Thursday, February 11, 2010
Last month I saved $517.94 from both sales and coupons (this month, I've alread saved $571, and the month's only half over!). I probably spend 10 hours a week clipping coupons, organizing them, checking blogs, planning shopping trips etc. (I probably spend more time on blogs than I need to, but I enjoy being part of the couponing community) That works out to be about $13 / hour. And that time spent was at home, with my kids and husband, usually watching a TV show or movie at the same time. I can't think of any other job that has the perks or the benefits of couponing. Plus, as an added bonus, there's the rush of excitement in the check out lane when you see just how low you got your total.
Right now, I really feel I have the best job in the whole world - I get to be a stay-at-home mom and a savvy saver. It's pretty much...awesome :o)
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Shelf Cost: $29.72
I Spent: $7.94
We also had several small trips to Smith's where we picked up bread, milk, and whole milk yogurt. I also placed an order with Alice.com for some Saran Wrap, because we were all out and I knew I wasn't getting to a store in the next few days and didn't want to make a special trip.
All told, in the month of January we:
Spent $197.22 on all groceries (food, household items, diapers, toiletries, medicine etc)
Total Value of Purchases (Shelf Cost): $714.66
Saved with coupons: $284.86 (don't doubt that coupons are worth the work!)
Saved with Sales: $233.08
At the beginning of the year, one of my favorite blogs had an excel spreadsheet to download that tracks all of these numbers - you just enter a few numbers in off your receipt and it totals everything up - I love it. I not only love seeing how much I save, but it's so much fun that it keeps me on top of my receipts so that I don't lose track of how much I've spent. I used to just keep a mental tally of how much I had left to spend, but I know there were things I forgot and that adds up. So, I'm loving this new spreadsheet because it's yet another way to save money.
I did succeed in cleaning out the fridge and freezer quite a bit (the freezer door actually stays closed now and things don't fall out when I open it!). I managed to go from 10 bottles of salad dressing in the fridge, to 5 (and 2 of those are almost gone). I also finished off lots of other odds and ends that were taking up room in the fridge and freezer: Hoisin sauce, maraschino cherries, marinated artichoke hearts (2 half full jars - what's my problem!), lots of cheese, BBQ sauce, sweet & sour sauce, 10 lbs of clementines, cranberries...and probably some other things that I can't think of at the moment. It feels good to clear out the clutter in there. So, in that regard, the challenge wasn't a complete failure.
In that regard, this challenge was really beneficial to me in that it changed the way I meal plan. I am much more conscious of what I have on hand and need to use up. It was fun to invent recipes that used ingredients that I had on hand - I haven't been that creative in the kitchen for a while - it was refreshing. For those reason, I'm really glad I took on this challenge.
I think I'll throw up a post showing everything I bought last month, just to show that some of the deals were just too good to pass up (and maybe justify my complete lack of self control).
Friday, January 15, 2010
Our family has been using Swagbucks for about 9 months now and during that time, we're accumulated $100 in Amazon gift cards. With those gift cards we bought:
This Plantronics Bluetooth headset for Fred:
This Radioflyer Scooter for Hunter:
(Shhhhhhh, we're saving it for his birthday!)
And this arrived in the mail yesterday for me:
I wrote here that one kitchen gadget that I simply cannot live without is my digital probe thermometer. Well, my beloved thermometer died, on Christmas Day. Not great timing. But, luckily Ham isn't a particularly "needy" meat, and our dinner still turned out great. That day I logged into our Swagbucks account and started redeeming our Amazon gift cards. I was SO grateful that we had a bunch of these gift cards that we got completely free so that I could turn right around and get an item that I wanted.
If you're unsure what Swagbucks is, I wrote posts here and here that explain exactly what it is and why I love it so much. If you'd like to score your own Swagbuck booty, click here and you'll be able to sign up. When you sign up under me, I'll get a Swagbuck for every one that you do (up to 100). And when you've signed up, sign up all your friends and family under you so that you can get Swagbucks for every one that they earn too. It really is a win-win situation: We all get free stuff, just for searching the Internet using Swagbucks, which you probably do already.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Day 1 - Appetizers: home-made cream cheese & crab wontons, pigs in a blanket, cuties, celery with cream cheese, sweet pickles, cheese ball with crackers, and sparkling cider.
Pantry items used:
- Sweet pickles
- Cream Cheese
Day 2 - Southern Style Chicken Sandwiches, Frozen Onion Rings, Green Smoothies
Pantry Items used:
- Tyson breaded chicken breasts in the freezer (gone now!)
- Whole wheat hamburger buns in the freezer (gone now!)
- Pickles (We have tons of pickles that I got for dirt cheap when Smith's doubled coupons)
- Frozen Fruit (I got a bunch of Albertson's brand frozen fruit on clearance before they changes to Fresh Market)
- Onion Rings (used half the bag)
Day 3 - Apple Pecan Pancakes with Pumpkin Butter, Green Smoothies, Hash browns, Sausage
Pantry Items Used:
- Krusteaz pancake mix (that I got for $.67)
- Pecans (chopped and stored in the freezer)
- Pumpkin butter that I made from our jack-o-lantern that we never carved
- Frozen fruit (gone now!)
- Jimmy Dean Sausage (that I got for $.49) (gone now!)
- frozen shredded hash browns (gone now!)
Day 4 - My version of Outback Steakhouse's Alice Springs Chicken, salad, canned pineapple
Pantry Items used:
- Center Cut Bacon (that I got for $.75)
- Cheese (there have been so many good cheese deals lately - we have a ton!)
- Chicken (frozen - bought for $1.29 / lb)
- Canned Pineapple (I bought for $.25)
- Used some salad dressing on the salad, but we still have tons in the fridge)
- Used leftover ham sauce from Christmas instead of making honey mustard sauce (and it tasted great - my ham sauce is pretty amazing, if I do say so myself)
- Potatoes (they have been so cheap lately that we've been buying and using a lot of them. These I got at 10 lbs / $.99 at Albertsons)
Verdict: Soooooooooooooo good! (but not worth paying $10+ for in the restaurant when you can serve 4 for half that price)
Day 5 - Steak, Baked potatoes, roasted broccoli, cherries
O.k. so I know that it is not remotely close to cherry season, but they looked so good and I love them, so I splurged (paying $2.99 / lb - ouch!) Grant loved them too!
Pantry Items Used:
- Chef's Request Steaks (I got these for $.98 after coupon)
- Italian salad dressing (I used it as a marinade - 1 bottle of salad dressing down, 9 to go!)
Oh, and the cherries were delish!
Day 6 - Macaroni & Cheese with ham and Broccoli, tropical fruit
Pantry Items used:
- Macaroni (Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta that I got for $.20 / box)
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Evaporated Milk (I got for $.24 / can)
- Frozen Broccoli
- Deli Ham
- Del Monte jarred Sun Fresh fruit (I used a BOGO coupon on this, it was still a splurge at $1.50 / jar)
Verdict: Creamy, warm, and yummy! I probably wouldn't buy the fruit again though - it's really nothing special and you can get canned fruit for much cheaper. I love the Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta - it's fortified with fiber, calcium and protein, so it has some of the benefits of whole grain pasta but the taste and texture of regular semolina pasta which makes it more versatile.
I made a ton of macaroni & cheese, so we froze half. I love to make double batches of recipes and then freeze the second portion. We rarely eat out, so it's nice to have something on hand for those days that I just don't feel like cooking.
Day 7 - Spaghetti & Meatballs, peas, cherries
Pantry Items Used:
- Spaghetti (Ronzoni Smart Taste again)
- Ragu pasta sauce
- Ground beef (96% lean that I got for $1.99 / lb - gotta love Smith's markdowns!)
- Italian Blend cheese
- Green Giant Frozen Peas
- Bread Crumbs
- Dried herbs
Verdict: Nothing special, but it satisfied the family's craving for spaghetti and meatballs after watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
I also made a double batch of meatballs and froze the second portion.
It has been a lot of fun challenging myself to use up what we've got, and it's nice to start making more space in the fridge and freezer. The back room and pantry are still a total mess, but hopefully by the end of the month we'll have cleared out enough that I can get in and organize it better.