Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Our $40 Grocery Budget This Week

So I've decided I'm going to have to call it "Our $50 Grocery Budget this Week" because I just can't resist the great fruit prices right now.  We'll pull the money from our monthly surplus so I can stockpile and freeze what I can now for smoothies, etc.  Remember Aldi is supposed to have Strawberries for $0.99/lb starting Thursday while supplies last.. that is a rock bottom price!  Also watermelons are on sale this week at Kroger for $3.99- that is a very low price as well.

Total Spent on groceries- (not including my Aldi Strawberry run yet :)

Total Price Before Coupons/discounts- $106.11

Here is what I did at Kroger and Publix:

3 Horizon Milk Singles (bribes haha)
Wild Sockeye Salmon
1.5 gallons milk
Tyson Chicken Tenders
3 ears Corn
Tropicana OJ
Publix AJ (penny item!)
5lbs Potatos
BBQ Sauce
3 Limes
2 Loafs Pep Farm Bread
Ritz Crackers
Wheat Thins
Lipton Tea Bags
2 packs Gum

Total: $33.64

Harris Teeter:

5 packs Kraft Cheese
3 Odwalla Juices (we drank one before the picture ;)
Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Dawn Dish Soap
Martha White Corn Meal

$7.46 ($7.17 was from grocery budget)

I'd love to hear how you did this week- even small savings matter!!

Couple Target Deals

I paid Target a little visit tonight.. Thanks to Common Sense With Money I got a good deal on paper towels:

Bounty Basics- $0.99
$0.50/1 Target Store Coupon 6/21 SS insert
$0.25/1 Manufacturers Coupon 6/7 P&G insert

Final Price- $0.24 each

**I also found this deal-

Buy three first aid items on the end cap, get a free first aid bag (retail $4.99).
3 Band-Aid brand band-aids $1.82 each
use 3 $1 off coupons 6/28 SS

Final price for 3 bandaids and bag, - $2.46

Total Target shopping trip- $2.94

Coupon Basics, Part 3- Multiples and Stockpiling

These Coupon Basics are really geared toward the serious couponer, or someone wanting to become a serious couponer. While taking 3 or 4 different coupons to the store is good, it may not be worth your time.. unless it wets your appetite for more ;)

I mentioned needing multiples of the same coupon inserts in "Coupon Basics, Part 2"... Here's why:

When you are meal planning, always start with what you already have in your pantry. This frees up some of your grocery budget to do what is called "stockpiling". Stockpiling is when an item hits the rock bottom price and you use a coupon with it to get several of them. I'm not talking about excessive amounts of stuff here... or getting stuff you won't use before it expires. But when you have multiples of the coupon inserts, its gives you the opportunity to get several and stock your pantry. Then you won't need to buy that item before it goes on sale again, and can focus your grocery budget on other items you need for that week.

Example 1: I was able to get 9 boxes of organic cereal last week for less than $9. Add that to the cereal already in my pantry and I don't need to buy that for a while. So I can take my cereal money and apply it towards other things we need.

Example 2: A few weeks ago there was a pasta deal on a name brand. It was B1G1 @ $1.39. I had $1 off coupon, used 2 coupons (one on the "buy one" and one on the "get one free"... most stores allow this, but check before you shop) and actually got the pasta free with $0.30 overage that was applied towards my other groceries. I only had 4 coupons for that particular pasta, but that makes me set on pasta for a while.

If you don't have any coupons, just start this Sunday! Get your Sunday papers, but also start watching for blinkies that spit out coupons in the store (as a rule, I don't take more than 2), tearpads near the products, and coupon booklets they might have sitting out in the entry way to the store or sometimes in the produce or deli departments. And of course watch my blog for printables... they use ink, but are definitely worth it.

To sum it up, get your multiple coupons organized (using a method from coupon basics, part 2) and they'll be ready to use each time you need to shop. Use my blog and the blogs I direct you to to see what is on sale and which coupons you have that will get that price even lower (and many times FREE). Once you have your coupons together go shop, stockpile when you can, and have fun saving money!!

Go HERE for Coupon Basics Part 4- "Where to Find More Coupons"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Free Pair of Contact Lenses

Go HERE to try a pair of Dailies Contact Lenses FREE.

Mark Your Calendars- FREE TEA DAY @ McAlister's Deli

I'll remind you as the time gets closer, but 7/23/09 is Free Tea Day @ McAlister's Deli.  Go HERE to check it out!

Aldi deals - Starting 7/2

I have a few Aldi favorite deals I wanted to share that start Thursday.

Strawberries- $0.99/lb  (GREAT price- freeze for smoothies!)
Blueberries- $0.99/pint
Granger All Natural Ground Beef- $1.69/lb

Kraft Printables

Great Kraft printables HERE!  (these particular coupons are redeemable at Publix)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Monday's Meal Planning- Saving Money by Eating at Home

Making a meal plan will help you through those times when you just can't cook... believe me I feel that way a lot, but realized that even if we eat out "cheap" it usually costs us around $20.  (stick with me through the math here...)  If we do that twice a week, thats $2080 a year on 96 dinners out... and that is a very low estimate!  My grocery budget for all meals (that's 1,095 meals folks!) for the entire year is exactly that- $2080!  If we just eat at home and save eating out for special occasions, we are saving around $2000 in a year that can be saved or used to pay down debt!

So make a meal plan and stick with it.. your wallet will thank you!!

Monday- Chicken Enchiladas, chips & salsa
Tuesday-Meatloaf, Okra, Corn
Wednesday- Grilled Salmon, potatoes, salad, peach cobbler & ice cream (yum!)
Thursday- Hot Wings (Frank's sauce and melted butter... the best wings!!!), Drumsticks for the kids, scalloped potatoes
Friday- Chicken Gyros, homemade pitas

I try to have 1-2 additional veggies at dinner each night.

Lunches- quesadillas, pb & j, cheese and crackers, watermelon, leftovers

Breakfasts- waffles, cereal, strawberry muffins

Kroger Deals 6/28

Some good deals at Kroger this week.  Remember sometimes coupons and sales are regional, but for the most part things are the same.  Soon I will have weekly deals up that are good for our local area!

The Kroger cheese was my favorite off this list- .73 a piece (when you buy 10) is a good price for cheese! (EDIT- this is apparently a regional deal NOT happening in our area.. bummer!)

Visit Southern Savers HERE for a complete list.

An Ode to Manager's Special Milk

"What could you possibly do with a few gallons of milk that have a 'sell by' date of today?"

True, you may need to buy more fresh milk to get your family through a weeks worth of cereal, but you just can't beat milk for $0.50 :)  We drank what we could of this gallon.. I'm a little squeemish about things like potentially rotten milk.  Of course its not rotten, but a little too close for comfort.  

Here are some great ideas to use up that milk!  

  1. Waffles- Go HERE for the recipe I use.  I tripled the batch today (using 5 1/4 cups milk).  They'll go in the freezer and are great to thaw and toast as you want them!
  2. Tapioca Pudding- Recipe HERE
  3. Or any pudding for that matter :)  Trifle or Coconut Cream Pie are great desserts using pudding.
  4. Chicken Pot Pie.. the biscuit version. You'll use milk in both the filling and the biscuits.  I love this because I can use my chopped chicken from the freezer (post about this HERE) AND my manager's special milk... Very inexpensive dinner!  You make your pot pie filling as you normally would, put it in a greased casserole dish and spoon drop biscuit batter on the top of it.  Bake on 425 for 11 minutes or so (long enough to cook the biscuits.. your filling was already hot) and dinner is served!
What are your ideas for using up milk quickly?

Rite Aid- Deal on Huggies Diapers

Visit HERE for a breakdown on a great diaper deal at Rite-Aid this month.  It looks like you can get them for as little as $2.70 a pack after rebates!

Local Post- Krispy Kreme Fun!

Today from 1-3pm Krispy Kreme (Thompson Lane, Sam Ridley Pkwy and Mallory Lane locations) are introducing their new doughnut pairing... Ice Cream! 

This is a Sunday Social to celebrate this new ice cream launch- complete with samples, giveaways and lots of other goodies!

10% of sales will be given to the 2nd Harvest Food Bank.

Publix Penny Item

According to Southern Savers the Publix Mystery Penny Item is Publix Apple Juice.  You can purchase this item for .01 when your total equals at least $10 before you use your coupons.  Our local store doesn't require the penny item coupon yet (found in their ad), but many stores are changing to require this.  

Go HERE to see the Publix ad and coupon match ups for this week (good through Wednesday or Thursday, depending on when your store changes their weekly deals).  Again thanks to Southern Savers!

Juicy Juice Coupon

Go HERE to set up an account and receive a coupon for $1 off Juicy Juice!  

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Free Magic Erasers

Go HERE to get a free pack of Magic Erasers!  

I highly recommend setting up a separate email address just for coupons/freebies.  Your home inbox will thank you :)

(thanks Ambra!)

Platos Closet Dollar Clearance Deal

If you are local to me, check out Plato's Closet for their Dollar Clearance Deal!  Every orange tag is just $1 while supplies last.. they are moving their clearance items out and making room for more.  Specifically they need jeans, polos and khakis- a great opportunity to get rid of some old and get some "new to you"!  Sale is good in the Cool Springs and Murfressboro stores.  

CVS and Walgreens Deals- 6/28-7/4

Here are some compiled deals for CVS (not the best week ever) and Walgreens from Common Sense With Money for this upcoming week.  I'll add on to this post if I find anymore deals!

Walgreens HERE

Friday, June 26, 2009

Coupon Basics, Part 2

First of all if you haven't read Coupon Basics, Part 1 start here.

Part 2 seems to be what everyone is asking for... "Where do I get the coupons and how do I organize them?!"

Here are some options for getting your coupons: (I'm still trying to figure out why it made my post so many different font sizes.. sorry)
  1. Subscribe.  We get the daily paper because my hubby loves crossword puzzles... and I grab the coupons.  Check with family members or friends who get the paper that don't use their coupons.  Also the Review Appeal that comes to many of us locally for free usually has a SmartSource insert in it.. so don't just recycle that paper without looking!
  2. Papers for $1.  One place to look is CVS- I'm not sure if they are continuing that deal into July so you might want to give them a call.  The other I have heard about, but haven't confirmed is Dollar Tree.  If you don't buy there, and don't mind paying full price, just grab 4-6 copies when you run to the grocery store.  Why so many?  That will be found in Couponing Basics, Part 3 ;)
  3. Recycle Bins.  This may not be your thing, and thats ok :)  Its perfectly legal, so no worries. (as long as you aren't climbing in)  Many times people throw whole Sunday papers in the bins so the coupons are easy to grab off the top.  Anytime I go, I like to make sure I am adding to the recycle bins too!
And now to organizing those gems!  Here are a few systems you can choose from that I have found:
  1. Date Filing.  This is the system I started with.  This is where you take the whole insert and write the date on the top, filing them away by date.  When you found a sale to match your coupon with, it is easy to go to the date and clip that coupon before shopping.  It was effective, but I never had all of my coupons with me when I needed them.  (i.e. if I ran across an unadvertised special in a store)
  2. Binder.  This is the system I currently use.  It is where you buy a large binder and baseball card holder inserts. (thanks, Ambra!)  Actually for my system I use a combination of 1 and 2.  I clip 2-3 individual inserts and put the coupons in my binder under organized tabs.  If I have several multiples of that insert, I'll file it away with the date on it like example 1. (This is just because I don't have time to clip 10 of the same inserts).  The downside to this method is that it will cost you money to buy the binder and baseball card inserts.
  3. Container/Filing.  I recently came across this method at Mommin it up.  Read up on it there- basically you are filing in envelopes and putting them in a rubbermaid to carry around.  Personally it seems a little big for my taste, but it would be very low cost to get you started!
Please feel free to ask any questions you have regarding this post in the comment section and check back to see the question answered!

Go HERE to find "Coupon Basics, Part 3- Multiples and Stockpiling"

Pull-Ups Printable

Here is a printable coupon for $2 off Pull-Ups!

Living Fully

So its been on my heart for a while and I just wanted to share :)

There are a couple different ways we can approach the couponing/deal finding thing.  One way is out of a place of scarcity, fear and feeling like someone owes us something.


hahaha that picture is ridiculous :)  

The other way would be out of fullness, love for our families and readiness to give to others.  I think we'd all agree the second is a much happier place to live.

I've been on both sides of this.  Living in a mindset of poverty says "there is never enough".  Personally for us, debt was eating us alive.  It was a constant circle of finance charges and minimum payments and it really truly seemed like there was no way out!  I would pay our bills every month and realize that all of our money was gone.  Anyone relate?  Thanks to a Dave Ramsey tip, we began paying down our lowest balance credit card.  We put our surplus to it every month.  Soon it will be paid off and that surplus, PLUS the money we were already paying towards that card every month will go towards another card.  And thus the snowball begins towards being debt free!  

We were spending $450 or more a month on food alone every month.  Through couponing and budgeting I reduced that bill to $160 a month and we are able to consistently give to our church's food pantry.  There IS more than enough.  As a family we have made it our goal to stay thankful, though we definitely aren't perfect.. :) The Bible says a thankful heart prepares the way for God... and we have seen that it is true.  

So have fun deal finding :)  Join me in making it a goal this week to keep thankfulness in the forefront and watch God do some awesome things!

Calling All Mommies- Earth's Best Coupon

Go here to print a coupon for $1 off 10 jars of Earth's Best baby food!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Simple and Delicious Coupon Booklet

Go here to request a Simple and Delicious coupon booklet for Alexia Crunchy Snacks... they are all natural and SO yummy.  I just found some at Kroger this week on managers special for .99, so my $1 off coupon made those free!

Free Glidden Paint

Free Quart of Glidden Paint today!  I just signed up for mine!

Kraft First Taste

Kraft First Taste is a great program that allows you to be one of the first to try new foods from Kraft for FREE.  I signed up last month and just got a couple coupons in the mail for the item they are testing this month.  After you try the product you let Kraft know what you think.. and thats it!  Go here to sign up!

Whole Foods Email List

Go here to sign up for special offers and store events from Whole Foods if you have one near you.

My guess would be that there might be some coupons involved every now and then!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Homemade Bread- A Money Saving Staple!

I mentioned in my post regarding meal planning (a few posts before this one) that I would share some bread recipes.  These are great to make and freeze- if you spend a few hours one afternoon baking, you can fill your freezer!

Flour Tortillas (I use oil instead of lard):

Pizza Dough (for a lighter crust, let it rise a time or two.. also just freeze the dough in a ball and let it thaw the afternoon you are wanting to make the pizza)

Corn Tortillas

Hamburger Buns (I let them rise longer than this recipe says... and coat them with butter when they come out of the oven, as pictured ;)

Corn Bread (thanks Betty Crocker :)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter melted
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar (I have used agave and a little less milk- its good)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Heat oven to 400.  Grease bottom and side of square pan 8x8x2 inches.
2. Beat milk, butter and egg in large bowl with hand beater or wire whisk.  Stir in remaining ingredients all at once just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy).  Pour into pan.
3.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Waffles (Again, thanks Betty) these are great to make and freeze, or the batter will stay good in your fridge if you want to triple the batch and eat fresh waffles for a few days)

2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
1 tbsp sugar (or agave)
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1)Heat waffle iron.
2) Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater or wire whisk until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth.
3) Pour batter from pitcher onto center of hot waffle iron. 
4) Bake about 5 minutes.

Harris Teeter Super Doubles- June 24-30

Here's a list compiled for Harris Teeter this week.  June 24-30 they are doubling coupons up to $1.98.  You can use 20 coupons per day- be sure to check out their other policies at this website so you are prepared when you go!


Publix Deals- Starts June 24,25

Great deals this week! Check them out at:

Our $40 Grocery Budget This Week

So here's the breakdown of what we spent our $40 on this week.  I went a smidge over budget b/c I stocked up on the organic cereal.... aaaand though Gushers aren't something I'd normally buy, those of you that know me know that I looooove anything gummie- and I paid .11 a box for them :)

Total Spent- $41.97
Total Saved (through coupons and specials)- $73.23

Items not shown:

Gallon organic juice (manager's special- $2)
Gallon milk (manager's special- .50)
1lb Bison (manager's special)
1lb Laura's Lean beef (manager's special)
2 Alexia waffle fries (manager's special- free, I had a coupon to combine with the special)
1 organic granola bars (manager's special)

Items shown:
9 boxes organic cereal (manager's special)
2 boxes crackers
4 boxes fruit snacks
4 bottles bbq sauce (free + overage: charity)
peanut butter
red pepper
chicken wings (manager's special)
chicken drumsticks (manager's special)
laura's lean ground beef (manager's special)
refried beans
half gallon milk (manager's special)

Money spent: 

This is a great visual of how you can shop (mostly) healthfully and organic/all natural and stay within your budget!  I'd love to hear how your grocery shopping and budgeting is going this week!

Meal Planning- Part 1

In response to a comment on my menu plan for this week (Hi Amy! :)  I wanted to give you some tips that have helped me along the way.  I had been in the "same meals every week" rut and I was bored to death and so was my family.  "oh, yum, chili AGAIN" :)  

I'm no chef (my family can vouch for that), but by using these tips I have spiced things up in the kitchen a little bit.  (and I'm just talking about food here :)  I'll just put a few out there and continue the series next week!

1) Start with your pantry.  What is already in it that you can build from?  Starting with what you have this week will enable you to spend some of your grocery money towards building a stockpile of things that will get you through the coming weeks. You only want to stockpile those things when you get them at rock bottom prices- like when your sales match your coupons.  

Here's a small example of our staples: pasta, rice, refried beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, flour, cornmeal and chicken broth-  (I make my own- check it out here: http://seedtosow.blogspot.com/2009/06/6-meals-from-1-chicken.html)

2) Get a plan.  I recommend checking the deals on southernsavers.com or moneysavingmom.com before making your list.  They will show you match ups with sales and the coupons that are available so you can shop smart.  Start looking at what is on sale and menu plan from that.  

3) Put your cravings on hold.  Of course unless you are pregnant ;)  I know this doesn't sound fun or nice, but your grocery budget will thank you.  For instance, I really wanted grilled salmon this week.  I couldn't find it on sale anywhere, but I found some great organic burger on managers special and decided grilled burgers would work.  They were delicious!  I'm sure salmon will be on sale next week and will taste better when I pay less for it!  (side note: stock up on meat when you find a managers special or great sale and freeze it!)

4)  Fill in the blanks on what seems like a bland meal with some homemade bread.  This doesn't have to take you all day (I will post some great recipes I use soon).  Homemade tortillas, pizza crust, bread sticks and hamburger buns are all things you can make ahead of time and freeze.  It adds a nice touch to the meal and is a great, inexpensive filler.  Of course biscuits and cornbread are quick to make so can be made with your meal if you want.  

I made tortillas yesterday (The recipe made 24 tortillas- I left 4 out for our meal and froze the rest for future dinners).  Then I turned them upside down over an oven safe bowl, spread with butter, and baked in 400 degree oven until crispy to make these yummy bowls for our taco salad.  Sometimes its the little things that can make a big difference in your meals and homemade bread definitely tops that chart!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Homemade Bubbles!

Today we went to a birthday party and the girls came home with the most fabulous light saber-ish bubble wands.  Well of course one got knocked over and the bubbles were lost.  I found a simple recipe that replaced them in a second!  (from babyparenting.about.com)

2 tbsp light karo syrup
4 tbsp dishwashing liquid (I might try baby shampoo next time)
1 cup water

They worked great!!!

Tide Printable Coupon

Here's a printable coupon for a couple Tide products as well as a free sample!

Total Cereal Printable Coupon

Click below for a $1 off coupon for Total cereal!  Watch the sales and use it when it will get it down to about $1 or less-- $1 is a good goal to have when paying for a box of cereal!

The Jars

Spare change saving jars are so fun!  I think everybody needs one (especially if you have young kids), whether you are living the American dream, a family struggling to get by each month, or somewhere in between.  

We have a couple jars going right now.  We have the jar that my 5 year old started when she was 2.  It is for kids with cleft palates- she is so close to having enough to sponsor a baby to have the surgery to correct it!  We also have our family "we're gettin a back yard" fund.  Our back yard is currently a gravel driveway and instead we want it to be a place for the kids to play.  Even though we could set aside money in our budget each month to save up for it, watching the jar grow each day with our spare change is more fun for us and the kids, and the reward will be so sweet when we cash in to make our project happen!  
Chris and I are both "get it now" type people.  Neither one of us were blessed with a huge amount of patience :)  Since we have switched over to cash only, that combined with our jars enable us to be a little more patient and also teach our kids that sometimes it takes time to get the things you want.  Sounds a little old school, but we are loving it!  

If you have a family savings jar, I'd love to hear about it in the comment section!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Free Sample- Sun Crystals

I'm excited to try this one- a combo of sugar and stevia!  You can find it here:

Monday's Meal Planning

Since I've never posted a meal plan before, I just have to say that in the realm of saving money, this is one of the best things that can be done.  I find that when I take the time to write the list out, I'm not making 400 trips to the store each week!

So here it goes:

Monday- Grilled Burgers, Fries, homemade buns
Tuesday- Taco Salad
Wednesday- Hot wings, drumsticks (for the kids :), scalloped potatoes
Thursday- Chicken pot pie
Friday- Baked Spaghetti, homemade bread sticks
(I try to have 1-2 additional veggies or a salad at each meal)

I'd love to hear what you are cooking up this week!!!

Landscaping on a Dime

Well, I don't know too much about landscaping.  (sounds like a promising blog about landscaping, huh?!)  The things I do know are all because of a few dear friends who have taken me under their wings and answered all of my gardening questions. Things like "which way does the bulb go in the ground?" and "So, an 'annual' comes back every year, right?"  Each year, this gardening/landscaping thing gets a little easier and more enjoyable!

So I may not be a pro on the topic, but I know a good deal when I see it!  Next time you are at Home Depot, ask if they have any "broken palettes" of mulch available.  These are bags that have a hole or two in them.  A broken palette costs $4.08!!  I got 8 bags of Pine Bark mulch for that price, and had there been more room in my trunk, they would have put more in!

If you don't mind a small vacuuming job in your car after your Home Depot run, you can accomplish a lot in your yard for a little!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

6 Meals From 1 Chicken

I did it yesterday so it would be fresh on my mind :)  Actually we ended up with 7 meals (8 if you count Buddy's meal (yum) of skin and leftover meat.. he's our golden retriever)

1) Start with a whole chicken- it can be cut up- doesn't matter.  
2) Boil about 20 cups of water.  (I like to add salt, pepper garlic and onion to this)
3) Put your chicken in (excluding liver and other yucky parts)
4) Boil for about 30 minutes (I boil it longer because chicken grosses me out, haha :)
5) Strain by pouring chicken into a colander with a large bowl underneath.
6) Pull chicken out so it can cool, wipe out cooking pan and strain liquid back into pan        (to eliminate any tiny things you don't want in your soup).

While your chicken is cooling, start making your soup!

1) Add some more garlic, chopped onion (I use dried), salt and pepper to the water
2) Add 1 carrot and 1 celery stalk, chopped
3) Add about a tablespoon of dried parsley
4) Add 1/3 of a bag of No Yolks or whatever kind of noodles you want
5) Add a small handful of chopped chicken from your stash

Let simmer for at least long enough for the noodles to cook (I usually go a little longer) and season to taste.  For my size family (4) we get 3-4 meals out of this when I make some homemade bread to go along.

While your soup finishes boiling, you can prep your chicken.  What I usually do is pull all the meat of the bones and then sort through it later (again, I get grossed out by chicken easily, so I'm pretty thorough when it comes to making sure there aren't any "extras" in my meat :)

1) Separate white and dark meat.
2) I take a handful (enough for enchiladas or tacos) of white meat out. (I leave it whole so I can do whatever I want with it according to the kind of meal I'm making)
3) The rest of the meat I mix and chop.  We don't just love the dark meat, but when its mixed in with white meat in a casserole or chicken pot pie, we don't notice at all.
4)Divide into 1.5 cup portions and freeze in marked baggies.  SO easy to grab when you are cooking dinner!

***side note, you can take some chicken broth out before you add other ingredients and freeze to use later when you need broth.  I never buy it anymore!

CVS and Walgreens Deals- June 21-27

ADDENDUM- Since I mentioned Frank's Hot Sauce, I realized that the coupons I had previously came from Florida and they didn't come in our local paper.  So here is a link to get a .50 off coupon that will make Frank's .50 at CVS :)

Again, since I'm new to the blog world, I'm taking things with stride... so I will direct you to a site that has some favorite deals listed for this week at CVS and Walgreens to keep things simple. Looks like a decent week... We LOVE Frank's Hot Sauce, so free seems like a pretty good price for that :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Frugal Father's Day

Just wanted to share our "Frugal Father's Day" idea with you.  I'd love to hear your ideas!

We bought the tie at TJMaxx for $7 and used some black acrylic paint we had at home to let the girls do handprints.  We gave it to him today so he could wear it to church :)  Meaningful gift and the girls had a blast making it! :)

Coupon Basics, Part 1

So I told you to check out the other blogs for couponing, but I thought I'd start a little series and touch on it periodically so as to not be overwhelming. It can be a lot of information, but don't let the amount of information scare you. It really is easy once you get started.

1) Know what you are working with.  Because different stores do different things and each region is different, its worth stopping by customer service when you are shopping to ask about their coupon policy.   Here are a couple questions to ask:
a)  Do you accept competitors coupons? Publix accepts competitors coupons, but you need to know what they consider a "competitor".  Our Publix accepts Target coupons, some do not) 
b)  Will you charge me half for a BOGO item or do I have to buy both?
c)  Can I use two coupons on a BOGO deal?  Most stores allow this.  Harris Teeter does not.
d)  If an item is out of stock can I get a rain check?  Rain checks are great!  I have heard of some stores will even write on them to accept your coupons (in the case that they expire before the item is back in stock)
e)  Do you double coupons?  Up to how much?  Kroger and Publix double coupons up to $0.50 (making it $1 off an item).  Harris Teeter doubles up to $0.99 (making it $1.98 off), and stores like Wal-mart and Target don't double at all.

If you have any questions, let me know.  I will continue this series here and there to give you some great tools to bring that grocery bill down!

Click HERE to find Coupon Basics, Part 2!

Swagbucks... getting healthy food very inexpensively!

If you haven't heard of Swagbucks, its a great way to earn prizes by using them as your search engine.  I use them to search for sites I visit on a daily basis and earn points for doing so.  I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but it has been awesome!  I recently redeemed my points for $15 in amazon.com gift cards and applied it towards a case of 6 bottles of agave nectar.  The great part is that I only paid $11 out of pocket (oop) to have it delivered to my door!

Since I've never found a coupon for agave, I thought this would be a great use of my gift cards to get something we use all the time for very cheap!

Here is a link if you want to check it out!

Search & Win

Friday, June 19, 2009

$10 on 7 days worth of dinners.

Alright this is a lot of posting in one day, but here we're getting to the good stuff.  :)  We are currently in the middle of a family challenge to spend $10 on 7 dinners (good nutritious dinners!).  Sound extreme?  Well, it is, but who doesn't like a little challenge here or there.  

Here is my favorite dish that served as day 2 of our 10 day challenge.  I found it here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chicken-Enchiladas-4/Detail.aspx.  I also found an enchilada sauce recipe there, and I tried my hand at homemade corn tortillas.  The entire meal, complete with sides of sour cream, chips and salsa cost us $1!!  I will post next about how to get 5-6 meals out of a whole chicken.  (In this case, I found Tyson all natural chicken on managers special for $1.50 for each chicken... thats $0.25 a meal for really great meat!)  Sure I spent about 1.5 hours cooking that night, but I also have homemade enchilada sauce in the freezer for our next enchilada meal AND it was the first time I had made corn tortillas so things went a little slower than I had hoped (the rolling pin didn't help either haha)

Cheese happens to be on sale at several different stores right now (Harris Teeter is the latest one I have heard of).  Click here for a great printable coupon for Kraft cheese http://brands.kraftfoods.com/purekraft/naturalcheese/ Obviously with the great price on cheese, mexican was a natural choice for food this week.  When printing coupons, use your back browser to automatically print another one- usually the limit is 2. When you combine your coupon with a great sale, you can get items for free or very cheap!

Our Story

I wanted to start with some of our story so there is a little background to where we've been and where we are headed.  Chris and I started our marriage 6.5 years ago with ZERO dollars having just come out of a few years of ministering in the innercity.  In our first year of marriage, we got pregnant and bought our first home.  And that was the beginning of our debt... LOL just the beginning.  Progressively over the last 6 years we have accrued more.  From the exploding toilet in our downstairs (not just once) to the water that flooded in our house every time there was a huge storm, we learned how to swipe that credit card.  Granted, we could have made some better decisions along the way, but thats all part of the journey now.  

So I did some assessing a couple months ago.  I added everything up and we were at least $500 OVER budget every month.  OMG!!  No wonder we could never get ahead!  Every now and then we'd catch a break with extra work, etc, but these are just average numbers. Chris had seen something on the Today Show about how a woman bought $100 in groceries for $0.25.  After seeing our current money crisis up close and personal, my ears perked right up.  Not only were we struggling financially, but we had hardly any seed to sow.  We didn't have anything to give and really wanted to.   A good friend pointed me to some great money saving blogs that really walked me through the money saving process.  Southernsavers.comcommonsensewithmoney.com and moneysavingmom.com are my favs.  Through smart spending, adjusting our cable bill and couponing, I am SO excited to say that we now end every month with at least a $300 surplus. That $300 goes directly to paying down debt.  By doing the things I mentioned before, we eliminated $800 in spending!!!!!  And not only that, but God was showing me that "seed" doesn't have to be just money.  It was using my knowledge to pick up that free tube of toothpaste at walgreens or the $0.20 deodorant at Walmart and donating it.  We started giving what "seed" we had and we have seen God's faithfulness in big ways in our lives!

I would love to be as cool as the ladies who write the above mentioned blogs, but I don't have the time or energy to come up with as many specials and freebies as they do. :)  So I highly recommend paying their blogs a visit if you have questions about couponing because they will do a much better job at explaining all of this than me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hello Friends

I have no idea what I'm doing.  I barely knew what a blog was a year ago, haha.  What I do know is that I have been wanting the opportunity to document this season of my life, and it has come up lately in conversation more than once.. so I thought why not?!

There are several reasons for the blog.  I am a wife and mommy who barely survives each day, but in the same sense I end each day with more than enough.  My hubby and I have been in a season where we want so badly to have more seed to sow and God is opening those doors in new and different ways.  So I'll share those ways... the good stuff and my shortcomings... our journey to becoming debt free and how many cokes with lemon I have along the way to get me through haha.

So enjoy the ride, bumps and all :)  and thanks for reading!