Friday, May 27, 2011

Know Your Grocery Store

                                              article #2 in Stretching Your Dollar

In order to maximize your savings at your local grocery store,
you must know that store like the back of your hand!

Here are a few tips in get you in the 'know' zone:

1)  Find all the clearance spots!

Every store usually has a certain area where they move items that have been
put on clearance.

My Kroger has an area in the bread isle where they place all the mark-down bread,
buns, bagels, english muffins, etc.
They also roll out a cart with the bakery mark-downs, like cakes, pies, donuts, etc.
I always check these areas before choosing my bread/bakery needs.
I make a purchase from this area every week, often finding bread from .25/.50.
It's really nice to find the bakery pies that were originally $8 for $2-3.

They also fill up grocery carts with scratch & dent items.
These sit by the milk coolers at the back of the store.
I love to find canned goods sometimes priced as low as .15!
Lastly, they have a table near the HBA that is for reduced items.

By checking these specifically designated areas, I've stretched my dollar countless times ...
finding unexpected bargains.

2)  Be familiar with the tags!

Learning to read tags is very important.
James taught me how to check unit prices on products several years ago.
There are tags either above or below grocery store items that have the “unit” price listed.  Always check this against the same item that is being advertised as on “sale”. 
A great majority of the time, the 'sale' is not the best deal.

By knowing what is a sale tag vs. a clearance tag vs. a close out tag, you can often find unadvertised deals for extra savings.
My Kroger almost always has plenty of dairy products at a reduced price.
I know what stickers to look for to get an additional savings.
{I've gotten 1/2 gallons of chocolate milk for .25 before!}

3)  Know your store's policies on everything!

While using internet couponing/savings sites is very helpful in finding sales
& coordinating coupons for additional savings, you must keep in mind that policies
may vary from store to store.
The policies at my Kroger can be entirely different from another Kroger
just on the other side of town.

Here are a few things to find out:
Coupon policies  -- do they double & up to what amount {if so, how many will double}
                               -- do they accept printables
                               -- how many 'exact' coupons do they accept per day
                               -- do they stack coupons
                               -- do they accept e-coupons or cellphone coupons & do those stack
                               -- do they accept competitors coupons

BOGO policies  -- do they require you to buy 2, or can you buy one at 50% off

Raincheck policies  -- do they expire

Store courtesy/discount card  -- how to use this for maximum savings

Price matching  -- does your store allow this & on what items

Sale cycle  -- learn this about your store {generally a 6-10 week cycle}

Keep tuning in as we learn to stretch our dollars!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Seasonal Savings

                                             $$ Tip #1 in Stretching Your Dollar Series $$

I love the sales that come along during the various seasons of the year.
There's no better time to stock up the pantry
... & rack up the savings in the process!

It's almost Memorial Day ...
& Memorial weekend = COOKOUTS!

Grocery stores will have nice deals on hot dogs, hamburger meat, buns, chips, soda, potato chips, watermelon & condiments.
Add any available coupons to these great deals & get FREE or cheap food!

Most of these items will be on sale throughout the summer, but you may not see prices this low until closer to the 4th of July {& again at Labor Day weekend}.

Here are a few other seasonal savings to look for throughout the year:

Back-to-School  -- best prices of the year on peanut butter, jelly, drink boxes, cereal, lunch meat, cheese slices, yogurt, pre-packaged snacks, school/office supplies

Easter  -- ham, eggs, candy, rolls

Thanksgiving/Christmas  -- turkey, ham, butter, baking supplies, spices, broth, foil,
baking pans

Of course, after the major holidays, you can find super clearance deals on chocolate {candy}, seasonal decor, clothing, toys, etc.
These often sell out quickly, so be on the lookout within a day or 2 after the actual holiday.

I stopped in at Aldi today for pinto beans & found an unbelievable seasonal deal!
Take a look at this video to see what I got for .15!!

Wanna read more on how to get the best deal on everything you buy?
 Click here for a month-by-month guide.

Monday, May 23, 2011

$ Stretching Your Dollar $

Everyone wants to save money, right?
With gasoline prices at an all-time high & the price of EVERTHING on the rise, many
are exploring new ways to save ... & ultimately, stretch that dollar as far as possible.

I have always been on the frugal side {otherwise know as thrifty &/or cheap}.
There seems to have always been an unseen force drawing me to all things sale & clearance.
My thought process has always been 'why pay more when you don't have to!!'
As a little girl, I would save my money & then patiently wait until the item
I wanted finally went on sale.
I specifically remember the yellow, red & purple purse I bought at Kmart ...
just as excited about the sale as I was for the purse!

I had some good training.
I watched my Dad work hard for his money ... & I watched my Mom respect that
by being conscious of how she spent it.
She was demonstrating to me what a Proverbs 31 woman was all about.

10Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
 11The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
 12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Now that I'm grown, with a husband & children of my own, I'm so grateful for these
skills I began to learn at a young age.
I've added to them many times over, gleaning from many good teachers,
learning to manage our home well ...
learning ways that help us to thrive, not just survive.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing several blogs specifically
about saving money.
I'll share my thoughts & tips on shopping, couponing, simple living, & cutting costs
in all areas of life.
I hope to be an encouragement & will answer any questions along the way.
Any time spent in bettering our household is time well spent.
It brings honor to our husband & to our Saviour as we strive diligently in this,
our high calling.

 27She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
 28Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Freckled Lemonade ~ my version

One Freckled Lemonade at Red Robin & I was in love!
A bit more pricey than I normally spend on a drink {I usually order ice water},
it was worth every penny of the $3.99!
The free refills only sweetened the deal.
The last time we were there, James told our waitress to 'keep 'em comin' ...
which resulted in 5 or 6 glasses on our table at one time!
Oh yea, we were in Freckled Lemonade heaven.

Since we don't have a Red Robin in our town, I knew I had to duplicate this drink at home.

Here's what I've come up with:
Wash & dice fresh strawberries, however many you'd like {I use 3-4 medium ones}.
You can even use frozen strawberries if you don't have fresh ones.
Toss these into your favorite glass.
 Next, sprinkle in 2 packets of Splenda or Sweet 'n Low {or sugar}.
Smoosh the strawberries up a bit with a fork or spoon & then pour in the lemonade.
I love the lemonade from Aldi ... the sugar-free version similar to Crystal Light.

This is almost like a dessert!
I follow Weight Watchers, so this is an excellent 0 point treat for me.
When I'm wanting something sweet, this hits the spot.

Now all I need is a porch swing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Mom's Cherry Graham Cracker Layer Dessert!

I am a collector of recipes.
I have lots of recipe books, love watching the Food Network & check out recipe websites in my spare time.
I have recipes that have been passed down & some that I've randomly accumulated here & there.
I've often asked about a recipe at a church dinner or reunion & the person will launch in to telling me how to make it right then & there.
I'll hurry & scribble it down on a piece of scrap paper from my purse.
Sometimes, the actual name of the recipe gets lost in the shuffle ... or you're never even told what it is.

Well, that's exactly why the recipe I'm sharing today is titled as it is!
My mom has been making this dessert for a loonng time.
In fact, this is one of the 1st recipes I remember my mom letting me help to make when I was a little girl.
{It's super kid-friendly!}
As for it's actual name though, well, none of us know what it is.
So, for the sake of this blog, I'm ganna call it:
My Mom's Cherry Graham Cracker Layer Dessert!
{what a mouthful!}

Here's what you need:

Mix together 2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding with 3 cups of milk.
Stir in whipped topping.
Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan with graham crackers.  
Spread half of the pudding mixture over graham cracker layer.
Top with another layer of graham crackers and the remaining pudding.
For the final layer, top with cherry pie filling.
Refrigerate until serving.

This is super simple & no baking required.
It's a refreshing, cool dessert for the warm summer months.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spring Sundays ~ Mom's Closet

A few weeks ago, we went to my parent's house, for our usual weekly visit .
Mom, who's had trouble with her knee & leg since the fall, hasn't been out &
about much in several months.
Recently, she'd had Dad take her to Stein Mart, one of her favorite clothing stores.
She'd found a couple pretty jackets & wanted my opinion on what she should pair
up with them.
So, we went up to her closet & for the next 30 minutes, we matched this with that, putting together some beautiful outfits, clear down to the shoes.
We had so much fun!

Truly, Mom didn't need my help.
As I stood together with her in the closet, I realized that it was because of her that
I know how to dress nicely.
Mom has always known how to look just right ... never over-done or pretentious,
but always nice ... & always appropriate for whatever the situation.
To this day, she still always look lovely.

As I stood there, I began remembering back to the many instructions Mom has shared
with me through the years ...
all profitable & has served me well.
I'm thankful for her Godly guidance & counsel that has shaped me
into the woman I am today.
I've been blessed.

                                                        Happy Mother's Day, Mom

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Loaded Ultimate Sandwiches ~ Roast Beef

James mentioned wanting roast beef sandwich a few days ago,
so I decided to come up with this philly-style roast beef.
Boy, did this make for an extra-yummy lunch!

In a small pan, heat beef, a couple tbsp. of teriyaki sauce, sliced onion, & green
peppers until just heated through.
Load it into the buns & top with mozzarella cheese.
Wrap individual sandwiches in aluminum foil & let them sit for at least 5-7 minutes.
This will soften the buns & melt the cheese.

Add desired toppings, such as shredded lettece, mild peppers, jalapenos, mayo,
bbq sauce, & horseradish sauce.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Decorating for Spring ~ The Kitchen

And for the final installment in this little spring decorating series, it's the kitchen!

I found a couple new, super cute things that I've added to some of my existing items.
I'm really liking the fresh & springy look.

Here's how it ended up:

I always wanted under-the-counter lighting but haven't had any installed just yet.
I found this little lamp & decided to give it a try.
With a 25-watt bulb, it gives off a soft glow in the evening ... I think it's a keeper.
I sat it, along with the new porcelain chicken {2.99}, on a few of my favorite
cookbooks to give it some height.
I especially love the shabby chic chalkboard {TJ Maxx $7.99}.
I keep a scripture or encouraging quote written on it.

My antique blue mason jar became a great place for this new bunch of $1 tulips.

I wanted to use another one of my antique jars {given to me by my m-i-l}, so I bought
some inexpensive greenery, clipped it apart & made this little arrangement.
It sits on the window sill.

All the items on the top of the cabinets were moved from other parts of the house ...
the china cabinet, the living room, etc.
Using them in a whole new setting makes them seem like new again.

I need some plastic brown-speckled eggs for my basket, huh?!

I found these curtains {the whole set} on the clearance rack at Walmart ... marked $7.
They rang up for $5!
I'll keep these up til fall.

This springy look will carry into summer, probably til it's time to put out the pumpkins,
goards, & scarecrows.