Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Soup Night

Now that the weather has gotten cooler, I have been back to our meal routine of making soup once a week. I usually make soup on Mondays and we end up having it for dinner again later in the week and for lunch at least once also.

A while back I read the book Miserly Moms, which had a lot of good advice about how to cut cost on everyday things, such as meals. One of her main points was to have a soup night, because soup can be so inexpensive to make, and it goes a long way. I don't remember the exact numbers, but she calculated that having soup once a week for dinner can save you hundreds of dollars a year!

There are so many different soup recipes out there - you could make a different one every week for a whole year. So I thought that I would start posting some of our favorite soup recipes over the next several weeks.

I'm making potato soup tomorrow, so I'll take some pictures and put up the recipe tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rite Aid this week

There are some really great deals this week at Rite Aid! Here are the ones that I like the most:

Gillette Fusion Razor
$9.00 sale price
-$4.00 coupon (9/27 P&G insert)
-$5.00 SCR

Crest Scope Outlast toothpaste (4 oz)
$2.69 sale price
-$1 coupon (9/27 P&G insert)
-$2.69 SCR
You make $1

Softsoap Body NutriSerums Bodywash
$3.99 sale price
-$2/1 Rite Aid in-ad coupon
-$1 coupon (9/27 SS insert)
99 cents!

Nivea Lip Care
$2.99 sale price
-$1 coupon (8/30 RP insert)
-$2.00 SCR

2 for $3 sale price
-$1 off 2 (8/30 P&G insert)
2 for $2
(sadly it looks like this is the last week for this good of a deal because the Pringles coupon in Sunday's paper was for $1 off 4 cans...lame)

Here is what I bought:

I paid $15.65 out of pocket and will get $11.69 back in my rebate check. So I got all of that for less than $4!

I actually would have spent only 97 cents for it all, but I misread a sign at the store. The carmex chapstick that I bought had a sign for a full rebate, which is why I picked it up. When I got home I realized that the rebate is good only when purchased the second week of October. I should have paid closer attention to the dates on the store tag.

The way I was able to get such a good deal on all this is through Rite Aid's Video Values program (yet another way to save!). After you sign up, you can choose different videos (basically commercials) to watch. Once you've watched each video, you earn points and a coupon for the item. The coupon is a Rite Aid store coupon (which you can stack with a manufacturer's coupon), and after you earn 20 credits you get a coupon for $5 off $20 at Rite Aid! Remember the $20 is BEFORE your coupons, making it possible to get things very cheap or even free!

There is also a $5 off $25 at Rite Aid coupon that does not expire until December 15. Its a PDF, so you can print it as many times as you want!

To see coupon more coupon matchups and deal scenarios click here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday Paper review

I wanted to mention a few deals that I found in yesterday's copy of the Delaware News Journal. (Want to get the Sunday News Journal delivered for just $1 a week? See how! But hurry, it expires at the end of the month)
*There were 3 coupon inserts this week, 1 SmartSource, 1 RedPlum, and the P&G brandsaver. In the SmartSource is a "try me free" coupon for Palmolive Pure and Clear dish soap along with coupon! There was a rebate for this a few weeks ago, so you probably cannot do both.
*A Babies R Us add had a few coupons, including one for Huggies. Since this is a store coupon, you can stack it with a manufacturer's coupon to add savings
*A Ruby Tuesday coupon for buy one get one free dinners (up to $10)
*In the USA Weekend mag there were Poise coupons
*Also noteworthy is that the price has been dropped on the Nintendo Wii to $199 (from $250) at most (if not all) retailers. The best deal I see is at Amazon: from September 27 to October 3, 2009, get a $25 Amazon gift card when you buy the wii console!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Food Waste (Friday) Saturday

I'm late getting this up, but I did take the picture yesterday.

Just a little bit of waste again this week. This time its oatmeal that I made for my daughter. She's still not thrilled about chunkier textures, so this sat in the fridge for a lot longer than I had planned.

I've really noticed that we're throwing out dramatically less in the weeks that I've been blogging about food waste. Nothing like accountability to spur change!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rite Aid Gift of Savings Program

I thought this would be a good follow-up to last week's Rite Aid post.
Rite Aid is rewarding us for shopping at their store (on top of the Single Check Rebate) based on the amount of money that you spend from September 13 to October 17 through a program called Fall Gift of Savings. The best part is that your "amount spent" is not what you pay out of pocket, but the price it is selling for at Rite Aid!
Here is the break down for the gift certificate amount that you will receive based on what you spend:
Spend $25-$50, get $5 back
Spend $51-$100, get $10 back
Spend over $100, get $20 back
I have made 2 trips to Rite Aid that qualify, paying just around $10 out of pocket. Of that I will get $2 back in SCR. But the amount that qualifies for the gift of savings program is just under $30 (so $5 back)! Even if I do not spend anything else at Rite Aid through the 17th of October I will have gotten all this:

for a mere $3!!
Enter your receipts on Rite Aid's website the same way you would for a Single Check Rebate. Here is the link. Any receipts you have entered for SCRs are already entered into the Fall Gift of Savings Program! Remember, just as with the SCR, you can only request one check for the Gift of make sure all your receipts are entered first!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Food Waste Friday

Just a little bit of rice today! Really, we should have just finished it when we had it for dinner, instead of sticking it in the fridge.

I wanted to add that going through the fridge every Friday has been way easier than I expected. My old method for getting rid of stuff was to toss it whenever I noticed it going bad. I guess the main reason for that was because I didn't have any set time to go through our fridge, so it always got put off.
I do feel like I'm always going through things since its once a week, but it makes it so much harder to forget about the leftovers stuck in the back!
The Frugal Girl is on vacation, so I'm guessing no food waste picture. But there are sweet vacation pictures!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Free Always Infinity

I love getting free samples in the mail. I pretty much sign up for all the samples I can find because 1) I like getting mail, 2) I like trying new things, and 3) the samples often come with sweet coupons.
I signed up for a sample with Always and Tampex that had 3 tampons and 3 pads in it. It arrived this week and when I opened it I found a coupon for a free 18 count box of Always Infinity! This is a huge coupon. Usually coupons for free products have a maximum value that they are good for, but this one did not. I was able to use it for a box that cost $5.50.

here is the link to sign up for the sample. I don't know if the free coupon will still be in the sample, but its worth a try!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shopping at Rite Aid

I wanted to share about drug stores and the possibilities for saving (and sometimes even making) money by shopping at places like Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS. With the deals that these stores run, you can get cheap and free razors, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste....basically any personal care products!
In Middletown we have a Rite Aid and several Walgreens. Each of these stores has a "rewards" program of sorts. At Rite Aid there is the Single Check Rebate and at Walgreens they have Registry Rewards. In short, Registry Rewards (RR) are like catalinas -- they print out after you make your purchases and are like cash towards your next purchase. This has been less appealing to me so far, simply because I feel like the deals at drug stores are sporadic enough that I would have a greater potential for my RRs to expire before I used them.

I much prefer the Single Check Rebate (SCR) program at Rite Aid. The way it works is you pay out of pocket and at the end of the month are mailed a check for the value of the rebates you did. Many times a rebate will be for the full cost of a product. You can use a coupon on top of the rebate, which is how money can be made. Remember that Rite Aid does not double coupons, but they do accept manufacturer's coupons on top of coupons printed in their ad.

The really great thing is that this is all done online -- no receipts to mail in! To sign up for SCR go here and register your address (so you can be mailed your check) and your email. You enter four things online from the receipt: the store number, register number, transaction number, and date. In 2 or 3 days you can check back and make sure that your rebate posted. Here's the most important part: you can only request one check a month, so make sure that you wait to request it until the end of the month. If you request your check on week 2 of September and then buy something the next week hoping to get the rebate, you're out of luck!
My check for August was for just over $30!
Quick example about how I was able to get some free lotion this week. Suave products are on sale for $1.99 with a SCR of $1. I had a coupon for $1 off Suave lotion (from the 8/2 inserts). I paid 99 cents at the store and will receive $1 rebate in my check at the end of the month. Free lotion!

Also, if you are headed to Rite Aid, check out the clearance section. There are Nature Valley granola bars (2 pack) on clearance for 49 cents each, and there was a coupon for 40 cents off in this Sunday's paper. 2 granola bars for 9 cents!

Any questions? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Food Waste Friday

We did much better this week!

Well, its not fantastic, but knowing that I am going to take a picture every Friday has changed the way I look at the fridge during the week. We've been using up a lot more things that could have gone bad if they were just left, and I'm buying smaller quantities of some perishables to ensure that we use up what we have! I would say that is success!

Anyhow, in the picture is the first homemade yogurt that I've wasted, and I've been making it for several months now. Then there's a bit of red onion and a small leftover of spaghetti squash.

Next week we might not have a picture!

More Food Waste Friday at The Frugal Girl.

Homemade chewy granola bars (chocolate chip peanut butter)

Now that school has started up, I thought I would share this great recipe for chewy granola bars. All of the prepackage portion snacks can be very tempting as a convenient option to stick in a school lunch. For me, things like individually wrapped granola bars are really easy for my husband to take to work but unless I get a really great deal (like last week), I don't usually buy them.

This recipe makes a ton of granola bars, far more than a box, and they are easy to store either in the fridge or freezer. We've managed to eat a double batch without having to freeze them on more than one occasion! They are really chewy too, which is our favorite.

I got this recipe from The Frugal Girl, who modified it from All Recipes. I have since modified it a little more (but you can go here to see how she makes the oatmeal raisin version):

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Chewy Granola Bars

dry ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats (I've used old fashioned and quick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 c. chocolate chips

wet ingredients:
1/2 c. honey (I am going to use a little less than this next time I make them)
1 egg
2 t. vanilla extract (I use 1 real and 1 imitation)

1/4 c. peanut butter

1) Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, salt, and chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir to remove any chunks

2) Combine egg, oil, honey, and vanilla in a bowl and mix together

3) Mix wet and dry ingredients together, then add peanut butter

4) Place into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish and used a greased spatula to spread out, making an even layer

5) Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 15-18 minutes (until the edges start to look brown)

Once cool, you can cut them up and put them in a storage container (but you really should try them warm too - delicious!)

These granola bars will keep out on the counter for a few days, but after about a week I put them in the fridge. Since they don't have preservatives (which is a good thing) they can't stay out the way store bought bars can.

I wanted to take a picture of the finished product when I made these last week, but it has been super busy (hence this Wednesday post coming out on Friday). Here is a picture of spreading the mixture out with a spatula:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Waffle House coupon

Several years ago I worked as a grill operator at Waffle House for the summer, and have since LOVED all things Waffle House. I know most people aren't as enthusiastic about it as I am, but I couldn't pass up sharing this coupon:

Even if you shy away from the grease, a waffle is hard to resist (like this new banana nut waffle)!

Monday, September 7, 2009

What is a Catalina?

I'm sure you've noticed grocery store ads that say something like

Buy $20 in participating products and receive a coupon for $5 off your next purchase

Buy 5 of participating products and receive a coupon for free milk

These coupons print out as you check out, often making the simple receipt the cashier hands you turn into quite a handful! The coupons are made by Catalina Category Marketing, so coupon gurus call the offers printed out "Catalinas". The machine that prints them looks something like this:

Catalinas can be a coupon for a specific item or for money off your next purchase. I have both different kinds in this picture:
Save $5 off your purchase (top) and save $3 off fresh seafood (bottom).
Two main differences with these coupons. Look closely:

Did you catch it?
The top one, printed at Acme, says it is an Manufacturer's coupon. The bottom, printed at Giant, is a store coupon. Big difference! A manufacturer's coupon can be used ANYWHERE, but the store coupon is only good for the store listed. Even though my manufacturer's coupon printed at Acme, I could use it at Giant (or another grocery that accepts catalinas. General rule is that any store that prints catalinas will accept them. Since Walmart does not print them, they will not accept them.) Just like regular coupons, catalinas expire too, usually about 2 weeks from when they are printed, though some are good for only a week.

Here's a quick practical example of how benificial catalinas can be.
This week at Acme there is an advertised catalina deal running on select General Mills products. It reads: Save $5 when you buy $20 in participating General Mills products. Translation: when you buy $20 worth of products (and use your Acme card) you will get a coupon (manufacturer's) for $5 off next time you shop). The best part about this is that you can use coupons to lower the amount that you actually spend. The $20 you have to spend is BEFORE coupons!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Food Waste Friday

I've started going through our fridge every Friday and taking a picture of anything that has gone bad before tossing it. I am really glad that our trash gets picked up on Fridays!! I'm hoping to reduce the amount of food that we waste to save us money and be more conscientious with the things that I buy.

Last week was the first week that I did this, and I didn't do a great job using things up. This week I did a better job noticing what needed to be used up (like last night when we finished off some salsa and sour cream that would probably have ended up in next weeks photo!). Unfortunately, I pulled out several things that we had forgotten about....

I make our spaghetti sauce normally, but by combining a coupon and a sale I got a jar of Vodka sauce. It was ok, but not great, and is now several weeks old (about 1/4 of the jar left).
The package of hotdogs should have been in last weeks was fuzzy then (yuck!). I don't know how I forgot about hotdogs in the summer when we grill so much. It will not happen again!
The white mushy mess is a hard boiled egg I had for my husband to take to work. It got stuck behind some things and is in a very sorry state now.
And the bowl has a cheese dip that went with bread I made for a get together last week. The bread was really good and the dip only the bread was finished and the dip forgotten about.
All in all, I think this was an improvement from last week, and my fridge is looking a lot cleaner, so hopefully next week there will be nothing to report!
Check out The Frugal Girl for more Food Waste Friday participants.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Free Ice Cream for Labor Day!

Blue Bunny is running a promotion the 5th, 6th, and 7th (Labor Day Weekend) called You Try, We Buy....meaning free ice cream! This is specifically for Blue Bunny Aspen or Sedona Frozen Yogurt Granola Novelty (so its technically frozen yogurt which is healthy, right?)

Print out this rebate form and mail it with your receipt and the UPC from your ice cream by the 19th (postmarked) to receive a full rebate by mail.

A couple things to remember with rebates like this:
-since you must send in the original receipt, make sure you dont need it for something else (like another rebate!)
-dont throw away the package! because you need the upc...and digging through the trash is gross!
-get it in the mail asap

I have started sticking my receipt with the upc in an envelope as soon as my groceries are put away so that I don't forget about it and don't lose the receipt.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

In September of 2008, I stumbled across this information about homemade laundry detergent (from The Simple Dollar). The idea intrigued me, in large part because I would get to make a goopy mixture! When we moved into our house and got a sweet deal on a high efficiency washer, I wasn't ready to try such a goopy option on the new appliance. More research and I found information on how to make a powdered version on the homemade detergent from Frugal Upstate.

It took me a while to get up the nerve to do it because I didn't want to mess up our washer, and I also was afraid that it wouldn't get our clothes clean. A lot of people have commented on the two different recipes above, many of whom use HE washers and homemade detergent without a problem and say that their clothes are just as clean.

I have been making my own laundry detergent for about 5 months now, and I basically use the second "recipe", the powdered version. The main reason that I started doing this was because of our cloth diapers. There are specific instructions on which detergents NOT to use with cloth, because they can coat the diapers (and coated diapers means not absorbing you-know-what!!). Our washer has held up fine with the homemade detergent and our clothes are clean and smell great!

UPDATE (2/2011): I've been using homemade detergent for 2 years now. I do not use Fels-Naptha soap anymore because I prefer the scent of the Almond Yardley soap. The texture of the bar also allows it to chop into finer pieces in the food processor. I have had NO problems with the functionality of my HE washer because of using this detergent. Additionally, my cloth diapers have held up very well, and show no signs of repelling as a result of being washed in homemade detergent.

The other bonus with my homemade detergent is that it costs about 2-3 cents a load! I've made 4 batches of detergent since March of this year for less than $5. Even using coupons or shopping at Costco, I would have a hard time getting store-bought detergent for close to that price.

Here's a quick run-down on how I make my detergent. This recipe makes about 50 loads using 1 tablespoon of detergent per load. I made some yesterday while I was already in the kitchen cleaning things up, so it really only added 5 minutes or so to what I was doing.

1 box washing soda (Arm & Hammer for $2.29 @ Acme)
1 box Borax (20 Mule for $2.29 @ Acme)
1 bar soap (Fels-Naptha for $1.19 @ Acme) (Yardley for $1 @ Dollar Tree or $0.69 on sale at Walgreens - this is a sale they run every 6-8 weeks)
Food Processor, 1/2 cup measure, and sharp knife

Cut up the bar of soap. Depending on the soap you use, you will have to cut different ways. Back when I was using Fels-Naptha, I had to really chunk and dice the bar. The Yardley ends up being more of a shaved cutting method, which is a lot easier to get nice and small in the food processor:

Put the soap into your food processor

and grind. After the soap is ground up, add 1/2 cup of borax and 1/2 cup of washing soda and mix together. (Update: As mentioned above, using Yardley soap helps to get the bar soap chopped smaller, though it is still not as fine as the Borax or washing soda, naturally)

Here's a look after everything has been mixed together.

And this is what my old Fels-Naptha detergent looked like...much chunkier:

I usually mix up a "double batch" of detergent. Since we use this for our regular laundry as well as cloth diapers, we go through a good bit of it. I've repurposed an old mayo container from Costco for our laundry detergent. I keep a tablespoon measure in with it so all I have to do is add a scoop to each load!

Questions or experience with homemade laundry detergent? Let me know in the comments!

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