Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weekly Shopping Savings--$192.57

Well the sales this week couldn't keep me away from the stores! I still haven't learned or have developed strong enough self-control to not pass up good sales especially when I have coupons for the sale items!

I purchased $396.97 worth of products for $204.40!!! I was able to do this because for the month of August, I didn't even hit $300 for a monthly total even with so I had "extra" money to work with for the month of September.

You are probably wondering what all I purchased...

Meijer this week has a GREAT Sale going on, so I went earlier in the week to make sure that I could get the best selection!
First stop....Meijer.... (going to give you the condensed version...prices listed are after sales and coupons)

  • 4 packs(3 double pks + 1 single pk) Kotex pads $14.12 ($3.53/pk)
  • 3 Meijer reusable grocery bags $2.97
  • 6 boxes Betty Crocker boxed potatoes $3.00 (50cents/box)
  • 6 boxes Green Giant veggies $3.00(50 cents/box plus 1 box was free)
  • 2 boxes Easy Mac & Cheese $1.00 (50cents/box)
  • 4 boxes Banquet B & S sausage links $4.00
  • 2 lbs baby carrots $1.00 (1 lbs free)
  • 1 Land O Lakes butter 50 cents
  • 2 cans 25% less sodium Campbells soup $1.60 (80 cents/can)
  • 2 bags pretzels $2.00
  • 1 bag Combos $1.00(I forgot the coupon said TWO!)
  • 2 cans Glade Aerosol $1.00 (used B1G1 free coupon)
  • 2 boxes Lipton Onion Soup $1.00 (1 box free)
  • 3 cans Campbells kid soup $2.60 (87 cents/can)
  • 3 loaves Aunt Millies Bread $3.00
  • 2 pks. Aunt Millies Buns $2.00
  • 1 Broccoli $1.00
  • 6 cans Old Orchard Juice $5.00(83 cents/can + 1 can free)
  • 2 bags Doritoes $3.78
  • 4 cont. Dean's Ice Cream $10.96 ($2.74 each)
  • 2 pks. Pillsbury dinner rolls $2.60 ($1.30 each--cashier wouldn't take both $1 off coupons but did do the $1 and 40 cent coupons I had!)
  • 5 cans Rold Gold tomatoes $3.00
  • 2-64 oz. Meijer Tropical Blend Juice $2.50 ($1.25 each)
  • 4 pks. Eckrich Smoky links $8.00
  • 2 V-8 Juices $2.34 ($1.17 each)
  • 6 pks Pillsbury cookie dough $8.00 ($1.33 each)
  • 2 big boxes Honey Nut Cheerios $4.54 ($2.27 each)
  • 2 bags Meijer frozen fries $2.00 ($1.00 each)
  • 1 box Hot Pockets Paninis $1.00
  • 1 bottle Softsoap pump $1.62
  • 5 bottles Lysol cleaners $3.85 (77 cents each)
  • 1 Spray N Wash trigger bottle 99 cents
  • 2 Spray N Wash refill bottles $3.48 ($1.74 each)
  • 1 Dove body wash $2.49
  • 2 Lady Speedsticks $3.25 ($1.63 each)
  • 1 Men's Speedstick 24/7 $2.00
  • 1 Men's Right Guard Deo. $2.00
  • 3 boxes Electrasol Powerballs $5.75 ($1.92 each)
  • 1-15 ct pk. Bounty Basic Paper Towel $9.99 (67 cents/roll)
  • 4 tubes Colgate Total Adv. Clean $4.00 ($1.00 each)

TOTAL after sales & tax: $149.43
SAVINGS TOTAL: $151.96 (see pic for breakdown!)
PLUS I got $8.00 back in catalina coupons to use at my next shopping trip!!!

Next stop...Family Fare...

  • 5 tubes Pillsbury crescent rolls $3.34(67 cents each)
  • 5 tubes Pillsbury cinnamon rolls $3.34(67 cents each)
  • 2 bags fun size Snickers candy $5.00($2.50 each)
  • 2 Old El Paso Taco dinner kits $3.48 ($1.74 each)
  • 2 boxes Go-gurt $3.67 ($1.84 each)
  • 2 boxes Yoplait Yogurt Kids Drinks $3.67 ($1.84 each)
  • 3 Tombstone Pizzas $9.99
  • 1 cantaloupe $1.67
  • 2 pks. Oreo cookies $5.34 ($2.67 each)
  • 2.90lbs ground beef from round $7.80
  • 1 pk. 30% markdown meat(thin cut NY strip) $4.17
  • 1 pk. 30% markdown meat(bottom round steak) $2.51

Total after sales: $54.97

GRAND TOTAL: $396.97

Hopefully, the sales the next two weeks will not be sooooo great so I can work on my self-control and just get the essentials and no stockpiling!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Frugal Friday--Restaurant Style Meal

This past week, I was able to make a restauraut style meal for all 7 of us for under $10.00 plus I ended up with 2 single serve lunches and extra meat to serve for a lunch!

Here is what was on the menu:

Chicken Cordon Bleu


Homemade Breaded Chicken Tenders

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Steamed Corn

Iceburg Lettuce Salad

Hot Biscuits

Now to explain how I managed it!

For the Chicken Cordon Bleu, I used this recipe as my guide. I use 2lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast that I got for $1.87/lb ($3.74). I got a 1.87lb mini half portion boneless ham for $7.46($3.99/lb--cheaper than ham from the deli counter) and thinly sliced it with my electric slicer. I used only 6 thin slices so I figured just $1.00 for the ham. I used 4 slices of swiss cheese out of a 24ct. pkg. that I got for $1.88 so that figures to 32 cents for the 4 slices. Then for the 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 cup flour, 1 egg, 1/2 stick margarine and spices, I figured about another 75 cents. That brings my total just for the meat portion of my meal to $5.81. I used the 1/2 stick of margarine as my "oil" for the pan. However, instead of melting it in the pan before adding the chicken to the pan, I used little pats of it on top of the chicken and it melted in the oven as the chicken cooked. Doing it this way makes it where you don't have to worry about flipping the chicken at the halfway point of cooking. Also, if you are wondering, I only made 6 of the 13 pieces of chicken that I had in the 2lbs of chicken into the Cordon Bleu. The rest of the chicken I used just the bread crumb and parmesan cheese mixture to coat it.

I used 2 1/2 lbs of white pototoes which costed me 65 cents. I got a 5lb bag of white potatoes from Save A Lot for $1.29! You can figure in 1/4 cup milk, 3 heaping tbsps. sour cream and the other 1/2 stick of margarine for another 25 cents brings the total for the potatoes to 90 cents.

I used two cans of sweet corn that I got on sale for 67 cents/can. So the "steamed corn" was $1.34.

For my salad, I used a head of iceburg lettuce that I got at Save A Lot for 50 cents and 1 large carrot. I also sprinkled shredded cheese, real bacon bits, and croutons on it so I figured that the salad costs me $1.00. It is hard to know exactly how much the cheese, bacon and croutons costs as these are a few things that I get in a monthly Sam's run.

The biscuits was a tube of Pillsbury biscuits that I got for 66 cents with a sale and coupon!

So the grand total for this restauraut style meal for a family of 7 was $9.70!!! If I were to take my family out to eat at a "sit-down" restauraut we would have spent at least $30 or more if you include the tip! That is why I like to take the time every once in a while to fix a more elaborate meal rather than heading out to a restauraut and spending 3 times as much.

For other frugal tips, recipes, or resources; head over to Biblical Womanhood!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Freezer Storage & Cooking

My friend, Kate, has inspired me with all the freezer cooking she has done this past week! If you want any of her recipes you can find them here! She even has a trick for freezing homemade tortillas that I am going to try the next time I do some up!

Anyway, she has inspired me to get back into the groove of freezer cooking but first some rearranging of the items in my freezers is in order to see if there might be any room to stick in some more homemade goodness. Right now this is what my freezers look like. Yes, it is full of all the good deals that I have snagged in the last few weeks or those freezer items from my monthly Sam's run with a few homemade goodies added to the mix.

As you can see the freezer over my fridge is pretty stuffed! It doesn't help that we have an ice maker and ice container that takes up 1/4 of the shelf! Despite the size of it, I don't want to get rid of it because it is a nice "convenience" for having ice on hand at all times. This is where I keep most of my use every day or open packages. Just yesterday I found two open bags of cinnamon raisin bagels in there that I combined into one for a little more room.

Some of the things that I have found to help me in my freezer storage...

I have found that using the same size plastic containers or using freezer bags is the best route to go when working at getting a freezer full of homemade goodness. You want things easy to stack and relatively easy to find!

It also helps if you need to rearrange things before putting more items into the freezer that you take the time to do an inventory of everything you have in the freezer. This helps with knowing what you have available for meals, hence less shopping and less waste.

I usually have no problems with freezer burn when I put my homemade goodness in freezer bags and stick them in the freezer. As long as I make sure that the foods are totally cold so that the moisture from the foods doesn't create ice in the bag when they are put in the freezer.

Also, if my freezer hasn't been defrosted in a while and there is ice accumulating on the shelves, my baked goods don't like that and will taste freezer burned. So having a freezer without alot of ice build up is a good thing, not only will it be more energy efficient but less of your foods will taste or have freezer burn. Having dollar store baskets available to stick your baked goods in and place in the freezer would be another alternative to keep those baked goods off the ice. As you can see from my pics, I have done away with the baskets!

The other thing I would recommend is to date your freezer bags or containers so that you know how long the food has been in the freezer. Around here homemade goodness usually does not last 3 weeks in the freezer, however, it can keep up to 4 months in the freezer and still have a "fresh taste". Freezer storage is great when you know how long items will last and still "taste" fresh!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Works for me Wednesday--defeating rising prices

I am sure that everyone is aware of the rising prices in the grocery stores and seemingly every where else too! So about a month ago, I came up with the list of tips that have been working for me to reduce my grocery bill in other ways than making my family not eat!

My top 10 tips for helping me "defeat" rising prices in the grocery store!!

1. Shop your house before you shop the store!! Make a grocery list and stick to it! This will help eliminate extra trips to the store!

2. Make weekly menus for every meal and snacks around the grocery sales. If you can figure out anything to cook from the sales---use cookbooks and find new dishes to try! Also realize that you might have leftovers to use up. Plan a 'smorgasbord' or make leftover makeovers!

3. Make a pantry/freezer list of EVERYTHING you buy and post it on your fridge so that when you run out or are getting low you can circle or highlight that item. I made up a form that has different categories (canned goods, frozen items, produce, etc) and then wrote down everything in those categories that I purchase. Basically made a Master Grocery List.

4. If you are not already, start making bread and baked good/sweet treats from scratch. I still purchase sandwich bread but I make bread for sides at meals and also all of our sweet treats/baked goods. I am working at recognizing other things I can make from scratch, like cream of whatever soup, gravies, etc.

5. Use coupons for items that you purchase consistently! Watch the sales and when those items are on sale use the coupon and save more!

6. Start following the sales, and make a price book of items that you buy regularly. You will find that stores have what are called "loss leaders" in the ads...basically an item is advertised for a major discounted price. I am sure that you have seen in the ads where the same items are sale week after week...well track the price of those items and you will see that one of the weeks that an item is on sale it will be discounted more than any other week it was on sale.

7. When you find an item at a low price stock up within reason on that item. For example, whole chickens were on sale at one of the stores that I shop at for 59 cents/lb. Instead of getting other cuts of chicken that week I got 3 whole chickens to use in my menus.

8. Buy store brand items rather than name brand. Do you have an Aldis or Save-A-Lot near you?? You might want to give them a try for your shopping needs. My Save-A-Lot has had coupons out for 99 cent gallon milk with coupon and 99 cent/lb of 8lbs or more of all beef hamburg with coupon. Oh and can't forget the 50 cents/head for lettuce! **updated to comment about where I found the of my local papers has a monthly insert of the "Save-A-Lot ad" that the coupons are in.**

9. Buy in-season fruit and veggies. OR Do a garden and can it! I wish that I still had room at my house to do this!! I have tried container gardens and I have not had good success with them. So I head to my local farmer's market or roadside stands to find my in season fresh fruits and veggies!

10. Buy items in bulk from Sam’s/Costco. I go to Sams on a monthly basis and get only certain things (baking supplies, cheese, cereal, snacks, etc.) I can supply you with a more specific list if you would like!

These are the things that are working for me! So what are you doing to "defeat" rising prices?? Do you have any more tips to add??

To read more about things that work for others, head over to Shannon-Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday--Question Answered

Taking the time today to answer a question by a reader....

Megan writes:

I came across your blog from MoneySavingMom! I am absolutely amazed!! I wish so bad I could plan out what was for breakfast,lunch, and dinner each week. I wish I could make a bunch of things on Sunday and freeze them for the week! I know it would save me SO much money because, when I get off work it is just so much easier to run and go grab something but, I need to cook!! It is only my boyfriend and I so there should be no excuses!! Any tips you could give me I would greatly appreciate!!!

Megan, here is what I do for my cooking and menu planning system. It is not a flawless system, I still have convenience items in my pantry and freezer for those nights that are rushed or I don't feel like cooking. We also still eat out on occasion as well.

I have a system that works well in my house. It is multi-faceted and some times seems complex but it works well when everyone in my family participates! I have made up my own Master Grocery List in MS Word and I print it off each month and put it on my fridge. Then when we are low or out of something that I normally buy the item gets circled or highlighted by the person who is using the last of it or says they are taking the last one. This way, I know I need to get it from the store the next time I do my shopping.

I also have a blank monthly calendar page that I printed off of the computer that I put on my fridge where I write in pencil what the dinner meal was for that day. This is to helps me in two ways: 1. I know what the oldest things are in the fridge so they are used up before they spoil. And 2. I know what order of single serving leftovers to stick in dh's lunches.

I have also made up a MS Word document for my weekly meals. I take the time to plan out all of our meals and snacks for the week. If I didn't do this, my kids would eat the same snack item til it is gone! My kids would continue their incessant question("What's for ________?") before each meal! And I would be doing the 5'oclock rush/stress to figure out dinner and find that I forgot to pull meat out of the freezer so it will take til about 7'oclock or later before we are sitting down to the table for dinner or I just give up and order out. Ordering out though would not be good or healthy for us, esp. for dh who struggles with high cholesterol.

What I do while I am menu planning: I look at my calendar, if I am having a busy day then I make sure that lunch is something quick and the kids can get themselves, and dinner is not an elaborate meal. I look in my freezer and pantry to see what meals I can make from them. I look at the grocery ads for the week to see if there is any good sales or loss leaders that I need to purchase to complete my meals. I am one that likes to have a stocked freezer to choose meals from so that if there is a week that doesn't have good sales at any of the stores, I can just use my freezer and pantry.

There is one last thing that I have took the time to do when setting up my meal planning system is I made a "Menu Suggestion Lists". I wrote down every main dish, sides, lunches, and snacks that my family likes and then I just plug in the items on different days to make up lunch and dinner meals and snacks. I have recently started planning breakfasts too!

As for the cooking part of my system is rather simple because I would rather bake than cook! I don't like to cook so I try to do meals that either will go well in the crockpot or that I can do from start to finish in 30-45 minutes each night. In order for me to spend so little time in the kitchen, I do some prep work after each of my grocery shopping trips. It is similar to the Once A Month Cooking method but it works better for my family of picky eaters. You can read about my version here. I also make sure that when I am making up meals that I make extra to stick in the fridge for having leftovers during the week or the extra gets put in the freezer for a quick pull for later in the month.

I would love to hear your tips!!! Anyone else have the same problems as Megan? If so, what have you found to help you get meals on the table rather than getting take out?

To read other's tips, recipes and more, check out Kitchen Tips over at Tammy's Recipes!! Today Tammy tells us about her egg salad shortcut and asks for other shortcuts.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 9/7-9/13

**Another week is upon us so that means it is time for another menu plan! This is just a plan and it could change on the cook’s whim!

Last week’s menus were non-existent! Having just come off a four day vacation, I was not in the planning mood along with having cleared out my pantry and freezer so menus were forgotten and it showed big time! So I am back on track this week! I have done my shopping already for this week’s menus along with getting some stockpiling done.

This week is our first full week of school. We also have TWO birthdays this week!

Lunches listed are for the kids and me. Usually with our lunches I served carrot sticks, and some kind of fruit along with juice or water to drink. Hubby usually takes dinner leftovers each day along with several items for snacks.

A special thanks to Laura-Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Need help with your menus; go check other delicious meal plans that have been linked at Laura-Organizing Junkie's site!

Sunday (9-7)
Breakfast: eggs, hash browns, bacon, and chocolate donuts
Lunch: sandwiches and chips
Dinner: Long John Silver’s (1st night of AWANA)
Snack: snack basket

Monday (9-8)
Breakfast: cereal and toast
Lunch: leftover burgers & chips
Dinner: chicken rice casserole, and homemade honey oatmeal rolls
Snack: snack basket or yogurt

Tuesday (9-9)
Breakfast: waffles & sausage
Lunch: sandwich and chips
Dinner: spaghetti, garlic toast and salad
Snack: snack basket

Wednesday (9-10)
Breakfast: bagels, yogurt, and cereal
Lunch: pizza rolls
Dinner: chicken cordon bleu (new recipe), mashed potatoes, corn and biscuits
Snack: cookies & milk

Thursday (9-11)
Breakfast: French toast and sausage
Lunch: sandwich and chips
Dinner: Easy Beef Stroganoff (no mushrooms and making own beef gravy), noodles, peas/salad
Snack: snack basket or yogurt

Friday(9-12) Happy Birthday Hubby and T(ds#3)!!!
Breakfast: eggs, cinnamon rolls, sausage links
Lunch: leftovers or out to eat!
Dinner: grilled chicken, fish, & shrimp, potato pockets, and corn
Snack: cake & icecream

Breakfast: “Cook’s Choice”
Lunch: ??? probably leftovers!
Dinner: homemade pizza and breadsticks along with a salad
Snack: snack basket or popcorn

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Singing Sunday

We sang this song in church this morning. Oh what a powerful song!! It is so amazing to me that our Lord is ALIVE!! He didn't stay dead! I serve a living God! He conquered the grave, death and sin so that I could live and live life to the full. I love you, Lord! I pray that I will live for You and have a passion to serve You every day of my life! Thank you, Lord for dying for me!

Arise My Love
Artist - Newsong
Album - Various Songs

Not a word was heard
at the tomb that day.
Just shuffling of soldiers feet
as they guarded the grave.
One day, two days,
three days had past.
Could it be that Jesus
breathed His last?

Could it be that His Father
had forsaken him?
Turned his back on his son
dispising our sin.
All hell seemed to whisper
'Just forget Him, He's dead.'
Then the Father looked down
to his son and he said..

Arise, My love.
Arise, My love.
The grave no longer
has a hold on you
No more death's sting
No more suffering love.

The Earth trembled
and the tomb began to shake,
and like lightening
from Heaven the stone was rolled away.
And as dead man
the guards they all stood there in fright
As the power of love
displayed its might
Then suddenly a melody
filled the air
Riding wings of wind,
it was everywhere
The words all creation
had been longing to hear
The sweet sound of victory,
so loud and clear.

Arise, my love.
Arise, my love.
The grave no longer has a hold on you.
No more death's sting
no more suffering

Sin, where are your shackles?
Death, where is your sting?
Hell; has been defeated.
The grave could not hold the king.

Arise, My love.
Arise, My love.
The grave no longer
has a hold on you
No more death's sting
No more suffering

Originally posted in April, 2008