Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 18

We did some shopping today while we were out doing other errands. Here's what we got:

2 cans chef boyardee ravioli (free, plus 22 cent overage after coupon)
2 packages tyson chicken
1 package jack links chicken pieces
3 packages hormel pepperoni (price matched)
almost 1 lb. fresh jalapenos

Cash Spent: 14.34
Coupons Spent: 11.67

Meals today:

B - Oatmeal with peanut butter, raisins and apples, milk.

L - Leftover lo mein with whole wheat noodles and vegetables, brownies.

S - Hot dogs on homemade buns, homemade baked beans, carrot and raisin salad.

Snacks - popcorn and hot cocoa (pepsi for me)

Tomorrow we'll pick up a few things when we're in town - I'll report them then. :)

I picked green beans, and I have almost enough to can 7 more quarts. I'll prep these tonight, pick a few more tomorrow and can them in the afternoon or evening. It has been cool this week, but we're still getting plenty of things from our garden.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 17

Except for Hubby, who had to work, we stayed home today. It was a cool, blustery, and later stormy day, so mostly we were indoors doing housekeeping and working on projects.

I thawed a small London Broil and two raw turkey legs and ground up the meat. I mix them together - it's a good flavor, low in fat, all that, and we call it 'burkey' I wrap them like this. It saves me a ton of money, and I've never had anything freezer burn.

After that I put the turkey leg bones in the big crock pot, along with a bunch of other poultry bones I've been accumulating in my freezer. I added water, and it is making some lovely broth that we'll use for soups and recipes.

Meals today:

B: choice or scones or muffins, dried fruit, milk.

L: sandwiches, carrot and zucchini sticks, popcorn and juice/water.

S: hamburger helper lasagna (half the meat, twice the noodles, hee hee), homemade garlic breadsticks, steamed broccoli and carrots, applesauce. Ice cream cones for dessert.

Snacks: dried zucchini chips, homemade brownies, chicken jerky.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 16

Not a lot of excitement to report, but we did buy carrots and celery today. I also picked up some Jack Links chicken nugget-y things that were free with the coupon from All You Magazine. They are buffalo style, nice and spicy and slightly addictive.

Anyroo, we spent $1.82 for the head of celery and the pound of carrots.

In the "I can't believe we got yet another Freebie from Chick-Fil-A" department, well, yeah, it was free breakfast Tuesday. Hubby had some lab work to get done, so after that we took our hungry selves over to Chick-Fil-A for free chicken minis. It's a chicken nugget inside some super-soft bread that's brushed with honey or syrup or something. As odd as it sounds, it's tasty, and you get three of them. We got them via the drive thru, and spent exactly zero.

So, that was breakfast, which Little Bit supplemented with some dried fruit and strawberry mini wheats.

For lunch, Little Bit had peanut butter raisin oatmeal, one of her favorite foods in the whole wide world. Hubby and I had veggie burgers on homemade buns, some tortilla chips and cucumber pickles.

Supper was meatballs in sweet/sour plum sauce, brown rice, zucchini and onions and a pear crisp. The meatballs were homemade, the plum sauce home-canned, the brown rice from the pantry (bought at the co-op). The zucchini and onions (OK, it was shallots, actually) were from the garden, and the pears were home canned from last year. It was an easy meal to put together and tasted good too!

Hope everyone is doing well with the challenge!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 15

Wow, I can't believe this is already half over! Time has gone so quickly!

We didn't do any shopping today, so no spending. Our meals were of the 'use up the leftovers' variety:

B: Little Bit had the last of yesterday's pancakes with pecans and nectarines. I had French toast (to use some bread that was a wee bit stale) with pecans and nectarines, and Hubby had whole grain cereal. We all had milk.

L: We had beef (leftover steak from last night) and cheese quesedillas and tostadas with frijoles, cheese, lettuce, homemade salsa, hot sauce and sour cream. Ice cream cones (or in a dish) for dessert.

S: Homemade broccoli/cheese/potato soup, wheat crackers, chocolate mini wheats and fresh cherries, ice water.

Snacks: Fresh apples, dried zucchini 'chips'.

It was a somewheat rainy day. I dried more zucchini, but also picked two more this afternoon. The garden looks great, but I had a little break from picking and weeding today. I filled the gap with housekeeping, laundry, and more laundry. ;)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 14

We started our day with homemade buttermilk pecan pancakes with maple syrup and home-grown nectarines (from our freezer). It was a yummy Sunday breakfast with a tall glass of milk!

For lunch we had leftover lo-mein noodles (whole wheat noodles, vegetables and pork).

Supper was petite sirloin with horseradish cream, baked potatoes with sour cream and butter, garlicky green beans and water to drink.

We snacked today on graham crackers, snickers, fresh cherries, raw zucchini and dried zucchini chips.

I did more canning and food preservation today, which will help us spend less on groceries through the winter. I put up 7 quarts of green beans, 8 half pints of cherry jelly and 3 half pints of cherry syrup. I also finished dehydrating glace' cherries and started some thin-sliced and shredded zucchini. The jelly and syrup are a by-product of the glace' cherries that I didn't want to waste. The thin sliced zucchini is sprinkled with a little seasoned salt, and we can use it for chips. The shreds are to add to zucchini bread once zucchini is out of season. By doing a little extra work now, our garden helps feed us year-round.

Today was the last day of a sale on 2 liter pepsi products - I stocked up to have them on hand for times when the price is high. Spent $2.36.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 13

I picked up a few things at the store and we went out for supper, but we did not spend a lot of money.

At Walmart I picked up some 2l. Pepsi, price matched at 59 cents each from another store. I also picked up 2 bags of pretzel sticks and a really big jar of minced garlic - probably a year's supply! I plan to make some more pickles soon, so I'll need garlic for that and for tomorrow night's supper. Total spent: $8.22

We went out for supper tonight as well - Chick-Fil-A was giving away sandwiches again, this time with a donation of 2 canned goods for the local food pantry. We went downstairs into our food pantry, chose six cans, and got three sandwiches free. We bought one large waffle fries to share, and we drank water, so the total for the three of us to have dinner out was $1.88.

Our meals today:
B: Homemade breakfast burritos or omelets, cherries, milk or water
L: Leftover homemade pizza from last night's supper, fresh fruit, water/tea/juice
S: Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, fries, water.
Snacks: Graham crackers, cherries, cheese, juice.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 12

Last night hubby brought home a late snack he picked up for us at the drive-thru. I adjusted the amount we spent for the week by that amount ($4.25)

I stopped to get milk and some snacks that were on sale this morning. I went to self-check because the lines were long at the regular registers. After I scanned my stuff and then scanned my coupons, the machine spit out 15 cents and a receipt. I was actually paid 15 cents to shop!

We ate our meals at home today - I didn't have breakfast (I wasn't feeling well) and I'm not sure what my family had, as I was out doing some errands.

Lunch was homemade Lo Mein, with whole wheat noodles and lots of vegetables, mostly from our garden!

For Supper we had homemade pizza, carrot sticks, ice water to drink and ice cream for dessert.

Snacks were cereal and milk, raisins and crackers.

I did some canning tonight - I put up 7 pints of 'Dilly Beans' - a dill pickle green bean. This will be enough to last us an entire year. They are a treat, but something I'd never buy at the store, because they are $7 a jar! The beans and the dill are from the garden, and the only other ingredients are garlic, cayenne, vinegar and salt, so it didn't cost much at all to make them. Even figuring the cost of the jar lids, they probably come to about 12 cents a jar.

Tomorrow I'll be canning cherry jelly and cherry syrup. I'm dehydrating sour cherries that have been sweetened, so this is a way to make use of the resulting syrup as well. If there is enough, I may even make some lollipops. We even have (non-food) plans for the cherry pits - waste not, want not!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 11

We did a little shopping today, but the only food we picked up was a box of ice cream cones, a bottle of liquid smoke, a 2 liter pepsi and a 2lb. bag of popcorn kernels. The total was 3.87. I used coupons today, but not on any of the food items. Tomorrow I'll be using a coupon to get milk, and I may pick up a few other items, but we don't really need anything, and the sales this week are not exactly stellar.

The garden, on the other hand, is giving us a lot of food. I picked a bucket of green beans this morning, picked 5 squash, and there are plenty of onions, potatoes, carrots, etc. should we want or need them.

Our meals:

B - Muffins, cherries, milk

L - Bean and cheese quesedillas, carrot sticks, fruit juice (pepsi for me)

S - We had a minor crisis - our washing machine broke down - so instead of the planne LoMein dinner we had sandwiches - Hubby and I had breaded chicken, Little Bit opted for PBJ, all on homemade wheat bread. For sides we had broccoli salad, carrot sticks, apple wedges, and water or juice to drink. Dessert was ice cream cones.

Snacks - sliced cheese, fresh cherries, mini wheats, water.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 10

They almost got me, with the onion rings.

We went to the County Fair today, and had a total blast! It was $1 admission day, so it was a bargain!

We packed a cooler with celery, carrots, sweet cherries, cheese, crackers, peanut butter, raisins and juice, and had a lovely picnic lunch under a shade tree. We also took a big ice water bottle and some strawberry mini wheats as snacks.

We didn't buy any fair food. None. But man, those onion rings. They smelled so good!

Anyway, here's the summary of our meals:

B - cranberry-lemon scones, apples, milk.

L - cheese and crackers, ants on a log (celery w/peanut butter and raisins), carrot sticks, sweet cherries, juice

S - hot dogs and a fresh broccoli salad with raisins, almonds, etc - very yum! homemade (homegrown!) cherry pie for dessert.

Snacks - strawberry mini wheats with water at the fair, and Little Bit says she's having some raisin bran tonight for her bedtime snacks...but that's if she can stay awake that long!

Wishing you all well with the grocery challenge - we still haven't spent any $ this week, but we may be in the store tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 9

A while back, mangoes were 3/99cents, and we got six of them. We ate five of them in no time flat, and the sixth one has just been sitting there, ripening (we bought a couple that were still green).

I guess that fifth one gave us mango burnout or something, because this morning, I just couldn't bring myself to want to eat that mango. Little Bit didn't want it either. (Hubby worked nights and was sleeping.) So, I cut it up, squeezed as much of the juice away from the seed as I could, and put the pieces and juice into some ice cube trays.

Some morning down the road, it will be delicious in a smoothie, and this way, it is not wasted. It's just one mango, but it's also the sort of thing that we can do regularly to make sure we're not throwing money away by wasting food.

We didn't do any shopping today - we stayed home and worked on projects around the house.

Meals today:

B - scones or muffins, fresh fruit, milk

L - leftovers, including meatballs, garlic/cheese bread, cornmeal coated zucchini and onions, green beans

S - I made biscuits and sausage gravy and scrambled eggs, but Little Bit didn't want eggs and neither did we had some steamed potatoes and green salad, with just one biscuit and a little of the gravy (I don't think she even had the gravy).

Snacks - ginger senbei (a tea cookie, gift from my in-laws) with cherry ice cream

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 8

Today was Baking Day (at least most of the baking got done!) I made things in quantity and put some into the freezer for use over the next week or two. With the garden starting to produce more heavily, we'll be busy with harvesting, canning and freezing, etc. It will be nice to have some things that are at the ready for quick meals.

Today I made bread sticks, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk scones, muffins and a cherry pie (the cherries were from our tree!). I also made some Chinese barbecued pork for the lo mein we're having later this week.

I didn't have a lot of whole wheat flour left after all that, so I milled more wheat berries this evening, and I'll likely make our bread tomorrow.

We ate rather simply today:

B - cereal, fruit, milk

L - hot dogs (on homemade buns!), potato chips, veggie sticks and pickles, assorted condiments

S - pan fried spam, steamed potatoes and corn-meal coated zucchini. I didn't have any meat, and I ate some leftover green beans. The potatoes, zucchini and green beans were all from our garden. We had some of the cherry pie for dessert.

Snacks - We nibbled scones, muffins, fresh cherries and carrots.

A few days ago I picked the first handful of fresh green beans. Yesterday I got a 'healthy' handful - more than the time before! I didn't really think I'd need to pick them tonight, but I had watered them well last night, so I thought I'd check them. I got about a gallon of fresh green beans. It looks like I'd better start preparing canning jars, lids, all that, because I'll be canning some green beans very soon!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 7 - One week already?

Goodness, times does fly, doesn't it? Hope everyone is doing well with the challenge.

We went out for 'lupper' today. We had a late breakfast, then had a meal about 3pm that counted for lunch and supper - so, 'lupper'!

Hubby had gotten an email from a restaurant for a free bithday meal. It was a large meal, so we shared it, and all of us had plenty. Afterward, we went to the frozen custard place. Little Bit had a coupon for a free cone that she got from the library's summer reading program. Hubby and I shared a cone too, so the entire cost of eating out today was $2.30 for 3 people. The coupons for the meal and the cone saved us $12.87 Best of all, I didn't have to cook or clean up!

This evening I traded with a friend - some of our eggs for some of their gooseberries. Later this week the same friend is getting sand cherries and plums from someone, and since it will be more than she can use, she'll be passing on the extras to us. Truly, we are blessed.

Meanwhile, the garden is giving us zucchini, green beans, and tonight I side-dug a few potatoes. I also pulled up the peas and the Chinese cabbage, so I can plant some things for fall. I'll be planting more Chinese cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and spinach.

Tomorrow is a big baking day. I'll be making bread, biscuits, muffins, a cherry pie, and if we have time, home made dog treats! I'm looking forward to week 2!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 6

Today I put in some hours subbing at the library, and while I was in town I picked up a gallon of organic milk and 4 broccoli crowns (on sale for 88 cents a pound). Also, while I was at the library, I bought a Pepsi from the vending machine for 50 cents. I had taken a soda with me, which I had a lunch, but I was feeling drowsy in the afternoon (it was really slow, quiet and warm in the library). The Pepsi just made me feel oogy and I ended up pouring half of it out, so it was a bad choice. Next time I'll make sure I take my water bottle (which I forgot at home today).

Total spent today was $2.77 and a $4.50 milk coupon.

*Adjustment* Hubby and I were talking about it today and I put the apples and oranges (the ones I bought for the TOPS meeting- see yesterday's post) into the fridge. They'll both keep just fine until next Friday, and I'll get 2 bananas before then. So, I'm adjusting my cash spent to reflect the cost of only the bananas. Just FYI (I'm sure you were worried about this, yes? no? I didn't think so either.)

Meals for today:
B: Little Bit had cereal, fruit, milk. I was craving barbecue, so I made a half sandwich and had it with some juice. Not normal breakfast food, but it hit the spot. Hubby hadn't eaten when I left for work, but I know they stayed home all day, so he might have had cereal, eggs, leftovers - not sure.

L: I took some of the leftovers from last night's supper for my lunch, along with some dry cereal (the chocolate frosted mini mini wheats, which are a great health-ish alternative to cookies!) and a banana. The family, at home, found something...again, I'm not sure. :)

S: I had gotten out some chicken enchilada soup this morning so it could thaw. I make it in big batches and then freeze portions for easy lunches or suppers. We had salad alongside and garnished the soup with sour cream, homemade salsa and crunched up tortilla chips. Yum!

Hope you're doing well with the challenge! What are the hard parts for you? What parts are easy? I'd love to know.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 5

Today was a lot of shopping and a lot of saving. Before I get to that, this is what we were eating:
B: cereal and milk w/fruit for hubby, trail mix and apples for Little Bit and me.

L: chicken sandwich, slaw, carrots, fritos, fresh cherries, tea for hubby. Little Bit and I went to Burger King and shared a Whopper (no onion, no mayo) and small fries. $1 size drink for me, water for her.

S: whole wheat spaghetti, homemade meatballs in Prego, 100% whole grain garlic/cheese toast, home-canned green beans

Snacks: graham cracker and milk, raw peas, green beans and carrots right out of the garden (literally!)

OK. On to the shopping!

This first one kinda happened by accident. I belong to a weight loss group called TOPS - take off pounds sensibly. My job in our chapter is to buy fruit for everyone who has a birthday. There were two ladies with birthdays this week, so I got them each a banana, an apple and an orange. That is what I'm supposed to get, no matter what. Anyway, when we got to the church where we meet, no one was there. Turns out there was a funeral today and we couldn't meet, but no one contacted me. So...I can't let the fruit go to waste and it won't keep a whole week (at least, not the bananas), so it becomes part of our groceries, I guess. Total spent for the fruit - $2.66.

Next is Albertson's. They had Honey Nut Cheerios on sale for $1.50 a box. If you buy 3, you get a catalina for a free gallon of milk (up to $4.50). I had six coupons for Honey Nut Cheerios, each for $1 off, so I did two separate transactions. I spent $3 and got six boxes of cereal plus coupons for 2 free gallons of milk. Woot!


At Super Target we picked up some veggie burgers. I was able to use a Target coupon for $2 off 2 packages, plus I used two $1 off manufacturer coupons. Total: $2.28.

Then, King Soopers. This is where it gets REALLY fun! Hubby found this coupon in an ad at his work last week.

So, last Friday I dropped of a prescription to transfer. It usually takes some time, so I picked it up today, and they added a $20 credit to my King Sooper loyalty card. Twenty bucks, and all I did was drop off a bottle that was last filled at a different pharmacy. Now and again they have these offers at various pharmacies in our area. I have moved this prescription any time it has worked out for me to do so, and it's gotten us a LOT of groceries for free.

So, I'm starting with a free $20. I did two transactions at King Sooper. Here is the first one:
The gentleman who was running the register took the total off my Sooper Card before I gave him my coupons, so it used $17.90.
Me: Wait - I have coupons.
Him: I already took it off the credit on your Sooper Card.
Me: But...I have coupons!!
Him: Oh. Well, let's try something and see if it works.
He scanned the coupons as part of the transaction - $7 worth of them! Then he gave me $7 cash. See, coupons ARE money! I knew it!

So...if this had gone through 'correctly', the total would have been $10.90 after the coupons. Instead of using money, I used the 'free money' from the prescription. But wait! There's MORE! These ten items are all part of a rebate that Kelloggs has right now. I send in my receipt, the UPC's and a form, and I get....$10!! So I got that stuff for ninety cents. Go ME!!

Next transaction was this stuff:

This one didn't go quite as low as I'd hoped - a few of my coupons didn't double - and it cost me $2.90 more than I was expecting. Then again, some coupons don't double, and that's how it goes sometimes. Anyway...after the sale prices, after the remaining credit on my loyalty card, after the coupons, I was left spending $10.60. He just gave me $7 cash, so really, I only spent $3.60 out of pocket.

Counting the $20 credit as a coupon (that's how I've always figured it) I used $55.10 in coupons. If I add up all the stores I went to today, I spent $11.54 in actual money. I'll be getting $10 of that back as a rebate from Kelloggs, and I have coupons for 2 free gallons of milk. That's really good!

Wow. Not bad for a coupon puppy!

Finally, we went out for lunch as a treat. On the back of any Burger King receipt, there is info you can use to take a phone survey. It takes a couple minutes, talking to 'Jennifer', the computer-generated-super-nice lady. At the end, she gives you a code. With that code, you can get a free Whopper or Chicken sandwich if you purchase any size fried and any size drink. It looks like this:

I had one of those, with a code from taking the survey. A Whopper is a BIG sandwich, so Little Bit and I shared. We got a Whopper (no mayo, no onion) a small fries and a $1 value size drink. Total: $2.78. You could do this for even less with a value size fries ($1), but for the two of us, the small, and sharing the burger works out just right. I have the soda, she drinks water, then we go to the playland for a while.

So, that was our day. We got a lot of stuff! I shop this way whenever I can. Some weeks (like this one) it's cereal week. Some weeks I get frozen veggies or toilet paper or shampoo for nothing or next to nothing. Sometimes they pay me to take stuff! When you shop like this over time, the pantry gets well-rounded, and there is a good selection of healthy foods, staple items, treats, snacks, etc.

I hope this was helpful. Got questions? Ask 'em! I'll do my very best to answer them for you!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 4

On Thursday, we went to Safeway and got these items for $7.15. The Fritos were 1.29 each, the potato chips 1.49, and the Dr. Pepper was .49. That totals $7.14, but somehow I ended up paying an extra penny. Sigh...

I know! It seems like in the summertime, our cart always looks like we eat nothing but junk. Meanwhile, we are getting peas, lettuces, greens, zucchini, onions, potatoes and sweet cherries from the garden/orchard at home. We purchase very little produce in the summer, but we eat it like crazy!

So, our food for Thursday was as follows:

B: cereal and milk, peanut butter toast, fresh plums
L: homemade fried rice (click here for recipe) fresh sweet cherries, milk/tea, the last of the birthday cake
S: homemade barbecue on 100% whole wheat buns, homemade slaw, corn chips, frozen pineapple chunks, Dr.Pepper/juice
Snacks: raw peas, sliced cheese, apple wedges, graham crackers

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 3

I started the day picking peas and lettuces. Once I got the English peas shelled and the sugar snaps prepped, I froze 6 pints for future use, plus we have some to use right now. Gardening saves us a lot of money in the summer because we have so many foods fresh from our garden. Canning and freezing the extras helps us year-round.

We still haven't been to the store. We may go tomorrow, as hubby saw a sale on chips and wants those for his lunch.

Breakfast today was cereal with milk for Little Bit and green smoothies for both of us. Hubby had cereal this morning as well (he was up very early to leave for work.) I made clean-out-the-crisper smoothies, consisting of canteloupe, watermelon, frozen pineapple, frozen strawberries, a little juice and greens from our garden (romaine and cos lettuces). It was tasty, healthy, and it helped de-clutter the fridge!

In the spirit of making even more space in the fridge, we foraged for leftovers, and decided to make fried rice (which will also be leftovers) tomorrow. Today, Little Bit had half a PBJ she had saved, carrots and celery, fresh cherries and juice. I had leftover macaroni and cheese with ham, a green salad and ice water. Hubby was at work - they had a meeting today, so they provided lunch. He took some fresh cherries (from our tree!) to share with his co-workers.

Supper was all things Mexican. I made some taco 'meat' (we buy a dried soy product that is flavored - it's one of the things we get from the co-op), refried beans (again, dried, from the co-op) and then shredded lettuce from our garden. I chopped a tomato that our neighbor gave us when they went on vacation (they didn't want it going icky in their fridge), got out some shredded cheese and made some really yummy salsa from pantry items and cilantro and onions from the garden. I sliced olives for Hubby and Little Bit, put out taco shells, tostada shells and tortilla chips, and we all made different things. Hubby had a nacho plate, I had bean-lettuce-salsa-tomato tostadas and Little Bit had a meat-cheese-lettuce-olive taco.

Her bedtime snack was apple, graham cracker and milk. Through the day we nibbled at cherries, raw peas and we had an ice cream cone in the afternoon.

I'm thawing some cooked dark meat turkey to combine with some leftover pork roast - I'll add some sauce and we'll have BBQ sandwiches, homemade slaw and frozen pineapple chunks for tomorrow's supper. This is one of those times when having a menu really helps - if I didn't know what we had planned, I wouldn't know that there's not enough pork for the BBQ...and so I wouldn't know to thaw the turkey (when you combine them, add the sauce, you really would never know!).

Also, I have a quart of buttermilk in the fridge. If it's cold tomorrow, I may do some baking: biscuits, scones, who knows what else!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 2

We started out day with FREE breakfast! Chick-Fil-A has this sign up for the month of July.

Today was the chicken biscuit - yum! We took along water and plums, and we went through the drive-through.

They were a tasty treat for fishing day.

We ate these on the way up to the reservoir to do a little fishing. I never got one bite! Hubby had a few bites, but no catches. Little Bit still doesn't have a hook on her fishin' pole. At 3 1/2 years old, she's still a little wild with her casting (though she's getting better!), and we'd prefer not to have a hook lodged in any of us.

We packed sandwiches, carrot sticks, cherries, chips and sodas from home, along with plenty of water to drink. As it turns out, we didn't eat the carrots or cherries, because our hands smelled all 'bait-y'. Yick! Once we were home, we had some in for a snack.

Supper was broiled chicken (since we didn't have any fish), some Rice-A-Roni Naturals noodles and leftover mixed veggies from the day before. The chicken pieces were in a bulk pack, and the cost per piece was 40 cents. I got the Rice-a-Roni and the Steamfresh veggies for free with coupons, so it was a very affordable meal. We had some cherries and leftover birthday cake for dessert. The cherries are home-grown, so they were free too!

I still haven't done any shopping since the challenge started - all the items listed above were items that we had on hand. Just sayin'.

Tonight I've been shelling peas. I have to pick more in the morning, then I may be freezing a few pints. I've got sugar-snap peas as well, along with a few snow peas. Little Bit and I are going to have a 'clean out the fridge' stir fry for lunch, and we'll toss the snow peas in that. Our garden saves us so much money, and we get to eat yummy, fresh and organic. More about it soon!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 1

For some strange reason, I had it in my head that this started on the 17th of the month. I wondered why it was starting on a Friday....good thing All You sent out an email reminding us of the first day of the challenge!

No spending today - we stayed home for the most part, working on projects around the house. We had cereal and milk for breakfast, fruit midmorning. Lunch was leftover broccoli salad - I had it with a little leftover steak, all mixed into a big green salad, and hubby had it with a chicken patty sandwich. Our daughter had the rest of the leftover steak, a leftover baked potato and some green salad. Supper was smoky roasted pork, rice an mixed veggies, followed by some dobash cake for dessert.

Yesterday was hubby's birthday, so the cake, steak, potato and broccoli salad were left over from that. We do our best to utilize our leftovers the following day for lunches, so they are not wasted. If something doesn't get eaten, it usually ends up going to our chickens, who love the treats! They give us free eggs in return. (We sell enough eggs to pay for the feed, so the eggs really are free for us.)

We are also getting some things from the garden: lettuces, peas, greens and onions. We'll be eating home-grown green beans pretty soon too!

On Day 2 we are going fishing. If we catch some, that helps with the grocery bill as well. Breakfast will be at Chick-Fil-A - they are giving away FREE chicken biscuits, so we'll get those through the drive thru and take fruit and drinks from home. We'll eat that on the way to the reservoir where we're fishing. I'm also packing a picnic lunch - turkey sandwiches for the grownups, PBJ for the little one, pretzels and chips, carrot sticks, fruit and water to drink. Supper might be fish, but if not we'll broil some chicken and eat it with leftover rice/potatoes (each person can choose) and the remaining mixed vegetables from Day 1.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I used to read about those people who went to the store and got shopping carts full of stuff for $1.58, and I always thought it was amazing. I also thought it was difficult, time consuming, and somehow, maybe not completely legal. I mean, really, can you get that much stuff for little or no money?

Oh yes...yes you can. Take a look here at some of my coupon adventures. Especially, check out those photos where there are a bunch of groceries on the counter, and a little sign showing what I paid in cash for all the stuff. It's amazing what you can do!!

I'm not exactly a coupon queen - more like a coupon puppy or something (sorry, I can't use the word 'princess' in a sentence that describes anything about me). Over the course of the last couple years, I've learned how couponing works, and I'm convinced that it can save you a lot of money. There are, however, a few requirements.

1. It does take some time to find the sale/coupon combos that give you the best results. Fortunately, there are sites that help with this tremendously. My favorites are and (though that second one is verrrry busy and a little overwhelming for me). It takes time week to week to organize things, but you get faster with time. Plus, once you end up with a shelf full of shampoo and toothpaste that you got for free (also toilet paper and cookie mixes, fresh pineapples and buddy soap, chicken nuggets and barbecue sauce, peanut butter and yes, chocolate!), you can focus on the things you're low on, and not have to scurry around after every deal.

(psst - this stuff was all free!)
(this stuff too!)

2. Brand loyalty kinda goes out the window. Then again, I have a lot more name-brand stuff on hand than I used to. I only have a couple of things that I am very brand specific for. Most everything I will go for the best deal. If it's a new (to us) product, I will try one before I stock up, to make sure we like it, but I'm blessed with a family that is not picky, so most of the time, we're good to go. If we get something in multiple and we don't like or use it after all, we donate all the new unopened packages to the food pantry.


3. It's generally a lot easier in a metropolitan area. Why? Because the stores compete with one another, and there are more of them. You're more likely to have stores that double coupons. Also, bigger city, better coupons in the Sunday paper. That said, I wouldn't pass up free toilet paper (or shampoo, or all that other stuff I listed, plus more) just because I couldn't get everything else cheap or free. Many sales/promotions are national, and every little bit helps!

4. If you have a printer, you can print a lot of internet/online coupons. In a lot of cases, these seem to be the 'high dollar' ones. Also, if you have two printers (this is far more common these days than I ever realized) you have the opportunity to print even more of many of the coupons that are available. The savings easily pays for the ink and paper - really!

5. If you're willing to ask friends/neighbors/co-workers for their unwanted coupons, you can buy the 'good deals' in multiples. I know that some people buy multiple copies of the Sunday paper or they use 'clipping services' to order coupons, but we have found that for our family (just three people) we can get leftover coupons from friends, family and the break room at hubby's work. It's not always a sure thing, but so far, it's been a blessing and we've always gotten just what we need.

(nineteen cents)

I learned couponing over time. I started with one 'deal', and then did another, and then another. It would be redundant for me to go through all the how-to stuff when has some really good tutorials and information, so I'll just encourage you to go there and check it out! If you're here because you're an All-You magazine reader (me too!) then you also know that magazines - particularly All-You - can be a great coupon resource as well.

Personally, I think it's a really good idea to start small, take it slow, and grow your knowledge and understanding of how couponing works over time. Rather than rush out and order coupons from someone on ebay, maybe read some couponing tutorials online. Look at the sale ads from your local grocery stores and see if you can match up a good price with a good coupon. Find out which stores double coupons, which ones do (and do not) take internet coupons, etc. Eventually, you'll be packing out bags of groceries while still keeping your hard-earned money.

It has worked for me, and for a lot of others. Why not give it a try? Or, if you're a seasoned coupon shopper, leave a comment and share your favorite tips and strategies here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eat out for a LOT less.

It's almost always more affordable to eat at home, but you can save on eating out too! We live in a semi-rural area, so we eat at home a lot of the time. Hubby's job requires him to stay at work even on his lunch break, so he brings something from home.

Still, it's nice to go out once in a while, isn't it?

I think so too.

Today, Little Bit and I went to Chik-Fil-A. I had a sandwich and a medium soda, she had an 8 piece kids meal, and the total was $1.53. See, today was Cow Appreciation Day, complete with free food for everyone who dressed up like....yep....a cow. They provided printouts on their website, so it was super-easy, and really fun (especially for Little Bit!)

(Apologies - because it was super-errand-day, I forgot to take the camera along.)

Maybe you don't want to put on your cow suit for free food. No problem! Tomorrow, 7-11 is giving away slurpees. Right now, Arby's has a coupon for a free Roast Burger if you buy a drink...even if you buy a small one. These are just examples - there are deals like this all the time. Some restaurants have 'clubs' that you join and then you get coupons for free food. Many of them will email you a coupon for free food on or around your birthday.

Also, check out discount nights or 'kids eat free' nights to save on the restaurant bill.

For sit-down stuff, check local coupon books for discounts, or go to sites like for discount cards. You can save big.

There are strategies to help you save on meals out too. At sit-down establishments, lunch is generally more affordable than dinner. If you skip the appetizers, drink water, and resist dessert, you can cut the bill in half! Couple that with a discount card or coupon and you don't have to break the bank to go out once in a while.

How do you save money on going out? Leave a comment here with you strategies!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bulk Buying

If you go in our pantry you'll see a variety of items - everything from oat groats and wheat berries to tortilla chips and caramel-apple suckers. There's home-canned fruit, dried beans, SPAM (quit rolling your eyes!), baking supplies, quinoa, brown rice, tuna, tinned tomatoes and lots of dry spices. I get different things from different sources. In this post I want to talk about buying in bulk.

We belong to a food buying group that does orders for various items throughout the year. This is probably my most 'out there' source for savings, but it's also a major money saver for my family.

In the spring we have our 'big order' for items like grain, emergency supplies and dehydrated foods suitable for long-term storage. Summer gives us opportunities to purchase fruits and berries for eating, freezing, jams and jellies. In the fall we can order nuts, seeds, some grains and dried fruits, and each year it seems that new offerings are added.

At first we just ordered one or two items, but each time we order we try something new. Now I have a pretty long list of things that we order. Most of the items we order through the buying group are healthier choices too, although it is possible to order a 5-pound bag of chocolate chips! (I 'behaved' and bought the 5 pound bag of cocoa!)

That said, you don't have to order through a buying group. I've also made bulk purchases at health food stores and ethnic markets. If you can find a locally-owned health food store, ask about buying your favorite item by the bag. Often they will just charge you wholesale plus a small percentage, and compared to the bulk bin in the store price, it is often a much better price. Check those ethnic stores too, for excellent prices on the staple foods for the cultures that are represented.

Before you run out and buy 400 pounds of bulk foods, here are some things to consider:

1. Do we like it? This is the most important question. If you have never eaten brown rice, please buy a little at the store first and see if you like it enough to eat it often. A good deal on something you won't eat is not a good deal. My rule of thumb is that if we like it, if it's relatively easy to prepare, if it stores well and if it has some versatility (if I can come up with at least 3 ways to make/serve it), then it's a good candidate for bulk purchase. Store what you eat, and eat what you store.

2. Where will we put it? When I bring home our spring bulk order, there are boxes, bags and cans all over the living room. That is 'kinda cool' for about one day. Then, I want my living room back! We store our dry goods in the basement. I know people who store things under beds, in the backs of closets, behind the couch, even behind books on the bookshelf! Be creative and think outside the closet (hee hee) when you think about where to keep things, but remember, cool and and dry.


3. What will we keep it in? You have to protect your investment from the critters, and really, even from oxygen. Bulk purchases that are not stored properly will not keep as long, and they may attract weevils, bugs, mice or other unwanted pests. I was able to get some gallon glass jars from a gentleman on freecycle so they didn't cost me anything. I have gathered food-grade buckets from bakeries for free as well. They come with icing or batter in them, so you have the job of bringing them home and cleaning them very well, but then you have a safe, stack-able container that is mouse and bug proof. (Make sure the rubbery 'gasket' is still intact in the lid for a proper seal.)


Check with local bakeries, delicatessens, restaurants and other places that buy foods in large quantity. Chances are that you'll find someone that is happy to save you some good containers that you can use for food storage.

If you plan to keep things very long term (more than one year) you will want to research items like oxygen absorbers and mylar bags. These are used to seal foodstuffs in an oxygen and light free environment so that it can be stored in case of emergency. There is lots of information about their use on the internet.

4. How much should we buy? Do you eat oats every morning or once a month? Does you family eat rice regularly, or is it a rare choice? Start with the things you already eat often, and then expand from there. If you are a small family (like us), sometimes the minimum bulk order is too big. Look for a family that would be interested in splitting a bulk item with you. You can both benefit from the savings that way without the worry of waste.

5. Is it really a good deal? I can buy sugar in bulk - in a great big 50 pound bag. However, if I watch the sales, I can stock up on sugar at Easter or Christmas for a much better price than the bulk price. Don't assume that the big bag is always the best deal. This is one of those places where a little math can save you buckets of money.


Of Money.


So, that's one strategy. If it is something you eat often, buy it in bulk for a lower cost per serving. Make sense? Leave a comment with your thoughts and questions!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How We Do It At Our House

How do you like this layout? I thought that plenty of green would be appropriate to a blog that is all about saving money.

We have a couple of weeks before the All You Grocery Challenge begins, so I thought I'd share some information about how we shop (and save) in our home. To tell you the truth, I could go through the entire challenge without spending a penny and we would eat quite well, but I want to help others by sharing the strategies we use to save. So my plan is to do exactly what I have been doing all along. I hope you are able to learn some tips that will save you some hard-earned money too!

In our home, we have an envelope system in place for spending and keeping within our budget. It's been around for years, most recently promoted by Dave Ramsey. Since envelopes don't hold up very well, I went to Goodwill and bought a lovely red leather wallet and used a sharpie to label the categories I carry with me: Groceries, Clothing, and our daughter's spending money.

At the beginning of the month, we start with $140 for 'Groceries'. At our house, that includes food, household items (cleaning supplies, paper toweling, etc.) and toiletries (toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, etc.). There are three of us - two adults and a little girl who is almost four years old.

Most months we have money left over! We eat a wide variety of foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meats, beans, frozen items, and some canned foods as well.

We use several strategies to keep our costs down. We buy some items in bulk from a food co-op. When something is on sale, we stock up. We shop in supermarkets, ethnic stores, superstores - a little bit of everything. We raise a garden, and we keep a few hens. I use coupons when it makes sense to use them. Often, coupons allow me to get things free or nearly free. Most of the time we plan a menu (lately I've been a slacker in that department), and I do a little bit of Once-a-Month cooking. I'll go into each of these in more detail between now and the beginning of the challenge.

Do you have a budget? What are your strategies? I also want to know what YOU want to know? Got a question? Leave a comment and I'll do my best to get you answers!