Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shopping Trips and Dinner Experimentations

Today's Kroger trip. Didn't need a lot as we are very well stocked right now. Total was $54.14. The General Mills deal was awesome, as I could get each box of cereal for as low as $0.49 each. Mine were $0.49 for 2 and $1.49 for the other two, making them all about $1 each. My fault, as I'm shopping on one of the last days of the sale, and they were out of stock on Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the ones I had 2 more coupons for. Still pretty good considering the soy and almond milks were almost 35% of that trip.

Meijer from last week. Ronzoni whole wheat pasta for free, Smart Taste for $0.49 each, clearance wheat germ for $1, free olive oil, broth cartons for $1 each, Jell-o for $0.49 each, and pasta and pesto sauce for $0.87 each. I have tons of pasta still, but the price was right!

A roasted red pepper and chickpea pasta. It was delicious and easy! Even The Boy ate it.

Baked potato soup in the slow cooker. Soooo easy. I used only 5 potatoes, not 5 lbs, and added 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese in the last 30 minutes. Scrumptious! I am making it again next weekend.

Knock-off Cheddar Bay Biscuits. I whipped them up in 10 minutes with the toddler's help, and we ate every last one!

Our Halloween offering- bags of chips. The dairy-free ones the toddler gets to eat, and they are very popular in our neighborhood. 80 of them for $21 at Sam's Club.

Dairy-free Snickerdoodles for the toddler's day-care party. I used butter-flavor Crisco and vegan margarine from the health food store. Still buttery and delicious!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How I Came to Be

By: Diane O’Brian

I often wonder how bloggers who write about saving money came to be “one of those people.” I don’t know all of their stories, but I can tell you mine.

I grew up in a seemingly middle class family that probably really wasn’t. My mom was a stay at home mom until I got older, and my dad was in and out of work over the years due to layoffs and medical problems. I once asked my mom what her budget looked like and she responded, “Budget? What budget?” With three kids money went out as soon as it came in. So saving money was a necessity and a way of life for our family.

I have memories of my mom going off to “refunding club” where she’d share and collect receipts and UPC’s she needed to get rebates on a product. We cut out the UPC on every product we used “just in case.” My mom had a big box in the hall closed where she had envelopes of coupons for every type of product imaginable. One of our chores might be going through the envelopes and pulling the expired ones.

Interestingly enough, my sisters and I all took our own lessons from childhood and we did not all turn out to be frugal like my mom. I saw my parents struggle with money, and how hard they worked to still give us everything they thought we should have. Although I appreciate everything they did, I did not want to spend my life struggling to make ends meet. As a result, I am very careful with money and use all the tools at my disposal to save my hard-earned money.

Enter Mrs. Spock. She and I have been friends since Jr. High, and she also has her own story of saving money out of necessity. She has always been receptive to my thoughts on saving money, budgets, etc. and we learned from each other. (Thank goodness, because I think I was starting to bore everyone else to death on the subject.) Because two heads can be better than one, Mrs. Spock invited me to help share our knowledge and experience with anyone who might be interested through her blog.

I won’t claim to be half as good of a writer as Mrs. Spock, but hopefully my typos will be minor, and that I will offer a different perspective from my many years of experience with saving money.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: leftover Baked Potato Soup and Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Tuesday: Beef Vegetable Soup

Wed: leftover veggie soup

Thurs: leftover veggie soup

Friday: homemade calzones with pepperoni and onions

Saturday: Penne With Sausage, Peppers, and Homemade Marinara

Sunday: Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken (have lots of free BBQ sauce to use up), cheesy potatoes, Broccoli

day care treats: pumpkin bran muffins

Hundreds more menu plans here!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Room Makeover

The bedroom before was actually filled to the ceiling with boxes from my SIL's New York apartment. We had the room painted to a gray-blue, and initially had her bed set up for guests.

We got rid of the old venetian blinds with the long cords and leads weights. Too unsafe for children. We settled on these cordless blinds, which are very easy to use, and have a light-blocking layer.

The changing table and boat-shaped bookcase were moved.

And the recliner and crib. Still no pictures on the walls, as I'm trying to figure out what I will do with them.

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday: Santa Fe Rice and Beans

Monday: Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Penne

Tuesday: Mac and Cheese

Wednesday: Black Bean Chili

Thursday: leftover chili

Friday: Creamy Pasta and Spinach

Saturday: dinner out at a farm, petting goats after dinner

Sunday: Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup (will be adding cheddar to mine), Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Knock-offs (last and only time I ate the real deal, I broke out in hives!)

Day care treats: Pumpkin Muffins, Dairy-free frosting, soy yogurt with raspberries

Great Deals!

Run out and get the November issues of Parents magazine today to get a jump on this great deal. I just got 184 Size 2 Pampers for $19 on using their subscribe and save discount, plus a 20% off coupon code from Parents. Shipping was free! If you don't want automatic shipping every month or so, just cancel once you receive your first shipment.

It might be worth getting a subscription to Parents, as they have been having these coupon codes every month. The current issue has a card for $7.99 for a year's subscription- plus a cookbook and the second year for free. Considering an issue costs $3.50, this is a great deal.

I've been using Amazon's subscribe and save for 3 years to get a shipment of Seventh Generation Toilet Paper every 6 months. I've never had a problem with it.

Today I found another great deal on Amazon. Because my son has a dairy allergy, and loves pancakes and waffles, we have to make them from scratch. We use Bob's Red Mill 7-Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix. I can only find it at our local health food or specialty grocery, and it is usually $4-5 per bag. We go through at least two bags a month. I found that I can get a 4-pack through subscribe and save every 4 months for only $11.95- and free shipping! This will cut our cost by 50%.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lots Of Freebies In The Mail

An afghan for my son's new room. It cost me $8 in yarn, and I am halfway through. Once that is done, I will start on a lavender one for our soon-to-be-born daughter's room.

The tractor- $20 used from a friend's sister, and it is keeping The Boy outside every night for hours.

Magazines that were free or less than $3 for a year's subscription. My new favorite is Kiplinger's Personal Finance. I learn so much with every issue that I think I will renew next year.

Freebie Oxy Face Wash and Head and Shoulders Shampoo. Good for the husband's business trips.

All but 4 of these are tomatoes. $0.35 each at Meijer a few weeks ago.

24 pairs of girl's socks for $8. These go to the shelter for women and children.

Free Cottonelle Wet Wipes. I'm saving these for those first few postpartum days. Get yours too on Facebook.

Playtex tampons for $0.50 each at Kroger this week with sale plus $2 off coupons.

LOTS of freebies in the mail today: 6 packs of Johnsonville Deli Bites, a free 24-ct Advil product, and 6 free packs of instant coffee (I'm thinking of using them for mocha-flavored desserts- Chocolate Mocha Cheesecake at Christmas maybe?)

And more freebies in the mail yesterday, two small boxes of cereal (one was already eaten!) and a box of Hamburger Helper. The Hamburger Helper will go to a friend, as I prefer the homemade low-sodium and dairy-free version of this one-dish meal.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Choosing a Saving Money Blog or Website

By: Diane O'Brian

Every frugal blogger has a different perspective shaped by their reason for being frugal and their current lifestyle. That perspective is often reflected in their posts and is also what differentiates them from another blog or website. If you plan to become a regular subscriber, I think it is helpful to know how they came to be and what their life is like now. This will help you pick the best blogs/websites for you and maximize your time saving money.

A good example is this blog, Whole, Fast, Frugal. You would be more likely to read posts from me about saving money on pets and your home, where as with Mrs. Spock you will read about the frugal and healthy recipes she makes. We write what we know.

I’m often asked for the list of websites/blogs that I read, but I’d like to encourage you to make your own list. Find writers that resonate with you and are blogging about things you want to know about.

Here is a great place to start to locate money saving blogs/websites you may be interested in.

Things to consider when choosing a blog/website about saving money:
1. What stores do they shop at or where in the country are they located? If the writer only posts deals at their local stores this may not be of any help to you if you don’t have those stores nearby.

2. The writer’s lifestyle. Some writers post about frugal family friendly activities, where as others about saving money at restaurants and travel deals. Neither is bad, but one may be more helpful to you than another based on what your lifestyle is like.

3. Every day savings or big picture. Some writers are dedicated to writing about coupon matches and how to save money in your daily life. There are other writers who like to talk about the big picture such as budgeting, retirement savings, and paying down debt. Again, neither is bad-you just need to find the sites that fit what your money-saving goals are.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

“We’ll beat any advertised price!”

By Diane O'Brian

Price matching is when one retail outlet offers to sell something for the same price you’d purchase it for somewhere else. Price matching is a good option to help save time and money. Why go to multiple stores if you can get the lowest price on items at one store?

Make sure you bring the ad from the store with the lower price with you. You will need to make sure you find the same size, flavor, brand, etc. as what is listed in the ad. Each stores policy and procedure is a little different so you will want to look up the policy before going to that store. If your cashier doesn’t know about price matching you can call for a manager or go to customer service.

Virtually no stores will attempt price matching with website prices-including their own, and not all stores will price match on Black Friday.

Stores that price match:
Best Buy
Office Depot

Monday, October 4, 2010


By: Diane O'Brian

Oh the struggle many families face debating between the health benefits of buying organic and the havoc it can wreak on your budget. One can argue that the longtime savings due to good health can outweigh the toll buying organic can take on your budget.
Whatever your reason for buying organic, there are ways to save money.

If you find a good deal on fruits, veggies, meat, milk and cheeses-stock up! All of these items can be frozen.


A co-op is a store or retail market for products, owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. Belonging to, or using a food co-op can allow you to purchase organic food at a lower price.

Dirty Dozen
If you are trying to find a way to ease into buying organic, it is commonly recommended that you start with the dirty dozen. These fruits and veggies tend to have the most pesticide residue.
• Apples
• Cherries
• Grapes
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Raspberries
• Strawberries
• Bell peppers
• Celery
• Potatoes
• Spinach

Buy in Bulk
Stores like Cosco, Amazon and Sam’s sell organic food in bulk at a lower price than a smaller grocery store.

Always check the Sunday paper for coupons. But your best bet for organics is on individual product websites like Seventh Generation.

Farmer’s Market
Your local farmer’s market can be a great place to buy affordable organic food. Plus you may be supporting your local economy. Go here to search for your closest farmer’s market.

Substitute less expensive veggies in place of expensive ones. Think broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, and yellow onions instead of asparagus, red peppers, and sweet onions.

In Season
Buy what’s in season. Corn, for example is very affordable during the summer, but is much more expensive the rest of the year.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Homemade Hummus and Pita Bread, Greek Salads with red onion, feta,tomatoes, kalamata olives, and homemade Greek Salad Dressing

Tuesday: Corn and Bacon Chowder, salads

Wednesday: Leftover Corn Chowder, Homemade Mac and Cheese

Thursday: Spanish Rice and Beans

Friday: hunt and peck, working late

Saturday: Mushroom Risotto With Peas, Broccoli, Pear Puff Pancake for dessert

Sunday: Penne With Red Pepper Pesto, salads

Day care treats:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, made dairy-free
Apple Oatmeal Muffins from the freezer
Peanut-butter and banana wraps

Work Lunches:
Lean Cuisine entree (was $1.37 with deals this week), ranch and bell pepper tortilla wraps, or lunchmeat sandwich with cheese, baby carrots and bell peppers, fat-free chocolate pudding (made in bulk and stored in fridge), oatmeal raisin cookies, grapes

Hundreds more menus here!