Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Basket Alternatives

Due to some unforeseen financial set backs over the last three months (2 major plumbing repairs that required a plumber, 2 semi major car repairs that required a mechanic, and 1 major knee cap repair that required a surgeon) we are currently sucking up our budget so that we can pay off doctor bills and replenish the emergency fund that we drained to pay for all the unexpected repairs (when it rains it pours at my house!). With Easter quickly approaching I have been racking my brain for the cheapest way to celebrate. With four kids, filling Easter baskets can quickly spiral out of control! This year I bought some candy in the bulk section of our local grocery store. I found darling Easter ziploc bags at the Dollar Tree that I am going to fill with the candy, and place in their baskets. I am also going to whip up a batch of Froot Loop candy (basically 2 cups white chocolate chips melted. Mix in 2 - 3 cups of Froot Loops. Grease a tablespoon, the kind you eat with not measure with, and use the spoon to drop rounded spoonfuls unto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Let cool completely and store in a ziploc bag. My kids love these and devour them every Christmas when my mom brings them to Christmas dinner), and I am going to also bake and decorate sugar cookies to replace the chocolate rabbit ( I just discovered a chocolate rabbit from last year that one of the children shoved in the back of the freezer, so I don't think they will be missed).

My biggest problem was that I could not find our Easter baskets (I think they were ruined in the basement flood - hence, plumbing repair #2, and thrown away). I did not want to go buy new ones, and all my wicker baskets are currently in use. I was pondering a cheap alternative Saturday while I was washing strawberries to dip when I looked down at the plastic container that I had just emptied and thought here was my answer! It was the perfect size, sturdy, there were four of them (just the number I needed), and best of all; they were FREE! I dug through my gift wrap drawer and found some tissue paper and ribbon, and this is what I created:

1. I started with an empty strawberry container, tissue paper, and curly ribbon.

2. I cut the lid off of the container (make sure there are no sharp edges).

3. Next, I taped the ribbon around the container with clear tape. Tie the ends together in a knot. Curl a second piece of ribbon about 18 inches long with a pair of sharp scissors. Fold into fourths. Tie securely with the end pieces of ribbon on the basket. Curl the ends.

4. Place a piece of colorful tissue paper or Easter grass in the basket. Now it is ready to fill with Easter treats.

I am going decorate each basket with a different color ribbon and tissue paper so that each child can identify their basket (and hopefully to avoid any fights over who ate whose candy!). My baskets are pretty plain because I was using up odds and ends around the house (WNWN!), but the skies the limit. The Dollar Tree has all sorts of cute ribbon, tissue paper, scrapbook paper, and Easter decorations that could be used. You could also decorate empty ice cream buckets, shoe boxes, brown paper grocery bags, or small plain colored gift bags (2 for a $1 at the Dollar Tree). Let your kids decorate their own baskets for a fun weekend craft project!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ridley's Ad 3/30 - 4/5

The Ridley's Ad is well worth checking out this week, also! Here's a few things that jumped out at me:

Coke Products 5 for$14
Pepsi Products 4 for $11
Bone in ham $1.29 a pound
Eggs $.97 a dozen
WF butter 3 for $5.00
WF 2 pound brick Medium Cheddar Cheese $3.99
WF 1 pound cartons of Sour Cream $.74 (that is a FABULOUS price)
WF 8 oz Cream Cheese $.98
WF half pint of Whipping Cream $.69
WF 2 pound bags of Brown or Powder Sugar $.98 (also a FABULOUS price)
WF hamburger or hot dog buns $.88

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries and Waste Not Want Not Challenge Day 10

What do chocolate dipped strawberries and the WNWN challenge have in common? Not a whole lot, but I wanted to show off my handiwork (which did use several recycled items), and I am sure you are all dying to hear more about my new WNWN lifestyle!

First, the strawberries! My family have some dear friends who's son just got married. Being smart people they wanted to put together a nice open house for the newlyweds without breaking the bank, so they asked friends and family to help make refreshments. When I was asked to make some chocolate covered strawberries; I was thrilled to help! I have always wanted to try this, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I went to this great WEBSITE that gave me all the instructions, and when our friends drops off the supplies I enlisted my dear hubby and a great friend to help. Because we were going to be dipping 16 pounds of strawberries, and they had to be portable, I went to Costco and asked for several empty cardboard boxes (that we lined with wax paper) to put them in. My other frugal idea was to put the melted white chocolate that I was going to drizzle over the dark chocolate in an empty mustard bottle. The opening in the lid was the perfect size to make a thin line. I have seen it done with a plastic bag with a corner cut off, but I never have good results ( I always end up with the bag "farting" - please, forgive the crude remark- and leaving an ugly mess); plus I needed two cups of melted white chocolate to cover all of the strawberries; that a lot to shove in a Ziploc bag! The mustard bottle worked beautifully, by the way! Here are the "fruits" (forgive the pun) of our labor:

I don't know who was prouder my hubby or me!

Now, on to the WNWN challenge. It has really hit me lately how important frugality is. I have a couple of friends who have lost jobs this week. It can happen to anyone of us at any time; it is important to be prepared! I am on day ten, and I have to say, I have become a reusing junkie! I lay awake at night thinking of ways to maintain my family's lifestyle as cheaply as possible. It has been extra challenging this last week because my children have been home for spring break! So, I have had to be very creative to keep them entertained and not break the bank. This week:

1. Saved an empty cereal box and used it to make new inserts for two reusable grocery bags that have lost their plastic inserts.
2. Made refried beans in the crock pot. It made enough to serve for two meals.
3. Taught my daughter how to sew a darling skirt (but that is another post for later) for cheap.
4. Took my little boys to our local library to participate in "A Wimpy Kid" party, check out DVDs, and books.
5. Discovered episodes of Bewitched and Gilligan's island on; which my children loved (and I did not have to rent any movies).
6. Made a double batch of homemade pancake syrup to get us through Spring Break week (also made a double batch of pancakes and waffles and froze half for hot breakfasts this week).
7. Made "soap on a rope" for both of the bathrooms.
8. Poured baking soda and vinegar down the garbage disposal to kill the funky smell (Pour one cup of baking soda into the garbage disposal. Pour one cup vinegar over the soda. Let it bubble for 5 minutes. Pour HOT tap water from the faucet down disposal for 2 - 3 minutes and run the disposal for a minute. This method also works great on clogged drains.)
9. Used dinner leftovers for lunches the next day.
10. The only item I went to the grocery store for this week is milk. We used up leftovers and I cooked out of the freezer and pantry.
11. Saved the plastic containers that the strawberries came in to make Easter baskets for my kids.

We survived (okay, I survived) a whole week of Spring Break with only minor skirmishes between siblings, and the kids seemed content to create their own fun. All in all I think this week has been a success.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Great Dryer Drama of 2010 (So Far....)

I had originally planned on sharing something entirely different today, but I decided I had to share my dryer dilemma with you instead. I am hoping it may save you an hour or two of anguish someday! Saturday is my typical catch up the laundry day, and things were going pretty well until I went downstairs this afternoon to quickly change the laundry over when I discovered a HUGE catastrophe! Someone (who I discovered later was my seventeen year old, WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER) had left a brand spanking new package of gum in their back pocket (I swear I checked every pocket). The package of gum made it through the washing machine, and unfortunately, the dryer. At some point in the dryer it fell out of the pocket and melted all over the inside of the dryer. There were streaks and globs of gum goo all over the drum! Luckily, the gum did not do any irrevocable damage to the load of laundry ( and hey, those Levi's did smell minty fresh). After my head stopped spinning (and I questioned why the good Lord had sent me the children out of the Heaven's scratch and dent bin ), I knew I had to do something quickly before the dryer was completely ruined (which would totally ruin the WNWN challenge!). I turned the dryer on for a minute to warm the gum up a little bit, and then took a plastic spatula (the kind you use to spread mud on the wall when you are taping and mudding sheetrock) and starting scraping the globs off of the drum. When I had gotten the big chunks of gum off , I took a green scrub pad and my bottle of homemade cleaner and started in on the sticky streaks of gum. I sprayed my wonder cleaner on the mess (the combination of ammonia and alcohol broke down the gum) and started scrubbing. With a little elbow grease and a lot of scrubbing it came off! I did have to spray some areas twice to get the last of the sticky residue off, but HALLELUJAH it worked! Tragedy was adverted, and the children (one in particular) will live to see another day!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fool Proof Pie Crust

I've been wanting to share this recipe for awhile, and with Easter coming up, I thought it would be the perfect time. I love to make pie, but it has taken me years to find the perfect crust recipe. I have tried several methods, but most seem either hard to roll out, or are not light and flaky. Since I married into a pie baking family, and my pie is constantly being compared to my mother in laws. I am always feeling the pressure. If you don't believe me, last Thanksgiving more time was put into planning the pie menu than the actual dinner. We ended up with twenty seven pies between my mother in law, sister in law, and myself (there were more pies present than guests). Anyway, this crust is easy to mix together, and fairly forgiving. The best part is that is rolls out like a dream, and is light and flaky.

Fool Proof Pie Crust

4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup shortening
3/4 cold unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 large egg
1/2 cup ice water ( I place several ice cubes in a glass of water and let it sit. When I'm ready for the ice water I remove the ice cubes and measure out 1/2 cup)

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Cut butter and shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, your fingers, or if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer use the paddle attachment until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. In a separate bowl whisk together egg, vinegar, and ice water. Mix into the flour mixture until just combined. Gently press together to form a dough. Divide into four equal parts and form into balls. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let chill for at least an hour. Roll out and place into greased pie plate. Follow pie recipe for baking instructions.

It also freezes well. When ever I make a batch I double or triple it. There are several ways you can freeze uncooked pie crust.

1. Divide the extra into individual portions. Shape into a ball. Wrap them tightly in wax paper and freeze them. When the pie crust is frozen I place them all in a gallon freezer bag for extra protection. When you are ready to use them let the frozen balls of dough thaw out on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator. Roll them out while they are still cold, but not frozen. Place in a greased pie plate.

2. You an also save yourself time later and roll the crust out between layers of wax paper. Freeze them between the layers of wax paper flat on a cookie sheet (you can stack them two high). When they are frozen slide the frozen sheets into a gallon freezer bag. Just thaw out and place in a greased pie plate.

3. I have also bought aluminum pie plates at the Dollar Store. Roll the crust out and placed them in the greased pie plates. Freeze them. Wrap them well with plastic wrap after they are frozen and stack them in the freezer. Just thaw out and fill when you are ready to use.
Pie crust will stay good in the freezer for six months.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Soap On A Rope....Sort Of

I have two pet peeves (okay, I have more than two, but for right now I want to focus on the two that are on my mind right now). The first one is pantyhose with runs in them. Why is it that I can only wear a pair of pantyhose a couple of times, before they end up with a hole or run? I have a plastic grocery bag stuffed full of maimed nylons that I can't bare to throw away, because I haven't gotten my money's worth out of them yet! The second thing that really irks me (probably more than the pantyhose) is a slimy bar of soap sitting in the bottom of the tub every night after bath time. After grilling child #2, 3, and 4 (child #1 is to mature to sit in bath water) I have discovered that once the soap has slipped out of their hands it becomes a physical impossibility to retrieve the bar from the murky depths of the tub. In their minds it is much easier to let it dissolve in the water as the tub drains, and hope for the best! After much mental duress on my part (it likes watching money slip down the drain every night; not to mention the unholy amount of bar soap my children can go through if I do not intervene) I have come up with a solution that may save my sanity. I created my own version of Soap On A Rope.

Here's what you do:

1. Measure 14 inches from the toe up on the leg of a worn out pair of pantyhose and cut it off. Now grab a bar of soap.

2. Place the soap in the leg of the pantyhose and tie a knot just above the bar of soap.

3. Cut down the center of the remaining section of the pantyhose until you are 1 inch from the knot.

4. Tie the two ends together with a double knot.

Now we have a bar of non slippery soap (the nylon gives it enough grip that it won't slip out of little, or not so little, hands so easily). Plus, we have created a handy, dandy "rope" so that it can be hung over the end of the faucet, or on the hook of the shower caddy to dry out after bath time. So far, it has been a raging success! The soap seems to be lasting much longer. It is now hung up to dry, and not left to sit in a mushy pile on the tub floor!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grocery Deals 3/24

It looks like Smith's (LINK to this weeks printable grocery list from PYP) is continuing their March to Savings promo for a second week, so if anyone missed out now's a good time to stock up. Albertson's (LINK to this weeks printable grocery list from PYP) has a few good deals this week also. Unfortunately, after all the great deals I have taken advantage of over the last couple months, the larder is now overflowing. So, I am going to have to turn a blind eye to this weeks savings. It's time to save my pennies to buy Easter candy!!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ridley's Ad 3/23 - 3/29

There are some fabulous deals this week at Ridley's in Pocatello (if you live in other areas; check out your local Associated Foods store ad they usually have similar deals). Here's the LINK to the ad. I noticed that the following sales prices were excellent, and worth the trip across town:

80% lean ground beef $1.79 lb (their hamburger is great quality)
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts $1.39 lb (in the family pack)
grapefruit 4 for $1.00
WF refried beans $.63 a can
Assorted crackers $1.00 (when you buy two with in ad coupon)
Don Julio flour tortillas $.88 each
Barbasol shaving cream $.98
6 pack of Shasta soda $.94
Aim or Pepsodent toothpaste $.74 each
Cheetos (assorted varieties) $1.99 (use in ad coupon save $1/2, final price $1.50 each for two)
Farmland sausage (links or rolls) 4 for $5.00
24 oz bag steak fries $.79
Birch Berry oven roasted turkey breast $3.99 lb (in the deli)
10 lb. bag of potatoes $.88
Shank portion ham $1.19 lb
Butt portion ham $1.39 lb

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gourmet Pancakes

I have found that stirring leftover bits of fruit into pancake batter is a great way to use up leftovers, and (bonus) your family thinks you have become a gourmet chef (at least mine does. Don't let them in on the secret, okay.). I like to make breakfast for dinner on Sunday nights, and pancakes make an appearance quite often (some times french toast if I have an abundance of bread, or find cinnamon bread on the day old rack at the grocery store). Tonight, for instance, I had two apples that had been sitting in the fruit basket for awhile; they were on the verge of becoming shrunken apple head people. I cut out the bruised spots and grated them (making about 1 cup). Then I stirred them into 6 cups pancake batter with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ( I know that sounds like a lot, but I am usually feeding an army, plus I freeze the leftovers so the kids can have a quick hot breakfast before school or for after school snacks). Other popular combination's (these ratios are added to six cups already prepared pancake batter) at our house are:

1 cup thawed frozen blueberries (I buy them on sale in the summer when they are cheap and toss them in the freezer or water bath can them in light syrup in pint jars) with 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
1 cup canned cranberries ( I buy them when they go on sale after the holiday's and water bath can them in light syrup in pint jars). You can also simmer them until they are tender with a little bit of sugar and water and freeze them) with 1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 cup applesauce with 1/4 nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup melted peanut butter (microwave it for about 35-45 seconds) and mini chocolate chips
1 cup mashed banana with 1/4 nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped fresh or canned peaches with 1/4 nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

I have to confess that I use pancake mix. I use to make them from scratch, but my family prefers their Aunt's recipe, and when I asked her for it she showed me the blue bag of Krusteaz! So I picked my battle and now buy it a Costco (the 10lb bag) or make my own mix:

Homemade Pancake Mix

9 cups all purpose flour (or 4 cup all purpose flour and 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour)
1 cup sugar ( or 3/4 cup Splenda)
2 2/3 cup powder milk
1/4 cup baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Combine ingredients and store in an airtight container. Makes 10 2/3 cups mix.
To make pancakes mix together:
2 2/3 cups pancake mix
1/4 cup melted butter or oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 water
Combine wet ingredients and stir into pancake mix until combined. Makes 12 pancakes.

Don't forget to whip up a batch of Homemade syrup or melt a jar of jelly(or use the freezer jam that didn't set quite right) to pour over your delicious gourmet breakfast treats!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Waste Not Want Not Challenge Day Five

As I sit here eating leftover chicken broccoli casserole (I promised the kids if they would clean up the leftovers for lunch we would make homemade pizza for dinner) with the crushed potato chips from the bottom of the bag on top (no one else has volunteered to eat them) I thought I would update everyone on how the WNWN (Waste Not Want Not) challenge is going. I am on day 5 now. So far, I have used empty deli containers for green houses, we have eaten most of the leftovers out of the fridge (there is a little bit of stew and cabbage leftover from St. Patrick's Day that I will turn into pot pie for Sunday dinner), I just finished mashing up the last six black bananas (the bane of my existences) to make a big batch of Banana Bread or Banana Cake ( the third child has been angling for this option). Here's the best part, I repaired the blind in my living room.

I have three floor to ceiling windows in my living room. They are wonderful for letting in the light, but are crummy when it comes to decorating options. Anything I wanted to do with them was spendy, so when I painted the living room two years ago I saved up my spending (yes I give myself an allowance every payday) and birthday money and bought wood blinds. I love how they look! You can imagine my despair, when eight weeks ago the middle blind refused to open anymore! The next day my darling hubby pirouetted on the ice and broke his knee cap; needless to say he became priority #1, and not my blind dilemma. So, everyday since then, when I open my blinds I have cursed the broken one. I was ready to throw caution to the wind and buy new ones; until my WNWN challenge began. Yesterday, I took the broken blind down and gave it a good looking over. The problem appeared to be that the cord had slipped from the plastic pulley and had crossed over itself, locking it in place. Grabbing my trusty tweezers and a small flat head screw driver, I replaced the cording back on the pulley. Miracle, they open and close, again! I am so glad I took the 15 minutes to repair the problem, instead of spending $XXXXX on a new one!

I'm feeling pretty good about what I have accomplished so far. The big green garbage can was definitely much emptier on garbage day this week.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Starting Your Own Garden Plants

I have finally started my tomato, green pepper, and jalapeno pepper seeds. It has been on my mind for a week and a half now, but unfortunately, life got in the way. Now that it is done, I fill like spring is a little bit closer to being here in all of it's grand glory! I was going to give you a step by step tutorial, but my sister in law Shannon, has done a fabulous job describing the basics on her own blog (great minds think alike). Therefore, I am going to cheat (I hope you don't mind, Shannon, I owe you one!) and LINK you to her blog for the particulars!

Since I have started the Waste Not Want Not Challenge I thought I would show you some cheaper ways to start your own seeds.

Egg cartons are great for starting seeds in (they can be planted directly into the ground because they are biodegradable). Just poke a hole in the bottom of each well with a large nail for drainage.
Plastic yogurt cups are a wonderful, too and free. Just poke a couple of holes in the bottom for drainage.
Peat cups are also good and usually cheap. Watch the clearance tables at the end of the summer. You can nab them for next to nothing.
I also have saved the black plastic pots from previous years trips to the green house. Lots of times if you can get them for free by checking the trash or asking a salesperson at the nursery if they have any they are going to throw away. If so stock up and save them for later.

I was a lucky duck last year and I was able to salvage 4 large black plastic trays (the kind that they use to set the displays of plant starts in) out of an abandoned cart in the Walmart parking lot. The trays are great for catching the water overflow when you water, and for when you are transporting them to the garden.

Watch for sales on potting soil or seed starting mix. I usually use potting soil, but the starter mix was cheaper (the small bags came from Family Dollar. They were $1.50 each. Each bag filled 5 medium sized pots).

This is the part I am proudest of! I have been saving deli containers (it's a weird fetish, I know). Usually, I use them to transport food items to church or family functions, or when I take meals to a friend or neighbor in need. That way I don't stress if my dishes don't come back. I digress! Anyway, when I was reading my sister in laws blog (see you inspire me Shannon) I thought, self, those containers would make fabulous greenhouses for your plant starts! When the seedlings get tall enough, I will prop the clear plastic tops up to give them more room. Also, notice the shelf in front of the French door. That particular window gets sun from about 1:00pm until the sun sets; making it the perfect warm, sunny place for little seedlings to grow. The shelf is metal which also helps keep the plants warm.

So far, I have started 10 Early girl tomato plants, 10 Beefsteak Tomato plants, 10 green pepper plants, 8 jalapeno plants. I am heading to back to Fred Meyer's (this week their seeds are on sale Buy 2 Get 1 Free with in store coupon) to get a few more seeds to start (broccoli, cabbage, and banana squash). Hopefully, they will all grow, and with any luck we will be producing major quantities of vegetables this summer!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Waste Not Want Not Challenge!

Yesterday I watched a dumpster diving video, and I have to say I was appalled. Let me clarify a little bit, I was not appalled at the actual dumpster diving (I have been known to pull a few things out of a dumpster myself), but by the massive amounts of good food that had been thrown away. Every thing that was pulled out of that dumpster could have fed many hungry families. According to the gals on the video the main diver had not paid for groceries for six months, and had basically lived off of what she had salvaged out of the garbage. This video has bothered me ever since I watched it. When did America become such a wasteful society? If my Great Grandmother would have seen this video clip she would be rolling over in her grave! It isn't just wasting food; it's all the other things that American's throw away when they are done with them. We have become a disposable society, for sure. Our wastefulness is a pock on our environment, our pocketbooks ( no wonder we are in the middle of the recession), and our souls.

I am getting off my high horse now, but it has really made me take personal inventory. I consider myself a Frugalista (or a Tightwad Nazi, in the words of my family), but I have realized I have become some what lacks in my frugality since my darling hubby blew his kneecap a couple of months ago. In my defense, he was totally incapacitated for six weeks and dependent on me for EVERYTHING ( I may be in therapy for years over that). Convenience became my friend. I did become somewhat wasteful (my over flowing garbage can is testament to that), but NO MORE!

I have issued myself a personal challenge. For the next 30 days I am going to make a gargantuan effort to "USE IT UP! WEAR IT OUT! MAKE DO, OR DO WITHOUT! I am going to find ways to recycle, repair, or re purpose food, garbage, clothing, and household items to extend they're usefulness. After all, former generations of women have used all sort of ingenious methods to raise respectable families on next to nothing. I have the utmost respect for those generations (I'm tearing up a little bit as I type this part). I would not be who I am without them. Therefore, WASTEFUL will not be in my vocabulary! I am going to make my Great Grandma proud! So, for the next month I will be posting some of my Ah! Ha! moments. If you would all care to join me I would LOVE to hear your savvy ideas, and frugal information. FRUGALISTAS UNITE! LET THRIFTINESS RULE!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hot Grocery Deals 3/17

It is well worth checking out this weeks Albertson's and Smith's ads (definitely worth the $.50 to buy a newspaper). There are tons of great deals. Especially, if you use coupons with sales prices!

Albertson's :

Buy your first 5 Post cereals at $1.59 each. At the register you get a $4.00 off your next purchase. Use that on your next 5 Post cereals and it ends up being $.79 a box. Heads up if you like Post cereal they only have this sale once a year so stock up! There are also doublers in this weeks ad. Here's a link to this weeks printable grocery list that tells you which coupons to use for extra savings.

I ended up getting:
28 boxes of cereal (20 boxes of Post; price averaged out to $.99 each); and (8 boxes of General Mills $1.94 after using 8 $.55/1 coupons)
6 containers of Hillshire Farms lunch meat (used coupons for $1/2 with doublers; $2.5o each after coupons)
5 1lb packages of extra lean hamburger (over stock sold at $1.99 lb)
2 gallons of milk ( for every 4 boxes of General Mills cereal purchased you get a coupon at the register for $4.50 off milk. Milk ended up being $.05 each.

Beginning balance (before tax):$175.04
Final balance (before tax): $62.90
BONUS: I still have one more save $4.50 off milk and save $4.00 off your next purchase Catalina's to use next week.

Basically for every 8 participating items you buy (you can mix and match) you get $4.00 off at the register. If your a big Powerade fan they end up being $.25 a piece. There are also blinkie coupons for an extra $1/2 on the Kraft cheese. Here's a link for the printable grocery list that tells you which coupons to use for extra savings!

There are to many things to blog individually, so here is an overview:
5 dozen eggs (4 for $5.00 or $1.25 each)
l loaf of bakery bread discounted for $.59
9 bricks of cream cheese discounted for $.79 each (used 3 $1.25/3 coupons, final price $.38 each)
1 package pepperoni (used $.35/1 coupon, final price $1.44)
The rest of the items were on the Mega sale (giving you an additional $.50 off the sales price):
I had coupons for the:
Ken's salad dressing (2 - $1/1)
Kraft Natural Cheese(3 - $1/2 next to the cheese display)
Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats (1 - $1.50/2)
Speedstick Deodorant(1 - $.75/1 Catalina)
Dial Soap Pumps (HEADS UP! Buy the foaming pumps. When they are empty refill with 1 tablespoon liquid soap or dish soap and 3/4 cup water to make your own foaming hand soap. Make sure to leave an inch of head space so that it will foam properly).

Beginning total (before tax): $140.46
Final total (before tax):$50.11

That my friends is $315.50 worth of groceries for $113.01!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grocery Deals 3/16

I'm so proud of myself, I just have to share. I went to Smith's today (I have discovered that Smith's will except competitor's coupons; including Albertson's doublers, up to 3 doublers per day) to use some fabulous coupons and this is what I ended up with ( I can hardly wait to see what's in tomorrow's ad):

6 Old Orchard Healthy Balance juice for $2.99 each. On sale for 3 for $5.00, Used 3 coupons for $1/2 (added 3 Albertson's doubler making it $2/2), final price $. 67 each
3 cartons of cottage cheese for $2.29. On sale for $1.00 each.
2 bottles of Pantene shampoo for $4.19. On sale for $2.97, used coupon for $3/2, final price $1.47 each
2 (16oz) frozen green peppers for $1.29 each
2 20 packs of Coke products for $5.99 each. On sale for $4.99 for 2 with purchase of two, used 2 coupons for $1/1, final price $1.49 each,
3 (20oz) Diet Coke for $1.39 each. On sale for $1.00 each, used coupon for Buy 2 Get 1 free, final price $.67 each. But wait it gets better......
The cashier had a store coupon for buy 3 (20oz) Coke products and get 3 King Sized Hershey candy bars for FREE!!!!

Beginning total(before tax): $56.39
Total after sales prices(before tax):$37.50
Total spent after coupons(before tax): $17.51
Total savings:$38.88

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yeah! I Found My Friend!

I'm so excited!!!! I have discovered the my dear friend's blog. She moved out of my neighborhood several years ago, and I had lost touch with her. She is the kind of friend that you can unburden your troubles and traumas (or should I say dramas) on; she will always listen and never judge. We shared many laughs and tears together. Baseball season has not been the same since she left. Anyway, She has always been an amazing cook, and I can thank her for many of my tried and true recipes. As I read through her blog yesterday it was like a trip down memory lane. Like the times she brought my family Chicken Cordon Blue casserole and Poppy Seed Chicken after the births of my two youngest children. I also remember how my hubby raved about her Delicious Salsa for months, and begged me to get the recipe (I am VERY salsa challenged!). Her Old Fashioned Pot Pie is the only recipe my family will eat. Now I have discovered a new recipe on her blog for Enchilada Sauce that I am going to give a try tomorrow night (I can hardly wait). Thanks Tiff for all the great recipes! I hope you don't mind my sharing your brilliance with every one. You have come to my rescue, again!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gardening Reminiscing and Tightwad Mom's Book Pick of the Month

The weather here has been almost "spring like" the last few days, and I have to say, it has gotten my gardening juices flowing! I even went so far as to buy a few seed packets at CAL Ranch on Saturday.

I'm itchy to go start tilling up my garden, but I'm sure that if I do, it will snow three feet the next day! It's not to early to start tomato, pepper, and herb seeds indoors, though. I discovered several years ago that starting your own seeds is much cheaper than buying the plants at the nursery, and in some cases they actually were heartier than the commercial plants. I am hoping to start mine later this week, and I will also be posting how to do it. Growing some of your own veggies is a great way to save on your food budget. Anyone can do it, and you don't have to grow a half acre garden, either. Which brings me to my next thought ( and the Tightwad Mom's Book Pick for March).

The square foot gardening method is a great way to get a lot of (manageable) produce in a limited space. A couple years ago when gas prices soared, crops were failing, and food prices were on the rise I had a little freak out ( okay, a huge, breathe into a paper bag because you are hyperventilating freakout). I had no idea how I was going to afford to put gas into two gas guzzlers, and put food into six (seven if you count the dog) hungry tummies on our budget. I needed to increase the amount of produce that I could grow in my limited garden space. I also wanted to add to my food storage in the basement without breaking the bank.I checked " Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholemew out of our local library, and it was an answer to my prayers. With a little tweaking to his method ( I used black ground cover around my tomato and squash plants because I am NOT a fan of weeding. I also used good old fashion manure for fertilizer. I could get that for free from the local pet store that also has a petting zoo. All I had to do was come and get it). I was able to produce enough veggies to feed my family, the neighbor's family, and can 75 pints of green beans, 24 pints of beets, 40 pints of carrots, 12 pints of yellow squash, 24 1/2 pints of jalapeno peppers, and 48 quarts of tomatoes. I froze 2 gallons freezer bags full of chopped green peppers, 36 quart freezer bags of banana squash (don't tell your kids, but you can use any pureed winter squash in place of pureed pumpkin in any recipe that calls for it, including pumpkin pie. You can't tell the difference!),20 quart freezer bags of shredded zucchini, and 18 quart freeze bags of brocolli. Not bad, considering my garden space is maybe 200 sq. ft. The beauty of this method is that you can plant vegetables in 5 gallon buckets (tomatoes, and peppers), in flower beds, along fences (cucumbers, green beans, and peas), or in raised beds (he explains how to build raised beds in his book). You can start out small or on a grand scale. He also has a website that is very informative (the book does explain some things in more detail.)

It has been kind of fun for my kids to watch their dinner grow. My experiment was such a success that last year I planted eight blueberry bushes (unfortunately, I have since been told that Idaho's soil stinks for growing blueberries, so I'm afraid this project may be doomed), and dug out an old flower bed where I planted strawberry starts ( that I bummed off of a friend for free). So start watching the sales ads for seeds (here are a couple links if you would rather order online Henry Fields, Burpee, Abundant Life Seeds . Spring is on its way!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Caselot Sale Update

The case lot sale at Ridley's started yesterday! I'm in the process of inventorying my food storage to compile my list of must buys. After glancing at the sales ad it looks like flour ( $4.88 for 25#) and sugar ($9.98 for 25# limit two) are unbeatable deals. The 40# case of boneless chicken breast ($62.00 making it $1.55 a pound) is also fabulous. If you don't have freezer space for that much chicken you can also can it (if you have access to a pressure canner), or split it with a friend or neighbor. Lots of great prices so check it out!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Grocery Deals Week #4

This week I took advantage of Albertson's doubler coupons. At Ridley's I stocked up on refried beans ( a staple at our house) and seasoning mixes on their weekly case lot special. I also took advantage of some great produce specials. Finally, (drum roll, please) I found a source for cheap Harper's Homemade Bread (yes, I am a bread snob). The Tee Box (a convenience store located across from the Riverside golf course) is now the outlet store for for Harper's day old bread.


1 box of Post Shredded Wheat on sale for $2.99; used $2/1 coupon, final price $.99
1 tub of B.C. frosting on sale for $1.50; used coupon for $.50/1 with a doubler $1/1, final price $.50
1 2 lb. bag of shredded cheese on sale for $7.49; used store coupon for $3.50 off making it $3.99, used $4.00 catalina, final price FREE
1 Snuggle fabric softener (50 loads) on sale for $3.99; used coupon for $.75/1 with doubler $1.50/1, final price $2.49
2 Purex laundry detergents (32 load) on sale for $3.99, used coupon for BUY ONE GET ONE FREE, final price $3.99 for two ($1.99 each)

Beginning total (before tax): $23.95
Total spent(total tax): $7.96
Total Savings: $15.99


1 case (24 cans) W.F. refried beans for $15.36 ($.64 a can)
1 case (24 packages) W.F. taco seasoning for $6.96 ($.29 a package)
1 case (24 packages) W.F. country gravy for $6.96 ($.29 a package)
2 cans of W.F. butter flavored shortening for $2.99 each
2 gallons of milk for $3.58 ($1.79 each)
2.43 pounds of bananas for $1.19 ($.49 a pound)
3.83 pounds of Braeburn apples for $2.26 ($.59 a pound)
1 (10 oz) bag of Dole salad for $.98

Beginning total (before tax): $43.28
Total spent (before tax): $43.28

Tee Box (outet for Harper's day old bread):

4 loaves of Harper's Bran Bread for $3.96 ($.98 each)
4 loaves of Harper's White Bread for $3.96 ($.98 each)

Beginning total: $7.92
Total spent: $7.92

Beginning total for week #4: $75.15
Total spent for week #4: $59.16
Total savings for week #4: $15.99


Beginning total for February: $422.14
Total spent for February: $309.45
Total savings for February:$112.69

Grocery Deals Week #3

Sorry there aren't fabulous graphics for this week. Life was crazy, and I only bought the essentials that we were out of. All of which, I had to use before I could photograph them!


4 gallons of milk for $6.72 ( $1.68 each)
1 12 pack of hoagie buns for $1.99
1 15 pack of Extra gum for $6.99

Beginning total (before tax): $15.70
Total spent (before tax): $15.70
Total savings: $0.00


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