Monday, October 29, 2012

Got Milk?

The October food budget of $160 has been spent.  We have tons of food in our house, including meals for the next week.  So I was feeling pretty good (notice the past tense).  Until I went to make breakfast for the kiddos.  No milk.
Then I had an epiphany.  Free milk at Safeway this week.  3 free half gallons of milk.  After Brisbane and I dropped the other kids off at preschool, we made a milk run.  I walked in and walked out with a gallon and a half and paid nothing.  Not even tax.
It is moments like this when I am so glad I take the time to coupon.  It wouldn't have been any big deal if I took $3 from the November food budget and got some milk.  But why do that when you can get free milk?  
Plus free milk tastes better.  Just ask anyone who has tried it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

BzzAgent: Glade

Coming at you with another BzzAgent Review  This time, Bzzagent sent me two Glade Products to try.  I must admit that I am not one to use smelly stuff in my house.  It usually just gives me a headache and mixes with the smells it is trying to cover and is totally unappealing.  So with that in mind, I had mixed opinions of the Glade products.
The first product I tried was the Glad Expressions Oil Diffuser in Lavender & Juniper Berry.  It is basically a little vial of oil that you set in a pretty little stand and the smell diffuses throughout the house.  The first few days were exactly as I expected.  The smell was way too overpowering.  It gave me a headache and any time I walked into my living room, I wanted to run away.  But after the first few days, it toned down.  Then I moved the diffuser to the kiddo's bathroom.  That was a mistake.  It was much too small of a space, and combined with stinky bathroom smell was not any good.  If you are into smelly stuff in your home though, it might not be so bad.
Then I tried the Glade Expressions Fragrance Mist in Cotton & Italian Mandarin.  This is just a spray that you can use whenever you need an extra boost of smell good.  I preferred this so much more.  I appreciated the cotton smell and I liked to be able to control when I felt I needed it.  It also didn't linger and make the room smell....interesting...when combined with unpleasant smells.
In conclusion, maybe I shouldn't be buying smell good stuff for my house.  But I would definitely recommend the Fragrance Mist...or at least the Cotton & Italian Mandarin flavor.  Or just stick with Bath and Body Works, which is what I will probably do, when in the mood for something smelly (and I mean that in the best way possible).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting Paid to Shop?

Whew!  It has been a crazy busy day around here.  We are having a smokin' sale going on and I just had to share.  Sometimes when you buy certain products at stores during a certain time frame, a coupon (aka catalina) will print out after you pay.  The coupon is is money off your next purchase.  There is a General Mills promotion going on at Fry's (our local Kroger) that I have been taking advantage of.  I combined the catalinas with my coupons that I print and get from the newspaper for some pretty great deals.  I did two trips today, here is what I got:
3 boxes Honey Nut Cheerios
1 box Cocoa Puffs
1 box Golden Grahams
3 boxes Taco Shells
3 boxes Muffin Mixes
6 boxes Potatoes
3 Cans Enchilada Sauce
9 boxes Hamburger Helper
1 Cookie Mix

I paid $26.93 in cash and received $30 in coupons.  That's right, folks...I made money.  They paid me to take all of this food off their hands.
After Mack got home tonight I decided to take my $30 in catalinas and have another go.  This is what I got:
1 box Golden Grahams
3 boxes Cocoa Puffs
1 box Honey Nut Cheerios
3 boxes Hamburger Helper
4 boxes fruit snacks
6 boxes Potatoes
2 boxes Milk & Cereal bars
6 boxes Fiber One Bars
2 boxes Fiber One Brownies
3 cans icing
8 Totino's pizzas (not shown)

I used my $30 in catalinas from before and paid $15.58 in cash this trip.  I then received $45 in catalinas.  So when you take the $30 +$15.58 that equals $45.58.  Since I got $45 back, it essentially means that everything I bought today only decreased my spending power by a whopping 58 cents.  Even though I spent
Now I realize none of the items above are particularly healthy.  But some of these things we use every day (fruits snacks...we have 3 toddlers and fiber one bars...yum!), the sugar cereals are great for Sunday mornings when our kids get "special" cereal, and the other stuff is great for food storage.  We will not starve if we lose a job or hit some other financial hardship (we will be eating hamburger helper (with no hamburger and instant potatoes ;)).
All in all I am quite pleased. I have a few more items to get that generate catalinas and I can roll the catalinas into produce and items that I need for meals this week and still make my weekly food budget of $40 (ok, so I went over by a few dollars).

Out of Pocket: $42.51
Money Earned Towards Future Shopping: $45

Thursday, October 11, 2012

BzzAgent: Progresso

I am a member of  BzzAgent is a Word of Mouth company that sends you products to try (for free) and then you take surveys about them and share your opinion.  The more you talk about the products (create Bzzz) the higher BzzScore you get.  Which leads to more BzzCampaigns (products).  It's a lot of fun.  I like trying out new products and I certainly like free things.
Recently I participated in a BzzCampaign about Progresso Recipe Starters.  My family has tried two flavors of these--tomato and mushroom.  Mack really liked both of the recipes I made.  I used the recipes that were on the can (huge help) because I am not that creative in the kitchen.  At first I was worried because there were quite a few ingredients, but both dishes used only one dish for preparation (love that!).
I wish I had taken pictures of my creations, but alas.
I made Chicken Parmigiano with the Tomato Progresso Recipe Starters.  I am a super picky eater and I wasn't sure what to expect.  I didn't love it.  But I didn't hate it.  My mother and Mack both assured me that it was good though.
Then I tried the Mushroom Progresso Recipe Starters and made the Beef Stroganoff.  I substituted ground beef (because it's what I had).  I liked this one quite a bit more.  I am not sure I will let it replace the Stroganoff recipe my mother made for me when I was younger but I think both recipes can learn to live together in my repertoire.
All in all I liked the product.  I am excited to try some of the other flavors (cheese...yum).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Writing to Companies

My favorite coupons are the ones that companies send you when you write them.  I wish I had more time to write companies, and I wish that I remembered to do it when I had time.
When I write I either compliment the company on one of it's products, tell them that I would like to try a product, or complain about a problem with a product.  I always ask outright for coupons, unless I am complaining and then I ask the company to contact me about my concerns.  I wanted to share my most recent experience:
When my mom was here visiting she bought some muffin mix.  Chocolate Chip Muffin Mix to be exact.  When she went to make the muffins for her darling grandchildren, she discovered that all of the chocolate was one solid mass.  She was able to break it apart but the outcome was not as great as it could have been.  This is obviously not how this product is supposed to arrive at the store or at my house.  So I saved the box, in order to have the Product Code, and when I had time a few days later I wrote to General Mills (owner of Betty Crocker).  I always just use the online "Contact Us" form on the company websites.  It is easy and fast.  Good ol' Betty contacted me the next day and apologized for the inconvenience and said they were sending a coupon to replace the product.  I received my coupons in the mail today:
One Free Box of Betty Crocker Muffin Mix
$1 off One package of any General Mills Food Product
2 $0.35 off One package of any General Mills Food Product

Woo Hoo!  Fortunately for me, I live in a place where all coupons are worth $1 at most stores.  Plus the coupons don't expire until the end of 2013.  With a sale it looks like I should be able to get 4 products for free or really cheap!  Thanks General Mills!

I don't always get coupons when I write, but I would predict that more than half of the time I do.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pat On the Back

I love sharing about my couponing adventures, but I hate clogging up my family blog with the circus that is couponing.  So I decided to start a little page where I can give myself a pat on the back in this one area of life every now and again.