Sunday, January 11, 2009

Planning menus by sales...

One of the most important lessons I have learned during my years of couponing is trying to plan your menus based on what is on sale and what is in your stockpile. That great sale on hamburger will do you no good if you let it get freezer burned and buying blueberries out of season at $5.00 for a half pint is a good way to sink your budget. As I am trying to demonstrate this month, you really can eat well with a little bit of effort and some creativity.

I used this strategy for dinner tonight which was chicken tortilla soup. The best part is it makes a huge pot which I'll be able to eat off all week. My decision to make this was inspired by the sale I found at Homeland for Red Gold tomatoes. They are on sale BOGO (2/$1.45) and I had a coupon for $.75/2 which resulted in free tomatoes after doubling. It was an internet printable coupon on the Red Gold website if you would like to print it off too.

I started off which a carton of progresso chicken broth ($2.99 -$1/1 doubled = $0.99) and a carton of swanson's chicken stock from my pantry. I added one can of red gold diced tomatoes (with juice) and 1 can of rotel w/ green chiles from my pantry (I always stock up on rotel whenever I see it on sale!) and simmered it will some cut onion. I then added a package of steam fresh brown long grain rice from the freezer (bought on sale for $1 - $.35/1 doubled = $0.30) and a bag of green giant steamers corn ($1.04 - $1/1 = $0.04). Lastly I added two cooked chicken breasts which I diced into small pieces. Once it was done I ladled it into a bowl and topped with some cheddar jack kraft shredded cheese (I had stockpiled this, but it is on sale this week for $2.49 - $.75/1 blinkie in front of cheese doubled = $1.00 package). For under $4.00 I made at least 8-10 servings or $0.50 per bowl. When I get bored with it I can freeze it and have it later this winter as a quick mid-week meal.

Later on this week I'll probably also make some corn bread ($.49 package of corn bread mix w/ 1 can of green chilis ($.79) and some of the cheddar jack cheese.) Or if you prefer sandwiches, use some of the cheddar jack cheese or velveeta (if you have it) to make a grilled cheese.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Playing catch-up again!

So clearly this daily update thing is not going to work! I keep meaning to log on, but them get busy and forget. I'll try to give more updates this weekend. I have to admit this is starting to get hard (a week in!) because I can't eat out. Also, for anyone thinking of doing this, eating the same thing is by choice, not necessity. I tend to eat the same thing for 3-4 weeks until I get bored with it and not eat it again for a couple of months. Next week I am going to try for more variety though, just to show that it can be done. This week, the meals have basically been:


Some combination of cereal, toast, milk and juice


Sandwich on wheat bread (just used the last of the free bread! :-(


Chicken Breast w/ mashed potatoes or pasta or rice and frozen veggies

All days have come in under budget and all have been tasty and healthy. Of course, I wanted to scream when Kristen said she wanted to go do Chinese...I loved getting Chicken Fried Rice at Snow Pea and now I can't do that for a month! Ugh!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Recap from 1/5/09 and new post for 1/6/09

Sorry I missed posting yesterday, I totally forgot to log on when I got home last night! Here is a quick recap.


~~(1) Chocolate Covered Mint Oreo (yummo!) another clearance sale: $0.02
~~(2) slices of wheat toast w/ LOL canola Oil Butter. I got the bread with a free coupon and the butter was in my stockpile so $0.00


~~Chicken and Beef coldcut sandwich with spicy mustard on whole wheat bread: $0.05
~~Pretzel Rods (courtesy of work) $0.00
~~Fresca (work) $0.00


~~BK Burger $1.00
~~Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup (1/2 can) : $0.25

Total for Day: $1.32

Okay, that brings us up to date, so this is what I've had today:


~~(2) slices of wheat toast w/ LOL canola Oil Butter. I got the bread with a free coupon and the butter was in my stockpile so $0.00


~~Chicken and Beef coldcut sandwich with spicy mustard on whole wheat bread: $0.05
~~Goldfish Crackers $0.05
~~Fresca $0.00

Tonight's dinner should be good. I thawed out what I think is chicken (it was wrapped in foil so I am guessing!) A few weeks ago I grabbed a couple of bags of frozen chicken on sale for $5.99. I also had a $3 off WT so that brings my cost down to $3.00. There were about 10 breasts in each bag so that would make the cost $0.30 per breast. I am going to grill up a breast and mix it will some green giant steamers broccoli and cheese sauce ($1.24 bag - $1 coupon = $0.24) and some ronzoni healthy harvest rotini ($1.69 - $1 coupon doubled = overage of $0.31). If I use 2 breasts the cost would be $0.84 and will make probably 3 servings so $0.28 per serving. Pretty good dinner if I say so myself!

Today's the last day of this week's homeland sale so I also need to stop by there on my way home. On my list:

~~Buddig Coldcuts 10 oz on sale $2.29 - $1 (doubled) =$.29 for 6 servings
~~Farmland Bacon: on sale 2/$4 - $2 = FREE
~~Progresso Soup: on sale 2/$4 - $1/2 doubled = $0.50 per can

Sunday, January 4, 2009

January 4, 2009...I really do like eating the same stuff all the time!

I feel like I am typing the same thing every day...tomorrow we'll have to try to shake up the menu a little!


~~Special K w/ strawberries and Sugar Free Koolaid ($0.04)


~~Turkey Sandwich on wheat bread w/ mustard ($0.05)
~~Goldfish Crackers (I love clearance sales!) ($0.05)
~~Sugar Free Koolaid


~~Leftover Tortellini (free) $0.00
~~Leftover Garlic Bread $0.50
~~Sugar Free Koolaid

Total for day: $0.64

My goal for this week is to try to add in some veggies. I got a good deal on some frozen steamed veggies so it shouldn't be that expensive.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

January 3, 2009...back on the trail!

Yesterday's fall off the budget wagon made me doublely (is that a word?) determined to stay under budget today.


  • Special K w/ strawberries (1 serving, 8 servings in box) @ $.005
  • Sugar-Free Koolaid (free)
  • Total Breakfast OOP: $.005 (less than a penny!)


  • Mona's Cheese Tortellini (free w/ coupon I traded for. I have 2 more coupons I'll have to trade in...yummo!) $0.00
  • Garlic Bread @$0.50
  • Sugar Free Koolaid $0.00
  • Total Lunch OOP: $0.50
  • Total for the Day so far: $0.505

I went to homeland today to pick up a prescription and bought another tub of buddig meats. It's on sale for $2.29 and all packages have a $.55 peelie. In addition, some packages also have $1/1 coupons in the package. I keep buying the packages with the $1/1 coupon and pay only $0.29 a package for cold cuts.


  • Sandwich on whole wheat bread w/ spicy brown mustard. Bread = free, mustard = pantry item, meat = $.0483 (1/6 of $0.29)

Total cost for the day: $0.5533

Total cost for the month so far: $$3.1771

Friday, January 2, 2009

January 2, 2009...the journey continues

Well I am now in day 2 of the $45 in 30 days experiment. Today is easier because (a) I'm at work so I don't really have time to think about it; and (b) its bagel and donut day which means free breakfast! Here is the roll so far:


  • Plain bagel w/ cream cheese
  • Orange juice mixed with Fresca
  • Total OOP :$0.00 all provided by work


  • Corn beef and cheese tortilla wrap
  • Pretzel Rods
  • Fresca

The price breakdown is as follows:

  • Tortilla. $2.82 -$1.99 coupon = $.83 / 8 tortillas = $.10375
  • Corned Beef. $.56 - $.56 free product coupon = $0.00
  • Cheese. $2.00 bag - $1/2 coupon = $1.00/bag divided by 8 servings = $.125
  • Pretzel Rods. Free (provided by work)
  • Fresca. Free (provided by work)
    Total Lunch OOP: $0.22875
    Current Total OOP for Day: $0.22875.

Well, 2 days in and a day over budget...probably not the best thing. I wasn't feeling well last night and couldn't stand the thought of cooking, so I went through the drive-thru and got a happy meal. Cost before tax: $1.99

Total for the day: $2.21875

Total for the Month: $2.62375 (still about $.37 under budget)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 1, 2009...the experiment begins!

First off, happy New Years everyone! Here is hoping 2009 is much better than 2008! Starting today I am going to blog about everything I eat (and how much it cost) for the next 30 days. I REALLY hope I don't have any huge hunger spells! LOL

The responses to my request for coupons are starting to come in. Little Debbie said that they don't send coupons. Dannon said they don't usually send coupons but sent me a "courtesy" envie with a free coupon (for yogurt or drinkables) and a $.25/1 coupon. If Homeland has Dannon yogurt on sale this month, that $.25/1 coupon will equal a free yogurt. I also got a free product coupon for Hostess/Wonder (can use for bread or sweets). I also got some coupons from Land O Lakes which I can combine with with sales (hopefully).

Once I get off the computer I am going to have the following breakfast:

  • Special K w/ strawberries (1 serving, 8 servings in box)
  • 6 oz cup of yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 oz juice

The price breakdown is as follows:

  • Special K: $.005 (as I mentioned yesterday, I got 2 boxes and half a gallon of milk for $.08. I'll call the milk free and assess $.04 to each box of cereal. 1/8 of $.04 = $.005 or half a cent)
  • Yogurt: FREE with coupon
  • Milk: FREE with coupon
  • Juice: 1/16 of the bottle @ $.50 bottle = $.03125
  • Total Breakfast OOP: $.03625 (i.e. less than $.04!)


  • Corn beef and cheese tortilla wrap
  • Sugar Free Koolaid

The price breakdown is as follows:

  • Tortilla. $2.82 -$1.99 coupon = $.83 / 8 tortillas = $.10375
  • Corned Beef. $.56 - $.56 free product coupon = $0.00
  • Cheese. $2.00 bag - $1/2 coupon = $1.00/bag divided by 8 servings = $.125
  • Koolaid. $2.00 - $1/1 coupon = FREE
  • Total Lunch OOP: $0.22875
  • Current Total OOP for Day: $0.265. That leaves me with $1.235 for dinner.

Well day 1 is now complete (wooo hooo! 1 down, 29 to go! LOL) Dinner was tasty, healthy and cheap!

  • Cheeseburger on toast w/ sugar free koolaid. The burger was made from the 96% lean hamburger I bought last week. It was $3.56 for a package and I used a $3 off meat WT which brought it down to $.56 for the package. I used a quarter of the package for a price of $.14. The cheese was free from the buy 3 koolaid get cheese free coupons (those were great coupons!) The bread was free using a hostess/wonder coupon that expired 12/31/08.
  • Total Dinner Price: $.14
  • Total for the Day OOP: $0.405 (40 and a half cents) Pretty good start if I say so myself!