To get so much for so little!

I feel like I damned near robbed Meijer blind - and grabbed some stuff that I (and my sis) needed anyway! How often does that happen? Not often enough, for my liking - so without further adieu - here are the deals I've hit this week:


Buy 5 boxes of participating Betty Crocker items, get a coupon for $3 OYNO. (Cannot mix and match - must be 5 of same type of product).

Bought 15 boxes of Betty Crocker potatoes at $.60 each = $9.00 - received $9 in coupons!! Yippee - free tater stuff! Used 10 $.40 coupons - so I came out a little ahead on this one! That helepd with the next round of goodies-

Bought 25 boxes of Tuna Helper (my sister put out a big request for this one!) Spent $25.00 and received $15 in coupons OYNO plus $1.50 off $15 in meat (3 of those), $1.00 OYN bread purchase of $3.99 or more, plus 6-7 other OYNO of xx product.

I have $18 in coupons to go shopping with - and might pair that with the meat coupon and load the freezer up - let's hope the mark-down meat is plentiful, to make sure - I'll just go after 7 p.m. tonight (when I notice the girl marking down the meat!)


Helped myself to 6 more bags of Tyson chicken nuggets at $1.99/bag after rolling the $3 YB coupons that print out...before you've even paid for your purchase.

I plan to roll this another 3-6 times tonight...nothing like a lazy dinner - just pair this with those free Betty Crocker Potatoes and a hearty garden salad and some corn/peas/etc. A meal you can feel better about than drive-through and save your wallet too! Godo thing I'm stocked on BBQ sauce for dunkin' because this is not the best time of year to go shopping for it!!
Amazing how time flies! Now, to get my meal plan ready for the week:

Monday - Turkey and Cheddar brats, garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, corn tortillas, salad - was too cheap/lazy to buy buns

Tuesday - Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Wednesday - Empanadas, tacos con carnitas

Thursday - Oven roasted chicken, chicken rice, spinach salad

Friday - Roasted red pepper, caramelized onion, and cheddar frittata, hashbrowns or potato cakes, English muffins, fruit salad

Saturday - Tacos al pastore, red rice, beans, all the fixin's

Sunday - Currently undecided....

Breakfast of the week: Oatmeal, hardboiled eggs, cereal
Dessert of the week: Free Golden Oreos (they're pretty tasty), banana nut bread
Lunch of the week: Spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and gnocchi soup, ham sammies
I couldn't believe the luck I had yesterday at Dominicks! While I expected everything to be picked over - I was in for a pleasant, albeit mildly pleasant, surprise. They had just enough of everything in stock for me to score big:

8 boxes Kellogg's Fruit Loops $1.88 -$1/1 blinkie coupons (expired) (8)
2 boxes Kellogg's Apple Jacks $1.88 -$1/1 blinkie coupons (expired) (2)
Buy 5 get a $4 coupon OYNO - and I did!!

Pork Steaks at $1.69 lb. marked half price - individually wrapped $.84 & $1.02 (both were well over 1 lb. each!)

$1.99 bag Nestle mini-morsels - $1/1 coupon (printed from Jewel catalina machine - expired) - $.99 (wish I had a few more of those coupons!)

1.45 lbs. Honey crisp apples $3.49 lb. = $5.07 -$1 off produce purchase of $5 or more and $2 any fruit purchase WYB 2 Kellogg's cereals (2). I grabbed 5 Honeycrisp apples for a 7 cents! Got to love a bargain!

Total OOP: $13.61
Total saved: $33.64

Then I stopped over at Jewel to try the new YourBucks program and grabbed some more goodies:
$.79 Jewel brand bread 16 oz. or larger white or wheat only - receive $1 YB per loaf purchase in a single transaction - one YB per item per transaction - $.21 MM
$1.39 large dozen egg -$1.00 YB from previous transaction, - $.40 - recieved another $1 YB
Tyson chicken (normally $7.49 a bag) on sale $4.99 a bag received $3 YB for each one purchased in a single transaction.

Total spent $5.93
Received $1 YB (2), $3 YB (1) - then I went back and did it all over again...and only spent $2.43 on the second identical transaction! All I can think to say is....Hello, chicken - what's kickin'?!?
As part of DH job - he scored a pair of free tickets to the Chicago Auto Show (weekday only, of course) - so I'm taking an afternoon off and we're going to check out all the new cars! Last year, my favorites were the Saturn Vue and the Ford Escape. It isn't often that we get to go into the city for free entertainment, so when it happens - I get pretty excited!

Tomorrow, it'll be back to deal-hunting when I start canvassing all the Jewels in the area for the single serve Tennesee Pride breakfast biscuits - the one I popped in to this morning didn't carry them....go figure. I'll call around to a few of the other Jewels along my usual driving route and see if any of them carry it. I've heard that the ones neawr my home don't usually carry this, and since I have couposn that will make them free - it's worth looking into.

I've already used 16 $.40/1 coupons at Dominicks for the BC cookie mix pouches that were on sale for $.99 WYB 4. I also stacked on a cellfire $.40 coupon and spent $7.32 and saved $21.87 - not too bad!! This is the cheapest I've ever seen these and Dominicks still accepts expired coupons! Yea for me!
Got a crazy week ahead of us - between the start of Lent and free tickets to the Chicago Auto Show - I've created a meal plan with enough flexibility to accommodate the crazy schedule this week!

Monday - Enchiladas con picadillo, frijoles, arroz (ground beef/turkey enchiladas, refried beans, and rice)

Tuesday - Free tickets to the auto show - for eating at home (or if we don't - leftovers for lunches) I'll have havarti and ham paninis ready to grill with tomato basil soup on the side

Wednesday - oven roasted chicken breast, mashed potatoes, spinach salad

Thursday - chicken and gnocchi soup, Cheddar Bay biscuits, salad

Friday - cheese pizza, stuffed mushrooms

Breakfast of the week: oatmeal and cereal
Dessert of the week: Caramel cake
Lunch of the week: Chinese takeout leftovers, rice and beans, and chicken salad
I love to celebrate the holidays, but when money get tight - there are still PLENTY of great ways to celebrate - heck, I've even broken them down by group: kids friendly, couples, and best gal-pal. See if there are any ideas you'd like to use - or even add to this list!

Kid Friendly:

1. Create a valentine box. How? Grab a small to medium sized box, seal it up, cut a card sized slit in the top of the box and ask the kids to decorate it. If the kids work well together, they can collaborate - otherwise, assign each child a side of the box and offer a prize for the best looking decorations! Drop your valentines inside, and you've got an evening worth of fun!

2. Make your own valentines! All you need is some colored construction paper, some magazines/newspapers that you don't mind them cutting up, scissors, glue, and your imagination. Make it into a game - the sweetest, silliest, and prettiest card each get a prize.

3. Who loves chocolate dipped pretzels? Everyone!! Grab a cheawp bag of pretzels and break out that almond and chocolate bark leftover from Christmas and make dipped pretzels. Before they dry, have the kids sprinkle Valentine's sprinkles on them. Or drizzle one kind of bark over the other. These make great gifts for your girlfriends, grandparents, teachers, friends, etc. Turn it into an all-night affair and have a movie to go along with it - don't they sell dipped pretzels at the movie theater anyway? A huge bowl of popcorn and you're all set.


1. Go for a picnic! Oh, wait - it's February in the Midwest. So, have a picnic in your living room. Lay down an old blanket, serve tons of (cheap!) fingerfoods. For DH & I - I used grapes, cheese cubes (I cut them up myself), ham, crackers, sausage medallions, and berries. Have a pile of napkins on hand. Want it to really feel like the beach? Light an ocean/water scented candle, grab your oscillating fan (breeze off the bay, anyone?), and put on some island music. If you're really feeling inspired, try to tango. It's fun! Trust me.

2. Build a meal together. Work side-by-side in the kitchen over a meal you can individualize like build-your-own burger/taco/mini-pizza, etc. You each get it your way and you get time together - nothing wrong with that! This is a perfectly suited project for the two of you!

3. Set a budget (half of what you typically spent in years passed) and each of you takes half of that budget to figure out either the dining or the entertainment. I'm surprised how much thought my hubby puts into something when I give him half of the responsibility of the planning. Next thing you know, one of you will have BOGOF coupons to a new restaurant and the other will have found a $3-$5 movie showing someplace in town or even in the next town over.

Gal-Pal Treats:

1. Don't be afraid to get busy in the kitchen! 90 minutes in the kitchen will yield you the following goodies that friends are sure you spent over slaving over:
1. Decadent Double Chocolate Brownies
2. Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
3. Vanilla Snowball Cake With Chocolate Center

2. Host a girls night in, watch chick flicks (encourage friends to bring their favorites), make tons of appetizers to pass through the night, and ask everyone to show up in their pink and red favorites (the sillier the better). Offer a small prize to the best/craziest outfit!

3. Got some old pictures of your pals? Copy them on your printer/copier in black and white and do a crazy collage - mix the old with the new, color in the pictures, or just get pictures of all your best pals together - everyone gets to take theirs home! Nothing like nostalgia on a night like this!

Tell me - what budget-friendly tricks are you using this Valentine?
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Well, as my momma always said, "the best laid plans of mice and men...often to go **** in a handbasket!"

The long weekend of the board meeting, it got long - then it got longer, then I ended up going to the immediate care center Saturday afternoon and having a small procedure done. Today is my first day back at work since Saturday and I'm desperately hoping I'm up to par. At my job, if I'm not at 100%, I shouldn't even come in the door - there is no such thing as an easy day, or making small allowances if you're not up to par.

Now that I'm back to work, it's time to get my life back in order. While it was nice to have a few days off of work - next time, I'd prefer not to be recovering when I get some time away. I haven't been out of the house except for work and going to the clinic in 9 days. Wow - that is such a long time!

It's late in the game, but I need to scrounge together a meal-plan, I've been living off my cereal stockpile, with cheese and crackers for my snacks. We have 4 pieces of fruit left, some fresh spinach for salads - yum, and 3 or 4 English muffins. Pickings for tonight's dinner are going to be sparse, but I think I can toss together a spinach salad with dried cranberries, sliced almonds, thin sliced apple, and croutons. Maybe I can make an open faced English muffin sammie with some Swiss and cheddar cheeses melted on top to round out my meal. It's either that or I crack open a can of Tomato Basil soup - I love having ready made soup on hand. I've already used my lazy, new favorite go-to meal: the frittata. That was dinner for Tuesday, and lunch for Wednesday.

For tomorrow, it's dinner with my in-laws, Saturday DH gets to cook, and Sunday...well, I was hoping DH would surprise me with something, but doesn't look like that is going to happen. It'll probably be a favorite restaurant of his, and then back home to watch TV.

I'll be back tomorrow with Valentine's Gifts on a budget!
I stopped into Jewel on my way to work this morning and grabbed one last round of cheap oatmeal and granola bars - check out my amazing savings!

3 boxes Quaker granola bars (regularly $4.19) sale $1.99
4 boxes Quaker Oatmeal-To-Go bars (regularly $3.39) sale $1.99
3 boxes Quaker Instant Otmeal Packets (regularly $4.39) sale $1.99

WYB 5, receive an instant savings of $3 per 5 purchased
-$3/5 Quaker manufacturer coupon - found in Butera's flyer (2)

OOP = $8.19
or $.10 per serving, on average
That's an affordable breakfast or snack for me!

If anyone out there wants some of those amazing coupons, leave me a comment - I've got more than a dozen to share!
In the snowy, damp weather we're experiencing here in Chicagoland, I couldn't imagine a better weather for soup. From Campbell's Select or Chunky to luxurious, rich soups from local and chain eateries - soup is definitely on the brain. With the latest sale, it looks like I'll be trying my hand at one of my favorite soups: Chicken Gnocchi soup from the Olive Garden.

I've got 3 17oz. packages of potato gnocchi from Butera during their current 10 Items for $10, get the 11th item free sale. With a little help from some online recipe sites (3-4 different recipes, meshed into one) - I think I have a good base to create the soup from. Now, I just need enough time away from the office to give this a try.

I'm hoping to make this for dinner next week - I will post about how this turns out.

8 oz. potato gnocchi
1 large chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces
2 C. chicken stock
1 chicken bouillion cube
1 C. half and half
1/8 C. parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, crushed
6-8 white button mushrooms, sliced very thin
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 carrot, shredded
1/4 C. fresh spinach, cut into very thin ribbons
1 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. thyme
salt and pepper

Saute the onion, garlic, carrot, and mushroom in oil over medium heat until onion is translucent and mushrooms are tender.

Add chicken, chicken bouillion, chicken stock, salt and pepper, thyme. Heat to boiling, then add gnocchi. Gently boil for 4 minutes, then turn down to a medium-low add half and half, simmer for 10 minutes.

Add spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.

If soup is thin:Heat to boiling and add cornstarch dissolved in 1-2 Tbsp water at this point if you want a thicker soup.
This week at work, we have our winter board of director's meeting. This will make for a long and disorganized week if I don't enlist some help. Since the meetings tend to run long (very, very long!) I've asked DH to take over meals for the latter half of the week. What I've got planned for Monday - Thursday, most of the meals are already prepared, so it's just a matter of re-heating. I love it when I'm this on top of things! Now....if that could only last all week long!

Monday - Tacos Carnitas with all the fixin's, refried beans
Tuesday - Navy Bean Soup with rice, salad
Wednesday - Spaghetti and salad
Thursday - Ham and eggs, pancakes, strawberries

Dessert of the week: Brownies
Fruit of the week: Gala apples, strawberries, bananas
Breakfast of the week: Oatmeal and cereal - I'm super stocked up on both!! - in the weekly flyer for Butera, there is a manufacturer's coupon for $3/5 Quaker products - this includes Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake batter, oatmeal-to-go bars, granola bars, captain crunch, canister and single serve boxes of oatmeal - and the price is cheaper at Jewel. I grabbed 5 Quaker items for $.79 each!! What does that mean for me - loads of oatmeal cookies, tons of Captain Crunch for hubby - he loves that stuff!, and super cheap syrup for stacks and stacks of pancakes. I've got more than a dozen of those coupons, so if this stuff goes any cheaper somewhere else - I'm covered.

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