Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A spend week at the end of the month is never good.............

Today was not how I intended my lightest teaching day to be, but it's what happened.

DD has been sick for over a week.  Tried to get her into see my Dr's practice (though knew it wouldn't be with my Dr)  they said she wasn't a patient *yet*  They couldn't see her til she was 21 (mid April) and her pediatricians office said that she couldn't be seen by them as she was no longer a full time student (talk about a grey area!)  So, we went to an urgent care clinic in No Haven, and I must say I was impressed.    I registered her online, submitted information also online, printed out other forms and had them signed sealed and delivered for us to arrive by 930 am.  They took her into the exam room within 5 minutes.  Very clean waiting area.  Bottom line, she has an ear and throat infection and a horrible cough.

I told her one thing to be very grateful for is the medical coverage she will have til 26 (only thing I can appreciate Obamacare for) from her biological father.  Great coverage.  Scripts would have been over $100.00 and it was less than $13.00.    I also had to pick up a script, and had my new obamacare approved coverage card (though we don't qualify for any subsidies) and it was better than using the Walgreens Prescription plan.  Price was $10.00 cheaper, and went towards my deductible.   Still $46.00, but I've been having more chest tightening, so I really wanted to have a fresh inhaler on hand.

I also went for bloodwork this week (will get the bill later I'm sure) and then the cat had to go to the vet, for bloodwork, new prescription for her thyroid condition.

$200.00 charged this week.   Arrrgghhh, but couldn't be helped.

Did get the Mucinex Allergy 5 count at Walgreens, on sale 7.50-5.00 (2.50) and 3000 balance rewards points.  I thought I could even do the $2.50 rebate that was attached to the coupon in this weekends paper and MAKE money on the deal (not just break even with the rewards) but the rebate has to be dated between March and April dates............little misleading, but I still got it technically for free.

I did have $200.00 left in cash, but needed to go for stock ups. I also couldn't find any deals on what we needed....so we went to BJ's after the pharmacy. We were desperately out of crackers (got the Keebler crackers in a large tin, like saltines) WF brand sharp cheddar, Skippy Peanut Butter, unsalted Peanuts (cheaper buying the huge can rather than smaller jars from grocery stores) Pork Chops (2.99 a lb, we had no pork in the house other than sausages, and it was a want), tomato's, dole iceburg mix (so much cheaper here than anywhere else) large double bunch of celery 1.99 and Green Giant veggie mix.  Pampers wipes (DD and I use them for so many things, did have $3 off of this item) breakfast and chicken burritos (ok, this is a splurge, I could make them so much cheaper, but daughter really wanted them) Hebrew National Salami (so much cheaper than any other store) Rye and White Wheat Bread.  Shout laundry stain remover.  I am going to try and make the versions I've been reading about online in the empty bottle I have waiting in the basement.     All of this came to 133 cash out the wallet.  Ugh.

Now DD is sleeping, DH has had lunch and I'm having more coffee before I leave for studio.

I took last two packages of italian sausage out of freezer as well as one pound of grass fed ground beef (locally purchased from Meriden CT!) and ground veal (purchased on sale AND on the last day of the sale so it had $2.00 off stickers on it....score!)  As well as a lb of chopped ham (from one of our .99 cent deals last month).

Planned use for meals the rest of the week, meatballs or Meatloaf, ham and bean soup, sausage and peppers (will use savingstar deal) and cauliflower soup.

I'm still trying to not beat myself up too much for all the money that has gone out the door this week, and it's only Wednesday.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Today's errands and disappointment in Verizon Wireless

Normally I do not do errands on a Sunday, it's family day, and we plan what my close friends call S and J's Sunday adventure.  We haven't had many the last 6 weeks, weather, health and trying to control all spending have kept us home.  Today what might have been an adventure day (there was a magic auction in Beverly MA we were thinking of going to observe) J  (DH) got called into work.  Lots of drama there, started at midnight, but I am still glad I didn't wake him when I heard his work phone ringing.

So, today I decided to go do the bulk of the planned shopping/errands so that we could spend more time together tomorrow before lessons begin (which will really mean us going to the accountants and talking in the car) but I will have less 'to do's' on my brain.

Thanks to CTBargainMom reminding me of the .78 cent chickens.  I got up when DH left at 730 a.m., stopped at Starbucks (my usual and fancy Macchiato treat for DD....my one indulgence)  Then to Big Y, where I got 3 chickens, cat food, 5 yogurts for DH lunchbox, bottle of Scope  and 2 dozen eggs.   Have a pp rebate for the Scope.

Then to Stop and Shop, a bit more here, one box Jiffy mix cornbread.99 five pound bag potatoes, bananas,  2 cauliflower, 1 stop and shop butter, 1 eggo waffles, 5 oranges, 3 cases of water.  50 cents back from checkout 52 from bananas and the jiffy mix will be free from Savingstar.

Then laundry, paid bills, did some exercise, put first load of laundry away and general puttering.....cleaning up, putting things away, got the rest of the tax info ready to bring tomorrow.

And now.  Verizon.  I have been a 19 plus year customer, from their Bell Atlantic days.  My one year 22 day old iphone 4s stopped picking up wifi and bluetooth a few days ago. The toggle buttons weren't even visible.  It also started going to airplane mode on it's own.  I did the last OS update months ago, so I didn't feel this was the issue.  I hadn't dropped it.   I chatted with Verizon, did everything they advised (including a full factory reset) Nothing but alot of inconvenience.  Had an appointment with Apple, where they wanted 199.00 to take the phone and have it worked on (I cannot be without a phone, and I don't feel 22 days past warranty I should have to pay anything)  Tried to do more chat with verizon, never an agent available.  Couldn't find an email option.  Couldn't get through on phone (unusual wait times was on hold over 40 minutes twice) So DH and I went to Verizon Corporate Store.  Waited there 40 minutes to be told, so sorry can't help you, pay for a new phone (over 600) or switch to edge plan and pay 37 a month for a new phone.  Are you kidding me?  Didn't care how long I'd been a customer, that was my option.  When I said we could switch over to ATT, the sales girl SHRUGGED HER SHOULDERS and walked away)

So, we went to ATT wireless.  Start to finish we were there almost 3 hours (and I was on hold with Verizon until my phone battery actually died).  I didn't want to leave Verizon, I wanted them to help me.  Long story short, we are now ATT Wireless customers.  I was very disappointed in switching as until this point I was happy with Verizon.  Hope they send me a final paper bill, as now I cannot log in to pay them.  Oopsie.  I should have done that while waiting in the ATT store (where they kindly let me charge the now dead non wifi/bluetooth working old Iphone.

Here is to hoping that ATT will be better with their customer service.  


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shoprite Savings (still available)


If you have any coupons that read (amount) off of ANY Minute Rice, run to Shop - Rite before they close on Saturday.  I had 4 (50 cents) off of any Minute Rice.  They have 10 ounce bags of FROZEN Minute Rice Steamers for 77 cents!   I got brown rice (40 ounces total) for free.  I like that I can bring these to work with some steamed veggies.   They had white rice as well as veggies already mixed with rice and cheese sauce.  Think of the possibilities.  

I also got my DH some of the Super Pretzel bites (he likes these as a snack with mustard) for free with 50 cent coupons doubled.  

Remember that Shop Rite limits you to each variety (if they have 4 different kinds of something on sale you can get 4 of each kind)

Try to get in on some good deals!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Savingstar, Checkout 51, Ibotta, Saving Money in General

I started really trying to find some new ways to save money besides the coupon clipping, rebate sending, use it up or use it out way of thinking.

I have been hitting the freezer and pantry more often then running to the store.  Making do or doing without.

I started listening to some podcasts while I walk that have to do with being frugal, stretching your money, etc etc.   I wanted to share with you some that I already knew, and some that are new to me!  Every one of these apps/websites I like because I can still use coupons in the store, and these apps are like the cherry on the sundae.

I already knew about Savingstar, and even had it on my Iphone, but never really got into it.  After listening to a podcast on the very topics I've listed in my title, I thought I'd give it another look.   Check it out here https://savingstar.com/

You create a free account, and scan all your loyalty cards to your local stores (you can check their site to make sure your stores participate, but it looks like all stores with a loyalty program are involved).  It's also part of the company upromise.

I love that Savingstar is now offering a healthy option each Tuesday.  This weeks was 20% off of up to $10.00 (max refund $2.00) on loose Navel Oranges.  I spent $6.00.  They also have a completely free item each Friday, last week I did the Arm and Hammer Baking Soda.

 The negative is that it takes almost a month to show your savings in your account, though the cash out compared to other apps is low, just $5.00.

 So, right now I'm waiting to see if I get about $2.50 credited to my account, so I will wait and see.  I will continue to do the healthy produce options on Tuesdays, as I always buy produce, so it would just be an added bonus to get some money back on that item.  Payout is through Paypal, Bank Account, Amazon gift card or it looks like you can donate the money.

I am very excited about Checkout 51.

  You can purchase items at ANY store (as long as they are one of the products that are listed) snap a photo of your receipt, upload it, and the money is in your account within 48 hours.  I just did my first receipt.  It was for a freebie of $2.00 for joining, and .25 off of broccoli.  These are the type of deals I like, money back on produce.  I uploaded my receipt, money was in my account within 5 hours.  Cash out is higher with this program, $20.00.  So I will keep plugging along.   Here is their link for you to investigate it yourself.  http://www.checkout51.com/

I was doing Ibotta for a while, but now am finding more and more cleaning or prepackaged/heavily processed foods, so I'm retreating a bit.  You buy your product, (make sure it matches exactly)

Upload a photo of your receipt AND scan the UPC's of the items you purchaesd.  They were always quick in processing receipts.  You can cash out with as little as $5.00, but if you hold out to $20.00 you get bonus offers.  You can also delete items from your cue, but I'm not sure that means they will add more for you to choose from.  They have had some produce, and usually have milk every week.  A few organic or gluten free items, but processed one's, not fresh.   Only good at certain stores, including Home Depot/Lowes and local Eatery's.  Read more about this money saving app here.

Just to give you notification, I am currently not getting any referrals, I'm noticing that other bloggers are stating that links on their site are referral links, meaning they receive compensation some how.  I'm not that savvy, just want to share some exciting new money saving ideas with my readers.  If there are any of you out there, lol.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Banana Bread (plus something)

I love baking.  I'm also not a 'precise' baker.  I read lots of cookbooks, blogs, recipes.  Most say that you have to measure, weigh, etc etc.  I have always been a bit 'sloppy' with my measurements, and I can't remember once that it wasn't passable.  I love to bake so much that I bake for all of my neighbors,  yet I rarely eat my creations except for a little taste myself.

Anyway, I found this wonderful banana bread recipe, that I used to follow to the letter (and actually know it by memory) and here it is  The best banana bread recipe .

But now that I'm trying to 'make do' with what we have, I tweaked it a little.  I didn't want to purchase any more coconut flakes once I had used up what we already had.  But I did have a huge bag in the freezer of slivered almonds.  So this is now what I make until the almonds run out.

I tend to save time by getting everything measured and ready to go.  I get it all set up the night before.



 I was able to get this bread baked before going to my friend Margaret H's house to pick up my share of our Zaycon chicken.  I will post more about this the first time we cook with the chicken to give a review and to share more about the cost savings and local products they offer.

Back to topic.  I used:  1 and 3/4 cups of flour, 1 egg, 1/3 cup melted coconut oil, 1/2 cup stevia/sugar for baking, 1 1/2 tspn baking soda, cinnamon (by sight) vanilla (by sight) chocolate chips (by sight) and slivered almonds (by sight, but more than less)  3 - 5 bananas that are past peel and eat stage. The bananas were .39 cents a lb.    This picture shows 5 bananas, I used four.   I used Pam style spray on a very old (at least 18 years) stoneware from Pampered Chef loaf pan, mixed all the ingredients, threw it in the pan, and in the oven for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees on Convection (actually sets at 325).




There is only a bit left.  DD's boyfriend loves it too, and requests it weekly.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Beef Shank Soup



We bought part of a locally raised steer a few months ago.  Grass Fed in Meriden CT!  We have had ground beef, steaks, roasts, heart.  Soup Shank was what I defrosted this time.  Tonight I browned the soup shank (seasoned with freshly ground pepper and kosher salt), had my larger crock pot out and on high.  Threw in carrot peelings, onion peelings and left over frozen celery.  Added more ground pepper.  Added the shank. Going to let it go over night.  









Woke up to this



I added sliced carrots (5 lb. bag purchased for 2.99 at shoprite), onions, the meat shredded from the shank and celery.  A discounted bag of Danielle pasta (1.29 from produce market) in a shape I have never seen before.  I know, not a great price, but wanted to have something different, and we rarely eat pasta.  I also added 4 shakes of Lea and Perrins, more ground pepper and a bit of sea salt.

It turned out delicious!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Today I created
a carrot and sweet potato soup.   
I am always trying to use up before I toss out veggies.  Soups to me are the most frugal and delicious way to do that very thing. 

I had 5 small sweet potatoes getting ready for the compost heap.  Not rotten mind you, but if I waited a few more days....well, they wouldn't be in any soups......I peeled and chopped them, threw them into the Crock Pot (it's getting a workout this week!  I think I've used it everyday)  Then onion, celery, carrots.  A 32 oz carton of low sodium chicken broth.  A tablespoon (or two) of cinnamon and on goes the lid!   DH 
immersion blends it and keeps it on warm for me.  Of course dear Dad had some.  DH won't eat most of my soup creations, he likes bisques or chunky chowders.   I had two cups, and there was enough left for one person tomorrow.  Step by Step photos below. 












Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Side Dish creation

I use my crock pot it seems almost every other day now.  I used it yesterday to make an accompaniment to the lovely pork roast DH made yesterday.  We haven't had pork (the other white meat, different from the ham we have been eating) in a long time.  It was delicious with this new mushroom dish and roasted potatoes.  Teamwork at it's finest, yet I wasn't home when the family ate, hence the crock pot usage.

First, I had over 8 cups of mushrooms cleaned.  Don't soak mushrooms in water, as they will soak up alot of water and then get chewy.

Put them in a set on low crock pot.  Then I added one can Progresso Recipe Starters Portabello Mushroom.  I know, again with a prepared product?  Yes.  It was FREE with a coupon, and these are the ingredients listed below.  I also added one box of low sodium beef broth, and two large onions chopped.  That's it!  And it was DELISH!   Total cost for entire side dish was 4.50, which is alot, but I will turn the leftovers into a soup (if there are any)

  • Water, Portabella Mushrooms, Onions, Soybean Oil, Cream. Contains less than 2% of: Wheat Flour Bleached, Modified Corn Starch, Sherry Wine, Natural Flavor, Soy Protein Concentrate, Butter, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Parmesan Cheese* (part skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), Modified Whey Protein Concentrate, Porcini Mushrooms*, Yeast Extract, Sugar, Potassium Chloride, Spice. *Dried


Saturday, February 8, 2014

More Hams! and What did I do with the Snow Day Turkey Stock?

Found More Hams!

I didn't purchase any myself, as I'm saving freezer space for my share of the Zaycon Chicken, but wanted to share the news with those who were hoping to get on the deal. 

I was in the Wallingford BJ's Warehouse on Friday (getting water and items for the studio) and saw that they were still loaded with .99 a pound Smithfield Spiral Hams.  They are dated February 15, so if you are interested, make sure you get them quickly and figure out a way to either freeze or can the meat.  Don't forget to save that bone for soup!




I used the stock and meat from the neck to make a lovely soup.
I added the last of the turkey meat, onion, carrots, celery, cumin and leftover rice.

Voila!  Turkey and Rice Soup.  






Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Day! Roasting a .39 a pound turkey



39 cents a pound turkey purchased in November at Stop and Shop. This was a true sale, no additional purchase required, no receipts needed, nothing!  Unheard of price around these parts.  I am so looking forward to having a freezer in the basement so when I find these deals I can get more than one. We do have a second (older) fridge/freezer combo in our garage, but it won't work in the cold weather months, so food has been lost that was stored inside it.    

Since they are calling for freezing rain on top of the snow we have received, I put this in the oven with pepper and butter at 8 a.m.  

I also use the neck
Added more vegetable peelings from a bag in the freezer (onion, celery, carrot) and put on to a boil, then lowered to a simmer.  
This will be used for soup later in the week. 
I will also probably freeze the carcass to make more soup later in the month. 

I love soups, and they are a great way to stretch the budget!


Finished products!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ham Vegetable Soup and errands........

I walked into this at 730 this morning.   The smell was amazing........

I strained it and it looked like this
I then chopped white potato, sweet potato, onion, celery, carrots




Final addition was the ham that I had removed from the bone last night
and it all ended up looking like this
I would say the entire cost of this 8 quarts of soup is less than $5.  Some would say free as it was made from things I had already priced out in other deals.  I say it's delicious!   It will be ready for my Dad's lunchtime. 

Enjoy this white day everyone!  More ice and snow to start tonight.  Tomorrow will be a roasting/baking day if I end up staying home.  

Tuesday is always errand today.   Today was a full circle, BJ's warehouse (I got another of the .99 a lb spiral cut hams, only 2 left people!) some OTC meds we needed to replenish, carrots and mushrooms.  $44.00 cash.  As I know the hams were originally 2.89 a lb I figure the savings right there was over $20.00.  I know we will get at least 16 servings plus several soup/casserole recipes out of it I am pleased. 

PETCO was next, our kittie takes thyroid medication now, and I give it to her with a soft treat.  They were on sale 2 for 6 and we give her a crunchy snack when she brings us a mouse, those were on sale for $2.00 the larger bag.  I also had a high value coupon for Pro Plan dry cat food.  Total before sale/coupons 25.31, I paid $7.71. 

Final stop, Target.  I love that they combine their own coupons with manufacturer's coupons, as well as the shopping cart deals.  Today was a combo studio and household items.  I'll separate it out.  Peets 16 k cup box final cost 8.99, regularly 12.00.  Afrin on Sale 5.49 less target 1.50 less manufacturers 3.00 final cost .99 cents.  Hidden Valley range singles (for DH lunch box) never a frugal purchase I know, but he throws his lunchbox around, and the small reusable containers have ended up opening on more than one occasion, so we choose this non frugal but non frustrating option for his veggies in his work lunch.  2 boxes of 8 after coupons 7.33.  That's enough for a month.  Final deal, 2 bags of Alexia sweet potato fries, with target and manufacturers coupon total for both bags 2.58.   Other purchases were for the studio, so I won't include them here.  

Are you getting ready for the next snow storm?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Over Night Ham Stock and tomorrow frugal soup creation

You might have read in a previous post that we purchased a Smithfield Spiral Cut Ham at BJ's for .99 a lb.  I actually want to go back and see if they have anymore this week, and might get a chance to do so tomorrow.  It is a fantastic price for this brand of ham, and an amazing price for a spiral cut.

We had at least 10 servings off the ham itself, then I cut alot off and froze it in ziploc bags (and still have one bag of cubes left)  I also saved the ham bone.  This is the beginning of tomorrow's soup creation.

First, I cut MORE meat off of the bone, enough to fill a glass bowl.




Then I added a ziploc bag of vegetable peelings, onion skins, leek ends, carrot and celery ends, put the ham bone in,  filled it with water, covered and turned on high.  I will let it go all night. 





Now I have to decide if it will be lentil, mixed bean or sweet potato and ham soup.