happens right after payday.  Food prices are also on the rise, so I am hoping I do not end up having to raise my budget again.

Have the rising costs affected your food budget?

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Shopping Trip 4/29: Kroger and Albertson's

I got a bit of a late start this morning, so I was only able to make it to two stores before I had to go home for lunch and naptime.  I plan to do the rest of my shopping later this afternoon.  I had to drop some things off at the library, so I decided to go to Kroger and Albertson's this morning, since they are only a few blocks farther.

My first stop was Kroger.  I was running low on pet supplies, so I stocked up on those here.  I needed some cat food, and I have to buy an indoor formula otherwise my two fluffy kitties get awful hairballs.  Kroger has a large store brand bag of this for only $11.39, which is $4 less than the Purina I usually get.  I also had three expiring coupons for $1.50/1 Tidy cats.  These were on sale for $4.99, so after my coupons they were $3.49.  Aldi's cat litter has increased from $3.69 to $3.99, and does not keep the smell at bay for nearly as long, so I splurged and used all three of my coupons today.  That should last us for a while.  I also had a coupon that I had requested by mail for $5/1 4.4lb or larger Pedigree dog food.  The 4.4 lb bag was actually on sale for $3.99 today.  I thought that the coupon would beep and they would need to adjust the price, but it scanned the full $5 off, so I actually made $1.01 on the bag of dog food.

Here is everything I picked up at Kroger:

Total Shelf Price:   $60.83
Total Sale Price:    $44.90
Price Paid After Coupons:  $28.40 + 1.72 tax =   $$30.12 OOP   50% Savings

I actually checked out in two separate transactions, and it wasn't to get away with anything using my coupons!  At first they were sold out of the pizzas.  When I checked out I asked the cashier, who paged someone.  The manager was walking by and heard the page, and pointed out that the freezer was being restocked as we spoke, so I went back and grabbed my pizzas.  Talk about good timing!

At this point, it was already lunchtime, but I still needed a few things from Albertson's.  Luckily, one of the things I needed was going to be lunch.  Their 8 piece deli fried chicken, which is not in the picture because my kids were devouring it while I arranged the groceries, was only $4.99.  It was a bit of a splurge, but I knew we'd be late getting home and I am still not feeling up to par, so today it was worth it.

Here is everything I got from Albertson's (minus the chicken):

Total Shelf Cost:  $58.94
Total Sale Price:   $30.94
Price Paid After Coupons:  $25.61 with tax    57% Savings

As you can see, most of my savings on this trip were NOT coupon savings (that was just over $5).  Most of my savings came from just buying items that were on sale.  They are having a "Crazy 8's" sale this week, and most of the items pictured above where on sale for just $0.88.  All of these items, especially the Hefty bags (which were shelf priced at $2.99), were great bargains even without the coupons.

You also see that I got meat and produce!  Two whole chickens, priced at just $0.49/lb (half price) meant I payed roughly $2.50 each for them.  I already have two whole chickens in my freezer waiting to be cooked, but I for $5 out of my grocery budget, I could not see passing these up since I can usually stretch one into 4 meals.   I also picked up a little over 2lbs of fresh green beans.  We had just used up the last of what I had gotten from the farmer's market a while back, and they have since gone up in price tremendously at the farmer's market ($3-4 for a small basket full).  My bag here is probably about 3 of those baskets worth, and I paid only $2.20 because they were on sale for just $0.99/lb.

So far this week, including the 20lbs of ground beef that I had my husband stop and pick up from El Rio Grande ($1/lb Wednesday only)--that is what the taco seasoning and pasta sauce is for, I have spent $76.43.  This is already over my weekly budget, and I'm not done yet.  I'm not really bothered by it though, because being right after pay day and needing so many pet items I knew I was going to spend a lot today.  I should be able to make adjustments later on in the month, especially since I've gotten my freezer restocked up with meals lately.

What about you?  How often is payday (once a month for us)?  Do you tend to spend more right after payday, or is it about the same amount from week to week?

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Reminder: Friday's Are Mega SwagBucks Days!

I'm about to head out to do all my shopping, but before I leave I wanted to remind everyone that today is Mega Swagbucks day, so get to searching and let me know if you win big!

If you haven't signed up yet, you may do so HERE.  You will get 30 (I believe) just for signing up to get you started.

Swagbucks can be redeemed for many different items, including Amazon gift cards, which is what I always get.  You only need 450 to get $5 to spend on Amazon  (don't save up for the $25 ones or you will actually spend over 500 SB per $5, the smallest one is the best value!)

Good luck!

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

How I Plan My Shopping Trips and Some Tips To Help Plan Yours

I was hoping to have some nice shopping trips to share with you today, but I've been a bit under the weather and  getting out of the house just did not happen today.  In fact, I wasn't even ready to go on my shopping trip yet.  I had to be away from home most of the day yesterday after the exterminator paid us a visit, and so my planning got postponed as well.

I was a bit sad that I wouldn't have any shops to share today, but then I got to thinking that the shopping isn't really the most important part of couponing anyway.  Being prepared to shop is!  For this reason, I thought I would walk you through how I go about planning my shopping trips, and hopefully let you see that it is much easier than it can seem when you are first getting started.

First of all, if you've been watching Extreme Couponing on TLC, I'm sure you've heard that these people spend something like 60 hours each week in order to do what it is they do.  If that is true, then to me that goes a bit beyond extreme.  Now, granted, it might take me a bit longer if I had 30+ newspaper subscriptions to clip through!  That is a bit extreme, as well!  I suppose that is why they are on TV and not me! ;)

Quite honestly, seeing that show and everything that they go through overwhelms me, so I can only imagine how people who are new to couponing may feel.  Well, let me just say that all of that is NOT necessary.  You do not have to turn couponing into a more than full time job in order to see significant savings.  Of course, the more time you spend on it, the more you will be able to save, but you must find a balance that works for you.

Also, depending on what is on sale, and how many stores you wish to shop at in a given week, your planning time will vary.  For the past three weeks, I have spent hardly no time at all on couponing because I was thoroughly unimpressed with the sales at the stores around here.  Because of this, I limited my shopping to getting only the items I needed at Aldi, a store that mainly sales their own store brand and therefore does not accept coupons.

This week, there is not much incredibly exciting going on at one particular store, but several stores have a handful of items on sale that I want to take advantage of, so I have spent my day today (on and off as my children have allowed) planning trips to 3 different grocery stores and gather the coupons I will need.  I will also stop by Aldi, and I want to make it to CVS as well, so that is 5 different shopping trips, 4 of which I will use coupons for.  So, as you can see this is a pretty busy coupon week for me, but even including my shopping time tomorrow with 2 preschool children, I still do not think it will add up to over 10-12 hours total, and most weeks I only got to 2-3 stores, so I would estimate about half of that time spent in an average week.  Certainly not 60 hours!

So how do I do it?  To start off with, I browse through all of the sale ads when I first get them Wednesday morning.  Yes, most of them are available online late Tuesday night, but I can't work like that.  I like to hold it and write on it, but that is just person preference.  Here you can see this week's Kroger ad, that I have marked with stars a couple items that I will be shopping for:


Once I have looked at the ad, I begin writing down a list of the items that I wish to buy.   To help me find the coupons that I will need, I will go to a coupon database (my favorite one is afullcup.com) where I will type in the item I am looking for.  If there is a coupon for that item, it will tell me what insert to look in by date and type.  ex:  4/17 RP would tell me that my coupon was published in the Red Plum insert from April 17th's newspaper.  I keep my whole inserts dated in a box to clip from as needed (I do pre-clip and store in a binder those that I am sure I will use).  If the coupon in an internet printable, the database will link you directly to where it can be printed from.  Once I gather up the coupons I will use, I can determine how many to put on my list, and subtract their values from the prices.
You can see here that the pizzas, on sale for $1 will cost me just $0.50 each after my $1/2 coupons and my $0.50/2 (which will double to $1).  The next thing listed in Goldfish crackers.  They are on sale for $1.  I have two coupons for $0.35 off the graham variety which my store will triple up to the price of the object, so I will get them absolutely free!

When I am finished collecting my coupons to go with my list, I fold the list up, and place it and my coupons for that store into an accordion file that I have separated by the different stores that I frequent.  This list and stack of coupons is being placed into my Kroger section.

I make up other store lists the same way, and then place them into their appropriate place in my file, also.  You can see I have a few lists folded up in there.  I also keep a stack in front of any coupons for free products that I have or anything that I know we use alot and might need to pick up.

Then, when I am ready to go shopping, I need only grab my little purple coupon file.  Although I have a large binder, I do not shop with it anymore.  It is just too much to carry having a 4 year old and a 21 month old with me.  Certainly I miss out on some clearance deals at times, but that is ok with me.  Life will go on.  And if it won't, I live close enough to the stores that I second trip would not be out of the question (though I've never actually went back home for a coupon....except when I left my $5/$25 CVS coupon on the printer, but that is literally two blocks away).

I hope that helps explain the process of planning a trip by shopping the sale items that you have coupons for to get even greater savings. (Do not be my grandmother, who runs off to the store and buys the item the day the coupon comes.  Hold on to that coupon and wait for a good sale price, or you could end up paying more with the coupon than it is on sale for with out one the very next week.)

If you need help with matching up coupons to sales, there are many blogs who do wonderful coupon match-ups.  I'm not going to tell you which ones to go to, because they will all depend on which stores you have in your region, and in some cases, which region that store is in.  If you can find any blogs that are local to you, those are more likely to cover the stores that you have, so try to add a local site to your list of resources if you can.  You can also do a search for "(store name) match ups" and that should bring up some sites that cover your stores (be sure to check their prices against your sale ad to make sure the prices are the same.  Also, beware if they are using different doubling rules than your store allows because this can make your final price look drastically different.

I hope these tips help you when you sit down to plan your shopping trips.  Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you have any more pointers that I may have left out.

If you are having trouble finding a site that does match-ups for your stores, email me at savingmyselfsilly at gmail dot com, and I can try to aid in your search.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aldi Produce Deals 4/27-5/3


I love Spring and Summer because of all the great fruit prices.  Here are the things that are advertised on sale at Aldi this week in the Dallas area:

Cantaloupe        $0.79 each
Strawberries      $1.19/1lb package
Mangoes           $0.29 each  GREAT PRICE!
Avocados          $0.65 each
Bananas             $0.44/lb

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Free 5 Day Supply of Zyrtec

Go HERE  and click the box on the top right hand side to request your coupon by mail for a FREE 5 count pack of Zyrtec.  This could be just what I need to fight my allergies, but haven't wanted to spend money for it if it wasn't going to work.  Now I can try it out and see!

Thanks, Faithful Provisions!

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving (LifeChange Books)

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a member of their Blogging For Books program.


Recently, I received my second book to read and review from the Blogging for Books program.  I absolutely love to read, and there were many, many novels available on the site which were of great interest to me personally, but had nothing at all to do with the subject matter of my blog.  For this reason, I try to be very selective when choosing books, knowing that I will eventually have to write a blog post about them, and I want the posts to be relevant and also helpful to all of you.

I really thought that I had chosen a great book to review on this site, and that I would have many great things to say about it and that it would encourage us all.  I was very excited to begin reading it when it arrived.  Unfortunately, I was also very disappointed while reading through this book.

It's not that the book itself was bad.  I actually agreed with pretty much everything that was said in the book.  I honestly think that if I reread this book at a different stage in my life (like perhaps retirement), that it might then be much more relevant and encouraging to me.  I also noted that the book was first published in 2001, which was a very different economic time than what we are living in right now.  As I read through this book, I tried to keep these things in mind.  

The title of the book "The Treasure Principle" is taken from the Biblical concept of storing up treasures in Heaven instead of on Earth.  Essentially, not amassing wealth in this life, since we cannot take it with us into the afterlife, and that what we sacrifice here on Earth will be multiplied and returned to us in Heaven.  

The subtitle of this book is "Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving."   I initially thought that it would talk about many aspects of giving and self-sacrifice, such as donating items and time, but all it really talked about was giving money, which is all fine and good.   However, the verbiage used in the book was a bit of a put off for me.  He spoke as if everyone who had picked up this book should be in great shape financially:  

"Just as Esther was in a position of privilege, so is nearly everyone reading this book.  Are you educated and literate?  Do you have food, shelter, a car, perhaps some electronic equipment?  Then you are among the privileged, the world's wealthy."

Wow!  I had no idea anyone had this in mind as a definition of wealth!  Perhaps this statement would have been more true 10 years ago when it was written?  I also think that he was implying (without actually saying as much) that Americans are wealthy as a whole compared to some other nations. 

He also made the statement several times that people should not wait to give because they never know when they will not have it to give anymore.  Personally, I think the present economic state of things is just that time that he was concerned about.

"We have no way of knowing how long our nation's prosperity will last.  Why not give away the abundance while we still can?  Let's give until our hearts are more in touch with God's kingdom work than with our remodeling projects, business ventures, dream vacations, and retirement plans."

I've heard so many stories recently about people who have lost jobs, lost a spouse, lost their health, and had other major expenses pop up unexpectedly.   The author said that these things will undoubtedly happen, but that we should not plan for them to happen.  We should give away whatever we don't need at the moment, and trust God to provide for us later on.  This goes against everything I learned from Dave Ramsey in my Financial Peace classes at church!  

The author of this book and Dave Ramsey would agree on one thing, though.  The way in which giving should be done:  by budgeting!

"Why not set a figure you can live on, then tell God that everything He provides beyond that amount you'll give back to Him?"

He told stories of people who did this, and were able to give away up to 90% of their income.  I think that would be incredible!  If I were ever in that position (doubtful!), then I would love to be able to do just that.  But what about us people who actually need more like 110% of our income to live on, but some how God still blesses us and let's everything work out each month?  

I suppose my overall conclusion after reading this book is that it was not fitting for me for the stage of life that I am in right now, and perhaps it is not as fitting to the general populous of this country as it may have been 10 years ago when it was written.  I do think that our country will see strong financial times again someday and that this book will again be more relevant.  

I do not think that a poor economy should let of off the hook in our generosity, though.  We can bless many others with our time and with our talents even if we have no money to share.   I think that tough economic times can make people band together and "give" in more creative ways than they ever thought possible.

Have you been able to help someone by "giving" something other than money?  Tell us about it!  

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Some New Printable Coupons

There are some great new coupons available at coupons.com right now.  Here are just a few of the new ones that you can print.  Hurry and grab them before they are gone if you think you will use them.



I'm especially loving the Wisk coupon.  There are plenty of other's available as well, so print any you want while you are there.  The end of the month is getting closer and they might not be there soon.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

New Free Kindle Book...and Kindle at the Library?

What a great title for the growing season!  I can't wait to read it.

RX From The Garden:  101 Food Cures You Can Easily Grow










Also, I just wanted to mention that when I was at my local library today I noticed I sign that caught my attention, so I asked the librarian about it.  My library has ebooks, but they have not been Kindle compatible in the past, but she said that they will be beginning late summer.  If your library has a similar program, you may soon be able to check out library ebooks to read using Kindle software, which does not need to be on a Kindle.  It can be on your PC, iPhone, etc.  I'm excited about this because if there is something I truly want to read (aside from whatever randomly happens to be a free download), I have one more way to read it for free now, if it is available.  I've not checked out an ebook from my library in the past, so I'm not quite sure how that works, but it is an interesting concept.

Does your library have ebooks?  Have you ever used them?  Tell us about it!

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Some New Coupons At Coupons.com and I've Got Issues...

Tonight I noticed that there were some new coupons available over at Coupons.com, and also some of the older ones had been reset.  They usually do this type of stuff at the end of the month, so this is pretty unusual, and you may have only until the end of the month to grab them.  Some of them include Huggies Diapers, Reach Floss and Toothbrushes, that could be free after coupon, Ball Park Franks, etc.

However, before you go running off over there to get them, I have a little warning/sob story for you.

For the past few days, I have been having a lot of issues printing coupons.  My browser page just keeps saying sending, my printer says printing, and the printing status box says spooling.  I don't even know what spooling means, but no printing ever occurred.

I tried several things.  My husband reinstalled the printer drivers, and tried printing wired and wireless.  I uninstalled and reinstalled the coupon printer software.  I even updated my Java software.  It still wouldn't work.

At this point I began searching online for "coupon printing issues" and I start reading about different web addresses for the different browsers.  Now, I use Chrome.  I've been using Chrome for quite some time now and I have never had any issues with it before.  However, I wasn't seeing anything about Chrome listed on the  sites I was reading.  So, I got the bright idea to try using Internet Explorer.

Well, that worked!  Sadly though, coupons.com thought that my failed attempts had not been failures, and it said that I had reached my print limit on many of the best coupons that were available. =(

So, if you are also using Chrome, I am not exactly sure what is going on with it right now (I may need an updated version of Chrome or something), but you might want to try using another browser.

If you've had similar issues, please leave a comment.  I would love to hear them.  It might help us all figure things out!

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Reminder: Friday's Are Mega SwagBucks Days!










I just wanted to give you all a quick reminder that every Friday is Mega Swagbucks day.  You can earn higher than normal amounts of Swagbucks with a single search today, so start searching.

If you have not registered with Swagbucks yet, you can do so here.  You can redeem the points you earn from searching for many items in the Swagstore, including Amazon gift cards, which are my favorite.  It only takes 450 Swagbucks to get a $5 Amazon gift card, so start searching!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Survey Site: MindField


I have briefly written about taking online surveys in the past as another way to make a bit of extra cash or earn amazon certificates or other prizes.  I want to begin sharing some specific sites with you.  These are all sites that I have used and been paid by in the past.

Today, I thought I would begin with a site called MindField.  I chose this site because it was fresh in my mind since I was just able to request a check for $12 from them this morning.

While you will not get rich taking online surveys, I think they are fun, and at time I have even gotten to test out products in my home, and those types of studies always have higher payments.

Mindfield will send you emails fairly often.  Once you answer a few qualifying questions, if you qualify and complete the survey, the money you earn will show up in your account within a few weeks.  The cashout level is only $5 at this site, as opposed to $10 or even $50 at some other sites I've used.  You are able to select either a check mailed to you or a paypal deposit as a form of payment.

I like that this site actually still uses actual currency values, so you know what you are actually earning.  Many sites have now switched over to a points based system and it can be a little confusing to know how much you are actually earning for your time.

This site has also just switched to a new email form that actually shows you your current account balance on the side bar of the email.  This is a wonderful feature because often you forget to go back and check to see if your money has hit your account and it just sits there unclaimed.  That is what happened to me, and today my survey email let me know that I was able to request a check, so I did!

If you would like to start earning a little bit of extra spending money by taking online surveys, Mindfield is a great place to start.  Click HERE to register for free and start earning cash and testing new products in exchange for your opinions.

I will try to share a new panel with you each day as I am able, and I will add them to my Making Money Online page for future reference.

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Shopping Trip 4/21: No Coupons And Under Budget

I was seriously expecting some big pre-Easter grocery deals to be advertised this week, but again I was let down.  I made my weekly pilgrimage to Aldi today to get some things we had run out of and a few of their produce deals as always.  It seems like there were some price increases of about $0.10-$0.30 on each item I picked up, but I was not shopping at my usual Aldi store, so I cannot be certain of that.  I went to a different store than usual because I also wanted to get some deals that I saw advertised at El Rio Grande, which is a bit out of my normal shopping route. 


Here are the items that I got from El Rio Grande:
Total Spent:  $14.33

Here is what I got:
1 3lb pack of Eckrich sausage  $3.99 w/ $10 additional purchase
3 rolls of paper towels   3 for $1 w/ $10 additional purchase
3 1lb bags of kidney beans  @$1.19 each  (I'm going to make red beans and rice!)
yellow onions @ 10lbs for $1 =$0.32
1 head of lettuce @$0.50 each
1 4lb bag of rice @ $1.89 (grabbed this to put me over the $10 mark after my sausage did not ring up the sale price...the price of the sausage did not count toward my $10 I learned today.)
AND...$2.99 for a 24 count pack of tortillas that were so fresh and hot that they were still warm when we got home.  I could not help myself.  I also could not wait to eat them.  I thawed out some frozen fajita leftovers and gorged myself for lunch.

Today I also learned to look at the sale ads more closely!  I had wanted to pick up some tilapia fillets that were advertised for $1.99/lb, but when I got there today, they were marked $2.99/lb.  I asked about it, and was directed to the small print that read "Abril 20 Solamente".  =(  They were also out of the fresh corn advertised 4 for $1.  That is ok though, because I would not have stayed under budget if I would have gotten those items.

At Aldi, here is what I got:
Price Paid:  $38.15

It seems like that is a lot to spend on as few items as I bought, but I have to remember that I bought a 12 double roll pack of toilet tissue, a pack of diapers, a jug of cat litter and a 12 pack of diet sodas, plus a few more items we needed around the house.  I grabbed some more strawberries because they were still $0.99, as was the pineapple.  The celery was $0.69 each.

All of this, along with my CVS trip, cost me $53.05, and I just might be done for the week.  I am still debating whether a few items at Kroger and Albertsons are worth making a trip there after we stop by the library tomorrow.  I may forgo them though, because the last $16 of my grocery budget has to last me not just until Saturday like normal, but until payday on Wednesday.  It shouldn't be a problem, but that is the hard part about being paid monthly.  The last "week" is always hard because it is actually a week and a half.

I think I've done a great job sticking to my grocery budget without using coupons for the past few weeks except for at CVS and one small stop by Albertsons.  I am ready for some great coupon deals to start up again, though.

What about you?  Have your stores been having great sales lately, or have they been pretty slow like the stores here?

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Free Zantac Sample


There is a new sample available of Maximum Strength Zantac OTC 150mg.  Go HERE to request yours.

*Note: This sample has been offered in the past, so if you have requested it before, you will not be able to again.  It said that I had already gotten one.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Purex Complete With Zout Review and Giveaway

In the past I have written about being a Purex Insider.  I love being a member of this program because I get to try new products and give my feedback, and I also get to share these products with you.  *Note:  This program does not provide any form of compensation other than the product that was sent to me.  All opinions are my own.*


Not long after I shared with you about the Purex Crystals fabric softener, another package arrived at my door.  This time it contained a full sized bottle of detergent.  It was another new product by Purex.



This detergent is called Purex Complete with Zout.  Zout is a pre-treater containing three separate types of enzymes that each target a specific type of stain.  I'm a big science nerd, so when I saw the graphic with all the big words, it made me happy.  Here it is for your viewing pleasure. ;)
The detergent is specially formulated to work in both standard and HE washing machines.  It comes in two varieties, Fresh Morning Burst scented and Free and Clear, which is fragrance free.

Here is a fact sheet for anyone who is interested.



My Thoughts:
I used the entire bottle of detergent for all of my laundry needs over a two week period.  I washed whites, colors, even cloth diapers!  I was left feeling pretty neutral about the detergent.  It cleaned my clothes about as well as any other detergent does.  There were stains left behind on some of my clothes, but they were stains that I think my other detergents would leave behind as well.  It certainly was no miracle worker in the stain department, but I was not really expecting it to be either.  It did do a nice job of cleaning the clothes and leaving them smelling fresh.  In the past I had had issues with Purex detergent leaving my clothes smelling a little bit musty if I did not dry them right away, but this detergent seemed a little bit better in that area to me.

The bottom line is this:  I would buy it again if it was the most inexpensive option when I went to buy detergent.  I usually try to get my detergent for $1 per bottle after coupons.  I have not seen this product in stores to compare it's price to the regular Purex, but if it is more expensive than that, I would buy the regular version because I did not feel it did a job worthy of paying more for.  If this product were priced the same as the regular Purex, and I had a coupon that I could use for either, then this product would win out.





The Giveaway:
Now that I have told you how I feel about the product, I would like to give you the opportunity to try it for yourself.  The Purex Insider Program has been kind enough to share with me three (3) coupons for a FREE bottle of this detergent (up to $7.50 value).


The first coupon will be awarded to the reader who refers the most new fans to my facebook page.  In order for them to count, your friends must write on my wall and tell me who sent them.  I will close this portion at midnight tomorrow.  I will tally up the referrals and notify the winner on Thursday morning.

The other two coupons are up for grabs here.  I will leave this giveaway open until Friday night.



Here are the rules:

Mandatory Entry #1:  Leave a comment telling me what your favorite detergent is.

Optional Entry #2:  Follow me on Facebook, then leave a comment telling me.

Optional Entry #3:  Follow me on Google Friend Connect, then leave a comment telling me.

Optional Entry #4:  Subscribe to my email feed, then leave a comment telling me.


That's is!  If you already do these things, great!  Just leave a comment letting me know, and you are in.   Up to 4 entries per person are allowed.  Good luck!  Make sure you put your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win!

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Tons of New Facebook Printables

I have shared many, many new printables on my facebook wall today.  These are all coupons that are available on facebook, but only for a short time.

Some of these include:

Bird's Eye Voila  $3/1
Finish Quantum  $1.75/1
Lysol Wipes  $1.50/1
Stove Top  $0.51/1

Because these coupons tend to be high value, they can reach their print limit rather quickly (someone let me know if these have), especially when being shared around on social media sites.  Be sure to follow me, and all of your other favorite blogs, on facebook.  The more people you follow, the better chance you have to catch these great printables.  For example, just yesterday, I was out for the afternoon and I missed a GREAT $2/1 Heinz ketchup coupon.  (I hope some of you were able to snag it!)   JR Frugalmom shared this on my facebook wall (but facebook marked it as spam, so we all missed out).  But she also posted it on her all new site My Best Printable Coupons.  I would encourage you all to hop over there and follow that page as well.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

CVS Trip 4/18: $0.57 OOP and 99% Savings

This afternoon, I was able to go to CVS to attempt to pick up the items I had planned to get.  My store was out of alot of things already, including the Green Bag Tags, which I thought was very odd, but now that I think about it I haven't actually seen any in my store in quite some time.  I actually have one around here somewhere, I just have absolutely no clue where it is, so obviously it never makes it to the store with me.

Some other things they were out of were the two Easter items that were free after ECBs on the front page.  The cashier told me that her store never got the grass in and that they had sold out of the egg dye earlier in the day.  I had her write me rain checks, but she said I would have to try to use them at another store since they would likely not be getting in any more Easter supplies on their truck Friday.  I guess I am just out of luck on those.  I also got a rain check for the Stove Top they were sold out of.

I was surprised to find plenty of the Nivea body washes on the shelf though.  I was sure they would be all gone by this afternoon, but they weren't.  I was able to get both a men's and a women's and use both of my $3 coupons from Sunday's paper.  I did not have any luck finding any extra papers, though.

Here is everything I came home with:

Total Shelf Price:  $39.80
Total Sale Price:   $26.53
Used $4/$20 that printed last trip:  $22.53
Used $11 in manufacturer coupons:  $11.53
Used $11 in ECBs:  OOP= $0.57  99% Savings  with $1.98 ECB remaining and received $8.30 in ECBs for a total of $10.28 in remaining ECBs to use on my next trip.

The Aquafresh kids toothbrush and toothpaste were each $1 (part of the 5 for $5 sale), and I used $1/1 coupons from yesterday's paper.  I also used a $3/1 Shick Intuition from their facebook page.  I did not have a coupon for the lightbulb or the shave gel (I hear there is one in the 3/20 SS, but I could not find it in mine).

Hope that helps you guys out if you have not been yet.  If you wanna to see even more CVS deals, you can check out all of the reader shopping trips at Simply CVS.  I will be linking this post up there as well.  It is a very good resource that I always use before I head out shopping if I did not make it on Sunday, and I usually will notice a deal that I was not aware of before.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sunday Coupon Preview for 4/17


The Sunday Coupon Preview site says that this Sunday we should get 3 coupon inserts, two SmartSource, and a RedPlum.  I have heard reports elsewhere that there will actually be two of each (4 total).  Either way, it is more than normal and a great day to get a newspaper...or 4! ;)

You can check out the details HERE!.

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Freezer Cooking: Adventures in Turkey..or the Neverending Story?

I now fully understand why turkey leftovers have for so long been the bane of post-Thanksgiving existence.  It's not that we were tired of eating turkey.  I think I did a pretty good job of shaking things up so it didn't seem like we were eating the same thing all week, and I was able to put a lot of meals in the freezer which was looking pretty bare.  But seriously, I did not think I was ever going to come to the end of this turkey meat.  Quite honestly, I'm glad I have so many turkey dishes in the freezer, because I surely do not wish to mess with one again for a long time.

So, what did my 16 lb. turkey that I bought on sale back in November for $4.81 make for us?

Meal # 1:
On Monday, after my husband injected the bird with a homemade marinade (he loves to play around in the kitchen), we baked it in an oven bag, and we could not resist having a nice turkey and stuffing dinner, with a little spinach salad on the side.

Meals #2-7: (plus a couple lunches for the hubby)
Tuesday, I took the rest of the turkey and boiled it a bit so the meat would fall off more easily, then I pulled the meat off.  I ended up with a huge bowl full of meat.

After that, I boiled the bones for a few hours to make a huge pot of turkey stock.

 I used half of this stock and added water to it as the base for a soup.
 What I love about soup is that you can add pretty much anything you have on hand and it will taste great.  For this one, I had left a good amount of meat on the bones in the harder to reach places, so that cooked off into the stock and I didn't need to add any more meat to the soup.  I dumped in a couple cans of green beans, a bag of frozen corn, a bag of frozen peas, a can of diced tomatoes, and the rest of the pack of spinach from the night before.
Half an hour before we ate I tossed in a pack of ABC and star shaped noodles I've had in the pantry for some time.
After we all ate (my husband and I each had two bowls), I froze 5 more containers for dinners, and sent a couple smaller bowls with my husband for lunches this week.
*Tip*:  To cool it down quickly, I put the whole pot into the sink and run cold water around it.  Drain and refill the sink when  the water gets hot.

Meal 8: (and still have some leftovers)
Most of the day Wednesday was spent trying to figure out what meals to make and making a shopping list (I intended to do this on Tuesday, but after 8 loads of laundry, I was not feeling it).  I still had those Philly Cooking Cremes that I had gotten for $0.49 at the Kroger Mega Sale a few weeks ago, so I decided to use the recipe on the back of the Italian one to make this delicious Florentine recipe.  It called for chicken, I had turkey, so be it.
I tossed in a pack of steamed broccoli and some pepper strips and then stirred in the cooked spaghetti.  It called for fettuccine, but again, its what I had.

Meals 9-10:
Thursday after my Aldi trip, I started preparing some meals while my youngest was napping.  This recipe came out of my favorite cookbook, and it is one I have not tried before, but sounds good.  (I will share the actual recipes soon, I just do not have the time right now.)  This one was called Colorful Chicken Casserole (again, I used turkey instead).
It was made much like the previous recipe, only using peas and corn.  It also called for mushrooms, but we do not care for them, so I left them out.
 This is what it looked like cooking.  There are some onions, celery, and chopped green bells in there as well.
I then mixed the pasta in, poured it into my pans, and covered with shredded cheese.  I cover these in foil, and put them into a freezer bag with a note card telling what it is and cooking instructions.

Meals 11-12:
The little one woke up early, so that put a stop to my extra food preparation, so the next thing I got around to was that night's dinner.  I used another of those Philly Cooking Cremes, this time the Santa Fe flavor.  The back of it had an enchilada recipe that I had seen in a magazine and it looked delectable, so I wanted to try it.

My husband was working late and then had some errands to run, so let me just say that I got pretty good at balancing a tortilla on one hand while stopping a toddler from *fill in the blank* with the other hand.  Needless to say I forgot to take a picture.  But here is a shot of the leftovers, which are unexpectedly another whole meal in themselves.


Meals 13-15: (and some side dishes)
After dinner, I mixed up another easy recipe out of that cookbook.  This one was called Chicken Potato Casserole.  I think you get the idea that you can put turkey in anything that calls for chicken.  I have not tried this one before either, but I like it because it hides nutritious things, like chopped up spinach and shredded carrots in the mashed potatoes.  I made three of these.  Here is a shot of the finished product.  You can see the little specks of green and orange in there.
I had some of the potatoes left over, so I decided to try another idea out of that cookbook:  freezing the potatoes in muffin pans so you have single portioned side dishes ready to go!  Here's my husband scooping them in.
And this morning after they were frozen, I popped them out and put them into a freezer bag.
I liked this idea so well, I decided to try it with some mac & cheese after lunch.  I'll let you know how that turns out.

Meals 16-17:
Tonight's dinner was another recipe I had not yet tried from my cookbook (obviously, I was getting a bit tired of the ones I had tried).  It sounded interesting.  Chicken (turkey) Taco Quiche.  I imagine this would be quite good with ground beef as well.  Now I have never made a quiche before, but I had bought too many eggs, and this intrigued me.
My husband,however, hates eggs with a passion.  Unless there is so much other stuff in them that they don't taste like eggs.  I was a little worried about this one because the only "other stuff" mixed with the eggs were half and half and a packet of taco seasoning.  It turned out excellent.  He loved it.  The girls loved it.  Even though the one with the aversion to red things picked out every chunk of salsa that she found.  Seriously...the child will not eat pizza?!?!  Anyway, I forgot to snap a picture of it fresh out the oven, so here it is half eaten.
I made two, and learned an important lesson in the process.  The second was to be frozen uncooked.  I thought it would spill if I tired to bag ii unfrozen, so I carefully carried it to the freezer (dripping along the way) and gently sat it down on an empty upper shelf.  When I went to grab the mac & cheese to bag a bit later, I noticed this:
It had dripped down onto all three lower shelves and pooled in the bottom.  Lesson learned.  Next time it goes on a baking sheet.

Meals 18-20:
This recipe I have tried before.  It is one of my new favorites.  I had just enough turkey left over to make three of these, and I had three boxes of stuffing on hand.  It is called Chicken Stuffing Casserole (this cook book is not very creating with the naming of the dishes, is it?)  But it is so easy to make.  Stuffing on bottom, corn, meat, cream of mushroom soup on top, and cover with shredded cheese.  I had ran out, so I improvised.

And that was the last of the meat.  But I'm still not done...

Meals 21-??:
I still have the other half of the turkey stock sitting in the fridge.  I am going to make a recipe that I sort of made up last time we cooked a turkey.  A meatless soup with lentils and split peas, and whatever else I happen to have.  It will be a clean out the freezer sort of day.  It turned out really good last time, and my girls love soups.  We don't care if it's getting warmer out.  I expect this will make another 6 meals like the last soup did, so that should get me up to 26 meals just from this one bird.

Phew!  If anyone is still with me, I'd love to know if you do any freezer cooking, or if you are thinking about it starting.  I find it to be not just a great time saver, but also a great money saver as well.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

CVS Trip 4/15

On Sunday, I told you about leaving CVS empty handed and having to let my $5/$40 coupon from facebook go to waste.  On that day the cashier told me that their truck came on Friday, so I decided to try back after dinner tonight.  Yesterday, I had gotten a $4/$20 purchase coupon in an email (I was kinda hoping that would happen).  The store was still out of the AirWick, but that was ok since I no longer needed to get my total up to $40, just $20.

I feel like I had a pretty good trip, even though I made a mistake that cost me some ECBs.

Here is what I came home with:


Total Shelf Cost:  $40.16
Total Sale Price:  $33.09
Used $4/$20:      $29.09
Used $9.50 in manufacturer coupons:  $19.59  (BOGO Biore, $1/2 Fuze, and 2 $0.50/1 Xtra)
Used $18 ECB (still have $3.98 remaining):  Paid $1.72 OOP and got back $9 in ECBs  96% Savings

You may have noticed that I picked up the Russell Stover Egg and the Bubbles.  I was expecting to get back the full price paid for these two items in ECBs, but it was only after I didn't get those ECBs on my receipt that I realized they were part of the 3 Day Only Sale.  The bubbles did actually ring up $1.49 instead of $1.99 so that was good, and when you have a 1 and 4 year old, you can never have too many bubbles...or chocolate ;)

The $0.88 bunnies are of course for their Easter baskets, and the Xtra detergent was just $0.99 each after the 2 $0.50/1 printables I used.  I chewed up extra bucks on those items, but they were very good prices.  It was a last minute decision to pick up the razor, which I did not have a coupon for, but I'm glad I did since it was only $6.99 and gave me back $3 in ECBs.  Including the ones that I did not use from last week, I still have $12.98 in ECBs remaining, so that's a pretty large drop from the $20.98 I went in with, but its about the average I usually have.

I did also get another $4/$20 that printed on my receipt below my ECBs, so that is a definite plus!  It is good for three days, so I will make sure I go back Sunday afternoon to grab the new sale items.

Did you get any great deals at CVS this week?  I would love to hear about them.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reminder: Friday's Are Mega SwagBucks Days!








I just wanted to give you all a quick reminder that every Friday is Mega Swagbucks day.  You can earn higher than normal amounts of Swagbucks with a single search today, so start searching.

If you have not registered with Swagbucks yet, you can do so here.  You can redeem the points you earn from searching for many items in the Swagstore, including Amazon gift cards, which are my favorite.  It only takes 450 Swagbucks to get a $5 Amazon gift card, so start searching!

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Garage Sale Finds 4/14

One more quick post while my veggies are cooking.  After we went to Aldi this morning, we went back out for a little ride because we had seen a few garage sale signs.  My daughter who will be 5 next month absolutely loves garage sale and begs me to stop anytime she sees one, so I thought we would go and just see what was out there this morning before it was time for lunch.

Here is what I found for my girls:

Two nice shirts for my oldest girl for $0.50 each.  We just found out that she will not have to wear school uniforms next year so now we have more freedom where the clothing is concerned.  That and she has a thing for horses.  She also picked out that adorable pair of flip flops that just happened to be her sister's size.  They were in perfect shape and cost just $1.

Then I found a couple things for myself:
I got a nice thick knee length khaki skirt and a really nice dress..it's been a very long time since I've gotten a new dress.  It's actually navy with diagonal white pinstripes that you can't see.  Both of these cost me just $1 each, and that dress was from the Limited, so I don't even want to know how much it originally cost!  Also, the size tag had been cut out, so I no clue what size it was, but I tried them on when I got home and both fit me perfectly. =)

All of this cost me $4 total, and just a drive around my neighborhood.  People sell things all the time that are in perfect condition for incredible prices.  I would much rather score an awesome deal on something nice while at the same time helping out a neighbor than pay retail prices for these things and have my money go to some big corporation.

What about you?  Do you shop at garage sales?  What is the best deal you've ever found?

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Aldi Trip 4/14

I know I have been pretty MIA around here the past few days, but my daughter and husband were sick on Monday and then I took a couple of days to catch up on the house work.  I also cooked a turkey and have been trying to come up with creative ways to use it in recipes...more on that later.

I was thoroughly unimpressed with all of the grocery ads again...for the third week in a row!  I'm really needing a good sale around here.  Maybe next week...

With the lack of grocery store sales, I haven't been doing much shopping lately, except at Aldi.  I went this morning with a long list of items that I was going to need to make about 5 different recipes (and I will still have turkey left!  Eek!).  I also picked up a good bit of their fresh produce that was on sale this week, including 3 lbs of strawberries @ $0.99 each, a $0.99 pineapple, and a $0.79 cantaloupe.

Here is everything I got today.  Notice that the kids didn't even let the strawberries get put away!  The bag in front has plums that were $0.39 each!  So glad they are coming back in season.


I really thought that I was going to completely blow my food budget for the week on this trip.  I was expecting to pay around $60 for all of this stuff, but my total only came to $42.87, and that is including coffee and bacon!

Add that to the $17.25 I spent at Aldi earlier in the week, which included two racks of ribs that were marked down $5 off each, and my trip to the 99Cents Only store, which cost just over $4, and I have only spent about $65 for the week!  $5 under budget, and I didn't even use a single coupon!

I'd love to hear about your shopping this week!  Leave a comment below.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a napping toddler and some turkey to be dealt with. ;)

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