Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Praising God for Vegetables

I wrote a few posts ago about how much of our budget goes towards produce each week and the desire to decrease that amount.  Since that time, I really have not purchased much produce.  The main reason was to use that money towards items for our stockpile. 

I have to praise the Lord though, for supplying our needs in a way I definitely did not expect.  I got a call last week from someone I know does not read my blog.  "Would your family like some fresh vegetables?"  I said of course we would!  She went on to say "squash, tomatoes".  "Yes, we eat a lot of that!" 

Later that evening, she dropped off two grocery bags with squash, tomatoes, potatoes, and onions.  (I also need to mention that we were completely out of vegetables at this point in time.)

The next day, someone mentioned that our family buys a lot of cucumbers.  A friend overheard and said, "Stop buying them.  I will give you some."  Another vegetable that we were completely out of!

Last night I thought I heard the porch door open and close, so I went to check it out.  On the porch were two more bags of produce!  One was full of blueberries, and the other had tomatoes and a few cucumbers.

I was able to shred and freeze enough squash to make 9 loaves of zucchini bread in the future. I kept quite a bit of blueberries in the fridge and was still able to freeze 8 cups for future use.  I looked in my cookbook and found out you can also freeze tomatoes, so I will be doing that later today.  (I'm not into canning, but freezing is easy enough!)

We are blessed to be in the midst of farm country, living alongside giving people who are willing to share their abundance with us.  Praise the Lord for supplying more than we need!  I am excited and rejoicing for this blessing.

And I am considering a garden for next year.  How awesome would it be to be the one sharing with others!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This Week At Meijer

I am currently making my shopping list, and I wanted to post a few deals I found this week at Meijer.  It's a great week - they are doing their 10 for $10, and the 11th item is free.

My list so far includes:
2 Chex Mix (printed 2 $.55 coupons here)
5 Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce (printed one $1.00 Meijer Mealbox coupon here)
5 Hunt's Tomatoes (printed one $1.00 Meijer Mealbox coupon here)
10 Pepsi 2-liters (printed 2 $1.00 Meijer Mealbox coupons here)
16 Old Orchard Frozen Juice Concentrates (printed 2 $1.00 coupons here and 2 $1.00 here)
6 Totino's Pizza Rolls (printed 2 $1.00 coupons and 1 $.50 coupon here)

Can you tell that I'm building up my stockpile?

The beauty of the 10 for 10 (#11 free) deal, is that if you play your numbers right and only purchase in multiples of 11, each item actually costs $.91!  So with these coupons, I will be paying $.36 for each bag of Chex Mix, $.71 each for the spaghetti sauce, tomatoes and Pepsi, $.66 each for the juice, and $.49 each for the pizza rolls.

Let me know what shopping deals you find this week!  If you shop at Meijer, check out Happy Homemaker Cindy's blog later for more deals and coupon match-ups.  (They are not posted yet but should be later today.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Week In Photos

Just a little bit of an update: 

The job hunt is not going too well for me.  I interviewed with Human Resources at one hospital for a surgical floor position and have not heard back from them in almost a week.  That is disappointing, in a way.  I was not overly enthused about the hours required for that position, but I would have liked to be offered the job.  :)  I have another phone interview with Human Resources at another hospital next week.  This is for a part-time home health position, and I am very interested in this one.  I have not experienced home health since college, but it was something I looked into when I was job searching in CA and would still consider.  Pray for me as I interview and continue my search!

Our church is heading up a little cafe at the county fair this week.  I volunteered there Tuesday night and will be there again Saturday night.  It was a lot of fun to work with and talk to people I usually only see on Sundays in passing.

We took Princess to the fair yesterday morning, and she absolutely LOVED the horses.  We saw a family from the church there who had a miniature horse, and Princess just stood at the stall and stared for about 10 minutes.  When we finally pulled her away from the horses, she had a fit.  I will not be surprised if the words "I want a pony" start flowing out her mouth soon.

Now on to the pictures I promised you:

Mmm, bananas!  Maybe she is going through a growth spurt, but this girl has been eating like crazy this week.  She ate 1 and 3/4 hot dogs last night for dinner, and she keeps going to the fridge and pulling out yogurt.  Today I found her with a box of Cheese Nips, chowing down on those.

Daddy bought her a new ball.  Talk about a happy girl!

I think she looks absolutely adorable all dressed up, carrying her ratty blue bear:











These are my favorite of her hand-me-downs.  So cute!

I watched a friend's kids so she could volunteer at the fair.  I was pleasantly surprised that the three of them got along really well.  The only issue was trying to get two crying babies down for naps at the same time!  It ended up working out though.  :)

Another pleasant surprise:  Princess shared her toys!  (The ball popper is always a big hit.)









The princess and I had some friends over Wednesday morning.  I didn't get any pictures of the three babies, but here are the older two boys, playing:

I inflated my exercise ball yesterday.  Princess had a BLAST with that!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Grocery Challenge: Week 5


I did another grocery run to Meijer today.  Today's total:  $53.32!  Hooray!  We're on our way to lowering our grocery bill.  I did pick up some milk from the local store on Sunday though, so the current total for the week is actually more like $57.00.

A few people have been asking for tips on lowering their grocery bill.  A common question I get is:  "Does your grocery budget include things such as toiletries, baby diapers, wipes, and cleaning products?"  No, it does not.  What you see in the pictures is what my budget includes:  Food items only.  Simply put, my family does not spend a large amount on toiletries, cleaning products, etc.  We usually get those for minimal cost at Walgreens.  We use cloth diapers and cloth wipes, and we use less than the recommended amount of cleaning products.  (No, it's not gross...you just don't need as much as they say you do.)  The cost of those items is absorbed in another budget category:  Entertainment.  That makes us think twice about how much toilet paper we use!  :)

I will continue to share new things I learn, and I welcome your questions and comments!  Teach me as you learn as well, please!

Walgreens 100 Dollar Challenge: Week 6


I skipped week 5.  I could not justify purchasing anything, because I did not have good coupon match-ups, and there were not very many good RR deals going.  I considered using the $5.00 coupon for Neutragena and doing the rebate that they had going, but I could not justify that either.  After looking at the product, I realized it was something I would never use.  Perhaps I could have given it to someone else...but I would still have to front that money out-of-pocket. 

On to this week.  I did two transactions today.  I spent more out of pocket than I wanted, but I built up my dwindling RR stash!

Transaction 1:
2 Highlighters
Price: $.09 each
Final Price: $.18 total
RR Earned: None

2 Dr. Scholl's For Her Rough Skin Eraser
Price: $6.99 each
WAG Coupon: $10.00 total
Final Price: $3.98
RR Earned: $5.00

2 Pilot G2 Pens
Price: $1.19 each
MFG Coupon: $2.00 total
WAG Coupon:  $2.00 total
Final Price: $1.62 MONEYMAKER
RR Earned: None

1 Schick Intuition Plus Razor
Price: $8.99
MFG Coupon: $4.00
Final Price: $4.99
RR Earned: $3.00

RR Used: 2x$2 from Colgate Toothpaste

Subtotal Before Coupons: $25.53
Subtotal After Coupons: $3.53
Sales Tax: $1.53

Savings Percentage*: 86%
*(Note: Savings percentages are calculated prior to tax. Since there’s no way for me to decrease my tax amount, it is simply not factored in.)

Transaction 2:

2 Portfolios
Price: $.09 each
Final Price: $.18 total
RR Earned: None

1 Colgate Toothpaste
Price: $3.49
MFG Coupon: $.75
Final Price: $2.74
RR Earned: $3.50

2 Dr. Scholl's For Her Arch Support
Price: $6.99 each
MFG Coupon: $4.00 total
WAG Coupon:  $10.00 total
Final Price: $.02 MONEYMAKER
RR Earned:  $5.00

RR Used: $1.00 from GreenWorks Dish Detergent

Subtotal Before Coupons: $17.65
Subtotal After Coupons: $1.90
Sales Tax: $1.06

Savings Percentage*: 89%
*(Note: Savings percentages are calculated prior to tax. Since there’s no way for me to decrease my tax amount, it is simply not factored in.)

Yearly Totals
Amount Spent: $24.37
Amount Saved: $130.33
$7.99 Rebate Pending from Schick Razor and $3.00 Rebate Pending from Finesse Shampoo - Will deduct from amount spent once received

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grocery Challenge: Week 4

This is the 4th and final week of the grocery challenge.  I am pleased to say that (as long as I do not make any last-minute trips this week) I have stayed within my grocery budget for the duration of the challenge.  Here is what I bought this week:


The total:  $73.64  I was able to build up our stockpile a little bit this week, so I'm excited about that.  (Note the applesauce, chicken nuggets and granola bars - good deals this week.)

I have learned several things through this challenge.  I have already shared several of those in previous posts.  Here are a few more:

1)  Just because it's a good deal does not mean it fits within our budget.
2)  There are usually things on my shopping list that we can do without until next week, in order to stay on budget for that week.
3)  Our family drinks far too much Pepsi.  Not good for our budget.
4)  Coupons really do make a difference, and there are websites that have done all the work finding good deals for you.  Use those websites as a guideline.
5)  It's okay to splurge once in awhile.  Just make sure you balance your splurge out over the rest of the week in order to stay on budget.

One note:  Approximately 1/4 of our grocery budget is spent on produce.  I'm not sure how to reduce that.  I'm not sure if I should try to reduce that!  Any thoughts?

I personally think that $75.00 a week is a bit high for our family's grocery budget.  I would like to see it somewhere around $60 - 65, and I am going to do some work on that over the next few weeks.  I plan to continue to post my findings on here, to keep myself accountable and see if it truly is doable!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

18 Months

Our little princess is 18 months old today!  We celebrated by filling up her new pool and having a 1-baby pool party.  Here is the story of the pool:  My husband and I went on a date last night, and we stopped at WalMart.  We came across a few kiddie pools on clearance, and we debated on which one to get for the princess.  We finally settled on the cheapest, and I did not read the dimensions very carefully.  I blew it up last night to show her, and it is the tiniest pool I have ever seen in my life!  It turns out it's the perfect size for her though, because she just likes to stand outside of it and splash her hands.

Here are some pictures from today:

Walgreens 100 Dollar Challenge: Week 4


I did two transactions on Monday.  I am just getting around to posting them:

Transaction 1:

2 PaperMates (1 pack mechanical pencils, 1 pack pens)
Price: $.19 each
Final Price: $.38 total
RR Earned: None

1 Colgate Toothpaste
Price: $1.79
MFG Coupon: $.75
Final Price: $2.24
RR Earned:  $2.00

1 Visine Tears
Price: $3.99
MFG Coupon: $1.00
Final Price: $2.99
RR Earned: None (This was supposed to have $1.00 RR.  Lesson learned:  Do not use RR from the same manufacturer as the RR you are supposed to be receiving.  The new ones will not print.)

1 GreenWorks Dish Detergent
Price: $2.99
MFG Coupon: $1.00
Final Price: $1.99
RR Earned: $1.00

RR Used: $7.50 from Renu Contact Solution

Subtotal Before Coupons: $10.35
Subtotal After Coupons: $.10
Sales Tax: $.62

Savings Percentage*: 99%
*(Note: Savings percentages are calculated prior to tax. Since there’s no way for me to decrease my tax amount, it is simply not factored in.)

Transaction 2:

1 Colgate Toothpaste
Price: $2.99
MFG Coupon: $.75
Final Price: $2.24
RR Earned:  $2.00

1 Crest Toothpaste
Price: $2.99
MFG Coupon: $.75
WAG Coupon: $2.24
RR Earned:  $1.00

2 PaperMate Pencils (Filler Items)
Price: $.19 each
Final Price: $.38 Total
RR Earned: None

RR Used: $3.00 from Airplus Socks
$1.00 from GreenWorks Dish Detergent

Subtotal Before Coupons: $6.36
Subtotal After Coupons: $.86
Sales Tax: $.38

Savings Percentage*: 86%
*(Note: Savings percentages are calculated prior to tax. Since there’s no way for me to decrease my tax amount, it is simply not factored in.)

Yearly Totals
Amount Spent: $16.35
Amount Saved: $85.56
$7.99 Rebate Pending from Schick Razor and $3.00 Rebate Pending from Finesse Shampoo - Will deduct from amount spent once received

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grocery Challenge: Week 3 Part 2

As I wrote in my last post, I went to the semi-local grocery store on Monday for some ingredients for that night's dinner and some odds and ends for the rest of the week.  I spent $29.33 for whole milk, steak sauce, fish fry seasoning, steaks, cucumbers, toamtoes, lettuce, and onions.  The steaks were a major splurge, but sometimes it's nice to splurge!

I had two other runs to the local store for items I forgot:  vegetable oil, sour cream, and skim milk.  The total of those two trips was $6.38.

I also stopped at Walmart for Pepsi, which cost $7.36.  (Taht includes the deposit on pop cans.)

Those trips left little money to work with for my grocery run today.  As I mentioned before, we are hosting the outdoor evening church service Sunday night.  I decided to make sloppy joes, so we needed ground beef, Manwich, and buns.  We also needed drink mix for Sunday, the baby needed more milk, there was a great deal on pasta (14 cents each after coupons), and we needed rice.  I ended up paying $31.56 for the following:


What I spent:
Village Market:  $29.33
Wagoner's:  $6.38
Walmart:  $7.36
Meijer:  $31.56

Which makes my total for the week:  $74.63.  Wow!  37 cents below budget.  Not bad for having a couple over for dinner one night and feeding the main dish to approximately 40 people on Sunday!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Grocery Challenge: Weeks 2 & 3

I have not been posting about the Grocery Challenge like I had intended to.  Last week, it was a bit of a challenge to stay within budget.  We needed quite a bit of produce, and that is difficult to budget out before actually weighing it at the store.  I usually start at the back of the store and work my way forward, but I tried something new and started with the "variable rate" items and moved on to the "fixed rate" items.  I was able to stay on budget though, so I am pleased! 

Week 2 Grocery Challenge Totals:
Meijer:  $71.01
Walgreens:  $2.80
Total:  $73.81

One thing I would like to work on this week is building up my stockpile.  You can see in this picture that I got a few jars of salsa,some chickens and cheese for the stockpile.  Hopefully I can add more this week.  However, I do have some added challenges this week:  We are hosting a family for dinner tonight and are hosting the church for an outdoor service on Sunday.  We are supposed to provide the main course on Sunday night for approzimately 60 people, so I am nervous to see how that will fit into our budget!

After shopping for our dinner tonight and a few odds and ends for the next few days, our current amount spent for Week 3 is $29.33

Friday, July 2, 2010

Too Big, Too Fast

Lately, I have been noticing that Princess' t-shirts are getting a little too short.  She has an adorable, protuberant belly that I just love.  We made a trip upstairs to visit our "stash" and realized...2T shirts fit her perfectly.  :(  My baby's growing up too fast.

So we had a little fashion show this morning.  She lets me do anything I want as long as Elmo is on TV while I am doing it:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Walgreens 100 Dollar Challenge: Week 3, Trip 2


I actually went to two stores on Monday, but I haven't had time to input the information until today.  I wish Walgreens was a little closer.  They have some really good 4-day sales this weekend, but it is about a 30-minute drive to get to Walgreens.  Not exactly frugal to be running out 2-3 times a week!  So here is what I got on Trip 2 on Monday:

3 Royal Gelatins
Price: $.69 each
WAG Coupon: $.49 off each
Final Price: $.20  each
RR Earned: None

2 Reach Toothbrushes
Price: $1.79 each
MFG Coupon: $1.00 each
WAG Coupon: $.99 each
Final Price: $.02 Moneymaker
RR Earned: None

2 Straws
Price: $.99 each
WAG Coupon: $.49 each
Final Price: $.50 each
RR Earned: None

Airplus Socks
Price: $3.00
MFG Coupon: None
Final Price: $3.00
RR Earned: $3.00

RR Used: $2.00 from Crest Mouthwash
$2.00 from RepHresh Tampons

Subtotal Before Coupons: $11.15
Subtotal After Coupons: $.58
Sales Tax: $.36
Savings Percentage*: 95%

*(Note: Savings percentages are calculated prior to tax. Since there’s no way for me to decrease my tax amount, it is simply not factored in.)
Yearly Totals
Amount Spent: $14.39
Amount Saved: $63.61
$7.99 Rebate Pending from Schick Razor and $3.00 Rebate Pending from Finesse Shampoo - Will deduct from amount spent once received