Thursday, February 28, 2013

Creating a Freezer Meal Swap

My friend, Val, asked about my meal swap last week so I thought I'd post about how to get one started.

The first question you have to answer is why you want to participate in a swap.  Are you looking for new recipes?  Do you want to have quick dinners available?  Do you just want to cook less?  I was in a group once that was into gourmet cooking.  The food was fabulous, but it wasn't great for kids or for the budget.  It's important to know what you want if you're inviting people to a group.

Consider if your family has special dietary needs.  Gluten free?  Peanut allergies?  Dairy sensitive?  Vegetarian?  Organic? 

Next you look for other people who have the same interest as you.  Ideally you'll have 6 to 10 participants.  If you have strict dietary requirements it will be harder to find folks who want the same kind of meals you do.  I participated in a group that broke up when our food requirements got too strict.  One person couldn't have pork, another had a kid sensitive to any artificial colors, we could only use whole wheat pasta or brown rice, and chicken had to be organic or at least Foster Farms.  It was complicated and people dropped out and new people were hard to find.  I think it would be great to have a group for one unique need.  For example, GF only or Organic only.  In my experience there are lots of people who want to try a freezer meal swap so don't let the thought of finding people stop you.

Mostly the groups I've participated in have been for families.  One group had families and single members.  One group had a mom of 8!  She made two different meals each swap and took double portions of what the rest of us made.  My current group has older kids so the portions are larger.  Usually the swappers are moms, but once we had a dad.  He and his wife shared cooking duties and he participated in the swap so he'd have meals ready on his nights to cook. 

I'd put a call out on Facebook, at work, in your family, at church, or your mommy groups or other activities.  Even if people are spread out geographically, they may be willing to participate if it means driving to a central location only once a month or every six weeks.

Once you find a group of people you should establish what your needs are.  A meeting in person is usually best since not everyone necessarily knows each other, but it can all be discussed via email or in a Facebook private group if you don't want to meet until the first swap.
  • How many portions in each meal?
  • What size are those portions?
  • How often do you want to meet?
  • Where do you want to meet?  
  • How 'prepared' do the meals need to be?  Just reheat in the oven or some assembly required?
  • How will you swap?  Disposable tins?  Freezer Ziplocs?  Everyone buys six, or eight, or ten 8x8 glass pans to trade in?  
You may want to provide some guidance to members about where to find recipes and/or what freezes well.  There are a ton of recipes here.  I have found the best recipes are the ones that your family already loves to eat.  If your family loves them your friends will probably love them, too.  In general food freezes ok, but avoid sauces/gravies with milk because it's hard to reheat them without 'breaking' the sauce.  Click here for a good list of what to avoid.   

Everyone should chime in either at the first meeting or in the weeks leading up to the swap what they are making.  It helps to avoid duplicate meals.  You don't want 4 different lasagnas, right? 

I have really enjoyed my swaps through the years and could write a ton more, but I'd rather direct you to  Twin Cities Supper Swappers.  There is a wealth of excellent, well-organized information on this site and it will inform you far better than I could.  Just remember you can do whatever works for the folks in YOUR swap and no set of  'instructions' are concrete.

Good luck!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Menu Plan - Home!!!

Home at last!

Here's our menu plan for the next few days as we get settled back into normal life!  I don't know when I'll have a chance to shop so we're just going to eat out of the cupboard & freezer.  Our milk was delivered yesterday so I think I can put off shopping until the weekend.

Wednesday - Hamburger Gravy over Egg Noodles (DH's birthday request.  Yuck.)
Thursday - French Toast (Daddy Teaching)
Friday - Taco Soup
Saturday - Grilled Cheese for Kids, Mom & Dad date night
Sunday - Smoothies & Popcorn for Family Movie Night

Wednesday - $1 Burgers
Thursday - Quesadilla
Friday -Soup & Sandwiches
Saturday - Mac'n'Cheese
Sunday - PBJ at church


Monday, February 25, 2013

Salvation Army in Hawaii

I love thrift store shopping, but I don't often get the opportunity.  I was so blessed that my mom and aunt kept the girls so I could hit up the Salvation Army all by myself one morning in Hawaii.

Children's books were only $.25 each so I spent a good half hour carefully looking at everything and deciding what was worth the weight of carrying home.

$.25 Book - Brown Bear, Brown Bear, by Eric Carle
$.25 Book - Little Red Riding Hood, a golden book
$.25 Book - Little Red Hen, a Christian perspective
$.25 Book - DK Robin Hood, full of history and illustrations surrounding the story
$.25 Book - Young Thomas Edison, Level 3 or 4 Reader
$.25 Book - Casey at the Bat
$.25 Book - Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday - lots of budget/money talk lately with DD#! so thought this would be a good book.
$.25 Book - Barbie I Got So Mad!, love books that talk about working through emotions
$.25 Book - Tea For Three - Step 1 reader
$.25 Book - The Gas We Pass, The Story of Farts - beautiful copy we giggled over and then sent to Uncle John so he could have a giggle, too.
$.25 Book - Nellie's Promise - American Girl book DD#1 is still a little young for, but Samantha has been discontinued and this is from the Samantha series so I picked it up.
$1.99 Inflatable Kick Board - we can deflate and leave in Grandma's closet
$2.00 Like New gold, sparkle shoes in DD#1s next size
$.50 VHS tape - for DH's birthday tomorrow
$.99 New beach ball - we can deflate and leave in Grandma's closet
$1.00 - white, fitted twin sheet.  We have one who wets frequently so extra sheets are always handy.
$.50 Lion bib for my nephew

All together I spent $10.14 including tax.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weekly Shopping

We're still in Hawaii.  We bought so much food last week I didn't have to spend much this week.  We made another trip to Costco and I spent $29.19.

2 gallons of milk - $9.96
2 loaves of bread - $7.09
18 eggs - $2.99
2# shredded Mexican cheese - $6.99
Food tax - $2.16

I didn't go to the store again, but Mom bought hot dogs, buns, hummus, another gallon of milk and another dozen eggs this week.  I gave her $15 to cover it since I'm supposed to be buying groceries.

So this week I spent $44.19 on groceries
My annual total is $460.49

On another note, we are leaving Hawaii very soon.  We basically have  a day and a half to eat what's left in the fridge.  Since I don't plan to stuff myself or my kids I think we'll be leaving plenty behind.

I think we'll bring what we can for the travel day, like hard boiled eggs and any brick cheese in slices, but we can't practically eat shredded cheese for snacks and our fruit is almost all gone.  Hm.  I'm sure we'll bring a cooler full of frozen things home, too. 


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Goodwill in Hawaii - $44.40

I had a great time shopping at the Goodwill this week in Hawaii.  There was a huge amount of Target merchandise still with tags on and some great books.  Prices were also reasonable and I ended up spending a whopping $44.40. 

  • My biggest find was a brand new, warm coat for myself.  It fits great, is waterproof, and cost only $9.97! 
  • Next I found some solid, long-sleeve tees for my girls.  These are also brand new and cost only $.97 each!  I love long-sleeve tees because they can be worn under cute summer tops and dresses to extend the little ladies' wardrobes.  I got both of my oldest white and navy with an extra white because sometimes the cuffs get strained.  Then I bought the next size up in navy, purple, and red.  Finally even the next size up in pink and navy.  
  • A pair of khakis for DD#3 didn't make it into the picture, but they were also brand new for $1.97.
  • I bought three pairs of brand new slip-on shoes for the girls for only $2.97 each.
  • A small activity kit - Disney princess themed - also brand new for $.57
  • A pair of cute monster socks for my nephew - also brand new for $.57
  • Thanksgiving napkins - new for $.27
  • Penguin picture frame - DD #1 really wanted a frame for this trip and it was only $.50.
  • $1.99 book - DK/Unicef Children Just Like Me with great photographs and descriptions of children and life in over 30 countries.
  • $.99 book - Magnificent Mazes with historical figures and illustrations
  • $.99 book - DK My First Animal board book
  • $.99 book - Interrupting from the Help Me Be Good series
  • $.99 book - Katie Kazoo Switcheroo - books 1 to 4 in one volume
  • $.25 book - Two By Two - a noah book with GREAT artwork
  • $.25 book - The Man Who Learned About Jesus - story of Paul
  • $.25 book - DK Ocean with stickers
  • $.25 book - Save It or Spend It? - Social studies finance plan
  • $.25 book - Thomas Jefferson A Man of Ideas - social studies book
  • $.25 book - Pilgrim Boy - a Beka curriculum book
  • $.25 book - If You Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln - AWESOME history book series
  • $.50 book - Mini Shopaholic - just a paperback to read on vacation
  • $.50 book - The Good Neighbor - children's book about The Good Samaritan
  • $.50 books - 3 little board books with prayers 
Altogether with tax this cost $44.40 which sounded so shocking at the register!  But I just reminded myself $10 for  coat, $10 for the solid tees, $6 shoes and then my normal under $20.

Now, how to fit it all in the suitcases . . .


Friday, February 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Week! Peanut Butter Pie

This is my favorite thing to come out of finding new uses for peanut butter.  I thought this sounded sooo delicious and I found a recipe I had all the ingredients for.

First I baked a pie crust.  I have these great ceramic beads that fill a pie plate and it makes baking a crust without filling super easy.

Next I beat together an 8oz brick of cream cheese and 3/4 cups of white sugar.  Then I beat in 1 & 1/2 cups of peanut butter until it was smooth.  I pulled the bowl off the mixer and folded in one container of Cool Whip.  I then filled the pie crust with the mixture and topped it with half of another container of Cool Whip.  It chilled overnight and was Oh So Yummy!

Next time (and there will be a next time) I think I'll sprinkle peanut butter chips on top.  The recipe I found suggested a chocolate sauce drizzle.  Some caramel might be good, too.  OOH!  Or chopped up Reeses's Peanut Butter Cups. But I don't normally keep those around because then I would eat them.  Boo.  It would have to be a special purchase of one candy bar.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Week! Sandwiches

Of course we have also been enjoying sandwiches with the dual purpose of using up old peanut butter AND bread flour used to make the bread. 

We've been enjoying the old stanby of peanut butter and jelly using canned jam from last summer.  Here DD#3 is digging in.

I've also made DH peanut butter and pickle sandwiches for lunch.  It sounds gross, but you ought to try it before casting judgement.  You may be surprised.  This sandwich also uses pickles from the pantry.

We also have plans to make peanut butter & honey when we get home from vacation.  My family of origin was very poor when I was small and we only ever had grape jelly because it is so inexpensive.  Some months when the jelly ran out we had to have honey instead and for years it felt like like honey was a disappointing substitute in peanut butter sandwiches.  As an adult I really like peanut butter and honey sandwiches but I still can't stand grape jelly.  I'm not sure my kids have ever even tasted it.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Peanut Butter Week! Peanut Butter Noodles

I got some suggestions to try a peanut butter sauce for dinner. So I did a little research and found a couple of recipes that looked good.  I ended up choosing to modify this Spicy Peanut Chicken recipe because it called for chow mein noodles and I had some I wanted to use up.

Doesn't it look yummy?  Too bad mine didn't end up looking so pretty.


1 1/2 tsp curry powder

2 Tbsp Thai chili garlic sauce, or to taste 

1 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper, or to taste 

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 pound uncooked spaghetti

1 Tbsp peanut oil 

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 - inch cubes 

3 1/2 c. water 

2 cups extra chunky peanut butter 

4 green onions, chopped 

1/2 cup chow mein noodles 


All the comments for this recipe talked about how spicy it was.  We tend to prefer less spiciness in our meals so I halved the cayenne and left the chili garlic sauce out entirely.  I also used creamy instead of chunky peanut butter because I have to use up creamy.

The kids liked it OK but I didn't like it at all.  I don't usually care for Thai food or nuts (though I like peanut butter), and this dish was what I expected.  DH liked it well enough though and there was so much sauce left over I cooked more noodles and made him some lunches for work.

I did not take photos because it really didn't look pretty.  Imagine brown spaghetti with some green bits and crunchy chow mein on top. 

I don't think I'll make it again unless DH requests it.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Peanut Butter Week! Snack Time

Since I'm on vacation I thought I'd show you some of the ways we've been using peanut butter.  I'm sure none of this is new to you, but I thought it would be fun to talk about anyway.

One of the biggest uses of  peanut butter has been giving the kids apple slices and peanut butter for snack.  90% of the time we have fruit, veggie, or eggs at snacktime so this required little adjustment.  Also my  kids LOVE apples & peanut butter.  Easy-peasy.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekly Shopping - $114.75

The cost of food here is ridiculous!  I actually spent less than I thought I would but it still killed me to spend so much on stuff that's half the price at home!

Here is the quick photo I snapped of our Costco food.  Costco is a good 30 minutes (or more) from our condo so we took a cooler along for the milk.  I also bought a few things at Walmart.  

Flat of beefsteak tomatoes - $10.49
3 gallons of milk - $14.96
Pizza - $5.99
2 loaves of bread - $7.09
Dozen sesame seed hamburger buns - $3.79
36 eight inch tortillas - $7.15
Flat of pears - $7.49
6 Hearts of Romaine - $5.49
4# Bananas - $2.29
Chicken Nuggets - $9.49
Sales Tax on Food - so irritating - $3.89

BBQ sauce - $4.42
Teriyaki sauce- $2.72
Spaghetti sauce - $1.37
Starburst Jelly Beans (my favorite!!!) - $2.44
Black Beans - $.92
Brown Sugar - $1.27

Yesterday I got out in the morning and went to check out Target's Valentine clearance.  I picked up some groceries, too.

Bananas - $.37 each
Applesauce - $2.19
Apples - $4.64 for 3#
Oranges - $.99 each
Hershey Candy - $2.18

And I picked up these hot chocolate pouches when camping with the girls last weekend but I forgot to include it in last week's total.  I'm adding it in this week.

Costco $83.93 + Walmart $13.14 + Target $16.18 +$1.50 cocoa packets = $114.75  Ow!  That hurts!
Annual Total: $416.30

Sunday, February 17, 2013

$20 value for $10 at Ben Franklin

My local Ben Franklin in Redmond is having a great Groupon deal this week.  Purchase a $20 voucher for only $10!

Clink here for a link my friend, Micha, sent out.

Ben Franklin has everything you need for crafting and people who really know how to help you.  DD#1 and I have such a fun time browsing the aisles there.

Happy craft shopping!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Packed Food for Hawaii

I've mentioned before that food is ridiculous in Hawaii so I thought I could show you some photos of what I was able to bring with us to save money.

This is a photo of what I took on the airplane.  We ate all of it, excluding one of the 4 tubes of crackers.  Crazy? Yes.  But food keeps the kids occupied and I don't have to pay for a) ridiculously priced airport food or b) more ridiculously priced airline food.

I packed the tubes of crackers in a perfectly sized tupperware container so they wouldn't get squished.  I also cut up about 3/4 pound of cheddar and 1/2 pound of pepper jack cheese.  These were in another tupperware container with the turkey pepperoni.  Finally I sliced the cucumber and put it in yet another tupperware container.  The hard-boiled eggs are a great protein filled snack, but oh so stinky!  So we only ate those at the airports and not on the planes.  We had one bag of the chicken nuggets at lunch and the other at dinner time.  And oranges are always great on flights because they can get pretty beat up and none of the kids will complain about a bruise.

These are the dry goods I packed in my bags.
Major oatmeal, macaroni & cheese, cereal, top ramen, spices, red food coloring for Valentine's Day pancakes, gummy vitamins, lots and lots of tea bags, peanut butter (natch), and canned chicken.

And finally, what I packed in my carry-on cooler.

3# ground beef
1.5# sausage
1 lb. bacon
some peeled garlic
cream cheese
Taco Soup
1 lb. shredded cheddar (not pictured)
1 lb. brick cheddar (not pictured)
1/2 lb. pepper jack cheese (not pictured)

I LOVE that I can bring meat with me on the plane.  It was frozen solid when I left and still frozen solid when I arrived.  I always carry on a cooler because I wouldn't want a horrible, smelly mess if it got lost or delayed as a checked bag.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Food for Dear Husband

I always try to plan ahead for DH when I travel out of town.

For our trip to Hawaii I've been making extra large dinners the last two weeks and freezing the extra portions for him.

Here's what I've accumulated:

2 - Turkey Pot Pie
2 - Spicy Peanut Chicken
2 - Tamale Pie
2 - Coconut Red Lentil Soup over Rice
2 - Green Bean Casserole
2 - Spaghetti & Meatballs
6 - Pulled Pork Sandwiches (8 if he goes light on the meat)
1 - Barbeque Chicken Pizza

This should cover at least one hot meal per day while I am in Hawaii with the girls plus several lunches.  I expect some of this will still be in the freezer when I get home.  He also likes to pick up cheap fast food when he's on his way home from the office so I don't need to make enough for every single meal. 


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Menu Plan

I'm finally getting around to a menu plan for this week.  It's been crazy 'round these parts.

Stir Fry & Rice
Soft Tacos
Baked Pasta
Pulled Pork
Pork Chops

Mac & Cheese

Chicken Nuggets
Grilled Cheese
Leftover Pulled Pork

Mac & Cheese

Sorry, I know these posts must be so boring to read but they are essential to my sanity.  =)  


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Freezer Meal Swap - Chicken Taco Soup

I participated in a freezer meal swap a few weeks ago.  This is one of our family's favorite meals so I always feel good making it for other people. Click here for the original recipe.  I modified a bit to use what I had.

First I assemble the ingredients:

Taco Seasoning - including some received at a Christmas gift exchange
Black Beans - to be cooked, cheaper than canned
Chopped Onions - that I threw in the freezer a while back when we were leaving town for holidays
Fresh Onions - because the frozen ones weren't enough
Frozen Corn - cheaper than canned
Tomato Puree, Organic - picked up for $.50/can this fall at Champion Foods
Chicken, shredded - Cooked up a couple days beforehand and shredded
Red Beans - to be cooked, cheaper than canned
Frozen, Diced Tomatoes - from my summer vegetable garden

After the beans were cooked, I just started measuring and filling up gallon Ziploc freezer bags.

Here is the finished product with cooking instruction and ingredient list attached.  I like to include the ingredient list for anyone with allergies/sensitivities.

I still don't know what I'm making next time, but I definitely want to make a dent in the pantry and/or freezer!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Party Store in Factoria is Closing!

My friend Lisa just visited The Party Store in Factoria and found out that it is closing! Lisa says "everything is 50% off & there is lots of good stuff left: think kid party supplies, tissue paper, party plates, costumes . . . "

Head on over for some good deals. 

The Party Store
3540 Factoria Blvd Se Suite# E
Bellevue, WA 98006


Monday, February 11, 2013

Monthly Update - Goals for February

You know, I set goals because I believe it increases my chances of actually getting something done.  It didn't work so well in January, but wasn't a complete bomb.

1. I set a goal to save "something" toward the emergency fund.  We actually had a big setback this month.  Our car window got stuck in the down position so we had to have that fixed.  While the car was in the shop the technicians discovered a leak in our fuel line and a more serious crack somewhere else, also related to fuel.  This is a super reputable shop and we were so disappointed to have to pay for a such a big repair, but went ahead because it was such a significant safety issue.  Anyway, our emergency fund took a big hit but at the end of the month I was able to save a few bucks and we ended up at 21.4% of our savings goal.  Boo.  I'll be excited when we cross 25% again.

2. I also had a goal of 2 solid weeks of planned and well-executed homeschool.  We did great on the planning and the first two weeks actually took about 3 weeks to finish.  But the 3rd week we planned got done completely and on schedule.  Whoo-hoo!

3. I didn't post 10 days on Project Twentysix.  But I posted 5 or 6 days and have several more pictures to write about.

4. I again didn't finish the office organization.  There are still two lonely boxes waiting to be sorted through.

Goals for February:
1. Save 2% of our savings goal
2. Post 10 days on Project Twentysix.
3. Get all Christmas decor stored in garage (currently all packed up but sitting in living room). 

I've travelled/am traveling 19 of the 28 days this month.  My goals are kinda wimpy.  =(


This Week's Shopping

I was a Fred Meyer girl this week. 

I had to kill about half an hour on Thursday before I picked up one of the kiddos and one of the other kiddos needed to go potty.  So we stopped at Fred Meyer to use the bathroom and I picked up a couple of dozen eggs because they were on a great sale.

I shopped Friday because we were low on fruit and we were headed out of town for the weekend.  I also wanted to find cinnamon rolls for a special treat.  I spent $20.43.

$2.29 - Cinnamon Rolls for weekend away
$3.29 ($1.00 MC) = $2.29 each -Coffee Creamer
$.69 - English Muffins on clearance
$1.67 ($.40 Store coupon) = $1.27 - Sour Cream
$1.67 ($.40 Store coupon) = $1.27 - Cottage Cheese
$.64/lb - Bananas
$.99/lb - Bosc & Anjou Pears
$.48/lb - Oranges
$.99 each - dozen eggs
$.89 - Lettuce on clearance

I went to Fred Meyer again today because I needed a few things for our Hawaii trip.  I spent $20.07.

$.50 each - Mac'n'Cheese my mom asked me to bring to Hawaii
$.17 each - Top Ramen my mom asked me to bring to Hawaii
$3.59 - Crackers purchased for airplane snacks (Grrr.  These were supposed to be only $2.00!)
$1.99 - Turkey pepperoni on clearance for airplane snacks
$1.00 - Hamburger buns for DH's pulled pork while we're in Hawaii
$2.29 - Lunchable nuggets on clearance for lunch at airport
$.64/lb - Bananas
$2.99 ($1.00/2 MC) = $2.49 each Coffee Creamer

I'm a little irritated that I spent so much this week when I'm trying to keep the shopping under $30, but I know the snacks will help tremendously with kid distraction on the flight and I know a packed lunch is so very much more affordable than an airport meal!  Also, crackers, mac, & ramen shouldn't be purchased if I'm following the grocery challenge rules strictly, but I had to make an exception for the trip.

$1.98 + $20.43 + $20.07 + $11.16 milk delivery = $53.64 on groceries this week
I'm up to $301.55 on groceries for 2013.  

I've also been setting aside money each week for bulk purchases.  That will come in handy when I buy 40# of chicken in the next few weeks.  Zaycon is selling boneless, skinless for $1.79/lb.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday Menu Plan

Last night I was supposed to make pork chops & potatoes.  When I searched my freezer for the pork chops, I found pork bones instead.  Bummer!  So I pulled out some meatballs and spaghetti sauce instead.  The freezer meal swap saved the day.

And on the plus side, I can use the pork bones to make Stone Soup with the kids.  It's coming up in the homeschool curriculum.

This week I am focusing on using up expired food.

Monday - Chicken in Peanut Butter sauce - pb & chow mein noodles in pantry, chicken in freeezer
Tuesday - Tater Tot Casserole - Tater tots, bacon in freezer, lots of cheese this week
Wednesday -  French Toast
Thursday - Green Bean Casserole - beans, chow mein noodles, water chestnuts, soup in pantry
Friday - Hamburger Helper - expired box mix, ground beef in freezer
Saturday - Pulled Pork - expired bbq sauce, pork loin in freezer
Sunday -  Soft Tacos

Monday - Nachos
Tuesday - PB & J
Wednesday - Grilled Cheese
Thursday - Quesadilla
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Nachos
Sunday - PB & J

Apples & Peanut Butter
Peanut Butter Toast
Peanut Butter Pie?


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Weekend Shopping - $30.41

This week's shopping was uneventful.  The Pantry Challenge actually makes for slightly depressing shopping trips because I have to deny myself so much!

I didn't think the produce sales were too hot this week so I thought I'd check out Grocery Outlet to see what they had.  Turns out, not much.  I picked up a $1.00 Pomegranate and $1.00 Creamer.  Then I went to Safeway & Fred Meyer for their cheese deals.

Fred Meyer:
Oranges - $.48/lb
Bananas - $.64/lb
Sour Cream - $1.67
1# Cheddar - $2.50 each
1# Shredded Cheese - $2.50
2 dozen eggs - $.99 each (not pictured)

2# Shredded Cheese - $5.00 each

Dollar Store: $1.00 Whipped Topping

Grocery Outlet: $1.00 Creamer & $1.00 Pomegranate (DD#1 had already eaten some)

Total spent on groceries this week: $41.57 including the $11.16 milk delivery.
Total spent on groceries this year: $247.91 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dollar Tree Now Accepting Coupons

I was very interested in a "Now Accepting Manufacturer Coupons" sign I saw in a Dollar Tree store recently  I got excited when I looked it up on their website and found the following:


Manufacturer Coupons

  • We accept Manufacturer Coupons only, no retailer specific coupons; example Target, Wal-Mart, etc.
  • We do not accept photocopies of coupons. Coupons must be intact, not altered or modified in any way.
  • Coupons can only be used in stores, must be presented at time of purchase and cannot be redeemed for cash at a later time.
  • Item purchased must match the coupon description (brand, size, quantity, color, etc.) and be presented prior to the expiration date printed on the coupon.
  • We accept only 1 Manufacturer Coupon per single item purchased.
  • We accept coupons for over a dollar on a single item. The coupon value will be reduced to the purchase price of the item.
  • We cannot give cash back if the face value of a coupon is greater than the purchase price of the item.
  • Coupons for free items are only accepted if a purchase is required to get one free (for example, Buy One Get One Free offers).
  • Any applicable sales tax must be paid by consumer.
  • We reserve the right to accept, refuse or limit the use of any coupon.
  • This policy is subject to all local, state and federal laws and regulations where applicable.
  • These guidelines apply to all coupons accepted at Dollar Tree (Manufacturer and Internet Coupons).

Internet Coupons

  • We accept up to two (2) Internet Coupons per household per day.
  • Internet Coupons must be a “Manufacturer Coupon”, have a valid expiration date and a valid remit address for the manufacturer.
  • We do not accept Internet Coupons for “Free” items with no purchase requirements.
  • Duplicated (photocopies) Internet Coupons will not be accepted. Each Internet Coupon must have a different serial number. 
Hooray!  So I strolled the aisles to day to see if I could get some deals.  Here's what I found for $5.30 + tax instead of $9.00 + tax.  That's over 40% savings on what are already bargains at the dollar store!

The Colgate travel toothbrushes fold down to keep the bristles clean inside the handle.  I was excited about that because we're going to Hawaii very soon and we keep passing around an icky old.  This will keep our brushes from mingling.  And I had 3 - $.50/1 coupons so I picked them up for only $.50 each. 

I had a Lysol $.50/2 coupon so these toilet bowl cleaners were only $.75 each.

I also had 2 Softsoap coupons for $.35/1.  The coupon specified a fluid ounce minimum that excluded the clear soap with pump included.  These were slightly larger refills with no pump that fit the coupon qualificiations.  I paid $.65 each.

The cough drops were $.50 each after my $1.00/2 manufacturer coupon. 

I'm super excited to take my coupon binder to the Dollar Tree in the future.  Particularly when the Pantry Challenge 2013 is over and I can get some bargains on food! 


Friday, February 1, 2013

Food Past Expiration - Any Ideas for Peanut Butter?

You might remember this picture of expired food from a couple weeks ago.

  • We ate the Tuna Helper immediately with a single cooked chicken breast I had in the freezer.  It was OK, but the kids complained it still tasted like tuna fish.
  • We also baked cookies right away using some coconut and chocolate chips, but they were coconut and chocolate chips from other packages that had already been opened.
  • The next week we made cookies using coconut and white chocolate chips, but those also used packages that were already opened.  I only dipped into the bag of white chocolate you see in the photo.
  • We made up 8 servings of Jello pudding - 4 each of vanilla and pistachio.  Unfortunately none of the kids liked pistachio and only one of them liked vanilla!  I am thankful for DH and his willingness to eat just about anything. 
  • I still have a lot leftover that you can see in the next picture.
I dug further into the pantry this week, organizing by expiration date and was dismayed to find more stuff that needs to be used ASAP.  Namely, peanut butter.

You should see many of these items put to use in next week's menu plan.

I would love some ideas for using up peanut butter.  About the only thing I can think of is peanut butter cookies.