what has happened to me?

We are now in our second two-week dinner menu. I would say that my husband is VERY happy. Why? Because I am not only “cooking” more, but also adding sides to our meals. I grew up with sides on the table. We always had a salad on the table and fruit or vegetables or rolls. I, however, am a one dish woman!

With a growing family, however, I see the great need to help stretch our main dishes by adding easy sides to the mix. And, honestly, it is yummier. And I have cultivated great little chefs in the kitchen to help me. So, I am RESOLVED!

This week’s menu:

Cheesy Chili-Mac
w/garlic bread and corn

Turkey Jo’s
w/ sweet potato fries and fruit salad

Baked Potato Bar

w/potatos, green salad, and dinner rolls

Chicken Kebobs
w/ rice and peaches and pears

w/ rice-a-roni, applesauce, and green beans

w/ chips and salsa and corn

………and so and so forth. See, nothing spectacular. Just yummy staples that everyone loves. But I’m sticking to it. And that is the very best part. Well, I’m off to boil pasta for our Chili Mac.

couponing at its best

No pics–sorry! I was just too tired after the multi-shopping trip. Last week was the best Albertson’s sale so far for our family. It was so good that I ended up having 15 transactions in all. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit everything in my cart in one trip so I went solo on Friday, and then took the whole family on Saturday. And no, having the husband and kids along was not a burden. In fact, it was a huge help because Adam was able to tackle four transactions while I tackled another four. The ninos are starting to learn what money saving is all about. They are also learning how it can help their “cool factor” in the cafeteria at school. :)

Since we are stocking our food storage and kid lunch supplies, we bought as much of each item as we could justify. And for every $10 spent on a participating item, we received a $10 voucher on our next transaction–hence the 15 separate transactions. Are you ready for this one:

Total Trip Value: $660.91

Total Spent: $166.82

Total Saved: $494.09 (75%)

Price/Item: $0.94

Our stocked pantry and freezer continues to grow.


There was no huge Alby’s or Smith’s sale this week. But the one good promo at Alby’s was worth hitting for some food storage items. And since we have so much daily food right now, the only weekly groceries I had to purchase was milk–pretty cool, huh? Anyway, we stocked up on:

Hunt’s spaghetti sauce–$0.60 after promo, we bought 25

Wesson cooking oils (48 oz)–$1.50 after promo, we bought 10

Hunt’s Pudding 4-packs (for lunches)–$.60 after promo, we bought 50

Total Trip Value: $205.50

Total Spent: $60.00

Total Saved: $145.50 (71%)

Price/item: $0.71

For my non-couponing buddies, this savings was done with no coupons other than the promo voucher that was printed out at the checkstand. And the sale goes through Tuesday night, if you are interested. FYI–I would only have saved 25% if  I had bought these items in one transaction. Instead, I made four transactions. And I purchased the minimum required in each transaction to get the voucher. That’s the key to saving big on promos like this. In fact, I still have two $10 vouchers for our next trip burning a hole in my wallet right now.

how did we do?

Well, we have one month of couponing and sale shopping down. And it turns out that I am pretty darn good at it. Who knew? So we spent more money than our new food budget allows, but I knew that would happen. I have to build up a base of supplies and coupons first. I figure the first two or three months will be spent in stocking the pantry and adjusting the budget. Although we went to lunch a few more times than we should have, we have not eaten dinner out with or without the kids this entire month–Awesome!!! Creating an excel tracking sheet is just what I needed to remind me how much eating out cuts into the budget.

Total Value: $1560.82

Total Spent: $600.35

Total Saved: $900.01

% Saved: 58%

Our total spent including eating out was $709.74. That is still far less than I know we were spending before. I feel satisfied that I am doing some really great things to help my family succeed financially.

Funny side note–our kids hate to eat out, especially for dinner. If we say we are going to go eat, they beg to stay at home instead. It is so weird to me because going out to eat was such a treasured treat in our house. But my pocket book is definitely not complaining. :)

grocery tips and tricks

First of all, I am a total novice at this whole saving money, being frugal, cutting costs deal! So please take this information for what it is worth. In one short month, I have culled nuggetts of information from hundreds of money-saving websites putting into practice the best ideas for my own family. There are quite a few of you who have asked for more info and pointers. Here is what I do each week.

1. Grocery Sales!

Every Wednesday morning I go to www.grocerysmarts.com and pull up the Nevada sale lists for Smith’s and Albertson’s. If you live in Utah or Nevada, you are in luck. Grocery Smarts is totally free!!! A lot of people use www.thegrocerygame.com, which is the same idea, and more well known, only I don’t think it is free. But if you are in a state that doesn’t offer a free site like GS then it is definitely worth the few dollars a month to subscribe–IMO. These sites match the weekly sales and promotions with existing coupons….Priceless!!!

The other great thing about Grocery Smarts is that it is on a rating system so if the on-sale item has three stars then it is comparable to a Wal-Mart price. Four and Five stars mean deeply discounted, beyond anything you could find at a discount store.

2. Coupons!

First, I print as many online coupons as I can. Grocery Smarts links to the major online printables. But you can get them from www.coupons.com or you can sign up for other sites like www.couponmom.com. It just depends on how  you want to go about it.

Second, I subscribe to www.shortcuts.com and www.upromise.com. These two sites upload coupons to your grocery store club card account like Smith’s and Albertson’s. So when you purchase the item, all you have to do is swipe your card or put in your phone number and it automatically discounts it.

Third, I subscribe to the Sunday only paper. But I get five subscriptions–the maximum allowed for Sunday only delivery at the rate I receive. If you are serious about saving, bite the bullet and subscribe. It will pay you back in your first trip!!! The key is to have as many coupons for an item as you do members of your family. What good does one box of fruit snacks do my four kids. But when I can buy five or ten at once…all on sale and all with a coupon. Hello, score! That also goes for the printable coupons. You are allowed (for most things) to print online coupons twice. We have three computers, so I am able to get six–and that’s just at my house.

Fourth, I faithfully read mommy blogs that have tips and tricks. Although I subscribe to many, right now www.moneysavingmom.com is my favorite. I am always finding extra deals on her site like my recent Kashi, Ocean Spray, Yoplait score. They were all in different posts on her site. I combined them into one Target trip–saving a ton of money for our family.

3. Planning Meals

My two favorite sites right now are www.5dollardinners.com and www.crockpot365.blogspot.com But there are so many more out there that I look at.

I will not lie, it takes me some time to look at the sales, print off, match up, and organize online coupons, and plan our meals ahead of time–but it is so worth it. Did you see my Target post? Cranberry juice has never tasted better. And it is my job as a SAHM to be a responsible steward of the income that Adam earns for our family. So I also feel really good inside. *insert sappy smiley sigh* Now that I am getting the hang of it, navigating the lists and matching up coupons doesn’t really take that long.

I have added a few of my favorite new sites under Be Prepared and Frugal Moms over on the side bar. I’ll add more as I deem them actually worthy of the side bar. :)


A personal talent that I posess is the ability to wade through lots of information and pull out the best of the best, and to leave the rest behind. Adam and I have had a lot of practice at perfecting this skill with our fertility and adoption options. So learning the way of the frugal has been relatively easy for us. And it is seriously so much fun–I mean who wouldn’t smile when they walk out of the store spending significantly less than they saved.

The biggest grocery skill I’ve learned so far is to Pay Attention. I went to Albertson’s the other night with no coupons, and I still scored some amazing 10 for $10 deals. I came out saving over 50%, and I felt really good because I know I got the best deal for the situation I was in. Paying attention also stopped me from buying a few things that I normally would’ve picked up like bananas. But they were outrageously priced, and I actually knew that they were because I have started to engage. Instead, we are finishing up the oranges that I got on sale a couple of weeks ago. :)

We budget our food and gas from the 15th to the 15th, so I will report our first full month’s accounting in a week or so.

rockin’ it @ target

I told my mom the other night that once again I was amazing, explaining that I purchased nine bottles of Ocean Spray Juice for free. She responded, “Of course, you are amazing, duh. But I am not sure what kind of coupons you are finding. They surely didn’t exist in my day.” :)

Target had the juice on sale for $1.99 (average regular price of $3.99 depending on where you shop). They also had web coupons for a $1.00 off. I printed off a bunch. Also, Ocean Spray was offering $1.00 off coupons. So once I combined the coupons I actually made $0.01 on each bottle. I also had great success with yogurt this week. After combining the Target sale and coupons and the Yoplait coupons, each container worked out to about $0.23.


Total Value: $131.79

Total Saved: $110.76

Total Out of Pocket: $21.03

Percentage Saved: 84%

#of Items: 87

Price/Item: $0.24

The kids L-O-V-E yogurt so we are already making a dent in our stockpile. (there is more juice and yogurt than what is in the picture) I bought all of the chocolate whips they had so that I can freeze them in muffin tins for some frozen dessertish yumminess. Juan P. thinks that frozen gogurts are the best thing ever.

Oh, and the kashi bars are way too expensive for us to splurge on these days….but lovely Target had them on sale for $2.75. I had Kashi coupons for $2.00 off making each box only $0.75.

My newbie tips and tricks are coming. (I promise, girls) That will be my next post! :)

my cart overfloweth


Total Value: $254.00

Total Saved: $157.88

Total Out of Pocket: $97.00

Savings Percentage: 62%

# of items:75

Total price/item: $1.29


Armed with coupons, and a Grocery Smarts list, off to Albertson’s Adam and I went for our Friday night date:) And boy, did we have a blast. Once again, I walked out ecstatic. My heart was pounding with pride as I watched the $1 coupons roll off the already discounted items. What a feeling. I never knew that saving money could be so addictive. I am hooked!

Since we were there so late (10:00 p.m. on a Friday), the checker was more than friendly and didn’t mind that I divided my purchases into FOUR transactions. I did that so I could save $20 instead of $5 using the Albertson’s current promo. And after hearing our adoption story, she was even more wonderful. She is actually the same lady that helped me last week when I used my first ever coupon. Anyway, she gave us two helpful hints that I thought I would pass along:

1. The butcher block– they puts left over ground beef out every night at 9 p.m. for $1.50…that’s a steal from the butcher block.

2. Pizza Fridays–apparently all frozen pizzas are discounted by 16% every Friday, even the ones already on sale. Who knew? (well, probably all of you, but not me.)

I am so grateful Adam was there–he couponed like a champ finding soda cheaper than we were expecting–he helped divide everything up, and he was very patient with me. I about jumped out of my newfound frugal skin when he wanted to try a box of off-brand cocoa krispies. Yeah, it was $3.00. You’ll notice from the picture that he got his cereal–because I L-O-V-E him.

 And for all you friendly nay-sayers out there–Yes, I know there is a lot of “sugar” on the table–I realize this. But we are stockpiling soda for our family get together the end of March. Four of the bottles are Mountain Dew, and they are all for my brother-in-law, Brian. If you are coming, you’ll have to ask him if he will share. :) He has always been so stingy and all–never sharing any of his good fortune with the rest of us, right? The massive amounts of fruit snacks and granola bars were also on my hit list–just because I’m now a mommy doesn’t mean I want to lose my “coolest aunt” status with my nieces and nephews.

embracin’ it

I attempted my first ever Sale-Plus-Coupons-In-Hand Grocery Trip yesterday. And let me just say that is was AWESOME. I actually walked out of the store smiling (for real). My new full-time job is running this household of seven. That means it is my job to make things last, stretch, and look fantastic. And for me, if this is my job, I want to do it On Purpose and Well. I want to be a spectacular wife and mother–not just a great mom, but graceful and amazing.

Being a new SAHM means learning new skills and utilizing existing ones. It means getting to be in charge. :) And this year, for me, it mostly means honing my new craft: Coupon Shopping. 2009 is going to be a great year of learning for me, Rachel. I feel self-improvement knocking at the door–and I love it. I have two specific household goals for this year:
1.fully stock our year supply of food storage and emergency preparedness items.

2. Shop on a grocery budget of $360/month.

What??? For a family of seven? Yeah, I know. Trust me, I’ve done the math. It is about 1/2 of what our grocery bill has been for the family since September. And honestly, it is about 1/2 of what is was for just the two of us because we ate out so much. 

I pulled out my grocery money, yesterday (cash in $100 dollar bills). When I arrived at the check-out counter I was terrified because I didn’t really know what to do with the neatly clipped coupons I possessed. The check-out clerk was very friendly and helpful. Here are my official results:


Total Value: $273.40

Total Saved: $165.00

Total Out of Pocket: $108.40

Savings Percentage: 60%

# Items: 67

Total Price/Item: $1.62

That is without any Sunday coupons or special advanced couponing. The photo might not look like a ton of food, but anyone who does the grocery shopping knows how much it really is. I even got two cans of soup (valued at $3.29 each) for free. I saved $18.00 on  hamburger meat. I bought 12 blocks of cheese for $20.00 and five tubes of toothpaste for under $5.00.

You can’t see the two cases of bottled water I bought for $5.00 total–saving $10.00. We do not drink bottled water to save money. But we do need it for our emergency gear and food storage…same with the extra toothpaste and instant oatmeal. Mmmm, there is nothing better than Peaches-n-Cream instant oatmeal for breakfast on a cold morning in the middle of nowhere (aka backpacking food).

Now that we have kids in the house, the landscape of our kitchen has changed. The pantry is full of fruit roll-ups and breakfast cereal. The fridge is full of go gurts and cheese. And I love it!!!