Friday, July 29, 2011

Birthday Freebie Update

Back in June I had posted a list of birthday freebies you can get. Well, since I just celebrated my birthday, I've discovered a few more that I need to add to the list. It has made my the weeks around my birthday such a fun time!

* GGP Mall- First check to see if your mall is part of this group and if it is, join The Club and you'll likely get a voucher for a free $10 mall gift card. I say likely because I got one but my husband didn't- but then he never gets any gift card offers from them. Thanks to reader Sarah for the reminder about this!

* Maggie Moo's- Join the Email Club and you'll get a coupon for a free Kid's sized ice cream creation

* Rita's- Sign up for the Birthday Club and you'll get a free Italian ice on your birthday!

* Sonic- Sign up for the Sonic Cruisers Club and on your birthday you'll get a choice of one of three birthday freebies: medium Tator Tots, regular cream slush, or medium drink.

* Swagbucks- Join Swagbucks and you'll get 50 Swagbucks on your birthday! I didn't post this one earlier because I can't figure out where I added my birthday to get this. Anyone know?

Any more that you all know of? I'd love to know about them!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Groupon: $6 for Two Reg. Quiznos Subs

I don't often post daily deals anymore, but this one is one that I thought many of you might be interested in. You can purchase a Groupon for $6 for two regular subs or two salads at Quiznos ($12.98 Average Value).

This Groupon can be used at most Quiznos locations, although there are a few that don't participate. To find locations that are Groupon participants just go here and enter your zip code.

I love purchasing deals like this to use when we are traveling or just for those times when we suddenly decide to eat out due to crazy schedules. It's one of the little ways that we can save.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Muenster Chicken and Mushrooms

This is one of our favorite ways to eat chicken. It's a great combination of some of our favorite things- chicken, cheese and mushrooms. And while it's easy enough to prepare for a yummy dinner, it's also tasty enough to serve to guests for a special meal.

Muenster Chicken and Mushrooms
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1-2 eggs
Muenster or Swiss cheese (approx. 8 oz.)
8-16 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1-2 c. chicken broth
2 c. seasoned bread crumbs

Cut chicken into thin pieces (this helps the flavor get through more), dip in egg, then bread crumbs. Salt lightly then lightly brown in oiled skillet. Arrange in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Top chicken with sliced or grated cheese and sliced mushrooms. Pour broth over all.

Cover with aluminum foil an bake at 350 degrees for 30 min. Remove foil, baste with broth and bake another 10 to 15 min.

For other recipe ideas, check out Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday, Blessed with Grace's Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, 33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesday, Mandy's Recipe Box's Totally Tasty Tuesdays and All the Small Stuff's Tuesdays At the Table.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Planning Ahead: An Easy Way to Save

Okay, so I'm writing this post as much for myself as for anyone. I've realized lately that I need a serious reminder of this! But wait, I'm kind of getting ahead of myself, am I not?

One of the easiest- at least in theory- ways to save is by simply planning ahead. What I mean is that you always keep the basic items you need on hand and if you know you are going to be needing something special for say, a party, you try to get that at the lowest price possible ahead of time.

What is the advantage of doing this? Well, think about it. Say you can typically get butter on sale for $2.50/lb. but, because you didn't plan well, you run out of butter and realize that you need butter NOW. So you run to the store and the cheapest butter you can get is $2.80/lb. You just "wasted" $0.30 by not planning ahead. True, often your savings might be less than $1.00, but it really does add up!

Here are some tips for saving by planning ahead:
1. Know what you typically use and the lowest price you can usually get it for.
I try to know where I can get items like flour, sugar, oatmeal, butter, ketchup etc. for the absolute lowest price possible. And my goal is to either get the item on sale for lower than the lowest buy price or else to get them at the store I can get them the least inexpensively, paying regular price. Yes, this take a little planning, but it really does help me save.

2. Think ahead to what events you might be hosting or need to take food too.
When I look at sales and coupon match-ups, I try to think ahead to what extra things I might be needing in the next couple of weeks, and add those things to my shopping list. For instance in the summer I watch for sales on hot dogs and try to stock up when I can get them really cheap. Then when we decide to have a cook out or get invited to a picnic and need to take hot dogs, I don't have to pay full price for them. Over Christmas I know that I typically make homemade party mix. So starting in June, I begin to watch for sales on Cheerios and Chex cereal so that I am not stuck paying $2.00 for a box of cereal that, had I just planned ahead, I'd only have paid $0.50 for.

I got burnt twice recently with this. I had two birthday parties that I knew I was going to be having, but somehow I just didn't do so well at planning ahead and ended up paying way more than I normally would for several things. Yes, this is just life, but it still is annoying when I know that if I had just planned ahead I could have saved several dollars.

3. When you open a box of something, add it to your grocery list.
This might seem like a no-brainer to you, but I'm surprised at how many people don't do this. If you add peanut butter to your list when you open a new jar and you still have enough left to last you a bit, it allows you some time to look for a good price on peanut butter instead of being forced to pay top price.

How do you save money by planning ahead? What other suggestions do you have to be efficient at this?

Weekly Spending Summary

I didn't do much shopping this week and it felt kind of good. I need a week like this every now and then!

Total Spent: $15.65
Total Saved with Coupons: $48.61
Total Saved with Sales: $31.24
Total Saved: $79.85

Rite Aid: $0.98
Saved with Coupons: $23.75
Saved with Sales: $11.95

I was in desperate need of Kleenex (went through a box one day last week thanks to a cold!) so I was pretty happy to be able to stock up again at a good price.

Giant: $14.67
Saved with Coupons: $24.86
Saved with Sales: $19.29

I actually got two packs of razors, both free, but gave the one pack to the cashier. She was so tickled and I had fun being able to bless her with my freebie! The ice cream was a pretty good price so I decided to stock up a bit since I know we'll be using it over the next couple of week for different things. And the milk was free with some catalina coupons from a cereal deal that I did earlier.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Weekly Spending Summary

I actually did quite a bit of shopping this week even though I decided to skip going to Rite Aid. I was running out of several basic things and had kept putting off going to the different stores to get them. I finally bit the bullet and went this week.

Total Spent: $54.27
Total Saved with Coupons: $6.50
Total Saved with Sales: $1.32
Total Saved: $7.82

$0 (gift card)
Saved with Coupons: $1.50
Saved with Sales: $0.30

It looks like I failed to take a picture of my "huge" purchase- 1 Balance protein bar. I wouldn't have even bothered to go to CVS this week except that I had to take care of the glitch last week with my Extra Care card. They gave me the money back on a gift card, which was fine with me.

Saved with Coupons: $5.00
Saved with Sales: $1.02

It must be the week for missing pictures, because it appears that I forgot to take this picture too. I know I bought a gallon of milk (which I had a free catalina coupon for) but I'm not sure what else I got. :(

Walmart: $9.96

Aldi: $14.77

Centerville Bulk Foods: $12.85

Creekside Bulk Food
: $16.33

I hardly ever go to this little store, but I was close by and knew that they had eggs and butter cheaper than I could get them anywhere else, so I decided to stop in.

Credit: $4.23
- A return at Rite Aid.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Zucchini Quiche

It's zucchini season and we've been loving the zucchini's that friends have given to us. The other night I tried this quiche and we decided that it is our new favorite zucchini dish. It's easy and so yummy that when I got hungry after going to bed, I ended up getting up and eating the rest of the quiche from dinner!

Zucchini Quiche
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. Bisquick baking mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. parsley
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 to 3 1/2 c. zucchini, grated

Mix all ingredients except zucchini in a bowl. Stir in zucchini and pour into a buttered 9" pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 min. or until brown.

* I added a bit of basil and also sprinkled maybe 1/4 c. mozzarella cheese on top (because I was afraid maybe it wouldn't be very good!) but I really think it would still be really yummy without either of those things.

For other recipe ideas, check out Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday, Blessed with Grace's Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Fudge Ripple's Tuesday Night Supper Club, 33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesday, and All the Small Stuff's Tuesdays At the Table.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekly Spending Summary

Just another average smaverage week of grocery shopping.... Oh and this is for the week of 7/3-7/9. I tried to do this post last week but for some reason the pictures wouldn't load.

Total Spent: $11.80
Total Saved with Coupons: $61.34
Total Saved with Sales: $29.78
Total Saved: $91.12

Rite Aid
: $0.66
Saved with Coupons: $32.38
Saved with Sales: $11.19

I had a rain check for the Gillette...the rest of the stuff were just great deals.

CVS: $0
Saved with Coupons: $9.18
Saved with Sales: $0

I keep having issued with my CVS card. Occasionally there will be fluky things that happen and this week my fluky thing was that nothing rang up on sale. Unfortunately I didn't see it until I got home. So I'll have to have them make it right next week. That is why my savings with sales is at $0.

The Pringles and the Hershey's were free with coupons from the little CVS coupon machine. Be sure to always scan your Extra Care card when you go to CVS- you'll often get some great coupons from that little machine!

Giant: $9.75
Saved with Sales: $19.78
Saved with Coupons: $18.59

I actually somehow missed putting 2 boxes of cereal on this picture.

Did a cereal deal where you got a catalina coupon for a free gallon of milk when you bought 4 Kelllogg's cereals as well as $6 off your purchase instantly. We don't eat much cereal but I like to have it on hand for guests and also for the random times we want something different for breakfast. At $0.50-$0.60/box (after deducting the cost of milk) I figure it's a good stock up time!

Misc.: $1.39
- Bought a 9 volt battery at Christmas Tree Shops. Love that store!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Obtaining Coupons: Newspaper Inserts- Part 2

Finally a *real* blog post. I'm sure some of you are nearly falling over! I think I'm finally starting to feel a bit more caught up with life and it's a wonderful feeling. But then I look at my date book for the next two weeks and can almost feel overwhelmed again. Anyway...on to the subject at hand.

The last Obtaining Coupons post that I did was about getting coupons through newspaper inserts. Reader Beth shared in the comments how she gets some of her inserts for free and it got me thinking that I really should do another post dedicated to that- ways of getting the newspaper inserts for free.

Here are some ways that you may be able to get those lovely newspaper inserts without paying a dime:

1. Dig them out of your local recycling centers bin. Reader Beth and many other folks I know do this and often they have great success. True, some of the coupons might be expired, but not all of them will be!

I would love to be able to do this, but unfortunately, I have not been able to find any recycling center bins in this area. Seems strange, but it's true.

2. Ask friends and family to save their inserts for you. This is such a simple way to get more copies and more often than not if those people aren't already using the coupons they are more than glad to share them with you.

3. Ask your newspaper carrier for extras. While not all newspapers allow their carriers to do this, from what I understand many carriers have extra inserts that they can do whatever they want with. It never hurts to ask!

4. Post a request for them on Freecycle. First off, let me advise you to check and make sure that this is "legal" on your local Freecycle. Some areas are fine with it and others are not- ours being one that is not.

However, back before ours didn't allow posting anything related to coupons, I did this and have a dear lady across town that saves her inserts for me. I just drop by every couple of weeks and get them when I am in that area. She only uses 2 or so coupons from each week so I still have lots to use! It's been a wonderful way to get more coupons.

5. Check the newspaper at doctors offices, the library, motels etc. Several months ago when Vince and I went on a little weekend getaway we stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast. Sunday morning I was browsing through their stack of newspapers and magazines and found a treasure trove of all kinds of newspaper inserts! I could hardly believe my eyes. There was probably 2 months worth of inserts (and several for each week) just laying there with the papers. So as my husband laughed, I collected them all and tucked them away in our suitcase.

What creative ways do you use to get extra newspaper inserts free?

Did you miss the other posts in this series? If so, here are links to them- Contacting Companies, Websites, Coupon Trading Store Emails & Fliers, and Newspaper Inserts- Part 1.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Monthly Spending Summary (June)

Aren't they beautiful!?

Whew! I spent more this month than I have in a while. And then besides I got blueberries and strawberries too. I hadn't done any figuring so I was a little scared that I had totally used up all the extra money I had been saving, so I was rather relieved to see there is still some left. I'm going to be buying peaches and apples soon so I'm sure that will eat up the rest of it. I expect that in the next month or two I'll be in the red and have to work myself out.

Monthly Grocery/Household Budget: $190

Total Spent: $204.46
Total Saved with Coupons/Sales: $405.28

Week 1: $31.37
Week 2: $24.15
Week 3: $24.16
Week 4: $34.59
Week 5: $90.19

Other Expenses: $243.98
This was for 40 lb. of blueberries and 80 qt. strawberries. We ate some of both fresh but then I froze the rest and we'll enjoy them in smoothies, in desserts, plain and mixed with other fruit the rest of the year. Every year I kind of gasp at the amount when it comes to forking over the money for fruit, but every year I decide it is worth it. We love fruit and I figure it is not only healthy, but doing it this way also ends up being cheaper than buying fresh fruit or frozen fruit throughout the year at a grocery store.

For instance, I paid $1.60/lb. for the blueberries. I was looking at ice cream at Giant the other day and noticed that their frozen blueberries were $3 something a lb. It was then I realized that buying fruit in bulk like this and doing the work of freezing it on my own is really a lot cheaper.

Credits: $25.65
This was from two different rebates that I did.

Ending Monthly Balance: $11.19
Balance carried from Jan.-May: $350.32

Ending Annual Balance: $95.15 (deducted the strawberries and blueberries from my balance and this is what is left)
- In case you are confused, this is the amount I have left over for the year. This comes from being under budget in some previous months. So basically I am ahead by $95.15 for the year.

Weekly Spending Summary

I'm still behind on posting. This week has been a bit more normal but I feel like I am catching up on all the things I got behind on in my busyness. And yes, blogging is on my list of "catch-up things". But somehow making food, doing laundry and getting the house back in shape hit the list first.

Now to the purpose of this post. We are very blessed to have people share of their excess with us. I didn't take a picture but we got around 20 qt. of green beans given to us from some friends at church. They also gave us a couple of small zucchini. And my mother-in-law has been keeping us supplied with lots of beautiful fresh lettuce. We love all the fresh stuff and are always grateful for it. While I don't necessarily miss the work of a garden, I do miss the fresh produce it provides.

Total Spent: $90.19
Total Saved with Coupons: $38.14
Total Saved with Sales: $21.38
Total Saved: $59.52

Rite Aid
: $0 (used $0.38 cash for groceries)
Saved with Coupons: $7.66
Saved with Sales: $5.12

I had FREE product coupons for the Pringles.

CVS: $0 (gift card)
Saved with Coupons: $18.49
Saved with Sales: $7.58

Stocking up on diapers and vanilla. A strange combo, don't you think?

Giant: $10.39
Saved with Coupons: $11.99
Saved with Sales: $8.68

I had a FREE product coupon for the Glade candle. The Scott items were part of a moneymaker deal that I did. And the cereal was part of a great deal where I got a catalina coupon for a free gallon of milk plus I only paid about $1/box for the cereal. The ice cream? My splurge of the week. :)

As I was getting this post together I noticed that the cashier missed my one $1 cereal coupon. Rather frustrating but not much I can do about it now. I always try to watch like a hawk when they are scanning my coupons because I've had this happen more times than I care too. But I was tired and in a hurry that night and I must have gotten lax. :)

Centerville: $50.50

I had a lot of stuff to stock up on at the bulk food store- this picture is only half of the stuff I bought. I forgot to photograph the other half. We had company and so went through 10lb. of potatoes...and well, I just needed other stuff too.

Wow, cheese prices are really going up! It galled me to pay over $2.50/lb- haven't paid that ever I don't think. But I guess it's still probably cheaper than most places.

Aldi: $20.67
- I guess I forgot to take a picture of this stuff.

Kauffman's Fruit Farm:
- This was for some apples and raw wheat germ.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Monthly Spending Summary (May)

Okay, so this is a month late, but with all the busyness and not feeling well, I just didn't get this done last month. Plus, Blogger lost some of my info so I had to spend a bunch of time going through receipts etc. figuring stuff out. :( And honestly, that is part of the reason I put this off for so long.

I didn't spend much at all this month- just not a lot of deals and I really didn't need much so we lived off our stockpile and stuff that was in the freezer. It was good to get some things used up but I probably should do it another month yet!

Monthly Grocery/Household Budget: $190

Total Spent: $45.71
Total Saved with Coupons/Sales: $265.12

Week 1: $6.76

Week 2: $25.25

Week 3: $13.70

Week 4: $0

Credits: $32.23

Ending Monthly Balance: $13.48
Balance Carried from Jan.-April: $173.80

Ending Annual Balance: $350.32
- In case you are confused, this is the amount I have left over for the year. This comes from being under budget in some previous months. So basically I am ahead by $350.32 for the year. No worries though, I will use this up fast when it comes time to can and freeze produce and fruit! In fact buying strawberries and blueberries in June have already eaten up a bunch of it!