Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Meal Planning on a Budget

I gave this idea a trial run in the month of February, but I intend to really REALLY stick to it this time. :)

I have been using a monthly meal calendar for a few months now. I find it really useful and solves some of the "What do I want to make" blues. However, some nights, what is on my calendar may not strike my fancy. So, as long as I have the ingredients at home, I am ok to change it.

Last month, I added a grocery booklet to go along with my calendar. I wrote down by week what I needed. This served as an excellent shopping list! Also, if there was a sale on an item I needed later in the month that was nonperishable, I knew I could pick it up early and cross if off my list. It worked fabulously!


Beginning of the month, can you tell?! I also have been making bread more often so I am going through my baking supplies faster than normal. And would you believe it if I said there isn't any salt in my house right now!?!

I have a couple of coupons I would like to use because they are rare and of high value. So, I have the final page dedicated to items I am looking to stock up on. These coupons expire this month. If I was smart, I would write down the coupon expiration date!

Let me know if this helps you out!!

Tater Tot Casserole

This is a quick and easy meal to throw together... and I love it!

1lb browned hamburger
1 small bag mixed veggies
2 small cans tomato soup
1 bag tater tots
cheese

 Add hamburger and veggies.
 Top with tomato sauce.

 Add tater tots. Bake according to tater tot instructions.
 Add shredded cheddar cheese after cooked. Bake for additional 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
 And just like that, in under an hour, dinner is served!

Pizza!

After making Bosch White Bread last night, I had some left over. And since I got such a good deal on pepperoni, I couldn't help but make pizza. But I didn't want just pizza. So, I decided to get creative.

First, I made pizza rolls:

 Roll out dough and put on toppings.
 Start form end closest to you and roll pizza up. It helps to pull back slightly on the dough before rolling it. (Pull, tuck, pull, tuck) Then, cut into two finger width rolls. I use my bench scraper. Others use unflavored floss to get a nice, clean cut. To do this, place floss underneath roll, cross it on top, and pull. 
 Place on pan.
 Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.
 Enjoy!

 I then tried a few other designs....
 Only the deep dish one really turned out (top center). The burrito style (bottom left) was ok.
Mini deep dish: roll small amount of dough out. Set in muffin pan. Place a little bit of sauce, a few toppings, and top with cheese. But be smarter than me and spray the pan first! :)

Bosch White Bread

This is my favorite white bread recipe:

5-8 c. Flour
1 Tbs. SAF Yeast (I just use the self rising stuff from the store)
3 c. Hot water
1/2 c oil
1/2 c honey
1/2 c powdered milk
1/2 c mashed potato flakes
1 Tbs salt

Combine water and yeast. Add 3 cups flour. Use M Switch to mix. Add oil, honey, powdered milk and potato flakes. Turn to speed 2. Add salt. Add flour 1/2 c at a time until the the bread dough leaves the side of the mixer clean. It truly depends on the day and humidity. Once this happens, turn to speed 1 and let knead for 6 minutes.

If baking bread, allow loaf to rise.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Planned Trip... That I Know Won't Go Smoothly

I am planning for the worst tomorrow. I highly doubt I will be getting everything I want :) But that is the price I pay for not wanting to pay full price!



I got most of what I wanted! YES!

Albertson's

6 boxes Multi Grain Peanut Butter Cheerio's
$1.75
Use $1 (No longer available) and doubler
=Free +tax


Walmart:

16 Yoplait Yogurt
$.50
Use $1/8 and doubler
=.25 each or $2 for 16

6 Barilla Pasta
$1.08
Use $1/2 and doubler
=$.08 each or $.48 for 6

4 Muir Glen tomato paste
(Only at Overland store)
$.98/can
Use $1/2 (no longer availible) and doubler
= +$.02 per can or +$.08 overage
(enough to cover one box of pasta. hehe!)


4 Kraft Fresh Take
Rumored price: $2.09
Use $1/1 from SS 2/26 and doubler
=$.09 each or $.18 for 2

2 Armour Pepperoni
Price Unknown  $1.78
Use $1/2 coupon (nla) and doubler
=? But I want pizza! hehe
$1.56 for 2

3 IAMS pet food
$4.67
Use $3/1 from P&G this month
=$1.67 for one or $5 for 3
*Does not count on my 2012 Challenge Budget!

If all goes well, I will pay $2.66 plus pepperoni and tax on my budget and $7.66 + extra with cat food.

If any of the above don't work out, I have several alternatives

6 Colgate Toothpates 4.0oz
$.97
Use $.75/1 from SS 2/26 and doublers
Free or +$.51 depending on cashier

Cascade Action Packs
(Hardly ever in stock)
$.97
Use $.50/1 and doubler
Free or +$.03


Oral B Floss
(hardly ever in stock)
$.98


Use $.75/1 from Feb. P&G and doublers
Free or +$.50 depending on cashier


Items not in stock at my store!

Or, if the Fresh Take really is that good of a deal, I will get more of those! They are really easy and pretty good!


AND....

If none of those work, I will have a bunch of doublers to give away!

Total Spent: $13.71
Feb Budget: $8.80
Total Saved: $55.82


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Walgreen's 2/26

Fabulously Frugal is reporting a LOT of good deals at Walgreen's this week. There are 11 items that are Free (after RR or rebates) and even a money maker!

Check it out!



Fred Meyer 2/26

In need of cheese or butter? Fred Meyer is the place for you this week! It is also worth mentioning that tomatoes will be on at a good price, too. Fabulously Frugal doesn't have a ton of red stars for this week but plenty of black stars (meaning buy a few if you need them; red means stock up!).

FRED MEYER DEALS

Doubles Tomorrow!

I haven't put together my game plan yet. All I know is that I will only be getting stuff if it is free or near free. Check out these posts for ideas at Albertson's!

Cheap Michelina's, Cereal, Country Crock and more : Fabulously Frugal and this post too

Krazy Coupon Lady's ideas found here.

I did a product test for Kraft Fresh Bake. It thought it was pretty good and may be worth it. I have heard it rumored that these will be near free at Wal-Mart with doubles. I will let you know on Monday if there are. Find coupon and deal here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kellogg's Cereal

I think I am done buying cereal for awhile... unless I can get it for FREE... like I hope to on Monday with doublers...

But anyway, I was feeling very impulsive today and just didn't know if there would be a better sale on Kellogg's cereal. So, here is the damages:


Fred Meyer:
They have select brands of cereal for 50% off. I got the Raisin Bran because I can submit for a $10 rebate from Kellogg's. They were on sale for $2.24, normally $4.49/box. This is the large Value Size box. So after using my $5/5 coupon, my total came to $15.54 (that included a loaf of bread) or $1.24/box. After I submit for my rebate, I will have paid $.24/box! Sweet! Can't beat that!

Albertson's:
They had Rice Crispies on sale for 2/$5. Not a great price, but about equal to FM. So, I bought 5 boxes of the regular RC and I wanted to try the Gluten Free Whole Wheat RC. Total $16.60 or $1.50/box+tax. After rebate, these will be $.50/box! Sweet!

**Now... to cut all those UPC's today... shoot. I already put these away. Oops.**

But, unfortunately, this put me over my budget by $4. Yikes. I have enough bread, milk, and the basics to last me. Any doublers I use this weekend will be for free items only!

**Albies has select GM cereal for $1.75. I happen to have several coupons for $1 Peanut Butter MultiGrain Cheerios... and this is one of the participating items. I will let you know if I get this and how it tastes! :) I also plan on buying a little bit more pasta at Walmart.**

Today's Total: $32.04
Today's Savings: $65.30

February Total: $153.87
February Savings:  $151.94

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Money Management

Tonight I went to a Relief Society meeting on money management. I truly wish that more people understood how important managing your finances really and truly is! While it is almost impossible to live in today's world without some sort of debt, learning to manage that debt is a crucial skill!

If I had ten minutes to share some advice that has has really worked for our family, this would be it: Mint.com

****Keep reading even if you aren't interested in Mint. There is a snowball debt reduction calculator at the end! Excellent for reducing debt quickly!


Mint.com
If you are looking for a free way to track your expenses, I would suggest Mint.com. My husband and I love using Mint. This secure online program allows you to create budgets, track money from multiple accounts, car and mortgage loans, and more! 

One thing I love about Mint is that I can see how I am doing for the month at a glance. Don't use all of your budgeted money in one category? Mint allows you to rollover your previous budgeted money to the next month. (Ex: We set aside $20/month for video games and (to my husbands dismay) we don't buy video games every month. When a new game comes along that costs $50, we have rollover from the previous month's budget to pay for it!) Conversely, if you over spend in a category, Mint will show a negative amount in your budget for the next month. (Ex: Budget is for $50, you spend $70, next month will show a budget of $30.)

Also, Mint will budget money out for annual or biannual (or insert annual here) payments. Mint automatically pulls out the $13/month for my newspaper subscription even though I only pay it once a year. Same with our car insurance. This way we don't have to physically save the money out, but it is accounted for in our monthly spending.

Any money left over can be added to a "Goal" budget category. We have savings already budgeted out so we really have not used the goal category. However, this could be your fun money!

Two different budget categories in one transaction? No sweat. Mint allows you to split the transactions into different categories to make budgeting easier! It also lets you rename the transactions. Then, you can search for "Verizon" and ba-da-bing. All of your Verizon expenses appear!
Another feature I like is the Spending Over Time graph. It will show your net income for the month. (You should have seen how low that red bar got when we put our down payment on our house! haha.)
All photos from Mint.com
 We hardly use this feature because we have auto-pay bills, but for those who tend to forget, there is always a reminder on the home screen on when your next bill is due!

Mint also has an excellent app. I use it on the go! Always nice to know if I can buy those cute shoes or not! :)





Debt Reduction Calculator


My friend had an excellent blog post about snowball debt reduction. Find it here. The gist of snowball debt reduction is to make minimum payments on all of your debts, pay off the lowest debts first (A), and then take the  same amount from debt (A) and apply that + the minimum payment to debt (B). When debt (B) is paid off, take the minimum payment from (A) and (B) to pay off (C) etc. Paying off higher interest loans has advantages, too.

Link to Spreadsheet for Snowball Debt Reduction: http://www.vertex42.com/Calculators/debt-reduction-calculator.html



I hope you have learned something! Or at least you were reminded to take a look at your finances!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Free Activia at Target

Head over to coupons.target.com to print off the $2/2 4pks of Activia.  Combine this with the $1/1 coupon from yesterday's Red Plum, and you have a nice snack for Free!

Check out this Freebies to Deal's post for more Target deals.

Cheap Taste of Home Cookbooks! Only $5!

I had no idea these ever went on sale! Now is a great time to stock up for yourself or for wedding gifts! These cookbooks are normally $20+. With 98 cookbooks to choose from, there has to be something for you! If you spend $20, use the code LS108 to get free shipping. Don't need $20 in cookbooks? Find a friend to split the deal with.

Find the deal here: Taste of Home Sale
** Post a comment on this blog if you want to go in on this deal with me!!

Thank you, Freebies 2 Deals

Cheap Baby Wipes

Freebies 2 Deals is reporting cheap wipes! And the best part? You don't have to leave home to get them! Head on over to Huggie's on Walmart.com   to score wipes at only $.02/wipe! The 600 count pack is $11.97. Spend more than $40 and receive free shipping. So stock up (or buy something for yourself)!


Thanks, F2D

iTunes $50 Gift Card - Save $10

For all you music lovers out there, Staples has a promotion where you buy two $25 gift cards, you save $10 instantly. And, they will ship the cards to your house for free! Check out the deal here: link.

Thank you,
Freebies 2 Deals

10 Free Prints at Target

Need to print just a couple of pictures? Target has a new coupon out for $1/10 and their prints are on sale for $.10 this week. Head over to coupons.target.com  to get the $1/10 coupon!


Thank you,
Fabulously Frugal

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Be On the Lookout for Kellogg's Deals!

If you printed off this coupon earlier this week...


Remember that Kellogg's is running a promotional through the end of April for $10 off when you buy 10. I blogged about it back in January but completely forgot about it until I was going through old posts. So, keep your eyes out. This will potentially be a REALLY good deal!

I will let you know if I find one!

Mama's Meatloaf

Hamburger is on sale for $1.99/lb at Fred Meyer this week! That is a really low price now-a-days! That's why I'm blogging about it today!

I never understood growing up why meatloaf was always portrayed as the nasty meal no kid would want to eat. I love my mom's meatloaf! Best meal ever! I remember once going over to a friends house because they were having meatloaf. It was there that I learned that meatloaf is such a generic word. Everyone's meatloaf is the same. I have heard of so many things being put into meatloaf... oatmeal, olives, peppers... my recipe is simple.

So here it is, Mama's Meatloaf 
(Just know Mama isn't always know for measuring out everything!)

Serves 4, easily changeable for more

2 lb hamburger          
1 small onion
6-8 slices of bread
2 eggs
ketchup (2 big squirts)

Combine all ingredients in a mixer or mix by hand in a bowl. If the meat is not sticking together, add more bread. If it is super dense, add another egg and a bit more ketchup. Loaves should look like this:

Put ketchup on top of loaves, bake at 375 for 1hr 15 minutes. (I sometimes have to cook it for longer. I always cut it open at 1.15 to check.)


**I usually put two slices of bread under each loaf to collect the grease...
Only had frozen bread crumbs to work with tonight.**

Ingredients change based on lbs of hamburger:
onion (to your linking)
usually 3-4 slices of bread per lb.
1 egg per lb
1 big squirt ketchup per lb

Let me know if you tried and liked this!






Grocery Deals 2/19

No store for me this week! But here you go!!

Fred Meyer: Hamburger for $1.99/lb! (When you buy the 3lb roll) Great price on Tuna, Dove and Degree, and more! If FM is out of the hamburger, just ask for a rain check!

Walmart: Items under $1
*Remember to ad match Kmart's doubling deals on Wednesday's and Saturday's!

Walgreen's: Free Tylenol Percise, Aspirin

Albertson's:  There are a few deals in there...

See also: Smith's Macey's and Fresh Market

Krazy Coupon Lady's Shopping for Free This Week post




Thanks to Fabulously Frugal, Krazy Coupon Lady, and Freebies 2 Deals

Yummy Cookies!

These turned out picture perfect! And taste so good! This is my mother-in-laws recipe! Enjoy!




Chocolate Chip Cookies

5 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp slat
1 C butter or margarine
1 C shortening
2 C packed brown sugar
1 C granulated sugar
4 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
1 12oz package chocolate chips

Stir together flour, soda and salt. In a mixer bowl beat butter and shortening on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture, beat until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop from a teaspoon two inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Cool and store in air tight container.

Makes about five dozen.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Success!!

I am so proud of myself.

Today is the first day I ever stuck to buying only what was on my list!

Deals at Walmart:
Ad match Kmart deal

Milk
$2.44
$.75/milk doubled
$.91

Honey Bunches of Oats
$2.88
$1/1 doubled (from coupons.com)
$.88 box

Barilla Whole Wheat Pasta
$1.08
$1/2 doubled
$.08/box

Plus groceries....

Total: $25.36
Saved: $11.50


And since I am so motivated... NO GROCERY SHOPPING THIS WEEK! HOLD ME TO IT!

Goal 2/27 is the next time I will set foot in a store... yikes. Let's see!

Friday, February 17, 2012

February 2012 Challenge

So far, so good this month.

However, I still have 2 weeks to go. I will be shopping at Walmart tomorrow, taking advantage of their ad matching Kmart's doubling program. The hubby has a potluck to contribute to and we also have fondue night on Monday. YUM! Expecting about $23 for tomorrow... Not looking forward to buying hamburger. So expensive!

I have told myself that one of these weeks I will not go to the store and just use what I have... but I always am in need of something. Life is hard I guess. I just hope I have enough to make the two new meals I have planned for the end of the month!

Feb Spent: $96.47
Feb Saved: $86.94

YTD Spent: $311.23
YTD Saved: $292.80

New Kellogg's Coupons

Kellogg's coupons are harder to come by than General Mills. Snag these FAST!

The $5/5 will go quickly! I had to use area code 84121 to find them! I couldn't find them under my own!
**Try zip 90014 too***
coupons.com



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Grocery Deals

I'm sorry. I haven't had much energy this week! Here are some links to this weeks grocery deals! I haven't seen anything that screams AMAZING! But hopefully this helps!

Fred Meyer
Albertson's
Smith's
Macey's

Thank you, Freebies 2 Deals and Fabulously Frugal!

DIY Car Seat Cover

Nothing says saving money like doing it yourself! This fabric often goes on sale at JoAnn's for $2.50 a yard!

I think these are great baby gifts! They are really expensive to buy elsewhere! Here is my DIY walk through! Let me know if you have any questions!

Materials other than typical sewing tools:

2 1/2 yards (1 1/4 ea) fleece 
sew on (not stick on) velcro 

 Cut the fabric so it is 1 yard in length and cut off the salvage. (The fabric on the sides) Save the remnants for later.
 Place face together. I like to pin the larger layer (if your not a perfectionist like me) to the floor and then pin two layers together. For little girls, you can add ribbon or frills at this stage between the layers!


 Sew a 1/2 seam around the entire piece of fabric.  Start in the middle of one of the edges and leave a gap of at least 6 inches.
 Pull the fabric through this opening so it is right-side out.
 Tuck in the fabric from the opening, pin.
 I like to give my covers a finished look so I start and the opening and sew around with a 1/2" border so it looks finished. (See below)

 Cut 4 2"-2 1/2" strips that are 10" long.
 Put these strips right sides together and do the same steps as the main cover. 1/2" seam, leave a pocket, flip, finish.
 If you have a car seat, measure where the handles need to go. If you don't have one, like in my case, and your material is approx. 36x45, place the strips as pictured, slightly higher than the middle. This will account for the car seat being longer at the bottom than on top. 
 It will come out to be about a foot from either edge with a foot in between the outer edges of your strips.
 Pin. After sewing up my strips, it was 9" long. I pinned it at 4" and 5".
 Sew a box and then a cross. I usually will sew along the longer lines (the horizontal liens in this picture) twice to reinforce it.

  Sew on the Velcro, either by hand or by machine. Make sure you have them positioned right! (I always pin mine to makes sure before sewing!)  

And there you go!


Previous quilted car seat cover. Can be creative like this too!!