Friday, April 29, 2011

here are the results

Today I went on my big shopping trip... 3 stores and 2 hours later I spent $128.41 and saved $101.70!! Not too bad :-) Altogether I bought 64 items which included:

4 packages of ground turkey- $1 a piece!
2 whole chickens- 47 cents per pound
2 roasts
2 family value size packages of chicken buy one get one free- we will be able to make a minimum of 5 meals from them
2 frozen pizzas- 1 came with wings, 1 came with bread sticks (I don't normally buy frozen pizzas, but I had 2 coupons for each pizza)\
2 frozen lasagnas- also normally I don't buy those, but the store had a deal 2 buy 2 lasagnas, 1 bag of frozen vegetables, 1 pie, 1 french bread, and 1 2 liter for $14
I bought quite a few things of vegetables fresh and frozen.. that was something I worried about initially, but it really wasn't a problem since I made my list based on sales papers

I'm not going to go through a detailed list of my shopping trip, but I am very impressed with all of the stuff I got for the price I paid, plus the ammount I saved. The bulk of my savings really came from store sales and reward cards over coupons- I saved about $18 with coupons. I got enough meat to last us for a month or 2. My freezer is jam packed full and I even had to bring some stuff over to put in John's mom's freezer.

My overall thoughts on this.. I spent too much time printing and clipping coupons. Pretty much all of the sites have the same coupons- I am going to check the Sunday paper for coupons, check, and for coupons and that is about it. I read some couponing blogs and heard about a few good deals on there. If you are just trying to save some money on your groceries, just make your weekly menu from the sales paper. I looked for coupons for the things on sale already and saved a lot of money that way- if I didn't have a coupon filed for a sale item I googled coupons for the items and had about 50% luck finding coupons for them. Example- Winn Dixie has a special running right now for Oikos Greek yogurt veggie dip- buy one of those and get a 1 lb bag of Winn Dixie carrots free. I buy carrots every week anyway so this was great. I googled Oikos Veggie dip coupons and found one for $1 off so that was a great savings. I also bought 4 packages of cheese this trip. I will use that over MONTHS- they are in the freezer. I had 2 different cheese coupons and 1 store had their cheese for $2.15 a package plus I had $1 off 2 packages. I think I am definitly getting the hang of it- Please note I will not shop like this weekly. John and I eat out a fair amount and I don't cook every night. These staple groceries I bought will last weeks. The fresh veggies will get eaten soon though and what I don't use I will prepare and freeze. I'm hoping to get a mini deep freezer for my birthday in June because ideally I would like to prepare double meals and freeze them- like spaghetti sauce and casseroles. I just don't have the room for that right now. I do not have time to do this every week. I spent atleast 2 hours shopping, 2-3 hours last night reading the sale paper and coordinating my list with coupons, and atleast 3 hours printing coupons this week. This will probably be like a once every 2-3 weeks event.. if that.

The biggest advice that I have used is using coupons on smaller packages- I have had 3 different coupons for $1 off of cat food and I have bought 3 of the smallest bags for a little over $2 per bag. Also, pay attention to store coupons vs manufacturer's coupons- if you find an item on sale and you have a manufacturer's coupon AND a store coupon.. you are in business! Stores will not allow you to stack 2 store coupons or 2 manufacturer's coupons, but it will let you use one of each. Even if you don't go coupon crazy, compare prices for a few stores in your area and shop at all 3.. sure it takes a little more time, but it is worth it. Those ground turkey packs were $5.97 at the store by my house, but $1 a piece at another store.. their whole chicken was almost triple what I paid per pound today. So just the awareness of price is nice to have.. sure it takes a little more planning and time, but I saved $100 dollars today- if I did that twice a month all year I'd be saving close to $2500/year! My original qualm about not liking to only buy what I have coupons on.. well now since I have so much meat and veggies in my "stockpile" I will have a lot of flexibility next shopping trip to make more meals.

A few notable deals going on this week-
99 cents for Mens Care Deodorant at CVS
47 cents per pound on whole chicken at Albertson's
10 for 10 ground turkey at Albertson's
Winn Dixie has a ton of buy one get one free

Thursday, April 28, 2011

untitled so far

So the other day I asked my boyfriend if he reads my blog:

JD- Sometimes I do, most of the time I don't
Me- Why wouldn't you read it all the time???
JD- Well most of the time I don't care to read about baking or Sunni or couponing and I'm there for the rest of it.. I don't need to live my life twice- once in real life then again online

Boys.. Okay so he has a point and I am sure ya'll are all tired of my coupon escapades, but I am afraid to say that I'm just getting started folks! Like I said in my last post, I've spend the last few days working on couponing.. tomorrow is the big day. I couponed through all of my favorite shows tonight and I finally have a list made with mostly things I normally buy! (go me right?!) So I will let ya'll know tomorrow how it went. An encouraging thing I learned tonight about couponing is that all of the coupon websites reset at the beginning of the new month so there will be new internet coupons to clip in a few days :-)

In other news I am not waking up at 4 am to watch the royal wedding.. I have been spoiled with DVR for the past 12 years so I hardly ever watch anything live because I hate not being able to fast forward.. so I will be getting my beauty rest and I have maxed out the DVR recording every show/channel imaginable.. mostly the TODAY Show back to back and then I have 2 channels recording the actual procession. I always have loved Prince William and I think their story is just so cute.. it kind of gave me hope since she was just a normal girl that lived in his dorm.. haha. I wish I were doing something fancy tomorrow to celebrate.. if I had kids I would plan a big royal tea party or something fun.. or if my friends from college lived around here I would make them come to my big royal tea party. I considered making scones tonight so I could have them for breakfast tomorrow while I watch the wedding festivities, but I am not sure that I have the energy after all of the couponing stress. Have ya'll seen the T Mobile wedding spoof? It is a play off of a popular wedding dance youtube video

What are ya'lls thoughts/feelings on the royal wedding?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

couponing is way harder than it looks

So I have spent the last 2 days searching through couponing sites, printing coupons, and pouring over ads. It is so hard.. and my fear is that I will be spending all of this time clipping coupons and organizing and planning my shopping trips and either buy things I don't need or either not save much money in comparison to my time spent. I don't know.. I'm going to try this for a month and see how it goes. I need to subscribe to a Sunday paper- I've also looked into a few magazine subscriptions that have a lot of really good coupons. Like I've said before my stores here do not double coupons and also if I stockpile, I just have a room full of processed foods (household goods too, but that's okay). I try to cook with as many real and fresh ingredients as I can. All the couponing sites say don't even make a menu or a list of things you want until you check the sales and then plan your menus around the sales and your coupons.. ugh I don't know if I can do that, but I WANT TO BE AN EXTREME COUPONER!! Conundrum. Oh wait and the other side to it is let's say I save $10 a shopping trip- which isn't a lot- I would save like $500 a year. That's awesome.So yeah.. sorry for the rambles. Does anyone have any couponing advice? Also- I need a Hunt's coupon- anyone know where they are??

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Recap

For Easter Sunday my dad's family went to church- the pastor made some awesome references to Mumford and Sons and Bono during the Easter service which made me happy- here is what Bono had to say about grace

You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

After church we headed back to my dad's and had our "Mediterranean Easter" Supper.. overall we did not like the food.. it was okay, but nothing earth shattering. During the meal my dad says, "Now I get why people in the middle east always want to blow everyone up.. they have no good food to look forward to.. I could go over there and cook a rack of ribs and all of the world's problems could be settled in one afternoon" then we went on to discuss if they eat pork or not.. (I realize that they aren't all terrorists.. it was just a simple comment when we were eating our lunch)


 cucumber and tomato salad
 greek green beans
Mediterranean potato salad
 Leg of Lamb on the Green Egg
Me: "Dad have you ever had lamb before?"
Dad: "No, but Mary has and Larry's about to"
 Easter Cake Balls

We also had hummus, baba ganoush, and stuffed grape leaves which were really good!

My little sister Bailey and I- who is taller than me now!

John David and I

all of the "peeps" and Granny

 The family- Carolina, Josh, Bailey, Laurel, Ava, me, London, Gabe, Caleb, John, Granny, Emily, Jess, Emily
Most are siblings (we have 8 kids, 1 gf, 1 bf, 3 kids of family friends, and Granny)
this is how I spent my afternoon- holding Emily Grace

After we hung out at my dad's house- I took Bailey back to my mom's in Mississippi for Easter dinner. We each got an Easter basket from my mom and a little Easter bag full of goodies and kitchen gadgets (for me) from my grandmother. This picture is my picked through Easter basket 2 days later..

Easter Recipes.. Part 2

Greek Potato Salad
5 lbs boiled red potatoes quartered
8 oz feta cheese
2 cans drained artichoke hearts
2 cucumbers chopped and quartered

For the dressing I originally made a lemon vinaigrette- 1/2 c olive oil 1 T vinegar 2 lemons squeezed- I realized this was too lemony after I had drenched my potato salad with it- so I added half of a bottle of Greek vinaigrette- my potato salad was swimming a little, but it helped balance it.

** Warning this salad is very very light- as we found out on Sunday all Mediterranean food has this same lemony light flavor- I overheard one of my siblings say on Sunday that, "this just tastes like potatoes with dressing".. haha

Okay.. onto my last dish I made- Greek Green beans with Tomatoes

Greek Green Beans
2.5- 3 lbs fresh green beans- cut
2 fresh tomatoes- chopped
2 c onions
handful of almonds
2-3 t sugar
1/2 c olive oil

Saute the onions in olive oil until clear, then add green beans- saute for 5 minutes or so- add tomatoes and the other ingredients- turn down on low and simmer with top on for 45 min to an hour.

I liked this one a lot- it is a different green bean dish and a little sweet and I loved the tomatoes in it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Recipes..part 1

Mix and Match Bread

I've got this recipe out of the Food Network magazine.. it is pretty cool because you can swap ingredients in and out. I'll post the recipe the way it is printed then show you some pictures on some ways I have made these!

Step 1: Choose a Flavor- Prepare 1 cup fruit or vegetables (one kind)
Pear, shredded and squeezed dry
Apple, shredded and squeezed dry
Banana, mashed
Carrot, shredded
Zucchini, shredded and squeezed dry

Step 2: Pick your Mix-Ins- Choose up to 1 3/4 cups total of the following ingredients (use no more than 3/4 cup nuts) Toast and chop any nuts; chop any large dried fruit

walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried currants, raisins, dried figs, dried apricots, pitted dried dates, rolled oats, chocolate chips, sweetened shredded coconuts

Step 3: Prepare the Pan- Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly butter one 9 by 5 loaf pan or three 6 by 3 inch mini pans. (I have made 6 dozen mini cupcakes also)

Step 4: Make the Batter: Mix 1 1/4 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon each baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl; add your dry mix-ins (from step 2). In a medium bowl, whisk 2 eggs, 1/2 c cooled melted butter or vegetable oil, 1/2 c plain yogurt or sour cream, 1 t vanilla extrac and 1 t citrus zest (optional). Stir your fruit or vegetables (from step 1) into the egg mixture, then fold into dry mixture until combined.

 Step 5: Bake the Loaf: Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into the center come out clean. About 55 minutes for standard loaf, 35-40 minutes for mini loaves. Let cool 30 minutes.

Step 6: Make a Glaze- Pour glaze on the cooled bread and let set, 15-20 minutes.

Chocolate- whisk 1 c confectioners' sugar, 2 T cocoa powder, 2 T milk, 1/4 t vanilla, pinch of salt
Vanilla Bean- whisk 1 c confectioners' sugar, 1 T milk, and the seeds from 1 vanilla bean
Brown Butter- brown 3 T butter over low heat, cool slightly. Whisk 1/2 c confectioners' sugar and 1 T milk. Use immediately
Citrus- Whisk 1 c confectioners' sugar, 1 T each milk and citrus juice, and 1 t citrus zest.
Cream Cheese- Whisk 1 c confectioners' sugar, 3 T softened cream cheese, 2 T milk, 1/4 t vanilla.

Whew.. sorry that was so long!! I want to be adventurous and try some crazy ones.. but I'm really not that adventurous. So if any of you try to make these let me know of your successes with combinations! Okay here are some pictures of the ones I've made before and the mini cupcakes I'm bringing to Easter dinner- not mediterranean themed, but delicisous so it's okay.

The loaf on the left is carrot with coconut, dried cherries and pecans.
The loaf on the right is banana with pecans and chocolate chips- I may have added coconut, but I can't remember

Ingredients for the glaze

Chocolate glaze

Cream cheese glaze

These were both really good!

By request I have made the carrot ones again for Easter- carrot with coconut, pecans, and dried cherries with cream cheese glaze. The batter made about 6 dozen mini cupcakes.

Doggy Pawty

Today has been really busy as I have been cooking for tomorrow's lunch and cleaning and doing laundry, but I took some time out to celebrate my favorite dog's birthday.

Monday, April 25, is Sunni Dog's 2nd birthday! Susie and I had a little party for her today and she had some friends come over :-) I made dog friendly cupcakes that were peanut butter/banana/carob.

Birthday Girl



Raze and Boss

We spent the next 10-15 minutes trying to get them to pose for a group photo..

I love this picture.. she looks embarrassed

everyone off enjoying their cupcakes

Susie snuck a lick too (they were people friendly)

Recipe for the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup brown rice flour (she has bad allergies so we stay away from wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey 
  • 1/2 smashed banana 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup carob chips (carob is a chocolate substitute)*
Mix the dry ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients and mix quickly. Bake in a greased ring mold at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Drizzle melted carob over cake when cooled. Store in the refrigerator.  * Do not use chocolate chips. If you cannot find carob chips, make the cake without them.
This makes 6 cupcakes

For the icing I kind of did a hodgepodge-

1/4 cup cottage cheese
1/2 package cream cheese
1/4 c honey
1/8 c peanut butter
1/4 c melted carob chips
1/2 smashed banana
some meringue powder to thicken