Friday, November 21, 2008

I'll be back!

I would like to wish each one of you a Happy Thanksgiving! I will be on vacation next week and will, most likely, not have access to any computer! I hope you find some great deals on Black Friday! I'm sure I'll have lots to blog about when I return!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I've made three delicious (and easy) recipes this week and wanted to share my version of them.

Crescent Roll Chicken
1 package of crescent rolls
4 oz. of cream cheese
1/4 cup of chopped olives
1 clove of fresh garlic
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
3 tbsp. melted butter, separated
2 tbsp. milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Boil chicken until cooked. In a medium mixing bowl, blend 2 tbsp. of butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in olives, garlic, milk, salt, and pepper. Chop chicken and add to mixture. Spoon into crescent rolls triangles. Roll up and brush tops with remaining butter. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cost breakdown:
Crescent rolls = $0.97
Cream cheese = $0.50
Olives = $0.18
Fresh garlic = $0.03
Chicken = $1.85
Butter = $0.06
Milk = $0.03
Salt and pepper = Less than $0.01
Total = $3.62, 8 crescent rolls = $0.45 each

Chicken Spaghetti Bake
8 oz. angel hair pasta
2 cups of boneless, skinless chicken (chopped and diced)
4 oz. pimentos
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1-1/4 cup shredded cheddar
1 clove fresh garlic

Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain. Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Cost breakdown:
Pasta = $0.25
Pimentos = $0.38
Cream of mushroom = $0.49
Fresh garlic = $0.03
Chicken = $1.85
Cheese = $0.93
Total = $3.93, 6 servings = $0.66 per serving

Taco Salad Bowls
1 lb. ground beef
4 corn tortillas
1 large can of pinto beans
1 pack taco seasoning
aluminum foil
cooking spray
desired toppings (shredded cheese, salsa, lettuce, sour cream)

Preheat oven to 375. Place tortillas on a plate. Cover them with a damp paper towel and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to make them pliable. Crumple foil into 4 ball shapes and place on a cookie sheet. Remove tortillas from microwave. Lightly spray each one, front and back, with cooking spray. Place each tortilla atop the aluminum foil balls. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Empty the can of pinto beans into a medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash these until they are similar in texture to mashed potatoes. Microwave these for 1-2 minutes. Drain off any extra liquid. Meanwhile, cook and drain ground beef. Add in taco seasoning and combine with pinto beans. Fill each taco bowl, add toppings, and enjoy!

Cost breakdown:
Ground beef = $1.89
Taco seasoning = $0.33
Tortillas = $0.15
Beans = $0.99
Total = $3.36, 4 servings = $0.84 each + toppings

Monday, November 17, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Menu Plan Monday is hosted each week by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Check out her site for more menu ideas.

Sunday: Clam Chowder
Monday: Crescent chicken squares, corn on the cob
Tuesday: Taco salad bowls (I'll post more on this later this week)
Wednesday: Chicken spaghetti bake with garlic butter toast
Thursday: BUNKO night!!! Eric and Jax are having pizza and fries
Friday: French Onion Pork Chop Skillet (from Kraft magazine)
Saturday: homemade chicken noodle soup with corn muffins

Bi-Weekly Shopping Trip 11/15

My friend, Shannon, is trying to save money, so she asked if she could go grocery shopping with me this weekend. We found some pretty good deals, and I got some Christmas shopping done! This was my first time to actually match coupons and sales at Publix, and I was very pleased with the results.

Here's what I got:

First stop, Target:
  • Luvs Box of Diapers: $15.99 (Target is cheaper than Walmart on Luvs diapers)
  • Baby Wipes: $4.64
  • Shower Curtain Liner: $2.34
  • Snack Cakes: $1.43
Total: 24.40 + tax

Next stop, Walgreens:
  • Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent (x2) = Reg. $14.99, on sale for $6.99 and BOGO + used 2 coupons for $1 each = $4.99
  • Disposable Foil Pans (3 pack) = Reg. $1.19, on sale for $0.79
Regular price: $16.18
After sales and coupons: $5.78 (saved 65%)

Next stop, Aldi: (For comparison's sake, I'm going to list Walmart's great value price in parentheses beside each item)
  • Bread: $0.79 ($1.52)
  • Hannah Montana Guitar: $16.99 ($24.97)
  • Boneless pork chops: $4.87 ($5.23)
  • Frozen pizza x 2: $1.98 ($1.96)
  • Canned green beans: $0.49 ($0.63)
  • Chicken broth x 2: $0.78 ($1.10)
  • My First Leap Pad Book: $8.99 ($13.97)
  • My First Leap Pad: $14.99 ($22.97)
  • Paper towels: $2.89 ($3.44)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese: $2.99 ($4.29)
  • Cream of mushroom soup: $0.49 ($0.98)
  • Tomato soup x 2: $0.98 ($1.96)
  • Canned sweet peas: $0.49 ($0.63)
  • Canned pinto beans: $0.99 ($1.24)
  • Seasoned mashed potatoes x 2: $1.88 ($2.56)
  • Stuffing mix: $0.79 ($1.29)
  • Dozen eggs: $1.19 ($1.24)
  • Milk x 2: $4.98 ($6.78)
  • Corn tortillas: $1.19 ($1.38)
  • Dill pickles: $1.49 ($1.63)
  • Cream cheese x 2: $1.98 ($2.24)
  • Canned chicken: $1.79 ($2.34)
  • Cheese crackers: $1.29 ($1.68)
  • Animal crackers: $1.29 ($1.44)
  • Bacon pieces: $1.29 ($1.76)
Aldi Total: 77.77 + tax
Walmart Total: 109.23 + tax (29% savings)

Last stop, Publix:
  • Publix Frozen Yogurt: Reg. $3.49, on sale for $3.00
  • Coffee Mate Caramel Apple Creamer: Reg. $2.00, on sale for $1.50 + used $0.55 blinkie coupon (coupon machine in front of creamer) = $0.95
  • Keebler Pie Crust: Reg. $1.57, on sale for $0.99 + used coupon from 11/9 RP for $0.25 doubled = $0.49
  • McCormick Gravy Mix x 2: Reg. $1.98, on sale BOGO + used coupon from 11/2 RP for $0.25 doubled = $0.49
  • Blue Bonnet Margarine x 3: Reg. $2.97, used Walgreens coupon from ad = 3 for $2
  • Juicy Juice x 2: Reg. $6.98, on sale BOGO + used 2 coupons for $1 each = $1.49
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal: Reg. $3.49, on sale for $1.99
  • Cocoa Puffs: Reg. $3.49, on sale for $1.99
  • Golden Grahams: Reg. $3.49, on sale for $1.99 + used $1 coupon from 11/2 SS off 3 boxes = $0.99
  • Ritz Crackers x 2: Reg. $7.38, on sale BOGO + used coupon for $1 off 2 boxes = $2.69
  • 5 lbs potatoes: Reg. $3.99, on sale for $1.99
  • Colgate Toothpaste (large): Reg. $3.29, on sale for $1.99 + used $0.75 coupon = $1.24
  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls x 3: Reg. $8.67, on sale $5 for 3 + used 3 coupons for $0.35 doubled = $2.90
  • Betty Crocker Brownie Mix x 2: Reg. $5.10, used Walgreens coupon from ad = $1.98 + used $0.50 coupon doubled = $0.98
  • Betty Crocker Cookie Mix: Reg. $2.67, used Walgreens coupon = $0.99 + used $0.75 coupon = $0.24
  • Betty Crocker Frosting x 2: Reg: $3.78, on sale BOGO + used 0.55 coupon = $1.34
  • Used Walgreens $5 off $20 purchase coupon
Regular Price: $64.34
After sales and coupons: $18.43 (saved 71%)

Total cost for groceries, cleaning supplies, diapers, etc. is $85.41 + tax.
Total spent on Christmas gifts: $40.97 + tax.

YAY! I officially love Publix now!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How else can I save money?

What are other ways to save?

There are tons of ways to cut back your spending, besides on your grocery bill.
Here are a few that I have found helpful:
  1. I'm going to nursing school, and medical books are downright expensive! The book list from the school showed book costs to be around $800 + 10% sales tax = $880. I purchased my books at yesterday for less than $250, and that was including shipping! Taxes are not charged since it is an out of state purchase.
  2. Thrift stores are a great place to find bargains. I don't want Jax to ruin his good clothes at daycare. My most recent transaction included: Blue button up shirt ($1.48), gray Old Navy Pullover ($0.79), Gymboree L/S t-shirt ($0.99), Nike jacket ($2.48), Levi Jeans ($2.98), Children's Place pajama sleeper ($1.48), Children's Place L/S striped button up (1.48), Old Navy Plaid button up ($1.98), baby Gap sweater vest ($0.79), Carter's sweater vest ($0.79), and a pair of White House Black Market Jeans for me that I plan on converting to something else ($2.48) = $17.72 + tax. Click here for a location near you!
  3. Raise your insurance deductibles if you can. This can lower your principle. I like to make sure that we have the deductible amount in our emergency fund. That means when I raised our car insurance deductible from $250 to $500, I had to put make sure we had $500 in our emergency fund.
What are some ways that you save money?
Here is the recipe for the pizza casserole. My sister made the recipe and called to tell me how delicious it was. I tried for myself last night, and she was right!

Pizza Casserole (my version)

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups egg noodles
16-24 oz. pizza sauce (depending on how much sauce you like)
4 tbsp. milk
1 cup sliced pepperoni
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Boil noodles in water until al dente. Drain and add to casserole dish. Cook ground beef with onion and garlic until brown. Drain and combine with noodles. Add pizza sauce, milk, and slices of pepperoni. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cover with mozzarella, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. You can add pizza toppings of your choice (i.e. black olives, pineapple chunks).

Here is the picture from my sister, Christina.
Thanks Chrissie!

A little tool that might help you!

My newest find is a coupon database website. Since I've really started couponing, I've kept a spreadsheet of all the coupons in my coupon binder. I go through every week and add the coupons from Sunday's paper, along with any other coupons I might have accumulated. I include the item, the coupon amount, the expiration date, and the location. Each week I sort it by expiration date and delete any coupons that may have expired. Then I sort it alphabetically. It just takes a few minutes, but sometimes there are coupons that I don't know about (for example, online coupons).

Well, no worries! Hot Coupon World has already done all the work! All you have to do is type in the item or brand that you looking for and viola! It's as easy as that!!!

I posted this especially for Trenity, Kristi, and Sonya!!! They are my newest blog readers who are looking for great deals!!

CVS... A little obsessed this week...

Yesterday, I went to CVS on my lunch break. There's a store a couple of minutes from my work. I know, I know. But we were almost out of toothpaste, and I didn't want to pay for it! And, we were completely out of laundry detergent. I still didn't get the Crest ProHealth toothpaste, but I got some other notable deals.
  • 3 Listerine Agent Cool Blue Mouth Washes: Reg. $5.89 x 3 = $17.67, on sale for $3.99 x 3 = $11.97 - 3 coupons @ $3 = $8.97 earns $9 ECB = FREE
  • Wisk Laundry Detergent: Reg. $8.49, on sale for $3.99
  • 2 Colgate Toothpastes: Reg. $2.79 x 2 = $5.58, on sale BOGO for $2.29 (I also had a coupon, but I forgot it!)
Regular price: $31.74
Less sales and coupons: $15.25
Paid with ECBs: $8.59
OOP $7.63 + earned $9 ECB

I went to Hueytown this week since it's only a few minutes away. I might try that again, since Publix, CVS, and Walgreens are all on the same corner! I would be pretty convenient to get a lot of my shopping done on my lunch break! Plus I love showing the girls I work with how to get great deals.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My deals for the week: CVS and Walgreen's

Well, I was really hoping to get the L'oreal cream for free this week, but every CVS I went to was sold out. I guess I'm going to have to start reading the paper at 6:00 A.M. on Sunday morning and rushing out before church to get the good deals! Just kidding, I barely get up in time to make it to the early service as it is!

I still got some good deals, so I can't complain, and I didn't go out of my way, because both stores were on my way home from school.

Here's what I got at CVS:
  • Palmolive Dish Detergent x 2: Reg. $3.18 - sale for $2.98 - earns $2 ECB = $0.98
  • Garnier Fructis Shampoo: Reg. $4.29 - sale for $2.99 - earns $2 ECB = $0.99
  • Smart Water: Reg. $1.69 - sale for $1.59 - earns $1.59 ECB = FREE
Regular Price: $9.16
Subtotal after sales / coupons: $7.56
Paid Using ECBs: $5.00
Earned ECBs: $5.59
Total: I paid $2.71 OOP and earned $5.59 ECB.

My sales also generated a $2 Colgate coupon and a $3 Excedrin coupon which printed out on my receipt.

At Walgreen's I got:
  • Domino's Sugar (5 lb.) = Reg. $3.49 - Walgreen's coupon = $1.99 - $0.30 manufacturer's coupon = $1.69
  • Progresso soups x 4 = Reg. $12.76 - Walgreen's coupon = $5 - $2 off 4 manufacturer's coupon = $3.00
  • Libby's Pumpkin x 2 = Reg. 3.58 - Walgreen's coupon = $1.98
  • Apple Pie Filling = Reg. $2.49 - Walgreen's coupon = $1.50
  • Coffee Mate Peppermint Mocha Creamer x 2 = $4.98 - Walgreen's BOGO coupon = $2.49 - 2 manufacturer's coupons for $1 each = $0.49 for both!
  • Face Wash (not on sale) = $9.99
  • Ultra Alkaline batteries = Reg. $3.99 - Walgreen's coupon = $0.99
Regular Price: $41.28
Subtotal after sales and coupons: $19.64 + tax = $21.79
Used Walgreen's gift card from last month's EasySaver Catalog: $20.34
Total OOP: $1.45

Menu Plan Monday (or Tuesday)

Menu Plan Monday is hosted each week by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Check out her site for more menu ideas.

Sunday: I didn't make the sauerkraut chowder. We ate Chinese with friends. :)
Monday: Cheese Lover's Tuna Casserole
Tuesday: Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole (recipe below)
Wednesday: Homemade meatballs, mashed potatoes, peas
Thursday: Eric will be out of town, so we're having leftovers from the freezer!
Friday: Pizza night with fries
Saturday: Chicken Fried Rice
Sunday: Beef stew and corn bread

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole:

2-3 cups chicken (you can used canned, but I prefer to boil chicken breasts)

1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
1 sleeve of Ritz style butter crackers
1 stick of butter or margarine
poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350. Spread chopped chicken over the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine cream of chicken soup and sour cream. Spread this over the chicken. Crush crackers ( I leave them in the bag to do this). Combine with 1 stick of melted butter. Spread this over the top. Sprinkle with poppy seeds (you can omit these and still have a delicious recipe, but it's not really poppy seed chicken). Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is lightly toasted and bubbly. Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Art of CVS-ing

How to master the art of CVS shopping:
  1. Apply in store or online for a CVS ExtraCare card. If you apply online, you have to wait for CVS to mail the card, which can take up to two weeks. If you apply in the store, make sure you go online and register your card to your email address so you can get "special" savings.
  2. Next, scan through the weekly sales ad and find what you need (or want). I do a quick run through first, paying special attention to anything with the "free after extra bucks" notation and the items that earn extra bucks. They will stand out in the ad, as they have a yellow rectangle indicating the price.
  3. Then, I flip through my coupon list to see if I have any manufacturer's coupons that I can match to the items I have selected.
  4. Next, I plan out my trip. This requires me to simply jot down what items I'm planning to purchase, what coupons I have, how many ECBs I will use, and what I should earn back.
    Having this sort of plan is very important. This way, if your cashier makes a mistake or something doesn't ring up correctly, you don't have to make a trip back to the store. It also allows you to get in and out in a minimal amount of time.
  5. Work your magic.
  6. ExtraCare Bucks, or ECBs, will print out at the end of your sale. These are just like cash, so store them in a safe place! And don't forget to use them. They expire 4 weeks from the date they're issued. You also earn 2% back on all purchases. This is issued quarterly.
Here's how I conduct my transactions:
  • Allow cashier to ring up all products.
  • Submit all CVS coupons (ex: $5 off $25 purchase).
  • Submit all manufacturer's coupons.
  • Submit any ECBs that I have.
  • Pay for remainder and collect earned ECBs.
I hope this will help you master the art of CVS-ing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My CVS Deals This Week!

CVS is great! I'm running by there on my way to scrapbooking tonight.

Here's what I'm getting:

  1. Crest Pro Health Toothpaste ($3.49)
  2. 4-12pks of Coke products ($12)
  3. 2-Olay Quench lotions ($12)
That comes to: $27.49. I'll then use the $5 off a $25 purchase coupon they emailed me to bring the total to $22.49. Then, I'll use $1 coupon on the toothpaste and a $3 coupon on the lotion that can be found in the P&G Brandsavers book from this past Sunday. That will be $18.49. I have $9 in ECB from a previous visit which leaves me paying $9.49 OOP. But wait! I'll earn $11.49 in ECB to use on my next trip!

You certainly can't beat that!

My Biweekly trip from Sunday

Sorry this is a little late. I've had a crazy week!

This week was my first time to shop as a smart shopper at Publix. I got some decent deals, so I'll definitely be trying again.

Anyway, here goes.

My first stop was Publix:
  • 3 cans of Chef Boyardee Pasta = Reg. $4.50, on sale for $3.00 less $0.35 coupon (doubled) = $2.30 ($0.76 each)
  • 2 boxes of Nestle Cocoa = Reg. $3.98 - BOGO sale = $1.99 ($1.00 each) I had a coupon for this but, I lost it :(
  • Quilted Northern Toilet Paper = Reg. $7.99, on sale for $6.49 - $1.00 Target coupon = $5.49. When I called the store, the lady who answered told me they doubled coupons up to $1, but what she meant was they doubled coupons up to $0.50 which = $1.00.
Regular Price: $16.47
Total OOP: $9.78 (41% savings)

After that, I headed to Aldi:
  • 3 rolls of paper towels: $1.77
  • 2 pizzas: $1.98
  • celery: $0.99
  • 2 loaves of bread: $1.58
  • chicken tenderloins: $6.49
  • onions: $1.49
  • sloppy joe mix: $0.79
  • 2 cans chicken: $3.58
  • 2 cans of tuna: $1.14
  • boneless pork chops: $4.15
  • 2 gallons of milk: $4.98
  • 2 packs of lunch meat: $2.98
  • 2 boxes of macaroni: $0.70
  • 2 packs of seasoning: $0.66
  • apple juice: $1.65
  • refrigerated crescent rolls: $1.49
  • sugar: $1.99
  • eggs: $1.19
  • cinnamon crunch cereal: $1.89
  • chex mix: $1.99
  • nacho chips: $0.99
  • cheese: $1.99
  • margarine: $0.67
Total OOP: $47.13

Next stop, Walmart:
  • 2 boxes of Red Diamond tea bags: Reg. $2.68 - matched Food Giant price = $1.96 - 2 coupons $0.50 each = $0.96 ($0.48 each)
  • 2 bags of Kraft shredded cheese: Reg. $4.96 - sale price = $4.00 ($2.00 each)
  • 2 Pillsbury cake mixes = Reg. $2.16 - sale price = $1.76
Regular Price: $9.80
Total OOP: $6.72 (31% savings)

Final stop, Target:
  • Box of Luvs diapers: $15.99
  • MP mustard: $0.77
  • Campbell's potato soup: $1.47
  • carton of Swanson chicken broth: Reg. $2.12 - sale $1.99 - $0.40 coupon doubled = $1.19
  • Little Debbie cakes: $1.43
  • Libby's pumpkin pie mix: $1.09
  • Coffee Mate liquid creamer: Reg. $1.64 - sale $1.50 - $1.00 coupon = $0.50
  • cotton balls: $0.97
  • Ziploc bags: Reg: $1.10 - sale $0.85 - $0.75 coupon = $0.10
Regular Price: $26.58
Total OOP: $22.54 (16% savings)

I know it doesn't seem like I save a lot at Target, percentage wise, but that's mainly because I spend more there on diapers and things. And I like Target because they never give me any hassle about my internet coupons. Sometimes Walmart employees try to argue that they don't accept internet coupons, even though according to their posted coupon policy, they do accept them.

Anyway, I only spent $86.17 + tax on groceries this trip! That is well below our $120 biweekly budget!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What is still...

As posted on my pastor's blog this morning, I wanted to post this as a reminder to all of what will not CHANGE.

1. God will still be seated on His throne.
2. Man will still be unable to save himself.
3. Jesus Christ will still be the only way to heaven.
4. The Holy Spirit will still be calling men and women to repent.
5. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will still be saved.
6. The Bible will still be the sole authority for life.
7. God will still inhabit the praise of His people.
8. The church of Jesus Christ will still be in business.
9. There will still be room for JUST ONE MORE in the family of God.
10. The heavens will still continue to declare God’s glory.
11. The joy of the Lord will still be my strength.
12. The fear of the Lord will still be the beginning of knowledge.
13. The peace of God will still transcend all understanding.
14. The world will still be passing away along with its desires.
15. The fool will still say in his heart, “There is not God.”
16. The righteous will still live by faith.
17. The cross will still be foolishness to those who are perishing.
18. The cross will still be the power of God to those who are being saved.
19. The Kingdom of God will still be advancing forward.
20. The return of Jesus Christ will still be forthcoming.

Sola gracia,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

I stayed home from work Monday. Jaxson and I had some stomach bug that I won't go into any detail about. Anyway, here is our menu plan for this week. Better late than never!

Menu Plan Monday is hosted each week by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sunday: I didn't cook because we were sick.
Monday: Pizza night
Tuesday: Homemade chicken noodle soup (my first time to make and it was delicious!)
Wednesday: Teriyaki chicken stir fry
Thursday: Sloppy Joe Bake
Friday: Scrapbooking and Eric and Jaxson's Boys' Night Out which = Milo's
Saturday: Poppyseed chicken casserole
Sunday: Sauerkraut Chowder