For the month of March, I've been doing some super serious hounding - and it shows. I'm currently stocked up beyond belief on cheese, popcorn, crackers, Cheetos, canned soup, and beef stew meat....but, I'm still looking for the next big FREE!

The good news - I've finished up all the shopping needed for our family's Easter baskets (my sister's family, too!).

Total Retail Value: $2,127.51
OOP = $264.89
Savings = $1,862.62
Coupon Savings: $823.87
Quantity of Items: 712
Number of FREEs: 272
Savings Percentage: 88%
(I'm new to calculating percentage saved totals, so if I didn't calculate it right, please let me know.)
Thanks to Fantabulously Frugal for the shout-out. Check out her post Baskin Robbins 31 cent scoop night!

Fantabulously Frugal: More Ice Cream! 31 Cent Night at Baskin Robbins#links
I bet each one of us conjures a different image when we read the word cheap. What does this mean to me? I’ll feature some highlights from last week:

My family & I utilized 2 FREE Redbox Movie Rental Codes: Savings over going to the movie theater = $45.00 – ate some free popcorn at home, too!

Lunch out at Subway ($12.05) vs. Applebees (25.00, minimum) Savings = $12.95

Mom’s Birthday party total cost to feed 10 people $13.94 vs. restaurant (I can’t even imagine). I love those freebies from Target (like 5 lbs. of FREE beef stew meat!)

Tank of gas – $12.33 (used fuel rewards from Jewel) vs. nearest gas station $19.45. Savings = $7.12

Birthday gift for Mom (pearl and goldstone necklace with handcrafted copper spacers) $3.05 because I made it myself. Savings…..I can’t even imagine buying something like that in the stores, the sticker shock would kill me!

All these little things we do to save a buck (or 2, hahaha) really add up. Whether you make your own greeting cards, say no to takeout just once, use a fistful of coupons, or find a cheaper means of entertainment – all these little things we do really add up. So my challenge for the month of April, keep a running tally of how I save, from gifts to entertaining, from clothing to groceries. I want to see how my little sacrifices add up! Anyone up for a challenge?
At Meijer:

Classico Pasta Sauce 2/$4 -$.50 Manufacturer coupons -$1/2 Mealbox coupons = $1 a jar!
Peter Pan Peanut Butter 3/$5 -$1/3 Mealbox coupon = 3/$4


Cheetos (4 oz. bag) $1.29 -$1 SuperTarget coupon = $.29
Artisan Breads $.99 -$1 SuperTarget coupon – FREE

I’ve heard rumor of a big sale coming up at Jewel on Wednesday/Thursday, so if anyone still has some lingering catalinas, waiting until Wednesday might be a good choice.

Also at Jewel:

Post cereal: If you buy 5 boxes (10 oz. or larger) of Post cereals tagged 2/$5, you'll get a $5 Catalina back for your next order. To sweeten the deal, if you buy the next cereal (in groups of 2), you’re price for cereal is 2/$3. Check your coupons, there were some matchups from the 3/1 inserts!

Honey Bunches of Oats
Honey Bunches Just Bunches
Grape Nuts
Shredded Wheat
Post Raisin Bran

Cereals also triggering this deal, for $2 a box:
Cinnamon Grahams
Fruity Pebbles
Post Selects
Alpha Bits

At Ultra-Foods:

$.68 lb. Green Grapes
$.99 Rinaldi Pasta Sauce - Limit 2


$1.69 gallon of milk (Country Delight) Limit 3
$1.49 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
$1.99 Xtra laundry detergent - Limit 2


Still running their buy 10 save $5 deals from last week.
Match a $.75 printable halls coupon for FREE cough drops.
I tried this recipe for some full-flavored ranch dip using a light sour cream base - I did add 2 T. finely chopped red bell pepper and 2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled. Let me know what you think!

Living Easy: Recession Buster Blasts #8-Homemade Ranch Dressing
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After DaMama's birthday party, I was too pooped to do my typical batch cooking, so our meals will be on the lighter side this week. I have plenty of bread, mushrooms, and cheese to work with, so those will be my building blocks for the week.

Monday - Hickory Chicken and Ham Panini's with Havarti, dill spears, baked chips, and tomato soup
Tuesday - Hamburger Helper, corn, and roasted red tomato filone bread.
Wednesday - Swiss & Mushroom Omelets, bacon, toast, green grapes, strawberry smoothies
Thursday - Onion Brats, loaded baked potatoes, side salad, cream corn
Friday - Triple Cheese Pizza, stuffed mushrooms (minus the turkey bacon)
With so much of my shopping done using coupons, it's bound to happen that some of the service I receive is either far above or below the standard expectations. What does that mean for me? I mentally grade each store on the following criteria, from a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being dissatisfied, 10 being highly satisfied):

Efficiency: If I ask a sales clerk to help me find an item, see if an item is in stock, or to ask to see a current sales flyer, their response time is almost as important as them answering the question I have asked.

Service/attitude: Many stores treat couponers differently than other customers - liek we are less entitled to customer service simply because we use coupons. Some stores/clerks even treat you like you're taking money out of their pocket, while other stores and their associates are more than willign to offer you a coupon, a free sample, an instore magazine, etc.

Training: If I know more about the store's policies (pricing, what to do when an item rings up incorrectly, coupon policy, competitor price match, etc.) than the staff does, we have a problem. If the staff is properly trained and willing to help - I'm more likely to be a return shopper at that location.

There are differences from one store to another in any given chain, just like there are some chain stores that perpetually exceed or fail to meet the standards.

Each week I'm going to single out 2-3 stores I have visited and let them know how I liked their service - even if there is no survey on my receipt. The stores that are less likely to give a survey are the ones that really should!

For this week, I've selected the following stores/restaurants for review:

Kohl's - receives a 9 out of 10. Reason: An additional discount was offered when the coupon I wanted to use had expired. This was offered quickly, and the clerk, Janet, was very friendly.

Jo-Ann Fabrics: receives a 3 out of 10. Reason: I had forgotten my flyer at home (naturally I notice this when I reach Jo-Ann's and I'm not close enough to run home for it. The sales clerk promptly tells me there is no flyer. The next clerk, cannot help me find the item I came in for (I found it myself), and the 3rd checkout clerk wasn't able to tell me my total when she rang it up. The store was clean and instock, which is the most I can say for them.
All you hostesses (and hosts), here's the challenge: spend no more than $5 out of pocket for your Easter dinner. How can anyone do that? Ransack your pantry and use stuff that's already on hand, use gift cards, coupons, do a potluck, whatever keeps your $$ in your pocket!

How do I plan on doing that? Here's the skinny (on keeping my wallet fat). Know your menu, know the number of guests, know where the coupons/sales are.

Here's my planned menu for Easter, to feed my family of 3, my sister's family of 4, and any inlaws that want to stop by (which can easily number 15-30).

14 lb. ham - bought for free with giftcard (Meijer)
Mashed potatoes & Gravy (2 - 5 lb. sacks potatoes at Target $.49 each) & gravy mix I have on hand
Spanish Rice - Love this stuff with anything
Green Bean casserole ($.75 Q's for Del Monte veggies used at Dominicks with their current promo = FREE and cream of mushroom soup at Target $.27 each)
Salad - Must wait until the week of Easter - what's on sale determines what kind of salad I'll be making
Cheese & Crackers - use FREE cheese from Kraft deal 2 weeks ago and $.60 a box crackers from same deal
Deviled eggs - Egg's have been on sale left & right, last time I bought 18 count large for $.97 at Dominicks.
Bread/rolls: Artisan bread at Target $.99 -$1 printable Q = FREE (I'll freeze 2-3 of these to use for Easter) & tortillas
Dessert: Apple Crisp (I have all ingredients on hand)
Dessert: Cinnamon Roll Brownies - I have all ingredients on hand.

For all those Target printables, go here.
If I can score a deal on baked beans or pork 'n' beans, I'll try in some baked bean casserole. If there's no sale, I'll use refried beans instead - I have those already on hand - organic and FREE, too!

I'm so excited for my sister & family to come for the holiday, I still can't believe she's making the drive from Minnesota! I have been hounding a bit more vigorously this past month in the hopes she'd make the drive and come shopping with me. She wants to learn more about hounding, so I am praying for some good sales so I can show her the ropes. I wonder if she'll need a trailer to take back all the goodies? She did last time! Good thing I'm stocked on FREE boxes...
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10. I sign up for any emailing list that promises coupons on your birthday
9. I took a couponing class and thought I could have taught it
8. I have 90+ boxes of FREE popcorn
7. The most exciting thing to happen to me this week was the $4 Pace salsa coupon
6. I have envied someone else's coupons
5. Once I "bought" 46 boxes in one transaction because it was FREE
4. I get more than one Sunday paper delivered
3. I complain if any coupons are missing from the above mentioned papers
2. I shudder when I have to spend actual money on food
1. I know the coupon policy for the stores in my area and have had them faxed to me.

How do you know you're addicted to couponing? Let me see your list!
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Party planning madness! My mother's birthday is tomorrow and I'm just going to wrap up her gift today, which is very last minute for me. I have a small start on gifts for next Christmas, but for her birthday, as I am the only one that will be hosting, planning, etc. I really go out of my way to make sure it’s special.

This year, I’m trying to do it on a tighter budget than ever before. My plan is tomorrow is a girl’s day out. Lunch, shopping, maybe a movie – you know, all the things girls love to do. Saturday, we’ll follow that with pedicures. And Sunday’s the big party.

By big party, we’ve invited 25-30 guests, as they are all family, there is no idea how many may show up. The low numbers will bring us about 8-12, the high numbers – well, the largest get-together DH & I have ever hosted was around 20-25. Since 8 and 25 are quite a distance apart, I’m concerned about the menu. I want to offer a few choices, without getting stuck with more leftovers than my family of 3 can eat in a week! I try to keep the menu simple as it is served buffet-style, and I want to spend zero time in the kitchen cooking. I try to keep everything oven or crockpot prepared or I lean toward simple salads and party trays.

For a colder weather party, I usually have some nice bread, a pasta dish, salad, and a veggie platter set up, but I still want this to feel special, so I have 2 loaves of filone artisan bread with roasted tomato, my classic spinach salad, cheese cubes aplenty, baby carrots, but I’m trying to come up with a classy pasta dish that feeds a crowd and is pretty good leftover. If it can include beef, all the better, those deals at Target keep calling my name!

If I have the time (and the inclination), I may even throw in a potato dish, since the sales are too good not to use them! If only the weather would have been in the 60’s instead of the 40’s I could have done a BBQ with potato salad, burgers, brats, baked bean casserole, chips and dip, and salad/veggie tray.
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I will admit at my last job, I made a point of going out for lunch each day. Granted this was 2 ½ years ago, I was earning 25% less than I do now, and I only worked 3 ½ days a week, which meant I ate at McDonald’s, Subway, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell often. Though I always ordered from the dollar/value menu, it was $2-4 dollars a day for my lunch habit. Over the course of the year, that lunch habit cost me approximately $430. That’s nearly 2 months worth of grocery budget now!!

Now I eat out for lunch once a month, twice if I forget or didn’t have enough leftovers planned. My eating out budget for lunch each month is $10. I can break it down any way I like, but I’m not allowed more than that. And it is so gratifying. As I sit here eating my homemade sandwich of an English muffin ($.17), 2 slices of ham (free), and an egg scrambled ($.05), banana ($.16), and some Cheetos ($.10), it hits me. I’m depending on me.

Before I started getting serious about meal-planning, I was stressing about what to make for dinner, I called my DH once to ask what he thought of grilled cheese sammies for dinner. He responded that he wasn’t really excited about that idea, why not pick up a rotisserie chicken on the way home? Why not, I sputtered. We have a house full of food, healthy, well-balanced meals shouldn’t be all that difficult to come up with, could they? And I hate paying $5-$7 for a small, sometimes overcooked, chicken that doesn’t even come with any side dishes! I’d still end up cooking.

While my reaction was instantaneous (the voice in my head screaming, Uh, no or something a tad more colorful along those lines), the solution took a little more work than that. I admit I now cook enough meat (or entrees) for 2 dinners plus lunch leftovers for each meal I prepare. Right now I have 5+ lbs. beef stew meat in the fridge for tomorrow’s dinner. Looks like a huge batch of beef stroganoff. I have a chicken to roast for tonight. And you can bet I didn’t spend $5 for it. I only spent $3.07. With all that leftover money, my chicken will taste even better and I can afford a side dish. And hello, leftovers – here I come!
A huge, huge thank you to my friend, Amanda, over at The Martha Initiative, for the amazing deal I pulled off at Target yesterday! I had been redeeming only one of each coupon per transaction - until Amanda told me that it was one coupon stack per transaction, not one like Target coupon per transaction. This will save me sooo much time and energy, which is a complete godsend!

I walked out of that store with:
8 cans cream of mushroom soup: $.52 each - (4) $.50/2 Q's
2 bags Green Giant potatoes (5 lb.) $1.49 - (2) $1 Q's
3 pkgs. beef stew meat - $1.99 lb. (3) $2 Q's
2 bags (4 oz.) Cheetos $1.29 - $1 Q's

Savings: $19.87
OOP: $4.09 (that includes tax)

After seeing how cheap the Market Pantry soups are ($.52) here, I will go back today for another dozen. I use this stuff like it's going out of style!

There's a great giveaway over at Frugal & Fabulous, courtesy of M. Avery Designs. Thanks to I Am A Money Magnet for putting up this post! I love an adorable handbag as much as the next girl, don't you? And one that is made using fabric remnants - even better! Good for the environment as well as fashion. What could be better?! So go over there, and leave a post - there's nothing better than cute and free.
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I'm still yammering away about the great deals I'm finding at Target. The ladies at HCW gave me this deal:
$1.49 5 lb. bag Green Giant potatoes -$1 Target coupon = $.49

Pairs well with:
$1.29 Cheetos (4 oz. bag) -$1 Target coupon = $.29
$1.99 lb. beef stew meat -$2 Target coupon - $.13-$.48
$1.67 Mott's 6-pk. applesauce -$1 Target coupon -$.55 manufacturer coupon = $.12

I just love hounding!!
At Target yesterday, I found Try Me Free stickers on some Hillshire Farms Deli Meat: Here's what you have to do: Purchase (1 per receipt) Hillshire Farm Deli Select Ultra Thin Hickory Smoked Chicken Breast Lunchmeat and send in:

1. UPC symbol from package
2. 3x5" index card with name, address, city, state, zip, and email
3. Original receipt with Hillshire product circled

Purchase product by 6/30/09 and send in request postmarked no later than 7/31/09.
Please allow 6-8 weeks for processing

Send to:
Hillshire Farm Try Me Free Offer
P.O. Box 6154, Dept. A
Douglas, AZ 85655-6154

So naturally, I bought one of these and am sending out my request today. If I don't do it right away, it may get lost, filed, or forgotten. Besides, that's one more thing off my kitchen table, which is currently being populated by the coupon fairy.
With all this cheap beef stew meat from Target, this will make meal planning this week a snap!

Monday - Cheeseburgers with potatoes julienne and spinach salad
Tuesday - Pulled Pork sammies, green bean casserole
Wednesday - Garlic Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff, garden salad, french bread
Thursday - Ground Turkey Tacos, Spanish Rice, refried beans
Friday - Taking Mom out to lunch/dinner for her Birthday!
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Birthday party for Mom - BBQ time (weather permitting).

Dessert of the week: Almond Cookies
Target is where it's at today! I've printed out 6 more Mott's coupons from (I love their Target coupon generator), you get to select how many of each your print! Pair this with the $.55 off coupon at Mott's website for some $.12 snackpack (6 ct.) of Mott's Applesauce. Great for kids and adults, a healthy snack on the go, and at $.02 per servings, pretty affordable too!

Don't hit that print button yet, keep reading!

Staying at Target's coupon generator, you can snag some Cheetos for $.29 a bag (small size, please) and grab some Sutton & Dodge beef stew meat - just use the $2 off coupon through the coupon generator from Target.

Here's how it worked for me yesterday:

1 Mott's applesauce 6 pack - $1.67
1 grab bag of Cheetos - $1.29
1 Sutton & Dodge beef stew meat $2.48
-$.55 Mott's manufacturer Q
-$1 Mott's Target coupon
-$1 Cheetos Target coupon
-$2 Sutton & Dodge beef Target coupon
OOP: $.94 - and $.05 of that was tax!
I saved $4.55.

The only down side is that Target coupons specifically are limited to one each per transaction. So, bring a friend!

And from 4 Hats & Frugal - Target just keeps getting better! Combine it with her deal on Quaker oatmeal & granola bars. Yum! And don't forget your Quaker Printable Q's!
All the stars are in alignment, the internet is working at home, the batteries are charged, and the Market has recently been spruced up. Here are a few pictures of Annie's Market:

I've got two large shelves that hold most of the items in the Market, though next week, I'll try to get pictures of the collections taken. It never fails to amaze me what bounty I yield from hounding.

I popped into Jewel last night, to roll my cats, after they had "fixed" the lopphole for the cheese and planters $0 OOP (plus tax) and changed gears - going after some crackers now. After all that cheese, crackers are the next natural thing. I wasn't too surprised that the BOGOF Q's from last Sunday's insert (Wheat Thin Artisan Crackers) were long gone. But, what I did notice were peelies for $1/2 on the crackers - and I do love some good peelies.
Here's how it broke down, I ran 2 transactions:

Transaction #1
3 boxes Chicken-in-a-Bisket crackers $4.15 sale price
3 Boxes Cheez-Its Reduced Fat crackers $2.48 sale price/10/$10 (preferred card)
4 boxes Wheat Thins crackers, assorted varieties $4.15 sale price
-$1/2 peelies (5)
-$10 cat
-$3 cat
+$.30 was tax
$6.30 for 10 boxes of crackers
Savings of $30.74
And got another $10 cat.

Transaction #2
6 boxes Nabisco Graham Crackers, assorted $3.75 sale price
3 cups Kraft Easy Mac, assorted flavors $1.08 sale price
-$1/2 peelies (3)
-$10 cat
+ $.19 tax
$2.19 for 6 boxes of crackers and 3 cups Easy Mac
Savings of $23.55
And got another $10 cat.
I think of the cats as the bank, and I periodically go and "refresh" my money!
Isn't it funny how time has a way of changing us? Two years ago, I had mostly bare cupboards, an empty freezer, and a handful of generic condiments in the fridge. Now I truly feel like I'm living in the land of plenty. Nothing against generic BBQ sauce, but I'm not giving up my Sweet Baby Rays!

Fast-forward to today, I have an overflowing freezer, a full fridge, better tasting meals (by far), plenty of flavor, I've lost 75 lbs. (and kept it off!), and have set up what I affectionately call "The Market".

The Market is my pantry: not the little one in my kitchen, the one I've created for myself in the basement - complete with shelves (one sturdy shelf, one not so sturdy shelf), and a series of boxes for my collections. My collection of popcorn or my collection of marinades, or even my collection of granola bars. It becomes a collection when there is an abundance of an item that simply will not fit on the shelf. Not that I'm complaining!

What does all this mean to me? There is no running out to the store because I don't have any ________. It means I shop in the market twice a week, have plenty of choices in my meal-planning, loads of ingredients, a variety of lunches, 9 different cuts of pasta, more than 12 different marinade flavors, dozens of spices, nearly every cake mix flavor I've seen on a store shelf, and cereal - do we have cereal?!?! 5 different flavors of Cheerios alone!

Every 2 weeks, I spend 30 minutes straightening the market, doing any rotation that is necessary, checking expiration dates, maintaining a list of items that we're running low on. When I finish taking stock of the market, then it's time to gather a bag (or 3) for donating. After working with what I have, I know what I simply have too much of, and make sure it gets used or given to those in need.

How do you build a market of your own? Every time you see a decent price on something advertised in the stores, make a point of searching for a coupon to go with it. Search online for all the TMF coupons (Try Me Free). Make a point each day of signing up for some coupon, freebies, or anything that can help you save a little bit of money. I'll never forget how surprised I was to find a coupon for $1 off Butterball Turkey Bacon, which was on sale for....$1 a pkg. Yep, it was FREE.

The market took about 3-4 months to create (and that doesn't include buying and assembling the shelves!) and that included heavy couponing. To me, heavy couponing means completing a transaction, on average, every day. I shop often, even running the same transaction a couple of times or until I get stocked up. If the coupons are good enough, I'll spend 2+ hours on Saturday morning grabbing some extra deals, though I like to save gas and shop/hound during the week, on the way to and from work.
1 pkg. chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. flour
1/4 C. milk
1/3 C. unsweetened applesauce (or margarine)
1 tsp. mint extract
1 C. mint chips (or chopped Andes Mints)
1/2 C. dark chocolate chunks
Green sugar sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.
Grease a 13x9" baking dish.
Mix well ingredients except chips and chocolate. Stir in mint chips & chocolate chunks. Spread evenly into prepared baking dish. Top with green sprinkles (if desired).
Bake for 25-28 minutes. Cool and cut.
Yield = 24 bars.
Monday - Pulled Chicken Sammies, hashbrowns, collards/salad

Tuesday - Corned Beef, Cabbage, Potatoes, and Carrots - Happy St. Patty's Day!!

Wednesday - Spaghetti Marinara, garlic cheese bread, spinach salad

Thursday - Lemon pepper chicken strips, hashbrowns, corn, tortillas

Friday - Portabella Ravioli in Vodka Sauce, spinach salad

Saturday - BBQ Pork Sammies, potatoes au gratin, green beans

Sunday - Leftovers

Dessert of the week: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Brownies
A big thank you goes out to my friend, Amanda, over at The Martha Initiative for the following deal. At Jewel, buy 4 Kraft 2% milk cheeses (bricks or shreds) and 4 Planters Trail Mix, pay only tax (after $13 in cats). Yep, love it. And for me, that $10 Jewel giftcard will come in quite handy - and it did. 5 times, in fact! Judging by the amount of stock left on the shelves, I'm not the only one following Amanda's advice!

Then it was over to Dominicks for some cheap Quaker granola bars, Peter Pan peanut butter, Tropicana Pure Premium (OJ), Ritz crackers - hey, I need something to eat all that cheese on, and 18 ct. eggs - only $.97! Yep, love it there, too.

Though, here's where I'm not feelin' the love: At Aldi (yes, I went there, but am trying to reduce those visits to every other month, I swear!), the generic peanut butter, house brand granola bars, OJ, and eggs, milk, and bread were ALL priced higher than Jewel or Dominicks sales this week!!! Using 12 different items as a reference, I found only 2 that were cheaper at Aldi than elsewhere this week.

What truly surprised me was the crowd gathered at Aldi. The aisles and parking lot were filled. Considering how budget conscious society is now, (obviously, I'm no exception), I was stunned to hear the totals while I bagged my groceries. Most shoppers spent well over $100 for what they could've gotten for half that at Jewel, Meijer, Dominicks, and Ultra this week. And, most of the time - they'd be receiving better quality, flavor, and nutritional value, too!

So, if anyone out there can help me find a better deal on ground turkey, onion soup mix, tomato sauce, and canned cream of mushroom soup, please let me know. I'd love to never shop Aldi again!
I hope the rest of the day can be as productive as my morning has been! I called Catalina Marketing this morning about some cats that didn't print for me, and in less than 5 minutes, the problem was diagnosed, the store contacted to fix their jammed printer, and I'll have my cat in the mail by Monday! Love it!!

I know most people wouldn't go through the trouble that I have, but I am tired of other people keeping my money (or coupons, which I simply view as another form of money). I've got another Jewel to leave a comment about - at least comment is going to be a good one - the last 2 comments I've left regarding stores: policies, pricing, coupons, service haven't been positive.

A bonus to running multiple transactions at any given store versus the "traditional" way of shopping: surveys. Fill out this survey and receive (lately) a FREE loaf of French bread. And I got 2 of them!!! Yep, looks like I'll be making some french bread pizza next week (hey, at least it goes with all that cheese!).

So, for this week - I've scored:
2 - FREE loaves of French bread
1 - $10 gift card for Jewel - for a $5 cat that didn't print
1 - $10 catalina - for a $10 cat that didn't print.
I haven't seen too much this week that interests me, but here are the Top Deals & Steals:

Dominicks: I am loving their Super Coupons (featured in the front and sometimes middle section of the weekly ad). Valid from Thursday-Wednesday:
$.99 Lucerne Large Eggs - Limit 1 with $10 purchase
$.99 Quaker Chewy Granola bars - Limit 1 with $10 purchase
$.99 Peter Pan Peanut Butter - 18 oz. - Limit 1 with $10 purchase ($.70 Q)
$.49 Kraft Mac n Cheese - Limit 1 with $10 purchase
$1.97 Tropicana Pure Premium OJ - Limit 1 with $10 purchase
$1.99 Smithfield Bacon - 12-16 oz. - Limit 1 with $10 purchase

To round off this deal, I've found:
$1.88 Ritz Crackers - Limit 3 (I'm sure I have coupons for this)
These will give me my $10 limit, then I'll be stacking on my coupons, store and manufacturer coupons, that is.

I'm still all about the cheese.

$.75 each (15-17 oz.) Tony's pizzas. Get 'em before they're gone.

10 for $10 - Get the 11th Item FREE Sale:
8 oz. Pennsylvanian Dutch mushrooms - great filler item in sauces and recipes
Flat or Curly Leaf Spinach (10 oz. bag)
Organic Green Onions
Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix ($1/2 Q)
Bisquick (20 oz.)
Aunt Millies English Muffins ($.35/1 Q)
Quaker Rice Cakes ($1/1 Q)
Ziplock Bags/Saran Wrap

$.98 lb. Corned Beef Points - with $10 purchase
$.98 Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper ($1/2 Q)
$.58 Starkist Chunk Light Tuna - limit 4

Haven't checked all the smaller markets yet, will post any deals I can find there later today.
It's been some time since I had enough poor customer service that I could sit down and do some good, old-fashioned complaining, but after last night's shopping excursion - I have plenty of fuel for the fire. I started off with Walgreens, and the cashier and assistant manager that refused to ring up my order, I had the in-store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon for the Garnier shampoo/conditioner. Thinking this was a great deal, on sale for $2.99, $2 off Easy Saver coupon (store coupon) and a $1 off any (manufacturers coupon). It comes out to free. Yep, that's a good price.

The cashier saw my coupons and refused to even scan them. I was told bluntly, "It no work." So I calmly asked why it couldn't work and was told that she couldn't take $1 off because the item was $.99. I asked if there was any way to key it down and was told no, it was against corporate policy. I decided to go for broke at this point and ask what the policy states. For this, I received an angry stare and the cashier called the manager. The assistant manager joins us at the register and tells the cashier she was right, not to ring up the coupons.

I say excuse me, since the cashier and manager are talking about people "trying to get away with this" all day - as if I'm not even standing there! I asked point-blank, "Are you going to complete my order?" Again, was told I had to add another item to my order.

At this point, being fed-up and frustrated. I meandered around the store for another moment, and then left the shampoo sitting at the register that refused to ring my couposn and left, disgusted. I guess this is why WAGs stands for Wild Ass Guess. I never would have guessed they would turn down a sale for a $.01, but - it will cost them more time with the complaint I have filed.

And I haven't even gotten into Jewel, being told that there is a limit on how many catalina coupons you can receive, how many you can use per order, and why they don't scan properly.....but that's a complaint I have yet to file.
Monday - Leftovers
Tuesday - Roast Beef in Gravy over mashed potatoes, with salad and collards
Wednesday - Penne Rigate alla Vodka Sauce, salad, garlic cheese bread
Thursday - Burgers and tater tots, corn
Friday - Baked Catfish, spanish rice, refried beans, salad
Saturday - Date Night!!
Sunday - Enchiladas con picadillo con mole, nachos, frijoles, arroz

Nope, I don't speak Spanish, but I do speak food!
I hit the motherload - of cheese! Kraft has a few cats out there through Jewel (and other Supervalu stores). For every $25 you spend in participating Kraft items, receive a $10 cat towards your next purchase. To make it even better, there is a concurrent cat running for $3 OYNO when you purchase any Kraft 2% cheeses. With it on sale from $4 to $2, here's how this great deal works:

Grab 7 Kraft cheese items, including 4 2% cheeses (bricks and shreds). Your total (before preferred card - always scan your preferred card after scanning your items) will be $28. Scan your preferred card, your total drops to $14. Use 1 $.75 blinkie coupons, if you have any of them left. Your total is now $13.25. You receive a $10 cat and a $3 cat. For your next transaction (self-checkout works great here) - this time only $.25 OOP (all you are paying is tax). I've done this deal 9 times now. I'm going to get stocked up on cheese for the next 6 months.

There is nothing more satisfying than finding a great deal - like this - on something you use every week. I mean, free popcorn and salsa are nice, but for me, cheese is a building block in so many recipes, it's nice to have such a versatile staple so affordable.
After much anticipation, DM & I attended the Super-Couponing2 Class that I had signed us up for at the local library. Though I know the ways of the coupon (much like a samurai knows the ways of the sword), I was hoping there were many new things to be learned. I was sorely disappointed.

With all the local hype about this couponing queen, I expected more than a frenzied, condescending, arrogant woman here to tell me that I'll never be able to understand (or replicate) the deals she's able to get, but she'll do me the favor of trying to educate me. Needless to say, I was so far less than impressed, I had to struggle not to laugh (I contented myself with the occasional derisive snort).

She told us about catalinas (duh), store vs. manufacturer coupons (hello), and how to combine them for the best deal (wait, I've been doing that for years - thanks to my hounds at the Grocery Challenge message board). She peppered her lecture with many assurance that we weren't expect "to get it". I so badly wanted to jump up and shout you're right, you're absolutely right - I am mentally deficient.

For an "advanced" couponing class, shouldn't she have a bit more to offer? She should at least know someone that knows someone, that knows someone (etc.) with Catalina Promotions and can give us a better heads up on what deals are coming down the pike. Or couldn't she have possessed super coupon finding abilities? (Outside the resources I'm already aware of.)

I didn't fully appreciate all the help, especially from the message board and all my hounds over there, Hot Coupon World, and the blogs from fellow hounds. All her concepts and ideas were already well-known to me. I know how to stack, multistack, roll cats, I've been getting free items at a record pace this year - and I have no intention of stopping or even slowing down.
I have a wonderful problem. No, you're not going crazy - I actually said that, but in my own defense, I have a good explanation. Really, I do.

I have a full freezer. My freezer is loaded with tasty deals and fabulous freebies. I've got meats, fruits and berries, chocolate and candies, veggies, and cheese - don't forget all that cheese loaded in, neatly (okay, not so neatly) packed in. I have a 2-part (though, still wonderful) problem:

1. Most pressing part of the problem is that I can find sales on the good stuff far faster than my family has been eating it. Unlike the rest of the country, I have more deals that I can find space or time fill. I do not take all the credit, or even mouch of the credit for that - my hounds on the pound have been great at keeping me in touch with the best deals, prices, places to go, and steals not to miss out on. If it wasn't for the freezer being full - I'd have no problem at all with this.

2. The inability to find the item you're looking for the moment you need it. Hmmm, I think that's called organization. Yeah, that might be it. It sounds like something my mom would say (and since I think she's pretty darn smart), I'll go with that. Last summer/fall - I went through and organized the entire freezer....and that system lasted less than 2 months. I made spread sheets, counted how many of each item was in there - grouped them by category, and I can now understand why it didn't last. That, however, is another story unto itself.

Loving the organization I see on other blogs (I'll blame lbmoore (at Living Easy) and DHunny (at 4 hats and Frugal) for making it look so easy. I've started, slowly, building meal plans, got the pantry organized, coming up with a new system - rather than being the lazy fool that simply grabs "something off the top" of the freezer and that becomes the meal. Or, if I get too busy to do my batch cooking, we're back to the dreaded soup, sandwich, or breakfast dinner rut.

My new plan is to involve the family (that way no one can decide they're "not in the mood" for something) and spend 15 minutes each Sunday planning the meals (lunch and dinners) and getting some feedback - positive, I hope - about this new way of organizing during the week. This Sunday will be our trial run, and I'll report what progress is (or isn't) made.

Wish me luck!
Here are the highlights I've found in the Dominicks flyer. With overlapping promotions, all the items listed here are on sale from Friday-Sunday.

Buy 5 - Save $5, Mix & Match selected cereals (more than 50 to choose from):

Kelloggs Corn Flakes $.99
Quaker Life $.99 (printable Q's $1 off = so it's FREE)
Post Raisin Bran $1.49
Post Fruity Pebbles $1.49
General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios $1.99
Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats $1.99

I don't know what other cereals are on offer, but I'm gathering all my coupons and going to see!

$1.99 10 lb. bag potatoes
$2.49 - Safeway water 24 pk.

Also, using in store coupon (with $10 purchase, before coupons) limit one each per transaction:

Oreos - $1.29
Classico Pasta Sauce - $1.27
Pillsbury cake mix - $.79
Safeway Oats - $.99
Knorr Lipton Side or Veggie Plus - $.88
Cocoa Cola 24 pk. - $4.99
Tostitos Scoops - $1.77
Finally got my monthly totals for February tallied:

Before discounts: $833.02

OOP: $207.99
Savings: $625.03
Q Savings: $166.68
Qty Items: 304
# Free: 103

I love seeing the numbers in the free column going up!
Who moved my popcorn?!@&^!?

Last night, DM & I went out to grab some more of the ridiculously cheap popcorn (free plus tax, of course). I was stunned when the first Jewel we stopped at had one lone box (that looked like it had been stepped on, repeatedly). Foolishly, we ask the teenagers working there, and receive the standard blank look and reply "Whatever we have is on the shelf." I bite my tongue to keep from replying that whatever they had is long gone by now, otherwise we wouldn't be enjoying this polite exchange of conversation.

Being seriously miffed at this point, we head to the next town over, since their Jewel is often under-shopped, we're hoping we can score one transaction apiece. However, the fates had far more pointless plans in mind for us. At this Jewel, there were 3 boxes left one the shelf (still not enough for a transaction - we need 8). This store has employees everywhere - none of them know when the popcorn will be back in stock, though one employee offers his opinion, "Well, why not get the other brand?"

Not having enough time to educate him in the ways of the dollar (or the coupon), I smile, thank him for his help, and walk away, knowing the only thing I want to do is soundly berate the person in charge of ordering the stock, who will not be at the store until the next day, at some unseemly hour, like 6 a.m.

Then, since Dominick's is across the street, and at this point, I need to either scream at someone, or get some sugar in my system, we decide on doughnuts, again Jewel has 2-3 left in the case - one with a large dent in the center. Yum. Off to Dominick's we go.

I still have 1 printable coupon for the Campbell's Select Harvest and 1 (not expired) coupon from the paper, so I figure I'll pick up 4 cans of soup, grab some doughnuts, see if the Vodka Sauce is really $2 a bottle (I've never seen it that cheap and I've always wanted to try it), and check the reduced meat bin. And you know - it still isn't my night!

The only flavor of soup left is Southwest Veggie - not the Tomato Basil I simply adore, so no soup. The Vodka sauce worked out, so I grabbed 3 of those (really hoping I'll like it). Reduced meat bin is still overpriced for my tastes, but.....what is that? The doughnut case is full! There are more than 3 sad, pathetic looking doughnuts and they even have the ones I like (nothing beats an apple fritter). Giggling with excitement, and after the night we've had, that is no small feat, we rush over, grab our dozen doughnuts, and skitter up to the checkout.

If only it were that simple. The doughnuts that were supposed to be on sale for $3.99 a dozen rung up at $7.08! Let the girl finish my order, turned to the manager (who was bagging my groceries) asked him if the doughnuts were supposed to be on sale. He rushes off to check their price, I meander up to customer service, noticing a sign that says if the item rings up the wrong price, it's free. He comes back, refunds the $7.08, which after tax becomes $7.20. Finally, a long night of shopping is done.

But, the good news: I got free doughnuts. I guess I can live with that.
With all the food in the fridge and freezer, it's hard to narrow down to a single choice, but here goes:

Monday: Beef & Potatoes in a Mushroom, Garlic Gravy with corn
Tuesday - Free Arby's Roastburgers!
Wednesday - Spaghetti with a Creamy Marinara with mushrooms and red bell peppers, garlic bread
Thursday - Paninis with Roasted Peppercorn Beef or Asian Sesame Chicken, tater tots, green bean casserole
Friday - Catfish Nuggets, red rice, tortillas, spinach salad with sun-dried tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese
Saturday - Pizza
Sunday - Penne Rigate with a hearty Italian 3-Meat Sauce, topped with shredded mozzarella, garlic bread, spinach salad

Dessert Options: Lemon Almond Biscotti or Dark Chocolate-Raspberry Brownies
For all the times I've gotten popcorn, it's never tasted as sweet as this. Jewel regularily sells Act II popcorn (3 count box) for $3.25. Yes, it's robbery, I know. I think the fools that pay that are laughable, but hey - it takes several of them to "pay" for one of me.

Jewel, however, has been gracious enough to put them on sale for me. $1.25 a box, to be honest - it's still not a great price.

Though, thanks to our friends at ConAgra (the company that owns the brand Act II), there's a deal where "Buy $25 in Con Agra products, receive $10 coupon OYNO." And when you ring up 8 boxes of popcorn, regular price would have you at $26. Scan your preferred shoppers card, you are down to $10.XX. The register gives you the $10 OYNO coupon. All you actually spend is tax. Which here can range....

So, I've bought 64 boxes of popcorn. Yes, my sisters family as well as my own will go through all that popcorn, as well as using some to donate to the local food pantry.

Total OOP: $1.34
Savings: $208.00

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