Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Ceiling Fan

This was a big, scary job that wasn't as bad as I feared in the end.

Our ceiling fan hadn't been dusted in the 3 years we've lived here. It's in my & DH's bedroom and I would lay in bed contemplating it's grossness. I would wonder what would happen if we turned on the fan. I would consider how the heck to clean the thing. It's directly over the bed hanging from a vaulted ceiling. How could I clean it without showering a herd of dust bunnies onto our bedding?

I want to give a shout out to my mom here who did teach me to clean. We just didn't have any ceiling fans in my house.

Here's what the fan looked like when I started. I don't know if you can really see the dust buildup but it's significant. I really don't want to show you this, but I like to be "real" on this blog so there you go.

I read a tip online awhile back about using a pillowcase to clean the blades of a ceiling fan. It sounded good to me - you can dust and catch all the falling pieces at the same time. I gave it a try and it worked pretty well. The hardest part was getting the pillowcase onto the fan paddle without knocking dust off. It was also a little weird to rub the fan blade all over and hope I was getting all the dust since I couldn't see it.
Here's a photo of the pillowcasewhen I was done. It mostly had balls of dust inside it, not streaks of dirt like I expected.

After the pillowcase round, I opened a swiffer duster that had been sitting in my laundry room for about two years. It took off a little more dust. I was actually pretty surprised at how much more dust the Swiffer attracted. Finally I got a wet rag because the fan still looked a little dingy. Then I laid on my bed and looked for any spots I missed.

It still doesn't look perfect, but it is at about 97% and it's good enough for me and my pregnant, forget-climbing-the-ladder-one-more-time body.
Finished Product:


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

50% of Costumes & Party Supplies

My girls love to dress up so I was excited to see a great deal running at

You can get an additional 50% off your purchase using code clear50. The "blowout" clearance kids costumes mostly range from $4.99 to $29.99 though I only saw a few under the $9.99 price. At 50% off these costumes could be as low as $2.49! BuyCostumes has a flat shipping rate of $4.99 so if you buy several costumes you could be getting some sweet deals! I'm thinking this could be a great time to buy all your Halloween costumes - adult and infant sizes are available, too. This site also has party supplies available so if you're planning a party see what you might find at 50% off! This deal only runs through Monday, July 5th!

I saw this deal on BucktownBargains today.


Monday, June 28, 2010

How I Grocery Shop - Store Clearance With Pictures!

Another favorite grocery shopping trick is to check out the store clearance items. These "finds" are often my favorite part of shopping because it's such a delight to come home with an uexpected sweet deal.

Some stores have a clearance section, just mark items where they are on the shelf, or a combination of both.

At my QFC there are several markdown sections. One is in the refrigerated lunchmeat & cheese area. Another is at one end of the meat department. There is also a bakery markdown shelf a few aisles down from the bread and a general merchandise markdown shelf near the pharmacy. All of these are in the back of the store.

At Fred Meyer, it's a similar situation. The meat department has a little corner clearance area and there are general merchandise and bakery markdown racks, too. At Fred Meyer the deli cheese & meat doesn't have a designated spot, but the clearance items are tagged and left in their regular display spots. The markdown salad, refrigerated 'produce' items and organic items are also left in their displays. Freezer markdowns are usually on the top shelf of the endcap freezer case nearest the meat deparment.
Clearance tags at Fred Meyer & QFC have the same orange & yellow Kroger markdown tags and look like this:

Fred Meyer has additional "50% off original price" tags that are big orange circles:

At Target the clearance sections for every non-clothing department are usually on endcaps. These are on the end of an aisle pointing away from the front of the store. In the refrigerated cases there is usually a clearance shelf in the last cold case toward the back of the store. The Target clearance stickers look like this:

Albertson's has a big variety of stickers depending on where the item is. Also Albertson's stores vary pretty widely about where they locate their clearance items. This sticker is pretty standard. It'll be on pre-packaged meats & cheese - pretty much anything in that vicinity - and it's really easy to spot.

These red mark-down stickers are on the "fancier" deli items like refrigerated pasta & soft cheese. I think the general meat markdowns also have these. Sorry for the poor picture quality - I used my cell phone at the store.

Next, these "Clearance Item" tags are on non-perishable food items. Some Albertson's have big clearance racks that are filled with these tags and related items and you won't find too many of these tags in the aisles (Redmond). Some Albertson's have a tiny clearance shelf and more of these tags will be in the aisles (Bellevue). The Woodinville store has a good mix. My preference is the Redmond store so I can see all the clearance stuff in one place and do my "perimeter" shopping quickly. If I decide to walk through the aisles loooking for the tags the shopping takes much longer. Again, this is cell phone photo.

Safeway's clearance section is usually in the back near the doors to the stockroom for non-perishable items and a small section of the deli case (knee height) for meat & cheese. There is often an additional freezer markdown area on the bottom shelf of a freezer case near the meat deparment. They have bright orange tags that clearly mark the original price. Safeway also has white "% Off" tags for markdown meat, too - sorry no photo of the white tags.

Lastly, this is a Walgreen's markdown sticker. I happened to have this so I thought I'd include it. (P.S. This was only $0.09 because I had a $1.00 off manufacturer's coupon!)

Grocery shopping on clearance is just like any other clearance shopping. Some items are great deals and some are on clearance for a reason. Just use your discretion, know what a good price really is, and have fun hunting!
Tomorrow I'll put all the grocery shopping together and show you a whole week's worth of shopping.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

How I Grocery Shop - Put it all Together

Now that the "How I Grocery Shop" series is concluded I wanted to show you an example of all the pieces together including my random, organization thoughts.

I usually grocery shop in the wee hours on Saturday morning, but I was hosting a baby shower this particular Saturday and knew the shopping would be delayed until Sunday sometime. I did, however, need to pick up some balloons for the shower so I dashed down to Fred Meyer and of course, did quick run by the clearance bins. Here's what I found:

Nice 'n Soft TP - clearance $2.49
MD TP - clearance $2.49
Hamburger buns - clearance $.79 (note to self - eat pulled pork from freezer)
Bread - clearance $.79

On Saturday my priority was eating stuff out of the freezer (as ever) so I'd have room to freeze berries before I made jam mid-July. My aunt found me a used canner at a garage sale but I won't see her until the weekend of July 10th so I planned to save berries until then.
So Saturday night DH and I watched a movie and I made my menu plan and grocery list.

Menu Plan Dinners:
Sunday -Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Monday - Beef Fajitas (need to use an old bell pepper)
Tuesday - Ham/Potato soup (freezer meal) & garden salad
Wednesday - Spanish Rice w/Ground Beef (freezer meal) & garden salad
Thursday - Garlic Chicken in White Wine Sauce (freezer meal), macaronda, & salad
Friday - Pork Chops, Cheesy Broccoli Rice, Salad
Saturday - Beefy Enchilada Casserole, spanish rice (leftover?), & salad
Sunday - July 4th BBQ
Monday - Russian Chicken, rice, salad
Tuesday - Beef Stir Fry

Grocery List

Must Buy: Whipping Cream for promised Strawberry Shortcake

Should Buy/Getting Low:
Cooking spray
Vegetable oil
Milk - both whole & nonfat
Other fruit -whatever's on sale
Cream cheese
Toilet paper - Got this one!!!
AA Batteries
Olives - both green and black
Pork loin

It's always nice when there is so little on the "must buy" list as I'm planning so many freezer meals and we have been getting such great lettuce from the garden. Basically I get to just shop the good deals! So I made a list for each of the ads (including Fred Meyer's new ad) and had short lists (4-7 items each) for Fred Meyer, QFC, Top, and Safeway. I prioritized like this: QFC (whipping cream on sale), Safeway (waiting for cream cheese at $1 for 3 weeks!), Top (great 77Cent sale this week), and Fred Meyer. Albertson's just wasn't anything spectacular and unless they had double coupons I didn't plan to go.
Sunday I had sick kiddo and didn't make it to church. DH picked up some bread for us. Usually we select one or two items. I don't know how DH ended up with all this, but here's a picture and the list: A double pack of ciabatta long loaves, 2 loaves of wheat bread, a package of bagels, a dozen croissants and 36, yes 36, white dinner rolls. Hmm.

I saw all of this bread in the car as I was getting ready to leave for grocery shopping. I did a quick evaluation and figured we'd be eating bagels, croissants, and french toast for breakfast. Thank goodness cream cheese was on sale! We'd also have lots of sandwiches for lunch on the rolls. Again, yay for lunch meat in the freezer! The loaves of bread would keep in the freezer - good bye berry freezing plans.
Now it was time to shop! I decided to go to Albertson's after all when I saw their double coupon in the Sunday paper. I can always a good deal with those. I also went to Safeway, QFC, and even stopped at Walgreen's for a couple items. I was exhausted by the time I got home and didn't even want to think about Top or Fred Meyer. That's what usually happens and why I prioritize where I need to go. Overall I shopped about 2 hours and spent $42.52. $21.33 of that was on gift cards so I only spent $21.19 out of pocket. And I also have a mail-in rebate to send for $3 and a $3 Walgreen's Reward to spend in the next couple of weeks.

Here are the details - grocery sales are still on through Tuesday night.

2 boxes Cinnamon Toast Crunch -sale $2.49 ($4.00/4 store deal)($1.00/2 MC doubled) = $.49 each
2 boxes of Cheerios - sale $2.49 ($4.00/4 store deal)($1.00/2 MC doubled) = $.49 each
S'Mores Deal - Hershey's, marshmallows & graham crackers on sale totalling $6.49 ($2.00/all store deal) ($1.00/all 3 MC in-store) = $3.49 for all 3
Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce - sale $1.00 ($1.00/2 MC doubled) = FREE
Vegetable Oil 1 gallon - sale $6.79 (much cheaper than the $10 at cash'n'carry!)
Turkey & Ham lunchmeat - clearance $0.99 each
Bananas $.59/lb
Gillette Hairspray - clearance $1.00 ($1.00 MC) = FREE
I have a gift card for Albertson's so I decided to get the bananas here as well as go ahead and splurge on the bulk purchase of vegetable oil. I bought the last gallon sometime last summer so I figure this jug will last another year or so. Also the clearance lunch meat and free hairspray made me really glad I came.

Caesar dressing - sale price $1.49 (1.00 MC) = $.49
Cream Cheese - sale price $.99
Grapes - $.99/lb
Cucumbers - $0.50 each
Coffeemate powder tubes - $1.29 (50% off clearance)($.50 MC) = $.14
Finesse conditioner - $3.99 (BOGO Sale)($1.00 MC)($3.00 MIR) = Both for price of stamp $.44
Blistex 3 pack - $2.99 ($3.00 coupon for next Walgreen's trip) = FREE
2 pears - $.50 each (weird to find pears at Walgreens, but pears haven't been on sale for awhile and I thought $.50 would be close to $1/lb.)

Cottage Cheese - sale price $1.00
Whipping Cream - sale price $1.00
Dozen Eggs - sale price $1.00
Fresh Mozarella - clearance price $2.69 ($1.00 MC) = $1.69 (this is a total yummy treat for me)
Tomatoes - sale price $1.00/lb (cheaper at Top, but I wanted a couple to go with the mozzarella)

Top is really having an excellent sale this week, especially with the $1.00 off deparment coupons inside the ad. I will probably try to make it over there still for the $.77/lb tomatoes and 3/$1 kiwi with the $1 produce coupon. I will also try to use the $1 grocery coupon with the $3.77 block of cheese and possibly Zararin's rice.

Fred Meyer:
I will probably skip FM entirely. They have a great deal on Ben & Jerry's and I have an MC, but it's an extra and pregnancy + ice cream is not good for me. I seriously ate two whole 1.5 quart cartons by myself in about 5 days last week. So we can skip the Ben & Jerry's. I got BBQ sauce at Albertson's and enough other fruit that I don't need the $.88 peaches.

So that's about it - my week in shopping. Oh - it turns out DD's won't eat mini-sandwiches on the white dinner rolls so I'm thinking I'll give them a try as french toast next (thanks for the idea, Ruth!).


Spring Cleaning - Scrubbing Kitchen Chairs

I hosted a baby shower yesterday and one of my priorities was to get our kitchen chairs cleaned. I knew we'd need them for extra seating and these chairs were coated with kid grime and food residue for the last three months (I try to scrub these down quarterly - more often would be better, but quarterly is realistic). So we took advantage of the sunshine this week and the girls had a great time playing in the water and getting the top layer of gunk off. I went out and spent less than 5 minutes getting the rest off.
Here is a picture of us getting started:

The girls fought over the scrub brush. Naomi liked standing in the bucket. Eventually Joanna got in on the action and Naomi started scrubbing her. Naomi got a talking to and grumpy, she didn't want to be in the picture when the chairs were all done. Here are three wet girls.

Overall this was much less painful than I thought it would be and the girls had a great time playing in the water on the deck. I'll remember for next time that they are great at getting that top layer of gunk off. And everything else gets nice and soft so I can scrub it off fast.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Trader Joe's Deals

I got the Trader Joe's summer mailer about a week ago and saw a few good deals I wanted to pass along.

1) 4# box of peaches or nectarines ar only $4.99. I usually don't pay more than $1/lb, but I bet that extra quarter is worth it for Trader Joe's quality.

2) A big basil plant is only $2.99. We received one as a gift and it's been blooming beautifully for almost 2 months. It comes in a gallon container you can just set right out on your deck.

3) A bag of TJ's pizza dough is only $1.29. I've been wanting to try homemade pizza and at this price I might just give it a go. Does anyone have a recipe for great pizza dough? It might be hard to beat $1.29 for ingredients and effort, but I'm always up for trying a new recipe.

Does anyone else have favorites they buy at Trader Joe's? I'm not a big TJ's shopper, but I know it's a standard for many of you. I'd love to know what kind of deals you find there.


Garden Update

It's about time for a garden update! The weather has finally been nice enough to spend significant time outside working on and weeding the garden. Those poor veggies were nearly overrun! I have been weeding the last several days in short spurts because I'm so often interrupted by children and preggo achoes.

Here's the "before" picture. I'm not sure you can see all the weeds, but they're all over!

So far our lettuce is the only thing producing edible food. We have romaine & mixed greens in abundance. The spinach was mostly eaten by slugs, but there are still three plants surviving and giving us nice green leaves. I originally planted lots of lettuce seeds knowing I'd thin it out as the growing season passed but then I haven't been thinning it until now! This photo is after I have pulled out 1/4 of the mixed greens. You can also see a hole in the lower, front plant. We have had tiny slugs all over the lettuce, but they're less and less evident with the warmer warmer weather and my attention to the garden.

These are the sugar snap peas. The girls love to eat these right off the plant so I like to have lots of them readily available! We'll definitely have a second growing season of these this summer. I just put up the stakes and strung thread for the the tendrils to climb up. Unfortunately I left these too long and they plants had all grown together in a big clinging bush. I did my best to gently extricate some of the vines and encourage them to wrap around the thread. In two days there are half dozen little tendrils grasping the strings so I hope they continue to grow away from the mass of vines and up the stakes. The stakes are just 1x2" boards from Home Depot that were cut in half on an angle to make a pointy end.

Here's one of little strawberry plants. We are trying strawberries for the first time this year and I've been pleasantly surprised at how well they're faring. This is our most promising berry (there are lots of little green ones growing, too). After two days in the sun, this berry has a hint of pink. Maybe after today's sunshine it will gain even more color and really excite the girls. They have been watching the strawberries closely. UPDATE: After Thursday's sun this berry is bright red!
Here is one of the zucchini plants. Eve took this picture directly from above, but I think the apricot-colored blooms are still visible. The blooms will turn into zucchini over the next month or so. Also, notice the broken shovel to the left of the zucchini plant. Don't try to hammer stakes in with your only hand shovel or your only shovel might break! Gah! The girls are enjoying the pieces of it and I bought a new Black & Decker trowel that is one solid piece of reinforced steel so it'll last a long time (I hope!). Also, praise God again for Ed's full-time work - I had no guilt about buying a new shovel. This small item fits into the budget just fine & it feels like such a luxury!
Overall the garden is growing nicely. We have been disappointed that the cucumbers have failed twice and that only one of the baking pumpkin plants survived, but everything else seems to be doing OK. I tried to find new cucumber plants at Fred Meyer this week but they were out. Does anyone have a suggestion of where to find established cucumber plants? Do I have to go to Molbak's?


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fred Meyer Shopping $24.51

I was at Fred Meyer (FM) yesterday to pick up bananas & strawberries. Of course I ended up finding many more deals.

Here's what I got:

Post Cereal - sale price $1.50 each ($1.00/2 MC) = $1.00 each
2# strawberries - sale price $2.50
bananas - regular price $.59/lb = 1.38
sour cream - sale price $1.00
2# Bandon Cheese - store coupon $3.99 (I grew up 20 minutes from Bandon - it's owned by Tillamook and is virtually the same cheese - Yum!)
3# butter - store coupon 3/$5
Nalley pickles - $2.50 sale price ($.75 MC) = $1.75 (cheaper than the FM brand on sale for $2)
Duncan Hines Frosting - store clearance $.89

In total I spent $24.51. It's not my best shopping trip, but considering cheese, butter, & cereal I thought $24 was pretty good.


P.S. FM also has Breyer's ice cream and Klondike bars for $2 with a store coupon. I am so going back this week for Breyer's with a $.75/1 coupon to get it for $1.25.

How I Grocery Shop - Bulk Buying

One of my favorite ways to save on groceries is to buy in bulk. There are several ways this plays out.

Bulk Size Packages - First, you can buy the bigger, bulk-size packages at the store. In general, but not always, the larger package of goods costs less per unit of measure than the smaller package. This is why Costco is so popular.

For example, earlier this month I bought a 65 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts at Costco for $8.65. The same product sold in smaller 16 oz. jars at the grocery store would have run at least $3.00 per jar, even with a good sale. The same quantity (65 oz.) of artichoke hearts would have been $12.00, at best, to buy 4 jars at the grocery store.

An exception to this is if you have a coupon. Usually the smaller package combined with a "cents off" coupon will work out to a lower per unit cost than the large package with the same "cents off" coupon.

Many Packages at a Low Price - This is basically buying lots of a product when it's on sale. The idea behind this type of bulk buying is that if you buy at the low price and stockpile for future use, those future uses will all be at the low price, too.

For example, I purchased 8 boxes of cereal yesterday because it was only $1.00 a box. Did I need 8 boxes of cereal? No. I have a dozen boxes already. However, I did need cereal for the kids as we are only one morning away of being out of Kix and we already are out of Cheerios, Raisin Bran, & Rice Krispies. I didn't want to feed my kids the sugary junk I have on hand and I didn't want to pay $3.79 for a box of Rice Krispies. So I bought 8 boxes of cereal I'll be happy to feed the kids (Honeycomb, Raisin Bran, & Honey Bunches of Oats) and only paid $1.00 for. These will last through most of the summer, just in time for the back-to-school cereal sales.

Stores place limits on their sale priced items just for this reason. They advertise a few loss leaders hoping you'll come in and do the rest of your shopping, too. The store actually loses money on some of those really good prices so they limit how much you can buy. I purchased laundry detergent this week for $1.99 at Fred Meyer with a store coupon. The limit was 2. At that price I would have considered buying more, especially if I'd had manufacturer's coupons to pair with the store coupon. But alas, limit 2, so 2 is what I purchased.

Major Bulk Purchases - Sometimes buying in bulk can save significant sums, especially if you buy really large packages. I recently purchased a 50# bag of oatmeal, a 20# bag of white rice and a 25# bag of brown rice for about $44. I shared the purchase with a couple family members and was left with 20# of oatmeal that only cost $8 and 22# of rice that only cost $12. These staples should last us six months or more and I certainly would have paid more than 40 cent/lb for oatmeal and 55 cents/lb of rice! Other items to consider buying in a major bulk purchase include flour if you make your bread or sugar if you do a lot of baking.

The difficulty of buying in bulk is, of course, coming up with the funds to purchase in bulk ahead of time. I had to allow an extra $100 in the grocery budget this month because I had planned a trip to Costco. The bulk buying adds up, but overall your meals will cost less when your ingredients were purchased previously at a great price.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Meal Swap - Chicken Artichoke Heart Pasta

I had my monthly meal swap again last night. This round I made Chicken Artichoke Heart Pasta. It's been well received before, but I don't get to make it often because the ingredients are a little on the spendy side.

Here's the recipe:

8 oz. pasta (we like farfalle or penne)
16 oz. marinated artichoke hearts
2 t. garlic
1 c. shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 c. mayonaise
1/4 c. pine nuts
2 T. bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 F. Blend together the artichoke hearts, mayo, pine nuts, garlic, & parmesan cheese, reserving 1 T. parmesan. Mix cooked pasta together with blended mixture until it's well coated. Spread into a baking pan & top with 2 T. bread crumbs and reserved 1 T. parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered 30 minutes or until top browns.

Here are the starting ingredients; I added 2 cups of chopped chicken to the recipe to add bulk & because almost everyone always has meat in their dishes for the swap. I used bread crumbs I had made and frozen about two months ago.

First I put the noodles on to cook and worked on the paste. Note that I don't drain the artichoke hearts so the paste is nice and moist.

Then I stirred the paste and noodles together, added the chicken and poured it into our meal swap pans. I quadrupled the recipe and it made 7 full 5x13 pans, though I was hoping for 8.

So I sprinkled the bread crumbs and cheese and that was it. Overall it's a pretty easy dish if you have a food processor or blender.

Here's the cost breakdown:

32 oz. farfalle pasta - $1.50 on sale
65 oz. marinated artichoke hearts - $8.45 at Costco
8 t. garlic - $.20
4 c. parmesan - $2.75 ish at Costco
2 c. mayonaise - $1.00 on sale
1 c. pine nuts - $3.00 (est. as I don't remember what these cost & they've been around awhile)
8 t. bread crumbs - free bread from church made the crumbs
7 c. chopped chicken - $7.00 on sale

Total: $24.00 total / 7 pans = $3.40 each

Wow! I guess these weren't as expensive as I thought. Perhaps it's just the big Costco purchase of artichoke hearts, parmesan, and pine nuts that makes it feel more expensive.
The meals I received included Corn Chowder, Cheesey Potato & Ham Soup, Spanish Rice with Ground Beef, Beefy Pasta Bake, Chicken Cutlets in White Wine Sauce, and Maple Soy Glazed Salmon. A good variety this time.


A Great Target Visit - $2.98

This groceries were $2.98! I think Target must markdown their groceries for Saturday mornings because there were two endcaps full of clearance items around 9AM. There were lots of good prices, but I had manufacturer's coupons to make them even better.

Smucker's Jam - clearance price $1.22 ($.55 MC) = $.67
Target Basalmic Salad Dressing - clearance price $.67
Dole Mandarin Oranges - clearance price$1.87 ($.75 MC) = $1.12
Uncle Ben's Ready Rice - clearance price $1.04 ($1.00 MC) = $.04
Del Monte Fruit Chillers - clearance price $1.24 ($1.00 MC) = $.24 each

The whole reason I went to Target was to find a low-cost pair of black shoes. Many of my maternity clothes are black and I found a great pair of black/dark gray jeans at the Goodwill for $8 last week so I really needed a pair of shoes. I found a pair I liked that was clearance priced - yay! - for $13.88. When I got to the checkstand, they rang it up for only $4.98! How great is that? Overall an excellent Target visit.


Monday, June 21, 2010

God's Blessing Us in Big Ways, Too!

A couple of weeks ago I posted about all the small ways God had been blessing us. I explained that I waited and waited sometimes for the big blessings but wanted to recognize the many small blessings and be thankful for them.

Interestingly, since that post God has been blessing in big ways.

The first big blessing was a call from our property manager. We have a rental property that we have been unable to sell in this market, but the current tenants are moving at the end of the month and we were going to try and sell it again. We were also planning to list it for rent and trust the Lord to rent or sell it in His timing, though we hoped quickly because paying the mortgage with no rent would be next to imossible. Well, the property manager was calling to let us know that our previous tenants had been in touch with her and were interested in renting the property again. These were good tenants who always paid on time and took care of the house. They wanted the property on July 1 and would pay more rent than the current tenants. We were amazed that God would answer our prayers so completely. We won't lose a single month of rent and will have increased income from the higher rent.

The second big blessing occured in three pieces. We have had some unusual expenses in June including a car repair, a rental property bill, an emergency room bill, and travel expenses for an out of town wedding. Needless to say that cash has been tight! Well, we picked up our car one morning about 10 days ago and prayed that God would provide the funds to cover the expense. When Ed got to work about 30 minutes later there was an anonymous gift of gift cards on his desk. A few days later we got another anonymous gift card in the mail. Then I was handed another gift card by a friend that had apparently passed through several hands on the way to mine, and it also was anonymous. These gifts were for gas, stores we frequent, and a visa gift card. Can you say Hallelujah? We sure did! This is incredibly comforting, but it is also humbling.

And the third big blessing? We just found out on Friday that DH's job is back to 40 hours starting today! That means he is earning a full time salary again instead of 75%, and we are back to "normal" after almost a year. Praise God! We have always lived frugally so it's not as though we suddenly have a huge excess of funds, but we will be able to pay all of our bills again with DH's salary and have a little left over to save and chip away at our last remaining non-mortage debts. It has been a weird couple of days realizing the financial stress has lifted and reflecting on what we've learned and the amazing ways God has provided for our needs.

  • First, we learned of DH's layoff last May, 60 days ahead of time. I was three weeks away from Joanna's birth. We would have full medical coverage and DH would have no work responsibilities except to look for another job within Microsoft for those 60 days.
  • DH was unable to secure a position within Microsoft during those 60 days, but he found a job contracting at Microsoft and was working that job in just two weeks after the official layoff.
  • Microsoft has excellent insurance, and the COBRA was over $1,500 per month. Rather than have to purchase our own private insurance, we ended up qualifying for a government plan that covered 65% of the COBRA, so we only paid a little over $500 per month and were able to keep our excellent no co-pay and no referral insurance. Private insurance with co-pays would have been in excess of $600 per month just for the very cheapest premiums.
  • The severance package from Microsoft was generous and carried us through four months of an empty rental property while we tried to sell it and through six months of the lower contract job salary.
  • In October, we had a water problem in our basement with ground water coming in and ruining the flooring. We didn't lose anything of significant value except the carpet.
  • We had many, many friends and family stepping in to help us with the water problem - including diagnosing the problem, helping move things out of the basement, removing carpet, helping fix the problem, and helping watch the kids so I could unpack into the upstairs.
  • In November, we received a Thanksgiving basket from our church. At the time I thought it was funny, though I appreciated it, because our pantry was overflowing and grocery shopping is one area I can be really, really frugal. In retrospect, I can see how helpful it was as we've been supplementing so much of our grocery budget with the stockpile in our pantry and freezer. How else would I have been able to spend less than $200/month (and sometimes much closer to $100) on groceries?
  • In December, DH was offered a job as a Microsoft employee again but in a 30 hour/week position. It came with a promotion that made the 75% salary on par with the 100% contract salary, so we made the switch and got a whole extra day with DH each week.
  • We could clearly see God's hand in this promotion. It would have been next to impossible if DH hadn't had a complete employment separation from Microsoft.
  • We were able to take our kids to Disneyland in January on a very limited budget and had a great time making wonderful memories.
  • In March, we discovered a water problem at our rental property. My sweet dad worked with DH and was able to locate and fix the problem at very little cost to us.
  • In April, DH was hired by the U.S. Census for temporary work. This job has filled "the gap" for two months, and we have been able to avoid using our credit card.
  • DH was able to take parental leave from Microsoft in May for two weeks. Joanna was 11 months old and the "rule" is you must take the leave before the child's first birthday. We were amazed that DH qualified for this because Joanna was born during his previous employment with Microsoft, and he'd been separated from the company for five months before getting rehired. We were able to coordinate his parental leave with the U.S. Census training and a family vacation. What a blessing to have him around!
  • We have had help during these months from our church in many ways, including scholarships for programs, food from the kitchen, and even a couple doctor bills.
  • We have had help from many friends and family during this time, including food, clothes, anonymous gift cards, labor, and just plain encouragement.
  • DH got the news about his job going to 40 hours on Thursday with no notice whatsoever. His manager was out of the office and an administrator called to ask him when he wanted to start the 40 hour schedule. His manager confirmed on Friday.
  • The U.S. Census job wrapped up this weekend and DH is starting his new schedule today. Could the Lord have timed that any more perfectly?
These are just the highlights and "big" moments where we could see God at work in our lives and carrying us through a difficult time. There are many, many smaller things that were equally glorious, and we are so thankful to be leaving this season behind and looking forward to using what we've learned to glorify the Lord.


Friday, June 18, 2010

How I Grocery Shop - Coupons

I am a coupon shopper. I clip them out of the Sunday paper inserts, rip them out of magazines, pull them from the little machines in the store aisles, and print them off the internet. I am pretty hard core with a ridiculous organization system that I'll explain at a later date, but I got started pretty simply.

Here are some tips if you're new to coupons:
  • Start small. Only clip or print coupons for items you usually buy. There's no need to overwhelm yourself with a huge stack of coupons you won't use.
  • Organize your coupons in some way that makes sense to you. You can pick up a "coupon organizer" at the dollar store or just tuck a few small, labeled envelopes into your purse. A few good categories might be dairy/refrigerated, frozen, dry goods, baby, and other. This will allow you to lay hands on an appropriate coupon quickly.
  • Check out the grocery ads to see if some of those things you buy regularly are on sale - then see if you have a coupon make the sale price even better. You will save time shopping if you plan ahead at home.
  • Remember that a coupon does not necessarily equal a good price. Often a generic brand is still cheaper than the brand name even with a coupon.
Here are some deals I got recently with coupons. What you see pictured cost only $3.16. Some items were on sale, some were on store clearance, and I purchased each with a coupon that doubled. Albertson's occasionally puts double coupons in their mailers and I happened to be in Portland where Safeway also put a double coupon in their ad.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

JC Penney $10 of $10 purchase

I love these online deals from JC Penney!

Use coupon code DADROCKS through Father's Day, June 20, to receive $10 off a $10 or more purchase. Shipping is $5.95.

I usually look through the clearance deals in kids' shoes & clothes to find an item or two that total just over $10. After shipping, the item is still only $6 or $7, which is a great price. Shipping is a little less if you have the item delivered to your local store.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Hall Closet

The Spring Cleaning & organizing continues - though at a slower than planned rate. The most recent finished project is the hall closet.
Here are the before pictures:

Here are the after pictures:

Mostly I just pulled everything out and was selective about what I put back in. I got rid of two boxes worth of junk including many items from the dresser drawers. The dresser sits below the shelving (it isn't very visible in the photos) and is one of my favorite things about this closet because I can store so many small things and the mess isn't visible. The drawers hold things like first aid items, stockpiled bath products, small kid gifts, and intermittently used household items like extension cords.

I organized the giftwrap items, the 'gift box', the stockpiled diapers on the top shelf and various other items used often enough to keep inside the house instead of the garage. I also tossed out lots of empty or almost empty boxes that were just tossed in the closet at one time or another.
I love the closet organizing! Next up I'm working on Joanna's room and I'll get to attack her closet, too. It's full of baby junk that will be fun to sort through both as preparation for new baby and as a chance to weed out unnecessary items! Yay!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Full Fridge & Monday Menu Plan

This is what my fridge & freezer looked like last night after Joanna's birthday party. I over-prepared food, our kind guests brought several things, DH picked up some day-old bread & bagels, and Mom came to visit bringing a few grocery items. You can't see the top shelf because of the light, but there are 5 cartons of eggs, a dozen raw burgers, some sliced baguette rounds, and several cups of chicken stock. I couldn't just toss the bread and meat in the freezer because, as you can see, there is no room in the freezer.
I also have my meal swap a week from today, so I have to make major freezer room for my meals by this weekend when I'll prepare them.
Time to update the menu plan!
Monday - French Toast/grapes (uses bread & eggs)
Tuesday - Bananas/oatmeal
Wednesday - Pancakes/bacon (uses bacon from freezer)
Thursday - Bananas/oatmeal
Friday - Egg casserole (uses bread, eggs, turkey sausage)
Saturday - bananas/cereal
Sunday - bananas/cereal
Monday - Nachos (uses leftover chips) & cucumber chicken salad (leftover veggies)
Tuesday - Grilled cheese (bread) & more cc salad
Wednesday - Hot dogs (leftover buns)
Thursday - PBJ packed lunch
Friday - Quesadillas
Saturday - at a birthday party
Sunday - Beefy Enchilada Casserole (from freezer)
Monday - Baked Potato Soup (uses old potatoes, milk & bacon from freezer)
Tuesday - Pulled Pork (uses leftover burger buns & big hunk of meat from freezer)
Wednesday - Lasagna (from freezer)
Thursday - Meatloaf (from freezer)
Friday - Dinner Out
Saturday - Dinner at a friend's house
Sunday - Sausage gravy over egg noodles (Father's Day)
I don't need to purchase any ingredients for these meals, but I'll need to pick up a few staples this week including milk & fresh fruit.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Uses for Dawn Dish Detergent

I saw an article several years ago that outlined some new uses for Dawn dish soap. My mom used Dawn for all my growing up years and I got attached. It is one of the few products that I have brand loyalty to.

These tips were in an Everyday Cheapskate newsletter and I thought some of the ideas were so good I'd repost them here so you can enjoy them, too.

ICE PACK. Partially fill a strong zip-type sandwich bag with Dawn dishwashing liquid, close and freeze. Just to be safe, double bag it. Freeze. The liquid soap stays cold much longer and it can be re-frozen many times. It will conform to the place you need an ice pack.

BUBBLE PARTY. Combine ten parts distilled water and one part Dawn Dishwashing Liquid to make your own bubble solution. And add 1/4 part white corn syrup (like Karo ) if you want to make more sturdy bubbles. Gather up things like clean soup cans that have both ends cut off or Hula-Hoops with makeshift handles attached. If you want to, you can pour the solution into a plastic kiddy pool and make huge bubbles. Turn it into a scientific experiment and go on a hunt for bubble-making items in your kitchen. This is a super cheap idea that's lots of fun.

HAND DEGREASER. Forget those pricey automotive hand cleaners. Full strength blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid cuts through grease and gets hands and nails clean with no harsh chemicals.

CLEAN AUTOMOTIVE TOOLS. Soak them in a solution of Dawn dishwashing liquid before you put them away to remove all the oil and grime. As a bonus Dawn will help prevent rust from forming on the tools.

MANICURE SECRET. Soak fingers in full-strength blue Dawn. It makes the cuticles soft and easy to work with. And it removes the natural oil from the fingernails, which allows the polish to adhere very well.

REPEL ANTS. Spray countertops, cupboards and any other area where you see ants with a solution of Dawn and water. Wipe dry. The slight residue of Dawn that remains will not be a problem at all for kids or pets, but ants hate it. Should you see a trail of ants, go ahead and hit them with the Dawn spray. You'll see. It will kill them.

BATHROOM CLEANER. Original blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid has some kind of miraculous quality about it that makes it “melt” through stubborn soap scum and hideous build-up on showers and tubs, no matter whether porcelain, acrylic or fiberglass. Use it straight up and you'll bless the day you read this column.

HAIR PRODUCT BUILDUP. Once a month use original Dawn as you would shampoo. It will remove excess oil from your hair and scalp and strip away any build-up of styling products—without any damage. Perform this once a month and you won't have to buy expensive salon products that do the same thing.

STAIN SPOTTER. Original blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid used full-strength gets just about any kind of spot out of washables. Keep a small squeeze bottle in the laundry room so it's always handy.

BONUS: Dawn Dishwashing Liquid is biodegradable, while other chemical solvents may not be.

Click here for printable Dawn coupons.


A Resourceful Update: Lots of new tips

We updated the page links at the top!

On the Recipes page, I added "Pineapple Sirloin Skewers"

On the Translate page (which exists to help you decipher Katie's hidden messages), I added "DD"

And then on Resourceful Tips, I added "Free Movies and Books," "How to Make a Menu Plan," "How to Plan Your Shopping Trips," "List of Good Grocery Prices," "Big Drugstore Deals (Walgreens and Rite Aid)," "Labeling Sippy Cups" (under Kitchen), "Cloth Wipes," and "Diaper Cakes."

Check them out by clicking above or here:



Friday, June 11, 2010

How I Grocery Shop - What's a "Good Price?"

I have referred to a "good price" several times in this grocery shopping series so I thought I should specify what that means for me. I love to bargain shop but recognize that not everyone has the time or inclination to hunt the deals like I do. You may find that different prices than these are perfectly satisfactory for your family and that's great! You just do the best you can with what you have - the idea behind knowing a "good price" for you is so you can recognize when to buy.

Below are some of my "limits" on food items I typically buy. There are always exceptions like if I "must buy", but in general I try to stay below these prices. Keep in mind these are for standard size & not organic prices.

Cold cereal - $1.00/box
Yogurt - $.35/cup
Cheese - $2.00/lb (all types)
Lunchmeat - $2.00/lb
Olives - $1.00/can
Bread - $1.25/loaf
Macaroni & Cheese - $.50 regular & $1.00 organic
Milk - $2.00/gallon regular & $5.00/gallon organic
Pasta - $1.00/lb
Pasta Sauce - $1.00/jar
Meat - $2.00/lb (includes round steak, bacon, sausage, pork)
Chicken, boneless - $1.79/lb
Chicken, bone in - $1.29/lb
Chicken, whole - $.89/lb
Ground Beef - $1.79/lb
Sour Cream - $1.00/lb
Cream Cheese - $1.00/8 oz brick
Cottage Cheese - $1.50/lb
Eggs - $1.25/dozen
Most fruit - $1.00/lb
Salad dressing - $1.00/bottle
leafy lettuce - $1.29/head
cucumber & bell pepper- $.79/ea
tomato - $.99/lb
Flour - $2.00/5# bag
Sugar - $2.00/5# bag
Chocolate chips - $1.00/bag
Mayo - $2.00/full-size jar
Butter - $1.65/lb
Coffeemate (or similar) - $1.00/16 oz. or $2.00/32 oz.
Tea - $2.00/box
Coffee - $5.00/big can
Tortillas - $1.50/package
Tortilla chips - $1.00/bag

I rarely buy the following items so I don't know what a "good price" would accurately be. These are semi-educated guesses.

Soda - $.75 two liter, $2.50 12-pack
Juice - $1.00 bottle or frozen can
Ice cream - $2.00/half gallon
Frozen pizza (family size) - $2.50
Frozen pizza (individual) - $.75
Salsa - $2.00/jar

Do you have a "good price" limit on an item I haven't listed? I'm sure many of you readers have much more varied menus than I do and would be able to add to this list.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Banana Experiment

Several months back I heard that bananas take longer to ripen if they are separated into single units instead of being left in a bunch. I immediately started pulling my bunches of bananas apart in an effort to extend the life of this fruit staple. After awhile I wondered if it made any true difference since the bananas still did ripen, of course.

Question : Did separating the bananas slow the process down?

An opportunity presented itself a couple of weeks ago when I purchased two large bunches of bananas at Costco. I immediately unwrapped them and pulled one of the bunches apart. I chose the slightly more green bunch to pull apart. I think the "greenness" shows in the photo.

Six days later we only had four bananas left. You can see that the bananas from both groups have ripened similarly. Remember the separated bunch was a tiny bit more green so it follows that there should be a few less brown spots at this point.

Conclusion: There is no significant difference in the aging process between a separated bunch or intact bunch of bananas.

Application: Don't waste time separating bananas.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How I Grocery Shop - Grocery Ads & This Week's Shopping

Once I have made my menu plan and the corresponding "must buy" and "should buy soon" shopping lists I have a look at the weekly grocery ads. The ads arrive in Tuesday's mail for the new sales starting Wednesday. The exception is the Fred Meyer ad which comes in the free Friday paper and the Sunday Times.

I go through the weekly ad for each store, looking specifically for the items on my shopping list and also for any really low prices on other items. It takes some time to learn what a "good price" is if you aren't already paying attention.

Keep in mind that just because an item is in the weekly ad doesn't mean it's a good price or even that it's on sale. Also keep in mind that a 10 for $10 sale doesn't mean you have to buy 10 items - you can just buy one for $1. Sometimes stores have a "Buy 10 and save $5" promotion. Typically you don't have to buy 10 of the same items for these either, but you will have to buy any 10 of the participating items to get the $5 off.

This week I made a short list for 4 stores, though it is unusual for me to visit more than 2 each week. Usually I just pick the 2 stores with the best sales and choose to miss out on the other stores' deals. This week I visited 3 stores because of Joanna's birthday party and the quantity of items I must buy immediately.

Generally I have very few "must buy" items and lots of "should buy soon" items. I can take several weeks sometimes to find a price low enough to buy on a "should buy soon" item so I try to give myself plenty of time to find the best price. I want to get the good prices on those "must buy" items this week, so I made time to visit an extra store.

My short lists were for QFC, Safeway, Top and Albertson's. I elected to skip Safeway because while Coffeemate was at a low enough sale price, none of the items on the list for that store were on the "must buy" and only two, the Coffeemate and non-sugar cereal were on the "should buy soon" list. QFC and Albertson's had "must buy" items at low prices and Top had a few produce prices I didn't want to miss. So those were the three for this week's shopping.

Here's what I got at QFC for $13.00 (used a gift card):

Add Image

10 Yogurt Cups - $.6o BOGO = $.30 each
2 bags Egg Noodles - sale price $1.39 each
32 oz. yogurt - markdown $1.51
Cream Cheese - $1.69
6# bananas - $.59/lb

Here's what I got at Top & Albertson's for $26.81:

5- 2 liter generic sodas - $.69 each sale price (for Joanna's party)
2 cans Black Olives - $1.00 each sale price (for Joanna's party)
1 jar Pimento Olives - $2.29 sale price (for Joanna's party)
2- 2# bricks of cheese - $3.99 each
2 - Oscar Mayer lunch meat - $3.49 regular, markdown to $.99, ($1.00/2) MC = $.49 each
2 - Lunchable Deli Creations - $.299 regular, markdown to $.99, ($1.00/1) twice MC = FREE plus $.01 overage
Bell Peppers - $.69 each sale price (for Joanna's party)
Cucumber - $.79 (for Joanna's party)
Celery - $.89 (for Joanna's party)
Carrots - $.79 (for Joanna's party)
Grapes - $1.38/lb
Kiwi, lemon, limes - $3/1.00
Tomatoes - $.79/lb

There are still a few more things on my "must buy" list for these two weeks of menu plan and Joanna's party. I'll have a look at the ads for the new week to see what kinds of deals I can find.


Next up: What's a "good price?"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thankful for the Little Things

I was inspired by a friend's Facebook post this week. She had been feeling discouraged by all the rain and was just down. The high school girls she spends time with at our church prayed with her to start feeling better soon and for sun. Shortly after this prayer she left the church building and rejoiced to find blue skies and a beautiful sunset waiting for her.

I just loved that my friend was praising God for providing this small encouragement to her and that she shared it with the rest of us on Facebook. It made me think of some of the small and wonderful ways God has blessed me just in the last week or so. Sometimes I wait and wait for the huge blessings and forget that He is providing every day so I thought I'd share it here.
  • My mom and aunt watched all three girls for several hours so I could get out of the house, alone. I desperately need time alone and DH has been working so many hours on the census I was long overdue.
  • DH is willing to work as much as possible for the census. He is a huge blessing.
  • Two aunts gave me a few food items.
  • Our church gave us some bread & bagels.
  • The doctor found Joanna's ear infection while we were in for a well-child checkup saving us another trip to her office.
  • I was able to get a $20 grocery credit for a prescription
  • I thought we were late for an appointment but found out when we got there we were actually early!
  • I made it to the kids' playgroup and was so very blessed by the conversation with friends I hadn't seen in too long.
  • I was given a copy of the Bible study materials for next fall instead of having to purchase them.
  • A friend let me tag a long to Costco.
  • An aunt made the girls new coats.
  • Another aunt sent the girls an unexpected and beautiful gift of Lenox picture frames.
  • Several people remembered Joanna's birthday.
  • The sun is coming in just enough spurts and time for drying on the clothesline.
  • The garden continues to flourish & I have wonderful, helpful friends to advise me.
  • We ended up getting food vouchers on our trip that allowed us to treat ourselves to meals at the airport.
There are lots more, of course, but these are the ones that come to mind today. God will continue to be faithful & I pray I recognize His gifts and give credit where it's due!


How I Grocery Shop - Menu Plan

I frequently have friends asking how I spend so little on groceries. The short answer is "I shop sales." The long answer includes several strategies that combine to keep the grocery bills low. I'll talk about these strategies over the next week or so in posts titled "How I Grocery Shop." As creative a title as my pregnant, mommy vocabulary allows.

Today's installment describes menu planning.

The first step in saving money on groceries is not to spend it. Before I look at grocery ads, pull out coupons, or check out the deals I can find on my favorite websites I have a look at the food I already have on hand. First up is the produce drawer to determine what must be used immediately and what can wait a few days. Next up I consider the dairy products and their 'best by' dates. I very rarely throw away food - another trick to spending less is not to waste anything. Items that need to be used are incorporated into the dinner plans in the first few days of the plan.

Usually I have enough food to make at least a week's worth of dinners. I make a list of those meals and a list of the few, if any, ingredients I need to make them. For example, the two week plan I made today includes beef stroganoff and baked potato soup. We also have quesadillas at least once a week for lunch. I only have enough sour cream for one of those meals, so sour cream is on my list this week. I asked DH what he wanted for dinner on Father's Day and he's requested sausage gravy over egg noodles. I don't have sausage or egg noodles so those are both on my list.

Next I consider what I have on hand for breakfasts & lunches. These meals are much more flexible, as you might guess, but there are a lot of staples I buy all the time. Bananas, whatever fruit and/or veggies are on cheap enough sale, and yogurt are on my list every week. This week I also have Coffeemate, non-sugar cereal, cream cheese, and jam on my list. I am not out of Coffeemate, cereal, or jam yet, but I am low so I've been watching for sales. I am out of cream cheese so I'll likely just buy that at regular price.

Here is the dinner plan for the next two weeks incorporating lots of milk due to the great deal I got on milk a few days ago.

Monday (last night) - Cheesy Chicken Casserole w/carrots & broccoli in it
Tuesday - Beef Stroganoff w/corn on the cob
Wed to Sat - Out of town (leftovers for DH)
Sunday - Birthday Party BBQ & snacks
Monday - Baked Potato Soup
Tuesday - Meatloaf
Wednesday - Egg casserole
Thursday - Lasagna
Friday - Dinner Out
Saturday - Dinner at a friend's house
Sunday - Sausage Gravy w/Noodles (Father's Day)
Monday - Beefy Enchilada Casserole

My grocery list for these meals and what I'll be watching the ads for include:
Sour cream
Hamburger patties & buns
Hot dog buns
Pop & Lemonade for punch
1# sausage
Egg noodles
Raspberry sorbet

Staples I always watch for good prices on:
Bell Pepper
Any fruit

Other things I'm low on & need to buy soon:
Cream Cheese
Caesar dressing
Non-sugar cereal

Next up: Using the Grocery Ads


Monday, June 7, 2010

Free Nabisco Cookie Coupon

Starting today and continuing each Monday through 2010, Nabisco is offering a free coupon on their Facebook page.

It's an OK coupon, but not fabulous. The coupon offers a free package of Nabisco cookies if you also purchase a package of cookies along with a gallon of milk and one other size milk. I won't be printing it every week because I don't often buy Nabisco cookies, but if it's regular item you buy then this is a great deal for you.


Fred Meyer Shopping

We were out of town for a weekend wedding, but I didn't want to miss the Fred Meyer sale on chicken breast that ended while we were gone. So I took all 3 girls shopping the day we left when I should have been home packing. Worse, I ended up spending $31 instead of the $13 or so I would have spent if I'd only purchased chicken. Somehow I feel like if I make the effort to shop with all 3 kids I should make it a 'worthwhile' shopping trip whereas when I'm all alone I can zip from store to store buying a few things and it's totally fine for me. Hm.

Here's what I bought for $31.47:

2 packages of Foster Farms chicken breasts - $.99/lb = $13.13 (If I have the budget I try to buy the biggest package so I get the sale price on more meat)
Red Baron Pizzas - $4.85, on sale 30% off is $3.39, MC ($1.50) = $1.89 each
Red Baron Slices - $3.99, on sale 30% off is $2.79, MC ($1.00) = $1.79
Lunchmeat 1 lb. - on sale for $3.50, SC ($.50), MC ($.55) = $2.45
2# cheese - $4.49 regular price (we were out)
3 gallons of organic milk - markdown to $1.00 each!
Hot Dog buns - $.50 regular price (kids asked for hot dogs for lunch)
Can of peanuts - $1.00 markdown (snacks for airplane)
2 oranges - $1.34
The big find was the organic milk for $1.00, of course. The dates on these milk were "sell by 6/7" and "use by 6/11." I put one in the fridge that we are already using and I put two in the freezer for later use. I don't like how the milk unfreezes for regular drinking, but it works great for cooking. I'll have to incorporate lots of milk in my menu plan the next few weeks - a treat since I often avoid recipes that use a lot of milk. Organic is so expensive.
I'm making a three week menu plan this time - I hope I can post that later today.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Weekly Grocery Shopping

I visited 3 stores this week: Safeway, QFC, and Costco. I did not make it to Albertson's to use the double coupons because they were CLOSED when I arrived Tuesday night. Grr. I was pretty ticked. Next time I'll head to Woodinville instead of Redmond if I need to shop after 11PM.

Safeway Spent $8.02 & Saved $16.91:

Best Foods Mayo - sale price $3.79, store coupon (SC) reduced to $1.99, & Manufacturer's Coupon (MC) for $.40/2 = $1.79 each (needed these for meal swap)
Oscar Meyer hot dogs - sale price $1.98 each, SC to $.99, MC $1.00/2 = $.49 each
Lucerne Yogurt - clearance to $.30 each
Cinnamon Toast Crunch - clearance to $.174 each, MC $1.00/2 = $1.24 each
Wishbone Dressing - sale price $1.29, MC ($.75) = $.54
QFC Spent $4.03 & Saved $8.03

I was at QFC to have a prescription filled for my kiddo. I used a $20 prescription coupon to get grocery credit. While the 3 girls and I waited for the prescription we checked out the deals.
QFC Yogurt $.60 B1G1 sale = $.30 each (also printed a coupon for buy 7, get 3 free for next time)
Hummus - Clearance to $1.29

KFC Masterpiece BBQ sauce - Clearance to $.79, MC ($1.00) = FREE + $.21 overage

My Costco trip was $82.49 and included whole milk, nonfat milk, popcorn, romaine lettuce, canned applesauce, canned pears, feta cheese, parmesan cheese, brown gravy mix, chili powder, bananas, tortillas, chicken nuggets, and a jar of marinated artichoke hearts.

I needed some of the parmesan and all the artichoke hearts for the meal swap this month. The reaminder are things I consistently try to get at Costco because they are usually less expensive than the grocery store sale prices. I was disappointed I couldn't find the tub of whole garlic or the brick feta. I have gotten spoiled not having to peel fresh garlic and feta lasts much longer when it's in brick form, uncrumbled. Like I said, I'm disappointed.

I'll probably drop in to Fred Meyer today, too. They have bone-in chicken breast for $.99/lb. I prefer to buy boneless, skinless, but at $.99/lb the rib-in is actually a great price. It requires a small amount of work to skin & pull the bones, but you can't beat $.99/lb. I'm out of chicken so I'll likely stock up at get at least 10 pounds.