Sunday, January 31, 2010

CVS Clearance and ECB burning....

I had a bunch of ECBs that were expiring, so I headed out to CVS to "burn" them. Here's what I got:

Transaction 1, Store 1: This store had a decent amount of stuff on clearance, so that's pretty much what I bought!

1 box Electrosol Power Tabs, $3.99 (reg. 5.99)
1 set pretty Bobby pins, $1.50 clearance (reg $5.99)
1 makeup bag/hair tie set, $2 clearance (reg $7.99)
1 travel sewing kit, 75¢ clearance (reg. $3.99)
1 CVS green bag tag, 99¢

$2.50 Electrosol coupon
$6 ECB

paid 78¢ oop.

Since my store didn't have what I was looking for, I headed to the next nearest store, about 3 minutes away.

Transaction #2, store 2
2 6-packs soyjoy, $12 total
used $12 ECB, paid 0 OOP, got back $12 in ECB

Transaction #3, store 2
1 Powerbar strawberry gel bite thingy, $1.50, reg 1.69
1 Dove candy bar (cuz momma needs candy!), 50¢, reg 89¢
1 pack Orbit gum, 99¢, reg 1.29
1 pack Easy Up pampers, $3, reg 11.99
2 packs gel cushions, $1 each
1 Dove men's bodywash, $5.49

Used $1.25 coupon out of today's paper,
$12 ECB

Paid 24¢ OOP, got back 5.49 in ECB

All told, I spent $1.02, saved $66.81, and still have $5.49 in ECB to play with!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chicken Challenge wrap up

Life got in the way this week (again) as I'm trying to make room in my day-to-day life for more writing, but I'm going to recap what happened with the rest of the chicken challenge:

Day 1, made chicken and dumplings for dinner, had enough leftovers for day 2's dinner

Day 2, had chicken sandwiches for lunch, and the leftover chicken and dumplings from day 1

Day 3, made a pantry salsa "salad" to go with chicken quesadillas

Day 4, packed up 2 small bags of chicken (meal sized, about a cup of chicken apiece)
made chicken chili out of the rest of the chicken and the salsa salad. I also have a total of 8 bottles of stock (2 cups each, packaged in waterbottles so they can be poured and stay neat in the freezer door....) which is the amount I need to make a quick pan gravy.

All in all, I think 7 meals from a 6.33lb chicken is pretty good!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day one of Chicken stretching challenge.

Day One, I'm trying something different. I saw Tyler Florence poach a whole chicken to make his chicken and dumplings, so I decided to give that a shot.

In the pot: 2 bay leaves, a few peppercorns, the scraps from onions/carrots/celery that were sitting in my freezer, some garlic, thyme, and a Tbsp of salt. Place chicken in pot, then cover with cold water and bring to gentle boil.

After the chicken was fully poached, I pulled it out of the pot and let it cool till I could handle it, and while it was cooling I strained out the broth and stuck it in the fridge. Then, I returned the pot to the stove, and then put all the bones back into the pot to get another batch of broth out of them. The broth that was already done would be for that night's dinner of chicken and dumplings, and the batch I was making was for the freezer since I use a LOT of stock!

I ended up with a large container of meat- and this will be the basis for meals for the rest of the week.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chicken stretching challenge!

Today, I am taking a 6.33lb whole chicken, and I'm going to see just how far I can stretch it. I paid 79¢ per lb, making it exactly $5 for the whole bird. I'll be posting what I'm doing with it every day- today, I'm poaching the whole thing for chicken and dumplings. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Stockpiling 101

One of the most frustrating things in getting started on a frugal journey is knowing where to start. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step- or so the saying goes- but many become frozen in place, worried that if they take that single step, it will be in the wrong direction.

Been there, done that. What I really want to stress to everyone is that even if you have missteps, you are still headed in the right direction!

Stockpiling is one of those things that can be very frustrating to start. You don't know how much to buy at that rock bottom price, or if what you think is a rock bottom price really IS a great deal.

So, let me tell you, this is not rocket science. If you have some sort of pasta-based meal every week and usually pay $2 for a box of pasta (regular retail for the type my family prefers), then buy several boxes when it goes on sale. Then, next week, when you go shopping and find that your favorite brand of sauce is on sale, you can use the money you would have spent on pasta to buy a couple more jars of the sauce.

Eventually, you will get to a point where you can skip the big shopping trip altogether and just grab milk and produce. However, one thing to keep in mind- this is not something that happens overnight. It is a journey, and there is really nothing more to it than changing the way you shop.

When I shop, I don't just have this week in mind- I have at least a 2 month view in mind. I know that in the winter months, the kids and I will eat 2 cans of soup per day for lunch, 4 days a week (and kill at least a bottle of hot sauce every other week, but that's another story!) so that means we would need 8 cans per week, or a case every 3 weeks. Two months' worth of soup means 3 cases of soup, roughly- so when that ridiculous sale rolls around, that's how much I'll buy. (of course, we're working toward getting a freezer, so I'll be making more of our own soups soon!)

By having a 2 month view, I can usually avoid paying full retail for pretty much everything. This week the focus is on canned veggies and whole chickens, but next it could be flour and beans. Building up to this point has taken us a year, but there are some shortcuts you can take. You can get a jumpstart by heading to a discount store like PriceRite, Aldi, SaveALot, etc, and purchasing your dry and canned goods there. We buy rice, cornmeal, frozen fruit, beans, lentils, and some spices and seasoning mixes at our local PriceRite.

Another thing you can do to jumpstart your stockpile is hit several stores for their loss leaders- usually on the covers of their ads. These are the "great sales" that they use to entice you to shop at their store, in the hopes that you'll grab a few non-sale items as well. When I am in "active stockup mode", I will hit 2-3 grocery stores and 3 other stores in one shopping trip, only grabbing the loss leaders and best deals.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions! I am more than willing to answer questions in the comment section or another post!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The biggest thing you can do to be frugal... learn to anticipate needs. I was chatting in The Thrifty Mama Chat earlier, and the more I thought about it, that is how we live.

We stock up on sales, anticipating that future costs would be higher than what we're paying now with coupons.

We bought my little girl a winter coat in August, from a yard sale, because we knew she'd need one this year.

We stocked up on cold and flu meds when they went on sale, which kept us from paying full price when we all got the Bacon Plague (aka H1N1, but bacon plague is just sooo much more fun to say!) AND kept us from spreading our germs around to poor, unsuspecting pharmacy staff at midnight.

We bought Christmas presents all year round, scouring for deals.

Just these few, small little things have made such a huge difference in the budget. Take just one step towards a more frugal life, and then another and another. Don't get too bogged down in what others are doing, just focus on your goals.

"Goals are dreams with work clothes on" -Dave Ramsey