Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wow! I Impressed Myself.

Okay, I promise not to use this as a platform in which I congratulate myself on a job well done at the grocery every week, but today was a huge milestone for me. I saved more than I spent....way more!

Ready for this??

Spent $53.54

...and I saved....

(insert drum roll here)


This, my friends, is a savings of 66%. This is not something I've been able to master on a regular basis (obviously), but I'll take it when I can get it.

I had one HUGE ticket item that contributed to such savings....and can you believe it came in the form of FORMULA?? Here's how it happened...

Regular Price $18.99
Sale Price $16.49
Mfg Check $(7.00)
Coupon on can $(5.00)
Food Lion Coupon $(2.00)
Paid $2.49
(I wasn't sure about stacking a Manufacturers Check with a Manufacturers Coupon AND a store coupon, but they said the check doesn't count as a I stacked away.)

I also got 3 bottles of Aleve (20 ct.) for free. A bottle of Tylenol for $.99. A box of Jolly Time popcorn for free. 2 packs of Stayfree (Reg. $6.39) for $.99 each. And Oral B toothbrushes for $1 each.

I then headed over to my local ALDI to check out their fresh produce. This is a generic grocery which I was unsure about, but the blogs I read always talk about how cheap and good their fresh produce is. And, wow, was it!

1 pint grape tomatoes $.69 (compared to $3.99 at my grocery)
Tri Color pack of Peppers $1.99 (compared to $3.99)
Avocadoes $.69 each (compared to $1.19)
8 oz. Mushrooms $.69 (not even sure what the price is at my grocery)
3 lb. Bag of Braeburn Apples $1.69

I also got milk for $2.19/gal, cheese for $1.69/8 oz., and butter $2.00/4 sticks.

(Note--ALDI can keep prices low, because overhead is low. You must bring your own bags, which I do anyway, and deposit a quarter for your cart. You get your quarter back when you return the cart.)

All in all, I felt quite proud of myself. By the end of the day I had spent less than $75 and I shouldn't have to go back to the store for at least a week. Not quite to my $40/week goal, but I'll get there!

Pinchin' pennies,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Heart Chili When It's Chilly

Several years ago, Rodney and I discovered our favorite chili recipe. However, it takes about 24 hours to make and it requires ordering a kit from the internet. So, needless to say, we only make it for special occasions.

I'm happy to say I recently discovered/altered a recipe we love. While I have a few original recipe credits to my name, it's not my specialty. My specialty is taking existing recipes and changing things here and there to suit our tastes.

If you're looking for an easy, healthy, delicious chili recipe, you're in luck. I have one...and I'm sharing it. The original recipe came out of a Cooking Light cookbook, so it is quite healthy. But I may have counteracted that with the biscuits I made to go with it and the cheese and sour cream I covered the top with. :-/

Chipotle Red and White Bean Chili
- 2 small yellow onions, chopped
- 1 - 1.5 lbs. lean ground beef
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 1 Taco Seasoning pkg. (1.25 oz.)
- 1 can Mexican style Rotel
- 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
- 1 can light red kidney beans (15 oz.), rinsed and drained
- 1 can cannellini beans (19 oz.), rinsed and drained
- 1 c. frozen sweet corn
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
- 2 t. adobo sauce from peppers
- fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook onion, beef and peppers in a non-stick pot over medium-high heat until beef is browned and veggies are tender. Drain beef mixture, and return to pot.

Add taco seasoning mix and add next 7 ingredients.

Bring mixture to a boil; cover and simmer 5 minutes. (I also added about 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. beef broth just because we like ours with a little more juice.)

When serving top with chopped cilantro, grated cheese of choice, and sour cream.


(To control the heat leave out the chipotle peppers. You can also use regular diced tomatoes instead of Rotel. For more heat, add more chipotle peppers.)

I also made mine the day before while Clinton was at school and put it in the fridge until we were ready to eat dinner tonight. All I had to do was throw it on the stove and heat it easy and so good.

I had planned on making cornbread, but discovered my cornmeal was 3 YEARS past it's expiration date!?! I must admit, I'm a Jiffy girl, but since I had none on hand I was going to try to make it from scratch. Instead, I found a recipe for biscuits that I had all the ingredients for and they were delicious.

Drop Biscuits Supreme
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
3/4 t cream of tartar
3/4 c. butter (or 1/2 c. butter and 1/4 c. shortening)
1 1/4c. milk

Preheat oven to 450.

In large bowl combine all but the milk. Blend together with a pastry blender or your hands until butter mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (The key is just to incorporate the butter/shortening into the flour mixture as best as possible.)

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add milk all at once. Stir with a fork until mixture is moistened.

Using a large spoon, drop dough into 12 mounds onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden.

Keepin' it hot even when it's not,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Looking for Bargain Blogs?

As I mentioned in my last post, there are coupon/bargain sites based on geographical areas. Here's a website that will help you find some in your area. This is just a starting point, though, because I know there are tons more. Check it out here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My New Way to Shop

It started out slowly, but as I've gotten the hang of things my receipts have began to show some enormous benefit.

Take a look.

Spent $84.08 Saved $38.07 (31% Savings)

Spent $111.55 Saved $53.12 (32% Savings)

Spent $132.18 Saved $60.77 (32% Savings)

Spent $97.24 Saved $60.88 (39% Savings)

Spent $103.53 Saved $76.53 (43% Savings)

Spent $94.90 Saved $91.92 (49% Savings!!!!)

Spent $148.77 Saved $116.92 (44% Savings)

It should also be noted that the savings would probably be greater, but I'm still purchasing big ticket items like diapers and formula.

So how did I save so much? Well, first I studied up on the art of couponing. I did this by checking out these two particular websites-- Southern Savers and Faithful Provisions. These are both targeted to the Southeastern part of the country, but both have tons of links to other websites and you're sure to be able to find a site or two that is for your geographical area.

Then I studied up on my store's coupon policies. I found out they double ALL manufacturers coupons $.50 and under. They accept ALL competitor store coupons. And you can stack a store/competitor coupon with a manufacturers coupon. Wow.

Then I started collecting and printing coupons. My MIL and my dad both get Sunday papers. So they pull their coupons for me. I also occasionally pick up my own Sunday paper. I also pull coupons as I see them in the in-store dispensers. (I save them until that item goes on sale then take them back!) I sign up for any coupon booklet mentioned on one of my go-to sites. And I scan the rack at the front of the store for any in-store flyers that contain coupons.

I also started scanning the weekly flyer and comparing my coupons to the current sales and specials. This is how you get the best price. I love my store's BOGO section. Check out some of the awesome deals I scored this week.

Aveen0 Baby Wash
Regular Price $4.99
Sales Price $3.79
Mfg Coupon $2.00 off
Target Coupon $1.00 off
Total Price $0.79 (84% Savings)

Al Freco All Natural Chicken Sausage
Regular Price $5.49
BOGO Deal $2.75
Mfg Coupon $1.50 off
Total Price $1.25 (77% Savings)

Regular Price $1.09
Store Coupon $.75 off of 2
Mfg Coupon $.55 off of 2
Total Price $.88/$.44 each (40% Savings)

Emerald Trail Mix
Regular Price $1.99
BOGO Deal $1.99/2
Mfg Coupon $1.00 off of 2
Total Price $.99/$.49 each (75% Savings)

I'm also being more aware of what type of produce is in season because it's both cheaper and tastier. (Why have I been so stupid about his before???)

Let me just say, this definitely takes some time. I spend a couple of hours/week getting my list and coupons organized. But as a SAHM, I'm finding it's worth it to do so. It's almost like getting paid for that time. And I'm always looking for ways to contribute to our household. Ever since quitting my job to take care of my kiddos I have felt somewhat guilty of the things we can no longer do because we lack the extra income. However, things like this are allowing me to free up some money to do some extra things here and there.

I'm pretty competitive by nature, so this has given me an outlet for that. Every week I try to do better than the week before while still only purchasing things we would use. (However, if I can get things we don't use for very cheap/free, then I purchase them and put them in my "Food Bank Donation" stash.

Of course, shopping like this limits your ability to walk into the store and buy whatever you want for whatever meals you feel like preparing. It requires menu planning based on what you have and what you can get. I'm still working on this, but definitely enjoying the challenge. Faithful Provisions blogs weekly about her menu and how she is able to feed a family of 4 on $40/week + formula. While I'm still not able to do this at $40/week, I've made it a goal and striving for it.

I challenge anyone looking for a way to cut back on the budget to try this out. Once you get going it's a bit addictive. If you have any questions about what I'm doing, you know where to find me!