20saver


Boo
November 1, 2008, 2:20 pm
Filed under: Food, Money Basics

Someone stole my sandwich out of the work fridge (granted, I got it for free from the cafe here and it didn’t have my name on it- lesson learned) so I was forced to go somewhere and buy my lunch today. I went to Chick-Fil-A because it is close and quick and relatively tasty compared to other fast food places. I paid $7 for a chicken wrap and fries. Seven whole dollars.

I am so glad I’m in the habit of bringing my lunch to work everyday. Not only do I save close to $150 a month by doing so, I also keep a better eye on what kind of nutrients are going into my body.

Note to self: label all food that goes in the work fridge!

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You call that a vacation?
June 20, 2008, 8:10 pm
Filed under: About me, Coupons, Food, Frugality, Relationships, Travel

I really enjoyed my vacation, but man, we sure did a lot of stuff. We drove from Virginia to Pennsylvania, saw my friends and family there and spent the night. The following morning we drove from Pennsylvania to upstate New York to see Jake’s family for a few days. While we were there, we drove to Burlington, Vermont and Montreal, Canada. On our way from upstate New York back down to Pennsylvania, we stopped in Woodstock, NY to have lunch. We spent the night in PA and saw some of both Jake’s and my families, then drove back home to Virginia.

Somehow along the way, we managed to adopted Basil, a part Siamese cat, from one of Jake’s aunts. The poor little guy was being terrorized by her three dogs and we just couldn’t say no to rescuing him. Our dog, Honey, and Basil are slowly working things out.

My two favorite frugal things about our trip both have to do with Jake’s mom. My future mother in law works at the family grocery store. Over Sunday breakfast, I casually told Jake that I had to buy the newspaper. He gave me a funny look (why would I want the newspaper from upstate NY?) and then he unscrewed his face and said, “Oh, coupons.” Jake’s mom happened to overhear and said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. I can get a whole bunch from the store for you.” She not only got me a few copies of Sunday’s coupons, she also got me a bundle of last week’s coupons too. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my future mother in law? She’s also going to try and snag some for me every week and mail them to me. 🙂

Another perk of knowing someone who works at a grocery store is access to “out dates” or food that’s recently expired that the store can no longer sell even though the food is still perfectly fine. Jake’s mom went through everything for us and we came home with a whole boxful of free food.

Today is Jake’s and my three year anniversary, so I’m going to have to cut this post short so I can enjoy the rest of the evening with the one that I love. I hope your past week as been a bit more leisurely than mine.



A nice change from plain water
June 10, 2008, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Food, Frugality

Virginia has been in the midst of a heat wave for what seems like forever. For the last couple of days, the highs have been in the low 100s with the heat index at least a few degrees hotter. Jake and I have been drinking tons of water day in and day out in order to stay hydrated and to try to keep cool. Water’s great and all, but after awhile, you want a little flavor to keep things interesting. The only drinks we buy are milk and orange juice since I can’t really rationalize spending money on most other (overpriced) drinks, so we really don’t have many other options for things to drink other than water.

I was going to break down and ask Jake if he wanted to buy some powered lemonade or iced tea mix the next time we go grocery shopping, but before I could remember to ask him, he had taken the previously unused coffee maker off of the top of the fridge and brewed a batch of tea with some of the tea bags we bought this past winter. He added some sugar, let it cool on the counter, then put it in the fridge to transform it into some refreshing iced tea.

All thanks to my fiance’s quick and frugal thinking, not one additional red cent was spent to add some thirst quenching variety to our water chugging days.



Milk upgrade
May 29, 2008, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Food

While Jake and I were at Kroger the other day, we stumbled across milk that was reduced for quick sale. The milk was in glass bottles and came from a local farm. We decided to purchase it since we needed milk and we figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it out.

The milk is amazing. It is so creamy it actually tastes like real milk, as opposed to the watery tasting Kroger brand milk. Did I mention it’s hormone free? I also love the fact that it comes from a local farm so we’re supporting the local farmers and local economy by purchasing it. Additionally, the glass bottles reduce waste since they can be reused over and over again. We do have to pay a $2 deposit for each bottle, but we get the money back when we return the bottles.

Perhaps the best part about the milk is that it only costs an extra $.40 a bottle (compared to Kroger brand milk) when it’s not on clearance. We’re gladly making the frugal choice and paying the few extra cents to take advantage of all the local milk’s benefits.

Check and see if your grocery store offers milk from local farms. Give it a try if it’s not too expensive. Chances are, you won’t go back!



Bakery outlet
May 20, 2008, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Food, Frugality

If you’re trying to cut down on your grocery bills, I highly recommend stopping by a bakery outlet to save a nice chunk of change.

I stumbled across my local Pepperidge Farm outlet/thrift store a few weeks ago when I was getting out of my car at a Rite Aid I frequent and just happened to looked across the street at a strip mall. At the time, I was in a hurry and couldn’t investigate, but I made sure I’d remember it the next time I was out that way.

I decided to stop in after work today since I wanted to pick up a few things at Rite Aid anyway. After visiting the drug store, I walked across the street and entered the store right when a nice old man was finishing up his transaction. There was a wall of bread, a wall of cookies, freezers on the back wall, and little displays with odds and ends in the center. It reminded me of the bakery outlet my mom used to drag me to from time to time when I was younger.

The items on sale at the bakery outlets are usually very close to expiring or have already expired. Usually the more expired an item is, the less expensive it costs. The dates on food (except for obviously perishable products) are quite arbitrary and are really nothing more than a way to protect a company in case anyone gets sick from or is disappointed with their products. You can always refrigerate or freeze food to make it last longer from an outlet if you’re really worried about it expiring.

While I was tempted to buy lots of Goldfish and sweets, I tried to stick to what we needed. I got a loaf of bread, a box of crackers, a package of English muffins, and a package of frozen garlic bread for a total of $7. My guess is that I got these items for at least half price. (Note to self: I need to remember to ask if they accept coupons.)

Since I live in a city, there are other bakery outlets in the area including Entenmann’s and Wonderbread/Hostess. While a combination of the three of these stores will surely offer a good amount of savings, they are a bit of a distance away. In order to really see the savings, I need to make sure that I don’t make the trip just to get a discounted loaf of bread- I need to plan on doing other errands around that area. Oh, and also, make sure I don’t buy tons of unnecessary sweets. 😛

To see if you have any bakery outlets/thrift stores near you, I recommend looking up “Bakeries” in your local yellow pages.



Sunday brunch
May 4, 2008, 7:21 pm
Filed under: Food, Frugality

I woke up this morning with a craving for pancakes. This is quite unusual for me as I’m not usually a big fan of pancakes, so I decided to go with it. I searched the web for a pancake recipe and discovered I needed eggs and butter- two things we don’t have since we desperately need to go grocery shopping. I would have just let the idea go except that I remembered that one of Jake’s vegan friends comes over occasionally and makes us pancakes. She doesn’t eat eggs, butter, and milk, so her pancake mix must be devoid of those ingredients. I searched for vegan pancakes and voila! a simple recipe fell into my hands:

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup soy milk (we used regular milk)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Let me tell you, these pancakes were delicious. You couldn’t even tell they were missing eggs and butter. Plus, there was just enough batter to make enough pancakes to fill up the two of us. It’s a good thing I came across this recipe because there wasn’t anything else to eat in our kitchen this morning.

It just goes to show that a little creativity can stretch the food you already have and, consequently, your money.



When persnicketiness and frugality meet
March 23, 2008, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Food, Frugality

This post was included in the 118th Festival of Frugality carnival over at My Dollar Plan.

I will be the first person to tell you that I am a pretty picky eater. While I seem to be getting better the older I get, I still stick to my guns about a good many food items. Raisins? Forget it. Mushrooms? I’d rather starve. And don’t even get me started on rice. Yes, I said rice.

Jake, my fiance, will eat just about anything though, which makes it easy to cook for him and to go grocery shopping. The problem arises when we buy something that Jake will happily scarf down, but I will not touch with a ten foot pole. Sometimes, that item will sit there and sit there and slowly, but surely begin to rot because Jake has been busy eating other things (things that I too enjoy eating) and not eating up whatever gross thing he got for himself. There’s nothing I can do, but nag and let the food sit there because I can’t stand to eat it. In some cases, the food has honey in it, an ingredient I’m allergic to (yes, freak that I am, I’m allergic to honey), and I down right can’t eat it. I absolutely hate spending money on food only to throw it away because we simply forget about it- it’s just like tossing your hard earned cash straight into the trash.

But, I no longer have to fret; I finally came up with a solution:

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This is a list of all the food in our kitchen that Jake will eat and I will not. I’m hoping that when Jake is hungry and looking for something to eat, he will consult this list first before digging in. If anything has an expiration date, I will include it next to the item. I also plan on starting a list of things that I eat and Jake will not when, on the off chance, we buy something that he doesn’t eat (namely avocados) so that I will know which foods to focus on eating too.

This kind of list would also work if you find yourself throwing a lot of food away because it expires before you can use it all up. Just write down all the food that is perishable with the expiration date beside it. No need to hunt around, use guess work, or throw out forgotten food anymore; it’s all listed on the front door of the refrigerator.