eating well and looking good for less

Monday, January 31, 2011

Still no Red Plums.

It snowed last week -- a lot -- on the day that our Red Plum inserts and circulars are normally delivered. The side roads are still surprisingly awful. I'm beginning to think that we're never going to get those RPs, and that they're just going to skip a week. This is really sad, because at this point I am thinking that my only options are to skip the week, or buy the normally free inserts from a service. And it will cost even more than usual, because I would have to buy both sets of Red Plums, instead of just one.

I'm especially peeved about it because that RP has all the Unilever qs which I would have been able to use at CVS this week, for the pasta sauce and mayonnaise, both of which are items we are out of. And I also need those cat litter coupons. Tidy Cats Scoopable is the only kind we use, and it's expensive. The Tidy Cats q is selling for a ridiculous amount on eBay, though. I'm sorry, but I am not paying 40c per coupon! I don't care if it has a face value of $1.50. That's too expensive. Much too expensive.

So, here's hoping that they deliver the circulars some time, but I don't think it's gonna happen. Oh well, you win some, you lose some, I guess.

I think that after yesterday's Rite Aid trip, it is definitely time for me to thin out the stockpile and take a trunk full of donation items. Well, maybe later in the week, when hopefully more of the snow is gone and driving down the city street is not more like driving down an unpaved mountain road that happens to be covered in giant ice chunks. (You think I'm kidding. I'm really not kidding. The smaller roads are a mess!)

I made two huge pots of chicken stock this weekend, but I don't have any freezer containers for them, so I have to get out and buy something so that I can freeze them in the next day or two. I mixed up some burrito filling and put some tasty burritos in the freezer. I also baked up three loaves of bread, three batches of banana muffins. Banana peanut butter, banana chocolate chip, and banana walnut chocolate chip.

Trying to decide whether I should make turkey chili for dinner, or eat something else and freeze both packages of ground turkey. Hmm.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wowzers, I love Rite Aid

I skipped Rite Aid last week, because we were all feeling poorly, but I was really looking forward to this week. The kid is sleeping over with my parents, so my husband spent most of the morning scooping up the deals, together, alone, without having to worry about entertaining my little guy. It was great!

We went to five different Rite Aid locations, all within convenient driving distance of our home and the bank (where we had to go to deposit a check anyway) and the supermarket. Not every location had everything I wanted, especially for the Heart Healthy deal, and anyway, it's very unneighborly and thoughtless to wipe out the stock at any one store.

I started off with $42 in Ups, and my $20 Gift of Savings certificate. I hadn't shopped at Rite Aid at all since the Winter Rewards promotion started, so my balance towards the $20 Up was zero.

I'm not going to post each transaction, but my total cash out of pocket was $7.86. I now have $54 in Ups, and I have spent $89.07 towards the $100 for the Winter rewards program. I submitted the $19.99 Neuragen and the $7.99 Complete contact lens solution for SCR, for a total of $27.98 back in cash. I think I'm going to start picking up some SCR deals every week. I love the idea of getting a check back!

Here's what I got:

ten copies of the local paper
Excedrin 24 ct
Complete contact lens solution
Afrin -- three bottles
Colgate toothpaste -- three tubes
Stayfree pads -- 16 packs of various types
Huggies diapers
Hartz dog biscuits -- 8 boxes
Viactiv calcium chews -- five boxes (so excited to try this product!)
Dixie plates -- two packages
Edy's ice cream -- eight cartons

The total dollar amount that I paid was $7.86, and the shelf price of all this stuff was $323.48, for a total savings of 97.5%, not factoring in Ups or SCRs. If I wanted to get more ice cream, four more packages would cost $11.96, but earn me the $20 Winter savings Up, plus four more $2 Ups for the ice cream itself. We're not huge ice cream eaters around here, though, so getting more for the sake of earning money seems kinda selfish. It is nice to have ice cream in the freezer, though, especially my husband's favorite kind. :) I have to check next week's ad scan and see if there's anything great in there, and if not then maybe I'll go back later in the week and pick up a few more cartons of mint chocolate chip.

Just to put it in perspective: I paid LESS for all that stuff, than that one package of diapers would cost, even on sale. I'm not a newbie at this, but that just never gets old for me, really.

We also stopped at ShopRite and picked up two pounds of Butterball ground turkey. After the 75c/1 coupon that they just put out, it was $1.53 for both packages. I foresee turkey chili in the near future. And, pretty cool: when we were checking out, the catalina machine spit out a coupon for a free box of Lean Pockets. Hey, thanks, Catalina Marketing!

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's a good thing last week was a slow coupon week...

because I have not left the house since last Saturday. Or Friday? I don't know; it all runs together. I know all my loyal readers (I have loyal readers, right? Maybe just one? Hello? Is this thing on?) wondered where I was! Over the weekend, while clearing out some clutter from the basement, I must have pulled something in my upper back, because suddenly I discovered that I couldn't turn my head without excruciating pain. The next day, we all came down with some kind of horrible stomach flu/fever/food poisoning/I don't know what thing, so we were basically confined to bed for the next couple of days. We're still not fully better, even now. Then there was a big snowstorm, followed by some cold wet hail, followed by an even bigger snowstorm, so there was a lot of shoveling, which was not the most fun thing ever because the amount of nutrition I've taken in over the last week has been minimal, and the whole walking around thing keeps on giving me trouble. And here it suddenly is, Friday and a week later.

You know what the saddest part of all this is? (Well, sad in a First World Problems sort of sense, in that it's not really sad at all.) In all this week, we've barely even eaten from the stockpile at all, except for cereal. Everything I made for the freezer is spicy, and even thinking about it still sets my stomach churning. My stockpile is all baking supplies and canned pumpkin and pasta and canned tomatoes and mayonnaise. You know, real food. There's nothing premade.There's nothing that I can even bear the thought of eating. Even eggs. *barf* I have a whole bunch of chicken parts that I was planning to use to make stock, but I didn't get around to doing it yet, so I didn't have any of that. (Note to self: make stock before the weekend is over. Today, if possible.) And do you know how much those little single-tube packages of saltines and bottles of ginger ale cost at the convenience store? Holy crap. Clearly, Sick People Food is an area in which my stockpile could use some massive improvement.

I really need some vegetables and some cat food and litter, but the roads are terribly icy and impassable without 4WD (or at least they were yesterday when Mr Man took the car out for a spin around the block and took fifteen minutes to get back). I think I'm going to attempt to get out today, anyway, even if it's just to Food Basics or the produce market, for some fresh fruits and veggies.

Usually our Red Plum inserts are delivered with the upcoming week's circulars on Thursday. We didn't get them yet, I suppose because of the snow. I'm getting all itchy waiting for them, especially for that Rite Aid ad! I hope they won't just skip the week, because I hear it's supposed to be a pretty good one for coupons. Two Red Plums, that's always a nice thing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Words do not really express how ridiculous I find this shopping trip.

I didn't particularly want to head out to Rite Aid tonight, but the kids drank all the milk today, and if there's no milk in the morning when my niece gets here, there may be bloodshed. I wasn't sure where I was in regards to Resolution Rewards (spend $100 on qualifying items, get a $20 Up), since my tally did not print on my last receipt, so I figured while I was out, I would check around the store and see if I could find any of the items which are included in the promotion. Turned out my favorite store had a lot of them, and when I checked out, my Resolution Rewards total was at $94.91. Yes! I didn't think I was going to be nearly so close, since last time the tally printed on my receipt it was at $46.08. I was pretty surprised to learn that Ups weren't subtracted from the total, like they are with wellness points. I could have gone back into the store to pick up a few more bags of chips, but honestly, that's kinda embarrassing. So I went to another store a mile up the road, instead.

Is this not the most laughable set of items to purchase, ever? Or, as my cashier said, "It's a before and after!" Yesssssssss... *hangs head in shame* Oh! The milk isn't in the picture! I bought a gallon of milk, too, and then put it in the fridge before taking the photo. It was the whole point of going out!

First store: 3 bags of TGIF Potato Skins, four cans of chili, two boxes of Zantac, one bottle of Maalox, gallon of milk. Paid $7.34 OOP, $10 in Ups, $5/1 Zantac x2, $5/1 Maalox. Everything except for the milk added to my Resolution Rewards total, which was pretty much why I bought it. Well, that and the fact that all the food was free. Earned back $12 in Ups. I could have used more Ups and paid less OOP, but all of my Ups are $1, and that's a lot of little tiny sticky pieces of paper to count and spread out all over the counter and they take a million years to scan in and anyway, I was earning $12 back so whatever.

Second store: needed to get $5.09 worth of items included in the promotion to earn my $20 Up! But they didn't have some of the items I wanted, and I somehow managed to lose my shopping list, then refind it in my purse (which is not large) as soon as I left the store. How does that happen? Anyway. Four bags of chips, one bottle of Maalox. Paid 72c OOP, used $4 in Ups and $5/1 Maalox coupon. Earned back four $1 Ups for the chips, and got my $20 RR Up, for a total of $24 Ups earned in this purchase.

Therefore, tonight I spent a total of $14 in Ups and $8.06 in cash, and earned back $36 in Ups, for a profit of $13.94. On a heartburn party in the making.

Finally, lasagna.

Yes, I finally made up two pans of lasagna this afternoon. One has mushroom and spinach, and the other has smashed up meatballs in the sauce, for a slightly meaty lasagna. I do not know why I did this. I grew up on no-meat lasagna, and think meaty lasagna is kind of weird. I guess I just didn't want to waste the few meatballs and the bit of sauce left over from yesterday's dinner. Anyway. I'm going to bake one for dinner tonight, the veggie one, I think, and put the other in the freezer for later.

Here's the weird thing: I bought two boxes of Shop Rite brand lasagna noodles last week, because I didn't have any in my stockpile. The noodles in the first box were at least a full inch longer and half an inch wider than the noodles in the second box. Isn't that weird? Isn't there some kind of international lasagna noodle standardization commission, which oversees the production of all lasagna noodles and ensures that they are all little noodly clones of each other? ...What do you mean, no? Well. Guess that explains my wackadoodle noodles.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Glad my kid is not old enough to have pride yet...

...because today we went to the thrift store, and it was GREAT. He's just had a growth spurt, and none of his clothing fits anymore. The thrift store was having a sale today, 33% off everything in the store. We spent just under $25, and got two sets of pjs, one long sleeved shirt, one t-shirt, four pairs of pants (including a like-new pair of jeans from Gymboree, a pair of like-new sweats, and a couple of pairs of lined winter pants), a brand new with tags sweater for me, a picture frame, and a roll of ribbon, which I thought would make a cute dog collar. I am wearing my new sweater; it's beautiful and very warm. It was the single most expensive thing we bought, at $8.64. Unheard of thrift store pricing! But did I mention, new with tags, beautiful, warm?

I saw a couple of brass lamps that I strongly considered buying, in order to paint and refinish, but I couldn't decide. They were a little bit expensive (well, for the thrift store, anyway), and they both needed new shades. One needed a new finial, and the other needed a new harp, which is not a big deal, but I seem to collect unusable project lamps, and then never actually finish the project, so I dunno. I figured that I would come home, think it over, and if I still wanted them later/tomorrow, head back and see if they were still there. I keep thinking about them; maybe we should go back after dinner.

I was going to make a pan of lasagna for dinner, and an extra one for the freezer, but the cheese was in the new chest freezer, and I keep forgetting exactly how long it takes to thaw food that been stored at twenty below. The cheese has been sitting out for hours, and it's still frozen solid! Oops.

All stocked up for Mischief Night

This week, it was toilet paper week at the drugstores! Is it ever possible to have enough toilet paper? I suppose if you have so much that your only option is to start building walls in the basement, then it might be excessive. Imagine that: basement closets constructed from toilet paper, holding within them precious stockpile items. Oh, how about TP ottomans? Stack 'em up, put a blanket over the pile, and it's an extra seat, foot rest, or drink caddy. Just make sure not to spill your drinks on it. Oh man, we are so classy around here.

Well, anyway. The entire internet (at least, the couponing portions) has been all atwitter with the news that TP would be FREEEEEEEEE at Rite Aid this week. I kind of figured that if I didn't get up at 6 AM and camp out in front of the store, Black Friday style, I wouldn't be getting any toilet paper at all, but since the kid spent the weekend with his grandparents, I could think of about a hundred thousand things I'd rather do than camp in front of Rite Aid in the cold, in the hopes of scoring free paper products. Like, say, stay in our brand new bed until 10:30, because there was no one to jump on my belly at and yell, "Cereal! I want cereal! I have to go poop! Wipe my butt! And then give me cereal! With milk!" at 7:30 AM. What did I say in the first paragraph? We live in ClassyTown.

Eventually, we dragged ourselves out of bed and hit the stores. First up was Rite Aid.

Shockingly, a couple of area stores did in fact have toilet paper in stock. This represents trips to three separate stores. At the first store, I bought five rolls of TP, seven rolls of wrapping paper (90% off! 19c to 59c per roll, can't beat that), the Tide, Sinex, two copies of the papers, the refried beans, the raisins,and the noodle bowls.

I paid with $30 in Ups, and my OOP cost was $3.59 cash. I was expecting to get back $17 in Ups ($5 for the TP, $10 for the P&G items, $2 for the beans/noodles/raisins), but when my receipt printed, only the five $1 Ups for the TP were on it. I realized, much to my chagrin, that I'd miscalculated the P&G deal, and that the $2 Up for the food items just didn't print. For some reason, I was thinking that the P&G deal was buy $25, get $10, and I didn't buy the right amount of products. Since it was my mistake, I considered just eating the loss, but... $10. Ouch.

So I went back into the store, and sheepishly explained my error to the cashier, and asked if I could return the items and re-ring the transaction, adding in an additional box of cold medicine, to get the total above $30. She was happy to do so, but it ended up being really complicated and taking a long time, because of the missing $2 Up. The manager was going to give me the missing $2 as a $2 price mod on one of the bottles of Tide, but that made the subtotal go below $30, so they had to re-ring the whole transaction a couple of times. I have to say, the ladies at my local Rite Aid make it my favorite store ever. I felt so bad, taking up *so* much of their time, but they were nothing but polite and gracious and kind the whole time, even though the register wasn't cooperating and we couldn't figure out why. I am going to write a letter to Corp, extolling the virtues of my local store and all its wonderful employees.

At the second store, they didn't have any toilet paper whatsoever, but I did buy two boxes of tissues and the set of plastic food in a little shopping basket. It was also a Christmas clearance item, and cost only 85c including tax. How cute is that thing? It has little cartons of milk and little boxes of cookies and little ice cream cones, awww. I expect that half of it will be lost or chewed up by the dogs by the end of the week, but, well, it was 85c.

The third store, the third store! Actually had toilet paper in stock! An entire shelf full! I bought twenty single rolls, and one newspaper, and left a lot of single rolls and 4-packs on the shelf. I used Ups to pay for the TP, and paid $1.57 for the newspaper and twenty rolls of TP. The register printed out this seven foot long receipt, and I laughed and told the cashier it was the longest receipt I'd ever seen, and he laughed and told me that three minutes before, there was a woman checking out who had one even bigger. Yay, I'm not the only one. I'm not even the craziest one! :)

Total damage: actually, I'm not sure. I started off with $36 in Ups from previous weeks. With the returns and re-ringing at the first store, I got back cash, then repaid them with it, but since they also gave me a $2 credit for the food Up, I ended up paying a few cents less. I'm not even sure how much I spent, ultimately. I guess around $5 in cash, plus an untold number of Ups. Ended the day with $21 in Ups.

All of the Rite Aids I visited, and the CVS, are on a 2.5 mile stretch of one road. In between the RA visits, I stopped at CVS and picked up some more TP. I bought the Charmin at CVS before the last RA trip where I bought all the TP. Had I known that the final RA had toilet paper in stock, I might not have bought the Charmin, but oh well. :) CVS: two packs of Charmin, five boxes of Puffs, two tubes of toothpaste. Paid with $26 in Extra Bucks, and paid the remaining balance of 66c with a CVS gift card. Earned back $10 for the P&G paper products, and $4 for the toothpaste. I am down $12 in Extra Bucks, but didn't have to spend anything out of pocket for what I bought, plus the packages of Charmin have some great P&G coupons inside of them. I might go back later in the week to buy more Pepsi, since it's on sale again this week, but still have an awful lot from last week, you know? As it is, I didn't have to spend any cash whatsoever at CVS this week, and I still have $14 in Extra Bucks.

We don't need to buy toilet paper or tissues for a while, I guess!

We also visited Acme, not for any big shopping trip but just to pick up some rolls, cheese, and tomato sauce, to make meatball sandwiches for dinner. CVS and Rite Aid both had 50c/1 coupons for Halls cough drops hanging on the shelves, and my husband and I had both grabbed a few. When we got to Acme, I found that cough drops were on sale for 99c a bag, so with the doubled coupons, they were free.

We also tried to visit the thrift store, but when we got there they had a handwritten sign on the store stating that they'd had a power outage, and were closed. We headed to another great thrift store in the area, and they were also closed! It was not the day for thrift shopping, I guess. Maybe today, though. Love shopping for goodies at the thrift store!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stockpiling in small spaces

Every couponer knows that having a stockpile of items that we consistently use is the key to saving money. Using some real life examples from my last supermarket shopping trip, if Honey Nut Cheerios normally cost $4.19 a box, and you buy a box a week for two months, that's $33.52. If you wait until Cheerios go on sale, and pay 50c after coupons and sales, as I did this week, the same number of boxes of Cheerios will cost you the whopping amount of $4! That is a savings of $29.52, on one product alone. I am not exaggerating when I say that having a fully stocked pantry of items bought on sale can easily save a family thousands of dollars per year.

I am always trying to convince people of the wisdom of the stockpile, but I so often hear, "I don't have any room for anything like that!" Well, you don't need a lot of room to have a stockpile that works for you! Our house was built in the 1920s, and while it was a generous size for that time period, it's a modest house by modern standards. We don't have a ton of storage space. No massive walk-in closets, no butler's pantry, no attic, no garage. Our stockpile is tucked into corners, under beds, and into cabinets, with the majority of it being in the kitchen and breakfast room, in the bathroom, and under my bed. For me, the key is organization. Things need to be in order, in a place where I can easily find them. Bonus points if they're stored in the room where I use them. Food in the kitchen, cleaning supplies in the kitchen and bathroom, laundry detergent in the basement, toiletries in the bathroom.

Without further ado, here is how we store some of the stockpile!

The cabinets over the stove hold pasta products, cake mixes, extra baking goods like honey and corn starch, and other things that either get used quickly or aren't going to suffer too badly from exposure to heat.

I forgot to take a picture of the corner cabinet, which holds spices, baking supplies, and condiments.

More, behind the jump!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We're gonna be eating Special K for months...

Why yes, we did go to Rite Aid again today. I wasn't planning on going again this week, but it snowed (again!) and the world is covered in white, so my niece didn't come over today. We watched a little tv, shoveled a lot of snow, played outside for a while, and drank too much hot chocolate, but I'm afraid that even so, my little guy, who is sort of sniffly and coughy and therefore grumpy anyway, started having some serious cabin fever. Not even Cars could keep his attention, and he loves Lightning McQueen as much as any self-respecting almost-four-year-old could. Poor kid is miserable. He needs to sleep, but since he believes that sleep is when adults have big parties and eat all the candy we've been hiding away, he won't do it.

So, I swept the snow off the car and we drove to Rite Aid to return a toy he'd purchased with his $20 Gift of Savings certificate. It was this super cool electric car race track, but unfortunately, it was broken. I'd been meaning to take it back, but the box was huge and I kept forgetting to grab it from under the bed... We returned the race track and got back $10.79 in cash for it. Then he got to use the money to pick out some new toys for himself. I forgot about my 10% discount, so he actually has another dollar or so to spend, oops.

Here's what we picked up today.
Two boxes of original Special K (reg. $4.79, on sale B1G1 free)
One box of chocolate Special K (same as above)
One box of blueberry Special K (same as above)
one gallon of milk ($3.51, no discount)
Maalox, 12 oz bottle (reg $5.49, after 10% wellness discount $4.94)
Crayola gel paint (reg $4.99, after discount $4.49)
one little green model car (reg $4.99, after discount $4.49)

Used $5/1 Maalox coupon, two B1G1 free Special K coupons. Total, with tax, after coupons was $13.15. Taking into account the $10.79 I received for returning the broken toy, which, if you recall, was Gift of Savings money in the first place, my OOP was $2.36.

I also received back four $1 Ups for the Special K, and submitted the Maalox for a SCR of $2, meaning I earned back a total of $6, for a profit of $3.64 on this purchase.

I had wanted to pick up a few more Tylenol Precise items, but they were, unsurprisingly, sold out of those, as well as of the Motrin PM stuff. Another store in the area might have some, but as useful as heat patches are, I'm not sure I want to put the effort into driving around looking for them. The Tylenol brand patches don't direct the heat into your body as well as Thermacare does, I don't think. Also want to buy more Maalox, but that was the last bottle at the store, so I'll have to go somewhere else for that.

Monday, January 10, 2011

We planned to spend Saturday doing some major grocery shopping, then cooking a ton of food to put in the new chest freezer. Instead, it snowed and turned to ice, so we didn't do anything on Saturday except shovel, and sit around inside wishing that we were not sitting around inside. Sunday we did a mini-epic shopping trip. Not big enough to be called an Epic Shopping Trip of Epic Proportions, but definitely a huge pantry stocking sort of run that involved a LOT of different stores.

Rite Aid: a dozen boxes of Barilla pasta, two bottles of Motrin PM, one bottle of Tylenol Precise cream, nine boxes of Tylenol Precise heat pads, four copies of the newspaper, a stuffed dinosaur toy (birthday present for the kid who is going to be FOUR!!! in a month and a half), three rolls of wrapping paper, and two king-sized candy bars, for the men, both grown and wee, who followed me around three stores looking for all this stuff and who ate the candy bar not pictured. (Note: we stopped at another RA after I took this photo, so pretend there are four more boxes of Precise products stacked up there with the others.)

Started off with $16 in Ups, spent all those plus $21.83 in cash, ended up with $32 in Ups. Most of the OOP was because my first transaction included the newspapers, the $5 dino toy, the candy bars, and the wrapping paper. I probably could have worked out multiple transactions so that I spent less OOP, but whatever. I don't like doing multiple transactions in one store. Spend more OOP, get more back in Ups. It all works out. If you subtract the Ups I earned from my cost, I'm down $5.83. Cover price for four copies of the newspaper alone costs $7.

CVS: Ten two liter bottles of Pepsi, three cases of canned Pepsi, five boxes of Finish dish detergent, one Air Wick air freshener, two copies of the paper.

I would much rather have had twenty two liters of Pepsi, rather than the cans, but the store had stacks of boxes of cans and hardly any two liters. I think I singlehandedly wiped out half the stock of two liters displayed at the store. CVS, come on. If you're going to run a deal that requires people to buy $20 worth of Pepsi products at one time, in specific multiples, please try to have more than, say, $20 worth of those Pepsi products in your store. Thank you. Also, the AirWick and Finish. As I lamented last week, I only had three coupons for the Finish detergent. I really didn't need or want more air fresheners, but I never get good deals on dish detergent, and I needed that AirWick thing to get my OOP low, since there's a great coupon for it. I figured that if I used my three Finish coupons, bought two at the sale price, and bought one AirWick, after figuring for EB I would be spending 25c OOP. Well, it's not a money maker, but I can deal with that. Of course, the first store didn't have enough Finish, nor did they have any of the AirWick thingy I needed. Off to the second store! Fortunately, you cannot spit without hitting a CVS in this part of town. They are at least five within a couple of miles. Otherwise, gas would be a killer.

OOP was $9.64 from a gift card balance (ouch), plus $30 worth of Extra Bucks. Earned back $25 in EB, meaning that for these transactions I am down $14.64. Again, wish it had been a profitable deal, but I would have spent that much money -- in cash, not from gift cards -- on ten sodas and a couple of newspapers at a supermarket, meaning the three boxes of canned soda, four months' worth of dish detergent, and air freshener were pretty much free. Or, well, actually it was all free, since I didn't actually spend any of MY money on it. :P

Next, Acme. Really, I only wanted the milk from Acme, which was free after last week's GM cereal catalina, but since I was there, I picked up four boxes of Better Oats and 11.5 lbs of split chicken breast. The oats were $1 and I had a pair of B1G1 coupons, the milk was free with a small amount of overage from the catalina, and the chicken was 99c a lb, which is a pretty good price for chicken breasts IMO. Total: $13.27.

Then we went to ShopRite, because it's the start of their Can Can sale, which means cheap canned Tuttorosso tomatoes! I use a lot of canned tomatoes. I use them in soups, chilis, stews, to make my own pasta and pizza sauce, and in about a million other things. I find that a lot of the other brands taste like can, or have a different gross funky taste, and since 67c for a 28oz can of Tuttorosso is pretty much the lowest that they go all year, I bought three dozen cans of tomatoes.

When I got home I found some Tuttorosso coupons on eBay, for $1/2. No way! If I'd had those, it would have cost $5.97 for all 36 cans of tomatoes. *groan* I could order some from eBay, but I doubt that they would arrive before the sale ends. And I can't find them on any coupon clipping sites or in the various coupon databases. They *look* legit, but I'm suspicious of eBay coupons.

The store was crazy insane crowded. I have NEVER seen it like that before. There were people everywhere. I felt like a little salmon, swimming upstream to spawn and die, somewhere back in the recesses of the dairy aisle. When we finally got to the register, a couple of my yogurt coupons wouldn't scan in, and the register said, "Coupon value exceeds item value." Which it didn't, because it was a coupon for $1 off 12 yogurts which cost 29c a piece. The cashier told me that it was because the yogurt was already on sale, and if I used the coupon it would be better than free! And you can't get things for better than free! Normally I would have stood there and very politely argued the point, because I was pretty certain that the coupon was barcoded in such a way that the register thought that it was trying to take off a dollar for ONE 29c yogurt, but there were a million people in line behind me. There is a time for calling the manager, and it is NOT when you are in line with a gazillion spawning salmon standing behind you. The cashier was like, "It's just too good of a deal! The price on the yogurt is already too low, so they won't let you use a coupon on it, too. You can take it over to customer service, but I know what's going to happen is they'll tell you you can't use a coupon on a sale item, and make it better than free." What was completely hilarious about this was that immediately afterwards, she scanned in the Sinex $4/1 coupon for the cold medicine which was on sale for $3.99, and the coupon scanned in at the full value with no problem. :)

After I got out of line, I took the qs over to CS and they refunded me the $3 for the coupons. And now looking at the other yogurt coupons I have, I see that the problem is exactly what I thought it was: the coupon is coded to take $1 off and their system attaches it to only one item. Ha! Vindication!

No pictures from this shopping trip, but I got: a package of mushrooms, 4 lbs oranges, 3 lbs apples, 2.5lbs broccoli, two cantaloupes, about 4.5 lbs of chicken leg quarters, three dozen cans of whole peeled plum tomatoes, three dozen La Yogurt cups, two canisters of Swiss Miss hot chocolate, three boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, one box of regular Cheerios, two packages of lasagna noodles, two dozen Eggland's Best eggs, four boxes of Sinex/Dayquil (I was hoping it would trigger a $5 OYNO cat, and since it was free after coupon I figured what the heck. it didn't, though. what on earth am I going to DO with all this cold medicine?), and two jars of pasta sauce. Total before coupons and sales: $191.12 Total after coupons and sales: $59.41

(If I had had those Tuttorosso coupons, it would have cost $41.41. *sigh*)

Then, finally home, we started cooking, to fill up the new chest freezer with lots of delicious meal parts. So far I've made french fries, meatballs, zesty marinated chicken breasts, and shredded chipotle chicken. I had planned to make a couple of pans of lasagna, but didn't have time yesterday, and I still have another 5.5lb package of split chicken breasts to turn into... well, something or other, I don't know what. Was also planning on cooking up some delicious lentil soup, baked mac and cheese, pizza and pasta sauce, chicken stock from all the leftover chicken parts, and cloverleaf dinner rolls. Oh man, I can't wait to fill up my freezer with all kinds of good food, for those "too tired to cook" days.

So, that was my weekend. I spent a lot more than I usually do, but I got a huge amount of certain items that I use on a regular basis. I was totally out of canned tomato! It was sad. I think that including gift cards and cash, I spent about $100 on all this stuff. I have $57 in Ups and EBs to use in the future, and I got almost $500 worth of items at retail prices. I also have a lot more of the Tylenol and Motrin coupons, so I plan to go back and buy more of those this week. At the end of the week, my Ups total should be a lot higher, assuming they are still in stock when I go back!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hey! It's a great week for coupons!

Well, I'm having a great week with coupons, anyway. I didn't do much shopping for most of the month of December, and was basically living off the stockpile and buying only produce and meat. (Since I mentioned it earlier in the life of this blog: Not a vegetarian any more. Not too happy about it, but...) I've been getting some of the biggest deals, but I haven't been paying much attention to it. So, it was kind of nice to get back into the swing of things this week.

CVS. I did CVS on Sunday morning. Where the heck is my CVS receipt? For the sake of completeness I will tell you that I got five bottles of laundry detergent, a couple of bottles of Listerine mouthwash, lots and lots of free Excedrin, toddler wipes, Pepsi, and a couple of newspapers. I'm sure that if you shop CVS, you know the deals.

Second place I went was Target, Sunday. I don't have a picture of the spoils of this shopping trip, but I bought:

Special K cereal (x2)
Special K Red Berries (x2)
Kikkoman soy sauce (x4)
Eveready batteries (x4)
quart of milk
Market Pantry whipped cream
Christmas wrapping paper (x2)

Total OOP after coupons: $9.37. Used two B1G1 coupons on the Special K, two Target $1/2 Special K coupons, two B1G1 coupons on the soy sauce, and four $1/1 Energizer brand battery coupons on the Eveready batteries. (Eveready is an Energizer brand! Who knew?) This shopping trip was a major headache. The Special K B1G1 coupons rang in for 98c, rather than $2.50, and then I had some coupon-related issues with the incredibly sweet and patient cashier, who must have been new, because she wasn't real clear on how to scan coupons or work the register. The B1G1 Kikkoman qs were a major problem. Checkout took about fifteen minutes, and in the end I gave up, paid full price for a couple of things, and took my coupons over to customer service, where they gave me cash for them. I think I actually underpaid, which I would have addressed in the store, but did I mention: worst checkout experience ever? Wasn't sure whether I overpaid, underpaid, or paid the right amount until I came home and got out the calculator. And I'm still not sure, because Target's receipts are a hot mess these days.

Target shopping trip #2, on Tuesday because when I got up in the morning I discovered that we were, horror of horrors, OUT OF CAT FOOD. OH NOES. The cat population of my household vastly outnumbers the human population, and when they are out of food, they start destroying my personal property just for the hell of it. They're jerks. Fuzzy little jerks.

Purina Cat Chow (don't judge me. it's the only food that doesn't make Connor puke constantly) $11.29
Quaker Oats (x2) $2.14 each
Eveready batteries (x2) $1 each
Christmas ornament (x1) 50c

Total: $12.02
Stacked $1/1 Quaker manu q with $1/1 Target q (for 14c oatmeal, woohoo!), and used another couple of $1/1 Energizer qs on the batteries (free batteries, woohoo!)

Next stop: Rite Aid! The kid was pitching a major fit because he wanted to go back into Target and drink water from the fountain, after he had vehemently rejected the water fountain in the hopes that I would buy him a drink from the cafe. When that didn't happen, he broke down. I'm talking, full-on panic attack temper tantrum. Oh, yeah. He calmed down only AFTER he had attempted to bolt into the middle of the parking lot, in an effort to avoid getting in his car seat. Ah, three year olds. Ya gotta love them. Because without a mother's love, the entire human race would be road pancakes before they reached school age. Anyway, he was much happier by the time we got to RA. Go figure.

Special K (x2), $4.31
Special K Red Berries, $4.31
Special K Blueberry, $4.31
Wet Ones wipes (x2), $1.99
Orange drink (not pictured), 80c

Total OOP: $1.44
Used Wellness+ Silver 10% discount, Special K B1G1 (x2), Wet Ones $1/1 (x2), $10 in Ups. Received back $11 in Ups.

Today: Walgreens. No picture, because it's one puny little box of Finish gelpacs. Cost $3.49, used a $2.25/1 coupon, paid $1.52, got back $1.50 in RR. Am kind of wishing that I had held on to that coupon instead of using it at Walgreens, because when I got home I checked the ad scans and found that CVS will have a good deal on Finish next week. Could have gotten the dish detergent with no OOP at all, there. Walgreens is too restrictive with its register logic for my tastes, so I don't shop there much, and didn't have any RRs to get my OOP down. Plus, they overcharge me on tax ALL THE TIME. Oh, well, maybe if my Sinex qs ever arrive, I can use today's RR to get my OOP on that purchase down. Should have checked the ad scans before I went to the store, though! Oh well, you win some, you... don't exactly lose some others, because I wouldn't call dish detergent that cost two cents after coupons and RRs a losing scenario, but I still wish I hadn't gone to Wags.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm trying to get back into the swing of blogging, but it's discouraging when you feel like you're standing around talking to yourself, isn't it? If you're out there, comment! Let me know I'm not shouting into the abyss here.

This week Acme is running a GM milk catalina: get free milk when you buy three boxes of General Mills cereal. Cheerios were on sale $2/6, but somehow in my mind I conflated $2/6 and wyb 3 and was under the impression that the sale price was $2 a box. Do you ever do this? Please tell me that I am not the only one who makes stupid mistakes like this! That would have been a great price, combined with the 75c/1 Multi-Grain Cheerios and the 55c/1 regular Cheerios coupons I printed out, especially because I watch my little picky-eater niece all day, and MG Cheerios and milk are two of the few foods she ever eats. I went to the store all ready to pay $1.90 for three boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk. Alas. $4.90, after qs. I suppose that 38c a box, after factoring in the milk catalina, is still pretty good, but I was disappointed. Still, after dragging a pair of somewhat unwilling three year olds out into the cold for Cheerios, I wasn't leaving that place without some cereal, if you know what I mean. Plus, my cereal stockpile was beginning to reach normal person proportions. I prefer to have so much cereal that guests leave my house doubting my sanity. I was down to five open boxes and six unopened ones. Noooooooooo! No one will think I am a crazy person for having six boxes of breakfast cereal.

Anyway, it worked out, because they still had some copies of the Sunday paper left at the front of the store. I wanted to pick up a couple extra copies yesterday, but all the convenience stores were out before 2 PM. The papers from Acme even had the GM insert, which my CVS copies didn't have.

We bought a chest freezer this weekend, so I can't wait to start shopping some sales and filling it up. It's coming on Friday -- just in time, since my stupid cats broke the seal on our old, tiny standalone freezer. Can't wait to try something like once a month cooking. We bought a new mattress set, too, to replace our twelve (twelve!!!) year old IKEA mattress. I can't WAIT. It's going to be the longest week of waiting for delivery EVER.