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Archive for the ‘budget’ Category

Okay, so after a few ‘off’ weeks I’m attempting to get back on my regular blogging schedule.

This month I have been doing quite a bit of stockpiling and making use of some of the great CAT deals at Shaw’s.  (fyi: I’m in the process of writing a few step by step posts about extreme couponing… stay tuned!)  We recently purchased a used chest freezer from some friends and I have been able to fill it up will all of the great C.H.I.L.L deals that have been going on this month.

This week at Shaw’s there is a sale on Edy’s ice cream: Buy 1 get 2 FREE!  Edy’s is also part of the C.H.I.L.L CAT so if you get 10+ cartons you get a $10 coupon off your next order at Shaw’s.  Last night  I bought 4 cartons, got 8 free and received a $10 CAT.  The ice cream works out to be approx. $1.10 per carton.

I haven’t been keeping track of my budget this month (on the to do list!) but with all the stockpiling we’ll see how it comes out.  I’ll try to update soon!

Menu:
Monday – Pesto Ziti w/garlic bread
Tuesday – Tilapia (on sale @MB $3.99lb) w/baked pot and veg
Wednesday – Grilled Chicken on salad
Thursday –  Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake
Friday – Pizza

Market Basket Deals:

  • Fresh Express Salad – $.99
  • Tilapia – $3.99lb
  • FREE Bottled Water coupon w/purchase of Crystal Light – but you don’t have to get the Crystal Light to use the coupon! Find the coupon tear pad in the bottled water aisle.
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yes, there are 45 cans of soup

This past weekend I had my first experience with Extreme Couponing.  We had a speaker come to MOPS recently who shared with us how to get lots of food for just pennies.  There were some skeptics among us, but several of us were very intrigued and ready to jump in.  After reading blogs like this and this and this, I was fairly confident that extreme savings was possible.  The particular couponing techniques that she shared with us uses a combination of sale items, coupons in bulk, doubling coupons, and generating Catalina (CAT) check-out coupons (money off your next purchase) then ‘rolling’ these Catalina deals over and over again.  Confused yet?  Yeah, I know. 

So, Shaw’s was running a CAT special on General Mills products this week.  Buy $20 of these certain products, that were on sale, and you would receive a $7 CAT (check-out coupon).  But keep in mind, it was $20 of products based on their shelf price, not the current sale price, plus you could use coupons on top of the sale prices.  The goal was to find items that had a significant difference in their sale price and shelf price and then try to find coupons for those items.  Once you figure out a scenario or plan you do as many transactions as you wish in ‘$20’ chunks and apply the $7 CAT to your next ‘$20’ transaction. 

I found my Shaw’s info at the forum on A Full Cup and purchased some coupons in bulk here.  After crunching some numbers with hubby’s graphing calculator, chatting with my gals, and visiting our local coupon yahoo group I had my plans ready to go.  My goal was to stock up on items from the sale that we will eat (there is no point in me getting stuff that I don’t want in the house, or that we won’t user or eat, just because it is a great deal) and that happened to be Progresso Soup, brownies, cake mix, and frosting.(Yes, I know I am in the midst of Losing It, but cake mix lasts forever, right?)  Since the soup was a ‘money maker’ (my out-of-pocket cost was less than the $7 CAT I was going to get back and use toward the next transaction), I added some of our weekly grocery items to my purchases like produce and yogurt so that it would add up to over $7 since you can’t get money back on your check-out coupon. 

Here are the stats for my extreme couponing adventure: 

  • I had a total of 9 transactions over the course of 3 visits to Shaw’s
  • I got 45 cans of Progresso Soup, 6 boxes of Betty Crocker Brownies, 11 boxes of Betty Crocker Cake Mix, 10 tubs of Betty Crocker Frosting, yogurt, 2lbs of apples, 3lbs of pears, bag of lettuce, 3 boxes of Cheerios, 3lbs of oranges, and 3 Lean Cuisine meals.
  • Grocery total: $212.79 before sales and coupons
  • I paid $16.22 for the groceries and $3.94 for the coupons I got in bulk – total: $20.16!  That’s like 90% off!  YAY!

Things I learned: 

  • Extreme Couponing takes time to learn!  Start small, do your research, and try not to get frustrated with yourself if you make a mistake – you are probably still saving money!
  • Be polite to the store clerks!
  • Try not to come up with a negative balance because it makes it hard on the cashier since they can’t give you cash back – throw in some extra groceries to bring your balance up.  I didn’t intend to, but due to a couponing error on my part, I came up -.08 and the manager had to come over to fix it… and I still had one more transaction to do-oops!
  • If there is a good CAT deal, but you know you don’t need 200 cans of soup, consider giving it away to a family in need or a local food pantry.
  • Be creative and have fun with it.  But don’t become obsessed or your husband might call you the ‘crazy soup lady’. (ahem.)

Have you had a positive Extreme Couponing experience?

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Today starts week 4 and the final week of the Eat From the Pantry Challenge for me.  I have found that my freezer stock is dwindling but my pantry shelves still seem to have a fair amount on them (mostly oatmeal, soup, granola bars, cereal and soda).

Last seek I spent $27.69… a tad more than I had intended.  One of the issues was that I spent $4.88 on instant oatmeal in bulk at Target because it was a significantly good deal on the oatmeal I eat every morning.  So, I did some stocking up, but I am pleased with my decision.  I also bought 2 weeks worth of yogurt for husband and baby because I was at Wal-Mart and the prices were cheaper.  And then I splurged on some Oikos for me.  Oh well.

That brings my February food total to $97.56.  And I have to go shopping today for this week.  I’ll check back and let you know how I did today… although I know for sure that I’m going to go over my goal of $100. UPDATE: I spent $19.23 on food today bringing my total for the month to $116.79.

Menu
Monday – chicken fingers (freezer) & Mac and Cheese (pantry)
Tuesday – Pot roast (freezer)
Wednesday – Quinoa Chili (pantry items)
Thursday – Leftovers or frozen meal
Friday – Pizza

Deals – again… not checking out the specials, although I did notice that Market Basket is have a big ‘brand’ sale on their generic brand items.

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We are on week 3 of the Eat from the Pantry Challenge in our house.  Since I have performed horribly at the grocery store in the last few weeks I will be going today with a very strict list: milk, mozz cheese, yogurt, bananas, hot pockets (for hubby’s lunch) and stirfry frozen veggies.  I have  $30.13 left if I want to stay within my $100 budget goal for the month.  I’m not even opening the Market Basket flyer because I need to hold off on buying anything extra this week.

Here is my menu for this week:
Monday- leftovers from our Valentines Day date/soup from the weekend
Tuesday – Beef Stew (freezer)
Wednesday – Quiche (freezer)
Thursday – Chix Stir Fry (chix from freezer stash)
Friday – Pizza

I’m finding that I still have quite a few cans of soup, mac & cheese, and other odds and ends in my pantry still.  In the next two weeks I may need to get creative as I’m going to try really hard to stay within my budget goal.

Did you find any good deals this week at Market Basket, Shaws, or Hannafords?

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So, it is week 2 on the Eat from the Pantry Challenge.  I’m not doing as well as I hoped at this point…but I’m still hoping that I’ll make my goal. 

Week 1 update:  We stuck to the menu plan, plus I made two extra meals to give to a family.  I feel like we had a ton of food and we certainly were not starving.  I spent $41.18 at the store on food.  This was a tad more than I had wanted to spend weekly, however I stocked up on Cheerios because there was a great deal ($1.50/box).   We also hosted a potluck for our home group and a Super Bowl party this week.  We decided that the money we spent on food for the party would come from out ‘entertainment’ budget so I’m not including that in my challenge.

Week 2 shopping trip:  I went to the store with a very specific list and did not stray from it.  I did get an additional milk and some extra frozen veggies.  My total came to $28.69 for food.  Blerg.  I wanted to keep it to $20.  That brings my total for the month to $69.87.  I’m not sure if I’m going to make it 2 more weeks… but I’m going to try.

Menu:
Monday – Turkey Enchiladas (leftover frozen turkey meat from last week)
Tuesday – Chili (freezer)
Wednesday – Bk Chicken w/rice&veg (chicken from freezer)
Thursday – Veggie Soup
Friday – Pizza

Deals: I didn’t shop the deals this week because I’m not spending extra to stock up.

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This week I’m starting a month long challenge with my menu and grocery shopping.  It is based off a challenge that Money Saving Mom did in January called Eat From the Pantry Challenge.  I am going to get creative and use up some of my pantry stockpile and freezer meals and try not to spend as much money on food this month .  My goal is to spend only $100 on food this month which is about half of my food budget. 

Want to join me?  Maybe you would like to try it for just one week, or two.  You can adjust your goals to what would work best for your family.  Let me know if you are going to try it too! (Thank you Money Saving Mom for the inspiration!)

This week’s menu:
Turkey Dinner (turkey from the freezer from a t-day sale)
Cheesy Chicken & Rice Bake
Turkey Soup
Stuffed Shells (freezer item)
Pizza

Market Basket Deals (there are lots, but I’m just doing a few):
General Mills Cereals – Save $6 when you buy 4
(I got Cheerios coupons here and here and here– I’ll let you know if I can use them! – update: can only use the in-store coupon ($6 off 4), can’t mix them)
Ocean Spray Craisins – 2/$3 (there are lots of Ocean Spray Deals)

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So last week I was going to try to only spend $25 on groceries to even out my spending from the prior week.  Yup.  It didn’t work and I went over.  Then I realized that one of the weeks was in March and one was in April.  So this weekend I was looking at my receipts from March and April and decided to re-adjust my goals.  In March I spent $217 on groceries, $17 over for the monthly budget.  So, I put that $17 on my tab for the first week of April (last week), and now I’m only $4 over for last week.  I am confident that I can spend $46 this week on groceries to get back on track.  Although, there is a big sale on Kashi products…

Menu
Monday – Ham, bk pot & veg (I got a 6lb ham a few weeks ago for $.99/lb so I’m going to cook it up and freeze the leftovers for future meals)
Tuesday – Grilled Chicken on Salad
Wednesday – Mac & Cheese with Ham & Brocolli
Thursday – Leftovers
Friday – Pizza

Market Basket Deals (not too much that intrigued me but take a look at the circular to see the other deals)
Kashi Go Lean Cereal – 2 for $5
Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal – 2 for $6
Kashi Cereal and Granola Bars – 2 for $5
Kashi Oatmeal – 2 for $5
Florida Natural OJ – 2 for $5

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