When I asked all of you for questions, someone mentioned my grocery updates which I haven’t been doing. When we got here to the missionary training center and things got busier I slowed down a little on the number of blog posts and decided my grocery and menu posts were an easy one to cut out.

But since someone asked, and since I have a little more time over the summer, and since I got more bargains than usual today on my grocery excursion, I’ll share it with you! :)

I spent a total of $50.27 cents for all of this:

 

$50.27 - I price-matched, bought reduced for quick sale and used 2 coupons

 

A lot of it was nothing special, but some of the things I was able to get for less than retail price:

  • Reduced for quick sale whole chicken, which is pretty much always a good price per pound anyways, I was able to get for $6.58 instead of $9.37, saving me $2.78.

As long as you cook or freeze the meat soon after purchasing, reduced for quick sale meat is a great way to buy meat cheaper.

 

  • Honeydew melon (one of Gracia’s favorites!) for $1.49 by price matching.
  • Grapes for $1.19/lb. by price matching.
  • 99 cents/lb. roma tomatoes by price matching.
  • 99 cents/lb. broccoli by price matching.
  • Shaving cream – FREE. I got a coupon in the mail for a free bottle of it. Honestly I don’t usually use shaving cream for myself, I just use conditioner or body wash, but if it’s free I’ll use it! :)
  • Razor with 5 blades for only 97 cents!!! Razor blades are so stinkin’ expensive, I usually use them until they aren’t really doing anything, so I was so excited about this deal! I got this coupon in the mail along with the shaving cream one for $8 off this razor set, and since it cost $8.97, I only paid 97 cents! Sometimes it’s fun to feel like an extreme couponer, even though I’m not. :)

Thanks to 2 coupons in the mail, I was able to get the shaving cream for free and the razor and blades for only 97 cents.

 

Menu Plan:

 

Breakfasts: Cheerios, yogurt, fruit, toast, eggs, oatmeal

Lunches: Pizza muffins (if these taste good, I might post the recipe!), sandwiches, bean burritos, leftovers

Suppers:

I’m linking up at orgjunkie.com for Menu Monday.

  • 2 samples of Purex detergent plus coupons
  • Baby food and formula coupons (going to leave these at the store)
  • Garnier shampoo
  • Coffee sample
  • Oatmeal squares sample…I’ll give this to Gracia for breakfast tomorrow. :)

  • Craisins sample, plus a coupon for some more free Craisins, which I picked up yesterday!!
  • More formula coupons
  • Gud lotion and coupon – it smells amazing!
  • A magazine I got a free subscription for.

Have you gotten any freebies lately?

If you ever check out my grocery posts, you’ll see that I do use coupons occasionally, but only occasionally. If I have a coupon for something I regularly buy or for something special that I’d only buy at a great price then I’ll use the coupon, but other than that I don’t really coupon. I do however, seem to end up with a lot of coupons! We don’t get a newspaper or anything, but most of the free samples I sign up for come with high value coupons. While I don’t mind getting a free instant coffee sample, I’m not going to go out and buy instant coffee (even with the coupons). So a lot of the coupons get stuck in my coupon envelope until they expire, then get tossed in the trash. This really bothers me though, because even though I’m not buying these products I know other people are, and they could be saving money with the coupons I’m trashing. Here’s 4 ideas for not letting these coupons go to waste.

  1. Become a coupon fairy! This is my favorite idea because it’s so easy, and I like being refered to as a fairy! :) While I’m at the store I can simply leave the coupons on the product they’re for and when someone goes to grab that box of diapers, sitting on top is a coupon for that exact product! I got this idea from Ally’s Helpful Hints for Mommies, thanks Ally! Your hint truly was helpful! :)
  2. Give them to a couponer. Ask your friends, family, neighbors or co-workers if they could use them. If you can’t find a taker you know personally, you can probably find someone on craigslist.org or freecycle.org. One time I had $20 worth of make-up coupons for Target, I wrote on my facebook that whoever wanted them could have them. Sure enough I found a taker!
  3. If it’s a really good deal buy the product and donate it. I was hesitant to even put this idea in, because I don’t want you to think I’m all for buying something just because you have a coupon, but if you can find a super good deal and don’t mind spending a little cash you can go ahead and buy the product and give it to someone who can use it. For example, I got four $5 off infant formula coupons. I was able to find formula for $6.87, with the coupon I only paid $1.87 a can. With that low of a price I was willing to spend the money and buy them for the Life Center. It gave me a little way I can help out, even though we’re trying to be careful with our money.
  4. If the coupon has already expired, send it to military overseas who can use them at the commissary. I haven’t actually done this, but saw it in The Money Saving Mom’s Budget. To learn more go to ocpnet.org.

What do you do with coupons you won’t use?

Most people buy milk, especially if their’s any little kids around the house. Here’s some ways to save a little money when buying milk:

  • Powdered milk – I know this used to be a big savings, but I’m not sure if it is anymore, you’d have to do the math and figure it out. It’s debated weather powdered milk really is as good for you as regular milk.
  • Stocking up when on sale – Since milk can go bad pretty quickly, I’ve heard of people freezing it, but I’ve never done it personally. If you do try it, make sure there’s room in the jug for the milk to expand as it freezes.
  • Using coupons – Occasionally I’ve seen milk coupons on athriftymom.com, but to be honest I’ve never used them.
  • Make sure it all gets used – Milk that is starting to go bad, but isn’t bad enough to toss can be used in baking.
  • Get the furthest away expiration date – Sometimes you have no choice on the expiration date, but occasionally I’ll see newer milk towards the back.
  • Buy the generic brand of milk.
  • Buy milk at Sam’s Club – According to my price book it costs $2.78 for a gallon of milk at Sam’s Club, and the last time I bought milk at HEB it was $3.38, both of those prices are for the store brands. That means that Sam’s Club milk is $.60 cheaper. If we use 1 gallon a week, I can save $31.20 a year by buying all my milk at Sam’s Club rather than HEB! That’s a savings in milk alone! What I love about this is how easy it is. I don’t shop at Sam’s as much as HEB, but I do drive by Sam’s everyday on my way home from work, so if I need to stop for milk it will only take a little extra time and no extra gas!

This post is shared at Tammy’s Recipes for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

I’ve watched some Extreme Couponing shows in awe….hundreds of dollars of stuff dwindled down to just several dollars. I also check out a few blogs that focus a lot on couponing, one being Money Saving Mom. I saw some good deals she shared from Target and Walgreen’s, so I thought I’d try them this week!

First I went to Target, where my plan was to get 2 packages of bagels really cheap (perfect for pizza bagels), a free bag of cat treats and a free can of cat food. Well I couldn’t find the right kind of bagels, but that was okay, I was still going to get some free stuff for Fuzzy!

But when I got to the cat aisle, I saw that the cat treats were $1.42. Money Saving Mom’s site said they were 99 cents, so with a $1 off coupon I could get them free. I guess the sale was over, which was nobody’s fault but mine for getting there too late. I could still get the cat treats for only 42 cents, a really good deal. But then I reminded myself of my personal coupon policy: “If I use coupons to buy things I wouldn’t otherwise buy, I’m not really saving money.” After all, I never would have bought cat treats, if it hadn’t been for the coupon, so if I bought them I’d still be out 42 cents. I know that’s not a lot, but I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Never fear though, I had that coupon for a free can of cat food! But what do you know…they didn’t have the kind for the coupon! Last time I was at HEB I couldn’t find it there either. So I left Target without buying anything, feeling like a failure. Maybe the toilet paper deal at Walgreen’s would work out?

When I got to Walgreen’s they didn’t have the right kind of TP stocked.

“Great,” I thought, “What is wrong with me and couponing?” But thankfully I asked an employee about it and he was able to get me some from the back. The toilet paper was $5 for a pack of 12 rolls. I bought 2 packs and with coupons was able to only pay $8.12 including tax for both! Even though I haven’t been keeping track of toilet paper in my price book yet, just by memory I knew this was a good deal. And on top of all that a $3 coupon off my next Walgreen’s purchase printed out! At least one of my couponing excursions worked out!

I think for me personally, I’m going to keep doing what I already do to spend less money on groceries. I don’t really feel like running to a million stores to get a couple of good deals here and there. I think I’ll stick with my HEB and occasional Albertsons, Sams and Walmart trips. If I see a REALLY good deal (like the Walgreen’s one) I may stop in. And I have increased how much I use coupons, but I have to remember what really matters is my over all price for the amount and healthiness of the food I get, not just being able to look at my recipe that says I “saved” a certain amount.

And on a kind of related note, I’m thinking about going back to shopping every week. I usually end up having to run to the store in between for a little bit of stuff anyways.

To make this post a little less boring here’s a picture of Gracia helping me bake:

Out of the $72.47 that I spent at HEB I saved $12.06! Woo hoo!

HEB and Albertsons Groceries

  • Saved $4.34 buying generic brand
  • Saved $1.72 buying sale items
  • And saved $6.00 using coupons! If you read my grocery posts, you know I don’t use coupons all that much. But yesterday was my coupon record! I used a few in-store coupons, 1 HEB coupon I got from their free magazine, and a Suave body wash coupon I got with my free suave samples.

At Albertsons I bought ground beef, grapes, cucumbers, and asparagus all on sale except the cucumbers. It cost $29.49, it would have been $10.92 more if I had bought the items not on sale.

And I went to Sam’s Club, but can’t seem to find my receipt. I think I spent between $30-$40. I bought sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella, bread and milk.

 

Here’s my 2 week menu plan:

Breakfasts: Oatmeal, toast, eggs, smoothies, power pucks

Lunches: Sandwiches or leftovers with fruit, veggies, chips and salsa, etc…

Pizza Bagels-Super yummy and super easy!Suppers:

  • Bagel Pizzas (I’m working on calculating up the cost to see if it’s a lot cheaper than ordering pizza, if the results are good I’ll share them) UPDATE: Here’s the price comparison!
  • Stir fry
  • Bean burritos and chips and salsa
  • Pepperoni pasta bake and steamed asparagus
  • Egg salad sandwiches and baked sweet potatoes
  • Chicken fajita burritos with chips and salsa
  • Spaghetti and meatballs (thinking about trying crock-pot meatballs) and cucumber tomato salad
  • Reuben sandwiches (I totally forgot to buy the thousand island dressing and swiss cheese, so I’ll either have to go to the store or improvise, anybody out there have a good thousand island dressing recipe?) and steamed asparagus
  • White chili (and I’ll top it with tortilla chip crumbs)*
  • Crock-pot potato casserole
  • Leftovers

*Another great way to use up those tortilla chip crumbs is to use them in meatloaf.

 

I keep my list and any coupons on my clipboard while shopping

When I first thought about sharing how I come up with my menu and grocery list, I thought maybe it was too simple of a thing to share. After all, lots of people do it, what can I share that you don’t already know? Then on the other hand I thought about when I was first married and how my menu planning consisted mostly of just thinking of what sounded yummy  then buying the needed groceries for those meals. Now I put a little more strategy into it and spend  a lot less money. So all of you seasoned menu planners out there, may know all of this, and probably have some tips for me, but anybody else, who wants to lower their grocery bill read on!

  1. Usually the first thing I do before making my menu is to look at the sales online to see what good deals are out there. Shopping at more than one store to get the best deals at each is a great money saver,  but I know not everyone lives close enough to multiple stores. I usually just stick with HEB, Albertsons for any great deals, and Sam’s Club. I drive right by Albertsons on my way to HEB, so stopping in doesn’t add any extra gas and only a little extra time.
  2. Once I’ve seen what items are on sale I shop at home. I see what I already have, especially things that won’t last much longer and need to be eaten.
  3. I see what coupons I have. I don’t do a lot of couponing, but if I see a coupon for something I usually buy, I’ll use it. Occasionally if I know I’ll be buying something that’s name brand I’ll check online to see if I can find a coupon for it.
  4. Now it’s time for me to make my menu plan using what ingredients I found on sale, with a coupon or that I already have. I also keep a few other things in mind:
  • I try to always have a few quick and easy meals planned for busy days (ie: grilled cheese sandwiches or frozen pizza).

    I try to cook a couple of meatless meals every week.

  • I plan a few meatless meals. Meats are one of the most expensive foods we buy, so using  dry beans or eggs as the protein in a meal is a great way to cut the budget (ie: bean burritos, lentil soup, stir fry with egg as the protein).
  • And I always try to keep things healthy, serving veggies and fruit, and mostly whole grains.

5.  Once my menu is planned out I see what needs to be added to my list, whether it’s  ingredients for the meals, something I wrote on my white board that I was running out of, or maybe some toiletry items.

6.  When I write my lists I try to keep them kind of categorized (ie: produce together, refrigerated items together). This makes it less likely  that I’ll have to be running back and forth in the store.

7.  And lastly, I keep an open mind. If I see some clearance or good deal I didn’t know about, I’ll tweek my menu. I don’t have a certain order we need to eat the meals or anything. A lot of weeks we don’t even end up eating every meal I listed because of leftovers, going out or I simply opted to make a simpler meal. The side dishes I plan for each meal get swapped around with other main dishes, I mostly just list them, so I know what I can make.

  1. I might change my menu if I find a great clearance or sale I didn't know about.

I know every one is different with their groceries and menu. I’ve recently started doing my menu plan for 2 weeks. I do a big shopping every other week, and only stop in the store in between if I need something. It saves me a lot of time and I also have less temptation to buy things on whims. On the other hand, it is harder to keep produce fresh for 2 weeks. I’m learning how best to store it, and I try to eat produce that goes bad quickly first. For example, I might serve salad earlier because lettuce doesn’t last long, and serve sweet potatoes in the second week, as they last a long time. The other disadvantage of shopping every other week is that stores usually do their sales every week. So I may be missing some great sales on the weeks I don’t shop, but for me personally, the time I’m saving is worth it.

Anybody have anything to add? How do you menu plan and grocery shop? What have you found saves you time and money?

This tip is shared at Tammy’s Recipes for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

 

Here’s some more freebies. Seems like I’ve been getting a lot lately. =)

I love freebies!

  • 2 Huggies diapers
  • 2 Dove conditioner samples
  • Some pectin. I’m excited about this because I’ve never made any kind of jelly or jam before, so I think I’ll try a simple recipe, probably a freezer variety because I’ve never canned before.
  • A coupon for a free can of cat food…Fuzzy’s excited!
  • A Kashi granola bar, not pictured because we already ate it. :P
  • A small sample of cereal, which Gracia already ate too.
  • Sweet pea and violet lotion, which smells great! I haven’t decided if I’ll keep it for myself or use it as a gift. It’s the perfect size for a stocking stuffer at Christmas!
  • Men’s body wash
  • Suave dry shampoo
  • And 3 $1 Suave coupons that came with the samples

And as a side note, on my facebook page I try to share freebie links I find, so you can “like” my page to get  in on these goodies!

I also got some almost free juice! I saw on A Thrifty Mom you could get free lemonade and orange juice from Walgreens by using a Walgreen’s coupon plus these printable ones. When I gave the guy the coupons though he was only able to use one of the Walgreen’s ones. Maybe only one per customer, I  don’t know. But for only 71 cents I got two small bottles of juice! For a minute I felt like a mini-extreme couponer! :)

My Favorite Skirt

And on another note, see the skirt I’m wearing in this photo? A while back I was given a bunch of clothes to look through to see if I could find any that I wanted. They were in really good shape and mostly name brand clothes! One of the things I picked out was that skirt, only it was a skort. Skorts can’t make up their mind if they should be a skirt or shorts. And the shorts part kinda bunched up and made the skirt not lay as flat…so I figured it was free and I had nothing to lose, so I took a pair of scissors to that skort and helped it make up its mind on what it should be! I cut off the short part and now it’s a full fledged skirt! I didn’t even have to do any sewing, the cutting just took me a minute! And  now it’s my most worn skirt!

Fun Fact: "Six Flags" is named after the six countries that have governed Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States of America, and the United States.

As you know by my last post, I took Cameron to Six Flags for a late birthday present! We had lots of fun! Six flags isn’t a cheap place to go, but there’s lots of ways to make it as affordable as you can. These tips are for Six Flags, but I’m sure many of them can be used at other places too.

Tickets

Never, ever, ever just show up as Six Flags and pay full price for  tickets!! Look online before going so you can find any coupons or promotions. We purchased our tickets online, instead of at the gate. That saved us not only time, but also money. Plus Cameron googled Six Flags coupons and was able to find a coupon for the day we were going to be there, saving us a litttle more. We ended up paying $27 each, instead of the $57 price we would have paid if we just showed up and payed there with no planning ahead. So that saved us a total of $60 (saved $30 each ticket)! That was WAY worth the few minutes of searching the internet and planning ahead!

If you plan on going to Six Flags more than once that year you may want to look into a season pass.

Food and Drinks

First of all if you’re planning a Six Flags trip you’re gonna need to stay hydrated. Especially if it’s in the middle of summer. You can purchase a Six Flags bottle for $13 and get unlimited refills the rest of the day. If you’re not a germaphobe you can share the cup with your friends or family that you’re there with.

Another option for the drinks is to take a Six Flags cup you already own (we borrowed one from family) and you can get if filled up for 99 cents. We figured we wouldn’t need to get it filled more than 13 times that day, so it was a better deal for us than buying a new cup. We ended up only getting it filled a couple of times and would just fill it with water at the water fountains instead.

As far as food….well it’s expensive. We planned on going out to our car and eating some food we had packed and then going back into the park for more rides (make sure to get stamped out or you’ll have to purchase another ticket to get back in). But we didn’t end up doing that, we ended up getting a brisket burger, fries and poweraid and just split it. And that cost us about $15! We can usually feed our whole little family of 3 eating out for that much! So if you want to save on food, keep a cooler with lunch in it out in your car.

Miscellaneous

The best way to save on souvenirs is to just not buy them. I’ve never been a big fan of little trinkets that just sit around and collect dust, so those giant stuffed bananas or cheesy snow globes don’t really tempt me. But I have heard of people buying Disney things before a Disney World trip, since you can get that kind of stuff other places. Then when the kids see all the cool Mickey Mouse stuff that’s way over priced at Disney World, their parents can give them the things they bought previously for a much better cost.

 If you can, only take what you don’t mind carrying, or else you’ll end up renting a locker. Of course if you’re going with a bunch of little kids or babies that may be harder to do. We only took what would fit in Cameron’s pockets (thank goodness he wears cargo shorts with those big pockets).The only thing we carried was the water bottle. Speaking of carrying things in your pockets, Cameron put cash and his cell phone in a Ziploc to make sure they wouldn’t get wet if we went on one of the splash down rides. Also plan ahead so you don’t end up renting a stroller or buying sunglasses because you forgot them.

So there’s some Six Flags savings tips, I’m working on a post about saving on trips in general, so be watching for that!

HEB groceries $97.67

Here’s my groceries for the first 2 weeks of July. I went to HEB, Sam’s Club and Albertsons.

How I saved at HEB:

  • Saved $11.41 by buying generic brand
  • Saved $1.36 by buying on sale items
  • Saved $3.75 by using coupons (in store Tabasco coupon,  in store, buy one get one half off make-up brushes, in store, buy Tostitos chips get HEB chips free, and a printed out Newman’s Own coupon)

My total at HEB was $97.67.

My Albertson’s trip I spent $38.20 and saved $31.38!!!! It was all done by buying on sale items. The 2 roasts were buy one get one free (perfect since Cameron requested a roast as his b-day meal). The chicken breasts, whole chicken, grapes, apples and corn were all on sale too.

It seems like HEB’s everyday prices are generally cheaper, but Albertsons has some great sales, especially in meat. So I’m trying to mostly shop at HEB and stop in at Albertsons for any great sales.

Sam's Club and Albertsons Groceries. Saved $31.38 at Albertsons!

And I spent $43.44 at Sam’s club.

My total in food groceries is: $143.50, leaving me with $106.50 for the rest of the month, which I think is do able, especially since I have 1 roast and 1 whole chicken in the freezer that I’m not even planning on using yet, so I can use them later in the month.

My total in non-food items is: $35.81, leaving me $4.19. I bought toilet paper, toothpaste, aluminum foil, laundry detergent and make-up brushes, I don’t think I’ll have to buy much more in this category this month.

Here’s what’s on the menu plan for the next 2 weeks:

Breakfasts: Granola, oatmeal, peanut butter power pucks, toast, smoothies, eggs

Lunches: Leftovers, sandwiches, burritos

Suppers:

  • Roast with carrots, potatoes, gravy and rolls (my mother-in-law brought the rolls). And whole wheat honey carrot cake for dessert. This was Cameron’s birthday meal.
  • Stew or pot pie made from leftover roast and rolls
  • Black bean quesadillas, fresh salsa and chips, grapes
  • Salad with hard boiled or deviled eggs, some sort of fruit
  • Chicken and brown rice made with homemade chicken broth and steamed broccoli
  • Stuffed peppers made with leftover brown rice and black beans, apples and cream cheese dip from Tammy’s Recipes
  • Chicken strips, corn on the cob, millet
  • Ramen noodle stir fry (if there’s any leftover millet, I’ll throw that in too)
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches (with slices of tomato in them if there’s any left), veggies and dip, mangoes
  • Chicken burger sandwiches, homemade oven fries, salad
  • Chicken quesadillas (with any leftover chicken), fresh salsa and chips, apples and dip
  • Leftovers

I’m realizing that planning my meals for 2 weeks, I don’t have to come up with 14 different main meals, between leftovers and eating out I don’t usually end up making every meal I plan.

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