Monday, March 31, 2014

Coupon trips week of 03/31/14!

This buy 5 save $5 was too good not to go back... I tried to stay away but they pull me back in! I had located more printable coupons and had ordered a few choice coupons to snag even better deals than the week before. So this was my final trip before the sale ends tomorrow!

Again... I bought diapers. I'm not expecting (YET!) but we do plan to be sometime soon so whenever I find diapers for less than $5 per pack I try to pick them up as long as there is room in the budget. It'll make the financial strain even less when we are preparing the home for another babe!

1 - Ritz Bits Peanut Butter $1.77 - [$.50 coupon][$1 checkout 51 rebate] = $.27!
1 - Triscuits $1.77 - [$1 coupon][$1 checkout 51 rebate] = FREE +$.23 overage!
1 - Dove Men Shampoo $2.49 - [$2.50 coupon] = FREE!
3 - Axe 3-1 wash $8.97 - [$7.50 coupons] = $1.47 or $.49 each!
1 - Sara Lee Donuts $1.49 - [$1 coupon] = $.49!
4 - Huggies Jumbo pk  $31.96 - [$12 coupons] = $19.96 or $4.99 each!
2 - Armour Meatballs $3.98
5 - Barilla Entrees $6.45 - [$5 coupons] = $1.45 or $.29 each!
1 - Skim milk gallon $2.78 - [$.50 iBotta rebate][$.50 iBotta BONUS] = $1.78!
3 - Speedstick Deodorant $3.27 - [$3 coupons] = $.27 or $.09 each!
1 - Dial Body Wash $2.50 - [$1 coupon][$1 iBotta rebate] = $.50!
8 - Barilla Blue Box Pasta $8 - [$4 coupons] = $4.00 or $.50 each!
1 - Frank's Hot Ketchup $1.49 - [$1 coupon] = $.49!
1 - Cascadian Farms Organic Granola $1.99 - [$.85 coupon][$1 iBotta rebate] = $.14!
2 - Farmland Bacon $5.98 - [$2 coupons] = $3.98 or $1.99 each!
1 - Almond Milk $1.99

Total retail price $132.42 plus tax.
Total Price Paid $40.53 plus tax!
That's approx. 70% savings!!

Then I also jumped on another mini couponing trip to Target. I was able to get nearly a year supply (for us anyways!) of toilet paper for around $30.00! I don't see too many awesome toilet paper deals around my neck of the woods so this got me super excited!

Transaction #1:
2 - Quilted Northern 30 ct packs $30 - [$3 store coupons][15% off cartwheel][$1 checkout 51 rebate] = $21.50 plus tax

Transaction #2:
2 - Charmin Ultra 24 ct packs $25.98 - [$1.50 coupons][$1 target mobile][10% off cartwheel] = $20.88 plus tax (use $10 gift card from previous transaction) = $10.88 plus tax!

Transaction #3:
2 - Suave Body Wash $4.12 - [10% off cartwheel][$1 coupon] = $2.70 or $1.35 each!
2 - Kellogg's Mini Wheats (BOGO Sale!) $3 - [$1 coupon][$1 checkout 51 rebate] = $1.00 or $.50 each!
2 - Kellogg's Froot Loops (BOGO Sale!) $2.89 - [$1 coupons] = $1.89 or $.95 each!

Total Retail Price for all three transactions $103.17 plus tax.
Total Price Paid $31.97 plus tax!
That's almost 70% savings!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mini Coupon Trips 03/28/14!

Here is my mini couponing trip to Target for this week. A freebie and a close-to-freebie made it worth stopping in while I had planned to drive through town! Here's what I got this week and what I paid out of pocket after all sale price, coupons and electronic rebates!

1- Seventh Generation Dish Soap $3.19 - [10% off Cartwheel][$1 coupon][$1 target coupon][$1 iBotta rebate = FREE with +$.02 overage!
1 lb Strawberries $1.79 - [5% off cartwheel][$1 mobile coupon] = $.70!
4 Bananas $1.00 - [$.50 Checkout 51 rebate] = $.50 or $.12 per banana!
2- 6pk Angel Soft $6.58- [15% off cartwheel][two $.50 target coupon][two $.55 MF coupons] = $3.64 or $.30 per roll!
2- Up & Up Baby Wash  $3.34 - [10% off cartwheel][$2 target coupon] = $1.06 or $.53 each!
2- Up & Up Baby Lotion  $3.34 - [10% off cartwheel][$2 target coupon] = $1.06 or $.53 each!

Total retail $20.04 + tax
Total price paid $6.94 + tax
That's 65% savings!

I also did a quick run into CVS. I was super excited because there were big ECB deals and I still had $10 in ECB's leftover from a couple weeks before! One pack of diapers is included simply because we do intend on adding another babe to the family eventually and when diapers are super cheap I figure 'why not?!' I also jumped for joy when there was a $5/$25 coupon in my email the day prior to shopping! So that was like an extra 20% savings on top of the trip that was already planned!

2- Suave Body Wash $4/2 - [$1/2 coupon] = $3.00 or $1.50 each!
3- Suave Lotion $10.17 - [three $1.50 coupons] = $5.67 or $1.89 each!
1- CVS Paper Towel Roll $.79 - [$.79 CVS print coupon] = FREE!
1- Jumbo pk CVS Diapers $6.99
2- Clear Scalp Conditioner $8.98 - [two $2.50 coupons] = $3.98 or $1.99 each!
2- Dove Shampoo/Conditioner $9.98 - [two $1.50 coupons] = $6.98 or $3.49 each!

Total before tax and after coupons $26.62
ECBucks from previous trip $10.00
Store coupon $5 off $25 purchase.

Total paid OOP $16.42 with tax (savings of about 75% off retail!!) AND another $12.00 ECBucks to use next week! Planning to use that to knock a big chunk out of the Easter Candy budget!

My final mini stop was at Hy-Vee... now for this "couponing trip" I didn't coupon at all. This was a two day sale with a few rock bottom prices so I stopped in just to grab the allowed limits!

6 - Blue Bonnet Margarine $.58 each!
3 - Hunts Ketchup  $.69 each!
2 - 4lb bags Sugar  $.99 each!
10 - Van Camps Pork & Beans  $.29 each!

Saved about 60% without using a single coupon!

Sometimes the mini trips save the most! 

Gettin' your money's worth out of the whole chicken!

As much as I enjoy the conveniences of buying either thighs or breasts in the boneless form - I do not like the hefty price tag. Even when boneless chicken is on sale, in any form, I haven't ever seen it go under $1.59/lb (and that is RARE) and that just doesn't fly with me. So I started only buying boneless thighs for certain recipes every once in awhile (on sale!) and buy all my other chicken on the bone with the occasional splurge for some frozen boneless skinless breasts.

My all time favorite way to cook a whole chicken is by "beer can" method. This is a very popular way of cooking chicken on the BBQ grill but you can easily substitute cola and bake it in the oven instead. That's exactly what I do (unless we happen to have beer in the house, much prefer the taste of that, YUM!). There is something about how the cola fizzes up and keeps the chicken moist while it bakes. However you do need a special can holding contraption to use this method. It's only around $6 and you can purchase it almost anywhere when spring time and summer hits.You can always roast it the old fashioned way... this is just my personal preferred method.

Always remember to wash your chicken after removing it from the bag. Don't feel bad about playing with the chicken... I always do! Prepare your rub of choice and sprinkle all over the chicken either before or after placing the chicken on the soda can.

Making a rub for the chicken is completely optional. Sometimes simple salt and pepper works if you know that you are only baking the chicken to use the meat for various recipes and only cooking the meat ahead of time. I always season the heck out of everything, especially if I intend to use the skin and bones to make chicken stock (which I always try to!).

I tend to always gravitate towards a sweet/smokey rub combined with garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Each time I make chicken I always use granulated Maggi Chicken Bouillon because the flavor it gives the chicken is wonderful! I just pick it up in the international isle at Walmart.

Bake on a lined roasting pan at 375 degrees for about 2 hours for a 6 lb chicken. If you have one, please use a meat thermometer to test and make sure that internal temperatures near bone are at least 180 degrees. Let cool long enough so that you can peel the meat from the bones without burning your hands!

If I haven't mentioned it before... I'm a little lazy. I utilize my food processor and Kitchenaid for as many things as I can. I LOVE using my Kitchenaid to shred chicken. You can literally rip off the biggest hunks of chicken, throw it in the bowl, turn on the mixer and the meat is shredded as tiny as you allow. It's awesome! It took me literally less than 15 minutes the pull all the chicken (I did TWO whole chickens!), shred it and bag it for the fridge/freezer.

After all the meat is removed this is what I have left in the bowl (this is two chickens worth). At this point I will transfer all scraps into my crock pot and fill to the brim with water. Turn it on low and let it go! I put it on about 7pm and will strain and cool it when I get up in the morning so about 12 hours on low. Now depending on how much you seasoned your chicken before baking will depend on how you season the stock. I season the chicken dramatically before cooking so I do not see a need to add anything to the bones/skin except water but I still usually throw a rough chopped onion and few garlic cloves in there with a fair amount of salt to taste at the end. But if I had only used salt & pepper, I would have added things like carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the crock pot as well to give added flavor. After 12 hours on low, I strain all the fat/meat/bones and measure out the broth.

Once you have divided desired portions into freezer safe containers - let the broth cool and then chill overnight. I prefer to chill overnight so that the following day I can scrape all the fat off the top before I put the containers in the freezer. Leave about an inch or two of head space and it would be wise to first place the containers in the freezer with the lid removed. Let it freeze and allow the liquid to expand before putting the lids on for long term storage.

There's a lot of steps but I think it is well worth it to get the biggest bang for your buck. In this particular instance, I did two whole chickens totaling $10.35 and I was able to get 12 cups of shredded meat for only $.86 per cup and the 16 cups of broth came essentially free in the process!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Homemade Apple Oatmeal ($.51 per serving)

On a cheap recipe blog, I stumbled across This woman really loves her oatmeal and she makes them in the most elegant and easy ways. I have adapted one of her recipes and it makes me want to eat oatmeal daily again!


1/2 cup quick cook oats (approx. $.13)
1/2 applesauce (approx. $.25)
1/4 cinnamon (pennies)
1/4 apple pie spice (or sub more cinnamon)
1/2 milk of choice (approx. $.11)

Mix all ingredients well (I prefer to throw it all in a mason jar and shake the dickens out of it!) and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, enjoy cold or move to a bowl and microwave for about 90 seconds. I like to sprinkle mine with 1/2 tbsp of brown sugar. Only $.51 a serving... Mmmm!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gourmet Apple Bacon Grilled Cheese (only $1.00!)

I am in love... with a sandwich. A grilled cheese sandwich to be exact.

I have always been a fan of cheese and apples. I have early memories as a child of eating a snack of apple slices with american cheese. And let's face it... Bacon makes everything better!

I came across a similar recipe on and have adapted the following recipe for my family's liking:

Ingredients for one sandwich:

Sliced Artisan Bread (approx. $.04)
1/2 small Granny Smith apple (approx. $.16)
2 tbsp shredded cheddar (approx. $.10)
1 oz chipotle white cheddar or pepperjack cheese sliced thin (approx. $.20)
2 slices of cooked bacon (approx. $.50)

Butter the outsides of the bread slices as you would any normal grilled cheese sandwich (I prefer a spray-able butter, easier!). Lay one slice buttered side down and lay the spicy white cheddar. Then top with thinly sliced apples. Next add the cooked bacon slices. Finally top all with the shredded cheddar and second slice of bread (buttered side up, of course!). Cook on both sides until golden brown and cheeses are melted! Enjoy this gourmet but frugal melt for only around $1.00!

Quickie Coupon Trip to Walmart 03/25/14

I did my major coupon trip to Dillons about six days ago but I only ever hit up Walmart when I feel like it's worth it. I always find using coupons at Walmart more painful than any other store just because cashiers are never as patient or courteous but that's just my personal opinion!

There were some deals with coupons that I felt were worth making the trip in for even though I only had one or two coupons printed so I went today! I was in desperate need of parchment paper too and I happened to find a coupon through a Google search! It's not a rock bottom price but I needed it!

Here's my loot and price paid after all coupons and digital rebates!

4 Rice Dream Non-Dairy cartons $7.84 - $8.00[coupons] = +$.16 overage!)
1 So Delicious Coconut Milk carton  $1.98 - $1.00[coupon] - $1.00[iBotta rebate] = +$.02 overage!
1 Fiber One Fruit Snacks $2.00 - $.60[coupon] - $.75[iBotta rebate] = $.65!
3 Popcorn Seasonings $5.94 - $3.00[coupons] = $2.94 or $.98 each!
1 Bar-S Franks $.98 - $.50[iBotta rebate] = $.48!
1 P3 Protein Pack $1.00 - $.75[coupon] = $.25!
1 Parchment Paper $3.48 - $1.00[coupon] = $2.48
1 Zest bar soap $.97 - $1.00[coupon] = +$.03 overage!

Estimated retail $26.46... Total price paid including all taxes $8.86!

Sorry Starbucks... I win!

One of my best mommy friends has a massive obsession with Starbucks. I shared her obsession while we worked together. On our busiest days we would take a break and she'd get her Caramel Macchiato and I'd get my Caramel Mocha. When I quit my job, I put a major halt on any and all extravagant coffee purchases but that doesn't mean that I don't yearn for it!

So what do you do when you want something but refuse to pay $5.00 for a cup of it? You adjust and adapt!

It's almost sad how something so expensive at a specialty shop can turn out to be so cheap when you make it yourself at home... and the calories saved surely don't hurt. I found that I can achieve a wonderful Caramel Mocha Beverage at home using 3 ingredients.

Items Needed:
8 oz of Mocha Blend Coffee (approx. $.10)
1/2 cup Fat Free Half & Half (or you could use milk or half of each!) (approx. $.10)
3 or 4 caramels (approx. $.15)
Whipped Topping (optional)

I use my Keurig to brew a single 8 oz cup of coffee or you can reheat leftover from a pot.
Put half & half and caramels in a small pan and warm over medium heat whisking very often to keep the dairy from scorching. Once the caramels are completely melted, whisk in coffee. Then pour into your favorite coffee cup! If you're feeling extra frugal-fancy add a couple dollops of whipped topping.

Here we have a Gourmet Caramel Mocha for only around $.35!! Psssh - $5.00, yeah right.
Sorry Starbucks... I win!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Artisan Bread without the price tag...

I don't know about you but with as much as I love bread... I cannot image spending up to $8.00 on a single loaf at a specialty store. By definition, Artisan Bread is simply a handcrafted bread made without artificial flavors or preservatives. Realistically - any homemade bread should be artisan bread, right? But I go a step further with my opinion of Artisan Bread by focusing on the "handcrafted" part of the textbook definition. Typically any bread takes a few hours worth of rising and baking. But there is a recipe that I use that can stand up against any fancy, schmancy bread at any specialty market and I make it in my own home for a fraction of the cost. I'd love to share it with all of you today. It's a wonderful frugal side dish to a weekday meal and upscale enough to bring with you to impress anyone at a potluck or dinner party!

First and foremost, this recipe is incredibly simple but takes a lot of time. That's where the whole "handcrafted" part comes in. You can taste the time and care into making a single loaf. Though a lot of the ingredients are the same, this loaf does not taste the same as typical sandwich bread.

Start by putting 6 cups of all-purpose flour, 2.5 tsp salt, 3 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast in a very large bowl. Stir together to integrate the dry ingredients. Then add 2 and 3/4 cups cold tap water. Now it's time to get messy. I love to use my hands to mix it all. It seems to blend it all together much faster than using any sort of spoon. This dough does not need to be kneaded so after you mix the dough (it should still be sticky but manageable) all you need to do is spray the sides of the bowl with cooking spray and spray a piece of cling wrap to lay over the top of the bowl. Put in a safe place to let rise for the next 12-18 hours - I like to put it in the oven (turned off!) to keep it out of the way!

I personally let mine rise for about 15 hours. I'll mix it up about 9pm and won't look at it again until about noon the following day. You'll know the first rise has completed when the dough has tripled in size and smells yeasty and has lots of tiny bubbles. After the first rise time, grab some more flour and dust your counter top and your hands. Don't punch the dough down but simply remove it from the bowl and fold it over itself 2 or 3 times on the counter top. Lay out a clean cotton towel and sprinkle towel with flour. Shape the dough into a ball and tuck any seams underneath the ball. Place the dough ball on the flour dusted towel. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough and lay another clean cotton towel over the top of the dough ball. Let rise undisturbed for another 2 hours.

In the last 20 minutes that the dough is rising, put your dutch oven in the oven and turn up the heat to 425 degrees. After 2 hours the dough should have doubled in size again. Remove the hot dutch oven and very carefully flip the dough ball into the pot - now the seams should be facing upward. Put the lid back on the dutch oven and bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake another 5-10 minutes or until the top of the bread has a beautiful deep, golden crust. Let cool on a wire rack. Let cool at least 30 minutes before cutting into it. Resist all temptation! The wait is so worth it.

I like to store the leftovers in the same dutch oven it baked in. Storing in bags just seems like a waste!


6 cups All-Purpose Flour ($.47)
1/2 tsp yeast ($.05)
2.5 tsp salt (penny)
3 tbsp sugar (pennies)
2 and 3/4 tap water (penny)

Approx. $.57 for a loaf of Artisan Bread... beats an $8.00 loaf any day of the week!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Canning your own Applesauce

Applesauce is one of those things that is always nice to have in your refrigerator. My kids love to eat it as a side, snack or dessert. I love dipping my pork chops in it and using it as a substitute for oil when I'm baking. When my local grocery store put apples on sale 3 for $.99 I decided that would be a perfect opportunity to try making homemade applesauce. I very quickly realized that not only was it extremely easy but homemade applesauce tastes SO much better than store bought. Though the price is about the same, I'd gladly put forth the effort to make my own simply because the flavor is so good and I'm not feeding my family unnecessary preservatives.

It takes about 3 lbs of apples to make one quart of applesauce. So the best deal you can find on apples the best price for the finished product! I used a mixture of granny smith and gala apples. My most wonderful husband bought me a slicer/corer/peeler for Christmas so it no longer takes me an hour to hand peel and cut 6 lbs of apples. I can now do about 15 lbs in a mere 15 minutes. Gotta love him!

Fill a large pot with peeled, cored and sliced apples. My biggest pot can do about 6 lbs of apples at a time. Keep the skins outta there as to not mess the texture of the applesauce. Put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pot and start to cook on Med-High stirring occasionally until the apples are super tender. I like to add about 1 tbsp of cinnamon and about a half cup of brown sugar to the apples but really you could not add anything and it will still taste wonderful! Once the apples are tender (only takes 20-30 min as long as they were sliced thinly) use a hand blender to puree the apples into applesauce! If you have more apples to cook and intend to process the applesauce in a water bath canner then you'll need to make sure that you keep the applesauce hot so transfer to a slow cooker to hold temperature while you cook the next batch of apples.

Once all of your apples are pureed into applesauce transfer into sterilized canning jars and process the jars in a hot water bath for at least 20 min. If you are not storing for long term then make sure the applesauce has cooled and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks - if it lasts that long! ;-)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fancy Shmancy Frugal Salad!

I enjoy a good salad but sometimes they can get a little boring. Same old dressing, same old veggies...

There are so many things out there that you can throw onto a salad, some items are cheaper than others. One thing is for certain that it is definitely not as cheap to eat healthy as one would hope. So I present to you my favorite Fancy Shmancy Frugal Salad!

Bagged salad mix costs only a hair more than just buying a head of lettuce these days so if I am just making myself a salad for lunch I'll just use that and spread it out over the week. But if you are using a whole head of lettuce you can make a massive amount of salad! Just add a couple shaved carrots and some shaved purple cabbage and you've got your own salad mix on steroids! I also make my own vinaigrette salad dressing because it is cheaper than buying dressings (usually) and it contains a lot less preservatives and a lot less calories. I top the salad with feta cheese, a dried tropical fruit mix and a crunchy salad topping mix. Super satisfying, super cheap and super yum!

Ingredients for the salad:
Bagged Salad Mix (Wal-Mart $3.48 massive bag)
Dried Tropical Fruit Mix (Dollar Tree for $1)
Feta Cheese 6oz (Wal-Mart $1.97)
Crunchy Salad Toppin's (Wal-Mart $1.97 but will last a LONG time)

Makes 6 individual salads for approx. $1.20 each

Dress the salad with this easy Honey Mustard Vinaigrette!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Grocery Shopping 3/19/14

This week's grocery trip was a little different than usual. I did a massive couponing trip in the same day! It was also different because normally I do all my shopping at Walmart or Dillons but today I ALSO had to drive into another town to have my oil changed and so I was able to shop at Aldi! I went ahead and did two weeks worth of grocery shopping instead of the typical one week trip. I also bought a lot of fresh strawberries because I am going to can some preserves this week.
I also learned something new about Aldi. Did you know that they occasionally have coupons on their meat products? It's true! There was a $1 off coupon on a Tyson whole chicken. So I got a 6 lb chicken for only $4.57 or only $.76/lb. Yippee!!
Without further adieu...

6 lbs Strawberries  $7.74
2 Whipped Topping  $1.78
10 Lemons $3.90
1 Avocado $.49
2 Pkgs Dried Fruit $2.98
4 sticks Margarine $.75
Aluminum Foil $1.99
Turkey Kielbasa $1.99
Quick Oats $2.29
3 lbs Bananas $1.28
3 lbs Onions  $1.49
3 Garlic Bulbs $.99
12 oz Blackberries $1.98
Sour Cream $1.29
Bagged Spinach $1.69
Celery Bunch $1.19
2 cans Green Beans $.98
Fresh Whole Chicken $4.57
10 lbs Potatoes $2.69

Total with all taxes  $45.59

Now let's see if I can make it until the first full week of April before having to go to the grocery store! :-D

Coupon Trip Week of 3/19/14

This was a BIG week for us couponers and this promotion goes until the end of the month so anyone who wants to jump on the bandwagon.... you have until March 31, 2014 to do so!

I made a few different trips as well. I did my main coupon trip first thing this morning because I knew the longer I waited the less likely it would be that everything I wanted was still left on the shelves! Then I took a break to get the car an oil change and followed that with another trip to Dillons to use the catalina coupons that I had received in that first trip of the day. I also made an unexpected stop at Target. You see, I had to make a drive to the dealership for my oil change and lucky for me there's a Target on the way home. I don't always get to do a Target coupon trip but when I do I try to make it a small but a beneficial one!

Here is my first haul of the day. I did also run into Walmart and picked up paper products and threw those in the picture as well (not sure why!) but they are not listed in the coupon comparison list. I want you all to know that I used ALL printable and digital coupons as well as electronic rebates from Checkout 51 and iBotta on all my trips today. So even if you haven't bought any newspapers ever you can still get these deals as long as you have a printer at home and a store card for Kroger/Dillons. The price listed is the total price paid after all discounts.

3 - Capri Sun 10 ct  ($3.47 or $1.15/each)
1 - Ritz Bits (FREE with +$.23 overage!)
1 - Triscuits (FREE with +$.23 overage!)
6 - Barilla Pasta 16 oz ($3.00 or $.50/each)
2 - Oscar Mayer Lean Beef Franks 16 oz ($4.98 or $2.49/each)
1 - Frigo String Cheese 20 ct ($2.64)
4 - Go-gurt 8 ct  ($4.46 or $1.11/each)
4 - Barilla Microwavable Entrees ($1.16 or $.29/each)
2 - Coffee-mate powdered creamer  ($3.98 or $1.99/each)
3 - Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal ($2.64 or $.88/each)
4 - Classico Pasta Sauce  ($2.96 or $.74/each)
10 - Snickers PB Squared ($2.00 or $.20/each)
6 - M&M's ($2.00 or $.33/each)
1 - Folgers Gourmet Coffee 12 oz ($4.99)
2 - Almond Breeze Almond Milk ($3.98 or $1.99/each)
1 - Kraft Shredded Mozzarella 8 oz ($1.99)
2 - Oscar Mayer Bacon 16 oz ($7.98 or $3.99/each)
4 - Oscar Mayer Deli Meat 16 oz ($7.96 or $1.99/each)
4 - Speedstick Gear Deodorant ($4.96 or $.49/each)
2 - Dial Body Wash ($2.00 or $1/each)
2 - Right Guard Body Wash ($3.00 or $1.50/each)
2 - Tone Body Wash ($3.00 or $1.50/each)
1 - Clean & Clear face scrub ($.59)

Total Retail Price $214.01
Total Price Paid all taxes included $84.86
Approx. 60% savings! Not bad considering the variety of items I was able to get!

This next smaller trip to Dillons was made out of town to pick up a few items that was out of stock at my smaller town store. I was really excited about an unexpected item! They had these new Ortega flat taco bowl thingys marked down from $2.59 to $1.50 and each box had a $1 off peelie making each box only $.50! I only bought 4 but fought the urge to grab them all!

4 - Ortega Fiesta Flats 10 ct ($2.00 or $.50/each)
1 - Triscuits ($.77)
1 - Thomas Bagel Thins ($1.99)
1 - NY Coffee Blend ($3.69)
1 - Oscar Mayer Deli Turkey ($1.99)
2 - El Monterey Breakfast Burrito (FREE!!)
1 - Miracle Whip ($1.99)
1 - Skim Milk gallon ($1.78)
1 - Halos 3 lb bag ($3.24)
4 - Classico Pasta Sauces ($2.96 or $.74/each)
1 - Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal ($.88)

Total Retail Price $61.92
Total Price Paid all taxes included $22.08
Approx. 65% savings!

The final trip to Target was very dainty but super huge in savings! I got really lucky to be in town to snag these deals...

1 - Windex Touch-up Cleaner (FREE with stacked coupons and Checkout 51 rebate)
1 - Special K Berry Cereal ($.19 with 50% off cartwheel digital, manufacturer coupon and iBotta rebate)
2 - Oscar Mayer hot dogs 16 oz ($2.81 or $1.40/each)
2 - Right Guard Xtreme Deodorant ($.64 or $.32/each with store stacked coupons)

Total Retail Price $21.07
Total Price Paid all taxes included $4.78
Approx. 80% savings!! Saved the best for last!

Total spent overall with my coupons today $111.72
And I saved with my coupons $185.28  Totally worth it!

I also squeezed in my regular grocery trip today (for 2 weeks instead of only 1...) so I'm exhausted! Haha!

Monday, March 17, 2014

How I meal plan...

There are many, many ways to meal plan for your family and it is crucial for a successful food budget to have one! I personally realized that by taking about an hour each month and another each week (and I'm getting quicker!) I was able to cut my grocery budget in half... by just being prepared! I also found that those hours leading up to dinner time were much less stressful because I already knew what I was going to be cooking. I was no longer waiting until the last minute to throw something together or going the easier route and picking up or ordering in which is both bad for your diet and your wallet.

The first step (after I prepare a cup of coffee, love the mug?) that I take when I begin menu planning is to map out dinners by month. Looking at a full month allows me to spread out similar meals so that we don't feel like we are eating the same thing all the time. I'll start by taking family favorites such as spaghetti or pizza and I will randomly place them a few times across the month. On Friday that week maybe Sunday a couple weeks later... and so on. Then I'll try to think of a pattern... maybe a chicken dish every 8 days? Meatless every 4 days? It depends on my mood at the time that I'm crafting this monthly plan. One thing is certain... USE PENCIL! I make a lot of changes and I'll explain!

I menu plan by month but I grocery shop weekly because I am a sale hound. I prefer to purchase items when they are on sale so just because I say we will have chicken doesn't mean I won't switch it to pork loin when the pork is on sale that week and the chicken is not! Hence... always write in pencil. Some might say: Why plan by the month at all? Why not just plan every week with sale ads?  My answer is simple... in my personal experience, I find that if I have a guideline for the month that makes the weekly grocery lists move a lot faster. The majority of the meals that I make consist of items that are frequently on sale, regularly inexpensive or I already have on hand in my pantry. The only items that I have to really switch around for sales are main meat dishes.

Once I have looked over the weekly sale ads on Wednesdays and matched any coupons, I make my final weekly menu and compile my shopping list. Since I do not have a set day for grocery shopping (and always try to avoid doing it over a weekend), I start the weekly dinner menu on Monday and end on Sunday... this allows me between Thursday and Monday morning to get to the grocery store which personally works well for me.

Monday mornings I put the menu up on the board and call it good!

How do you plan your family's dinner menu?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Banana Icebox Pie ($.51 per serving)

In honor of National Pi Day (3.14 get it?!) I decided to break down and throw a pie together. And it was magical. And it was creamy. And it was delicious...


10 full size graham crackers (approx. $.66)
3 tbsp milk of choice (approx. $.06)
2 tbsp sugar (pennies)

Filling and Topping
3.4 oz box banana pudding mix - 4 serving size ($.94)
1 cup milk (approx. $.22)
16 oz Cool Whip knockoff! [Divided] ($1.98)
2 Bananas (approx. $.23)

In your mixer, combine the banana pudding mix and milk. Then add in HALF of the 16 oz container of whipped topping. Once well combined put in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes.
Pulverize the graham crackers in your food processor then add in milk and sugar then press into your pie pan. Remove the filling and spread over pie crust. Slice the bananas and put in a ring around the edge of the pie. Fill in the center with remaining whipped topping and cover bananas completely. Put in the freezer for at least one hour before serving... if you can wait that long! You can either keep it in the freezer (covered of course) or keep in the fridge. Up to you!
$4.11 for a cool, creamy pie... Pi Day 2014 is a true success!

I couldn't wait. HAHA!

Staying out of the dang store...

Something that I personally struggle with is staying out of the grocery store. I have always wanted to be that mom that did the whole 'Grocery Shopping Once a Month' thing and if we lived in the country that would probably be the case. Unfortunately for me, I have a Walmart about 5 minutes away so it makes it really convenient to stop in if I run out of something. The challenge that I am giving myself is to: Stay out of the dang store.  The key to accomplishing this task is: Find alternatives. Some things are easier to find alternatives for than others.

For about 9 months (a few years ago) I lived in a very small town with the nearest grocery store being about 30 miles away. Trips for any kind of shopping had to be very carefully planned because if you ran out of something it would be at least an hour round trip in driving alone! Not to mention the gas money...  this was good and bad for me. I learned how to make a list and I learned how to find alternatives if I ran out of something. Now I live in a town where shopping is easily accessible and I'm struggling with running to the store 2 or 3 times a week!

I don't care who you are... going into a store and picking up the one thing you went in there for and leaving with nothing else is hard or near impossible. For me personally, I like to make the trip worth it so subconsciously I'll tell myself "what else do I need" and I end up picking up a few things that I kind of needed but could have done without for a few weeks. What irritates me about this is that it eats up my grocery money and then when I go on my final shopping trip of the month I might have to readjust dramatically to compensate for that extra money that I spent week 2. If that makes sense...

So I am challenging myself and challenging you to stay out of the dang store... let's curb those impulse buys and keep our grocery budgets in check!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

BBQ Beef and Beans ($.56 per serving)

This is a hearty and satisfying dish that everyone in the family loves. It was developed one night when we hadn't made it to the grocery store and children were starving half to death (at least they thought so!) so we needed something quick. It has become a regular item on our menu ever since!


28 oz Maple Baked Beans, canned (approx. $1.50)
12 oz ground beef (approx. $2.25)
2 tbsp bbq sauce of choice (approx. $.15)
3 tsp yellow mustard (pennies)
1 tsp minced garlic (pennies)
1/2 tsp onion powder (pennies)
1/4 tsp salt (penny)

In a medium sized pot, brown the ground beef with minced garlic, onion powder and salt. Once meat is browned, drain. Return to pot and add the bbq sauce and yellow mustard. Saute over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Then add the baked beans and heat through for about 10 minutes over medium heat.
Serve with potatoes for a hearty meal!

Makes about 7 servings; 1/2 cup servings. Feeds a family of four for around $4.00!


Frugal Flour Tortillas ($.07 each!)

It used to be that tortillas were a staple that I bought every time that I went to the grocery store. Now the sale price on a package of 10 tortillas is $2.00... $.20 each? That's a sale?? UGH!

But there is always a silver lining! I began experimenting with tortilla recipes that were flooding the internet (apparently I wasn't the only one irritated by the raising prices per pack!) and after a few tweaks I found a recipe that works best for me. Not only are making tortillas at home a lot more cost effective but they taste better too! Soon I'll try experimenting with flavored wraps :-)


3 cups all-purpose flour (approx. $.28)
2 tsp baking powder (approx. $.08)
1 tsp salt (penny)
4 tbsp lard (approx. $.33) Note: If you don't have on hand you can just use all shortening.
2 tbsp shortening (approx. $.12)
1 cup to 1.25 cup water (free-ish)

Start by combining flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add lard and shortening and blend into flour mixture using a fork. This step might take a few minutes. You'll want to make sure that there are absolutely no balls of lard/shortening in the flour mixture. This will cause an irregular consistency in the tortilla. Once the mixture is crumbly with no tiny balls, test to make sure it's ready by balling up the mixture. If it stays in a ball when molded then crumbles easily when touched, it is good to go! Add 1 cup of water and mix well. If the dough is still too dry to begin kneading then add up to another 1/4 cup water. Once the dough is no longer sticky, knead on a lightly floured surface by folding dough over and rolling through using the bottoms of your palms. Fold dough over again and repeat. Continue this pattern of kneading for 15-20 times. Then place dough ball on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for about 15 minutes.

Then start to divide the dough into 12 balls. I find it easiest to divide into even balls by cutting the ball in half, then cutting each half again and then again until I have 12 sections. Roll each section into a ball and place on the plate and cover all with cling wrap and let rest on the counter top for another 30 minutes.

After all the waiting is over, it's time to get cooking! There are a couple ways that you can mold the tortillas. The easiest way is to use a tortilla press: Simply place the ball in between 2 pieces of wax paper and press between the cast iron plates. If you do not have a tortilla press you can simply use a rolling pin. The tortillas might not be perfectly round but that just adds to the authenticity of the homemade tortillas! Ha!

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. DO NOT ADD OIL! If you cook the tortillas in an oiled pan they will crisp up and that's not what you want. Cook each tortilla over med-high heat about 25 seconds on each side until you see those little brown spots on the cooked sides. Store in a tortilla warmer while you cook the rest OR simply just put them on a plate and keep them in the microwave to stay warm (a little tip/trick!).

Best when served immediately but you can separate them using a paper towel or wax paper and place in a storage bag. For best results, store in the fridge and warm before serving.

Makes 12 tortillas for about $.82 or about $.07 each!

Potato and Egg Casserole ($.45 per serving)

My, my, my! This is such a filling dish and it is very versatile. It's great for breakfast, brunch and even savory enough for a hearty dinner. You can serve this as a main dish with a veggie side or even pancakes! Serving 4 people for less than $2.00 makes this a dish that I come back to time and time again especially when times are tight.


26 oz of Russet Potatoes (about 3 good size ones) (approx. $.67)
6 eggs (approx. $.65)
1 tbsp canola oil (approx. $.10)
1/2 cup milk (approx. $.11)
2 tsp seasoned salt (pennies)
1 tsp salt (penny)
1 tsp onion powder (pennies)
1 tsp garlic powder (pennies)
1/2 tsp parsley flakes (pennies)
1/4 tsp black pepper (penny)
2 slices of american cheese (approx. $.16)

Dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. In large saute pan add canola oil, potatoes and all seasonings. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until potatoes are tender to the bite. Remove potatoes and put into a square 8x8 greased casserole dish. Beat the eggs with milk and a dash of salt and pepper. Scramble in hot saute pan. Once eggs are cooked add into casserole dish with the potatoes. Mix the eggs and the potatoes evenly. Tear the two american cheese slices into 8 total squares and spread across top of the egg and potato mixture. Bake at 350* for about 8 minutes! Top with some ketchup or spice it up with your favorite hot sauce! Serves 4 very well for only about $1.79!! Whoop Whoop!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Important Pantry Staples

I always have numerous versatile items in my kitchen but I have compiled a list of the absolute minimum items that I believe should be in everyone's pantry. If money is tight and you cannot afford to go out and buy all these items in one trip I recommend simply picking up one or two items per week (or budget an extra $5-$10 for purchasing) with your regular grocery trips until you accumulate everything. Having these particular items on hand has saved me more times than I have fingers and toes to count! The majority of these items have a very long shelf life. I always try to make sure there is one of each item unopened unless otherwise indicated.

Dry Goods
1 lb Spaghetti
1 lb Elbow Macaroni
1 lb Dried Red Beans
1 lb Dried Pinto Beans
1 lb Dried Lentils
1 lb Dried Black Beans
Minute Rice
Quick Cook Oats
Green Tea Bags
Saltine Crackers

Baking Goods
5 lb bag all-purpose flour (2 bags)
Jar of yeast
4 lb bag Sugar
Brown Sugar
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Vanilla Extract
Box Angel Food Cake Mix
Box Regular Cake Mix

Oils & Condiments
Canola Oil
Olive Oil
BBQ Sauce
Hot Sauce
Pancake Syrup

Salt & Pepper
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Parsley Flakes
Chili Powder
Ground Cinnamon
Italian Seasoning
Chicken Bouillon Cubes
White Gravy Mix (2 packets)
Taco Seasoning Packet

Refrigerated Items
Packaged Butter or Margarine (4 total sticks)
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Vegetable of Choice (2 bags)
Frozen Juice Concentrate (2 packages)
12 oz ground beef (2 pkgs)

Canned Goods (Jarred)
Tomato Paste (2 cans)
Diced Tomatoes (2 cans)
28 oz Crushed Tomatoes
Hunts Pasta Sauce
Refried Beans (2 cans)
Tuna (2 cans)
Baked Beans
Creamy Peanut Butter

What items do you always make sure to have in your pantry??

Basic White Bread ($.50 loaf)

Everyone needs to know the most basic of bread recipes. It's very simple, tastes delicious and of course... cheap! I love the smell of fresh bread baking and I love the sense of accomplishment that comes with pulling a loaf from the oven and slicing into it. I also like the idea of avoiding all the preservatives in store bought bread. I've always wondered how a loaf can last up to two weeks before it starts to mold!


6 cups all-purpose flour (give or take 1/4 cup) (approx. $.56)
2 and 1/4 tsp active yeast (approx. $.25)
2 and 1/4 cup very warm water (free-ish)
3 tbsp granulated sugar (pennies)
2 tbsp canola oil (approx. $.15)
1 tbsp salt (pennies)

Put water in a large mixing bowl with yeast and sugar. Allow to let the yeast activate and begin to foam (takes about 3-5 minutes). Add all remaining ingredients but reserve 3 cups of the flour for now. Mix dough well with either your hands or using a dough hook in a mixer. Add one cup at a time until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Continue to knead dough by hand for about 10-15 minutes or knead for 8 minutes on medium using the dough hook in the mixer.

Grease sides of bowl and roll the dough in it covering the outsides of the dough ball. Cover and let the dough rise using the same technique that I use for my pizza dough for about 90 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. Then punch down the dough and divide into two balls. Shape each ball into a loaf and place in two 9x5 loaf pans.  Cover and let rise again until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).  Then finally bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes until top is browned and you can make a hallow sound when you tap the top of the loaf. Remove from pans and let cool on a baking rack.

Makes 2 loaves. Around $.50 per loaf!

TIP: Buy yeast in a large quantity container and store in the fridge for 6-12 months if well sealed (I use a mason jar). If you buy yeast in the individual use packets the cost is significantly higher. If you do not bake bread on a regular basis then buying the packets ensures that your yeast does not go bad before you use it all but if you plan to make all your own bread items then buying yeast in bulk is definitely the way to go!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Frugal Egg-free Pancakes! ($.06 each!)

Need a frugal breakfast food? In a batch of pancakes, an expensive ingredient that is able to be easily removed is all the eggs. I'd rather have them scrambled on the side anyways!


2 cups all-purpose flour (approx. $.19)
4 tsp baking powder (approx. $.10)
4 tsp sugar (pennies or free if you have convenient store leftovers!!)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (penny)
2 cups milk (approx. $.45)
2 tbsp water (free-ish)
3 tbsp canola oil (approx. $.11)
1 tsp vanilla extract (pennies)

Mix all wet ingredients and mix all dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add all mixed dry ingredients to the wet and mix very thoroughly! Drop on a hot skillet 1/4 cup at a time. Makes 14 pancakes for around only $.90!! That's only about $.06 per pancake... can't beat that!!  :-D

TIP: These are so easily made ahead. Make up a big 'ol batch and separate the pancakes using wax paper. Keep in the fridge for a few day or throw them in the freezer. Quick and yummy before school breakfasts on the cheap!

Cheap Cheesy Mac! ($.23 per serving)

This macaroni and cheese recipe gives you more food for the same cost as a single box of the powdered cheese mix. I always have the items needed on hand and it's super easy to throw together for a quick lunch or a side dish.


2 cups dry elbow macaroni (approx. $.50)
6 slices of american cheese (approx. $.46 or use only 4 slices if your stretching the budget!)
1/2 cup milk (approx. $.11)
1 tbsp butter or margarine (approx $.08)
1/2 tsp salt (penny)
1/8 tsp pepper (penny)
1/8 garlic powder (penny)
1/8 onion powder (penny)

Cook the elbow macaroni according to box directions then put into a strainer. While the macaroni is draining, put milk and butter in the pot and heat over medium stirring frequently to avoid scalding the milk. Add the cheese slices and seasonings and stir until melted. Once the cheese is melted completely add back the macaroni and toss to cover all. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Makes about 5 cups for 5 servings for around $1.19 compared to 3 cups of the prepared boxed mix for about $1.30.

Monday, March 10, 2014

You say Potato... I say YUM!!!

Potatoes are one of those foods that every frugal mom adores and always has a variety of different ways she loves to prepare them. Potatoes are cheap, they are filling and they are a blank canvas ready to be packed full of flavor!

There is a certain story that comes to mind every time that I think about potatoes. Unfortunately the memory is from a very rough time in my life. There was an instance about 10 years ago when money had always been tight. I was young, living on my own and learning the hard way. It was winter and there was an awful ice storm. My employer was shut down for a couple weeks which meant that I couldn't go into work so my paycheck was a lot smaller than expected. I reached a point when no money was left in my bank account and no food was in the kitchen - other than some mustard and margarine. Thankfully during this time it was only myself... no children yet. I was able to find enough change to pay for one 5 pound bag of potatoes at Walmart. If I remember correctly it was something like $1.80 in dimes and nickels, maybe a quarter or two. I went to the register HOPING that the tax wouldn't put my total over more than the change that I had jingling in my pocket. Welp, the price was wrong. The bag of potatoes rang up more than $2.00 and with my hand gripping the change in my pocket the cashier looked at me and gave me my unexpected total. I was so embarrassed. How do you tell a stranger that you don't have two dollars to buy a damn bag of potatoes? He looked at me, waiting to be handed money. I stared back a moment and managed to speak: "Can you please double check the price? I don't think that's correct..." Fortunately, the check out station was right next to the produce department so it was only a few steps to double check the price on potatoes. To my surprise, the cashier returned and said "My apologies. The price rang up incorrectly. As per Walmart policy, if the item that scans incorrect is under $3 that item is free of charge." I WAS SHOCKED! I smiled and asked the cashier if he could hold on one more moment and I ran a few aisles up and grabbed a bottle of ketchup. I left the store with 5 pounds of potatoes and a bottle of ketchup with change leftover! I ate roasted potatoes with ketchup for the next 4 days until I was paid again and they were the most delicious potatoes that I'd ever had up until then...

Anyways, enough of the sad back story and back to the spuds! Costs for nearly every grocery item has gone up so significantly but you can still buy a 10 lb bag of potatoes any day for around $5.00 and on sale I've seen 10 pounds for as little as $2.00! You can make and stretch a lot of meals with potatoes so it's always something that I work into my grocery budget no matter what. I find that 3 good sized potatoes are sufficient for our family of four so one bag goes a long way!

This is my personal favorite way to make russet potatoes:

I quarter the potato and cut into 1 inch cubes. I place all pieces in a large bowl and drizzle a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil then toss to coat well. The key seasoning for potatoes is salt... lots and lots of salt! I use both table salt and seasoning salt. I also love both onion powder and garlic powder. Finally I toss in a couple teaspoons of parsley and a couple tablespoons of Ranch seasoning powder.

Lay the potatoes on a lined baking sheet (sprayed with cooking spray!) in a single layer at bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until fork tender. YUMMY!

I also love having something as simple a loaded baked potato for dinner. Now that's a really cheap meal!!

Mashed, roasted, baked, fried, cubed, coined, diced... there is no wrong way to make and eat a potato. Don't even get me started on sweet potatoes... Holy yum...