Friday, July 31, 2009

Publix 7/31: Saved 97% w/End of Month Coupons

I stopped by Publix today to use up some good coupons that were expiring. I made a mistake of picking up 3 Mt. Olive pickles which weren't on sale. I will exchange those next trip and repurchase to adjust my total to the numbers listed here!

5 Jars Mt Olive Pickles, $1.10 - 50c Q, doubled = 10c each

10 boxes Kellogg's Pop Tarts, $1.20 each. Used 5 x $1/2 MQ and 10 x 75c/1 Target Q = FREE plus overage.

5 Yakisoba Noodles, $0.89 each - 35c Q doubled = 19c each (This was my son's request.)

Tidy Cats, 6.99 - $2 MQ = $4.99 (Need it now!)

1.09 lbs. Braeburn apples, $1.62 - $1 Target Q (for 1 lb. bulk apples or more) = 62c

1.25 lbs. Red Delicious apples, $1.86 - $1 Target Q = 86c

4 Carefree, $1.39 each. Used 2 x $1/2 MQ and 1 x $3/3 Publix Q = 56c for four
(I messed up on this one. I wanted to buy 6 packs, use 3 x $1/2 MQs and 2 x $3/3 Publix Qs. It would have been a moneymaker, but I only brought one Publix Q with me, and the Green Advantage Buy flyers were no longer out, so I had to adjust on the fly.)

Cherries, $3.12

First Aid Deal
1 Band Aids, $2.39 - 50c Q doubled = $1.39
2 boxes J&J Steri-pads, $1.79 each - $3/2 MQ = $0.58 for 2
Total for above = $1.97 - $5/3 Publix Q = FREE $3.03 money maker

I also used a $5/25 Rite Aid Coupon.

Total Value of Groceries $61.40
Total Paid $1.61 (after exchange price adjustment)
Total Saved $59.79 or 97%

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kroger and Walgreens: Lots of Frees (Wags Paid Me!)

I hit Walgreens and Kroger while my son was in music lessons today. I had something happen that has never happened to me before. Walgreens paid me money back to shop there!

M&Ms, 49c
Twix, 49c
Milky Way, 49c
Milky Way Dark, 49c
2 Rimmel Nail Polish, Buy-One Get-One sale

Used 2 x $1/2 Mars products
Used 1 Buy-One Get-One Free Manufacturer Q.

I was expecting to pay tax on this transaction, but the cashier handed me a gift card with a 20c credit on it!


My receipt got completely eaten up in the register, so I do not know what percentage I saved, but I expect it was over 85%. If I had not bought the apples and potatoes, it would have been in the high 90% range.

8 Playtex Handsaver Gloves, $1 ea - $1 Q = FREE

5 Crest Toothpastes, $1 ea - 50c Q, doubled = FREE
(coupons expire on 7/31)

5 Oral B Toothbrushes, $1 ea - $1 Q = FREE
(coupons expire on 7/31)

2 Purina Friskies Cat Food, $3.29 - $3.50 Q ( = FREE
(cashier adjusted down the value of the coupon)
I also received a catalina coupon for $1 off my next shopping order for buying 2 Friskies. This makes my cat food a $1 money maker.

4 Eggo Waffles, 98c - $1 Q = FREE
(These are part of a Thursday only 50% off Kellogg's Sale at Kroger. My cashier adjusted down the value of the coupons. Kroger registers do not allow overage.)

7 Mahatma White Rice 1 lb., $1.09 - ea - 50c Q, doubled = 9c each

1 Mahatma Brown Rice, 28 oz, $2.29 - 50c Q, doubled = $1.29
(My coupons would expire on 7/31.)

Cinnabon Bars, $1.99 - $1 Printable = 99c
(Also part of the Kellogg's Thursday 50% off sale.)

10 lbs. potatoes, $1.99

3 lbs. apples, $2.49, Manager's Special

Thrifty Tip: Printing Target Coupons

I really like using Internet Printable Coupons when I shop (IP for short). These are almost free. No need to buy a Sunday newspaper. No need to trade with friends. All that is required is a little paper and ink. I'm very fortunate to have a SuperTarget one mile from my neighborhood. I'm also blessed to have a Publix one mile in the other direction, so this Publix will accept Target and SuperTarget IP coupons.

The original source for Target IPs, is of course the Target or SuperTarget website. Target issues a new batch of IPs about every two weeks, sometimes more frequently, sometimes less. You can print these out here, but there are a couple of drawbacks. When the company posts a new set of coupons, the old ones are no longer available. If you didn't print them last week, you can't get them from Target's website any longer.

I prefer to print my Target IPs from one of the Coupon Forums out there. My faves are

These forums are free to join and both support Target Coupon Generators. Target permits them to supply all unexpired coupons on the forums to coupon users, even if they are no longer available on Target's website. No more wasting ink to print Target IPs that you will not use. No more missing out on deals with Target IPs because you didn't print them. Just go to the forum, click on "Target Coupon Generator." You can see coupon images, enter the number of each coupon that you need, and print multiple coupons on each page. Isn't technology grand?

On a side note about Target IPs, each Target IP usually states "Limit one offer per transaction." My Target cashiers will allow me to use multiples of these in one transaction. I have read that many coupon users will split their order up into multiple transactions, using one like coupon per order, if the cashiers require it. Fortunately I have not had to do this ;D).

Blessings, and happy coupon shopping.

Saving Money on Groceries 101: Meal Planning!

People ask me to tell them how to save money on groceries. Yes, shopping with coupons is fun, especially when you can "buy" several things for cheap or free. However, I have to say that the first and most important step in saving money on groceries is learning how to plan meals effectively. It's one of the most important jobs we have as moms, wives, keepers of the home, and for our own bodies. How do you plan interesting, nutritious foods that offer variety and are pleasing to the members of your household? Add to all that, how do we do that at an economical price, too?

When I first got married, I was mostly focused on my career. I barely knew how to cook a few things. Microwaved baked potatoes, spaghetti, and fish sticks were some of my "specialties." After 17 years of marriage, experience and practice add a lot. Here are a few more practical suggestions.

* Start by planning all your evening meals for the week.
In addition to the main protein source, include all the side items, veggies, fruit, grains and dessert if you are serving dessert. If you plan to go out to eat, include that event in your weekly meal plan. I find that having all my meals planned out ahead of the time GREATLY reduces my stress in the late afternoon. No fretting about "what are we going to have for dinner." It also helps me to work out that we have balance nutrition and ample variety during the week.

* Plan your meals based on what you have in your pantry and freezer.
At least half of my weekly meals are based on what I already have in my freezer and pantry. If you have a tough time thinking of what to plan, you can make a list of all the chicken dishes your family likes, all the beef dishes, all the pork dishes, etc.

* Plan your other meals around what is on sale this week.
Between using what is in my freezer & pantry, and perusing the sale flyers, I can usually fill up my meal plan for the week. Of course, when chicken breasts are on sale for 99c/lb, I buy up extra to stash in the freezer for following weeks. For ideas on how to use what is in your pantry or what is on sale this week at the stores, I recommend using web tools such as or These web sites allow you to search for recipes based on your desired ingredients. Who needs to buy a cookbook anymore? The most exhaustive cookbook is at our fingertips: the internet!

* Consider adding vegetarian meals to your menu plan.
Vegetarian meals are usually low in saturated fat and high in plant-based nutrition. Plant-based meals are often lower cost than meat-based meals. Although I have a meat-loving husband, we have added vegetarian fare, or at least low-meat meals to our rotation, and he loves my veggie lasagna! For some ideas on veggie cooking once per week, you can visit

* Add a breakfast meal for dinner.
Here is something that helps add variety for dinner. We don't regularly cook big breakfasts in the morning, so having this for dinner usually pleases the crowd. You can't tell me that thinking about bacon, eggs or omelets, biscuits, fruit salad, smoothies, sausage, bacon, waffles, pancakes, and scones doesn't make your mouth water!

* Have an alternate meal idea, just in case.
Sometimes best-laid plans still run awry. It's always a good idea to have a backup plan. Sometimes you get home later in the afternoon due to unexpected delays. Sometimes someone gets sick and your time should be focused on helping your sick one. Sometimes you get sick. Having a quick meal in the freezer helps avoid the temptation to "run out and pick something up." Or, you can have sandwiches, an easy pasta dish, or some other alternative plan. We all know that home cooking tastes better and is better for you than take out. (LOL!)

* Add more meals into your meal plan.
Once you have mastered planning seven evening meals, begin adding more meals to your plan. Add in a special weekend breakfast. Plan ahead a few meals for the following week. Do you have a special meal on Sunday after church? Some frugal home keepers plan out each meal and snacks every day. (I confess that I do not meal plan to this level.)

* Check out some meal planning blogs.
I'm always keeping my eyes open for fresh, nutritious, frugal meals. There are a lot to be had around the blogging world. You can check out these wonderful sites to glean some new ideas. hosts menu planning Monday. Find out what's on her menu and the menus of others. has some interesting low-cost meals based on what is on sale in your area. hosts an "Ultimate Recipe Swap" every Thursday on a different topic. I have found some great recipes there, too.

Blessings to you and to your meal planning efforts!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kraft Back to School $20 Rebate

Kraft is running a $20 Back-to-School Rebate. You can learn more about it HERE, and register to receive a Kraft/Nabisco coupon booklet with $55 worth of Kraft/Nabisco/Planter's coupons.

The rebate applies when you purchase

10 Nabisco cookies and crackers (4 oz - 28 oz)
5 beverages (Capri Sun or Kool-Aid Jammers)
5 Easy Mac Single Cups

(Cookies and crackers shown in the photo are 100 Calorie Packs, Oreo Cakesters, Nilla Wafers, Mac & Cheese Crackers, Ritz Bits, Teddy Grahams, Honey Maid, Oreos, Chips Ahoy, and Multi-packs. The rebate does not include a list of participating Nabisco products.)

Send in the store cash register receipts dated between 7/1/09 and 12/31/09, prices circled. UPCs are not required.

In other words: Purchase 20 items, get $20 back, or $1 off per item.

I do not know if regular Ritz crackers and Wheat Thins are included in the rebate. I have emailed the company to ask about this detail. If they are included in the rebate, here is a wonderful opportunity from Publix this week (starting Thursday.)

Buy 5 Ritz crackers, BOGO $3.79 ($1.90 each)
Use 5 $1/1 Tearpad coupons. Makes it 90c each

Buy 5 Wheat Thins, Use 5 FREE Wheat Thins WYB Ritz,
Makes it FREE

Buy 5 Capri Sun packs, Price?
Use $1 off Food Lion Coupons

Buy 6 Easy Mac Cups, Price?
Use 3 x $1/2 Coupons from HERE

Get Back $20.

I will update the post when I hear from Kraft and check the prices.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Free Kraft Salad Dressing at Publix

If you haven't been to Publix yet this week, you might want to add Kraft dressing to your shopping list. Through Wednesday, Kraft dressing is on sale BOGO, 2/$2.99 (or $1.50 each.) Go to and print out 2 copies of the $1.50/1 Kraft Dressing coupon for 2 free dressings.

While you are there, you can also print out $1/1 Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs and $1/1 Kraft 2% Shredded Cheese.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Publix Trip 7/27 (Shopping with a headache, I still saved 72% or $138.)

Today was a really hectic day and I felt like I could not get my "groove" in Publix today. My 3 kids were all with me, and they seemed more rambunctious than usual. We went in the afternoon when it was busy instead of in the morning when it is more quiet.

Thanks to careful planning and detailed list-making, I was still able to get $192 worth of groceries for $63 plus tax. This is my only planned grocery trip this week, except to pick up some freebies at Kroger later.

Publix Freebies and Super Cheapies

3 x McCormick Peppercorn Grinders (Raincheck) 99c ea - $1 Qs = FREE

2 x Alexia Crunchy Snacks, $1.45 each - 2 x $1 Qs - 75c/2 Target Q = 7 c each

Wise Potato Chips, $1.50 - 50c Q, doubled = 50c

3 x Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats, $1.95 each, used 1 x $1/1 Q, 1 x $1.50/2 Q, 3 x $1/1 Food Lion Qs = 12c each

4 x Starkist SeaSations Frozen Fish, $3 each - $3 Q = FREE

Publix Hot Dogs, Penny Item, 1 c

3 x Muir Glen Tomato Sauce, 89c each - $1 Qs = Free plus overage

Hefty One Zip Fresh Extend, $1.97 - $1 MQ - $1 Target Q (WYB bags + produce) = FREE

2 Bags Friskies Dry Cat Food, $3 each, used 1 x $3 Publix Q, 1 x $1 MQ, and 1 x $2 MQ = FREE

3 x Pillsbury Reduced Sugar Cake Mixes, 85c each - 35c Qs, doubled = 15c each

First Aid Items
1 x Neosporin, $3.89, - $1 Q = $2.89
2 x J&J Steripads, $1.79 each - $3/2 J&J Q = 58c for 2
Used $5/3 J&J/Neosporin/etc. Coupon from the Green Advantage Buy Flyer = FREE plus $3.42 overage for Neosporin and 2 boxes of Steripads.

6 Packs Apple & Eve Juice Boxes, $1.59 each - $1 Qs = 59c each (For daughter's birthday party.)

Publix $10 Gift Card Offer
Kraft Shredded 2% Mozzarella, $2.79 - $1 Food Lion Q - $1/2 Q = $1.24
Kraft Shredded 2% Sharp Cheddar, $2.79 - $1 Food Lion Q - $1/2 Q (above) = $1.24
Oscar Mayer Brown Sugar Ham, $3.79
Jello Pudding Mix, $1.39
Total: $7.66
Will receive a $10 Gift Card
Net Cost: $2.34 Profit, plus four FREE items we will use!

I was planning to repeat a deal on Sayfree and Carefee to make a profit, similar to those HERE and HERE, but the store was out of the $1.29 Carefree pads, so I skipped it.

The Rest of the Haul

Here are some other notable deals:

2 x Hebrew National Hot Dogs, $2.50 - 75c Qs = $1.75 each

Yoplait Yogurt (big tub), $2.59 - $1 peelie = $1.59

2 Scott Bathroom Tissue 4-pack (not pictured), $2.50 - $1 Q (WYB 8 rolls) = $2 each

3 x Fresh Express Bagged Salad, $2.50 each - $1 Publix Qs = $1.50 each

I also used $2/$5 Produce Purchase from Food Lion, and a $5/$25 from Rite Aid.

Total Value of Groceries $191.64
Total after Coupons & Sales: $63.06
Gift Card Savings: $10
Total Savings: 137.58 or 72%

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Third Week of All*You Grocery Challenge


Hey, it's the third week of the All*You Grocery Challenge! This Week will feature some of the goodies I bought at Trader Joe's last week, a nice variation in the menu rotations. My husband and son have also been asking for homemade salsa, so I try to incorporate (some of) their requests into the weekly planning and shopping.

For more menu plan ideas, please visit


Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets
Steamed Broccoli & Carrots

Big Salads w/Chicken or Ham
Cinnamon Muffins

Chicken & Black Bean Burritos

Breakfast Garden Omelets
Homemade Bread
Fresh Fruit

Buffalo Steak Burgers
Baked Beans
Steamed Broccoli

Grilled Salmon
Home Fries
Green Beans

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Trader Joes: Frugal Friend or Foe?

I used to shop at Trader Joe's more often. It isn't very close to my house, and I haven't been there in a very long time. My kids and husband really like the chili-lime chicken burgers and the buffalo burgers. I did so well on my Publix trip this week, only spending about $44, so I thought I would pick up some things that my family had been asking for.

Trader Joe's does accept coupons for name-brand items that they sell. The thing is, most of their products are house brands, for which there are no coupons. They have reasonably priced food, but no real knock-out sales. The store is really full of lots of organic, all-natural, and "healthy" type fare. I also find the store to be full of tempting, interesting fare, such as dark chocolate covered edamame. (I didn't buy it this trip because I know I don't control myself very well when eating it. LOL!)

So, instead of going in to buy two things, one box of chicken burgers and one box of buffalo burgers, I troll the aisles with my son and casually pick up $55 worth of merchandise!! Well, this has been a good lesson for me. I will have some nice and interesting things to add to my menus over the next couple of weeks, but if you want to stick to a strict budget, be careful in TJ's!

Do you shop at Trader Joe's? Do you find it easy to stick within a budget?

4 apples
3 lbs. organic cherries ($1.99/lb, and they are delicious!)
2 lbs. raisins
2 boxes chili-lime chicken burgers
2 boxes buffalo burgers
3 bags tortilla chips
frozen salmon
frozen shrimp
Z-bar for my son (not shown)

Total: $55.53, including tax

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Healthy Eating: Chicken Parmesan

I can't believe I've never made this before!! I served chicken parmesan last night, and it was soooo delish. Of course, everything was purchased with coupons from the tomatoes, to the chicken, to the pasta. We rounded out the meal with steamed broccoli on the side and organic cherries.

First, I made crispy chicken tenders from FishMama's recipe HERE.

The marinara sauce recipe is from my friend Charlotte. The sauce was really inexpensive since I used two cans of tomatoes bought with a coupon, and fresh basil leaves from the garden. I confess that I have almost always used jarred marinara sauce in the past, but this sauce was incredible, and so simple to make.

Charlotte's Marinara Sauce

2 T. olive oil
4 med. cloves garlic minced *
2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice
Coarse salt & fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. basil leaves, torn
2 t. sugar (I added this to cut the acidity slightly)

Combine oil and garlic in pan. Turn heat to medium. Cook until garlic is fragrant but not brown.

Stir in tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add basil & simmer for 1 minute more.

* We are not big garlic fans, so I just used a little sprinkle of garlic powder instead. Also, I used one can of unsalted diced tomatoes and one can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes. I mashed them a little with a potato ricer as well. I did not add extra salt, but the fresh ground black pepper added a nice little zing.

Do You Ever Have Frugal Duds?

Do you ever "buy" something that is free with coupon or pennies on the dollar, and later it turns out everyone hates it? That happened to me with the free Dano-nino yogurt. It just didn't fly at our house. I didn't even try to put it into smoothies. As much as I hate waste, I'm just not going to make my family eat something (or use a health and beauty aid product) that they hate just becuase "I got it free with a coupon!"

Shopping with coupons allows me to get free things every week. We get to try a lot of new products that I would never buy without coupons. Many things we like. A few things go into the garbage. If these yogurts were not perishable, they would have gone to a food drive.

It is important as home keepers that we bless our families with our frugal shopping. My goal is not to make my family groan over the things I bring home from shopping, but that it will be a delight. Let your money saving ideas be a blessing and not a curse!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Healthy Eating: Adding More Veggies to Your Family's Diete

I am always looking for ways to get more veggies into our family's diet. You almost can't have too much. I decided to take their favorite foods, and figure out ways to add veggies. Here is a favorite at our house. My kids love tacos. We eat them frequently.

Finely chopped sweet bell peppers blend easily into the taco filling. Just cook them along with the ground meat. At first, I used yellow or orange peppers. They are nearly invisible when all the seasoning has been added. As they got used to this, I switched to green peppers. In this photo, I used sweet banana peppers and green bell peppers from the garden.

Here's what the filling looks like finished. The green peppers are still a little visible, but now my kids are used to it, and they complain that it doesn't taste right if I don't add them! Ha!

What do you do to get more veggies into your family's diet?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Publix Trip 7/20: Monday Madness, 80% Savings

It was really good to be shopping at Publix again this week. I missed you, Publix. Again, I am overwhelmed with the opportunities for free and very inexpensive groceries.

Publix Free and Super Cheap

6 x Carefree Liners, $1.39 each - 3 x $1/2 MQs - 2 x $3/3 Publix Qs = Free plus 66c overage total

4 x Bic Mechanical Pencil, $1 each - 50c Q printable (no longer available) doubled = FREE

2 x Reach Floss, $1.49 - $1 Publix Q - 50c MQ doubled = FREE plus $1.02 overage total

6 x Bandaids, $2.19 each - 6 x 50c MQs doubled - 2 x $5/3 Publix Qs = FREE plus $6.20 overage total

Dole Pineapple Chunks, 89c - 50c (from Parenting magazine), doubled = FREE plus 11c overage

8 x Muir Glen Tomato Sauce, 89c - 8 x $1/1 printables = FREE plus 88c overage total

2 x Skintimate Shave Gel, $2 each - 2 x $1.50 Target Q (I found at my gym) - $1.50/2 MQ = FREE plus 50c overage

3 x McCormick Grinders, $1 - $1 Q = FREE (I got a raincheck to buy more.)

Publix Frosted Flakes, 1c (Mystery Item)

Capri Sunrise, $1.89 - $1 MQ = 89c (to be used for daughter's birthday party next month)

8 x Stoneyfield Organic Yogurt 60c each - 2 x $100/4 MQs = 35c each

2 x Glad Force Flex Garbage Bags, $3.69 - $1 Target Q - $1 MQ = $1.69 each

2 x ReNu Contact Solution, $4.49 each - $2 Q = $2.49 each

Kraft Gift Card Items
Kraft is offering a $10 gift card if you purchase four different specified Kraft items along with $50 in total Publix purchases. According to chatter at www.iheartpublix, the $50 total can be before coupons, and the four different items can be different varieties of a type of item (e.g. two different kinds of Kraft 2% cheese.

Kraft 2% Shredded Sharp Cheddar, $2.79 - $1 MQ printable - $1/1 Food Lion Q = 79c

Kraft 2% Shredded Four Cheese Mexican Blend, $2.79 - $1 MQ printable - $1/1 Food Lion Q = 79c

Shake-N-Bake Chicken, $2.29

Jello Chocolate Pudding, $1.39
Total Spent for Kraft items: $5.26
Will Receive a $10 gift card.
Total: $4.74 profit, plus receive four FREE items above.

The Rest of the Haul

Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread, $1.80 - 55c MQ = $1.25
Publix Hamburger Buns
Publix Hot Dog Buns
Dried Pineapple (My girls beg me to buy this!)
Hormel Bacon
Natures Own 100% Wheat Bread

2 x Fresh Express Spring Mix, $2.50 - $1 Publix Q - $1 Food Lion Q = 50c each
Bartlett Pears, 99c in-store special
Gala Apples
Baby Carrots
Green Onions
Red Grapes
Athenos Hummus
Publix Raisins

I used Food Lion $2 off $5 Produce Purchase from Food Lion and a $5 off $25 Rite Aid.

Total Value of Groceries: $168.78
Total After Sales, Before Coupons: $123.71 (for Kraft Rebate)
Total Value of Coupons: $80.18
Total Paid: $43.73 (Before Tax)
Total Paid After Tax: $48.38
Will Receive $10 Gift Card
Total Savings: $135.25 or 80%

Monday, July 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Second Week of All*You Grocery Challenge

Hurray, it's the second week of the All*You Grocery Challenge. The first week went really well, and I had fun with it, using mostly items from my stockpile. We've plowed through most all of our fresh produce, so I will be buying lots this week.

Here is my menu plan for the week, and I decided to have an alternate meal in the plan. This is handy when things don't work out with your Plan A, like getting home later than usual from an appointment or such.

w/ Garden Tomatoes, Cilantro, & Green Onions
Small Spring Mix Salad
Fresh Fruit

Chicken Parmesan made w/Crispy Chicken
Steamed Broccoli & Carrots

Pan-Fried Pork Chops
(simple, yet one of my husbad's favorites)
Field Peas & Snaps
Apples & Walnuts in Vanilla Yogurt w/Cinnamon

Quesadillas w/ Homemade Tortillas
Fruit Salad

w/ Garden Bell Peppers, Garden Banana Peppers,
Ham, Pepperoni, Green Onions, & Pineapple Toppings

Grilled New York Strip Steak

Grilled Chicken
Spring Mix Salad
Fresh Fruit
Dessert: Ice Cream Sundaes

Eggs, Grits, Bacon, Homemade Bread

Sunday, July 19, 2009

All*You Grocery Challenge Updage

I am participating in the All*You grocery challenge, which is 4 weeks of food spending of $25 or less per person in your household. This spending includes eating out as well as groceries, but does not include non-food items. For my family of five, this is $125 per week, an easily attainable goal.

I thought it might be fun to recap the week's expenses. What a crazy week! I spent only $42.40 on groceries. However, we spent $72.58 on eating out this week. This is really funny because we are not big on eating out usually.

The main lesson for the week is that yes, you can eat out on a food budget, and this even included the expense of my husband taking out a good friend who has been a boon to him professionally. You can even be generous on a food budget. Next week, however, I'm sure that out eating out expenses will be much lower!

I think the principle behind being able to spend this much on eating out this week is that strategic coupon use combined with stockpiling gives you the flexibility to take a week off from major grocery shopping.

The All*You Grocery Challenge is tracking expenses from Monday through Sunday, which is funny, because I always thought Sunday was the first day of the week.

Week 1: 7/13 - 7/19

7/14: Husband breakfast with Bible Study Group, $4

7/15: Coffee at Panera Bread, $1.81

7/16: Life Cafe lunch with kids, $24.37
(This is really unusual for me to take the kids out to lunch during the middle of the week!)

7/16: Kroger groceries, $36.74

7/17: Target, $1.27

7/17: Dreamland BBQ, $42.40

7/18: Kroger, $4.39 (food expenses only)

Total Grocery: $42.40 (37%)
Total Eating Out: %72.58 (63%)
Total Food Expenses Week 1: $72.58

I'm looking forward to week 2, especially since it has been over a week since I have been to my favorite store: Publix!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kroger: Mega Event

I went by Kroger today to work the Mega Event. In this event, if you buy 10 specially designated items (has to be 10), the register will deduct $5 from your total. This works out to 50c discount per item, which makes many things very, very cheap or free after coupons and Mega Event discount. These sales can be fun, but are also a lot of work to research, find your coupons, and plan out the trip in batches of 10.

Here's how it all panned out....

2 Boxes Kleenex Ultra-Soft Tissues, $1.49 - 50c Mega Sale - 50c/2 Q doubled = 50c each

9 Boxes Kleenex Tissues (Regular), $1.49 - 50c Mega Sale - 3 x $50/3 Q doubled = 66 c each

2 Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Bars, $2.49 - 50c Mega Sale - $1/2 Q from package insert = $1.49 each

3 x Playtex Gloves, $1.00 each - 50c Q doubled - 50c Mega Sale = FREE plus 50c overage each

Whiskas Cat Treats, $1.49 - 50c Mega Event - 50c Q, doubled = FREE

Philadelphia Cream Cheese, $1.29 - 50c Mega Event -$1 Q (from Publix "Grape" magazine) = FREE plus 21c overage

Sara Lee bread, $1.99 - 50c Mega Sale = $1.49

2 x Cottonelle Wipes, $2.69 - 50c Qs doubled = $1.69 each (not part of Mega Sale)

Total Spent, $13.01 before tax.
Total Savings $38.27, or 74%

Friday, July 17, 2009

Target: Saved 91% Kelloggs, Cat Food, and Electrasol

I swung through Target today on the way back from an appointment. I nabbed some goodies with huge savings. I don't think I have ever spent only $1.27 at Target! This is the magic of staking store coupons with manufacturer coupons.

Electrasol $3.59 - $2.50 MQ - $1 Target CRT Q (Cash Register Tape) = 9c
(I was hoping for the 32-count pack, which was on sale for $3.49, but they were out of stock with a "sorry no rainchecks" sign.)

2 Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats @ $1.88 each - $1.50/2 MQ = $2.26

1 Purina Cat Food $3.99 regular price - $3.50 MQ printable - $2 Target CRT Q = Free plus $1.51 overage

The overage helped reduce my overall cost to $1.27.

Best part of the whole deal is that I got $10 in great coupons from the boxes of Mini-Wheats! Most of these I will probably use, so the trip is almost like a money-maker!

Healthy Eating: Blueberry-Pecan Cobbler

My husband and I are really, really fond of blueberries. They are a nutritional powerhouse, and chocked full of all kinds of good things. I also do not make very many desserts, as we value healthy eating, and most desserts do not fall into that category. However, when the middle of summer rolls around and blueberries go on sale, you can guarantee that this cobbler will be on the dessert menu! This represents summer to us the same way that pumpkin pie goes with Thanksgiving.

This original recipe came from Southern Living magazine almost a decade ago. I still have the dog-eared magazine page. Their original recipe can be found here. I have tweaked the ingredients slightly, and here is my altered version.

Blueberry Pecan Cobbler

3 pints fresh or frozen blueberries
1 c. sugar
3 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/3 c. water
2 T. lemon juice
1 t. vanilla extract
1 (15-oz. package refrigerated pie crust, or *homemade pie crust*)
1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted (or slightly more)
Vanilla ice cream

Bring first 7 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar melts. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon half of blueberry mixture into a lightly greased 8-inch square pan. Role 1 pie crust to 1/8" thickness, and cut an 8" square. Place over blueberry mixture. Sprinkle with pecans.

Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes. Spoon remaining blueberry mixture over baked crust.
Roll remaining piecrust to 1/8" thickness. Cover top of cobbler, and add vent holes (or make a lattice crust.)

Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Serves 5 - 6.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kroger Trip: Very Cheap Boneless Chicken Breasts

As usual, I do most of my shopping at Publix, but swoop in from time to time at Kroger. They usually have better milk and meat prices, so it's worth an occasional trip, usually when I am on my way home from somewhere.

I had five coupons for $1 off any Tyson fresh chicken product. Kroger has Tyson chicken breasts on sale for $1.99/lb. Pick the smaller packages for maximum percentage savings.

I bought 9.13 lbs. of chicken
Coupons $5.00
Final price $13.86

Total cost of Kroger shopping trip: $36.74, including tax. I will total up my food expenditures for the week for the All*You Grocery Challenge.
Adjusted "price" of chicken is $1.52/lb

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Healthy Eating: Sweet & Hot Pork

This recipe is almost like a Mexican Stir-Fry. The heat comes from the salsa, and the sweet from the jelly. Serve it over white or brown rice.

Sweet & Hot Pork

12 oz. lean pork, cut into chunks
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 T. taco seasoning
1/3 - 1/2 c. peach preserves*
8 oz. your favorite salsa
fresh chopped cilantro (about 1 T.)
fresh chopped basil
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
a few shakes of hot sauce to taste (I use 8 - 10)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 T. flour
cooked rice

Cook pork & peppers in skillet until done. Mix in all other ingredients. Bring to simmer and cook 5 - 10 additional minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve over cooked rice.

* I have also used apple jelly, orange marmalade, seedless raspberry preserves, or whatever I have on hand.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: First Week of All*You Grocery Challenge

Here is what I am planning this week for dinner. My freezer and refrigerator are so stuffed that I am planning to eat down some of our frozen stores this week. This is also the first week of the All*You grocery challenge. The goal of the challenge is to spend less than $25 per person per week for all members of your household, including groceries, beverages, and eating out. Non-food items are not included in the challenge. It should be fun.

Big salads with Ham
Corn muffins
Peaches and strawberries

Steamed Broccoli

Sweet & Hot Pork
Steamed Rice

Garden Omelets
Hash Brown Potatoes

Hard Shell Beef Tacos
Mixed Fruit

Grilled Steak
Grilled Fries

Pasta & Marinara Sauce
Veggie of Choice (whatever is left in the fridge - LOL!)

Find more menu plans at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Staples: 4 cents for school supplies

The back-to-school sales are up and running now at the office supply stores. I made a quick stop on the way home from church yesterday to pick up these goodies for 4 cents!

2 x Copy Paper = 1 c after Easy Rebate (I find that "copy" paper works fine in my printer. Limit 2 per household.)

2 x 8-pack pencils, 1 c, limit 2 per customer

2 x Bic Velocity Colored Ball Pens, $1 - $1 coupon from HERE. (Qs may be no longer available.)
Final Price = FREE.

These 1c deals are good through Wednesday only. There are also several other $1 deals. If you take your kids in the store with you, they could each they each could buy the limit of each item.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Super Savings Saturday at Publix

Since I will be participating in the All*You grocery challenge starting Monday, I thought I would do my shopping today instead of waiting until Monday. In the Grocery Challenge, participants must spend less than $25 per person in their family for all groceries and food items, including eating out, per week for four weeks.

With a family of five, that would give us a budget of $125 per week. I don't think this will be a huge challenge, since I am spending less than that anyway. The only trick for us will be the few times per week that my husband goes out to lunch with his coworkers. It turns out this shopping trip, I spent less than $40, which will likely last us the week.

I have a big supply of chicken, pork, steak, and ground beef in the freezer, so I didn't buy any meat this week. In fact, my 27 cu. ft. refrigerator-freezer is so stuffed, I absolutely cannot squeeze another thing into it. I don't think I have ever seen it so full. Funny thing is, my grocery spending continues to shrink, even as my stockpile grows!

Publix Free and Super Deals

4 packs Yoplait Yo-Plus, $1.25 (w/raincheck) - $1 Qs = 25c each

Ocean Spray Cranberry Pomegranate 100% Juice, BOGO $2 - $2 Target Q CRT = FREE

Smart Balance Spread, BOGO $1.40 - 50c Q doubled = 40c
Smart Balance Milk, $3 - FREE SB milk When You Buy SB spread = FREE

Crystal Light Canister, BOGO $1.99 - $1 Q = 99c
Crystal Light Skin Essentials, BOGO $2 - FREE Skin Essentials WYB CL canister = FREE

Apple & Eve Juice Boxes, $1.59 regular price - $1 Publix Q - 50c MQ, doubled = FREE plus overage

4 x Muir Glen tomato sauce, 89c - $1 MQ = FREE plus overage

Spray & Wash trigger sprayer, BOGO, $1.50 - 50c Q doubled = 50c

Kellogg's Special K blueberry cereal, BOGO in-store special, $1.99 - $1 Q = 99c

Kashi Waffles BOGO, $1.39 ea - $1 MQ - 25c Target Q = 14 c each

Kashi Frozen Dinners BOGO, $1.74 ea. - 50c Target Q = $1.24 each
These will be good for my husband to take to work during the Grocery Challenge!

Planter's Peanuts BOGO, $1.60 - $1 Q from HERE = 60 c.

** First Aid Products Deal **

2 x Bandaid strips, $2.39 - 50c Q doubled = $1.39 each
1 x Neosporin $3.89 - $1 Q = $2.89
Total for above = $5.67
Used $5/3 Bandaid/Neosporin, etc. Publix Coupon from the Green Advantage Buy flyer
Final cost 67c for all three!

This was really handy as I needed Neosporin. There are other scenarios which will give you free items and possible overage.

** Feminine Sanitary Deal **

4 packs Stayfree Pads @ $2.85 each, used 2 BOGO coupons = $5.70 for 4
2 packs Carefree Liners @ $1.39 each, used 2 x 50c coupons = 78c for 2
Total of above = $6.48 for 6
** Used 2 x $3 WYB 3 Stayfree/Carefree, etc. Publix Coupons (Green Flyer) = -$6
Final Cost = 48c for 6 packs of pads!

The Rest of the Haul

2 Dozen eggs
Red grapes
Spring mix
3 Pints blueberries
Strawberries, $2.50 - $1 Target Q = $1.50
Simply Potatoes (BOGO)
2 x Tropicana OJ, $3 - $1/2 Q = $2.50 each
Skim Milk
Parmesan Cheese
Black Beans

I used a "$5 off $25 purchase" competitor coupon from a local health food store.

Total Value of Groceries = $134.97
Total Spent Before Tax = $36.53
Total Savings = $98.44 or 73%

Friday, July 10, 2009

Favorite Frugal Breakfasts: Blueberry Oatmeal

Super Healthy and Super Frugal

Here is one of my all-time favorite breakfasts! A few years ago, my husband gave up eating the little oatmeal packs because they usually contain so much sugar. I started buying quick-cook oats, and then we moved to the old-fashioned rolled oats. I'll never go back, and it is so very simple to cook in the microwave!

Blueberry Oatmeal

1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 c. skim milk
1 t. brown sugar (or sucanat)
1 pinch cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 c. blueberries

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a wide-rimmed bowl. Microwave at 50% power for five minutes. (This is a good time for me to unload the dishwasher from the previous night's dishes!) Add blueberries, and enjoy!

This breakfast is packed with a full serving of dairy (1/3 of daily calcium requirement), fiber, whole grains, and a full serving of fruit. This really seems to power me up if I have a strenuous workout planned for later in the morning.

I've also eaten it with raisins, strawberries, cherries, or just plain.

Humor: Get out of Debt

Here's a light take on getting out of debt from the folks at SNL. Good advice. We should all heed it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Target: Kashi & Kellogg's: Saved 88%

I'm so sad that my 10-year-old camera may have finally given up the ghost. And so, I have no photo for this post.

When I have a shopping trip like today, I just want to jump up and down and thank Jesus for his wonderful provision for us. I'd also like to thank Target, Kelloggs's and Kashi for bringing such wonderful deals. I was so excited at the register that I forgot to use my $5 gift card. Oh well, there is always next time!

Kellogg's Deal with Rebate
4 boxes Eggos ("Star Trek" type on sale) $1.50 each - $1 off any Eggo Frozen product = 50c each

4 boxes Eggos Bake Shop Mini Muffin Tops $1.50 each - $1 Eggo Bake Shop printables = 50c each

2 boxes Pop-Tarts, $1.52 - 55c/1 MQ = 97c each
10 items for a total price of $5.94
These items qualify for a $10 rebate from Kellogg's, so this part of the transaction is a $4 Money-Maker!

See details about the Kellogg's Fuel for School rebate HERE. (Ten participating Kellogg's items must be purchased in a single transaction.)

Go HERE to find out how you can get some Eggo Bake Shop printable coupons.

Kashi Sale Items
Many Kashi items are on sale at Target this week. Additionally, Target's website has a huge number of printable store coupons good for Kashi products. We really, really like Kashi products. It's a good thing. It will help offset some of the less healthy Eggos and Poptarts I purchases above (LOL).

2 boxes Kashi TLC crackers, $2.50 each - 2 x $1.00 MQ - $1/2 Target Q = $1 each

2 boxes Kashi TLC cookies, $2.50 each - 2 x $1.00 MQ - $1/2 Target Q = $1 each

Kashi Honey Sunshine Cereal, $2.66 - $1 MQ - 50c Target Q = $1.66 each

2 boxes Kashi TLC granola bars & cereal bars, $2.50 - 2 x $1.50 MQ - $1/2 Target Q = 50c each

4 boxes Kashi TLC granola bars & cereal bars, $2.50 - 4 x $1 MQ - 2 x $1/2 Target Q = $1 each

You can go HERE to register and print off two $1.50 off Kashi TLC cereal bar coupons per computer.

You can go HERE to print off two $1.50 Kashi cereal coupons per computer.

The total value of groceries purchased was $54.44
Total savings after coupons was $37.90
Total paid (before rebate) was $16.54 before tax.
Net cost after rebate is $6.54 for a boatload of breakfast foods!

Total savings after coupons and rebate is $47.90 or 88%

Now, I'm off to mail in my rebate......

Healthy Eating: Making your own Stir-Fry Sauce

(Chicken, Broccoli, and Mushroom Stir-Fry)

When my all-time favorite store-bought stir-fry sauce approached $4 per bottle, I decided to start experimenting with making my own. I just looked at the ingredient list on the label, and went from there. About two-years later, I think I have just about perfected it!

Do you think it's too hard to make your own sauce? Do you think it would take too much time? So did I, but I decided to give it a try, and it is very easy, and takes about three minutes! It's also very, very frugal! I haven't done a cost breakdown, but I think it is about 25c per batch, so in a way, I'm saving $3.75 for 3-minutes worth of work. That works out to be $75/hour equivalent. It's worth it to me to go to the small trouble of making my own sauce.

I use this sauce with any type of stir fry. You can adjust the seasonings to suit your family's taste.

Margery's Stir Fry Sauce

1/4 c. soy sauce (or tamari sauce, or Bragg's Liquid Aminos, which I frequently use)
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. orange juice
1/3 c. water
1 t. powdered ginger
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
Mix all these in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Dissolve 2 T. cornsarch in about 1/4 c. water. Slowly add to simmering pan, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.

I add this to my stir fry about 3 to 5 minutes from the end of the cooking time.

Please visit for the Ultimate Recipe Swap on other chicken dishes!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Free Muir Glen Tomato Sauce!

One of my all-time favorite printable coupons has been reset!

Muir Glen organic tomato products $1/any one printable coupons can be found at and

Funny thing is, the Muir Glen coupon didn't show up at Eat Better America, until I went to print out another coupon, and there it was. You should be able to print two coupons from each of these sites.

Publix carries Muir Glen tomato sauce for 89c/can and paste for $1.19/can. Walmart carries Muir Glen diced tomatoes for about $1.19 /can.

I use the tomato sauce for soup, chili, meatloaf, and best of all -- pizza sauce!

Going Green: Stepping Up Your Recycling With Very Little Effort

We are very fortunate to have a trash and recycling company that collects a huge amount of recylables (paper, all plastics 1-7, cardboard, aluminum, steel, junk mail, glass, etc.) However, they do not collect plastic bags or styrofoam.

Although I do have six reusable grocery shopping bags, which I use almost all the time, I still do seem to come home with the occasional nefarious plastic grocery bag. I stick one of these in my laundry room (behind the door). Over the period of about two weeks, I add all the plastic grocery bags, produce bags, newspaper bags, and any other recyclable bags that come into the house. I also stick in foam produce trays and egg cartons.

When this bag gets full, I pick it up on my way to the grocery store. My usual store has bins right out front for paper bags, plastic bags, and styrofoam. Fortunately my kids help me, since my arms are full with reusable shopping bags, coupon box, and grocery list! One kid will pull out the styrofoam items, and another will wad up the bags into the appropriate bins.

Earthbound Farms estimates that if everyone in the US used one reusable grocery bag once per week, it would keep 16 billion plastic bags out of landfills every year. Whole Foods states that in 2007, Americans threw out "100 billion plastic bags annually, according to the Worldwatch Institute, and only 0.6 percent of them are recycled."

More recycling, not much effort.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Healthy Eating: Super Scrumptious Lentils & Rice

One of my favorite ways to pump up our family's nutrition and to reduce our grocery bill at the same time is by preparing a vegetarian dinner once per week. Meat is usually one of the highest dollar items in our grocery budget. Vegetarian meals are usually based around low-cost protein such as whole grains, legumes, and eggs. Vegetable-based dinners are packed full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Most Americans are sorely lacking in at least a few of these departments.

I also find that going vegetarian once per week helps to add more variety into our diets, so there is less of, "Mom, why do we have to have chicken again?" or some similar complaint. I find that by adding a little shredded cheese atop most of our vegetarian fare makes the dish delectable (or at least palatable - LOL) to my young ones. Additionally, teaching our children to eat healthy vegetarian foods, like beans and rice, paves the way for healthy eating habits into adulthood.

There is another benefit to eating vegetarian once per week, it reduces the amount of energy consumption and thus greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere. Bringing meat to our tables includes a long energy-intensive, and frequently chemical-laden, chain of raising livestock on farms: Animal feed and fertilizer to grow the feed, big transportation energy consumption, meat processing, etc. According to New York Times food writer Mark Bittman in his new book Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, "Switching to a vegetable based diet only one day a week is equivalent to driving 1,160 fewer miles in a year." So next time you savor a forkful of beans and rice, know that you are doing something good for your body, good for your wallet, and good for your planet!

Savory Lentils & Rice

1 c. lentils
1 c. brown rice
2 c. vegetable broth (or chicken broth, or water plus bouillon granules)
1 c. water
1/2 chopped onion (or 1-2 T. onion powder)
2-3 T. olive oil

Bring water and broth to a boil, add lentils, rice, onion, and seasonings. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook 45 minutes.

Top with cheese or homemade salsa. I made the salsa in the photo above from tomatoes from my parents' garden. Super-duper delicious.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Publix Trip 6/29 - Saved 68% (Lots of Fruits & Veggies )

I'm craving legumes, veggies, and fruit, and so my shopping trip and menu plan for the week reflect that. There are many items again this week which are free or ultra-cheap with coupons.

I'm using a lot of stockpiled items this week in my menus. My percentage savings isn't as high as some weeks, but my total out-of-pocket cost is very low.

FREE and Ultra-Cheap

Powerade $1.25 = Free with coupon from

DiGiorno Flatbread Melts, $2.50 = Free product coupon

2 Kraft Mac & Cheese @ 60c each = FREE, used "Buy three get one free" coupon.

4 x Dannon Dan-o-nino yogurts, $1 each -$1 Qs from "Super Summer Savings" Booklet at Publix = FREE

7 Kraft 2% cheese, $2 each - 50c tearpad coupon, doubled = $1 each.
After I got home, I found out the Kraft 2% Cheese qualifies for the $10 Publix gift card rebate from Kraft. So, these end up being Free plus overage.

Smucker's Dark Chocolate Sauce, BOGO $1.50 each - $1 MQ from my coupon train = 50c each

2 x Muir Glen Tomato Sauce, 89c reg. price - $1/1 Printable from = FREE plus overage!

J&J Reach Floss, $1.49 regular price - $1 Publix Q from "Smart Summertime Savings" booklet found at Publix - $1 MQ = FREE plus overage.

Dole Pineapple Chunks, 89c reg. price - 50c MQ doubled = FREE plus overage

2 x Hillshire Farm Deli Select Ham, @ - $1 Target IP - 75c/2 Manufacturer coupon from a Kroger Home Mailer = 63c each

Publix Tortilla Chips, Penny Item for this week, 1c.

Other Good Deals

8 x Bush's Baked Beans, BOGO $1.15 each - 4 x $1/2 Qs = 65c each

2 x Driscolli Strawberries @ $2.50 each - $1 Target IP = $1.50 each

2 packs of Publix Brand Buns, 98c each - 55c/2 Kroger brand buns (competitor coupon) = 71c each

I liked the deal with Kraft Mac & Cheese. The blue boxes were BOGO this week, so I bought six for the price of 3, and got 2 free with my coupons above. The final math on this is 8 boxes for the price of 3!

3 lbs. apples
2 packs of salad
jalapeno peppers
green onions
T-bone Steak!
Huge 3 lb. bag of frozen blueberries

Total Value of Groceries: $124.74
Total Spent before Tax: $52.05 ($42.05 after gift card)
Total Saved: $72.70 + $10 Gift Card = $82.72
or 68%