Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Saving Money on Gas

By Diane O'Brian
  1. Get a credit card with gas rewards. The Chase Freedom Card will give you 5% cash back on your gas purchases for the first 90 days, then 3% after that. That's like getting a 12 cents a gallon discount.
  2. Consider not using a credit card. There are gas stations that give discounts if you pay with cash or debit cards.
  3. Use the web to find the cheapest station near you. Use www.GasBuddy.com. You could use your cell phone to get prices while you are already out on the road.
  4. By using your Kroger Plus Card, you can earn gas rewards. You can redeem these for up to $1.00 off at a Kroger gas station or $0.10 off at any Shell station. You can earn $0.10 off per gallon each time you:

· Spend $100.

· Purchase $50 in gift cards.

· Transfer a prescription and get $1 off a gallon.

  1. Use your Remke (Biggs) card to earn Pump Perks at participating Sunoco stations.

· For every $10 you spend, save 1 cent per gallon at Sunoco stations.

· Purchase products identified with the Pump Perks logo and receive the per gallon savings shown on the shelf tag.

  1. Spend $50 with your Giant Eagle Advantage Card inside Giant Eagle or GetGo and earn 10¢ off every gallon on your next fill-up at GetGo.
  2. Use gas station reward cards. Speedway has a reward program that allows you to earn points with your purchases and to use those points towards gas or merchandise purchases.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mission Impossible, Weeks 2 & 3

If you are following my Frugal Fridays With Jen posts at The Motivation Station, you know that I am in the midst of a 5 week challenge to keep my weekly grocery budget $40 or less.

Last week was not a great week- I made a mistake when it came to my local Kroger's Buy Ten Participating Items get $ Off deal- and ended up paying $15 more than I expected, bringing my total to $60. You can read about my mishap here. Not a bad amount, but also not within my goal by a long shot.

My goal was to get back on track this week, and I have been successful with that. My total Kroger plus health food store trips were about $40 exactly! I was helped along by my mother, who brought fresh garden tomatoes and peppers to round out my produce- got to love free stuff!

My list for this week:
4 Silk Almond Milks (used coupons)
4 Soy Dream soy milks
Organic bananas
Organic raspberries
1% milk, half gallon
3-lb bag potatoes
one loaf of wheat bread
Store brand grated parmesan cheese
1 dozen medium eggs
store-brand bagels
store-brand cottage cheese
From the health food store:
organic dehydrated peas
dairy-free margarine
Silk Vanilla Soy Yogurt

Some more good deals I used this week:

5 24-pack Crayola Crayons for $1.30 total at Kroger today

A 82-pack case of Pampers for $6 (I used a $5 ECB I had, plus a $1.50 coupon, and got $10 ECBs back) plus a FREE 18-ct Kotex at CVS today

Some more good deals elsewhere this week:

75 Shutterfly prints for the cost of shipping

High value Kashi Bar coupons at coupons.com. Use them at Target to get three boxes for $1.40 each. Also, at Target, Aquafresh for Kids for $0.12, Bagel Bites for $0.24, and FREE Crystal Lite and Chef Boyardee.

Gillette Fusion Proglide for $0.89, FREE Pilot Easytouch Pens, and make $6 buying Zegerid OTC at Walgreens

At Meijer, 12 Weight Watchers Entrees for $1.08 each if you have the $5 off 10 coupon. (Use $5 off 10 coupon, plus get a free meal when you buy 5), Aunt Millie's Buns for $0.29, FREE Dole salad, FREE Coffeemate, FREE Land 'O Lakes Butter, FREE Angel Soft Toilet paper, FREE Colgate Toothpaste

General Mills Cereals for as low as $0.50 at Kmart

Pampers as much as 50% off on amazon.com

Free backpacks at Staples after rebate

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Brunch Casserole

Tuesday: Cream Cheese, Bell Pepper, and Black Olive Ranch Wraps

Wednesday: Pasta with Tomato, Garlic, and Parmesan

Thursday: Chic-Fil-A

Friday: Loaded Baked Potatoes, Veggies

Saturday: Benefit/Wine Tasting

Sunday: Fresh Tomato and Cheese Sandwiches, Celery

Baked potatoes with cottage cheese
Leftover brunch casserole

Day care treats:
Blueberry muffins
Oatmeal Banana Bread
Vanilla Soy Yogurt with Raspberries or Blueberries

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekly Sweeps and Blog Giveaway Links

Sweeps Links from Deal Seeking Mom

Blog Giveaway Listings from Katydid and the Kid

More Blog Giveaways from Bargain Fun

Win Instantly with Dole Salad

Win Groceries Instantly, and spin the wheel daily for a chance to win. Participating stores all over the US. I won a Bob Evans Side Dish earlier this summer.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match!

By Diane O'Brian

If you are new to couponing you may have already picked up on how to use the weekly matchups to find some good deals. But the next question is, how do you get good deals on the rest of the items on your grocery list? The bad news is that no one has the same grocery list as you so there aren’t any ready made matchups on blogs. The good news is there is this website: www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/coupon.php

Hot coupon world is a database of all the coupons out there in the universe. Awesome, I know! So let’s say you need some toothpaste (just pretend for a minute that your stockpile ran out and you need it this week, ok?) you can use this database to locate a coupon. So for example you could type in “Colgate” and it would bring up a list of all the Colgate coupons out there. If there is one in Smart Source or Redplum it will tell you which one and what week(s) to look in.

So that my friends, is how you do your own matchmaking!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Pasta salad with kalamata olives, pepperoni, tomatoes, red onion, and a Kraft Italian Dressing I had gotten for free.

Tuesday: Working til 8 tonight, BBQ chicken in slow cooker made with Bull's Eye Sauce gotten for free, boxed Cheesy Potatoes gotten for free, and quick coleslaw.

Wednesday: Latin Chicken with Avocado Garlic Sour Cream
(I didn't want to buy any Sazon seasoning, so I scoured the internet for a homemade version here.)

Thursday: Quesadillas with onions, cheese, and refried beans, leftover Avocado Garlic Sour Cream

Friday: Mujadarah (never made it last week, too many leftovers), Broccoli and Cheese

Saturday: At a friend's cookout. Bringing brownies for a dessert (from a box).

Sunday: Tomato Platter with Olives and Feta, Veggie Cheese Wraps made with Summer Squash and Red Bell Peppers

Lunches: free DiGiorno Pizza, Loaded Veggie Salads, Cheese and Crackers, leftovers

Day care treats: Raspberry Whole Grain Muffins (from frozen batch), Oatmeal Banana Nut Bread (we have several overripe bananas), fresh blueberries, organic strawberries, and homegrown watermelon

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is It Possible To Spend $40 A Week In Groceries?

This past Friday, at The Motivation Station, I issued myself a challenge. Is it possible to stretch the $200 Visa Gift Card I recently won into 5 weeks worth of groceries? This would mean only spending $40 a week in groceries, for two adults and one toddler with a dairy allergy. Above is my Kroger trip: $34. It should have been $33, but someone forgot to bring one of the coupons that would have made the coleslaw free. Oops!! One of the Almond Milks were free from a blog giveaway (I got two free milks, and will use one next week) and the pizza was free from a Facebook deal. I did not buy a single thing not on my list. I am stockpiling those blueberries for future muffin and waffle use, and am using the instructions here to freeze two of those three pints.

This was an awesome deal at Meijer. Yes, I drove there for only one thing. I stacked a Meijer Mealbox coupon with two manufacturer coupons I printed off the internet, to make all four of these whole grains pastas a total of $0.56. Yes, the cashier was a little discombobulated when my total was barely over two quarters. We have tons of pasta, but this keeps well in storage, and I could not pass up this deal.

Target run: $0.98 for the Blueberry Juice drink. I am not counting personal care or household items as part of my challenge. Last week, my son upended a 3lb container of sugar on the floor, and I pretty much filled a vacuum container with the mess. Not very frugal at all.

I also took a trip to the Farmer's Market last night and spent $8 on homegrown produce. That brought me to $42.50 for the week. It's over my $40 limit, but not too bad! My goal next week is to keep it within the $40.

My Walgreens run. I had a $10 Register Rewards coupon that was expiring, and this giant Metamucil was on sale for $9.99, plus I had a $1 coupon, and received $2 in RR for buying it. So, technically, I made $2 for buying it. The pens and pencils were $0.19 each, and the sunscreen was on clearance for $2.97 (usually $7). Total out of pocket, about $3.

This was so, so good. Cottage Pie With Leeks. I just added sauteed leeks to the leftover mashed potatoes from making pierogies. Even my picky toddler ate it (minus the dairy-filled potato part).

A free reusable shopping bag and two free Silk Almond Milks from a blog giveaway.

Free samples of Tena, ahem, bladder leakage pads. Saving for the end of this pregnancy.

I've been getting some good deals of new GroBaby cloth diapers on babysteals. I've heard a lot of good things and want to give them a whirl. I "like" babysteals on Facebook, and get a message every day with the new deal of the day.

This is from a Totsy deal I found ($10 discount for first-time members). I essentially payed shipping plus a couple bucks for this child's gardening set. The boy LOVES having his own watering can and schleps his tool set everywhere. This keeps him occupied for hours on our deck.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pierogies, And A Winner Again

Chocolate chip cookies made from the recipe found in the 1969 Betty Crocker Cookbook.

Very, very old Crockery Cookery Cookbook my mom found at a garage sale 15 years ago. Now held together with duct tape. It's where I get the recipe for Rhineland Sweet-Sour Red Cabbage below.

It's purple because it's good for you!

I spent 2 hours today making pierogies from scratch. After making 30 pierogies, I still has plenty of dough, so I twisted the dough, coated with melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar, and baked at 350 for 10 minutes. Tasty!

Recipe for pierogies here. We decided the sweet/sour kraut made them better.

I had to use up bacon for the kraut, so I made an extra batch, and we had BLTs on 12-grain bread from the hippie market and fresh-grown tomatoes.

Mr S's project for today- a new sink.

A major improvement over the old one, which was blah and leaking like a sieve.

In other good news, I am a winner again! I won a year's Sam's Club membership and a $50 gift card to Sam's from Stockpiling Moms. Whoo hoo!

Want to win a blog giveaway? Check out a few from this week here, here, and here.

Freebies and CVS Trip

A few freebies: A Weight Watchers breakfast (nothing I would ever buy myself, but it was free), Beech Nuts Let's Grow rice cakes (I had a coupon for a free product, but nearly all had dairy. Yet again, nothing I would buy myself), free Cottonelle samples, All detergent, and all-natural dog biscuits, which will go to my sister.

CVS trip: Four Stayfree pads and 2 Reach toothbrushes for free, plus some Pampers Swaddlers. The pads and toothbrushes were free with coupon, and the diapers were $9 after ECBs and sale. We use cloth, but I am keeping the Swaddlers just in case things end up hectic- if we don't use them, they will go to the shelter.

More free dog treats (not sure how I ended up with 2) , Weight Watchers coupons, and free 100% recycled trash bag sample.

Free travel-size sample of Pantene. Mr S will use these on business trips and refill from our own bottles.

My Kroger trip was not great this week: $91. I had a plan and a list, but decided to buy mostly organic produce (which I am happy with), and then bought $20 in impulse purchases (naughty me!). Back on the wagon next week!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Pierogies- homemade! Red Cabbage and Apple Kraut made in the slow cooker

Tuesday: Cottage Pie With Leeks made with leftover mashed potatoes from Pierogies

Wed: leftover cottage pie

Thursday: Mujadarah

Friday: Tomato Platter With Olives and Feta, Veggie and Cheese Wraps

Saturday: Tomato and Corn Pie (I have literally waited 9 months to try this, until the first summer crops of corn and tomatoes were in)

Sunday: Making a vat of Uncle Angelo's Sauce (yes, that's really him in the picture) in the slow cooker, freezing leftovers, and making homemade calzones to liberally dip in this sauce

Hundreds more menu plan inspirations here!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Frugal Foodies...Saving Money at Restaurants

by: Diane O'Brian

Our waistlines are showing that Americans are eating out at restaurants more often. In fact, statistics show that the average household spends 40 percent of its food dollar eating away from home. So if we are going to eat out, we might as well eat well and get the best deals possible!

1. Join the Club: Sign up for restaurant discounts through restaurant websites. Simply sign up for each e-club using your e-mail address and you’ll get coupons delivered straight to your inbox!

2. Restaurant.com: Simply enter your zip code to see the participating restaurants in your area. You can buy a $25 gift certificate for $10, and print the certificate from your computer immediately. If you have an online coupon code, you will save even more, paying only $5 for a $25 gift certificate. Less expensive, casual restaurants offer "50 percent off" certificates, available for $3. The online coupon code would bring the price of that certificate down to $1.50.

3. Use Coupon Books: The Entertainment Book and use those to plan your dinner date! The Entertainment Book is an excellent source of restaurant coupons for specific cities. You can buy one from their Web site, entertainment.com, and even preview the restaurants available before you invest in a book. Expect to pay $25 to $35 per book, with coupons that last from August to the following November 1st -- 15 months). The price of the book begins to go down in the spring, and drops to its lowest price in the summer.

4. Kids Eat Free: Stop by restaurants that offer Kids Eat Free specials. This will cut your bill drastically if you eat out with your kids on a regular basis.

5. OpenTable: http://www.opentable.com/ Yup this website is for making dinner reservations. You get 100 points for making and keeping a reservation and when you get a minimum of 2,000 points you get a $20 Dining Check to use at an Open Table restaurant.

6. Think Frugal: Ordering water instead of pop and/or splitting a big meal with your spouse or friend can help save money. If you have to eat out, opt for an early time. Most restaurants offer cheaper menus during lunch or right before the dinner rush.

7. Groupon: If you sign up at http://www.groupon.com/ you will get an email deal every day for half off or more. If enough people purchase the Groupon then the deal is on. They offer a variety of vendors and businesses and some of them are for restaurants. There are many other groupon companies out there depending on where you live.

8. Cincinnati deals: In Cincinnati you can get the Best of Cincinnati Card for an up front $25 charge. www.weeklycard.com/cincinnati You receive your 40% savings when you add money to your Best of Cincinnati (rechargeable) card. You can add money as often and as many times as you like - always at 60 cents on the dollar.

Donate $75 to WNKU www.membercard.com/stations/one.php?station_id=228 and get a membership discount with over 120 restaurants, many with BOGO deals. For $7 you can get an additional card for restaurants in another city. (Thanks to my husband for sharing this deal!)

*Don’t forget to tip for the full price of the meal before discounts. You can be frugal without being cheap!