Thursday, April 30, 2015

Daily Frugal Failures and Successes: Thursday 4/30/15



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • I started the day unnecessary stress as my daughter called me shortly after leaving for school with a tremor in her voice. I immediately thought she'd been in an accident and she just wouldn't get to the point fast enough... turns out she was almost hit twice on her way to school so she was stressed herself and calling me to share the stress... ha.  It's incredible the physical response my body has when I experience any stress.  It makes me feel incompetent afterwards because I always doubt that I would be able to handle a true emergency :(

  • Later on, I had to upgrade the app I have used for over 5 years to keep myself organized because it wouldn't work properly on iOS 8.  I hadn't updated it in years and they changed everything. As in... NOT for the better.  An app that I could use in my sleep in now always useless to me and yet I depend on it so much. It brought me to tears, I was so frustrated.  Ugh. I have never EVER cried over a program or an app changing.  I have been frustrated before (many, MANY times), but I usually just bitch.  

  • At the end of the day, my daughter toasted almonds in the toaster oven and went back upstairs. A while later, from the other end of the house, I smelled something weird so I checked the kitchen and lo and behold the toaster oven was on fire.  Well, a couple of almonds that had fallen off the tray she has used had caught fire.  Yikes!  It was quickly dealt with but I shudder to think what could have happened had we not realized or had we left the house. I told her she can't be using that toaster oven anymore. 

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • My daughter packed a lunch to take to school and drove herself, which saved me money (one fewer round trip) and time.

  • My son also packed himself a lunch for school.

  • I added 1/2 a gallon of water to 1/2 a gallon of whole milk to stretch it longer.

  • SavingStar credited my account for several purchases.


  • I earned my maximum daily Bing Rewards credits and I'm now up to 725 lifetime credits. I should reach the 750 level tomorrow and qualify for the 10% discount on gift cards!

  • Swagbucks credited me with 30 SB yesterday for redeeming coupons. I wish they would give us the details of which coupons were credited so I can see which store(s) is/are diligent in redeeming them properly.  I try to always use SB coupons and I rarely get the SB for them.


  • My dinner menu for tonight calls for tuna patties but I forgot to pick up cans of tuna at Aldi.  Arrgh.  However, I have a ton of Starkist Tuna Creations pouches, most of them bought for pennies after coupons a couple of years ago. I figured that the "Herb & Garlic" variety would probably make tasty patties and I found 6 of them in my stash.  They're 2.6 oz each and a typical can of light tuna is 5 oz, so 4 packs = 2 cans, which is what I needed for the 3 of us.  Hooray for ingredient "substitution"!  Update: when it was time to cook, I didn't want to deal with tuna so I made pancakes and cheesy eggs instead. The kids were happy :)

  • It felt cooler outside (it's all cloudy) than inside and the AC was already kicking in so I turned it off and opened all the downstairs windows to air out the house and naturally bring down the temperature. 

  • No rain in the forecast today despite all the gloominess so I watered my garden with rainwater collected in the bins.

  • I harvested a bow-ful of green beans. I meant to weigh them before adding them to the previous harvest but I forgot. I put all the beans in a recycled plastic ziploc bag and they weigh in at 9 oz.  I think that's 3 days' worth of harvest.  Not too shabby!  I probably cooked that much earlier in the week too.

  • I emptied the countertop composting bin into the larger bin outside and relined the bottom with scraps of paper left over from when I clip printable coupons. I ought to empty the countertop bin more often (I wait until it's full, usually) because then the scraps are put to making compost faster, I think. Yet one more thing to try to remember!

  • I reused water from the shower to flush the toilet and water left in a cup at dinner last night to water my indoor herb seedlings.  I went to get more rainwater to give my rose cuttings a drink too.  The rosemary cutting didn't take at all :( I composted it and will keep on trying...

  • I downloaded the CVS app and linked my Extracare card to it... and got a $3 ECB for doing that!  Woohoo!  I uploaded it to my card so now I need to remember I have that on there (I like printed ECBs better, like my coupons!)

  • I found 3 small chocolate cupcakes that I had baked a couple of weeks ago but no one had eaten, under a pie cover on the kitchen table. They had hardened but weren't moldy so I nuked them for 30 seconds and enjoyed them with my 2nd cup of coffee.

  • I printed several coupons via Swagbucks from my son's computer, and also from Target and Redplum. Smartsource is still giving me trouble on that computer though.  I also uploaded (4) more digital coupons to my Publix digital wallet.

  • I texted my kids not to stress over Mother's Day because I don't need anything that will cost them money and I'd rather see them and/or get some of the amazing art that they make.

  • For lunch, I made myself another one of those yummy smoked salmon sandwiches with a Flatout Everything artisan bread (free from Publix), the rest of the Vita smoked salmon (free from Publix), some fresh dill from the garden (quasi free since I grew it from seeds), and a schmear of Neufchatel cheese ($0.69/brick at Aldi several weeks ago). I also had a Caprese salad as a side, made with grape tomatoes ($0.79 a pint at Aldi last week), mozzarella cheese ($2 at Publix several weeks ago), fresh basil from the garden (quasi free since I grew it from seeds) and balsamic vinegar/EVOO from Aldi.  Dessert was a piece of buttermilk pie (made with spoiled milk), topped with sliced strawberries.

  • I took a Swagbucks survey about skincare products which took quite a while, and after all my opinions were recorded, the program said that they had hit maximum capacity and they awarded me only 1 SB instead of the 100 SB that I should have received.  I emailed customer service and they credited me with 100 SB.

WE SPLURGED ON:
  • Nothing today.

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • I had to compost half a large cucumber that had gotten rather slimy in my fridge. I'm mad at myself because I was planning on making more pickles this week and I delayed for no good reason. I need to get better at prioritizing tasks so as to avoid unnecessary waste like this.

Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

My Daily Freebies: Thursday 4/30/15




Here is what I got/found for free today!
  • $3 in Extracare bucks for downloading the CVS app and linking my Extracare card.




  • I don't know how that happened since I'm quite sure I didn't redeem 6 SavingStar offers this past month, but I got the Premier Saver status on SavingStar which told me that the freebie starting tomorrow will be Ortega Taco Seasoning.  (I just checked my SavingStar account and I guess I did claim 5 offers this past month, on top of the freebies, and also had 2 Cashback Mall awards so maybe that helped qualify me?).


Food Expenses Report: April 2015


My teen daughter moved in with us full time this month (before that she alternated weeks at her dad's and my house) so I fed 4 people this month (2 adults, 2 teens).

My planned budget for 2015 is $100 a week FOR GROCERIES ONLY.  Due to being fully stocked and making my own products too, I rarely buy toiletries or cleaning products and they get their own budget lines.  So do pet food and cat litter.

I try to shop mostly at Aldi, but I also hunt deals and use coupons at the other stores that I frequent: Save A Lot, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and Publix. This month, I also shopped at Winn Dixie a bit.  I also shop for groceries at the Dollar Tree once in a while, and I used coupons there for the first time this past month. Lastly, I use apps like Checkout 51, SavingStar, and Snap by Groupon to reduce my costs, as well as manufacturer rebates and loyalty programs (CVS ExtraCare, Walgreens Balance Rewards) and special offers on my credit cards.

Here is the link to the March 2015 monthly recap. That post has links to my January-February recaps.

We started April with a lighter pantry than in the past as I had been using a lot of our staples, and a full freezer. Moreover, we have a small vegetable garden.  I decided to try to stick to a $50 weekly budget for April, although I knew that I might need to go over that amount at times in order to restock on staples.

So for April, my projected budget was $200 (down from $400 as the "official budget").  I spent 245.58, after rebates.  As projected, it ended up being higher than in the past 2 months because I needed to restock on some items but also because Greg changed his dietary habits and my daughter started living here full time, which resulted in my having to buy more of certain items than I had in the past (yogurts, eggs, almonds and apple juice, for instance).

I saved 48.15%  of my overall grocery bill with coupons and in-store promotions only (i.e. not including various rebates). Even though a lot of my shopping takes place at Aldi (they don't accept coupons), I was able to use $82.28 in manufacturer coupons at other stores, most of them printable coupons that I printed through Swagbucks, as well as several coupons for free items that manufacturers sent me (I find the links to request them via various blogs or coupon sites.)

Here is the breakdown of where You Need A Budget says I spent my grocery money this month (YNAB doesn't track my rebates, so my actual total is lower than the spent amount reflected here):

  • My Publix and Winn-Dixie spending was up this month, fueled by several BOGO deals that were available at those stores. My Aldi shopping was just about the same (only a 2% increase), while my Save A Lot shopping went down by 15% as I shifted my spending to Publix and Winn Dixie.

I classify my groceries by categories every week, and here is the detail of how I spent that money (again, the graphs are based on data from YNAB, which doesn't keep track of rebates so they're not strictly accurate, but close enough. I keep track of the rebates separately in Excel):


and this is a January-April comparison, by category:


I like this view because I can see in which categories I spend the most and my patterns.

Here is what $245.58 got me:

Baking Supplies
1 container frosting
5 lbs AP flour
4 lbs white sugar
1 can baking cocoa
Beverages
12-can package of ginger ale
3 large hazelnut coffees
2 single-pot samples of Gevalia coffee
Breads/Baked Goods
6 loaves white bread
1 8-ct package of hamburger buns
1 8-ct package of hot dog buns
4 packages of Flatout artisan thin pizza crusts
1 30-ct package of corn tortillas
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

Cereals
6 boxes Special K
2 boxes Frosted Mini Wheats
2 boxes Chocolate Lucky Charms
2 boxes Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch

Dairy
2 cans Carnation evaporated milk
1 quart whole milk
3 gallons whole milk
2 lbs unsalted butter
1 16-oz container of heavy whipping cream
2 12-oz package American cheese slices
1 12-oz package of Galbani mozzarella
4 wedges Sargento Aged Cheddar
0.53 lb Boar's Head No Salt Added Swiss cheese
1 8-oz block of mozzarella
1 8-oz block of Monterey Jack
34 cups yogurt
1 cup Yoplait Greek 100 Whips yogurt
1 32-oz plain yogurt container

Dry/Pantry/Freezer Goods
2 jars marinara sauce
1  12-oz bottle Kraft mayo with olive oil
1 bottle EVOO
1 40-ct box Truvia sweetener
4 sample packets of PureVia sweetener
1 can Butterball chicken broth
2 8-oz cans no salt added tomato sauce
1 large can enchilada sauce
1 jar pizza sauce
1 can cannellini beans
4 cans diced chiles
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 16-oz package of wide egg noodles
2 packages plain couscous
1 package Seeds of Change Indian Rice Blend
1 bag Alexia potato puffs
1 bag Alexia sweet potato fries
1 bag Alexia Smart Classics potato fries

Produce
Fruit and Juice
17.43 lbs red grapes
29 lbs apples
8 quarts strawberries
2 pineapples
9.68 lbs bananas
1 cantaloupe
2 64-oz bottles organic apple juice

Vegetables
3 lbs sweet potatoes
8 lbs Russet potatoes
4 cucumbers
1.37 lbs Roma tomatoes
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 8-oz package mushrooms
3 Haas avocadoes
1 bag spinach
2 lbs carrots
1 lb dried lentils
2 cans black beans
Proteins
10 dozens large eggs
3.48 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 10-oz package beef chorizo
4.27 lbs pork sirloin roast
1.07 lbs beef chuck steak
3 lbs ground beef
2 packages Hormel pepperoni
0.55 lb Boar's Head lower sodium turkey breast
0.26 lb Boar's Head turkey pastrami
1 9-oz container of oven roasted turkey breast
2 8-oz packages of Oscar Mayer oven roasted turkey breast
2 8-oz packages of Oscar Mayer ham
2 packages of Oscar Mayer Old World salami
2 packages of Nasoya Sesame Ginger TofuBaked tofu
1 3-oz package of Vita smoked salmon
Snacks
5 jumbo chocolate muffins
1 jumbo blueberry muffin
1 large croissant
16 boxes Horizon graham crackers
2 jars Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams spread
2 jars creamy peanut butter
2 pints Ben & Jerry's ice cream
1 16-oz container walnuts
1 8-oz container sliced almonds
1 23.75-oz bag raw natural almonds
1 12-oz bag salted almonds
2 Cadbury chocolate creme eggs
1 9.9 oz M&M's
1 king size pack of M&M's
1 single pack of M&M's
1 Hershey chocolate bar
4 bottles Mentos gum
1 single package Juicy Fruit gum

I also harvested the following from my garden this month:
About 1.5 lbs of green beans
4 bunches of collard greens
29 jalapeƱos
3 green onions
1 small cabbage
1 green pepper
2 Ichiban eggplants
Some spinach
Some Swiss chard
A couple of handfuls of black raspberries
Mint, basil, thyme, dill, marjoram and rosemary

ANALYSIS

  • Since I had used up several staples from the pantry, it was time to restock, especially on baking supplies.  I bought sugar, flour, cocoa powder this month.
  • With Greg's diet changing, we spent more money on proteins (eggs, lunch meats), bread (toast in the morning, sandwiches for snacks), yogurt and apples.
  • My daughter came to live with us full time, which increased our food expenses overall, but especially our consumption of milk, almonds, apples and Special K.
  • Over 2/3 of our expenses this month (68%) came from Produce/Juice; Proteins, and Dairy Products.  I think that's a great ratio as those items are usually NOT processed foods!
  • We continue to use a lot of cheese. Somehow, the recipes that I pick very often end up containing shredded cheese of some kind.
  • We consumed a lot of fruit last month! Most notably: 29 lbs of apples, 17 lbs of grapes (they were very cheap!), almost 10 lbs of bananas, and 8 quarts of strawberries.
  • However, we didn't use a lot of vegetables. Well, not as much as we should have, probably.

The Plan for May:
  • I will be stocking up on foods and beverages from Save A Lot and Aldi to see Greg through the month of June and early July, when the kids and I will be gone.  Otherwise, he will go to Publix and not pay attention to prices at all and my food budget will be completely blown!
  • I've already prepped menus through early June.  I will be tweaking recipes so as to use up ingredients that we already have, as much as I can.
  • I do want to stock up on more ground beef and chicken breasts so I will be on the lookout for good prices on those (Save A Lot has the family packs of split chicken breasts for $1.49/lb for the next couple of weeks).
  • Our stock of pasta is getting low. If I can secure some at a great price (as in a BOGO sale at Publix with printable coupons), I will stock up. Otherwise, I need to make my own and possibly freeze them.
  • I want to make more pie crust patties and freeze them since I only have one left.
  • So I will try to stick to a weekly $50 budget as much as I can (I find that doing this prevents me from stocking up too much) but I won't feel guilty if I go "over budget" at times.
How did you do in April?  Are you sticking to your budget? Do you have a grocery shopping strategy?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Daily Frugal Failures and Successes: Wednesday 4/29/15



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • It feels weird that once again Wednesday rolls around and I'm not doing my actual grocery shopping this morning!

  • The city (well, their contractor) decided to trim the big oak trees across from our driveway today.  Yay (less risk of them falling on our cars and on the power/cable lines) but this is the day when my head decided to throb too.  Arrgh. I took a Tylenol and am hoping it won't take too long and won't be too noisy. Our new windows should help the noise level (well, that and the dishwasher that's running right now!). I haven't called the City Works director about that tree above Greg's shed. Yet.

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • My daughter packed a lunch for school. She also drove herself to school, saving me money (one fewer round-trip) and time.

  • My son also packed a lunch for school.

  • Instead of brewing coffee, I had the free XL coffee that I picked up from Dunkin' Donuts yesterday. I still had one hazelnut creamer from Racetrac so I used that in the first cup and the leftover packet of Equal from Racetrac as well.  For my next cups, I used the PureVia samples that PinchMe sent me.

  • I earned the maximum of Bing Rewards credits for the day. Yesterday and today they were running a special promotion where you could earn 30 credits for PC searches instead of just 15.  Today I also had a few more opportunities to earn 1 to 3 bonus credits as well. I'm up to 696 lifetime rewards, I need 750 in order to only pay 475 for $5 gift cards instead of 525.

  • We have some rain in the forecast for early afternoon. I think I'll water the beans/squash with the rainwater collected yesterday, just in case.  I harvested more green beans.

  • I downloaded the Winn Dixie app to my phone, earning myself a digital coupon for a free dozen eggs (thanks, Slickdeals!).  I also uploaded digital coupons to my account, something that I hadn't been able to do on their website for a couple of years (but since I almost never shop there and usually have printables with a larger value, I didn't bother calling them to figure out what the problem was).

  • I got 100 KFR points with bonus code KFRTHANKYOUBONUS  and 25 KFR points with bonus code LEGG-OMYE-GGOB-ONUS

  • I rinsed the strawberries that I bought yesterday into diluted vinegar so they last longer.  I did find a moldy strawberry that I composted.

  • After I finished rinsing the strawberries, I collected the water and added it to one of the bin that had rainwater in it so the vinegar would be even MORE diluted and no hurt my plants when I used the water on them.


  • Greg has asked me to pick him up a couple of avocadoes last week because he wanted to try to make a new snack. Well he never did and then he left on his trip and the avocadoes are very ripe.  I decided to make guacamole with them since we're having fish tacos tonight.  I used Alton Brown's recipe.  Instead of onion, I used sliced green onions from my garden (they'd been in the fridge for a few days) and I defrosted a cube of cilantro from my garden that I had frozen in water (I drained the water off).  It doesn't look like much since the flesh of the avocadoes is brownish and very soft, but it'll be delicious!


  • I put the produce plastic bag that contained the Roma tomatoes that I used back into my coupon organizer.  I have reused the same bag several times already.

  • I recycled 2 gravy glass jars that we had used this week.  I have many of those jars in "storage" already so I didn't feel bad about recycling them. I upcycled the large glass jar that contained sauerkraut and a large plastic jar that contained light mayo as large jars can be very useful.

  • The cantaloupe that I had bought from Aldi last week had already started to spoil. I need to remember that as it gets hotter and more humid, produce goes bad faster!  I cut off and composted half the cantaloupe and cut the rest into cubes for lunch and dinner.

  • A few days ago I defrosted a patty of homemade pie crust because I wanted to try and make Buttermilk Pie with some of the spoiled milk... but I never did.  Today, I resolved to try.  I decided to use the recipe that I copied from the Depression-era book that I read last week. However, I was distracted by the tree cutters outside of my window so I totally messed up the recipe... I didn't separate the eggs so I didn't have egg whites to make the meringue top, and then I didn't feel like using a double-boiler and stand at the stove for 25 minutes while stirring the mixture so I just put everything in a pan on medium heat and stirred it once in a while. Halfway through cooking it, I decided to add vanilla and then, thinking that I'll probably have to eat the pie on my own anyway, I added a whole bunch of Amaretto too!  I've had the bottle for 25 years, lol.   I thought it would use up the spoiled milk but can you believe that I still have probably 4 cups of it?!? That jug is cursed!  Anyhoo, the custard was still too liquidy so I turned up the heat to 7 for a few minutes and it jellified alright!  I caught it just before it burned.  I poured everything into the pie dish without realizing that I should have pre-baked the crust. Arrgh!  I baked the whole thing at 350 for 25 minutes instead of just 10 (good thing there isn't a meringue top after all!), and then I let it sit in the hot oven for another 10 minutes. The result is.. a little off. The milk really makes it taste a little bitter (the alcohol doesn't seem to have helped). I'm thinking that maybe I'll slice some strawberries on top to see if that makes it better!
Yes, I'm not the kind of baker who makes beautiful pies :)  

  •  For lunch, I made 2 sandwiches with a couple of "Everything" Flatout Artisan Breads (free after BOGO sale and BOGO coupons, at Publix yesterday), some Vita smoked salmon (free after manufacturer coupon at Publix last week), some Neufchatel cheese ($0.69 a brick at Aldi a few weeks ago) and fresh dill from my garden.  I also ate some of the cantaloupe. It felt like a very gourmet and almost free lunch too!



  • I washed and upcycled the 2 plastic trays that the JustBARE chicken drumsticks that I cooked a couple of days ago came in so I can reuse them as plant watering trays in the future.

  • I filled out the (5) rebate form that I have to mail in. That took a little while, since I also track them in an Excel spreadsheet to make sure that I don't send duplicates and that I receive the money!

  • My daughter needed to take some money out of one of her accounts so I advised her to go to Racetrac since their Fifth Third Bank ATM machine don't charge any withdrawal fees.  She gave me the money to hold in the joint savings account that we have together. I didn't give her the means to access it so she can't touch it until she's 18.

  • I drove my son to the library for his teen program since it was very hot and I also wanted to stop by Family Dollar.  I showed them the documentation from the Florida State of Revenue proving that seeds are not taxable and I got my $0.14 back.  After that, I stopped by Racetrac and got free Sodapalooza refills for both kids. 

  • I took a survey on my Dunkin' Donuts receipt and got a code for a free donut with my next purchase of a medium drink or larger.

  • I took the survey on my Racetrac receipt and got a code for a free any size coffee.

  • I took a Driscoll's survey on the 2nd container of raspberries that I bought last Sunday and earned 2 more $1.00/1 printable coupons.

  • Dinner was tilapia tacos and since I dropped the rice mix (see failures) that I was planning on serving, I warmed up a can of sweet peas in the microwave with the 1/2 cup of rice that I hadn't spilled on the floor.  Dinner actually ended up being good and there are some leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.

WE SPLURGED ON:
  • A hotel in Tallahassee.  I got confirmation that accommodations will NOT be provided in Tallahassee for the National History Day state competition so I needed to find us a hotel.  We were going to stay only 1 night but competition is one day and the award ceremony is the next day, and it seemed to me that we would want to be there for the ceremony in case my daughter wins her category, so I convinced her to stay 2 nights.  She was reluctant to miss 2 days of school because it's a very busy period for her (why do they have competitions during the months when most students have lots of testing, AP exams, etc?!) but I think she would regret not being there to receive her prize if she were to win.  I checked my options on Orbitz* via Swagbucks and I wanted a hotel close to the competition site.  I decided to book us in a hotel that is more expensive than I would like at $110/night instead of the cheaper hotels at about $55-$65 a night because the reviews are so much better and I have experience with that particular chain. Also, it's a conference center so I know that we will have high speed internet in the room, which we will need for my daughter to do her school work while we're there.  The other bummer (aside from the price) is that is does NOT include breakfast but we will bring breakfast foods from home.  I had $4.81 in Orbucks rewards that I used to lower my rate to $108/night (ooooooh! lol!) and I also earned $7.32 in Orbucks to use when I book my next reservation with Orbitz.  Furthermore, by going through Swagbucks, I will earn 2 SB per $1, which means about 440 SB.
  •  (*referral link. If you use it to register on Orbitz, you will receive a $25 promo code towards your first hotel stay, and I will get one too!) 

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • I was very late cooking dinner because I had been busy trying to coordinate our trip to Tallahassee this coming week.  So I rushed and in the process dropped a package of Seeds of Change cooked rice mix that I had planned on serving with the fish tacos all over the floor.  Arrgh. I had to throw all of it away. The lesson is: don't rush. Even if you're late. Because disaster can, and probably will, ensue.

Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

My Daily Freebies: Wednesday 4/29/15




Here is what I got/found for free today!

  • If you haven't done so yet, download the Winn Dixie app on your phone!  You will get a digital coupon for a free dozen eggs :) If you've already downloaded it, check the available coupons in case it's available for anyone. I'm just not sure.



  • My daughter's NHS chapter organized a Teacher Appreciation Day at the high school and there were cookies left over afterwards so she was able to bring them home. They're were actually 6 cookies but we each had one before I remembered to take a picture :)


  • I got free refills for the kids' Sodapalooza cups at Racetrac.



  • I received a sample of Cottonelle FreshCare wipes in the mail.


My Other Great Buys This Week


Here are some other (as in non-food) great deals that I made this week:


  • I got another (2) 23-lb boxes of Purina Purpose cat litter from Target. They are priced at $9.99 each so $19.98 for both. I redeemed a $10.00/2 printable manufacturer coupon and a $1.00/1 printable Target store coupon (my store won't let me redeem 2 of the same store coupons in the same trip). I charged them to my Redcard so I got an additional 5% off.  I paid $8.53 out of pocket and got a $10 Target gift card back. I will use it to reduce my grocery expenses next week!



  • I wanted to get more lettuce seeds. I stopped by Dollar Tree but they only had 1 lettuce seed packet. I also picked up 1 more Kentucky Wonder pole bean seeds and (3) packets of mustard spinach. I hadn't seen those before.  They were priced at $0.25/pack and for a minimal investment, I will save a lot of money on fresh greens and beans this fall.


  • Still looking for cheap lettuce seeds, I stopped by Family Dollar where I found a display with lots of them! I got 8 packages of 2 different varieties @ $0.25 each.  Between those and the seeds I hope to harvest from the Bibb lettuce in my garden, I should be covered in the Fall. I need to remember to stagger the planting so we never run out.



  • Target still had those Glade plugins refills on clearance for $2.44 and I had a $1.00/1 printable Target coupon. I also got the 5% Redcard discount.  I paid $1.37 out of pocket and redeemed a $0.50 SavingStar rebate so I will end up paying $0.87 for 2 refills.  Not bad!



  • I got this container of Clearasil Ultra 5-in-1 pads from Walgreens for $7.99 plus tax, after checking prices in a few other stores.  There is a $5.99 mail-in rebate on it and there was also a $2.00 coupon in a newspaper insert but no one donated inserts to my library this week so I had to use a $1.00 printable coupon instead. Still, $1 plus tax and the cost of a stamp is a great price in my book!


  • 2 packages of Tena pads from CVS. They were on sale @ $5.00 each and I had (2) $2.00/1 printable CVS store coupons. There also was a 2 ECB offer on them.  So I paid $6.00 out of pocket, which isn't a great price but I needed to restock on feminine pads pretty soon so it wasn't completely bad either :) Yes, I know those are incontinence pads, but honestly, I don't really see the difference.


Grocery Shopping This Week


Wednesday is my main shopping day. My 2015 weekly grocery budget is $100/wk for 4 people (2 adults, 2 teens). 

Since I stocked up on quite a few things over the last months, I'm going to try to spend only $50 per week in May.

Even though this shopping trip took place in April, I'm counting it towards May's grocery expenses since I shop for Wed-Tue so most of this food will be consumed during the month of May.  It might look like I went over budget since I spent more than $50 but since my actual budget is $100, I actually did pretty well :)

Let's see how I did!

Budget for the week: $50.00
Total OOP: $98.86 minus $10.00 Target gift card = $88.86
Rebates expected: $11.48
Total spent after rebates: $77.38 and also got $5.00 in Extracare Bucks
Money left in budget: over budget by $27.38 but technically under budget by $22.62 :)


Baking Supplies: $9.52 OOP and I will get $5.49 back from a MIR



 

  1. I use the unbleached flour for baking bread and Target has the best deal on it, especially coupled with a Cartwheel discount and a store coupon.  I had to buy 3 bags to be able to use the coupon, though.
  2. I spied those Try Me Free offers on boxes of Immaculate Baking Co baking mixes at Target so chose the brownie mix. There's probably a printable coupon available somewhere too but I hadn't printed one.
  •  (3) 5-lb bags of Market Pantry unbleached flour (Target) @ $1.92 each, minus $1.00/3 Target store coupon, 5% Cartwheel discount and 5% Redcard discount = $4.30 (or $1.43 each).
  • A box of Immaculate Baking Co Brownie Mix (Target) @ $5.49 minus 5% Redcard discount =  $5.22 and I will get $5.49 back from a mail-in rebate so $0.27 MONEY MAKER.

Beverages: $3.29 OOP
  1. I didn't need the peppermint tea this week, but since I was at the Dollar Tree anyway, I got a box to stock up and save me a stop next week.
  2. I've been lazy recently and drinking ginger ale once in a while. I usually only buy it for Greg to have on hand when he feels nauseous. I need to store it somewhere where I don't see it so I stop drinking it!
  • FREE lemonade from Racetrac: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday
  • FREE frozen slushie from Racetrac: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday
  • FREE large coffee from Racetrac: Saturday, Sunday
  • FREE XL coffee from Dunkin' Donuts: Tuesday
  • A 12-pack of Ginger Ale (Save A Lot) @ $2.29
  • A box of peppermint herbal tea (Dollar Tree) @ $1.00

Breads/Baked Goods: $0.85 OOP




  • 2 packages Flatout Artisan Bread (Publix), on BOGO @ $2.99 and used (2) BOGO printable manufacturer coupons = FREE!
  • A loaf of white bread (Aldi) @ $0.85


Cereals: $9.43 OOP, I received $3.00 in Extracare Bucks and will receive $0.50 from SavingStar.
  1. I wasn't sure Walgreens would have the Lucky Charms since I went to CVS first so I got cereal there. It was an OK deal if you factor in the ECBs that I received.
  2. Then I went to Walgreens and found Lucky Charms boxes with BOGO coupons printed on the back!  I bought their whole stock and got amazing deals when I redeemed Register Rewards and Balance Rewards as well!  In addition, by combining a Publix or Winn Dixie BOGO sale with those BOGO coupons, I should be able to get another 14 boxes of General Mills cereals for free! I now need to hide the boxes of Lucky Charms so my son doesn't eat them all in one week, though!

  • (1) box each of Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Reese's Puffs (CVS) on sale at 3/$9.00, minus $1.75 in printable manufacturer coupons = $7.25 and I received $3.00 in Extracare Bucks. I will also receive $0.50 back from SavingStar for the Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
  • (3) boxes of Lucky Charms (Walgreens), on sale at $1.99 each.  Redeemed $1.75 in printable manufacturer coupons and $3.00 in Register Rewards = $1.22
  • (4) boxes of Lucky Charms (Walgreens), on sale at $1.99 each. Redeemed (2) $1.00/2 coupons and 5,000 Balance Reward points = $0.96

Dairy: $16.85 OOP and got $2.00 in Extracare Bucks


  1. I got the milk from CVS since there were ECBs offered on 2 gallons, but dumped a gallon in the Walgreens parking lot accidentally. Thankfully, I managed to save 3/4 of the gallon!
  • 2 gallons of whole milk (CVS) @ $3.79 = $7.58 and got $2.00 in ECBs
  • 10 cups of Fit & Active yogurts (Aldi) @ $0.39 each = $3.90
  • 2 8-oz blocks of mozzarella (Aldi) @ $1.79 each = $3.58
  • 1 8-oz block of mild cheddar (Aldi) @ $1.79

Dry/Pantry/Freezer Goods: $16.85 OOP 


  1. I only bought the Hamburger and Chicken Helper so I could get the ground beef for free.  Those are flavors we haven't tried before but I think the kids will like them, especially if I bake them in a casserole kind of dish.
  2. Greg had asked me for crunchy peanut butter recently and when I saw the large jar on "Special" at Aldi, I didn't even try to see if it was the best price around. I think it is, though.
  3. I had been looking for the Fit & Active light mayo at Aldi for 3 weeks but they didn't have it. They just got a shipment so I stocked up by buying 2 jars.
  4. I also stocked up no NSA tomato sauce, just in case I didn't have any. But I did. Grrr.
  5. I shouldn't have bought the gravy before using up the packets of gravy mix that I rescued a couple of weeks ago, but it's so much easier just to open a jar and they had a 50% Cartwheel discount for them at Target.
  6. Note to self: the bottles of spices are larger at Dollar Tree than at Save A Lot, even though they're $1 at each store.
  • (2) cans Campbell's Chunky soup (Publix), on BOGO @ $2.39, minus (2) $1.25/1 printable manufacturer coupons (for taking survey) = $0.11 MONEYMAKER
  • (4) 4-oz cans of No Salt Added tomato sauce (Save A Lot) @ $0.25 each = $1.00
  • (4) jars of Heinz gravy (Target), on sale @ $1.59 each, minus 50% Cartwheel, minus 5% Redcard discount = $0.79 each = $3.00
  • 1 jar of sauerkraut (Aldi) @ $1.69
  • 1 jar of chili powder (Save A Lot) @ $1.00
  • 3 boxes of Hamburger/Chicken Helper (Save A Lot) @ $1.00 each = $3.00
  • (1) 40-oz jar of crunchy peanut butter (Aldi), on special @ $3.49
  • (2) jars of Fit & Active light mayo (Aldi) @ $1.89 each = $3.78
Produce/Juice: $11.60



  1. I missed out on the strawberries over the weekend because I hadn't seen them at Target (so I got the raspberries) so when I went back on Tuesday, I decided to get some. I rinsed them in diluted vinegar so they take longer to spoil.
  2. I didn't need cucumbers but it was such a great price at $0.29 and the ones they had were monstrous!  I will make more refrigerated zesty pickles with them and the jalapeƱos that I harvested because we enjoy them on sandwiches.
  3. The baby carrots are for my daughter.  If she doesn't eat them, I'll throw them into a crockpot with the next stew I cook.
  • (2) 6-oz packages of raspberries (Target) @ $2.49 each, minus 5% Cartwheel discount, minus (2) $1.00/1 printable coupons from Driscoll's Consumer Panel, minus 5% Redcard discount = $2.59 (or $1.295 each)
  • 5 lbs Red Delicious apples (Publix) on sale @ $1.99
  • 1 bag of baby carrots (Aldi) on special @ $0.59
  • 1 large cucumber (Aldi) on special @ $0.29
  • 2.53 lbs of brown bananas (Save A Lot) on sale @ $0.29/lb = $0.73 and got $0.25 back from Checkout 51 = $0.48
  • (2) 2-lb containers of Driscoll's strawberries (Target), on sale @ $4.19 each, minus 5% Cartwheel, minus (2) $1.00/1 printable coupons from Driscoll's Consumer Panel, minus 5% Redcard discount = $5.66
Proteins: $20.26 OOP and will get $5.49 back from MIR


  1. I will divide the packages of turkey and ham and freeze half of each to use next week. They're larger than the ones I usually buy and they don't come in those annoying (at this point because I have too many of those!) plastic containers.

  • (2) 1-lb packages of Gold'n Plump ground chicken @ $3.59 each, minus (2) $1.00/1 Target store discount, minus (2) $1.50/1 printable manufacturer coupons from Gold'n Plump e-club, minus 5% Redcard discount = $2.07 and I am also deducting the $0.15 discount I got for using 3 reusable bags so $1.92.
  • (2) dozens eggs (CVS), on sale @ $1.29 each = $2.58
  • (1) 9-oz package of oven roasted turkey (Aldi) @ $3.29
  • 1 1-lb package of Black Forest Ham (Aldi) @ $3.49
  • 1 1-lb package of lean ground beef (Save A Lot) @ $5.49 and will get $5.49 back from mail-in rebate so FREE
  • 1 1-lb bag of tilapia (Aldi) @ $3.49

Snacks: $10.21 OOP



  1. Can you tell I was hungry when I went shopping?!  I had brought a snack with me but that wasn't enough. None of this was on my shopping list apart from the freebies. Oh well, they won't go to waste :)
  • 1 bag of mini pretzels (Aldi) @ $1.29
  • (2) boxes of Little Debbie's Cosmic Brownies (Save A Lot) @ $1.69 each, minus (2) $0.95/1 printable manufacturer coupons = $1.48
  • 1 single pack of M&M's (CVS) @ $1.19, minus $1.19 manufacturer coupon (from an IWG) = FREE
  • 1 package peanut butter cheese crackers (Aldi) @ $0.89
  • 1 12-oz bag of all natural almonds (Aldi) @ $5.49
  • 1 bag of Just Basics cheese party mix (CVS) @ $1.00 minus 30% discount but didn't get charged for it so FREE
  • 1 donut (Dunkin'Donuts), FREE after survey code redemption
  • 1 muffin (Dunkin' Donuts), @ $1.69, minus Valpak coupon = $0.99 plus tax = $1.06
  • 1 ham. egg and cheese croissant (Racetrac), FREE after Sodapalooza coupon redemption