Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bargain Shopping

In light of recent conversations regarding our grocery budget and people wondering how we eat on so little, I thought I'd do a post on grocery shopping. This week, I spent $35.54 on groceries. Granted, I didn't buy any meat because we have plenty in the freezer and I'll be gone all weekend (hence nothing will be getting cooked, just eaten). I also did not buy a lot of fresh fruit because we already have some grapes, apples, and grapefruit. But I think that even if I had needed to buy meat and fruit that I could have come under our $50/week budget. Here's what I got this week:

The goods.

At Harris Teeter:
FREE 2 10-oz bottles Worcestershire
$.39 French's spicy mustard
$4.00 2 lbs of butter
$.19 Country Crock spread
FREE 2 tubes Colgate
$.50 Ricola cough drops

The Worcestershire was on sale for $1 each and I had 2 $.50 coupons which doubled, making those free. The mustard was on sale for $1.89 and I had a coupon for $.75 off which doubled, making it $.39. The butter was just a good deal...$1.99 a pound. The Country Crock was $2.39 but buy one get one free (BOGO) which means it rings at half price. was $1.19 and then with my $.50 off coupon that doubled it was only $.19. The Colgate was on sale for $1.50 a tube and I had 2 $.75 off coupons, so got those for free. Then the cough drops were on sale for $1.50 and I had a $.50 off coupon, so they were only $.50.

Total before store savings and coupons: $22.91
Coupons tendered: $8.50 (3 x $.75, 2 x $.50, all doubled and then 2 x $1 not doubled)
Store savings with loyalty card: $9.35
Tax: $.35
Total out of pocket (OOP): $5.41

At Lowe's Foods:

$.16 Eggo waffles
$3.26 4 boxes Frosted Mini Wheats
$.30 small container of Quaker oats
FREE 1 gallon 1% milk
$1.30 JFG coffee
$.79 small Skippy peanut butter
$1.49 Crest sensitive toothpaste
$2.00 pint blueberries

The Eggo waffles were on sale 3 for $4.98, or $1.66 a box. I had a coupon for $.75 off which doubled, so they were only $.16. The Frosted Mini Wheats were on sale for $1.69 a box. I had 2 coupons for $1 off one, so I got 2 boxes for $.69 each. Then I had another coupon for $1.50 off the purchase of 2 boxes, so I go those 2 boxes for $.94 each. Then the store was running a special where if you bought 4 boxes of Kellogs cereal you got a gallon of milk for free. Yay for free milk. The Quaker oats were on sale for $1.50 a box and I had a coupon for $.60 off which doubled, making them only $.30. The JFG coffee was on sale for $2.50 and I had a coupon for $.60 off which doubled making it $1.30. We've never tried this kind of coffee before, but for $1.30 I figured we could try it out. The Skippy peanut butter was on sale for $1.99 and then I had a coupon for $.60 off which doubled making it $.79. Shannon has to use sensitive toothpaste so I'm always looking for a good deal on it. It was on sale for $2.99 and then with my $.75 off coupon which doubled I got it for $1.49. And we love blueberry pancakes, so for half-price I got a pint.

Total before store savings and coupons: $36.48
Coupons tendered: $10.10 (2 x $.75, 3 x $.60, all doubled and then 2 x $1, 1 x $1.50 not doubled)
Store savings with loyalty card: $16.66
Tax: $.43
Total OOP: $9.72

At Kroger:

Kroger is running a special where if you buy 10 of certain items, you can get $5 off your order. That basically ends up to be $.50 off of each item. I'm going to post the prices with that $.50 taken off.

$1.00 2 Pace picante salsa
-$.23 Rotel tomatoes
$1.49 large Coffeemate liquid creamer
-$.50 2 Green Giant steamers frozen vegetables
$1.70 box of Triscuits
$1.38 2 boxes of Orville Redenbacher popcorn
$2.22 3 boxes Fiber One granola bars
$2.00 2 boxes Quaker Simple Harvest instant oatmeal
$1.00 2 bags Cheerios snack mix
$.38 2 boxes Kleenex with lotion tissues
$2.98 2 8-oz bags shredded mozzarella cheese

These things were not in the "buy 10, get $5 off" special:
$2.27 10 bananas
$.73 2 Roma tomatoes
$1.79 dozen large eggs
$1.00 4-pack Dannon Activa yogurt
$1.25 2-liter Dr. Pepper

The Pace salsa was on sale for $1.99 each. I got $.50 off each jar from the special and then I had a $1 and a $.50 coupon which doubled, so I got 2 for $1. The Rotel tomatoes were on sale for $.87. I had a coupon for $.30 off which doubled and then with the $.50 off from the special they were actually -$.23. Coffeemate was $2.99 but with a $.50 coupon that doubled and the $.50 from the special it was only $1.49. The Green Giant frozen veggies were on sale for $1.49 each. With 2 $.50 coupons that doubled and the $.50 off each from the special they were free. Plus I had a coupon loaded to my Kroger card worth $.50 off, so I made $.50 on the veggies. The Triscuits weren't on sale, regular price of $2.20 but with the special I got $.50 off to make them $1.70. The Orville popcorn was on sale for $1.99. With 2 $.40 off coupons and the $.50 off each from the special I got it for $.69 a box. Fiber One granola bars were $2.49 a box. I got $.50 off each box from the special, had 3 $.50 coupons which doubled to make them $.99 a box. Plus I had a coupon loaded to my card for $.75 off, so I got 3 boxes for $2.22. The instant oatmeal was on sale for $2.50 a box. I got $.50 off each box from the special and then had 2 coupons for $1 off, making them $1 a box. The Cheerios snack mix was on sale for $2 and with 2 $.50 off coupons doubled and the $.50 off each box from the special, they were $.50 a box. Kleenex was on sale for $1.49 a box. With the $.50 off from the special and 2 coupons for $.40 off, I got each box for $.19. The mozzarella was on sale for $1.99 per 8-oz bag and with the $.50 off each from the special they were $1.49 each. The other stuff was normal sale price (no coupons), except for the Activa yogurt which was on sale for $2 and I had a $1 off coupon making it $1.

Total before store savings and coupons: $65.03
Coupons tendered: $22.15 (10 x $.50, 4 x $.40, 1 x $.30 all doubled, plus 4 x $1 not doubled, plus 1 x $.75 and 1 x $.50 loaded from online onto my Kroger card, plus the $10 from buying 20 items from the sale)
Store savings with loyalty card: $22.47
Tax: $.99
Total out of pocket (OOP): $20.41

So...there's a little bit about how I shop. It sounds really complicated, but I guess I started small and have worked my way up. This week I bought $124.42 worth of food for $35.54. That's 28% of the normal price. And I didn't have to deal with Walmart. 3 stores, 2 hours, and 36 coupons (worth $30.75). Free milk with cereal combined with coupons and buying things that are on sale with a coupon and then a store coupon are things that help make my grocery budget work. I wish I didn't have to do this...but I'd rather save the money that would have been spent on food and, I don't know, go to Hawaii or something this summer. :-)

Anyone out there have any other good tips for saving at the grocery store?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Glorious Snow

Tuesday morning, I woke up to what I would call one of the most beautiful things I've seen all year: snow. Now, before you go and think that I'm insane, you have to understand that I'm from Alaska. I was born there. I lived in the same house from the day I was brought home from the hospital until the day I left for college (and then I went to Idaho, where they still have great winters). I didn't grow up with central heat or air: we had a wood stove instead. I grew up leaving frozen food outside in the winter, shoveling snow and splitting firewood with an axe, and walking 1/2 mile to the bus stop when it was 0° outside. Here in North Carolina, when they forecast snow I usually just laugh and blow it off, so I was genuinely surprised when I woke up Tuesday morning to find a couple of inches of snow and more coming down.

The view off our back porch on Tuesday morning.

Shortly after waking up, some friends stopped by wanting to know if we wanted to play in the snow. Shannon had to go to work, but of course I went! We played frisbee in the snow and then went for coffee.

Emily, Hilary, and Russ tossing the frisbee.

Shannon thinks I'm crazy for liking the cold and the snow. I think it's just's how I grew up. I don't like snow all year long, but in the winter, I think there should be snow. So, it finally feels like winter to me here! This is the first time in my 2 1/2 years here that it's snowed and stuck. It reminds me how much I miss a real winter.

Magnolia (and other) trees on campus.

All in all, Tuesday was great. The snow put me in a great mood, and I'm not working at my new job yet, so I've been able to take care of a ton of things that needed to get done. I'm still working on getting all my pictures and documents off of my old computer and onto this new one, but I got a good start. Our entire apartment is clean (baseboards and everything!), and the laundry and dishes are caught up. I only have one paper left to finish for my j-term class (Shannon has 2). We have almost all of our school books. And I finally made it to the bank after unsuccessful attempts on both Monday (MLK Day) and Tuesday (They were closed ALL day because of the snow!).

The new semester starts today, and while I wish that my last paper from my j-term class was finished before starting more classes today, I actually feel ready for the semester to start. I'm very excited for this semester because I'll only be working part-time and my classes shouldn't be that hard since 2 of them are Intro classes. It should be an enjoyable semester instead of a crazy one like my last 4 have been. So here's to a great last semester!

Sunset over the snow. What a perfect, beautiful day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Sigh of Relief

Whew. I'm exhausted, but extremely relieved. Today we went to the doctor for Shannon to have a colonoscopy done. He has a bad case of IBS and before we go back overseas he needed to have one done. So, today was D-Day. I must confess I was really worried. I mean, I know that God is in control and everything, but still, it's awful to see someone you love in pain, and equally as awful to sit here and wonder things like, "what if it's cancer? what if his colon is kinked or bent? what if...?"

So, after the prep last night (which did NOT go smoothly at all...he had some serious troubles), we headed in this morning. Everything is fine. Or as fine as it can be, given the circumstances. No polyps or blockage, which means NO cancer, praise the Lord. Now there's one other test that they've said we can do if he wants, but even if that test did tell us what the problem was, there's no way to fix that problem. So we'll probably pass on that test, at least until we've paid off this one.

School officially starts this Thursday. We had J-term class this past week, and it was really a good class. We're still finishing up the work for it, but I should be done with mine by Wednesday and Shannon will hopefully be finished by the weekend.

I think I finally got a new job, too. I'll find out for sure on Wednesday, but it looks like I'll be driving the beverage cart at the Tournament Player's Club (TPC) here. So I'll get to be outside, on a beautiful golf course, driving a cart around. And maybe I'll work in the restaurant sometimes, but I think I'll be doing the beverage cart more. I'm a little bummed because I'll have to work weekend mornings, which means that Shannon and I will never have a day off together, but at the same time, I'm just grateful for a job. I've only been looking for one for 2 months!

Shannon is still sleeping from his meds...they really make you act funny! I'm curious to see how many more times I have to tell him that everything went far the count is 4 times. And I've had to tell him twice that I helped him get dressed, since he doesn't remember putting his clothes on. I wonder what else I could get away with?

It's off to do homework...only 3 papers to go and then the new semester can start! 4 months till graduation!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Years and Birthday Celebrations

On New Year's Eve, my friend Marci, who was my teammate in Poland, flew in from Texas to spend almost a week with me and our friend Paige. We spent Wednesday shopping, catching up, and getting ready for a couple of parties. Party #1 was a last minute party thrown by Paige and some of her other friends. We dropped by for about an hour before heading to party #2 at Alex and Kristel's. Alex and Kristel are in our church small group and they had wanted to throw a New Year's Party. Unfortunately, everyone else in our small group was out of town! But we still had a blast!

Birthday cake #2 at party #1...strawberry cupcakes.

A "Happy Birthday" tree at party #2, Alex and Kristel's.

Birthday cake #3 at party #2. Kristel ordered these fantastic chocolate cupcakes just for my birthday! How special did I feel?

Happy New Year with cupcakes!

Marci Wii bowling. Look at that form!

Happy Birthday to me! Ok, ok, and Happy New Year to everyone else.

Alex and Kristel, showing us gringos how to dance.

Needless to say, Wednesday was a late night. So on Thursday we slept in and took the morning easy and then we embarked on the adventure of teaching Marci how to play Settlers of Catan. She picked it up pretty quickly and was even game for learning how to play the next version, Cities and Knights. Shannon had played about two years ago but not since, so we attempted to play a few games, learning as we went. It was quite fun, especially since I won! But it was my birthday, so I think I was entitled to win!

Look at all those cities and knights!

Friday I had to return to work, and Marci hung out with Paige over the weekend while Shannon and I went to Asheville. On Monday she hung out with me at work and then we played a couple of final games of Cities and Knights (Shannon won one!) that evening before she left on Tuesday. Overall, I'd rate the visit as excellent. It's always good to see friends who you've known for a long time, or who knew you when you were in the previous stage of life than you are now. I've known Marci for almost five years now, and I'm grateful for every one of them and pray for many more to come!

Marci and I on New Years, all dolled up.

Christmas #3

This last weekend, Shannon and I headed out to Asheville to go to a wedding and to see my dad and stepmom. Since it was only a week or so after Christmas, we had decided to wait and exchange gifts and celebrate birthdays (mine and Joyce's) in person. So, Friday night after I got off work we made the four-hour drive out to Asheville in order to see Joyce on her actual birthday. We even exchanged a few gifts:

I wish this was actually for him! He surely doesn't...

Mmm...for both of us: roasted peanuts, local honey, and frog jam.

Joyce got a new saucepan from us...these are the kinds of things my relatives do with them...

On Saturday we slept in and then headed out to Clyde, NC for a wedding. It was very nice, and at the reception there was breakfast! It was maybe the most unique idea for reception food that I've ever heard of.

Shannon and I at Lake Junaluska, the location of the wedding reception. Notice my new $10 dress, previously seen on New Year's Eve? I love sales!

Saturday evening we all went out for pizza at a place called Barley's. The pizza was phenomenal and we met my aunt and uncle and granddaddy and his wife there, so it was really good to see family.

Barley's menu. Can you tell they serve lots of beer on tap?

Joyce and dad, trying to act normal.

Uncle Tommy and Aunt Teresa...I caught her chewing!

My grandaddy and his wife, Nancy.

Then on Sunday we slept in again, played Scrabble, ate a great lunch, and then headed back, stopping in Elon to see my sister and brother-in-law on the way. All in all, it was a great weekend, but now we're completely exhausted from traveling so much. We're trying to recover before our j-term class starts on Monday!