Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March Grocery Challenge Wrap Up

Happy to say I made it under my budget these last 3 weeks, granted, it felt a bit tougher this time. I think it would have been easier if I hadn't handed over my credit card to my daughter for her to buy $10+ out of the budget, plus I picked up a bunch of "wants" for the family rather than sticking to the essentials. Then again, I find myself torn as it's very difficult to tell your family they can't have something they want to eat when you know you make more in an hour than what's in this month's budget. I just like to know that I can do it, which I suppose is selfish in a way. I will say though that by having to keep track of what I have on hand and what I need, and really paying attention to my meal planning, I've really upped my food efficiency and significantly reduced the amount of food we waste. Anyway, this is how the last couple days played out...

Friday Mar. 17th
No spending.
Chuck roast with carrots and potatoes in the crock pot for dinner.

Saturday Mar. 18th
Got 4 weekend newspapers at CVS for $1.50 each. Used the $4 ECB I got earlier in the week for buying Colgate toothpaste and paid $2.00.
Leftovers for dinner.

Sunday Mar. 19th
No spending.
Cooked a frozen DiGiorno pizza for dinner.

Monday Mar. 20th
The kids are on Spring Break now. They hit me up with a list of food they wanted for the week. Since we actually have plenty of food plus we're leaving for our vacation in a couple days, and I don't want a bunch of perishable food sitting around while we're gone, I decided to pick up the lunchmeat and cheese they wanted for sandwiches and told them I'd get the rest of the stuff later.

Went to Kroger to finish out my donation spending as well as get the kid's stuff. Got...

2 packages Budding corned beef @ 0.69 each
1 package of sliced provolone cheese @ 1.99
9 boxes Psst macaroni and cheese @ 0.39 each
4 packages of Comforts baby food @ 0.69 each
total spent $9.64

I'm donating the macaroni and cheese and baby food. I initially was going to buy some more HBAs to donate but then decided to get food items instead.

I got back in the car and realized I still had a couple more dollars in the grocery budget and figured I'd go ahead and spend it tonight. Kids had yogurt and Hawaiian rolls on their list that I hadn't picked up yet... and I really didn't want to buy tonight as we have plenty of bread at home and the yogurt will go on sale at Meijer on Thursday. However, I decided to go check out Walmart of all places.

I am not a Walmart shopper. The main reason is that the closest Walmart to our house used to be 20 minutes away, and, everytime I went there the parking lot was packed and it took FOREVER to check out and I could never find anything because I only went there twice a year. Well, now there's a new Walmart that's a short distance from our house. In fact, it's actually closer than the Meijer...

Tonight I decided to go check it out. The other reason I wanted to check it out is that I keep reading on different blog posts that pop up in my Pinterest feed about all these people who feed their family of X on Y dollars a week just by shopping at Walmart and not using coupons. The only problem with those posts is that my family won't eat that way - meaning many of those meal plans posted are meatless meals or have a lot of processed foods that my family won't eat. The other thing is that most of these posts only count food in their budget, not other household items like paper goods and HBAs.  Anyhoos... I wanted to see what the prices were like at Walmart. After spending some time cruising down the aisles my conclusion was that they really weren't any cheaper than Kroger or Meijer. As far as the Walmart generics, Aldi is cheaper...

4 lbs of frozen tilapia was $19.98. I bought 2 lbs for $4.99 at Aldi last week. That's HALF the price. Canola oil was $1.98 for 48 oz. I got the same for $1.85 at Aldi. 10 lb bags of frozen chicken breasts were $19.98. That's $1.99/lb. You can do better when it goes on sale at Meijer or get it for $1.98/lb at the Meijer meat counter everyday and not have to buy 10 lbs. Hawaiian rolls were more expensive than the Kroger sale price this week. Their everyday price on Keebler cookies (2.00 for most kinds) and Rana pesto sauce (1.78 for a small container) were less expensive than the competition so I filed that away in my head for later. I know they price match advertised prices but that's too much of a PITA for me. They were about the same price on lots of stuff like the yogurt and lunchmeat. I ended up getting 4 more packages of Budding corned beef for $0.68 each (so a penny cheaper than Kroger).

Total spent: $12.36

Lunch was pan fried home made potstickers. Also made some roasted red pepper hummus to eat with carrots. Dinner was fried tilapia. I went shopping after dinner but when the kids saw the corned beef they had to eat a corned beef and provolone sandwich as a snack... then were too full to finish the sandwiches!

Tuesday Mar. 21st
No spending.
Spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. That was the kiddos request. Then I had to make them grilled corned beef and Swiss sandwiches as a late night snack. I swear, these kids can EAT!

March Grocery Spending: $148.87
March Donation Spending: $19.76

I'm going to take April off as far as the strict tracking although I may post some random deals if I get some. Gonna try and concentrate some more on running and this crazy yard of mine!

Happy Spring Break!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March Donations

I went ahead and finished up my March donation spending last night with a final trip to Kroger and purchased some food items to round out the spending. I'll post my actual March Grocery Challenge spending tomorrow. Here's what the donation pile looked like this month...

Total spent: $19.76

4 cans Valley Fresh white meat chicken
9 boxes Psst macaroni and cheese
6 bottles of Pine Sol
3 bottles L'Oréal shampoo
3 bottles L'Oréal conditioner
3 bottles Garnier Fructis shampoo
1 bottle Garnier Fructis conditioner
4 tubes Colgate toothpaste
4 sticks Arrid deodorant
4 sticks Arm & Hammer deodorant
4 pouches Comforts baby food
4 10-ct packages of Bic disposable razors

Regular shelf price for all the items came to $118.52. I paid $19.76, which comes to a savings of a bit over 83%. $4.10 of the $19.76, so almost 21% of my spending, was for tax on the HBAs as the tax is calculated on the pre-coupon price of the item. I'm debating whether to concentrate on just food items next month. On the other hand, I did get quite a volume of free HBAs where I only paid the tax as all the deodorant, toothpaste, and razors were free. Thoughts?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Training Log 3/12/17 - 3/18/17

Sunday 3/12 - Rest

Monday 3/13 - Zero miles. Worked overnight  and was too tired to do anything.

Tuesday 3/14 - Zero miles. Still too tired to get off the couch.

Wednesday 3/15 - 7 miles. I resolved to run today. I actually had a free evening and it was still cold out so I went to the hamster and ran 6 miles at a nice easy pace. Got done and felt good about hanging in there and doing all 6 miles. Then, I checked my phone. My friend Margo wanted to know if I was doing the Brew Mile. What Brew Mile? I was told it was happening in an hour in Broad Ripple to raise money for some pet foundation and she was going to jog/walk it so, could I come and hang out? Fine. I had a rare free evening. Why not? I sped up to the Broad Ripple Athletic Annex and got there right as they were starting, totally not dressed for the event. At least I had running shoes on. Otherwise I had the cotton sweatshirt I had over my T-shirt and track pants that I had over my shorts as I'd come straight from the fitness center. It was cold! As soon as we started running all my loose clothing started flapping around in the wind and I felt like I was running in a clown suit. Plus, so much for that jog/walk plan cause everyone was running. Ya, did my mile in just over 8 minutes.

Thursday 3/16 - 6 miles. Another cold sunny day. Actually would have been a nice day to run outdoors but I wanted to watch the NCAA Tournament basketball games so I ended up on the treadmill at the Y so I could watch basketball at the same time. The miles definitely go by quicker when you're watching basketball. Finished 6 miles in 55 minutes... then I walked on the treadmill for another 30 minutes so I could watch the end of the Northwestern - Vanderbilt game. I had Northwestern picked as the winner in my bracket. They blew a 15 point lead and Vanderbilt actually took the lead with just minutes left, then one of their players must have gotten confused on who had the lead and fouled Northwestern with 15 seconds left. Free throws went in and Northwestern ended up winning 68-66.

Friday 3/17 - Rest. Worked all day and was asleep by 10 pm.

Saturday 3/18 - 6 miles. Met up with Margo in the morning and ran around her neighborhood.

19 total miles this week.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March Grocery Challenge Days 15 and 16 - Meal Planning to Get Me Through

This was dinner yesterday - blackened ahi tuna with mango salsa and a side of butternut squash risotto. Dessert was a flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. This was after I realized I only had $22.18 left in the budget this month and I had a moment of anxiety. Then I decided to take inventory of what I had to reassure myself I had plenty of food to get me through til the end of the month. I came up with...

3 lb chuck roast
ahi tuna
tilapia filets
turkey burgers
frozen DiGiorno pizzas
chicken breasts
spaghetti with meatballs
pot stickers

OK. I'm fine. I just need to plan out my meals. I decided dinner would be blacken ahi tuna with a side of butternut squash risotto. I still had a bunch of cooked butternut squash left over from the night I made the adobo beef a while back that I had thrown in the freezer plus one aging apple I didn't want to throw out. Arborio rice is one of my pantry staples as I love risotto.

Thursday would be baked chicken breasts. That way I could make some other dinners later with left over baked chicken (such as enchiladas) if there were leftovers.

I work all day Friday. It's St. Patrick's Day so I thought about buying some corned beef to put in the crock pot but then decided to go with the chuck roast I already had as my family prefers chuck over corned beef anyway.

Looking over the new week's grocery ads, I didn't see much. Aldi's ad starts on Wednesday so I made a trip to pick up some produce. They usually have the best prices on produce but sometimes they run out of the sale items later in the ad week.

Wednesday Mar. 15th
Aldi trip...

5 lb bag of red potatoes @ 1.49
1 lb bag of baby carrots @ 0.79
3 lb bag of onions @ 0.89
3 lb bag of mandarin oranges @ 2.89
total $6.06

$6.06 at Aldi

Next was a small trip to Meijer. My main reason for going to Meijer was to get razors and ice cream. My "buy" price on ice cream is $2 for a 48-oz container. Since the Turkey Hill deal didn't work out for me at Kroger this week (as it came to $2.49 after Mega Sale and coupon), I found that the Meijer Purple Cow ice cream was on sale for $2.50, with an mPerks available for $1 off 2, which brough me down to my $2 "buy" price. I also heard that they had 10-packs of disposable Bic razors priced at $2.99 and there is a coupon out for $3, making them free. Can't pass up free! Of course I had to go check it out.

Also needed some onion soup mix for my chuck roast. My crock pot recipe is very simple - just sprinkle a package of instant onion soup mix over your roast, then add a little water plus whatever veggies you want and turn the crock pot on. I also came across some Welch's frozen mangos that were on clearance and I so happened to have some Welch's frozen fruit coupons in my purse. They were available as a printable last month and didn't expire until July so I held on to them waiting for a deal. Generally it is much cheaper to freeze your own fruit. Mangos though, I'll pay for cut up mangos. Ever try to cut up a mango? I always end up with a squishy mess as all the fruit sticks to the huge pit in the middle. I have yet to figure out how to cut up a mango.

2 48-oz containers Purple Cow ice cream @ 2.50 each
2 bags Welch's frozen mangos @ 2.23 each
1 2-pack box of Meijer onion soup mix @ 1.19
4 10-ct packages of Bic disposable razors @ 2.99 each
1 Gatorade Whey Protein Recovery bar @ 1.59
subtotal 24.20
- 1.00 (off 2 Purple Cow ice cream mPerks coupon)
- 4 (2.99 Bic 3/5 insert coupon; register adjusted coupon down to 2.99)
- 2 (1.50 Welch's printable coupon)
- 1.59 (free Gatorade Whey Protein bar Meijer Catalina coupon)
+  .95 tax
paid $7.60

Paid $7.60
All the razors are being donated and I thawed some mangos to make the mango salsa

Thursday Mar. 16th
I wasn't going to go to the store today... THEN, I heard that there was a free deodorant deal at both Meijer and Kroger that started today. Both stores have the Arm & Hammer Ultra Max deodorant and the Arrid deodorant on sale for $1, and there was a $1 off coupon for both products in this weekends inserts. I also happened to get an extra insert in one of my papers so I had 5 coupons for each product. I was afraid that if I waited later in the week all the product would be gone so I ran to Meijer while G was at dance tonight.

I chose Meijer over Kroger because I currently have an mPerks reward available for $3 off if you spend $30 on personal care products. The razors I got for free on Wednesday counted for $11.96 of that $30 and the deodorant would count for another $10, leaving me with only $8.04 left to "spend" to earn the $3.

Got all the deodorant I wanted...

Paid $0.70 for the tax, otherwise FREE!

Keeping two and donating the rest. Can you see why I'm addicted to this game? I understand why the re-sellers do it.

I still had some butternut squash left over so I made butternut squash soup for lunch by blending some butternut squash with some chicken broth, then throwing in some garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and sage (all to taste). Topped it off with some pepitas.

Also made homemade soft pretzels...

Dinner was baked chicken with leftover risotto.
Yes, I have plenty of food. I think I'll be just fine.

March Grocery Spending: $140.78
March Donation Spending: $13.49

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March Grocery Challenge Days 9 to 14 - Mostly Mega Sale Shopping

Thursday Mar. 9th
No spending.

Friday Mar. 10th
No spending.
Chicken lettuce wraps for dinner.

Saturday Mar. 11th
Went to Meijer to get my weekend papers as they had a 10% off general merchandise mPerks offer for their Friday-Saturday sale, plus BBQ sauce and rotisserie chicken on sale too. Kiddos then wanted mixed fruit as I was running out the door and I was too tired to argue. Meijer shopping...

4 weekend newspapers @ 1.50 each
2 18-oz bottles Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce @ 0.99 each
1 rotisserie chicken @ 3.99
1 large container of mixed fruit @ 3.23
subtotal 15.20
- 0.60 (10% off newspapers mPerks coupon)
+ 0.32 tax (on the rotisserie chicken)
paid $14.92 - Ughh!

Since Kroger was next door, went over to check out a couple Mega Sale items. I'll do a larger trip later. Got...

2 Colgate Enamel Health toothpastes @ 2.99 each (Mega sale item)
1 Garnier Fructis hairspray @ 3.59 (Mega sale item)
1 Maybelline New York mascara @ 4.67 (Mega sale item)
1 14-oz bag Cooked Perfect meatballs @ 2.99 (Mega sale item)
subtotal 17.23
- 5.00 (Mega sale instant discount)
- 2 (2.00 Colgate 3/5 insert coupon)
- 3.00 (Maybelline 3/5 insert coupon)
- 2.00 (Garnier 3/5 insert coupon)
- 1.00 (Cooked Perfect 1/29 insert coupon)
+.72 tax (on price of all the HBAs after instant discount)
paid $2.95

Paid $2.95

I'm donating the toothpaste. Kids needed the hairspray and mascara. Since the hairspray came to 0.59 after discounts and coupons and the mascara was 0.67, I will probably get more if I have some funds left next week.

Rotisserie chicken and corn casserole for dinner.

Sunday Mar.12th
No spending.
Left overs for dinner.

Monday Mar. 13th
Had some satisfying shopping today with some small purchases that I needed to generate some funds. First stop was CVS. There is an ECB deal this week where you earn $2 for buying certain Colgate toothpastes. The toothpaste is $2.99.I have insert coupons for $2 and the CVS coupon machine is spitting out coupons this week for $2 off 2 Colgate. Best part, you can do this deal twice! Basically I got paid $4 to buy two tubes of toothpaste. I don't need any more toothpaste so I'll be donating it but now I have $4 in fake CVS money to buy my newspapers with this coming weekend.

Paid $0.28 for tax, otherwise FREE!

Next stop was Marsh. I HAD to get cat food today. We are totally out. I kept hoping for a Meijer sale but it never happened so now I'm searching for a cat food deal. This is what I came up with... Marsh has a deal this week where if you buy 10 participating items, you get a coupon for $5 off your next order. Campbell's soup is on that list and I'm running low on tomato soup. The soup is on sale 5 for $4. I still had Fresh Lettuce rewards to earn in my app so I earned $6 in the app and went to Marsh.

First transaction was 10 cans of Campbell's tomato soup for $8.00. Used $6 in Fresh Lettuce rewards, paid $2 and got the $5 coupon.
Second transaction was a 6.5 lb bag of Dad's cat food for $5.29 + 0.37 tax = $5.66.
Used the $5 coupon and paid $0.66.

Paid $2.66 total

Final stop was Kroger as I wanted to spend more time checking out the Mega sale items. I was disappointed to find that the Turkey Hill ice cream was not that great a deal in our region so I passed on it. I ended up just doing one transaction of donation items plus some freebies I had loaded on my card. Got...

4 cans Valley Fresh white meat chicken @ 1.99 each (Mega sale item)
1 bottle Garnier Fructis shampoo @ 3.39 (Mega sale item)
1 bag of Kettle Chips @ 2.00
1 can V8 + Energy @ 1.25
subtotal 14.60
- 5.00 (Mega sale instant discount)
- 2.00 (free Kettle chips Kroger digital coupon - I won this)
- 1.25 (free V8 Kroger Free Friday download digital coupon)
- 4 (0.55 off Valley Fresh chicken 2/26 insert coupon)
- 2.00 (Garnier 3/5 insert coupon)
+.17 tax (on shampoo)
paid $2.32

Paid $2.32

Keeping the chips and V8, donating the rest.

We had chili for dinner. It's been COLD this week!

Tuesday Mar.14th
Went back to another Kroger this morning in search of Pine Sol. Word was that there was a $2 off your next order Catalina  printing if you bought over $8 of Pine Sol or Clorax products and there is a $1.50 off 2 Pine Sol or Clorax insert coupon. The Pine Sol is $1.99 but included in the Mega Sale. Plan was to try and find 6 bottles. I figured 6 x 1.99 = 11.94 (so over $8), then the Mega Sale discount would be $1 off each bottle plus I'd use 3 $1.50 coupons to get me down to $1.44. I could donate the Pine Sol and get the $2 Catalina. The Kroger I went to on Monday night was completely wiped out of the Pine Sol. I found exactly 6 bottles left at the store I went to this morning. Ended up with...

6 Pine Sol @ 1.99 each (Mega Sale item)
2 Garnier Fructis shampoo @ 3.39 each (Mega Sale item)
1 Garnier Fructis conditioner @ 3.39 (Mega Sale item)
1 Ken's dressing @ 2.49 (Mega Sale item)
1 Jose Ole frozen chimichanga @ 0.87
subtotal 25.47
- 10.00 (Mega Sale instant discount)
- 3 (1.50 off 2 Pine Sol 3/5 insert coupon)
- 3 (2.00 Garnier 3/5 insert coupon)
- 0.75 (Ken's printable coupon)
- 0.87 (free Jose Ole Kroger digital coupon - I won this)
+.92 tax
paid $4.27

Paid $4.27. Chimichanga was already in the freezer.

Pretty good deal EXCEPT... the $2 Catalina didn't print. Ughh. Nearest I can figure, the register calculated the Pine Sol price as 0.99 each as that was the price after the instant Mega Sale discount, so I only had $5.94 count, which wasn't enough for the Catalina. Bit disappointing but, oh well.

Keeping the dressing and chimichanga, donating the rest.

Next was an unexpected run into Marsh. I was out running errands with my husband when I realized I had Marsh coupons for free eggs and a half gallon of milk that were going to expire on 3/16. I didn't use them on Monday because I was shopping in Carmel and I didn't want those things sitting in my car for a couple hours. Today we were going to drive right past the Marsh by our house so I asked him to stop while I ran in.

Well... things didn't go exactly as planned but ended up working out OK.

That Fresh Lettuce app I've been using... you watch little videos on your phone and it gives you money that loads onto your card in $3 increments, up to $12. What I don't like about the app is that once the money is loaded onto your card it automatically applies the credit on your next transaction as long as the total is more than what you have loaded. Being the control freak that I am, I don't like this feature. What I'd been doing is planning my grocery trip and if I thought it would be over the $3 amount, I'd earn the money right before I spent it. After yesterday's Marsh run I only had $3 left to earn so I went ahead and earned it as I wanted to see if and when more offers would become available... then promptly forgot I had it loaded on my card. Then, I ran in today and got...

1 dozen Marsh eggs @ 1.49
1 half gallon Marsh milk @ 2.09
1 2-pack Minute Rice instant rice @ 1.99
subtotal 5.57

As soon as I hit the "Pay" button and my order totaled, the $3 Fresh Lettuce credit applied and showed my balance to be $2.57. @#$#!!! I didn't want to use that!!

I scanned in my coupons anyway to see what would happen...
-0.50 Minute Rice coupon
-0.50 double coupon credit
-1.49 free Marsh eggs coupon
I kinda held my breath and scanned the free milk coupon
-2.39 free Marsh milk coupon

Now what?? Was the register going to spit money out at me or shut off? Ages ago the Meijer self checkout registers would give you money back for your coupon overage. The Marsh registers used to shut down if your balance was exactly 0.00.

The screen flashed a couple times with numbers going back and forth so fast I couldn't follow, then it gave me my new total as $0.69. Ummm... standing there I couldn't figure out exactly how it came up with that total but my husband was waiting for me in the car and I didn't even want to try to have customer service figure this out (as I was sure they'd have NO clue) so I paid the $0.69 and left.

I thought my total was going to be $0.99, but that was without the Fresh Lettuce credit showing up. Did I lose the Fresh Lettuce credit? Did it pay for part of my order? What the heck just happened? I checked my app when I got home. My $3 credit was still there. I studied the receipt again. Then I figured it out. I got $0.30 overage from the free milk coupon. The milk only cost $2.09 and the coupon gave me credit for $2.39. The register put the $3 Fresh Lettuce credit back (meaning it added 3.00 to -2.31 to get 0.69). That's how I ended up paying $0.69 instead of $0.99.

My take away... the app credit will only apply if your total AFTER coupons is higher than your credit. I still don't like it that it automatically applies the credit though!

Not bad for $0.69!

One final trip back to Kroger tonight while G was at dance.

4 boxes of 6-ct Glucerna nutrition bars @ 3.99 (Mega Sale item)
3 bottles L'Oreal Advanced shampoo @ 3.79 (Mega Sale item)
3 bottles L'Oreal Advanced conditioners @ 3.79 (Mega Sale item)
subtotal 38.70
- 10.00 (Mega sale instant discount)
- 4 ($3 Glucerna 3/5 insert coupon)
- 2 ($4 off 2 L'Oreal 3/5 insert coupon)
- 2 ($2 L'Oreal 3/5 insert coupon)
+ 1.18 tax
paid 5.88

I actually did this in two transactions as the Glucerna coupons said "limit 2 like coupons per transaction" and I didn't want to risk a picky cashier. Turns out all of them just scanned the coupons without even looking at them.

$5.88 total

I was planning on donating everything, however, G eyeballed the Glucerna bars as soon as I unloaded my bags in the kitchen and wanted to try them. She liked them so I guess we are keeping them. More shampoo for the food pantry. Like I posted earlier... you can get cheap HBAs every. single. week.

Venison stew in the crockpot for dinner tonight.

One more week to go. It's going to be close.

March Grocery Spending: $127.82
March Donation Spending: $12.09

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Training Log 3/5/17 - 3/11/17

This week was a struggle. That is all.

Sunday 3/5 - 3 miles in 25:53 a 600 meter swim and 8 mile stationary bike ride for the IU Swim Club Indoor Triathlon. Got up at 7 am to drive down to Bloomington for the race. Went to work after that and didn't get home til 1 am.

Monday 3/6 - Rest. Woke up feeling like I'd been run over by a truck. Gee, I wonder why?

Tuesday 3/7 - 3 miles. I bagged going to Run Club because I decided that I was in no shape to do anything close to speed work today. Went to the fitness center instead and tried to get my rhythm back with some easy miles on the hamster track but still felt too tired to go more than 3 miles.

Wednesday 3/8 - 6 miles. Thought about doing the Run Club speed workout on my own today but decided against it. It was a beautifully sunny day but cold. I decided I really needed some feel good miles and did a watchless run on the Monon.

Thursday 3/9 -Rest. Got up at 4:40 am to go to work, then got home just in time to go to J's Winter Sports Awards Banquet. This got done around 8 pm and I was simply too tired to do anything else after that.

Friday 3/10 - 2 miles. Another deceptively beautifully sunny day. I planned to do at least 6 miles on the Monon while G danced. However... I spent the entire day cleaning my house - like cleaning up everyone else's clutter like a mad woman, then vacuuming all my floors and stairs. I seriously needed a nap by the time the kids got home and could barely stay awake driving to Carmel. Once I got to the Y I seriously considered taking a nap in my car. Then I got out and realized it felt like it was 20 degrees. I had on running capris and a long sleeve shirt but no jacket. I was freezing and it was super windy. I changed plans and decided I'd run on the treadmill. I changed into the short sleeve cotton T-shirt that I had planned to wear after my run and shower and hit the treadmill. Tried to watch TV but I felt exhausted. Not out of breath but just plain tired. Stopped after 2 miles and called it a day.

Saturday - Zero miles. Up at 7:30 am so I could drop J off at the school then drive down to Seymour, IN for the high school basketball regional that started at 10 am. Great game but Center Grove lost so they will not be advancing to the game next weekend. This was a mixed blessing. Again, I was so sleepy I could hardly drive home but J was starving and wanted to eat ASAP as it was after noon. Got home, made lunch for the kids, went to the grocery store, then hubs got home from his 3-day business trip and we got caught up. Next thing I know it's 4 pm and I still haven't had a nap. Soooo sleepy! Of course I could only lay down for an hour because I had to make dinner after that cause I had to leave for work to work the night shift at 6:30 pm.

So there you have it.
14 miles this week.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March Grocery Challenge Days 3 to 8 - Trying to Keep Up with the Family

This is the grab and go basket of breakfast and snack food my family ended up with as I've been too busy to fix them meals every single day and I decided it was less expensive for me to go out and shop for the things they wanted than to hand my credit card over to my daughter and let her take care of it!

Friday Mar.3rd
Small Meijer trip for some essentials. They have chuck roasts on sale for $2.99 a pound this week which is a great price. Also wanted to make a kale salad and lucked into some clearance kale. Spent money on the garlic paste tube because I find this more cost efficient for me in the long run and simpler too than having garlic cloves dry out in my pantry. Parmesan cheese was full price because I ran out! Got...

3+ lb chuck roast @ 9.03
3+ lb chuck roast @ 9.87
1 bag of chopped kale @ 1.61 (clearance price)
1 4-oz tube of garlic paste @ 3.99
1 6-oz tub shaved Parmesan cheese @ 3.89
paid $28.38
No coupons.

Saturday Mar. 4th
Bought my weekend papers at Walgreens today so I could use my $5 Register Reward before it expired on 3/9.  Of course the Register Reward didn't immediately scan as the ink on the Catalina was faded and the cashier immediately started making up a reason.... "I don't think you can use those on newspapers..." and while he was saying that the thing finally scanned and the register credited it. Ugh. I hate it when cashiers start pulling rules out of their butt. Newspapers are clearly NOT on the exclusion list and I have used Register Rewards on newspapers numerous times in the past.

4 weekend newspapers @ 1.50 each. Paid $1.00.

Made a chuck roast with potatoes and carrots in the crockpot. Should be enough to pick on for a couple days.

Sunday Mar. 5th
No spending.

I was gone all day as I left the house at 8 am to do a triathlon, then went to work after that and didn't get home until 1 am. I have no idea what my family ate, however they left me a list of things they wanted from the grocery store at my place at the table when I got home.

Monday Mar.6th
It was a bad food, fried food bonanza for dinner tonight. I wanted fried fish and figured if I was going to go through the trouble of getting out the fryer, might as well fry everything. Ended up with fried tilapia, fried green tomatoes, fried mushrooms, and fried pickles.... with a healthy serving of kale salad. After that, I had to go to work. My daughter really wanted to pick up some fruit and yogurt to make smoothies in the morning so I let her use my credit card. She left me the receipt the next morning - $10.42 for 5 containers of yogurt, some pears and pineapple.

Tuesday Mar.7th
Pretty much felt like a junk food buying bonanza today. Everyone in my family is requesting grab and go food because when I'm at work, no one cooks! I folded and went on a shopping spree.

First stop, CVS. I had $10 in ECBs that expired today. There was NOTHING I really needed at CVS but the kids wanted Kind Bars. Got 3 assorted boxes for $3.49 each, totaling $10.47. Used the ECB and paid $0.47 out of pocket.

Next stop, Marsh. I wanted to see if there were any double coupon deals worth doing. Plus, I had a free head of lettuce on my Fresh Idea card that expired today and I had just recently loaded their Fresh Lettuce App and had a $3 credit from it. I was curious to see how this would come off. Bought...

1 2-pk of Minute Rice microwaveable cups @ 1.99 (requested by hubs)
2 16-oz International Delights coffee creamers @ 2.49 (requested by a kid)
1 head of lettuce @ 1.29
subtotal 8.26
- 3.00 (Fresh Lettuce App credit)
- 1.29 (Fresh Idea card free lettuce digital coupon)
- 1.00 (off 2 International Delight creamers)
- 1.00 (double coupon credit)
- 0.50 (off Minute Rice)
- 0.50 (double coupon credit)
paid 0.97

So, the Fresh Lettuce App credit comes off automatically. Not sure if I like this feature as I like to control when I use my credits. My coupons doubled without a hitch so I'll probably be back to take advantage of this deal.

Next stop, Meijer. Got...

2 loaves Aunt Millie's Best Grains bread @ 4.49, buy one get one free
5 containers of Yoplait whips @ 0.50 each (requested by a kid)
3 8-oz packages of Meijer sliced cheese @ 2.49 each, buy two get one free
4 microwaveable cups of Zatarain's red beans and rice @  1.00 each (requested by hubs)
subtotal 15.97
- 0.55 (off Aunt Millie's Best Grains)
- 0.50 (off 5 Yoplait)
paid 14.92

Next was Kroger where I really couldn't find any great deals but I did find some clearance Curate bars. Ended up with...

4 Curate bars @ 0.25 each (clearance price)
1 box Chips Ahoy this @ 2.79
subtotal 3.79
- 2.79 (Chips Ahoy Free Friday download digital coupon)
paid 1.00

Final stop was Super Target where I had a Cartwheel coupon for 10% off Chobani Flips which was another kid request. Picked up 6 containers; 5 @ $1.07 and 1 @ $1.16. Total after the Cartwheel discount was $5.84.

Total paid $23.20

Dinner was a frozen pizza plus leftovers.

Wednesday Mar. 8th
After yesterdays junk food spending spree I decided I needed to take a close look at what I had and what I really needed as I'm blowing through the budget at an alarming rate. I came up with meal plans for the next week, looked at what was going to be on sale for the next sales cycle, then went out to pick up a couple more things before this week's sales cycle ended today.

Marsh: 2 boxes of Quaker Breakfast Flats @ 2.50 each
Used a $1 off 2 coupon that doubled. Paid $3.00

Fresh Thyme: 2 lbs of strawberries @ 1.25/lb. Paid $2.50.

Aldi: 2 gallons of milk @ 1.09 each. Paid $2.18

18.5 lb bag of dogfood @ 7.99 (sale price)
5 containers of Yoplait @ 0.50 each
2 loaves Aunt Millie's Best Grains bread @ 4.49, Buy One Get One Free
1 bag of tortilla chips @ 1.99
8 oz bag shredded cheese @ 2.00
subtotal 18.97
- 1.00 (coupon for Aunt Millie's)
- 0.50 (off 5 Yoplait)
paid 17.47

Total paid 25.15

Bread is going in the freezer. I decided to get some extra loaves because I tried it last night and liked it. I would never pay $4.49 for a loaf of bread, however, with the Buy One Get One Free sale plus the $1 off coupon, it came to $1.75 a loaf which is a reasonable price. Strawberries were a good price too. Second pound might get frozen for smoothies too if I see that we're not eating them pretty quickly.

Dinner tonight is taco salad.

So yikes! I'm slightly two-thirds through my budget and I've still got 2 more weeks to go. Kroger is starting a two week Mega sale cycle tomorrow and rumor has it that Turkey Hill ice cream will be included. We are pretty much out of ice cream and my family considers it a "necessity" so I've got to save some of the budget for that, and I'm pretty sure I'll need more cat food too. Otherwise, I've got to be a real stickler to staying focused on my plan!

February Grocery Spending: $106.14
February Donation Spending: $0