Cash Envelope Categories – What works for us

As you know, I have a great little Etsy store where I peddle my handmade cash envelopes for your cash budgeting system.  I create custom labels for my customers, and it is really fun to see all of the different budgeting categories people use.  It is VERY common for a customer to purchase a set of envelopes and then wonder what they should have for their categories. Well, now, that’s an interesting blog topic, isn’t it?

Cash budgeting is catching on all over the country, but it can sometimes be uncomfortable to talk about money. I thought I’d demystify the topic a bit and let you know what WE do as a family of 4 living on one income.

First of all, let me explain our cash envelope system.  I have a set of 10 envelopes that I keep with me in my wallet (in my purse) at all times.  I know that makes some people uncomfortable, but it works for our family, and it prevents me from having to run home to grab the grocery envelope if I forgot my cash while at the grocery store. My husband also has a set of 5 envelopes that I made for him that he keeps with him most of the time.

These are the categories that I use:

• Groceries – Week 1
• Groceries – Week 2
• Groceries – Week 3
• Groceries – Week 4
Breaking up my groceries over 4 weeks keeps me from overspending at the beginning of the month and then not having enough money for milk at the end of the month.  I put all food and household purchases in this category.  So, all cleaning supplies, toiletries, food – including the occasional take-out pizza if there is money leftover at the end of the week.  When you start using cash for groceries, you will figure out that you will spend WAY less at the grocery store, because you will reevaluate whether you NEED that second bag of chips.  When I started my cash budget, we figured $100 per person for groceries ($400 for our family).  By the end of the second month, I was able to cut our budget down big time.  We spend $50 a week on groceries, for a total of $200 a month.
• Fun – This is my fun money. I get $50 and my husband has his own $50 that he keeps with him.  I use it to buy myself a coffee treat, a meal out, new lipstick, a new shirt, school pictures, a gallon of paint, a trip to DQ, or new socks for my son.  “Fun” is sometimes not so fun, but it keeps us on track and within our budget.  Neither of us feel a sense of “entitlement” when it comes to our fun money.  I would imagine that “blow” is probably a better descriptor, but I just couldn’t bring myself to put that on an envelope!
• Gas – I live in Oregon, where we have gas station attendants who won’t let us pump our own gas.  Typically, they make you take your cash inside, however I have never had one insist that I get out of my car when my kids are with me.  I just hand them the cash and they hand me my receipt.  I have a Gas envelope ($150) and my husband has one for his vehicle ($150) that he keeps with him.  I DO use cash for Gas, because it helps us to evaluate whether we REALLY need to go into town, or could we wait and group our trips later?

The way we do it is we don’t say, “Fill ‘er up!”  Instead, we say, “$50 please!” which doesn’t fill ‘er up, but it keeps us on track with our budget so we don’t overspend at the beginning of the month.  Also, there are months that my envelope is empty a week early because my vehicle is the family vehicle.  Thankfully, those are usually the months when my husband’s gas envelope still has money left in it.  We share as needed!

If using cash at the pump won’t work for you, then just try my “$50 please!” method to help you stay within your gas budget.

• Hair – I budget $40 a month for this, but it requires a little bit of wrangling.  My husband’s haircuts cost a bit less than $20 every 6 weeks, and my haircuts (and brows!) cost $30 every 6 weeks.  So, I give him $20 in his Hair envelope and I keep last month’s leftover $10, plus my $20.  The first month, I didn’t get a haircut.  By the second month, we were on track. (Confession: Sometimes I over-tip my stylist, because she rocks. I just steal from another envelope to compensate.)  I color my own hair, and I am pretty low maintenance otherwise.  I’m always jealous of the ladies who have me make an envelope for their pedicures!  Hey, if it is important to you, you should budget for it, right?

•Date Night – YES, we have all heard that you should have a weekly or bi-weekly or monthly date night.  I have to tell you that going out to dinner with JUST my hubby sounds so amazingly appealing that it makes me want to cry, but it doesn’t always work into our busy schedules.  Instead, we budget $10 a month for something special for the family.  Think of this as another “fun money” category.  Usually, we will add it to leftover grocery money or Daddy’s fun money and go out to Thai or Chinese food as a family.  Sometimes we get the 4 for $5 ice cream treats deal at DQ.  Sometimes we will pick up some fancy cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine for a “couch time” date night.  We are very grateful that we live near my husband’s parents and that they really, really like our kids.  When we do head into Salem for a date night, we drop the boys off with them and then use a gift card that we received for Christmas for dinner out.  Plus, I’ve been picking up a lot of local Groupons for fun little restaurants around town, and when I share my referral link and you sign up and purchase your first deal, I get a little credit, so these dates end up being free for me!  ••• By the way, here’s a bit of a soapbox speech: You really, really, really do need to spend some quality, face to face alone time with your husband.  My favorite is couch time after the kids go to bed.  NO television, soft music and conversation.  It doesn’t cost any money and is a great way to invest in your marriage!

•Gifts – My Gifts envelope is usually empty except at Christmas time or in the early summer when my boys have their birthdays.  I’ll tell you about our savings account micro categories in a later post, but just for now: We budget $50 a month for Christmas, birthdays, showers, weddings, etc.  Any type of gift is taken out of the gift budget category.  When we get closer to Christmas, I’ll probably pull $100 out of savings for my Gifts envelope so I will have my money with me when I find my husband the perfect pair of pants.  Or whatever.

I’ve been using Swagbucks as my search engine instead of Google, and I’ve shared my referral link on my blog and on Facebook.  When you sign up with Swagbucks using my referral link, then every time you search on using the Swagbucks search engine, you have the opportunity to win Swagbucks.  These add up pretty quickly (especially when you share your referral link), and pretty soon you can cash them in for a $5 Amazon gift card.  Last year, I bought most of our Christmas presents on Amazon using $475 worth of gift cards I had earned through Swagbucks. WOW! You can read all about that in this end of the year Swagbucks post!

Yes, we DO usually have money leftover in the gifts category at the end of the year, so we roll it into savings.  Again, I’ll tell you about that in a later post.

 •Blank – This is my last of 10 envelope categories.  I usually put my +UPs in there, or if I received some money from my birthday, I’ll put it in there.  I like having a “misc” category, just in case I find that I need to add something to my budget temporarily.

And, that’s how we use our cash envelopes.  However, the cash envelopes are really just one (major) part of a larger budgeting system that we have in place.  I’ll share about our savings account and our little micro categories in a later post!

In the meantime, let me encourage you to budget for what is important to you.  I have seen a LOT of categories, and I really love seeing how other people budget.  Some categories that I really like:

Starbucks – My sweet friend Susan has a major Starbucks habit, and she BUDGETS for it.  I love that.
Leftover – My friend Angie has an envelope for any money that is leftover at the end of the month.  Oh, the discipline!!!  She then puts it into savings!
Crafts – NO guilt when you buy that new bottle of adhesive or tube of glitter.  After all, it’s in the budget!
Entertaining – YES, you can entertain on a budget!  Imagine having an envelope strictly for entertaining others in your home or taking someone out for coffee!  You’d see a lot more of your friends, for sure!
Decorating – I am SO jealous.  No, envious.  😉

What about you?

What other cash envelope categories do you use?


Major Shopping at Safeway!

Taking two little boys to the grocery store is torture for this mama.  TORTURE.  You know how I sometimes complain about the two of them loving on one another a little too much in the store resulting in falling down in the aisles or chasing one another around the produce?  This was not a “love” trip.  This was a, “Mom, why did you decide to have another kid?  I wish you didn’t have another kid. Why didn’t you stop at me? I don’t want my brother.” trip. True story.

{Sigh}  So, if you saw me at Safeway today, please try not to judge me by my parenting skillz, or lack thereof.  I was ready to pull my hair out!  Grr!

With that being said, I didn’t do any really crazy deals.  I just stuck to my list.

This is what I ended up with today:

Yeah, I kinda freaked out a bit at the register.  $50.58 is WAY more than I usually spend in one trip.  (I budget $50 a WEEK!)  However, once I started putting the meat away, I realized that I have at least 11 meat-as-main-dish meals here, plus a bunch of sides and meatless meals.

Some highlights:

LOTS of the value packs of meat are BOGO right now.

  • I ended up buying two packages of chicken: thighs and leg quarters BOGO @ $1.49/lb for $8.67, which ends up being 74¢/lb.  As soon as I got home I pulled the skin off, tossed a few pieces of chicken at a time in freezer bags (7, total) and squeezed some soon-to-be-expired salad dressing in 3 of the bags as marinade. Thank you, mom, for making me de-skin chicken as a teenager!!  I rise up and call you blessed! (Proverbs 31, baby!)
  • I also bought two packages of some kind of beef roast @ $4.29/lb, which I had them grind into ground beef.  The benefit of this is LOW fat, cheap beef, and it all came from the same cow.  Ever see Food, Inc?  Yeah.  ONE cow. BTW – after the BOGO deal, it ends up costing me $2.15/lb.  I cooked up 3 lbs tonight.  We are having taco salad, and I saved 1/2 of the meet for the freezer.  Probably for spaghetti.  I have 3 more lbs. to deal with tomorrow.  I’ll probably cook it up because that is super easy to deal with for quick dinners.  Let’s call that 4 meals out of the ground beef, although I’m sure I could stretch it into 5 since I like to add beans or lentils to the ground beef to stretch it out!

SALAD was completely free, and a bit of a moneymaker.  I used coupons and ended up making 51¢ on each bag I bought, for a total of $1.53 overage.  There were a ton of the little booklets in our produce section, so I didn’t have to mess with the printable, plus the coupon didn’t beep.  I ended up going back later tonight for 3 more bags of salad and a loaf of bread for 1¢.  We’ll be eating salad this week, fo sure.

Mission chips were actually $1.49 each. The price on the in-ad coupon was a misprint. Wahoo!!  I was totally going to pay full price for chips if I needed to, because . . .

I’m making restaurant style salsa tonight or tomorrow.  That’s why you see fat cans of tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapenos, onion, garlic and cilantro.  I stocked up on Rotel a while back, so I’m set there!

And, I have sour cream in there.

You also see Whole Milk and yogurt. Yes, Safeway took my free printable coupon for the Oikos yogurt (Facebook). I’m going to scrape the “plain” off the top for my homemade yogurt.

AND, the beans were a decent price.  I bought 2 bags of black beans and two bags of pinto beans.  As soon as I’m done with this post, I’m going to get those pinto beans started in the crockpot.  I’ll do the black beans tomorrow night in my sleep!

Rice. Probably a better price at Walmart, but I saved time by buying it in this trip.

I took advantage of the Buy 3 juice promo and bought 3 Mott’s Apple Juice @ $1.99.  One is Mott’s for Tots and I used the $1/1 Vocalpoint coupon (although I would definitely NOT be advocating tots drinking apple juice on a regular basis! Yikes!) and I used (1) $2/2 coupons from the MDA book. These 2 coupons doubled, so my OOP on 3 juices was 65¢ each.

Apples from the bag are the best price right now @ 93¢/lb. Ugh. I can’t WAIT to be able to buy organic apples for super cheap again!  Remember, I’m buying apples out of season, so I can’t expect awesome prices.  However, the boys love apples, and I love saying “Go grab an apple” when they start to whine about starving.  Bananas work, too.

The olive oil was $2.99 after coupon WYB 2.  That’s a decent price, and I probably won’t have to buy more until next year.

I’m pretty sure that is it, but I thought I’d leave you with some main meal ideas from this trip:

  • hamburgers, salad, peaches
  • taco salad (Had this tonight. MAJOR hit with the boys and they have requested it again.)
  • chicken salad
  • ground beef enchiladas
  • tacos/burritos
  • spaghetti
  • crockpot chicken (x3 or 5)
  • Asian chicken stir fry
  • chicken divan

Plus, I’m planning on skipping shaving my armpits tomorrow and instead working on:

  • homemade yogurt
  • cooked dried beans – pinto and black
  • homemade salsa – canned
  • peeling and freezing peaches (finally, right?)

This week I also worked on blanching and freezing a HUGE amount of free broccoli.  My friend picked too much!  I’m so thankful!  I used 3 bags and gave 2 bags away.

I can’t WAIT to pick up cheap cheese next week!  Thanks to my coupon blogs for putting the deals up so early!  You ROCK!

PS – these deals end tonight, so GO!

Unbelievable Safeway Score!

Can you believe I paid just $7.92 for all this!?!  My cashier congratulated me on some awesome savings when we were all done.  Hee, hee!

Some of the things you see here are just items we needed, even though I didn’t have any coupons: cheese, eggs, milk, potato bread (for French toast while camping!), chips (for camping – BOGO), hot dog buns (yep, camping), bananas, onions.  Nothing much to say about any of that.  Just basic stuff!

The grapes were a great deal @ 99¢/lb.

The mushrooms are stock-up priced at 99¢ each!  (Yes, mushrooms freeze well!  I just dump them out into a freezer bag and grab a handful as I need them.  I’ll probably go back for more!)

Now to the good stuff:

As I’ve mentioned before, I save my FREE coupons for when the $10/$50 coupon comes out (always the first week of the month).  THEN, I try to get my grand total to as close to $50 as possible.  Honestly, I had no idea how much the total would be before coupons.  According to my receipt, I saved $83.60 (91%).  I just sort of eyeballed it!  I think I did okay!

FREE stuff – most were Facebook promotions that you can hear about if you are watching the coupon blogs.

  • Tombstone Pizza – this was from the cheap Hasbro game promo a while back.
  • Jif To Go (8 pack singles!)
  • Pantene
  • Suave
  • Aussie
  • Oscar Meyer (Vocalpoint, maybe?)
  • Nestle Drumstick

Cheap stuff:

  • Klondike 6 pack – 99¢.  Load the Just 4U coupon from
  • Starbucks ice cream  -99¢. Load the Just 4U coupon from
  • Mission Artisan tortillas – 49¢ each after $1/1 MC (I found it in West Salem) and doubler.
  • Pork Ribs – I used the $2/2lb printable.

Double dipping:  There is a $5/$15 frozen food coupon in this week’s ad.  I was able to use that on the Tombstone Pizza ($4.79 each regular price but free with my coupons), the Starbucks ice cream ($2.99 regular, but 99¢ after load to card coupon), the Klondike ($3.99 reg., but 99¢ after load to card coupon), and the Nestle Drumstick ($1.50 regular price, but free with my coupon).  My total frozen came to $18.06, but I actually ended up making $3.02 (to apply to the rest of my purchase!).

Obviously, I used the $10/$50 coupon!  :)

Aaaand . . . that’s it.

Like I said, I think I’ll go back for more cheap mushrooms, maybe more tortillas (I grabbed 4 coupons!), and I might try to put together another frozen food scenario!  PERHAPS I’ll buy the kids some soda for camping this weekend!  Yay!  CAMPING!!  So excited!

Okay, now I’ll get back to canning my 80 lbs. of Zaycon peaches I picked up last night.  Did you see the photo of my refrigerator on my Facebook page?  I only have about 50lbs left to process: just the peaches in the drawers.  I’ll be working on jam tonight, and I hope to get to pie filling in the morning!  Anyone have a good peach pie filling recipe that can be canned?

Totally Free Cereal . . . and other great deals!

Let me start by saying that Safeway is just not floating my boat lately.  There really haven’t been many good sales.  Oh, SURE I do just fine, but you don’t see me running out the door to the store at the first sight of the circular, that’s for sure.

My game plan for the last couple of months has been to just buy what my family eats, stockpile when I can, and sit back and relax.  And, do it all under $50 a week, of course.

This is another one of those posts where I tell you that there really isn’t anything massively spectacular here.  You won’t see me hoarding 42 bottles of mustard or anything like that.  This is basic stuff.  This is how I feed my family.

We didn’t really need much except snack food (carrots, cucumber, apples, bananas), butter, eggs, bread and milk.

However, I did plan to take advantage of the Buy 5 cereal promotion.  I grabbed my 4 Life Cereal coupons and the Safeway doubler and decided to see what was what once I got to the store.  I was excited to see that the Mini Wheats Touch of Fruit was part of the promo, which is great because I had some Vocalpoint coupons that expire on 7/16 stuffed in my wallet. I used the BOGO coupon and the $1/1 coupon.  All 6 boxes rang up at the sale price, however when the checker scanned the BOGO coupon it took off the non-sale price of $4.19.  My checker didn’t bother to fix it, so I let her leave it that way!  When all was said and done, the cereal actually ended up making me 25¢!!

Other stuff –
Butter $2.49
Eggs $2.00
Cilantro 50¢
Milk $2.59
Bread $1.79
Carrots $2.49 (better value than the advertised 1lb bag)
Cucumber 59¢
Bananas $1.37
Apples $3.49
Ice Cream – $2.50 each – FREE with my raincheck from last week’s purchase. – My store was out, but I bought 2 containers for my son’s b-day last week, so I got a raincheck!  Love free ice cream!

I paid $16.06 out of pocket! If I can practice some self control, I don’t plan on going back to the store this week.  Hopefully I’ll be able to roll the leftover money in the envelope to the next week, since we are having family in town!  Yay!

And, for those of you who care: I have quite a large stockpile of meat and vegetables in my freezer right now, so we are eating just fine! That’s the beauty of a stockpile!

And, for those of you who are curious: I threw my son a BBQ and sleepover (9 kids!) for his 8th birthday party. It was crazy. We had all kinds of great party food: most from my stockpile!  I did have to make last minute runs to the store for Cheetos, ice cream, and cake mix, however I stayed within my $50 a week budget, even after feeding my own family!  Easy Peasy!

Now, I have to know – Did you find anything amazing at Safeway this week?  What did I miss?

Another Great Safeway Trip!

I’ve had a headache all day long, so I really didn’t want to leave the house, and yet ground beef was the daily special at Safeway today.  Not that the ground beef is the end-all.  At 80% lean, it wasn’t even great ground beef.  Still, I thought about hamburgers this weekend and taco meat, etc, and then I factored in the loved/hated $10/$50 coupon that came out this week and decided to brave it.  With 2 obnoxious boys.  At the dinner hour (although we had already eaten). Insane. Don’t do this.

I did end up with some pretty sweet deals:

Here’s the breakdown:

The ground beef is on sale today for $1.99lb = $12.20

My store was out of the bread that was on the in-ad coupon (with the $10/$50 coupon), so I picked up the next best thing @ $2.29.

Milk was $2.59.  I’m still buying $8/gal raw milk, but we can’t afford 2 gallons a week! :)

Flour was $1.99. I just needed it.

Cottage Cheese was $1.99. Again, I just needed it for a recipe!

The bananas are 65¢/lb = $1.63

Onion was 48¢/lb = 54¢

Red Bell Peppers are $1.25 each. I’m making Jamaican Jerk Nachos this weekend! YUM!

The Tostitos tortilla chips were $2.49.

Cilantro was 59¢.

That right there is a total of $27.56, but let’s keep going, shall we?

There is a Buy 4/Save $4 promo on selected cereals which makes them $1.99 each.  Kelloggs is having a promo where boxes marked with the Cars 2 logo will contain a code that you can enter on their website. Collect 4 and get a $5 Visa gift card! SO, the 4 boxes pictured totaled $7.96 after promo savings, plus I used a $1/3 MC (which doubled) and a 70¢/1 IP for an extra $2.20 off.  I paid $5.76 and have already entered the codes and selected the gas card, so I’ll be getting $5 back!  Wahoo!  SO, after all is said and done, the 4 boxes of cereal will have cost me 76¢.

BUT WAIT! It gets better than that!  Last fall I bought some cereal that had peelies on them: Buy 2 boxes of select cereals and get $1 off fresh fruit.  I used 2 peelies to take an additional $2 off my fruit!

Which is a good thing, because that 3lb box of grapes was $4.99 after in-ad coupon, which breaks down to $1.66lb.  I’ll go for that!

Oh, AND I was able to use the $1/$5 produce coupon that shows up every once in a while at Safeway.  I confess that I grabbed a few brochures when I saw them last.  A moderate amount, mind you! :)

The Deli Fresh lunchmeat was free after using a FREE product coupon that was sent to me in the mail.  I think it was Vocalpoint.

The Sweet Potato Fries were free after using a FREE product coupon Ore-Ida sent me. I think it was a Facebook offer!

The Lipton tea was free after using a FREE product coupon!  I can’t remember where I printed this, but I know it is gone now. Possibly Facebook.

The Hidden Valley Farmhouse dressings were free after using the in-ad coupon and the $1/1 Hidden Valley Farmhouse Dressing or Salad Kit 5/15/2011 SS Insert and a Safeway doubler.  A commenter over at Frugal Living NW tipped me off to the deal, but that coupon expires tonight.  However, tonight Hidden Valley released a $1/1 IP on their Facebook Fan Page, so I think I’ll go back and get some traditional ranch tomorrow.  By the way, NOW is the time to stock up on free dressing!!  Definitely don’t pay more than 75¢ (and that is just if you LOVE it), but make sure you check the expiration dates and plan accordingly.  I accidentally bought one that expires in August, so that will be the first one we use!

The Lays Potato Chips were BOGO, and I had a FREE coupon that I probably got from a Facebook promo, so I ended up getting both bags for free! I love free chips for camping season and BBQs!

The crazy thing is that my total reached over $70 before we started scanning coupons, but after using that lovely $10/$50 coupon and all the rest, it dropped all the way down to $24.89 Out of Pocket.  AND, after that gift card comes in the mail, this trip will end up being just $19.89!  Hee, hee!

I think I did pretty good considering my ginormous headache that refused to go away (despite 2 Tylenol every 4 hours) and the presence of two rascally little boys who would NOT stop hugging one another and laughing uproariously the entire time we were in the store.  You think that sounds cute, but it totally wasn’t.  Grr.

Can I brag a little?  When we got home from the store one of Grant’s friends invited him for a sleepover (um, yes, please!) and Cole is having a playdate at his friend’s house tomorrow. HEAVEN!  I’m going garage sale-ing (sailing?) by myself in the morning. I might even hit up Rite Aid!  Aw, yeah, baby!!



Using Catalina Promos to My Advantage!

I went shopping on Friday, but I’m just now getting around to posting about my trip!  Thankfully, if you head out tonight you should be able to pick up all of these same deals.  This is what I bought:

Of course, this is not a freakishly incredible extreme couponing trip, right? However I have had several friends ask me to explain to them how I am able to feed my family of 4 on just $200 a month, so I figured that I should just show you and give you a couple of tips along the way.  OBVIOUSLY the way I shop and the food I feed my family isn’t for everyone, but I like to think I do a pretty good job of keeping my family healthy and happy, and that is my main goal.  Well, that and saving a bunch of money so I can be a good steward of my resources.

Today’s big tip is to take advantage of Catalina promotions to save money on groceries. You’ve seen me use Catalinas to lower out of pocket expenses before, obviously, but this time I did something a bit different.  Since I budget in money for gifts, and the boys thought it would be a good idea to get Dad some new jeans and shoes for Father’s Day, I decided to purchase him a Kohl’s gift card and earn myself a $10 Catalina to spend on my groceries and lower my out of pocket expense.  Safeway is currently running a promotion where you can earn a $10 Catalina when you purchase $50 worth of select gift cards, and your choices are pretty slim pickin’s.  Fortunately, my husband has purchased nice jeans and shoes at Kohl’s in the past, so I knew it would be a welcome gift.  Please don’t do this unless you have the money set aside for gifts in the first place!  It would totally defeat the purpose to spend money you don’t have to save money on groceries.  That goes without saying, right?  BUT, it is just another way I can use Catalina promotions to my advantage!  Last week or a couple of weeks ago Albertson’s was having a similar promotion, except that gas cards were included!  Oh, I would have LOVED to take advantage of that promo since we ALWAYS budget for gas!!

Here is a quick breakdown for ya:

The Wheat Thins Sticks are part of the 4 day promo.  If you want them and have the coupon to make them 88¢ a box, go tonight!!  My kids don’t get crackers that often, but these taste SO good dipped in my homemade hummus!  YUM!

The Bulls Eye was FREE after coupon and doubler as part of the 4 day sale.

The Fresh Express Spinach was free after a coupon and a doubler.

I purchase enough produce (grapes, bananas, spinach and onions) to be able to use the $1 off produce coupon that pops up randomly at my store (in the little nutrition pamphlet thingy that has been talked about on the blogs in the past).

I needed milk – $2.49.

Mitch decreed that I must use Mozzarella cheese on my homemade pizza from now on.  Not a great sale at 2/$5, but we needed it.

I just about squealed in delight when I saw the big containers of Fage yogurt for only 99¢ on overstock clearance. I’ll be using it as my homemade yogurt starter this week! If ONLY I had one of those Facebook coupons!  I could have gotten it for free!

The Classico pasta sauce was 85¢ a jar after BOGO promo, coupon and doubler.  (This will go great with all of the free Garden Delight Pasta we’ve been picking up lately, right?)

And, finally, the London Broil was $2.29/lb and packaged in ginormous packages which I had the butcher cut in half for me so that it would fit nicely in my crockpot.  There was a $4 off a $20 purchase of Rancher’s Reserve Beef!  Love it!

My total came to $36.80 (yikes!), but my Catalina, which I had purchased in the previous transaction, brought me down to $26.80.  MUCH better, don’t you think?

I did a little bit of early Christmas shopping to take advantage of the gift card Catalina promo again, so I’ll be spending that one on groceries this coming week.

Happy shopping!


Extreme Savings on Meat

It’s time for another grocery store blog post! Wahoo! Yeah, I know. I’m a freak.  But then, you are reading this, so . . .   😉

The loved/hated $10/$50 coupon came out this week, as it does the first week of every month at Safeway.  Quick tip: In my local area, it comes in the Tuesday Statesman Journal (although I heard a rumor that it was in the Wednesday one, too), however I get mine from the free Polk County edition of the Statesman that is wrapped in pink plastic and typically delivered around town on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning.  I usually only need one, but at times I might pick up more (for the Albertson’s ad or extra in-ad Safeway coupons) from the gutters and streets around town.  Hey, my thought is that if it is still in the gutter by Friday, you didn’t want it.  Cole loves the challenge of hopping out, grabbing the paper and buckling back up in less than 10 seconds (to avoid embarrassment!).

I really wasn’t that excited about the Safeway match-ups this week, but it turns out that I did okay!

The BEST time to stock up on meat is when the $10/$50 coupon comes out, and since the 4 lb. bag of frozen boneless/skinless chicken breasts are on sale for just $5.99 with the in-ad coupon (the one under the $10/$50 coupon), it seemed like a good idea to stock up.  Now, typically I would buy at least 3 bags, however I already have a bunch of chicken breasts in my freezer.  A good rule of thumb is to buy as much as you think your family will go through in the next 2 months.  I haven’t tracked it (and I suppose I could go through my past blog posts to see), but it seems like that chicken breast coupon comes out every 2 months or so.

ALSO, I ended up using some FREE product coupons on this trip (taking my own advice to hold them for the week of the $10/$50 to get your total up!).  The Cottonelle wipes were free (FB coupon), the 5 packages of Bar S hot dogs were free ($5 gift certificate for writing to Bar S as part of Thoughtful Thursdays), the Carefree were only 19¢ (which is more than I usually pay, but I needed to get my total up), and the milk was free with my milk Catalina I earned a couple of weeks ago (although that doesn’t factor into the $50 anyway, since your total has to be $50 before liquid milk products).

Other highlights:

My birthday is this month, so Driscoll’s Berries sent me a 50¢/1 MC, which I used on the raspberries which were already $1.49 with the in-ad coupon.

The tortillas are 99¢ each with the in-ad coupon.

The eggs are two 18 ct. for $4 (must buy 2), so I paid $4 for 3 dozen eggs.  The tag said this price is good until May 31, 2012!

I used a raincheck on the sugar (from last weekend) and a 50¢/1 MC which doubled, making the 4lb. bags $1.50 each.

The KC Masterpiece is 88¢ with the weekend in-ad coupon, but I had a $1/1 which doubled, so it made me a little money.  PLUS, Coupon Connections NW reported a $2 off pork ribs coupon wyb KC Masterpiece! I printed off 2 coupons (hit my browser’s back button) and purchased two packages of boneless ribs for a total of $3.10.

The Rancher’s Reserve Chuck Roast is part of the $2.49/lb promotion, plus there is a $2 off Rancher’s Reserve in-ad coupon (weekend, I think??).  The catch is that you have to purchase $15 worth of Rancher’s Reserve to be able to use the coupon.  I wasn’t interested in hunks of beef, but I am always on the lookout for a good price on ground beef, however the pre-ground family packs of ground beef are not Rancher’s Reserve.  I asked the butcher if she would grind some chuck for me (her recommendation, actually) and she had it ground and repackaged in about 2 minutes! SO, I was able to get good quality, freshly ground chuck for about $2.16/lb.  Not bad!

And, as you can see from that first picture, I paid $27.67.  I have a feeling that a couple of my coupons didn’t come off, but I’m actually just fine with the total for ALL THAT MEAT and the little extras.  :)

I might go back for more KC Masterpiece (I mean, free sauce, so why not?), but otherwise, I’m pretty set.

So, did I miss anything on this week’s Safeway match-ups???


My Groceries!

Howdy ya’ll!

Forgive me.  I just got back from a trip to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Not that anyone said Ya’ll. See, these days Texans are actually transplanted Californians.  Like my family.  Hee, hee!  For the record, I did graduate from a Texas high school (which is why I’m so brilliant).  I never said Ya’ll (too much of a valley girl, I suppose), however I was tempted a few times.  Why is it that when you get around people with accents your own accent comes out?  It’s kind of embarrassing how I get all twangy around Texans. I just can’t help it!

ANYWAY . . . you didn’t come here to hear all about my trip to see my little brother get hitched.  You are actually here for the groceries.  Weirdos.  (Said affectionately, of course.)

There is not a lot going on at Safeway this week, and as you all know, I’m kind of a Safeway girl.  I’m much too lazy to go “into town” (Salem, OR) to shop, so I stick to my local stores.

This morning’s trip:

I did this in 3 transactions (one early in the morning, and two more in the late morning).

I used some rainchecks because our store ran out of the Viva and the Suddenly Salad last week.

The Viva paper towels are printing a Catalina (NOT that you should run out and buy any, because that sale was last week, not this week.  This week’s price is very NOT good.  Don’t do it.)  Since I’m miss smartypants and got a raincheck, each package cost me $0.99.  For some reason a $5 Catalina printed instead of a $4 Catalina (as I was expecting).  I’ll take it!  :)

The Suddenly Salad (seriously, my go-to “please bring a salad” dish for the summer) was 24¢ a box after the raincheck, coupons and doubler.  Remember, this was last week’s sale, so don’t go out and pay $3 for a box of processed pasta! Yikes! Winco typically stocks up during the summer and you can get it for 98¢, if you must have it.  And, I do. Yum.

For the record (since I know some of you are saying, “where are the veggies!?!”), I did do a produce run on Tuesday for apples, bananas, spinach, cucumbers and carrots.  That’s just not as exciting, so I didn’t take a picture.  What IS exciting is that my 7-year-old packed his lunch this morning before I rolled out of bed.  What did he pack?  1/2 a jam sandwich, home-canned pears and a spinach salad. {squeal in delight!}  Which just goes to show you that if you don’t keep pre-packaged lunch junk in the house, your child will find something else to pack . . . like spinach salad.  Okay, I’m done with the mama bragging. Excuse me. :)

This weeks stuff:

Wheat Thins Stix were 67¢ each after weekend sale price and $1/1 coupon (DND).  I’ve been making hummus lately and my boys LOVE these Stix dipped in hummus!

The Vlasic Pickles were 89¢ each after BOGO deal, coupon and doubler.

I hadn’t used the Mission .75/1 IP from Cinco de Mayo, and the chips were on sale, so I paid 74¢ after in-ad coupon, IP and doubler.

The Oscar Meyer hot dogs are 99¢ each with the in-ad coupon, so I paid 24¢ each after MC and doubler.  This deal WILL come around again this summer, so don’t freak out if you didn’t get many. They freeze very well, and I still have some left over from end of summer sales last year.

Angel Food Cake is a daily deal today, so I bought 2 for $1.49 each. I’m hoping these freeze well since I’m buying 40lbs of fresh, washed, sliced strawberries that come in mid/late June! Anyone have any experience with freezing angel food cake?

Other deals I saw:

My store had a cardboard display in the condiment isle and by the meat section for Bulls Eye BBQ sauce.  There was a .55/1 (DND) coupon on the display.  Since the BBQ sauce is 99¢ this week, you would pay 44¢ a bottle.  Not a bad price at all!  I remember getting a bunch for free last year, plus I have about 6 bottles in my pantry right now, so I didn’t buy any, however if you don’t have any BBQ sauce on hand, it might be worth it to you to buy a couple of bottles.

Look in the comments of this post at Frugal Living NW.  A gal there is reporting 12 packs of soda for $1.99 today only. We aren’t really soda buyers here, so I can’t verify it, but if you DO buy soda, I think that is a good price.  Right?

I didn’t get some of the coupons for some of the matchups on the blog, but I’m not gonna freak out about it.  Please know that these deals WILL come around again this summer!!  We still have 4th of July and Labor Day sales coming up!  Also, as you come across some of these amazing condiment deals, think about how much your family will go through in a year, and buy that amount.  However, remember to look at the expiration date!!!  Most salad dressings these days don’t have a very long shelf life, and some other condiments are the same!

I totally realize that the photo I posted is mostly junk-ish food.  Not terribly healthy.  However, these are items that my family DOES buy (think picnics, camping BBQs, etc.), and now I won’t have to pay full price when something comes up.  By buying these items when they are on sale and creating a stockpile that I can “shop” from, I don’t actually have to buy much to feed my family these days except the basics: fruit, veggies, milk, eggs and cheese (although I DID price match the Fred Meyer ad at Walmart when Tillamook was on sale for $3.99. Yeah, baby! I’ve got 6 bricks in my fridge!).

THIS means that I can afford to spend my grocery money where it is important to me.

I bought 12 lbs of organic Fuji apples for $10 (that’s 83¢/lb), and 2 lbs of eco-farmed basmati  rice for $3 (not a whole lot more than Walmart) from Azure Standard.  Remember, we have an open fruit drawer policy, so we go through a LOT of apples.  Hopefully these will last me 2 weeks.

I also purchased 1 gallon of raw milk from a trusted source for $8.  Spendy milk, huh?  I’m still experimenting with it, but I am completely hooked and think one of my good friends (or my mother-in-law) should buy a jersey cow (and some laying hens!!).  The milk is awesome for drinking, but I’ve also used the cream (which you can’t see in this picture because it was so fresh when I picked it up that it hadn’t separated, yet) for our coffee.  I also made feta cheese (which turned out pretty good, but I’m letting it age a bit), and I’ll be making some ricotta this weekend, too.  I might keep the cream from this gallon to make butter, although something tells me that I’ll be using it in my coffee because it is SO delish.

Aaaaannd, those are my groceries!

Did I miss any awesome sales?