Monday, March 21, 2011

Bargain(s) of the week and another reason I like coupons...

Through couponing we've had the opportunity to try out several products for free or nearly free.  Before marriage I was very set in my ways of what products I used and my husband didn't really care one way or the other.  While I remain loyal to certain products (Colgate toothpaste, Charmin or Cottonelle toilet paper, Secret deodorant, Venus razors, etc....) I have been able to try new products and find that quite comparable to my old favorites.  This comes in handy when coupons are abundant for the new products.  For example, I've always been a Cascade fan when it comes to my dishwasher--but I recently got Finish dishwasher tabs for less than a $1 a box and we are really enjoying them!  Tide (and the Costco equivalent) is usually what fills our washing machine, but Purex has been winning here when we're able to get bottles so cheap after coupons.

On Sunday my husband and I made our way around to three stores to stock up on some necessities & use up some coupons for free/nearly free items.

Our first stop was Walgreens.  I hadn't shopped here in months and I went in last week to purchase some cereal for $2.83 that produced $4 in register rewards.  Forgive the photos, these were taken right after our camera screen broke and I had no way of knowing what exactly I was taking a photo of...

Purex on sale for $2.99-$1 off coupon
Fragrance Free Dryer Sheets $2 (never tried these--but wanting to try them for Lucy's laundry)
Right Guard deodorant, on sale for Buy one, get one free.  Used buy one, get one free coupon to get both for free!
2 Chapstick--.99 a piece
Total out of pocket after coupons and $4 in register rewards=$2.96

Next stop was CVS for two separate transactions.

The first:

3 packages of Charmin--on sale for $10 a piece and part of a "Spend $25, get $10 in Extra Care Bucks"
3 packages of M & M's (not pictured)--on sale, buy 2, get 1 free.  Used a buy 2, get 1 free & a .25 off coupon to get all three packages for .75
Purex fabric softener (never tried this, but we're almost out of fabric softener)--on sale for $4.00, used $2 off coupon
Total out of pocket after coupons and previous Extra care bucks=$25.59  (we "earned" $10 in this transaction)

The second

4 packs of Diet Coke--on sale for 3/$13 and part of a "Spend $15, get $5 in Extra Care Bucks)
used 4 $1.50 off coupons and the $10 in Extra Care Bucks from the previous transaction
Total out of pocket=$2.84
...and I still have $5 in extra care bucks to use

It was more out of pocket than we usually spend at CVS, but we also were buying lots of toilet paper---which is not cheap in stores!  We've started to only buy toilet paper at CVS & only when it's a part of an extra care buck deal because the prices are much better.

Monday, March 14, 2011

BOTW & Waiting on baby....

My bargain of the week from last week is a simple one.  As I didn't do much shopping other than stopping to pick up butter for $1.99 and peanut butter for .99 from Hy-Vee (also bargains of the week!), my favorite deal has to be the Chipotle burrito I enjoyed that same night.

I'm a rice/beans/cheese kind of gal when it comes to my favorite burrito toppings--which almost always means a reduced charge.  I have never, however, gotten my burrito for this cheap.  I give you the .89 burrito :)  (and yes, it looks like it is coming out of my face...)  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how we are charged for this burrito, but I'll take .89 ANY day. 

In other news, we are waiting on baby.  I'm 10 days away from my due date and feeling it.  We've had several "oh these contractions might be real and we might end up in the hospital" moments---but no such luck.  Truth be told, I'm physically exhausted, but also really content waiting on the baby.  I'd prefer a delivery on a Thursday or Friday to maximize my husband's time off...and we're really enjoying our time as a family of three.  Each extra day is helping us get one more odd project done, run one last errand, enjoy one last night of solid sleep & be able to take off and only have ONE kiddo to keep track of.

So we are preparing in the midst of our waiting----stocking up on Lucy's snacks, household essentials & coffee and soda for those first few weeks.  We're putting finishing details on the baby's room, keeping up on laundry/cleaning & re-organizing little areas throughout our house.  We ran several errands yesterday and I'm hoping that with the exception of a quick run to the grocery store this week, we'll be set for awhile.

We're all anxious to meet this next baby---but I also want to be intentional about not wishing away these last several days with Lucy. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

BOTW & 37 weeks

So, my best deal this week is NOT diapers or wipes :)  Last week Lucy and I needed some fresh air so we ran a few errands and stopped by the mall to take a look at the Gymboree clearance.  I had a 20% off coupon, but wasn't sure I'd find much.  I managed to find four shirts (some for Lucy/some for baby) & a zip up hooded sweatshirt.  My total was set to be $20 for all 5 items when I remembered that I had a $5 off rewards coupon in my email that I hadn't printed.  Shocker!  (I've been very forgetful lately...)  I asked the sales lady about it and she let me pull my email up on my phone and then typed in the code!

All in all my total was around $16 for all 5 items :)  Who says name brand kids clothes have to be expensive?


Also last week we reached the 37 week mark.  The doctor checked me and called me 25% effaced with a closed cervix.  However, I had been checked at the hospital at 33 weeks and they called me "about a "1", since it doesn't really matter, I'm sticking with the "1" :) We are all still expecting a 9lb + baby...which, despite not looking forward to giving birth to a baby of that size, I personally find chubby babies are a bit cuter when born...of course, I might be a little partial :)

The consistent contractions I had been having seemed to have stopped the last few days--not sure if that's the "calm before the storm" or an indication that we are in for the long haul, but I'd prefer not to be having contractions unless they are serving a purpose.

Otherwise, I'm really trying to focus my energy on enjoying this last little bit of time just with Lucy.  As I told my husband last night, she'll never again be my "only child"....and this time is special.  I need to not wish it away out of physical discomfort, but treasure each day and moment that I can just focus on her.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A job well done...

I've spoken often about how fond I am of cooking meals (and meal components) ahead of time and filling our freezer up with them.  It has saved our family time in meal prep, kept us from grabbing fast food on a few occassions & saved me time in kitchen clean-up. 

My sweet husband bagging up hamburger meat to freeze
 In months past, I have just made a list of our cooking plans and we've went and purchased all necessary ingredients that we didn't already have--this put our grocery spending fairly high those times...which still wasn't a huge issue as our regular groceries run under $40 a week.  This time I tried to be a little more intentional in my planning.  I have watched the grocery ads for the last 6 weeks and worked in any sale items that I know would be used for freezer cooking into our regular grocery spending--this worked great and still kept our grocery spending below $40 a week.  After checking out our pantry and freezer inventories, making our list & shopping, our total for additional items needed to pull this all off was probably under $60--fantastic in my book!

We tried a few new recipes this month & focused more on meal components (due to space) than actual meals.  (Example: cooking up chicken ahead of time and seasoning it to go over cooked pasta which will need to be cooked at a later time.)  The lasagna still needs to be assembled and baked & the potatoes still need to be shredded for hashbrowns, but otherwise we are finished---and with much more than I planned on! 
Lucy "helping" with enchiladas

 I had created a pretty ambitious list as we were planning on having an extra set of hands to help us out--but winter weather prevented that from happening and we were all bummed...mostly Lucy, I'm sure, as she was looking forward to an additional adult that would sneak her some snacks :)  Despite not having the extra set of hands, a few hours where I was timing contractions & debating a second trip to the hospital & a random illness that took my husband down...there are enough meals/meal components in our freezer for 44 dinners/weekend lunches!   (weekend lunch options being frozen chicken burritos/pizza pockets!)  Once the lasagna is cooked and divided into dinner portions, that number should rise to 47!  My goal had been to have about 3 meals a week for the next 10 weeks that I could pull from the freezer--I'm much happier with the higher number :)


Here's what we've got:

Pans of Enchiladas x 3

Whole Wheat Subs with Chicken, bacon, cheese x 10 (5 meals)---(we grill these and they turn out like panini sandwiches)
Pepperoni Pizza Pockets & Hamburger Pizza Pockets x 19 (about 6 meals worth)
BBQ Beef Roast x 2
BBQ Brisket x2
Taco Meat x 6
Hamburger meat + Bacon for Bacon-Cheeseburger roll-up x3
Seasoned chicken (to go over pasta) x2
Fajita chicken (cooked and seasoned for burritos, quesadillas, tacos, etc..) x 5
Hamburger meat cooked for Chili x1
Hamburger meat cooked for Pizza Casserole x1

Dump Chicken: Chili Maple Glazed Chicken x1
Dump Chicken: Honey Glazed Chicken x 1
Frozen Burritos x 12 (about 6 meals worth)

Freshly Grated bags of cheese x 9
Smoothies x 5
Pancakes x 28
Blueberry Pancakes x 17

We have the makings of many more meals in our pantry/fridge/freezer that will fill in the gaps when I'm not pulling a freezer meal out--but we are so delighted to have one less thing to worry about in the next several weeks!