eating well and looking good for less

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Maybe we could start bathing in milk

I went to another Shop Rite location this evening, to pick up a few more boxes of Rice Krispies. I have some Kellogg's coupons that are expiring tomorrow, and I wanted to use as many of them as possible before they're just so much more recycling for the bin.

With my various coupons, these massive boxes of Rice Krispies are costing me $1.32 a box. Ugh, I would nevvvvvvvvvvver pay that much for cereal, if they weren't giving me free milk. 2% milk costs $3.70 a gallon here, and since we have state-mandated minimum pricing, we do not get discounts. If I subtract out the cost of the milk, the boxes of cereal come out to just 6c each. That is some pricing that I can get behind, let me tell you.

Which is why I have a just opened gallon of milk in the fridge, two gallons in the freezer, two more catalinas for a gallon of milk each, plus more Kellogg's coupons to take to Shop Rite, plus next week Acme is running a Kellogg's cereal/milk catalina sale. I know that for some people, five gallons of milk wouldn't get them through a week, but we are not huge milk drinkers around here. We pretty much only cook with it, or put it in cereal. One gallon could last a week and a half or longer. I am going to have months -- no, years!!! -- worth of milk by the end of next week. And my cereal cabinet is overfull. I've had to start stashing cereal on top of the kitchen cabinets again.

Maybe I could just turn my basement into a corner store. :P

Last of the Shop Rite Dollar Days!

It's the last week to redeem Shop Rite's Dollar Days catalinas, sob. Next week I might actually have to pay money for food. Well, no, probably not. But... it's a distinct possibility that at some point in the future the catalinas will run out and I might have to pay money for food.

I was reading a discussion on coupon usage on a big consumer information blog site. The comments were cracking me up, particularly the ones from someone who claimed that "extreme couponers" would never show you their totals, because there is no way it's possible to get your spending that low without lying, cheating, stealing, or otherwise engaging in unethical behavior. Uh, you are so wrong it's hilarious, Internet Dude. This one is for you.

Total cash OOP here: $3.65. It would have been lower, but the registers only accepted one of my three $1 off fruit when you buy Kellogg's cereal coupons (I guess the coupons attached to the cereal, which I was hoping wouldn't happen). Plus the register didn't take off my 60c/3 Green Giant cellfire coupon.

I earned back a catalina for free milk from the cereal, plus a $4 OYNO from the coffee. I think I should have gotten a $4 cat and another $2 cat. Unless I wasn't. I have to contact Catalina Marketing to see if they can fix that. I was supposed to get some additional $2 cats, but CS printed them for me.

So, here's how I did this thing:

(3) Rice Krispies, $1.99
(5) Green Giant frozen veggies, 99c
(3) Eggland's Best Eggs, $1.77
(18) Athenos Greek Yogurt, $1.49
(1) Rubbermaid LockIt container, $2.98
(6) Nescafe Taster's Choice coffee, $1.29
(1) Klondike popsicle bars, $1.99
1.49 lbs grapes, 99c/lb ($1.43)
3.23 lbs bananas, 49c/lb ($1.58)
2.29 lbs Bartlett pears, 99c/lb ($2.27)

(1) $1/2 Rice Krispies
(1) $1/1 fruit when you buy Kellogg's cereal
(1) $2.99 off one household container (Shop Rite supercoupon)
(1) free Green Giant frozen veggie
(2) 50c/2 Green Giant frozen boxed veggies
(3) 50c/1 Eggland's Best eggs
(18) free Athenos Greek Yogurt (I think the cashier hated me a little, at that point)
(2) 75c/1 Nescafe
(2) B1G1 free Nescafe
$15 in Dollar Days catalina coupons
25c reusable bag discount

Total paid: $3.65
Saved: $86.09

I am glad that I finally found that Greek yogurt. I've been carrying around the coupons since Athenos sent them to me in December. They expire tomorrow, and I've never been able to find the yogurt for sale ANYWHERE. This is the first time I've seen it in any store, anywhere. If the coupons weren't set to expire and I could find the yogurt easily, I would have bought the yogurt maybe four at a time. Sorry, Poor Cashier Who Had To Enter 18 Free Item Coupons Manually. I didn't want to do it to you.

I also stopped at a couple of Rite Aids. I have a small stack of Gain coupons that I want to use before they expire, and I wanted to pick up some more Rice Krispies. I paid a total of $1.14 for four boxes of RK and three bottles of gain (and a strawberry milk the kid drank in the car). I used the $3 Gain coupons, plus more of those $1/2 Rice Krispies qs.

My OOP was low because I blew some Ups on the cereal, but I figured it was worth it, because it means I have seven boxes towards the Kellogg's $10 gas rebate. That is, until I actually read the gas rebate and saw that it's only 10oz boxes or larger, and all the boxes I bought at Rite Aid are 9oz. *groan* I could have used those coupons on the Kellogg's sale at Shop Rite, and they would have gone a lot further. The boxes of RK at SR are 18 oz, and you get a free milk and a free container when you buy three. Oh well. I needed something to absorb the overage on the Gain qs, and at least I'll get the extra Wellness points.

Note to self: in the future, READ THE FINE PRINT FIRST.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I signed up for yet another one of those daily deal sites which are springing up all over the place. Today I received an email with an ad for 94% off a two night Las Vegas hotel stay, plus a gift certificate, plus a prepaid credit card. Wow, that sounds like an awesome deal, right?

Yeah, except the fine print starts off weird and gets progressively weirder. You must be in a certain age range. You must have a certain income range. You must be married, engaged, co-habiting, or in a significant relationship, you must have matching ids... You must both attend a 90 minute sales presentation. Ohhhhhhhhh. I seeeeeeeee.

You want me to pay you $20 to come and listen to a sales pitch? I guess if you can avoid buying stuff you don't want, and you can find cheap airfare, you'll still come out ahead because of the restaurant GC and the Discover CC, but still, buying the rights to sit in a hotel room for 90 minutes listening to someone sell me something I don't want, this is not what I expect from a daily deal website!

I have never done the timeshare presentation thing, but I have to say, getting a cheap or free vacation sounds pretty sweet to me. Sitting through an ad presentation, on the other hand, does not. Have you done it? Is it worth the hassle of the presentation?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More of that healthy food that you can't buy using coupons

Quick little Acme trip. I don't really want or need anything from the drugstores this week, but I had to get to Acme for the pasta and frozen veggies, and I needed to pick up my newspapers.

I spent $8.98 -- more than I was planning! All the frozen veggies (a dozen boxes) were free after doubled coupon, and the five boxes of Ronzoni pasta were also free after $1/1 coupons. My son was begging for yogurt, which was not on sale and cost $2.99, that 2lb steak was $4, the pair of cantaloupes cost $2.99, and the papers were $1.75 each. I used the three $1.50 OYNO catalina coupons I had left from buying all that tuna last week, to get my cost down to $8.98. My receipt says that I saved over $53.

(Okay, I will grant you that frozen cheesy broccoli probably does not count as "healthy food," but we have purchased -- for free after coupons, of course -- two dozen bags and boxes of frozen veggies in the past week, and I really didn't need MORE peas and corn. So, why not try cheesy broccoli?)

I normally buy my papers at Rite Aid, because I get 10% off, plus I can use my Ups to pay. Oddly, this week at least three quarters of the newspapers I checked either didn't have any coupon inserts in them, or had April 3rd's Smart Source. How weird. I guess maybe they ran out of this week's SS inserts and just filled the papers with whatever they had on hand. Does this mean a shortage next week, too?

Yesterday Mr Husband and I opened up a Kohl's charge card and hit the clearance racks. I've been hearing about Kohl's for quite a while (and since the previous owners of our house were Kohl's shoppers, we've been tossing those percentage off coupons for years!), but this is the first time we've ever shopped there. He was in desperate, desperate need of new clothing for work, and it's a Kohl's Cash earning period, so I figured what the heck.

He got almost an entirely new wardrobe, although he still needs a few more pieces. By using our newly opened Kohl's charge, we saved more than $30 (!!!) off the price we would have paid using cash, plus we earned that KC for future shopping trips. The receipt claims that we saved almost $425 on the clothing we bought. Uh, yeah, but who goes in to Kohl's and pays $80 for a cotton sweater?!?

I wish I had understood how KC was calculated; I asked an associate on the floor and he told me that how much you earn was based on the pre-discount price, but apparently he was mistaken, so we lost out on an extra $10 in KC when the cashier swiped the discount coupon. Oh well. We spent less, which is good, but if I had realized, I would have either made sure we bought those shoes he was looking at, or put back the clothing I picked out for the kid.

Dear Kohl's: Send me 30% off coupons. I promise to put them to good use.

I also bought some FoodSaver bags, which are on sale this weekend. They were still not cheap, but since I bought several multipacks, I paid $5.70 a roll instead of the normal retail of $11.99 a roll. I used up my last FoodSaver bags a little while ago, so I tossed my freezer food in ziptop freezer bags, and now I'm noticing ice crystals -- future freezer burn!!! -- on those items. Freezer burnt food is wasted food, and wasted food is wasted cash! So, I ponied up and paid the money for the big boxes of FoodSaver rolls.

I haven't had a very busy weekend, but I've spent the whole time just wanting to crash. Bedtime is early tonight!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's been an awesome month for catalinas

Too bad I don't have any pictures of my shopping trips. We've all come down with some sort of plaguey fluey awfulness, and by the time we get home from the store, we shove the stuff into the fridge and then collapse on the floor, without taking photos. Well, looking on the bright side, I have lots and lots of cold and flu medicine! Too bad none of it seems to work. :)

Acme's highlight was the Starkist tuna pouch sale and catalina. $1 per 2.6 oz pouch, with either 50c/1 or 75c/2 coupons, with $1.50 catalina for each five pouches you buy. I ended up with 36 pouches. I would have bought a lot more, but I ran out of coupons.

Shop Rite, that place is just amazing this week. It's week three of Dollar Days redemption, and they keep on having more and more sales and catalinas to roll.This week I bought a dozen eggs, a dozen bags of frozen vegetables, a dozen packages of Nescafe, two lbs strawberries, two lbs pears, two cantaloupes, mangoes, garlic, three lbs apples, two cartons of OJ, four bags of yellow rice, and a box of lemon lift tea bags (awesome for my sore throat).

Shelf price was $75 (seriously wtf $75!!!), I spent $7.99 and $19 in catalinas ($2 Dial, $2 Purex, plus my $15 in Dollar Days), and earned back another $12 on the coffee. I have enough coupons to get nine more boxes of coffee, but it may be a double dip starting on Friday, so I'm going to hang on to the coupons in the hopes that I can earn A WHOLE LOT MORE. Like, spend $2.61, earn $17. Woo.

I love a good catalina deal. Even my husband gets into it. Last night he asked me, "When can we go back and earn some more money buying vegetables and coffee? Huh huh huh? Let's do it now!" Married life is thrillsville, eh?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This one is for the "coupons make you eat junk food" crowd

I am ridiculously pleased with my shopping trip today. I just couldn't get it together enough to get out to Rite Aid on Sunday, so I didn't expect much in the way of sale merchandise to be left in the stores. However, I have two sad onions and no coffee, so I needed to get to the supermarket today, and since all my Ups were from the J&J deal and were expiring at the end of the week, I figured I might as well stop at Rite Aid. Well! Score!

Three different Rite Aid locations, plus Shop Rite.

First I stopped at Walmart, which was a bit of a waste because they didn't have a single thing I was looking for. Rite Aid is on the other side of the parking lot, so Mr Four and I walked over. They didn't have any tuna, but I did spent $1.93 and get a gallon of milk, two bottles of Gain, the Veet cream, Keri lotion, the Thermacare wrap, and a bottle of juice drink (not pictured, as Mr Four was busy wearing most of it on his face). Spent $4 in Ups and didn't earn any back, but I submitted the Keri for a $6 SCR.

Then I drove to the supermarket. There's a Rite Aid next door, so I stopped in there and found four cans of tuna, another two bottles of Gain (I had more coupons, but left bottles on the shelf), and that bottle of Pepsi. I was thirsty. :) Spent $4 in Ups, $1.18 in cash, and got $4 in Ups back from the tuna.

Shop Rite: cashing in on last week's Dollar Day deals. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have any of the 99c Reach toothbrushes for the catalina deal, and I didn't get overage on the Excedrin coupons, but that's okay. I still got a 3.8 lb beef roast, 3 lbs onions, 2.6 lbs of bananas, 1 lb asparagus, 1 lb strawberries, a can of coffee, two boxes of Excedrin, and five reusable bags for $1.89. I used all of my Dollar Days catalinas for this week, along with one of my two $2 Ziploc catalinas.

I managed to convince the kid to stop at one last Rite Aid on the way home. Jackpot! They had SO MUCH TUNA!!! I bought a dozen cans of tuna, four cans of sardines, and another bottle of Gain, paid with $16 in Ups and 93c cash, and got back $16 in Ups. I wanted to buy every last can of tuna on the shelf, but I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it. I left a bunch.

I want more tuna! Have you priced that stuff lately? Ouch! I missed out on the Subscribe and Save Amazon deal, and I love tuna, so I am thrilled that I was able to pick up 16 cans today. I just wish I could get even more.

All in all, today I spent $5.93 in cash on items which had a shelf price of $112.52 (a savings rate of almost 95%), submitted for a $6 rebate on the lotion, rolled my expiring Ups, and, oh yeah, got all that stuff pictured up there.

Not sure how Rite Aid is calculating points with their in-ad coupons this week, but even if they're not counting the Thermacare or Veet coupons, I should have just under 600 points when these receipts clear. I am aiming for gold by the end of April! 20% off, here I come, woo woo woo.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I broke the store. Okay, not really.

ShopRite has been running their Dollar Deals promo for the past couple of weeks, but yesterday was the first time I managed to get to the store. It's set up a little differently from most catalina deals -- you buy a certain number of qualifying items from a manufacturer, and get $12 in OYNO coupons, in the form of four $3 coupons to be used over a period of four weeks. The out of pocket for a lot of the transactions was higher than I'd like, and since the cats can't be used immediately, there's no rolling. Also, there's a limit of one deal from each manufacturer, per customer.

However, a lot of the items that were included were pantry staples (tea, olive oil, vinegar, apple sauce, Splenda, canned tomatoes, evaporated milk, pickles, Ziploc bags, etc) and many of them were items that I needed, so I accepted the fact that I would actually have to spend money (BAH!), planned the best trip I could, and went out yesterday. Too bad I missed out on the first week, with the apple sauce and tea. Oh well.

Oh, yeah, I also really wanted that cheese. It was 99c per 8 oz block, which is my stock-up threshold. A price around $2/lb is the best regular sale price I can usually get on it. I have read on other sites that people are able to get cheese for 75c/lb! Not me, no way. Sometimes I can get blocks or bags of Kraft cheddar for around $1.50/lb by stacking store and manufacturer coupons at Target, but it's rare. So, seven pounds of cheddar and Monterey Jack for my freezer. We were down to one 8 oz bag of shredded Kraft. What can I say. Kids love cheese.

So, here's the photo. Not pictured: one lemonade. Fruit snacks and lemonade both represent bribes used to shut the screaming child's mouth while in the store. He SAID he wasn't hungry before we left. Clearly he was mistaken, since the minute we got into the store he wanted to eat everything he saw.

Total spent: $64.39
Received: $64 in OYNO coupons, plus five coupons for free reusuable shopping bags, worth 99c each

When the coupons started coming out of the machine, the cashier was kind of amazed (I'm not sure whether in a good way or a bad way! ha ha) and the bagger repeatedly expressed her vehement belief that the catalina machine must be broken, because it was not supposed to do that. Yeah, it printed out 29 (!!!) coupons. I don't suppose that happens often.

Here are the deals I did. It was all in one transaction, but I'm splitting it up for the sake of clarity.

15 cans of Hunts tomato paste, 3/$2
No coupons. Paid $10, got back $12 plus free bag

7 cans Carnation evaporated milk, $1
3 16oz bottles Coffee-Mate, $1.24
$1/2 x1 on the CoffeeMate, no coupons for the Carnation. Paid $9.72, got back $12 plus free bag

four jars Vlasic pickles, $2
four boxes Duncan Hines brownie mix, $1.29
55c/1 x4 on the pickles, 50c/1 x2 on the brownies. Paid $7.16, got back $12 plus free bag

SC Johnson:
six boxes Ziploc bags, various sizes, $2.50
$1/2 x3 on the Ziploc. Paid $12, got back $12 plus free bag PLUS an extra $2 x2 catalina for a total of $16 back

four boxes Planter's Nut*rition bars, $2.50
one package Philadelphia Cooking Creme, $1.49
$1/1 x4 on the Planters, $1.50/1 on the cooking creme. Paid $5.99, got back $12 plus free bag

So, all in all on the Dollar Days deals I paid $44.87 and got back $64 in cats, plus five free bags. I gotta say, even getting back $20 more than I put out, spending that much money on that little amount of food makes me shake my head in distress. Not my favorite catalina deal ever, but I am looking forward to using the $15 per week to pick up fresh fruits and veggies through the month of March. I also bought:

Cheese: 14 blocks at 99c a block: $13.86
Coffee Mate 32 oz: $3.99, used Facebook coupon for free CM up to $3.99
Bananas: 3.77 lbs at 69c/lb: $2.60
Lemonade: 79c
ShopRite fruit snacks: $1.50