Friday, February 27, 2009

The Weekend

I am leaving for DC soon, so I won't be blogging for a few days. So, Save Me Saturday will be postponed until next week. I'll try my best to look at the sales and have Saling Sunday ready before the weekend is over. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Proof is in the Pudding

I have been married for almost 5 years. Even now, my husband still manages to surprise me. Maybe surprise is the wrong word. Surprise alludes to something good. Maybe shock is a better word. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband dearly, but sometimes I feel like I don't know him at all!

I have been on my grocery budget for a full month now -- enough time to calculate how much I've spent for the month of February. So, last night, I sat down at the computer to update my budget spreadsheet and see how much I've spent this month. Around $567. I also have $28 in RiteAid rebate checks coming, which brings my total for the month to $539. I ran excitedly to my husband to relay this fabulous news. His response? "So, how does that compare to how much you were spending before?"

Are you kidding me? If I kept track of that, I probably would not have needed to budget myself. What's the big deal? He wants to know the numbers to see how much I've saved. Numbers are where you see the difference, according to him. Has he not see our linen closet, the 36+ rolls of toilet paper, the 16 rolls of paper towels, the 15 bottles of shampoo, the 10 tubes of toothpaste, the 6 toothbrushes, the 6 boxes of cereal (that I had no other room for) the 10 pumps of hand soap....I think you see where I'm headed? Sometimes numbers don't do justice. The feelings of rage started to make themselves known.

My point is that I know I'm saving money. I can look around and see what I've been able to purchase/stockpile for $140 a week. What does it matter how much I am spending compared to 3 months ago? The idea wasn't cut my spending from X to Y. The idea was to get on a budget, to not spend more than $560 on groceries a month. CHECK!

This is my husband. I love accept him for who and what he is. He is an amazing father and husband. I didn't really get angry from his questions. He has a very analytical mind, so the details are important. They just get in the way for me. This morning he hugged me and told me that I was doing a great job staying on budget and he should have told me that last night. He sweet! And I told him that went through all the checks and debits from November (December and January were off months due to the holidays and my daughter's first birthday) stopped adding when I reached $1100 for the month. Yeah, there were still 3 or 4 more transactions I could have added. I guess his question was answered.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Organization: What Works for You?

"There has got to be something better than this!"

If you live in Couponland like I do, I'm sure you've had the same thought as me. How can I make this coupon thing easier? I already spend hours finding sales, why should I have to spend hours searching through my coupons looking for the one that I need? Needless to say, I have been on the look out for a new coupon organizer, and so I wondered what yours looks like. I have seen a lot of great ideas out there, but nothing that really seemed like it would work for me. Until last week, that is.
I invested in a wonderful device to organize my coupons. It cost me $10, including the plastic paper covers, but I consider it a $10 well paid. It has already made life in Couponland easier.

This is my Zwipes binder. There is a special erasible pen that you can use on the front cover. I can write my grocery list or any special deals that I've found. I can also make a list of coupons I want to use and how much they are worth. When I want to erase, I wipe the area with the white end of the pen, then erase. It's amazing! I also purchased plastic page covers for inside the binder. I've labeled them grocery list, coupons for this week, receipts, ECB/REBATES, Breakfast foods, dairy, etc.
I don't expect everyone to love this idea. This is what works for me. I am, however, curious as to what you think. How do you coupon?
**When I came back to reread this, I realized I forgot to mention a plan for my system. I want to also create a spreadsheet for each category, listing each coupon, amount and expiration date, along with any stipulations. This page would slide into each of my labeled holders. See pictures above for a visual. This way I only have to pull out the sheet to see if I have the coupon I need before I sort through my coupons. Then, I cross off what I've used and add new coupons when I get them. This will take some effort on my part to create the spreadsheets. I've already started typing them, it just takes a while.

My Menu Monday

This is a short week for us, since we'll be visiting family from Friday until Sunday. Yea! No cooking on Friday....or Saturday This makes me extremely happy.

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese, crockpot style
Veggies (freezer style)

Barbeque Chicken (with my grandfather's homemade bbq sauce)
Korean Rice

Wednesday (AWANA night)

Grilled Bacon and Cheese Sandwiches
Tomato Soup, or my new recipe for Creamy Onion Soup

I may be adjusting this menu so that we eat our leftovers on Thursday instead. Feel free to leave a message for any recipe that sounds good to you.

I will be enjoying some awesome Korean food on the days I haven't listed.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saling Sunday

I haven't actually done my grocery shopping for the week yet, but I've been through all the flyers and here are the best deals that I've seen or that I'm planning to pick up. By the way, I'm skipping CVS this week in an effort to stay on track, even though they have Colgate toothpaste on sale for $.89 a tube.......gotta draw the line somewhere.

Rite Aid:
Garnier Fructis (wonder waves shampoo, conditioner, mousse or hairspray)
$2.99, Rebate $2.99, $1 coupon
total cost: $-1.00
Kotex (Maxi pads, Light Days Pantiliners or Security Tampons)
2/$6, Rebate $2.00, Coupon $1.00
Total cost: 2/$3, or $1.50 each
Prilosec (42 count -- 6 week supply)
$24.99, Rebate $6.00, Coupon $3.00
Total Cost: $15.99
10/$5, Rebate $5.00, Coupon $2.00 (off ten bars)
Total Cost: 10/$-2.00
VO5 (shampoo and conditioner)
$.79 each
General Mills Cereal
BOGO, Coupons depending on selection of cereals.

Also, Zilactin is $4.99 with a $4.99 rebate. Not something I would normally purchase, but I just may to get it for free.

These are just the rebate deals I am interested in. If you see more, feel free to post them here.

To see a more detailed list of good deals, please visit Mindi and Moms Need to Know. She'll keep you up to date on all the best deals. What I'm listing are things that I plan to buy. I'm not doing major shopping this week to help get myself back on budget.

Giant Italian Bread 10/$10 a great deal, and you can always freeze the loaves.
Bumble Bee Solid White Tuna 10/$10
Hatfield Meat Hotdogs BOGO
Murray's French Toast Sticks 2/$5
Arm & Hammer 2x Liquid Laundry Detergent BOGO (I'm hoping they have this in HE for my
GE Lightbulbs (even the Energy Smart) BOGO
Angel Soft $4.99 (12 double rolls) (Coupon $1/2)
Perdue Done It! Original Breaded Cutlets or Nuggets BOGO (coupon $1)

I think that's all I need from the sales flyer this week. It's not a supergreat week for deals. I do need more things for the week, but from what I can tell, they are not on special. Thankfully, I'm not planning on buying meat this week. The rest of what I need is mainly staples, eggs, milk, soda (a staple for me), some Easy Mac and microwave Spaghettios (since we are out of town this weekend) and some herbs for my dinners this week (my rosemary expired so I need some fresh). I should be able to stay well below my $140 weekly food budget.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Crazy Coupon Lady?

Am I am Crazy Coupon Lady?

The question just occurred to me. I recently read the phrase over at Pudget: Losing Weight on a Budget and it's made me wonder? Am I a Crazy Coupon Lady? I'll admit, it has a snazzy ring to it. Kinda just rolls off the tongue. When I was in high school, my friends use to refer to me as the Comma Queen. I knew all the comma rules and could use them properly. I used to edit their papers. Maybe if I would have charged them to do this, I would be clipping coupons each week. Strangely, I'm still kind of proud of the nickname. And not so strangely, I became an English teacher. So, if I had that nickname in high school, and became and English teacher (a respectable occupation), then doesn't it stand to reason, if I call myself a Crazy Coupon Lady, something good will come of that too?

I only hope Jessica at Pudget has copyrighted that name.

Do I have a point to this? Not really. It's late and I'm 'sleepy blogging.' I'm just coming to the realization that something good can come from anything. I never wanted to be a Coupon Lady, let alone a Crazy one at that. But, I did pay for my groceries in 10 transactions this week just so I could double my coupons. I think that qualifies me as least in the mind of the very patient cashier who had to keep adjusting my coupons. I just want to pay for my groceries in the regular checkout, not worrying about handing over all my applicable coupons, because it's really embarassing to walk back into a store to tell them that you forgot to use a $1 coupon and would like them to reimburse you for it. Yes, I know this from experience. But wait.....why should I be embarassed? I am saving my family valuable money. We all know the state of our economy. It's not going to miraculously right itself overnight. So in the meantime, I'lll continue to trudge through my coupons and sales flyers each week. It is kind of a thrill to know that you would have had to pay full price for most items had you not carefully selected them, and their corresponding coupons. After all, I did walk out of Giant this past week, head held high, having spent $87 for over $140 work of groceries. Who's laughing now?

Save Me Saturday

I need to start out by saying that I AM OVER BUDGET THIS WEEK. I am walking a fine line. On one hand, yes I am over budget, but the items I purchased went towards my stockpile. I'll explain these items that I could not pass up later. But on the other hand, the purpose of my budget is to save money and have more money to put towards our debt. So, I would welcome any comments or opinions on this matter. What works for you?

Now, on to the savings:
CVS: transaction 1
total before savings: $16.30
savings: $7.67 (coupons $1.50, ECB $2.00, sale $4.17)
total paid: $8.63

CVS: transaction 2
total before savings: $55.20
savings: $31.82 (coupons $9.00, ECB $5.98, sale $16.84)
Total Paid: $23.38

awesome buys on cereal if you had coupons. The sale was buy one get one for $.01. It came to $4.20 for 2 boxes, plus I had (2)$1.50/2 coupon. I bought four boxes for a total of $1.35 per box. Amazing!

Giant: I had 10 transactions so I won't list them all. Needless to say, I had 10 of the same coupon, which Giant would double. The item was on sale, and would have cost me $.29 with the doubled coupon. However, Giant will only double the same coupon once per transaction, hence the 10 transactions. See my post Humble Pie to read how I feel about that.

Total before savings: $144.30
Savings: $57.44 (Coupons $21.86, Bonus Card Savings $35.56)
Total Paid: $86.86

Rite Aid: Transaction 1
Total before Savings: $17.87 (plus tax)
Savings: $9.00 (coupons $5, Rebate $4)
Total Paid: $9.53

I ended up taking back the toothpaste I bought, so I got back $6.98. So, my total ended up being $2.55

Rite Aid: Transaction 2
Total before Savings: $29.92 (plus tax)
Savings: $3.00 coupons
Total Paid: $28.36
Rebate Check: $5.00

This purchase included a new binder and paper covers for my coupons, which totaled $9.98. Not a necessity, and not on sale, but it will make it easier for me to organize my coupons and less likely that I will miss a coupon.

At Rite Aid I got toothpaste buy one get one free. They were $2.99 each, plus I had 2 $1 coupons. I got both tubes for $.99. I also got 10 Soft Soap pumps for $.99, as well as 4 Speed Stick deodorants for $.75 each. They were 4/$9, with a $5 rebate. I also had a $1/2 coupon, so I got 4/$3. I also got 2 Jumbo packs of Huggies diapers for $7.49 each. You can decide if I really needed these items since they are what put me over budget. They added to my stockpile in an inexpensive way.

Total before Savings: $256.61
Savings: $106.83
Total Paid: $149.78

Friday, February 20, 2009

Humble Pie

Coupon shopping, bargain shopping, budget shopping, whatever you want to call it -- it's a humbling experience. I spend hours pouring over sales flyers, coupons and recipes. Then I go to the stores, where I wander up and down the isles at a snail's pace, occasionally stopping to hunt down stray coupons. I finally find all the items on my list, and head to the check out. In the interest of saving time in the long run, I head to the self checkout so I can go at my own pace, making sure all my items ring up at the correct price. Heaven help you if they don't and you need to assistance of a cashier. Next up: coupons. Sometimes they need to be scanned in a certain order. Sometimes they don't scan. Again, you are in need of assistance. Sometimes you have to do 10 transactions because you are buying 10 of the same item, have 10 coupons that can be doubled, but the store you are in only doubles one per transaction. People get in line behind you and you just want to warn them that you'll be another 20 minutes so you get your savings. Finally, you load all your bags into the cart, grab your 10 receipts, your list, your coupons, your club card and wallet and head out the door while the cashier stares at you for taking 30 minutes at the checkout.

I've seen people do this, and recently, I joined the ranks of the money savers. I will admit that I have chuckled to myself at these people do whatever it takes to get the best deal. I've thought badly of these people. I've judged them as being poor. Now it's my turn, and I just want to turn to people and say, "I'm not poor! My husband has a good job! I'm just doing this to help save money! Don't you know that I will eventually have to put two kids through college and pay for weddings?" But I don't. I just keep doing what I'm doing, half embarassed, half thrilled at the amount of my savings.

I just want to say that I've learned my lesson. I'm sorry to all those I've judged at the checkout counter. I truly regret my uncharitable thoughts, and I wish it didn't take being in your shoes to make me realize this.

Updates and Rebates (Ebates and Shop at Home)

Wow! So it's been a while since I've had the time to post anything. We were away last weekend, and we had to come back early Sunday morning to make it to small group Sunday night. I started physical therapy for my neck and back this week, so I'm pretty sore in strange places. Plus, both of my kids are sick.

So, I have nothing major to report, except that I am still signing up for freebies. I received, cereal, splenda and 2 $10 Target gift cards just this week. The gift cards are from Ebates, which along with Shop At Home (SAH), is a pretty cool site. Just link to your store through the Ebates or SAH site and you get a percentage of your total bill (minus shipping and tax). Each store has a set percentage, and sometimes they offer specials. I know Snapfish does 10%. At Christmas, I spend $150 on pictures and gifts from Snapfish and I got credited or $15 from SAH. They mail checks every month but it's like a 3 month delay. This month (February) they are mailing checks from November. Also, if you have less than $20 in your account at the end of the month, they roll it over to the next month and they will send you a check once your account balance is $20 or higher. Click the link on the bottom of my home page to visit Shop at Home.

Ebates works a little differently, you only have to have more than $5.00 in your account to get a check. With Ebates you get a bonus for signing up. That was my $10 Target gift card. I got two of them for some reason, and I'm not sure why. You also get a $5 bonus for anyone you get to sign up.

I don't generally shop online a lot. But I love these programs. I did most of my Christmas shopping online this year because I had a 2-year old and a not quite 1-year old to take with me! Not the most ideal shopping situation. But most stores were offering free shipping and I got some amazing deals. And Walmart ships to the store for free so it was a breeze to order and just run in to pick it up. I highly recommend these programs.

So back to updates, I am still trying to stay on budget. This week I went a little over, but that was because we went out of town and I needed stuff for a party there and snacks for the drive. And RiteAid was having Softsoap for $.99 and Suave for $.99. I had coupons for the Suave and I like to stock up when I can. They also had Colgate buy one get one free and Speed Stick 4/$9 with a $5 rebate. I had a coupon too so I got 4/$3. I couldn't really pass up $.75 deodorant. I also invested in (not on sale) a new Zwipes binder for my coupons. I'm giving a seminar in a few weeks and I want to see how this works for me before I suggest in to others.

Hopefully, things will slow down for me next week. Look for some new weekly posts coming soon. I am working on:
My Menu Monday -- my menu for the week
Save Me Saturday -- calulating my spending and saving for the week
Saling Sunday -- not a typo, going through the next week's sales flyers and coupons

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Give Away

Jessica, at Pudget: Losing Weight on a Budget is giving away a copy of Jillian Michaels 30 day shred. Click here to visit her posting. Contest ends February 17, 2009.

Be sure to follow along on her journey of losing weight while maintaining a budget. She's got some great ideas and recipes that make budgeting and dieting simple. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Conquering the Hoarder in You

I currently have 6 tubes of toothpaste in my linen closet/'good buy' overflow area.
I have 10 bottles of shampoo or conditioner
I have 8 bars of soap
I have 3 boxes of dishwasher tablets
I have 8 bottles of dish detergent
I have 6 extra toothbrushes

"But, but, but I got them on sale, and I used coupons."

Does this sound like you? If so, then you too my ,friend, are a hoarder. Now, it's not as bad as it sounds. I know you got a mental picture of yourself being lost in your house full of tubes of toothpaste and dish detergent that you got on sale. It's not like that. It just means you have a hard time passing up a good buy. I know the feeling, as evidenced by the previous list.

I have told myself that unless one of these items are free, I will not be buying anymore for a LONG time.

I have some advice for you:
Remember that you have a budget, but it doesn't need to all be spent. That budget is just a number that you don't want to go over. Whatever you don't use can be saved. I know some of you are thinking, "duh! This is common sense." But I really had to remind myself of this fact. Just because you have a certain amount of money to spend, doesn't mean you HAVE to spend it. Ask yourself if you really need this item, even if it is only $2.00. If you have 12 of the same item at home, chances are you don't really need it. Just say no. It might be hard at first, but I hope it will get easier.

By not buying these items, I'm hoping to save at least $20 a week, and that I will put towards my son's birthday party in May. We'll see how it goes.

Adventures in Money Saving

So I have been looking at my receipts from yesterday's shopping excursion (yes I must call it that and you'll see why) and I've done well. I spent a total of $157.53. Yes, this is over my weekly budget by $17.53, but I spent $16.48 on diapers and pull-ups, which I don't count, so I'm only over by $1.05. I wanted to be under budget but I got some really good deals, so I'm not complaining. On that note, I shouldn't need deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dish detergent or dishwasher tablets for months...if not the rest of the year for some of those items.

I also figured out how much I saved just in coupons this week:
Weis Markets -- $11.00
Giant Foods -- $20.91
Rite Aid -- $7.00
CVS -- $9.00
CVS ECB -- $20.49

Grand Total Coupon Savings: $68.40 (this is not even including sales and bonus buys)

My total savings (coupons and sales)
Weis Markets -- $31.90 (31%)
Giant Foods -- $50.79
Rite Aid -- $19.36 (plus tax and I'll also be getting $7.00 in rebates)
CVS -- $47.99 (plus I also found another $2 ecb attached to my receipt. I was only expecting $3 so I missed this one.)

Grand Total Savings (coupons and sales): $150.04 not including the $7.00 rebates and $2 ECB

Not Bad

Keep watching for my next post: How to Conquer the Hoarder in You!

Monday, February 9, 2009

My Menu Plan 2/9 - 2/15

Menu planning is making a big difference in my spending. When I plan my meals, I can (and do) make a list of every ingredient needed for each meal, then check off the ones I don't have to buy. This saves me time and gas, because I don't forget items. It saves me energy since I don't have to lug the kids around with me, getting them in and out of their carseats. It also saves me money because I am incapable of just going into the store for one item.

Monday -- Bi Bim Bop (Korean mixed veggies and rice)
This is an excellent meal for us. I had all the ingredients, except for leaf lettuce. It's really easy to make and tastes excellent. We make is by frying some bulgogi (korean bbq beef) and cutting it into small pieces. Then we mix it into korean rice, along with some chopped leaf lettuce and put a fried egg on top. You can add other veggies, but this is our simple version. YUMMY!

Tuesday -- Italian Chicken
I have all the ingredient for this meal. It was on my menu for last week, but we had an abundance of leftovers (an amazing beef stew that made 2 meals), so it got pushed back to this week.

Wednesday -- London Broil with Korean Rice
Wednesday's have to been meals that I can put in the crockpot or that can be easily reheated since my son has AWANA at 6:30 and my husband works a little later on this night so he has to eat when we're gone.
Again, another meal that I think I had on my menu for last week that got pushed back. Therefore, I did not need any ingredients. I must have done a poor job estimating how much each meal would make. At least it all got eaten.

Thursday -- Homemade broccoli soup and Panini sandwiches
Thursday's are another night that needs to be simple. My husband plays on the worship team at church and they practice on Thursday evenings. Meals like frozen pizza (totino's for $1.25 each) are good options. He doesn't practice this week though, so I can be a little more elaborate.
I am so looking forward to this broccoli soup, but my husband like more substantial meals, so we're making Panini's this night too. I got a good deal on tuna fish, so I could do a tuna fish and cheese panini (I have the Cuisinart Griddler -- makes life so much easier on night's like this).

Friday -- I think we're going out to eat on Friday. It will be our Valentine's dinner since we're going out of town (for my aunt's birthday -- nothing romantic) this weekend. Unfortunately, we'll have to take the kids with us, since I can't find a sitter. Oh well, someday I'll be wishing our kids were home to take to dinner.

Saturday -- out of town

Sunday -- out of town in the morning/early afternoon
Small group at 6:30, so we don't usually have time for dinner on Sunday's. We do have a snack at small group (which is my week to provide) so we'll get to eat something. This Sunday is a little more hectic since we're just getting back from NY and it's my husband's week to lead small group.

No Week of No Spending for Me

Alright, so if you've been following me as I journey through COUPONLAND and BARGAIN-SHOPPINGVILLE, then you know how much I like to spend money....not something I'm proud of. To read my confession, click here. So, I thought that I'd really like to try Mindi's (over at Moms Need to Know) plan for The Month of No Spending. I was really challenged and intruiged by this idea, so I decided to try it for myself. Except....I don't have quite the stockpile of food and necessities needed, since I'm relatively new to all of this. I thought I'd try for one week, instead. Then I got my weekly Weis Markets and Giant Foods flyers. There goes that idea. But really, Weis is having their 10/$10 sale and Giant's got some really good buys too.

With that in mind, I've altered my plan. Here goes: I'm going to spend money this week.

In all fairness, very little of what I purchased in needed for my meal plan this week. The hoarder in me comes out when I can get meals for my kids for $1 each, and apple juice and eggs and butter for $1 each. I NEED TO STOCK UP. But seriously, I didn't do that bad. I took cash with me so remind me to stick to my budger. And I did. My total at Weis Markets was $69.16, with a savings of /$31.90 (31%). I used a Huggies coupon about the expire and got a jumbo pack of diapers for $8.49. I also got one Sargento's Salad Finisher free (with the purchase of 2 bags of salad mix which I will take with me to NY this weekend) and another Salad Finisher for $1.79 since I had a coupon for $1.50 off 2. 23 of my items were only $1 each with the 10/$10 sale. Plus I had $9.50 in coupons and didn't pay full price for anything.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saving Money Around the House

Now that I've cut our grocery bill buy shopping sales and using coupons, as well as devloping a budget, my new goal is find other ways to continue saving money. I have been trying to come up with ways to save money around the house. I wouldn't call my house huge, but it's big enough, and when my electric bill goes up over $300 during January and February each month, I have moments of panic. What can I do to lower this bill? There are some things that I can't changes. My house is warmer in the downstairs, but the upstairs can get a little chilly, especially at night. But, I have a 2-year old and a 1-year old, so it needs to be warm in the upstairs. They wear warm pjs, but I can't have the being cold just to save a few dollars.....okay so maybe it would be more than a few, but you get my point. So, here's what I've come up with so far:

1. I've replaced 75% of my light bulbs with energy efficient ones....even though they cost a fortune. I will replace the rest, it's just actually getting to it that's the problem. Also, those stupid bulbs are so expensive.
2. I am trying to turn off the light when I leave the room.
3. Turn the heat down during the day.
4. Unplug appliances like toasters, coffee pots, can openers, etc. when not in use.
5. We don't need the tv on all day long.
6. Shorter showers (also saves water)
7. I have a king capacity clothes dryer (I'm not sure if we even realized the size when we got it) so when I wash clothes, I wash 2 loads but run them both through the dryer at the same time. Especially with my kids clothes.
8. Fold clothes as soon as the dryer is finished, so you don't have to waste electricity by de-wrinkling them.

I'll post more tips when I think of them, but in the mean time, I challenge you to come up with more money/energy saving tips. I would love to hear from you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

low fat dinners

Today's post is about low fat dinners. Although I am not actively trying to lose weight, I am purposely not adding extra fat to our meals. We eat very little red meat, which is for my husband's health. I usually limit our red meat consumption to once a week, which is fine by me. I am not a huge meat eater, and will choose chicken over beef 9 times out of 10.

This dish is a favorite of mine. It makes a large pot, and I easily get 3 meals out of it. Keep in mind that their are only 2 of us eating right now, but it's a lot of soup.

Chicken Corn Chowder
3 or 4 chix breasts (bone in or out, whatever is cheaper)
chicken broth (32 ounces; 99 percent fat free)
onion - chopped
celery- chopped
Corn (frozen, fresh or canned) Usually 2 cans or one bag of frozen
2 Potatoes - pealed and chopped into small pieces
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

Boil chicken in water. Once cooked, remove chicken from water and set aside to cool. Strain broth, wash pot, and put strained liquid back into pot. After chicken cools, remove from bone if needed, and shred. Put back into water in your pot and add onion and celery. Boil until tender. Add potatoes, bring back to a boil until tender (about 20 minutes or less, depending on how large your potato pieces are). Add corn and return to boil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, basil, oregano and parsley. Add chopped eggs, and serve.

I usually serve this soup with crackers or dinner rolls. My husband has even been known to put rice in it. (He's Korean and it actually tastes pretty good, although it doesn't exactly make it low fat.) It's another family favorite.

I am always looking for new recipes to try, so feel free to post them in the comments section, or blog about them and send me a comment so I know to look.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Potty Training

Just a side note: My son peed on the potty today! And he did it last night too! Granted, he peed himself 10 minutes later since he doesn't know when his bladder is empty, but it the beginning. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

He had ice cream for lunch afterwards, and we're going shopping for a 'really good' toy tomorrow night. (a promise from daddy)

Low Fat Dinners

I thought I'd do a post on low-fat dinners. Jessica at Pudget: Losing Weight on a Budget has some really great, low-fat recipes. I really enjoy reading her posts and trying out her recipes.

I've posted several recipes lately that are low in fat. My Chicken Tetrazzini is definitely low fat. I use light sour cream, 99% fat free chicken broth and 2% Mozzarella Cheese. You can even use light margarine in it. Not only that, but it's so easy to make. It's definitely a family favorite. In fact, I just made some for my Mom and Dad the other day.

Another really healthy, low fat recipe is Beef Stew. I just posted about it the other day and it was fabulous! I put it in the crockpot in the morning, let it cook all day, thickened it right before we ate, and it was ready! So simple and filling. I didn't put noodles in it, which saved some calories and it was filled with fresh and frozen veggies. I can't wait to have the leftovers for tonight's dinner.

If you have any lowfat recipes you'd like to share, please post them and link to my site. Also, please leave a message in the comments so I know to look at your recipe too!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Good Evening! I have some updates for you tonight. First, I went shopping with my Mom today. I purchased one item, a pair of Nike sneakers for my daughter. They were on clearance for $14.98, and they are one size up from what she's wearing now. Technically, I didn't even purchase them. I used some of her birthday money to buy the shoes. THANKS GRANDMA AND PAP-PAP!

Another update, I've been thinking about my meals. I see a lot of people posting how much their dinners cost, and I wondered how much mine cost. I don't know if I can break it down into a lot of detail, but here goes:

Chicken Tetrazinni
Chix - $1.50
Sour Cream - $.99
Chix Broth - $.43
Mozz Cheese - $1 (not bought on sale, although I did buy the store brand)
Butter - $.63
Margarine - $.22
Linguine - $.75
salt, pepper, bread crumbs, garlic and onion powder - $.40 (high estimate since I use very little of each except bread crumb -- 1 cup)

Grand Total: $5.92 -- then I split the entire casserole into 2 dishes (one for us and one for mom and dad)
$2.96 each, four servings in each dish, for a
Total per serving: $.74

Not bad.

Beef Stew - this one is more guessing since I used frozen veggies I'd bought, not on sale, awhile ago.

Beef Cubes - $4.19
2 Potatoes - $2.19
1/2 bag frozen onion - $1.00 (an estimate, probably a little high)
1/2 bag frozen pea - $1.00 (ditto)
2 fresh carrots - $.28
Celery - $.30 (I honestly have no idea how much this cost. I bought it at least 6 weeks ago and keep it in my Tupperware fridgesmart containers. It keeps almost forever!)
1/2 bag frozen corn - $1.00 (same as above veggies)
ginger, bouillon, salt, pepper, cornstarch - $.50 (a high estimate)
1/2 bag frozen green peppers -$1.00 (ditto with veggies)

Grand total $10.96 (I'd say this is a high estimate since I don't know the exact price I paid for the veggies)
2 meals, 4 servings each, gives us a grand total of
$1.37 per serving

Still, not too bad. I could have cut it down farther if I'd followed the recipe, but I put more veggies in it. This beef stew is really fabulous! I omit the raisins since I think it sounds gross. I also added, corn, peppers, potatoes, and maybe the peas too. But it's really tasty, as my 2-year old son would say.

Try it and let me know what you think.

I could have used a fresh onion, but my onions are so strong that the last time I chopped one my eyes burned for a hour afterwards. I was going out after making this stew so I didn't want to have to deal with burning, watery eyes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tomorrow Night's Dinner

Okay, so I don't remember what I said I'd make for dinner on Wednesday, but I've decided to make Beef Stew. I know this was on my list for the week, so I'm okay with supplies. This is a recipe from the September 2008 issue of Family Circle.

Beef Stew

1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1lb boneless beef cubes
1Tbsp ground ginger
1/4tsp salt
3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch slices
2 large celery stalks, cut into 1-inch slices
1 large beef bouillon cube
2 cups water
2Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4Cup raisins
1/4tsp black pepper
2Tbsp cornstarch
Cooked egg noodles (optional)

Step 1:
layer onions, beef, ginger, salt, carrots and celery in slow cooker bowl. Add bouillon cube, water, vinegar and raisins. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours or until beef is very tender.

Step 2:
Remove cover and stir in black pepper. Using a ladle, remove 3 Tbsp liquid from slow cooker and place in a small bowl. Whisk in cornstarch. Pour cornstart mixture into slow cooker; whisk to combine. Stir until liquid has thickened. Serve with noodles, if desired.

I omit the raisins, since I'm not crazy about them. I also add peas and potatoes and tomorrow I might add corn. With so many veggies, it's like a beef vegetable stew. It's a really healthy, easy meal to put together. Serve it with some brown and serve rolls, or the Pillsbury Crusty French dinner rolls that I got for $1.99 with my $1 coupon this week and it's a great, filling meal. Enjoy!


I'm starting to feel a little dumb when it comes to CVS shopping. How is it that everyone else can end up paying $.12 for $300 worth of products and I can't? I went to CVS this week, and I came out having spend $36 and saving $32. I was happy with that, until I read other posts and see that I could have done better. I know that I had two issues:

1. I only did one transaction, when I should have done 2. In my defense, I was in a huge hurry and just wanted to get in and get out. Lesson learned: don't go to CVS, or anywhere you want to save money, when you are in a hurry.

2. I didn't use all of my Extra Care Bucks. I was thinking that I would save them because it will all even out in the end. Lesson learned: using your ECB means less out of pocket spent during each trip.

Here's what I bought:

3 Softsoap hand soap $1 each ($1-coupon)
2 Palmolive (10 oz) $.97 each
8-pack Bounty Basic $5.99 ($1-coupon)
Vaseline lotion $2.99 ($1-coupon)
Electrosol Tabs $2.99 ($2.50-coupon)
2 Progressive soup $3.19 (bogo) (2 - $1.10-coupons)
2 Kleenex Antiviral $2.39 (bogo)
2 CVS dry sweep clothes $3.99 (bogo)
Excedrin 10ct $2.49 ($2.49 in ECB)
KY Jelly $19.99 ($5-coupon) ($10 in ECB)

Total: $48.96 before coupons

I had $13.70 in coupons so I spent a total of $36.27 including tax. I also got $12.49 back in ECB and I already had $5 in ECB that I didn't use.

I was thinking that it will all even out in the end, which is true, but if I'm trying to spend less out of pocket, I should be thinking differently.

I should have purchased the KY Jelly and Excedrin first, as a separate transaction, giving me $12.49 in ECB to use for another transaction. That total would have been $17.48 +tax. This would have given me a total of $17.49 in ECB. Then I should have paid for the rest of my purchases in another transaction since I was not getting anymore ECB. That total would have been $18.78 +tax which would have given me an out of pocket expense of $1.29. My total for the trip would have been $18.77 +tax instead of $36.27. I know that next time I go to CVS, I will use those ECB and it will all even out, I am still disgusted that I didn't think it through better.

If you see a better way to have done this, please let me know. I am trying to figure this all out and it seems I have a short in my brain when it comes to CVS and saving money :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cheddar Chicken Chowder

I was just reading about Lynn's version of Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup, at, and I want to post a soup recipe myself.

Cheddar Chicken Chowder

2 slices bacon
cooking spray
1lb boneless/skinless chicken (cut into bite size pieces)
1C chopped onion
1C diced red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2C chicken broth
1 3/4C diced potatoes
2 1/4C frozen corn
1/2C flour
2C milk
3/4C shredded cheddar cheese
1/2tsp salt
1/4tsp pepper

Cook bacon, in a dutch oven coated with cooking spray, until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Crumble and set aside. Add chicken, onion, pepper and garlic to bacon fat in the pan. Saute 5 minutes. Add broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add corn, stir well. Place flour in a bowl. Gradually add milk, whisking until blended. Add to soup. Cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper. Top with crumbled bacon.

This soup is amazing! It's thick and creamy, perfect for a cold, rainy (or snowy) night. It didn't take that long to make, either. I would serve this with a small salad (I have a great recipe for a BLT chicken salad that would make perfect use of the rest of the pack of bacon) but it is also a great, light lunch on it's own. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Dinner Menu Week of 2/2

I am not sure what this is called, but it's Korean (my husband is Korean). I did not need to purchase a single ingredient for this meal.

Mondu Filling
Korean Rice
Fried eggs

Italian Chicken -- No ingredients purchased towards this meal

chicken thighs
2 potatoes
Italian Seasoning

Beef Stew -- Can be made with any veggies you have on hand, although I usually use the ones I'd put in with a roast.

beef cubes (1lb)
carrots (sliced)
potatoes (2)
beef stock
beef boullion cubes
corn starch or flour (as a thickener)
noodles (optional)

Chicken Tetrazzini (See last week's post) I'm using leftover chicken from last week that I took off the bone and froze. I will also add some purdeu short cuts grilled chicken that I got for around $1.50 using a coupon

Honey Glazed Chicken Stir Fry

The Weekend....we'll see what we have for leftovers and maybe I'll adjust the menu and cook one of these meals on the weekend.

If you'd like the recipe for one of these meals, just send me a message and I'll be glad to post it.

Giant Foods trip 2/2

Can I make a confession?


This is difficult for me to admit, because it makes me sound like I need to be going to shoppers anonymous meetings. But it's true. I love to spend money.

But this year, we're trying to save more money....afterall, we have 2 toddlers who will want (hopefully) to go to college. So, we put ourselves on a budget. This is difficult, seeing as how I like to spend money. However, I realized today that it really doesn't matter what I'm spending the money on, just as long as I'm making a purchase. I'm starting to see the advantages to shopping on a budget. I get to go to 3 or 4 stores, depending on sales, and I don't go all on one day. So, I'm getting to spend a little money here and there, buying stuff I need, satisfying my money spending habit, all throughout the course of the week.

So, of course, I'm making light of this topic. I'm just really enjoying my money-saving journey.

Sunday I went to CVS, but I'll list those savings in another post. Today I did my main grocery shopping for the week at Giant since they had better buys than Weis Markets. I mentioned in anther post that my weekly grocery budget is $100. Well, we had initially made it $140 and I'm going back to that. I want to stay at (hopefully below) $140 right now, since I'm new to using coupons. Once I'm more familiar with it, I'll lower my budget until I get it to $100. So, here's my spending/savings for this morning.

2-liter Pepsi -5/$5 (the sale is 10/$10 but you don't have to buy 10 to get that price)
San Giorgio Pasta 3/$3 (again, 10/$10)
Giant brand Potato bread 2/$3.38 (I splurged since I was hungry for potato bread)
Swanson Chix broth $.69 (2.69 minus $1 coupon, plus extra $1 off since Giant will double 4 $1
coupons this week)
Swanson Beef Broth $.69 (same a chix broth)
Banquet chix nuggets $2.00
Ham Steaks 5/$10
Purdue Chix nuggets $2 (regular price $3.99, sale price $3 and $1 coupon)
Pam Cooking spray 2/$3.70 regular price $2.85 each, $1 coupon when you buy 2 plus extra
$1 off)
4 Split Chix Breast $4.78 (BOGO)
2 Eye Round Roast $20.32 (BOGO -- I cut each one in half at home, packaged separately, so I
have 4 roasts)
Birds Eye Veggies $.89 (Reg. price $1.79, sale price $1.59 plus $.35 coupon doubled to $.70)
Giant brand frozen veggies 4/$4 (10/$10)
Yoplait kids cups (6-pack) 2/$2.78 (reg. price $2.67 each, sale price $2.39 each, plus $1 coupon,
Eggland's best Eggs $1.49 (reg. price $2.39, sale $2.19 plus $.35 coupon doubled)
Pillsburg frozen dinner rolls $1.99 ($2.99 plus $.50 coupon doubled)
Giant brand Sour Cream $.99 (reg. price 1.53)
Giant brand margarine $.89 (reg. price $.99)

I did buy a few things not on sale, like a gallon of whole milk, a pack of juice boxes (1.99), Gerber cereal bars (2.73), 6-pack applesauce (1.79) and a cake mix (1.25), icing (1.25), beef stew meat (4.19) chix breast (4.69), potatoes (2.15), carrots (.99) and instant pudding (.75) but overall I was pleased with my purchases.

Grand Total:
Before discounts $148.15
Discounts $56.56
Total Paid $91.89

This will last me more than one week, since I'm not even planning on using the split chix breasts or the eye round roasts this week. Now, if we can just use up all the leftovers.

I almost forgot to mention my savings for 2009 so far at Giant. $129.37