Friday, December 5, 2008
Which brings me to my next "be creative" item!
Did you know you can freeze milk? How about cheese? Bread and meat? Of course! I buy an extra turkey around Thanksgiving and keep it in my freezer until spring (when I'm no longer sick of turkey) I cook it, have a meal with it, and save the breasts in freezer bags with some of the skin and juices to reheat for another meal. I pick off all the "shredded" meat and separate it by color in meal-sized portions in sandwich-sized freezer bags. Next time I make soup... I add a bag of dark turkey meat. Next time I make a casserole? I add a bag of white turkey meat. I estimate that a turkey that was .58c a lb costs about $1 lb after its cooked and off the carcass. Not bad!
I do the same thing with ham. I dice it and freeze it for 1/2 hour on a cookie sheet and put it in a freezer bag. Then I have it to add to omelets and other dishes.
http://www.hotcouponworld.com/ has a long list of things you can freeze in addition to my own.
Grow a garden!
No room? How about a container garden? How about a city plot? Or a friend's house? Start with what costs you most in stores. Usually tomatoes and herbs. Those can be grown in pots! We grow pumpkins because we (sort-of) have the space and a $1 packet of seeds produces our pumpkins that we used to pay $20 for in the fall... plus extras - this year my girls actually MADE almost $20 selling our extra pumpkins!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
From Cheapo at www.hotcouponworld.com
Free Playtex starter nurser (bottle)
Playtex is the leader in infant care and wants to address the growing public confusion about plastics used in baby bottles. Playtex offers a broad selection of BPA-free infant bottles, pacifiers and cups. The links on this page provide more information about the materials used in our infant feeding and soothing products.As a demonstration of our commitment to you, we are offering free samples of the Playtex® Drop-Ins® Original Nurser System, which are BPA-free.Please fill out the form below to receive your free Playtex® Drop-Ins® Original Nurser System.Please allow several weeks for your free sample to arrive. We are increasing our inventory as quickly as possible. In the meantime, you can purchase Playtex® Drop-Ins® Nurser Systems at most major retailers, including Babies ‘R Us, Target, Wal-mart, and many major grocery stores, and drug stores. Thank you for your patience.Please limit one per e-mail and one per household.Link
Inside this sample is a coupon for $1 off... the drop-in liners - if I remember right. These are the older style bottles, but with my experience using both, I really preferred these over the curvy ones.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
People always ask me how we save money. We are definitely NOT role models (just look at our dining-out budget!) Here are some tips for getting started.
Stock up when it's on sale. Before last spring, when cereal went to $2 or lower, I'd stock up, especially if I had coupons. I've been able to cut that figure almost in half now, usually getting cereal for $1 box or lower, thanks to knowing how to use coupons now. We go through a lot of it. On my expired trip to Cub a few weeks ago, I got cereal for .35c a box. On average, though, I pay .75-$1.25/box. My goal is to never, ever pay more than $2 a box.
Name your top 5 or ten.
Make a list of things you go though a lot of, spend a LOT on, or that you know have significant sales prices. Start out with those as your top priority to save on. These, in our house, have been:
Uncle Ben's Wild rice
Generally, anything under .20c a diaper was a good deal, and a stock-up deal if it was around .18c. Little one had a sensitive butt and couldn't use generics, and Pampers and Luvs leaked, so we had to be brand loyal to Huggies (regular or Supreme) or the Pampers Cruisers, if we had to. (funny our older one couldn't use Huggies, lol!) Make a mental (or actual!) list of these figures for these products in your market. And stock up....see next item!
Use the Expiration Date as a guide. Estimate how much you will use of that product before then and load up and don't be shy. I did this with the Uncle Ben's wild rice boxes that usually run $2 a box when I could get them for .75c/box. They had an 18 month shelf life so I bought about 10... to last until April 2009. Guess what. There is only one left in my pantry from that purchase. Another example. Last spring around Earth Day, there was a sale on Poweraide. Since DH wasn't drinking pop then, and we had lots of outdoor projects to do for the summer, I knew we were going to be getting a lot of it. Last year I paid $1 a bottle for it because I hadn't prepared. This year I looked at the "x" date of Nov. 2008. Figured 1-2 bottles a day and came up with 180 bottles. That was a little out of our budget, so we got 90... At .70 bottle, AND a free 24-bottle case of Dasani bottled water for EVERY 10 poweraides. (and if I bought 20 powerades and 2 cases of water, plus the free items (loaf of bread and a re-useable bag) I hit the $25 mark and got the free items... so I did that 4 times!) $63 for 90 32 oz Powerades, 9 24-pk cases of Dasani, 4 loaves of bread and 4 re-useable shopping bags. Too bad Cash Wise limits their free items to one per family now :(
Many people just buy 2 or 3 of the item when its on sale instead of one. Really think about it. Every time you do this you are locking in that good price instead of going out and buying it at full price when you find out you need it. (of course, you have to weigh the savings against how good the sale is, how frequently it goes on sale, how much room you have to store it, and how much cash you have) This used to mean spending a LOT extra money for us. Now, not so much, because we can live off our pantry for a while while we spend our cash loading up on another item. We also save time because I don't HAVE to go shopping every week. We started small. Mostly with those things on the list up there. And don't kick yourself if you realize you "messed up" and didn't take advantage of the deal or paid too much. Its a process. In the next round, you'll do better!
Oh, and one last thing:
WIC. I miss being on WIC. Please people. If you qualify for it.... GO FOR IT! You wouldn't deny yourself a tax write-off, would you? If the WIC is available for you, use it. Their primary focus is nutrition, and it was easy to have the nutrition bases covered when we were on it. Yes, we could have gotten by without it, but it gave us the ability to make our $$ go further, which is always a blessing. For those of you who don't know, if you are pregnant or have a child under 5 you may qualify. When you qualify you get free formula (9 small cans/month) several gallons of milk, a few pounds of cheese, eggs and peanut butter. I found a way to use all of that stuff, even if I didn't think I needed it. I'd use the Peanut butter in the next time we had to bring a dessert... Cheese on tortilla chips instead of some other snack, etc.
I haven't even TOUCHED the issue of coupons yet but I better call it quits!
Stay tuned... I'm going to put together a post of deals that are very easy "free" or "GDA" (gosh-darn AWESOME) for all my friends that say they don't have time for couponing or don't know where to start.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wow. I saw "Fireproof" last night. That was a great movie. Very well done and I was gripping my seat though most of it! Not bad for a movie with a small budget. It's a great movie for anyone, especially married folks or those who want to BE married... or anyone who wants out.
Save money - dont get a divorce! LOL
Friday, November 21, 2008
"Yesterday 10:58:58 AM mminnich51207
Not sure where to post this, but it's helpful: I wanted to give everyone a heads up that if you tend to give gift cards around the holidays, you need to be careful that the cards will be honored after the holidays. Stores that are planning to close after Christmas are still selling the cards through the holidays even though the cards will be worthless January 1. There is no law preventing them from doing this. On the contrary, it is referred to as 'Bankrupcy Planning).
Below is a partial list of stores that you need to be cautious about.
Circuit City (filed Chapter 11)
Ann Taylor- 117 stores nationwide closing
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine's to close 150 stores nationwide
Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January
Cache will close all stores
Talbots closing down specialty stores
J. Jill closing all stores (owned by Talbots)
Pacific Sunwear (also owned by Talbots)
GAP closing 85 stores
Footlocker closing 140 stores mo re to close after January
Wickes Furniture closing down
Levitz closing down remaining stores
Bombay closing remaining stores
Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January
Whitehall closing all stores
Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.
Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ ( New Brunswick )
Macys to close 9 stores after January
Linens and Things closing all stores
Movie Galley Closing all stores
Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores
JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores.
Wilson Leather closing down all stores
Sharper Image closing down all stor~s
K B Toys closing 356 stores
Loews to close down some stores
Dillard's to close some stores
Wow. Thats crazy! I've noticed a lot of stores offering the "buy $100 giftcard, get a $20 giftcard free" but now I'm not so sure!! I'm bummed about Bombay. I like their stuff and never get to go there. I wonder if they are closing our JCPenny's. Its totally worthless for toddler clothes and 4-6x girls clothes. That store is about 3000 square feet. I knew it was bad when they let a farm store move in to anchor the mall's other end, lol... Maybe JCPenny's IS closing!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
BUT... if its been a little while since you cleaned out your coupon file, you might find some expired Post $1.00/2 coupons. Rumor has it that Cub (or any grocery store??) will give you a catalina (checkout coupon) for $5 off your next giftcard purchase... which I just buy a grocery store card for that amount with it.... This past week, Cub was selling many post cereals for 5/$10, with 2 of those (expired) coupons, my total was $8... and then I got a $5 giftcard. Not bad! remember, though, it has to be one of those in the cities.
I took pictures but I'm just to plain tuckered out to post them tonight.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Though we don't celebrate halloween, we always have fun carving pumpkins. I was proud of Kate for picking a green one - I love how she dosen't mind being a little different :)
I did the Counting Our Blessings one (I love the surface carving stuff), and L-R, DH did geek-speak for "home", Kate carved a moon and stars and I helped Ava with a butterfly.
I guess they are called Progressive Fruit & Vegetable Scoops.... er, I call them worthless-except-for-carving-pumpkins circley-thingies.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Don't forget to check out your area's radio station for savings vouchers. They work like a gift certificate that you buy a $10 voucher for $6 or something like that. I am even subscribed to my areas stations that do that so I receive their super-hot limited time deals in my inbox. Works great for those admission fees at places and oil changes.
Here are the two I know of that are available in central MN. You can pay online and have them mail them to you or pick them up.
WJON's Value Connection
Spirit 92.9's Shop N' Save
Don't know of any around you? Try calling one and asking if they know of any. Many times radio stations are owned by parent companies and a sister station might offer these deals.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I assembled my gutter. Ours are aluminum, and I had some hesitation because they are rather large, but hopefully it will look ok. They look a bit like a piece of coving, so I figured I don't need to add any decorative wood box around them. Just the ends look a bit goofy because of the endcaps on the outside. I can always put a plant that will drape over that to cover them.
I used some silicone caulk. I didn't think to look at the store for some sort of food-grade sealer. I may line them in alum. foil or something. As for drainage I think I will just borrow some rocks from our landscaping and line the bottom inch with and and add some vertical straws though to help the bottom "breathe." I can't wait for the caulking to dry so I can plant it!
All and all, I paid a whopping $2.50 for the endcaps, so if this is a beta-version, thats ok by me!
So now I have a winter garden project idea. Many times lettuce goes to waste in this house. With the short shelf life and my Crohn's always being an issue, it dosn't get used up. Last year I grew lettuce, and it was "good" for quite some time, as long as it was in the dirt. So I am brainstorming a windowsill lettuce 'window box' and adding a little cilantro and basil too (and transplanting some celery). I hope you can grow lettuce indoors. I'm willing to try.
AND I mentioned to DH that a section of rain gutter would be just right for our windowsills, and then I'd build a decorative exterior to it and he reminded me we have extra gutter up in our garage! Yay! So I just have to buy a couple ends and I think we have a tube of caulking around here somewhere. Still trying to figure out the drain pan. I think I am going to try to rig up some self-watering/seeping system to keep the soil moist enough (esp. since it will be winter). Then the only problem will be where to put the plants that are currently on my windowsill...unless I take over DH's south-facing home office window, LOL! Hey, they say plants enhance your work morale, right?!
Ok, time to get cleaned up and go to the store!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Continue on to this post for step by step instructions and more details...
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Dirt. Supposed to be 10 yds black, then we were going to get 5 yds. compost. So much for that - the guy delivered WAY too much! We only could use 4 beds this year because we didn't get to the pile left in the bottom bed. Put it this way - after each bed was filled with 8 more inches of dirt, that pile didn't look much smaller! (We are storing quite a bit on the TOP of the hill now - ugh - lots of work!)
-is is just me or is the neighbor's grass GREENER? LOL (DH had just de-thatched)
2008- Harvesting pumpkins -- 22 0f 'em. Too bad moles got to most of them.
2008 harvest recap:
- Apple tree died, but looks like it wants to resurrect itself as a bush. Need to transplant it though because its too close to the playset we just built)
- blueberry vine never took
- grape vine I thought died regrew - hoping the blueberry one will do that next year
- 22 pumpkins (about 14 chewed by moles)
- 3 squash (too many to count chewed by moles)
- LOTS of Roma tomatoes (canned 4 spaghetti sauce, 4 pizza sauce and made lots of bruschetta! -- AND ketchup - the kids love it too - and I know whats in it!)
- about 35 red potatoes
- Lots of chives, celery
- peas and beans had an early demise due to deer and a storm washing an avalance of dirt onto them from that surplus dirt pile.
- 4 cantaloupe
- 3 heads of Broccoli (didn't know it would regrow - but the plants were crowding out the peppers and celery anyway) -- WOW! This was the best broccoli EVER! (first time growing it too - i guess this is one thing that FRESH is definitely best!)
- Onions... did ok. They fell victim to little toddler size 6 pink crocks stepping on them, though.
- Forgot the thin the carrots (again). Used about 6 in soup, etc, the rest (scrawny ones) fed to some deer at the sanctuary
- not enough rhubarb to do anything with (still planted in clay, though)
- about 4 peppers. Enjoyed inviting parents out for Stuffed green peppers, as a thank you for sharing all their knowledge on canning/gardening with me (as well as helping put it in!)
- Corn... this is embarrassing - I planted FEED corn by accident!! We always buy our seeds at the farm store that has chicks in the spring (as a thank you for letting my kids handle/maim/infect them, lol). I bought it out of a bushel basket that I could have sworn said Sweet corn. So...First meal, early season, was a little chewy...thought maybe we picked it too early. A few weeks later canned/froze several (like 10 cobs worth) and have 4 more cobs that evening for dinner and was WAY rubbery! Then I knew.....
Looking forward to an even better growing season next year!
2009 - plans
- I am planting twice as many tomatoes, as the canning was fun
- 4 broccoli instead of 3, I think
- SWEET CORN next year, duh.
- Want to get in a little 3x3 bed of strawberries (I'm the only one that likes them)
- Transplanted the rhubarb already
- Planting a little extra corn
- Might skip carrots. I always forget to thin them and the grocery store always has them as the free item, or cheap anyway.
- Thought about skipping the potatoes since we aren't real big potato eaters and they take up a lot of room -- and are cheap to buy.... But then my picky eater found she liked them pan-fried (I know I know, fried -- BUT she eats them with MY ketchup!)
- Watermelons by special request from said picky eater.
- and pumpkins, of course! (fun to grow, and MUCH cheaper to grow your own!)
I have this all drawn out on graph paper - I'll try to post that sometime.
Can you grow garlic? In zone 3-4??
I wanted to get that bottom bed cleared out but never go to it. Its getting kinda late to do it too - we had our first snow flurries today!
It's obvious that this garden is too small. When we were putting it in we debated about making it 16 feet wide, but I wanted to conserve the middle of the hill for sledding and open play area. There is not much room to add on on the top or bottom. We are planning on putting a terrace on the top with our fire pit and maybe eventually grow our grapes on lattice up there, for a privacy fence. On the bottom of the garden, it is low, and I was thinking about putting a dry "riverbed" garden there and try to grow some asparagus there as well as flowers.
Yes, eventually moving out to a hobby farm is a dream - but I like the challenge of making it all work on this city lot -- and I don't think I could convince my DH to put in another raised garden again!! (I LOVE it!)
Thanks for reading my mega-post!