The rest of the food storage...

Sunday, November 29, 2009
Here's the rest of the food storage in my basement:




The shelves are semi-organized, but there is a lot of food sitting on the floor that needs to be put away. And the things on the shelves need to be consolidated so that there is more room and better use of space.

More food storage photos

Saturday, November 28, 2009
Here's more on my basement confessional...

Just on the other side of the wall to the right of my freezer is another shelf unit with food storage.



Right behind that big purple plastic bin, amongst the pile of junk in front of the window, are a few smaller plastic tubs (you can see one or two sticking out) which are holding individual bags of pasta. The idea was to put the pasta in the tubs, and then stack the tubs on one of the lower shelves of the metal shelving units. But I obviously haven't gotten that far yet. And yes, those are some bags of groceries sitting on that purple tub, waiting to be put away on the shelves. Argh!

And over against another wall are a few buckets that I haven't been able to find a place for yet (the one on the left is wheat).


Right now they're just keeping my husband's tools up off the floor... :)

The furnace room...

Thursday, November 26, 2009
Here's a shot of my furnace room. Now, this is not the ideal place to put food storage (because the temp in the room can change dramatically as the furnace/AC cycles off and on), but we don't have many options, so furnace room it is...


It's a very tight room, so it's hard to get a shot where you can see everything. (The water heater is just off to the left out of the picture - you can see the drain tube at the bottom left of the shot - the water heater only sits about 18inches away from those shelves, so it's a tight squeeze to get back in the corners.)

There are little shoe-box sized plastic bins to the right of the freezer that are stacked between it and the wall, and they hold things like cookie mix, salad dressing mixes, and popcorn.

This part of the food storage is actually pretty organized and clean. (I did not do any special "spiffy-ing" of the room or shelves before taking this picture.) The rest of the food storage out in the main room, though, is a different story...

Oi ve!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'd like to introduce you to my "paper goods" storage...

Yup, definitely not pretty. That's my shower downstairs in my partially-completed bathroom/laundry. (It USED to be in a big pile in the middle of the basement, so believe it or not, this is an improvement!)

See why I now need to turn my focus to organization? :) Just keepin' it real folks, just keepin' it real...

I'll post more pictures of my food storage over the next few days.

But speaking of storage and paper goods, I know I'm not the only one who suffers from not having enough storage space in their house. So what do you do when you want to have food storage but don't have a lot of room to put it in?

Well, start by prioritizing. Pick what you think are the most essential things to put in your storage, and give them priority in purchasing and storage space.

Scale back. Consider starting with just a 3-month supply of the most basic items. It's great to have a one-year supply, but if you don't have the room, you simply don't have the room! Store as much as you can as creatively as you can. Having 3-months of food is WAY better than having no food storage at all!

Multi-task. Think of ways that you could use items to multitask so that you don't have to store multiple variations. For instance, in paper goods, it would be nice to store paper towels, kleenex and toilet paper. But if you could only store two of those, I'd go with paper towels and toilet paper, because the toilet paper could always double as "facial tissues" if needed. And if you could only store ONE of those three, I'd go with paper towels. You could easily use them in a pinch as kleenex OR toilet paper if necessary (might not be very glamorous or soft on the skin, but definitely better than tree leaves or rags or nothing at all).

Other great multi-taskers include:
  • bleach (great uses HERE, HERE, and HERE - and definitely keep bleach on hand for water purification/disinfecting)

  • vinegar (great uses HERE and HERE - it is a great substitute for fabric softener in the laundry!)

This past year has been a bit of a learning curve for me, while I'm still trying to figure out what to store and how much. Obviously I've found several things that I don't have enough of (salsa, tomato sauce, olives) and lots of things that I have too much of (pancake mix, canned soup, cake mixes and frosting - we either need to eat more of, or store less of, these items). My focus this next year will be on better organizing the food/meal planning, and making better use of what I store.

What I'm Buying - Winco Foods 11/24

Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Here's what I picked up at Winco this evening (I tried to get lots of produce for snacking on over the holiday weekend):


(6) A&W rootbeer 2-liters, on sale .68 [not pictured]
(4) lbs granny smith apples, on sale .67/lb
(1) HyTop white bread, on sale .88
(4) Libby canned pumpkin, 1.58
(4) lbs Jonagold apples, on sale .78/lb
(4) lbs seedless green grapes, on sale .98/lb
(2) lbs bartlett pears, on sale .78/lb
(1) celery, .38/lb
(3) ice cream, on sale 2.58
(1.5) lbs roma tomatoes, 1.28/lb
(2) cucumbers, on sale .48
(1) green onions, on sale .48
(3) lbs bananas, on sale .38/lb
(4) HyTop tomato sauce, on sale .44
(1.5) lbs gala apples, on sale .67/lb
(1) iceburg lettuce, on sale .68
(1) Vlassic hamburger dill ovals, 1.72 (ran out today - GRRR!)
(1) lemon, on sale .38
(1) Star balsamic vinegar, 1.83
(2.5) lbs seedless red grapes, on sale .98/lb
(1) Nalley hamburger dill pickles, 1.98

I didn't use any coupons.

Total: $48.65

What I'm Buying - Sunflower Market 11/24

Here's what I picked up at Sunflower Market this evening:


(5) lbs red seedless grapes, on sale .77/lb
(2) lbs broccoli, on sale .77/lb
(2) .75oz fresh sage, on sale 1.50
(1) fresh poulty herb mix, on sale 1.50
(3) lbs bananas, .59/lb
(1) Cook's Illustrated magazine, 7.95

No coupons used.

Total: $20.66

Meal Planning Magnets

Amy at The Red Chair Blog has an awesome post about Making Your Own Meal Planning Magnets! What a great idea! I'm going to try something similar as part of my quest to be more organized with my food storage/meal planning this next year.

Now, if I could just get someone to cook the meals, too... :)

Freezer storage - what NOT to do!

Monday, November 23, 2009
Here's a great example of what NOT to do with your freezer:


And here's what the door looks like:


Um, yeah...I can honestly say that except for the outer "layer" of stuff that you can see, I really have NO CLUE what else is in there! Definitely not very helpful...This is also why I'm not allowed to buy any more meat at the store, until I use some that is already in the freezer. Only problem is, I can't get to the meat in the freezer without everything else falling out or spending 30 minutes digging my way to the back of a shelf! Argh!

(And yes, that really is a 4-inch think layer of ice on the top shelf...)

This past year for me has been focused on acquiring food storage. Obviously my goal for this next year needs to be better organizing my food storage, especially my freezer.

Oops, I did it again...

(Yes, I know I'm a dork...) :)

I just had to do some more price-matching at Walmart this morning! It was a good, and not-so-good, trip. Good, because everything went smoothly - AGAIN! Not-so-good, because when I got there, I found that they had reduced the prices on several of the item I JUST stocked up on a few days ago...GRRR!!! Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Here's what I picked up this morning:


(3) StoveTop stuffing 2pk, on sale .97 (down from 1.50 just a day or so ago)
(3) StoveTop stuffing singles, on sale .78
(2) Kraft JetPuffed mini marshmallows, on sale .75
(4) GreatValue unsalted butter 1lb, on sale 1.50
(1) whole milk, 1.48
(1) white label refill tape for label maker, 6.64
(2) Duck packing tape refills, 1.08 (.08 after coupon)
(1) Duck packing tape & dispenser, 2.44 (1.44 after coupon)
(1) Duck small packing tape dispenser, 1.50 (.50 after coupon)
(2) Silk soy milk, 2.68
(12) Meadow Gold whipping cream half-pint, .48 (price-matched to Maceys)
(2) Sprite 2-liter, .68 (price-matched to Maceys)
(2) Fresca 2-liter, .68 (price-matched to Maceys)

I used (4) 1.00/1 coupons for the Duck brand tape [see SS-11/22].

Total: $38.52

I don't know whether all Walmarts are going with the new price for the StoveTop stuffing, or just my local one.

At any rate, the Super Walmart on 54th South and Redwood has StoveTop stuffing 2pks for .97, and Philadelphia cream cheese 8oz bars for .87 (I paid .99 for mine just before the weekend)! (For the cream cheese, use the 1.00/3 coupon from RP-11/15, and get them for .54 each when you buy 3 with coupon!)

Frozen whipping cream

So, I tried out some of my frozen whipping cream yesterday. We made more clam chowder, and needed to have 2 quarts of half & half. Well, half & half is just equal parts cream and milk, so I decided to use some of my whipping creams that I bought for .48 each! But I forgot that we needed them for the soup and put them in the freezer instead of leaving them in the fridge.

Now, whipping cream freezes fine, and can be used once thawed, however it will NOT whip after it has been frozen. (The stuff I freeze is only for using in baking or soups and such where I won't need to whip it.)

To make things worse, I forgot to unthaw the whipping cream before we wanted to make the soup, so I had to do it in the microwave (on 30% power). After I got it liquid again, I poured it in a bowl to mix with the whole milk. I was a little worried because the cream came out a little "grainy" (because the fats were still so cold). But I just put the homemade half & half into a saucepan to heat up (on low heat so it wouldn't burn), and sure enough, once it got warm enough, the fats dissolved and no more "grainy" texture.

The soup tasted great and I saved quite a bit by using my really cheap whipping cream instead of having to pay $1.50-$2.50 per quart of half & half!

There are a lot of other dairy items you can freeze, too! Cheese freezes great - just make sure to let it thaw *completely* before you try to slice or grate it (otherwise it will crumble). Cream cheese freezes good, too. I still haven't tried my frozen sour cream yet though...

What I'm Buying - Smiths 11/20

Friday, November 20, 2009
I stopped at Smith's this evening to grab a turkey and a few other things. There is a great Catalina deal when you buy Duracell batteries. The 1-4ct packages are on sale for 1.88, and there is a .75 coupon in the PG-11/1 insert. I bought (6) packages of 4AA batteries, and I got a $5 Catalina coupon at checkout. (That makes them about .29 per package after the Catalina coupon is factored in!!!)

Anyway, here's what I picked up:


(1) 19lb Private Selection frozen tom turkey, on sale $8.00 (when you buy $25 in groceries)
(6) Kroger shredded cheese 8oz, on sale 1.00
(2) Hormel salami, on sale 1.00
(4) Hormel pepperoni, on sale 1.00
(1) green leaf lettuce, on sale .99
(1) pound leeks, 2.99/lb
(1) green onions, on sale .50
(2) green peppers, on sale .50
(6) Duracell 4pk batteries, on sale 1.88

I used (1) 1.00 off 2lb cheese coupon [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts], (3) .75/1 coupons for the batteries [see PG-11/1] and (3) 1.00/1 coupons for the batteries [from P&G coupon booklets back in January].

Total: $32.17 + received a $5 off next purchase Catalina coupon

Murray Cannery News - December 2009

MURRAY CANNERY DECEMBER 2009 FAMILY CANNING SCHEDULE

Dear Family Canners,
After a busy year of providing extra food for the Bishops’ Storehouses, we are happy to start family canning again.

SPECIAL NOTICE: New federal regulations require all meat products to be kept at the cannery for ten days before they are released. We already have cream of chicken soup that was produced in October and will have chili that will be produced on November 21st with family canning labels that can be picked up the day you work. Those signing up to do chicken chunks will need to come back sometime after December 20th to pick-up their chicken chunks. Pick up chicken chunks by Jan. 7th. (Over time we should be able to build a small inventory of meat products so all products can be picked up the same day you work.)


DATES
PRODUCT
CONTAINER
PRICE
CASES / PERSON

Wednesday
December 2
*Cream of Chicken Soup
14.4 oz can (24 can/case)
$27.60 / case
1 to 5

Friday
December 4
*Chili 14.4 oz can (24 can/case)
$27.60 / case
1 to 4

Tuesday thru Thursday
December 8th, 9th or 10th.
*White Chicken Chunks 14.4 oz can (24 can/case)
$46.80 / case
1 or 2 cases per person

Monday Dec. 14
** Blueberries and/or
10 – 3 pound bags = 30 lb cs.
Frozen Blueberries
$1.25 / lb = $37.50 for 3 – 10 lb bags.
1 or 2 cases per person

Friday Dec. 18
Frozen Raspberries (May fill at cannery or take case and freezer bags home to fill.)
$2.15 / lb = $64.50 for 3 – 10 lb bags.
1 or 2 cases per person

* Shifts begin at 7:00 am, 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm All canning shifts are 2 ¼ hours long.
** It takes about a half hour to fill 10 freezer bags with blueberries and/or raspberries.

• FYI Those doing chili, cream of chicken soup, or chicken chunks may buy their berries while here. To pick-up berries early, you will still need to fill in a time on the regular berry schedule.

Scheduling:
Reservations will be taken in person or by phone. Reservation sheets are available in the foyer of the Murray Cannery or call 801-266-1460, 9:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday-Friday. Please do not leave reservation requests on voice messaging.

The following information is required for each person you register:
● Product desired ● Number of cases each person will purchase
● Process date ● Name of Ward
● Preferred shift ● Phone number of each participant

Each person will be required to register on the sign in sheet during their shift. You must participate in the session in order to purchase product. To allow others an equal opportunity to participate, we request you sign up for only one shift per product. If you cannot keep your reservation, please call the Murray Cannery to cancel. Debit and credit cards are not accepted. Please do not bring children who are under age 16.

***UPDATE 11/23 - All sessions are now full. Watch for more family canning to come in 2010.

What I'm Buying - Walmart 11/19

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Well, friends, tonight was a first! I decided I wanted to try out some price-matching at Walmart. I've been doing coupons for a year now, and I have NEVER been able to use a coupon, any coupon, at our local Super Walmart without some kind of hassle or issue. And I've never even considered trying to ad match there because I couldn't fathom how much trouble THAT would be!

But tonight I decided I'd take one for the team and try it out! Ha ha ha! And not only was I going to ad match, but I was going to use coupons on top of that...seriously double trouble.

I have to tell you - the whole trip went SO smooth! I was SHOCKED!!! :) Not only did the price-matching go smoothly, but there were NO problems with coupons!

I was a little nervous about this trip, but I did a few things to help ensure that it went as smooth as possible:
  • I prepped my list beforehand, including what price I was matching to and what store's ad I would need to show the cashier
  • I had all of the ads I was price matching already turned to the correct page, with the item and price circled so that I could easily point it out to the cashier when I got to store
  • I put all of my like items together on the conveyor belt, so that the cashier could change the price on them in groups
  • I put all of the items I didn't need to price match up front, and then told the cashier I was going to ad match everything behind a certain point
  • I purposefully went late at night (started at about 9pm and got to checkout at just before 10pm) so that it wouldn't be busy and I wouldn't hold up a long line of impatient customers behind me if I messed things up
What prompted me to want to attempt this dangerous stunt of price matching at Walmart of all places? Well, I was going to go there to get my turkey (.40/lb!) and there were a few other Thanksgiving items that they had really good prices on. But there were a lot of other items that other stores had for great prices that I wanted to stock up on, but I've been dealing with some health issues for the last week or so and I just couldn't muster the energy or desire to run around to five or six different stores trying to get each and every deal this week. So, I thought I would give price-matching at Walmart a try, and tonight I'm really glad that I did!

Here's what I got: (didn't get the turkey though - they only had up to about 13.5lb birds and I wanted a 16lb one)


(3) StoveTop stuffing twin packs, on sale 1.50
(3) StoveTop stuffing single packs, on sale .78
(6) Heinz gravy, on sale .75 (.42 each after coupon)
(10) pound sweet potatoes, on sale .25/lb
(4) minced clams, 1.14
(3) GreatValue butter 1lb quarters, on sale 1.50
(6) Coke 2-liters, price matched to .68 (Maceys)
(2) Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, price matched to .78 (Maceys)
(8) Meadow Gold whipping cream 8oz, price matched to .48 (Maceys)
(6) Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese 8oz, price matched to 1.00 (Harmons - .77 each after coupon)
(8) Swanson chicken broth, on sale .45 (.39 each after coupon)
(4) Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, price matched to .49 (Target - .24 each after coupon)
(4) Campbell's cream of chicken soup, price matched to .49 (Target - .24 each after coupon)

I used (2) .25/4 coupons for the chicken broth [see SS-11/8], (2) 1.00/3 printable coupons for the gravy [coupon HERE], (2) 1.00/3 coupons for the cream cheese [see RP-11/15], and (2) 1.00/4 printable coupons for the soup [coupon HERE].

Total: $40.66

The funniest thing about this is that almost nothing from that picture will actually be used for Thanksgiving dinner! Well, the sweet potatoes will be, and one of the butters and one of the whipping creams will, but that's it. The stuffing is for food storage (I have a good meatball recipe that calls for stuffing mix) as is the soup, gravy (I usually make my own from scratch but thought that for .42 a bottle it might be worth it to have a few on hand), broth and cranberry sauce. The whipping creams, cream cheese and butter will all go in the freezer to be used later.

Oh where, oh where has the Harmon's list gone...?

For those of you looking for the Harmons list on GrocerySmarts.com, you'll notice that it has been absent the last few weeks. They're working on replacing it, but in the meantime, you can see this week's list HERE at PinchingYourPennies.com.

A great use for extra flashlights...

We had a rather disturbing experience one night a few months back. It must have been about 2am, and everyone was sleeping peacefully when, all of a sudden, we heard the sound that NO ONE, EVER, wants to wake up to - the smoke alarms! I cannot describe to you the fear that shoots through your body when you are awoken in the middle of the night by smoke detectors going off, because you know it only means one thing, and it's never good... (and I have feared house fires ever since I was very little)...

Our story had a safe ending - about 3 minutes after the alarms went off, as we were racing to check kids and find the source of the smoke/fire, the alarms stopped just as quickly as they had started. We spent the next 30 minutes checking the house, top to bottom, trying to figure out what was going on, but couldn't find anything wrong. We finally went back to sleep, but for me it was a very, very fitful sleep. I was poised to jump out of bed again should the alarms go off another time.

(Which, actually, they did. About a week later - same story. Late at night, stopped about 30 seconds later, cause unknown.)

I learned a few things from this experience:

  1. My kids did not wake up when the alarms went off - either time! That is a concern, because should it have been an actual emergency, that could have spelled disaster! I have heard that this is not uncommon (for kids to not wake up with the alarms, even when the smoke detectors are right in their room), so we are looking into replacing the standard smoke detectors in the two kid rooms with "vocal smoke detectors". Unfortunately, the only brand currently on the market has been temporarily discontinued, but I'm hoping this means they are working on a new improved version.

    Here is a LINK to an eye-opening article published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in October 2006. They published a study done with 24 children of various ages, and tested their responses to both the standard tone smoke alarms and parental voice alarms (smoke detectors that play a short recorded message in a parents voice, usually calling child(ren) by name and giving a short command - "John, get out of bed and get out of the house"). 96% of the subjects (23 out of 24) awakened to the parental voice alarm, compared with 58% (14 out of 24) waking up with the standard tone alarm. What was most alarming (no pun intended), was that 9 of the children woke up to the voice alarm but NOT AT ALL to the tone alarm!


  2. We were very unprepared should we have needed to escape the house quickly. We keep shoes down in our garage, which is great for our carpets, but not so great for emergency situations at night. And if the house HAD been full of smoke, it would have been very difficult to see, and we had no easily accessible flashlights in our room.
So, with all those great deals on flashlights that we found at Home Depot, we will be putting a flashlight under/near each bed (age appropriate) along with an extra pair of shoes. I pray that we will never need to use them for an emergency, but at least we will hopefully be better prepared now!

Comparison of prices for common Thanksgiving food items

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Check out THIS post at PinchingYourPennies.com for a comparison list of sale prices this week on common Thanksgiving food items.

There are lots of great deals, and most of them don't require coupons! And even the ones with coupons are still great deals without the coupons. Things to stock up on this next week: whipping cream, butter, canned pumpkin, stuffing mix, whipped topping/CoolWhip, cream cheese, cranberries, pie shells/dough, canned broth, Campbell's cream soups.

I'm the author of the post (Ducklette), so if you want to see additional items on the list or know of additional or corrected prices, just let me know and I'll add to/change the info.

One Year Ago Today...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
...is when it all started. I had a *horrible* trip to Walmart right before Thanksgiving. That's where I used to buy all of my groceries, because they always have the lowest prices on everything all the time, right? Well, that's what their ads say, and if you hear something enough times you start to believe it. Besides, who wants to chase from store to store to store trying to find the best prices on hundreds of different items each week?

I did my grocery shopping on Monday morning each week. I would buy a cartload of groceries, almost faint when I saw the total, haul it all home, and then when it came time to eat, I'd wonder where all the food I had just bought had gone because we never seemed to have anything to eat! I had to start keeping a shopping list on the fridge to keep track of all the things we ran out of during the week and needed to buy next time I was at the store. I kid you not, that list would be half a page long by Thursday each week...we were always running out of something...and we had NO food storage (other than about a dozen #10 cans down in the basement)...

I did this for several months, and the shopping trips kept costing more, and more, and more each week (you all remember how bad the food inflation was last fall). I got tired of grocery shopping and then coming home only to find that we had nothing to eat, and that we'd just spent $200 for that "nothing to eat". And I'd inevitably have to make another run (at least one) back to Walmart during the week to get other stuff that we needed. All in all, we were spending more than $800 a month on just groceries! (And that doesn't include household or health/beauty items...)

Well, on Monday, November 17, 2008, I went to Walmart, bought a not-so-full cart of groceries, and walked out spending $198...for just the basics!!!! I was so frustrated - I knew it HAD to stop. In fact, I was SO upset after that trip, that I came directly home and wrote down EVERY item from that receipt and from my grocery bags, because I was SURE I had been overcharged for every single item, or was missing at least 4 grocery bags somewhere (I wasn't, of course). I STILL have that list, and I've been waiting for a few months now to share that with you.

Here is what I bought on Nov. 17, 2008 (prices shown are for single item):

5 gal Blue Bunny ice cream, 6.68
1 gal 2% milk, 2.00
2 gal whole milk, 2.00
2 gal SunnyDelight, 2.66
2 half-gal generic soy milk, 2.56
18 large eggs, 2.22
1 bunch celery, 1.32 (EGADS!!! For one bunch of celery?!?!)
1 bag classic romaine salad mix 10oz, 2.28
1 Baked Lays chips 9oz, 3.28
1 generic sandwich bread, 1.32
1 bag russet potatoes 10lb, 3.97 (another EGADS!)
1 6pk O'Soy soy yogurt, 2.62
4 Yoplait Light cups, .50
1 generic plain yogurt cup, .44
2 Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers, 2.74
1 generic butter 1lb, 2.54 (yet another EGADS!)
1 80ct box Huggies diapers, 20.97
1 can generic baby formula, 12.98
1 generic plain yogurt 32oz, 1.76
1 Huggies baby wipes 232ct, ? (I apparently didn't write the price down for this one)
1 bag sweet baby lettuce mix 5oz, 3.18
2 diced carrot cups 4ct, 1.62
1 red bell pepper, 1.88 (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!)
2 FiberOne toaster pastries 6ct, 1.98
2 Progresso Light soups, 1.50
2 generic fruit cocktail 15oz, .92
1 box baby oatmeal 8oz, 2.22
4 Hormel canned roast beef 12oz, 3.34
2 Albacore tuna in water 5oz, 1.18
4 generic black beans 15oz, .59
2 canned sliced mushrooms 6.5oz, .84
2 canned pieces and stems mushrooms 6.5oz, .52
6 canned diced green chiles 4oz, .67
2 extra-creamy whipped cream 7oz cans, 1.54
1 Fritos chips 14oz, 3.59
1 pkg generic deep dish pie crusts 2pk, 1.46
roma tomatoes, .98/lb
oritos (mini bananas), 1.58/lb
1 head cauliflower, 1.98 (Um, egads?!?)
1 head broccoli, 1.98 (Again, what was I thinking?!?)
1 generic frozen peas/carrots 16oz, .96
1 generic frozen tater tots 32oz, 1.98
2 lbs cube steak, 8.51 (DOH!!!!)
1 generic shredded mozzarela cheese 32oz, 7.18
1 generic instant oatmeal 10ct, 1.84
1 Oscar Mayer Lunchables, 2.84 (Another DOH!!!)
1 Always pads, 5.52
1 Always pads, 4.97
1 Pyrex pie plate 5.34
1 iron skillet, 13.97

(Pretty funny to look through this list a year later...)

That night I was looking at a food storage blog (FoodStorageMadeEasy.net) and saw a video interview with Crystal from EverydayFoodStorage.net. I checked out her blog site, and there was a link to a site, TheObsessiveShopper.net. Her blog posts talked about another site, GrocerySmarts.com, that claimed I could save hundreds of dollars on my grocery bill each month. I was VERY skeptical at first...

I read through everything she had on her site, and went back through it several more times that week. At the end of the week, I decided I was going to give this "GrocerySmarts" web site a try...

Well, the results even on the first week were so amazing that I've been doing it ever since! :) We went from spending $200/wk (or more, quite often more) on just groceries and NO food storage, to now, one year later, a basement FULL of food storage and a grocery AND household/health/beauty spending of about $125 a week (and now that we have a good supply in food storage, I'm hoping to get that number even lower this next year).

I will forever be grateful for finding those blog sites and especially for finding GrocerySmarts and PinchingYourPennies! It not only changed the way I shop, but it also allowed me to save money AND build up a great food storage.

Okay, thank you for indulging me and letting me get all sappy and reminiscent about the couponing thing... :)

What I'm Buying - Smiths 11/16

Monday, November 16, 2009
I stopped by Smith's this morning to grab a few things before the sale ends on Tuesday. Here's what I picked up:


(2) dozen eggs, on sale .99
(8) Coke products 2-liters, on sale .79
(4) Hormel pepperoni, on sale 1.00
(2) Hormel salami, on sale 1.00
(1) bunch bananas, on sale .39/lb
(1) bag red seedless grapes, on sale .99/lb
(1) bunch cilantro, on sale .44
(1) 10lb bag russett potatoes, on sale .99
(3) Jimmy Dean sausage, on sale .99
(3) Sunday newspapers, 2.00

I didn't use any coupons. :)

Total: $28.41

What I'm Buying - Albertsons 11/12

Thursday, November 12, 2009
I had a great trip to Albertsons this evening. Here's what I picked up:


(4) Skippy peanut butter, .99 with in-ad store coupon (.63 after manufacturer coupon)
(2) Sara Lee Oven Fresh pies, on sale 6.39 + Buy 1 Get 1 Free (plus 1.00 off coupon, so 5.39 for both)
(2) Breyer's ice cream, both FREE with pie purchase
(1) Crisco canola oil 48oz, on sale 3.00 (2.00 after coupon)
(1) Crisco shortening sticks, on sale 2.99 (1.99 after coupon)
(1) Crisco olive oil, on sale 5.00 (4.00 after coupon)
(2) Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk, on sale 2.00 (1.50 after coupon)
(4) Smuckers ice cream toppings, on sale 1.50 (1.13 after coupon)

I used (1) in-ad store coupon for the peanut butter, (2) .75/2 manufacturer coupons for the peanut butter [see RP 11/15], (1) 1.00/1 printable coupon for the pie [see GroupC at GrocerySmarts.com - NOTE: the promo is buy 1 pie, get another pie + 2 ice cream free, so you can only use one coupon on the one pie because all other items are free and they won't let you use a coupon on an item you are already getting free, but that's okay because 5.39 for two pies and 2 ice creams is still a phenomenal deal!], (3) 1.00/1 coupons for the Crisco products [see RP 11/8], (1) 1.00/2 coupon for the condensed milk [see RP 11/8], and (2) .75/2 coupons for the Smuckers [hang-tags on the product in the store].

I then used my $15 in Catalina coupons from last week.

The Crisco items, Smuckers toppings and condensed milk are all part of the "Buy $20 Get $5 Off Your Next Shopping Trip" promo this week.

Total: $9.28 + $5 Catalina coupon good off next trip

I am ashamed of myself...

I have a confession to make, and it isn't pretty. I went to the store this morning and walked out spending $45 on ONE (yes, that's right, just ONE) bag of groceries...

Here's what I picked up:


(1) Kikkoman panko bread crumbs, on sale 1.50
(2) Progresso panko bread crumbs, on sale 2.00 (one was .90 after coupon)
(1) Munchkin snack cup, 4.79
(1) pkg cheesecloth, on sale 1.53
(1) wasabi paste, 3.19
(1) pkg RealSalt kosher sea salt, 9.02 (6.99/lb)
(1) Gerber toddler table setting, 7.49
(1) flank steak, 13.21 (6.99/lb - EGADS!)

I used one coupon, a 1.10/1 printable coupon for the bread crumbs [coupon HERE]. I actually thought I had two coupons with me, but when I got to the register I could only find one, and I was trying to keep my little one from running out the door, so I completely spaced asking them to leave one box out of my purchase. Oh well.

What prompted such a bizarre trip to the store, you ask? One where I willingly bought items not on sale and without coupons? Well, some of those items were impulse buys (the snack container, toddler plate and cheesecloth). I got the other items because I was hooked by a cooking show on FoodNetwork this morning and the food looked SO good I just HAD to have it...Darn you, Food Network!!!

The panko bread crumbs and wasabi paste are for Panko Crusted Chicken with Wasabi Tomato Sauce, and the flank steak is for Grilled Flank Steak with Bacon Balsamic Glaze.

The kicker was the flank steak...I have looked all over town for this stuff, because I have several recipes calling for flank steak that I have wanted to try over the last few months. It's been hard to find actual flank steak *anywhere* in the regular grocery stores...maybe I need to go to an actual butcher shop.

[Ugh, I can't believe I just paid 6.99/lb for flank steak - this better be some unbelievably heavenly meat!]

See, even a crazy coupon lady occassionally falls off the coupon/frugalista wagon...

What I'm Buying - Winco Foods 11/11

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Here's what I picked up at Winco this morning:


roma tomatoes, .98/lb
red seedless grapes, .98/lb
green seedless grapes, .98/lb
(2) green onions, .48
(1) HyTop white sandwich bread, .88
(1) HyTop whole milk, 1.48
bananas, .38/lb
(2) Kraft marshmallow creme, .98
(6) HyTop canned mushrooms, .38
(4) HyTop tomato sauce, .44
(2) Lindsay large olives, .98
(1) baby carrots, .78
(3) Armour LunchMakers, .95
(2) Precious string cheese 12ct, 3.29 (2.29 after coupon)
(1) HyTop grated Parmesan cheese, 1.98
(2) green leaf lettuce, .77
(1) Hershey's fun size chocolate, clearanced to 2.00
(1) DVD "Hotel for Dogs", 4.98
(1) Guittard baking chips, 1.68

I used (2) 1.00/1 coupons for the string cheese [they were attached to the packages of string cheese at the store].

Total: $39.80

What I'm Buying - Maceys 11/10

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I went to get a few things at Maceys before the ad expires this evening:


(2) Brianna's poppy seed dressing, on sale 2.50
(2) liquid smoke, 1.59
(2) DaVinci pasta wagon wheels, on sale .68
(3) Western Family lasagna, 1.99
(2) pkgs mild Italian sausage, 1.18/lb
(5) pkgs Boston butt pork roast, on sale .88/lb

I didn't use any coupons.

Total: $36.65

The pork butt roast and liquid smoke are for THIS recipe for Kalua Pulled Pork.

The Italian sausage is going in the freezer until Thanksgiving, when it will be used in THIS most amazing dressing recipe!

Deals at RiteAid 11/8-11/15

Monday, November 9, 2009
Here is a LINK to some deals at RiteAid this week, including free lightbulbs and free toothbrushes. :) Thank you to Marne at PYP (PinchingYourPennies) for the great info!

Can you ever really have TOO many flashlights...?

Saturday, November 7, 2009
At my house, it seems that we are ALWAYS losing flashlights - we can just never keep them around for very long. So I'm always on the lookout for replacements. Well, we were looking around some of the holiday gift displays at Home Depot today and spotted some great deals! These are small, cheap, batteries *are* included, and would make great additions to use in your car, home or in your 72-hour kits!

These are from Iron Bridge Tools. It's a 2-pack of small, palm-size (about 4" high) flashlights with "flames" on them. They are rated at approximately 160 lumens. They use LED bulbs and 3 AAA batteries each (6 AAA are included in the package). $4.97 at Home Depot.



(These didn't have a brand name that I could tell.) The set contains 3 LED bulb flashlights and 2 LED bulb headlamps, along with all the batteries needed to run these guys. Two of the flashlights have 9 LED bulbs, and 1 has 8 (that particular one includes a laser pointer where the middle LED bulb would be). The flashlights require 3 AAA batteries each. They are rated at 20 lumens output, have a 37 ft beam distance and the package says they have 10 hours of battery life. The two headlamps are pivoting, have 3 LED bulbs each, have adjustable headbands and run on 1 AA battery each. (There is no output rating for them.) The set was $14.97.

[Just make sure that you don't give the laser pointer flashlight to young kids - the laser can damage eyesight if the beam is shined into eyes.]

I thought the headlamps might be really handy to have in our 72-hour kits, especially since they are small and lightweight (and I like the idea of having a light source that would be hands-free). These will be in addition to the regular flashlights we have in our kits.

There were several other sets available, all ranging in sizes, priced from $4.97 on up, and I think $14.97 was the most expensive. (We found these at the Home Depot on 90th South, just east of Redwood Rd, and they were up front in large display boxes to the left of the where the contractor desk is - right across from the tool section.)

Update on the "glow" sticks in previous post: My kids have been playing with them ALL day. They have held up really well so far, and the kids have loved them. I don't think they'll let me take them away to put in their 72-hour kits, so looks like I may be headed back to Home Depot to get two more...

"Glow" sticks at Home Depot




We found these great "glow" sticks at Home Depot today. They have four different light settings - regular flashlight (LED bulb at the top), "glow" stick (LED light inside stick), both flashlight and glow stick, or flashing glow stick. There is a cap at the end of the white plastic part, and underneath the cap is a built-in whistle. There is also a little wrist strap. They were 4.99 each, and come in green, blue or red.

Awesome Cornbread

Thursday, November 5, 2009
Growing up in California, my family's favorite cornbread was the stuff we could get at Marie Calendar's restaurant - big, fluffy, moist and slathered with a TON of honey butter! :)

I'm partial to the cake-like cornbread, rather than the denser, more rustic types. Here's my go-to recipe for cornbread (I LOVE that it makes a 9x13 pan worth):

1 c. Bisquick
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. cornmeal
1/2 c. butter
4 eggs, beaten
1 c. plain yogurt
1 c. sour milk (1 Tbsp. lemon juice + enough milk to make 1 cup, let sit for 5 minutes)

Combine dry ingredients including sugar; cut in butter. (I usually use a pastry cutter, but have tried it the last two times with my stand mixer and the whisk attachment and it seems to have worked fine.) Add eggs, yogurt and sour milk; stir until blended (do not overmix). Grease and flour a 9x13 pan or dish; dust with cornmeal. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick or knife stuck in center comes out clean.

All ingredients come from my food storage or stuff that I always keep on-hand.

What I'm Buying - Smiths 11/4

Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Here's what I picked up at Smith's this morning:


(4) Krusteaz pancake/waffle mix, on sale 1.69 (1.19 after promo)
(4) Ghiradelli brownie mix, on sale 1.49 (.99 after promo)
(2) Swiss Miss hot chocolate 10pk, on sale 1.00 (.50 after promo)
(3) Kroger cream cheese, on sale .88
(6) Land O'Lakes spreadable butter, on sale 1.49 (.99 after promo, .59 after coupon)
(2) I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray, on sale 1.49 (.99 after promo, .24 after coupon)
(2) dozen eggs, on sale .99 (one free after coupon)
(2) Yoplait Gogurts, on sale 1.99 (1.49 after promo, .69 after coupons)
(7) SunnyD 64oz, on sale 1.00 (.50 after promo, .25 after coupon)
(1) Kroger gallon orange juice, on sale 1.99
(12) Yoplait yogurt cups, on sale .40 (.28 after coupons)
(1) gallon whole milk, on sale 1.67
(5) Coke 2-liters, on sale 1.29 (.79 after promo)
(6) Hormel pepperoni, on sale 1.00 (.65 after coupon)
(2) bunches green onions, on sale .50
(2) green bell peppers, on sale .50
(6) Keebler FudgeShoppe cookies, on sale 1.49 (.99 after promo, .24 after coupon)
(4) Armour LunchMakers, on sale 1.00 [some not pictured - already eaten for lunch]
(1) hardbound book, clearanced to 1.25 (75% off)
(1) Halloween princess costume, clearanced to 1.75
(1) Playtex gloves 10ct, on sale 1.00 (.50 after promo)
(1) Playtex food handling gloves 30ct, on sale 2.50 (2.00 after promo, 1.00 after coupon)

I used (6) .40/1 coupons for the butter [see SS 10/18], (2) .75/1 printable coupons for the butter spray [coupon HERE], (1) printable B1G1 free coupon for the eggs [no longer available], (1) .80/2 printable coupon for the Gogurts [also got an .80/2 electronic coupon from Shortcuts.com], (7) .25/1 coupons for the SunnyD [see SS 9/27], (2) .50/6 printable coupons for the yogurt cups [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts - also go (2) .50/6 electronic coupons off from Cellfire.com], (6) .35/1 coupons for the pepperoni [see SS 11/1], (3) 1.50/2 printable coupons for the cookies [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts], and (1) 1.00/1 printable coupon for the gloves [no longer available].

Total: $49.55

I was hoping to get Catalina coupons for the Krusteaz mix and Ghiradelli brownies ($1 for every 2 purchased) but it looks like the Catalina deal ended yesterday. :(

What I'm Buying - Albertsons 11/4

Yup, it's Wednesday once again, and at my house, that means it's grocery day! :) Here's what I picked up at Albertsons this morning:

Transaction #1


(4) GM Trix cereal, on sale 1.88
(3) Knorr pasta sides, on sale .99
(2) Wishbone salad dressing, on sale 1.99
(2) Progresso broth, on sale 1.49
(1) Gold Medal flour, on sale 1.79
(2) Cottonelle moist wipes, on sale 1.99
(1) Yoplait Delights 4pk, on sale 2.49
(1) Yoplait yogurt 32oz, on sale 2.49
(1) Pillsbury toaster streudel, on sale 2.99

I used (2) 1.00/2 printable coupons for the cereal [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts], (1) 1.25/2 printable coupon for the salad dressing [see GroupC at GrocerySmarts], (2) .50/1 printable coupons for the broth [see GroupA or GroupB at GrocerySmarts], (1) .50/1 printable coupon for the flour [see www.eatbetteramerica.com], (1) .50/2 printable coupon for the wipes [see www.cottonelle.com], (1) 1.00/1 printable coupon for the Yoplait Delights [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts], (1) .75/1 printable coupon for the regular yogurt [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts], and (1) 1.00/1 printable coupon for the toaster streudel [see this LINK].

All items qualified for the Buy $30 Get $15 OYNSO promo.

Total: $24.28 + got $15 in Catalina coupons good on next purchase


Transaction #2


(4) GM Trix cereal, on sale 1.88
(3) Knorr pasta sides, on sale .99
(2) Wishbone salad dressing, on sale 1.99
(2) Progresso broth, on sale 1.49
(1) Gold Medal flour, on sale 1.79
(2) Cottonelle moist wipes, on sale 1.99
(1) Yoplait Delights 4pk, on sale 2.49
(1) Yoplait yogurt 32oz, on sale 2.49
(1) Pillsbury toaster streudel, on sale 2.99
(1) 4lb ground beef, on sale 1.49/lb + additional $3 off
(2) Halloween costumes, clearanced to 6.24
(1) Hershey's kisses, on sale 1.90 (50% off)

I used all the same coupons as in the previous transaction, plus the store coupon for $3 off the ground beef [found on the meat package] AND a "$2 off meat purchase wyb salad dressing" hang-tag coupon on the salad dressing.

(The ground beef is 85% lean, already a good deal at 1.49/lb, even better with the $3 off - went from 6.27 to 3.27 - and then a FABULOUS deal with the additional $2 off - final total 1.27 for 4lb ground beef!!!)

I then used the $15 Catalina coupons from the previous transaction.

Total: $25.73 + got $15 in Catalina coupons good off next purchase

Rapid rising dough...in a microwave?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I ran across an interesting article today from RealSimple.com called "14 Surprising Uses for Your Microwave". Here's what was listed as use number 7:

"Yeast doughs that normally take an hour or more to rise at room temperature can be proofed in the microwave in about 15 minutes. Place the dough in a very large bowl and cover with plastic. Place an 8-ounce cup of water in the back of the microwave with the bowl of dough in the center, and set the power as low as possible (10 percent power). Heat for 3 minutes, then let the dough rest in the microwave for 3 minutes. Heat for 3 minutes longer, then let rest for 6 minutes. The dough will double in bulk."

I am intrigued - especially considering my recent dough failures this last week. Can you really use the microwave to speed up the rise time on yeast doughs (and do so without killing the yeast)? I may just have to try this one as an experiment...

NEW Kellogg's Cereal Internet Printable Coupons

Monday, November 2, 2009
Go HERE for some great printable coupons for Kellogg's cereals! (Watch out - each coupon prints on its own page...ERGH! What a waste of paper!) Thanks to PYP for the heads up.

Saturday Soup - Market Street Grill Clam Chowder


Market Street Grill here in Salt Lake has what is for me, hands down, the BEST clam chowder EVER! I'm probably the last one to know this, but Market Street Grill actually published their recipe for the clam chowder in the Salt Lake Tribune a few years back, and it was even reprinted again last fall.

Now, I am not a very good cook, so trying to tackle something like a gourmet restaurant recipe scares me - a LOT! I have never made clam chowder before, ever. But when I ran across the recipe for the Market Street Grill version, it just looked so good - I had to try it.

I was absolutely amazed at how easy this recipe was! It tasted just like the "real" stuff, and only took me about 30 minutes. This one is definitely going to be a "keeper" recipe!

The leeks and half&half came from Albertsons on Wednesday, and the clams I picked up at Winco for 1.18/can. I omitted the celery in our version (husband hates it). I got a big bag of Yukon gold potatoes at Costco on Friday. All other ingredients came from pantry/food storage. (I keep sliced/diced green peppers in my freezer.)

Ingredients:
1 cup potatoes, diced ½ inch
1 cup celery, diced ½ inch
1 cup onion, diced ½ inch
1 cup green pepper, diced ½ inch
1 cup leeks, diced ½ inch
¾ cup chopped clams (canned or fresh)
¾ tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoon kosher salt
¾ tablespoon whole thyme
6 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Tabasco
2 cups water
¾ cup clam juice (drained from canned clams or purchased separately in can)
¾ cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
2 quarts half-and-half

Combine melted butter and flour in oven-proof container and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. In large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients except half-and-half. Simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Stir the butter/flour mixture into chowder and stir until thick. (Mixture will be slightly less thick than cookie dough.) Remove chowder from heat. Stir in half-and-half until blended. Heat to serving temperature, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.

Sunday Dinner - Lasagna, Salad, Breadsticks and Pumpkin Bars

I made the Crock Pot Lasagna yesterday, and I had every intention of taking a picture to post with the recipe, and then when it was ready, I completely forgot! Sorry...

We made a green salad to go with it, and then I tried THIS recipe for breadsticks. They didn't quite work as well as I would have liked (they were about 1/3 as high as those in the picture). (My last 3 attempts at rolls or breadsticks have not been very successful. I'm using the SAF yeast and that rarely ever fails on me, but these last couple batches have really struggled to rise. I've been keeping the yeast in the freezer or fridge, so it will keep longer, but then I've been having to use the yeast right out of the cold, so I think that's my problem. I've moved the yeast to a ziptop bag back in my pantry, and we'll see if keeping it at room temp makes the difference - I'm pretty sure that'll be it.)

For dessert, I made Paula Deen's Pumpkin Bars (recipe HERE). Holy cow - delish! Most definitely NOT low-cal in any sense of the word though... :) I had everything for the recipe already on-hand in my food storage. I used cream cheese from my freezer, let it sit on the counter to come to room temp, and it worked beautifully.

Crock Pot Lasagna

Sunday, November 1, 2009
This is one of my favorite "food-storage-friendly" recipes. It's super easy and it tastes great!

Crock Pot Lasagna

1 lb. lean ground beef or sausage
1/3 cup dried minced onions (1 onion, chopped)
1/2 tsp. dried minced garlic (2 cloves garlic, minced)
1 28oz can tomato sauce (I usually end up using 2 15oz cans since that's what I keep on hand)
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
12-24oz. cottage cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese (I often use the "bottled" Parmesan stuff)
1 box lasagna noodles (I use the regular kind, not the no-pre-cook stuff)
2 c. shreded Mozzarella cheese

Brown ground beef/sausage, garlic and onion in skillet. Drain if necessary; add tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt and oregano.

Spray inside of crock pot with cooking spray. Spoon a layer of meat sauce onto the bottom of the crock pot. Add a double layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (break them to fit). Top noodles with portions of cheeses.

Repeat layers of sauce, noodles and cheeses until all are used up. End with cheese layer and add extra mozzarella on top if you wish.

After all layers are completed, add 1/2 to 1 cup water around the outer edges of the lasagna to help keep it moist and prevent burning. (Don't worry, the water will cook off.)

Cover and cook on low for 3-6 hours (depending on your crock pot). Add more water around edges if needed. Lasagna is done when noodles are soft.

*You'll want to check on this frequently the first time you make it, since cooking time will vary greatly depending on your particular crock pot. My big round crock pot will burn the lasagna in 3 hours, even on low, and because of the higher temps will require additional water. My newer oval crock is not as hot and can be left for longer without burning; it usually cooks the lasagna in about 4-5 hours.