Chicagolandia
With my sister & BIL coming in from MN, I have been trying to prep (bare minimum though) for DM’s move and for the out-of-towners. I’ve got some work done already, and a little left to go. Here’s where I stand at saving $$ with guests.

1. Dinner is cooking as we speak. I’m making a huge pot of creamy marinara in the crockpot, I boiled the spaghetti last night, and have pulled some bread out of the freezer for some garlic toast. I tossed in 2 bell peppers and some mushrooms that needed to get out of my fridge, so less food being wasted. OOP = 0!

2. I have tons of portable meals/snack foods on hand for everything from quick sammies (garlic chicken salad, salami, or even bologna), mini cookies, yogurt, granola bars, bananas, apples, and strawberries. Not to mention 6 different kinds of chips. This will make feeding the hungry movers a cinch. And to drink? Bottled water or soda – from the free 2L Coca-Cola/Keelber cookie deal last week.

3. For Friday – I’ve got some great pizza coupons to put to good use, and plenty of stuff we can grill. Provided it would stop raining long enough to do that. Naturally, I count on it raining all weekend. Pizza coupons are taped to the fridge (so I don’t have to find them again).

4. A/C & heat have been off…since last week. Every bit helps.

5. I’ve been getting to work early to post and check the sales online as home computer is very slow and I have little patience. Also, saves me electricity. An unexpected perk. I’m also using work’s electricity to make the marinara. Love it!

6. I did stop by WAGS for the Nivea/Rembrandt free after RR stuff, naturally, they were out of Nivea, but I got the Q’s rolling with Rembrandt. Double bonus? DM needed a backup toothpaste. Checked another item off her list. While I was there, I grabbed a free REDBOX movie. Bedtime Stories was cute, silly, and lighthearted. Exactly what I needed.

Haven't done much other shopping, etc. Though I have been toying with a quick stop at Jewel tonight to use some Muir Glen pdf-style Q's that are expired. According to the signs posted, Jewel stops accepting expired coupons on May 1st! Better use those up while I can. And I have 20 of them!! Cheap tomato paste, here I come!!

So, what have/will you be doing to save? I'd love to hear some fresh ideas!!
Chicagolandia
BBQ Meal for 6 for $5 & this includes dessert!!

3.5 lbs. chicken drumsticks @ $.59/lb. = $2.05
2 T. dry minced onion = FREE (cvs brand coupon)
2 T. garlic powder onion = FREE (cvs brand coupon)
1 tsp. cumin = FREE (cvs brand coupon)
1 tsp. basil onion = FREE (cvs brand coupon)
1 C. mesquite marinade = FREE ($1 Lawry’s Q’s paired with 10/$10 Meijer’s sale)

2 dozen tortillas at $.26/dozen = $.52 (Jimenez Market)

Spanish Rice – rice = $.22, tomato sauce = $.20, chicken bouillion = FREE

Head of lettuce = $.49
3 T. sundried tomatoes, chopped = $.22
¼ bell pepper, julienned, $.09
Kraft Salad Dressings = $.08 per bottle (after $1.50 Q)
Extra sharp cheddar cheese = FREE (Kraft cheese sale at Jewel in March ‘09), shredded
1 bottle Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce = FREE

Rub chicken with spices and cover with marinade. Let marinade for 2-4 hours.
Spanish Rice Recipe here.
Shred head of lettuce, place in large glass bowl and top with sundried tomatoes, julienned pepper, and cheese. Serve dressing on the side.

1 box Betty Crocker Brownie mix ($.79 on sale -1/$2 Q) = $.29
Unsweetened applesauce = $.02, vanilla extract = free, 1 tsp. cinnamon (free) (to make brownies - unsweetened applesauce as substitute for oil)

1 lb. fresh strawberries = $.79 lb.

Serve brownies with strawberries on the side for a decadent treat.
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Chicagolandia
Over the weekend, DH & I tried to keep the spending low, though we desperately needed to get out of the house for a little while. I am sure we could have done better, but here's how the pennies fall:

Friday - I brought lunch from home, ate at the office, and didn't make any shopping trips. DH went to Menards for a grill brush and a a part for the toilet (very romantic) and spent $8.27. Not too bad.

Saturday - We didn't want to be in the house while the landlady was showing it (seems rather awkward) so we went to McD's for breakfast $8.84. Then we dropped off a bag of donations to the food pantry. To round out the day, we stopped by Half Price Books to sell some old books/VHS/magazines and made $8.50. Nearly broke even! But I took the $$ we got from HPB and tossed it into the savings jar. On the way home, we used a free redbox code and grabbed a movie. Total OOP = $8.84. We also kept the lights off until 7 p.m., but did have the fans running. It was really muggy. Yech!

Sunday - DH went to a movie with a friend, used his MovieTime card and scored a free ticket (which we hadn't counted on) and brought some movie snacks from home that he received in his Easter basket. Afterwards, he stopped to visit his family and grabbed a strawberry milkshake on the way home. OOP = $3.65.
For me, I went grocery shopping with a friend, and spent $58.28, and got lots of stuff for both households, since DM is moving into her own little place soon. Very soon. Kept the lights off, but the fans ran much of the day. I'm trying to keep from turning on the A/C until we move to the new townhouse! For my treat, DH made me a strawberry, coconut, banana smoothie which used some of the overripe bananas on the counter. Yummy!!

Then yesterday (Monday) - I stopped by Ultra Foods, grabbed 3/$5 Xtra Laundry detergent, got a raincheck on the 10/$3 yogurt, and grabbed 4 lbs. margarine @ $.79/lb., 3 lbs. turkey bologna @ $1.00/lb. and a box of Cocoa Puffs for $1.67 -$.75 Q. I was thrilled to receive a reusable bag credit of $.05 for each reuseable bag I had! Whoo-hoo - $.10 back in my pocket!! After all that, I spent $12.53.
On the way home, I had to get gas, so another $14.75 was spent.

Total OOP for Friday-Monday = $98.05 - it's a bit higher than I'd normally like to see, but we've still been doing great at keeping our spending down.
Chicagolandia
Come here and grab your code! 4CW33N. I love movie Mondays!!
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Chicagolandia
This will be a crazy week with packing and moving, so many of my meals will have to be made the night before and reheated whenever we get a chance to eat. As DH & I are moving in a few weeks and DM is moving this weekend - it's going to be crazy busy!!

Monday - Hamburger Helper, salad, garlic toast
Tuesday - Garlic Roasted Chicken, mashed potatoes, and veggie
Wednesday - Scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, fresh fruit, toast
Thursday - BYOGC - Build Your Own Grilled Cheese
Friday - BIG moving day - not planning on cooking!
Saturday - Garlic Chicken, Italian Sausage, and Mushroom Pizza with Alfredo sauce
Sunday - Stirfry Beef, Mushroom, and Bell Peppers over rice
Chicagolandia
I've been looking for the perfect layout for months, and I've finally found it! This will be a work in progress for the next week or two, to get all my favorites all back in place, so please bear with me. Let me know what you think of my new digs.
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Chicagolandia
With some of the deals this week, I've linked them to some of my favorite recipes, for anyone that needs some fresh inspiration. Nothing like tasty treats and delicious eats!

Caputo’s – I love their fresh produce! And their stromboli’s are heavenly – but don’t get me started on that….
$.79 lb. strawberries
$.89 Globe Grapes (red)
$.50 each Lettuce (Iceberg)
$.49 lb. Golden Delicious Apples

Meijer
$.38 lb. bananas
$.99 lb. Pork Ribs & Steaks – bone-in
$1.25 10 oz. bag flat or curly leaf spinach

Butera Markets
4/$1 ears of corn
$1.69 gallon of milk
$.99 Italian bread (there is the best!)

Ultra Foods
$.98 lb. Pork Loin Chops
10/$3 Yoplait yogurt – with in-ad coupon (4/12 insert $.40 off 6)
Tons of additional savings if you get their flyer (lots of in-store coupons, mostly on store brand items)

Oops, I went over the 10 marker again, but I couldn’t pick, the deals are delicious….I mean terrific!
Chicagolandia
I love food cooked on a grill, slowly simmering over an open fire. The primal need to see meat cooked over an open flame nearly has me undone - at least for the first few weeks of grilling season, then I am happy as a clam with my grilled fare, until towards the end of October, when, inevitably - the season draws to a close. But, no more talk of that here - let's explore some great ways to BBQ on a budget.

1. Since meat is typically the largest expense in any grocery budget, let's take a look at some thing that might still be hanging around in the freezer.
Solution = use older cuts of meat (even roasts work great for this - just slice to no more than 1 1/2" thickness), marinate 12-24 for tender cuts of meat (more expensive), 24-48 hours for tougher cuts of meat. To give some added flavor - dust with dry spices before grilling - that will help crisp the outside, while searing all those lovely flavors and juices inside. No time to marinate, use some smoked sausage or brats! Another cheap fix? Chicken drumsticks dusted with onion salt, garlic powder, and a pinch of cumin - tossed onto a grill. The best part? Butera typically has drumsticks for under $.69 lb.! I love cheap eats...

2. As the grilled items tend to steal the show, play them up with fun salads. Add some nuts, a sprinkle/crumble of cheese (even parmesan works great), top with some black olives - voila! A classy, flavor-packed punch to balance the smoky meats. Check with your local farmstand/farmers market for deals - or watch the ads, find an inexpensive salad mix, and keep some pantry basics on hand like sundried tomatoes, canned sliced olives, croutons, dried fruits, or even canned fruits.

3. Bread. Whether it's buns, a crusty loaf of French bread, or a some simple dinner rolls, or even tortillas, adding bread gives the meal an instant, casual feel. Many times, bread becomes the utensil, giving you easier cleanup. Also, more eco-friendly than using plastic silverware. So, if you live near a bakery outlet - go on over, and see how much you can save! I pay about $.59 for buns, less than $1 for bread.

4. Dessert - no true meal is complete without it. As strawberries are in season - what's better than a smoothie, layer cake, or even fruit salad to play up the abundant flavors!

5. A quick drink - one that makes adults smile and kids can have, too! Here it is, a fruity twist on a rootbeer float. If you're looking for something with more punch, check out the variation!
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Chicagolandia
Forgeterator = n. A large household appliance with an ability to keep foods and beverages cold/chilled, houses assorted perishable food and drink items which get forgotten shortly after being put inside.
Also is called refrigerator or icebox. Slang term, fridge.
Chicagolandia
The coupons were calling me, they really were! With that said, I’ve been doing a little hounding, but have been pleasantly surprised at how little I’ve spent. Here’s how the pennies fall:

Target:
2 boxes Wheat Thins @ $2.04 -$1 Nabisco ST Q -$1/2 peelie = $.54 each
2 - 8 oz. bags Mini-Oreos @$1.52 -$1 Nabisco ST Q - $1/2 peelie = $.02 each
1 Jar Ragu Light Alfredo $1.25 (sale price, down from $2.19) -$.30 = $.95
4 jars Classico pasta sauce @ $1.99 (down from $2.09) –(2) $1/2 coupons = $1.49
1 bottle Softsoap body wash @ $1.99 -$1 Target Q -$1 MQ = -$.01 (free with penny overage!)
1 Colgate toothpaste @ $1.99 -$1 Target Q (package came with toothbrush) = $.99
1 Colgate toothbrush @$.97 -$1 Target coupon = -$.03 (more pennies of overage)
Total OOP = $12.99
Saved = $12.68

Jewel: I love tearpads!! This was spread over 7 separate transactions of 6 - 2L. & 3 pkgs. cookies.
42 bottles Coca Cola 2L. @ $1 = $42
21 pkgs. Keebler Cookies @$1.97 = $41.37
Minus 21 Q’s $3 off WYB 2 Coca Cola 2L & 1 pkg. Keebler, Kellogg, Sunshine products. -$63
Minus $3 cat (cats weren’t printing right – I didn’t receive cats for the first 4 transactions)
Total OOP = $17.91 (includes tax)
Total Saved - $165.84
Still have a $4 & a $2 cat, plus will call for the 4 $4 cats that didn’t print!
After cats, the total would be $4.09 MM.

So, total OOP for the last 2 days = $30.90 for 76 items (I count the bonus toothbrush as another item)
Average of $.40 per item (which does include tax)
Chicagolandia
Coca-Cola has a catalina promotion running at Jewel, purchase 6 - 2Liters of Coca-Cola products in one transaction, receive a $4 cat OYNO. Next to the 2 Liters were tear pads for $3 off Keebler, Kellogg, Sunshine multipacks, or Gripz snacks when you buy any 2 Coca-Cola 2 Liters. The Keebler cookies were on sale, too! Here's how it broke down:
6 2Liters - assorted Coke products @ $1 (regularly $1.95) each = $6
3 boxes Keebler cookies @ $1.97 (regularly $4.85) = $5.91
Minus 3 - $3 off Keebler, Kellogg, etc.= -$9
OOP = $3.17
Savings = $23.08

And, I still have more than 20 coupons left!!!
The only problem - the cats didn't print, so I'll call the Catalina Marketing number and get them sent out to me. This deal is pretty good even without the cats! And just in time for grilling season.
For more info, read the about the deal here.
Chicagolandia
After weeding out the book collection (a.k.a. our mini-library) and reading a post from a fellow blogger yesterday, my mission tonight is to locate any old magazines - along with the books I've culled from the shelves and head on down to Half Price Books. No, I'm not a spokesman for them, but I absolutely love their store, their mission, their philosophy - it's all good. Really, really good!

They buy & sell new/used books. You get cash for your books, not a store credit like many smaller chains do. If you need a good book (or 3), check out their amazing clearance section - I have founds tons of goodies (and more than a few gifts) over the years in there. What books, CD's, DVD, VHS that they can't/don't sell - they donate to libraries, hospitals, etc. The whole idea - nothing goes to waste!

Not only are you supporting the planet, helping a good cause, you save a fortune (when you shop there), and even earn a few dollars on the side (when you sell the stuff you're looking to get rid of.) They take everything from records and video games, to computer software to old magazines. It's a great way to declutter, go green, and who can argue with a few bucks? The most $$ I've received was around $25, the smallest amount was $3-$4. What do I do with that? Toss it in the vacation fund or the house fund. Either way, it's a great way to go!

But on the way home, I'm stopping at Dunkin' Donuts for my $.50 Iced Coffee - I love these things, and this a fairly good price! Yum!
Chicagolandia
Monday Madness: Got to love FREE Movies, the code is: M6FR97!
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Chicagolandia
Monday - Grilled Caribbean Jerk Pork Chops, garlic bread, corn, salad
Tuesday - Mushroom and cheese omelets, hashbrowns, raisin toast, apples
Wednesday - Mini-date (that means I'm not cooking)
Thursday - Pizza night - DH's night to cook
Friday - Grilled chicken teriyaki sammies topped with pineapple, salad, hashbrowns
Saturday - Mesquite chicken stirfry with peppers and mushrooms over fried rice
Sunday - Ground turkey & refried bean tacos, with all the fixin's with Spanish rice
Dessert of the week: BananaNut Bread (this one also doubles as a breakfast, too!)
Chicagolandia
For this past weekend, instead of going out to eat for date night, DH offered to grill. So, we had free Johnsonville cheddar brats and we pulled some pork chops out of the freezer, marinated it liberally with Caribbean Jerk marinade (another freebie from last summer) and French bread (free after taking Jewel survey), sautéed cremini mushrooms, baked potatoes, corn (from my sisters garden) and salad. Delish! OOP = 0! And there is enough meat leftover to fill in for lunches during the week or for one more dinner for my family!

We’ve kept the heat turned off, this week our temperature low will be in the 40’s and our high should reach 80 by the end of the week! Over here, we can have 3 seasons in one week, sometimes even in one day. I may have to turn on the heat tomorrow (snow is predicted, no joke!), but we’re going to wait and see just how cold it gets first.

Saturday, I went shopping for some new spring clothes (got to refresh my T-shirt supply!) using Kohl’s cash. What did I snag: 1 can opener (a gift), a sweater for my sister (another gift), 2 BIG pillows, a jar candle, a pair of pants, 2 sweaters, 2 dressy shirts, and 7 T-shirts. OOP: $27.89 for 17 items!

Also had to cover Caputo’s (local grocery chain) for some good produce. I grabbed 3 apples, 1 lb. white button mushrooms, 8 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms, 1 bunch of bananas, 1 gallon of milk, 3 dozen tortillas, 3 – 29 oz. cans crushed tomatoes, 8 bell peppers, and a pound of deli sliced mesquite chicken breast, sliced ultra thin. All of this, only $12.16 OOP. Also, Caputo’s leaves the good boxes (banana boxes, liquor boxes) out front for customer to take – with a move coming – boy, did we load up! And the best part – they were free!

Sunday, I went shopping with a friend, a couponing/hounding friend – which made it all the better. We scoured SuperTarget, and came back with a load of goodies, including a free reusable bag! I grabbed: 6 boxes Market pantry fruits snacks ($.44/each), 4 bags Nabisco snacks ($.52 each), 3 Crystal Light To Go (B2G1FREE), 1 bag Dole Salad mix ($.69), 4 Archer Farms yogurts ($.47 each! – I love their Honey Almond flavor), 2 cans Pringles (.71 each), 1 bag Hershey’s Bliss ($1.49), 2 boxes Wheat Thins ($1.04 a box –yes, this one was a little high, but it is the favorite flavor in my family). I did go a little overboard, but the total spent was definitely do-able. OOP = $15.64 (that includes tax).

Sunday dinner – DH had a giftcard for Papa John’s – so 2 medium pizzas = $0! Plus, one less gift card to try not to lose! The best bonus, an extra night off of cooking!

Total spent this weekend = $55.69
Chicagolandia
There haven't been a huge amount of deals lately, so this challenge has been simple to ease into, I'm just hoping I can stick with it once the deals get going again!

Without further ado, here are some of the things I’ve done to keep from spending actual money:

1. Turned off the heat – thankfully it’s a warmer spell right now, but every dime really counts.

2. Spent some time getting reacquainted with what’s in the freezer, so I know what to rotate first. Chicken is on the menu next week! Lots and lots of chicken...

3. Yesterday, I spent nothing. I typically eat lunch from home, so yesterday, I took some leftover alfredo sauce, leftover baked chicken and tossed them over some leftover spaghetti. A zero OOP lunch that would’ve cost me more than $12 at a restaurant, and that made it taste even better.

4. For lunch today, I brought in a bag of salad mix and the remaining leftover spaghetti noodles. I threw together a pasta sauce using some fresh mushrooms, red bell pepper, some canned tomatoes, the last remnant of Alfredo sauce, and tons of spices. My OOP = 0!

5. Tomorrow’s dinner uses the leftover sauce from today, to make some tasty homemade pizza. I’ve got some chicken left and some black olives for one, and I’ll thaw some sausage for the other pizza. If we want mushrooms, this time it’ll have to be canned!

6. DH grabbed at movie last night using a FREE Redbox code – Yes Man – I like it!

7. Any errands for the next 2 weeks must be done in/around my regular driving route.

8. This weekend, I’ve got some Kohl’s cash to spend, so that will equate to free shopping for me. New pillows, here I come!

9. If the weather permits, DH & I will go on a picnic for our “date night” and read books while nibbling on whatever assortment of cheese and crackers and cold cuts I can come up with – without spending anything. I need to chill some bottle water tonight for the picnic - let's hope I remember.

10. Cleaned out our library (yes, I have a mini-library), selected 50+ books to donate/sell, so we don’t have to move them. Will continue packing and organizing this weekend. If we sell the books, the $$ will go into our vacation fund. I want to go to Austin, TX (I hear the food is good) in October.
Chicagolandia
Thanks to the heads up from www.swagger.com - check out this great deal! Going to Kohl's - especially with the Kohl's Cash - take an extra $10 OYNO coupon with you! Click here to print out your $10 OYNO coupon - but hurry, it expires on Saturday, April 18th!

Last night I tried at 2 different Kohl's to use the coupon, but was told they couldn't accept it at the first store I stopped at, but at the 2nd store, the clerk confiscated my coupon and demanded to know where I got it from! Wait, it gets better...

When I tried to explain that it was an online coupon, the cashier kept talking over me and telling me it was fraud. I just stared at him, then asked politely, "If you wanted me to tell you where I got the coupon, maybe you should stop talking and listen to my answer." His response, "It doesn't matter what your answer is", while he kept right on talking about how bad internet coupons are and how they get people's hopes up.

Needless to say, I walked out of the store in disgust while the cashier kept right on talking, even as I neared the door, he was at this point yelling at me from about 25+ feet away.

My sincerest apologies to everyone that tried to use this coupon and wasn't successful. Hope fully you were given better customer service than I was!
Chicagolandia
Thanks to the heads up from www.swagger.com - check out this great deal! Going to Kohl's - especially with the Kohl's Cash - take an extra $10 OYNO coupon with you! Click here to print out your $10 OYNO coupon - but hurry, it expires on Saturday, April 18th!
Common Cents: FrugalMakesCents Challenge: Update1
Chicagolandia
Last night, DH & I went to T.G.I.Fridays for dinner, used the BOGO Entree for $1 Q, used a gift card we still had, and got $10 off our order (in lieu of a $10 giftcard) for being a member of their Stripes program (loyalty based card). Not only did we get double Stripes (good towards free appetizers), but we spent.....nothing. The gift card covered the meal, tax, and tip.

Then we popped over to the SuperTarget and relieved them of 2 Dry Idea deoderants - on sale for $2, then used $2 printable Q's. We also grabbed 3 Market Pantry fruit snacks near the register for $.89 -$1 ST printable Q's = FREE. We paid $.13 tax and walked happily out the door. While I'm not a huge fan of fruit snacks, I will either donate them, or collect a bag of them for DH's grandma or for my sister - either one is fine.

We also looked for the Hershey's Bliss which would have been either FREE or a MM (moneymaker) of $.36 after Q's, but they were picked clean! Darn - I wanted some more free/cheap candy for the office. I keep a small bowl of candies/chocolates on my desk, and I like an affordable way to keep it filled. Last month, Fannie May put some chocolates on sale for $1 for an 8 oz. bag, and that helped keep the bowl full for a few weeks, but this month - the pickin's are slimmer than I've ever seen.

My goal tonight is to bake some muffins for Friday's breakfast. I've got half a dozen boxes of muffin mix and I'm really craving a good muffin. It's a simple, healthy, affordable breakfast - and one that can easily be grabbed on the go. What do I have to buy to make them? Nothing!
Chicagolandia
My friend, Precious, over at Frugal Makes Cents, has posted an amazing challenge: Watch.Every.Penny. Pop on over to her blog and really all the juicy details! I know, I know - most of us do that now, but she’s taking it to a whole new level. We’re talking about living large off the stockpile, re-examining what we do spend, setting limits on what we will pay for any given item.

Since I am fairly well stocked on what I need, this challenge couldn’t come at a better time. For my little household, there is a move in our future (by June 1st) and I would like to reduce the amount of stuff we have to haul from one house to another. Even after my sister’s visit, and sharing of the stockpile, we’re still very well supplied and it’s time to see how little I can spend. Period.

With summer coming, the deals are bound to pick up, and I’m making a pledge to myself to get better at snagging great freebies, seeking out high value coupons, and get better at adapting basic ingredients to more purposes (like Living Easy's idea for making taco sauce) and DH making homemade salsa.

To offset some of the costs of produce, which is eating more and more into my budget as I expand my list of acceptable veggies (I’m not truly opposed to vegetables, I’m just not overly fond of eating them), I’ll be planting a very small garden. Mostly tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh herbs, and some berries – but everything will have to be in pots (as we’re most likely moving to a townhouse).

So I don’t feel suffocated by this regime, I’ll even outline the few splurges I’ll allow myself along the way. Spices and extracts. I’m sorry, but I demand food with flavor – and will not settle for bland fare. Good spices are a worthwhile investment, and extracts – well, that’s another story! I have instituted a $20 date night with DH once a month, and now that will be increased to twice a month to help keep costs low. On the alternate weeks, DH & I will take advantage of outdoorsy stuff like long walks, picnics, and free festivals - and indoorsy stuff like free redbox rentals, free popcorn, game nights, not to mention the frequent BBQ.

While I have lived primarily off the stockpile, I haven’t really made it a point to do that since last spring. With that being said, Annie’s Market is well stocked with great deals – it’s probably in the best shape it’s ever seen as far as variety since I’ve started stockpiling. Though there are always a few small items needed, I’ll keep a running list of no more than 10 items each week that I’m low on and will post what I’ve paid for the item(s) when they get removed.
Chicagolandia
Have you ever heard that saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar?” I know it’s not usually my motto, but I’ve been trying to get my paws on some higher value, brand specific coupons lately so I have been writing food manufacturers and telling them how much I appreciate their products. I’m pretty amazed with the results. And you don’t have to wait long to find out how this system works, either!

So far I’ve contacted 6 different companies, with a pretty broad variance on the response. Some simply thank you for your time and feedback, one did not respond at all. But my favorites are the ones that have sent me coupons for the products I had commented on. Not that I’m doing this entirely for the coupons though that is a great bonus, I’m taking the initiative to reach out to the companies I like purchasing from and telling them why. I’m being a proactive consumer…..who’s getting a lot of higher value coupons this way.

From Dutch Farms (dairy products), I received a thank you for your feedback response, the same for Francesco Rinaldi (I adore their pasta sauce). But as much as I love Rinaldi’s Super Mushroom or Hearty Tomato Basil, Classico responded within 24 hours, and sent coupons. Classico now has a strong foothold in my pantry and Rinaldi is going to be hardpressed to beat them out! Besides, Classico has that yummy Vodka Sauce. Now, Bar-S – they are top dog….hotdog that is. They sent a $5 voucher/gift certificate good towards any product(s) plus 4 coupons. They definitely take the cake, or in their case, the sausage! This is great with grilling season just around the corner. I can almost smell the smoked sausage cooking – yum!

With much longer expiration dates and typically higher values than we normally see in the paper or online, I consider what I’m doing target marketing. I target the higher cost, brand specific items on my shopping list, and try to get some great coupons to match. Being an informed, proactive consumer has definitely helped my budget. Now, to let a few more companies know how much I love their stuff!

If you’ve tried this, please give a shout out and let me know which companies respond! I’d love to know who out there really appreciates their loyal customers!!
Chicagolandia

Free Redbox Movie Code: DVDONME or J89LA2
Why pay for movie rentals when these are free?
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Chicagolandia
Monday - French bread pizzas, salad
Tuesday - Chicken carbonara sammies on ciabatta, topped with fresh mushrooms, red bell pepper, and black olives
Wednesday - Mini-date at T.G.I. Fridays - check out their great deals!!
Thursday - Ham and mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, salad, rolls
Friday - Taco Night!!
Saturday - Spaghetti & meatballs, salad
Sunday - Homemade pizza with sausage, mushroom, and homemade pizza sauce
Chicagolandia
Another fun Target hounding - unfortunately, they were out of the 4 oz. Cheetos, but I managed to get all this other stuff for only $11.40! I love the deals I keep getting, and as a bonus, at the bottom the post is a recipe for french bread pizza - and the bonus for me: it's a free lunch! Nothing can beat that!!




4 french bread baguettes
16 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 T. Chicago Deep dish pizza spice or Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese
Italian flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400.

Slice open each baguette and top with cheese. Top with remaining ingredients.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, cut, and serve.
Yield = 4 servings
Chicagolandia
Ever been shopping at Target and fill 2 shopping carts? I have to admit, I hadn’t – until yesterday. And, boy was I amazed at how good the shopping was!

$1.29 - 24 bags Cheetos -$1 ST Q
$2.99 – 5 bags Hershey Bliss -$1 printable manu -$1 ST Q
$1.52 – 11 boxes Market Pantry fruit snacks -$1 ST Q
$2.89 - 1 box Quaker True Delights granola bars -$1 ST Q -$1 Manu printable Q
$3.99 – 15 count Minute Maid fruit juice drink boxes -$1 Target Q
$1.69 – Dole salad mix 10 oz. -$1 ST Q
$1.99 – Dole salad mix 12 oz. -$1 ST Q
$1.12 – 4 boxes Pasta Roni -$1/4 Manu Q
$1.44 – 2 Betty Crocker cookie mixes (17.9 oz.) -$1/2 ST Q -$.75 manu Qs
$1.52 – 3 boxes Betty Crocker Tuna Helper -$1/3 ST Q -$1/3 Manu Q
$2.09 – 3 jars Classico pasta sauce -$1/2 Manu printable -$.50/1 manu Q
$1.24 – 2 boxes Betty Crocker potatoes -$1/2 manu Q -$.50/1 ST Q
$.53 – 2 bags Light n Fluff Egg Noodles - $.50/2 Manu Q
$1.69 – 1 bag No Yolks egg noodles - $.75 manu Q
$.75 – 1 10.75 oz. can Campbells cream of mushroom soup -$.50 ST Q
$.66 – 1 14.5 oz. can Del Monte Green beans -$.75 ST Q (yep, got the overage)
$.89 – 2 cans (16oz.+) Del Monte pineapple chunks -$.55/2 manu Q
$3.99 - 1 Pineapple -$2 ST Q
$2.99 – Market Pantry potatoes 10 lb.
$.84 – 11 Archer Farms Artisan Breads (assorted varieties) -$1 ST Q = FREE
$6.99/lb. Archer Farms Black Forest Ham - $1.50 ST Q
$2.50 – 2 boxes Frosted Flakes -$1/2 manu printable Q
$2.50 – 1 box Apple Jacks -$1 peelie Q
$.99 – 5 dozen eggs -$.50 ST Q
$1.79 – Betty Crocker Warm Delights -$1/2 ST Q -$1/2 manufacturer Q
$2.50 – 3 boxes GM cereal - $1/3 Q
$2.29 – 1 box GM cereal -$.75 manufacturer Q
$1.72 – 3 tubs Betty Crocker Frosting -$1/2 Q -$.55/1 Q
$.97 – 1 Duncan Hines cake mix -$.35 Q
$2.50 – Ore Ida potatoes -$1 ST Q
$1.54 – 1 Pillsbury Flaky Twists -$.75 ST Q
$2.99 – Tropicana Pure Premium -$1 ST Q -$.75 manu Q
$.50 – 8 Yoplait Yogurt -$1/8 manuf -$1/8 ST Q
$2.33 – 2 bags Nestle mini-chocolate chips -$1.50/2 manu Q -$1/2 ST Q
$1.32 – 1 Palmolive dish soap -$1 ST Q -$.25 Manu Q
$1.99 – 4 pkgs. Market Pantry cookies ‘n’ crème sandwich cookies -$1/2 ST Q’s
$3.79 - 2 bottles Pantene -$2/2 manu Q
$3.04 – Softsoap body wash -$1 ST Q -$1 Manu Q
$2.69 – Colgate toothpaste -$1 ST Q -$.75 manu Q
$2.50 – Oscar Meyer Bacon -$1/2 ST Q -$.75 blinkie Q’s
-$5/50 grocery purchase coupons (we had 2 of them!)
-10% your total purchase (which really came in handy)
OOP = $81.69
Saved = $126.97
Chicagolandia
A post over on Fabulous and Frugal about chicken got me thinking – all the ways to use a chicken. Whether you’re a fan of boneless, skinless or you’d rather grab a whole bird – nothing says lovin’ like chicken in the oven! Little can compare with the sheer versatility of chicken – not to mention price per pound versus other, less healthy meat alternatives.

When I hear the word chicken, I instantly think of fried chicken. Since my mama is from down South, I can’t help but have it pop into my brain, though I confess I’ve never been brave enough to make it. That doesn’t mean I’ll never make, but I may have to wait til I’m in Georgia to give it a try.

Other chicken-lickin’ thoughts that pop into my head (and boy, can I think of some!) are chicken tacos and enchiladas, chicken tortilla soup, chicken pot pie, chicken in dumplings, chicken sammies, Mongolian chicken, chicken strips, chicken salad – ah, the list could easily go on. And on and on and on. But, before I move on – let me mention this last, dear favorite: roasted chicken stuffed with chicken rice.
I’m a big fan of stretching a dollar, and chicken (maybe more than any other meat) helps me do this. When I do my batch cooking for the week, chicken is always on my radar – sometimes each week. I was once accused by DH of serving “prison rations” of chicken. (Apparently, prison rations are when I serve so little of something, DH feels like I’m a prison warden, carefully measuring out portions.) I would make a whole chicken last the two of us for a week – easily. And that included lunches, too!

While my stinginess has gradually worn off (proportionally to the freezer filling up), my love of that tasty bird has not. I love how easy it is to find on sale, I love how well it complements a charcoal grill, I simply adore the rice/pasta/tortilla/potato/etc. that I eat it with. There is just no substitute for a moist, tender, juicy piece of that white or dark meat. Wars have been fought over less.

There are few places I have been afraid to take chicken, but I will profess a love of T.G.I. Fridays Dragonfire chicken. Since my main reason for eating there is centered around that particular dish, I’ve been hunting for an easy to make substitute, so I have my chicken, and eat my heart out, too! This month, my goal is to learn how to make that dish, not just so I can enjoy, but so I can post that recipe here for all to drool over and covet. After all, isn’t that half the fun of learning something new?
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Chicagolandia
At our house, we have an unconventional kind of Easter. I’ve dyed Easter eggs every single year that I can remember – and I’m 31 years old. I can’t stand chocolate bunnies or peeps, and I prefer a “healthier” Easter basket. Yes, I still receive an Easter basket. Even though I should have long ago outgrown the love of receiving - as well as giving an Easter basket, for me that is just not the case. But, as I’ve grown up, so has my Easter basket. Skip the chocolate bunny, give me a big can of V-8 juice instead. Nope, I’m not kidding!

Each year, I ask my sister if I can help with the Easter baskets for her family, and each year I’m thrilled when she says yes. Last year, I had the idea for a trail-mix basket – giving her family (2 adults and 2 boys) all the yummy stuff it takes to make a great snack of trail mix. We had dried fruits of every denomination from mandarin oranges to golden plump raisins to dried pineapple to strawberry yogurt covered raisins to white chocolate dipped cashews to crunchy mini graham crackers and even some pretzels sticks, too. Needless to say, it was a hit!

By very popular demand, that basket has been requested again. I got oodles of FREE trail mix in more than 12 different varieties from the Kraft cat deal – and I grabbed 24 bags! I also loaded up on crackers, Cheetos, dried fruit, and had some Planters nuts left from the last great sale of them.

Only this year, the baskets will cost me a fraction of what they did last year. Easter baskets for 7 people will cost me only $48 – and that includes everything –except the basket. Instead of a basket, my mother is designing reusable bags (we’re going green this year) for everyone. Much stronger than the ones sold in stores (I’ve ripped through 2 already of the store bought variety), and in a dazzling array of colors, it’s a great way to herald in spring and to remind kids and adults of upcoming Earth Day. I love, love, LOVE a practical basket.

I’m doing an Easter basket for each person, so that will be seven in all. I don’t believe in lumping the married people together, partly because I’m now one of them, but because the selfish kid in me resents sharing my Easter goodies with anyone. I guess love can take you only so far, but it can’t take you into my Easter basket.
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Chicagolandia
There's nothing a girl needs more than some Bliss, Hersheys Bliss, that is. And at Target, here's how to get it cheap:
Hersey's Bliss is on sale $2.99 -$1 Manufacturer coupon and $1- Target Q - check the Easter section to get the best deal, some places are reporting that ALL Easter chocolates are on sale at Target from $1.99 to $2.33. Get in and get some cheap chocolates!! Bliss for less than $.99 is a great deal, though I'm hoping for $.33, or better yet, free.....

***I haven't reached the print limit and I've printed 6 coupons from Hershey's website!***

If anyone reaches a print limit, please let me know what it is!!
Chicagolandia
Free Redbox Movie Code: DVDONME. Use this code to receive a free rental at your nearest Redbox Movie Rental Kiosk.

Conagra Home Mailer with coupon for free ketchup inside! Go sign up for some great free coupons!
Chicagolandia
A few weeks back, I received not one but two different sets of coupons in the mail from SuperTarget. The coupons are pretty good, but what further surprised me was getting an flyer this past week detailing the items on sale for Easter - and they match up to almost all the coupons sent! And the icing on the cake? A $5/$50 grocery purchase coupon!! So, this week - it's time to set up the deal, I'm taking my sister out hounding with me, so I want to have everything already factored in.

HomeMailer Q Match-ups
$2.99 Dole Pineapple -$2 ST Q
$.66 Campbell's Cream of Mushroom -$.50 ST Q
$.66 Del Monte canned veggie -$.75 ST Q
$1.49 Green Giant potatoes (5 lb.) -$1 ST Q
$1.25 Betty Crocker Potatoes -$.50 ST Q -$.40 Manu Q
$.99 dozen eggs -$.50 ST Q
$2.49 Oscar Meyer Bacon -$1 ST Q
$2.50 Quaker True Delights Granola Bars -$1 ST Q -$1 printable manu Q


Printable Matchups
$1.29 4 oz. Cheetos -$1 Q
$.99 Ciabatta rolls -$1 Q
$1.49 Green Giant potatoes -$1 Q

My goal is to spend less than $15 OOP for all the items listed, and see how high of a savings we get. I've printed out 5-12 of each of the printables - to use as filler items to get to the $50 threshold. I'll post how well we did Friday, see if we can meet my projections. Wish me luck!
Chicagolandia
Monday - Turkey and Ham sammies on onion rolls with green grapes, cheese cubes
Tuesday - Roasted chicken leg quarters, french bread, rice, and corn
Wednesday - Brats, baked potatoes, side salad
Thursday - Spaghetti with meatballs
Friday - Build your own sub night
Saturday - Date night!
Sunday - Easter Dinner
Chicagolandia
A friend of mine and I were talking this weekend about what we pay for things. When she shook her head, and laughed and said, “They expect me to pay for cheese?” As if that was the most ridiculous thing in the world. Well, for us – it is. Maybe I’m overstating how easy couponing can be, but my friend was absolutely right.

As we wandered the grocery store, I noticed many items that the store expects people to pay for, and believe me – from the crowds in there, people were paying (and paying and paying), for things we’ve learned how to get for free. With my last $10 cat in hand, I searched for a few items to spend it on – and it was hard. The popcorn that’s on sale this week, I got free last month and ditto for the cheese – now why would I go and spend money on stuff like that? I’ve got oodles of free/cheap crackers, a freezer full of meat, loads of cereal, I honestly don’t pay for much anymore. There are few things I’d splurge on, but……..

I love good bread. Not basic sandwich bread, but savory Sourdough, buttery buns, fresh French bread, or even costly ciabatta rolls. With all that free cheese, I sometimes splurge on a nice loaf of bread. Sometimes (imagining I only have to feed one person), I wish I could just buy a nice loaf of bread, make a great salad (now, that’s another story) and slice some cheese. Voila, a simple, healthy, rustic meal that I would whole-heartedly enjoy. Not sure my family would see it that way, though.

Last weekend, I grabbed a loaf of French bread, paired it with some extra sharp cheddar cheese, oven roasted deli sliced turkey ($1.98 lb.) and some Black Forest ham (another little splurge at $3.98 lb.) added in some juicy, sweet, green grapes and it was a delicious, flavorful lunch for 3 for less than $10. Less expensive than Subway (though they are a weakness of mine), more flavor, and best yet – enough meat and cheese left for a dozen sandwiches. Guess you know what’s for lunch at my house this week!
Chicagolandia
I don’t have too many deals listed, but it looks like locally, the stores are putting out teaser deals, hoping to get us to over spend on the essentials for Easter dinner. I’ve also noticed I’m not getting the ads for local grocery stores, not just this week, but for the past few weeks. I don’t know if this is a trend that will continue, but it’s something worth mentioning.

Butera Markets:

$.79 lb. green grapes
$1.98 lb. Butterball Oven Roasted Turkey
3/$1 - 7 oz. Country’s Delight spaghetti
$.89 16 oz. Country’s Delight lasagne noodles
$.99 Betty Crocker Brownie mix (18-19 oz.) limit 2

Dominicks:

$.99 lb. Lucerne butter (with in-ad coupon)
$.99 15 oz. Post Fruity Pebbles or 13 oz. Quaker Life cereal (use printable $1 off Q for the Quaker Life cereal – FREE)
$1.98 lb. London Broil

Jewel:

10/$10 8 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese
10/$10 6-8 oz. Cool Whip
25% off McCormick’s Food coloring & extracts (use printable $1 coupon)

Meijer:

$.99 Excedrin 24 ct. FREE after $1 off coupon
Yoplait Yogurt 10/$5 (printable coupon for $1/8)

If there are any deals I've missed, and I'm really hoping there are this week - please let me know!
Chicagolandia
I guess that's the best name for it: Hound Fever. I think this is what the dictionary definition would look like:

hound fever - n. the general malaise felt by hounds/couponers alike when there are few good deals being offered in the stores. Please do not confuse this with hounding fever (n. - when you cannot stop shopping the great deals).
I have combed through all the ads and have found little to get excited about, since most stores don't have the greatest deals leading up to a major holiday. Once I've spent my cats, I'll try to kick back, take it easy, and just enjoy the bounty that has been provided (at very little cost to me)! Now, if I could just convince myself that it's okay to take a break from shopping, I would truly be surprised.

Maybe the deals will be looking better tomorrow, but for today, it's time to unwind.

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