Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Frugal Successes and Failures: Wednesday 9/30/15



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • Last day of September.  Already?!

  • Our son had his first cross-country meet today. He had made Varsity this year, which would have meant he was running first so we left at 4:00 p.m. to be there on time.  However, he texted me, after we had already left, that he had been demoted back to Junior Varsity (presumably because he missed a practice) so we ended up being there reaaaaaally early.  Like 2 hours early.  Arrgh.  Furthermore, we were under strict orders not to cheer him on because he "hates this".  Greg cheered a little (but was mostly a goofball) and I refrained from cheering aside from at the very end when I cheered for him in French, knowing that he couldn't understand what I was saying anyway.  Arrgh, teens and puberty, my least favorite mix.
  • Today was my weekly grocery shopping  and errands trip.  I actually skipped Target as we have lots of strawberries left in the fridge (my main reason for going there) but I had to venture into Walmart to get more powdered buttermilk. Argh. I hate shopping there.

  • I was very stressed because when I put the rebar that I bought at Lowe's into Greg's truck bed, I had to bend it for it to fit and then I couldn't get the gate open.  There is a cover on the truck bed that locks on the gate so I couldn't get that open either.  I texted him to warn him and was apprehensive about his answer because he babies his truck and then he didn't reply so for 90 minutes I thought he was very mad at me... come to find out, he never got my text, LOL. So I stressed for no reason.  He looked at the truck when I got home, slammed the gate shut with his shoulder (so manly! apparently it wasn't shut all the way in so it wouldn't open either. I would never have figured that out!) and was able to reopen it just fine.  I gave him a big kiss right there in the driveway and then our neighbor told us to go get a room, lol.

  • There was some reorganization in Greg's company yesterday, at the executive level, and his new big boss wants their team retreat to move from Orlando to either England or Ireland.  Arrrgh, I want to go too! Only it would be in December (not a good month to go visit either, IMO, it's way too cold!) and our son is too young to leave at home so... I'm stuck here.   Seriously, though, who wouldn't want to have the retreat in FLORIDA in December?!  The guy is from Vancouver so you'd think he would want to come here, not go to another cold, rainy country!

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • Last night I made a large batch of chicken stock with the bones I had in the freezer.  This morning I strained it. I got almost 12 cups of stock, 8 of which I froze in upcycled Chinese soup take-out containers and an upcycled yogurt container.


  •  I picked the meat off the bones, got about 2 cups of chicken meat which I will use for tacos soon.


  • I got dinner started early since it's a crockpot dinner, however I started it at 7 a.m. and then realized that the cooking time was only 5 hours total.  Ooops. Oh well, I guess I'll have to reheat it tonight.

  • I checked the new Aldi and Save A Lot weekly ads (they start today) online and made a note of what I might want to buy.  On my list: $2.99 pumpkins from Aldi.  I'll eventually cook them and puree them.  I need to remember to leave room in the freezer for all of that!

  • My daughter drove herself to school and took a packed lunch.

  • My son took a packed lunch to school as well.

  • Greg worked from home, saving us about $20 in gas and tolls and allowing me to use his truck for my grocery shopping trip.

  • I watered my indoor seedlings and zombie celery plants with rainwater collected in a bin outside.

  • I packed my 2nd cup of morning coffee into a traveling mug so I could sip on it while shopping.  I also brought a snack along but I didn't eat it so I put it back in the pantry when I got home.

  • I had planned on fewer stops today. I skipped Walgreens, Target, Publix, Winn Dixie and Dollar Tree. Since I was stressed about the truck, I also didn't stop by the thrift store to drop off my pet coupons. I'll go next week. All in all, I made 8 stops. I was home by 11:30 and that was very nice :)

  • I priced the bread flour at Walmart since I was there anyway.  Wow, it's way cheaper than Publix or Target!  I'm going to have to go there to get it from now on.
The Pillsbury brand was even cheaper at $2.50, but didn't mention
whether it was bleached or not.  Gold Medal isn't bleached.
  • I filled up Greg's truck gas tank at Racetrac.  Gas is still $1.99/gallon right now and I got a receipt with another survey to take for a free roller grill item :) I also redeemed a former receipt for a free hot dog.

  • I needed more rebar to make more gardening tents.  I decided to buy 4 of them so I could use my $5 off $25 Lowe's coupon.  I should have done that last week and bought 4 of them then, dang it!

  • My lunch was the rest of the Carrot Coriander Soup, the free hot dog from Racetrac (topped with my homemade zesty pickles), the last piece of Fresh Pear Torta and an orange.

  • Before eating it for lunch, I zested the orange and froze the zest.

  • I submitted my Aldi receipt to Checkout 51 for a $0.25 rebate on the bananas that I bought.

  • I overcooked dinner in the crockpot so it wasn't as delicious as it's been in the past.  And I just realized it's because I completely forgot to add the Cheddar cheese to it. Oh no! 

  • I met my 1st Daily Goal in Swagbucks and earned a 300 SB bonus by reaching it for 30 days in a row. Woohoo, go me!


WE SPLURGED ON:
  • 5 Powerball lottery tickets. I know, I know... but you don't win if you don't play :)  The jackpot is over $300 million.  Can you imagine how many CVS gift cards I could get with that?  LOL.  The drawing is tonight.  

  • $4.00 to attend our son's cross country meet.  I don't agree that they charge for those, but I guess they need to fund the buses to take the kids to the various locations.


HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • One of my favorite pair of capris has a large rip in between the thighs. The fabric is pretty thin so I'll try to apply a patch instead of mending it with thread. Dang it.

TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • I put the recycling out to the kerb for collection.
  • I put away the chicken stock and picked the meat from the bones.
  • I watered the indoor plantings.
  • I inspected the garden for bugs.
  • I ran errands and documented my purchases.
  • I recorded my expenses into my spreadsheets.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

My Daily Freebies: Wednesday 9/30/15


Here is what I got/found for free today!

  • 2 issues of magazines that I like from the library's donation pile.  More recipes to clip!


  • 2 thrillers, borrowed from our library system. Free entertainment :)



  • A hot dog and condiments from Racetrac, free with survey reward code redemption.  I had it for lunch.




  • a 5-lb bag of Gold Medal Bread flour and 2 canisters of Seco powdered cultured buttermilk from Walmart, free after redemption of Energizer/Walmart gift cards (earned as a rebate several months ago).



  • 2 gallons of T.G. Lee DairyPure whole milk from CVS, free after redemption of CVS gift card earned via our American Express Rewards program. 



  • (3) 40-lb bags of Earth Gro cow manure & organic compost from Home Depot, free with Home Depot gift card earned via our Mastercard Rewards program.



Did you get any freebies today?

Gardening Update: Wednesday 9/30/15



Let's take a short tour of my garden today:

A beautiful new rose opened up. I love roses!



The zucchini seedlings are growing every day. I love seeing their progress every morning.



The pole beans are loving the humidity and starting to send feelers for the supports.  Soon they'll be wrapping themselves around the pole and climbing as high as they can.


Collard Greens seedlings. The picture is hazy because it was so humid, my lens kept on fogging up.


One of the Roma tomatoes is ripening... but splitting. Again?


The Romaine lettuce seedlings are perking up. Some of them have developed quite large leaves, leaving (ha!) me hopeful that I will actually be able to harvest some Romaine lettuce in about 75 days.


One of the serrano peppers is on its way to becoming red.


A third (fourth? I forget!) Ichiban eggplant is forming.


From the spinach bin... so this is probably not a spinach after all...


But those are!  I promise.


There's a bunch of those growing in one of my tomato bins, right in front of the radish bin so I'm wondering if I dropped some radish seeds in it by mistake?


These are the seedlings from the radish bin.


The red canna looks very healthy :)


Dwarf Cavendish banana tree.


The plum tree has a couple new leaves.


Baby lizards trying to camouflage themselves on the bamboo stake holding up one of the nectarine trees :)

The lemon tree is showing new growth.


And so is our orange (tangelo?  Not totally sure what kind of tree it is).  See those bright green leaves at the forefront?  They just grew over the past few days.


The Japanese boxwood near Greg's shed has had a growth spurt too.


I left the smaller calyces on the roselle bush yesterday.  There are new calyces forming on it today!


Our neighbor's orange tree has larger oranges than ours. He lets us harvest his tree :)


The Confederate Jasmine is making a nice come-back at the far end of our back wall.  I need to figure out where to plant the cutting that I had taken. It's now ready to be transplanted.


It's kind of pathetic to document my flowers one at a time, but the Cosmos opened up yesterday and there are a few more buds too.  I'm very far from having a whole planter!


The vinca seedlings that I transplanted into pots seem to be doing OK for the most part. Meaning: they're not dead yet!


The hibiscus flower has opened up!


And, in closing, my daily shot of the zombie celery plant! It's like celery for Barbie dolls right now :)


Grocery Shopping This Week: 9/30/15


Wednesday is my main shopping day. My official 2015 weekly grocery budget is $100/wk for 4 people (2 adults, 2 teens) but I've been trying to stick to a $50/wk budget since February.

This week's trip is actually coming out of my October budget since most of the food will be consumed in October.

Let's see how I did!

Budget for the week: $50.00
Total OOP: $49.70
Rebates expected: $2.75
Total spent after rebates: $46.95
Money left in budget: $3.05  Woohoo!


Baking Supplies: $4.97 OOP

  1. I had earned a couple of $10.00 Walmart gift cards by buying Energizer batteries late last year or earlier this year and had vowed to only use the gift cards to buy groceries.  The thing is, though, I rarely shop at Walmart because I almost never have a good experience there. However, they're the only ones in town stocking the Seco powdered buttermilk that I like and I was almost out of it.  I also wanted to check out their bread flour prices and found them to be much cheaper than Publix or Target. So I spent all the credit that I had left on my 2 gift cards and stocked up on buttermilk and bread flour.
  2. Winn Dixie had a great sale on the Nestlé mini morsels last weekend so I stocked up on those too. It's too bad they don't take competitors' coupons as I had a Target store coupon for those :(
  • 2 packages Nestlé mini morsels (Winn Dixie), on sale @ $1.58 each = $3.16
  • (1) 5-lb bag Gold Medal Bread flour (Walmart), @ $2.52 but FREE after redemption of Energizer Walmart Gift Card.
  • (2) cans Saco powdered buttermilk (Walmart) @ $4.98 each = $9.96 but FREE after redemption of Energizer Walmart Gift Cards.
  • (1) 5-lb bag Gold Medal Bread flour (Walmart) @ $2.52 minus $0.71 credit from Energizer Walmart Gift Card = $1.81

Beverages: $0.00 OOP and earned $1.50 in ExtraCare Bucks.

  1. I bought the cans of tea for my daughter since she enjoys one of those once in a while and they were on 50% off sale @ CVS.   I should have bought more since I drank 2 of those myself this weekend. Oops.
  • 4 cans Arizona Green Tea & Ginseng (CVS), on sale @ $0.50 each = $2.00 but FREE after redemption of ExtraCareBucks and paying for the balance with CVS gift card earned via our American Express Rewards program.
  • 1 can Starbucks Refreshers (CVS), on sale with rain check @ $1.50 but FREE after redemption of ExtraCareBucks and paying for the balance with CVS gift card earned via our American Express Rewards program, and earned $1.50 in ExtraCare Bucks.

Breads/Baked Goods: $2.55 OOP
  1. Greg's been having late night PBJs so this week I bought 3 loaves of bread so we wouldn't run out prematurely and I wouldn't have to bake my own (because I eat it if I bake it!)
  • 3 loaves white bread (Aldi) @ $0.85 each = $2.55


 Cereals: $4.85 OOP

  1. I got the steel-cut oats because I've read that they're much better for you than the quick oats (for breakfast).  I got the old fashioned oats mostly for baking purposes.

  • 2 boxes Grape Nuts cereal (Winn Dixie), on sale @ $1.98 each, minus (2) $0.75/1 coupons from previous boxes = $2.46
  • 2 canisters Gold Abound Steel Cut Oats (CVS), on sale @ $2.50, minus (2) $1.00/1 store coupons from brochure, but FREE after redemption of ExtraCareBucks and paying for the balance with CVS gift card earned via our American Express Rewards program.
  • 1 large canister old-fashioned rolled oats (Aldi) @ $2.39

Dairy: $6.60 OOP and earned $2.00 in ExtraCare Bucks
  1. I really only needed 1 gallon of milk but I can never resist the lure of the $1.00 ECB/gallon when it's offered!
  • 1 lb Imperial margarine (Save A Lot), @ $0.69
  • 2 gallons T.G. Lee DairyPure whole milk (CVS) @ $3.79 each = $7.58 but FREE after redemption of CVS gift card earned via our American Express Rewards program and earned $2.00 in ExtraCare Bucks
  • 8 cups Fit & Active yogurt (Aldi) @ $0.39 = $3.12
  • 1 package Fit & Active string cheese (Aldi) @ $2.79

Dry/Pantry/Freezer Goods: $3.08 OOP and will receive $2.50 from SavingStar

  • (4) boxes Barilla Pronto pasta (Publix), on BOGO sale @ $1.69 each, minus (4) $0.70/1 printable manufacturer coupons = $0.58
  • 1 container Campbell's Organic soup (Publix), @ $2.50 and will receive $2.50 back from SavingStar
Produce/Juice: $19.11 and will get $0.25 back from Checkout 51

  1. I always buy at least 2 pumpkins in the fall because I use them as unofficial Fall decorations for a few weeks, and then I cook, purée and freeze them to use for pumpkin recipes throughout the year. The sale at Aldi only started today but by the time I got there at about 11 a.m., their huge pallet was down to just 5 pumpkins!  I'm glad I got 2 good ones :)
  2. The kale will be to make Zuppa Toscana later on this week and for stir-fries too.  I can't wait until my own collards and kale grow!
  3. I noticed that I was almost out of frozen lemon zest this past weekend so it was nice to see the lemons on sale @ 5 for $1.00 at Save A Lot (they were $0.39 each at Aldi).
  4. The price of the grapes was at $0.99/lb for several weeks at Save A Lot but it's now back to $1.69/lb so I only bought 1 bag of it.
  5. I have a lot of regular potatoes to use up, but I love sweet potatoes too so I always buy them when they're on sale and they are on sale @ Aldi this week at $0.43/lb.  Save A Lot sells them for $0.99/lb right now.

  • (4) cans Libby's whole kernel sweet corn (Winn Dixie), on sale @ $0.50 each, minus $1.00/4 manufacturer coupon from insert = $1.00
  • 3 lbs Gala apples (Save A Lot), on sale @ $1.99
  • 2 large pumpkins (Aldi), on sale @ $2.99 each = $5.98
  • 1 large bag kale (Save A Lot), @ $1.99
  • 1.7 lbs bananas (Aldi) @ $0.44/lb = 0.75 and will get $0.25 back from Checkout 51 
  • 8-oz package of baby bella mushrooms (Aldi), on sale @ $1.29
  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes (Aldi), on sale @ $1.29
  • 5 lemons (Save A Lot), on sale @ 5 for $1.00
  • 2.26 lbs grapes (Save A Lot), on sale @ $1.69/lb = $3.82


Proteins: $3.49 OOP

  1. Since I stocked up on a bunch of meat last week, I barely needed anything this week. I actually should have skipped buying the ham since we have some in the freezer! Sometimes I'm very forgetful. I'm going to repackage this into smaller bags and freeze it too.

  • 2 hot dogs (Racetrac), FREE after survey reward codes redemption.
  • 1 lb hickory smoked ham (Aldi), @ $3.49

Snacks: $5.05 OOP
  1. The sour worms are for our youngest son, as a reward for completing his first cross-country meet of the season tonight :)
  • 1 box Swiss rolls (Aldi) @ $1.29
  • 2 packages peanut butter crackers (Aldi) @ $0.89 each = $1.78
  • 1 box Excite sugar-free mints (Aldi) @ $0.99
  • 1 package Trolly sour worms (Save A Lot) @ $0.99
Did you get any great deals at the grocery store this week?  Please link up or share your finds in the comments :)