Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Couponing: Scouting out deals

First, I'd like to share my savings experience I had tonight at Wal-Mart. Total before coupons: $91.94, and total AFTER coupons: $57.16! That's a savings of 38%!!! Woohoo!

6 (2 3-packs) Mach3 razors
3 (1 3-pack) Venus razors
8 (various brands) boxes/packs panty liners
2 Gillette deodorants (bogo free!)
1 Gillette body wash
2 (1 twin pack) Mr. Clean magic erasers
1 bottle Mr. Clean mopping formula
2 (twin pack) Lysol wipes
4 (3 bottles liquid, 1 box powder) laundry detergent
22 (various brands) cans of cat food (2 of them were bogo free!)
1 bag of dry cat food
2 bags of Gerber fruit and veggie melts

I made tonight my non-grocery items night (even though there is mustard and Gerber melts pictured with my loot). I had a Lysol wipes coupons that expired today so I really wanted to make sure to use it with the fact that they were marked down at our local store. Although, we won't be using some of these items right away, I saved on a lot of the things that will be used at some point. Until then, I am in the process of cleaning out the laundry room shelves to make room for a stockpile.
The mustard was on sale at Dollar General for $1 each and I had two $.30 off coupons I used for that. While I was at Dollar General, I began scouting for the things I was set out to buy. I took note of most items and compared them to the prices of the same items at Wal-Mart. An example is Kotex pads and tampons were $3 a pack/box at Dollar General but at Wal-Mart they were $4.57. So, my "buy 2 get $1 off Kotex pads/tampons" would have been best used at Dollar General. Finding the lowest prices on items is the best way to make your couponing worth while.
Another great tip is when a coupon states "Any size", buy the smallest size available. An example of this is the panty liners. I had 5 $1 off U by Kotex brand liners. A mid sized box of liners was $3.81, but the smallest box was only $1.24. After my 5 coupons, I spent only $1.20 on five small boxes of liners instead of using my coupons on the mid sized box and spending $14.05.
Tomorrow evening I'll be taking care of the grocery purchases. I've held on to the store adds from the Sunday paper so I know what to buy and where if I find something that pertains to my coupons. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Double Bean Chili

A great way to make a meal stretch is by incorporating pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes, especially for stews, soups and meat dishes like pot roast. Whenever I make my Double Bean Chili I like to cook ditalini pasta noodles (a very toddler friendly pasta!) to make it more filling and to make the chili "stretch" a little further. Also, if you like to stockpile prepared meals, chili is very freezer friendly. Simply freeze chili in a ice cube tray then transfer frozen cubes to a freezer safe container and store in your freezer. That way, you don't have to chisel through a large hunk of frozen chili for just a few helpings.

Recipe for Double Bean Chili:

1 package McCormick Chili Seasoning
1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, undrained
1 (15oz) can black beans, undrained
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Brown meat in large pot or Dutch oven. Drain fat and return to pot. Stir in Seasoning mix and cocoa powder, mix. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans and black beans, stir well. Bring to boil, cover. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with toppings like sour cream or shredded cheese if desired. Goes great atop cooked pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes. Great for chili cheese hot dogs or chili cheese fries--yum!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My bad...

Just in case you read my post: My First Shot at Extreme Couponing I stated that I saved $12.44. Turns out that was just with my Kroger Plus card. My total savings including the Plus card AND coupons was $33.66!!!! Wooohoo! I'm so glad I looked back over my receipt because saving just $12 kinda depressed me. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed. But when I saw that it was just Plus card savings my spirits lifted! Go me! Yay for coupons!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mama's Crazy Nachos

A yummy, super easy recipe you can make for a quick dinner, a weekend lunch, or a party. These nachos are especially great for game night, or in our house, UFC night!

1lb ground beef
1 packet Old El Paso (or McCormick) taco seasoning
 2/3 cup water*
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese, or cheddar blend
1 regular size bag Nacho Cheese Doritos

*amount of water needed may differ between brands of taco seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef in a large skillet until no longer pink. Drain and return to skillet. Add taco seasoning and water, keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes. In a 13x9 inch baking dish, spray with non-stick cooking spray, pour Doritos in baking dish. Layer seasoned ground beef and black beans on top and sprinkle with shredded cheese. You can use as much cheese as you'd like. Me? I like to dump the whole bag on there to make it really cheesy. Bake in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Let cool for a couple minutes and enjoy. Top it off with sour cream, green onion, diced tomatoes or salsa.

My first shot at Extreme Couponing

It's definitely not as impressive as I thought it would be, but it's a start. What would probably have cost me well over $120 at Wal-Mart (where I usually shop), only cost me $94.94 at Kroger with coupons combined with sale items. This total includes 3 boxes of Hamburger Helper (on sale: 10 for $10, I got three with a $.75 off of 3 coupon so I spent $2.25 for the three boxes), 2 FREE boxes of cake mix (one coupon for a free box I got for a defective item and another coupon for a free box with purchase of a frosting), 4lbs of ground beef for only $9.30, six cups of Yoplait yogurt ($.40 off), 2 gallons of milk, 2 packages of Pillsbury cookie dough (sale: 10 for $10, I got 2 for only 45 cents each with my two $.55 off coupons!), Cat litter ($1 off), 12 pack of canned cat food ($1 off), frozen chicken breasts ($1 off), 2 boxes of pasta for $1.28 (on sale for $1.19 each, I used two $.55 off coupons w/ purchase of brand marinara sauce), 2 jars of marinara sauce $3.75 (with $.75 off coupon), and a FREE 40oz jar of peanut butter, amongst other items I didn't have coupons for. I got away with over a weeks worth of groceries while spending less than I would have in a normal week. My receipt said I saved $12.44, but I know a shopping trip like this would have cost me well over $120 at Wal-mart, where I used to always shop simply for the convenience. But, like I said, it's a start. I only hope (and pray) I can get better at it and get my laundry room shelves cleared out for stockpiling purposes.
I watch Extreme Couponing from time to time and I can't help but feel stupid whenever I see some of the folks get $600 worth of groceries for free! I'm on a mission to at least cut our grocery bill in half once I am able to really figure out a couponing strategy. That would be incredibly helpful for us. Wish me luck! And pray for me!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Kaylan!

A Happy (belated) Birthday blog post for my Kaylan!

We had a wonderful Saturday with beautiful weather--thank goodness! This time around, unlike for Dylan's party, we were able to hold the party outside at the outdoor dining complex at our local cafe. My friend, Kely, tagged along with me early that afternoon to help with getting balloons blown up and getting the area decorated and the food prepared. I was able to get a 100ft roll of paper at an educational supply store in Savannah so we used that as our tablecloths and we sprinkled crayons throughout each table for guest to color, write their birthday messages for Kaylan, etc. As soon as Eric got to the party with the kids, Kaylan went straight for my party tote bag (a Thirty-One large utility tote) and fished out a box of crayons! She's got an eagle eye for crayons! And to incorporate the "picnic" part of our "coloring picnic" themed birthday party, I purchased gingham print paper plates, cups and napkins online from the United States Flag Store.
We had much fewer guest for Kaylan's party than we did with Dylan's party. It was a busy weekend for quite a few of our friends with Mothers Day, a few of our friends have been sick or have sick children at the moment, along with the fact that a lot of other activities were going on during the same weekend as we had planned her party, Prom being one of them. But, with fewer people, it allowed me the opportunity to not be so stressed, it offered Eric and I the ability to spend time with the small group of family and friends that were there and tend to the babies better. It was more intimate, so to speak.
Kaylan enjoyed walking around, going from Gammy to Mommy to Daddy to Aunt Mer to her cousin and so on. She definitely made her rounds during the party, greeting her guests and adoring fans, hehe! We had cupcakes for our guests, decorated to look like crayons, and Kaylan's cake was in the shape of a crayon, frosted in pink frosting and had "KAYLAN" on it instead of the usual "CRAYOLA".

Overall the party was a success and I hope more than anything that my little girl had a great time and enjoyed every minute of it.
For the next couple years, we will be planning one combined birthday party for Kaylan and Dylan, just until their the age to where they express their desire to have their "own" party with their own friends.
I would like to thank everyone who came out for the party (some who came a lot further than others)! And those who weren't able to make it, thank you for the birthday wishes for Kaylan! She had a wonderful day :)

Mother's Day today was pretty chill, thank goodness. Nothing extravagant which also means nothing for me to have to clean up after. Eric got up with the babies this morning and let me sleep in an extra 30 minutes! Woohoo! He finally brought them in the room and tossed them on the bed with me and said "Happy Mothers Day Mommy!!!" It was sweet, even though I could have continued to sleep, haha! I even got a card each from Eric, Kaylan and Dylan. Oh! And I can't forget to mention the yummy Mothers Day Georgetown cupcakes I received Thursday--as a surprise! They're gone now! I think every Sunday should be Mothers Day! :)

Happy Mother's Day to all the true Moms out there! You are all awesome in my book! And I hope to get more awesome as I go!