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Back to Aldi

October 12th, 2008 at 07:21 pm

Groceries in my city are so much more expensive! I've been shopping at either Harris Teeter or Safeway (each about 1-2 miles from the house), but recently I've made a few trips to an Aldi about 5 miles away. I think the extra mileage and inconvenience is worth it. Milk alone is about $0.95 less at Aldi compared to the other chain stores.

Luckily, we have a few good farmer's markets where I can buy produce at a reasonable price. Other tactics I'm using to keep costs down are to use dry milk wherever possible (basically anything accept for drinking). I've also been making granola rather than buying cereal. I'm also trying to shop at the grocery store no more than 2x / month and supplement with produce from the Farmer's Market as needed. Although Aldi is farther drive, both Mr. Bean and I are commuting to work via public transportation, so our monthly gas costs are fairly minimal.

Load up the Pantry!

April 25th, 2008 at 08:33 am

From the Wall Street Journal:

Reality: Food prices are already rising here much faster than the returns you are likely to get from keeping your money in a bank or money-market fund. And there are very good reasons to believe prices on the shelves are about to start rising a lot faster.

Read the full article here.

Aldi Love, Aldi Hate

February 5th, 2008 at 06:06 pm

Remember my excitement over the $0.99 boxes of sushi from Aldi? Well, put your jealousy to rest, beacuse that was about all they were worth. The rice was hard, and the fish texture was off. All in all, I was disappointed and glad I hadn't paid the original price of (gasp) $5.99 / box. With that said, I ate all the boxes I purchased and was glad I had them on hand for days when I didn't have leftovers for lunch. I'd say I was as happy with the frozen sushi as I'd be with a microwave meal.

This got me thinking about what Aldi items I do love. Things that came to mind:

Mama Casita Canned tomatoes with chilies, at $0.49 / 14.5 oz can these are a great value, plus the chilies are nice and spicy- unlike my store brand. The plain diced tomatoes are also a great value at $0.44 / 14.5 oz.

Block Cheese, $1.79 / 8 oz

Just Juice (a Juicy juice knock off), $1.89 / 64 oz

Millville Cereal (most are $1.69 / 16 oz. box and taste just like the name brand)

Millville Rolled Oats ($1.49 for a huge canister)

Fresh baby spinach, $1.39 / 9 oz bag. although the last time I was there it was close to expiration and on sale for $0.50!

Butter, $1.89 / pound.

Chicken Broth ($0.39 / 14.5 oz can)

I am disappointed with the Aldi shredded cheese. It has a lot of extra preservatives and it doesn't melt terribly well. Similar issues with Aldi's 100% Whole Wheat. It is 100% whole wheat but also has a laundry list of other ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup.

What Aldi items do you love? What are you disappointed with?

Sushi at $0.11 / piece! Why I love Aldi!

December 11th, 2007 at 06:04 pm

I had to drive 30 miles each way to a Doctor's appointment today- ahh, the joys of small town life!

On a positive note, the doctor was in the same town as the Aldi Supermarket, so of course I couldn't help but take a gander ...and drop $60.

About $20 of the bill has spent on nuts to make spiced & salted nuts as gifts for the Holidays. Nuts aren't something I buy regularly, so I'm not certain the Aldi price was necessarily better than the grocery store, but I figured there was a good chance.

Anyone care to enlighten me?

16 oz Walnut meats: $3.99
16 oz Sea Salt Cashews: $3.99
16 oz Shelled walnut pieces: $2.69
6 oz Pecan halves: $2.69
8 oz Raw Almonds: $1.99

My most exciting purchase were 5 of these frozen 9-piece Sushi ensembles:



They caught my eye during my last visit, but were priced at $5.99 / box! However, today they were on sale for $0.99! I guess Sushi isn't popular with the rural clientŤle! If I had room in the freezer, I would have bought more. I figured they would be a great alternative for days when I don't have leftovers for lunch or ever as an appetizer for dinner.

Aldi, revisted

November 11th, 2007 at 05:22 pm

Is it bad that I was actually a little happy when Mr. Bean called to say his train would be arriving 30 minutes late because it meant I would have more time to peruse the aisles at Aldi?

I havenít had much time for couponing and as a result my pantry is low. When I last visited Aldi in the Spring of 2007, I spent a lot of time hemming and hawing over the prices trying to decide if I could do better in my normal store. This time if I saw something I needed (and a few things I just wanted like a potted mum and a few crŤme filled German chocolate bars!) it went into the cart. Even with the 30 minute train delay, I was still a little pressed for time was quicker to purchase this time around.

When all was said and done, I spent $90.20 for 64 itemsóby far my largest grocery bill in a long time. I stocked up on things to make sure there was enough food to have thoughtful, tasty meals while Mr. Bean is here for the next 2 weeks. I still cook when Iím alone, but sometimes the meals lack inspiration. I also stocked up items for the Thanksgiving weíre hosting in a few weeks.

Because I bought so much, Iím not going to go through each item and its price, but I noticed that compared with my Spring trip, many items have increased in price. I bought 8 items identical to what I purchased in Spring 2007, 4 of which were increased in price:

FREEZER:
Whipped Topping: $0.75 each, SAME PRICE
Ground Turkey (85% lean): $0.79 / lb, INCREASED PRICE, $0.89 / lb
REFRIGERATOR:
Low Fat Cottage Cheese: $1.79 / 24 oz, INCREASED PRICE, $2.49 / 24 oz
PRODUCE:
Fresh Flat Leaf Spinach: $1.39 / 9 oz, SAME PRICE
SHELF:
Canola Cooking Spray: $1.29 / can : INCREASED PRICE $1.39 / can
Tomato Paste: $0.33 / 6 oz: SAME PRICE
Golden Raisins:$1.99 / 15 oz: SAME PRICE
Coffee: $4.49 / 39 oz: INCREASED PRICE, 4.69 / 39 oz can

There were a number of items I thought the price was quite good. These included:

Chicken Broth: $0.39 / 14.5 oz can (I stocked up!)
Paper Towels: $0.59 / 57 sq. foot roll
Pineapple chunks in 100% juice: $0.69 / 20 oz
Cheddar Cheese, Chunk: $1.79 / 8 oz
Green Peppers, fresh: $1.69 / 3 count
Grape Tomatoes: $1.69 / pint
100% Whole Wheat bread: $1.69 / 20 oz. loaf
Numerous Aldi Brand cereals, like Honey Bunches of Oats: $1.69 / 16oz
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese: 2.69 / 12 oz
Shredded Mozzarella: 3.49 / 16 oz.
Pecan Halves: 2.69 / 6 oz [1.5 cups]

Tonight we had a great meal, and I couldnít help but do a rough calculation in my head of its cost. Sum total it couldnít have cost more than $10 and will feed our hearty appetites at least 4 times (2 x 4= 8 servings). We had a pre-marinated Teriyaki Pork Roast, (purchased and frozen back in May on sale for $4.44 during triple coupon days, so I only paid $1.44), roasted Ginger Sweet Potatoes and a Spinach Salad (Spinach and grape tomatoes from Aldi with carrots and peppers from the Farmersí Market). Even without close proximity to an Aldi, eating well can be cheapÖ but I did have fun today!

I just noticed today is my 1-year Blogaversary. I've learned so much in the past year! Time flies where you're saving money!

Challenge money and an Aldi trip

November 11th, 2007 at 07:06 am

Old Total: $2615.86
+ $50.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $2665.86

I babysit from 9pm-2am last night. Luckily I was able to sleep in this AM to recuperate!

Mr Bean is arriving last this afternoon and staying for 2 weeks- this will the longest time we've spent together since he moved in May. I have to pick him up at th e train station 30 miles from our house. The station is near the only Aldi in the area, so I plan on going there beforehand to stock up on stuff for the pantry as well as some things for Thanksgiving. Last spring I was less than enthusiastic about Aldi since I found the prices to be comparable to our normal grocery store that doubles coupons. However, I haven't had much time for clipping coupons nor do I go shopping as much now that I'm only cooking for one, so I'm looking forward to this trip.

Milk prices, revisited

September 3rd, 2007 at 04:58 pm

I just thought I'd do a follow-up to this previous entry regarding the prices of milk from a local dairy, grocery store, soy and non-fat dry milk (NFDM).

I've been drinking re-constituted NFDM for the past 3 weeks, primarily in my cereal. I don't care of the taste it straight up in a glass, but it works fine in cereal and recipes. My dislike of the reconstituted milk for drinking definitely results in a lower consumption of milk-- probably not a great thing as far as my calcium intake is concerned. It has been wonderfully convenient though-- no extra trips to the dairy, no spoilage, etc.

I was near the Dairy this morning, so I picked up my first 1/2 gallon of fresh milk in quite some time. They've raised the price of a 1/2 gallon of skim from $1.50 to $1.55. Not huge, but worth noting. I think we can anticipate the price of all dairy foods to continue to climb.

The prices of milk, compared

August 5th, 2007 at 05:35 pm

I've never really paid much attention to the price of milk. We're lucky enough to have a dairy about 1.5 miles from our house that sells the most delicious milk in returnable glass bottles. The price has always been comparable to what you'd pay in a grocery store but the taste is far superior. In other words, there was never issue over where we would buy our milk, it was always: THE DAIRY.

However, now that Mr. Bean is gone, I find that the milk from the dairy, which can only be purchased in 1/2 gallon containers, often goes bad before I can finish it. Also, now I'm the only person running household errands, making a special trip to the Dairy for milk is sometimes inconvenient. Add in the recent press on the rising price of milk, and I decided it was time to re-visit the milk issue.

I use milk in my cereal, and occasionally will drink a glass or use it in baking or cooking. I always buy skim, but I'm not opposed to drinking soy milk instead of dairy milk. The options that are acceptable to me (with current prices / gallon):

Non-fat milk from the Dairy: ($3.00 / gallon)
Nonfat milk from grocery store : ($3.35 / gallon)
Soy milk ($5.98 / gallon)
Re-constituted non-fat dry milk: ($2.25 / gallon)

So, milk from the Dairy is cheaper and tastier. Unless it's a major obstacle to get to the Dairy, I'll definitely continue to buy liquid cow's milk at the Dairy rather than the grocery store.

But, is milk from the dairy really cheaper than soy milk?

I usually buy 8th Continent soy milk which comes in a 1/2 gallon container. Once it's in the fridge, it has a long refrigerator life. The packaging says to use with 7 days of opening, but I find that it lasts much longer. In addition, I often get 8th Continent save $1 on a 1/2 gallon coupons from the Sunday paper. This, when doubled by the grocery store effectively brings the price to $1.98 / gallon, thus making soy milk the least expensive option. When the soy milk is on sale, it's usually $2.49 / half gallon, so with the coupon I'd pay only $0.49 1/2 gallon or $0.98 / gallon.

Benefits of the non-fat drink milk are that I can mix it up a quart at a time, thus eliminating the risk of spoilage. Also, if I keep NFDM on hand, I can drink soy milk for liquid consumption, but will have cow's milk on hand for recipes.

In actuality, I'll probably end up using a mix of all 4 of the options outlined above. Since I don't really drink much milk, the cost savings of one over the probably doesn't amount to a very big hill of beans. My little analysis underlined the benefit of taking advantage of the $1 of soy milk coupons when they are available.

Great Coupons Deals!

July 29th, 2007 at 07:54 pm

I had good luck with toiletry coupons at the grocery store today (the store doubles up to $1).

I got:

2 4-packs for Cottonelle Kids Toilet Paper for $0.62 ($0.31 a pack.. although now I have to use TP with little puppies and monkeys on it)

Secret Deodorant: $0.14

Old Spice Deodorant: $0.14

Tampax 20 count: $0.82

Skintimate Shave Gel: FREE

Degree Deodorant: FREE

As far as couponers go, I'd say I'm moderately into it. I stocked up on the deodorant since I happened to have good coupons for it and I'm down to my last roll (Mr. Bean is very brand loyal to Old Spice already has 2 rolls in queue). But now that I have enough deodorant to last us 8 months or so, I won't bother clipping deodorant coupons or going down that aisle until we're nearly out again. At that point, deodorant will go back on my radar.

I used to constantly scan of deals, but found it too time consuming and now only buy what we don't already have a little surplus of. The store does not allow you to use to duplicate coupons. I do have duplicates for the Tampax and the shave gel, so I may swing back into the store this week to pick up another of each (I'm having friend over for dinner on Wednesday so I'll probably need to pick up fresh salad fixings anyway). The shave gel isn't something I insist on using, but I like to have it. The bottle I bought today (for free!) is the only bottle I have at the moment. I find it goes on sale to the point I can get it for free only in the late summer/ early fall.

Celery: Aldi Style

April 15th, 2007 at 04:14 pm

I bought this celery from Aldi exactly one week ago:



Note to self: Aldi's great produce prices probably mean a shorter life once purchased. We were able to eat about half of the $0.99 purchase before it headed south for retirement.

I diced the remaining limp celery to freeze. I can through it in a soup or something.

Results of the Aldi Trip

April 11th, 2007 at 06:47 pm

A few weeks ago I posted my planned Aldi shopping list
along with the prices according to a price list compiled by Amy
price list compiled by Amy at MomAdvice. Amyís prices were based off the August 2006 prices at her Indiana Aldi.

Below is a list of what I actually bought (minus the chocolate bars!) and the price I paid. Youíll notice some prices are the same as Amyís, but many are higher:

FREEZER:
Whipped Topping: $0.75 each
Ground Turkey (85% lean): $0.79 / lb
Frozen Broccoli Cuts: $0.89 / 16 oz
Frozen Peas / Frozen Corn: $0.79 / 16 oz
REFRIGERATOR:
Hummus: $1.69 / 8 oz
Low Fat Cottage Cheese: $1.79 / 24 oz
Non-Fat Vanilla Yogurt: $1.39 / 32 oz
Not from Concentrate Orange Juice: $2.49 / 64 oz
Sliced Turkey Breast Meat: $2.99 / lb
PRODUCE:
Bananas: $0.39 / lb
Plums: $0.39 / each (I thought it was 0.39 / lbóso either me or the cashier made a mistake!)
Fresh Flat Leaf Spinach: $1.39 / 9 oz
Celery: $0.99 / bunch
Onions: $1.49 / 3 lb
Baby Carrots: $0.99 / lb
Multi- Color Pepper: $2.99 / 3 pack
SHELF:
Canola Oil: $1.79 / 48 oz
Canola Cooking Spray: $1.29 / can
Diced Tomatoes: $0.45 / 14.5 oz
Tomato Paste: $0.33 / 6 oz
Hazelnut Spread: $1.69/ 14.1 oz
Golden Raisins:$1.99 / 15 oz
Coffee: $4.49 / 39 oz

Things I didnít buy that I had planned to:

Pure Maple Syrup: In addition to the flavored syrup, they did have 100% Pure Maple Syrup for $3.79 / 8.5 oz. I bought some at a better price earlier in the week at the grocery store.

Eggs: I donít remember the price, but I know they were over $0.99, which was the going price at my typical supermarket that week

100% Whole Wheat Bread: There was hardly any bread when I visited the store and ZERO whole grain bread!


All in all, Iím very happy with the quality of the Aldi products. Itís fun to check out the bargains at a new store, but given that my local supermarket chain doubles coupons up to $1, I donít feel that making a special trip to Aldi is worth it aside from when my travels tae me in that direction.

Coupon Deals- Know When to Hold Them, Know When to Walk Away

April 5th, 2007 at 07:46 pm

If your grocery store doubles coupons up to a $1.00 (like mine), then using coupons saves moneyóhands down!. The trick is to hold your coupons and wait until the grocery store has the item on sale. Typically this is 2 -4 weeks after the coupon was issued in the Sunday paper. Yes, there are a lot of coupons for processed foods. I donít even bother clipping those. But, there are definitely healthy foods that can be purchased with coupons. Below is a list of what I purchased this week:

Natureís Valley Granola Cereal (14 oz): $0.50
Caprelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil (25.5 oz): $3.99
2 x Newmanís Own Spaghetti Sauce (28 oz): $1.00
4 x Kraft Cheddar Cheese ( 8 oz) $1.00
4 x Juicy Juice (64 oz): $1.00
2 x Bumble Bee Pouch Tuna (3 oz): free
Quaker Oatmeal Breakfast Bars: free
Fruity Cheerios: free
Dreamfieldís High Fiber Pasta: free
Fantastik Spray Cleaner: free
Scott Toilet Tissue 4-Pack: free
Kleenex Anti Viral Tissue: free

The Quaker Breakfast Bars are an item I wouldnít typically pay for, but for free Iím sure theyíll get happily consumed on some hike or as a snack during a car trip. The Fruity Cheerios also arenít something Iíd typically pay for, but also wonít pass up for free! The coupons for both of these items were $1 off / 1 item. Knowing that itís possible these items could go on sale for $2, I clipped the coupons understanding that I would only use it if the item was at this price ($2) since it would be free after doubling. I held on for them for about 1 month, and then, viola! They were offered at the right price!

One of my preferred brands of spaghetti sauce is Francesco Rinaldi. The store often runs 10/ $10 sales on Francesco Rinaldi, so the Newmanís Own at $1 / jar isnít a great find. Still, itís nice to mix up the brands, especially for other high quality brands like Newmanís Own. Newmanís Own also has a Vodka sauce which Francesco Rinaldi doesnít (at least in the 10 / $10 deals).

I had planned to buy the Aldi version of Juicy Juice and cheese since Iíll be near the Aldi again this week, but with a coupon, the grocery store is still cheaper (Aldi Juicy Juice is $1.89 and 8 oz of cheddar is $1.39).

Gearing up for Aldi

April 1st, 2007 at 06:23 am

Iím taking Mr. Bean to the train station tomorrow and will be passing Aldi on the way back (both are ~ 30 miles from our house).

Iíve used Amyís wonderful Aldi price list
to construct a list of items that we need /(or can store for use in the near future) and are cheaper than what I can purchase locally with a coupon.

I recently started keeping an Excel price book- so although itís still in infancy, it helped me pinpoint which items are significantly less at Aldi.

I should note that Amyís list was compiled in August 2006. I donít know if Aldiís prices vary regional, but these prices may not reflect what Iíll actually find at the store. For example, I already know the last time I bought cottage cheese there it was $2.28 for 24 oz, but Amy has it listed for $1.69 / 24 oz.


Hereís my list:

Pure Maple Syrup (this isnít on Amyís list, but I saw it there during my last trip. I donít remember the exact price, but I remember it was cheaper than the grocery store).

Eggs ($0.69 / dozen)

OJ ($1.69 / 64 oz., Iíll only buy this if itís not from concentrate)

Shredded Cheese (($1.69 / 12 oz)

Fresh Spinach ([if available] $1.29 / 9 oz)

Onions ($0.69 / 3#)

Multicolor Bell Peppers ($2.29 / 20 oz)

Canola Oil ($1.79 / 48 oz)

Dry Milk ($6.99 / 64 oz)

Hazel Nut Spread (1.69 / for a little piece of heaven)

Frozen Veggies ($0.69 / 16 oz)

Whipped Topping ($0.69 / 8 oz)

Ground Turkey ($0.79 / 16 ozóIíll only buy this if itís at least 85% lean)

Coffee *$3.29 / 39 oz)

100% Whole Wheat Bread ($1.29 / 1 loaf)

Lots and lots of tasty German Chocolate! (~ $0.99 / pound)


There are certainly other items that are a great deal at Aldi (ie. the flour is 40.89 / 5#! But I don't need any right now!)

Anything else you love to buy at Aldi? I enjoy poking around a new store and comparing prices. That will be half the fun for me!

Better Than a Whitman Sampler...

February 13th, 2007 at 05:28 pm

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently made a trip to Aldi.

In addition to having low-cost food, Aldi is a FABULOUS source for inexpensive German chocolate.

Mr. Bean will be receiving this basket for Valentine's Day. All the chocolate is from Aldi.



There's a little over 1.5 pounds of various types of chocolate. The total cost was $6.75. Once you start eating German (or Swiss, or Austrian...) chocolate, American chocolate really loses its appeal.

Let's hope he'll share some with me!

Triple Coupons

February 10th, 2007 at 03:35 pm

Itís Triple Coupon week in my neck of the woods! Youíre allowed to triple 6 coupons (up to $1). They swipe your store bonus card to make sure you donít triple more than 6 over the course of the week. My loot is pictured below. Iím pleased with what I got for $24.53.



The store was a zooóas is to be expected on a Saturday morning. I realized once I got home that I could have had made a few different coupon decisions for a slightly better deals, but cíest la vie. I didnít want to be in the store all day.

I checked out with:

2 pounds cornmeal
2 loaves whole wheat Pepperidge Farm Bread
1 bag Nestle Chocolate Chips
2-1.75 oz packages of M&Ms
2 jars Jif Peanut Butter
1-15oz can Lite Coconut Milk
3-28-oz cans Crushed Tomatoes
2-15.5oz cans black beans
2 -15.5oz cans Chick Peas
2 jars Oretga salsa
Bananas
Organic Salad Mix
4-Pack Dannon Yogurt
1 pint Fat Free Half and Half
18 eggs
Olivo Butter Spray
Loreal Vive Shampoo (1) and Conditioner (1)
Swiffer Wet Jet Refill


When I clipped coupons this week I clipped everything and sorted them into piles of "Stuff I'd Buy" and "Stuff I Won't Buy" with the intent of sending the "Won't Buy" pile to overseas military families. The pile of coupons I wonít use was certainly larger than the pile I will use, but I have to disagree when people say they never see coupons for healthy stuff. Yes, youíll see some ice cream and M&Mís in this photo (I couldnít resist, I had a BOGO coupon and I thought the M&M's would be a nice treat for when we see movies on campus), but canned tomatoes, salsa, whole wheat bread, peanut butter, yogurt and organic salad? All these items get this nutritionistís stamp of approval and all were purchased with a coupon!

Grocery Store Epiphany

February 4th, 2007 at 06:32 am

Iím home alone! Mr. Bean had to go to Washington DC, so Iíll be on my own until Thursday. Of course, Iíll miss him, but thereís something fun and novel about having the place to myself!

As Iíve mentioned, we live in a small college town that is home to a very large university. Getting in and out of this town is expensive. The airport is dinky (and expensive) and the nearest Amtrak station is 30 miles away. Mr. Bean decided to go to DC by train. Since we only have 1 car, if he drove to DC I would be without a car (not the end of the world), but parking is difficult and expensive in DC, not to mention the cost of gasoline and that he hates to driveÖ.

So, yesterday we drove to this other little dinky little town 30 miles away to catch his train. Unbeknownst to us, the train was running 2 hours late. It didnít seem wise to drive the 30 miles home just to turn around and come back so we ended up going grocery shopping in the interim. It was 20 degrees outside, so I knew that any refrigerator items would be OK in the car.

I have a whole new appreciation for our grocery store.

Our town may be small and lack public transportation, but the population of students has enticed the big clean grocery stores to come.

Even though the store in the train station town was a member of the same chain I shop in my own town, it was so tiny. The produce was horrible. You couldnít fit two carts down the same aisle going in opposite direction. I was constantly moving the cart and trying to get around people. This is how cramped and stressful the store was: I DIDNíT USE A SINGLE COUPON. Yep, me the lover of (most) all things purchased with coupons, couldnít use a coupon in this store (even though they doubled up to $1) because it was so crowded, cramped, and stressful, that my autonomic nervous system had the flight instinct operating at full force.

I typically like grocery shopping. I love using coupons. I never understood how people could think coupons are a hassle. I get it now. A lot of it depends on the store.

Since the grocery trip was quicker than expected, we still had another hour until the train arrived. The only other store in this town was an Aldi. I had shopped at Aldi in college and liked it, and I loved the Aldi when I was in Germany, so we decided to go take a look (again, no Aldi in the town I currently live in).

Aldi was pretty much as I remembered it. When I have the opportunity to shop in my local spacious grocery store and use coupons (which double to $1), I donít think the Aldi prices are much better. Also, Aldiís selection is limited. I bought canned kidney beans for $0.45 each (a good price), but they didnít carry black beans or chick peasóthe other 2 types of canned beans we eat frequently. I also thought the canned diced tomatoes ($0.45-$0.49, depending on if they had chilies) were well priced so I bought 6 cans. The 100% pure Maple Syrup was a steal, but I didnít buy any since we already had 1.5 bottles at home. The canned fruit was all canned in heavy or light syrup (none packed in juice), so I passed that up. Milk was $3.08 / galóI can buy delicious milk in glass bottles at a local dairy for $2.70 / gal. The baking supplies were similar in price to a grocery store on sale, but I did bring for a package of Toll House swirled chocolate Ė caramel chipsómostly because Mr. Bean threw them in the cart! Aldi was a fun trip, but I left not feeling remorseful that there isnít one closer to us.

Frugal Birthday

January 9th, 2007 at 01:20 pm

I turned 29 on Sunday. It was odd to think that this was the last birthday I'd truly be 29-- after this people can rightfully make the joke, "It's your 29th, right? [wink, wink!]" In all honesty, age doesn't bother me, (yet).

To celebrate, we went out to one of the better restaurants in town and saved ourselves some cash by purchasing a dining certificate beforehand from Restaurant.com.

If you haven't yet used the Restaurant.com site, I highly recommend checking it out. Basically, you go to the site and buy "Dining Certificates" for a certain dollar value off your meal. Typically, a $25 off certificate costs $10, but the site often runs discount specials.

We bought our $25 off certificate while they were running a 60% off special, so we paid only $4 for a $25 off coupon. The drawback is that you are required to "present you certificate" prior to ordering, so it can feel a little awkward and more like a coupon than a gift certificate. If I were single, this isn't a move I'd make on a date, but since I'm married and both my partner and I are full time students, we quickly recovered from the awkwardness. The way I look at it, the establishment chose to list themselves in Restaurant.com, so they shouldn't be too shocked and appalled when people show up to use certificates. Also, be sure to read the fine print-- most certificates include a minimum purchase price for meal, some of which are double the certificate amount.

For dessert we had an ice cream cake at home. I clipped a coupon for an ice cream cake and casually left it on the counter while making a not so subtle comment about how I like ice cream cake and my birthday was right around the corner. Mr. Bean took the bait the swooped the coupon.

For a birthday present, Mr. Bean rented a steam cleaner and we spent the greater portion of my actual bday steam cleaning the sofa and carpets. My friends got quite a hoot out of this, but I was quite happy. I can be a bit particular about cleanliness, but Mr. Bean is not. Having his help for an entire day (weekend) doing a thorough cleaning was a great present. Plus, our formerly dingy looking sofa looks new again. In an ironic twist, while we were returning the steam cleaner, the cat puked on the carpet-- something she rarely does. Luckily she picked two discreet spots. Otherwise... well, I'll just leave it that she picked two good spots.

Homemade Drain Declogger and another grocery bonanza

January 5th, 2007 at 08:32 pm

We experience a lot of clogged shower drains in the Bean household due my thick curly head of hair. Periodically one of us shoves a pair of needle nose pliers down the drain and removes a truly disgusting glob of hair covered in soap scum (gross, I know).

Anyway, our bathroom sink drain has been draining V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y, but the clog was down too far to be seen or reached with pliers. I thought about going to buy a bottle of Drano at the store, but with my new found frugal ways I decided to look up a homemade remedy. I'm glad I did, because not only is Drano ~$4 a bottle, it's also pretty noxious nasty stuff, and the the homemade remedy did the trick. Our drain is back in action.

***** .....and onto another topic ******

It's triple coupon week at our grocery store (up to $1), so even though I made a big trip last week, I decided to make another venture out and stock up on some more items. My big "scores":

3 jars Ragu Spaghetti Sauce: FREE
2 Packages whole wheat pasta: FREE
4 12 oz cans chicken broth: FREE
1 box Barbaraís Puffins Cereal : FREE
3 cans Dole Tropical Fruit Salad: $0.27 ($0.09 / each)
2 16 oz CoffeeMate: $0.32 ($0.16 / each)
2 cans Chock Full O Nuts Coffee: $1.78 ($0.89 / can)

Total bill before savings: $51.03, after store card: $40.68, after coupons, $22.71 (I also bought salad, OJ, and other perishables for which I didn't have coupons)

Grocery Bonanza!

December 29th, 2006 at 02:58 pm

I just returned from a rather large grocery shopping trip. Since I have the week off from my personal chef job, I was able to spend quality time perusing deals for us. Initial total was $118.13, after store card it was $94.18, and after coupons, $63.19. The order was mostly food, but did include some cleaning supplies and facial tissue. Although I donít keep a price book, I have a pretty good idea of the cost of most items (Iím not disregarding price books, if I have the time, I would love to create one), and Iíve found it really helps to know the usual price and then save up your coupons until thereís a great sale. Iím also fortunate to have a grocery store that doubles coupons up to $1.00.

A few ďscoresĒ I was happy about:

40 oz box of Bisquick for $0.12
3 Ė 15 oz boxes of Cheerios for $2.50 ($0.83 box)
12-160 count boxes of Scotties Facial Tissue for $3.98 ($0.33 / box)
15# flour (10# bread flour, 5# white flour) for $2.87
1 box 20 Electrosol Dishwasher Tablets for $0.63
2-11oz cans Chock Full O Nuts Coffee for $2.50 ($1.25 / can)
1 Roll Saran Wrap Ė Free
1 12 oz. bag Nestle Dark Chocolate Chips Ė Free

Next up:
The New Year is upon us! I need to get going on writing down some goals!

Got Netflix? Enjoy a few free movies on Blockbuster!!

December 20th, 2006 at 06:16 pm

To all the NetFlix subscribers out there: you have just one more day to take advantage of this Great Offer.

Bring in your NetFlix envelopes to any Blockbuster and receive a free movie for each envelope. The only catch is that the name on the Blockbuster card and the name on the envelope must match up. Mr. Bean has been saving up our envelopes, so yesterday I tromped out to our local Blockbuster and picked up 5 free movies. He's been managing our NetFlix subscription as I haven't had much time to watch movies. The end result-- lots of Battlestar Gallactica DVDs. Not my thing. I'm looking forward enjoying some movies that are a little more my style... you know, the kind without Martians or aliens.

More Spending

November 13th, 2006 at 06:56 pm

After reviewing everything that's planned this week, I no longer think this is going to be a low spend week!

I already spent 16.64 today, here's the break down:

$8.50 on items for a Thanksgiving Basket for a family dealing with HIV/AIDS. The basket is being "sponsored" by a student organization I belong to. I have a feeling the other students might forget to donate, so I wanted to make sure to donate more than just one thing. However, I just found out about it today and the items need to be in by Wednesday, so I don't have a lot of time to strategize, (sounds weird, but I get a thrill out strategized shopping). Typically when donations are needed I can raid my surplus of stuff I get for free or nearly free with coupons. However, specific items were requested for this basket. I headed out to the Dollar Tree and the grocery store, and for $8.50 I got:

Thanksgiving themed paper plates and paper napkins
1 Can sliced pineapple
1 box quick bread mix
1 box stuffing
1 can gravy
1 envelope gravy
1 bottle cran-apple juice
Thanksgiving card

Again, for someone really trying to budget, themed paper plates and napkins aren't the best use of money, but they were on the request list, and for a family dealing with illness hopefully this will make the holiday cleanup a little easier. (Not to mention the themed plates looked really festive!)

I spent the remaining 8.14 at the store for us--mainly to pick up items I could get free with coupons, and fresh stuff. I'm going to try to make this the last food purchase until next week.

1 bag Lender's Sqaure bagels (free with coupon)
2 Dannon 6 oz yogurt (free with coupons)
Fresh Broccoli Crowns ($1.57)
1 pint grape tomatoes ($2.50)
3 tangerines ($2.00--these were an impulse buy... I've been eating apples for ~ 3 weeks since they are fresh at the Farmers Market but needed a break!)
2- 10 oz blocks of cheese (BOGO): $2.97
Loaf of Italian Bread: $1.17

I realize this doesn't add up.. I see now that the clerk doubled by free yogurt coupons-- which he shouldn't have.

Made some "homemade" soup from canned tomatoes and an array of frozen veggies and enjoyed with the Italian bread and a salad for dinner. I always make enough to have something for lunch the next day. Mr. Bean prefers to make a sandwich or have cheese and a salad.