Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bi-Lo Clean Sweep

I most definitely should be in bed by now, but I'm practically too excited to sleep... which says something about me, I guess.

Anyway, a while back (think a year-ish) Bi-Lo sent me several flyers with coupons for free grocery items. Each flyer would have 8 total coupons - 4 coupons for free food (usually for related items), and 4 for $8 off a $50 total purchase - and they'd each be good for a different week.  Somewhere along the line (I think when a flyer arrived after one had already expired) I found out that they take them expired - no matter how late.  So, I've saved most of them up until I had a need for the particular item.  Many of the items I haven't yet had a need for (or, at least not when Bi-Lo was on the list for that week, or I remembered about the coupon, or whatever).

This afternoon I went to Bi-Lo for the first time in probably several months to grab a few good deals (primarily Organic Peaches for $1.79/lb).  I wasn't getting much, so I almost didn't go, but with my hubby traveling, I've got plenty of free time and I went.  While standing in line with my 3 items, I saw a sign that said "As of Sept. 1 we will only except Bi-Lo coupons that are less than 30 days expired."  As it turns out, Sept. 1 is tomorrow - and all those freebie coupons are waaaay more than 30 days past due.

You can imagine where this is going, right?  I headed home, grabbed the coupons, went to Back-to-School night for a few hours, and then back to Bi-Lo - at 9:30 at night.  I grabbed all the free stuff, and a few extra items so I could hit the $50 and get $8 off (essentially scoring $8 more of free food - mostly organic stuff that I would hesitate to buy because of the price), and headed to the (oops!) only open register.  My list:
  • 2 bags of Pirate's Bounty puffs
  • 2 pouches of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice
  • 1 loaf of Nature's Own Premium Specialty Multi-Grain bread
  • 1 box of Strawberry Cereal Bars
  • 1 8-ct bag of hamburger buns
  • 12-ct brown-and-serve rolls
  • 1 10-ct box of instant oatmeal
  • 1 bottle of ketchup
  • 50-ct heavy duty paper plates
  • 1 8-oz bag of shredded cheese
  • 1 lb of butter
  • 4 yogurt cups
  • 1 frozen pizza
  • 1.5 qt Blueberry Cheesecake ice cream
  • 1.33 lbs ground beef
  • 4 lbs Earthbound Farm Organic Oranges
  • 16 oz deli potato salad
  • 1 small bag of Earthbound Farm dried mangos
  • 1 small bag of Earthbound Farm dried plums
Total:  $60.13. 
I paid:  $4.41.
That's an average of 18¢ / item.
I think that means I saved 93%.
See why I couldn't sleep 'til I "shared" this with someone?
I think burgers and ice cream will be on the menu for this weekend when our friends come in town for Labor Day.

Buying free food... Soli Deo Gloria.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A wonderful new "trick"

Stopped at EarthFare the other night... great store, too far away.  BUT - it was right on the way home from our friends' house where we had been for dinner, so I couldn't NOT stop :)  Didn't get much, but I had a coupon for a free pound of organic grapes (wonderful, since they're on the so-called dirty dozen list), another for a free reusable lunch bag, and a third for $1.50 off some organic chicken.  Needless to say, it was a pretty successful trip, savings-wise. 

So what's the trick, you ask?  First, a bit of history:  I found a recipe a while ago for Pork Chili Colorado since I had gotten some cheap pork (also at EarthFare, if I recall properly).  I stuck the pork in the freezer since the recipe is more of a winter stew-type, and will pull it out this Fall when the weather is better for that sort of thing.  The recipe, however, calls for 1/2 tsp of Ground Coriander.  As it turns out, I don't have that particular spice, nor do I have room in my cabinet for any more spice jars.  Not to mention, since I have "survived" without it for the full 3 years of my marriage, I wasn't too keen on spending $5 for a spice that I'm probably never going to use up.  Being a "perfectionist" - especially when experimenting with new recipes, I wanted to make the recipe correctly.  So, I decided to be modern and offer a trade on Facebook... I buy Basil, Parsley, Cinnamon and Garlic Powder at Costco, so I've got more than enough to trade.  I got a few offers, but all the local ones were for Coriander Seed, not the ground kind.  Having it mailed by a friend in California was somewhat appealing, until someone posted that EarthFare sells bulk spices - who knew such a concept existed?  Sure enough.  I came home with this:
They don't have actual measuring spoons there, but it's close enough to 1/2 tsp to work for me.  And it cost 14¢!  I will DEFINITELY be keeping that in mind for future spice needs that are not native to my pantry :)

Buying bulk spices... Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Calendar for My Classroom

This past week I ordered a personalized calendar for my classroom to give a bit of "cultura" to my students.  I used my own pics (and some from Isaac), and then was able to put all the special school dates and student birthdays (just my 13 homeroom students) pre-printed right on the calendar.  I started with August so it follows the school year.  Here are the pictures that I used.
 Front cover:







What $20 can get you

I guess I took the latter part of the summer off of blogging, even though it wasn't exactly intentional.  Oops.  I've got at least one post in my head, but haven't taken the time to get it out yet... but you still have to wait for that one :)  Don't feel too bad, though.  Most of what I would've written would probably have involved commentary about the TV show Bones, since I spent a good chunk of my free time this summer watching the first 4 seasons on Netflix.  Now I've got to wait until October for season 5 to come out on DVD... argh.

Anyway, I've also taken some time off from couponing a bit.  Between 10 days of vacation (and the preceding days of clearing out the fridge), and then my husband's extensive business travel lately, I haven't been cooking much and thus haven't been shopping much.  But with school starting up, I decided to stock up on some lunch snacks - especially when I saw the General  Mills promotion on Southern Savers.  Yes, I probably spent an hour finding the right coupons and trying to determine whether it was worth it or not to run the deal, but I'm totally thrilled that I did!  Basically, a bunch of GM products were on sale, and if you bought 20 items, you got $6 off your order instantly.  So... grab a bunch of items you've got coupons for, and it works out pretty well.  Here's what I ended up with:
Grand total:  $20.00 (yeah, even... which is awesome in and of itself), and most of these items have BoxTops on them that give money to the school, which I love.  The organic tomato paste was not part of the deal, but in working up the deal I found $0.75 coupons which doubled to $1.50... and since they're only $1.55 and I needed some anyway, I grabbed some nearly-free ORGANIC tomato paste - sweet!  I also realize that most of these items are very NON-organic, but there is a convenience factor :)  And they were cheap.  Let's face it - 7 boxes of cereal, 5 boxes of granola bars, 4 boxes of fruit snacks, 4 4-pks of yogurt, and 2 cans of tomato paste = 22 items for $20.  Who could turn that down?  I think my receipt said I saved $40+.

And it gets even better!  The granola bars and fruit snacks had special promotions as well... buy 3, 4 or 5 and get coupons for $$ off your next purchase.  So the 2-lb bag of frozen shrimp (normally $26) that was on sale for $8.65 ended up costing me a little over $3.  See why I had to post?  As one blogger I read would say - yeah, I took an hour to organize the coupons... but I saved over $60.  That's like getting paid $60/hr :)

Saving money... Soli Deo Gloria