Thursday, September 30, 2010

Giant Eagle Foodperks!

So I finally got to use some Foodperks tonight at Giant Eagle.  We normally do not get gas at Get Go unless we  have a lot of fuelperks built up, so it has taken awhile to build up some foodperks.  We only had 7% however, 4% was going to expire tonight so we headed to Giant Eagle.  Yes ALL of us went tonight and YES we had to get the annoying, huge red cart so both boys could drive!  Here are my foodperks hints:

1.  Foodperks are taken off of your total bill BEFORE coupons! 
2. Use as many coupons as possible as well as any coupons you have stashed for free items!
3.  Maximize your foodperks even more by buying items that will generate savings off of your next order.

So here is how our trip broke down tonight.  I usually do not spend this much in one trip, but we were really low on items and there are some great sales going on this week!

Total before coupons - $187
minus 7% foodperks -  $13
minus coupons  - $25
Paid out of pocket - $149

But, I generated the following coupons for use on my next order:
Buy $10 in Totinos, get $3 OYNO
Buy 2 Pampers, get $4 OYNO
Buy $15 in Kraft, get $5 OYNO
Buy 5 Hamburger Helpers, get $3 OYNO

So really, I only spent $134 for $187 of groceries! 

Hope this helps in MAXIMIZING your foodperks!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Family Dinner

Photosource, NY Times

Every household has a few absolutes, and one of ours is to eat dinner as a family. Eating dinner as a family means to us that we all sit at our kitchen table and eat together, no distractions. Most weeks we are able to achieve this at least 6 of the 7 days. My husband and I have been doing this for our 8+ years of marriage and we are now instilling this into our minds of our children. Our family table is a place we come together to pray, eat good food, and enjoy each other’s company. It is the highlight of my day.

Granted over these eight years our family table has changed. Yes we did buy a new table a few years ago because our old one did not fit into our new house, but the people around the table have also changed. Where two people use to gather, now we fill up all four chairs at our table (one in a booster chair). First there was a husband and a wife, and then we added a son which often had to be held by his mother while she struggled to eat with one hand. Next came the addition of a high chair and then the booster seat. Everything changed again when we added another baby boy to the mix. The highchair made another appearance and now a disappearance.

The conversation at the table has also changed. In the beginning we talked about our days at work, exciting things we were planning for the upcoming weekend, what bills needed to be paid, and the next vacation we would like to take with each other. Now we discuss the all important, what happened at preschool today. I laughed so hard when we were told how Marty was grabbing onto my son’s shirt (with a demonstration) and his teacher had to tell Marty, to “please keep your hands to yourself”!

There are benefits to family dinners also. Here are 8 benefits according to an article on Fox News!

1. Kids might learn to love their veggies.
A 2000 survey found that the 9- to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently ate more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber.

2. It’s the perfect setting for new foods.
Most likely, a 6-year-old is not one day going to decide she’d really like to try Brussels sprouts. Parents have to introduce new foods to children, who initially need a little guidance in making healthy choices.

3. You control the portions.
Americans spend more than 40 percent of their food budget on meals outside of the home. Eating out can be convenient but it’s also caloric—portion sizes in restaurants just keep growing! The average restaurant meal has as much as 60 percent more calories than a homemade meal

4. Healthy meals mean happy kids.
Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them.

5. Family dinners help kids “just say no.”
Eating family dinners at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol.

6. Better food, better report card.
Family meals give children an opportunity to have conversations with adults, as well as to pick up on how adults are using words with each other, which may explain why family dinnertime is also thought to build a child’s vocabulary.

7. Supper can be a stress reliever.
Believe it or not, if you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed.

8. Put a little cash in your pocket.
In 2007, the average household spent $3,465 on meals at home, and $2,668 on meals away from home, according to the national Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When you take into consideration that the $2,668 spent on meals away from home only accounts for about 30 percent of meals (according to historical data), that’s about $8 per meal outside of the home, and only about $4.50 per each meal made in your own kitchen.

Pumpkin Patches & More

Are you looking for some fall fun?  I found this great website that highlights pumpkin patches, hayrides, apple picking and more!

Cleveland, Akron and surrounding counties's Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes, Hay Rides and More

Where you can find a pumpkin patch, corn maze, safe trick-or-treating, hayrides and other Fall and Halloween fun near you!

Many corn mazes are still open in November!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday – Week of September 27th

Well it is still Monday, even though my post is a bit late. My house has been crazy as we are going through some changes. One thing that is not changing in our house is the fact that we need to eat and we love to eat dinner! So here is the plan for the week, there are some repeats from last week since I had to go out of town for a few nights.

Monday – Chicken Noodle Soup
Tuesday – Stuffed Peppers (except I am substituting ground turkey, since this is what I have)!
Wednesday – Linguini with clams
Thursday - Breakfast for Dinner (French Toast)
Friday – Pizza Night!
Saturday – Clam Bake for local Fire Fighters
Sunday – Date Night

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Crushing Pretzels

Do you have a recipe that calls for crushed pretzels?  I know we make a Strawberry Pretzel Jell-O or our Pretzel Crusted Chicken Tenders that call for crushed pretzels.  My kitchen tip is to put the pretzels in a gallon size zipper bag.  I then use the rolling pin to crush the pretzels.  Super easy and fun and no mess!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Tenders

1 package of chicken tenders
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup dijon mustard
3 cups crushed pretzels

Mix mayo and mustard and pour over chicken.  Let sit for 15 minutes.  Coat chicken in crushed pretzels and place on a foil lined pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Cook at 375 for 20 miuntes.  We like to dip in this Honey Mustard Sauce!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 20th

Another week and Dad will be in charge for a couple of days since I have to go out of town for work. 

Monday - Meat Manacotti (I'll share the recipe later in the week)
Tuesday - City Chicken (I'll share the recipe later in the week)
Wednesday - Dad's Choice
Thursday - Stuffed Peppers
Friday - Eat Out
Saturday - We are hosting our Annual Clambake - YUM!
Sunday - Chicken noodle soup

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Diaper Study - Part 2

So if you read my first post here, I got into a diaper study for size 4 diapers.  I got a pack of 20 Huggies diapers to try out on my little one.  They worked great for daytime, but not night.  Which is not unusual for me, I am a dedicated Huggies Overnights user.  These are the only ones that work for my boys at night time.  So I had to record any leaks and then fill out a 10 question survey.  I had my call on Thursday which literally took me less than 5 minutes.  I am suppose to get my $10 check in the mail in 4 to 6 weeks!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Free Ice Cream @ Cold Stone on Sept 30th!

Its here again at Cold Stone, get a 3oz Kate's Creation for FREE on September 30th from 5 - 8 pm.  They ask for donations for Make-A-Wish, so worth it!  Last year we went by accident and there were hardly any people there!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 13th!

So preschool is back in full swing this week and I am getting into my winter meals since the temperature has cooled off!

Monday - Meatball Subs
Tuesday - Crockpot Roast
Wednesday - Pizza Night!
Thursday - Pretzel Crusted Chicken Tenders
Friday - Steaks on the Grill
Saturday - Eat Out
Sunday - Chicken Breast Divine

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Diaper Study

I'm in a diaper study!  So a few months ago I read about this company, Arquest, which frequently does diaper studies.  I called the number and left a message that I had a son in size 4.  Well 2 weeks ago, I got a call back, that I was in the size 4 study!

Yesterday I got my package in the mail with a pack of 20 Huggies diapers to try.  Starting today, I have to use th diapers and record any leaks.  I then have a survey to do over the phone on September 16th.  Once the survey is complete, they will send me a check for $10!

Not bad, I will get a free pack of diapers and $10 for something I already do everyday!

Here are some links to some other bloggers who have done this here and here!

I do not think it would hurt if you want to try to call the below numbers and leave a message with your name, phone number, gender, diaper size, and weight and perhaps you will get called when a study becomes available!

ext 634 for boys
ext 646 or 633 for girls

Friday, September 10, 2010

Save $$ All Year Long

Here is a cheat sheet on the best times to get a great deal on stuff you need!

January – Linens
Get great deals on linens and towels at a discount during January white sales.

February – Winter Clothes
Now is the time to stock up on winter clothes, coats, and boots. Retailers need to make room for spring clothes coming in March.

March – Small Electronics
This is the best time to buy small electronics such as digital cameras from last year. New models are usually hitting the stores and they need to clear out older models.

April – Cookware & Household Items
Retailers tend to discount cookware and other household items around April in order to entice the wedding-gift crowds.

May – Yard Sales
This is the best month to hit the yard sales. They tend to be in full swing once the weather begins to turn nice.

June – Gym Memberships
There are often deals this time of the year because more people tend to go outside and exercise.

July – Summer Items, Cars, & Carpets
Retailers use the 4th of July to hold big sales on summer items, cars, and carpeting!

August – Lawn Furniture & Gardening Supplies
This is the best time to buy summer gear such as lawn furniture, gardening supplies, a/c units (if you can find any), and of course that final summer clearance items!

September – School & Office Supplies
Back to school sales are in full swing and you can take advantage of the school supply deals out there as well as great deals on computers and dorm items’!

October – Appliances
New home appliances are often introduced in the fall, so you can score last years’ models at a discount, unless you are holding out for that new candy apple red washing machine!

November – Holiday Items
The sales start as soon as Halloween is over. You can get great bargains on toys and flat screen TV’s.

December – After Christmas Seasonal Items
The best time to buy Christmas decorations is after Christmas. Stores mark these items down 50 – 90% immediately after Christmas. Buy I suggest shopping on the 26th or the selection gets picked over!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Rules for Gift Cards

New Federal Reserve rules provide important protections when you purchase or use gift cards. Here are some key changes that apply to gift cards sold on or after August 22, 2010:

Covered by the New Rules
Store gift cards, which can be used only at a particular store or group of stores, such as a book store or clothing retailer.
Gift cards with a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover brand logo. These cards generally can be used wherever the brand is accepted. (Not all cards with a brand logo are covered; see "Other prepaid cards" below for exceptions.)

New Protections
Limits on expiration dates. The money on your gift card will be good for at least five years from the date the card is purchased. Any money that might be added to the card at a later date must also be good for at least five years.
Replacement cards. If your gift card has an expiration date you still may be able to use unspent money that is left on the card after the card expires. For example, the card may expire in five years but the money may not expire for seven. If your card expires and there is unspent money, you can request a replacement card at no charge. Check your card to see if expiration dates apply.
Fees disclosed. All fees must be clearly disclosed on the gift card or its packaging.
Limits on fees. Gift card fees typically are subtracted from the money on the card. Under the new rules, many gift card fees are limited. Generally, fees can be charged if you haven't used your card for at least one year, and ou are only charged one fee per month.

These restrictions apply to fees such as:
dormancy or inactivity fees for not using your card,
fees for using your card (sometimes called usage fees),
fees for adding money to your card, and
maintenance fees

You can still be charged a fee to purchase the card and certain other fees, such as a fee to replace a lost or stolen card. Make sure you read the card disclosure carefully to know what fees your card may have.

Other Prepaid Cards
These new rules apply only to gift cards, which are just one type of prepaid card. The new rules do not cover other types of prepaid cards, such as:

Reloadable prepaid cards that are not intended for gift-giving purposes. For example, a reloadable prepaid card with a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover brand logo that is intended to be used like a checking account substitute is not covered.

Cards that are given as a reward or as part of a promotion. For example, a free $15 gift card given to you by a store if you purchase merchandise or services of $100 or more may have fees or an expiration date of one year rather than five years. Regardless, you must be clearly informed of any expiration dates or fees for these cards.

Go here for more info!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

National Coupon Month

So apparently, September is National Coupon Month!  The average American family saves from $5 to $9 a week with coupons.  That's over $400 per year, WOW!  Coupons have come a long way from clipping them from the Sunday paper.  Here are a few of my favorite places to scoop up coupons!
So I checked out some recent recipts of mine and here is a sampling of my coupon savings:
  • Giant Eagle, 07/17/10, spent $46.58, saved $9.41 on coupons
  • Giant Eagle, 07/28/10, spent $25.84, saved $13.56 on coupons
  • Giant Eagle, 08/01/10, spent $50.12, saved $12.00 on coupons
  • Giant Eagle, 09/01/10, spent $46.98, saved $15.10 on coupons
Happy Couponing!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 6th!

I cannot believe summer is almost over!  We made so many memories this summer and cannot wait for fall activities to start!  I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend.  We were very busy with picnics and I am about grilled out and ready for some good old winter comfort foods!  So here is what is on the calendar for us this week!

Tuesday - Meatball Subs
Wednesday - Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Thursday - Chicken Fajitas
Friday - Salibury Steak (From A Few Shotcuts!)
Saturday - Eat Out
Sunday - Turkey Roast with Mashed Potatoes!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Our Structured Budget – August Test Month

Since we were married 8 years ago, we have always lived with an “unwritten budget”. We lived within our means but never paid too much attention to exactly where our money was going every month! If you have noticed I have been intensely reading David Ramsey books, check out my posts here and here. August was our first month with our Structured Budget plan in place. Our budget plan went as follows:

1. At the beginning of August we created a spreadsheet and allocated where we were going to spend (or save) our money for the month.
2. For the entire month we tracked every penny we spent in the appropriate categories.
3. We watched intensely what we spent and only bought what we needed.

I am proud to say for the month of August our Structured Budget plan was a SUCCESS!! We were able to stay within our total budgeted amount and even managed to begin funding our Christmas account. Our goal this year is to have no Christmas bills in January! This goes along with continuing to fund our boys’ college funds as well as our retirement accounts. Some of our allocations to certain categories will need to be adjusted for September (such as groceries, utilities, eating out, etc), but overall we stayed under budget for August. Our key takeaways for the month:

1. If you write down everything you spend you feel more accountable.
2. We were both questioning certain purchases, it makes you think more!
3. I was able to feed our family of 4 for only $280 for the month (I budgeted for $300 for groceries) so that breaks down to only $72 a week!
4. It really wasn’t that hard to follow the budget, my husband even got In 2 rounds of golf because we budgeted for it!
5. Dave Ramsey uses the envelope system; we used the spreadsheet system, works best for us since we do not use cash all the time.

So at the beginning of September once again we will “tell our money where to go” and continue on our Structured Budget!