Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday Savings

This is a short version of my Saturday Savings, as I was really busy today!

I went to Target Thursday and picked up some basics, along with some freebies. This included:

Pears for 1.58/lb
2 packages of Turkey Hot Dogs for 1.17 each

freebies:
3 20 oz Coke Zeros- I do Coke points and had 3 coupons
2 Johnson's Buddy Bars- they are 97 cents and I had 2 coupons for $1 any Johnson & Johnson product

The Buddy Bars are GREAT for the girls baths. Some areas of the country got this coupon; Omaha did not. I bought 20 coupons for $2.90 off EBay, so for about $3, I'll get 20 Buddy Bars!

The BEST deals this week were at HyVee today. They had a 6 hour sale and holy moly, it was like Target the day after Christmas. Checkout lines 10 deep, parking lot full, etc. But I got everything I was looking for and all of the employees were very friendly. The deals included:

2 liters of Coke products for 69 cents
1 gallon of milk for 99 cents
Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread for 99 cents
Bags of shredded cheese for 99 cents
4 oz pork chops for 75 cents
Tony's Pizza for 77 cents
Donut holes for 99 cents
Bananas for 29 cents/lb.

I spent just under $60 this week- about $9 over my $50 budget. But stocking up at HyVee and getting great deals was worth it, next week I'll just have about $41 to spend to make up for it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Meal Planning

Sometimes it is just me and the girls for dinner and given that Addison will not eat ANYTHING, it doesn't really motivate me to cook. But I have made a meal plan for the rest of the week and am going to hold myself to it. Everything is taken from my pantry/freezer as well, so what I did was look through, see what I had and then base my meals around that. Much cheaper than making a menu and having to shop for every single ingredient!

Tuesday- Pasta toss (ground beef, cheese, pasta sauce and pasta baked), corn, garlic bread
Wednesday- Cheeseburger pockets: brown ground beef, mix with cheese, a little mustard/ketchup. Take crescent dough and seal up into a pocket, bake until crescents are brown. And apples!
Thursday- Breakfast casserole, cinnamon apples, pancakes
Friday- Pasta carbonara, peas, bananas
Saturday- roast and veggies in the crockpot

I am going to make up a recipe for the breakfast casserole (I'm thinking more of a frittata finished in the oven), so if it works, I'll post it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Walgreens Lists

Here are my scenarios for Walgreens this week. It is by no means all the deals to be had, just what I am personally going to shop, based on my family's needs, and my time. I will probably end up doing 2 trips with 2 transactions each, I do not have the time to do 4 Walgreens trips with 2 little ones in tow.

Filler= a small item you buy to get the number of coupons=the number of items bought, including Register Rewards. Walgreens requires this.

Trip #1:
Halls Drops $1
-There is a 75 cent coupon that was supposed to be in some papers this weekend, but we didn't get it in Omaha
Herbal Essences $2.99
-Use $1 MQ
Dentek Floss $2

Use $1 RR and $2.50 RR from last week.
Pay in cash .74 cents +filler item + tax
Recieve: $5 RR ($1 Halls, $2 Herbal Essences, $2 Dentek)

Trip #2:
Vaseline Sheer Infusion $6.99
-use 1.25 MQ (this expires TODAY!)
Use $5 RR
pay .74 cents + 3 fillers (they have stickers 3/$1 this week, I think I'll be getting those)+ tax
Recieve: $6.99 RR (should round up to $7)

Trip #3:
Dawn 99 cents with in ad coupon
-use 25 cent MQ
Fusion Razor $8.99
-use $4 MQ
Chapstick $2.99
use $7 RR
total: $1.72 + 1 filler + tax
Recieve: $9 RR ($3 Chapstick, $6 Fusion)

Trip #4:
Oral B Toothbrush $3
-use 75 cent MQ
Hershey Kisses 2/$5
-use 2 $1 MQ
Herbal Essences $2.99
-use $1 MQ
use $9 RR (I will get 2 fillers to equal $9 prior to tax)
total: should be close to $0 OOP!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Savings

I went to 2 stores this week: Aldi and HyVee. I had previously said I was going to try to keep my grocery budget to $35 or so a week, but I was finding we just weren't getting a variety. We can afford to increase the budget to $50 a week, if not more, so I am doing $50 a week now.

Aldi:



Skittles 59 cents
Chocolate 55 cents
Ice Cream Bars 1.99
Turkey 2.49
Pizza 3.69
Block Cheddar 1.49
2 tubes of biscuits 38 cents each
Gallon Milk 1.69
Bananas 1.27
Graham crackers 1.29
Fruit Snacks 1.69
Mandarin Oranges 45 cents
Olive Oil 3.49
Peas 49 cents
Corn 49 cents
Pretzels (in tube) 1.99
Whole Wheat Bread 1.69
Total: $26.10
I really recommend Aldi if you haven't been there. If you don't want to coupon or don't have a big coupon stash yet, the prices there cannot be beat, unless there is a REALLY good sale.
Hy Vee:



To tie in with my post yesterday, the grapes were a mistake. However, they WILL get eaten so- live and learn.
Grapes: 2.54 lbs @ 2.38/lb= $6.05 (faint!!)
Mint tea (Aldi didn't have any): 2.78
Flour: 99 cents (used a coupon and saved 89 cents!)
Chocolate Chips: sale for 1.77, plus 50 cent coupon= 1.27 (better price than Aldi for generic!)
Propel: 77 cents on sale, and there was a 55 cent hanging coupon= 22 cents!!
Coke Zero (2 ltr)= 1.56 each
Coke Zero (20 oz)= FREE with coupon (I do Coke Rewards)
Strawberries= normally $4.50, my coupon got them for 1.88
Raisins= 2.69
Total: $19.00
sadly, without the grapes it would have been just $12.95

Friday, September 25, 2009

Money Saving Tip of the Week

My tip this week is something that happened to me at the store today. So, WEIGH YOUR PRODUCE before you buy!

Grapes were $2.38 a pound. Steep, but Addison loves them and they looked horrible at Aldi. A healthy snack, so I figured what the heck. I picked a small bunch, thinking it was MAYBE a pound and a half at the most.

We are checking out and she rings up the grapes. $6 and change!!! I just about fell over! My total, pre grapes, would have been just $12 and change.

Now, I had the cash for them, that wasn't the issue, but geez...my only saving grace is that I didn't buy $6 worth of junky food, it was spent on something healthy for us.

Next time I am weighing if anything is over $1.50 a pound though!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Some Stuff I Just Can't Go Green On

I am really trying to be more green. Not because it is the latest fad, but because it is truly better for the environment and most of the time, it saves money. Microfiber cloths vs paper towels, cloth diapers, shutting out lights and using sunlight when possible, gardening....all easy stuff for me to do.

However, there are some things I am just unwilling to give up. Here is my list of "ungreen" offenses...that will probably never change:
-I use regular toilet paper. I get I could use "family cloth"- basically cloth wipes- and wash it with the diapers, but it just freaks me out. Sorry!
-When it is hot (we lucked out this summer!), I run the a/c. Comfort simply wins out sometime, even though it burns electricity and ups my power bill.
-I don't buy all organic. I would love to, but it is honestly cost prohibitive. Plus, Organic Lucky Charms is just wrong.
-I try to use natural cleaners, but for some items, I want a good old fashioned bleach cleaner. Such as the toilet, or cleaning up after chicken on the counter. Using the bleach cleaner just FEELS cleaner and more sanitary to me, and I don't think anything will change my mind.

Is there anything you would be unwilling to give up? Comment and let me know!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Walgreens Deals

Here is my trip to Walgreens this week. Of course, it isn't ALL the deals, but just ones I am planning to take advantage of. Remember that for each coupon you use- ad, manufacturer, or Register Reward- you must have an item. If you are using 2 coupons on one item, just pick up a cheap filler.

Trip #1:
Angel Soft 12 Rolls, In Ad Coupon for $5.49
-use 50 cent manufacturer coupon= $4.99
Soleil Razors, 4 Ct $4.99
-use $3 manufacturer coupon from this week's paper=$1.99
-Receive $1 RR
Reeces Peanut Butter Cups (2) at 80 cents each
-I am out of 55 cent and BOGO Reeces coupons, but if you have them, this would be a great time to use them
Coke Zero FREE with Reece's purchase

Total: $8.58 plus tax, use $5 RR from last week, total OOP $3.58, get $1 RR

Trip #2: (I will probably just do a second transaction vs going back twice)
Cheez It, $1.99, BOGO
-Use $1/2 Manufacturer Coupon
add in a small filler (to get total over $1)

Use $1 RR from first transaction.

My HyVee has coupons right now near a display of Cheez Its, Crackers, etc, in conjunction with football kickoff. The $1/2 Cheez It coupon is also in there.


UPDATE: Went to Walgreens and the Reeces packages were marked 2/1.00. I wasn't sure how they would ring up because the shelf was still marked 80 cents, but they rang up for 50 cent each! So, for a buck I got a Coke Zero and two Reeces. I would look for these at your Walgreens for sure!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Saturday Savings!



It's been a hectic week, returning from vacation. Our pantry is very well stocked and we were most in need of fresh fruits and veggies.




For those of you with a Hyvee: check the website for your store- mine has an online printable coupon for a pound of free bananas!! The limit is 1 per person/day, so I am going back tomorrow to get another pound. Of course, you wind up paying a little change since getting exactly a pound is hard to do. Yes, I realize it's only 56 cents/lb for bananas, but still, if you are at HyVee anyway or close to one, it is worth the trip! I am also stocking up on tomato soup- they are on sale for 58 cents and I have a 40 cent coupon off 4, so 48 cents a can!




Here is everything I got, for a total of $13.29:


6 Fit n Trim Yogurts- on sale for 40 cents each, plus I had a coupon for 60 cents off 6 so thats 30 cents each!

4 Tomato Soups, as mentioned above, 48 cents each after coupons

Kashi Honey Sunshine Cereal= FREE!!! If you haven't checked out Vocalpoint.com and signed up, do so! You get awesome coupons for free items, plus high value coupons as well. I have gotten coupons for free Kashi waffles, Kashi cereal and Rice Krispies, among others. Too much cereal? Use it for art projects!

HyVee Bacon= $1.99

Daisy Light Sour Cream= 99 cents

2- 2 liters Diet Pepsi= $1 each

Bananas= FREE (the cashier gave me the overage of .18 lbs even after I told him I knew I had to pay the difference)

Grapes= 99 cents/lb= $1.78

Lemon= 44 cents

Apples= 99 cents/lb= $2.40


I also had a great week at Walgreens, although I didn't pick up much. Right now they have a deal if you buy 2 Reeces/Hershey items, you get a free 20 oz Coke! So I bought 2 Reeces, used my last 55 cent coupon, and 1 Sally Hansen Nail Polish. I bought 2 polishes last week for Addison and a $3 coupon printed out. So the total for 1 Nail Polish (normally over $4), 2 Reeces (80 cents each normally) and 1 Coke Zero (normally $1.49) came to just $1.43! I was impressed.


It looks like Walgreens is going to have some good deals next week, so I'll be posting my shopping lists and scenarios I will be doing.

Money Saving Tip of the Week

This week's tip is something I have been actively doing since I saw our power bill without the employee discount- WOW!

Unplug EVERYTHING when it isn't in use. Even if it is turned off, it still sucks power. Example: I had the girls' monitors off, but when I touched the plug, it was still warm, so obviously there was still electricity flowing. I've been unplugging those every morning now.

Other things to unplug:
- Toaster
- Cell charger
- Power strips to TV and computer at night
- Fans
- Lamps that aren't used often

I have heard it can make quite the difference on your electric bill, so we'll see next month. The weather seems to be similar, so that should be easy for comparison. I'll just have to remember we had our trip this month, so I won't be able to say the WHOLE deduction is for the unplugging. But I am hopeful, and have seen others with $20 reductions!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Traveling with Young Kids

I just got back from a great trip to Ohio to visit my in laws. They were very nice to buy us plane tickets, and Ryan rode on my lap. I figured even two hours of hell beat a 12 hour drive.

We survived- although sometimes I had my doubts! I did it alone- just me, a 2.5 year old and a 10 month old. My tips to help plane rides with little kids-especially if you are doing it alone:

-Wear your infant if at all possible. You won't have to collapse the stroller at security and juggle the baby while trying to do so.
-Check the carseat if your child can sit up on their own and won't slide down in the seat. If you travel a lot, you can get a CARES harness, which folds up into pretty much nothing. Trust me, after dragging Addison's carseat through DTW, it is easier. And you will be able to put their tray table down and they won't kick the seat in front of them as easily.
-Bring sustenance. Little finger foods that won't cause a mess. Dried fruits, fruit snacks, goldfish or crackers, that sort of thing. Also bring a sippy cup for the flight attendant to fill up with water so you won't have to worry about spills.
-If you have a lap child, try to wear a big, colorful necklace that is OK for them to play with. It will keep them occupied for a little while at least.
-Hit up the $1 store of $1 bins at Target and pick out a few new little toys for them. The novelty of new toy will entertain them on the plane.
-Take them to the bathroom right before getting on and right after getting off the plane, and try to limit liquids so you won't have to take them on the plane. Thankfully, this worked for me and I didn't have to try to juggle Ryan while helping Addison go the bathroom in the closet that passes for a bathroom. I also thought it might scare her.

Good luck!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday Savings- or Lack Thereof

Maybe it was because my stockpile looks pretty good, or maybe I was just worn out on deals this week, but I didn't see anything in the ads that really called to me. Which is odd, Hyvee usually has some good deals. Maybe they did and it just wasn't what I was looking for, I'm not sure. They had granola and Cinnabon bars I could have gotten cheap, but we have so much snacky food I really didn't want to spend even a little money.

I did stop at Walgreens and get some Olay Night Creme, a Colgate Toothbrush, 2 Reece's Peanut Butter Cups and a Coke Zero. I paid $6.98 for this after my $5 RR and got $3 RR back, which was decent considering I didn't have any Q's for the Olay. The $3 RR was from the Colgate Toothbrush, which was $2.99 and I had a 40 cent coupon, so that wound up being not just free, but a 41 cent money maker. The Reeces were also a good deal- I had a BOGO coupon and when you bought 2, Walgreens gave you a free Coke Zero. So for the price of 1 Reeces, I got 3 items!

I spent the rest of my budget at HyVee- I had rainchecks- and Aldi. Aldi was good this week, I found no sugar added fruit snacks from their "Fit and Active" Line for $1.99 for 12. That is cheap, most store boxes only have 6 or 8 packets and are often more.

No shopping next week- I will be in Ohio- but I am taking my binder and hopefully getting some good deals to bring back as their Kroger and Giant Eagle double!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Money Saving Tip of the Week!

My tip this week is to SHOP THE SALES. Even if you don't have room or want to do a full stockpile like I have, go through the ads each week and plan your menu based on the sales. If something is a really good deal, buy an extra. Of course, when I see a good deal I buy as much as my budget allows, but even if you just buy 1 extra at the sale price, you will save quite a bit of money!

I usually go to 3 stores a week- HyVee, Walgreens and Aldi. Sometimes Bag N Save or Bakers (Kroger) for an especially good deal. If this is too time consuming for you, just find a store that price matches, and take all of your ads to one place! I have price matched at Walmart and recently heard that SuperTarget is matching as well.

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More veggies from the garden!

Wow, I am so proud of my garden this year! I got a second batch of tomatoes, so I made more salsa- 6 pints. It is actually pretty good and I'm planning on using it for more than dipping chips. I found a recipe for salsa chicken- basically you brown the chicken for a couple minutes on each side, add salsa and bring to boiling, and then simmer until the chicken is done. You serve it over rice. I think it would also be great shredded up into burritos.



I also got quite a few cucumbers, and a friend gave me some too. So I made pickles! It is actually very easy, and only takes 5-10 minutes to process in the canner. There is something very satisfying about planting seeds, watching them grow, picking the veggies and then making something out of them. As a side note, we have more than enough pickles until next year, if anyone in Omaha would like a jar, email me or leave a comment here and I will get one to you.



Pickles-getting everything ready to go-before I put the brine mix in:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Savings!


This pic includes the items from HyVee and my last Wags run- I also went to Walmart and got some great deals, but I lost my receipt! I can remember I got:


A1 Steak Sauce- $2.08, $2 coupon= 8 cents

Reece's Peanut Butter Cups x2- Rollback for 50 cents each, 2 55 cent coupons= FREE plus overage

Snickers Ice Cream Bars= $2.50 (ish, I can't remember exactly), $1 coupon= $1.50ish

Roberts 2% Milk= $2.58, 55 cent coupon= $2.08


No Aldi's trip this week, I saved myself some time and picked up what I needed at the other stores for a decent price.


Walgreens:

Cheez Its x2 @ $2.50 Each

Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies x2 @ $2.50 each


Used: $1/2 any Keebler cookies coupon, $2 RR (from Kelloggs deal)

Total OOP: $7

Recieved $5 RR- I will roll this into a deal next week


Hy Vee:

Pillsbury Grands 98 cents, used 35 cents manufacturer coupon= 63 cents


Berry Kix $1.58

Lucky Charms $1.58

Used $1/2 coupon, total for both $2.16 after coupons


Hunts Tomato Sauce x3 @ 38 cents each


Multigrain Chips $2.58- I thought these were less but I was wrong- grrr!


Wheat Bread $1.88


3 pack paper towels 99 cents


5 lbs potatoes, 88 cents


grapes, 88 cents per pound, total $2.09


green beans, 99 cents per lbs, total $1.88


There are a couple of web coupons available toward the cereal, but I had a ton going on this week and it just slipped my mind.


Total: 14.30


Total spent for food in picture: $21.30, plus I got the $5 RR back.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Money Saving Tip of the Week!

I'm going to start something new and post a tip every Friday to help you save money. Usually it is something very easy and that I have been doing at home, or just started doing.

When I was doing laundry last week, I looked at the dryer sheets and wondered how they would work if I cut them in half, and just used half a sheet per wash. Guess what? They work great- the laundry smells great still, and I don't have static. So- something super easy to double the amount of dryer sheets you get per box- just take scissors and cut!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Target Trip Today

Thanks to my friend Katie for giving me a heads up on these deals!

I bought:
Tide, $6.99
used $1 Target coupon and $1 man. coupon= $4.99
Reeses PB Cup, 64 cents each (2)
used 2 55 cent man. coupons= 18 cents for both
Skittles Crazy Cores, 64 cents each (2)
used $1 off Target coupon=28 cents
Hillshire Farm Sliced Turkey Meat, $2.99
used $1 Target coupon and 55 cent man. coupon= $1.44
Artisan mini loaf, sourdough, 99 cents
used $1 Target coupon= FREE
Pineapple (need for a baby shower this weekend)=$3.99
used $1 Target coupon= $2.99
Bananas, 2.48 lbs @ 56 cents/lb= $1.39
used 50 cent Target coupon= 89 cents

Total after tax: $11.12

Saved: $8.69

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Walgreens Deals

I've been slacking- I've honestly just been so busy, it has been hard to take a few minutes and post. I want to make my weekly shopping trips into a weekly post every Saturday, so stay tuned for that next week.

I did go to Walgreens today though and picked up some good deals, in 2 transactions. Yes, I am getting braver! And the cashiers so far have been super nice about it.

Transaction 1:
Scotch Mailing Envelope, 79 cents with in ad coupon, used 50 cent manufacturer coupon=29 cents
Advil 4.49, used $1 manufacturer coupon= $3.49
Thermacare Heat Wrap=$5.99
Tylenol Extra Strength $4.49, used $2 manufacturer coupon=$2.49
Tylenol PM= FREE. Tylenol is BOGO this week, but you can still use 2 coupons! I used another $2 coupon, bringing the total for 2 packs on Tylenol to 49 cents!

Total: 10.98
Used RR's: $5 and $4, paid $1.98 cash
Received $4 RR for buying the Advil/Thermacare combo

Transaction 2:
Froot Loops, $2.50
Corn Pops, $2.50

Total: $5
Used RR of $4 from transaction #1
Received $2 RR from buying 2 Kelloggs cereals
Note: If you have the Rice Krispies coupons from Vocalpoint, this could be a $0 OOP transaction. We are just very well stocked on Rice Krispies at the moment!

I am planning to go back once more this week and get the Keebler/Sunshine 4/$10 deal. I will use the $2 RR and 1/$1 manufacturer coupon, bringing my OOP to $7. I will then get back $5 in RR, which I think I am going to save until next week.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My first attempt at canning.

I am going to have a TON of tomatoes. Not literally, but really, I picked 12 pounds of tomatoes and I am going to have at least 12 pounds more. I decided to try my hand at canning and make some pasta sauce. Thanks to my mother in law Jayne, who gave me all of her canning supplies! All I had to buy was lids (she gave me some but they were old and I couldn't tell if they were OK for not), and a utensil kit which contained a lid lifted, jar grabber, wide mouth funnel and headspace measuring tool.

The coolest thing about canning was peeling the tomatoes, believe it or not! All you do is put them in boiling water for 1 minute, than in ice water. You can literally just peel the skins off, it was amazing to me. Maybe not to anyone else, but it was to me!
Here are some pictures:


Some of the tomatoes.

Putting the peeled, seeded tomatoes into the pot.

Before simmering and mashing.


We don't like chunky sauce and I wasn't patient enough for them to break down. I mashed the tomatoes up.

And the end result:

I got 3 quart sized jars and 1 pint sized jar. Not a ton, but you do get a sense of accomplishment from seeing the end result.



Everything cooled just fine and everything was sealed well. We had some on pizza last night and it was really good!









Next week hopefully I will have more ready- I am going to try salsa.

Grocery Shopping Time!

I went to several stores this week and wound up over budget by $3, even taking into account the $2 I had left from last week. No big deal, I'll just take it off next week. I will say this: GO SHOPPING BY YOURSELF! James, the girls and I stopped at HyVee Thursday on our way home and I wound up going over. When no one is along, there is no one putting stuff in the cart or "remembering" things you need. I don't have pics this week, sorry. Here are some highlights:

WALGREENS:
Baby Pool $7.99 (clearance for 50% off!)
12 ct Scott Toilet Paper $6.99
Tuf Paper Towels 59 cents
Johnson and Johnson Cotton Swabs $1.99
Colgate Total Enamel Strength $2.99, minus $1 coupon= $1.99, plus I got $3 in RR from this
Lysol Toilet Cleaner (2) $1.50 each, minus 2 50 cent coupons=$1 each
Mentos Gum 99 cents, minus 55 cent coupon= 44 cents

Total: $24.71, I saved $18.83! Plus the $3 in RR for next week. I wanted to roll it into the Jergens Lotion deal, but since I was over for the week, I just saved it.

HY VEE:
Not a huge week here for me, but I did pick up 3 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast for $4.99, 2 jars of Skippy Peanut Butter for 61 cents each (they were on sale for 99 cents and I had a coupon for 75 cents off of two), 2 boxes of Pop Tarts for $1.18 each (this would have been even sweeter if they had the Blueberry Muffin kind, because I had a coupon, but they didn't), and a box of Froot Loops for $2.

I rounded out the week at Aldi where I spent $29 and Walmart where I grabbed 4 candy bars for 14 cents each after coupons. Yes, I was there anyway, I didn't go all the way to Walmart for the candy! Next week is going to be a stock up week- we need dog food and laundry soap- so we'll be eating from our pantry a little more than usual. But that is the beauty of stockpiling- it's there when you need it!

I am editing this to add that my paper did NOT have the Kellogg insert that came out a couple weeks ago, so I am not doing the rebate that is out right now. I am jealous of everyone that got it!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Using up my veggies!

It has been a great week from my garden! I picked 4 cucumbers, 1 tomato (and more are almost ready), 2 yellow squash and 5 zucchini. Since I realized there was no way we could eat all of this before it went bad, I knew I had to do something with it.

The first thing I did was make zucchini muffins with white and regular chocolate chips. These are great for snacks, a quick breakfast, with tea in the afternoon...the possibilities are endless. And of course since I make them with natural applesauce instead of oil, they aren't horrible for you, either.





I also shredded 3 cups of zucchini and froze it for future bread or muffins, and I cut up the rest of the yellow squash and zucchini, blanched it, and froze it to eat this winter. Hopefully it freezes OK, otherwise I will probably put it in pasta sauces and casseroles.

The next task was to do something with the cucumbers, but I only had 4, which really isn't enough to can. All the canning recipes I found took over 12 cucumbers. I did find a few recipes for Refrigerator Pickles though, and I used a couple recipes to come up with my own. It has to pickle for a week, so I'll let you know how they turn out. I made them spicy for James by adding garlic and red pepper flakes. It looks good, so my fingers are crossed! I did spears and slices for sandwiches:





Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Pantry Stockpile

I have seen others stockpiles and know that mine is NOTHING compared to other people's that I have seen, but I thought I would share:






This is our freezer in the basement and pantry. We have other food in cupboards in the kitchen, and of course in the freezer and fridge as well. The items I have stockpiled have a long shelf life, and I try not to buy more than what I think we will use before they expire. Everything is rotated out- so the items that will expire last are stored towards the back.
We are almost out of room in the pantry, I am hoping after we move James can build some shelves in the basement for everything, including my health/beauty items.
We also bought a quarter of beef this year, so we have plenty of meat! I like having it for a couple of reasons: it was bought and butchered locally, which has less of an impact than trucking it in from halfway across the country (especially because beef is GOOD here!), and we always have it on hand. If chicken isn't on sale for a couple weeks, we have this to fall back on and don't have to pay for overpriced meat. I understand some people don't eat red meat, but we ARE in the Midwest here! Chicken, beef and pork is pretty much all we eat- we don't eat fish because honestly, we don't like it.
Other items I have quite the stockpile of are: cereals, pasta sauce (Walgreens had a RR deal on Ragu last week), Macaroni and Cheese, peanut butter, natural applesauce and salad dressings. I know I have mentioned this before, but the majority of the dressing will not be used for salad. There were a ton of sales and coupons for Kraft dressings this summer, so I bought a bunch of different kinds to use as marinades. For example, I make stir fry with the Toasted Sesame, marinate pork chops with the Sweet Onion, and make chicken with the Ranch dressing. Of course you can eat it with salad too, but salad night after night just to use dressing can get boring.
The chicken sounds kind of odd, but it is really yummy! I just coat the chicken with ranch, and then bread. I have used bread crumbs, crushed Ritz crackers and even crushed potato chips I didn't want to waste.
I also have quite the health/beauty stockpile, but I need to actually organize it so you can see everything before I post a pic.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Grocery Shopping Day!

We have a new budget of $75 a week, or $300 a month for groceries. That includes food, paper products, health and beauty and dog food. Of course since I breastfeed and cloth diaper, we don't have any expense for formula or paper diapers and wipes.


Our first stop this week was Aldi, which I had never been too and was pleasantly surprised. We spent $31 and got a variety of "staple" items plus a few extras. We got a pound of strawberries for 99 cents, and they were better than I have seen in a regular grocery store in awhile! I already had milk, but it was super cheap there at $1.69/gallon.


Today I went to Hy Vee and Walgreens to round out the shopping. Here is what I got for a total of $21.08:


Walgreens:
Cheez Its, 9 oz $2
Cheez Its, 4.5 oz, $1
Gummi Fruit Lunch Bag, $1.49 (I needed a $1 filler for my RR and Addison loves these!)
2 Pack Nutri Grain, $4.99
Pop Tarts, $2

There was a $1 coupon on the Nutrigrain Bars and I had a $10 RR from earlier in the week, so I paid a grand total of 48 cents for all of this!

HyVee:
I got quite a bit because they had awesome sales this week, including:
Farmland Hot Dogs, 78 cents
Farmland Bacon, $1.99
Farmland Sausage (2) $1 each

I had 2/$1 Farmland coupons and 2/75 cent Farmland coupons, so I paid a whopping $1.27 for all of the Farmland meat- I was so excited!

They also had iceberg lettuce for 68 cents, 100% Whole Wheat bread for $1.50 and butter for $1.38, among other deals.

So, out of the $75 budget I have spent $68, because I had two earlier trips to Walgreens this week. $7 left that will "rollover" into next week. I find that if I break down the monthly budget into weeks it is easier for me to manage and I am more likely to stay within the budget.

One of the best tips I have read (I got it from moneysavingmom.com) is that always make a list with your NEEDS first. Then you can fill in the rest of the budget with sale items to stockpile. Luckily, we don't need a whole lot at this point because I have a good food stockpile. Mostly our needs weekly are fresh fruits (and some veggies, although we have been eating from the garden this summer), milk, and staple items I can get at Aldi for cheap, like eggs, flour and sugar.

I originally started with a budget for $125 a week and as I have learned to coupon, bargain shop and grow my stockpile, I have lowered that total. Had I started with $75 a week, I know I would have failed and gotten discouraged. Next month, with James eating a majority of meals at the police academy, I am lowering it to $150 a month, or $37.50 a week. Hopefully by the time he finishes, we can keep our food budget at $250 a month.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

More Veggies From My Garden!



James has informed me that he is sick of zucchini as a side dish. So I have been making bread (with and without chocolate chips) and thanks to my friend Katie, I will be trying out some new recipes soon. (Zucchini enchiladas? Who knew!) The above bread worked great because I have some applesauce I got on sale and I can substitute the oil in the recipe for applesauce. So you are getting the zucchini and applesauce (all natural, of course)- it is pretty good for you!

I have quite a bit of veggies just ripening out there- although I'm not sure if I am going to have anymore green beans this year. Some kind of bug got to them and chewed holes in the leaves and beans themselves. I looked up some organic gardening solutions and sprayed them with a combo of dish soap and water- they don't look any worse so I am hoping that it is working.

Here are some pictures- if you notice the tomato plants are bent, they seem to have bent over from the weight of the tomatoes. Perhaps next year I will try Roma tomatoes and not have this problem. Right now they are just every which way and tied up as much as I have been able to.

Yellow Squash- I think I am going to have quite a bit in a week or so!
Tomatoes- see how the stems are bent? The tomato cages actually got bent too- and yes, they were in the ground enough!


Two baby green peppers!








Sunday, July 26, 2009

Attack of the Killer Zucchini

I was out yesterday showing my cousin Nora my garden and what I had in it, and I found a HUGE zucchini. Somehow I missed it- I'm really not sure how. So now I have even MORE zucchini and shredding this would probably result in like 8 cups of shredded zucchini. Friends and family- prepare for zucchini bread for Christmas! I will be doing lots of baking then!

For comparison and so you know I'm not exaggerating, here is Addison holding said zucchini:



I also did a little baking yesterday and made bread with herbs and parmesan cheese- it is so yummy! And super easy because it doesn't require kneading.

Here is the recipe:

2 c. warm water
2 T. soft butter
1 t. oregano
2 T. sugar
1 T. dried basil
1 t. dried garlic
1/2 c. parmesan- shredded or grated
4 1/2 t. active dry yeast
4 1/2 c. flour
2 t. salt
1-2 extra T. parmesan for the top- I used shredded for the look of it

Sprinkle yeast over water in large bowl. Let stand a few minutes, then stir and dissolve yeast. Add sugar, salt, butter, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, garlic and 3 cups of the flour. Beat at slow speed for 2 minutes. Beat in rest of flour; cover the bowl with a sheet of wax paper and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease one round, 2-quart casserole. Set aside. Stir batter down for 1/2 a minute. Turn batter into casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes.

I didn't have a round casserole so I used a large Springform pan and it worked great! Also, the dough will be very sticky when you put it in the casserole but it is supposed to be, don't worry! This would be great with a pasta dinner, as bread for bruschetta, or toasted with butter on it.

Here is a picture:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Freezing veggies

My garden runneth over. At least with squash, zucchini and green beans. This week I actually had to sacrifice a squash plant, and pull it out completely. It was for the greater good, my beans will have more breathing room and the other squash plant will be able to spread a little. Still, it was sad ripping something out that I planted from seed.

This week, I got 3 yellow squash, probably 6 zucchini, green beans and 2 cucumbers from the garden- I was so excited! Right away I cut up 1 squash and 1 zucchini and sauteed it in a little olive oil and chopped garlic. I like to keep it a little firm, not mushy.

Still, I had a TON left. So I read up on freezing veggies and it is best to blanch them beforehand. So I chopped everything up, blanched it for 2-3 minutes in boiling water, cooled in ice water, and then put it in individually labeled Ziplocs. A Food Saver would be great, but it's not in the budget right now.

I also shredded 8 (!) cups of zucchini so I can just pull a bag out and make a loaf or two of zucchini bread throughout the fall and winter.

As for the rest of the garden:
Carrots: Pulled one up to check, it was 2-3 inches long and looked (and tasted) great!
Tomatoes: I have a ton of green tomatoes, when they ripen I am going to freeze some whole, and make spaghetti sauce with the rest. I want to attempt to can it, but I might wuss out and freeze it instead.
Zucchini: Still huge, still growing
Squash: Ditto
Green Beans: I have another "crop" maturing right now, should be ready to pick before the end of the weekend.
Cucumber: I have several teeny tiny cukes, but nothing growing yet.
Green/Regular Onions: Looking good, I'm not sure how big the regular onions will get but at the least I'll have some nice spring onions.
Green Peppers: Picked and used one, 2 more should be ready within a week or so.
Watermelon: The vine is growing, but no watermelon. Probably will not attempt next year!

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's going to be a good week at Walgreens!

When the Sunday ads come, I always go through them and match up coupons, ads and Register Rewards (coupons that print out; are good toward your next purchase). Then I look at Money Saving Mom to make sure there aren't any deals I have missed. This is a great website updated daily with various store deals, freebies and printable coupons.

After going through the Walgreens ad, I realized I could pay very little OOP (out of pocket) if I made 3 trips. Like I have said before, this isn't an issue because I have 4 Walgreens close to me and I'm not making a huge drive and wasting the gas on it.

Here are the scenarios I have found- if you see anything different or better, please comment and let me know!

I have $1 RR(Register Reward) from a purchase last week.

Trip #1:
Excedrin Migraine Geltabs, 50 count. On sale for Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) at $6.99
-Use 2 $1 Manufacturer Coupons
-Get $5 RR
Posterboard- one for 9 cents( using as a filler to be able to use my $1 plus 2 coupons, at Walgreens you need to have as many items as you do coupons)

Pay $4.08 plus tax OOP after RR, get $5 RR back

Trip #2:
Pilot G2 Gel Pens $1
-Get $1 RR
School Box, 49 cents
Bic Comfort 3 Razors- $2.99
-use $2 Manufacturer Coupon
Mentos Gum
-use In-Ad Coupon for 99 cents
-use 55 cent Manufactuer Coupon (apparently there is a $1 coupon out there too, I don't have it) Neutrogena Makeup- BOGO at $7.99
-use 2 $3 Manufactuer Coupons
Tylenol, various on sale for $4.99
-use $2 Manufacturer Coupon
-Get $3 RR

Pay $2.90 plus tax OOP after using $5 RR from Trip #1, get $4 RR

Trip #3:
Kelloggs Cereal, 2/$5
-use $1.50/2 printable coupon from Money Saving Mom
-Get $1 RR
Buy 1 "filler" for 50 cents (I want to use $4 of RR and it needs to be $ before taxes- can be anything- candy, a pen, a clearance item...)

Pay only tax OOP after I use $4 of RR from trip #2, get $1 RR

So, for all of this, when it is said and done, I will only be paying $6.98 plus tax for all of this, and I will have $1 RR to roll into next week's purchases!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I love my new baby carrier!

I have been looking for a carrier that I could use to put Ryan on my back and be COMFORTABLE. I don't know if it is because I am short and have a short torso, or what, but I have always been envious of the women I see who are carrying their babies like it's nothing.

I have a Snugli from when I had Addison and it works OK for when they are teeny-tiny and you are wearing them in front, but lately it has been killing my back with Ryan in it. I have to wear her when I am at gymnastics with Addison, and it is much easier to garden, run around with Addison, and do chores wearing Ryan vs carrying her. Sometimes she is so fussy and clingy I literally get nothing done. So, I was in the market for a new carrier, and read many reviews.

I chose to get a BabyHawk. Yes, it was pretty pricey but what drew me to it was that you tie the straps around you- it isn't rigid. For me, it fits PERFECTLY and does a really nice job of taking the weight off my shoulders and neck (I have neck problems) and distributes it to my back/waist by the extra strap. You can also wear it in the front but Ryan's head bumps into my chin, so on the back she goes.

Ryan likes it too- she has her limits because now that she is mobile, she prefers to be on the ground moving. But yesterday I had her in it when I was hanging the diapers outside (the sun is a natural germ killer and gets rid of stains), and she actually fell asleep in it! It was so cute, I snapped a picture- nevermind the look on my face, I was looking at the viewfinder screen (and I had a little helper, if you can see):

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another great Target week!

James and I took the girls to Target last night to pick up some good deals I had found. Unfortunately, the first store was out of two of the best deals (must be more couponers around here than I thought!), so we went to another store.

A few highlights:
3 packages of Electrosol tabs- on sale for $3.49, and I had a $2.50 coupon, making them just 99 cents each. They were also bonus packs and I got 40 tabs vs 32!
Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste- sale for $2, $1 Target coupon, $1 Manufacturer coupon, making it FREE!
Strawberries- sale for $1.99, $1 Target Coupon= 99 cents
Frosted Mini Wheats- sale for $1.88 each, $1.50/2 Manufacturer coupon= $1.13 per box!

Hopefully the good deals will keep rolling, it is totally worth my time to make an extra trip a week for these deals!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reduce your grocery bill, help the planet

I am trying very hard to stick to a grocery budget of $400 a month. That includes everything- cleaning products, health and beauty, food and dog food. For some, that might be really high, others, way low. When I first started budgeting we were spending over $600 a month on groceries! So this is a low, but very realistic goal for us.

I have done a few things to lower my grocery bill, including:
-couponing
-starting a garden (fun for Addison to help with, too!)
-breastfeeding and cloth diapering (after buying formula and disposable diapers for Addison, I realized how much I could save!)
and finally, buying reusable items to replace throwaway items.

The BEST replacement I have made is switching out paper towels for microfiber cloths. We used paper towels for EVERYTHING: weekly cleaning, wiping hands and faces, wiping down the sink and counters after meals, etc. We were buying an 8 pack of paper towels every two weeks. If I didn't have a coupon, that was at least $8, or $16 month.

I bought 20 microfiber cloths (probably $10 total- I got some at Walmart and some at Walgreens on clearance). I bought so many so they can be "one use" and I don't have a wet, dirty cloth laying around the kitchen for a day or two. I just wipe down the counter, and put it down in the laundry room. If you like, you can buy different colors for different tasks- cleaning bathrooms, cleaning counters, etc. They actually clean better than paper towels, and of course it is better for the planet than using paper towels so much.

Sure, we still use paper towels- I just bought 4 rolls last week for 24 cents each! But those will probably last us at least a month. So, that brings me ahead $15 every month. That can buy us quite a bit of food!

Next step: buying microfiber Swiffer mop pads vs disposable ones. A pack of 12 is $7, and I can get a reusable one for $8.50. Even buying 2, I'll make back my money pretty fast!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baking Day!

Yesterday I picked two more zucchini from my garden- one was a monster that somehow got away from me and another smaller one. James and I aren't so keen on eating zucchini every night (although it is great sauteed with garlic and olive oil!), so I decided to try a bread recipe. Here is the recipe I used. I actually use that website quite a bit. The bread turned out really good, although I hate using oil; I would rather use butter. Next time I might try to modify the recipe or track down a new one.






I also made Banana Muffins:
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. all purpose flour
3 ripe mashed bananas
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/3 c. butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tin or line with paper cups. Combine bananas, butter, sugar and egg in large bowl. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder (you could sift these together first but I'm naughty and NEVER do). Mix until just moist- do not over mix. Scoop into muffin tins, you should get 12 muffins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

I also made 2 loaves of whole wheat bread. This is great because all of this baking should last us 2 weeks unless I give some away, which I am likely to do. Next baking day I am going to try something new, but haven't decided: tortillas, cheese crackers or pita bread.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Awesome week at Target!

This week, I got some awesome deals at Target!

I paid $17.87 for the following:
Febreze
Febreze Air Freshener
Oscar Meyer Deli Creations Sandwich
1 lb strawberries
1 box Kashi Waffles
Schick Quattro Women's Razors
4 Rolls Bounty Basic Paper Towels
2 Boxes Kashi Cereal
2 Boxes Kashi Cereal Bars
Softsoap Ensembles Pump Soap
Value Pack (2) Softsoap Ensembles Refills

Some of the best deals were:

Bounty Paper Towels- originally 99 cents.
I used a 50 cent Target coupon with a 25 cent Manufacturer coupon (per roll for a total of 8 coupons) and got them for 24 cents per roll!

Kashi Breakfast Cereal- on sale for $2.66 each
I used 2 Manufacturer Coupons for $1.50 each, a Target coupon for 50 Cents and a Target coupon for Buy 1, Get 1 Free. It works out to 33 cents per box!

Softsoap Ensembles: $6 each
I used a Target coupon for $2, a Manufacturer coupon for $3, reducing it to $7 total. When you buy 2 of these products right now, Target gives you a $5 gift card, meaning I paid $1 for them!

And when you deduct the $5 gift card from my grocery total, I paid $12.87 for all of the above.

Where do I find scenarios to help me get the best deals? I go to moneysavingmom.com, and hotcouponworld.com to print the coupons.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grocery Savings!

I went to Walmart yesterday and saved over $20 using my coupons! Our Super Walmart here is actually decent and they ad match, so it is worth going there instead of running all around town chasing the best deals, wasting gas and wearing myself out.

For those that aren't familiar, all you do is take the competing store's ad in and show it to the cashier, and they will adjust the price down. Super easy to do!

The ads for grocery stores come to the house on Tuesday or Wednesday. When I get them, I look through for the best deals and make lists for each store. I also always write down cereal, toilet paper and cleaning stuff. Then I go through my coupons and match them up with the sales. I have a 3 ring binder, and keep the coupons in the sheets for baseball cards. That way, I can see all of my coupons and not be digging through an envelope.

From there, I finalize 2 lists- 1 for Walmart and 1 for another grocery store. Here in Nebraska, that is usually Hy Vee. Walmart doesn't have everything Hy Vee does, and it is only half a mile away, so it is no biggie to go there.

For Walmart, I pull out all my coupons ahead of time so I'm not pulling them out at the register. I also pull out high value coupons to check on the prices to see if I can get them for cheap. If I can get them for cheap, I do, and stockpile them. Basically, I have a pantry with peanut butter, sauces, soups, and cereals that I know I will use before they expire, but only buy when it is on sale. I do the same thing with meat in my deep freeze.

This week, here were some of my best deals:

Starbucks Ice Cream, 1 pint. On Rollback for 2/$5, and I had 4 $2 off coupons (I get the paper, and others give me the inserts from their papers.) So I got 4 pints of ice cream for $2 total, or 50 cents each! That is a savings of $8! Yes, I know not the best for when I am dieting, but everything in moderation- just don't eat the whole pint at once, measure out half a cup.

Charmin 12 Big Roll Toilet Paper. Normally $7.58 at Walmart, had an ad match for $5.98. Also had a 25 cent coupon, so I got it for $5.73. The best deal I have seen around here in awhile.

Strawberries, 1 pound. They were $1.88 at Walmart and had an ad match for 99 cents.

Eggo Bake Shop Pastries. Were 1.98 and I had 4 $1 coupons. Got them for 98 cents each! Target also has them on sale this week and you could get them for just 50 cents each if you have the time for a separate trip. I did not. For the details and coupons links, check out moneysavingmom.com

Kraft BBQ Sauce. Had an ad match for 78 cents, and used a 50 cent coupon. So I got it for 18 cents, and it is normally 99 cents! James will use this for leftover roast, to make BBQ sandwiches, on chicken and pork chops.

Kraft Salad Dressing. Was $1.58 and I had a $1 coupon. Not quite the 8 cents I paid last time with a $1.50 coupon, but it was still only 58 cents! Not only can you use this as a salad dressing, but I got the Asian Sesame Dressing and plan to use this for a marinade on chicken.

Again, they key is to stockpile shelf-stable items and meat when they are cheap and supplement with fresh veggies, fruits, and milk. You can then plan your meals around what is on hand and save money, versus planning a menu and then shopping for it, often at a higher cost.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Garden!



I am really proud of my garden this year: it is the first year I have attempted a BIG garden and I've been pretty successful. Of course, I didn't know quite how to space things, or that the zucchini plants would be 3.5 feet tall (yes, really!), so it isn't as "neat" looking as I would like, but it is producing and I couldn't be happier! The above picture is my garden; the really tall vines are hops for James' beermaking. And Bella had to be in the picture, too!

My yellow squash and zucchini- I'm going to be freezing a TON of this. And discovering all sorts of new zucchini recipes. Next year 2-3 plants will be enough. I think I have 10 total.




My green beans. They are bush beans but the wind got these very early on and they fell over. They still are putting out a ton of beans though; I just picked my second round. Last week, I microwaved cut green beans, 1/2 tsp of butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little water for 3 minutes. I topped it with a slice of cooked, crumbled bacon= YUM!!!

Blooms on the cucumber. I don't plan to make pickles, James just wanted cucumbers. I think I have 3-4 plants so he should have plenty. And maybe Ill be making pickles after all!

Tomatoes, being taken over by zucchini in the back. Yes, I know the spacing is too tight, again, my first year. But I have a ton of flowers so I think they will still do well. I plan on making and canning lots of sauce.

I have 3 containers- maybe 2 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter. Here is one with my pepper plants and my first baby pepper.

Onions. Some are green onions and some are regular, I am still weeding the regular ones out. Another container is squash; next year I will do strawberries in that one.

Just for fun: lilies I picked from my huge flower bed by the fence. Last year I didn't get many blooms so I am thrilled to see a ton this year!

I also have a few carrots and a watermelon plant, which has yet to make a watermelon. We'll see. I think to put this all together, including the edging to make a big garden, soil, manure, the 3 containers, fencing and seeds, this was $75 or so. A lot of that was the initial stuff; next year I'll just have to do seeds, manure and soil for a total of less than $20.
Not only am I saving money, but this is all organic and FRESH! Veggies are usually picked way before they are ripe to allow for shipping time, especially tomatoes, so the difference in taste is amazing. Not to mention all the gas and manpower required to transport veggies to you.
If you aren't sure about a garden, buy a couple flower pots and pick 2-3 things to grow; you can expand from there. Picking your own veggies is really rewarding!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Restaurant.com certificates- go get 'em!

Right now, Restaurant.com has restaurant certificates for 80% off! All you do is put in your zip code and it finds restaurant near you- they are mostly local. When you checkout, the code for 80% off is DISH and it expires tonight.

For example, if you are in Omaha, you can get a $25 Sam and Louies certificate for $2 after the 80% off. It is good for $25 off of a purchase of $35 or more, plus 18% gratuity.

If you go through Ebates, you get 15% back as well.

A great thrifty way to eat out, which is a treat in our house!

I need to lose this weight!

So, I have about 10 pounds to lose before I am back to my prepregnacy weight before Ryan. I am already below what I weighed before I got pregnant with Addison. It is so frustrating- I lost ALL the weight from Addison, plus 10 pounds, by the time she was 5 months.

I don't know what it is this time- because I am nursing, I don't have motivation (I went to Cancun 5 months after Addison was born), or what. So I have been taking baby steps.

I started working out beyond my walks with the girls. And trust me, a half hour walk with the double stroller in my neighborhood is certainly a workout! James and I are doing the 30 day shred at night. I am 15 days into it, although I haven't been doing it every night. I can really see and feel the results. It is HARD when you first start, and there are parts of it when I still feel like my arms are going to fall off. But in a good way!

I am getting more definition in my arms and quads, and Level One is getting easier, I can push myself much more than I was able to in the beginning. I think I am ready to move on the Level Two: sometimes I slack and DON'T push myself, so I need the workout to do it for me. The best part about this is it only takes about 25 minutes.

Being busy with the girls, and James' work schedule usually does not allow me to do a super long workout, as I don't have a gym membership. But I can do this after they go to bed, and still have time to finish laundry, clean or whatever needs to be done.

My next step is to start tracking my food again. I don't know if I am ready for Weight Watchers (what I did after Addison), but at least I can be AWARE of what I am eating. I'm really trying to focus on not eating processed crap with a ton of ingredients, eating fresh fruits and veggies, and making my own stuff like breads and muffins, without the added junk. This weekend I am going to do another batch of bread and I think banana muffins, too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Make Your Own Baby Food!

If you have an infant and are looking to save money, one very easy thing you can do is make your own baby food! I made all of my food for Addison, and am doing the same for Ryan. Making the food is SO easy, because you freeze it you really only need to spend 30-40 minutes once a month. Because you are saving money by making it, you can also afford to buy organic. All you need is a pot, steamer insert, food processor or blender, and ice cube trays.

I have made: pears, peaches, butternut squash, green beans, sweet potato, peas and carrots, to name a few.

Step One: Prep your fruit or veggies. Peel pears, peaches, etc. Or, take a shortcut and buy frozen. I have found a great veggie to take a shortcut on is the butternut squash, you can find frozen prepped squash at Whole Foods for a reasonable price.

Step Two: Steam the veggies in the pot with boiling water until they are very tender.

Step Three: Transfer to the food processor, and process to the desired consistency. You can add water to get it thinner.

Step Four: Spoon into ice cube trays, cover with foil, and freeze.

Step Five: Transfer to a Ziploc freezer bag; it will be good in the freezer for up to a month.

To defrost, just microwave 15 seconds or so, or put in the fridge overnight. You can feed them plain, or mix with cereal or yogurt.

Other VERY easy shortcuts:

1. Do not throw your money down the drain with banana baby food. Simply take a banana, puree it (or mash it for older babies, shown), and add water. This takes MAYBE 30 seconds and with baby food at $1 a pack, and bananas 39 cents for a whole pound, you will save quite a bit.



2. Do not buy baby applesauce. Buy the all natural applesauce (no sugar added) and add water if you need to thin it. A big jar costs $1.64 at my grocery store and will last us a month. You can also buy the natural flavored applesauces once they are older- Ryan loves the blueberry pomegranate and peach mango. Again, you can mix with cereal or yogurt.

I think I have maybe bought 3-4 jars of baby food for Ryan, when we traveled overnight. Give it a try- is is very rewarding to know you are feeding your baby the best, and even if you only mash a banana and make 1 fruit, you'll still be saving!

Another "recipe" to try, especially if your little one isn't loving veggies: Monkey Mash! Just combine a mashed banana with 1-2 defrosted sweet potato cubes, and warm up. Addison loved it and Ryan does too.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I have veggies!

It has been rainy here for a couple days so I went out to check on my garden in between the rain Thursday and noticed my bean plants actually had green beans on them! I was able to pick them today and got quite a few:



And you can tell I am a gardening rookie, because I had no idea that beans kept producing all summer. So we will have fresh beans all summer and probably some to freeze too.

I'll take some pictures of the garden and the containers this week after I can get out and weed. It's so muddy right now. I have zucchini and summer squash (which is currently overrunning everything- I had no idea how HUGE they get!), carrots, tomato, cucumber, watermelon (1), onions, green onions and green peppers.

Next year: less zucchini, hopefully asparagus and strawberries! But I don't think it's too bad for my first year out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Walgreen's Trip Yesterday

Went to Walgreen yesterday to pick up a few things. They were really slow, so I was brave enough to do 2 transactions and the cashier was super nice about it.

First transaction:
St Ives Body Wash
Nilla Cakesters
Oreo Cakesters

-2/$1 manufacturer coupons for the Cakesters (from last week's paper)=

$6.20 after tax

There is also a $1.50 off coupon out there for the body wash, but I didn't have it.

I recived 2 Register Rewards for $3 each.

Second Transaction:
"Cars" Plate
"Cars" Cup
M&Ms (needed it because the 2 items didn't equal $3 before tax, RR's do not cover tax)

Total: $3.89, I used a $3 Register Reward so only paid 89 cents cash!

I still have another $3 Register Reward to use toward my next purchase.

In theory, you could do the Cakesters, get that RR, then buy the body wash and use the Cakesters RR. Then go back another day, or to another store, and get MORE Cakesters with the body wash RR, and keep "rolling" that, just paying the tax on the body wash. But I don't need a ton of body wash right now, I still have some from the Dove RR deal.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Target Trip Yesterday

Yesterday I went to Target, armed with my coupons, list and oh yeah, two little girls. One who insisted on keeping her hand in her pockets and walking at a snails pace. Might I add Addison decided she had to use the bathroom AFTER I had the cart loaded with the ice cream? And I was rather amazed at my balancing skills, holding Ryan, my purse and Addison on the toilet, then lifting her up to wash her hands without dropping her, Ryan or my purse.

Anyway, here is what I got: (Q= coupon)
32 oz jar Miracle Whip Light-
Normally 2.99, used $1.00 Target Q and $1.00 manufacturer Q= 99 cents!

T Bone Steak (a splurge)-
Normally 8.99/lb, on sale for 5.59/lb, used $1.00 Target Q=4.59

Strawberries- Normally 1.99, used $1.00 Target Q=99 cents!

Butter- Just needed it, no sale= 2.14

Old Spice Deodorant-on sale for 1.99, used $1.00 manufacturer Q=99 cents!

Here is my best deal: I bought 4 boxes of Klondike Bars and 1 tub Breyers Ice Cream for 2.50 each. When you buy 5 this week, you get a $5 Target Gift Card. I also found $1/2 boxes of Klondike Bars online, and used two of those. So I paid 10.50 for them, and received a $5 gift card, making them $1.10 each!

Total spent: $20.34
Total saved: $17.80

PLUS my gift card!!!

You can find the Klondike Q's here

You can find the Target Q's throught hotcouponworld.com, just click on the "Target Coupon Generator"

And yes, we have a deep freezer in our basement so I can stock up on cheese, frozen goods, and meats when they are on sale. I HIGHLY recommend one to families, they will save you a ton!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cloth Diapering, Part 2: The Extras

There are a few other things you will need if you are going to cloth diaper:

If you are cloth diapering, you might as well use cloth wipes. They are very inexpensive and you can use less of them vs disposable wipes. You just wash them right along with the diapers.

Here are two cloth wipes, one is flannel and one is a knit cotton print on one side and organic bamboo velour on the other:

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Some just wet the wipes with plain water, others use a solution in a spray bottle. I use a solution and fill an empty spray bottle with it, and then spray it directly on the wipes before I use them. My solution is: water, a squirt of baby oil, a drop of baby shampoo and a few drops of tea tree oil. The tea tree oil has antibicrobial properties. You could also use lavender essential oil.

Next, you need something to put the dirty diapers in. You use a waterproof pail liner, which you can buy on cloth diaper websites, and you can just put that in a regular diaper pail. It is washable, so you just empty the bag into the wash and then throw the bag in there. I'll spare you the picture of my diaper pail.

Babies poop. It's a fact. This has to be where most people get turned off of cloth diapering; the prospect of dunking dirty diapers in the toilet to clean them off. Sometimes it will just drop in and you can flush it down, no issues. Other times, not so much. It needs to be rinsed. Enter the diaper sprayer. Also purchased on cloth diaper websites, it is probably the BEST money you will spend. It attaches to your toilet, and when you need to clean off a diaper, you just turn it on and it acts like a shower sprayer, spraying all the nastiness into the toilet and keeping your hands clean.

So, you have all the dirty diapers, now you need to wash them. Cloth diapers do need to be washed specially to avoid build up, which prevents liquid absorbing into them and can also cause stinky diapers. You need to use an additive free detergent, like All Free and Clear. Others use Tide and have great results. I use Tide Free and Clear, which doesn't work for some people, but works great for me. You also can not use ANY fabric softener with cloth diapers.

Here is my wash routine:
1. Cold rinse with Bac Out (helps remove any odors, I order it online). Some people also use Oxy Clean Free.
2. Hot wash with Tide Free to the "1" line, cold rinse and then extra cold rinse.
3. Dry in the dryer or on sunny days, on the clothes line. Sun naturally removes stains and saves on electricity.

A lot of people question how much my electric bill went up after I started cloth diapering. I didn't honestly see a difference.

Other extras you will need/want for cloth diapering: a small zippered wetbag for outings, a snappi or pins if you use prefold diapers and a cloth diaper safe diaper creme in case of a rash. Although, we hardly get rashes here, I really think the cloth diapers help prevent rashes.

My tutorial on cloth diapers is now complete! For more information, check out the message boards at diaperswappers.com, or websites that sell cloth diapers, like cottonbabies.com or abbyslane.com!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cloth Diapering Part One: Types of Diapers

You would never think it, but there are a ton of options to pick from when you choose to cloth diaper. Everyone has their own preferences, so I would suggest trying one of each kind before committing to a large purchase.

All-In-Ones (AIO): These diapers are the most like disposable diapers. In one step, they velcro or snap on. The outer is waterproof and the inner has the absorbancy. The downsides to these is that they can take longer to dry, may not be the most absorbant option and depending on the brand you choose, may get a little stinky over time and require stripping to remove the smell.

Here is an example of an AIO. This is a one-sized option and will fit from 10 lbs until over 25 lbs, making it a very economical option in the long run. We use these when we go out, and used them at day care:







Fitted: These come in either sized or one size and require a cover to make them waterproof. This makes diapering a two step process and some shy away from fitteds because of this. However, they can be more absorbant than an AIO, and you can also let your baby go coverless around the house to let their bottoms breathe, which helps with diaper rash. We have a lot of fitted diapers and wear them coverless around the house. We can go 1-2 hours with no leaks or dampness on the outside of the diaper.

Here are two examples, the sized option on the left and the one size option on the right. The sized option has an internal soaker and the one sized option has a soaker than snaps in:







Prefolds: This is a "traditional" cloth diaper. Depending on the material you get, this is by far the most economical option for cloth diapering. Again, they require a cover to make them waterproof, and pins or a Snappi to fold and close the diaper. Because of the two step process, many do not choose these. But they are soft, absorbant and wash easily. They also come in a variety of sizes. Once you are done with them, they can be used as burpcloths or for cleaning. They will last through many, many children. I think everyone should try a prefold.

Here are two examples, a bamboo dyed one on bottom (these are more expensive), and an unbleached cotton option on top:



Pockets: Pockets are like AIOs, except the absorbant soaker can be removed. You can stuff them with whatever you like- microfiber or hemp inserts, even prefolds. You can add more inserts if you need more absorbancy, like for overnight. When you put them in the pail, you take out the inserts and wash separately. People like these because they come sized or in one sized options, and they can customize the absorbancy for their child. Downsides are stuffing the pockets after every wash, and for me personally, I didn't enjoy pulling out the insert when it was dirty.

I don't have any examples of this, but two popular brands are Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius.

Covers: These go over prefolds and fitted diapers to make them waterproof. They come in a variety of colors. Some people even use lanolized wool covers or wool pants/shorts that act as a cover.

Here is a cover:


Coming next: Cloth diapering accessories and extras- What else do you need? How do you wash them?






Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why I Cloth Diaper

I am going to do two or three posts on cloth diapering. I have a few friends that are pregnant right now and interested in it, so hopefully I can provide some useful information.

But how did I start? I always thought it sounded like a good idea, but it sounded gross to me. Plus, I thought you had to pin, and no way could I do that. I also wondered about the laundry.

When Addison was 18 months old, I started really looking into it. It can be very economical (also a little pricey, depending on which diapers you buy), and when I found out what was actually in disposables, that motivated me to make the switch. Disposables contain dioxin, which is listed as a carcinogen. While I was in disposables and am fine, I didn't want that junk next to Addison's vital organs 24/7.

So the #1 reason I cloth diapers is that it is healthier for the baby.

#2. Better for the environment. Diapers are estimated to take up to 500 years to break down in a landfill.

#3. They are cute!!! Don't believe me? Here's a picture of Ryan in a fitted diaper:

4. They can be very economical. A baby in disposables, plus wipes can be $1500-$2000 for two years in diapers. Assuming they are 100% potty trained at two, which isn't always the case. You can reuse/resell the diapers, making back often half of what you have spent.

5. I honestly find them less messy and stinky than disposables.

Some basics:

-I do diaper laundry (1 load) every other day. When Addison was in diapers full time and Ryan was a newborn, I did them once per day. Just threw them in when I got home from work and folded before bed. Or sometimes didn't fold and just brought the basket upstairs.

-I use cloth wipes as well (they work SO much better!) and my own wipe solution. I think I made back my money on wipes within a month.

-When we go out, I take a wetbag with diapers, wipes and a travel size wipe solution.

-I have cloth diapered for a night at a cabin in Niobrara, 12 hour roadtrips to and from Ohio, while I was in Ohio, a night at my aunt and uncles and yes, I do it overnight as well. Overnight is perhaps the most tricky to find a solution for.

Next up: the types of diapers and accessories. What is a prefold? Cover? All in One? What do you REALLY need to get started? Stay tuned!