Sunday, February 28, 2010

How to Clean Out Your Vehicle

I have to say that my van is the one area of my life that I don't keep as clean as I would like. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I only have two hands and I grab the key things like purse and kid. My son also leaves a lot of stuff in there from his toys to books to papers from church to snacks that don't make it in his mouth.

When it comes time to clean it, it can be a pretty big task as I don't do it every week like I should. Here's how I clean it.

First, I go through and get out all the stuff. I collect it into a bag or box.

Second, I collect all the trash and put it in the trash bag I keep in my car and take the full trash bag out and put it in the can.

Third, I shake out all the mats and put them on the ground.

Fourth, I vacuum every crevice until there is no trace of food, trash, or lint. I also vacuum the mats.

Fifth, I take a Lysol wipe and wipe out the cup holders and wipe down the dash and all the hard spots.

Sixth, I use glass cleaner on all of the mirrors and windows.

Last, I put back what we want to keep in the car and put the other stuff in the box back in the house where it goes. I also put in a fresh trashbag. I might spray some Febreeze for good measure.

I hope this helps!

PS Sorry I didn't post for a couple of days. :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Save to Spend

I know that the name of my post sounds funny, but let me explain. I am all about saving money anywhere that I can, on groceries, eating out, holidays, vacations, clothes, and anything else I can find a way to save money on. A lot of people wonder, "Why are you so into saving money?"

Well, I can tell you that one of those reasons is to spend it. :) I know that sounds funny, but here's my logic. If I would have had to spend $80 on groceries, but I because I couponed and matched them to sales, I spent $10, I have "$70". I put quotes around it because I don't actually carry out $70 or necessarily see that in overflow in my budget, but the money we have leftover at the end of the month (which praise the Lord we do now and don't have to dip into savings), can be used for things we really want to do.

When we didn't budget and coupon and save money, we never had any money left over at the end of the month and at times we dipped into our savings to break even. Now, we are able to save some money each month. I would love for it to be more and that rests a lot on me (which actually makes me happy because I can do things to have more money), but either way, having leftover is great.

We can save it for big things that will come up, or we can occassionally use it for fun things we want to do like vacations or special treats like the Circus, where we are going tonight. It is fun to take money I would have wasted on something I still was able to get but for much less money and spend it on something fun for the family.

I would love to hear comments as to what you would like to do with your savings. :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What to Do When Everything is a Mess

A friend of mine requested a blog on what to do when your house is a mess. It is so easy to have your house take you over. I know that we all have great intentions to clean as we go and organize things and keep them that way, but nowadays we are all so busy running here, there, and everywhere, with spouses, kids, and friends to our activities, that before we know it our house looks like a tornado hit.

Have no fear, a plan is here. Okay that was cheesy. ;)

Step 1 - Rally the Troops
I tend to do about 90% of the housework on a normal week as I am a full-time homemaker and my husband works full-time, but when chaos hits or we have people coming over and I don't feel caught up, I get everyone on board to help out. A great way to do this is to offer an incentive. If you have kids that can earn money, you could bribe, I mean encourage them, to help. Or my favorite, offer to take the family out to dinner or an activity when things are back to clean.

Step 2 - Divide and Conquer
I find that when I am cleaning it helps if I don't have someone in the space I am working in. Assign each person a room or a task and send them off to do it. I like to make a list and color code who is going to do what and work our way through.

Step 3 - Straighten
When you walk into a room, the first thing you need to do before you deep clean or organize is straighten up the mess. Put things back where they should have been. Put dirty clothes in the hamper or bring them to the laundry room for a power laundry session (more on that below). Throw all trash into a can or a trash bag if you are carrying one from room to room. Make the bed. This will make a huge difference. I find that most of what drives us crazy isn't the dirtiness but the clutter everywhere. Anything that doesn't have a designated home and needs to be organized should go in a spot of the room or a basket until you do the other steps.

Step 4 - Clean
Dust. Vacuum. Wipe down countertops (they should be clear). Scrub toilets. Scrub showers. Mop the floors. Do any cleaning that the room needs.

Step 5 - Organize/De-Clutter
With everything that you had left over from the straightening step, you now need to decide where to put it. If you don't want it, trash it or put in a donate or yardsale box. If you do want it, figure out the best place for it. My rule of thumb is to group like items. Put books in one spot. Put toys in one spot. Put things that go together together. Also, try to think of the way you would use it. If you would use it with something, put it with that something. Think of the frequency of use. If you use it all the time, put it somewhere easily accessible. If you barely use it, store it somewhere that you can remember where it is.

Step 6 - Try Your Best to Keep it that Way
We spend a lot of mental energy, physical energy, and time letting our house get out of control and having to get it back in control. If you try to keep a routine, it will make things much easier and way less stressful.

*** If your house is crazy and you can't tackle it in one day, break it into pieces, starting with the rooms you need cleaned the most - for me that is always my kitchen and family room. ***

POWER LAUNDRY SESSION - I hate to have to do loads and loads of laundry in one day, but if you are really behind, this is the way to catch up so you can get back to the load a day or every other day rule. The best way to do this is to collect all the laundry in the house. Then make piles/baskets near your laundry room (most needed first). I like to do a whites/white sheets, darks, dark towels/sheets, khakis/nice whites, and nice darks. ALWAYS DO THE PILES THAT NEED IRONING LAST SO YOU CAN CLEAN WHILE YOUR LAUNDRY GOES AND NOT HAVE WRINKLED CLOTHES WAITING FOR YOU AT THE END OF THE DAY. As a load is done, fold it. I like to use my master bed or guest bed after they have been made. At the end of the laundry session, put it all away.

I hope this has helped! :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hosting a Party on a Budget

Everyone knows that I love couponing and getting stuff for a great deal. While I enjoy being able to feed my family on a budget and get lots of stuff for very little money, my favorite thing is being able to be hospitable without breaking the bank. I love bringing meals to people when they are sick or have a baby or a death in the family and I love having people over to our home. I thought that I would break down how I fed 12 people today for a very reasonable amount.

I served Baked Ziti and Chicken Parmesan.

Here were my ingredients:
2 boxes whole wheat penne pasta - $1.50
1 lb 93% lean ground beef - $3.00
1 lb chicken breast tenders - $2.00
1/4 of 4 different peppers (red, orange, yellow, green) - $1.50
1/4 an onion - 13 cents
1.5 jars Ragu spaghetti sauce - $1.12
1 cans Hunt's tomato sauce - 15 cents
2 bags Kraft low-fat mozzarella cheese - $1.00
Parmesan cheese - 50 cents
Bread crumbs - 50 cents
3 egg whites - 25 cents
2 boxes New York garlic bread - $2.00

Total cost of the meal was $13.65. Not too bad. :)

PS My mother-in-law brought a beautiful salad and my sister brought yummy dessert so that helped me out even more.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Organized Party Planning

I love planning and hosting parties. I am so thrilled that we have a bigger house now so we can host more easily. I think you can host people no matter how much space you have, but it definitely is nicer now that we have a separate dining room so we can double up on the dining spots. We are having my belated birthday bash tomorrow and I am thrilled.

Here are some of my tips for successful party planning:

1) Don't freak out if you don't have the perfect house or the perfect space or perfect dishes or perfect food. It's not about being perfect. It's about sharing your home and your food with those you love. That's what hospitality is all about.

2) Give people ample notice so that you get a good turn out. My motto is: The more the merrier :)

3) Try to have a meal that most people would like even if it means a little more work for you. I like to have a couple of main dishes and a few choices for sides. I don't want someone to feel weird that they don't like what I made. I also try to keep it simple.

4) Clean your house during the week before. Don't wait until the day before or worse the day of. You will stress yourself out.

5) Try to have most of what you need for the meal before the day of. Again, it will stress you out.

6) If you know the meal won't be ready, serve a basic snack (chips and dip) and a drink to the guests while they are waiting for the main meal.

7) Let people help you if they offer. They could bring a simple side dish or salad or dessert. It makes them feel good and helps you out.

8) ENJOY YOURSELF! The goal of hosting people in your home is to have a good time. Remember that! :)

Happy Hosting!

Friday, February 19, 2010

FREE Proctor & Gamble Coupon Book

Proctor & Gamble has a FREE coupon book available. Just click on the link below and follow the directions on the website. You have to buy $50 worth of their products to get access to the coupon book. P&G has a ton of products.

http://www.thankyoumom.com/coupons.jsp?utm_source=eds&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=olympicSSE2-Feb17

Olay®
3 - $5.00 Off Olay Regenerist facial moisturizer/facial cleanser

Bounty®
3 - $1.00 Off any one Bounty Towels or Napkins

Charmin®
1 - $1.00 Off any one Charmin product

Pampers®
30 Gifts to Grow® points

Downy®
3 - $1.00 Off any one Downy product

Puffs®
3 - $0.25 Off any three single Puffs products or one three-count pack of Puffs

Febreze®
1 - $1.00 Off Febreze SPORT

Bounce®
1 - $1.50 Off one any-size Bounce Dryer Bar

CoverGirl®
3 - $1.00 Off any one CoverGirl product

Glide®
3 - $0.25 Off any Glide Floss 35M or larger

Oral B®
3 - $0.75 Off any one Oral-B Pulsar™, CrossAction® or Advantage®, or two Oral-B Indicator® toothbrushes

Pepto-Bismol®
3 - $1.00 Off any one Pepto-Bismol product

Scope®
3 - $1.00 Off any Scope Rinse 710mL or larger

Vicks®
3 - $1.50 Off any one Vicks product

Old Spice®
3 - $1.00 Off any two Old Spice antiperspirant, deodorant or body wash products

Old Spice
3 - Buy one Old Spice Body Spray, get one free (max $3.77)

Old Spice
2 - Buy any Old Spice Fresh Collection Invisible Solid, get one free (max $4.29)

Old Spice
2 - Buy any Old Spice Odor Blocker Body Wash, get one free (max $4.99)

Metamucil®
3 - $2.00 Off one any-size Metamucil Capsules product

Metamucil
3 - $2.00 Off one any-size Metamucil Clear & Natural product

PUR®
3 - $3.00 Off any PUR or PUR Flavor Options™ System (Pitcher or Faucet Mount)

Fixodent®
3 - $0.25 Off any Fixodent product

Clearblue®
2 - $1.00 Off any one Clearblue Pregnancy product

Clearblue
1 - $3.00 Off any one Clearblue Ovulation Test

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My 2nd Trip to Harris Teeter Super Doubles

I got all of this for $51.04.
It would have been $121.93.
I saved $70.89 - $38.50 coupons, $32.39 HT store savings.
I saved 58%.


2 Ken's marinades - $3.45 each, on sale for $3.45 for both (B1G1), used $1.00/2 q (Super Doubled) = $1.45 for both
Edy's ice cream - $5.99, on sale for $2.97, used $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = 97 cents
2 Febreeze travel sprays - $2.99 each, not on sale, use 2 $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = 99 cents each
2 Grande tortilla chips - $3.49 each, on sale for $3.00 each, used 3 $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = $1.00 each
6 Nutri-grain bars - $3.55 each, on sale for $2.49 each, used 3 $1.00/2 q (Super Doubled) = $1.49 each
2 Quaker oatmeals - $3.49 each, not on sale, used 2 $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = $1.49 each
4 Ziploc bags - $2.49 each, not on sale, used 2 $1.00/2 q (Super Doubled) =
$1.49 each
1 Quaker oatmeal - $3.65, not on sale, used $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = $1.65
2 Seapak frozen fish/shrimp - $8.45 each, on sale for $8.45 for both (B1G1), used 2 $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = $4.45 for both
2 Dixie sugars - $2.79 each, not on sale, used 50 cents/2 q (didn't double*) = $5.08 for both (THIS WASN'T A SUPER DEAL, BUT I NEEDED SUGAR AND HAD A COUPON)
2 Quilted Northern 12 pk bath tissue - $9.69 each, on sale for $5.99 each, used 2 $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = $3.99 each
Olive oil - $9.69, on sale for $6.97, used $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = $4.97 (I DON'T KNOW IF THIS WAS A GREAT DEAL, BUT I NEEDED IT AND HAD A COUPON)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rainchecks

What is a raincheck?
A raincheck is a "coupon" for lack of a better word that you get at a store when they are out of an item that you want.

How do you get a raincheck?
When you go to checkout, tell the cashier or customer service desk that you need a raincheck for ________ (whatever you needed it for). They will fill out the paper and put all of the specific details.

How do you use the raincheck?
When you go back to the store and find the item you wanted, you present the raincheck at checkout and they will have a manager override the price.

My 1st Trip to Harris Teeter Super Doubles

Spent $21.86.
Would have spent $74.69.
I saved $52.83 - $44.48 in coupons and $8.35 in HT sale savings.
I saved 71%.

2 8th Continent soy milks - $2.99 each, not on sale, used 2 $1.50 q (Super Doubled) = FREE for both
2 Bagel Bites - $2.75 each, on sale for $2.00 each, used 2 $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = FREE for both
Dawn foaming hand soap - $2.99, not on sale, used $1.50 q (Super Doubled) = FREE
Soft Scrub spray - $3.69, on sale for $2.50, used $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = FREE
Quaker oats - $2.25, not on sale, used $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = 25 cents
Soft Scrub cleanser -$3.99, on sale for $2.50, used $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = 50 cents
3 Dannon Dan-o-nino yogurts - $2.50 each, not on sale, used 3 $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = 50 cents each
2 Smart Balance peanut butters - $2.95 each, on sale for $2.50 each, used 2 $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = 50 cents each
3 Welches grape juices - $3.89 each, on sale for $3.00 each, used 3 $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = $1.00 each
2 Cocoa Krispies - $3.19 each, not on sale, used $1.50/2 q (Super Doubled) = $1.69 each (NOT A GREAT DEAL, BUT THIS IS LEE AND LUKE'S FAVORITE CEREAL)
Electrasol gel - $4.99, not on sale, used $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = $2.99
2 Downy fabric softeners - $5.99 each, on sale for $5.69 each, used 2 $1.00 q (Super Doubled) = $3.69 each

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cinnamon Apples - Boston Market Style

Ingredients:
3 apples
2/3 cup water
1/2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp butter, crumbled
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel, core, and chunk (or slice apples).
Lay in dish.

Combine water, flour, cornstarch, and butter and whisk until well mixed.


Add brown sugar and cinnamon and whisk until well mixed.


Pour over apples.

Cover apples with foil.

Bake for 40 or more minutes stirring every 10 minutes.

Sorry I forgot to take the picture and they were half eaten. They were a hit especially with my 4 year old son.

My Plan for My First Trip to Harris Teeter Super Doubles

Here are the things I am hoping to get at my first trip to Harris Teeter Super Doubles tomorrow.

2 Downy fabric softeners - $2.99 each
1 Finish dishwasher detergent - $2.99
1 Dannon Dan-o-nino yogurt - FREE
1 Soft Scrub - FREE
2 8th Continent Soy milks - FREE
2 Bagel Bites - 49 cents each
2 Smart Balance sour cream - FREE
3 Welch's grape juice - $1.00 each
2 Smart Balance peanut butter - 50 cents each
3 Sure deoderants - FREE
1 Dawn Direct Foam - FREE

Obviously it might not work out, so I will be bringing back-up coupons for other items I would be interested in.

I have another batch of coupons I plan to use the 2nd day as you can ONLY DOUBLE 20 PER DAY.

If you want to see the deals as well as what coupons to use and Internet Printable ones that are available, go to www.southernsavers.com and click on Harris Teeter.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Creating a Routine/Schedule

I have always been really into having a routine/schedule. I think it stems back to high school. When I was in high school, I had classes, homework, always worked a part-time job, babysat and had somewhat of a social life. I knew that without organization I would let some area fall and that wasn't going to be good. My mom required good grades in order to keep my job and have a social life. If I didn't have a job, I wouldn't have a car and other fun things I enjoyed getting. So, I had a plan everyday of what I had to do and when I would get it done. This rolled on through college.

When I was pregnant, I didn't have a job or that many responsibilities, so I became a very unscheduled and lazy person. I didn't like that. When Luke was born, I was all about getting him on a schedule so that we could have normal sleeping habits in our house ASAP. By putting him on a schedule, Lee and I got back into having a schedule for ourselves. I flourish with routine. I like having a time slot for each thing I do. It just makes me more productive. Ever since Luke was born, we have had a schedule and I really think it keeps everyone (especially Luke) sane.

That being said, I thought I would write out step-by-step directions as to how I create a routine/schedule for myself in hopes that it will help others.

Step 1: Get out a blank sheet of paper and write down all of things that you want to accomplish in a given week. I like to divide the paper into weekly and daily things. There are things you only do once or twice a week like activities, playgroups, and grocery shop. Then there are the things you want to do every day like pray/devotion, play with kids, sleep, and shower. Nothing is too insignificant. Obviously you won't have the same exact things in the same spots every week, but as a general schedule, put the things you do (or would like to do) on a normal basis.

Examples of what I do:

Daily - Prayer/devotion, Bible study, reading, sleep, hygiene related things, spend time with Lee, spend time with Luke, prayer/devotion with Luke, Bible reading with Luke, homeschooling Luke, cook meals, daily cleaning, exercise, fun time (ie TV/movie/Wii/craft)

Weekly - Bible study/MOPS, grocery shopping, coupon planning, library storytime, Monkey Joes, church, date night, weekly cleaning (put on specific days)

Step 2: Figure out the things you have to do and fill them in at the appropriate times. From that you can see where you have blocks of time to fill in the variable things.

Step 2: Figure out your wake time, bed time, and meal times.

Step 3: Look for blocks of time that you can complete the various tasks you have to do and fill in the ones in a way that makes sense for you.

Make it work for you. Realize it is an ideal and that it won't go that smoothly every day (if ever). You can even make a back up routine or a more basic one with just wake times, bed times, meal times, and the things that are in stone. That way you have flexibility with the chunks of time. If you do that it helps to make a to-do list for each day and that way you don't forget to do something.

Here's My IDEAL Routine/Schedule:

7:00am - Wake up, Devotion/Prayer/Proverb of the Day, Get ready
7:15am - Make our bed, Wake Luke, Help Luke make his bed, Start a load of laundry
7:30am - Make breakfast and Lee's lunch
8:00am - Eat breakfast
8:15am - Clean up from breakfast
8:30am - Chores (M - 1st floor, W - 1/2 2nd floor, H - 1/2 2nd floor, F - 3rd floor)
*Tuesday 8:30am - Leave for MOPS/Bible study
9:30am - Homeschool Luke
10:30am - Snack, Leave for outings
11:00am - Outings (M - Grocery store, W - Library, Grocery store, H - Monkey Joes, F - ?)
12:00pm - Return home, Unload, Make lunch
12:30pm - Eat lunch
12:45pm - Clean up from lunch
1:00pm - Play with Luke
2:30pm - Give Luke a bath, Read books, Get Luke ready for nap
3:00pm - Exercise
3:45pm - Shower
4:00pm - Bible study, Read
4:30pm - Blog, Coupon
5:00pm - Scrapbook, Sew, Watch TV, Relax
**Wednesday 5:30pm - Go to church
6:00pm - Snack, Cook dinner
7:00pm - Eat dinner, Clean up from dinner
7:30pm - Downtime until bedtime
**Wednesday 8:30pm - Return home from church
9:00pm - Help Lee put Luke to bed
11:00pm - Be in bed watching TV or reading until I fall asleep

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Organized Grocery Budget

Before I took the couponing class last May, I had no clue what we spent on groceries. Even after I took the class, I got so excited about saving money, that I went out and got almost everything that I found a good deal for. I had no idea how to stop myself from buying up too much. Yeah, I was getting a ton of stuff, but was still spending too much money.

I was plagued when I would see chicken for $2.00 or less a pound and want to buy up a year's worth. ;) I didn't have a way of knowing how much we would use of it or know that it would be on sale at least every other week (most weeks if you go to different stores).

When we sat down to create a budget (as I spoke of in a past post), we came up with $450 as our goal for groceries a month. To some that might seem like too little and to others that might seem like a lot. Our grocery budget includes all food, personal care, and home care products.

I decided to break it down so that I could really figure out how much I wanted to spend on certain things.

I divided it up into three categories:
1) Monthly things - meats, toilet paper, and paper towels (I aim to buy these things for a great deal and get them at the beginning of the month so that I don't have to go looking for them all the time during the month)
2) Weekly things - milk, eggs, and produce (We go about once a week for these things - I don't include yogurt or cheese because those are couponed items)
3) Couponing things - this is what is left over for me to stretch as far as I can to get pantry food items, cleaning products, and personal care items

Monthly Things (I aim to spend $100 a month):
Chicken - aim to get this for less than $2.00 per pound
Ground Beef - aim to get this for less than $3.00 per pound
Roast - aim to get this for less than $3.00 per pound
Fish (Tilapia) - aim to get this for less than $4.00 per pound
Shrimp - aim to get this for less than $5.00 per pound
Toilet Paper - aim to get this for 12pk for $5.00
Paper Towels - aim to get this for 6pk for $5.00

Weekly Things (I aim to spend $25 a week):
I shop around for the best deals on the produce I want. I tend to shop more stores than the average person because it is worth the time for the savings to me.

Couponing Things (I have about $250 a month):
I aim to get as much stuff (especially things we are low or out of) for my budget.

Once you figure out your budget and break it down, you will find that you have a lot more control over getting coupon-crazy.
REMEMBER: There are always good deals. :)

Purex Deal at Kroger

I just went to Kroger and got 2 bottles of Purex detergent. They were on sale for $2.49 and part of the "Buy 10, Save $3.00" deal which made them $2.19. There was coupons in the paper for them for 35 cents off which doubles which made them $1.49. The best part was:

THERE IS A CATALINA* DEAL GOING!!!!

If you bought 2, you got a $4.00 Catalina. If you bought 3 or more, you got a $5.00 Catalina.

*Catalina = a coupon that prints out of a special machine at the register

HT Super Doubles List at Southern Savers

Harris Teeter Super Doubles List at Southern Savers:

http://www.southernsavers.com/2010/02/harris-teeter-super-double-217/

Look below for details regarding Super Doubles at Harris Teeter and please don't hesitate to ask any questions.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Organized Card Giving

Organized Homemaking is more than just cooking, cleaning, and organizing. It's a heart thing. One of the best ways to share your heart with someone is to send them a card for their birthday, when they have a new baby, when they are going through a tough time, or just because.

It can be hard to remember and cost a lot to just go to the store and buy a card. I found a great way of keeping and organizing cards for all occasions in our home office. I love it because anytime I want to send a card, I have them right in my house and they don't cost as much.

It's a card storage/file "drawer. You can put it in a filing cabinet, but I think it is so pretty, that I sit it out for decoration as well as function. I got this for 50% off ($10.00) at the Christian bookstore. It had a ton of cards included for all occasions and dividers with stickers so you could organize it. The best thing is the cards had Bible verses in them.

I put the stickers on (in alphabetical order of course) and put the cards for the specific occasion behind the divider.

In this case, my friend had a baby boy. I went to the BABY section and pulled out an "It's a Boy" card.


The great thing is I can see when I need to pick up some more of that theme. You can get boxed cards Buy 1 Get 1 Free at Lifeway Christian everyday. When you get them in the boxes, you can file them here.
If you can't find this system, you can just buy the boxes and stack them in your office/wherever you keep office supplies so you have them on hand. You could also use a shoe box or plastic box and create your own system. I just think this was easy and pretty.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pot Roast

This is a two-fold post, 1) to show how to make a simple yummy pot roast and 2) to show how easy it is to bring a meal to another family in the same amount of time and effort it takes to make a meal just for your family.

A lot of people think that pot roast is a difficult, expensive, and time consuming meal to make. I will show you that it is actually very easy (one of the easiest meals I make), takes very little time (again less time than most meals I make), and can be very inexpensive (if you shop for good prices on the main ingredients).

Everything has been doubled to feed 2 families in the pictures, but the recipe is based on one family.

Ingredients:
1 - 1 1/2 lb bottom round roast (I cut the big ones in half when I get home)
A few russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 a bag of baby carrots
1/2 an onion, peeled and cut into thick slices
Salt and pepper
Meat tenderizer
1 pkg onion soup mix
Water

Directions:
Spray crock pot with nonstick cooking spray.

Put roast in (I put them in frozen, but you can put them in fresh).

Cover with salt, pepper, meat tenderizer, and onion soup mix.

Put potatoes around the roast.

Put carrots on top of the potatoes.

Put onions on top of the carrots.

Cover with water.

Put the lid on and set to LOW heat for 6 HOURS.

Leave it alone and in 6 hours you have a perfect roast. It can sit on the stay warm option until you are ready for it. It gets better the longer it sits.


Pull out the meat, carve off the excess fat, and slice into pieces to your liking.


I prepared two sets of roast and veggies, one for us and one for our friends.

Cover with juice so that everything stays moist.

See, wasn't that easy and time efficient?
Now for the cost breakdown for both meals:
Roast - roughly $6.00
Potatoes - roughly $1.00
Carrots - $2.00
Onion - Less than 50 cents
Onion soup mix - 50 cents
I don't count seasonings as it would be impossible and not worth the time.
A [GOOD, FILLING] meal that will feed 2 families for $10.00. You cannot beat that.
PS When I bring a meal to someone, I try to bring it in a throw away container or keepable container. I hate to burden them with having to clean it and return it.

Super Doubles at Harris Teeter 2/17-2/23

I just found out that Harris Teeter is doing Super Doubles next week. It starts Wednesday, 2/17, and runs through Tuesday, 2/23.

What is Super Doubles?
It's when Harris Teeter doubles coupons with a face value of $1.98 or less. Normal doubling rules apply.

What are Doubling Rules?
You must have a VIC card to use and double coupons.
You can only double up to 20 coupons per day per VIC card.
You can only use 3 of an identical coupon.

Tips for Super Doubles:

Shop early. I like to go as early as possible the first day as seasoned couponers get there first thing and the best deals can go pretty fast.

Get the FREE things first. They go first.

Expect that they might not have things. Have back up coupons. I usually like to plan 20 coupons that I really want and bring another 10-20 of backups.

Buy 1, Get 1 Free really means 1/2 price on both. Sometimes they won't let you use 2 coupons on B1G1 Free (ie one for each item).

Be careful of $1/$1.50 off 2 items. They only double up to the total cost of one of the items.

Use your higher face-value coupons ($1.00 and over) before lower face-value coupons (99cents and lower). The coupons under a $1.00 double all the time. If something is a good deal with a coupon under $1.00, then get it after you have exhausted your over $1.00 coupons.

I will put up links to places to find the deals as I find them.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Quick Harris Teeter Trip

I just went in for a quick trip to Harris Teeter today and thought I would share with you what I got. These deals just started today, so they will be good until Tuesday.

This cost $7.50. It would have cost $22.29. I saved $14.79 (66%).

Danimals - $2.50, on sale for $2.00, used $1q = $1.00
Danimals - $2.50, on sale for $2.00, used $1q = $1.00
Oikos - $1.89, on sale for $1.00, used $1q = FREE
Oikos - $1.89, on sale for $1.00, used $1q = FREE
2 Mahatma Yellow Rice - 89c each, on sale for 75c each, used 75c/2 q (dbld) = FREE for both
2 Mahatma Yellow Rice - 89c each, on sale for 75c each, used 75c/2 q (dbld) = FREE for both
Chex Mix Bars - $3.45, on sale for $2.50, used 50c q (dbld) = $1.50
2 Fiber One Bars - $3.25 each, on sale for $2.50 each, used 50c/2 q (dbld) = $4.00 for both

This was a shop where I really wanted/needed everything that I got. I have gotten the bars for less than I paid today, but we really needed them and they were on sale and I had a coupon (the main rule for couponing). :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to Play the Drugstore Game

This is a general breakdown of how to shop at CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. I will be devoting a post to each one individually, but I thought I would give you a general idea of "How to Play the Drugstore Game."

CVS
CVS Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) program is an instant rebate program that prints out CVS “money” on the bottom of your receipt when you purchase qualifying items. They work just like cash on your next purchase (or any purchase before the expiration date). You also get an additional 2% or your total spending quarterly. This program is a great money maker for toiletries and baby items. You can use manufacturer coupons, store coupons, and ECBs on the same item. You need a CVS card (FREE!!!) to access these bucks.

Rite Aid
Rite Aid’s Single Check Rebate (SCR) program is a monthly rebate program that gives you money back in the form of a monthly check for qualifying items. You simply buy the item (hopefully using a coupon in addition), pay for it, go on their website and type in a few things off of your receipt, submit for your check at the end of the month, and a couple of weeks later you get a check. You can only request a check once in the month, so it’s best to wait until the end of the month.

Walgreens

Walgreens Register Rewards (RR) program is an instant rebate program that prints out WAGS “money” on a coupon when you purchase qualifying items. They work just like a cash coupon on your next purchase (or any purchase before the expiration date). You can only use as many coupons as you have items (ie if you have 4 things, you can use 4 coupons – a RR counts as a coupon). You can get a cheap filler item to get past this.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Store Couponing Policies

I think this is the most helpful post I could write about couponing. Every store has their own policies for couponing and you do not want to go in not knowing what they will allow or you will be disappointed. I have a color-coded Excel spreadsheet with all of this information, but I cannot post it on here. If you are interested, email me at ashley-webber@hotmail.com and I will gladly email it to you.

When Do the Stores Run the Deals?

Wednesday - Tuesday
Harris Teeter, Lowes, Food Lion

Sunday - Saturday
Kroger
CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid

*It's best to go the first day and/or the middle of the "week" as that is when they have a good stock.

What are the Store Coupon Policies?

Food Lion (FL)
Accepts coupons
Does not double or triple coupons
No limit to how many coupons you can use

Kroger
Accepts coupons
Doubles coupons up to 50 cents
No limit to how many coupons you can use
Can only use 2 identical coupons (2 identical IP coupons) per transaction

Harris Teeter (HT)
Accepts coupons
Doubles coupons up to 99 cents
No limit to how many coupons you can use
Can only use 3 identical coupons (2 identical IP coupons) per transaction
Can only double 20 coupons per VIC card per day
Every so often, HT offers Super Doubles (doubles coupons up to $1.98) or Triples (triples coupons up to 99 cents) – regular doubling rules apply

Lowes Food (LF)
Accepts coupons
Doubles coupons up to 99 cents
No limit to how many coupons you can use
Can only use 4 identical coupons per transaction
Can only double 20 coupons per LF rewards card per day

Walmart
Accepts coupons
Does not double or triple coupons
No limit to how many coupons you can use, however if you use more than 40 a manager will be called

Pharmacies – CVS, Rite Aid (RA), Walgreens (WAGS)
Accept coupons
Do not double or triple coupons
No limit to how many coupons you can use
Put out their own coupons that you can stack with a mfr’s coupon

Membership Clubs
BJs accepts coupons and you can stack them with BJs coupons
Costco does not accept coupons
Sam’s does not accept coupons

Where Do You Find the Deals?

Most people think you have to take store ads and analyze them to death to figure out how to save a few pennies on stuff, but that is not at all how I coupon. In fact if that was the only way, I wouldn't do it. I don't have that much time. There are websites that tell you exactly what the deals are going to be (as early as a week in advance), what coupons to use, where the coupons came from (including links if they are Internet Printables), and what you should expect to pay for the items. They are fabulous!

1) Southern Savers - www.southernsavers.com – she lists all the deals for Harris Teeter, Kroger, Food Lion, CVS, BiLo, Walgreens, and Rite Aid
Southern Savers is my favorite website for couponing. Not only does she list the deals, but she has click boxes that create a printable shopping list. It is as easy as it gets.

2) A Thrifty Mom – www.athriftymom.com – she lists deals for some stores and also other thrifty deals that come along – she posts a few times a day
I love A Thrifty Mom in that she posts a lot of random things like, "How To Get a Free VeggieTales DVD" or where to go to get coupon booklets sent to you. She is out west so there are things that aren't applicable to us, but there are so many things that are that she is worth checking out. She also runs contests for free coupons and other neat things.

3) I Heart Sites – www.iheartcvs.com, www.iheartwags.com, www.iheartriteaid.com – these sites list the deals for the pharmacies weeks in advance sometimes
I don't really use these, but I thought I would share them.

4) Store Ads – compare the ads to your coupons
This is not really necessary if you go to Southern Savers.

5) Just go with coupons you want to use and compare at the stores.
I do this ONLY when I am going to the store already and I have specific coupons that I want to use. Example - I love Frank's Redhot sauce and we use it a lot for Buffalo Chicken Tenders. This is an item I don't have to get for free to entice me. I like to get it as cheaply as possible so I will carry them with me to Kroger and Harris Teeter (my main stores) and if they have it on sale or at a price I want to pay with the coupon, I will use it. I always have a limit to what I want to spend on certain items. I will do a post with those prices soon.

How Do You Use These Coupons?

COUPON + SALE = COUPONING SUCCESS

You match the coupon to the sale that a store is having.

Example:
Lysol Wipes
Regular Price $3.19 (Never pay full price!)
Coupon $1.00
Final Price $2.19 (Yuck!)

Lysol Wipes
Regular Price $3.19 (Never pay full price!)
Sale Price $2.00
Coupon $1.00
Double Coupon $1.00
Final Price FREE (YES!!!)

Obviously this is a perfect example as you just got $3.19 Lysol Wipes for free, but after you get the hang of it, you will do this so much you will actually won't want to pay for certain things. I will be posting a post entitled "Where Do You Find the Deals?" after this post. That will show you how to figure out how exactly to get Lysol Wipes (and lots of other things) for free or pennies.

How to Clip, Sort, and File Coupons

A lot of people think that clipping, sorting, and filing coupons takes a long time, but I can tell you from experience that it really doesn't take very long. I like to do this when watching TV as I can't stand to just sit and watch TV. I usually get 1 or 2 papers (have been known to get 4 when there are a lot of inserts). It doesn't matter how many papers you get as you can stack and clip them in the same amount of time it takes to clip 1 paper.

As I clip the coupons, I make piles based on my categories. My 1st set of piles is very general: non-cold foods, refrigerated foods, frozen foods, personal care, and cleaning.

Once I clip all of the coupons and put them in the general piles, I pull each set and divide them into more specific categories (AKA my binder categories). I only do one set at a time so the piles don't get too crazy at once.

Then I go through each spot in my binder and pull expired coupons and put in the new coupons.

If I have the same coupon but it has a later expiration date, I put it in the same slot but in the back. That way you don't use a coupon that expires two months from the day you are using it before one that expires two days from the day you are using it.

This is an easy process especially once you do it a few times.

How Do You Organize Coupons?

This is the method that I highly recommend as it is easy to use and once you set it up, it doesn’t take much time to maintain.

The Binder System:

Supplies You Will Need:
Zippered 3-ring binder
Sheet protectors
Baseball card pages
Cardstock
Index tabs

I also recommend keeping a pen and a little pad of paper/notebook (to write down the deals you want to get), scissors (for cutting your coupons), and a credit card sized calculator (to aid in figuring out the deals) in your binder.


This is the "Check Out" page protector. As you are using coupons in the store, you can put them in this protector so when you get to the checkout all of the coupons you are going to use are there.
This is the "This Week" page protector. You can put your individual baggies/envelopes in this protector for the upcoming week. You could also use it to put coupons that are getting ready to expire so you can look at the store to see if they are worth using.

This is the "Re-File" page protector. This is great if you carry the binder into the store and pull coupons and don't want to put them back where you found them right then.

How to Make It:
In the sheet protector put a piece of cardstock that tells the category.
Use an index tab with the category listed on the edge of the sheet protector so you can flip to it quickly.
Put baseball card pages behind the sheet protector for your coupons.
Put your coupons in.

Another recommendation is to keep Ziploc baggies or envelopes labeled with each store you frequent to put your coupons in. You can just take that into the store if you don’t want to bring in the big binder.



Categories:
By product type?
By aisle?
Alphabetically?
Pick a method based on how your brain works.You can have as many categories as you want or as few as you want, it’s up to you.

POTENTIAL CATEGORIES FOR YOUR BINDER

Condiments, Sauces, Marinades, Dressings
Pasta, Rice, Potatoes
Beans, Veggies, Canned Meats
Canned Fruit
Fruit Snacks
Salty Snacks
Sweet Snacks
Cereal and Oats
Other Breakfast (poptarts, cereal bars, etc)
Breakfast Mixes
Baking Mixes
Baking Needs (oils, flours, sugars, spices, etc)
Breads
Beverages
Dairy (milk, eggs, yogurt)
Deli Meat and Cheese
Meat
Refrigerated (biscuits, doughs, etc)
Frozen Fruits
Frozen Meats and Meals
Frozen Sides and Veggies
Frozen Desserts
Tooth Care (pastes, brushes, floss, etc)
Face Care (cleaners, toners, moisturizers, etc)
Makeup
Soaps/Body washes
Lotions
Deodorants
Hair Care (shampoos, conditioners, stylers, etc)
Shaving (creams, razors, etc)
Feminine Products
Baby Care Products
Medicines/Vitamins
Paper Towels
Toilet Paper
Cleaners
Laundry Care
Dish Care
Air Fresheners
Storage (baggies, foils, paper cups, etc)
Office Supplies (batteries, lightbulbs, office stuff, etc)

* Use any category you like, more or less, it’s your binder.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl Food

I love The Super Bowl and not for the obvious reasons: 1) the game (I don't care about football), 2) the commercials (most of them are for beer), 3) the half-time show (don't enjoy watching filth). I LOVE MAKING FOOD FOR MY GUYS. I enjoy eating it also.

This year we had a nice spread. We had everything from different chips and dips to buffalo bites to meatballs to sweet treats.

I served Grande tortilla chips with salsa and homemade queso dip (see below for the recipe) and plain potato chips with ranch dip.

I also served Tyson boneless buffalo bites and honey bites, bagel bites, meatballs (see recipe below), and Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Butter Cake (see recipe below).

YUMMY! :)

Easy and Tasty Meatballs

Ingredients:
1 (16 oz) meatballs
12 oz grape jelly
1 cup BBQ sauce

Directions:
Mix BBQ sauce and jelly in pot.

Cook on medium-low heat until the grape jelly melts and blends into BBQ sauce.

Add meatballs and mix.

Cook at least 15 minutes (the longer you cook them the thicker the sauce gets).

Enjoy! :)