Couponer Service Announcement: Check your Freezers

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We’ve had a few members of our Facebook Group report that their freezers died recently.  Unaware of it, their frozen foods began to thaw!  In fact, last week my sister’s fridge died and she didn’t notice until the ice began to melt!

In fact, it’s happened to me TWICE.  Our freezer was in the garage and somehow my kids unplugged it while chasing a ball or looking for roller skates.

The result the first time was the picture above.  Actually it was TWO full trashcans of frozen foods.  My heart was broken.  The second time I was much luckier- nothing was ruined.

You can see my freezer story here.

A blown fuse can cause you to trash an entire stockpile!    Accidents happen and things get unplugged but catching it early is better than having to waste all that food & hard work!

Here are my tips for avoiding losing your entire freezer:

  • Set a day a week to check your freezers, extra fridges- anything you don’t look in on a daily basis.

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  • Get a wireless thermometer.  You can put the thermometer in the freezer in the garage and keep the dashboard in the kitchen.  You don’t even need to look at the dashboard- it has an audible alarm that will alert you if the freezer or fridge temperature passes the temperature you set.  For under $30 the piece of mind that hundreds of dollars of food is safe- worth it to me! (Thanks for the tip Stephanie!)

 

Need help organizing a chest freezer? Here’s how I do it!

Weekly Totals 8/25

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weekly totals

I used to write a post every Tuesday to keep myself accountable to my $75 a week budget.  However I’ve stumbled and slacked off on writing it so instead I will update a single post all week- so you can see the deals before they die!  I had $89.92 left over from previous weeks’ budgets  so I have a total of $164.92 in my grocery fund. You can find the grocery deals this week here.

Running Total:
Value: $486.59
OOP: $180.39
Savings:63%
Rebates Back: $5 MIR, (10) $10 eVISA cards, 1.45 Rebate Apps
Catalinas Back: $0
Left in weekly budget: -$76.64
Left in Budget: -$14.97

 

8/19- No Shopping

8/20-

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Lowes Foods
(4) Quilted Nothern (used RC)
(4) Angel Soft .10 each after Q
5 2 lb Chubs Ground Beef= $2.50/lb
Gallon MIlk $2.99
1 Challenge butter used $1 store Q mailer, .55 in-package
Total OOP $36.16
Saved $42.50

Food Lion (5) Transactions using (5) $10 ONYO cats from buying gift cards
4 Nestle Exotics- FREE with mailed Q
5 London Broils
3 Suave
7 Smuckers
OOP: $18.66
Got (2) $10 e-VISA cards Rule the School Promo

8/21

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Food Lion (5) Transactions
Value: $75.75
OOP:28.25
Got (5) $10 e-GIft Cards

8/22

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Food Lion (3) Transactions of 6 Quaker Bars each
$16.95 OOP
Value: $45.45
Got Back $30 in e-VISA gift cards

Lowes Foods
1 Glad Cling Wrap
3 Angel Soft
4 Cooked Perfect Turkey meatballs
OOP: $4.20
Value: $25.86
Submit for $1 Glad Ibotta

Harris Teeter
10 Bags shredded cheese
2 Coke eVIC
10 Yoplait Singles
3 Yocrunch 4 pks
3 Pop Chips
2 Kettle Chips
10 Mueller Pasta
6 HT Enchilada Sauce
Yellow squash
Green Squash
Potatoes
Onions
17 lb Gala Apples
2 French Bread
2 HT water (eVIC special)
Cocoa Crispies
18 ct Eggs

Value: $145.58
OOP $75.13
Savings: 48%

Total Trip:
Value: $216.89
OOP: $96.28
Get $1 ibotta, $30 in eVISA Cards, .20 Ibotta potatoes, .25 Checkout 51 Potatoes, .75 MobiSave Yoplait,

8/24:

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$0.50 OOP
Lowes Foods: $0.50 for 4 Angel Soft
CVS: $0.00 OOP after cash card and ECB, got $10 ecb Back

Setting a Stock Up Budget

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Many people say that couponing isn’t worth it because they end up (a) buying things they don’t need because they have a coupon or (b) are actually spending MORE money! And it’s true- with stockpiling many times you will see your out of pocket cost go up before your spending goes down.

The reason why it goes up first is that they have no stockpile- so they are buying the items to create a stockpile PLUS buying what they “need” to feed their family (and keep them clean) for the week.

There is a way to keep that from happening but it takes discipline and effort. This is my suggestion for not seeing your budget go up too much while starting out. And if it does go up anyway- analyze why and make adjustments.

[Read more...]

Stockpile Cooking: Building a Stockpile You Can Cook From

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How to Feed your Family when you Coupon & Stockpile

I get those looks a lot- when my cart is full of 6 boxes of Eggo Waffles, 6 boxes of Macaroni & Cheese, 6 bottles of laundry detergent and two green peppers (they were marked down).  “What DOES that mom feed her kids?” I know the shopper behind me thinks.

What they don’t know is that for dinner that night we had scratch made mashed potatoes, biscuits, corn on the cob, Grilled BBQ Chicken and buttered carrots.  Yep, we didn’t use a single thing that I purchased that day.  In fact, most of the items I buy each week aren’t used for several weeks, except perishables like milk, bread and eggs.

That’s the blessing of a stockpile and coupon shopping- you buy items because they are a great deal NOT because you necessarily need them right now.

How to Build a Stockpile You Can Cook From

  • Start with the basics.  Know the items you routinely use in your meals.  For my family it is canned or frozen vegetables, rice, pasta, pasta sauce, cheese, canned tomatoes…the list goes on. These are the items you want to stock up on.
  • The basic meal formula in my house is protein + veggie + grain + fruit.  The Protein is usually beef, pork or chicken.  The veggie staples in my house are potatoes, carrots, corn, and beans.  The grain is usually rice or bread and the fruit is whatever was on special in the produce department.  Knowing this formula lets me avoid having a meal of nothing but grains- but to balance the dinner plate by keeping a full pantry of all these ingredients.
  • When one of these items hits a rock bottom price- either by sale alone or combined with a coupon- I get as many as I can within the coupon and store policies.  This allows me to stock up on that staple item and avoid paying full price for it.  Example: Over a year ago, Food Lion ran a store brand promo.  We were able to get canned tomato sauce, canned corn and beans for $0.25 a can.  That’s a fabulous price.  I got enough to last me 2 years (until those cans expired).  We are just now using the last of these products.   I haven’t had to buy any of those canned items for over a year.
  • Utilize your Freezer.  Freezing marked down produce and meat is a great way to build a stockpile of frozen goods.  Even bread, milk and creamer can be frozen!

Cautions

  • If you haven’t tried the product, even if it’s a good deal, don’t go crazy.  We had a deal for super cheap Herdz Cooking Sauces.  I got several of every variety- we ended up not really liking them.  My homemade sauce was much better.  I was glad I hadn’t gotten carried away and purchased too many.
  • Check expiration dates.  Stocking up on taco shells is one of my favorite deals- Taco night is a family favorite.  Being careful to check the dates of the shells to be sure I don’t overbuy is one thing I have to remind myself constantly!
  • Keep the stock rotated.  Putting cans of beans with an expiration date of 3 months out in front of the box that expires next week is the quickest way to have a worthless stockpile.  Take the time to rotate the new products behind the old ones!

How to Meal Plan with A Stockpile

  • We don’t weekly or monthly meal plan- we daily plan.  The night before or the morning of – I take out all the dry ingredients for the meal, I put all the items I need from the fridge on the top shelf and I thaw the meat in the fridge.  That way everything I need is all together and I don’t get to 30 minutes before supper to find out I don’t have the stewed tomatoes I thought I did.
  • You can do the same if you weekly meal plan.  Make your plan and set a staging area in the pantry or cabinet for all those dry ingredients needed for that weeks meals.  Each day prepare the items for the next night- thawing the meat, etc.

I cook semi-scratch meals for my family almost every night.  We rarely eat out and we don’t eat prepared frozen dinners (with the exception of a frozen pizza here and there).  Here are some of my family’s favorite meals- all easily stockpiled!

  • Grilled Chicken with Veggies
  • Sausage and Squash Bake
  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • Beef Tacos
  • Pepper Steak Stir Fry
  • Cheesy Chicken Rolls
  • Breakfast for Dinner
  • Chicken with Pasta
  • Pot Roast
  • BBQ Pulled Chicken
  • Shredded Beef Sandwiches
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
  • Grilled Cheese & Soup
  • Baked Potato Bar
  • Chicken Quesadillas

Share your tips for building a stockpile worth cooking from!

Marked Down Fresh Foods: A Great Way to Save

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QUick Sale Fresh Foods-A Great Way to

Savvy shoppers love a good clearance sale.  Discounted hand bags, shoes, clothes, house wares and more- but do you take advantage of the deals in the grocery stores?

Two of my favorite things to find marked down in the grocery store are meat and produce.  I wanted to share some of my favorite tips about taking advantage of these deals and making sure that they stay a good deal!

  • Most meats/produce are marked down because they are coming up on the end of their best buy date.   That means that the store won’t be able to sell it anymore but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad.  But look carefully, anything that is moldy or smells bad- pass on that ‘deal’.
  • Either use the food or preserve it immediently.
    • Fresh produce can be prepared and frozen.  I slice onions and peppers and place them in a freezer bag for short term storage or use my Food Saver for long term storage.
    • Zucchini, Squash, Carrots- I blanch and place in freezer bags or food saver bags as well.
    • Fresh fruits can be frozen (place a sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight).  Place in freezer bags for future smoothies.
    • Meat can be marinated and frozen with freezer bags or food saver bags.
    • Another option would be to cook the meat and make a dish with it and then freeze the prepared dish.  When you need a quick dinner – pop it in the oven or slow cooker. I love to use Dollar Store aluminum pans for these dinners!
    • Dehydrating fruit is a favorite in my house too! Food Dehydrators are easy to use and not expensive!  You can do it in the oven too but I’ve found the dehydrator to work much better!
  •  Be sure check the non-clearance items around.  I’ve seen roasts marked down as clearance but the fresh (new) meat right next to it was cheaper per pound on sale.  The clearance price was based off the previous sale price and the new sale price was actually lower than the clearance off the regular price!
  • Know what’s a good price.  Clearance isn’t always a deal.  $1.99/lb for chicken is my top price so if it’s marked down to $3.50/lb I’m still not going to buy it.  Don’t let the clearance tag fake a deal.

Share your markdown secrets with us!

 

DIY: Uncrustables

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My children beg and plead for uncrustables (they hate the crusts!) but honestly I cannot justify the price.  $7.99 regular price for 10 sandwiches works out to .79 each.  Even on sale with a coupon it would still cost over 25 cents each.

Instead I make a DIY version for just a fraction of that!

I was given a Pampered Chef Cut & Seal however there are a LOT of options out there you can get!

 

Costs *averaged from last year*

Bread: .99 special at Harris Teeter = about .09 per sandwich

Jelly: .25 on sale with a coupon= about .02 per serving

So for a total of .11 per sandwich I can make homemade uncrustables! Here is how I did it.

Step 1: Start out with sandwich bread and jelly (add peanut butter if you want – the peanut butter in my pantry cost me less then 50 cents a jar so add about 5 cents a sandwich if you use peanut butter)

Step 2: Jelly the sandwich ! You won’t have to go all the way to the edges because it will be cut off.

Step 3: Cut & Seal!

[Read more...]

Thrifty Tip: Cook Extra

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The Secret Thrifty Mom's Know

Feeding a family of eight every night can be difficult.  Between school pickups and homework and work here on MSM- life is hectic and getting a home cooked meal on the table every night can be tricky.

Taking a family out to eat can be expensive and thrifty moms know that cooking at home is much more frugal than even calling out for pizza.

Here is my biggest secret to getting dinner on the table even on the craziest of days: My Freezer.

When I do make a meal I often double it up and put half it in the freezer (sometimes cooked and sometimes just prepared).  It makes life so much easier on those crazy nights.  Here are a few of my favorite meals to freeze extras of!

  • Fried Chicken: Bread as normal and freeze uncooked.  Thaw and fry/bake.
  • Lasagne: Freeze uncooked.  Thaw and bake as usual.
  • Rice: Cook and Freeze.
  • Sausage StirFry: Prepare and Freeze Uncooked.  Thaw and cook as usual.
  • Enchiladas: Prepare filling, roll into tortillas. Freeze individually.  Thaw, cover with sauce and bake as usual.
  • Shredded Chicken: Boil with onion, pepper and salt.  Drain, shred and freeze.
  • Shredded Beef or Pork: Slow cook with broth, onion, pepper and salt. Drain, shred and freeze.
  • Chili: Cook as normal and freeze.  Thaw and reheat.
  • Macaroni & Cheese: Cook pasta, mix with cheese of choice.  Freeze.  Thaw and cook as usual.
  • Bakes Pasta with Chicken: Cook Pasta and grill chicken.  Slice chicken, mix with cheese (or sauce) and pasta.  Freeze uncooked.  Thaw and freeze.
  • Taco Meat: Cook beef and add seasonings as usual. Freeze.  Thaw and reheat.
  • Hamburgers: Make patties.  Freeze individually.  Place in freezer bags.  Thaw and grill as usual.
  • Meatloaf: Make meatloaf as usual, Freeze Uncooked.  Thaw and bake.

A visit to a fast food restaurant can cost us $45!  Even calling for pizza can be $30 or more.  Making dinner at home can be so much less expensive, but it’s not always the easiest thing.  Using my freezer makes it easier and less costly.

A few tips:

  • The Dollar Tree has a great selection of disposable aluminum pans.  These make it easy to go from freezer to oven quickly.
  • A Food Saver is my best friend.  It makes the food last so much longer in the freezer.
  • Keep a list of what’s in there.  That will make it easier to know what you have on hand.

Share your tips with us!

 

Weekly Totals 8/4/15

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weekly totals

I used to write a post every Tuesday to keep myself accountable to my $75 a week budget.  However I’ve stumbled and slacked off on writing it so instead I will update a single post all week- so you can see the deals before they die!  I had $40.52 eft over from previous weeks’ budgets  so I have a total of $115.52 in my grocery fund. You can find the grocery deals this week here.

Running Total:
Value: $102.05
OOP: $25.60
Savings: 74%
Rebates Back: $2.50
Catalinas Back: $0
Left in weekly budget: $49.40
Left in Budget: $89.92

 

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7/29- I used this trip to stock up on some baby wipes for my sister (I know how fast twin mommies go through wipes!) and school lunches.

Kroger:
5 Birds Eye Protein- FREE (deal here)
5 Birds eye flavored – FREE (deal here)
5 Weber Seasonings (deal here)
9 Huggies Baby Wipes (deal here)
10 pepperidge Farm Goldfish
1 Smuckers Grape Jelly $1.56 after mega
2 ziplock bags (deal here)

Value: $102.05
OOP: $25.60
Savings: 75%
Get back $.75 mobisave for Huggies, $0.75 mobisave for Goldfish, $1mobisave smuckers
Final Cost: $23.10
* I have to submit for my $2 Catalina from Huggies
See all the Kroger deals here

Harris Teeter Popsicles: BOGO

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Sometimes the lowest price option isn’t always the best buy!  Harris Teeter has their store brand popsicles BOGO this week.  They have their 8 ct $2 BOGO making each one $1 and their 24 ct $3.99 BOGO making it $1.99 each.

Even at regular price the 24 ct is the better buy- $0.17 each versus $0.25 each.

I almost made a huge mistake and put 3 of the small boxes in my cart- because that $1 a box is so persuasive.  I got to the checkout line and it was like a light bulb went off “Jessie,” it said, “You are being an idiot!”  I hustled back to the freezer section and swapped the three small boxes for a large one.  Saving myself a little bit of money (and 2 extra boxes to recycle).

A dollar might not seem like much but think of everything we get for under a buck: pasta, cereal, baby wipes and more!

It’s a perfect example of why looking at all the size options is important.  Sometimes the bigger one is the better buy and sometimes the smaller one.  Do a little math and don’t be swayed by the lowest out of pocket cost- spending a little bit more might get you a whole lot more!

You can see these Harris Teeter deals and many more here.

Why I just Spend over $20 on Ketchup & Mustard

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Yes I just spend $22.58 on ketchup and mustard at Lowes Foods.  But I have a really good reason why!

Here’s the deal at Lowes Foods

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Buy (1) Heinz Ketchup, 38 oz $2.50
Buy (1) Heinz Mustard, 14 oz $1.50
Use $0.50/1 Heinz Yellow Mustard – 6-21-15 RP; Includes 14 oz or Larger Only; Maximum of 4 Coupons Of Any Kind For The Same Product In The Same Shopping Trip (exp 08/15/15)
Use $0.25/1 Heinz Tomato Ketchup – 6-21-15 RP; Includes 32 oz or Larger Only; Maximum of 4 Coupons Of Any Kind For The Same Product In The Same Shopping Trip (exp 08/15/15)
Pay $2.50
Submit for $1.00/1 Heinz Ketchup – MobiSave Rebate
F
inal Cost: $1.50

Earn $0.15 Fuel Rewards (at 25 gallons that is $3.75 in savings)

So following their coupon policy – I bought 8 ketchup and 8 mustards and used (4) $1/2 Ketchup & Mustard and (4) $0.50/1 Mustard and (4) $0.25/1 Ketchup.  I paid a total of $22.58 out of my pocket.  I earned $1.20 in Fuel Rewards.

When I purchase 25 gallons (fill up my van and some of my husband’s car)- it will save me $30 at the pump.  Right there I basically get $7.42 in FREE gas.

I plan to do this transaction twice and my out of pocket will be  $45.16 at Lowes Foods – leaving with 16 Heinz Mustard and 16 Heinz Ketchup.  I will spend approximately $2.50 at the gas station for a total of $47.66 out of pocket for 25 gallons of gas.

Normally for 25 gallons of gas I will spend approximately $60 at the gas station.

So for me it was a no brainer- 32 bottles of condiments AND 25 gallons of gas for $47.66 OR 25 gallons of gas for $60.

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This type of deal isn’t for everyone.  In fact when I shared this in our Facebook group I got comments similar to “SMH.  I’d never pay for mustard. I get it free” – well I got it for BETTER than free when you look at the BIG picture.

That’s what makes MoolaSavingMom.com unique- we don’t just show you how to put a coupon with a sale to get a free mustard.  We show you how to put coupons with a sale and a promo to get TONS of free condiments AND discounted gas.

MoolaSavingMom is about getting MORE for your money. It’s about spending LESS and getting more.   If your only looking for free mustard- you’ll find that here…but you are missing out on some of the best tips I have to offer.