My Blog

My blog has morphed over the years into different things. It is a place to learn about saving money, product reviews, cooking, gardening, and homesteading. It can take you to whatever has my attention at the moment and then back to the day to day. I hope you will learn something here and come back often.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Challenge Confession

The "Buy No Groceries Until April" challenge was my idea right?  Yeah, I know it was and I have stuck to it...until today or maybe tomorrow.  I have cleaned several things out of the freezer and pantry during this challenge and we have not suffered for it.  There is still plenty of food left without searching very far.  The problem is the sales. 

Oh, the sales!  How do you pass up ham for $.77/lb?  This is when I stock up not stop buying!  So ok, I confess, I will be purchasing hams during this Easter season.  We could also really use some fresh fruit but everything else is still off-limits unless I can get it free with a coupon.  Deal?  Deal!

By the way, I picked my first salad greens from my little earth boxes yesterday.  I have prepped the soil and I am planning on planting my herb garden tomorrow.  My neighbor is coming by Friday or Saturday to disc up the big garden and then I'll be ready to go full steam ahead!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Words are Few

I must admit, you will probably not hear from me so much now that Spring is here. I see the sun shining and it beckons to me to come out and play. Now, my “play” is probably different from yours! Mine involves a shovel, hoe, and dirt. I love to “play” in my garden!

As usual, I already feel like I am behind in gardening. I wanted to get my seeds started in February but it did not happen. A couple of weeks ago I finally got a few tomatoes and peppers started. I have a few little seedlings growing on my kitchen counter. I guess I will end up buying any additional plants that are needed but most of my garden will be started in the ground outside.

I have not been able to prepare my soil yet due to all of the rain. I am hoping that it dries out enough this week for me to get some work done. I never plant until after April 15 so I still have a few days but not many. I did get a little work in Saturday on my front flower bed. I am transforming part of it into an herb garden. I am really excited to see how it does.

My real garden will be a lot different than previous years. I am not going to plant as many varieties this year. I am planning on having tomatoes, squash, green beans, and peppers. I will still have my small plot of sweet potatoes too. Josh is going to be growing okra this year to sell at the farmer’s market.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Free Stuff

This is just a quick note to tell you about all of the free stuff I got this week in the mail.  There are always promotions online that you can sign up for, so keep an eye out for them.  I will try to start posting more of them here.  I have also been posting them on my FB page so if you are not my friend, friend me and send me a note telling me that you are a follower on my blog.

1.  14 day supply of Prevacid
2.  Coupon for FREE VitaminWater
3.  6 different flavors of Nescafe Taster's Choice
4.  Free full size bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce

Here are some other things I have received in the mail previously:  Full size bottle of shampoo, energy drinks, vitamin drinks, cereals and lots of coupons!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

FREE Courtesy of CVS

CVS is quickly becoming my favorite place to shop!  Remember I am not allowed to buy anything until the end of the month unless it's free, right?  Well, look what I got for free!

It does not look like that much, does it?  It's actually $38.13 worth of stuff.  I did not really plan on getting anything but Easter candy.  I had a few minutes (without kids) so I decided to stroll around the store.  I found deoderant that was 75% off the regular price and then to add a little sweetness to the deal, I had coupons for these items which made them free.  I also had a CVS reward for $4 off a $20 purchase.  I had to work hard to get my $20.  I had to grap a couple of M&M minis to get my total up but I made it.

Bottom line  $38.13 of goods.  Cash out of pocket $4.87.  ECB's $6.99.  I actually made $2.12 PROFIT!!

Here are a few helpful hints:
  1. Learn to shop at ONE store using coupons.  This can be Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, or any where else.  (We'll use CVS as our example store of choice)
  2. Shop at different CVS locations to see if they have the same deals at each store.  I have found that one store will offer an item at 75% off while another store offers the same item at only 25% off.  Guess which store I shop at most of the time??
  3. Get to know the employees and a good way!  Try to have all of your stuff in order and make their jobs easier so they don't mind you bringing a dozen coupons to them.
  4. Once you learn the ropes of one store, add another, then another.  Learn which stores work best for you and then stick to them.  Don't overwhelm yourself by driving to 7 different stores just because you can get 1 or 2 good deals at each of them.
  5. Have fun!  I love, love, love seeing how much I can get for a little.  Find some friends that share your enthusiasm and share your good deals.  You will be surprised at how many people you motivate!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our Challenge

I am so glad you guys are on board with the Monday Challenge!!  Reply to the blog with your meal ideas and any difficulties you may have.  We can try to help one another out.

We missed breakfast today because we got a really slow start.  We made sandwiches for lunch to take to the zoo....then once we got to the zoo we left because it was sooooo crowded.  This evening we will be having leftovers from last night's soup.  I also made corn cakes to go with it and will probably repeat that tonight because they were a big hit.

I am thawing some chicken breasts to cook tomorrow.  I'm not sure yet how I am going to cook them.  Any ideas?  I get so tired of the same old thing.

I also have quite a collection of fruits in the freezer.  I have bananas, peaches, strawberries and blueberries.  I am thinking about smoothies for breakfast and maybe even some blueberry muffins.  It just depends on how industrious I feel this afternoon.  You know, when the sun shines it is hard for me to stay inside!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Challenge

Today is Monday, March 22, and I have a new challenge for you (and me!). Can we go the next 10 days without buying groceries? I have spent $162 on groceries this month and I want to stop there! The only thing I am planning on buying is milk. Everything else is off limits…unless I can get it free with coupons.

I have plenty of food in the pantry and in the freezer. A little imagination and some time spent on should net some good recipes.

Today I am cooking “Lentil Soup for People who Thought They Hated Lentils”. We love lentils so the name does not apply to us but this just sounds like a good recipe. It is jam packed with fresh veggies. It does have an option to add meat but I am going to keep it vegetarian this time. I had to buy leeks for this recipe so I am planning on making Potato Leek Soup later in the week. You know, with this crazy cold weather it will taste good!

Do you have an excess of any foods in your pantry or freezer? Can you skip a week of buying groceries? Maybe you cannot forego the grocery store completely but you can plan 3 meals around food you already have on hand. That is a good start!

If you are one of my local readers, we have more than enough fresh eggs around our house right now. If you would like some we are offering them to our friends for $1.50/doz for a limited time. Soon they will be back to $2.50/doz. Let me know if you would like some. If you want some REAL Easter eggs – we have one hen that lays green eggs.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kroger Shopping

I went to Kroger last night not expecting to save much money. I checked the ad that came out yesterday and I really didn’t have many coupons for the things on sale. I also knew that I would be buying things like deli meat (not a normal purchase) and ground chuck. I needed a few other things to try a new recipe. The recipe includes red bell peppers and leeks which are two things that are rarely on sale. So, I went knowing that this was not going to be a trip to blog about but I was pleasantly surprised when I got home and checked the bill.

My total bill was $151.98! (I know…more than I spent all last month!) After coupons and discounts I paid $84.64. That’s a savings of 46%. Not bad!

Look at the bottom of the post and you can see some of the ways I saved!

I bought 2 jars of Classico pasta sauce for $1.49 each. I had a coupon that if you buy 2 jars of Classico you get $1.50 off fresh ground beef. Kroger has ground chuck on sale for $1.99/lb. I bought a 5.07 lb package. The coupon made it $1.79/lb AND the Classico purchase applies to the 8 items needed for $4 instant savings special Kroger is doing.

I also bought 2 Old El Paso soft taco kits. They are regularly $3.19 each but were on sale $2 each. I found a coupon on one of the boxes buy 2 kits and get 1 refried beans free.

Always look at boxes or containers for coupons. I got the free beans, a Kashi coupon, brown rice coupon and cereal coupon just by picking up the right boxes.
Free BetterOats

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Free Stuff

I want to let you guys know about Vocalpoint.  Yesterday I received a free, full-size bottle of Pantene shampoo.  Along with this free bottle were 3 coupons for $2 off any 1 purchase of Pantene.

Today they have another freebie you can sign up for.  It is for Puff's tissues.

Another great place to get free stuff and great coupons is Kraft First Taste.  Now, I have had trouble printing coupons from this site but I think it is more a problem with my printer than anything else.  Sometimes it likes to print and other times it does not.  Recently, they have given away free coupons for Oreo Cakesters and Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yea! Friday

Since it's Friday we'll start off with some free stuff and good deals!  We want everyone to be happy on Friday!

Free Country Bob's

Free Spring Cleaning Gift Pack

Home Made Simple $30 in Coupons

I am spending the weekend getting ready for Monday.  That's when our challenge is officially starting.  Tomorrow I will be putting together our menu for next week.  We will probably be going back to the one I posted a couple of weeks ago...the beans and rice one.  It is a great way to kind of detox your body and get started on a healthy new lifestyle.  I bought a new exercise dvd yesterday since my treadmill and wii died!  I will let you know how I like it next week.

And for my homeschool friends, I encourage you to get involved with your local homeschool group.  If you find that it's not a fit for your family, don't give up.  Keep looking!  I have missed the last couple of MNO with our homeschool group so I was really excited to get to go last night.  We have the best time and it is so nice getting together and comparing notes.  And by the way, if you happened to be driving through Olive Branch at around 9:00 pm last night and saw about 10 cars following one another.... that was our Homeschool Mom Convoy! 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ready 4 a CHALLENGE?

Make sure you check out the free stuff at the end of this blog!

If you have been with this blog since the beginning you know that we started eating healthy at the first of the year.  We also made a family pact that we would only eat out 1 time per month.  We were doing really good on both of these until the sickness and death of my Grandmother.  When I got home from the funeral I got sick and I am still fighting the symptoms even now- two weeks later.  We have just been eating whatever was easiest and we have been eating out WAY too much!  It's time to get back on the wagon.

So, are you ready to join me?  The challenge is for the family to eat out only 1 time per month.  I know that my husband will have to eat out some with work but this is excused.  I am allowing myself 2 dinners a month at Mom's Night Out. Anything else is off limits!

The second part of the challenge is to eat healthy!  What does that mean?  It means different things to different people.  At our house it means no sugar, no white flour, no sodas.  We increase our vegetable and fruit intake and cut down on fats.  It's time to start drinking water and exercising. 

One personal goal that I have is to not have any processed foods in the house.  The only thing allowed is cereal and we are very choosy about what cereal comes in the house.  I know that this will create more work for me but I think it is worth it.

Now, I will tell you that it is harder to save money on foods when you eat healthy.  Take a look at the next set of coupons that you get.  Most of the items are for processed foods.  I don't even cut these out anymore because if I have the coupons, I am tempted to buy them.  I cut out all coupons for rice, beans, meat, nuts, etc.  These are staples that I can use in many ways.  There have even been some coupons lately for oranges which I have certainly taken advantage of.

I guess what I am learning is that I don't want to just see how many groceries I can get for the least amount of money.  I want to feed my family healthy foods and try to save money doing it.  I don't want to feed my family junk just because I didn't pay much for it.

So, are you in?  Can you cut back just 1 meal out this week? Will you put the soda down and pick up a glass of water?  Make one step in the right direction this week.

Free Sample of Dunkin Donuts Coffee

Free Vasca Detergent - Become a facebook fan then click on the link for a free sample!

Free Sample Burt's Bees Toothpaste

Want to know what coupons will be in Sunday's paper?  click here

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Target Deals

Here are some Target deals that were posted on Money Common Sense.  If you find any great deals let me know and I will post them.

Tide travel size $0.97

Use $1/1 any size Tide coupon from 3/7 Proctor & Gamble insert (exp 4/30)
Free after coupon (Thanks Pocket Your Dollars)

Satin Care shaving cream trial size $0.97
Use $1/1 any Satin care product coupon from 3/7 P&G insert (exp 4/30)
Free after coupon (thanks Spectacular savings)

Reach Dental Floss $0.97
Use $1/1 coupon from 3/7 Red Plum insert (exp 12/31)
Free after coupon (Thanks Pocket Your Dollars)

Johnson’s Buddies Soap $0.97
Use $1/1 Johnson’s baby product coupon from 3/7 Red Plum insert (exp 5/15)
Use $1/1 Johnson’s baby product printable coupon
Free after coupon

Old Spice Red Zone Body Wash trial size $0.97
Use the $3/2 Old Spice coupon from 2/21 P&G insert
Two free after coupon

Oral B Stages Toothpaste $1.49
Use $1/1 or $0.50/1 coupon from 2/7 P&G insert
Use $1/1 Oral B Toothpaste Target store printable coupon
As low as free after coupons

Character Bandaids as low as $1.89
Use $1/1 Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid Brand Product, Any from 01-03-10 RP x3/31
Use $1 off Band-Aid bandages Target store printable coupon
As low as free after coupons

Travel Size Bop It! Game $9.99
Use $5/1 Bop It! printable coupon
Use $3/1 Hasbro Game Target Store printable coupon
Pay $1.99 each after coupons (Thanks give me Neither)

Monday, March 8, 2010

New Week

Well, it is a new week and it's off to a bang! My husband has a "situation" at work that we are praying about.  My youngest son and I had a very rough day of school and we had another death in the family this morning.  Another earthquake is in the news and I'm wondering what will come next. Whatever comes will be met with the assurance that God is in control.

Now, on to saving money$$$ I quickly ran by Walgreen's and CVS yesterday. 
Walgreens has a great deal if you need Resveratrol (antioxidant vitamin).  They are on sale BOGO.  Pick up the Walgreen's coupon book in the front of the store and there is a coupon for $5 off.  This will take $5 off of each bottle making them FREE ($20 value). 
Use Nestle Crunch coupon in Walgreen's ad for $.49 each.  Use BOGO coupon.
Honey Bunches of Oates $1.75 each then use $1/2 coupon.
My total bill $3.99  Savings $26.59

CVS - I had to spend a little more money at CVS in order to restock my ECB's.  This is what I bought:
2 Raisin Bran $2.50 each (Saved $2 each) used (2) $1 coupon
2 Corn Flakes $2.50 each (Saved $2 each) then rec'd $5 ECB
2 Pantene Shampoo $3.49 each (saved $1.79 each) $3 coupon
Oral B toothbrush $4  used $.75 coupon rec'd $4 ECB
Always 20 ct. $2.99 (saved $.70) used $1 coupon
Charmin 12 ct $5.97 used $1 coupon rec'd $1 ECB
Used $3 ECB from previous purchase

Bottom Line:  cost $21.28 savings $25.03      PLUS $12 ECB

You can save a lot of money if you use your ECB's to purchase items that earn back ECB's.  I had trouble with mine when we were out of town for the funeral and then I came home and was sick.  I was not able to turn them around like I normally do.

Another note.  I signed up for today.  You can select coupons to be added to your Kroger card so you don't need to print them.  You can check out too.  It does the same thing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Saving Today

The height of frustration is spending all morning poring over sales papers, organizing coupons, and making lists then driving 15 minutes to the grocery store only to find that you left your coupons at home!! I guess this is why you don’t shop when you are sick.

The only reason I was getting out of the house today is because I have not really cooked all week. We have been out of bread for 2 days and the milk is running low again. I thought I could drag myself out of bed long enough to provide some type of food for my family. Boy was I wrong!

I stood in the middle of the Kroger parking lot weighing my options. I could go in the store and just buy the items we need with no coupons. I could drive back home and pick up my coupons and drive back…it’s only 30 minutes out of my life. The final option was to drive home and stay home and try again another day. I chose the first option. I decided I could buy the necessities and things that I was planning on purchasing that did not use coupons anyway.

My purchase total was $49.68. My savings for this trip was $17.11. Not too bad with NO coupons. I bought some of the whole grain bread that was on sale for $1. I headed to the meats that they were marking down as I watched. I bought ground chuck for dinner tonight, chicken breasts to throw in the rotisserie and a 4 lb. box of frozen catfish (product of the USA!).

I did not find a lot of great coupon deals at Kroger this week but this is what I planned on purchasing: Betty Crocker frosting and cookie mixes- $.50 and $.70 each and Green Giant Steamers $.78 each.

Here’s a buy from Walgreens:

Tylenol PM $2.99
Stack with $1.50/1 coupon from the Walgreens March Coupon Book
Free plus $0.50 in overage


Simply Sleep $2.99
Stack with $1.50/1 coupon from the Walgreens March Coupon Book

Free plus $0.50 in overage

Here is a helpful hint about printing coupons online.  Once you have printed a coupon 1 time, hit the BACK button on your browser THREE times.  Most of the time you will be able to print the same coupon twice.

Monday, March 1, 2010


That's how much I spent on groceries in the month of February - $100.43! The retail price was $311.85. My savings for the month was $211.42!!

Now, the last week of February was mainly spent on the road going back and forth to see my Grandmother. This caused us to eat out more than we normally would but it was still not that bad. We had free breakfast at the hotel every morning and I had several meals of homemade bread (from my wonderful little cousin, Whitney) and peanut butter. We really didn't have much of an appetite in the hospital so this worked fine.

Our grocery bill for January was $436 so I am excited to see how March will work out. January was when I was really learning how to use coupons and I was also stocking up on some essentials. I don't expect to spend that much again...ever!

So, how are you doing? Are you saving money with coupons? Do you even know how much you are spending per month? I enter everything into a spreadsheet as soon as I get home from the store so I don't forget to track my savings. This way I am very conscious of how much I am spending.

Tonight I am going to sit down and get all of my coupons ready. I need to clean out the expired ones and file away the new. The grocery ads will come in the mail tomorrow so it’s time to go shopping again. I still plan on creating meals from items that I have in the freezer so I should not have to buy that much.

As soon as I can get myself organized again I will start posting weekly menus.