Clipping coupons assembly-line style

31 03 2009

img_1626As I mentioned in a post last week, I will sometimes buy extra Sunday newspapers when the coupon inserts are especially good. Last Sunday was one of those times.

Although there were only two coupon books, they were good-sized and full of coupons for items I regularly purchase. The coupons also opened up new opportunities for bargains at  Harris Teeter, which is running an unprecedented weeklong triples promotion. (Don’t forget: today is the last day of triples!)

I made a drug store run to buy five copies of the News & Observer to add to the one I have delivered to our home. The cheapest places to buy extra papers around here are Walgreens and the Dollar Tree at $1. But since I was getting a late start, and both those places often sell out, I bought mine at CVS. I paid with Extra Care Bucks and a gift card so it was still a bargain at $1.50 per paper. For no money out of pocket, I had a goldmine of coupons to triple.

I brought a scissors with me and immediately cut three each of several products and went to my closest Harris Teeter, which happened to be in the same shopping center. I walked out with free pasta, free Steamfresh veggies, and extraordinarily cheap Nestle’s Morsels (54 cents), Breakstone sour cream (34 cents) and Dole fruit (17 cents).

img_1628Then I came home and set up shop to cut the rest of my coupons assembly-line style. (I’m all about saving time as well as money!)

On my cleared kitchen table, I took one of the inserts and spread it sheet by sheet on the table. I then layered the matching sheets of the five remaining inserts on top.

Next, I stapled each set of six coupons together, being carefully to avoid stapling the barcode. Then I cut the six-deep stack of coupons.

In the end, I cut six sets of coupons in about the same amount of time it would take me to cut one. The stapled coupons are also easier to sort and file into my binder.img_1630img_1631img_1632

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Making your own fast food

30 03 2009

img_1633My husband and I are big fans of KFC’s mashed potato bowls. For the uninitiated, the bowls are filled with mashed potatoes, then topped with bite-size pieces of crunchy chicken, corn, gravy and shredded cheese.

As much as we enjoy them, they are an infrequent treat in our household. At $4.99 each, they are bad for the wallet — not to mention bad for the waistline.

So I was quite proud of myself yesterday when it dawned on me I could make my own mashed potato bowls for a fraction of the cost.

I started with a rotisserie chicken I purchased at Harris Teeter. Since it was Sunday, rotisserie chickens are $4.99 instead of the usual $6.99. Lucky for me, I also had a $3 wine tag coupon, making my final price just $2. As I was picking the meat off the bone, I microwaved a bag of Steamfresh corn and started a bag of instant mashed potatoes on the stove. I got both items free, by the way, during triple coupon promotions.

I layered the items in deep soup bowls, sprinkling a little bit of shredded cheese on top and voila, we had our very own mashed potato bowls. (I omitted the gravy only because I didn’t have any on hand.)

They were delicious, if I do say so myself. And healthier. And very affordable. Besides the $2 chicken, I paid a few pennies for the sprinkling of cheese I used. That’s it. And I still have chicken left over for another dish.

Have you made any fast food facsimiles? I’d love to hear about it.





A freebie for the kids

28 03 2009

Bowling alleys across the country are offering kids the opportunity to bowl for free every day  ALL SUMMER LONG!

You can sign up to get two free games of bowling for every child in your family. Click here to get all the details about the Kids Bowl Free program.

And click here to see if there is a participating center near your home. In North Carolina, where we live, bowling centers in Chapel Hill, Durham and Fayetteville are offering the deal.

Summer still seems so far off, but some of the free bowling begins as early as May 5 so check it out.

Thanks go to Money Saving Mom for alerting me to this deal.





Reporting back on my adventures in banana bread baking

27 03 2009

img_1620I had intended to post yesterday on my latest adventures in banana bread baking with super-cheap reduced bananas after finding an awesome banana bread website . Click here and here to read my original posts and here to view the banana bread site.

But I never got around to baking — or anything else for that matter — after receiving the dreaded “call from the school.” Seems my little girl went down with a thud during a game of dodge ball in PE class, breaking her wrist in two places. Ouch.

What a difference a day makes. With a Tar Heel blue cast on her arm, she’s all smiles today, especially taste-testing my chocolate banana bread muffins. Click here to see the recipe.

It was really hard deciding on a recipe — with so many to choose from. In the end, I went for simplicity and availability of ingredients. 

They are delicious and were ready in no time. But if……….or rather, when I make them again, I will add a few more chocolate chips. Thanks bananabreadnut!img_1621





Triple coupon “hidden deals”

26 03 2009

If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of a Harris Teeter grocery store, you’ve probably been triple couponing at least once since the promotion began Wednesday. I was there bright and early to get my bargains before the shelves were bare.  (Just a reminder that there are no rain checks for triple coupons.)

I returned to Harris Teeter today to take a more leisurely stroll up and down the aisles looking for what I call the “hidden deals.”  The forums on SavvyDollar.org and Hot Coupon World do a great job of posting all the triples bargains, combining sales with coupons from the Sunday newspaper inserts. Those lists also include many of the deals using the so-called “peelie” coupons found on products and “blinkie” coupons from the little red machines attached to the store shelves.

But, often times, I’ll have coupons from other sources that turn out to be a great deal. I’m talking about coupons from magazines, free samples, product demonstrators, etc. See my post here about my top 15 sources for finding coupons.

A prime example of this was my purchase of  Uncrustables frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Using the 55-cent coupons available from the Sunday inserts, a $2.79 box would end up costing you $1.14. Not a bad deal if your family eats these all the time but more than I would spend for an item you can make yourself in seconds for a fraction of the cost.

But, I had coupons valued at 75 cents off from a word-of-mouth marketing campaign I took part in months ago that I was saving for just such an occasion. That made each box just 54 cents. As a treat for my daughter, I stocked up.

Another example is the Spot Shot carpet cleaner I purchased yesterday. Using the newspaper insert coupon and taking advantage of the BOGO deal, these cans would be 85 cents. A great bargain considering this product normally sells for $5. But with a $2 coupon I clipped from the All You magazine, I paid just 50 cents.

So today, with my coupon binder open and my more relaxed pace, I looked to see if I could snag an extra deal or two. I recognize this sort of thing isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re holding down a job or have a toddler hanging on to your legs. But since I’m the stay-at-home parent in our household and my youngest is in school, I  try to squeeze in the time to do this sort of deal reconnaissance mission every so often.

My “hidden deal” of the day? A half-gallon of Mayfield ice cream. Since we’re chocolate fanatics, I chose Extreme Moose Tracks. It is regularly priced at $5.65 but was on a BOGO special for $2.88. Tucked into a page pocket in the freezer section of my binder was a lone coupon for 55 cents off any Mayfield ice cream. I vaguely remembered getting it from a demonstrator a few weeks ago who was handing out small dishes of ice cream.

SCORE! I brought home a half-gallon of  ice cream for just $1.23

What hidden deals have you found lately?





Banana bread bonanza

26 03 2009

A week or so ago, I posted about buying bargain-priced over-ripe bananas to make banana bread rather than paying full price and waiting for them to speckle. Definitely cheaper and way more efficient.

After writing that post, a woman who calls herself “bananabreadnut” started following me on Twitter. Intrigued by her name and her cute little banana icon, I checked out her website and started following her on Twitter as well.

We are all the richer for Laura West’s obsession with banana bread. Click here to check the website out yourself. Be prepared to gain five pounds just reading the recipes and drooling over the photos.

With bananabreadnut in mind, I bought another bag of browning bananas yesterday. Now I just have to figure out which recipe to try………..so many recipes, so little time.

There are recipes for chocolate  banana bread, coffee banana bread, ginger pear banana bread, papaya banana bread with dried figs……..the choices are endless.

I’ll let you know what I try…………maybe even post a photo.





Triple the fun at Harris Teeter

25 03 2009

img_1618I was at Harris Teeter bright and early this morning to take advantage of its incredibly generous weeklong triple-coupon promotion. After my No-Spend Challenge in February, I had fun restocking the pantry and freezer.

The stores in my area encourage multiple shops so I did three, one at each of three different stores so I wouldn’t make a dent in any one store’s stock.

In total, I saved 77 percent on my groceries, paying just $27.47 for $119.53 worth of products. I purchased a couple items with coupons that didn’t triple, such as the Spot Shot cleaner. Instead of the 55-cent coupon, I used a $2 coupon, which worked out to be a better deal.

With my receipts, I will get $3.50 back on a Try-Me-Free rebate offer from Sargento. Click here to read a previous post on rebates. And with my 15 proofs of purchase for JollyTime popcorn, I will receive five reusable grocery bags. That deal is listed on the back of the box.

Not bad for a morning’s work by a stay-at-home parent.