Thursday, April 3, 2008

Coupons, Frugal Shopping and a Recipe!

Bina asked yesterday where I get my coupons. Well, all I can say is "Thanks Mom!" LOL But, seriously, my mom mails me all of the coupons she gets in her paper that she does not use. And any that her friends or my other family members give her. I also get the Sunday paper every week. There are usually at least one or two coupons in there worth the cost of the paper. I also check out many different online resources for printable coupons. AND I recently signed up to get the coupon inserts mailed to me at home. UPDATE: This is not valid... it is just the ads and not the coupons! Darn... You can sign up for this here. I joined a couponing group on Yahoo that does coupon"trains" where you get about 50 coupons in the mail and take what you can use and replace with ones from your own stash. That is starting soon. I like this idea as different coupons are available in different parts of the country.

I know. So many of the coupons are for things you won't use! Or, in my case, the store brand is cheaper than buying a name brand with a coupon. For food, sadly, I have found this to be true. BUT. Sometimes you come across a really great deal. For instance, Wally World has Birdseye Steam Fresh vegetables on sale for 2/$2. I had a coupon for $1 off when I bought two. So, I got 2 bags of the broccoli for $1. Not bad. Definitely worth it to me!

The way I do it, right now, is that I cut out every single coupon I find in the paper or that someone sends to me. I have two little expandable coupon files, one for food items and one for nonfood items. I separate the coupons by category (dairy, meat, canned goods, dish soap, paper goods, etc) and file them away. I am in the process of creating a database on my computer of all of my coupons so that it is easier to know what I have and what is about to expire. Right now I just try to go through them periodically and throw out the expired coupons. I recently found out that military families overseas can use expired coupons so I will be saving these from now on and finding out where to send them.

Each week when the sale papers come out I take a look at them. I usually already have my menu planned for the week. If there is a really good sale for an item that I have a coupon for I might go and get that. It depends on the deal. Usually I would then incorporate that item into my menu for that week or the next. Sometimes I find such a good deal that I stock up on something and don't need to buy it for months. Recently I found Triscuit crackers on sale for 2/$1. I bought 4 boxes and will not buy crackers for at least 3 months now.

I also visit several different websites that lay out the deals for you and tell you what coupons are available online in conjunction with these deals. The sites I visit almost every day are: Money Saving Mom, Thrifty Florida Mama, Fiddledeedee, Centsible Shopper, The Centsible Sawyer, More Than Enough, The New Frugal Mom, Mommies With Cents and Freebies 4 Mom. There are other sites I visit too but these are the ones I try to hit every day without fail. Thanks to Jessica for sending me links to several of these! Many of the deals are overlaps but not all of them. It is worth checking out! Money Saving Mom has links on her site to many different couponing sites.

It takes some time to get the coupons together and check the ads and sites. But the more you do it the faster you get. Everybody has a different system. I am still working on mine. My best advice is just jump in and give it a shot! And MAKE A MENU for the week! It is an invaluable tool to being frugal and getting good deals. In fact, I am about to begin making up my menus on Wednesday instead of Monday because that is when the sale papers come out! That way I can shop from the new sales each week for my menu.

Speaking of menus... Jessica mentioned that my Hamburger Gravy and Rice sounded pretty good. SO, here is a recipe. The closest I can get anyway since I don't follow a recipe! LOL

1 pound lean Ground Beef ( You can use less or more and have no effect on the recipe really... it depends upon how much actual meat you want in the gravy)
1 onion, minced
Minced Garlic
Worcetershire Sauce

Cook all of this until the meat is browned, drain and return to pan. (I use a LARGE electric skillet for this)

Add to meat:
2 packs of Knorr Vegetable Soup mix (this has all kinds of dehydrated veggies in it)
Sometimes I might add some dried or canned mushrooms as well
Enough Water to cover the meat and make as much gravy as you want.

Bring to a boil and add Beef Boillion (I use Better than Bouillion) to taste.
Thicken with cornstarch and water slurry to make a thick gravy.
Add pepper to taste. (We like a lot)

Spoon over cooked white rice and enjoy!

I like this recipe because it is an all in one. The veggies are right in the gravy. The Knorr mix is a little expensive so I am looking for alternatives. My family would eat this once a week if I cooked it!

So, there you go. I am still refining my coupon system and learning every single day how to be more frugal and save money. It's an ongoing process but the least I can do to contribute to our household finances!


Nana The Nana said...

Hay Tracy, good idea on the knorr in the gravey! I never did that with the one I used to make. Just had vegies on the side.

Carrie Dilley said...

Hi! You left a message about my Victoria's Secret deal. If you've never tried the cotton collection from VS, my dear, it is time to spend a little green on yourself.

I was scared to shop there because they have so much...gross stuff. Thongs and feathers and yilch, I don't want to know what. But, they also have a very nice selection of cotton that comes in many rises--I prefer the low rise cotton brief. If you sign up for their credit card (I know, but you never have to use it!) you can join their "angels" club. They send you $10 on your birthday and like 4 free panties a year. Plus some other savings, too. You might ask if you can join without opening the credit card account. It really is worth it to have decent underwear. Because YOU are worth it!!

If you're still thinking it's too expensive, try this on for size: I got about 15 pairs of my favorite low rise cotton briefs at my personal shower for my wedding in 2004. I'm just now replacing them. That's almost 4 years!


The Mom of 'em said...

THanks for the coupon advice! I'm always frustrated with my "system"...i've been thinking about organizing alphabetically...but I think category is best, like you said. Also a big thanks for the additional thrify sites...I didn't have all of those in my Reader yet! woo-hoo!

Denise Sawyer said...

Thanks for the linkage!
I hope you find lots of good deals! AND, don't forget to pass 'em on! :)

The "Cents"ible Sawyer

We are THAT Family said...

Your recipe sounds great! I need something new.

Bina said...

Okay, I want to trackback to this but I don't know how, do I keep it handy? I guess I could print it out! I just really, REALLY wish we had a CVS here. I'm gonna have to start watching WalGreens I guess and see what I can do!


Lesley said...

Geez, I feel like I'm totally missing out on the money saving coupons. I don't know if it's a Canadian thing or what - but I get a smartsense flyer every Sunday in the newspaper with about 12 coupons in it and that's it. I mostly shop at Safeway and you need a club card to get the sale prices. It's free - but it's another piece of plastic to have to carry around.

I'll have to try out your recipe - it sounds good to me :o) I do make a menu - it was mostly for the dayhome but found it just as easy to do a dinner menu as well. I totally advocate for people to follow this trend. You save time, stress and money if you can plan ahead.

BTW - My boys are 4 and 6 years old. They're 20 months apart and each other's best friend ...makes my heart glow...

Jessica said...

I feel so special. I printed out the recipe and plan on making it soon.

Coupons are so much fun and good for the family but it is hard to get it all together. I am getting a little more organized but have a long way to go.