Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Use it up: Dip edition

We always help with cleanup (and setup) at the annual neighborhood party. And we usually end up with lots of leftovers.
This year, among the goodies, I was handed a couple of containers of sour cream-based dip -- ranch and french onion.

So what to do with this stuff besides as a dip for chips or carrot and celery sticks? I've been working on some ideas:

Salad dressing: My favorite. I thin them out with a bit of water (or milk) and add a bit of pepper for seasoning. Makes a nice topping for lettuce.

Chili topper: This was born of self-defense ... said chili was tasty, but way hotter than expected. A blob of ranch dip brought the heat down nicely.

Sandwich spread: I haven't tried this yet, but I'm thinking either could replace mayo on a turkey sandwich or a wrap.

Potato topper: You put sour cream on a baked potato, right? Why not one of the dips?

If anyone else has any ideas, I'd love to hear them. I still have dip left.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Coupon alert

Check your Sunday paper for an interesting coupon: If you buy a 12-pack double roll Northern TP, you get $4 off a 6 or 8-roll package of Brawny paper towels. (This on a page of the paper .. not part of the inserts)

Might be worth waiting to see if there's a sale on one or both products. In my area, the smaller pack of Brawny is running around $7-$8 regular price.

Speaking of paper towels, some joker over at Meijer replaced all the single rolls of Bounty Basic with 2-roll packs -- at a higher price, of course.

I'm also not seeing the "green" Marcal towels. Not that I ever found any of the freebie single rolls, but the $1 off a 2-roll pack paired well with a sale.

Who knows, I may be forced into using rags exclusively. LOL!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's officially fall

Went to the apple orchard last weekend, which signals the arrival of fall at the casa de chaos. (Nope, don't pick the apples ... I'm not up for climbing trees, and there's no difference in price between picked and DIY)

I always look forward to the fresh apples every year ... the taste is so much different from the supermarket versions. (though not always ... bought some apples from a farm market recently that tasted like cardboard.)

In one way, looks like the season is arriving just in time. We used our last package of frozen roasted pumpkin last week, and I'm about to open the last jar of applesauce.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shopping challenge: Weeks 2 and 3

I'm not sure what's happened to the past couple of weeks, but thought I'd update you on my personal shopping challenge.

Week 2: I think I set a personal record here. A stop at Wally World and one at Kroger came to a grand total of $16.12.

Week 3: I certainly made up for the previous week. Total spent at 4 stores: $46.84. But wait! There's more. $2.86 of that comes back on a rebate. Another $11.39 is for an OTC product that will be reimbursed from my flex account. So the final total will be $32.59. That puts me back under my target of $35-$40.

So far this week, the total is running around $24. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Confounding cashiers

I think I scared the cashier at Wally World the other day.

First off, she was a very nice lady .. we were chatting as she checked me out. And she got through my coupons -- including a couple of freebies -- with no problem at all. When she got to the end, though, she stopped and did a double-take at the total.

"Oh, I don't think I did that right," she said, as she went back through the coupons. I took a quick look myself ... a bit worried that she'd missed one. Nope, all there ... about $12 worth.

When she realized she was OK, she looked at me and said, "Wow! You saved a lot of money!"

I felt kind of bad that I scared her, though I certainly don't feel guilty about using coupons. Oh, well, maybe I inspired her.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nobody here but us chickens!

Every once in a while, my attempts to keep the pantry stocked get a bit out of balance.

Mix several $1 coupons for fresh Tyson chicken. Then add some good sales on Tyson chicken breasts -- both split and boneless.

Result: A frugal freezer stuffed with chicken. And lots of time trolling the Web and the cookbooks looking for new and different ways to cook it!

Now I like chicken ... curried chicken, grilled chicken, baked chicken, Asian chicken (in 3 different recipes), chicken in red pepper sauce, ginger chicken, chicken paprikash, chicken and noodles ... well, you get the picture.

I expect to start growing feathers any day now. Perhaps there will be a sale on pork soon.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Garden report

Things are looking a bit better here garden-wise.

A run of warm weather and a bit of plant food have goosed the bell peppers into producing. My purple pepper plant now has 5 fruits!

The tomatoes are ripening. I have more Romas than slicers, but that's OK. The harvest will still be below last year's. (Shouldn't complain. One of my relatives says their tomatoes were wiped out by a blight.)

The green and wax beans continue to produce like champs! I've filled a couple of gallon bags for the freezer.

I harvested some onions ... I'd thrown an onion gone bad into a deep pot, and the result was 3 small bulbs. Potent, too. I sliced them for cucumber salad and had a good cry!

I've also planted some lettuce in hopes of a fall crop. Never tried that before, so I hope my timing isn't off.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Help! I'm trapped and can't get out!

I have discovered a sure-fire way to prevent myself from going out to spend any $$$: break your garage door.

For the past week, the door's had a little jump, or skip, when it opened or closed. Because of a few other commitments, we couldn't schedule the repairman right away.

Well, we should have paid attention. DH -- fortunately -- had left for work, and I was going to do some grocery shopping. Hit the button, the door starts to lift, then CHAANG! It stops. I disconnect the opener and try to lift the door manually. Nope, it's like an unseen hand is holding it down.

Oops ... at least it was stuck closed.

Update: Turns out the door bearings were shot. Cost to rescue my car: around $190.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to School

After several ... er .. decades after earning a degree, both of us here at the casa de chaos are heading back to school.

I've had this plan in the back of my mind for some time: Get some training, retire early and start what is now fashionably called "The Second Act."

With everything that's happened jobwise in the past year or so, I think I hear my cue ...

We've been debating this for a while. Specifically, how to get the best training without breaking the bank.

One of the universities has a program that would end up costing $6,000. The community college is better -- a specialized certificate would cost about $2,100.

For the moment, we're going a different route. One of the school systems has a career center that offers online classes in the area's we're interested in. They seem to be very basic, skills-oriented classes, too. (Good thing. I took Speech 101. I don't want to do it again.)

Cost: $90 per class.

So, stay tuned for the adventures of "Returning student ...."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A credit card coupon?

Saw something very interesting in today's coupons: A $1 coupon --- good for any kind of purchase -- for users of the Discover credit card. Says it's good at any store that accepts coupons (and I assume, if you pay with your credit card.)

I know that Discover is offering a 5% rebate next month for grocery purchases ... that in combination with the coupon could knock a bit off the grocery bill.

Added: Some of my new forum friends over at A Full Cup tell me that in their areas, it's a $2 coupon. Dang!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Prices going down?

From an Associated Press story:

Food prices are dropping on some key items as retailers slash prices to better compete and food makers do more promotions and pass along savings from lower ingredient and gasoline costs.

Prices for dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables and bread have all fallen.

Safeway Inc. recently announced lower prices on milk, eggs, cheese and other basic items. Whole Foods Market Inc. says low prices on produce, such as organic berries, has meant significant savings for shoppers.

And Costco says prices are down on items from paper towels to prime-cut meat.

Well, personally, I'm not quite ready to wave that banner. I have noticed cheaper dairy and veggie prices. But it's also the season for fresh fruits and vegetables, so prices are bound to go down (and frankly, they're not going down that much for some items. )

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A not-so-soft dilemma

Perhaps it's just as well that I don't accept products for review ....

There's a new product out that takes the place of softener sheets. It's a bar that attaches to your dryer drum, and it's supposed to take care of your clothes-softening needs for a few months. I received a high value coupon, which, combined with a sale, made it pretty cheap.

I was a bit worried that attaching the product on the dryer drum could leave a sticky mess. So I looked it up on the Web to see what folks were saying.

Boy, howdy! Folks had plenty to say!

I saw many complaints that A) the entire holder falls off the dryer drum after the first couple of uses; B) the softener bar falls off (and either breaks into lots of pieces and melts or just melts into a big ball.)

Wow. While I like to make my own decisions about things, I don't really want to risk a big mess in my dryer, either. I think this one goes back to the store.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

August freebies

Not a bad month. Quite a few things arrived in the last few days of the month.

Crisco olive oil
Chef Boyardee ravioli (FAC)
Nineva body wash
8 Snickers bars (FAC)
1 Coffeemate creamer (FAC)
Playtex tampons
Charmin wipes
2 Metamucil
Fiber One Cereal
Fiber One bar
Crest toothpaste
Scope floss pick
2 Kashi cereals
1 Rice Krispies
1 Yoplait whip
1 car wash
Cascade rinse agent

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Shopping challenge update

I couldn't quite hold the line. DH wanted to get a birthday card at Kroger (note: must remember to build my card stash again.), so I had him pick up a few sale items.

He spent $4.04 on food, bringing the week's total up to $30.56 -- but still under budget.

Friday, September 4, 2009

My shopping challenge

Since we're dealing with a pay cut, I've been looking at places where I could shave off a bit of $$.
The easiest place: Groceries.
My average spending has been around $50 a week for the two of us. Probably a bit generous, but a lot of that has gone into super-stocking our pantry (to help cut down on eating out.)
Since the pantry is looking good (actually crowded), it's time to cut back. So I decided to limit my weekly spending to $35-$40.

So far this week, I've spent:
Kroger trip 1: $13.07 (took advantage of the mega sale and some good coupons.)
Kroger trip 2: $4.90 (my neighborhood store was out of on-sale chicken breasts)
Meijer: $9.55.

Total: $26.52. whoo hoo!

I'm hoping to hold it here: Right now, I don't need anything that can't be put off till next week. Though what usually happens is that we run out of something vital, LOL!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

'Tis the season for what?

I walked into Costco,
and what did I see,
but a 6-foot, pre-lit Christmas tree!

Right next to the fall harvest wreaths .....

Apparently Costco is not alone. I'm reading that retailers, who are expecting a slim holiday season, are getting a jump on things. So the holiday decorations and gift packs are going out in hopes of snagging customers who might have some $$ now, or who want to spread out the spending.