Monday, October 31, 2011

FREE Greeting Card from!

Right now, when you "like" CardsDirect on Facebook, you can choose to receive either a thank you card, birthday card, or congratulations card with matching envelope shipped to you for FREE!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

FREE Kleenex Cool Touch sample!

Sam's Club Members can currently get a FREE Kleenex Cool Touch sample here!

Weekly Menu 10/30 - 11/5

This is going to be kind of an odd week for us.  I planning on cooking dinner only three nights as we have several evening activities going on this week. 

This week, I decided to add in my afternoon snack plan in addition to my usual breakfast, lunch, and dinners.  Every day, my daughter gets off the bus starving, and I have found that it makes my life much easier if I plan out ahead of time what to feed her every day!  (It also allows me to make healthier choices instead of grabbing the first thing I find in the pantry!)  I don't plan snacks for Saturday or Sunday because our weekends are so crazy, we usually don't end up needing them.

So, with that said, here's what we'll be eating this coming week!  (Remember, the lunches listed are only for my daughter who is in elementary school.  My younger daughter and I usually just eat what we find in the fridge!)

Breakfast:  Breakfast Basket (I keep a basket filled with breakfast items - cereal bars, poptarts, fruit, etc. that the kids can choose from when we're in a hurry.  Usually things I've gotten on recent sales at Kroger!)
Lunch:  (Out!  A Sunday tradition!)
Dinner:  (Out with Dad - I have a workshop Sunday night)

Breakfast:  Potato Cakes (from the freezer)
Lunch:  PB&J / chips / strawberries / fruit snacks
Snack:  microwave popcorn / yogurt smoothies (from a recent Kroger sale)
Dinner:  (Chilli & Grilled Cheese at in-laws house.  A HALLOWEEN tradition!)

Breakfast:  muffins (from freezer)
Lunch:  Lunchable (from a recent Kroger sale) / yogurt
Snack:  Mudballs
Dinner:  "Easy Bake" pork chops / roasted asparagus ($0.99 at Kroger through Satuday) / hashbrowns (from freezer)

Breakfast:  scrambled eggs / toast
Lunch:  Turkey & cheese sandw. / pretzels / applesauce / candy (from Halloween stash)
Snack:  apple slices w/ peanut butter
Dinner:  (Out!  This is my birthday so I'm not cooking!)

Breakfast:  cereal w/ milk
Lunch:  school lunch (we allow our daughter to buy lunch twice a week)
Snack:  Mudballs
Dinner:  Spaghetti with meatballs (from the freezer) / salad / rolls (from the freezer)

Breakfast:  pancakes (from freezer)
Lunch:  school lunch
Snack:  Homemade cheese crackers / yogurt smoothies
Dinner:  (Out!  Another birthday dinner!)

Breakfast:  muffins (from freezer)
Lunch:  (Birthday party)
Dinner:  Turkey Sloppy Joes (from freezer) / baked french fries / left over salad

Freezer Cooking Plan
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
Chicken Meatballs (Found in a recent magazine article.  Will let you know how they turn out!)
Homemade Cheese Crackers

Busy Bag Idea: Fuzzy Marble Scoopers!

The first time my  oldest daughter saw a pom-pom ball, she called it a "Fuzzy Marble," and the name has stuck ever since!  So, that's why I call my newest Busy Bag creation "Fuzzy Marble Scoopers!"  I sometimes struggle to come up with busy bags that keep my 2 year old occupied for very long, but she LOVED this one and has played with it several times since I first put it together.

This busy bag is super simple to create and can, once again, be made using items you probably already have or can purchase at your local dollar store.

Makes me wonder why we spend so much money at Christmas.....

Here's what you need:

2 plastic bowls (of any kind/size)
pom-pom balls
plastic spoon
small tongs (I added chopsticks later and the kids love those too!)
gallon size zip-top bag

Here's what you do:

Place the two bowls out for your child.  Fill one up with pom-pom balls.  Give your child the spoon or the tongs/chopsticks and have them transfer the pom-poms from one bowl to the other.  THAT'S IT!  When they are done, store it in the zip-top bag.

I told you it was simple!  You will be amazed at how long your child will do this!

My 5 year old even got in on the action one day!

If you missed my original post about Busy Bags, you can check it out here.  These are a life-saver for me when I'm cooking dinner in the evenings!!

Have you had any great ideas for Busy Bags?  I'd love to hear about them!

Upcoming Walgreens Deals 10/30 - 11/5

Walgreens has a couple of FREEBIES and other good deals coming up next week.  Here are my favorites!

Get $2 RR when you buy Ricola Dual Action Crops, cherry, 19ct @ $2
-FREE Ricola 19-30 ct bag wyb Dual Action, max 43.99 (SS 10/02)
*makes 2 bags FREE!

Get $5 RR when you buy (2) Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste, 4-4.1 oz, or Oral-B CrossAction Toothbrush at $3.50 each.
-$1 off Crest toothpaste (PG 10/30)
-$1 off Crest toothpaste (PG 10/02 - EXP 10/31)
*use (2) $1 coupons, makes both FREE!

Get $1 RR when you buy Advil LiquiGels, 20 ct., or Tablets or Caplets, 24 ct. @ $2.99
-$1 off Advil or Advil PM 32 ct+ (Kroger Home Mailer)
*makes it $0.99!

Get $2 RR when you buy Nivea Body Wash Touch or Men's, 16.9 oz @ $3.99
-$1 off Nivea Body Wash (RP 10/30)
*makes it $0.99!

Viva Paper Towels, 6 rolls @ $5.99
-$1 off Viva Paper Towels, 6 pk (November Walgreens in-store coupon booklet)
-$2 off Viva Paper Towels, big roll + (September All You magazine)
*use both coupons, makes it $2.99!  LOVE these paper towels!

SoBe Lifewater, 20 oz @ $1
-$1/4 SoBe Lifewater (November Walgreens in-store coupon booklet)
*makes it $0.75 each!

Domino Confectioners or Light Brown sugar, 1 lb @ $0.99 w/ in-ad coupon
-$0.50/2 Domino Brown or Confectioners sugar (RP 8/28 or 10/16)
*makes it $0.74!

Campbell's Chicken Noodle or Tomato Soup, 10.75 oz @ $0.59 w/ in-ad coupon
-$0.40/4 Campbell's Chicken Noodle or Tomato Soup (SS 9/11 or 10/02)
*makes it $0.49 each!

You can see the rest of the weekly deals here.

Let me know if you come across any great deals when you're shopping at Walgreens next week!

Upcoming CVS Deals 10/30 - 11/5

This weeks looks to be a little better at CVS as far as the deals go with several freebies!  Here are all of my favorite deals that start Sunday, Oct. 30!

Get $3 ECB when you buy (3) American Greetings or Hallmark Greeting cards (limit 1)
*makes $0.99 cards FREE if they are included!

Get $1 ECB when you buy Crest Complete Toothpaste, 4.2 oz @ $2.99 (limit 1)
-$2 off Crest Complete toothpaste (SS 9/11)
*makes it FREE!

Get $4 ECB when you buy Schick Quattro for Men or Women Razor Refill, 4 ct. @ $8.99 (limit 1)
-$4 off Schick quattro for Women refill (SS 9/25)
*makes it $0.99!

Get $2 ECB when you buy Listerine Zero, Advanced, or Total Care 500 ml @ $3.99 (limit 2)
-$2 off Listerine Total Care Zero (RP 10/09)
*makes it $0.99!

All Cover Girl Cosmetics B1G1 50% off, starting at $3.49
-$8/2 Cover Girl face products (PG 10/02 - EXP 10/31)
*makes all items $4 and under FREE!

Jif Peanut Butter, 18 oz @ $1.67

You can see the rest of the CVS weekly deals here

Let me know if you come across any other good deals in store!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekly Menu 10/23 - 29

Here's a look at what we'll be eating this week! 

Each week, I like to post what we'll be having so you can see that, even if you're couponing and shopping store sales, you CAN eat normal meals!!!  I try to feed my family healthy food, though we do splurge every now and then - yes, we even let our daughter buy lunch at school every once in a while!  I also like to make meals we like in bulk and put them in the freezer to save cooking time later on!  Each week I plan to make a few things just to go into the freezer for future meals!

Breakfast Basket (kids choose something for themselves out of a basket I keep filled with cereal bars, poptarts, fruit, muffins, etc.)
Lunch out!
Marinated Baked Chicken Breast / Baked Potatoes / Corn on the Cob

Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Lunchable (from recent sale at Kroger) / Yogurt
Lasagne Casserole (from the freezer) / Salad / Bread (from the freezer)

Cinnamon Rolls (from recent sale at Kroger)
PB Sandwich / Pretzels / Banana / Cookies
Chicken Nuggets / Macaroni & Cheese  (This is a kids-only meal.  Hubby has a ballgame so I won't be cooking a "family meal.")

Turkey Sandwich / Chips / Cheese Stick / Fruit Roll Up
Dinner out!  (Kids have a late appointment for a hair-cut, so we're going to eat while we're out.  Anyone know where kids eat free on Thursdays?!)

Scrambled Eggs / Toast
School Lunch
Roast Sausage (from the freezer / Green Bell Peppers & Onions / Hashbrown Potatoes (from the freezer)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins (from the freezer) / Fruit
School Lunch
Dinner out!  (A Friday tradition for us!)

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes (from the freezer)
Hotdogs / Chips / Fruit
Dinner at Halloween Party!

Freezer Cooking Plan
Taco Meat
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins  (adapted from Tuesday's bread)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Easy and CHEAP Chore Chart!

While I was looking around at today, I saw a post about an adorable ice cream cone chore chart for kids.  I thought this was a great idea and something that could be done very inexpensively!  I am definitely planning on making this, but, instead of fabric, I'm going to use posterboard and laminate the pieces.  That way, I can use a dry erase or overhead marker to write the chores on the back of the "scoops."  They can then be easily erased and changed when needed. 

I'm also thinnking I'll attach magnets to the back of the pieces so the kids can "build" their ice cream cones on the refrigerator! 

Don't  need a chore chart?  Think about using it as a behavior chart (child earns a "scoop" for good behavior) or as a way to track achievements (child gets a scoop for each Bible verse or multiplication fact they learn), etc.

Any other ideas for how we could use this cute idea?

FREE Sample of Truvia sweetner!

Head on over here to get a FREE sample of Truvia sweenter!

Thrifty Thursday 10/20

I have to admit that this wasn't the thriftiest Thursday I've ever had.  My Kroger trip included only 2 coupons!  (I know, I can hardly believe it myself!)  And, I made a quick trip into Big Lots for some bath mats and ended up splurging on some treats for the kids which threw my budget off quite a bit.  However, my CVS trip and a few Food Lion deals helped to make up for it!

CVS had Almay cosmetics on sale this week, and I happened to have a $5/2 Almay Cosmetics CVS coupon AND a $3/1 Almay Cosmetics CVS coupon AND a $3/$10 cosmetics purchase coupon, so I had quite a money maker on my hands this week!  I used the extra ECBs I earned plus a $5 store coupon to buy some pull-ups and diapers!

Total value:  $43.72
Total spent oop: $1.82
Total saved: $41.90 or 96%!
(I used $4 ECBs on this purchase and got back $12!  A $8 money-maker!!)

I also made a trip to Food Lion yesterday.  I am beginning to find that I like Food Lion's produce section much better than Kroger's.  Plus, they tend to have a lot more meat marked down than Kroger does.  This week, they happen to be having their "cart buster" event - which is basically the same as a "mega sale" at Kroger.  When you buy 10 things, you get $5 off your total purchase.

One GREAT deal they had was on single rolls of Brawny paper towels.  They were on sale for $1 and, if you purchase 10 participating "cart buster" items, you get them for $0.50.  There happened to be a $0.50 coupon for Brawny paper towels in the 9/25 SmartSource insert, which made them FREE!  I ended up getting 9 rolls (I only had 1 other "cart buster" item I wanted to buy) & I had coupons for 4 of them, making it $2.50 for 9 rolls of paper towels!  Not bad!

Total value of all purchases at Food Lion: $59.59
Total spent after sales and coupons:  $26.38
Total saved:  $33.31 or 56%!

How did you do on your shopping trips this week?

Busy Bag: A Cheap and Easy Way to Entertain the Kids!

A couple of months ago, I was introduced to the idea of "Busy Bags."  Immediately I had one of those "why didn't I think of that?!" moments.  (That happens to me a lot, actually!)  :)

Have you ever been cooking the last minute....when you're supposed to be somewhere in an hour....when all of a sudden your kids melt down?  In my house, the kids usually play together BEAUTIFULLY until the very minute the pasta boils over or something HAS to come out of the oven before it burns.  You've been there....It's like the minute you step into the kitchen, a fight breaks out, a boo-boo needs attention, or a drink is spilled, etc. 

This is EXACTLY when a Busy Bag can save the day!  They are, in a nut shell, zip-top bags filled with simple, inexpensive, and age-appropriate activities that will keep your child busy for a short period of time!  Since I learned about them, I have been creating Busy Bags and placing them in a plastic tub in the floor of the kitchen.  Then, if I'm in the kitchen and the kids start to get rowdy or bored, I tell them to choose a Busy Bag to play with.  They go to the box, pick out a bag, and sit at the table and play with it while I finish cooking dinner.  I mean, just the sound of the bags being pulled open is like hearing a giant "SIGH" in my home!

Can you hear it?!  :)

Even if you think you're not a crafty or creative person, you CAN make your own Busy Bags!  Most of the ones I have made include materials I either already had in the house or that came from the Dollar Store.

Let me give you an example...

The newest Busy Bag I made was for "Lacing Shapes."  All of the materials I used for this Busy Bag came from the Dollar Store. 

Here's what you need:

-foam shapes (I found rectangle and flower shapes at my store.  If you can't find the foam shapes, you can buy a piece of posterboard and cut it into shapes yourself.)
-shoelaces (I found a package of 8 sets of shoelaces in the "beauty" aisle at my Dollar Store)
-a hole punch

Here's what you do:

-Use the hole punch to punch holes all around the edges of your shapes.
-Take the shoelaces and tie a knot in one end of each one that is big enough so the laces can't be pulled through the holes.
-Place the hole-punched shapes and the knoted shoelaces into a zip-top bag. 
-When your child is ready to play, show them how they can pull the laces through the holes.


Here's how mine turned out...

I'll be bringing you some more busy bag ideas in the future.  In the meantime, if you have any ideas for fun, kid-friendly activities, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DIY: Ranch Salad Dressing and Dip!

The hubby and I have been watching our diets as of late and I've found that often times I miss just being able to MUNCH on something without having to think about how many I ate or how many calories it was.

That's why I was so excited to find this Ranch Dip recipe!  It's simple to make and very healthy for you!  In fact, if you're on the Weight Watchers diet plan, you can have 2 tablespoons of this with veggies for 0 points!  (And, for dip, 2 tablespoons is a lot!) 

And, of course, it's CHEAP to make!  :)

Here's what you do:

5 tbsp dried minced onion
7 tsp parsley flakes
4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder

-Mix all the ingredients stogether and store in an air tight container.  (I used a small jar I had on hand.)

To make dip:
Mix 2 tbsp dry mix with 2 cups fat free sour cream.  Allow to chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving so all flavors blend well.

To make salad dressing:
Mix 2 tbsp dry mix with 1 cup mayo and 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.  Allow to chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving so all flavors blend well.

What a yummy, healthy, and CHEAP treat!  It's great to keep on hand as something you can easily whip up when company is coming over.  Plus, you can make as much or as little at a time as you like, so half of it doesn't end up being wasted!

I also think this would make a super cute gift for family, friends, teachers, etc.  Just tie a tag around the jar with directions for how to make the dip or salad dressing!

If you try this recipe, let me know if you like it!  You can see the original recipe here.

FREE Seventh Generation Dish Soap Samples!

You can currently head on over to the Seventh Generation Facebook Page to request 4 FREE dish soap samples!

I love to hang on to these kinds of samples and take them on vaction with us!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

FREE Halloween Greeting Card from Tiny Prints!

Right now, you can get a personalized Halloween greeting card shipped to your door for FREE from Tiny Prints!  Just create an account or login on the Tiny Prints website, choose a Halloween card, personalize it, and enter code Autumn11 during checkout!

If you want the card to be shipped directly to the recipient, you can pay $0.44 extra.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Barista Prima K-Cup Samples!

Here's a great FREE sample for all you coffee lovers!

Head on over here to get a FREE Barista Coffeehouse Prima K-Cup sample from Target!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

FREE Batteries this week at Staples!

This week at Staples, get 100% back in Staples rewards when you buy AA or AAA Duracell Batteries 16/pack!  (limit 2)

To make this deal even better, there is a coupon in this week's ad for $5 off a $25 purchase!

**Deal Scenario**

Buy (2) AA or AAA Duracall 16 ct. packs @ $14.29 (based on online price).
-use $5/$25 Staples coupon from the weekly ad.
*Pay $23.58
*Get back $28.58 in Staples Rewards!

You've got yourself a money maker!

Office Max Deals on ink and paper this week!

If you're in need of paper or ink to print out any great coupons, then you may want to head out to Office Max this week!

First, the paper deal...

Buy Office Max Multiuse Copy Paper, 10-Ream Case at $42.99 and get back $42.98 in MaxPerks Bonus Rewards, making the whole case only $0.01!  And, to make it even better, this deal has a limit of 2!

And, the ink...

Use the "Save 20% on your ink, toner or supply purchase" coupon in the weekly ad to save in-store or online!  (Excludes HP ink and toner.)

Sounds like a great deal to me!  Especially if you are a regular Office Max customer!

My Favorite CVS Deals 10/16 - 10/22

Well, it seems to be a boring week this week at CVS, with no real exciting deals to speak of.  Don't forget about the $10 gift card promotion. When you buy $30 worth of select items (BEFORE coupons), you will receive a $10 gift card.  If there are things your family needs, this might be something you want to take advantage of!

Here are the few good ECB deals I see this week...

Get $8 ECB when you buy Lysol Healthy Touch Antibacterial No-Touch Hand Soap System @ $11.99 (limit 1)
     -use $3 Lysol Heathy Touch Hand Soap System printable coupon (previously available)
     *makes it $0.99 after ECBs!

Get $4 ECB when you buy Almay intense i-Color shadow, liner or mascara @ $5.99 (limit 6)
     -use $1 Almay color cosmetic product mc (Walmart coupon insert 10/09)
     *makes it $0.99 after ECBs!

If you find any other great deals, please share them!

You can see the full CVS sale list here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Baked Apple Chips - an easy and CHEAP snack!

First of all, I realize it's been quite a while since I've posted on here, but I'm glad to be back and hope to be posting more regularly now!

One thing I'd like to do on this blog is not only provide you with deal information, but also give you information on cheap and easy ways you can better manage your home.  (Not that I'm an expert in this is ANY way, but I'm trying...)

With Fall upon us, I've been doing a lot of baking (I know my close friends and family are shocked by that comment!) and have been really craving those traditional fall flavors - pumpkin, apples, etc.  Apples especially can be picked up so inexpensively and you can make so many things with them!

One recipe I came across recently was for Homemade Baked Apple Chips.  I'm always on the lookout for a healthy, crunchy snack, and these looked so easy to do, I decided I would try them!  They really were simple to do, though I did revise the original recipe a tad. 

Here's what you do...

1.  Take as many apples as you like (I used 2 medium sized apples and it was enough to fill up a regular baking pan - I used a baking stone), cut them in half and cut out the core.  Then, slice each apple half into very thin slices.

2.  Lay the slices individually on the baking sheet.  You can sprinkle them with a little cinnamon if you like.  I tried them both ways, but preferred the ones that were plain.

3.  Bake the apples in the oven for an hour at 275 degrees.  At this point, take them out, peel them off the pan, and flip them over.  Let them sit for just a minute.  If they are crispy enough for you, go ahead and leave them out of the oven.  If you want them crispier, you can put them back in the oven for a while.  (The thicker your slices, the longer they will need to cook.  My slices only needed an hour and they were plenty crisp!)


This is a super simple, super CHEAP, and super healthy snack!  What a great after school treat for the kiddos or something different for their lunch box!!

Let me know if you try them and how they turn out!