Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I've been really lax about menu planning mostly due to pregnancy! I may have planned something for dinner but when I get home, I'm just not hungry for whatever was planned or sometimes I'm just too darn tired to do what was planned. I've been crockpotting as much as possible to eliminate the latter possibility but it has been hard.

So this week, I vowed to get back on track and decided to keep it more general and flexible, which I'm hoping will increase the possibility of sticking to it. I have a work conference next week so I am not shopping for anything other than basics if we run out and doing my best to cook from the freezer/pantry for the next week so that I don't have a fridge full of science experiments when we return!

Here's the plan:

Taco bean soup (using taco leftovers)
Roasted chicken
Chicken Zucchini pasta (using leftover roasted chicken)
Breakfast for dinner (pancakes, sausage, eggs)

Find lots of other great menu plans HERE. Have a great week!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

If you haven't heard, Albertson's is running an awesome General Mills promotion right now: buy $25 worth of selected products, get a $10 ONYO Catalina. Even better, certain products have their own Catalina promotion so you can double dip the Catalinas. So I based my transactions to maximize the Cats. Here are the transactions:

Transaction #1:

5 Simply Cookie Dough $12.50
5 Betty Crocker Fruit Gushers $12.50

Coupons used:

4 $1.25/1 Simply Cookie dough
1 $1/1 Simply Cookie dough
1 $.50/2 Fruit Gushers
3 $.40/1 Fruit Gushers

plus I had a $3 Cat & $2 Cat from a purchase last week (unclear how I got the $3, $2 was from Aunt Jemima syrup). I just noticed in reviewing my receipt that the cashier doubled 2 for $1 each, not sure how that happened? Anyway, OOP was $10.30 and I got $10, $3 and $3.50 in Cats that I rolled into the next transaction.


5 Simply Cookie Dough $12.50
6 Fruit snacks $12.50

Coupons Used:

5 $1/1 Simply Cookie Dough
2 $.40/1 Fruit Snacks
2 $.50/2 Fruit Snacks

1 doubled for -$1
minus $16.50 in Cats from previous order, left me with OOP $3.20 and I got another $16.50 in Cats that I used for this:

5 Cinnamon Rolls $8.35
4 Fruit Snacks $10.00
5 Warm Delights Minis $8.35
3 betty Crocker Potatoes $5

Coupons Used:

5 $1/1 Cinnamon Rolls
2 $.50/2 Fruit Snacks
5 $.50/1 Warm Delights
3 $.40/1 Potatoes

2 doubled for -$.50 each, minus $16.50 in Cats from previous order, left me with $5.50 OOP and ANOTHER $16.50 in Cats.

My family couldn't possibly take any more sugary snacks so my final transaction I bought basics like eggs, bananas, milk, cheese, apples, carrots and a rotisserie chicken (my husband makes an awesome chicken soup). I did use 2 BOGO coupons for eggs and got free Darigold Singles Chocolate milk with one last doubler! I used the $16.50 in Cats to bring my OOP down to $17.54. Plus, I got a survey at the bottom of the receipt for $2 off my next purchase!

I think it was a great trip and really demonstrates how you can work the deals to help lower your costs overall on the staple items - that's really what it's all about for me.

How was your shopping this week?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Grocery Budget Update

It's been awhile so I thought I'd better take a look at how we are doing on our budget goal for the year. Looking through all my receipts and credit card bills, I just realized what a weird month August is for us, grocery-budget-wise.

Why? Well, for the past 2 years we've gone on a 2-week boating vacation to Canada (last year's actually turned out to be 3 weeks due to weather). Two weeks on a boat to remote areas of Canada. Limited facilities and very limited provisions. For example, this year, toward the end of our stay I could not find a loaf of bread. The two stores on the island that were within walking distance of the marina: both sold out!

As a result, we definitely don't do my "normal" stock up, deal-finding shopping during that vacation because it's just not possible - there are none of the traditional large supermarkets where we are and I just don't have the space on the boat to lug around my coupons, if these mom-and-pop stores would even take them. Even leading up to the trip, we typically go to Costco for the stock up because it all comes in bulk and then I separate into individual portions to pack into coolers, coolers and more coolers (we have a small fridge and an even smaller freezer on the boat).

We spend a lot more than usual in advance of the trip because we are without the ability to just run to the store for little things or take advantage of the deals that may be running during those weeks. Plus, we go with friends and often share dinner responsibilities so I'm not just feeding my family most nights, but this year up to 9 adults as well.

So I decided not to count those unusual circumstances, like the big Costco trip, and just tally what I spent at my normal grocery stores. Even then, I spent quite a bit more than usual in August, it appears.

My monthly budget for this year is $83.62 per month:

July $83.62 + $76.89 (June carryover) = $160.51 - $57 = $103.51
August $83.62 + $103.51 (July carryover) = $187.13 - $105.46 = $81.67
September $83.62 + $81.67 (August carryover) = $165.29 - $93.00 = $72.29.

I'm really hoping that the coming months will have better stock up deals for the holidays! I want to stay on this budget but the holidays could bust it. I also have saved all my grocery receipts separately and am hoping to post some cool final totals at the end of the year, like "amount spent" and the one I'm super curious about "amount saved" from coupons and sales! Should be SO interesting.

How are you doing so far this year??

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Free Crochet Ideas E-book

Click Here to download a free e-book full of cool crochet craft ideas that you can do using a minimal amount of yarn. I'm thinking about all the yarn I have leftover from other crafts and projects so this should be fun and since it's free, why not go check it out?!

Friday, August 28, 2009

HOT $10 Mall Gift Card

Here is a great deal that ShopSmartLookFab is running right now. Enter your information for a free $10 gift card to a local mall - simply enter your zip code to find the nearest participating mall.

Be sure to sign up under the "Gift Card Voucher" Tab for the completely free $10 gift card! Sign up fast - they'll even tell you how many cards are still available for the mall you've chosen.

There is a different promo also running where you bring $75 in receipts from the mall and receive a $10 gift card, which would be great if you still need to do some school shopping.

*To my Washington readers: Alderwood Mall was the closest mall to my Woodinville zip code that is participating in this promotion. So if you shop there, or even if you don't, a free $10 gift card might be worth the trip.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Awesome Albertson's: The $1.26 trip

We got back last Saturday from a fabulous 2 week family vacation. No bargain shopping in Desolation Sound, Canada so I was having some serious shopping withdrawals. Luckily, Albertson's was having a fantastic promo that I was able to take advantage of on the last day (Tuesday). Buy $25 worth of select Kraft products and get a $5 ONYO plus a $20 mail-in rebate.

I got:

5 Easy Mac cups ($5)
4 Velveeta cups ($4)
6 Kraft Italian shredded cheese ($10)
1 Ritz Crackerfuls ($2.50)
1 A1 Steak sauce ($3)
2 Philly Cream Cheese ($3)
That was the Kraft purchase to qualify for the rebate and Catalina.

I also got:
1 Albertson's yogurt ($2.29)
1 Starbucks ice cream ($3.79)
1 Rice Krispies ($4.69)
Albertson's brand Quick Oats (it's fruit crumble season! $2.99)
Strawberries ($2.99)
Bananas ($1.46)

Coupons used:
2 BOGO Velveeta cups (-$2)
1 A1 (-$1)
6 Kraft cheese (tearpad) (-$3)
1 Ritz crackerfuls (-$1)
1 $1/2 Philly Cream cheese (-$1)
2 $.55/2 Easy mac cups (-$1.10)
Free Starbucks ice cream (Facebook)(-$3)
Free Rice Krispies (Vocalpoint) (-$4.69)
3 doublers (-$3)

Paid $27.26. I got the $5 ONYO plus another for $1 for buying the Velveeta cups and will send in the for $20 rebate. Total OOP: $1.26!!

How was your shopping this week?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

**Winner: SpongeBob Party Pack

The lucky winner of the SpongeBob Party Pack Giveaway is Uncles!

Congratulations - please email me your contact information by Saturday July 25 and I will get the party pack sent out to you!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

UPDATE**Giveaway: SpongeBob Party Pack

Have you entered my giveaway for the cool SpongeBob Party Pack? Go HERE now to enter, it's so easy.

Not only could you win the SpongeBob plates, cups and napkins, but if you go HERE to, you can also enter to win a visit from SpongeBob at your next party! How cool would that be??!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

I needed to get a few basics like milk and bananas so I decided to hit my Albertson's on my way home from work yesterday. I usually like to shop without my kids because I can't seem to keep them happy and keep all my coupons and scenarios organized at the same time. But since I was on my way home I worked it so I'd pick up 1 y.o. Emily, shop and then pick up 5 y.o. Michael. Something is up with Emily though, and she was cranky the whole trip. When we got out to the car, I figured it out - diaper blowout! It was a mess.

Needless to say, the trip was ok. The catalina machine was broken at the register and I didn't notice until the end when nothing had printed. In my baby-crying-induced-daze at the end, I realized the cashier only gave me $3 back for the catalinas, when it should have been $7. Because of the diaper situation, I just couldn't go back in.

So here's what I got:

2 boxes Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats $2.88 each
2 Dole Mandarin Oranges $1.25 each
12 Kraft BBQ Sauce $.50 each (M&M)
8 Mac N Cheese $.50 each (M&M)
1 box Ronzoni Penne $1.79
1/2 gal. organic skim milk $3.79
Bananas $2.02
Real Simple Magazine $4.99 (Going away next weekend so needed reading material but yikes - I didn't realize this was so pricey!)

Coupons used:
B1G1 Mini Wheats
2 B3G1 Mac N Cheese coupons
$.55 2 Dole Mandarin Oranges
$1/1 Ronzoni Smart Taste
$1 off Real Simple Magazine
$9 Catalinas ($6 tuna deal, $1 V8, $2 Mac N Cheese from last transaction, see earlier post)

-$3 Doubles

Total OOP: $11.49. As stated above, I should have received $5 in Catalinas for the BBQ sauce and $2 for the Mac N Cheese, which would have made my OOP $4.49. I probably should go back but sometimes it just seems like more of a hassle for $4. Plus, the store is on my way home from work but not close to get to from my house.

What do you think? Do you go back in a situation like this?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Giveaway: SpongeBob Party Pack

Last month Nick Jr. sent me two fabulous party packs - one Dora the Explorer and one SpongeBob. We used the Dora pack for my daughter's 1st birthday party late last month. Dora Cups, small Dora plates and a box of Kellogg's fruit snacks in Dora shapes ("Mommy, look at all the 'Backpacks' that were in this one!!") were all a big hit! The packs also came with great recipe ideas and games that you can play at your celebration.

For you, my fabulous readers, I have the SpongeBob pack to give away to one lucky reader. In it you will find: 1 8-pack of large plates, 1 16-pack of napkins, 1 8-pack of cups and the SpongeBob recipe and game ideas!

Wanna Win??All you have to do is leave me a comment about how cool it would be to have this for your next party (and who said it had to be for a kid's party??!!). Get extra entries if you subscribe or blog about the giveaway and link to this post - make sure you leave another comment that you did. Winner will be selected on Tuesday - good luck!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Free 2009 Entertainment Book

Entertainment Book

I know that we're more than half through 2009 but right now you can get the 2009 Entertainment Book for free when you sign up for your 2010 Entertainment Book. I have always been a big fan of the Entertainment Book because it has so many great discounts for just about everything that people do: dining out, travel, shopping, and entertainment (of course!). My local one only costs $25 and with this deal, it's like getting 2 for the price of 1. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

I been shopping a lot at Albertson's lately because there have been such screamin' deals, especially the Mix & Match Promo. Buy 10 participating items and get $5 off instantly. The best deal so far has been Starkist Tuna, which was on sale 2 weeks ago. Combining the Mix & Match, coupons, and Catalina for $1 on your next order for every 5 that you buy (until July 17 reportedly) I was getting tuna pouches for $.05 per pouch! Lots of good stuff to donate to my local food bank.

Needless to say, I was able to get a lot of super cheap groceries while this was going on. But the store ran out of tuna before I ran out of coupons so I got a raincheck. Yesterday, the store had some more of the tuna in stock so I was able to work the deal and use the Catalinas to bring my total down on the other items I needed. There was also a new promo on the tuna, get a free snack pack of chips for every 3 puches that you buy - so free chips!

Here's how it worked:

30 Tuna pouches $37.50
10 Snack Pack Chips $20

- $15 M&M promo
- $18 Chips promo (this is wrong, should have been $20 off)
- $15 Tuna coupons

Paid $9.50 and got $6 in Catalinas to use on my next order!

My next order was a few things that were on sale and some basics that I needed. With double coupons it turned out great! Kraft Mac n Cheese was on Mix & Match for $.50 and I had Buy 3 Get 1 Free coupons. V8 Fusion drinks are 2/$5, use 2 $1 coupons, doubled plus a $1 Catalina when you buy 2, makes these Free! I had coupons for the chilis, Cheerios (M&M), Grill Mates and Rubbermaid containers (not shown). Found coupons on the syrup for $.55 off. No coupons for the coffee (M&M), cheese, dill or bananas. Total was only $17.05 after all coupons (total savings of $40.54)!

The store found more tuna after I was done, so I did one more transaction and still have the $6 in Catalinas to use for the next trip! How did your shopping go this week?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cool Contest - Year's Worth of Diapers

I always enter free contests because I figure, someone's got to win. Remember when I won a local mall's online contest for a $250 gift card? It doesn't happen a lot but it does happen! Here's a great contest for a year's worth of free diapers from Costco. You don't have to be a Costco member to enter. Anyone who has a baby still in diapers will appreciate this!

Simply Summer Salad

I will admit that with my job as crazy as it is right now, menu planning and cooking have fallen seriously on the wayside. I have had and still have enough of a stockpile, from careful shopping and taking advantage of great deals, that I'm not shopping meal by meal and we haven't been eating take out (not regularly anyway!). Plus, this summer has been unusually warm for Seattle, so heating up an already hot kitchen is not very appealing. I've just been cooking very simply and it's been nice, actually. Here is a simple salad that makes a healthy, fabulous and quick summer night meal. I almost always have all of these ingredients on hand so it's also my "take along" salad if we get invited to a last minute BBQ at a neighbor's house.


1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt/Pepper to taste

I use a small lidded container so that I can put all ingredients together, shake and dress the salad right before serving.


1 bag mix greens or whatever lettuce you like
1 medium apple, cored and chopped into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts/pecans *can also be toasted
1/2 cup feta or goat cheese

Make it a main dish: Add one can of chicken or tuna.

Gayle's Grocery Cart Challenge is THE place to get all of your recipe inspiration. She hosts the Friday recipe swap and I always seem to find something new over there. Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Free Kotex Overnight Sample

Kotex Ultra Overnight Pads
It seems that I get a free sample everyday in my mailbox. It's just so simple to fill out a quick form and get a new product to try or a product that you already like for free. Here is a great sample of Kotex Overnight with Wings. I have used these before and they really do provide great overnight protection. And really, how can you go wrong with free?!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Free Formula Offer

Do you know someone who is expecting a baby or just gave birth? I consider myself a big fan of breastfeeding, but I recognize that it's not possible for everyone and I found that after I went back to work, I just wasn't able to pump enough to satisfy my little one. This is a great offer that I took advantage of when I was expecting and after I had my daughter last year. Sign up for a great free gift and money-saving coupons from Enfamil formula. I don't think I paid full price once for formula with all of the great coupons that they sent to me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Free Starbucks Ice Cream

I haven't had Starbucks new ice cream flavors yet but they look absolutely delicious. It's easy to get a free coupon for a free pint of ice cream. Log in to your Facebook account and go here. It says that you can share it with a friend, but also says that no one will judge you if you want to send it to yourself - hee hee! The coupons are given out every hour and I found that the best way to catch one is to click the "Share Now" button as close to the top of the hour as possible. This will be such a cool summer treat - enjoy!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grocery Budget Update

Things have not eased up one bit at work. I am busier than ever. Which is a good thing in a tough economy where not many people feel like their jobs are secure. I am not complaining. But I haven't been writing, let alone blogging at all and I really want to! I do! So I am reorganizing and reprioritizing some things to make that possible...starting NOW!

My budget update is actually pretty good. I have a monthly budget of $83.62. April was a great month where I came in with $32.08 to spare. In May, I spent $71.86 (wow - that seems like a lot but I wasn't couponing hardly at all that month so I guess that really demonstrates the power of the coupon, doesn't it?). In June, I did better, spending only $50.57. So the grand totals are as follows:

May: $83.62 + $32.08 (April leftover) = $115.70 - $71.86 = $43.84
June: $83.62 + $43.84(May leftover) = $127.46 - $50.57 = $76.89

I am debating about whether I should even carry the leftovers into the next month since I seems like I really don't need to. Although the minute I don't, I'll have a non-coupon or something else come up month and need it, so I'll keep it for now. I am taking a serious look though for next year's budget and wondering, will I even need that much?

Now that we've gone 6 months into this year, how are you doing?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grocery Budget Update

I thought I would ease my way back into the blogosphere with a Grocery Budget Update!

If you recall, my monthly grocery budget is $83.62 per month ($1,003.44 for the year). I was already ahead in February thanks to the Albertson's Grands Biscuit extravaganza - I came in $14.90 under budget.

In March, I spent only $70.47 total, not even needing the $14.90 cushion and having another $13.15 to spare!

I just added up this month's receipts and because of the Safeway Living Well promotion (that you can read about here on HCW) I'm at $79.59 for April. Now, this total actually includes the diapers that I bought at Safeway as part of that promotion. I usually don't include diapers in my budget totals because I don't usually buy diapers at the grocery store unless they are a part of some great deal, which this is! I spent $62.82 at Safeway and got a $20 gift card to spend on my next purchase (it was supposed to be a OYNO Catalina but they did not print for some reason).

According to my calculations, $83.62 + $14.90 + $13.15 = $111.67 - $79.59 = $32.08 - I have the $20 gift card and plenty of budget room to do another round at Safeway and get another $10 OYNO Catalina!

How are you doing on your budget so far this year?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Blog Update

I know it's been a month since I posted and thanks to everyone who has emailed or called me about my absence! It's nice to know that I actually have been missed.

The dire economic situation has made my work very, very busy. I just simply have not had the time to even shop, let alone clip coupons and be on top of all of the great deals that are out there. I've not even had time to read some of my favorite blogs. I work, spend time with my babies and that has been about it for the last month.

I don't know when or if it will slow down and as much as I love shopping and writing about and sharing my great deals, my paycheck does have to take priority! I hope that I will at least be able to get back to menu planning and recipe sharing next week.

Thank you again for your loyalty and support!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

My husband was traveling last week so I couldn't be bothered to cook for just me. Of course, my computer decided to crash again since he was gone - hence the infrequent postings. I ended up eating mostly leftovers out of the fridge - yay, the fridge is clean again! I cooked the honey pork tenderloin over the weekend and it was delicious. I will feature that on this week's recipe swap. Here is our menu for this week:

Eggplant parmesan
Chicken Caesar salad
Chicken sausage something
Potsticker salad hosts the Menu Plan Monday where you can always find all the other mom's wonderful weekly plans.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

IKEA Free breakfast this weekend

IKEA is once again offering a free breakfast and cup of coffee at its stores this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Check with your local IKEA store to make sure that they are participating. A yummy and frugal way to start the weekend!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We did alright last week - my husband even surprised me by making me a fantastic stir-fry one night (I won't mention how much his surprise trip to the store cost him!). He's traveling this week so I may not get to any of the things on the menu but then I'll also have reserves for next week. We also have a birthday this week - my little guy turns 5 tomorrow so we're going out for his free birthday meal at Red Robin!

Here is the rest of the plan:

Honey butter Pork tenderloin
Pizza night
Eggplant Parmesan
Grilled cheese/tomato sandwiches is the place to find all the great organizing tools you need to keep your house and life in order. But she's away this Monday and Erin from $5 Dinners has generously agreed to host - hooray! Check out her site this week for lots of great menu ideas.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Biscuit Egg Bake

After getting lots of Grands biscuits a few weeks ago at the great Albertson's sale, I started searching for some new and creative recipes to use these up. I found this one on the Pillsbury site, modified it for us and it turned out delicious! This would make a fabulous brunch dish or if you do breakfast for dinner, which we often do.

3 Grands biscuits
5 eggs
1/2 cup water or milk
1 cup Veggies of your choice: I had some collard greens that I chopped and sauteed with 1/2 an onion and 1/2 a red pepper, both chopped
3 sausage patties, chopped
1 tsp dry mustard powder
Salt. pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8X8 square pan with cooking spray. Cut biscuits into wedges and sprinkle 2 of the cut up biscuits into the pan. I used precooked sausage patties so if yours aren't precooked, I'd cook them 1st and then saute veggies in the same pan until cooked but still firm. Let cool. Whisk the eggs until slightly beaten and then whisk in the water or milk, mustard powder, salt/pepper. Stir in veggies, meat and then pour over biscuits in pan. Top with remaining biscuit wedges. Bake for 30-40 minutes until eggs are firm and top is slightly browned.

You can double this and use all of the biscuits from the can but since it was just my husband and I, I made it on a smaller scale. I thought about freezing part of it, but wasn't sure if the biscuits would tolerate freezing. If you try it, let me know!

The Grocery Cart Challenge is the home of the Friday Recipe Swap for all your cooking ideas! She's got a great post about drying your own fruit this week - I can't wait to try that. Check it out and cook something new this week!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Walgreens Haul

Walgreens has a fantastic diaper deal this week: buy $25 worth and get a $10 Register Reward (good on your next purchase at Walgreens). Coupled with the high value Huggies coupons found here, diapers are cheap!

However, it took me three tries to find a Walgreens that had any of the Gentle Care diapers in stock! So here's my first trip:

3 Revlon Emery Boards
1 Right Guard deodorant
2 Advil PMs
2 Coffee Mate creamers (not shown - already in the fridge!)

Coupons used:
2 $1/1 Revlon Beauty tools
2 $2/1 Peelies on the Advils
1 $.55/1 Peelie on the deodorant
1 $1.50/2 Coffee Mate

Total OOP: $12.34
Got $4 in Register Rewards. I always forget to do the RR deals separately! UGH - should have done 2 transactions for the Advil. So I will be returning one of the Advil later. I also should have still used my internet coupons for it to make it free but I didn't have enough items in my order to make that work.

Trip #2:

3 Huggies Gentle Care Diapers
1 Johnson & Johnson body lotion
1 Right Guard deodorant
1 Gerber baby food

Coupons used:
3 $5/1 Huggies Gentle Care diaper products
1 $1/1 J&J body care product

Total OOP: $21.11.
Got $12 in RR.

My store said that they get another truck on Thursday so I'm hoping to try again on Friday to see if I can snag some more diapers!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Wow! I can't believe how busy I was last week at work. I mean I'm normally really busy every day but last week it was just one thing after another and I couldn't get even a teeny break with everything going on. These are the weeks where your menu plan really comes in handy! This week should be less hectic but with this whole Daylight Savings thing I know I'll be dragging so it's nice to have it planned in advance. Oh and hopefully I'll be back on my regular posting schedule.

Without further ado, the Menu:

Beef stew

Stuffed salmon

Pizza night

Taco salad

Pork tenderloin is the place to find all the great menus and organizing tips. I'm going to try a hoison sauce pork tenderloin recipes she had on there a couple of weeks ago - yummmy! Happy Monday!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New posts coming soon! I hope...

Computer issues and a pink eye outbreak have occupied much of my time this week so I haven't been able to post the Budget Update and some other cool deals. I'm hoping my computer will last long enough for me to post this - I was at a Starbucks yesterday and they were handing out tons of the free samples of the new Via Instant coffee. I literally got 10 samples handed to me and the baristo told me that they had boxes to give away. I am still looking forward to my sample in the mail (no longer available unfortunately), but in the meantime, if you're dying to try it, I would just ask your local store if they have any samples.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

A busy week awaits us! Fortunately, I don't have to travel so we should be right on track with our plan. It must be getting close to spring because I'm really feeling a cleaning urge - trying to clean up and clear out our pantry. So I'm taking inventory and will probably make a food bank donation for those items that I know I won't use soon. Of course, I've also got a nice stockpile of Grands biscuits so I'm trying to be creative with those.

Grands egg bake
Greek salad
Baked penne hosts the Menu Plan Monday - always fresh and fun organizing and planning ideas!

Friday, February 27, 2009

My Version: Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

After having this on my Monday Menu Plan for several weeks, I finally made it and it really was everything I hoped it would be! I always believed that FOS would be difficult to prepare but with this slow cooker method, it's just this simple.

Remember how I had all of that leftover prime rib from our Christmas meal? I cut the leftovers up and froze several different meals including beef/barley soup and stew. This was the most basic with only 2 ingredients: the beef and the onions! A few other ingredients to cook it and you have an elegant soup - only you have to know how easy it really is.

Here is the recipe:

1 cup chopped prime rib
2 medium white onions
2 bouillon cubes
5 cups water
5 tbls corn starch
Salt, to taste
1 baguette or croutons
11/2 cups cheese*

Stir meat, onion, bouillan, corn starch, salt and water in slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Ladle soup into small oven-safebowls and top with bread and then cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

*A couple of notes: I used mozzarella cheese as it was the only white cheese I had, but it did lack the flavor that a Swiss or gruyere has. I also used the more fatty end of the prime rib, which added great flavor but isn't necessarily everyone's favorite to eat. If you are a purist for FOS then obviously you won't use meat at all but may want to add another bouillan cube for additional flavor.

Rocky Road candy is on the menu today over at the Grocery Cart Challenge - see this and tons of great recipes over there every Friday! Thanks GCC!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grocery Budget Update

Apparently word had gotten out about the great Grands Biscuits sale at Albertson's because 2 stores yesterday were completely wiped out. See my post below for the details. I didn't have enough coupons for some of the other products to make the deal worthwhile so I didn't get a chance to roll my Catalinas from the 1st trip - oh well. The bright side is that I stayed on budget for the month, right?!

I had $42.86 left, less my Albie's trip $27.96 leaves me at $14.90 - not bad for 3 days left in the month! Plus, I still have the $20 in Catalina OYNO so there's plenty of cushion for those days. This budgeting thing isn't so hard after all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Free Organization Tools

Have you checked out yet? Staying organized is one of the ways that you can save money. That's why I plan our meals each week and do my best to stick with what's on the plan. Organized home has a ton of free printable lists, from shopping to freezer inventory and menu planning. These are a great way to help keep your home if only there was a printable house cleaner!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week I finally made the elusive French Onion Soup so that recipe will appear here on this week's recipe swap! This is going to be a tough week because I have to travel but minimizing take-out nights and eating out is the goal of the plan. Here it is:

Spaghetti night
Chicken salad
Tuna Casserole - this uses Grands biscuits - see my Albertson's post to learn about why I need to find more Grands recipes!
Pulled pork sandwiches

This and many more Monday Menus can be found at!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

Albertson's is having a great sale right now - buy 10 select products and receive $10 off OYNO. I can't find my camera (husband is #1 suspect!) so I'm sorry I don't have a photo of the goods. There is an extensive list of the products included and the coupon matchups on this Hot Coupon World thread.

I went Saturday and here's what I got:

10 cans Progresso soup $1.50 each
6 cans Pillsbury Grands biscuits $1.25 each
2 Betty Crocker Lemon Poppyseed muffin mix $2.00 each
2 boxes Cheerios $2.50 each
2 cupcake boxes $.74 each
4 Hershey's chocolate bars $.44 each

Coupons used:
2 $2/4 Progresso soup
2 $1/2 Progresso soup
2 $.75/3 Grands biscuits
1 $1/2 Cheerios
1 $1/2 Betty Crocker muffin mixes

Total OOP: $27.96 and I got $20 in OYNO coupons that, according to the above HCW thread, will roll for the next purchase of the same items. I need to find more computers to print more coupons before Tuesday so that I can go back for more!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Recipe Friday: Shortbread Waffles

We are big pancake fans and my husband is very particular about pancakes made with real buttermilk. Our favorite pancake recipe (which you will probably see in a future post!) uses 3 cups of buttermilk. So when we buy the quart of buttermilk, it leaves us with a weird cup or so of buttermilk leftover. I hate for food to go to waste so when I discovered a delicious shortbread waffle recipe that did not call for buttermilk at all, I modified it to include both whole wheat flour and buttermilk! So here ya go:

1 3/4 cups flour (1/2 regular, 1/2 whole wheat)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 - 1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
*1/2 stick of melted butter (I'm listing this as optional as you can also use a tablespoon of vegetable oil to keep it from sticking to the waffle iron. I usually just spray the iron with cooking spray)

Plug in/turn on waffle iron (mine is set at between 3-4 out of 5 on the heat scale). Beat the eggs until fluffy then beat in the sugars. Stir in the flour by 1/2 cup at a time and then stir in the buttermilk and lemon juice. Batter is super thick - use a 1/2 cup dry measuring cup to place a scoop of batter on the waffle iron. Cook according to your iron's directions. I've found that these actually crisp once they are removed from the iron. I usually serve these with fruit and not syrup (there's already a lot of sugar in there!!).

They freeze really well so any leftovers go into a freezer bag. Pull out of freezer and pop in your toaster for weekend breakfast deliciousness on a busy weekday!

Many thanks go out to Gayle, who hosts The Grocery Cart Challenge recipe swap each Friday. She's got an excellent homemade Ranch dressing recipe this week - go check it out!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Free Sample - Head and Shoulders

Ok, this might be TMI but I have really dry skin in the winter and that includes my head. Lucky for me, Head and Shoulders is offering new samples of their shampoo for dandruff and dry skin problems!

Register with Proctor & Gamble's Everyday Solutions website and they'll send you this free sample. You can also get a free samples of Crest Advance Whitestrips and Prilosec - goodies galore!

Earning Extra Money

A few weeks ago I wrote this post about earning extra money by doing online surveys. It's easy and simple to do in your spare time while you're online.

Well, I've discovered something even easier - think about how many Google or MSN Searches you do every day online. If I told you that you could earn "bucks" each time you searched and that those "bucks" were redeemable for cool gift cards from Target, Amazon, iTunes - would you ever do just a plain search again?! No? Well, that's why Swagbucks is my favorite search engine and my new favorite way to earn extra money. Simply conduct your searches through Swagbucks and you will randomly win "bucks" that are redeemable for gift cards and lots of other cool merchadise.

Search & Win

Online searches are only one of the ways you can earn "bucks," you can also earn through their shopping service and by turning in old cell phones or video games. I've also found swagcodes (online code that you enter to earn even more "bucks") on Facebook and other frugal websites.

It's a fun site and so easy to do - use the link above to sign up and start earning today!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

My husband and son came down with a bug last week so our menu plan went completely down the tubes! Luckily for me, that means that this week should be easy, since I've still got everything from last week. Additionally, my parents were kind enough to bring over lasagna last night and there were plenty of leftovers - one less meal that I have to cook!

So here's my plan:


Chicken Stir Fry

Flank steak

French Onion Soup

What's on your menu? Visit to see what the rest of frugal menu planners are having this week! Check out her cool giveaway this week too. I've been on orgjunkie all morning since I have the day off - organized life, here I come...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Orzo Shrimp Salad

I pine for summer again in the middle of February. This is an easy way to bring back memories of warm evenings. It can be a main dish or a side and is always very popular at a potluck. It can also be made ahead and I've found that the flavor just gets better the more it sits.

1 cup orzo pasta, cooked according to directions
1-2 pounds shrimp, depending on size, peeled and deveined
4 sprigs dill, chopped
1 cucumber, partially peeled** and chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 8oz. containers of feta cheese

1 tbls dijon mustard
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil + enough to drizzle the shrimp
garlic salt

Cook orzo according to directions and drain. In a large bowl, whisk mustard, lemon juice and olive oil. Pour in hot drained pasta and mix well. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Spread shrimp in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil and garlic salt. Roast shrimp for 5 minutes - do not overcook or shrimp will be tough. *You can use precooked shrimp, just roast for 3-4 minutes - when shrimp start to curl up, they are getting overcooked. Add shrimp, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, dill and feta to pasta and toss well to combine.
**I run a peeler down the length of the cucumber to make stripes, it's partially peeled but still has the wonderful green color of the peel

Don't forget to visit The Grocery Cart Challenge on Fridays for lots of fabulous recipes and ideas!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Walgreens Haul

Not much of a haul, I'll admit but my store was out of almost everything I planned to get! No Revlon lip gloss, no Pledge Fabric sweepers and just this one lonely Windex wipes can remained. I still had $7 in Register Rewards that were expiring so I improvised. I found these Kashi Go Lean bars on clearance for $1.09 and got a bunch of Valentine stuff for my little guy's class.

Here's the lowdown:

1 can Windex wipes $2.50
7 Kashi Go Lean bars $1.09 each
6 candy necklaces 3 for $1
10 big eraser pencils 2 for $1

Coupons used:
7 $1/1 Kashi products
$1.50/1 Windex wipes
$7 Register Rewards

Total OOP: $2.31!

Can't beat cheap granola bars - I always keep them in my car, purse and briefcase for whenever I need a healthy pick-me-up.
An employee told me that the store should be getting a truck today so I'm sure I'll make another trip before the sale week ends.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Grocery Budget Update

The flu bug has hit my husband and now my son, so my postings may be delayed...

I'm really glad February is the shortest month of the year because I have been blowing through my grocery budget and we aren't even two weeks into the month! Did you see my Albertson's trip here, taking advantage of the double coupons? Well, Fred Meyer was having an oatmeal sale that I simply could not pass up.

Some background on our oatmeal purchases: My 4-year old son LOVES oatmeal for breakfast and he eats it nearly every morning. BUT he only likes 2 flavors of the Quaker instant oatmeal: maple & brown sugar or cinnamon roll. You know my Costco-loyalist husband, right? He buys the jumbo 55 pack of Quaker oatmeal at Costco for $9.99 ($.18 per packet). He and I end up forcing down the Regular and Apple flavors that are left over and we still have a ton leftover every time. It seemed like a lot of waste to me and frankly, my stocking up lately has left little room in our pantry for items that aren't being used immediately.

The Fred Meyer brand of oatmeal is on sale this week 10 for $10 so I was able to buy all Maple & Brown Sugar flavor for only $.10 per packet! No more leftovers here.

Here's what I got:

5 boxes (10 packets in each box) Oatmeal $1 each with store coupon
Bananas $1.30

Total OOP: $6.30

I had $69.12 left in my budget, less the Albertson's trip ($19.96), less the FM trip ($6.30) leaves me $42.86 for the remainder of the month. Not as bad as I thought - I can do this!

What have you got for me lately?

My mailbox has been spinning with all the FREE samples that I've received over the last week. Here's the list and I've linked if it's still available:

Rachel Ray's Nutrish Dog Food Sample
Costco Diaper Samples
Orville Redenbacher Natural Popcorn Sample
Gold Bond lotion sample
Quaker Rice Cakes sample
Home Made Simple coupon book

The Home Made Simple Coupon book has amazing high value coupons for lots of cleaning products like Swiffer, Cascade, Mr. Clean and Febreze.

Sign up for it here:
Home Made Simple Coupon Book

You can also sign up for Right@ Home coupons and some yummy Valentine's Day recipes here:

The Gold Bond sample is no longer available but you can still get a $1/1 coupon for it here.

I also received my FREE $5 gas card from Chevron from the online quiz back in November. I enjoy trying new things and signing up for samples is a great way to increase your coupon stash as most products also come with coupons! Happy Freebies!

Monday, February 9, 2009

FREE Bally's Fitness Membership

Was one of your New Year's Resolutions to lose some of those holiday pounds? Or maybe you just want to try something new in your workout routine?

To help you check that off your Resolutions List, Bally's Total Fitness is offering a FREE 7-day trial membership. WOW!

Bally's Free Trial Membership

In my area, these are really nice gyms with lots of great classes. They also offer personal trainers to get you into shape and keep you motivated to stay in shape!

Click on the link above to find the center nearest you and get all the information you need to redeem your FREE membership. You really don't have anything, except those extra pounds, to lose!!

Menu Plan Monday

We did quite well with last week's plan, although the chicken sausage may have been a victim of my malfunctioning freezer. I used it on the pizza but it did not taste right at all so we ended up picking it off the pizza and enjoying the rest. I still have a can of dough left so we'll do another homemade pizza night!

French Onion Soup - how many weeks has this been on the menu? Will we ever actually make it?!!

Stir Fry - Organic veggie box has baby bok choy in it so I will use that in a stir fry

Flank steak

Chopped Salad is where you can find all kinds of menu planning tips and great organizing tips. Have a great week!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

As you probably know, Albertson's is doing double coupons this week through Tuesday so I just had to do some weekend shopping. I took advantage of some great deals! Here's what I got:

Transaction #1

2 Kashi frozen coconut chicken $3.50 each**

3 Coffee Mate creamer $3 for $5

1 Darigold sour cream $1.99

2 Beechnut Wheat cereal $.89 each

1 Albertson's brand coffee $3

1 whole young fryer chicken $4.50

2 packages Ballpark franks $1.99 each

2 packages Oscar Meyer hot dogs $1.99 each

Coupons used:

2 $1/1 Macaroni Grill (doubled)

2 $1/1 Coffee Mate creamer (doubled)

$.40/1 Darigold sour cream

Free Albertson's coffee

$2 off chicken

**The store manager and I searched everywhere for the Macaroni Grill dinners that were included in the $2 off chicken deal and they were nowhere to be found so he let me sub the Kashi dinners and still use my coupons!

Total OOP: $17.46

I found an extra ad in a cart in the parking lot - someone had ripped out the store coupons but left the doublers! So I moved on to another store and here was the next trip...

Transaction #2

3 Quaker Simple Harvest granola bars $2.50 each

2 Orville Redenbacher Kettlecorn $2.00 each

2 Wild Harvest Organic pinto beans $1.00 each

Coupons used:

2 $1/1 Simple Harvest (doubled)

2 $1/1 Orville R. popcorn (double)

2 $1/1 Wild Harvest organic

Total OOP: $2.50!!

The second store was claiming that they didn't have any extra doubler ads but I'm hoping I can find some before Tuesday. If not, then I may still try to find another computer to print out more Wild Harvest coupons and stock up on free organic beans!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

I can't believe it's Friday already, thank goodness! This was an experiment recipe that turned out absolutely wonderful. It was so simple and easy to prep and the ribs turned out moist and delicious.

2 baby back rib racks - about 8-10 ribs each, cut down to 4-5 ribs

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

Montreal Steak Seasoning

BBQ or other sauce

Rub Montreal seasoning over meaty side of ribs then arrange in slow cooker so that they all fit. Add brown sugar, vinegar and water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Remove ribs from slow cooker, place on a cookie sheet and brush with BBQ or other sauce*. Put in oven for 15 minutes to warm the sauce on the ribs.

*Next time I will take the sauce from the slow cooker and boil it down to make a reduction sauce. There was a nice amount of liquid after removing the ribs that would make a wonderful sauce or a gravy, if you like.

Find this and all kinds of other yummy recipes at The Grocery Cart Challenge. Lots of goodness over there this week!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Amazon Deal of the Day

Lots of Infant and Toddler shoes are Amazon's Deal of the Day. Most are priced at around $9.89, discounts of up to 66% off the regular prices. I stocked up for my 4-year old, who outgrows shoes these days faster than he can wear them out! I also signed up for a free membership in Amazon Prime which gave me FREE 2-day shipping for this order. Sizes and quantities are limited and this sale is only going on today. Happy shopping!

Grocery Budget Update

Last month I made it just under by $.47 for my grocery budget ($83.62 per month) but it's only 4 days in to February and already I feel like I'm off to a rough start. My husband decided at the last moment, IN THE CAR on our way to a SuperBowl party that he wanted me to make pigs in blankets for the party. So we stopped at Fred Meyer - I had no coupons or anything planned. Here is what we got:

1 bunch of bananas $1.59
2 packages Lil Smokies on sale $3 each
2 cans of FM brand crescent rolls $1.99 ea
2 heads Romaine lettuce $1.49 ea

Coupons used: Zero, zip, Nada
Bag refund: -$.05

Total OOP: $14.50. This leaves me $69.12 for the rest of the month. Let's hope I can work some of those Albertson's double coupon deals this week to keep me on track!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

Albertson's is doing it again! Albertson's is once again doing DOUBLE coupons this week. *Check your local ad to ensure that stores in your area are running this promo. With the ad coupons, you can double up to 4 coupons (max Value $1) per family, per shopping trip.

I read a lot of frugal blogs from those who live in areas where coupons are always doubled, so if you live in one of those areas it's hard to understand why we are so excited about this when it happens. Well, none of the grocery stores in the Seattle-area double coupons on a regular basis, so Albertson's doing this twice within a month is very rare indeed.

I was not planning on shopping this week since it's so early in the month, AND we have a huge stockpile of basics AND I need to stay on budget, but I don't know how I can pass up the doubles opportunity. Now I'm so excited to shop!

Here are some of the match-up sites that I have found:

The Thrifty Soaper

A Thrifty Mom

Fabulessly Frugal

Have you found other great deals? Leave a comment with any other great buys. Happy Doubling!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Giveaway Alert

Wedding season is just around the corner and brides-to-be everywhere are figuring out how to plan a day that they will always remember. Wouldn't it be great if you had a little extra cash, just to get you started? The kind folks over at Hallmark are giving one lucky couple $4000 toward a "Perfect Start!"

Heck, I'll bet some frugal readers could plan a whole wedding with this cash! Additionally, you get a whole year of greeting cards in the form of a $1000 gift card to Hallmark stores. According to the official rules, this contest is actually open to everyone - so enter away!

Just looking at my blog index and realized that I have hit 100 posts - HOORAY! I am looking forward to the next 100 and want to thank you, kind readers, who continue to follow me on this frugal journey in these interesting economic times. And now, back to the deals...

Menu Plan Monday

I plan and I plan and somehow we just never get to everything that is on the menu! We went to a couple of Super Bowl parties but somehow didn’t get to the Caesar salad that we were supposed to make for one of the parties. So we’re definitely having Caesar before the lettuce goes bad. This week should be a lot less hectic since I don’t have to travel.

Here it is:

Caesar Salad with ??

French Onion Soup –

Chicken Sausage Pasta

Baby Back Ribs

Make your own Pizza night is where you can find all the best Menu Planners along with lots of awesome organizing tips and advice. I always find something new there to help keep my house and life organized.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Walgreens Haul

I had $15 in Register Rewards that were expiring on Wednesday so I made a quick trip on my lunch break. If I'm rushed, I tend to mess things up so of course, I messed this up! I should have done each of the Colgate Total toothpastes individually so I'd get a $2 Register Reward for each. Instead, I just got one plus a $5 RR for the St. Ives products. I didn't have time to return to the store so I may just attempt the deal again at a different store since this store was nearly out of the clearance Colgate.

Even with my mess-up, it still turned out ok. Here's the breakdown:
2 St. Ives lotions $4.99ea
1 St. Ives Apricot scrub $3.99
5 Colgate Total toothpaste clearance $2.19
1 got2b Hairspray $5.99
1 got2b Gel -$5.99 (buy one get one free)
1 Gerber Puffs $2.99
2 Balance bars $.85, I just noticed one rang up at $.84 (?)
Walgreens baby oil trial size $1.19

Coupons used:
2 $2/1 got2b hair products
5 $1.50/1 Colgate Total toothpaste
3 $2/1 St. Ives products
$15 Register Rewards

Total OOP: $7.17.
Received $7 in Register Rewards for future purchases! Gotta love that Walgreens!

Easiest Eggplant Parmesan

I really really wanted to give you more pictures of my recipe creations, but I am forgetful sometimes. And sometimes your husband goes to the boat show and takes your camera with him - which is why I have no pictures of this recipe!

Eggplant came in our organic veggie box last week. Most of the recipes I searched for involved breading and frying the eggplant but I wanted to try something a little healthier. Roasted eggplant was the conclusion. Of course all that cheese that you pile on top is very healthy, full of calcium, right?!

Easiest Eggplant Parmesan

1 eggplant, sliced into rounds
Garlic Salt
Olive oil
2-3 Roma tomatoes
Italian seasoning
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a glass baking dish with a tablespoon of the olive oil. Place eggplant rounds into baking dish and make sure each round is brushed with a generous amount of oil. I actually just poured the oil over each one but in hindsight, brushing will ensure more even roasting I think. Sprinkle each round with garlic salt. Roast eggplant for 15-20 minutes until fork easily pierces the rounds. Top each round with a tomato slice, sprinkle of Italian seasoning and mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. I like to keep it in until the mozarella is totally melted and has the brown crispy texture.

Serve this as a main dish or a yummy veggie side!

Grocery Cart Challenge is THE place to be on Fridays! Find new ideas and delicious recipes from all over. Thanks for hosting it, Gayle - awesome job!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Giveaway Alert

If you've read this blog with any regularity, you already know how much I like the Grocery Cart Challenge ! Every week on Fridays, Gayle hosts a wonderful recipe exchange where I always find yummy new recipes and ideas that really help inspire my menu planning. I usually share one of my favorite recipes as well.

Now Gayle's got a Giveaway - an awesome Keurig coffee maker - the Platinum brewer and 4 boxes of coffee pods to go with it!! Go HERE to enter her contest. It's so easy to just leave a comment on the site for your chance to win this fabulous coffee maker.

I'll say it again: Somebody's Got to Win! Why not you?!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

I had $18 ONYO coupons that were expiring today so I had to make an Albies run. Here's what I got:

3 packages Ball Park franks marked down to $2.99 each
8 cans Albertson's tomato sauce, 8 for $1 with ad coupon
1 package Tully's coffee $5.99 with in-store coupon
1 package Ocean Spray Craisins $2.69
1 bunch bananas $2.26 ($.88 per pound)

I didn't expect the bananas to be that much because when I weighed them on one of the produce department scales, it said they were only 1 pound. Oh well - I know a 4-year old who will be happy that we have bananas again!
Total OOP: $2.87

This leaves me $.47 under budget for the month. Now I just need Albertson's to run some more great Catalina deals next month!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Website Review:

Have you registered with yet? A Disney-sponsored site, has lots of great ideas for crafts and activities that you can do with your kids. The FamilyFun section has a cool tool where you can enter the type of activity you want to do, age range, and what your child likes and it will give you a list of activities. This would be awesome for foul-weather days. There are a ton of sections to explore and since the same company also publishes Wondertime magazine, there is also a Wondertime section.

Yes, they also have COUPONS! If you scroll to the bottom, there is a heading for coupons and you can choose what kind of coupon you want: grocery, health and beauty, online. I need coffee today, so I printed $1/1 Caribou Coffee coupons this morning.

Register today or if you've already registered, don't forget to enter these 2 fantastic contests:

The Great American Family Sweepstakes - win three years of vacations at Disney resorts!

The Pampered Mom Sweepstakes - win a trip to the Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tuscon, AZ! What Mom doesn't deserve this?

You know my motto: Somebody's got to win!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was a bit of a bust in Menu Planning! I pulled the quiche out of the freezer but it didn't seem quite right. I cooked it anyway but when I cut into it, the crust was not right at all. It was a grey-ish, purple-ish shade of "your freezer is not working properly." One of our garage freezers (yes, there are 3 of them in the garage) is not keeping things frozen. Bread was salvageable and I really only lost a tray of lasagna, a plum crumble and that poor quiche. The Deluxe Chicken Caesar Salad turned out wonderful- you can get that recipe here.

This week I have to travel AGAIN – ugh, so I'm planning it all, knowing that all won't be used.

Anymenu, here it is:

Eggplant Parmesan

French Onion Soup

Cobb Salad

Taco Night

Orgjunkie is where you can find all the devoted menu planners. I am always so inspired by all of her great organization ideas and plans. Organizing – not just for the New Year!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

IKEA Free Breakfast

IKEA is offering a FREE breakfast again, Friday, January 30th through Sunday, February 1st. Check with your local IKEA to ensure that they are participating. Yummy - a good frugal way to start to next weekend!

Somebody's Got to Win!

People often ask me about the deals that I get using coupons and sending for rebates. They wonder, doesn't that take a lot of time? I respond that the money I save by planning ahead and doing the deals actually makes it feel like I spend less time shopping and less time shopping means less money spent.

My husband USED to think the same thing about online contests or sweepstakes - it takes too much time to enter these things for such a slim shot at winning. Well, I say he USED to think that way because now I have been redeemed!

I won a local mall's online contest that I honestly don't even remember entering. I know I went on their website in November to check their Santa schedule and that must have been when I entered it. I got a call the other day that I'd won a $250 gift card! That $250 is going to go a long way in helping us stretch our budget this year.

So was it worth the 1 minute that it probably took me to fill out the online form? ABSOLUTELY!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Deluxe Chicken Caesar Salad

We adore Caesar salad at our house. We serve a Caesar almost every time we have friends or family over for dinner. What makes our Caesar so good? It's homemade and absolutely delicious. We use this beautiful seasoned wood salad bowl, shown below, in which we mix up the dressing. It's really easy and once you do it, you'll never want to eat another store bought dressing again.

The best part about a Caesar is that it's excellent on its own but then you can also add meat or another veggie to it and make it a one-stop meal. I added French's onion chicken to this one but we also like grilled chicken, salmon or steak. The versatile salad!


2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg* or you can substitute 2 tbls mayonnaise
2/3 to 3/4 cup good olive oil
1 medium lemon
1/2 cup parmesan cheese plus 1/4 cup for garnish
1 tsp dijon mustard

Using a garlic press, press the garlic into a large bowl. We then press the garlic further by using the back of a spoon until garlic "oil" coats the sides. Sprinkle in salt and then crack egg into bowl. Whisk the egg and then slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Squeeze lemon juice into mixture and continue to whisk, adding olive oil 1/4 cup at a time until dressing is thick. Whisk in mustard, then cheese. Add 1-2 heads of chopped, washed romaine lettuce to the bowl and toss thoroughly to combine. Add croutons and your choice of topping for a healthy, lite dinner.

Gayle's Grocery Cart Challenge is always chock full o' recipes and meal planning ideas. She generously hosts the recipe swap each Friday so go check it out and see what other creative cooks are dishing up this week!

*Those with salmonella concerns or other health concerns should not consume products made with raw egg

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Betty Crocker Newsletter and Free Sample

Ever since I was a kid, I have been a fan of Betty Crocker. I remember saving the points that used to be on packages of products and getting all excited to get a catalog with all the products that you could get for redeeming your points. That program is now Box Tops for Education but I am still a big fan, especially of these newsletters. There are great recipes, cooking ideas and lots of valuable coupons included in each newsletter. Best of all, this one comes with a yummy sample of Chex Mix Turtle flavor! Sign up for yours today!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Earning Extra Money

A few weeks ago, I wrote this post about earning extra money by participating in research studies at your local college or university. Another easy way that I've found to earn extra money is by taking online surveys. There are a lot of marketing firms that will pay you to answer questions honestly about products or services. I would not rely on these for income but when I'm online and have some spare time, it doesn't hurt to answer a few questions and earn money for my time.

Here are some of my favorites:

Pinecone Research - This is a market research company that conducts periodic surveys and sometimes product trials based on your household information. It frequently sends out household questions for which you receive sweepstakes entries. If you are selected, based on your household criteria, the surveys are generally between 20-30 minutes and you receive $3.00. It used to send out physical checks but recently moved to PayPal as a payment option. I've been selected to participate in 3 or 4 surveys and getting cash is great, but the opportunities are limited and not very regular.

e-Rewards - This has been a mainstay of "earnings" for me. It sends out periodic survey opportunities, tells you approximately how long the survey will take and how much you will earn for qualifying and then completing the survey. Drawback is that it does not pay cash, but rather e-rewards currency that you can use to redeem for things like magazine subscriptions, money off coupons for places like Omaha Steaks, FTD, Proflowers. It also offers a $15 credit to your Borders Rewards card. Drawback is there is limited redemption of the rewards. For example, you can only get the Borders credit once per calendar year.

YouData - I just recently signed up with YouData and I am hooked! I installed the Ad player and as I am working on my computer or during down time, I get paid for watching ads and for clicking through to the ad's websites. The ad player shows you exactly how much you will earn for viewing the ad and then the additional amount you will earn for clicking on the ad. You can say that I got sucked in but I have actually discovered some really neat products. YouData pays through PayPal and it pays fast. Even if you earn just a few cents, it pays immediately to your PayPal account. I've accumulated a nice little PayPal balance by just checking my YouData ads once or twice per week.

e-miles - This is a similar concept to e-rewards but instead of earning rewards currency, you earn frequent flyer miles for a variety of airlines. You log on to your member page and click on the ads and marketing information, earning designated number of miles for just looking or more if you actually sign up for the offer.

Others I have tried:

Inbox Dollars - Not a big fan. Although you are paid to read the email ads, the pennies that they pay were just not worth it to me. The couple of surveys I tried to complete were way too long for paying so little. I like knowing exactly how much I am earning for my time.

I'm not making my living by doing online surveys but as is said, every penny counts and if I'm online anyway, why not earn something while you're there?

Do you know of other programs that I don't know about yet? Leave me a comment and tell me what your favorite online survey is.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Grocery Budget Update

We had 12 people (3 couples each with their 2 kids) at our cabin this weekend. As you can probably guess from what I bought - we are in charge of breakfasts! So my trip to Fred Meyer cost a little more than I expected to spend at this point in the month. I thought I went over but it turns out, I made it under by $3.34.

I had never seen marked down Organic Valley milk at my store before so I was happy to pluck those 3 gallons right off the shelf at $2.79 each!
Romaine lettuce $2.98
Bar S Bacon 3 for $7
Parmesan Cheese 2 @ $3.99
Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls 4 @ $1.99
Pillsbury Recipe Creations 2 marked down to $.89
Naturally Preferred Cage Free Eggs 2 for $5
Bananas $1.45
Red Band Bananas $1.39 - I got two bunches for this price

Coupons used:
$1/2 Stella cheese - found this at the deli!
$1.50/1 Organic Valley milk
$1/1 Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls
$.30/1 Recipe Creations

Total spent: $44.09

I still have $18 in Catalina coupons from Albertsons that I will need to use by next week, which will get me by for the rest of the month for any needed essentials but I'm not sure what I'll do if a screamin' deal comes my way!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was so busy that we only made 2 of the 5 dinners I had planned. The chicken stir fry turned into a chow mein dish and we had lots of leftovers that we ended up eating on Wednesday. My parents brought us some delicious chili and cornbread on Thursday night and Friday night we left for our cabin so unfortunately we ate fast food that night.

I have to travel on Tuesday, so we may not get to everything on the plan but my theory is that it is better to have planned and not used than to not have planned and need!

Chicken Caesar Salad
Eggplant Parmesan
Quiche (this frozen quiche is feeling awfully rejected at this point!)
Spaghetti - using what sauce may be leftover from the eggplant dish

Eggplant is not a usual veggie that I would buy but it came in our CSA box this week. I had a roasted eggplant pizza for lunch last week and that really whet my appetite so it was a great coincidence that our organic farm would have eggplant in the box!

Visit for tons more menu plans and awesome organization ideas. She is the master organizer!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Slow Cooker Beef & Barley Soup

We had a delicious but very expensive prime rib roast for Christmas dinner - it was a special occasion after all! Since my husband's family was unable to join us for that feast due to weather, we actually had quite a bit left over. I could not bear to see that rich meat go to waste. So I cut it all up, chopped a bunch of onions, carrots, potatoes, celery and divided it all into freezer bags. One will be French Onion soup (check back for that recipe!), 1 will be a beef stew and 2 were designated for Beef & Barley soup. I always loved that soup as a kid and hadn't had it in years!

I'd never actually made this soup before and it turned out better than I had imagined. There's not a ton of meat (because this was a rich cut, but any less expensive stew meat, cut into smaller pieces will be just as good) and the barley really thickens it up. The barley directions said to pre-cook it but I figured that since it was going into the crockpot, that wasn't necessary. I used a concentrated bouillon product called Better than Bouillon but regular bouillon cubes (2 for max flavor)should work just fine.

Slow Cooker Beef & Barley Soup

1 cup beef, cut into cubes/small pieces
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup onion, diced
3/4 cup barley
2 tablespoons Better than Bouillon
4 cups water

Put all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Perfect for those cold winter evenings: warm food, warm soul!

I love the souper (har har) recipes on The Grocery Cart Challenge every week. Go over there for more great ideas and recipes!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Free Coupons Galore

I'm pretty new to couponing to the extent that I do it now, so at the beginning it was hard to get a good stockpile. A good stockpile, I have learned, is necessary to really get the best deals that are out there. Luckily, there are companies out there that want you to buy their products - so they give out free coupons. Get started with some great coupons AND some great healthy eating tips for the New Year and sign up for the Eat Better America newsletter. Get yours now - these don't last long!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

Albertson's did it again! It was running a great spend $30 get $15 off your next order promo this week. I still had coupons from last weeks great diaper deal. Additionally, it was running a double coupon promo and had some essentials on sale so I decided to make a trip and wow! was it worth it. Here's what I got:

2 for $5

2 boxes Bisquick heart healthy

2 boxes Fiber One muffin mix

2 boxes Betty Crocker blueberry muffin mix

3 for $5

6 boxes Chicken/Tuna Helper

3 boxes Betty Crocker Scalloped/Au Gratin potatoes

The promo did not actually include the blueberry muffin mix shown but since the store was out of the promo item, my wonderful cashier let me get these instead. She rang the Bisquick twice to make sure my $15 in coupons for my next purchase generated.

I also got 10 Kashi Go Lean bars on sale 10 for $10. I had 5 $1/2 coupons for those and then got back an additional $3 off coupon for my next purchase.

I also got:

2 dozen Alb eggs $.99 each

1 32 oz. Cheddar cheese block $4.99

2 1lb Alb butter $.99 each

1 kids sleep pants $7.99

Coupons used:

2 $1/1 Bisquick

2 $1/1 Fiber One muffin mix

2 $1/1 Betty Crocker muffin mix

2 $.40/1 BC potatoes

Coupon double took off $3

plus 6 $5 off my next purchase coupons

Total oop: $13.57 and I got $18 ONYO coupons! Total coupon savings: $82.35!

I always thought that it was too much hassle, too much work to spend the time to coupon. After a trip like this, how could you not believe - it is totally worth it! The next question is - where I am I going to put all this stuff?

About Me

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Seattle Area, Washington - the state
I am an attorney, working mom of 3, who loves a bargain, a great deal and freebies. Who doesn't want the best, for less? Come here to see my triumphs and budget tribulations, good deals and my take on what the good life can mean...