The Queen of Coupons Reigns......


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 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, 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 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. (the 20% coupon) and (the 25% off coupon).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Breakfast Burritos


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.

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


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' 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 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 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 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. 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 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 $ get $30-35 worth of baby lovin'. *For all of the coupons needed, I went to 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 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.