Monday, December 1, 2008

Reflecting

Life has settled down. The crisis which took me off the web for about 7 weeks has now passed. My father became very ill, was hospitalized and finally passed away on November 19. He is much happier now living in Heaven with God.

Our lives are beginning to recover and find our new normal. But, all this has also caused me to reconsider many things, including my blog. I'm not sure where I'm going to go with this. I enjoyed blogging, but I'm not sure it is where I truly need to spend my time. I've also reached the conclusion that my real passion is not the journey to living frugally. Seeking the best deals and saving money on everything kind of went out the window while I was traveling back and forth to the hospital every other day. I was far more concerned about caring for my Dad. Caring for my family just seems to be more what I'm about. Living frugally is a part of that, but it is not always the primary focus.

So for now, I may post occasionally, but I suspect this blog will be changing in the near future.

At the moment, I'm considering what I would call a blog that focused on the broader theme of caring for my family. Suggestions are welcome.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Short Break

I will be taking a short blogging break for the next few days. I have a family concern which must be attended to and will not have time to update.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Your prayers for wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Free Admission to Children's Museums

I first found out about this deal at Coupon Cravings.

The Association of Children's Museums has partnered with ParentsConnect Local (GoCityKids) to offer children free admission when accompanied by a paying adult at participating children's museums as part of ParentsConnect Local's Deals & Steals program September 29-October 26, 2008. Nearly 130 museums nationwide are participating.

Participating Museums in Maryland include:
For information on museums nationwide visit GoCityKids.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thoughtful Thursday: Links that Make Us Think

Many ways to use a pumpkin @ MoneySavingMom

When I'm a Little Old Lady @ OwlHaven

What I Hope @ RocksInMyDryer

What's Your Beef Night @ WeAreThatFamily

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cheap Mocha Latte

Back in our DINK (double-income no kids) days, I got accustomed to drinking mocha frappocino by Starbucks, almost every morning. It started with an occasional visit to the Starbucks near our home, then hubby found the bottled version at BJs and surprised me with a case of them. Before long it was a habit, an addictive habit.

Then, we had kids. What had been a wonderful induglence, I quickly realized was a luxury that just didn't fit the budget. So, I found a cheaper version... this time it was adding International Delight's Chocolate Caramel creamer to my home-brewed cofffee each morning.

Then, we moved. And I could no longer find my beloved creamer. None of the stores in our new town carried the flavor I loved. I made several reqeusts at several local stores, but to no avail.

So, I came up with a new plan:
1 cup coffee + 1 splash of whole milk + 1 squirt of chocolate syrup =

One mocha-latte

My version is really good and a whole lot cheaper than buying Starbucks, even the bottled version. It works for me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Maryland Monday - Flour


Maryland Monday is a new series on grocery prices in the Maryland area. Each Monday I'll post the price of a common grocery item from a variety of Maryland grocery stores. I hope this helps you to find the best prices in your area and keep your grocery bill as low as possible.


This week's grocery item is flour. The prices listed below are the best price per pound at that store for the store brand unless noted otherwise:

All Purpose Bleached Flour
  • BJ's (Westminster): $7.99/20 lbs (Gold Medal) = $0.40/lb
  • Food Lion (Eldersburg): $1.89/5 lbs = $0.38/lb
  • Giant Food (Westminster): $2.29/5 lbs = $0.46/lb
  • Martin's (Eldersburg): $2.34/5 lbs = $0.47/lb
  • Martin's (Eldersburg): $11.29/25 lbs = $0.45/lb
  • Safeway (Eldersburg): $4.99/10 lbs = $0.50/lb
  • Shopper's (Eldersburg): $2.19/5 lbs = $0.44/lb
  • SuperFresh (Westminster): $4.49/10 lbs = $0.45/lb
  • Wal-Mart (Eldersburg): $2.42/5 lbs (Gold Medal) = $0.48/lb
  • Weiss (Westminster): $4.49/10 lbs = $0.45/lb

See more of Maryland Monday here.

Be sure to vote in the poll (left column). Which item would you like to see in the next Maryland Monday grocery comparison?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Free Night of Theater!!

I just discovered this via Freebie Friday @ MomAdvice...

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the not-for-profit American theatre, is sponsoring a free night of theater in cities around the nation. Shows are available from Oct 16 - Oct 30.

You can go to their website to find more details.

When I checked this afternoon Baltimore was completely sold out, but Washington DC still had a few tickets left.

These cities or states still had openings:
Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Portland (OR), Philadelphia, San Diego, St Louis, Washington DC, Maine, New Jersey, New York state, North Carolina, South Florida, Utah, Wisconsin

It looks like tickets are going fast in most cities, so you 'll want to snap these up quickly.

10 Things I Learned from the Tightwad Gazette

Several months ago I borrowed "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn from our local library. I can't remember how I first learned about this book. It may have been from MoneySavingMom or it may have been from a subject search at my library. I also cannot begin to list all I've learned from this book. As we began our journey in search of a more frugal life, this book really served as both a source of inspiration for new ideas and an encouragement to continue the journey.

The book is over 800 pages and I'm no speed reader and I didn't come close to finishing it in the allotted 3 weeks. So, I renewed it. And then I renewed it again. And again. Evidently, at the time no one else in the whole county wanted this book. If had been requested at all, I would not have been allowed to renew it again and again.

Over the course of the several months I had possession of the book these are some of the things I learned (in no particular order) ...

1. Wash out ziploc bags and reuse them. Never reuse one that's contained raw meat, but otherwise until it has holes or has held raw meat there's no reason to throw it away.

2. Stop using so much extra dishwasher soap. I'd been filling the cup up completely, but after reading the Tightwad Gazette I realized for most loads I only need half the amount of soap. What a waste this had been.

3. The power of Yard Saleing. At the time of the articles in the TWG Amy bought the overwhelming majority of clothes for her 6 children at Yard Sales. I had never been much of a Yard Saler before, but TWG inspired me, and since then I've made several great finds of my own!

4. Keep a Price Book. This means keeping track of the sale prices on the groceries you use most. This was a bit overwhelming to think about at first, but after I started it I found that I began to remember the lowest price, even without my price book. The simple act of writing down the price and figuring out the price/ounce or price/each was helping cement it in my leaky brain. This particularly helps me when I'm comparing the price of a store brand item to a name-brand with coupons. Sometimes the store brand is cheaper. Sometimes the name-brand is cheaper.

5. Make your own bread crumbs. Using the heels of the bread loaves - which no one in my house wants to eat - I can make my own bread crumbs and never have to buy them. Simply let the pieces dry out for several days, or toast them. Then place them in a ziploc and crumble them with a rolling pin. Stored in an airtight container or in the freezer they will keep for a very long time.

6. Comparison shop. Compare prices. Comparison shop some more - for everything from bank accounts to ziploc containers!

7. Get over the "it has to be new" attitude! It really doesn't. There are many things that can be bought used and in great condition, much less expensively than bought new. It all depends on your own attitude.

8. Cooking from scratch is often, but not always cheaper. Making pizza from scratch is cheaper than buying Papa John's (even with a coupon). Boxed mac & cheese bought on sale is cheaper than making it from scratch.

9. Baking soda is a great cleaner/degreaser for many surfaces, including kitchen counters. And, combined with white vinegar it's also a great drain de-clogger.

10. Air dry clothes whenever possible. I don't do this with everything because we're used to the softness from drying in an electric dryer. But, I've started drying socks & underwear on an indoor rack and honestly, no one's complained!

The book is loaded with many more good ideas on how to live a more frugal life. If you want to live more frugally, I suggest borrowing this book from your local library, borrow it from a frugal friend, or if all else fails buy it used on Amazon or Barnes&Noble.com

BiblicalWomanhood is taking a blogging break this month. So if you have your own frugal idea. You may post it here in the comments.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Grocery Gathering & More


Today is Grocery Gathering Day.
If you're looking to match coupons with the sales at your favorite grocery store sales this is one of the best places to visit.

Just a quick highlight I picked up from a quick scan of yesterday's ad:

Shoppers (Eldersburg & Westminster, MD only)- Unlimited Triple Coupons up to $0.50. AND unlimited Double Coupons up to $1.00. (Limit of 4 coupons on identical items). This sale is only for Thurs - Sunday, Oct 2-5.

Definitely a good week to visit Shoppers if you live locally.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stockpiling

Stockpiling Works for Me.

I know there are many people out there who cannot stand the clutter of stockpiling (my sister included - it drives her nuts.) But, for me, this is one of the best ways of keeping our grocery budget low and keeping things on hand that I use nearly every day.

I prefer to buy things as they go on sale, especially if they are on a good sale and I have a matching coupon (see these posts). The "clutter" doesn't bother me, as long as I have a place to put it. I will stockpile almost any grocery item - as long as it has a long shelf life. At the moment I have 3 packs of toilet paper (24 rolls each) stored in the attic. I'm still working on the 5-6 boxes of dishwasher detergent I bought last spring; I have more toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap than we will use in a year; enough Pop-Tarts and granola bars to last through the school year; 8-10 boxes of cereal, 6 jars of spaghetti sauce, lots of extra baggies, 8 bottles of apple juice, and the list goes on.

There are some rules I live by when it comes to stockpiling.
  1. Never stockpile an item your family does not use or does not eat.
  2. Only stockpile items when they are on a good sale. (Not all sales are good!)
  3. Only stockpile as much as you have space for. (I do not stockpile milk - too little freezer space.)
  4. Be extremely careful of stockpiling items with a short shelf life, i.e., produce, dairy products. (If the food goes bad before your family can eat it then it didn't save you money.)
  5. Sales go in seasons - watch for which items are on sale at what time of year.
This is the beginning of a new month, so it's time to examine what items are likely to be on sale in October. I was reminded by Hot Coupon World these categories will probably be on good sales sometime this month:
  • Halloween items (of course)
  • Apples (good for canning)
  • Pumpkins (good for freezing)
  • Kraft items
  • crackers
  • baking and candy making items
  • some holiday foods (gravy, broth, Stove Top, etc.)
  • more items here.

There are several good deals this week at our local grocery stores. Tomorrow I'll be posting about some of the deals I'll be hitting to add to my current stockpile.

Does stockpiling work for you? Or are you a "clutter-phobe" like my sister? I'd love to hear your thoughts on stockpiling.

For more kitchen organization ideas visit Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kitchen Tip NEEDED


Okay, I have a confession to make...

I hate beans. Well, maybe I don't hate them. I just have a very strong dislike for them. I like green beans, but I prefer them young & tender with more pod and not much bean.

It's not so much a taste thing, as it is a texture thing for me. I've never liked beans. Somehow in my extremely-picky-eater-childhood we never had beans very much (maybe because I was so picky?), as an adult I've never cooked them and so I've never developed a taste for them - and yes I believe it must be a developed taste.

For most of my life this bean hating thing has not been a problem because - I just didn't eat them. I learned to cook partly so that I could cook (and eat) what I like! Over the years as chief-cook I have sought out recipes for foods that were not my favorite and have learned to eat many things that I did not eat in my picky-eater-childhood.

However, beans have never been one of them.

Until Now.

As a grown-up I have learned that beans are quite healthy and they are much less expensive than meat (which I soooo love).

So now in my journey to being more frugal, I am asking for help. I am looking for good bean recipes. So, all you great cooks out there... Please send me bean recipes. For me, bean recipes that do not have the "mealy texture" my brain associates with beans, would be helpful. But really, any delicious bean recipe would be appreciated.

Thank you.

For real kitchen tips (not just requests) please visit Tammy at her wonderful site.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Maryland Monday - Sugar


Maryland Monday is a new series on grocery prices in the Maryland area. Each Monday I'll post the price of a common grocery item from a variety of Maryland grocery stores. I hope this helps you to find the best prices in your area and keep your grocery bill as low as possible.


This week's grocery item is sugar. The prices listed below are the best price per pound at that store for the store brand unless noted otherwise:
  • BJ's (Westminster): $5.29 (10 lbs) = $0.53/lb (Domino's)
  • BJ's (Westminster): $12.49 (25 lbs) = $0.49/lb (Dominio's)
  • Food Lion (Eldersburg): $4.59 (10 lbs) = $0.46/lb
  • Giant Food (Westminster): $2.79 (5 lbs) = $0.56/lb
  • Martin's (Eldersburg): $14.29 (25 lbs) = $0.57/lb
  • Safeway (Eldersburg): $5.35 (10 lbs) = $0.54/lb
  • Shopper's (Eldersburg): $4.69 (10 lbs) = $0.47/lb
  • SuperFresh (Westminster): $4.99 (10 lbs) = $0.49/lb
  • Wal-Mart (Eldersburg):$4.28 (10 lbs) = $0.43/lb
  • Weiss (Westminster): $5.69 (10 lbs) = $0.57/lb
*There have been coupons out for Domino Sugar recently which sometimes brings that price down to less than the Wal-Mart store-brand price, especially when matched with a good sale. However, I encourage you to be careful. Just because a store advertises an item on sale does not mean you are getting the best price. If you find a better price at your local store, please post it in the comments.

See more of Maryland Monday here.

Next Week's grocery comparison will be flour.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Walgreens - $5/$20 Coupon & Double Dipping Days

There are some great deals to be had at Walgreens today & tomorrow.

First, there is a $5/$20 coupon out here. The coupon is only good Fri & Sat Sept 26, 27.
Second, these are double dipping days - overlapping sales from September & October.

This means you can combine the $5/$20 coupon, Free after Rebate items, Easy saver sales - from both September & October, and manufacturers coupons to get some really great deals. The $5/$20 coupon has to be used after EasySaver coupons. There are conflicting reports about whether this has to be before or after manufacturer's coupons. Either way it is a good way to get the Free After Rebate items and anything on Register Reward this week.

There are several good deal scenarios to help you organize your shopping trip at MoneySavingMom & CommonSensewithMoney.

Frugal Smart & Frugal Dumb

So, last Tuesday, I started the day extremely well. I'd read here about a great deal on granola bars at Safeway. (More details on my purchase here.) I bought over 10 boxes of granola bars, paid $7.00 out-of-pocket for all of them and got back a $3.50 catalina for my next purchase. For the record, that's $0.70 for a box of 12 granola bars or $0.06/bar!) Then, I left town ... with 120 VERY inexpensive granola bars in my car. Frugal Smart!

I drove an hour away to my dad's to help him at his house. After I arrived and had spent about an hour working on various tasks, I realized I forgot to bring lunch with me. So I opted to go to the 7-11 down the street and get a drink and a small snack to tide me over. (You know what's coming don't you?) Well, I'm wandering around the store wondering what to get, when I spotted granola bars - "Hey, I like granola bars, granola bars are healthy!" So, I grabbed a pack of 2 granola bars, a bottle of soda and went to the register.

Yep. You guessed it. I bought that pack of 2 granola bars at 7-11. In fact, I paid a whopping $0.40/each for those 2 granola bars. It didn't occur to me that this was a ridiculous thing to do until I got back in my car and spotted the 10 boxes sitting happily on my car seat. Unfortunately, I'd already bitten into one of the granola bars.

DUH!! Frugal DUMB!

I cannot begin to tell you how completely dumb I felt at that moment. I am an intelligent, usually-money-conscious, college educated woman. But, I threw all that out the window for a few moments and paid $.80 for 2 granola bars.

For better ideas on frugal living visit Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blogging...

I will not blog today. I will not blog today. I will not blog today.

Blogging is too much fun.

There is laundry to do.
There are bills to pay.
The checkbook must be balanced.
There are peaches to use before they go rotten.

Blogging is too much fun.

I will not blog today. I will not blog today. I will not blog today.

I will probably visit Works for Me Wednesday; but I will not blog.

I will be back on Friday; maybe on Thursday. Definitely on Friday.

I will not blog today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Whole Wheat Peach Muffins

This recipe took me a while to figure out. I tried two different recipes, made several bad attempts and several bad revisions before finally getting it right with this recipe. My husband and I love them.

This recipe makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/2 cup + 2 Tblsp sugar
1 1/2 cup peeled, pitted, chopped peaches (3-4 med.)

Directions:
1. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix with large whisk.
2. In small bowl mix milk, oil, egg and sugar.
3. Mix together dry and wet ingredients. Do not stir too much; batter should be lumpy.
4. Fold 1 + 1/4 cup peaches into batter, reserving 1/4 cup for tops.
5. Heat oven to 375. Grease muffin tin very well.
6. Fill muffin cups approx. 2/3 full (about 1/3 cup)
7. Sprinkle reserved peaches over tops of each muffin cup.
8. Place in oven. Raise temperature to 400. Bake approx. 20 minutes.
10. Cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto dishcloth. Keep inverted while cooling.

Note: Be sure to grease the tin VERY WELL as they have a tendency to stick.

For more kitchen tips go to Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Maryland Monday - Loaf Bread


Maryland Monday is a series on grocery prices in the Maryland area. On Monday I'll post the price of a common grocery item from a variety of Maryland grocery stores. Of course, these prices will vary from store to store and change without notice. I hope this comparison helps you to find the best prices in your area and keep your grocery bill as low as possible.

My apologies. Two weeks ago I said I'd post on whole wheat bread, and then "stuff happened" and I didn't get it posted last week. So, here it is for this week - both wheat and white bread.

This week's grocery item is
1 loaf of bread:

Whole Wheat

* Food Lion (Eldersburg): Food Lion brand: $1.17 (23 oz) = $0.051/oz
* Giant Food (Westminster): Giant brand: $1.99 (18 oz) = $0.11/oz
* Martin's (Eldersburg): Martin's brand: $1.59 (16 oz) = $0.10/oz
* Safeway (Eldersburg): Ovenjoy brand: $1.19 (20 oz) = $0.059/oz
* Shopper's (Eldersburg): Shopper's 100% whole wheat: $1.69 (16 oz) = $0.11/oz
*
Shopper's (Eldersburg): Shopper's split top wheat $1.89 (20 oz) = $0.09/oz
* Superfresh (Westminster): Amer. Choice split top wheat: $1.99 (22 oz) = $0.09/oz
* Wal-Mart (Eldersburg): Great Value: $1.42 (24 oz) = $0.06/oz

White Bread

* Food Lion (Eldersburg): Food Lion brand white: $1.27 (20 oz) = $0.064/oz
* Giant Food (Westminster): Giant brand white: $1.25 (20 oz) = $0.063/oz
* Giant Food (Westminster): Giant sandwich white: $1.39 (22 oz) = $0.063/oz
* Martin's (Eldersburg): Martin's brand white: $0.99 (20 oz) = $0.049/oz
* Safeway (Eldersburg): Ovenjoy brand: $1.19 (20 oz) = $0.059/oz
* Shopper's (Eldersburg): Shopper's brand white: $0.79 (20 oz) = $0.039/oz
* Shopper's (Eldersburg): Shopper's sandwich white: $1.09 (20 oz) = $0.055/oz
* Superfresh (Westminster): America's Choice jumbo white: $1.59 (20 oz) = $0.079/oz
* Wal-Mart (Eldersburg): Great Value white: $1.24 (20 oz) = $0.062/oz

These prices were gathered between 9/18/08 - 9/22/08 and are regularly marked prices, not sales. Somehow I forgot to check bread prices in Weiss this week.

Doing this study of prices has intrigued me. Notice how much the prices vary from store to store, and even within the same store, on similar items. Of course, we don't use bread by the ounce, we use it by the slice, which makes this an imperfect comparison. But, I think it still serves to show how important it is to compare prices as you shop. I've been buying Safeway's Ovenjoy wheat for years, thinking I couldn't find it cheaper elsewhere. Now, I'm wondering how many slices are in the Food Lion's 23 oz loaf vs the Safeway 20 oz loaf. I think I'll have to buy one of each to find out!

If you find a better price at your local store, please post it in the comments.

Next Week's grocery comparison will be a Sugar.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Super Cheap Granola Bars


As I was browsing this week, I came across this post at MommyMakingMoney, about Safeway sales. Safeway has Nature Valley Granola bars on sale 2/$5.00. I rarely shop at Safeway, because I generally find their prices to be significantly higher than my other local stores. But, occasionally they do have a good sale. This sale wasn't fantastic by itself, but as MMM explains, it gets significantly better if you buy in groups of 5.

Here's how it worked:

Transaction #1 (on Tuesday)
Bought 10 boxes Nature Valley Granola Bars @$2.50/box = $25.00
(an okay sale, not terrific, but wait...)
Extra $5.00 off for each set of 5 boxes (-$10.00)
Used 6 $0.50/1 manuf. coupons from 08/10 Gen. Mills insert (-$3.00)
My Safeway doubles coupons up to $1.00 (-$3.00)
Used 2 $1.00/1 printable here or here (-$2.00)

Total Out of Pocket $7.00 PLUS it generated a $3.50 off next purchase catalina
(Not sure why it didn't print 2 of the catalina coupons since I bought the required # of boxes, but it was still a great deal, so I'm not arguing.)

Transaction #2 (on Thursday)
Bought 5 boxes Nature Valley Granola Bars @$2.50/box = $12.50
Extra $5.00 off for each set of 5 boxes (-$5.00)
Used 5 $0.50/1 manuf. coupons from 09/07 Gen. Mills insert (-$2.50)
My Safeway doubles coupons up to $1.00 (-$2.50)

Total Out of Pocket $2.50, but it gets even better...
My understanding was this second transaction should have generated a $3.50 catalina; the printer jammed and the catalina didn't print. So, today I called Catalina Marketing, explained what happened and they are mailing my $3.50 coupon So, on this second transaction I will have MADE $1.00 for my family. I LOVE FREE MONEY!

The Safeway sale ends Sept. 30 and the Catalina deal ends Oct 5.
To get this deal you need to make your purchases before Sept. 30.
There are more items on this $5.00 off 5 Safeway list, the complete list is at MommyMakingMoney.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Elder Care - Ideas Needed


Today is Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocks in my Dryer, and I'm posting a "Backwards" edition because I really need your help.

I need ideas...
My elderly father is recovering from major surgery (several months ago). He lives alone and I go over to his house once a week to help out. Over the past few weeks I've begun to notice a decline in his eating habits. He used to eat fairly healthily, but as his energy is extremely low he's reverted to a lot of processed foods high in salt and simple carbs. He needs to be eating more vegetables and he needs more protein - I believe these will both give him more energy than the food he currently eats.

I don't live close enough to take food to him every day, nor do my siblings. So, I've been thinking about fixing food at my house, freezing it and taking it to him once/week -- things he could just thaw and reheat either on the stove or in the microwave. Even if I'm only able to fix 2-3 meals I think this would help him tremendously. The problem is I've never done much of the "cook-freeze-thaw-reheat" kind of cooking.

So, I'm looking for ideas. I need menu ideas (and maybe recipes) for dinner foods that are heart-healthy, and that I can cook at home, freeze, and take to him.

Any ideas you have would be greatly appreciated.

For what works for others visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cheap Shake N Bake


Today I'm posting the recipe I recently came up with for a homemade "Shake 'N Bake" chicken coating. I was inspired by a recipe found in "The Tightwad Gazette" but, have changed it sufficiently, that I feel I can claim it as my own.

  • 1 cup homemade bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ (can be left out to be even cheaper)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 T vegetable oil

Mix well. Use just like you would "Shake 'N Bake". Store indefinitely in the refrigerator in a covered container.

This version is a whole lot cheaper than the store-bought variety.

For more Kitchen Tips go to Tammy's Recipes.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Martin's - 9/14 - 9/20



Martin's Food Markets are limited to Maryland and are affiliated with Giant Food Stores. Sometimes their sales are the same; sometimes they are not. Martin's Coupon Policy: Double Manufacturer's coupons up to no more than $1.00. For example, a coupon for $0.50 will be doubled to $1.00 and a 'doubled' $0.75 coupon will equal $1.00. They will not generally double a $1.00 coupon, but occasionally will issue "$1.00 Coupon Doubler Coupons" in their weekly ad.

Martin's Food Markets Sales for the Week of 9/14 - 9/20
These are the deals I've spotted at Martin's so far. If you find another one, please post it in the comments:

My Martin's ad had a $5.00/$20 meat purchase coupon.
Meats on good sales this week:
Boneless, skinless chicken breast are $1.99
Eye Round Roast are BOGO
Hatfield Boneless Center Cut Pork Roast are BOGO


Green Seedless grapes
are $1.29 (not the best, but an okay price)

Gala Apples are $0.99

Broccoli bunches are BOGO

Scottties Facial Tissues are 10/$10.00 (coupon on 9/14 insert $1.00/5)

Rice-a-Roni or Pasta Roni are 10/$10.00

Turkey Hill Ice Cream are 4/$10.00

Giant brand Pasta
are $0.89

Campbell's Chunky Soup are 4/$6.00 (coupons in 9/14 insert)

Pillsbury Cake Mix are 10/$10.00 (excludes reduced sugar mixes)

DelGrosso Pasta Sauce is 10/$10.00

My ad also contained a coupon for a Free Reusable Shopping Bag with purchase of 3 Hormel canned meat products:
Hormel Chili with Beans (10/$10.00)
Dinty Moore Beef Stew
Spam Singles
Hormel Corned Beef Hash
Hormel Chunk Breast of Chicken
Hormel Chunk Ham
Hormel Chili No Beans
Spam Luncheon Meat

This week save $5.00 on next purchase when you purchase 8 of these listed below:
(Please check the in store ad for specific sizes)
Kellogg's Pop-tarts (recent coupon)
Sierra Mist, Mountain Dew, Schweppes 2 Liter
Dannon DanActive Yogurt
SoBe Life Water
Mott's Apple Juice (recent coupon)
Mott's Applesauce (recent coupon)
Daisy Sour Cream (recent coupon)
Marie Callender's Dinner
Kellogg's Special K Cereal
Kellogg's Fruit Shapes
utz Potato Chips
Kellogg's Special K Bars
Perdue Flavor Bites (recent coupon)
T Marzetti Veggie Dip
Nabisco Oreo Cookies
Doritos Tortilla Chips
Kraft Mac & Cheese 5 Pack
New England Coffee
Banquet Boneless Chicken
Tyson Fully Cooked Entrees
Gatorade 8 pack
Scott 8 Roll Paper Towels (recent coupon)
Scott 20 Roll Bath Tissue (recent coupon)
Cottonelle 12 Double Roll Bath Tissue (recent coupon)
Maxwell House Ground Coffee
Tide 2X Liquid Laundry Detergent
Downey Fabric Softener Sheets
Red Bull Energy Drink

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why do with Less from OwlHaven

As a part of her Frugal Friday post today, Crystal referred us to Owlhaven. The post is a wonderful reminder of how truly blessed we are materially. If you're struggling with keeping your finances and possessions in God's perspective it is worth every second of the 4 minutes to read it.

This post is also a reminder of how easily an "entitlement" attitude can creep into our lives.

For me it was an encouragement as we daily live with less than many of our neighbors. And, that's okay. We don't miss not having cable. We don't need all the bells and whistles on our cell phones - just the basics. Dining out is really a luxury, certainly not a necessity (not eating out is usually healthier - physically and financially!) Borrowing books & movies from the library is every bit as fun as purchasing them, and saves us a bunch of money. The kids don't need rooms full of new toys - just lots of opportunities to be creative. That can happen with a few simple toys and everyday items around the house.

The majority of the world lives on so much less than we do. Why do we think we deserve the luxuries we have???

More Walgreens Deals

I posted earlier this week about a deal I made at Walgreens. Well, now there's even more reason to shop at Walgreens this week. There's a new $10/$40 coupon out. The coupon is only good Friday and Saturday Sept. 12 & 13. There are lots of good deals to combine with manufacturer and Walgreens coupons.

To get more ideas go to MoneySavingMom.

To get the coupon go here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yard Sale Finds



It's Yard Sale Season again!

If you live in my neck of the country the big yard sale seasons are May and September. And, yeahh!! September is here and it's time for Yard Sales again!. SO, I decided I would share with you one of my recent yard sale finds.

First is this...



Now, guess how much I paid for all 5 dress shirts...

Okay, guess again...

Ready? $1.00! Yep. You read that correctly; 5 very nice, name brand dress shirts for only $1.00. They started out at $0.25/each, but I talked him down to 5/$1.00. It's a great feeling to walk away from a sale like this feeling triumphant. I love that feeling! This is definitely one of my better finds. These shirts are all in very good condition - no stains, no worn elbows; and now my hubby (who recently lost 30 lbs!) has a variety of dress shirts for the winter and it didn't break our budget! I could get addicted to this.

And now, if you'd like to see more of my frugal living methods go here.

And, if you want even more ideas for living frugally, go to BiblicalWomanhood.

You can add your own comments and ideas for living frugally here or at BiblicalWomanhood.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Free Robitussin & Dimetapp


This is a great week to stock up on cough medicines for cold & flu season.

Walgreens has Robitussin & Dimetapp on sale this week - $3.99 each. If you buy 3 you get $10.00 Register Rewards (RR) back for your next purchase. Plus you can print coupons ($3.00/1 for Robitussin and $2.00/1 for Dimetapp) here.

So, if you buy three you get more money back than you spent!

I went to my Walgreens today and here's how the deal worked:

Transaction #1
Bought 3 Robitussin DM @ $3.99 = $11.97

Paid with 3 $3.00/1 = $9.00
Total Out of Pocket $2.97 and $10.00 RR back!

Transaction #2
Bought 3 Robitussin DM @ $3.99
1 White Rain Shampoo $1.00
Total: $12.97

Paid with 3 $2.00/1 = -$6.00
Total Out of Pocket $6.97 and $10.00 RR back!

This worked great for me and now I have plenty of cough/cold meds for the season. I have 3 more of each coupon so I may go back and do the deal again with a different kind of each brand.

If this is your first time doing a deal at Walgreens here are a few tips:
First, you must buy 3 of EXACTLY the same kind of Robitussin or Dimetapp; you cannot mix it up and buy 2 of 1 and 1 of another kind - you'll only get $5.00 RR back if you do.
Second, don't try to use the RRs from the Robitussin purchase to buy the Dimetapp - because these are both made by the same company the RRs won't work as payment on the second transaction.
Last, to make this deal pay you back, you'll need to print the coupons. When you go to the site, click on the coupon you want, fill out the short form and then print the coupon. You can print the coupon as many times as you want and you don't need to worry about junk email or snail mail.

Anyone else have a good trip to Walgreens this week?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Maryland Monday - eggs


Maryland Monday is a new series on grocery prices in the Maryland area. Each Monday I'll post the price of a common grocery item from a variety of Maryland grocery stores. I hope this helps you to find the best prices in your area and keep your grocery bill as low as possible.


This week's grocery item is
1 dozen large eggs:
  • Food Lion (Westminster): $1.49
  • Giant Food (Ellicott City): $1.99
  • Mars (Ellicott City): $1.89
  • Martin's (Eldersburg): $1.69
  • Safeway (Eldersburg): $1.99
  • Shopper's (Eldersburg): $1.39
  • SuperFresh (Westminster): $1.79
  • Wal-Mart (Eldersburg):$1.58
  • Weiss (Woodstock): $1.87
If you find a better price at your local store, please post it in the comments.

Next Week's grocery comparison will be a loaf of whole wheat bread.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Free PopTarts at Target!!


I am a very happy camper. And my son is even more so! He loves Pop Tarts; ever since he was two years old and could barely say "pppp trt". SO, when I read about the deal this week I made my plan.

I was very happy several weeks ago when there was a $1.00/2 coupon in the inserts for PopTarts. I clipped them from the three local papers and then I found even more on Coupons by Dede. I've forgotten how many coupons I had to begin with.

This week I found the Target deal at Refund Cents. They had Pop Tarts and several other snacks on sale - buy 4 and get a $5.00 gift card. The ad said "while supplies last" and the closest Target is 30 minutes away, so I wasn't sure I'd be able to do this. But, I was going to be near Target on Thursday, so determined to stop in with my coupons and at least give it a try. I ended up with 16 boxes of 12 PopTarts; paid $22.94 for everything (including 1 Instant Breakfast) and came home with $20.00 in Gift Cards. That's 192 PopTarts for $1.00! Whoo Hoo!

Here's how the deal went:
Transaction #1
8 12 count PopTarts for $2.25/each = $18.00
1 Carnation Instant Breakfast $2.94

Paid with 8 $0.50/1 Pop Tart Target coupouns ($4.00)
4 $1.00/2 Pop Tart Mnfr coupons ($4.00)
1 $1.00/1 Instant Breakfast coupon ($1.00)
Out of Pocket $11.94
Received $10.00 Gift Card

Transaction #2
8 12 count PopTarts for $2.25/each = $18.00

Paid with 8 $0.50/1 Pop Tart Target coupons ($4.00)
3 $1.00/2 Pop Tart Mnfr coupons ($3.00) (I was one coupon short.)
Out of Pocket $11.00
Received $10.00 Gift Card

This was a a super great deal I could not resist. The Pop-Tarts aren't the healthiest choice, but free is free. And my son has been warned he may only eat one per day and only on school days, so these should last a loooong time!

To view more Super Savings go to MoneySavingMom.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Freebies


Well, this wasn't the greatest week for freebies around here, but hey, who can argue with free toilet paper??

My favorite place to go for freebies is Walmart.com. Today you can get a sample of John Freida hair care, Gain laundry detergent, playtex tampon, kotex, cottonnelle wipe and benefiber. Most people I know use at least a few of these things. To get yours go here.

For more Freebies go to Freebie Friday.

And for more Frugal Ideas go to Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday


Today's Kitchen Tip I originally got from an issue of Cook's Country and morphed into my own.

This is my method of keeping track of kitchen sponges: When I get out a new sponge it is used strictly for washing dishes. When it gets a bit stained/icky, I clip two corners and it gets demoted to the counters. When it gets even ickier, I clip the last two corners and it is demoted again - this time to the floor. When I started doing this, suddenly my husband was able to remember which sponge to use where - and that means my "dishes sponge" doesn't get used on an icky floor mess!

Another tip about sponges - did you know they can be washed/sterilized in your dishwasher?! This tip from a friend has lengthened the use of my sponges and saved me lots of money on sponges.

For more Kitchen tips go to Tammy's Recipes.

Maryland Monday

Maryland Monday is taking a vacation in honor of Labor Day this week. Please return for Kitchen Tip Tuesday, Frugal Friday, and Super Saving Saturday later in the week.


NEXT's grocery item is
1 dozen large eggs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chicken Stir Fry

One of my husband's favorite meals is stir-fry, and I love it because it's fairly inexpensive, healthy and quick to make. That means it's a home run in our family. I usually make it without paying much attention to quantities, but since I planned to post this one, I decided to measure a bit. This recipe feeds my family of 2 adults + 2 small children and leaves leftovers for lunch for the adults as well.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups of rice, prepared according to directions on bag
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast - cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 each of 3-4 vegetables - cut into 1 inch chunks: choose veggies you already have on hand and your family likes or choose what's inexpensive that week. (The picture above includes, onions, carrots, celery and yellow pepper that was on a good sale that week.)

Sauce:
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 T white cooking wine (optional - substitute water or leave out)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T cornstarch
Directions:
  1. Put rice on to cook
  2. While rice is cooking, prepare meat and vegetables. Be sure all meat and veggies are ready before you begin cooking. Once you start cooking this moves very fast.
  3. Heat wok (or large skillet) on high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons canola oil.
  4. When oil begins to shimmer, place meat in wok (be prepared it may "spit"). Spread it out a bit so all pieces of meat are touching the wok bottom. While the meat is cooking, mix the sauce ingredients together. Cook meat 2-3 minutes, then stir to cook completely through. When meat is completely cooked through (about 4-5 minutes), remove from pan to serving bowl. Cover serving bowl so meat stays warm while remaining veggies are cooked.
  5. You probably won't need more oil, but if it's looking dry, you can add a bit. Be sure the oil is good and hot before adding veggies. Cook veggies in descending order of how long they will take to get hot-through. You want them crunchy, not soft and squishy. Here's the order I cooked our veggies in: onion, carrots, celery, sweet pepper, mushrooms. I cook each vegetable about 1 minute, stir, move them to the outside, then add the next vegetable. After 1 more minute I stir the vegetables, move them to the outside, and add the next vegetable. This continues until all the veggies are hot, but still crunchy.
  6. Pour the meat back into the wok and give everything a good stir. Move meat and veggies around so that there's a small well in the middle of the pan.
  7. Pour the sauce into the middle and immediately begin to stir. The sauce will thicken quickly and coat the meat and vegetables. When the sauce is thickened and everything is well coated (about 1-1 1/2 minutes), pour the whole mixture into the serving dish.
  8. Serve with rice and soy sauce.
My Note:
This recipe is very adaptable. Don't have chicken thawed? Leave it out, make it vegetarian. Have an uncooked pork chop? Use that instead. Have a bit of broccoli left? add it in. Use whatever veggies you have available. These are all veggies I have tried & used at one time or another: broccoli, onions - any variety, carrots, mushrooms, sweet peppers, celery, green beans. I'm sure you could play around with other veggies as well, though I don't recommend tomatoes or potatoes or anything that doesn't stand up to high heat.

Enjoy!

For more kitchen tips go to Tammy's Recipes. And for more Frugal recipes and ideas go to Frugal Friday at BiblicalWomanhood.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Maryland Monday

Maryland Monday is a new series on grocery prices in the Maryland area. Each Monday I'll post the price of a common grocery item from a variety of Maryland grocery stores. I hope this helps you to find the best prices in your area and keep your grocery bill as low as possible.


This week's grocery item is
1 gallon of Skim Milk:

  • Food Lion (Westminster): $3.99
  • Giant Food (Ellicott City): $3.99
  • Mars (Ellicott City): $3.92
  • Martin's (Eldersburg): $3.69
  • Safeway (Eldersburg): $3.99 or 2 gallons for $7.50
  • Shopper's (Eldersburg): $2.59 (1%, 2% and whole are progressively higher)
  • SuperFresh (Westminster): $3.59
  • Wal-Mart (Eldersburg):$3.76
  • Weiss (Woodstock): $3.79

If you find a better price at your local store, please post it in the comments.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Walgreens - Bought $41.98, Paid $0.00 !!


In the past I've had a difficult time making good deals at Walgreens. But, today was different. With a little help from Coupons by Dede and Refund Cents I had enough coupons and information to make this really work for me. I bought all this at Walgreens and spent exactly $0.00 of my own money. Here's the way the way the deal went:

Transaction #1
Bought 6 Skippy 16.3 oz @ 3/$5.00 = $10.00
Bought 2 Peparation H 10 ct Portable Wipes @ $3.99 = $7.98
Total: $17.98 (before coupons)

Paid with 2 Skippy coupons $1.00/2
Easy Saver coupon $2.00/1 (this coupon works for both Preparation H items)
2 Manufacturer coupons $2.00/1 here

Remaining Total: $7.98
Paid with Walgreens gift card earned from previous monthly rebate items.
Out of Pocket: $0.00, Earned $4.00 Register Rewards

Transaction #2
Bought 6 Skippy 16.3 oz @ 3/$5.00 = $10.00
Bought 4 Breyers Ice Cream (our favorite) @2/$7.00 = $14.00
Total $24.00 (before coupons)

Paid with 3 Skippy coupons $.60/1 (bought from CouponsbyDede)
$4.00 Register Reward
$5.00/$20.00 Walgreens coupon (here - good ONLY Friday & Saturday)
Remaining Total $13.20
Paid with Walgreens gift card earned from previous monthly rebate items.
Out of Pocket: $0.00, Earned $5.00 Register Rewards

So, I came home with $41.98 worth of groceries, paid $0.00 OOP and earned $5.00 in Register Rewards for my next Walgreens purchase. I am a happy camper!

This deal could have been a little bit better (less off my gift card) if I'd had more Skippy coupons, but I'm not complaining. I got a little help on this deal from reading the chat on RefundCents and the coupons I ordered from CoupnsbyDede. Thank you to both companies and to MoneySavingMom and CommonSenseWithMoney for leading me to them.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Teaching Children Frugality


Since school begins next week, I thought I'd post my strategy for teaching my son frugality.

Last year was his first year of taking a lunch to school. At the beginning of the year I put the sandwich, fruit, and snack in their own separate baggies in his lunch. His lunch also included a juice box. Each day, he threw away the juice box (whether empty or not) and all of the empty baggies.

As the year progressed, I realized that this was a waste of money. I could send in a thermos of juice and he'd bring it home along with any juice he didn't drink. That worked fine.

But, what to do about the baggies? So, I started asking him to bring the empties home. The plan was I'd wash them out and reuse them the next day. However, he rarely remembered to bring them home and when I reminded him he said, "Nobody else does that!"

Sometimes his fruit was an applesauce cup. I had started buying them in prepared individual servings, but this is significantly more expensive than buying in bulk. If I sent the applesauce in a small plastic cup with a spoon, he frequently threw away both the cup and the spoon!

Then, I came up with a plan. I told him I would pay him for each of the items he remembered to bring home! Each item has it's own value and he would be paid accordingly. So, here's the way it broke down:

1 penny for each of 2 zippered baggies
2 pennies for the spoon
1 nickel for the plastic bowl.

So each day he has the potential of putting 9 cents in his piggy bank, for a total of 45 cents each week. Over the course of 180 school days that's $16.20. It may not sound like a lot to you and me. But to him, it's a new toy! And while he's saving for a new toy. I'm saving a whole lot more than that by buying less expensive juice and applesauce, and by not buying nearly as many baggies, bowls and spoons.

For more ideas on frugal living go here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bounty Basic Paper Towels & Pop Tarts

There are two really great deals I have to pass along.

K-Mart: Bounty Basic paper towels 15 pack/$10.00 = 0.66/roll. That's the best price I've seen in a quite a while. This deal will last through Saturday, August 23.

Wal-Mart: Our local Wal-Mart has a new size of Pop-Tarts on sale.
box of 16/$2.50 - $1/2 coupon (08/03 Kellogg insert) = $0.125 per Pop-Tart!

These deals are just too good. I had to pass them along.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Weis - Cheap Chicken

Just in case you are in the area of a Weis Grocery store this week. They have a great sale on chicken.

Perdue Oven Stuffer Roasters - on sale $0.79/lb. through Wed. Oct. 20.

Freebies


I love getting stuff for free, especially things I actually use. Over the last few weeks I've received all of the items in this picture for FREE!

I do have a few personal rules I use when requesting freebies.

First, I never request something we won't use. Second, I use a junk email account. This helps reduce the spam and junk advertising that is occasionally generated from freebie requests.

To receive your own Freebies check out these items:

Free sample of Post-it Super Sticky Recycled Notes here.

Free sample of Oatmeal Crisp Cereal here.

Thanks to "The 'Cent'sible Sawyer" for posting these freebies.

To take advantage of the free samples given away by Wal-Mart on a regular basis, go to WalMart.com; then click on the "In Stores Now" menu on the right hand side; then go down to Free Samples. You will come to a list of several items you can receive free. Take the minute required to fill out the form and you will receive your item in the mail. It usually only takes about 2 weeks to receive the item, sometimes less. I've never been bothered by unwanted emails, or junk mail by requesting these offers.

For more frugal ideas visit Frugal Friday here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shoppers Grocery Deals

There are a few really good deals at Shoppers this week. This is a good week to stock up.

First, they're having triple coupon days (up to $0.50) this week Aug. 14 - Aug. 17.

Here are a few other really good deals I've spotted:
Grapes (red & white seedless) - $0.99/lb.
Mueller's Pasta - $0.89/16 oz box
Ground Beef - $1.99/lb
Cottonelle Bath Tissue - $3.99/24 rolls (use $1.00 coupon from recent insert = $0.12/roll)

Any other good deals you all have spotted?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Free Children's Advil!

I stopped at CVS yesterday and picked up their August Extra Value Book. On the front cover, big as day -- Children's Advil is on sale $5.79 for 4 oz and you get $5.79 back in Extra Bucks, making it FREE!! There is a limit of 1 per customer.

To take the best advantage of this deal ...
First, go here and print the manufacturer's coupon.
Second, if you're going to add another item (of about $4.25) use a coupon found on page 30 at this website. If you use the two coupons you'll pay $2.79 out of pocket, for the Advil and then get an additional $5.79 for your next purchase.

If you are not familiar with the Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) program at CVS, do yourself a favor and sign up today. It is a great way to save money on items your family uses every day. Basically the program works like this --

1. Sign up for their loyalty card. (I've never had a problem with unwanted emails or ads since signing up).
2. Give them your card before each purchase.
3. Pay a small amount of money for your first purchase; they'll give you back a coupon (ECBs) to use with your next purchase.
4. Use your coupon to make your next purchase, trying to include another ECB item.

As you continue to rollover your ECBs, you can use manufacturer's coupons as well as ECBs to pay for items and end up using even less ECBs and cash.

While at first CVS prices may seem on the high side, if you take advantage of the ECB program you can really do quite well at saving your family some money.

In the past several months I have made purchases of over $50.00 worth of products and spent less than $3.00 out of pocket for the whole purchase.

For a more detailed description of how to save at CVS go here.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Vacationing

A Journey to Frugal is taking a vacation. We will return with our abnormally scheduled program in approximately one week (that means sometime after August 10).

Enjoy the week.

Friday, August 1, 2008

When Life Hands You Blueberries, Make Lemonade?


When life hands you blueberries, what should you do? I know what you're thinking... You can't make lemonade out of blueberries! But here's the deal; I had a blueberry MESS! And I needed to figure out what to do.

We recently picked 12 pounds of blueberries from a local farm. I made jam from some of them, but wanted to freeze a whole bunch for use later in the season and in the winter. So, after washing them, and drying them on paper towels for several hours I put them on a clean baking sheet and put them in the freezer to "flash freeze." Unfortunately, I forgot they were in there and the next time I opened the freezer door, the tray shifted and the blueberries went rolling ... EVERYWHERE! There were blueberries under the refrigerator, blueberries under the stove, even blueberries under the piano in the living room!


After we got them all cleaned up, they had to be washed ... again (since my floors are not perfectly clean!). Now I had more than a quart of mushy blueberries. What do you do with that many mushy blueberries? I certainly couldn't just throw them out after all that sweat and money! After browsing through several cookbooks, I finally came up with an idea... Blueberry Syrup!

So, I pulled out my Ball Blue Book and found the recipe for making Blueberry Syrup (it's not too difficult or intimidating, since it doesn't require a pressure canner) and proceeded to make just over 3 pints of blueberry syrup. I had enough extra to pour over the blueberry pancakes we had. It was delicious! And, now I don't have to buy or make blueberry syrup for every batch of pancakes.

So, when life hands you mushy blueberries... make blueberry syrup!

For more frugal ideas visit Frugal Friday here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Frugal Granola Bars


Several months ago, after Dear Husband (DH) was diagnosed with reflux, I started making my own granola bars. He needs to eat many small meals each day, rather than 3 larger meals. There are also a host of foods he cannot eat. Granola bars were a good choice for him, but buying them was expensive. So I began a search for recipes and found: this one

I started with this basic recipe and have tried a few variations, some successfully, some not so much. The original recipe is still very good, though I usually leave out the cinnamon and add peanut butter instead. AND, it’s cheaper than store-bought. Here’s how it breaks down:

Nature Valley Granola $2.50/12 (if bought on sale) = $.21/bar

Mix Together:
3 C Rolled Oats @ $0.22/Cup = $0.66
1 C Wheat Bran @ $0.38/Cup = $0.38
1 t baking powder @ $0.02/tsp = $0.02

Melt Together:
1 C Butter @ $2.00/lb = $1.00
1 ½ C Brown Sugar @ $0.29/Cup = $0.44
1 t Vanilla @ $0.10/tsp = $0.10

Pour melted ingredients over dry ingredients and mix until completely wet. Press mixture into greased 10 x 15 ½ bar pan. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Let cool for a while, refrigerate several hours or overnight before cutting.

Total cost for Home-Made Granola Bars $2.60/33 bars = $0.08/bar

Savings per bar: $0.13! So making the bars from scratch is less than half the cost of buying them! My family eats A LOT of granola bars. Over the course of a year if we eat only 1 bar per day that’s $47.45 saved. That’s enough to fill the gas tank – even at $4.00/gallon.

Despite many tries, I still haven't gotten them as crunchy as my son likes them, so I may revise this recipe in the future. I'm planning to try them with canola oil instead of butter next.

Make your own granola bars is my Kitchen Tip for Tuesday. For more ideas visit Tammy's Recipes here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Frugal Decorating

I finally got sick of the icky-cute ceramic puppies & geese sitting on my kitchen shelf. They were neat when I was (much) younger, but not so much anymore. SO, I decided I needed to redecorate a bit. But, what to do. My budget is super-tight, and the space in between the shelves is tiny - so what to do??

Several weeks ago, I came across some old jelly jars in my parents' basement. The jars hadn't been used in years, and they're not considered safe to use for canning anymore because they're designed for sealing with wax instead of rings and lids.

Then I had an idea - use the jars for decoration!


The jars on top are filled with pasta and popcorn; stuff I use regularly and have to store anyway. The jars in the middle are filled with silk flowers I bought at Michaels' for $0.99/stem (about $5.00 in all) and the jars were all free. The bottom posts have my hot pot mats and the "Dinner Hand" that were all wedding gifts (10+ years ago!)

I'm really enjoying the new look. Definitely nicer than the puppies and geese were.

For more frugal ideas visit Frugal Friday here.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Media Fast

As part of an emphasis on priorities, my pastor has asked us to participate in a media "fast" this week. Taking this break from media input will allow us to focus more on God and our relationship with him instead of on the numerous things that distract us from Him. So, along with my church for the next week, I won't be blogging, or checking other blogs. I'll just be focusing on God and the best things He wants in my life. I'll be back next week. I'll "see" you then.

Honey Garlic Chicken


As promised, here is the recipe. We love it, it's really pretty easy.


6 Chicken pieces
1 ½ t garlic powder
3 t salt
¼ t ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
2 T honey
4 T margarine/butter – melted

Preheat oven to 350.
Place rack in baking sheet with lip. Spray rack with oil.
Mix garlic powder, salt, pepper. Rub mixture into chicken pieces.
Place chicken skin side down on rack.
In small bowl, beat egg yolk, honey and butter. Brush over chicken.
Bake 30 minutes at 350.
Turn chicken over and baste with remaining butter/honey mixture.
Bake at 400 for approx. 20 minutes or until internal temperature equals 180.

Notes: I found the original recipe on allrecipes.com, but wanted more garlic so altered it to the above recipe. I use chicken thighs and legs; if you use breasts you may want more of the spice rub. I also suggest lining the pan with foil as this makes a sticky mess as it bakes. This recipe would also be good on the grill. (Also, I'll try to get a photo up soon.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Peanut Butter Banana Circles


My picky kids have recently discovered a new favorite (healthy!) snack. - Take one banana; slice into circles; add small dab of peanut butter; freeze long enough to fix a drink; serve. They love these "Peanut Butter Banana Circles". I love them because they are inexpensive and healthy. It doesn't get any better than that!

For more frugal ideas go here: here

Friday, May 16, 2008

Frugal Snacks


My daughter LOVES popcorn for a snack. For a long time I was going to BJs and buying big boxes of microwavale popcorn bags (and thinking I was saving money by buying in bulk at BJs). About a month ago, I ran out and didn't have a chance to get to BJs. As I was digging around in the cabinet trying to find a snack she would find suitable I realized I still had a jar of popcorn kernels, and I have a microwave popcorn bowl (which I'd found for free at a yard sale). So, I started popping kernels in the microwave in our own bowl. Why did I buy the bags for so long? - purely convenience. It takes maybe 2 minutes to prep a bowl of popcorn and 2 minutes to wash it out when we're done. So for 4 minutes time I was wasting how much money on convenience? I haven't done the math yet, but I'm sure using kernels is much cheaper than the bags.

For more ideas for living frugally go to Crystal's blog: here

Friday, May 9, 2008

Cooking from Scratch

I generally think of myself as someone who cooks mostly from scratch. But recently as I’ve been cutting our grocery budget, and have been reading (A LOT) about ways to be frugal/a tightwad, I’ve realized there are many recipes I make that are more “semi-homemade” (thank you Sandra Lee) than made from scratch. So today, I’m posting my current list of foods I could, but don’t, make from scratch:

* Yogurt (have a recipe, never been brave enough to try)
* Applesauce (need a recipe, possibly some instruction)
* Blueberry applesauce (my daughter’s absolute favorite)
* Cheese slices (okay, this doesn’t require a recipe, but why am I buying them wrapped in plastic???)
* Spaghetti sauce (need recipe)
* Pizza sauce (need recipe)
* Shake-n-bake chicken, especially nuggets (recently found a recipe, haven't tried yet)
* Marinated Chicken Breasts (These are family favorites that I currently buy bottled. I need to find or make a recipe for them):
* Lemon-Pepper
* Sesame-Ginger
* Sweet Vidalia Onion (Ken's salad dressing)

I will update this list from time-to-time as I find recipes I can make from scratch.

For more ideas on living frugally, check out Frugal Friday on: Biblical Womanhood.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Walgreens -- Frustrating trip


I just can't seem to make Walgreens work well for me. There's just too much fine print that messes up a good deal. I went today planning to buy 2 packs of Zantac and use those Register Rewards to buy the Venus razors, each item in a separate deal. Then I would use the RRs from the razors to purchase the P&G items that were on sale. The beginning of this worked fine. I bought the Zantac and rolled the RRs and used a $4/1 coupon to buy the Venus Razors. However, from there it was rather frustrating.

I had a bunch of P&G coupons from newspaper inserts, so the P&G sale looked really good. I spent a long time last night figuring out which items were 1) on sale (2/$5.00), 2) I had coupons for and 3) that we would use. I even thought I might get a little bit of profit from it. The problem is that the Venus razors are also a P&G product, so I couldn't use the RRs from the razors to help pay for the cleaning supplies and toothpaste. So, my last transaction ended up costing me $20.00 and I got $20.00 back in RRs. I went ahead and did it because it gave me all these cleaning supplies basically for free.

In all today at Walgreens, I spent $34.40 Out-of-Pocket, spent $6.00 RRs I'd earned today, and netted $32.00 RRs. I think this all means the trip cost me $2.40. Not bad really, but the real trick will be making sure I find things to spend it on in the next several weeks -- preferrably, things we will actually use and not just things that are on sale!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Grocery Store Preference

I live in Eldersburg, Maryland. We're sort of a large town -- about 20,000 people I think. In some ways, it's sort of an odd place to live at times. Few people actually work in this community. They mostly commute to Baltimore or to D.C. But they come home to Eldersburg. We have three grocery stores within a 6 minute drive:
My personal favorite is Martin's. It's large with lots of selection (better than Food Lion) and has good prices, sometimes really good prices (much better than Safeway). All the other local chains are at least a 20-30 minute drive, which kind of defeats the purpose of looking for deals. We do have a Shopper's Food Warehouse that is being built. I believe it's scheduled to open in the Fall. I'm not a big fan of shopping at multiple stores, I find it to be time consuming. But, as Shopper's has a reputation for good deals I'll definitely be checking it out.

What is your favorite grocery store in Maryland?

You May be Right, I May be Crazy!


Remember the old Billy Joel song that said, "You may be right, I may be crazy!"? Tonight as I was sorting through this tremendous stack of coupons that I've collected over the past two days I had this song ringing through my head. No kidding, it took me about 2 hours to get them all sorted and organized into my coupon box. I think I've become a maniac trying to clip coupons and save as much money as possible from them.

This week I had coupons from four newspaper inserts, 3 magazines, and a bunch I'd printed online. The pile was tremendous and it just seemed to keep growing. I don't usually have coupons from magazines, but I'd seen another post about "All You" having coupons that matched some of the May CVS deals. I think I made money on the magazine purchases in the ECBs I got back at CVS. But, as I sorted this huge stack tonight I really began to wonder - was it really worth it??

Maybe it's because I've only started collecting them in earnest over the last few months. For a while I had given it up completely because I just didn't have the time. But, this winter our budget became very tight and I realized I had to cut some costs. Coupon clipping seemed the most logical place to start. After doing some reading on MoneySavingMom.com I decided to start clipping basically everything. In just a few short months I've gotten to where I collect hundreds of coupons each week, and yet, I think I only use about 10-15 in a given week. So, now I'm wondering, Have I gotten out of control? How do other people keep their coupon clipping beneficial and not let it take over their lives?

Monday, April 28, 2008

CVS Bought $54, Paid $0.64


I had a great day at CVS yesterday with their ECBs (Extra Care Bucks). Even though I had to take my children with me I decided to go ahead and make the trip because some of my coupons were going to expire yesterday.

The total for everything above came to $53.80 plus tax. But thanks to many coupons and a VERY generous cashier I only paid $0.64!! My CVS was out of the extended release acetiminophen which gave $3.69 ECBs, so the cashier volunteered to "coupon it off"! I wasn't expecting this, but am very grateful.

I used
  • $3.69 couponed off by cashier
    3 $1/1 Scotchbrite scrubber coupons
    2 $3/ Post-it Flag coupons
    4 $2/1 Bic Soliel coupons
    2 $10/$50 CVS coupons
    1 $3/$15 CVS coupon
    $10.29 ECBs
Which left me with just $0.64 OOP (out of pocket). Whooo Hoo! Yeah CVS!

I am really still a newbie at doing the deals at CVS. I am rarely able to completely work out my purchases ahead of time becaue our CVS is small and frequently runs out of things giving ECBs or doesn't carry all the items listed in the Sunday insert. So, when I get a deal like this once every 3-4 weeks I get really excited!

Blogging Note: Someday I'll figure out how to link to some of the coupons I use as well as back to MoneySavingMom.com so that you can take advantage of these as well!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Beginning of the Journey

Frugal:
1.economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful: a frugal manager.
2.entailing little expense; requiring few resources; meager; scanty: a frugal meal.

So, where does one begin? How does one begin to be frugal? What makes you decide to begin the "Journey to Frugal"? For me, it was the reality of too much month at the end of the paycheck combined with increasing prices for every basic need. I don't think we have been in the habit of living a luxurious lifestyle by any means. But, certainly we've made some less than frugal decisions along the way. So some time ago I began to focus more of my energy on using less expense, fewer resources to provide for the needs of our family. I've really just begun the journey. I've discovered that there are many more out there, further along that path. I see them up ahead establishing markers along the path, encouraging new pilgrims to join the journey. I find this encouraging. They provide suggestions, wisdom, and a host of ideas for how to be more frugal. As I continue along this journey, I'll introduce you to some of them.

I'm looking forward to the journey. I hope to meet you there soon.