I have a love/hate relationship with the storesin the summer - so many good deals, but so little time to grab them all! Here's what's on sale, Chicagoland:


$1.69 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
$1.69 lb. pork cutlets, boneless
$1.69 gallon Country Delight milk
$1.49 4 lb. bag Parade sugar
$1.99 lb. beef boneless rump roast (makes great french dip)
$.69 lb. chicken leg quarters
$1.98 lb. Sorrento Mozzarella
$.99 dozen Large eggs
2/$3 10 oz. Cello spinach


$1.69 14.5 oz. box Post Honey Bunches of Oats
$1.79 lb. ground sirloin
$1.29 16 oz. bottle Kens Salad Dressing (use your expired Q's on this!)


$1.69 lb. boneless pork half loin (if you need charcoal - use the gather round the grill Q and get this free or darn close to it!)
$.99 lb. green and red grapes
$1.79 lb. pork spare ribs
$1.99 selected General Mills cereals

***10 for $10, Get the 11th Item FREE***
Meijer brand cake mix and frosting
Meijer brand 22 oz. loaf Texas Toast or wheat bread
Meijer Organic mushrooms and baby bellas - 8 oz.
Meijer brand soft cookies
Kraft BBQ sauce
Meijer brand natural salsa 16 oz.
Betty Crocker Cookie and cake mixes
Betty Crocker Warm Delights
Meijer brand frozen veggies - 16 oz.
2 L. Pepsi and 7-Up products
Betty Crocker Helpers (chicken, tuna, and hamburger)
Land O Lakes butter/spread - assorted varieties
Breyers ice cream (pints)
Grands Biscuits

3-day sale - Thursday - Saturday
$.99 Jewel cereals, limit 4
2/$5 Arm & Hammer Laundry detergent (58-69 oz.)
$.50 Starkist tuna, limit 2
$.77 Gatorade 32 oz. - limit 12 (7-day sale)


$1.99 lb. domestic Provolone cheese
$1.99 lb. Feta cheese
$.99 La Bella Romana canned tomatoes - 28 oz.
2/$1 cantaloupe
$.39 lb. zucchini
$.25 lb. cabbage
$.69 lb. fresh ginger root

Tons of fresh and tasty deals, great for stocking up the pantry, making cool snacks, grilling, and so much more!!

Here are some of my meal ideas/snack:
Homemade ice cream sammies
French Dip and French onion soup
Teriyaki Pork Skewers
Smoky BBQ Burgers with provolone
Spinach Salad
Ginger-Glazed beef
I love cookies - I love cheap/free cookies even more. Here's how the cookie hunt went:

First 8 transactions:
4 boxes of Keebler Chips Deluxe Cookies - assorted flavors
1 2L. Dr. Pepper - assorted varieties (I love the Cherry Vanilla)
Total before discounts = $21.25
Total after preferred card = $11.47
Total after $10 cat (for each order) = $1.47.
Or about $.29 per it em - I can live with that.

1 transaction:
5 boxes Keebler Fudge cookies (assorted)
Total before discounts $21.25
Total after preferred card = $12.72
Total OOP (after $10 cat) = $2.72

A survey printed at the bottom of one of our receipts, filled it out for $2 off my next transaction. Yeah, I can find a use for that.

At the first store I did 4 transactions, then Sandy met up with DaMama and I at the 2nd Jewel, where I rang up 13 transactions back-to-back. We were there for over an hour, andm ost of that time was at checkout. The clerks didn't give us any problems, which was a surprise and a relief - as I've been limited to the number to transactions I could do there in the past. The great thing - between Sandy & I - we covered 4-6 different Jewel stores without having to go out of our way. At prices like that, it's no wonder I haven't been baking as much as I used to. It's cheaper not to bake but to buy Keebler instead.

I made a $10 bill, a $10 cat, and my change purse last all night. For the last two transactions, we paid for them with loose change. And that lightens some of the weight in my purse, though the cookies will add some weight to my *ss, I mean hips....

I've long been a fan of diners, cafes, bistros - any small, non-pretentious, low cost restaurant with a good variety of delicious fare has always won my vote over chain restaurants, upscale, you're-paying-for-the-ambience (dim lighting, $15-$35 a palte, and semi-rude staff) establishment, and fast food. Since I love value for my dollar, its no wonder I fell for this deal:

$.50 Ice Cream Cones for the month of July! Limit one per person per day.
At the Colonial Cafe

The cruelest part ever (especially to my thighs)? There's one right on my way home, less than 2 miles from my house. Guess what I had on my way home? A Cinnamon ice creawm scop in a sugar cone. Total cost = $.54 - yep, that's it. The best part of this deal - the ice cream is made on the premises, just like it has been for over 100 years.

Since this deal will end Friday - I decided to be bad. Very bad. I grabbed an ice cream cone on my way to hound up some deals at Meijer. But, being bad has its perks - usually in the form of an accomplice. Mine was DaMama - eating dessert before dinner definitely sounds like something she would do. And she did. We both did.

Nothing says summer quite like an ice cream cone before dinner. My thighs - well, they need to quit their complaining, at least, that's what my taste buds say!
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My purse was bulging, heavy as a boulder, slung over my shoulder. I got tired of heaving the massive weight around and took a look to see what was weighing it down. Low and behold - it was all the coupons we've been scooping up at area stores. Yes, coupons. Hundreds of them, and then some. Apparently when I wasn't paying attention - the coupons simply wandered over into my purse and have been multiplying like bunnies.

Luckily enough, I had my two coupon organizers with me: one for current coupons, one for the expired ones - Dominicks and sometimes Ultra will let us use them. Anyway - they're more than worth hanging onto. It was a simple project, cut/tear/gnaw/hack off extraneous paper, organize coupons, remove all expired and soon to expire coupons from the current coupon holder, and refile all the expired coupons in their separate coupon box. Pull all coupons to be used for tomorrow's hounding, so I'm ready and rearing to go.

Now I'm ready to barrel into August, armed with a smattering of wits, a fist full of ocupons, and some serious attitude. Oh, wait, I'm always armed with attitude! It's not often I get to this level of organization, but when I do - I like to stand at the top of my metaphorical mountain, look around, and generally feel good about myself. Well, until this time next month....that's another story entirely. Here's how I look at it: time spent: 2 hours, 15 minutes. All that money to be saved = priceless.
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Here's what's cooking!

Monday - Mini date - DH is completing another semester of classes and we celebrate each step along the way!

Tuesday - Pulled pork sammies, rice, and beans

Wednesday - Steak hash, salad, toasted English muffins

Thursday - Tacos (al pastor or ground turkey), beans and chips and salsa

Friday - Homemade pizza topped with chicken, black olives, and mushrooms (maybe some Italian sausage).

Saturday - Ham & turkey subs/paninis with all the fixin's

Sunday - Grillin' time! Hotdogs, cheeseburgers, and brats with chips and beans

Breakfast options: English muffins (Sourdough, Cinnamon Raisin, and regular), Blueberry buckle (a blueberry filled coffee cake), and egg sammies with bacon/cheese.

Dessert of the week: Keebler cookies - at $.25 a box, it's the cheapest option in town! We have Soft & Chewy Chips and Peanut Butter Cup to choose from.

Snack Attack: Bananas, chips and salsa, and fresh strawberries
How many people out there associate chicken noodle soup with being sick? I do. Glad I'm not alone in that, truth be told. I was never a big fan of the thin, watery soup, the typically overcooked noodles, and the rare pieces of chicken you might find, if you're really, really lucky.

With my current distaste for standard chicken noodle soup noted, I've decided to try my hand at a new recipe: chicken stew. I have rummaged through the pantry/fridge and have some up with enough veggies to make a basic chicken stew - not to mention I have some $.59 lb. chicken leg quarters that need to be cooked, and I've already done my favorite recipe, Easy Garlic Chicken, once this week.

I love a good soup or stew, but many restaurants don't cook them long enough to really develop the flavors, so with my latest creation, I'm trying to allow more than enough time for the flavors to really come together. And, if I get brave enough, I'll head over to the Elgin Fresh Market and grab some pork stew meat that's on sale this weekend and try a pork stew next week. Or a new twist on pork stirfry, or maybe even pork al pastor. Well, I shouldn't get ahead of myself just yet. Finish one project at a time...

I know stew is more of a wintery dish, but when you have someone at home with a summer cold - desparate times call for desparate measures. Two someone's, actually. DH and myself. Not that I can blame him, it was me that brought the cold home. The two great things about making stew in the summer: veggies are in season, which makes them much cheaper and you can make it in the crockpot, versus slaving over a hot stove. The only bad thing: being sick in the summer. Yech!

I tried to keep in mind the flavors I love in a good stew, while reminiscing over the lovely, hearty, rich chicken stew at Sweet Tomatoes. That place is a huge weakness of mine. Soup, salad, and homemade bread all in one spot. It's dangerous, very, very dangerous. On Mondays, when they have cream of mushroom soup - I'm a total goner. Seriously! My only consolation is going through the salad bar before loading up on bread and soup.

Chicken Stew

2 lbs. chicken leg quarters, skin removed
6 C. chicken broth (made with bouillion)
2-3 T. corn starch
2-3 T. margarine or butter
4 cloves of garlic, crushed/minced
1 medium onion (any variety)
1/2 medium red bell pepper
2-3 C. cooked carrots
1 rib of celery
2 large cooked potatoes, peeled
* 1 C. canned/frozen peas
* 1 small zucchini
* 8 oz. mushrooms, fresh any variety
2 T. basil
2 tsp. black pepper
3 bay leaves
* 1 tsp. rosemary or thyme

In a crockpot, add chicken and broth and cook over low for 6-10 hours, or until chicken falls off the bone.

In a large skillet, melt margarine and whisk in cornstarch. Over a medium-low heat, drain broth into skillet, whisking as its added. Mixture will thicken slightly. Return liquid to crockpot, de-bone chicken, and return meat to crockpot.

For a thicker broth, finely dice all veggies, for a hearty (chunkier) stew, rough chop all veggies. Add to crockpot. Add in seasonings, stir and cook over low for 4-8 hours.

Remove bay leaves before serving.

Yield = 12 servings.
* = optional ingredients
I just grabbed another SwagBuck by searching for ultra. Let me know if this grabs you another buck! Happy swagging!
The backyard grill was screaming for some deals on meat this week - and the stores are only happy to oblige! Check out the deals at some of Chicagoland's tastiest stores:


$.99 lb. pork ribs and steaks
10/$5 Yoplait yogurt - don't forgot all your coupons (printable and insert)

Dominick's: (remember your expired coupons - they're ALL good here!)

$.99 pint blueberries (I'ven ever seen them this cheap)
2/$3 select General Mills cereals
$1.99 lb. London Broil (steak biscuits, anyone?)
Tostitos chips $1.49 WYB5 - grab those free dip coupons, get 2 free


$.99 16 oz. Food Club sour cream
$.99 lb. ribs - limit 2
$.89 lb. split chicken breast
$.99 15 oz. Food Club mandarin oranges
$1.98 lb. deli sliced oven roasted turkey breast
$.99 loaf French bread - limit 2

$1.49 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
$1.49 gallon milk
$.99 28 oz. crushed Dei Fratelli tomatoes

Check out the spend $20 get a $10 cat section.
Buy 4 Keebler cookies and 1 2L. Dr. Pepper, after preferred card, spend only $11.25 - get a $10 cat! Roll this until they kick you out of the store. I haven't tried this $10 cat yet, but by this time tomorrow, I will have!

Need some menu ideas to go along with these deals? Click here for London Broil, here for the pork steaks, and over here for the bone-in chicken.
Sandy, DaMama, & I are all geared up for a money-saving girls night in. We've been snapping up 4 lb. boneless hams for $3.99 each, and tonight is slicing night. In honor of the occasion, I've grabbed about a quarter pound of fontina cheese (so smooth and creamy, it's makes you want to melt!), some strawberries, and some garlic.

I'll rub down some slices of bread with the cloves of garlic, drizzle on some evoo (extra virgin olive oil), and pile them high with fresh sliced ham and some creamy, dreamy cheese. Some large, fresh, plump strawberries (the last batch from Amy's Organic Garden) on the side - and it will feel far more decadent than running to Subway for a footlong. The entire cost of this meal? An unbelievable $3.94. Can't even buy a footlong for that!

Once we wrap up the slicing, we'll watch a redbox rental - I love only paying $1 for a movie - unless I luck out with a code, then I don't pay anything. Yeah, I'm awfully fond of that, too. Nothing quite beats a girls night in - even if we have a wee bit of work ahead of us first. That will make the relaxing time so well worth it!

Have you ever turned boring, ordinary chores into a mini-party? I'd love to hear about you ideas for a frugally fabulous girls night in!
I have been making a point to visit at least 2-3 times per week - trying to find codes to snag another buck - and today, it worked! Try "mega swag buck" in the search bar and let me know what success you have!
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This summer is all about piggy love! Why would anyone declare such a thing? Because, in part, of the Gather Round the Grill coupon, giving us $6 off pork with each bag of Kingsford charcoal we buy. The other part - it tastes soo good with all the in-season fruits that are abundantly affordable this time of year. Take it from my pal, Amiyrah, over at 4 Hats & Frugal - her Peachy Chicken/Pork recipe has become an all-time favorite. Or top some lovely grilled pork kebabs, chops, steaks, or tenderloin with a mango pico de gallo, chutney, or salsa - and that is heaven.

As my taste buds mature (finally!), I have been getting bolder and saucier with my flavors. No longer am I cowering before Kung Pao, terrified of teryaki, or weak before a Whiskey sauce - I want to taste my way through life - and pork is such a great conduit for my many experiments. When looking for a lean cut of meat, I tend to turn to pork first.

With each week or so that passes, I'm attempting another piggy experiment. Last weekend, it was a tag team effort. I marinated a pair of half pork tenderloins in some soy, and gave it a simple rub. DH took over from there - as he's officially Licensed to Grill (his T-shirt said so).

Between DaMama, DH, & I - there was a 1/4 of one of the tenderloin's left - which becamse excellent sammies, with the help of some English muffins. The rest - a sinfully yummy sandwich, and less deli meat I needed to buy. Not that I was low - I just resent paying $3-$7 lb. for some small scraps of meat. But, I digress...

Now that we need more charcoal - I just have to ask myself: What kind of pork do I want this time? Let's see who's on sale! Tell me, have you stocked up on pork because of the Gather Round the Grill coupon?

I'm such a ham for ham - it's not even funny! What's crazy-funny? Caputo's putting 4 lb. boneless Corn King hams (perfect for the meat slicer) on sale for.....$3.99 each. Yes, my lovely and briliiant readers, that comes out to $1 lb. - for soon-to-be sliced deli meat. When my friend, Sandy, heard I had a meat slicer - we were goners - I grabbed 7 of those plump and tasty looking hams, and tried to act calm until we got them loaded in the car.

Well, that was a swell idea until DaMama heard how cheap they were. So I did the only responsible, respectable thing I could think of: I went back and grabbed 3 more. Right now I have 40 lbs. of slice-able ham. (I've been too busy buying the hams to slice already - besides, my co-horts get to help me with it - I'm not eating 40 lbs. of ham alone. Trust me.)

Wow, it's a good thing I was able to refill DaMama's freezer - otherwise, I would never have had the space for all 10 of those pretty hams. Is it bad of me to want to go grab a few more? I love nothing better than a good deal, and this one was better than most. Time to start working on my chicken cordon bleu recipe. Either that, or it's an variety of ham sandwiches, omelets, paninis, melts, and subs that will be speeding their way to my meal-plan.
On Sunday, I did some batch cooking, so I'm in good shape heading into this week. We have about 2.5 lbs. ground turkey all browned up, a little leftover pork tenderloin, and some pasta leftover, too. This will be great for building lunches, and giving me some extra time to focus on dinners.

Monday - leftover hotdogs with chips and salsa

Tuesday - Ground Turkey Tacos with all the fixin's

Wednesday - pizza at DaMama's - maybe a movie night, too

Thursday - baked chicken with rice and salad

Friday - Fried Rice and Chinese chicken (if I'm too chicken to make chicken satay, it'll become sesame chicken).

Saturday - Cheddar & ham grilled sammies with side salad.

Sunday - DH's night to grill!
DH & I have a weekly date night. Nope, it's not an extravagance - I think of it as an investment. And sooo much cheaper than couples counseling...but I digress. We've been kickin' around different ideas for date nights, with Chicago's Botanical Gardens, St. Charles Park District (paddle-wheel boat, peddle boats, and minigolf), and summer berry pickin' coming to mind for fresh new ideas. Since I was still somewhat miffed over the sunburn last weekend, we decided to keep it indoors and go with a safe route - dinner and a movie.

I used to think dinner and a movie was too expensive for a couple to do more than once every few months, but we've got it down to a science. Movie tickets - $5 each. No joke. Nice theater, movable armrests, stadium-style seating, good neighborhood, free refills on popcorn and soda, and they even have punch cards - every 8th ticket is free! What's not to love?! If you live in Chicagoland, check out Classic Cinemas - I swear it's love at first sight. And I'm not the biggest fan to going to the movies (DH is - it's a way of life to him) but I would recommend that theater to anyone. Totally worth it!

As for the dinner portion, T.G.I.Fridays has been tossing B1G1Free entree's at us every other month, and with my love of DragonFire Chicken, it's hard to say no. And being a member of their Stripes club (costs nothing to join - another savings!), we get points toward free appetizers. We splurged on a nice dinner out - with dessert and spent only $19.14. And that does include tip. It was a great Saturday night - lowkey and fun!

Sunday, after dinner, we picked up DaMama for an ice cream cone over at Colonial Cafe where - for the month of July, single scoop ice cream cones are $.50! Our total there was $1.62 for the three of us! Looks like fun in the summer sun just got tastier, and cheaper than ever before!
I remember my father telling me I was the "cook out of the box." His way of reminding me that I didn't technically know how to cook - I used boxed mixes to get me part of the way. Now, that's called Semi-Homemade, and it's considered chic. Who knew? Well, my father's distinct lack of appreciation for my cooking and baking shortcuts was evident, I could never shake the allure of using some shortcuts that the brilliant folks over at Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, and Duncan Hines provided.

It's the last of those companies that I am currently grateful for today. Well, in conjunction with Target, of course. Target was thoughtful enough to give us a $.50 printable coupon on Duncan Hines baking products (hey, can you say vague wording?), and they were nice enough to drop the price from $1.17 to $.97 each. Combined with an abundant stack of coupons, DaMama, my sister (Amy), and I headed off to harvest some cake mixes (and some frosting, too).

I drooled over the french vanilla, lemon supreme, and the coconut flavors while my sister loaded chocolate cakes into her cart with reckless abandon. How well did we do? 45 cakes mixes and 15 frostings later - here's what we spent: $29.37 - and that includes tax. DaMama had a 10% off your entire shopping order coupon which we put through first - naturally. What really makes me laugh? That's less than half the price that some people spend on a single birthday cake - and no, I'm not exaggerating. I know some of those people...

And the crazy thing is - it won't take that long to go through all those yummy cake mixes - since I tend to turn mine into bars, Amy's great with cakes and cupcakes as is DaMama, and my friend, Sandy makes them into cookies. Sure beats going to Jewel and paying $1.69 for a single box of cake mix. What silly people do that, anyway?

While my cakes are seldom made from scratch, I do know this: I'm happy to spend half the cost of a single birthday cake for delicious treats throughout the year. It may make me frugal (or cheap), but it also makes me smart.
With the abundance of summer berries (mainly FREE organic strawberries from Amy's Organic Garden), I've been brainstorming up a host of new ideas on how to use the deliciously sweet fruit - that is after eating a few generous handfuls of the tangy fruit myself.

With each idea comes another - from my (hopefully soon to be famous) layered Strawberry Cream Cake, to strawberry tarts (thanks, Amanda), to eating them by the mouthful (SonyaAnn - if I could've eaten more, there wouldn't have been any leftover!), to preserves, to decadent desserts - there's so much to love about a batch of beautiful berries. This weekend will mark the first of 4 experiments with strawberries - I've got some new ideas, and I'm aching to give them a try! Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if they ended up topping the next batch of Amish Friendship Bread!

I'm not shy about mixing bold flavors and trying new combinations - I'm more nervous about the outcome of different techniques and how the textures will balance each other. Nothing is worse than burnt toast, soggy bread, tough veggies (that are supposed to be fork tender), and gummy noodles. In that respect, I am a perfectionist. I don't know how the syrup from the berries will react with some of the other ingredients in my ideas, so this weekend - we'll start with a french vanilla cupcake surprise: the surprise being the strawberry center!

This weekend - a week, I'm out to conquer the world! Okay, I'll stick with conquering the berries. That's a sweet challenge I'm more than up for!
I got the best deal ever on a humongous batch of gorgeous organic strawberries! More than 18 lbs. of red, ripe, delicious berries came from my sister's all-organic garden in Minnesota - and these are some of the biggest, juiciest berries I've ever seen. What's crazy? She's got more berries still coming in! When she came for a visit over the 4th of July, she brought the sun-ripened fruit.

Last night, I spent about 2 hours cleaning, slicing, and snacking on berries, getting them ready to freeze. Later this month, I'll make my Strawberry Cream Cake with all those luscious berries. With the amount of berries I've now got on hand, I could make 8-12 cakes! Not that I'm complaining...

At least she let me trade some of some of Annie's Market items for those luscious berries. All in all, I still got the better end of the deal. Where I paid nothing for the grill marinades, less than $.40 a bottle for the BBQ sauce, free or nearly free salad dressing, and grabbed ketchup for $.39 a bottle - she brought berries that are selling for $5.99 lb. (organic is always more expensive). I kind of feel guilty for getting the better end of the bargain here, so when I make my trip to visit her in the coming months - I'll bring extra goodies from the market.

With all these yummy berries, I can't seem to decide which way I want to eat them first. Do I want a strawberry-banana smoothie? How about cheesecake with strawberry sauce? Maybe a good vanilla ice cream with the strawberries on top? I can always used them in baked desserts, too.

Do you have any ideas for a lovely batch of berries? I'd love some new ideas!
Nope, not bed bug - bread bug. I have another odd confession - I love expensive bread. Give it a name in Italian or French, and I'm hungry, ravenous for a taste of that hearty, rich goodness. A friend of mine recently gave me an Amish Friendship bread starter - and I can tell you - I am hooked. I've only made banananut bread before this, so this was a step out of my culinary comfort zone. And a brilliant step it was. Naturally, I added a few little extras to my bread.

What's even better? There are dozens of variations on this bread - that you can make all from the same starter. I've got 2 starters - the first loaf was gone in 2 days....and that was just Dh and myself. It's very simple to make, I've got all the ingredients on hand anyway. It takes 10 days to make, but every ten days, the starter yields 2 loaves of delicious, dessert/fancy bread. Chock full of fruit/nuts, or simple and sweet - I'll take pictures of the next batch - I can't wait to make more bread.

Now, I just need to get brave enough to make some foccacia or a nice, sassy ciabatta. If I can do that, I'll conquer the world - or save a few dollars a month! Either way is fine with me.
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For part of the holiday weekend, we went to Milwaukee for some rest and relaxation. After going to SummerFest, the largest outdoor music festival, and the vicious sunburn I came home with, the trip was certainly an adventure, but for the next week or so, I'm looking forward to some good, old-fashioned downtime!

While we were in Milwaukee, we stopped at my favorite spice place, The Spice House. It's in the Old Third Ward section of the city, sandwiched in between other shops, so unassuming that you wouldn't realize what you were passing until it was too late - except the incredible aromas coming through the screened door. The amazing thing: for $24.09 I grabbed 8 oz. Indonesian cinnamon, 4 oz. Italian sausage seasoning, 4 oz. toasted minced onion, 4 oz. roasted garlic powder, a jar (3.5 oz.) Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Spice, and several glass spice jars. Even the stuff in the grocery store would run me more than that! I adore that place.

Across the street is Usingers sausage, which I have to stop at - literally, it's right across the street. We popped in there, but there were no great deals to be had, so it was easy to move onto the next thing. The last stop before SummerFest - Milwaukee's (indoor) Public Market - which is comprise of around two dozen small food vendor stalls - from fine chocolates, to cheeses and delimeats, to a wine shop, spices (yep, from the Spice House, but their store has much more to pick from), Indian food, a burrito stand, and fresh fish. It really does have it all.

Though, as a sign of the times, the prices have really gone up in the public market, so DH & I contented ourselves with a few cookies from C. Adam's bakery, and headed off to the festival grounds. A short drive and we're there. We spent over 4 hours meandering through Summerfest, nibbling on cheese curds, and listening to the music. The sun started to get to me, so we headed out a bit earlier than expected and on the way to the car - my skin slowly went from a lovely shade of pale to a searing shade of red. How red might you ask? So red I could claim tomatoes as my kin. Yep, it's that bad.

Coming back on Saturday, we went to a BBQ at DaMama's - wow, was that a feast, followed with fireworks near my inlaws house. Afterwards, we stopped at a local cafe for $.50 ice cream cones (their July special) and that wrapped up a long, but fun day. There was so much food leftover from the BBQ, I won't have to cook all week. Nothing wrong with that!!

Sunday, we spent the day on the Fox River, riding the peddle-boats, playing mini-golf. This time I used loads of sunscreen - which kept me from turning into an extra-crispy critter! For which I'm grateful.

Now, it's time to get back in the groove of things with a meal plan, sort of:

Monday - Salad, corn on cob, leftover hotdogs

Tuesday - Leftover roasted chicken

Wednesday - Leftover steak, baked bean casserole, corn on the cob

Thursday - French toast, sausage, and fresh fruit

Friday - Grillin' time or homemade pizza!

Saturday - Paninis or subs, salad

Sunday - baked Fettucine Alfredo
It’s been a while since I’ve updated on this, so I’ll list the top 10 things I’ve been doing to save money this past week.

Shopping as a group. My friend, DaMama, & I have been doing group shopping for the last two weeks, with my friend, Chandra, and DaMama taking turns driving as they have larger vehicles. (My little 4 door car wouldn’t hold the three of us plus all that shopping. Sad, but true.) Carpooling couponers – saves everyone $$, helps save our planet.

I keep an eagle eye out for the utilities – wash all clothes, linens, and bedding cold water. Dishwasher used during off peak hours (after 11 p.m. here). TV is not turned on as background noise. I usually charge my cellphone in my car, so I make better use of my electric.

Fuel rewards. Love these things. Every $10 spent at Jewel (before coupons) gives us $.01 off per gallon, recorded on your loyalty card. Doesn’t seem like much, but we accumulated $.47 off in 4 weeks of couponing. Now we will trade off every week with someone’s preferred shopper card, giving each of us a chance at the cheaper fuel.

Instead of buying a bottle brush to clean a hard to wash plastic container, I took DaMama’s suggestion to use a small amount of bleach – let it soak, then wash it by hand. Works like a dream – and I spent $0!

Flavor your meat!!! I cannot stress that enough during the summer. I’ve grabbed dozens of marinade seasoning packets (just add water, etc.) and am using those to season chicken, beef, and pork. Total spent on those marinade packets = $0!! In our burgers last night – DH add in some A-1, since we have over a dozen (FREE) bottles to work off of. The ground beef used was from the Target $2 beef Q (we grabbed stew meat and DH ground it himself). The steaks he grilled were free after using tearpad Q’s for $1 beef with purchase of 1 bottle of A-1.

Redbox – we rented the movie “Taken” and ate grilled meat, tortillas, rice, and beans with a salad for date night. All we had to buy was the lettuce. Cost $.59. Love the price of date night!!

For an upcoming wedding, I’ve offered to make the rosary used in the ceremony. I’ve got tons of pearls, I grabbed a pretty gold cross at Michael’s on clearance for $1.99, so my total cost to make a wedding gift is well below $5!

Entertainment lately has been reading, beading, and napping – and before 8 p.m. none of them require electricity.

For the upcoming holiday weekend, we’ll spend 2 days in Milwaukee, return home to spend time with visiting family. We’ve been invited to a BBQ Saturday and another on Sunday. I’ll bake something when we return from Milwaukee (which means the good land) – I’m thinkin’ of making the vanilla berry almond cake – it yields 2 and is oh, so yummy! I’m hungry just thinking about it.

Usingers – I love sausage, especially on the grill and when we’re in Milwaukee, a trip to the Spice House and Usingers sausage is a must. Last time we came home with 9 – 20-22 oz. pkgs of 5 different kinds of sausage – and spent less than $10!! The Spice House is where I splurge, grabbing Chicago Deep Dish Pizza spice, toasted onion, and roasted garlic powders. I could die happy after a trip there. The crazy thing, it’s cheaper to buy spices there than at Jewel, Dominicks, Meijer, etc.

Some ideas on saving money while having a good time in July:

Concerts in the park
Colonial Cafe has their single scoop homemade ice cream cones $.50 each, limit one per person per day.
BBQ's, potlucks, picnics in the park, etc.
We're planning our own take on Rib Fest, a fun yet pricey venue where you can taste ribs from across the country. We keep getting free BBQ sauce, free marinade packets, and using the $6 off Gather Round the Grill coupons. We'll pick a weekend and try half a dozen variations on ribs/chicken BBQ style. I can't wait to try some new ideas!!

Any ideas on ways I can save? I’d love some tips to try!!

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