Monthly Archives: July 2009

Free in July

I like to keep a list of what I get free, or costing me just a few cents, every month. This is a great reminder to me of how God blesses our family in my efforts in being a true Home Economist. Here is my list for July:

Publix Mystery Coupon Items:
2 bottles salad dressing
Frosted Flakes
hot dogs

Rolling CVS Extracare Bucks:
4 American flags
4 rolls paper towels
2 beauty items on clearance
4 pkgs chocolate covered peanuts
2 bottles school glue
4 pkg Paper Mate pens
2 pair scissors
2 portfolios
2 spiral notebooks
2 pkg pencils
2 pkg lined paper
2 small spiral memo books
2 pkg Pilot pens
2 composition books
Gillette Fusion razor

Rolling Walgreen’s Register Rewards:
Bullfrog sunblock
3 Reach floss
3 reusable shopping bags
3 rolls paper towels
2 cans white tuna
Colgate toothpaste
2-pk Pilot G-2 pens

Great Sale Prices Combined with Coupons:
4 lb sugar
10 packets Koolade
4 Snickers candy bars

Free Deals:

Snickers bar
Bagel at Einstein’s

Given to Me:
lots of zucchini
lots of yellow squash
several cucumbers
several green peppers
lots of chili peppers
5 lb fresh blueberries
whole watermelon
6 ears corn


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All You Grocery Challenge Week 2

Week 2 Menus
Monday: lasagna; whole grain French bread; romaine salad with blueberries, feta, almonds, craisins, and vinaigrette dressing. Greta went to her boyfriend’s house for dinner and was asked to bring salad and bread.
Tuesday: Thai Beef and Rice; romaine salad with tomatoes; sautéed mixed garden veggies
Wednesday: lunch-Persian Pilaf; dinner-marinated grilled chicken breasts; rice; spinach salad with hb egg and diced ham. Greta ate dinner at a friend’s house.

Thursday: French meat and potatoes; broccoli; peach cobbler

Friday: Curried chicken salad with remaining fresh spinach, mini croissants, blueberry cheesecake for dessert when Jared’s friends came over in the evening
Saturday: lunch-leftover curried chicken salad, leftover whole grain French bread; dinner-grilled hot dogs on buns with fresh salsa or chili and cheese, fresh fruit bowl of 7 fruits.
Sunday: noon meal-marinated London Broil; carrots; mashed potatoes; Caprese salad (sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with herbs and vinaigrette). Greta was at boyfriend’s house. Evening meal-hoagies on homemade wheat rolls; raw veggie sticks

Week 2 Notes
The Mystery Q item (one penny item) at Publix this week was frosted flakes. I almost didn’t put it in my cart, but then I decided I could donate it to charity if nobody in the house wanted to eat it. As it turns out, our son-in-law was thrilled to have that kind of junk food for breakfast.

I decided to make lasagna again this week because I wanted to use up the rest of the big carton of ricotta cheese. As I was making it, I saw a container of leftover spinach so I added a spinach layer to the lasagna. It went over very well with the family. There were leftovers for lunches the next day.

When I made the tossed salad on Monday, I threw in fresh blueberries instead of the fresh strawberries called for. I laughed when I realized that I usually substitute most of the ingredients in this particular salad: almonds for the walnuts we never have, feta for the fresh Parmesan cheese we rarely have, and romaine for the called-for baby spinach. I do always use the dried cranberries and the vinaigrette dressing called for.

My neighbor brought over a few extra veggies from his garden last week. I used up the last of them in a mixed veggie sauté side dish. I also tossed in a small container of leftover veggies from the refrigerator. (Sometimes I take our neighbors some homemade bread or cookies in exchange for their produce.)

I had several onions and green peppers that needed to be used up. I diced them, spread them on parchment-lined cookie sheets, and quick-froze them. Then I poured the little cubes into zipper bags. They are very handy when making casseroles.

On Thursday I was late getting home. Heather and I threw together a casserole of sliced potatoes, seasoned meat, and diced bacon. I used two lb of the ground turkey I bought on sale yesterday, and the rest of a large bag of aging potatoes that needed to be used up. I thawed a partial package of bacon in the freezer from some time ago. Then we noticed that the peaches I bought on Monday were ripening unevenly; they weren’t fully ripe, but some already had spoiled spots. When Luke jabbed thumb holes in three of them, that settled it. We would have peach cobbler for dessert even though we rarely have dessert on week nights. I used a recipe for a cakey topping and it was delicious.

For our chicken salad on Friday, I deboned the leftover chicken pieces from Sunday. There was a mix of white and dark meat. Even though the recipe calls for diced cooked chicken breast, it doesn’t really matter if you use a less expensive mix of white and dark meat in most recipes.

I garnished the chicken salad with the remaining handfuls of fresh bagged spinach I got on manager’s special on Wednesday.

I had a CVS coupon for $2 off 2 Gold Emblem nuts. I bought two packages of chocolate covered peanuts for 99 cents each. With the $2 coupon they were free. I shared them with the family after dinner.
Heather got two boxes of baby cereal free at Publix as part of a new mom packet.

I got a free bagel at Einstein’s on Friday because I clipped a coupon they had in the paper several weeks ago. The coupon is good until 11 am over and over on Fridays during July and August. Sadly, I forgot to go Friday of week #1. But the coupon is stuck to the front door now so I will see it as I walk out the door.

On Saturday Jared came home from working at CVS with a bag of FREE food that the boss let him take because it wasn’t selling from the clearance cart. He had: 2 cans evaporated milk, mandarin oranges, 2 bottles seasoning salt, a Kraft easy mac, Town House Flipsides crackers, and 2 lb pistachios. I guess you could say this is like clean dumpster diving(!) because the stuff was headed to the dumpster.

David had free lunch at work on Saturday because the boss ordered in pizza for everyone.

A friend gave us a small watermelon and six ears of corn on Sunday, extras that had been given to them.

Week 2 Purchases
I spent $40.77 at Publix on milk (on sale ($1.99), cheese (sale), yogurt, tuna (BOGO), tomato paste (9 cents after coupons), powdered sugar, 2 lb boneless skinless frozen chicken breasts (on sale $4.99), and in-season fresh produce.

I returned the watermelon I bought at Kroger last week because it had a rotten area. I got store credit of $4.47.

I spent $33.83 at Kroger for a whole pork loin (on sale $1.99 lb), 12 chubs ground white turkey (on sale 99 cents lb), 1-quart yogurt (on sale $1.88), fresh in-season produce, powdered sugar (coupons), brown sugar (sale and coupon), and manager’s special markdowns: rye bread 49 cents, sourdough loaf $1.79, bag spinach $1.39. Besides the senior discount, I also got $4.47 off because I had store credit from the rotten watermelon.

I went back to Kroger on Saturday to buy 12 more chubs of ground turkey before the sale ends; also got more grapes on sale, spending $14.45. I am having a hard time keeping fresh fruit stocked!
Greta was invited to her boyfriend’s house for dinner and was asked to bring bread and salad. She bought the groceries, as well as grapefruit juice, spending $7.22. She didn’t know I was doing the Grocery Challenge, so I’m sure she could have done better on her purchases if she had really tried.

Our total spending for week #2 was $96.27, a little over half my weekly allotment.

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Blueberry Cheesecake

Heather and Jared had friends over last night ~ last minute. I offered to make dessert. Other than cake, I didn’t have much I could make on short notice, until I remembered the packages of cream cheese I had stashed away. So I made blueberry cheesecake. The blueberries were some we picked last Sunday.


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Recovery from a Mistake

I made a mistake when making a Thai recipe this week. I was supposed to add dry rice to a beef mixture, then add liquids to that. Instead, I added rice and water to the rice cooker to cook rice as usual. By the time I realized my mistake, I had a lot of wet rice. I set the wet stuff aside and proceeded with the recipe the right way.

Later, I considered what to do with the wet rice. I remembered a recipe for Persian Pilaf that I seldom use. It was perfect for using up that mistake. I soaked the rice overnight, then I continued with the cooking process on Wednesday morning. Heather and I ate the pilaf for lunch. It was yummy!

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All You Grocery Challenge Week 1

Week 1 Menus

Monday: lasagna; spinach

Tuesday: chicken tortilla casserole; frozen corn; frozen peas; lemon-blueberry pudding cake. Greta’s boyfriend stayed for dinner; David was sick and ate only jello.
Wednesday: relatives in town for 5 days; they took the whole family out for dinner at Bahama Breeze
Thursday: lunch-tacos; dinner-grilled chicken; rice; salad; squash; brownies (11 people)
Friday: lunch-sandwiches; fruit; brownies; dinner-relatives took family to Sonny’s BBQ
Saturday: Brunch-Swedish pancakes, juice. Dinner-seafood on the grill; hash browns; green beans; carrots; corn muffins; cupcakes and ice cream for Grandpa’s birthday (11 people)
Sunday: Noon meal-pork roast; baked chicken; side dishes contributed by others; cupcakes (18 people for Patrick’s baptism celebration). Evening supper-leftovers; H and J went to friends’ house for homemade pizza
Week 1 Notes
This week we had three house guests (The Professor’s family) for 5 days, Wednesday through Sunday. They took all of us out to dinner twice. I cooked for everyone the rest of the time. And Greta’s boyfriend was a frequent dinner guest. So most meals, Wednesday through Sunday, were for 11 people.

One of our guests, my father-in-law, celebrated his 85th birthday while they were visiting. Instead of taking eleven people out to a seafood restaurant to celebrate, we stayed home and prepared all the seafood he loves. The worst part of it was sending “the guys” to an Asian market to buy the assorted seafood to grill. They spent $59! Ouch! But it was very yummy. We had salmon, scallops, red snapper, calamari, and mussels. We added hash browns (freebies in pantry stock), corn muffins (more freebies in pantry stock), fresh carrots (39 cents lb at Kroger two weeks ago), and frozen green beans as sides, with cupcakes (mix close to free some time ago) and ice cream (on sale last week) for dessert.

On Sunday we had another celebration: our infant grandson was baptized and we invited extended family over for dinner afterward. I supplied the pork roast (on sale at Kroger several weeks ago), baked chicken (from freezer), and dessert of two flavors of homemade cupcakes (made from mixes as above). The others brought the side dishes. There were 18 here for dinner, not counting the baby.
I saved some money by taking up a friend’s offer to pick blueberries at her house. We picked 6 lbs. Most of them I froze in 3 cup portions. Some we ate fresh all week.

David got a free sandwich and drink for lunch on Tuesday when he cashed in a coupon at Chick-Fila. He was given the coupon on a previous visit to Chick-Fila.

The Mystery Q item at Publix this week was salad dressing. It was one penny. I had two coupons because I bought the double Sunday paper. So I split my purchases between two Publix markets and got two bottles of dressing.

Week 1 Purchases
I spent $19.04 at one Publix and $23.11 at another for pork chops (sale), pasta (BOGO and coupons), peanuts (sale and coupons), almonds (sale and coupons), ice cream (sale), milk (free with Q), margarine (BOGO and coupon), sandwich meat, and in-season fresh produce.

Chuck spent $3.87 at Costco, for a six-pack of romaine lettuce.

I spent $4.90 at Entenmanns Bakery Outlet for three loaves of whole grain bread.

I spent $29.55 at Kroger for cheese (part of the Buy 10, get $5 off deal), cream cheese (ditto), raw almonds (sale), eggs (sale), and lots of in-season produce. I didn’t have any coupons, but I did get the senior discount.

We spent $58.77 at Super H Mart for five varieties of seafood to feed 11 people.

Even with all the extra mouths to feed and the overkill on seafood my grand total for the week was only $139.24. I’m glad to see I’m under our allotted $175 for seven.

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All You Magazine Grocery Challenge

All You magazine is having a grocery challenge for the next four weeks. I decided to enter the challenge to see if I could feed our family of eight on $25 per person per week. Our very youngest is too young to count for the challenge, so we count as seven, which comes to $175 per week.

Introducing our family:
We are a family of eight, with six adults and two tiny children:
Dad: Chuck
Mom: Adie
20-year-old daughter: Greta
19-year-old son: David
married daughter: Heather
son-in-law: Jared
19-month-old grandson: Luke
one-month-old grandson: Patrick

(Mom’s taking the picture!)
Heather and Jared have been living with us for the past eight months because Jared lost his job over a year ago after a motorcycle accident and long recovery. Once they moved in with us, he was able to find two part-time jobs, but together he doesn’t work 40 hours a week. He is actively seeking a better paying, permanent, full-time job. Heather is presently on maternity leave from her part-time job. She was working from home as an enrollment coordinator before Patrick was born.

We live in suburban Atlanta in a three-bedroom, two-bath home. Greta and David are in college at the state university eight miles from our house. They have been attending summer school this summer, and they commute to campus four days a week. They both also have part-time jobs. Chuck commutes to work; he is a software developer. Adie is a homemaker, but considers her frugality a part-time job.

Before the challenge began, I made several decisions:

I want this to be sustainable for the long term, rather than a short term project where I use up all of my stash and not replenish for the future, just to get my total as low as possible. Therefore I will continue to shop the sales with coupons, and look for good deals. I will also stockpile when pantry items and freezer items are on a good sale, especially BOGO with doubled coupons.

I have a large pantry, fully stocked with the raw ingredients that we use regularly. I will continue to use from it, and replenish with sale items. I also have a small chest freezer (garage sale purchase in June) that I already filled with meats, veggies, and baked goods. I will pull from that stock also, replenishing with sale items.

I will shop at Publix on Mondays to get the Mystery Q item, and shop at Kroger on Wednesdays to get the 5% senior discount (Kroger has a very low age for the senior discount; I barely qualify). I will fill in with shopping at Aldi and Costco on an as-needed basis.

I will continue to use my menu rotation plans that I created several months ago. I have 8 weeks of plans that I rotate through.

The adults will drink water as their main beverage. I don’t buy soda or bottled water or alcohol. We have a stainless steel water bottle for every person in the family and we fill those when going out. Our tap water is filtered because of chlorine allergies, and it tastes just as good as bottled water. We have cups on the kitchen counter for drinks at home, each with initials painted on it. This cuts down on washing dirty glasses.

I had already given the family responsibility for preparing their own breakfasts and lunches. The rule is “make your own and clean up afterwards”. This will continue during the challenge. Breakfast choices are usually: real oatmeal, homemade granola, eggs how you like them or hardboiled eggs which are almost always in the refrigerator, fresh fruit, yogurt (plain and flavored), create your own smoothie, pancake or waffle makings, and sometimes some dry cereal. Leftovers too, if they want. Lunch possibilities include sandwiches, salads, cook up some pasta, hot dogs sometimes, and leftovers. The best leftovers go quickly!

Greta’s boyfriend joins us for dinner very frequently. This will still continue. I won’t deny the invite just to keep my costs low!

I will cook and bake from scratch as much as I can.

I used to make a lot of our bread, using wheat berries I ground into flour in my mill. But my mill broke last year and we haven’t been able to afford to replace it yet. Now I purchase most of our whole grain bread at the Entenmann’s Bakery Outlet a few times a month. I freeze what we won’t use immediately.

I planted a veggie garden again this spring, expecting to have fresh tomatoes and squash all summer. This year, a mammalian-something attacked it and killed all my plants just as they were beginning to produce big fruit. I’m so disappointed we won’t have yummy fresh veggies this year and quite disgusted at those critters for stealing all the green tomatoes. My total summer harvest was one gnawed-on yellow squash and zero tomatoes.
I will buy the double-bundled Sunday paper when available. This gives me double the number of coupon inserts. A double bundled paper is only 50 cents more than a single paper.
I look forward to seeing what I can do with this challenge. I hope we will continue to eat well during the next four weeks, but that we will also be more conscious of our costs.

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Special Treats

Two weeks ago Publix had one pint Starbuck’s ice cream on sale BOGO. Heather and I dug through our coupon binders and came up with six Starbuck’s ice cream coupons: 3 were for $2 off, and 3 were for $1.50 off. That meant the ice cream averaged out to 10 cents a carton! Six coupons meant just enough to go around in our family, one per adult. I handed out a list of Starbuck’s ice cream flavors and asked everyone to note their favorite (or guess their favorite in case they had never actually eaten Starbuck’s ice cream before.)
Once at the store, I discovered Publix was completely out. No prob. I got a raincheck. Several days ago I was able to redeem the raincheck and get each person their very own carton in their favorite flavor. To keep things clear and fair, I wrote each name on their carton with a Sharpie marker.

I highly recommend the Caramel Macchiato!

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