Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year End Money Recap

I can't believe it's already the end of 2009. Seems like just yesterday I started this blog to see how much I could save every month. Now the year has ended and I'm looking back over how I did money wise.

Some good - some not-so-good.

My resolutions for 2009 were:

1. Spend $100 or less on food each week - including going out. I did on groceries but didn't include going out.

For the year (at least what I recorded):

I spent: $3902.11
And saved: $5709.37

- that's a huge chunk of savings! I just read in Real Simple magazine that the average family spends $3700 a year on groceries. Since our family is 3 people above the average family I feel pretty good about our totals. However, for 2010 I'd like to do even better. I also plan to record better since I know my totals are a little off because I didn't include small trips to the store. It does include Harris Teeter, CVS and all other stores I remembered to record.

2. Pay $10 or less for dinner - this I did probably 90% of the time. This was an easy resolution to keep :)

3. Pay down debt - this we did but not as much as I would like (see #5).

4. Continue to buy brand name clothes but with cash - for the most part I did do this. Though again at the end of the year things got a little screwy (see #5).

5. No more credit cards - cash system only. Well, I tried! For 10 months I did great - really, really well. But the last two months have been hard and while I do have a plan to pay it all off in the next month I'm still not happy that I put any on to begin with. Clearly I need to plan and budget better at the beginning of the year to avoid the downfall at the end.

I do notice every year that I need to be more and more specific with my resolutions. I make vague ones that I try to keep but by not being specific I have trouble keeping them.

But, I'm not giving up. Just like gaining weight back after you've dieted, I've fallen off the bandwagon and I have to get back on. If I give up it will ultimately be worse. So, check in tomorrow for my more specific resolutions :)

Have a very Happy New Years and may God bless your endeavors in 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year End CVS Trip

I spent most of the day totaling up my yearly spending at the grocery store which I will share with you tomorrow - interesting stuff!

Today to round out my CVS shopping for the year I headed in to pick up a few more things:

I spent: $27.56
And saved: $51.44
And earned: $12.00 in ECB's

Best Deals:

Pantene Shampoo/Conditioner
- original price: $3.99 each
- sale price: 2/$7.00
- earns $2.00 ECB's
- used 1 $3.00/2 coupon from PG 12/27
- final price: $1.00/each

Gilette Fusion Razor
- original price: $11.49
- sale price: $8.99
- earns $4.00 ECB's
- used 1 $4.00/1 coupon from PG 11/29
- final price: $0.99

And thanks to Southern Savers you can go HERE to get $5.00/$25.00 at CVS. You just need to take a short (and easy) quiz.

Do be sure and check your coupons - a lot of them are set to expire tomorrow! Enjoy your last day of 2009 :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No List This Week

Due to the holiday there was no list this week so I didn't go grocery shopping. Just as well I had to go last week before Christmas to buy all the items for our meal and spent my weekly budget anyway.

I'm going to spend the rest of the week tallying up my savings for the year and making some new resolutions for 2010. Should be fun.

Sure, resolving to not spend money is always fun right?

Um, no...

But I'm going to find ways to enjoy it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers At CVS

This week was a good one for free or cheap items at CVS. I use all kinds of grocery items as stocking gifts - make-up (for me really - I'm just helping Kirk); toothbrushes; shaving needs so CVS is a great place to pick these items up.

I spent: $12.32
And saved: $34.92 (I believe that includes my ECB's though)
And used: $18 ECB's from last week
And earned: $18 new ECB's

Best deals:

- regular price: $4.19
- sale price: $3.99
- earns $3.00 ECB's
- used 1 $1.00 off 1 coupon from R 12/6
- final price: FREE

Oral-B Satinfloss
- regular price: $3.99
- sale price: $2.88
- earns $2.00 ECB's
- used 1 $1.00 off 1 coupon from PG 11/29
- final price: better than FREE

Nivea Body Wash for Women
- regular price: $5.99
- earns $5.00 ECB's
- used 1 $2.00 off coupon from
- final price: better than FREE

Revlon Moon Drop or Super Lustrous Lipstick
- regular price: $8.99
- sale price: $6.99
- earns $5.00 ECB's
- used 1 $2.00 off coupon from S 12/13
- final price: FREE

For more great deals check out the Grocery Game.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Shopping After The Snow

Well, Kirk managed to dig us out of the snow enough that we were able to actually leave the house for the first time in a few days! Not sure what the final total was but it had to be close to two feet. Incredible - it was beautiful. Now it's just piled up everywhere which isn't nearly as pretty but at least we'll still have some come Christmas.

Here's what I got when I went to HT today:

Not pictured: a lot - I left a bag at the store (Kirk went back for it) - Velveeta cheese, Pop Tarts, pack of cookies, 2 boxes of mac n cheese, Crystal Light and 3 gallons of milk (the milk I didn't leave but it's still not in the picture)

I spent: $76.01
And saved: $94.75

Seems like there are a lot of deals on crackers and cheese this week!

Best deals:

Breakstone Sour Cream
- regular price: $1.99 each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 2 $1.00/2 coupons from RP 11/15
- final price: $0.50 each

Kraft Shredded Cheese
- regular price: $3.29 each
- sale price: 3 for $5.00
- used 2 $1.00/2 coupons from S 11/22
- final price: $1.17 each

Hellmann's Mayonaise
- regular price: $3.49 each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 1 $1.00/2 coupons from RP 11/15
- final price: $1.25 each

Sunshine Cheez-It Crackers
- regular price: $4.29 each (seriously expensive!)
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 2 $1.00/2 coupons from RP 12/13
- final price: $1.65 each

Betty Crocker Cookie Mix
- regular price: $1.99 each
- sale price: 3/$5.00
- used 3 $0.40 off from G 12/13 and G 11/15
- final price: $0.87 each

For more great deals head to the Grocery Game.

And if you're noticing that I have yet more cereal - so help me I do :) We go through a few boxes of cereal a week so the stockpile I have will last a while but still I buy another box or two a week even when I don't need it! I think my addiction to couponing has gone too far...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kraft Foods $10 Cracker Rebate

******Rebate Check Received 1/26/10*********

We are completely snowed in here in Virginia so I am doubting that I will have the ability to shop tomorrow. This isn't so bad for us since I have so much stockpiled and because I swung by Harris Teeter on Thursday. I grabbed a ham on sale and a little more milk but what I really went in for was some Nabisco crackers.

Why? Well, they were on sale, I had coupons AND Kraft Foods is offering a $10 rebate when you buy 10 boxes of crackers. If you really like Wheat Thins and have a lot of coupons there is a way to make money on the deal. I decided against it and instead spent $14 on 10 boxes of crackers after coupons.

Here's what I got:

Retail price at HT this week:

Wheat Thins are buy 1 get 1 free ($2.79 for 2 during the sale)
Honey Maid Graham Crackers are $2.99
Ritz crackers are $2.99

Coupons for crackers can be found:

S 11/8 $1.00 off 1 box
S 12/13 $1.00 off of 2 boxes

If you have 2 $1.00/1 coupons then your Wheat Thins will be $0.40 each! If you had enough coupons you would be able to get 10 boxes for $4.00 making you $6.00 on this deal!

I decided I just didn't want that many Wheat Thins and wanted to pick up more of a variety especially some of the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon flavored Ritz crackers so I used the $1.00 off 1 box on the Ritz and Honey Maid crackers and the $1.00/2 coupons on the Wheat Thins. Still, 10 boxes of crackers for $4.00 is a steal!

After you've shopped check out Kraft foods HERE for the rebate form. Or go to Kraft Foods "Put a Jingle in Your Holidays" for more information.

And thanks to Robin for giving me a heads up on a sale this week at CVS. I got my CVS ad yesterday but haven't had a chance to even look at it - mostly because I knew I'd be snowed in today anyway so I won't get a jump on this deal. Maybe there will be a few left after I've dug my way out :)

Check out the lotion deal HERE.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Shopping At CVS

Hey, why not? What a great way to pick up some stocking stuffers and some extra care bucks! I'd use coupons for everything if I could :)

Here's what I got:

I spent: $50.39
And saved: $40.83
And earned: $18.00 Extra Care Bucks

Best deals:

Listerine Total Care Mouthwash
- retail price $4.49
- used 1 $2.00 off coupon from S 3/15 or R 4/26 (yes, I still had the coupon!)
- earned $2.00 in extra care bucks
- final price $0.49

Suave Body Wash
- retail price: $2.79/each
- sale price: 3/$6.00
- used 1 $1.00/3 coupon from R 10/25
- earned $2.00 in extra care bucks
- final price: $1.00/each

Bic Soleil or Comfort 3 Shavers
- retail price: $6.69
- sale price: $4.99
- no coupon
- earned $4.00 in extra care bucks
- final price: $0.99

Check out the Grocery Game for more great deals at CVS.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Planning Monday 12/14

This is what an easy menu plan looks like - nothing fancy this week!

Sunday - Spaghetti

Monday - Fajitas (meat was in my freezer - just throwing it together)

Tuesday - White Bean Chicken Chili - slightly elaborate but I'm bringing someone a meal and they need a healthy one so this is it.

Wednesday - Sausage Pasta dish

Thursday - Kid's Christmas program - leftovers

Friday - Another date night thanks to the kid's school (we're supposed to be Christmas shopping...)

Saturday - I don't know - I'll figure it out when we get there :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Harris Teeter Trip 12/13

And it was my list week to qualify for gift cards and I did. Very excited! I got a $25 gift card to Regal cinemas and a $25 gift card to Best Buy. All free - well, after spending $75/week for 16 weeks at the grocery store. But still a bonus gift for buying groceries!

This week I got:

(Not pictured: 3 gallons of milk)

I spent: $88.32
And saved: $118.36

- still a bit over what I'd like especially since I went earlier this week for a few things and spent $16 (saved $9 I think) - the good news is that with the promotion at HT over I no longer have to spend $75/week and can use the rest of the month to spend less and make up for my overage.

Best Deals:

Chex Cereal
- retail price: $3.59/each
- sale price: $2.50/each
- HT promotion - $3.00 off purchase of 3 boxes
- used 1 $1.00/2 coupon from G 12/13; G 11/15
- final price: $1.17/each (65% off)

Sister Schubert's Dinner Rolls
- retail price: $3.99/each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 4 $0.50/1 coupons from S 11/15
- final price: $1.00/each (75% off)

Daisy Sour cream
- retail price: $2.19/each
- sale price: 3/$5.00 or $1.67/each
- used 3 $0.60 off 1 coupons from S 11/15
- final price: $0.47/each (80% off)

Newman's Own Organic Salsa (see there is organic stuff on the list!)
- retail price: $3.49/each
- sale price: $1.94/each
- used 4 $0.50 off 1 coupons from RP 10/25
- final price: $0.94/each (73% off)

For more great deals check out the Grocery Game.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sunday Coupon Preview

Thanks to $5 Dollar Dinners I've found a link for getting a preview of the Sunday coupons. If you're at all like me you hate to wait. Every Wednesday I get excited to see what the sales are at Harris Teeter even if I don't shop for days. So why not find out early what Sunday's coupons are?

Sunday Coupon Preview

Such a great idea! A list of what's coming so you know what to expect and whether or not you should buy extra copies of this Sunday's paper.

Want something even better?

Subscribe to the Washington Post and you will have the coupon insert delivered on Saturday! Sometimes I even receive it on Friday. So I don't have to read the list because I already have the coupons in hand and can go shopping with them a day ahead of everyone else. I highly recommend a subscription - very much worth the smalll price you pay.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Pantry

Curious what my pantry looks like? After all I've been stock piling all year. Of course, I do eat so I do use what I buy otherwise why would I buy it? And I do donate excess whenever I can.

However, my pantry generally stays pretty full especially after a big shopping week like this Sunday.

Unfortunately I do not have a walk-in pantry - bummer right? But, I do have a two-sided pantry with sliding doors and I use two cabinets under my island for food as well.

Left side: cereal and snacks

Right side: spices and baking needs

Under the island cabinets:

Left side: dressings, potatos, rice, coffee - this is more of a catch all

Right side: soups, can goods and pasta sauce

Sorry if you only read half of this post to begin with - I think one of my girls published it for me when I wasn't looking :)

And if you're wondering I'm not always this organized! The rest of my home is overrun with toys. What I have control over is generally organized to a tee but if the kids comes any where near it then my methods are destroyed so until I live in a kid-free city I'll be a wreck in every other area :) But I've decided not to worry about it too much till next year!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 12/7

Monday - Chicken Pot Pie (a family staple)

Tuesday - Potato Soup with Beer Bread from Tastefully Simple

Wednesday - Moms of multiples Christmas Party - pizza for dinner :)

Thursday - Chicken Broccoli Braid (Pampered Chef recipe)

Friday - Date night - yea!

Saturday - Grilled chicken with broccoli and rice

You may notice a LOT of chicken recipes this week and you'd be right! While I don't normally plan my meals around the meat that is on sale I did this week because I've used up all the meat I had in the freezer and clearly chicken was on sale (buy 1 pack of chicken breasts get 2 free!!). So for this week I went ahead and planned meals that use the chicken. By utilizing what I already had in the pantry I had to purchase very few items besides the chicken to make my meals and since more than one meal uses the same meat I have already made and chopped the chicken I will need for Thursday which takes out one prep step then. All good reasons for menu planning.

On a side note this is my 200th post! I've had a lot to say this year and look forward to making some changes and adding some things in the new year so look for that soon. Thanks for reading and following my journey into couponing.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Couponing Again

It feels good to get out to the store with coupons again! I did shop last week but because it was the holiday weekend there weren't many sales. I spend around $80 but only saved $40 - not a great week for me but what do you expect when you have to spend $75/week for the gift cards AND we just came back from two weeks gone AND the store has no sales :)

Oh well, this week was much better.

This is what I got:

Not pictured: 5 gallons of milk and I believe the hot chocolate I bought didn't get in the photo :)

I spent: $105.83
And saved: $129.92

Best Deals:

White House Apple Sauce
- retail price: $2.00/each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 4 $1.00/2 coupons from S 11/15
- final price: $0.50 each

Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats Cereal
- retail price: $3.39/each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 2 $1.00/3 coupons from RP 11/8
- final price: $1.31 each

Sunkist Orange Soda (mom points!)
- retail price: $1.99/each
- sale price: 2/$2.00
- used 4 $1.00/2 coupons from S 11/15
- final price: $0.50 each

Sargento Natural Shredded Cheese
- retail price: $2.79/each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used $1.00/2 coupon from S 11/15
- final price: $0.90 each

For more great deals check out the Grocery Game.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cheap Weekend Fun

While I can't say I was very frugal while on vacation the one thing we did do cheaply was go to the movies. With all my free movie tickets Kirk and I were able to take Kaitlyn and Caleb to the movies and only pay for the popcorn. This was a huge treat for us since I normally bypass the popcorn due to cost but since we got in free we were able to splurge a little at the concession stand.

How did I do it?

The easiest way was by buying and eating cereal! And since I don't pay much for cereal it was even cheaper - I think the most I paid for a box was $2.50 and that was because I didn't have all my coupons in Florida.

Head over to for more details and be sure to check your cereal aisle for specially marked boxes of cereal - you need 2 boxes to redeem for one ticket valued up to $12.00.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Giveaways

There are still a few days left for you to hope over to 5 Minutes for Moms and you can enter a huge number of contests. You need to comment on any of the items you actually wish to win. There are a few other things you need to do to enter as well as ways to enter more than once - the website has all the details. I hope someone here wins something!! You can enter until Friday Dec. 4th at 12 PM EST.

Also, Dave Ramsey is doing a giveaway every day and you can head to his site to enter every day till Christmas. You can only enter once-a-day and there's a new prize every day.

Maybe a few giveaways will brighten your holiday season as we enter the last month of the year!

Happy December :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm In The Paper!

A few weeks ago I was interviewed for our local paper (The Bull Run Observer) about my couponing. I think the article came out pretty well :)

Click on the article so you can read it.

New to the blog? Here are some quick tips to catch you up:

Where Do You Get Your Coupons?

Grocery Game Recap (how to use it)

How To Spend Less On Groceries

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you and your family are having a wonderful Thanksgiving! We are still in Florida celebrating with family and I am looking forward to a great dinner at my brother and sister-in-law's house this afternoon.

- I'm thankful for my Savior, my family and my friends.

- I'm thankful for a week in the Caribbean with my husband and no kids - a huge blessing for us - it was great :)

- I'm thankful for coupons - without them I would never save what I do!

- I'm thankful for Jingle Deals at Gymboree - check it out - save money - jackets for $14.00!! Have a coupon? It's even cheaper PLUS you earn Gymbucks - can NOT go wrong!! In stores early tomorrow morning or on line right now - I ordered last night - spent $400 on 40 items ($10/each) and that includes the girl's Christmas dresses and matching faux fur jacket:

Also included a jacket for each child - a jacket marked down from $49/each to just $14.00 a piece! When I have to buy times 5 this is a STEAL!!

You do have to shop now though because they are selling out fast!!

A Happy Thanksgiving to all :) And thanks to a reader for letting me know that my article has come out in the Bull Run Observer. I haven't seen it yet since it came out last week while I was gone.

I'll post a lot more when I get home in a few days!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Off To The Caribbean!

Seriously, I am :) The family is heading to Florida on Friday so that my hubby and I can go on a cruise for a week and then spend time with my family on Thanksgiving. So, I will be of this blog for about 2 weeks for some much needed rest and relaxation. I will post much when I return - have a safe, happy and frugal Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Triple Coupon Trip With The List

Took my second trip to Harris Teeter today and I was surprised that there was actually good stuff there! Every time they have a big coupon week I never know what's gonna be left by the time I arrive.

Surprisingly they were only out of Crisco oil which (thankfully) was not a triple coupon deal which means I could get a rain check and go back at any time and get the same deal.

Here's what I got:

I spent: $41.40
And saved: $88.69

My best deals:

Mazola Cooking Spray (and we were just about out - love when that happens!)
- regular price: $2.99/each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 4 $0.50 off coupons from S 10/4
- final price: FREE!!

9-Lives Dry Cat Food
- regular price: $4.99/each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 4 $0.75 off coupons from RP 10/25
- final price: $0.25/each

Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice Mix
- regular price: $2.39
- sale price: not on sale
- used 1 $0.75 off coupon from RP 11/8 (had more coupons but there was only 1 box left!)
- final price: $0.14

For more great deals check out: The Grocery Game

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Triple Coupon Week at Harris Teeter

Finally! Feels like forever since HT did triple coupon or super doubler - I'm excited that they are tripling coupons this week from 7 AM today (Nov. 4th) to midnight next Tuesday (Nov. 10th).

Yes, I've already been :)

Here's what I got:

I spent: $40.32
And saved: $56.41

I had a few things to pick up besides what was on sale: honey and lightbulbs so my spending was a little high - that and Chex was $2.00 a box after sale and coupon but I love Chex so I bought it anyway :)

Best deals:

Campbell's Cream of Chicken/Mushroom soup
- original price: 2/$3.00
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free ($0.75/each)
- used 3 $0.25/3 coupons from 9/20 S and 10/11 S which tripled to $0.75 off 3
- final price: $0.50 each (I bought 9 cans!)

Smithfield Premium Sliced Bacon
- original price: $4.99/each
- sale price 2/$6.00
- used 6 $0.55/1 coupons from 10/25 S which tripled to $1.65 off
- final price: $1.35/each

For more deals check out the Coupon Mom - the rest of the items purchased I used a coupon but not one that tripled.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu Planning Monday: Pampered Chef Style

This week's menu plan comes from Denise at Goosey Lucy, Turkey Lurkey & Chicken Little. Denise has quite a large brood. Besides her trio she has three other children and some of those kids are going to have kids! Wow!

Denise also sells Pampered Chef. You can see her personal website for PC HERE.

Denise has passed along some of her favorite recipes for this week's menu plan and I'm including the recipe for one of the meals which Denise says is her absolute favorite :)

Monday - Loaded Baked Potato Chowder
Tuesday - Zesty Ravioli Skillet
Wednesday - South of the Border Meat Loaf
Thursday - Ham and Cheese Calzone
Friday - Leftover night

Loaded Baked Potato Chowder

3 large baking potatoes(about 2 1/2 lbs.)
3 1/2 cups milk, divided
4oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. butter
2-3 green onions with tops
4oz sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Optional toppings: chopped cooked bacon, sour cream, broccoli florets

Slice potatoes in half lengthwise; place in deep covered baker. Pour 1/2 cup milk over potatoes. Microwave, covered, on high 11 minutes. Remove baker and move center potatoes to outer edge. Cover and microwave on high 8-11 min. or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Remove from microwave. Coarsely mash potatoes with mix n' chop.

Meanwhile, whisk cream cheese until smooth in batter bowl. Slowly add remaining 3 cups milk, whisking until smooth. Add cream cheese mixture and butter to baker. Microwave, covered, on high 3-5 minutes or until mixture is hot. Slice green onions chef's knife.

Carefully remove baker from microwave. Grate cheese over chowder using rotary grater; add green onions, salt and pepper and mix using small mix 'n scraper until cheese is melted. Serve with toppings if desired.

Yield: 6 servings(8 cups)

Sounds super yummy - thanks Denise!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Grocery Game Recap

Many of you already know how to coupon and where to get your coupons from and what all the abbreviations mean but there may be a few who don't so I thought I'd cover the basics.

1. I don't re-invent the wheel - I have 5 kids and not enough time so I let the Grocery Game do it for me. Click here to be taken to her website.

2. Using the Grocery Game I sign in and get the list of deals at my chosen store. I am currently signed up for Harris Teeter and CVS - these are the stores that work best for me.

3. When my list comes up I proceed to "gray-out" all the items I don't want by clicking on them. I just scan down the list to see what I do want and click on all the items around it that I don't.

4. When I have finished going down the list I press print - the list will print only the items that I actually want to find coupon match-ups for.

5. I take my list to my coupon folder that is currently jammed full of coupons I have been collecting from all newspapers I receive and from friends.

- PG means Proctor and Gamble
- RP means Red Plum
- S means Smartsource

- there may be more than 1 of them in any given paper and there may be none depending on the week

6. Usually I check my list for my "hot" or "favorite" items meaning what we use the most or ones that are such a great deal I want to stock up on them. I find the stack of coupons with the corresponding date and begin scanning. There are times when my coupon does not match hers. Sometimes it's better, sometimes not.

7. I clip out all the coupons that she tells me to that match with items I wish to purchase.

8. I take my list and my coupons to the store and shop.

It really is that easy. It doesn't take a lot of time once you get used to it but the beginning may be slow and if you don't have a lot of copies of coupons you may have more trouble stocking up. If you're just beginning to get multiple copies of coupons I'd suggest buying 3 copies of the Sunday paper. For me the Washington Post seems to always have all the coupons I need so I try to get multiple copies of it when I can.

I've been using the Grocery Game every week since the beginning of the year and I can't believe it's already November!

Here's what I got tonight:

I spent: $87.24
And saved: $85.68 (at least I did also earn back $2.50 for buying 4 boxes of fruit snacks - that makes it an even 50% off!)

I spent a little more than I wanted - somehow I added wrong. It happens I guess :) A little over budget because of it. My new budget is $75 a week. And it's only that high because I want to earn the $50 in gift cards for Christmas. Plus, it's not like I'm not going to use the groceries :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Did you know you can get the Grocery Game for free?

For starters when you sign up you get the first 4 weeks free just to try it out!

After that you're charged per store every 8 weeks - $10 for the first store and $5 for each additional one. Clearly the benefits outweight the cost but if you could get it free wouldn't that be better?

You can earn 12 weeks free for every 3 friends that sign up. Now it can't just be the trial off - they have to actually sign up but once your friends start saving money they're going to want to sign up too.

All you need to do to get credit is be sure your friends put your e-mail in the referral section on the site. It can be added at any time. In fact if you have signed up because of the blog I'd be thrilled if you used my name as a referral. My e-mail address is: - thanks!

Remember, the Grocery Game is so easy! I sent my husband back to pick up some more juice for me on Monday. Here's what he got:

He spent: $14.99
And saved: $36.32

Not bad! My husband's smart but he's not as into this coupon thing as I am but he too enjoyed saving so much money :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

Do you love menu planning? I actually do! For the most part anyway :) Some weeks I have an idea of what I want and then it's fun to find recipes. I enjoy making new things and plenty of old favorites.

I was asked recently about weekly menu planning by a friend who never does. She asked me "what if you're not in the mood for what you've planned that night?" It's totally understandable and pretty much why I don't monthly plan because I can bet by the end of the month we'll be eating all my least favorite meals that sounded good at the beginning of the month!

So, instead I plan by the week and even though I post here what we're having which night it doesn't always work out that way. If I don't feel like something one night I can shuffle it to another night - no big deal. And since I only plan by the week there's less chance of the meals I don't like.

My meal plan for the week:

Monday - Enchilada Bake with Rice

Tuesday - VELVEETA Cheesy Pasta Casserole

Wednesday - Slow Cooker Cheesy Ravioli Casserole with Garlic Bread

Thursday - Slow Cooker North Woods Wild Rice Soupwith Beer Bread from Tastefully Simple (yum!)

Friday - Gram's Chicken Pot Pie Updated

Saturday - Crustless Bacon and Cheese Quiche - this will be more brunch then dinner - for the rest of the weekend we'll be eating leftovers - after all there will be plenty!

If you haven't tried meal planning yet give it a shot! It sure makes the weeks easier to know in advance what you're going to have. All the above recipes have links to the actual recipes if you want to try a few for yourself.

Also, I've added the link to on the side of the blog so you can find hundreds more recipes every week.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Full Cart For Cheap

I love the weeks when I fill my cart up and still don't spend a lot. To walk out of the grocery store with all the groceries my family will need for the week (and often beyond) - including breakfast, lunch and dinner and not exceed $100.

Here's what I got:

I spent: $94.92
And saved: $159.52

Best Deals:

Welch's Grape Juice
- regular price: 2/$5.00
- sale price: 2/$4.00
- used 5 $0.75 off 1 coupons from S 9/13
- final price each: $0.50

Hot Pockets Breakfast Sandwiches
- regular price: $3.00 each (3/$9.00)
- sale price: $2.00 each (5/$10.00)
- used 5 $0.75 off 1 coupons from RP 9/27
- final price each: $0.50

For more great deals check out: The Grocery Game

Saturday, October 24, 2009

CVS Tips

(Not pictured: Three 12-packs of coke)

Late night, last minute trip to CVS :) Couldn't pass up on a few of this week's deals. I won't bore you with them since the deals are now over. Instead I thought I'd share a few tips I've learned from playing CVS.

I spent: $26.76
And saved: $28.60 (used $7 ECB's from last week's trip)
And earned: $15 in ECB's

- use the Grocery Game for a rundown on all the CVS deals

- but be sure to double check the deals - sometimes there are great deals with ECB's (Extra Care Bucks) that she doesn't list as "blue deals" - like tonight I bought Advil and Robittussin - 2 of each for $6.00 after coupons on ECB's which is a really great deal

- I used the Coupon Mom on Saturday nights to find my deals early though I have yet to shop early on Saturday - I find it fun and someday maybe I'll get there :)

- if it's a really good deal go ahead and get it even if you don't use it - donate it, give it away - something but don't pass it up!

- don't waste your ECB's - use them to purchase other items that will earn you more ECB's

- begin earning ECB's by picking up items that are free, really close to free or are good deals on items you use regularly

Thanks for those of you who shared your great consignment sale deals! If you have CVS tips feel free to leave those too :) I'm always learning!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Consignment Time Again

I have been working hard for the past two weeks - tagging items for other people and now this week working at the consignment sale. I have been out every night! So busy :) I even had to run to Harris Teeter and spend a whole $75 without coupons - for the record I spent $79.77 and saved $61.55 - eek - haven't spent more than I saved in a long time but I'm trying to earn the gift cards at the end of the year. Good news is I stocked up on juice :)

Here's what I got this time at the sale:

I spent: $147.53

I bought a lot of PJ's, a number of games, some Petshops and puppets - my kids are now covered for their winter clothes! And the big kids are thrilled to have footed pajamas.

A few thoughts on consignment sales:

- go as early as you can which means volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! The selection is so much better then when it's been picked through by hundreds of people.

- shop again later (I spent another $42 today and got a great find for Caleb's b-day for just $6) - shop again after all the items have been gone through to see what treasures may remain uncovered - racks can sometimes be so full that it's hard to see things

- look for brand names - they hold up better

- examine the items before purchase - they should have been examined by the staff but you never know what can be missed and you don't want to get it home later and find out something was stained.

- think about the price - sometimes it's a good deal and sometimes it just isn't - I can get Gymboree cheap on sale so I don't want to spend more than that on a used item!

- make a list but be realistic - it's rare you'll find a Wii game at a consignment sale :) And sometimes the items you saw on receiving night (if you worked before the sale) won't be there so you should have a plan B too.

- it's not the end of the world! Yes, you're saving money but sometimes there are reasons we just stop at real stores instead :) You know for the fact that they have more than 1 of the same item so you don't have to wrestle with the lady next to you.

- have fun - sometimes you'll get a good deal and sometimes you'll be disappointed - the fun is in the hunt and the stories you have behind your favorite finds.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back in the Game

I've been a real slacker with the grocery game lately. Here's my "loot" for tonight. It was a great way to get back into the swing of couponing. I was totally thrilled to have gotten a deal on diapers, and especially thrilled to run into a fellow Grocery Gamer at my local Harris Teeter. How cool is that?
Total Value of Groceries (before coupons): $162.36
Actual Amount Paid $96.84
(Not Pictured: 3 packages of chicken breasts)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

And The Winners Are...

Thanks to all who entered our Swanson Chicken giveaway - I hope you try the recipes whether you've won or not - I know I will be!

And the winners as determined by are:

#1 Cyndy
#7 Carrie

If you both could e-mail me ( and give me your addresses I will get your free chicken coupons out to you right away!

Congratulations to you both!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ECB's + Sales + Coupons = Free Halloween Candy at CVS

Yep, that's right! I got all of the above for $0.34 - okay, not completely free but I didn't want to lose another ECB for the $0.34 so I paid that out-of-pocket.

The Fun-Size Milky Way and Twix (and others) were on sale buy 1 get 1 free
- regular price: $3.50 each
- sale price: $1.75 each
- used 3 $1.00 off 2 coupons from RP 9/27 and RP 10/11
- final price for each: $1.25

M&M's were on sale 2/$3.00
- used 3 $1.00 off 2 coupons from RP 9/27 and RP 10/11
- final price for each: $1.00

By spending $20.00 on candy I earned $5.00 back in ECB's - so, ultimately I made money on the deal :) I spent $0.34 and made $5.00!

In order to make this deal so cheap I did use $15.00 in ECB's that I earned from last week. But I tell you to get candy so cheap is the way to go. After all, I'm just going to give it away free to the little monsters that come to my door in a few weeks. And you know I mean monsters in the nicest way possible :)

If you haven't started shopping at CVS I urge you to give it a try - it always pays off in a big way!

And don't forget to enter our giveaway HERE. If you are having trouble leaving a comment please e-mail me at and I will add your name to the list. Please enter by noon on Saturday in order to have your name included!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 10/12

Sunday: Banana Pancakes
Monday: Chipotle (lost a bet - had to take Kirk!)
Tuesday: Chicken Nachos with broccoli on the side
Wednesday: Cream Cheese Chicken with Broccoli
Thursday: Girl's Night Out
Friday: Spaghetti with Garlic Bread
Saturday: Slow-Cooked Family Favorite Beef Stew with biscuits

Wondering if you've seen some of the ingredients for these meals? You haven't. I did head back to HT tonight.

I spent: $48.40
And saved: $77.03

Another reason I went back - they were out of garlic bread and I reached my doubling limit yesterday.

New York Brand Frozen Texas Toast
- regular price: $3.19/each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 3 $0.50 off coupons from S 8/23
- final price: $0.60/each

Archway Cookies (like I needed more cookies!)
- regular price: $2.99
- sale price: 2/$5.00
- used 4 $0.55 off coupons from S 8/16
- final price: $1.40/each

Spot Shot Stain Remover
- regular price: $5.49
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 1 $1.00 off coupon from S 9/13
- final price: $1.75

Even better deal? Go to after you purchase 1 Spot Shot product and you will get a free movie ticket via e-mail! Feels good to pay $1.75 for a movie ticket :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Harris Teeter Trip 10/11

At this point everyone knows me at Harris Teeter. Sad when you get to the register and the cashiers are asking if you're out for your weekly trip :) Yes, that's my life! Clipping coupons and visiting Harris Teeter. At least I was able to impress them with my savings this week.

I spent: $40.25
And saved: $117.16 - plus I earned $4.00 off my next order from Pillsbury.

Best deals:

More free Tuna! Hee hee, got to love free :) Helps that Kirk actually likes it and it makes a really easy lunch for him at work or me at home.

Starkist Sandwich-Ready Tuna Salad Pouch
- original price $1.59/each
- sale price: 2/$3.00
- used 4 $0.75 coupons from RP 9/20
- final price: FREE

Nestle Cookies
- original price $2.99/each
- sale price - buy 1 get 1 free
- used 6 $1.00 off coupons from RP 9/13
- final price: $0.50/each

Eggo Waffles (and you all know I go through like a box of these a day unless the kids eat cereal!)
- original price $2.19/each
- sale price: 2/$3.00
- used 4 $0.55 off coupons from RP 10/4
- final price: $0.40/each

Egg-Land's Best Eggs
- original price $2.99/each
- sale price buy 1 get 1 free
- used 3 $0.55 off coupons from S 9/13
- final price: $0.40/each

With that and the E-VIC item being eggs for $0.39 as well I have more than enough eggs to last me a month! Seriously, I got 4 dozen eggs tonight for $1.60 - crazy cheap! Now, who has a good recipe for omelets or quiches?

Don't forget to enter the Swanson Giveaway HERE!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Swanson Chicken Giveaway!

The Quick and Easy Tailgate Plan for a Cowboys Fan
Brought to you by Swanson Chicken Traveling Tailgate

It's football season! And if you're anything like me it's much more fun to watch the game with some great food and friends. In an effort to help make your food cheaper and more enjoyable we are giving away coupons for free Swanson chicken. Two winners will receive three coupons each for a free can of Swanson chicken - enough chicken to make the recipes below. Winners will also receive $1.00 off coupons for Frank's Redhot sauce. What a great way to get your football menu going for cheap!

To enter up to 3 times:

- leave a comment on this post
- become a follower of the blog (or comment that you already are)
- advertise the contest on your blog with a link back to this blog

Winners will be drawn at random ( next Saturday, October 17th.

Check out this collection of quick, easy and delicious recipes for your Cowboys' tailgating and football parties! Whether you are cooking for the whole team or just the defensive line, these dishes are guarenteed to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites. Go Cowboys! (Yes, I know I live in Redskins country but I've been a Cowboys fan for longer than I've lived here!)


Frank's RedHot Buffalo Chicken Dip:
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 cans (9.75 ox each) Swanson Premium Chunk Chicken Breast, drained
1/2 cup Frank's RedHot Sauce
1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Assorted fresh vegetables and/or crackers

1. Stir cream cheese in 9" deep dish pie plate until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 min. until hot and bubbling. Stir. Serve with vegetables and crackers.

- Substitute ranch dressing for blue cheese dressing and shredded cheddar cheese for blue cheese crumbles.
- Make it tailgate friendly - prepare ahead of time and transport in a disposable heavy foil pan. When you get to the tailgate heat it on a grill and serve nice and hot!
- Make this in the microwave by heating it on high for 5 minutes instead of baking
- Keep it warm in a crockpot or slow cooker

Monterey Jack Chicken Quesadillas:
1 can (4.5 ou.) Swanson Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons chopped green chilies
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
4 flour tortillas (8-inch), warmed
Pace Thick & Chunky Salsa
Sour cream

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Stir the chicken, 1/4 cup cheese, chilies and chili powder in a medium bowl.
2. Place the tortillas onto 2 baking sheets. Spread 1/4 cup chicken mixture onto half of each tortilla to within 1/2-inch of the edge. Brush the edges of the tortillas with water. Fold the tortillas over the filling and press the edges to seal.
3. Bake for 5 minutes or until filling is hot. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Serve with the salsa and sour cream.

- These are great cooked on the grill! Follow the same directions but put them on aluminum foil on the grill

The Main Event:

Seven Ingredient Chili:
2 lb. ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3 1/2 cups V8 100% Vegetable Juice (regular or low sodium)
1 small green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cans (about 15 ou. each) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1. Cook the turkey, onion, chili powder and cumin in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until the turkey is well browned, stirring often.
2. Add the vegetable juice, pepper and beans to the saucepan and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Spicy Onion Burgers:
1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup Pace Picante Sauce
1 pouch Campbell's Dry Onion Soup and Recipe Mix
6 Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Premium White Rolls with Sesame Seeds
Lettuce leaves
Tomato slices
Avocado slices

1. Thoroughly mix beef, picante sauce and soup mix. Shape firmly into 6 burgers, 1/2-inch thick each.
2. Lightly oil the grill rack and heat the grill to medium. Grill the burgers for 10 minutes or until desired doneness, turning the burgers over halfway through cooking.
3. Serve in rolls with lettuce, tomato, avocado and additional picante sauce.

The Game Winner

Football Cake:
2 Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Fudge 3 Layer Cake
Assorted decorating gel (black, white)
1 package (4.9 oz.) Pepperidge Farm Mini Milano Cakes

1. Remove cakes from freezer. Trim 1 edge of styrofoam plate even with cake, using scissors. Repeat with other cake. Place these two sides together. Carefully trim corners of cake to form a "football". Set corners aside. Let stand 15 min. or until frosting softens.
2. Smooth frosting where cakes are joined, using a metal spatula dipped in water. Smooth frosting on sides of cake. If needed, use additional frosting from corners pieces.
3. Make an outline of a football on top of cake and laces down center, using white piping gel.
4. Decorate sides of cake with Mini Milano cookies, pressing gently to adhere. Make football laces on cookies using black piping gell. Makes 1 cake.

For more easy and delicious recipes check out: and

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My CVS Trips

Cherie did great at CVS didn't she? I went the same week and picked up:

I spent: $39.13
And saved: $27.94 (used $8.00 ECB's from previous week)
And earned: $22.00 in extra care bucks

This week I returned to CVS and bought:

I spent: $8.44
And saved: $36.22 (used $22.00 ECB's from previous week)
And earned: $17.00 in extra care bucks (plus an extra $1.00 for previous spending)

Best deals:

Colgate Toothpaste:
- regular price: $3.89
- sale price: $2.99
- earns: $2.00 ECB's
- used $1.00 off coupon from S 9/27
- final price: FREE

Tylenol - spend $20.00 get $10.00 ECB's
- I purchased: extra strength Tylenol, kid's motrin and Sudafed PE
- spent $20.50
- used $1.00 off Tylenol coupon RP 10/4
- used $2.00 off Sudafed PE coupon RP 10/4
- (brought $1.00 off coupon for kid's Tylenol but they were out - should've brought $1.00 off coupon for Motrin)
- so I spent $17.50 and earned $10.00 ECB's

I was asked what RP and S stand for:

RP is Red Plum
S is Smartsource
PG is Proctor and Gamble

- these are all the coupon inserts in your Sunday/weekly newspaper. In a future post I will go over couponing 101 with the Grocery Game again!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 10/5

Sunday - French Toast (cooked by dad - so yummy!)
Monday - Out to dinner - sorry, just felt like it - sometimes you just go!
Tuesday - Leftover Pot Roast from Saturday
Wednesday - Baked Ziti (see, I'm cooking!)
Thursday - Sandra's Salisbury Steaks (I have no idea who Sandra is)
Friday - MOPS yard sale - volunteering - dad and kids to fend for themselves
Saturday - Chicken Enchiladas (the creamy, good kind)

Seem like I'm being lazy this week? I am! We seem to have a lot of evening activities this week which makes it harder to cook but instead of going out every night I am making a plan to save money and eat leftovers at home or cook early. This is what happens during t-ball season!

Flexibility is the key to everything...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Harris Teeter Trip 10/4

I guess if I would wager I'd say that the beginning of the month is the lowest for sales :) Not that I've really compared but this week seemed to be low on sales. Fortunately I had a few rain checks and plenty of coupons so I still did okay but clearly I have had better weeks!

(Not pictured: 4 gallons of milk)

I spent: $63.77
And saved: $89.29

Best deals:

Famous Amos cookies - regular price $4.19
- sale price buy 1 get 1 free
- used 4 $0.55 off coupons from RP 8/30
- final price: $1.00 each

Froot Loops/Apple Jacks - regular price $3.89/each
- sale price 2/$5.00
- used 2 $2.00/2 coupons from RP 8/30
- final price: $1.50 each

For more deals check out The Grocery Game - and good news! The list will now be updated on Fridays and then again on Sunday's with any new coupons. This is perfect for all the weekend/Saturday shoppers :) I'm finding I don't get to the store any earlier than Sunday so I'm not sure it will help me but if I get a free Saturday I know what I'll be doing :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

$10 Dinners - White Bean Chicken Chili

2 Tablespoons oil ($0.15)
1 onion, chopped ($0.85)
2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.35)
1 lb. cooked chicken, diced ($2.50)
2 14 1/2 oz. cans diced tomatoes ($1.50/both cans)
16 oz can Great northern beans, drained and rinsed ($0.67)
10 oz can tomatoes with chilies ($1.00)
1 1/2 cup water
2 cubes chicken bullion ($0.50)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt/pepper to taste
Garnish: sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese, sliced black olives, diced avocado, tortilla chips.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat; cook onion and garlic until soft. Place in slow cooker with remaining ingredients except garnish. Cover and cook on low setting for about 4 hours. Garnish portions as desired. Makes 8 - 10 servings.

Recipe comes from Cracker Barrel Slow-Cooker recipes.

Total cost for this meal - about $7.50 plus garnish - under $10! And for this meal I only had to purchase 1 can of Great Northern beans and chicken bullion because I already had everything else on hand - just another example of how stocking up really works!

Stay tuned for a great giveaway from Swanson chicken! We have much to share. Stick around and see if you can enjoy this meal using a free can of Swanson chicken :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Adventures at CVS

Spent: $58.75
Saved $46.19

Used: $4.20 in coupons from Sunday's paper
Earned $ 25.00 in ECBs

What I Got:

2 Tide Detergents
1 Dawn Dishsoap
5 Boxes of Puffs Kleenex
1 12 pack of Charmin toilet paper
1 bottle of Scope Mouthwash
1 bottle of Tide Stain Release liquid
2 bottles of Curel Anti-Itch lotion (expensive but we needed it)
1 bottle of Vaseline Sheer body lotion
3 Hershey bars
1 container of toddler wipes
1 container of toddler wipe refills
2 bottles of Johnson's baby bath
2 Kandoo kids handsoaps