October 19, 2014

Freezer Cooking: Pork Roast

Hello thrifty readers. Sorry it has been so long since I have posted. Being a teacher, mom, and wife limits my time. I still try to save money wherever I can and so when Harris Teeter had pork roast on sale last week, I snagged one for for freezer cooking.

Yesterday I cooked the pork roast in the crock pot for about eight hours. Normally I would season it with cumin, garlic, onions, and other yummy Mexican flavorings, but I plan to use this one for sandwiches, burritos, and egg rolls. I only seasoned this roast with salt and pepper.

The Thrifty Mommy freezer cooking pork roast

Last night I removed the pork from the crock pot. It was so tender that it came apart in pieces. I let it cool for a little while and then pulled the pork apart. As you can see, there was enough to fill a 9×13 dish.

The Thrifty Mommy freezer cooking pork roast


I separated the pork into three freezer safe containers. I probably could have stretched it a little further for four meals, but my kids are growing and eating like crazy! They are eating like little adults right now. Plus, I like to have leftovers for work lunches.

Cooking this pork was so easy to do. It didn’t take long at all. Let me tell you though, it will save so much time on weeknights. It will be nice to put a container of this in the refrigerator to thaw and then come home with some of the work already done. I’m looking forward to dinners of burritos, pork sandwiches, and egg rolls. Yummy!


March 9, 2014

20 Ways to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

Since returning to full-time teaching a few years ago, I am not the couponer that I used to be. I enjoy using coupons and saving money, but I don’t have much time to match up coupons and sales.  I am still saving a lot of money though and I’m definitely getting my groceries for less money than I would if I shopped primarily at a discount store such as Wal-Mart.

Today’s shopping trip is a perfect example of such grocery savings. My grocery bill before deductions was $251.86. After the sales and savings my bill was $121.43. That’s way more than I normally spend, but I did stock up on some great deals including fish, six bags of Carribou coffee, four jars of peanut butter, and lunch meat. The coffee alone would have cost over $60.

harris teeter feb 17

We could all use some help in cutting our grocery bill so here are some ways to save without coupons:

1.  Use the buy ahead principle.  I am a firm believer in the stockpile shopping method. When things that I regularly use go to rock bottom prices, I buy extra and save it to use for later when the prices are not as low.  Many food items are at their best prices during specific times of the year. For instance, I know that in November and December, I need to stock up on cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, and chicken broth.  In January, I usually stock up on soup supplies and canned beans.

Each week, I scan over the sales flyer for Harris Teeter and I plan to only purchase the sales. Of course, I have to buy a few items each week that are not on sale, but those items are few and far between.

2.  Get rainchecks for out of stock sale items. As I mentioned above, my grocery bill today before savings was $251.86. After sales and rainchecks, my total was only $121.43. Rainchecks were a big contributor of the savings. Most rainchecks don’t expire and they allow you to purchase sale items when you need them. This saves room in your cabinets. Rainchecks also give you some extra time to plan ahead and look for a coupon.

3.  Compare prices. Sometimes the generic isn’t cheaper. Pay attention and take a few extra seconds to compare prices on name brands and generics.

4.  Compare price per unit. The larger quantity may not be the best deal. It’s best to compare price per unit.

5. Make a plan. Look through the sales flyer and begin to make a plan of the things you need and the things you want to purchase while they are on sale. Making meal plans saves time and money. I’m guilty of not making meal plans. My pantry and freezer are usually pretty well stocked though, so meal planning does get easier as you build a stockpile.

6. Use what you have. Take a look in your cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator. Make a plan to use the things that are going out of date. If you have a lot of beans and tomatoes, consider putting chili on the menu. If you have hamburger and noodles, put spaghetti on the menu. Then you will just need to pick up a few extra things to complete the meal.

7. Use your leftovers. My hubby and I are known for getting creative with leftovers. One night I made a tenderloin and we had some meat leftover. We took the leftover tenderloin and added it to some scrambled eggs and cheese for breakfast burritos. We froze the breakfast burritos to make mornings easier with the kids. I also like to freeze lunch size portions of spaghetti, chili, and soups to use for my lunches at work.

8.  Look for food mark downs.  I always check for produce and meat mark downs. About a month ago, I scored a $15 fruit, veggie, and cheese tray for only $1! I was so excited! The tray was going out of date that day but trust me, it was good for several more days. Today we bought some lunch meat that was marked down half price and also got a few packs that had store coupons attached.  Sandwiches and homemade lunchables are definitely on this week’s lunch menu.

9.  Buy in bulk. This tip may not apply for everyone, but for families this tip is usually a great idea. My pantry and fridge are running low on lunch items so it is definitely time for a trip to Sam’s Club. When I see kids at school purchasing chips for 75 cents per bag, I want to say, “That costs 25 cents at Sam’s.” I’ve had more than one conversation with my children about why they aren’t buying snacks at school.

10.  Cook in bulk.  It’s almost as easy to prepare two lasagnas as it is one. Just make an extra, don’t bake it, and freeze it for later. I also do this with chicken pot pie. Another favorite is to cook some Mexican style pork or chicken in the crock pot, shred it, and freeze dinner portions to use later for burritos, tacos, and quesadillas.  I wait to do this when I find meat at a stockpile price.

11.  Avoid convenience foods.  It might be nice to save some time, but those prepackaged and pre-cut foods can really add up. Take a few minutes to bag up a bunch of snacks for the week and you can save big.

12. Don’t be brand loyal. I have tried many different brands over the years and I can say that there are very few that I am loyal to. You can find savings in trying other brands that are on sale.

13.  Eat before you shop. If you are super hungry when you shop then you might find yourself spending too much money. Thankfully, Harris Teeter has a few samples in the store so it keeps me from feeling so hungry when I’m shopping.  😉

14. Skip a week of shopping. If you have been using the stockpile shopping method, your cabinets are probably looking great. As difficult as it is to pass up a good sale, sometimes I skip a week of shopping to save money. We use what we have at home and avoid the grocery store.

15.  Give foods more than one purpose. If you are going to have cole slaw with your barbeque sandwiches, plan to have cole slaw the same week with another meal. That way you aren’t wasting ingredients. It also saves prep time in the kitchen.

16.  Keep a list of target prices. You can keep this on your phone or in a small notebook in your purse. Keep a list of items that you regularly purchase and the target price for stockpiling. In an old post about grocery shopping, I wrote about keeping mental notes of these things. Someone teased about it and said there was no way to remember target prices. I honestly don’t keep a notebook of prices. I know that $2 per lb is my target price for boneless chicken breasts. I know that 50 cents per can is my target price for canned beans.  If you need to write it down then do so. Knowing your target prices will help you to know when to buy extra.

17.  Check your receipt before you leave the store. We get overcharged so many times and most people don’t even notice. I was overcharged today. Thankfully I checked my receipt before leaving the store and I was refunded $2.

18.  Avoid sodas, juices, and boxed drinks. We drink a lot of water at our house. We have a water softener and a water filter so we drink it straight from the tap. I have seen people spend half of my grocery budget on drinks. Those drinks add up very quickly. If you don’t want to cut out pricey drinks, budget how much you will spend on them and look for sales. I did buy one 12 pack of sodas today but they were on sale and the 12 pack will last me a few weeks.

19.  Sign up for store sales and emails. Many stores have some sort of extra savings available for customers that hold a special card or for those that sign up for their store emails. I have signed up for Harris Teeter’s eVIC and each week they send me an email with sales that are loaded to my card. Many times (but not always) these are items that I regularly purchase that are offered at discounted prices. Sometimes it might be a sale on milk or bread. Other times it might be yogurt, ice cream, or cat food.

20.  Look over your cart before checking out. Did you make too many impulse purchases? Do you have too many snack items? Sometimes it’s easy to put something in the cart but we don’t realize how many unnecessary items we have.

I know that there are many other tips for saving money on groceries such as gardening, canning foods, eating simpler, etc. Please leave your money saving tips in the comments.

Image by Karen Weideman. The image shown above is not from today’s shopping trip.


December 5, 2010

Save Money with Rainchecks

You see that a store is having a great deal on a particular food item. In your mind you think, ‘It’s stockpile time!’  But you get to the store and they’re out of the item.  Rather than just counting it as a loss, get a raincheck.  

A few tips:

*Consider a raincheck as an I.O.U. from the store which guarantees that item for the sale price.  It is not necessary to use the raincheck during the current sale week.  You can use it weeks and maybe months later.

*Check to see if the raincheck has an expiration date.  Most of them do not have an expiration date which means that you can wait to use them when you need the particular item.

*Use rainchecks as a way build your stockpile.  The general rule is to purchase as much as that item as you will need in the next few months.  For example, if cream of mushroom soup is on sale for $.59/can I might purchase 10 cans.  Cream of mushroom soup has a long shelf date and I know that I will use it when making casseroles.

*Store your rainchecks in a safe location.  I store my rainchecks in my small coupon pouch.  This way I know where they are when I’m doing my grocery shopping and I don’t have to dig through my purse for them.

*Check to see if there is a limit on the sale item.  On really good deals, a store might set a limit on how many of that item you can purchase.  Always have them write the maximum amount allowed on the raincheck even if you don’t plan on purchasing that many.  This allows you to get them if you change your mind or you may have a friend that wants to purchase the deal with you.

*Look for coupons.  Check your newspaper coupon inserts and look online for printable coupons to combine with the sale price for even better savings.

*Give your raincheck to the cashier first.  Before your cashier rings up the items, she should know that you have a raincheck.  This will save time and hassle.  Group all of the raincheck items together so that they can be marked down at the same time.  Also, check your receipt to make sure each item was properly discounted.

*Most rainchecks are not store specific.  This means that if you get a raincheck from a Charlotte, NC store you should be able to use it at the Hickory, NC store.  If you plan to shop in a different area, you may want to check on this first.

When you’re shopping the sales do you remember to get a raincheck?

image (c) Karen Weideman


November 28, 2010

Recipe Ideas for Leftover Turkey

One of the things I hear weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas are people concerned about the amount of turkey they’ll have left over.  They want to serve their family and guests turkey, but they’re hesitant because of the waste involved.  Rather than letting good food go to waste, try some of these ideas for your left over turkey.

Turkey and gravy – We had this one Friday night.  I simply made some gravy out of cornstarch and chicken boullion and warmed the turkey in the gravy.  I added some leftover sweet potatoes and rolls and made some green beans and mashed potatoes.  The kids enjoyed the meal.

Turkey sandwich – This one is a given, but it is one of my favorites. Some people like their sandwich with mayonnaise and onions.  I like mine with mustard on white bread.

Turkey salad – This is another family favorite.  I chop up some turkey, add some mayo, diced dill pickles, salt, and pepper, and it’s as good as chicken salad.  I also like to make ham salad.

Turkey and rice – Cook rice according to package directions, add desired seasonings.  Throw in some chopped turkey and some vegetables.  You might also like to make a gravy.

Turkey wraps – Add some turkey, cheese, and fresh vegetables to a lettuce slice or tortilla.

Turkey soup – There are many varieties of turkey soup. You could make a cream based soup or a Mexican style soup.  Use your favorite chicken soup recipe using turkey instead of chicken.

Turkey stock – Rather than purchasing chicken stock from the store, make your own and freeze it to use later in soups and stews.

Turkey pot pie – Chop up some turkey, add a bag of frozen vegetables, mix in some gravy, and top with a pie crust or pour on a liquid Bisquick mixture and bake.

Don’t forget to store your turkey properly.

Other resources:
Recipe Goldrush
All Recipes
National Turkey Federation
Healthy Eating Made Easy
Jennie O

What are your favorite turkey recipes?

image sxc.hu


October 17, 2010

Using Coupons and Sales to Help Others

One of many things I enjoy about using coupons and sales is that they enable me to help others. I may not have an abundance of money to donate, but I can make a big impact with very little out of pocket expense.

You may look at my website from time to time and think something like, ‘Why would she need 20 boxes of pasta? Who could eat all of that?’ Many times it’s not for me.

Pasta seems to be the thing this month that I can get for free or cheap, so I am “buying” lots of it. I haven’t kept much of it for my family. I’ve been donating it. I have taken it to the school for the food drive, given some to a fundraiser dinner for someone with high medical bills, and saved some for an elderly family member who has a very limited income. Just this week alone, I was able to purchase over 20 boxes of free pasta from Food Lion.

This method also applies to toys, school supplies, and other items.  Many times I have taken advantage of 75% and 90% off toy sales.  It makes it easier on the budget to donate for Christmas toy drives when you can get the toys inexpensively and you’re able to help more children because your money goes further.

When you’re walking through Harris Teeter on triple coupon day, try to get those free items even though you won’t use them. It’s those items that can really make a difference to someone in need.


August 26, 2010

Money Saving Tip: Build a Stockpile

One of the most effective ways I have found to cut our budget is through saving money on our grocery budget.  One of the techniques I use is building a stockpile, also known as the buy ahead principle.  What this means is that when groceries or other regularly used items are significantly cheaper than normal, I buy enough to last me a few months.  In my home, I try to never ever pay retail for anything!

For example, a few weeks ago Harris Teeter had their Colgate Total toothpaste on sale for $2.50 per tube.  It was also super double coupon week and I had $1 coupons. After coupons and the sale, I paid only $.50 per tube for Colgate toothpaste.  Also last week and this week, CVS had their Crest Pro Health toothpaste on sale for $2.99 and you got back a $2 Extra Care Buck (ECB).  I also had $.50 and $.75 coupons for the toothpaste.  After the sale, ECBs, and coupons, I paid $.25-$.50 per tube.  Did I need five tubes of toothpaste right now?  Of course I didn’t.  But I know that over the next year my family will need the toothpaste.  I also know that soon I will be filling shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse and our church is always collecting food and toiletries for the needy.  This allows me to get toothpaste for my family and others for less than the price of one tube at regular price.

As you can see in the picture above, I have over 10 bottles of laundry detergent.  I don’t plan on doing 300 loads of laundry this week, but I couldn’t resist stocking up because of the deal I found.  Some of the bottles were buy 1 get 1 free and I had coupons.  Many of the bottles cost me less than $1 per bottle.

I have heard others say before that they can’t afford to stockpile; that they only have money for the things that they need that week.  What they don’t truly realize is that when you stockpile, you can make your grocery budget go further and have more supplies on hand.

If you still say you can’t afford to stockpile, then I suggest that you start small.  A stockpile isn’t built overnight anyway.  Allow yourself an extra $5 or $10 to try to purchase things while they’re at rock bottom prices so that you won’t have to purchase them later.  For me, an example of this would be when I purchase canned tomatoes.  I know that I’m going to need canned tomatoes.  I know that Target has the cheapest prices on them.  So, when I visit Super Target, I purchase 6-12 cans.  The amount I purchase depends on my stockpile at home.  And if you’re getting items for free or almost free (with sales and coupons) that will only allow your grocery budget to go that much further so that you can cut your grocery budget or purchase other things your family needs.

Stay tuned for more tips on stockpiling.  Do you stockpile groceries?

images (c) Karen Weideman


August 11, 2010

Money Saving Tip: Always Compare Prices

When shopping for groceries, normally you would think that store brand groceries would be a lot less expensive.  This is not always the case.  It is always important to compare prices and I’ll show you why.

 The White House brand 6-pack of applesauce is $1.76.

The Wal-Mart or Great Value brand 6-pack of applesauce is $1.92.  That’s about 8% more than a major leading brand.

Here we have some examples of yogurt.

The Dannon 32 oz container of yogurt is $1.96.

The Yoplait 32 oz container of yogurt is $2.14.

And the 32 oz container of Wal-Mart yogurt is $2.28, which more than any of the other two leading brands! 

Many people assume that the generic/store brand will be less expensive than other brands and so they automatically grab the store brand products.  As you can see here, store brands are not always cheaper.  And I have to tell you folks, these are just two examples.  I have seen many other products done this way. 

If you’re a coupon user, you can get the leading brands for even less money when you use your coupons.  I frequently receive coupons for $.50 off the large Yoplait yogurt.  You can’t get coupons for store brands, which means there’s even less savings.

Today a friend of mine posted a facebook link to this story, Wal-Mart Quietly Raises Prices.  Honestly, I had originally planned to title this article, “Watch for Rising Prices at Walmart” but decided to make this more of a money saving tip about comparing prices, no matter where you shop.  I will say though that I have done less and less grocery shopping at Wal-Mart during the past year.  It is so much cheaper for me to shop the grocery store sales for items that our family frequently uses.  I also try to stock up during triple coupon and super double coupon sales. 

Have you found store brands to be more expensive than other brands?


July 30, 2010

Our Thrifty Luau Party

My two youngest children’s birthdays are in the month of July.  For now, while they are young, we combine their parties into one.  (FYI: They are also best friends.)  It also works out to combine the parties because some family members drive a few hours to attend.  Sorry if you didn’t need to know all of that.  The information just helps to set up the story behind all of this.    🙂 

With a combined party, I try to come up with a theme that will work for both of them.  One year we did Dora and Diego. Another year we did the princess and the frog.  This year it was a luau.  The luau theme was decided because the kids wanted to have a pool party.  And who doesn’t like a pool party?

A few months back I found these nice beach themed supplies at Walmart.  The large plates, napkins, and small plates were on clearance for only $.50 per pack for a set of 20.  At Walmart I also found a box of 30+ leis on clearance for $3.

Later I found some luau straws at Walmart for about $2.50.  They had little flowers around the top.  For music, I found a two-pack of Luau cds at Walmart for $5.  Yes, Walmart was my go-to store for the party theme.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the way I cut back on the party expense is to make my own cake/cupcakes.  I surf the internet looking for ideas of easy things that I can do.  I ended up making these cute beach/luau themed cupcakes using miniature Teddy Grahams, fruit rolls ups, candy, and tiny umbrellas.  I even found a $1 tear-off coupon for the Teddy Grahams at Food Lion.  You can see more pictures of the luau themed cupcakes and also some links to other luau/beach themed cakes and cupcakes.

Of course, a Luau needs to have a cookout.  As you probably know, July is the time to get cookout supplies on sale. 

Here’s approximately what I spent on this party:

  • paper plates, napkins, leis, table cloths, straws – $9
  • luau cds – $5
  • cupcake supplies (I made two batches.) – $9
  • hotdogs and buns – $10
  • chili – $0 (my aunt brought this)
  • potato salad – $0 (my aunt brought this)
  • chips – $3 (bogo)
  • veggies (carrots, cucumbers, celery) and dip (used triple coupon sale for the dip)- $4
  • sodas – $3
  • pasta salad – $3

All in all, I spent less than $50 on everything and fed lots of people, plus we had leftovers to eat.  By taking advantage of clearance deals, July cookout savings, making the cupcakes myself, and taking advantage of other sale promotions, I was able to give a nice party for a small fraction of what others might have paid.

How do you save money when throwing a party?


July 17, 2010

Easy Do-It-Yourself Luau/Beach Cupcakes

We had a birthday party yesterday for my two youngest. Both of their birthdays are in July and because they are still young, we have a joint party for them.  Now that we have a pool, it seemed like a good idea to have a swim party.  With that came the luau theme.

You all know that I’m not about to go out and pay $50 for a cake, so each year I surf the internet looking for easy ideas that I can do myself.  I found ideas for a beach theme, flipflops, palm trees, pineapples, and more.  These teddy bear cupcakes drew my attention though.  They looked kid friendly and fun.

For these cupcakes I cheated a bit. I didn’t make homemade icing. I simply bought the vanilla icing in a can and added a few drops of blue food coloring. I found the food coloring made the icing a little runny, so I put it in the freezer for a few minutes.

For these, I put icing on the cupcakes and used crushed graham crackers for the sand. Also used were miniature Teddy Graham crackers, fruit roll ups for beach towels and rafts, tiny paper umbrellas (found these at Hobby Lobby), sour gummy Lifesavers for tubes, and Lemon Heads for beach balls. You could use gum balls instead for the beach balls, but I already had the Lemon Heads.

Here are a few more pictures. Sorry for the poor quality.  I was in a hurry because the party was starting.

Other luau cake ideas:

Luau Party Cupcake with umbrella
Shark and Beach Cupcakes from Martha Stewart
Palm Trees/Beach cupcakes from Cake Central
Palm Trees, Pineapples, and Flower cupcakes
Hawaiian Luau cupcakes/cake
Flip Flop Cake from Better Homes and Gardens
Flip Flop Cake from Better Crocker

Enjoy! 🙂

images (c) Karen Weideman



April 9, 2010

5 Tips for Using Leftover Candy

We have a candy basket at our house. Every now and then it gets full and I have to clean it out. I find candy from Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and any other holiday inbetween.  Truthfully, I don’t buy much of the candy.  It trickles in from school, Sunday School, church activities, and it multiplies somehow. 

Here are some tips for using up your leftover candy:

1.  Use your candy to decorate cupcakes, cake, cookies, or as an ice cream topping.  This week the kids are out of school.  We made cupcakes and I let them help decorate them.  We pulled out the candy basket.  Some of the cupcakes have conversation hearts on top.  We even opened some pixie sticks and sprinkled it on like it was colored sugar.

2.  Take the candy to a group gathering.  If I want to get rid of my candy quickly, I just take it to the youth group at church.  It will be gone in one meeting.  I’ve sent some in to Sunday School classes and brought some to my small group. You could also put a bowl on your desk at work or put it in the breakroom.

3.  Give it to the needy.  Send your candy to the local food bank.  To help out, you could put it into little ziploc bags before you take it.  They could easily stick a small bag of candy into each family’s box.

4.  Put it in your cake batter or make ice cream.  Have you ever had Snickers ice cream, Milky Way ice cream, or Butterfinger ice cream? I know someone that likes to make her own ice cream and these are some of their favorites.  You can also cut up chocolate pieces and put it in to your batter.  For more information, do an internet search for recipes.

5.  Use it for shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse.  Each year, our family puts together a few shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  I try to include a zipper baggie with a little candy inside.  I usually don’t have to purchase any candy to do this. I just search through our candy basket and I can find lollipops, gum, and other hard candy. 

What tips do you have for using leftover candy?

image (c) Karen Weideman