The Queen of Coupons Reigns......

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Whoot Whoot!!


This coming week Albertsons' has Campbells' Great for Cooking soups (Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom) on sale for 59cents a can! That's a great price to begin with, but on I found coupons on http://www.ebay.com/ for Save $1/4. Now that makes a GREAT price of 34cents a can. Albertsons' hasn't had a double coupon fest in a couple of weeks and I might be reaching by thinking that we are about due for one. So, although I ordered my coupons tonight and they should be getting here on Friday or Saturday, I'm going to hold on to them to see if there are the doublers. If I were to buy 12 cans per transaction, with coupons and store doublers, each can would only be 9cents!! I think that is something to Whoot about!!



There's also a Kraft cheese sale going on this next week at the big A. Philadelphia cream cheese is 99cents an 8oz block and the Kraft shredded cheeses are $2. Not a stellar deal, but I got coupons for Save $1 when you buy 1 cream cheese and 1 package of Kraft shredded cheese. And hoping for the doublers the first of next week, that would make both cheese products $1 with coupon. That would make them stock-up worthy, in my book.



Here's a tip for Holiday shopping: many of the stores discontinue their Christmas packaged products immediately with 50% or more off deals starting right before Christmas or at latest, the day after. I'm talking about things like Hershey Kisses and novelty foods. Many of these products have coupons available for them, like the Save $1/2 Hershey products. A lot of those coupons are available for free at sites like http://www.coupons.com/, as well. Typical expiration dates are 12/31/10. If you were to set some of those coupons aside for when the products are clearanced, you would have a tremendous deal on your hands with some products. And things like the candy, stuffing, packaged sets, etc...are good for months and months after Christmas. So don't let the Christmas packaging fool you. A Hershey's Kiss in red and green wrappers is still a Hershey's Kiss without it's wrapper on ;)


Monday, December 13, 2010

Extreme Couponing Coming to TLC in December


Set the DVRs for 12/29 at 8pm on TLC for Extreme Couponing.

I'm not surprised that this kind of program is coming to TV...since ever morbid and perverse aspect of life has a reality show to its' name. But this is a show with BENEFITS!! Not only do you see the crazy state of the extreme coupon shopper in their frenzy, but you get to glean techniques and skills that you can use to benefit yourself and family.


http://press.discovery.com/us/tlc/programs/extreme-couponing/

I think what impresses me most is that most of these shoppers are fairly new to couponing...like 3-4 years new. Economic times have caused the vast majority of people to review their expenses and see where they can cut corners to reduce costs. Food is the second highest expense in the budget, following the mortgage/rent. And generally, it's one of the only expenses that is "discretionary"--whatever we choose it to be. That means that it fluctuates on our mood, the cost of foods we are drawn to, or if we have less money to work with. For the credit-saturated culture that we live in, most of the residual expenses on groceries get diverted to a credit card when liquid funds are not available in the bank.



I've been "bargain shopping" for over 16 years, "coupon shopping" for the last 10 years, and "extreme couponing" for the last 6 years. I used to be the novelty customer at the stores I shopped locally. Now I'm just one of masses that are trying to get the most for my buck. I see women who are far more organized and methodical than I am with 6" binders full of coupons and lists of game plan options for the products on sale. I see some who shop using coupons for single quantities and those who shop for case lots. Everyone plans their strategy according to what they can store, expiration dates, and what they use. But the bottom line for all the couponers is: they do it to save money. Because coupons are the only time that you will see a cost realization that is reduced and paid for with money you did not have to make yourself! The coupons are acting as "cash" to pay for products that you would normally have to pay for yourself. That means the money you could have spent stays in the bank rather than going into the grocers' tills. Think about that. How much money do you spend on food? How much money could you save? If you put the numbers on paper...it's surprising how much you will pay yourself if you create a game plan for you and your family. Good luck and happy shopping.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Check it Out!




'Tis the holiday season and everyone is looking for a great deal. Gift cards are very popular and I like to receive them...hint, hint. But if you are trying to decide which ones to get/give, I think that it's always best to lean towards the ones that pay you back. For example, Red Robin has a deal going for when you buy a $25 gift card, you get a $5 card to use between January and February.


What I've done in the past is buy the gift card before we eat and pay for the meal with the gift card on the same day--with the perk of a gift card to use in the new year.


I know that many of the restaurants are doing this and it's a great way to kill two birds with one stone...and enjoy the gift of giving, especially when it comes back to you. I guess this would be the perfect example of a "piggyback" deal.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day Spectacular

Ok. I'm on the road. Rhode Island to be exact. But I couldn't help but throw these tidbits out there for those who've been in Military service--currently or in the past. Tomorrow is the day you need to take your sweetie to lunch because so many of the local restaurants are offering free meals for Veteran's with ID--Applebee's and Chili's. Outback Steakhouse is offering a free bloomin' onion and drink, free donuts at Krispy Kreme's, and free subs at Subway too!!

My mom is a Veteran--Air Force. We are on the road and you know--I know where we are going to eat tomorrow. Thank goodness there are Subways in every airport :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Super Stock-Up Items at Albertsons

It's not very often that I promote a generic brand item to stock up on. But starting tomorrow at Albertsons', they have their store brand cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups on sale for 29 cents when you buy them in increments of 10. You pay $2.90 and you have 10 cans of cooking soups on hand. The other tremendous deal is on the store brand chicken and beef broths. Same situation--buy 10 and they are 25 cents a piece...you pay $2.50 for 10. I don't know about you, but holiday cooking is just around the corner and it seems like you need broth and cream soups for every recipe. And being that these are canned products, the expiry dates are going to be well in 2012, 2013. So stocking up on these kinds of staples is SMART shopping!!


Most of the brand name items in the "Buy 10 items, Save $5" promo have coupons to match. These kinds of sales are fabulous ways to start building a reserve. And being that we just had double coupons in this week's ad, most likely there won't be any for next week...so think about which items are a great deal with available coupons. Our family loves the Betty Crocker potatoes that are on sale for 79 cents a box when purchased in any combination 10 of the advertised items. There are coupons for save $1 on 2 items. That makes them 29 cents a box. That's a hot deal and it wouldn't take very much money to see the exponential results in your pantry.


Another great find is the Dole Pineapple that's on sale for 75 cents a can (in the combination of 10). I just ordered coupons from http://www.ebay.com/ that saves $1 on 3 cans. That makes each can 42 cents each. That's a huge improvement over $1.25 a can. Four or five cases of fruit that will last quite awhile will run me about the same as if I had bought 20 cans at regular price. Shopper with coupons is like having my own personal sale as my disposal.





I fell asleep last night dreaming about all the possibilities for double coupons. Today is the last day for the double coupon deals at Albertsons. And it's absolutely thrilling that there are 4 instead of 3 this week.


What was my dream about? A tall, frosty glass of sweet nectar on the rocks with a straw...ie. coca-cola. It's on sale till the end of the day--buy two 12-packs ($5.99 each) and get two 12-packs for free. The coca-cola deal includes Barq's Root Beer, Fanta, Crush, Ginger Ale, Sprite, and others. On the Fanta cases at the store yesterday--there were $2 off peelie stickers for 1 case of pop each. It was good for 5-6 different kinds of soda pop. So if you bought 4 cases of pop--$12.98 with tax--you can use one four of those $2 coupons. The Albertsons' I frequent let me use the four double coupons from the ad for $1 off each as well. That's $3 off per case. [See where the dream is going yet?] That means you can get 4 cases of sweet nectar for sales' tax--about a $1!! That's newsworthy today.


The possibilities of double coupons on sales' prices and combined with another great coupon is endless. When I teach coupon classes, I tell people to keep a "grocery journal" to watch the cycles of the sales' on their favorite products. If you do this--you'd start to see a trend on when the doublers come out. It looks like every other week so far in the pattern and holding. That's great because you can plan your double coupon experiences ahead of time when you are shopping for coupons. It's an amazing way to think and plan with savings in mind. Just think of how your home food storage would increase gradually and consistently if you were to have a plan of how to buy some necessary food items at a tremendous savings. And like I always tell people- food is my savings account. If I didn't have to buy groceries for my small herd every week--do you know what kind of money I would be saving!? Food/grocery money is discretionary spending--you can spend as little or as much as you want. Be smart, build a supply, and save a lot of cash roll with a little work. What does it all mean? Peace of mind, money in my pocket and a sense of stewardship over the income we have.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fab Finds....


I'm still on a high from the Con Agra sale a couple of weeks ago. I was just talking to my brother about how it took 6 trips to get everything home from the store...now THAT was an amazing deal!! It's hard to live those kind of sales down because nothing seems like a good deal after that. Albertsons' put the Con Agra products like Chef Boyardee and Healthy Choice on sale last week at 80 cents a can. Who wants to buy it at that price anymore? 56cents for 12 cans still sends shivers down my spine :)


There's a couple of great finds at Safeway this week. On the back page where the store coupons are, they have a couple of things that add up to a great idea. The Betty Crocker fruit snacks are 99cents a box. If you layer coupons on that--stock-up worthy for those little ones. And with Halloween coming, it's a cheap way to satisfy those little trick-or-treaters, too. There are some coupons floating out there for $1 off Frito Lay multi-packs. That makes the 22ct pack at $4.49 a pretty good deal. That beats Costco any day on the per bag price!


I don't need spaghetti sauce. I don't, I don't, I don't. But Ragu is on sale $5 for 4 jars. That's $1.25 each. If you get some of the 50 cent off coupons from ebay or some other coupon sources...that makes them 75 cents a jar. AND...I could use some of the Ragu Alfredo sauce that is available on the same sale. Gotta love the flexibility in merchandising similar products at the same time.


Safeway has Red and Golden delicious apples for 58 cents a pound. Another hot buy is the Sara Lee bread and milk combo. I just ordered coupons from ebay that are save $1 on milk when you buy 1 loaf of the Sara Lee Soft & Smooth bread--which is $1 a loaf when you buy 5 of them. Milk is $1.99 a gallon--so you can get a loaf of yummy bread and a gallon of milk for $1.99. We go through a lot of milk, so the bread will be a free bonus for what I'm already having to buy. There are also coupons for the bread (55cents off) if you can snag some of those...then it's a tremendous deal. Just remember--are you allowed to place ONE coupon for every ONE item. The coupon for the bread would satisfy the bread. The second coupon is actually for the milk--so don't fall into the trap that implies that you are "doubling" coupons on one product...you're not!



Safeway had a deal going on that is a combination sale for Coca-Cola 12-packs and Nabisco crackers. When you buy 2 twelve-packs, you get an additional 2 twelve-packs and 2 boxes of Nabisco crackers for free. OK. Where to start? If you went to http://www.ebay.com/, you could get coupons that were for $2 off every set of a Coca-Cola 12-pack and Nabisco cracker. And you are allowed to apply coupons to the supposedly "free" items, because there is still a positive balance at the register, even when you only are "technically" paying for the original 2 twelve-packs. So here's how the transaction would work: Buy 2 Coke products at a total price of $13.98. Get 2 more free and 2 boxes of crackers. Buy 2 additional boxes of crackers at $2 a box for a purchase price of $17.98 before sin taxes. Then you are able to lay 4 of those $2 off coupons on the transaction, saving $8!! That brings the total down to $9.98+tax for 4 cases of pop and 4 boxes of crackers. Not too shabby. If you did the sale as the ad outlines with 4 cases of soda and the 2 crackers, you'd only be able to use set of the $2 off coupons...and the results are the same at $9.98+tax--but you only get 2 boxes of crackers. I think that the best strategy would be to use 4 coupons and get 2 extra boxes and pay the same. This is just an example of how working through a sales' deal might actual result in a pretty good find on other items that are so-called "free".


Happy hunting for the deals this week. Just remember that the last 4 months of the years get the most manufacturer's coupons and the baking sales and bulk sales' events are coming up with the Holiday season. Time to match the coupons up with the sales' items that don't usually go on sale and make sure that you get enough to get you through till the next sale. Remember that canned goods are good for at least 1-3 years out. Check all expiry dates on products. Tip: Products that are in the front of the shelf usually have the oldest dates.


There's a great deal going on with McCormick Salt and Pepper seasonings at Fred Meyer and other Kroger owned stores (Smith's, QFC, etc). They are on sale this week for 10/$10; normally $2.69 a bottle. These are the grinder bottles with the sea salts, pepper berries, garlic and seasoning combos, etc. A buck's an so-so price, but you wouldn't go crazy or anything, right? But there's a Catalina for them as well. When you buy them in combinations of 3, you get a $3 OYNO Catalina that prints. Did you do the math yet? $1 a bottle x 3 bottles=$3.00. Give them the Catalina coupon and they are free. The totally gratifying sense of "YES! FREE?! YES!" comes when you get another Catalina at the end of the free transaction. So--needless to say, I'm the proud owner of some yummy peppers, sea salts, and herbal blends. I almost want to drive around eastern Washington to buy some more...because the cutest idea came to me as I was purchasing my small grundle today. Wouldn't they be darling with a cute little note attached that said "Seasonings Greetings!" for quick, (ultra-cheap) neighbor, teacher, and all-around easy holiday gift? Man!! I love that kind of find!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How's it done?



There's another great deal going on this week at Safeway on Barilla pasta and sauces (either Barilla or Classico). It seemed like an attention grabber when I first saw it. But I found coupons for all the products. The sauce is usually upwards of $4 a bottle, so the $2 price point is noteworthy if you are buying a couple. But 2 free boxes of pasta with the $4 purchase is praiseworthy. But what makes this deal newsworthy--using the $1.25 on 2 bottles of sauce coupons and the save $1 on 2 boxes of pasta coupons. You have to buy 2 boxes at a time with the pasta--layer the coupons on the deal/transaction and your total for all four items is $1.75. That's awesome. Regularly priced, this would cost over $10. On sale, it's $4. As a connoisseur of a fabulous deal--less than HALF of the advertised price. Why not do at least 2 transactions and get twice the amount of food for still less than the suggested sales' price? You'd still have 50 cents towards another transaction. This the perfect example of how to get money ahead and food ahead without adjusting purse strings.


I looked at the Albertsons' ad last night and felt the serotonin release in my brain. I love Con Agra sales. I researched http://www.ebay.com/ and found all the coupons that I wanted to use. I ordered then--all should have been posted in the mail today by the sellers. This morning I called the local Albertsons' store and ordered the goodies I wanted in bulk. This is when the slight "hoarder" tendency I have comes out in force. I found amazing coupons for Hunts' Snack Pack pudding cups, Chef Boyardee, Hunts' tomatoes, Pillsbury cookie mixes, Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate, and Hebrew National Hot Dogs.


I'm just thrilled about the pudding cups. Here's what I did: they are 88cents a 4-pack. I'm going to purchase them in the bundle of 30...the coupons save $1 on every three...plus the Con Agra save $10 transactions of $25...making each Snack Pack 20 cents...that's 5 cents per serving. Considering that this is my second post in as many days about this deal--you can tell that I'm excited.


I'm not a canner. But I have traditional values and core beliefs in being prepared for whatever circumstances. I googled "food storage" and thought it was the best basic explanation for why it is important to have food on hand. In a strained economy, it still doesn't have to cost a lot to get ahead of the game and put up some seasonal "canning"--literally. Taking advantage of the good deals will never go out of style or be deemed outrageous. Make good choices, and be prepared.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_storage

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Heads UP!! Con Agra Deals at Albertsons'!!


This is a huge week for the pantry if you are looking for stellar deals to put away. Con Agra, manufacturer of products like Hunts' Tomatoes, Healthy Choice, Chef Boyardee, Pillsbury, and Crisco is doing the fabulous deal of buy $25 worth in one transaction, save $10 on your next transaction. I LOVE THIS kind of savings. Because even though the prices scream "good deal"--there's an even greater deal in the works. Cans that are on sale for 88cents each, go down to 55cents if you buy 30 of them. (Don't freak yet--there's more!!) And if you put coupons on top of those prices...the numbers keep dropping even more. So for example: on the Chef Boyardee--they are 88cents a can. 30 of them would cost $26.40. Minus off the $10 OYNO coupon (since I'll start my first transaction next week with the one I just came home with tonight) for $16.40--then add all those stellar coupons. I found some "Save $3 on 10 cans of Chef Boyardee" on www.ebay.com; so I would apply 3 ($9 worth) of those coupons to the adjusted sales' price of $16.40, for a grand total of $7.40!! That's basically 25cents a can. That's a screamin' savings.



I took this method to ebay for several other sets of coupons...for Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate, Hunt's Spaghetti sauce, Chef Boyardee, Pillsbury Cookie Mixes, and Hebrew National Hot Dogs (our family's personal favorites...and we're not even Jewish ;)
Because my quantities are larger than normal, I'm going to call the store tomorrow morning and have them case order the lots that I want so that I'm guaranteed my product when my coupons get here in a few days. Problem: I may have to make a couple trips to the store in order to get my haul home. The reason I share this kind of tiddly bits...because anyone can get in on this kind of savings. Plan, Plan, Plan. I just wish I lived in the areas that are doing "Coupon Round-up" and multiplying coupons up to $1 each for HUGE savings. I can't imagine the kind of hauls with those savings! Hope somebody else is taking advantage of those opportunities to build a family food storage--or a "victory pantry".

Go to www.albertsons.com to view the ad and start a savings plan today :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Coupon Doublers....



I went on a little binge shopping spree last night at the local Albertsons'. I bought into the Proctor and Gamble deal where you buy $30 of the selected items and get $10 towards your next purchase. I ordered my coupons early and they were in the mail on Friday. By Saturday they were burning a hole in my pocket. I just knew that if I went shopping on Saturday, there would be doublers in the Sunday ad. Guess what? I'm kicking myself today!! I should have waited till Monday, like I always do...but I put the cart before the horse and it cost me some $aving$! Oh well. I'm here to share so that you can save your cash and stockpile your pantry--so even this experience was a reminder that we are playing a game of wits and mystery. Patience is sometimes our friend.


I know...I got a great deal even without the doublers and I'm still beating myself up. I bought 4 cases of paper towels (regularly $9.99 each), 9 bottles of Herbal Essence hair gels ($3.69-$4.29 each), 1 Cover Girl Mascara ($5.19) for the new teen in our family, 12 packages of the superior Glide dental floss ($3.99 each), and 20 bottles of Pringles (regularly $1.99 each) for $54. But if I had extended a little self-control or had a magical crystal ball--I could have save more than half of what I spent; taking the savings from a 65% savings to 75-80% savings. So here's the plan. I still have more coupons...much to my delight. The Pringles will be free. The Herbal Essence goods will be free. And I am going to go through my stack of coupons and make a buying strategy that will make most people weep. Heehee. It's that time of the year...Hunting Season--and I love a good hunt...if you know what I mean.


Doublers are free money. They take the face value of a coupon, up to $1 each, and double it. You are allowed the three in the ad flyer per transaction. These babies are worth bucks and bring out the dumpster diver in me. When you combine them with a pretty stellar deal already on ad in the store, like the Proctor and Gamble save $10--the savings can constitute a pretty hefty chunk of change. The trick is to use the coupons on the cheapest items, making them as close to free and then letting the $10 coupon cover the more expensive items and using the coupons on them that are not doubled, as well. Just remember, you can use ONE coupon PER item, but only 3 of the coupons can be doubled PER transaction. If you buy into the P&G deal, make sure that you are not going over the $30 transaction requirements. Keep the totals to the requirements and just do multiple transactions instead. You save TONS more money in the long-run.


So here are three words to inspire your grocery savings: PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Money in My Pocket


I don't carry the Sunday paper anymore, so I look at the store ads on-line on Sunday mornings. When I teach coupon classes, I encourage people to keep a grocery journal that lists the different products their family uses and keeps tract of when it goes on sale. For example, All laundry detergent is on sale this week at Fred Meyer for $2.99 a bottle. I quickly jumped over to ebay to see if there are any coupons available for this. Sure enough, there are save $1 on each floating out in cyberland. I didn't see any coupons on some of the main coupon websites, so I know that there aren't a lot of them in circulation. Obviously with a $1 off coupon, each bottle of ALL laundry detergent becomes $1.99. At Fred Meyer, they are normally $5.69 a bottle. $1.99 is a pretty good price to set 3 or 4 aside for a rainy day (when you'll have loads of wet and muddy clothes to wash in your free time ;) **Disclaimer: I haven't bought laundry soap in a couple of years and probably won't for at least another year, because this same deal went down a couple of years ago at Fred Meyer, but there were $2.00 off coupons at the time. You know where this is going, huh? A couple of Fred Meyers later and about 50 coupons--I was stocked for a few muddy seasons. But with 5 kids and a resident germ-a-phobe--we do a lot of laundry at our house. I don't have to worry about running out for awhile. I use this as the perfect example of "money in your pocket"--because if I had to buy the monthly supply of laundry detergent at the going rates, or even sales' rates, I'd wouldn't have any extra cash during the month because it would go right to the profit margins of the local stores every month.



Couponing Tip: look at the ads and see if there are any match-ups between the sales' prices and available coupons. Mini stock-up sales happen every week, sometimes we just don't know what the sale item is going to be. We need to be open and ready to set somethings aside that will be a great investment in our future savings. I've been stocking up on Campbell's' cream soups (cream of chicken and cream of mushroom), because they are staples in the dinner department, but also because now is the time of year that they go on sale for more than 10 cents off a can. Plus they are generating HUGE kick-backs for the schools, as noted in previous entries on this blog. I was positively thrilled to get those soups at 29cents a can and a 500 point coupon for the elementary school. And thinking frugally and to the future, the expiry on the cans isn't until 2012...so to stock up on this kind of product at such a low price is totally MONEY IN MY POCKET!! I've had to learn from sad experience that when I run out of these kind of soups, I immediately need them and have paid what normal people have paid...$1.29-$1.49 a can. OUCH!! I have issues and am obviously a control freak. I like to control what I pay for things. Most people grab extra cans of what they deem as a "good deal"--but when the expiration dates are so far out, my advice is to stock the pantry with the products you routinely use when you can get them for 75-90% off. Think of all the bucks you've saved throughout the next year and a half on one product alone!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Labels for Education!!!


You've got to print these coupons and get those Campbell's soups in your pantry. As a mom and member of the local PTO...do it for the children. http://www.campbellsoup.com/condensed_soups_try_something_new.aspx



The Campbell's promo at Albertsons' is stellar this week, especially for the local grade schools. For every $15 purchase of specified products, a 500 point Labels for Education coupon prints out at the register. There is a similar deal going on at Safeway, but prices and quantity requirements are slightly different. But no matter the points earned, each point is the equivalent of buying one can of Campbell's products. So 500 points is AWESOME because you don't have to buy 500 cans to actually accrue the points! I'm a bargain shopper so I totally understand the "bargain-ness" of earning the many points! All I can say for my local grade school collection buckets--GO HAWKS!!



You can also order the coupons from the coupon clearing house websites and also http://www.ebay.com/. A trick that I've learned with E-bay, is to put the word "coupon" on the search bar first and then just change the last word on your searches. It saves times and typing when you are on the hunt. Another tip...is that I never "bid" on coupons. I always go to the "buy it now" button and look at the coupons that have a set price. I try and save money by buying from the same sellers that offer free shipping with additional orders. I research the ads and try and order on the very first day of the sales' start to ensure that the coupons ship as soon as possible. Grocery sales start on Wednesdays and run through the following Tuesday. If I know that I am mass purchasing (larger quantities; aka=BULK), I call the store ahead of time and give a verbal "special order" with the grocery manager or order clerk, so that the product is always in-stock when I get my coupons in the mail. Mondays and Tuesdays are my main grocery days, but also the second to and last day of the sales. Special orders give me peace of mind and guarantee quantities and flavors of the products that we enjoy. And my motto for shopping in bulk is: free always tastes better. It really does.

Friday, September 10, 2010

HUGE Campbell's Deal Coming NEXT WEEK!!




A little bird drop a HUGE worm of information in my lap yesterday. It's worthy of sharing too, especially if you have kids in school and would like to participate in fund-raising without having to break the bank. Starting next Wednesday, the Campbell's Labels for Education coupons are going to be HUGE for minimum transactions at Albertsons'. My source couldn't disclose the full details, but said that it looked like a minimum purchase of $15 in Campbell's products (before coupons) would generate a 500 (yes--that's FIVE HUNDRED) label coupon!! It's the largest label volume coupon I've seen from Campbell's. And for all of you that aren't aware of this...unlike the General Mills' BoxTops program which redeems their coupons in cash, the Campbell's program cashes in the labels with point values attached to the label for redemption of products that the school can pick via a catalog. Either way--it's free stuff for the schools from the manufacturer's. And the beauty of this kind of incentive program--we all have to eat. I look forward to this time of year to stock up on cream soups that are great for cooking with, quick-meal soups, and other products that my family loves. If there is a coupon available for the desired product, we buy a LOT of that item because the price is usually the cheapest it has been all year and for the determined purchase amounts, we are able to donate a TON of points for the school to redeem on things like playground equipment, classroom supplies, computers, and all sorts of new items for improved learning opportunities.


http://www.campbellskitchen.com/ is a great place to print off coupons to use next week. Each computer is allowed to print up to 2 of each desired coupon. If you have access to multiple computers, the sky is your limit. It is one of the few places that you are able to find coupons for the "great for cooking" soups, like Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom. So stock up and don't forget to send those 500 point coupons to school with your child. Make sure they get collected and counted so they can be used for all the great products the school could use to improved their educational inventory.


**This week, I am taking advantage of the Box Tops incentives offered at Albertsons' as well. For every 10 products purchased from the pictured sales' items, a 50 Bonus Box Top coupon prints for cash redemption. That's awesome because it's worth $5...and for me--that's called Making Money because each 10 items will not cost be $5!! In fact, I'm stocking up on Betty Crocker potatoes and Suddenly Salads, both with coupons on them that bring the product down to a big fat (), except the cost of the coupons from ebay.... And since I've ordered almost 300 items between the 2, that's $140 in cash from my kids' elementary school. Disclosure: I spent $30 on all the coupons 280 products. With the cost of the coupon taken into consideration, it works out to be about 9 cents a box. I'm OK with that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Huddle to Fight Hunger Kick-Off at Albertsons'

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Wednesday. I love Wednesdays. It's kind of perverse and shameful to admit, but Wednesdays kind of give me a "buzz"--those legal highs I have when a new ad breaks. Now admit, there are some Wednesdays that are complete downers...and this in not one of them. I'm still waiting for the screaming highs...sure to come in a week or two, or so I've been promised by a reliable source in management at the local Albertsons. That's when the Campbell's Labels for Education sales will come in full-force, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.

This week Kraft is doing a "Huddle to Fight Hunger" promotional on their designated products. You get $5 off a purchase of 5 Kraft items. Woo Hoo!! If you purchase in increments of 5, that's a $1 savings per item. Now slap a coupon on it and you have a deal! For items like Cool Whip, that are $1 each, buy 5 for $5 and you get a $5 Catalina towards your next purchase. If you do the math, that equals free Cool Whip. (I'm wishing that my second refrigerator hadn't chosen this week to bite the dust).

Not everything is stock-up worthy without fridge space. But things like Capri Sun sale priced at $1.99 become 99 cents a piece when purchased in sets of 5. Not to shabby for those Back to School lunches. Oscar Mayer hot dogs are on sale 2 for $3. Print a coupon to save $1 on 2, combine with the Catalina $5 savings and they are reduced to free. Remember--those dogs FREEZE!! Kraft salad dressings are similarly priced for a deal. There are coupon books available at Albertsons that contain coupons for many of the items that are going on sale. The Kraft salad dressing is one of them--save $1 on 2. If you combined it with the "Huddle" promo--you could stock up on salad dressing for 49 cents a bottle. With the dressing that cheap, a variety on the shelf could never hurt.
The Huddle for Hunger Kraft adventure was introduced on August 22nd. It's a large corporate attempt to bring awareness to the growing hunger problem around the nation. For every "like" button selected on Facebook, Kraft will donate a meal to local charities. They are also donating meals through the promotions purchase requirements. They are projecting that they will be donation 20 million meals with this ad campaign. It's a good thing that I'm feeling "charitable"--not only will I be helping my own family and building a reserve pantry, but my couponing purchases will increase the numbers of my sales and add more meals to the total that Kraft will be distributing nationwide. What a "win-win" scenario. I love "charitable" buying--especially when it benefits my own family.
Kraft isn't the only company sponsoring a great deal this week, but I thought they were noteworthy. General Mills has a "Free Milk" deal going on when you buy 4 boxes of their cereal. With a couple of stealthily placed coupons--that could be a decent deal, especially in the milk department. You know that milk runs between $2-3 a gallon. For larger families like mine, we are buying at least 4 gallons of milk a week. So if I did a trade-off and bought the cereal, threw a few coupons in the mix to reduce the cost--I'd spend the same as I would for those 4 gallons of milk, but get a slew of cereals thrown in for free. Just a thought.
Keep scanning those ads. There's a deal waiting to be had. Double coupons may or may not come out for the Labor Day weekend, but if they do...combined with the $5 Catalinas from Kraft--things would be beyond free, so make sure that you keep your eyes peeled on the Sunday's paper for the big ads coming out for the holiday weekend. You never know when a great deal will fall in your lap!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Freezer Meal Night....September

Back to School time means back to schedules, commitments, and routines. That means that dinner at 6pm is more observed and patterns of behavior resume...at least in my family it does. That means we get back to the daily question of "What's for Dinner, Mom?" (Somehow during the summer, fending for yourself seems to work...but not so much when they get back to the daily institutional grind). So September means getting back to survival basics--freezer meals. They keep me sane during busy weeks when the days seem to blur together. I love them. I know they are going to taste great, be something I recognize from our traditional dietary selections, and heat/cook with success. I've been hooked on doing these groups for the last 5-6 years. Before that, I did a lit of meal prep and freezing on my own, but never to this volume or completion.

And just like everyone else--I seem to get into the ruts of what sounds good and what to make that my family will enjoy. Because no matter what kind of day I've had, how many other wonderful things I participated in, or didn't....everyone still shows up at the feeding trough with expectations of an organized meal. So freezer meals are not only time savers, but life savers.

For the freezer meal night in September, we are doing the following selections:
1. Swiss Chicken--chicken, swiss cheese, Pepperidge Farm bread crumbs, cream soup, butter
2. Easy Taco Bake--ground beef, green pepper, onion, Bisquick, cheese, corn, cumin, garlic, eggs, and milk
3. Chicken Cordon Bleu--crepes, chicken, ham, swiss cheese, cream sauce
4. Swiss Dump Steak--round steak, tomatoes, onion soup mix, gravy mix
5. Amazing Meatloaf--ground beef, oats, cheddar, brown sugar, ketchup, onion, seasonings
6. Chicken Supreme--chicken, alfredo sauce, havarti cheese, bacon, green onion, mushrooms
7. Polynesian Pork Roast--apricot preserves, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, broth, molasses, cider vinegar
8. Sunshine potatoes--red potatoes, cream cheese, butter, sour cream, garlic, bacon, seasonings
9. Crunchy Oriental Pork Casserole--pork cubes, chinese noodles, celery, water chestnuts, soy sauce
10. Mountain Man Breakfast--hashbrowns, sausage, bacon, eggs, cream cheese, peppers/onions
11. Cranberry Chicken--cranberries, french dressing, onion soup mix
12. Peach Cobbler--peach, butter pecan cake mix, butter, coconut, nuts

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When the Ad just SuCks--but we can still have PIZZA!!



Well...that's how I feel about the ad this week. I don't see any power shopping moments in the works, unless you count Betty Crocker cookie mixes. They are on sale at Albertsons' this week for 10/$10. Now that is a very good price. I ordered some of the 50cent off coupons off http://www.ebay.com/, making them a fabulous deal at 50 cents a package. I hope the neighbors don't read this...but guess what they are getting for Christmas? That's right...another year of "Make your own cookies! Love, The Eiberts'!!" I just attach a cute cookie cutter to the bag and whola...everyone gets one (no Scrooges or cheap Grinches here!) I even sent goody bags to the school with an assortment of cookie cutters, a tub of frosting, and an assortment of sprinkles for a great little teacher gift bag. And now that I have 5 in school--teacher gifts are going to be a nightmare unless I do something that I deem affordable. Cookie pouches it is! I'm all about maximizing the outflow for a minimum of resources, if you know what I mean.



But my guilty pleasure that comes from a simple Betty Crocker pouch is Fruit Pizza! It has become a quick family favorite this summer. The Betty Crocker sugar cookie pouch has made this a super easy and delicious treat in our house. I buy a container of strawberries and some of my kids start begging for the Fruit Pizza. Jeesh! Isn't there any other dessert that calls for a strawberry? And I just prepared the lunch and dessert for a group of almost 50 hardy eaters (missionary zone conference). I made the Fruit Pizza--and you could have heard the choirs of angels singing...it was that good. Toot, Toot!


So here's the recipe: Fruit Pizza


Crust: 1 package Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie pouch. Prepare according to directions. Spray large pizza pan with Pam/cooking spray. Press cookie dough into the pan evenly to meet up around the edges. Once level, bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes; just till the cookie starts to turn a light golden brown around the edges. Take out and cool on the counter while you start the cream topping.


Filling: 1 softened package cream cheese ( I like the Neu Chatel--30% less fat stuff)

1 container Cool whip

1 container strawberry yogurt (optional--I've added it as an 'extender')

Mix with beaters/Kitchen-aid until creamy--no lumps. Spread across the sugar cookie crust. Top with fresh and sliced fruits:

strawberries, kiwi, bananas, blueberries, mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, whatever is seasonal except all melons. I like to decorate the pizza so it is aesthetically proportionate--but definitely not required. Then top with glaze and put in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving. Slice like a pizza and serve. Not only is it beautiful, it's like having a wee bit of heaven unfolding in your mouth as you eat it.

Glaze: 1 1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 c. sugar

Bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Mix 2 T cornstarch with a little bit of cold water until it is pourable and then whisk into the boiling orange juice. Whisk until it turns clear and smooth. Remove from heat. I set a mixing bowl full of ice-cubes and set the saucepan in it to help speed the cooling process down a bit. Whisk after 5-10 minutes to help spread the cold around. Then pour evenly over the fruit. Make sure that all the fruit gets a little covered by the juice to prevent browning. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shop and Save at the Children's Place


It's that time of year--legalized over-spending on "necessities" for the children...or should I say justified "Back to School" shopping sprees. My kids don't really need anything more to wear, color with, or write on...but we go through this ritual every year when they fill the classroom orders for new scissors, paper, crayons, markers, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da. After I dropped an easy $200 at the local Wal-Mart and Walgreens on "necessities"--I got annoyed when I hauled it home and took inventory of what they still had from last year. I think they should just pack up the stuff that's still in their backpacks and haul it right back to school. But NO...sending used supplies is not part of the ritual. It does kind of grate that used supplies don't look pristine and precisely packaged just so...but it's going to look abused after the first week of school anyways. But I did what every other mother out there did...and caved in and bought all brand-new stuff to go in their desks, although, somewhat reluctantly.



Where I'm not so reluctant is the clothes-department. There's just something about when your kid goes to school in a shirt without stains on it that screams "that Mom is doing her laundry correctly!!" Realistically, it should be screaming that the kid didn't slop around in it or if they did--Mom caught it with Spray-n-Wash before the dryer set it permanently in the Hall of Shame-wear. And again--the kids don't exactly need clothes, but I have some standards I've set in the parenting department for myself. Rule number 1: Don't send the kids to school in anything that has a rip, stain, food pattern, or self-inflicted graffiti (boogers, ketchup, syrup that missed the waffle) on it. I feel like it reflects more on the mother than it does on the child if the kid leaves the house showing everyone what you had for breakfast. So I have no problem refreshing the wardrobe because goodness knows, I have some children that hold degrees in Soiling-ology.



I came across a great coupon for the Children's Place for 20% off your entire purchase till the first week of September. That's pretty good. I'm thinking about the clearance racks and hair knick knacks, tights, those cool plaid skorts, etc., etc., etc. And in a couple more weeks, the new stuff they put out for the "Back to School" attention-grabbers will be marked down. There's always a deal to to had with entire purchase discounts! If you go to the website, there's also another deal for 25% off of a $50 purchase as well. It seems to add up if you can layer a coupon or code onto sales' items. http://www.childrensplace.com/www/b/TCP/emailj/DM-CPN-072810.html (the 20% coupon) and http://www.childrensplace.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/EmailJump?langId=-1&catalogId=10001&storeId=10001&jumpId=cpn-wk25-0821 (the 25% off coupon).






Friday, August 20, 2010

Breakfast Burritos

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I've been having slight maternal guilt about not making my kids a hot breakfast in the mornings. But breakfast is not my favorite meal of the day, so all my energy is not wasted on the many variations of bacon and eggs. But I do feel like I should switch up the cold cereal routine a little. My hubby generally cooks the kids a hot breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings, easing the guilt somewhat, but not completely. In his efforts to please the masses, he put me onto a breakfast that the kids absolutely LOVE--Breakfast Burritos. They were such a hit and so easy to make, that I went one step further and figured out how to mass produce and freeze them for a Hot Breakfast on the spot!! I figured I would get a jump start on the most important meal of the day early. I wanted to get a month's worth of breakfasts in the freezer before school even started. This led to the 30 minute assembling line last night, after 30 minutes of prep work. I made 60 Burritos that were individually wrapped and labeled in 3 flavors--Ham, Sausage, and Bacon...all with cheese, potatoes, and scrambled eggs. They are so simple and tasty. And the best part--they have no extra sodium, preservatives, and additives, thus are more nutritionally sound and healthy than anything store-bought.
Production:

I started the production by preparing all the individual ingredients--I cheated on the bacon. I bought the already cooked bacon that you only had to cook in the microwave for 1 minute. It was marvelous because it wasn't over-crisp and the clean-up was brilliant--like none.


I fried 1 pound of pork country sausage and drained the grease. I also dumped the sausage out onto a cutting board and minced it with a large knife so that the pieces were finer.

This is what 5 dozen eggs looks like....hmm. Somehow I thought that it would have looked like a ton more. I whisked 30 eggs at a time in the Kitchen-Aid and then cooked in a large Teflon pan. Total time in the production was less than 10 minutes. Easy peasy. I seasoned the eggs slightly with salt and pepper before cooking.

I was going to peel and cut whole potatoes, boil and drain before the production started. But I thought to myself..."Self. You don't even like breakfast. WHAT are you thinking?" So I pulled a 5lb bag of Southern Hash browns (cubed potatoes) out of the freezer. Prep work obsolete, except...I tossed the potatoes with olive oil and seasoning and put them on a cookie sheet and roasted for 20 minutes at 400 degrees while I got everything else ready. It just made them tastier and a little crispier. Frankly--delicious. And just because I don't love breakfast, doesn't mean that I should make others settle for less than delicious--right?
(all the ingredients mixed together in a large bowl)
I divided all my ingredients into thirds, because I didn't want to get the washtub out to make the slop that I filled my burritos with. That way I was also able to divide the meats between the potatoes and eggs for variety on the finished product. And remember--I went a little overboard with the quantities...5 lbs potatoes, 4 lbs of meats, 5 dozen eggs, 2 lbs cheese, and 1 lb sour cream. It can be done in smaller quantities, but I just wanted to make sure that they were gone the day after the all the work. So I made enough for a few days....hopefully. I bought the large flour tortillas--burrito-size, of course. I used the sour cream to act as a sticking agent with the cheese and other yummies.
I also used the paper sheets/liners that you can get at a Cash and Carry/Associated Grocers. I put the paper on the counter, placed the tortilla on it and added approximately 3/4 c. of the filling mixture, then rolled like a burrito. I folded the paper over to cover the burrito and wrapped again in a sheet of aluminum foil. I bought the foil sheets that are in a box that you just pull out like a tissue. They are 7"x10"--so when you roll the burrito, you bring the sides in, the bottom up and then roll it home. I placed a little sticker on the corned lip marked with an "S" for Sausage, "H" for Ham, and "B" for bacon.
(ready for the freezer)
I then placed all the burritos in a 2-gallon Ziploc for easier storage in the freezer. The whole production took less than an hour. I did the math for the final cost. It worked out to be about 47 cents a burrito. Cost wasn't my concern as much as it eased the guilt I mentioned and was quick to satisfy the masses before they were sentenced to another school year of dreaded cold cereal every morning. I feel like I'm redeemed myself somewhat in the nutrition department.
But Breakfast Burritos are the Bomb--and the variations are endless. Jeff told me that he wanted more sausage in his. Such a man! But I think I'm going to add some onions, green peppers, mushrooms, a variety of cheeses, and some Spanish rice...for some tasty combinations. I'm definitely going to do this again, and again, and again because they don't last long.










Saturday, August 14, 2010

Make a Game Plan....


Guess what! Tomorrow through Tuesday, Albertsons' is going to have double coupons. That means that with their store coupon, they will double 3 coupons up to $1 (for a $2) each. That's HUGE when you are talking about a great deal anyway. The products that are already free, they make a negative total. You have to plan ahead because you want to fill the negative equity with some other product that absorbs the cost or leaves your total closer to pennies rather than dollars.


For me, this is noteworthy because I'm willing to do smaller transactions to save tons of money--but I am still going for the Box Tops with every set of 10. I learned yesterday that you don't have to break your transactions into sets of 10 to still generate the print-out. I did 60 cans of beans and corn and got 6 Box Tops print-outs. So, if you have a mathematical brain, you can layer your transactions to offset what you could pay with a doubled coupon. For example: on the Bisquick Shake and Pour--they are 50cents in a set of ten. The coupons are for 50cents off...making them free. You are allowed to double 3 coupons per transaction. If I doubled the three 50s--I'm $1.50 ahead in the transaction. Here is a fab scenario:



6 Bisquick----------------------50 cents each=$3.00

4 cans of Green Giant vegetables =$1.56

Total------------------------------------------$4.56

Double 3 of the 50 centers ($1per coupon) = -$3.00

3regular coupons on the Bisquick (50x3) = -$1.50

Total----------------------------------------6 cents

Bonus--------a 50 point Box Top Coupon per transaction!!


I think I can afford a few more of each of these. You can work the math to any combination that you like and have coupons for--but the doublers (even if only 3 of them) make for a great deal. The sale goes through Tuesday, and even though rain checks are a great thing--they don't give you the Box Top print-out and the doubler expires on Tuesday as well. So take advantage of the deal early on.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What Can You Buy for Under $10 these days???




A LOT!! I had to go on a shopping splurge tonight to sooth the inner-coupon clipper. I got a bee in my bonnet and couldn't stop until I knew that I had what I needed. And what would that be, you wonder? A lot for only $9.15. I started out with 2 Albertsons' coupons...one for using the loyalty card and earning the $5 off your next purchase--you earn these for every 5000 points that are tallied by the dollars you spend in their stores within a shopping period. I also had a $2 off coupon from doing a phone survey found at the bottom of the receipt from a prior visit. They print out randomly. So for full disclosure: I went into this deal with a total of $7 in my favor.


What I got:


15 boxes Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes
15 boxes Betty Crocker Roasted Garlic Potatoes
5 cans Green Giant green beans
5 cans Green Giant sweet kernel corn
4 Gum toothbrushes
3 Betty Crocker cake mixes
3 Betty Crocker frostings
2 Bisquick Shake and Pours
10 cans of Old El Paso refried beans
6 bags of Kraft shredded cheeses (from Fred Meyer in a rain check)
1 t-shirt.



What? A t-shirt?! OK. They were on a display at Albertsons' of plain t-shirts in numerous colors for $1.25 each. I picked a navy, ladies-style cut that I know my 12 yr-old will wear. Shhhh..... Don't tell her I did Back to School shopping for her at Albertsons' or she'll quit talking to me, for sure. So all together for the stuff you see here--I paid $9.15 after coupons and also got 500 Box Top coupons for our local elementary. **The Box Top coupons (redeemable for cash by K-8 schools) are worth $50 alone. What I also hate to disclose, is...well. This little picture is only a sample of the amount I purchased tonight. Let's just say I spent less that was the school will get...Oops. Never mind. The school is getting over $200 is redemption coupons from our family. I spent less than $50 and got tons. I still need to call the store and special order the Bisquick in a bulk amount (um, like, maybe 80)--because I do that kind of thing when they are free. And who doesn't like NO Clean-up dishes when you make pancakes? (Sold!! To the lazy lady with the coupons!) I used my savings last week and splurged on clearance paper plates, so we are set for carefree dining...


If I had paid retail price, before sale promotionals and coupons, my total would have been $165.58. With these numbers, I realized an almost 95% savings on the stuffs here. Not too shabby for an hour of peace from the chitlins at home.


I was on a high when I left. I got three of the phone survey coupons at the bottom of various receipts for $2 off each. So, I'll do those and head back to the store on Monday or Tuesday to get a few for things on the cheap/free. I was thrilled to note that most of the expiry dates on the foods I bought tonight are well into 2011 and even into 2013. No worries about not using the quanities or stuffs by a certain date here.


And here is another trick of the trade: If you have food that you purchased in bulk and aren't going to get through them by the expiration date on the product--load them up and take them to the local food bank just before the expiry date--and you can take a full RETAIL value deduction on a donation slip. The donation slip should be saved and put with your tax information. It's tax deductable under "charitable donation" on your Schedule A. You can write off up to 40% of your AGI to charitable donations. Check with an accountant or at http://www.irs.gov/ for more information on charitable donations. But this is just one of the benefits of the law of reciprocity. What goes around, comes around. Be generous with your fellowmen, and your generousity will pay off in the end by getting to keep more your earnings come tax time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hot Box Tops Deals at Albertsons'


Some things are really hot when you get down to the final transaction. This week at Albertsons' is going to be HOT!! They have lots of things that we like and they include a hot General Mills' promotional of $5 off for each transaction of 10 and they throw in a 50 point bonus coupon of redeemable Box Tops for the kids' school. So I know that this week I'm doing AS MANY transactions as possible because I want those Box Top coupons for the school! 50 points is the cash-value of $5 for the school. And unlike the Labels for Education program that Campbells' does--the General Mills' Box Top program is just that--CASH for the school and not points redeemable only through catalogs.


(I really hate writing checks to the local PTO for all the different fund-raisers and activities that require money at the school. I have five kids in school and a $20 donation here and there for every kid really adds up ): But we eat. Just like everyone else. And if I play the cards right, I can stock up on canned vegetables, yummy potatoes, refried beans, cake mixes, and cereal ALL while tallying those 50-pointers to the tune of at least $100 for the school. So I can do my part as a contributing parent for the PTO--all while I stock the shelves in the pantry for a GREAT deal!


Some of the great deals include: Bisquick (larger box), Bisquick Shake and Pours, Betty Crocker cake mixes and frostings, Green Giant canned vegetables for 39 cents a can when purchased in increments of 10, Old El Paso refried beans, Totinos, and GM fruit snacks to just name a few.


I ordered coupons off of http://www.ebay.com/ for the Bisquick. They will work on both kinds. If I use them on the Shake and Pours--they are free. If I use them on the big box (way more product for the money), I pay 50 cents for a the whole box. I have some great coupons from peelies off of Betty Crocker potatoes that are save $1/2. With the potatoes going to 50 cents a box when purchased in the increments of 10--they are free as well. The cake mixes are 50 cents and the frostings are $1 in sets of 10. I couldn't find coupons for the individual products, but I found a combo coupon for save 75 cents on 2. I'll take it. I'm going to buy 5 cake mixes and 5 frostings in one transaction for $3.75. The breakdown=38 cents each. That's stellar in comparison to what the exact same products are going for at other stores this week. General Mills cereal is also included in the deal. After the automatic savings of $5 on a set of 10, it's $1.50 a box. Most of the coupons available on it right now are for save $1/2--making it $1 a box. This sounds a little stuck-up--but that's still a little too high for my blood for a stockpile. But if this is new to you and you're used to paying $1.79 a box and thinking that's a great deal-buy a ton at $1 a box, by all means!! And I have to keep reminding myself--think of the school, think of the school!!. What a Win, Win situation for everyone!!


I didn't see coupons for Old El Paso or Green Giant, but the prices are really good without a coupon for a small stockpile till they go on sale again. Again--think of the schools. Make an inventory of what you think you're family would use of any of the products that are on the promotional sale for the next 3 months--and then buy it and put it in the basement, in your pantry, in a corner of the garage. But buy what you'll eat and rotate in a timely manner and if you do it with coupons and by the required purchase amounts--it shouldn't cost you any more for a grundle of food than what you would have paid for a lone product at regular price!

Check out this website below to see what other products are also included in the Box Tops program:


Also: go to http://www.albertsons.com/ to view the ad and see what kind of deal stockpiling you can do this week and make sure you accumulate those print outs for your school and send those in after the first week of school. If your school has competitions to see who brings in the most--your kids will definitely win the competition with a little extra help from Mom :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Something to Brag about....



Occasionally, I've been known to toot my own horn. Here is another occasion--"toot, toot!" I just got back from Albertsons'. It's Tuesday night. Didn't have any plans or purchases in mind for the eleventh hour of the sales' week. But my neighbor across the street has taken some of my tips and put them to good use. Well...today she gave me her extra doublers from the Sunday paper. Not wanting to waste a precious coupon doubler, I went to the computer at 8:30pm to refresh myself with the sales' ad and figured that it might be worth a trip down the hill to my favorite grocery haunt. I decided a mere 4 transactions would suffice--but I brought the 100 toothbrush coupons I recently ordered off of ebay...for a "just in case" back-up item to use any extra doublers. And as would have it, the toothbrushes were on sale for $1.19 (doubling the $1 off coupon allowed me to subtract 81cents x3 coupled/doubled for a total of $2.43 in overage per transaction). So doing transactions with three toothbrushes and smaller amounts of groceries, I had final amounts ranging from 17-89 cents per transaction. Doing 10-12 transactions really paid off...to the tune of $165.84 in savings. And for all of the viewers who stand in judgment of the value of couponing--please note the items that were "purchased" in "coupon cash" rather than liquid cash--like produce and milk; which are items that generally don't have a coupon specifically for them available. If I had freezer space and forethought--we would have been having steak for dinner tomorrow instead of cereal! Oh well. Better plans next time :)

So--here's what I got for $11.88!!
3 gallons of milk
8 boxes of General Mills Cereals
12 bags of Malt-o-Meal cereals
6 avocados
6 large apples
2 bunches of green onions
1lb of carrots
3lbs of bananas
22 Gum Toothbrushes
2 bottles Kikkoman's Teriyaki sauce
2 bottles Kikkoman's Teriyaki glaze
8 jars of Prego spaghetti sauce
21 cans of Starkist Tuna

Now, if I had paid regular price for all of these items, before any coupons, etc...this total would have been $177.72. But I paid $11.88 and came home with a $1.oo OYNO Catalina coupon, 35 cents off of gasoline for up to 20 gallons, and 4 free movies from Redbox--woo hoo!! So the little jaunt to my favorite haunt was well-worth the time. I shutter to think what I could have done if I had come prepared with a grundle of coupons and a method to my madness. Tonight was just a great reminder of what kind of good you can do without a lot of money or time.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Register Rewards


You know I'm talking about Walgreens when I say that I love Register Rewards.... And if you're frugally minded, you know that you'll have to pay special attention to the deals going on there because you can get your personal care or household stuff for free if you are patient and make a little effort from week to week.


Some of the deals that I noticed this week are truly tremendous. If you have rug rats in need of diapers...Proctor and Gamble (the manufacturer's of Pampers) is doing a Save $5 on $25 purchases. Diapers are $8.99 a package and the monster package of wipes is $6.99. You'd have to buy 2 diapers and 1 of the wipes to make the $25. So if I had a kid in diapers and saw this for the deal it could be, I'd do something like this: Buy 2 packages of diapers and the monster wipes; use 2 $2.00 off coupons (one for each of the diapers) and a $1 off for the wipes. Then--there are coupons for additional free wipes when you buy the packages of diapers. It's for a container of wipes that is 72ct or less for every package of diapers you purchase. So this transaction would be $20 before the register rewards for 2 packages of diapers, 1 large pack wipes, and 2 smaller containers of wipes. Then you get the $5 back at the conclusion of the transaction. So for $15...you get $30-35 worth of baby lovin'. *For all of the coupons needed, I went to http://www.ebay.com/ and put "coupons pampers" and "coupons pampers wipes" on the search bar. I always use "buy it now" also. I had to scroll down through all the sellers and eliminate all the "Target" coupons, but there are lots of manufacturer's coupons available for the goods. Almost wish I had a baby right now.


There are some other great deals right now as well that could really help that Pampers purchase out or take even more off your future "earnings"--hehehe. There's a great deal on Playtex tampons. They are $2/8 with a $3 register reward, making them $2/$5. But if you hurry and order the coupons that save $2.50/2 (they expire 8/8/10), you have a great deal. For the visually-challenged, like myself--free Complete multi-care contact solution is always a good thing; of Alive multi-vitamins, or Crayola crayons. If you were to buy the 3 high-dollar register rewards items in the first transaction, you could apply it to a second transaction of Pampers (if you are so inclined that way)--for tremendous savings, but you have to remember to use "filler" items because you are only allowed the number of coupons per items and no more. So be prepared with a handful of cheap gum to match with your transactions. Awesome Rewards=Awesome Deals. There are lots of other deals, but these had me lifting my eyebrows. For more match-ups, check out http://www.walgreens.com/ for your own viewing pleasure.
*Just remember that if you are only doing the pampers deals, the register will NOT generate a second $5 if you use the $5 register reward from the first transaction on the next pampers tranny. You have to "stagger" the transactions in order to keep the register rewards printing. So buy the contact solution in one transaction, then the pampers deal...alternating however many times you want to get the items you need. On the last transaction, you will go home with the last register reward $$ to start the savings for next week.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Baskin Robbins Free Cones


Summer promotionals are cool...sometimes even ice-cream cool. Baskin Robbins is doing a Buy 1 Get 1 Free ice-cream cone promotional through August 8th. If you live near a BR--that might mean a terrific family outing one hot summer night with the family. Check out this website to print the coupon that you need to get in on this "cool" deal. I just need another person to go with us to make our numbers even for this treat. I'm sure I'll have no problems finding a taker. http://www.baskinrobbins.com/coupon/bogosoftserve080810.aspx?cid=3440363&jid=39215968&mc=XX&eid=1995859&cmpid=email_ext_000134_1

Sunday, July 25, 2010

BaCk 2 ScHoOL




If you've looked at your ads today, you may have noticed a theme in the things that are on sale right now...school supplies. I am a bargain shopper--year-round. When I see rulers, erasers, and notebook for less than 10 cents each--NOW is a good time to stock up. As much as I hate it, now is the perfect time to teach my kids the value of what you can get for a dollar; and in my case, 5 kids equals $5 worth of spendings for $100s in savings. Most people excuse what they spend based on expediency. They just go to Wal-Mart or Staples and buy all their supplies in one go. But if you start watching the ads from the beginning of July till the first of September, every store has selected items that they put on sale every week that is considered their "loss leader". A loss leader is the product they are giving away or reduced to such a low price that they are not making any money on it. In fishing, we would call this the bait. But if you are a bargain shopper and willing to shop at multiple stores, you take the bait and as many kids as you have--and go shopping. Packs of pencils for a penny, notebooks for 8 cents, folders for 9 cents, rulers for 5 cents....the savings is tremendous and worth a little homework.


I teach preschool and stock my supplies right now for the whole school year. Last year, some of the markers started losing their mo-jo in April. I thought I could hit the local Wal-Mart and buy a few packages to get to the end of the year. YIKES!! The same markers that I had purchased in August for less than 50 cents a box--were now no less than $2 a box, on sale. I have such an intolerance for paying full price for anything, but when it's still four times the amount I paid on sale in August...I have a mental revolt. So I'm going to make sure that this year I have over and beyond what I need to get through the school year so I won't have an anxiety attack come springtime.


I found a new link this morning that I think is wonderful to look at if you don't carry the Sunday paper. It's http://www.shoplocal.com/. It has several of the local stores and their ads all at one viewing. I noticed that a couple of stores are missing, but no worries--I can navigate their websites by putting their names in with a dot com after it, usually. Buyer beware: lots of people see the same ads and have some method in their madness, so don't wait till Friday or Saturday and think that you will get all the items you want in stock. Most loss leader products are going to be sold out early in the week and most stores won't issue rain checks on promotional items. It doesn't hurt to ask if there will be secondary shipments though.


Save, Save, Save. It pays to pay attention. One of the office stores was offering a rebate for the price of the backpack! In layman terms, that equals free backpack (limit one per household). Buy $20 backpack, and get a $20 gift card. Suggestion: use the gift card to pay for the school supplies that are also on sale. Whatever you don't use on the card, can be used next week, and the week after for all the other things that are going on sale. Good luck and happy shopping.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I love Catalina!!


Catalinas are the best. They are bonus savings to whatever you are buying and can almost always be used on any kind of purchase except gift cards and gas. So what are they? Catalinas are coupons that are printed at the register at time of check-out. They are long pieces of paper-almost like a second receipt. They are sometimes coupons from the manufacturer or cash value on your next purchase. So for example, when a promotion is going on at Albertsons' that says "Buy $30 worth of Proctor and Gamble products and save $10 off your next purchase"--it means that a Catalina will print that states "Save $10 on your next purchase" courtesy of Proctor and Gamble for any grocery item. Buy steaks, candy, milk and eggs--whatever...it acts like cash up to the $10 amount! You can think of it in terms as you just 33% off your original purchase (prior to coupon application) or you can see it was 100% free for the items you buy with the Catalina! Either way--the glass is full, full, full!!


This is fabulous savings if you calculate your purchases. But sometimes the Catalinas are dollar amounts off a set number of purchases. For example, June was Dairy month at Albertsons', and for every 5 sets of dairy purchased--you saved $5 ($1 per item). So for things like yogurt, cheese, sour cream--the prices were pretty good to start, but by buying 5 of them, minusing the $5--the prices became stellar--and then add a coupon--and most things were free.


Well--this month has another great upcoming Catalina promo going on for Kraft cheese. Buy 5 participating Kraft items, and receive $5 off your next purchase. (In coupon lingo--that means a Catalina print-out will occur at time of check-out for $5 good towards any other items before using manufacturer's coupons). The promotion starts 7/19 and goes through 8/15. GREAT in terms of length of offer and the products are bound to go on sale in that time frame and the $5 off still applies even if the product is full price or sales price. So savvy shoppers would plan to buy their monthly supply of cheese when it goes on sale and take advantage of the $5 off by doing multiple transactions. Do I sound like a tour guide of your local grocery store yet? This Catalina promotional is going on at Albertsons'. Kroger stores (Fred Meyer--locally), and possibly Safeway (verify that before you spend your life savings' on cheese).


If your thinking that this is just about sandwich slices--wrong. Besides the Kraft singles (excellent for cheeseburgers, by the way), it also includes Philadelphi cream cheese, Velveeta cheese, string cheese, cracker cuts, deli cut cheeses, parmesan cheese, Cheez Whiz, Knudsens' sour cream and cottage cheeses, and packaged cheeses. Fan-tab-ulous deal if your family eats cheese...all kinds of cheese.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lowe's Build and Grow

We just clued into something that has been going on for awhile at Lowe's. It's their Build and Grow kids building project activities. They are free workshops that are every other Saturday. You go online to register your kids and you get to go put a kit together that makes something fun out of wood (with screws and nails, of course) for the kids to play with or display.



Yesterday we went for the first time and the kids make a ball and cup toy. The kits were out on the table and included everything they needed to put it together. The information at the website showed that it was from 10-11am...so I figured that the projects would take about that long. It was actually much faster--or my kids are just geniuses :) But for an investment of 20 minutes, they all came away with a fun game and the excitement of having put it together themselves.




So for a great supplemental activity to do with your kids this summer--this is a must have on the list. And the real deal of the whole event--it's free. So go to http://www.lowesbuildandgrow.com/ for more information and upcoming schedules.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Walgreens is Supreme....





I've been couponing for years, but I've never really taken advantage of the drug store programs that are available until recently. Several of the stores have had image over hauls and introduced programs that often get overlooked unless you are serious about saving some cash. So I've had to take my own advice and research the store policies for Walgreens and Rite-Aid because they have some amazing sale pricing if used by a savvy shopper--like myself. Knowing store policy is everything when it comes to whether we pay for it or get it for free! I have a new favorite in my savings game--Walgreens. They have a "Register Rewards" program that is similar to the Catalina coupon program in grocery chains, but differs in a few ways with how to maximize your savings.



Each week there are items in the ad that state when they are purchased a register reward is generated. For example, Schick Proglide razors are normally $10.99+. They are on sale for $9.99 and the ads says that when you buy one, a $5 register reward will print at the conclusion of the transaction. Taking the savings into account, the product can be advertised at $4.99. This gets a little tricky because you don't pay $4.99 on the first transaction--you pay $9.99, minus whatever coupon you have for it. In this case, I had a $4 off coupon for it. So the sales price comes up at $9.99, then the manufacturer's coupon reduces $4 off, down to $5.99. I conclude the transaction and pay $5.99+tax. Then a $5 register reward prints out that I can use on anything in the next transactions. By placing that coupon with the product at check-out, and deducting the value of the register reward, the real cost of the razor becomes 99cents. That's a pretty good deal for a very expensive razor.



Where it differs from the Catalina program is if you use it on the same product that you just purchased--another razor, it will not generate another register reward. But if your buy something else that generates a reward as well, pay for it with the register reward from the last transaction (the razor in this situation)--a new reward is generated. It will probably take a few tries to get the hang of the program, but once you do--great savings will be rolling in your way, especially on items like shampoo, soap, razors, household cleaners, and body care products.



The registers at Walgreens view the register rewards as "coupons"--even though technically they are not and can be combined with manufacturer's coupons. But the since the register sees the register reward as "coupon" and you are not allowed to exceed the number of coupons to items purchased ratio, you must use a "filler" item to even out the number of items purchased to "coupons". This means--grab a 25 cent piece of candy or pack of gum to bring up your number of items purchased. It seems kind of silly to start throwing extras into your cost-saving transactions, but you have to play by the store's rules and you want to use the manufacturer's coupons AND the register reward/store savings program.


Week after week, there are different items that are featured in the drug store ads that are fabulous deals. Don't be greedy and ruin a good thing for everyone else by mass purchasing an item to the frustration of the store. Purchasing little bits at a time over a period of time will add up quickly and turn out to be quite a stash in your family's inventory. When you combine the freebies with coupons, the cost-savings is extended to everything that you buy and you still go home with register rewards to use on the next weeks' deals. It has been a lot of fun to add another dimension and variety to the home and storage inventory.