Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recipe of the Week - Lemon Glaze Lemon Bars with Blackberries

Hmmm, am I motivated enough to start a new feature on this blog....Recipe of the Week? We shall see. I tried this a while back on my regular blog but I never could keep up. For this blog's Recipe of the Week, I plan to either elaborate on a recipe I posted on Menu Plan Monday or offer up something new and different that I made but didn't post on Menu Plan Monday.
Last week when I made tons of cookies for Tom's lab, one of the things I decided to bake was Luscious Lemon Bars. I happened to have some leftover lemon drizzle from a box of lemon-poppy seed muffin mix (I made the muffins without the drizzle). I heated up the lemon bars in the microwave for a few seconds, drizzled a little lemon glaze on top, then added some blackberries, and drizzled a little bit more lemon glaze. Nom nom nom. A sweet snack with a tiny bit of healthiness!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I *heart* turkey leftovers! There are so many yummy things to make and I love that the meat is already cooked!

Sunday: Best Ever Turkey Noodle Soup
Monday: Chicken Casserole from an Amish cookbook Tom's mom gave me last year for Christmas (But with leftover turkey)
Tuesday: Crockpot Pizza Rice Casserole (from Fix it and Forget it), salad
Wednesday: Company Mac & Cheese, Garlic Cheddar Chicken, Sauteed Apples
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Dinner with The Drankas! Happy New Year!
Saturday: Stuffed Pork chops, Some sort of veggie mix, orzo

As always, be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Weekly Savings - Christmas Edition

Merry Christmas!! We only did a little grocery shopping at the beginning of this week. Notice I said "We." Tom came with me to help carry everything on our trip to Aldi. It was supposed to only be a small trip but then I bought some extra items to make cookies for Tom's lab and then of course, we picked up some extra things as we were strolling down the aisles.
Spent: $43.77
We also swung by CVS because I had some ECB's that I needed to use up. I spent $1.60 OOP (out of pocket) which was basically all tax! Before tax my total came to $0.01!! And then I received $11.99 back in brand new ECB's! I think that's the best scenario I've ever done!


We also ran into Jewel real quick and spent $6.66 (yikes!) on sausage and some nose pad things to fix Tom's glasses.

Total for the week: $52.03 Not too bad!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

First of all, allow me to recommend the Hot Chicken Salad Sandwiches from last week. Yum! I heated everything in the microwave for time's sake and it was SO good! I imagine it would be better in the crock pot (if you have the time) because it allows the flavors to blend together a little longer, but it was amazing in the microwave alone.


Sunday: Spinach stuffed chicken
I'm kind of going to wing this one. I found the recipe in a magazine. Some spinach, some cheese....I'll let you know how it turns out :)

Monday: Cha-cha's White Chicken Chili, pineapple

Tuesday: Crock Pot Amazing meat loaf (from Fix it and Forget it), salad

Wednesday: Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Fiesta Surprise
I made up this last year with some leftovers I had on hand and it ended up being an instant favorite.

1 can rotel, 1/2 pound ground beef (cooked), 1-2 cups cooked rice, shredded fiesta cheese, broken up tortilla chips. Mix all ingredients, sprinkle cheese on top and put in oven for ~15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Christmas: Two hour Turkey (which always takes longer than 2 hours!), stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, asparagus



As always, be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weekly Savings

This week was crazy with me going back to work. I am kind of cheating on this post and am going to post my shopping trip from last Friday. 1 - Because I didn't go to a single store this week and 2 - I went shopping an additional time last Friday even though I already spent a lot because the deals were really good and I knew that would be my last big shopping trip for a while!

We keep getting flyers from a store that I've never heard of, Tony's Finer Foods, and everything always seems so cheap! So last Friday I decided to check it out. Total Spent: $34.76
Bought: 1 pizza, 6-pack Magic Hat, 4 gallons of milk, 1 eggplant, 2 cartons blackberries, 2 boxes waffles, 1 gallon apple cider, 1 margarine tub, frozen veggies, 4 small whole chickens

I lied - we stopped at Target one night on the way home to get creamer, vitamins, scrub sponges, and popcorn kernals (I only had coupons for the creamer and we missed a sale on the popcorn kernals by 2 days! I hate paying full price for vitamins!) Spent: $19.81
I don't really plan on doing a lot of shopping the next few weeks. We are stocked up on so much so the only things I see us buying our things like milk, eggs, bread and maybe the occasional super good deal. We'll see how that goes!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars

I had seen a couple of other bloggers post about this and came across it again in one of my magazines, so I decided to give it a whirl. I need to eat something in the morning before work but I am also extremely pressed for time in the morning so cooking or even heating something up is out of the question. (Yes, I need that extra 15 minutes of sleep. End of discussion).

So I thought homemade granola bars would be a good way to go. I can put whatever I want into it, make a big batch ahead of time, and just grab 1 or 2 on the way out the door in the morning. (The link wants you to sign in to Taste of Home's website, but if you don't click it anything, you can scroll up and down and still see the recipe). So good, so easy, and relatively healthy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I think I want to start posting more about food and recipes on this blog. Every time I post a "Menu Plan Monday" post I really want to elaborate more about some of my meals and/or post recipes for the meals that I don't have links to, but I never seem to have enough time. I'm going to try and post at least one recipe or "kitchen adventure" a week. Here is our plan for this week. I'm plenty stocked up on food so we should be good for a while!

Saturday: (this changed from last week so I wanted to include it): Butternut Squash soup, salad
Sunday: Crockpot Whole Chicken (I just seasoned the chicken with some paprika, butter, garlic cloves, salt & pepper, threw it in the crockpot with a little chicken broth, and let it cook for 7 hours), mashed potatoes, peas
Monday: Eggplant Parmesan
Tuesday: Hot chicken salad sandwiches (from Fix-It and Forget-It: 5-ingredient favorites with leftover chicken from Sunday)
2 Tbsp. onion, minced, 1 cup mayo, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1.5 cups shredded cooked chicken, 1/2 cup slivered almonds or pecans. Mix all in slow cooker on low for 2 hours or until heated through. For time's sake I might just mix this all in the microwave.
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Something with tortillas and leftover chicken...quesadillas or fajitas maybe?
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Dinner out


As always, be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weekly Savings

I should start calling this "Weekly Spending!" I went to A LOT of stores again this week, but there were a bunch of good deals on meat so I figured I better stock up! Also, once I start work next week I won't have as much time to run to 100 different stores to get all the best deals.
Here we go:
Dominick's Trip # 1 $16.05
I combined Frugal Tip Numbers 13 and 15 (Freeze perishables and Stock up!) I divided up the meat into 1-meal-portion-sizes in small ziplock bags, then put 6 bags in each large freezer bag to protect against freezer burn. I also used a pound for dinner on Sunday night, so $16.05 worth of meat will stretch into about 13 meals for us!
Jewel Trip #1 - $5.52
Nothing fancy about this trip, just a few things that were on sale.
Below is a combined picture of the 5 stores that I went to while participating in my own "Super Errand Monday." I wasn't really planning on going to this many stores (if any) but some Chicagoland Frugal Bloggers were posting about really good deals! I spent $36.06 (with tax). My favorite were the 12 Nestle Nutcracker chocolates I got from Walgreens...all I had to pay was tax! Don't tell Tom, because they are going to end up in his stocking for Christmas :) (They were on sale for 3/$1 and I had two $2/3 coupons from last Sunday's paper. I bought 12, they totaled $4, I used 2 coupons, and Voila! Free chocolate :)
Jewel Trip #2 $2.79 (Left)
Target $9.40 (Received $5 Target GC for next purchase) (Top Left)
Aldi $10.24 (Top Right)
Dominick's Trip #2 $13.21 (Bottom Center)
Walgreens $0.39 (Bottom Right)

Total: $57.63

Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Hmmmm, what to make this week. This is my last week before I go back to work so I feel like I should take advantage of actually having time to cook and whip up some good meals. We'll see...

Sunday Hamburger Noodle Bake (It says you have to log in to see the recipe, but you can still see it by scrolling down, just leave the "log-in" box there)
Monday Chicken Cheddar Chowder, spinach salad, crusty bread
Tuesday Broccoli Quiche
Wednesday Salsa Chicken & Black Bean soup
Thursday A1 Mozzarella Burgers, peas, mashed potatoes
Friday Buffalo chicken pockets, salad
Saturday Leftovers

As always, be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weekly Savings

Ok, since my last confession, post, I feel the need to be completely honest and post all of my purchases for the week. Usually I just post the best deals of the week, and leave things like "Bought 3 gallons of milk at Aldi" out. I can't promise pictures for everything, but if you're anything like Tom, you skim the blog and just look at the pictures so I'll try to remember to snap a few when I get in the door. (Although once I start working again I really can't guarantee pics, because, who has time for that?! ;)

So, here we go!

Aldi Trip #1 - $11.70
Home Depot Trip #1 - $16.42
Jewel Trip #1 - $7.06
Jewel Trip #2 - $4.76
Target Trip #1 - $15.73
Walgreens - $5.37
Aldi Trip #2 - $14.64
Target Trip #2 - $9.55
Home Depot Trip #2 - $ 35.23
TOTAL: $120.46 (Under our budget of $150/week to spend on everything. But honestly, our budget has kind of been out the window lately with the move and me not having a paycheck!) And that's a lot more trips than we usually do, but it's easy to run around the corner to the store when you're not working!
This is Walgreens (on top/left) and Jewel Trip #2. At Walgreens I spent $5.37, saved $7.24, and received $2.99 back in RR to use the next time. The chicken was on sale for $0.78/lb at Jewel. I plan to use it for one of our favorite's....Beer Can Chicken.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I need an Intervention

Ugh, I am addicted to bargain shopping!! I suppose it's not the worst thing to be addicted to, I mean, we get a TON of stuff for super cheap (or free).

So what's the problem?

I am always spending money! Today I went to three stores and dropped $25 like nothing! (I did get some good deals, and it was mostly stuff we needed...2 bottles of toilet bowl cleaner, an 8 pack of soap, a shirt ($5), painting materials, creamer, butter, and a 6 pound chicken.

I do usually stick to our weekly budget, and rarely go over, but I'm thinking I might want to try the beloved "Envelope Method" and just use the cash. When it's gone, it's gone.

Part of this revelation is coming from me being out of work for 7 weeks, and part of it is from us really wanting to buy a house in the next year and me feeling strongly about putting 20% down. I think I'm going start the cash only system in January, once I start getting regular paychecks and we can get back in our budget groove. Until then, I'm going to carefully consider every purchase and assess whether it's a "necessity" or not. (BTW, my favorite champagne that happens to be on sale for $4.49 at Jewel now through January 3rd is most definitely a necessity ;)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Tuesday Edition

Oops!! Forgot to post this yesterday! Let's see, I haven't given it much thought. Thanksgiving and the leftovers were so elaborate and planned out that regular weekday meals seem so "blah" now!

Sunday: PW's Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
Monday: Spaghetti
Tuesday: Broccoli, turkey, and cheese bake
Wednesday: Salad, Crockpot Mozzarella Chicken
Thursday: Chicken Scampi, cauliflower
Friday: Homemade calzones
Saturday: I'm always stumped on Saturdays...maybe some kind of soup?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weekly Savings

This week was a doozy! I had such great deals worked out...or so I thought (no really, I did) and I ended up spending $85 between Target and Jewel! But here is what I got!!
At Target I spent $44.70 and saved $25.02. The $25 bag of dog food was the budget buster for this trip but we are almost out of dog food, it was on sale, I had a $2 off coupon, and I got a $5 Target giftcard for purchasing it.
Bought:
2 dozen eggs
2 bags shredded cheese
1 ranch dressing
1 bottle cayenne pepper
1 bottle bay leaves
1 carton heavy cream
1 pound of carrots
holiday decorations
game for Tom's nephew
31 pound bag of Beneful (not pictured)
At Jewel I spent $40.71 and saved $38.62. I think it's pretty amazing that my spending/saving ratio is similar considering I bought a 12 pack of Sam Adams and a turkey. But the best part? I paid $2.75 for a 12 pound turkey! And yes, this is my second turkey, but how can you pass up a turkey for $2.75? I'll probably just keep it in the freezer until Christmas. I stocked up on some cheap vegetables (or cheap for up here) and picked up a few key ingredients for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Bought:
10 boxes Green Giant vegetables
12 pack Sam Adams
12 pound turkey
3 pound pot roast
5 sweet potatoes
2 bags shredded cheese
3 lemons
1 box corn starch
1 bag cinnamon rolls
3 containters sage, rosemary, & thyme
1/2 pint of oysters

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Black Friday Deals

Surprisingly, I chose to sleep in this morning and not fight the masses at Chicago's retail stores. I left the house one time, and that was for a total of 21 minutes to walk to Walgreens and pick up a few things that were on sale :) I spent $3.97 plus tax and saved $16.30 according to my receipts. AND, I got $2.99 back in RR's to spend the next time I go to Walgreens!

Bought
2 Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice
Bic Soleil razors
Hair bands
2L of Canada Dry Gingerale

Thursday, November 25, 2010

CVS Black Friday Trip

But Anne, it's Thursday, how can you already have posted about your CVS Black Friday Trip?

Well, I'm glad you asked ;) Apparently CVS is open on Thanksgiving! I actually didn't plan to leave the house today, but we were almost out of milk, so I figured I might as well go to CVS, buy a few things for super cheap (including milk) and build my supply of ECB's back up!
I got all of this (pictured below) for $7.51 + tax and I received $11.77 in ECB's!!!

Bought
1 Gallon of milk
Herbal Essences Shampoo and Conditioner
Eucerin Lotion
Colgate Toothpaste
Gillette Deodorant
Carmex Lip Balm
Reeses Pieces

According to my receipts I saved $23.61 (Yes, that is receiptS as in plural...I divided up my order into 4 transactions to minimize my OOP cost).

And believe it or not, I'm actually NOT going shopping tomorrow! I may hit up Walgreens for some cheap razors and sparkling grape juice, but I don't really count that as Black Friday Shopping. This will be the first time in as long as I can remember that I haven't gone shopping on Black Friday!! Hopefully it's a sign of my progress in regards to only buying what we "need" or really, really, really want!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I'm so excited for this week! I LOVE Thanksgiving and I LOVE cooking on Thanksgiving! Unfortunately, my husband and I aren't able to make it home this year due to our recent move and the uncertainty of my job situation. So, once again, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving just the two of us. But I really enjoy it :) Here is the plan for this week, including the big plan for Thursday!

Sunday: Salad, Company Mac and Cheese
Monday: Italian Spinach Pie
Tuesday: Beef beer roast, Oven roasted potatoes
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Oyster Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Herb Roasted Turkey & Stuffing, Lemon Meringue Pie
Friday: Pioneer Woman's Turkey Pot Pie
Saturday: Best Ever Turkey Noodle Soup

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekly Savings

I have to be honest, I've had a hard time getting back in the "savings groove." It was just so EASY to go into Publix and walk out with a cartload of groceries and save double -to - triple what I spent! Part of the beauty of Publix was that they doubled manufacturer's coupons up to $0.50. So a $0.50 coupon was actually a $1 coupon. I have yet to find a store here that doubles coupons (okay, I haven't looked that hard, but none of the stores that are in a 1 mile radius of my apartment double coupons). I feel like I've had to make an effort to find things that we need on sale. And a "sale" might be a decent price, but it doesn't have me getting that "excited/crazy/have to stock up on as much as I can now" feeling like I used to get when grocery shopping.

All of that being said, I feel like I didn't do too bad this week. I made a BIG trip to Aldi and bought about $50 worth of groceries. It was the most I've ever spent in a single trip to Aldi, but I was able to get a few staples to start cooking up some meals for the freezer. I wish I snapped a picture of it but I forgot.

I also went to CVS and Target. Ohh! I almost forgot...I've been having such a hard time getting COUPONS up here as well! I got a good deal on the Sunday paper ($0.50/week for Sunday delivery only) so I'm hoping the coupons will be in the delivered Tribune (because they aren't in the ones at the Dollar Store). (I'm also hoping that no one steals my paper as anyone could walk by on the street and pick it up).

Ok, CVS and Target. All of that to say that I could have gotten an even better deal at CVS on the Ragu sauce if I had gotten coupons in either of the two papers I bought last Sunday.
Target (on left)
Spent: $8.45 + tax
Bought: 4 boxes Stove Top, 1 - 11 pound turkey, 8 cream of chicken/mushroom soup
CVS (on right)
Spent: $4 + tax
Bought: 6 jars of Ragu
Received: $3 ECB's

Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I have to admit, it's been nice to have a little break from all of the menu planning. When all you have in your house are a few items, you really don't have that many choices for dinner! But that too can get old. I'm going to try to get back on the Menu Planning Bandwagon this week. I'm also going to try and do a little freezer cooking this week to prepare for when I go back to work (which will hopefully be soon!) Here is my plan for this week:

Sunday Crispy herb baked chicken, toasted orzo, avocados
Monday World's Best Potato Salad, An adaptation of Pioneer Woman's Potato Skins, salad
Tuesday Baked Potato Soup, salad
Wednesday Almond, Chicken, and Rice Casserole
Thursday Chicken Quesadillas
Friday Homemade pizza with Pioneer Woman's pizza crust recipe
Saturday I'm not really sure yet! Possibly leftovers, possibly some kind of soup

Saturday, November 13, 2010

CVS & Walgreens...again

So, apparently, these are my two main drug stores again. Walgreens is actually about 1/4 mile from our apartment and CVS is maybe 1/2 mile. I still haven't found a Rite Aid yet but I haven't been too crazy about shopping there since they shifted their focus from their rebates to their Up rewards program (which is a serious bummer because I used to always make money when I shopped their by using coupons and their rebates...I guess that may be part of the reason they are getting away from it!)

I had worked out a different scenario at CVS, but I didn't go shopping until Friday and they were out of what I needed. So I had to do a little impromptu shopping in the store. I had $6 in ECB's to spend and a $5/$30 coupon that printed out from the coupon scanner. I got everything you see below for $14 + tax, and I received another $6 in ECB's! According to the receipt I saved $35.90
At Walgreens I spent $3.05 total and got everything below. I had coupons to make the toothbrushes free and a $1 RR to use from my last visit.


Can you tell it's almost baking season? And free toothbrushes so we don't get cavities. :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

CVS & Walgreens

Between all of my packing last week I managed to run into CVS and Walgreens for a few items. I had ECB's and RR's that were going to expire. I want to keep my ECB's at CVS rolling and I want to get every penny's worth of stuff I can from Walgreens (long story). This is the best I have done at either of these stores! At CVS I spent $1.69 for one Olay body wash, one travel size Secret deodorant, and one Oral B Cross-Action Power toothbrush. At Walgreens I spent $0.52 and bought 2 boxes of brown sugar, 1 box of confectionate sugar, and 3 cans of tomato sauce. I received $5 in ECB's from CVS and somehow received $1 in RR from Walgreens.

Total: $2.21 for all items below (including tax)

CVS (on the left), Walgreens (on the right)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Top 5 Favorite Kitchen Items

In light of recently packing up my entire kitchen, here are my Top 5 Favorite Kitchen Items. I am all about saving money and not purchasing items I don't need, but these are all items that I LOVE and that save a significant amount of time in the kitchen.

1. Kitchenaid Scissors
2. Food Processor
3. Mini Food Processor
4. Garlic Press
5. Crock pot

What are your favorite kitchen items???

Monday, November 1, 2010

We interrupt regularly scheduled Menu Plan Monday....

...to tell you that I am (apparently) a liar. Back in July I posted about Five Things We Don't Mind Going Without. Then, last Thursday night, on a COMPLETE IMPULSE, I broke down and purchased #4 on my list, a GPS. I was so proud of us for navigating around Chicago a couple of weekends ago with just a plain old map.

But the key word is "us." It would have been much more difficult had it been just one of us trying to find our way. And Chicago IS the 3rd largest city in the country! And I did just earn some extra money from completing the Virgin Healthymiles program through my work. Okay, I am completely rationalizing my purchase!

I think what surprises me more than anything is the complete spontaneity of it. Usually I research, and research, and research products and debate over whether or not we really need them and then spend days to weeks trying to find the best deal. Not Thursday night. The whole process took less than an hour. And I don't regret it one bit :)

*Regularly scheduled Menu Plan Monday may or may not return next week. It all depends on when our movers arrive with all of our belongings and if our internet is set up at the new place and if I'm organized enough to make a menu plan for our first week in our new apartment in a new city!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Last Ever Publix Trip!!

I am so sad that they don't have Publix in Chicago!! I almost got teary eyed walking out of the store the other day! I had to go shopping on Wednesday so I could get the Penny Item one last time. For my last trip, you know I had to go out with a bang! So here it is:
Spent: $10.97
Saved: $31.24

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

5 Purchases I don't regret

Regardless of how frugal you are or how much you try to save money, there are definitely some things that are absolutely worth spending money on. Here are my top five.


  1. Bailey. I love, love, love our dog. She didn't really cost a lot of money ($75 from the shelter) but all of the things that come along with owning a dog certainly add up. We've actually been pretty fortunate in that she's a pretty low maintainence and so far (knock on wood) we haven't had any emergency vet visits.

  2. Our tv. I watch a decent amount of tv. I really enjoy it and it helps me unwind. Plus sports are awesome in hi-def.

  3. My netbook. I was kind of going back and forth on getting one, but I'm really, really glad I did. I'm definitely getting my money out of it.

  4. Our apartment. We could definitely live in a smaller place or different area and pay less in rent. It's all relative, as what we pay now is equivalent to what I paid in Philadelphia and we easily have twice the space plus a few extra nice amenities (private outdoor space, use of the pool, tennis courts, W/D in apt, dishwasher). (Even though this will all be changing soon!)

  5. Our car. We didn't exactly do the smart thing with our first joint car purchase....we leased it. But our lease has ended and we purchased it outright. In the longterm we've paid more on the car than it's worth, but we learned our lesson and we really enjoy not having a car payment.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This is going to be an interesting one! We basically need to eat whatever is in our freezer this week and a little bit into next week before our big move! We're finally on our last bag of tortellini!

Sunday: Hamburgers, broccoli and mozzarella cheese mixture
Monday: Broccoli quiche
Tuesday: Cheesy Chicken & Rice casserole
Wednesday: Jim 'N Nick's
Thursday: Tomato, mozzarella, & pasta baked mixture
Friday: Tortellini, garlic bread, salad
Saturday: Almond chicken & rice casserole

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Walmart: Not Frugal, Not Fun

Not frugal because they overcharged me. Not fun because their customer service is terrible!

I have never been a "fan" of Walmart, but I must confess that I continue to shop there because it is so convenient (literally less than a mile from where we live) and usually pretty cheap. I don't do the bulk of my shopping there, but I will run in if we are out of something or need eggs, creamer, etc, because it is usually cheaper there than anywhere else. From now on, I'm making a pledge to avoid Walmart like the plague. I think it's time I jump on the Hating Walmart bandwagon and never look back. (I mean, there is a reason why Google produces 271,000 results when you type in "I hate Walmart.") Here is a copy of the lovely letter I filed on their website:


Dear Walmart,

I was in your Walmart (Store #1481, Transaction # XXXX) today (10/24/10) and I bought 19 of the Key Lime flavored waters (we thoroughly enjoy them). I did not count how many we had prior to our transaction, but I did count them along with the cashier as she was ringing them up. I counted 19. As the cashier handed me the receipt, I saw that she had charged us for 21 waters. I double counted the waters in the bags in my cart because I thought maybe I had miscounted. No, there were still only 19 waters.

By this time the cashier was ringing up the next customer, so instead of interrupting her I went over to the (already long) Customer Service line. I waited in this line for about 10 minutes, as there was only 1 person working at Customer Service (despite there continuing to be a long line of customers behind me). Finally, a Customer Service “Manager” came to help, and I happened to be the next person in line.

I explained to him that I had only purchased 19 waters (still all in my cart in case he wanted to count them) but I was charged for 21. He proceeded to try to refund me 3 waters, even though 21 minus 19 equals 2. However, he was unable to get the register to work (after about 5 minutes of trying) to refund the money on my debit card.

In the past when I have been overcharged (yes, this has happened several times at this Walmart), the Customer Service representative simply refunded the difference to me in cash.

The Customer Service "manager" said I would have to go to the next Customer Service representative/register, even though there were 2 other registers open next to him. I had already wasted 15 minutes of my life, simply to get the $1.28 + tax returned to me for which I had been overcharged. I did not feel like wasting any more time in this store because Walmart employees could not count, so I left, very upset.

It’s not about the money. I will certainly be able to put food on the table and I won’t lose my apartment just because Walmart stole $1.28 from me. It’s the principle of the matter, that not one, but two Walmart employees could not accurately count, and the amount of time I wasted in your store today was ridiculous.

There is a rapidly growing fan base against Walmart and I can easily see why. I certainly would rather go out of my way and spend more money than return to this Walmart and chance facing another unpleasant experience such as this one.

Sincerely,
Anne

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Publix & Walgreens

Two weeks ago I ran a morning full of errands, right up until the minute I hurt my back. I immediately went home and later went to the ER, and then I spent about a week on the couch and the past week readjusting to work, so I never got around to posting about my deals. The best deal I got was at Walgreens where I bought 2 Vicks Sinex products, used two $4 off coupons, spent $3 out of pocket (including tax) and received $5 in Register Rewards (RR) to be used on my next purchase at Walgreens.
That brings me to today, where at Walgreens I spent $3.44 and saved $21.41 and received $2 in RR to be spent at my next visit. Then I went to Publix and spent $3.26 and saved $12.13. I had some simple miscalculation errors on my part (I guess it shows that I haven't been couponing in 2 weeks?!) or I would have saved even more!
Publix Trip (on the left) Walgreens Trip (on the right)

Spent: $6.70
Saved: $33.54

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Give it away!

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.

You know you have reached Expert Level in couponing when you get free items with coupons just to donate or give away to those in need.


This is the end of the Grocery Budget Series! Stay tuned for something new and exciting on Frugal Made Fun!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I'm really glad that I was organized (read: anal-retentive) enough to make our menu plan up for Sept-October in August. Between my back injury and the move we would be eating chips and pizza every night if I hadn't planned it out! This is the "plan" for this week. You will notice that we have a lot of veggie burgers and tortellini to eat up before we leave!

Sunday: One Pot Spaghetti
Monday: White chicken chili in crock pot
Tuesday: Potluck Going Away Dinner with work
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Tortelleni with vodka sauce, garlic bread, salad
Friday: Spicy black bean veggie burgers, rice, salad
Saturday: Tortellini Soup

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Maximize your list

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.

If you're anything like me, you’ve been shopping with a grocery list for some time now. Why not make it a little better? There have been several times where I picked up the wrong item or accidently brought along the wrong coupon, or even had an item ring up at the wrong price but I didn’t realize it until after I got home.

In addition to your list items, you will want to write down how many of the items you want and how much the items should cost after your coupons. This also gives you a really great idea of how much you will be spending before you even step foot in the store! I'll also write down the size of the item on sale or the size the coupon is for, because there's nothing worse than buying the wrong size item and paying full price!! (Okay, there are plenty of things that are worse than that...but it still makes me mad!)

Finally, if I have a lot of time, I'll even write down the items in the order that I will find them in the store. It takes a little extra prep time but significantly cuts down on my time in the store!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Use multiple coupons

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.

Shop at stores that allow you to use multiple coupons on the same items. Some stores allow you to use a store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon on the same item...when combined with a sale this can mean free or close to free items!

A few common stores that accept multiple coupons on the same item are CVS, Publix, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. Some stores require that you have at least as many items as you do coupons. And sometimes stores will put out coupons that *look* like store coupons (i.e. they say "Publix" or "CVS" on them but they may also say "Manufacturer Coupon" somewhere on them so be sure to double check before you try to combine coupons!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Our menu plan for this week is completely up in the air due to my back injury. We'll be eating a couple of meals out of the freezer and I've planned a few other simple things that won't take Tom too long to whip up.

Sunday: Best ever chicken noodle soup (from the freezer)
Monday: Chicken Tortilla Casserole (from the freezer), salad
Tuesday: Spicy black bean veggie burgers, rice, broccoli
Wednesday: Fettucini Alfredo, salad
Thursday - Saturday: We were supposed to go to Chicago to find a place to live, meet with potential employers (for me), and meet with Tom's lab. I'm not sure if we're both still going to go.

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Publix Trip: Quadruple Savings!

This may have been my best Publix trip yet! I feel like I say that every week ;) It's really nice when you don't have to buy food because your pantry and freezer are stocked (even though you're trying to widdle them down before moving!) There were quite a few items that were free or better than free after coupons. I also went to CVS and paid $1 OOP for a razor and got another $5 back in ECB's.


Spent: $10.42
Saved: $43.75

Bought:
2 bottles Hidden Valley salad dressing
3 containers bread crumbs
Green beans
Salad
2 cans Chunky soup
2 bottles iron pills
2 bottles vitamins
2 boxes of pasta
Resolve Spray 'n Wash
Taco seasoning
Publix Cola (penny item)


This may be your last awesome Publix Trip post in a while, unfortunately. I can't even fathom standing up long enough to cook dinner let alone going to the grocery store. And a $150 ER co-pay also makes me want to save a little money. You can read all about that here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Only buy things when they are on sale

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.

Only buy things when they are on sale - this takes patientce and discipline...this is why I put this toward the end of the series. If you use coupons, buy things when they are on sale, and buy enough to last you 6-8 week,s until the next sale, you will be set! Not to mention you will be saving a ton of money!

There are few things (if any) that I pay full price for. Almost everything we purchase (groceries, toiletries, household items) can be bought when they are on sale and stored until you need them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Follow frugal bloggers

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.

I posted about this in my 100 Frugal Tips, but it is certainly worth mentioning again. And it really makes grocery shopping so EASY!!! There are several frugal bloggers who post all the sale items each week for various grocery stores and tell you where to get the coupons from. They do all of the work for you! All you have to do is make your list, gather your coupons, and off you go!

Here are a few of my favorites:
http://www.southernsavers.com
http://www.moneysavingmom.com
http://www.hotcouponworld.com

If you can't find your grocery store match-ups on any of the above sites, google your grocery store name + "coupon match ups" and see what comes up!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I've come to accept the fact that our weekly "Menu Plan" has become more of a weekly "Menu Suggestion/Guideline."

Sunday: Leftovers from grilling on Saturday
Monday: Ravioli, garlic bread, salad
Tuesday: Pizza meatloaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Wednesday: Fettucini Alfredo, salad
Thursday: Broccoli & cheddar soup
Friday: Possible celebratory dinner out
Saturday: Cheesy Chicken & Rice casserole

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

CVS & Publix: Spent $22 Saved: $43.32 ECB: $5

I really am trying to keep my shopping to a minimum these days, but it seems I am a deal junkie. Plus, I really just got into the CVS game so it's fun to get a lot of quality products for dirt cheap.
Publix
Spent: $14.51
Saved: $24.85
Bought
2 New England Coffee
2 jars Pace salsa
1 box Fiber One bars
4 blocks of cheese
1 pack Cheese singles

CVS
Spent: $7.50
Saved: $18.47
Received $5 in ECBs to be used on my next trip to CVS. (So if you count the ECB, I actually spent $2.50 at CVS).
Bought
2 packs Tampax Pearl
1 Dawn dish soap
2 Olay face wash

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Be on the lookout for coupons

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.


Not only is the grocery store a great place to use coupons, it's a great place to find coupons too! Be on the lookout for coupons throughout your grocery store on your next visit. Here are some different kinds of coupons that can be found in various stores:

Blinkies: These are little black mounts near different products in the store. They're called "blinkies" because they usually have a little red light that blinks and when you pull out a coupon, another one pops up.
Tearpads: There are exactly like they sound. Found in front of whatever product the coupon is for. Just tear one off!
Peelies: These are coupons found on the actual package. I never take/use these unless I actually purchase the object.
Display stands: Don't breeze past display stands, sometimes they have sheets of coupons for products in or near the stand.


Be sure to look inside boxes and packages before recycling them or throwing them away. Occasionally manufacturer's put coupons on the inside of packaging.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Don't use EVERY coupon!

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.

Just because you now have lots of coupons certainly doesn't mean you have to use them all! Don’t feel the need to use a coupon if you’re not going to use the product! (unless it’s free and you're planning on donating it). I only use probably 1/4 of the coupons that I clip, but it's well worth it to clip all of them. You never know when a product is going to go on sale and with a coupon you can get it for a rock bottom price!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was kind of a blur. I spent the evenings searching the internet like a crazy woman looking for a place to live when we move to Chicago. So there were a couple of nights where we may have just eaten random snacks for dinner because I didn't feel like cooking anything...even though it was all planned out! Here is our plan for this week!

Sunday: King Ranch Chicken casserole
Monday: Broccoli quiche
Tuesday: Morningstar chicken veggie burgers, potatoes, salad
Wednesday: Garlic cheddar chicken, pasta side, salad
Thursday: Broccoli Casserole (from the freezer)
Friday: Spicy black bean veggie burgers, rice, salad
Saturday: Burgers, bratwurst, and other foods from the grill!

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Publix Trip...I can't stay away.

Yes, we are moving in five weeks. And yes, I bought a lot of food. And yes, I said I wasn't going to. But I can't help it!! In my defense, Tom will have the fish sticks and pretzels gone in a week!
Spent: $19.42
Saved: $49.79

Bought:
1 box Fiber One cereal
4 Progresso soups
2 bottles Wishbone salad dressing
1 bottle Log Cabin Syrup
3 boxes of tissues
2 bags Gorton's fish sticks
1 bag salad
7 four packs of Fiber One Yogurt
3 boxes of soft pretzels

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Organize Your Coupons

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.

Cutting coupons is a great way to save money. But if you don't take the time to organize them, what's the point? You'll never be able to find what you're looking for! There are many, many different ways to organize coupons. My advice is to do whatever works best for you. Everyone thinks a little bit differently and what works well for some people may not work well for others.

Here and here are some great resources with some different ideas to organize coupons. I personally use a coupon organizer like this one and divide coupons between 3 categories (Food, Health & Beauty, and Household Supplies), and then I organize them alphabetically. It works really well for me!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Know your coupon policies

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.

Different stores have different coupon policies. The next time you set foot in your favorite grocery store, be sure to swing by the Customer Service desk to find out the exact policy. Here are a few good questions to get you started:

1. Do you double coupons? If so, up to what value?
Some grocery stores double manufacturer coupons up to $0.50

2. Do you offer any store coupons?
Some grocery stores put out their own coupons each month.

3. Can I use a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon for the same item?
Some grocery stores allow you to "double up" and use a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon for the same item.

4. Is there a limit on the number of coupons I can use?
Some stores require that you have at least as many items as you do coupons. Usually this can be "overridden" by a manager but most cashiers do not know how to do this.

5. Do you accept printable coupons?
Most stores do, but there are some that don't. Also, some stores only accept printable coupons below a certain $ amount (i.e. some won't accept printable coupons over $5).

6. Do you price match?
Some stores (like Walmart and Target) will price match competitor's items if you bring in the flyer and buy the exact same thing. There are limitations on this as well (i.e. Walmart will not price match items that are "Buy one, Get one free.")

7. Do you accept competitor coupons?
Some grocery stores accept competitor coupons in addition to their own. This can be great because there are a lot of stores (drugstores included) that offer coupons that are $5 off $25 or something similar.

8. Do you offer any coupon promotions throughout the year?
Some stores offer double or triple coupon days.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

We did it! Last week we actually stuck to our menu plan! Well, almost! We went out for drinks after work on Friday with Tom's lab and ended up getting a few things to eat out. So much for our under $20 week! Here's what's on tap for this week!

Sunday: Gnocchi, frozen veggies
Monday: Broccoli quiche
Tuesday: Tuna Melts, salad
Wednesday: Chicken parm w/ pasta, fruit
Thursday: Spicy black bean veggie burgers, rice, salad
Friday: Homemade calzone
Saturday: King Ranch Chicken casserole

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Publix Trip

So far I'm sticking to my word and still only buying things from Publix that are super cheap! I really couldn't pass up $0.20 soup, especially considering how quickly my husband goes through them! Also, I think this may have been my best ever Publix trip in regards to saving. I saved quadruple what I spent!

Spent: $8.72
Saved: $32.83

Bought:
8 cans Campbell's Select Harvest soup
2 boxes Ronzoni orzo
2 boxes finish dishwasher detergent
1 box of Wheat Thins
1 bag of Publix coffee (this was the penny item)

We also went to Sam's Club and bought 4 gallons of milk at $2.39 each for a total of $10.42.

So we spent $19.14 on groceries this week. Not too shabby :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Get coupons via the Sunday Paper

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.



The majority of coupons come from the Sunday paper. There are usually at least 2 inserts (smartsource & redplum) in every Sunday paper (except for major holidays). If you don't already receive the Sunday paper, you can buy it for only $1 at The Dollar Store. You could also call your local paper or visit their website. A lot of papers offer specials on Sunday or weekend delivery. For example, we currently get the Wednesday and Sunday papers for only $1/week. This site even tells you which inserts, and what coupons, will be in each Sunday's paper. Keep in mind that there are regional differences, but this site can give you an idea if you want to buy that Sunday's paper (or if you want to buy several)!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Online coupons

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.



The easiest way to adjust to using coupons is to print online coupons for free. (But be sure to check with your grocery store to make sure they accept printable coupons, most do, but it doesn't hurt to double check). Most coupon sites have you download a "coupon printer" and require you to register with them. I recommend creating an email account solely for coupon sites so your regular email doesn't get bombarded with coupon emails! Here are a few good free coupon websites:

http://www.coupons.com/
http://www.smartsource.com/
http://www.redplum.com/
http://www.bettycrocker.com/
http://www.eatbetteramerica.com/


A few important things to remember about printable coupons:

  • Most websites reset on the 1st of every month
  • You can print 2 coupons per computer (by hitting the "back" and then the "refresh" buttons)
  • You CANNOT photocopy these coupons! That is illegal. Most of them have watermarks to prevent people from doing this.
  • All coupons have an overall "print limit." This means if it is something popular, it may not be available all month. So if you see a printable coupon you know you will use, go ahead and print it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last week we ended up having leftovers several nights during the week. The Chicken Tortilla Casserole and Chili Noodle Casserole made A TON of food! Here's the plan for this week.

Sunday: Stuffed shells, salad, garlic bread
Monday: Lemon Garlic Tilapia, orzo, frozen veggies
Tuesday: Romano's Grill spicy sausage and pasta
Wednesday: Frozen veggie mix, baked pasta with cheese and chicken
Thursday: Slow cooker salsa chicken
Friday: Spicy black bean veggie burgers (Morningstar), rice, salad
Saturday: Sausage & Broccoli Noodle Casserole (from the Ultimate Casserole Book)

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Publix Trip & Tailgating Disaster (for the budget)

We did AWESOME this week with our grocery spending. I was true to my word and only stocked up on a few things at Publix because they were super cheap. Our tailgating grocery store/walmart/sam's/package store trips were a whole different story! And then when it's 95 degrees outside, feels like 106, you still have 8 hours until game time, and you have (awesome) friends who are willing to stop and pick up a tent on the way to the tailgate, you drop $120 in a heartbeat and it's worth every penny! (Especially when it decides to pour down rain later in the afternoon!!!)
Here are the Publix stats. I'm not even going to share with you the tailgating stats ;)

Spent: $10.84
Saved: $22.93

Bought:
2 boxes Crystal Light drink mix
2 Bailey's coffee creamers
1 can of Pam
5 containers of cream cheese
1 bottle of canola oil
1 bagged salad

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Shop at Multiple Stores

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.



If you are lucky enough to have a few grocery stores near each other, near your house, or on your way home, you can take advantage of sale offers at all of them! Just scan the flyers to see if any items you commonly use are at rock-bottom prices and be sure to swing by and pick up a few. You don't have to shop at mutliple stores every week, but it doesn't hurt to look through the weekly ad just to see if any items you use are on sale!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge!

One good way to save money is not to spend it! (Umm, duh). We currently have so much food in our pantry and freezer that I'm going to try to have an Eat from the Pantry Challenge for the next 2 months! We will only buy perishable items, like fruits & veggies, milk, eggs, bread, etc. Of course it helps that we'll be moving in the next couple of months....extra incentive to eat up everything in the freezer!

I already have our meals planned for the next 4 weeks, and a few random meals after that. I may have to get creative near the end! That or we'll be eating a LOT of pasta. I'll keep you posted on how it's going!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Start a Price Book

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.


What is a pricebook you ask? It's when you keep track of prices of commonly used items at various stores. It doesn't have to be a book. Just write down some items on a piece of paper that you commonly buy when grocery shopping. Write how much they cost at your regular grocery store. The next time you go to Walmart, Target, a warehouse club, or another grocery store, jot down the price of the items on your list at those stores. This helps you to not only find which store has the best deal but also to know what a "good" price is for that item (i.e. writing down the sale price or figuring out if it is actually cheaper per serving to buy the item in bulk).

After a while, you'll just know if an item is on sale at a good price or not. I don't have prices memorized, but I know a ballpark of what I am willing or not willing to pay for various items. Here is a good blog post about pricelists. There are some examples and even a blank one to get you started.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Have you known me to ever stick to a menu plan since I've been doing this blog? Last week was no different, so you're again going to see some repeats in the next couple of weeks! I did end up making Roasted Cajun Potatoes with Cilantro Avocado Lime dipping sauce and I made chicken tortilla casserole on Saturday instead of Sunday.

Sunday: Chilli Noodle Casserole
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Ravioli, garlic bread, salad
Wednesday: Lemon Garlic Tilapia, orzo, frozen veggies
Thursday: Sausage & Broccoli Noodle Casserole
Friday: Dinner with the fam (and a bus full of Penn State fans!)
Saturday: Tailgating!!! So some brats, burgers, & dogs hot off the grill!

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Publix...the Addiction Continues

Publix did it to me once again! Every week I swear I am just going to stock up on any "staples" and only if they are rock bottom prices. I just can't stay away! The first pic was a quick trip I made right after we got back from the mountains on Monday. I picked up some BLUE plates and cups for the upcoming Penn State v. Alabama game in Tuscaloosa next weekend. And they were out of Fiber One yogurt when I went last week (the flavor I like at least).
Spent: $5.86
Saved: $16.44

Here is a pic of my trip from this week. The $5/5 Kraft product coupons are really what got me! Who can pass up free sour cream and $1 bags of shredded and sliced cheese?! Especially when the shredded cheese freezes so well!
Spent: $28.01
Saved: $64.78

Bought:
1 bottle Wisk Laundry Detergent
5 boxes Mueller's pasta
2 YoPlus yogurt 4 packs
5 bags shredded cheese
2 packages sliced cheese
2 containers of sour cream
1 bag of rice
2 Old El Paso Taco Seasoning packets
1 loaf of white bread
1 loaf of wheat bread
2 bottles ranch dressing
2 packages Dixie paper plates
2 Green Giant valley fresh steamers
2 Newman's Own pasta sauce
2 packages Ballpark hot dogs
1 Glade candle
1 Velveeta

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Menu Plan Around the Flyers

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.



Plan your menu around the flyers. Some stores even publish a few recipes or meal ideas on their website or right in their flyer using items that are on sale that week. Also, if you do enough googling, there are various bloggers who publish meal plans/recipes based on what a particular grocery store has on sale that week.


Allrecipes.com is a lifesaver for me. If you have a flyer next to you, type some of the sale items into the "Ingredient search" or the main search box. Then sort by "rating" for numerous yummy recipes!

Just make your list and then off to the store you go!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Buy Generic

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.



Buy the generic version. There are a handful of items that I am unwilling to compromise on the brand. However for 95% of our other purchases, I can hardly tell the difference between the brand name and the generic. If you are willing to stick with the grocery budget plan and master using coupons, you'll actually be able to get the brand name items for a fraction of the price of the generic items using coupons combined with sales. However, if you don't have time to cut and use coupons, buying generic is the way to go!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday: Grilled lemon chicken, grilled veggies
Monday: Sausage & Broccoli Noodle Casserole
Tuesday: Macaroni Grill's spicy sausage and pasta
Wednesday: Chicken quesadillas (tortillas in fridge, cooked chicken in freezer)
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Homemade calzone
Saturday: Chilli Noodle Casserole

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Publix Trip

This week was a quick trip before we went to the mountains for the weekend! Again, it ended up being a bigger trip than anticipated!
Spent: $32.93
Saved: $67.35

Bought:
4 boxes Morningstar veggie burgers
5 boxes Kellogg's cereal (Submitting for $5 Publix Gift Card offer through Kellogg's)
1 box Ritz crackers
1 box Ritz pretzel/crackers
2 bottles Mayo
1 box of tea bags
2 bags of Dove peanut butter chocolate candies
1 five pound bag of potatoes
Zuchini
Squash
1 package Fiber One Yogurt
4 Campbell's Select Harvest soup
4 Cream of mushroom/chicken soup
1 package brats
1 4-pack TP (this was the penny item this week....toilet paper for $0.01? Yes please!)

And here is our Aldi trip pre-mountain getaway:

Spent: $18.10
Saved: ???? a lot hopefully :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Make a List!

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.



Make a list! Now that you are looking through the flyers every week, why not just simply write down the things that you need that are on sale, in addition to whatever else you are out of. Now, the hard part about lists is not writing one, it is sticking to it! When you go to the grocery store, do not put anything on your cart that is not on your list!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Stock Up!

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.


Stock up when things are on sale. If you are looking through the flyers, you can see when stuff you use is on sale. If it's on sale for half price (or buy one, get one), just buy a few extra! If you absolutely know you are going to use it, why would you not buy it when you can get such a discount?! A little overwhelmed or short on space? Start by just stocking up on the items that are easy to store and last a long time (pasta, cereal, canned goods, etc). These items stack well on a built-in shelf or two that you can get for about $10 at Walmart.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Yum! I've been on a menu planning kick lately! And surprise, surprise, I didn't stick to last week's meal plan so you may see some repeats in the next several weeks.

Saturday: Strawberry salad and mozzarella pesto grilled cheese
Sunday: Almond Chicken & Rice Casserole, Basil & Pesto Hummus
Monday: Crockpot Bruschetta feta chicken, salad
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Beef & Rice Enchiladas
Thursday: A1 Mozzarella burgers, corn on the cob
Friday: Beef & Vegetable Kebabs
Saturday: Savory steak, grilled potatoes, grilled veggies

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Publix

I have quite the obsession with Publix. Every week I hope that they don't have anything good on sale so I won't have to spend money that week......and then that week ends up being a bigger shopping trip than usual! I can't really complain though, because we did stock up on a lot of things at rock bottom prices (like $0.35 for Lysol and $0.40 for canned tomatoes).

Spent: $42.42 ($33.72 not including the beer)
Saved: $69.03

Bought:
2 boxes Hefty garbage bags
2 bottles Lysol disinfectant
1 6-pack Octoberfest
6 cans Hunt's diced tomatoes
2 jars peanut butter
1 20 ct Excederin
1 3-pack Dial soap
4 packages Feta cheese
1 Green Giant Valley Fresh steamers veggies
1 Macaroni Grill frozen entree
1 box Fiber One bars
1 box Fiber One cereal
1 jar Olive Oil
3 bags New England coffee
1 bag salad
I also went to Aldi and bought some fruit, eggs, and bread. And I'm thinking I'm going to make this (Strawberry Salad with Mozzarella Pesto Grilled Cheese) for dinner tonight. I can't wait!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Groupon

Are you familiar with Groupon? I keep hearing everyone rave about it but haven't really had the opportunity or desire to check it out......until today! The groupon deal (today only) is a $50 gift card to the Gap for only $25. That's 50% off!!!

How it works: Every day Groupon offers different deals for 50-90% off! The catch? Enough people have to purchase the deal for it to work (it's kind of like buying things in bulk). If not enough people purchase it, you will not be charged, and you will not get the deal.

As I mentioned above, today's deal is for the Gap, however a lot of times the deals are city-specific and will be to restaurants, theaters, spas, stores, etc in your hometown.

And remember, as with anything else when it comes to being frugal, only purchase the deals if you were already planning on spending money on that particular item! Good luck!

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Shop the Flyers

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.


Pay attention to what is on sale that week. Most people should get the weekly ad in the mail (even if you don't have a subscription to your local paper). If you don't, almost all grocery stores post their weekly ads online. Simply peruse through the flyer before you go to the grocery store and make a mental note of what's on sale.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Shop at a Supercenter

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.


Shop at Walmart or Target. (Ugh, I cannot believe I am promoting going to Walmart - Every time I step foot in that store my stress level rises and I think I shave a few months off my life expectancy). That being said, stuff IS cheaper there, especially compared to grocery store prices. If you're wanting to save a few bucks but simply do not have the time to follow some of the upcoming recommendations, shop at a Supercenter a couple of times a month.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday: Broccoli Casserole
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Beef & Rice Enchiladas, corn on the cob
Wednesday: Spicy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Thursday: Pasta with pesto, garlic bread, salad
Friday: Homemade pizza, salad
Saturday: Almond, Chicken & Rice Casserole

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Publix & CVS

This week was definitely an "overbudget" week, but I'm okay with that because we've actually had several "underbudget" weeks last month. That's the beauty of budgeting and saving, when you go a little bit over budget, it's not the end of the world! I also bought a bunch of fruit and veggies from Aldi and 3 packages of boneless, skinless chicken breasts from Food World (on sale for $1.77/lb). Enough rambling, here is what I got at Publix this week:
Spent: $25.91
Saved: $33.32Bought:
6 boxes Aunt Jemima frozen pancakes ("snack" for the hubby)
1 Publix frozen pizza
3 boxes Scotties tissues
1 box Superpretzel soft pretzels (another snack for the hubby)
2 Pillsbury dough rolls
4 bags of croutons
1 Sirloin tip steak (for the mountains.....mmmmm kebabs!)
1 box orzo
1 package Dentastix
1 cucumber




As far as drugstores go, I usually lean toward Rite Aid because I really like the idea of getting cash back (in the form of a rebate) that I can simply deposit back into my checking account, instead of getting "drug store money" that can only be used at that particular "drug store." However, Rite Aid recently jumped on the drug store money bandwagon and it seems (to me at least) like they are not offering as many rebates as they did previously. I had been wanting to try out "CVSing" for some time now, it seems easy enough to get a lot of household and toiletry items for free and they hands down have better customer service than Walgreens. Here is what I purchased today:


Spent: $4.11
Saved: $15.07
Bought:

Dawn Dishsoap (free)
Dry Idea deodorant (free)
Purex 3-in-1 detergent ($3)

Received: $2 in ECB (Extra Care Bucks) that can be used on my next purchase at CVS and a coupon for $4 off my next $20 purchase.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape: Buy in Bulk

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money.

Buy in bulk. Shop at a warehouse club for things you commonly buy at the grocery store. Even if you just go once/month, you will be saving money. They won't have everything you buy at the grocery store, but you would be surprised with the number of items they do have. Even if you don't do anything else to save money, your cost per serving/person will likely be a lot less if you buy in bulk as opposed to buying items at the grocery store (especially if they're not on sale!).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Whip Your Grocery Budget Into Shape! Set a Budget

Welcome to the second major series of posts on Frugal Made Fun! Each week, I'll post 1-2 tips on how to develop your own plan to save money on groceries. I'm going to start with some of the most basic, easiest things you can do to save money, and then progress from there. You can take as much or little advice as you like. As the series progresses, a little more work may be involved, but you will definitely save more money. Enjoy your first tip!

The title of this series is "Whip Your Grocery BUDGET Into Shape!" The key word being "Budget!" The first step to setting a budget on groceries is to get an idea of what you are currently spending. For the next couple of weeks, save your grocery reciepts and at the end of each week add up how much you spent. By the end of 4 weeks, you should have a pretty good idea of what you average on groceries per week. If this "average" seems appropriate in relation to the number of people in your family and in regards to your salary, then make that average your new grocery budget number. If it seems high, at least you have a starting point. Try to decrease it by 10-20% each month until you feel like you are at an appropriate number.

(For what it's worth, our food budget is about 12% of our takehome pay. But we also include household supplies, pet food, spending money, etc in that 12%. So technically it's probably more like 8% but I've never done the numbers officially).


Here are a couple of blog posts to help you start thinking about how much is appropriate for your grocery budget:

Appropriate Food Budget for Family of Four by Trent @ The Simple Dollar
The Average Food Budget of a Family of Four by eHow
The Grocery Budget at BeingFrugal.net

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I think last week was the first week we actually stuck to our Menu Plan! Well, almost. I didn't make the Avocado & Cilantro soup because I didn't read that it has to chill for 2.5 hours. And the Tortellini soup got bumped to Sunday because Tom decided to cook for me Saturday night :D

Sunday: Tortellini soup, salad
Monday: Rosemary Ranch chicken in Crock Pot, rice, green beans
Tuesday: Cheesy shells (pasta with velveeta), baked tilapia with dill sauce, salad
Wednesday: Chicken & gravy, mashed potatoes, veggies
Thursday: Birdseye Voila meal (we still have not had this yet! Anyone want to take bets on if we actually eat it this week?)
Friday: Stuffed shells, salad, garlic bread
Saturday: Meatball sub casserole, salad

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's site. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I can't stay away from Rite Aid

So, once again, as of last night I had no plans to go to Rite Aid today. I did need to run by Walmart and pick up a new bottle of iron pills. I figured I would check the flyers first to see if they happened to be on sale anywhere. Turns out, they were! Rite Aid was having a B1G1 (buy one, get one free) sale on them. So I looked through the flyer, searched online for some coupons, and checked a couple of blog posts to make sure I could maximize my deals. And boy did I ever. I got all of this below for a total of $6.43! AND THEN I got home and saw there was a peelie on one of the Curel bottles of lotion. I particpated in a 5 minute online survery for them and am now anxiously awaiting a $15 prepaid gift card in the mail!!

Curel: $5 each
Crest: $2.69
Nature Made: $8.29
Nature Made: $4.79
__________________
$30.17 + tax
Minus $4.79 (free Nature Made with sale)
Minus $5/25 printable Rite Aid coupon
Minus $1 Nature Made Coupon
Minus $1 Nature Made Coupon
Minus $3 (3 Curel coupons)
Minus $0.75 Crest coupon
Minus $3 +Up Rewards earned last week
_______________________
$12.23 (including tax)
Minus $5 SCR (single-check rebate) for buying 3 lotions
Minus $2.69 SCR Crest toothpaste
_______________________
$6.43 Total!!
And I am going to receive a $15 prepaid gift card in the mail!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Weekly Publix Trip

I love stocking up on things for super cheap!! Here is what we got this week at Publix:

Spent: $20.55
Saved: $42.34
Bought
1 box Cinnamon Toast Crunch
1 box Lucky Charms
2 jars peanut butter (Yes, more peanut butter, I had a raincheck & new coupons)
2 jars Ragu
2 jars Ragu alfredo/cheesy sauce
2 boxes Healthy Harvest pasta
Peaches
Salad
4 bottles Wishbone salad dressing
3 boxes Crystal Light Pure Fitness (these ended up being free)
1 tin Almonds
1 package cookie dough