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cheap food Archives

Trade in your ramen noodles for a half-price lunch

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Here's an amusing promo: On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, bring in a pack of dehydrated ramen noodles to Pei Wei Asian Diner in Chicago's Logan Square, and they'll give you half off one of their new ramen bowls. 
You should be able to get a pack of ramen from the grocery store for around 20 cents, and these Pei Wei bowls normally cost $8.95, so you're spending a quarter or less to save about $4.50.
They'll donate your dried ramen to a food bank, and you get to enjoy something more upscale for a change.*
Pei Wei is at 2709 N. Elston Ave., and their phone number is 773-687-0290.

* By coincidence, I had the last pack of ramen in the house for lunch alongside a squash half. So, no trade-in for me.

More Jewel Catalina Transactions and a New Moneymaker Idea

I think I'm done shopping the Jewel-Osco Catalina deal, which ends today. But today I did notice a tempting new item to buy: Pillsbury sweet rolls priced at $4.45 pre-card, $2.50 card price. These are the fancier sweet rolls, some co-branded Cinnabon, and look like so:

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Transaction ideas and my transactions today beyond the break.
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This Week's Shopping: Catalina Fun and a Wedding

 

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This week there wasn't much time to shop on account of my brother getting married. OK, I made multiple trips to all kinds of stores, but those were errands that I ran for the wedding and don't count.

Here's what I did for our family:

Spent 35 cents at Dominick's getting Barilla pasta, sauce and cheese. How so cheap? I used a $10 Catalina I had in my wallet -- without that my total would have been $10.35 for four jars sauce, four boxes of spaghetti, two blocks cheese and one jar O Organics baby food. The deal was "buy 2 pasta, get 2 sauce free," and the $1/1 coupons didn't work because they were for the wrong variety of pasta, but not a bad deal anyway. Oh! Also I forgot to report that I got a $1 Catalina coupon for buying Barilla products -- not sure how many I would have had to buy to trigger that, but if you count that and the $1.25/2 sauce coupon I used, I paid $5.75 for 4 sauce and 4 pasta -- not bad!

At Dominick's I also found more "Save $70" coupon booklets, with that $.50/1 any Healthy Choice coupon so useful in the Catalina deal at Jewel-Osco.

At Jewel I have done 2 rounds of the current Catalina deal. The first time I spent $5.92 on 9 cans of Healthy Choice soup ($.88/can x 9 = $7.92 - $2 in coupons = $5.92). The second time I got 9 cans soup with no coupons and some grapes. I paid with the $10 Cat from before, and I only owed the tax -- 23 cents. (And of course I received a $10 Catalina coupon for each of those transactions.)

At CVS, I spent 35 cents after Extra Bucks on some milk and a can of cream of mushroom soup.

So, my grocery spending for this week was $6.85, plus my normal $32 for the organic produce box. I donated 9 cans of soup to the Girl Scouts food drive and shared some of our produce with the babysitter, since we were going out of town and couldn't eat it all. $38.65 out of a possible $100. No wonder we hardly have anything to eat around here!

I won't detail our meals, since we ate most of them out of town, at parties and restaurants. But I am happy to report that I can add $60 to the "buy a cow 2010" fund, bringing my savings up to $95.

Jewel-Osco Deals and Coupon Matchups Week of Oct. 7

Here are the best sales and deals at the Chicago grocery store Jewel-Osco for the week of Oct. 7. Jewel, always obliging, only put a few items on sale this week because they probably know I am so busy today. Thanks, Jewel! (sarcastic grimace)

THURSDAY-SATURDAY ONLY

bananas 38 cents/lb.
Fritos or Cheetos $1.69
2L pop 7-Up, Dr Pepper, Sunkist or A&W 77 cents

SPECIAL DEALS

See separate Catalina deal post for the "spend $25, get $10" offer

Buy 2 T. Marzetti apple dip, get $2 off instantly any 3 lb. bag of apples (The ad says "instant savings," not "with in-store coupon." I've heard that people are finding tearpad coupons with this same offer. So, if this deal happens without the coupon, you could add the coupon to get an additional $1 off the apples. Or maybe the ad just forgot to mention that you need to grab the tearpad coupon. Please report back if you try this.)

Buy 2 Palermo's Pizzas at $5.50, get 1 12-pack Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mt. Dew, or 6-pack 24 oz. bottles Pepsi or Aquafina, or 8-pack 12 oz. bottles Diet Pepsi or Crush

(print $1/2 Palermo's coupon)

REGULAR ALL WEEK SALES

California crimson red seedless grapes 99 cents/lb. 

Minute Maid orange juice $2

mushrooms 8 oz. $1.79

Athenos hummus 7 oz. $1.99 (use $1/1 from the 9/12 SmartSource for a very good deal on hummus)

BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE

Perdue Short Cuts 9 oz (use two $.75/1 from 10/10 RedPlum).; Scotch-Brite sponges 6 ct. (use two $1/1 from the 9/19 SmartSource)

Coupon matchups from Hot Coupon World's database.


Food Prices Headed Up: How Will You Prepare?

This Tribune article says that commodity prices -- wheat, eggs, sugar -- have been rising and that food giants like Kraft are quietly planning to raise prices.

I don't like to make too much out of it when food prices go up. After all, we already pay a tiny portion of our incomes for food compared to what people have historically paid. What's 5 or 10% more? I'm more interested in using coupons, deals and smart shopping to maximize what I can get for my money, rather than shaking my fist at the sky and wishing that prices would go down.

But the news does make me mindful of some of the core frugal practices that I could practice more: the weekly (or more frequent) meatless dinner, saving every leftover scrap from vegetable trimming in the freezer for making stock, and of course stockpiling while prices are still low.

I have room in my pantry after taking it easy on couponing this summer. I sure hope that Jewel isn't completely finished with massive Catalina deals because I am almost even running low on cereal!

I also plan to purchase another quarter cow for our deep freeze like we did last year, so we won't be affected if meat prices go up.

Are you making preparations for rising food prices? Or do you feel like it's just not that big a deal?

 

Free Ticket to Chicago Gourmet With Dine Around

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Being a cheapskate, I wasn't even aware that there's this festival called Chicago Gourmet going on Sept. 24-26 in Millennium Park. It's something like a highbrow Taste of Chicago where you pay an entry fee and then everything you taste inside is free.

Unfortunately for Frugalistas, that entry fee is $150 for one day, or $250 for both days. And that doesn't even include wine tasting, which runs another $175.

But, say you are both a cheapskate and a foodie? I just read on Time Out Chicago that you can get into Chicago Gourmet for free with five receipts from restaurants participating in a program called Dine Around.

Some of the restaurants are offering special 3-course meals for $33 for the program, so if you stick to those you're paying slightly more than the $150 entry (plus tax and tip, of course), but you are getting much, much more in the way of dining. Or, Time Out points out, breakfast or brunch will also qualify you, and we all know those meals are generally cheaper.

That actually sounds fun -- if only I was a fun-loving childless Chicagoan. I wonder how the restaurant staff will look at a cheapskate that dares to ask for separate checks/receipts for himself and his date, so they can each get a Chicago Gourmet ticket.

Photo of Rick Bayless from Chicago Gourmet.

3 Suburban Deals: Cosi, Back-to-School Physicals and Music Institute of Chicago

Print this coupon for buy one, get one free entrees at Cosi in Oak Park.

Get a back-to-school or sports phsyical for $30 at the Ressurection Immediate Care Centers in Norridge, Park Ridge, Des Plaines or Elmwood Park. ($30! That's what it used to cost for my mom to take me to the doctor 30 years ago!)

Family Open Houses at the Music Institute of Chicago With Free Frozen Custard. Sept. 11 in Lake Forest, 9/12 in Highland Park, 9/15 in Lincolshire, 9/18 in Winnetka, 9/19 in Evanston and 9/25 in Northbrook.

Mad Crazy Shopping: Never, Ever Pay $3 for a Tiny Box of Cereal

My cereal stock in the pantry was actually getting down to only one shelf. Which meant it was time for another free-cereal extravaganza, which Dominick's stepped right up to provide. Here's the crazy trip I did this morning:

2 Golden Grahams, 12 oz. $1.99 each

1 Cheerios 8.9 oz. 99 cents

1 Nature Valley Cashew Nut Clusters, FREE (why??)

1 Nature Valley bars Sweet & Salty, FREE

This is the "buy 4, save $4 plus free box of granola bars" deal at Dominick's this week. First of all, there's some crazy business with how the prices are ringing up. The cereals should all be $1.99, but as you can see the Cheerios rang up for only 99 cents. I've seen reports of this happening to lots of other people too.

The granola bars came up free as they were supposed to, but somehow the NV clusters came up free too. Huh??

So without any coupons, I'd have paid $5 for these five items. Not good enough, right?

Hence, I used paper coupons: $.75/2 Golden Grahams from a blinkie in the store, $.55/1 Cheerios printable that was probably expired, $.50/1 Nature Valley Sweet & Salty printable, and $1/1 NV Nut Clusters printable.

After the paper coupons, my cost is down $2.80 to $2.20.

Not good enough!

Bring on the e-coupons. I have been sporadically adding e-coupons on ShortCuts, Cellfire and the Dominick's site as they appear, and at Mashup Mom's prompting I went online last night and added new ones. Here's what came off:

$.75 for Golden Grahams

two $.55 for Cheerios

three $.50 for NV granola bars

three $1 for NV nut clusters

So that's $6.30 in e-coupons.

Final cost: NEGATIVE $4.10!

Yes, according to my receipt, buying these five items led to four bucks in overage to apply to the rest of my order. Pretty great considering that the regular price (pronounced in a derisive tone with raised eyebrows) for one box of these little cereals was $2.99.

Oh! More news flashes!

  • Huggies wipes are $1.99, and I had a $2/1 e-coupon loaded. Also used an expired $.50/1 coupon, so that generated overage too.
  • Mom 2 Mom diapers jumbo packs on clearance for $6, and there are small booklets with $1/1 coupons by the pharmacy. Last time I bought a Mom 2 Mom product, a $2/1 printed out. When I used that and bought a pack today, another $2/1 printed.
  • I got 3 Fage (pronounced fah-yay, according to their Facebook page) yogurt cups for 25 cents each after the Facebook coupon
  • And I splurged on  an 8-pack of Starbucks Via on sale for $6.99, used $1/1 printable coupon and two $1/1 e-coupons came off, for a final price of $4 or 50 cents per cup of instant coffee. Sounds crazy, but this stuff is actually good, especially when you pour it in hot milk. I'm going to be spending the weekend with people who brew bad coffee, so I thought it would be a prudent buy.

I also stopped by Jewel-Osco and got a free loaf of bakery bread with the no-longer-available coupon and two packs of blueberries with the $2 produce coupon. So the berries cost me all of 50 cents. Also, Tribe hummus is BOGO @ $3 something and I had two $.75/1 coupons.

People, I'm going offline for the weekend for some family time. Please forgive me for not posting Sunday deals! Have a good one!

 

CSA Recommendations: Timber Creek Farms, Angelic, Kings Hill

 

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Got our second CSA box today. Because it had been raining -- probably during harvest as well as transport -- everything was pretty wet and I ended up just spreading it out on my counter when a little paper towel blotting didn't suffice.

I'm so happy we signed up. Last week we enjoyed super fresh lettuce, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, bok choi, scallions, garlic scapes and some herbs, all organic. This week, more lettuce, broccoli, spinach, scallions, scapes and zucchini, plus beets with greens, cauliflower, kale, basil and the dreaded -- to me -- kohlrabi. (Note: The pic above is not my box. I would photograph mine but I haven't unpacked our camping gear yet and don't know where my camera is.)

 

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$80 shopping: Got Three Packs of Diapers, $50 in ExtraBucks and Register Rewards

I spent $84.42 this week, which is pretty darn close to my $80 budget goal. That's particularly good considering that besides getting our regular groceries, I generated around $50 worth of ExtraBucks and Register Rewards that I can spend on future trips, and that I got three packs of diapers.

CVS: $14.57 over seven trips?? on three packs diapers, three gallons milk and a bunch of freebies, two DiGiorno pizzas and more freebies and moneymakers. (Wow, I haven't been to CVS that many times in many weeks.)

Walgreens: $4.85. That was $3.35 on ice cream bars for the kids and money-making Schick razor. $1.50 on just a razor.

Trader Joe's: I spent $48 at TJ's on organic produce, peanut butter, bread, wine -- my normal TJs staples. Then @Epu stopped in the next day and spent $29 on one small bag of groceries. Sigh. This would decimated nearly half of our weekly grocery budget on just six items. But then I remembered that we have a $50 per month "entertaining budget" that we use for serving guests or bringing foods to gatherings. I haven't been making use of it lately, mainly because between Xmas and summer there ain't much entertaining. But Epu's $8.99 six-pack of beer (grr), his $3.99 fancy sausages, his $3.99 organic asparagus, $5.29 bag of pistachios and $2.49 white baguette were all brought to his friend's house with him, so onto the entertainment budget they go, leaving only the $2.69 he spent on "juice" for the kids. (He didn't realize that it was really limeade until I pointed out where the bottle said "15% juice." I am such a bitch if you mess with my shopping budget.)

Bottom line: $51 at Trader Joe's.

Whole Foods: $14 on bulk pearled barley, whole wheat flour, cage-free eggs and a few other things. And get this, I got overage on one item. Overage at Whole Paycheck! It's not something you can replicate, probably, because I had a free item coupon for Oikos Greek Yogurt. But the Whole Foods in-store booklet currently has a $1/1 store coupon for the same product, so I was allowed to get a buck overage put put towards my other stuff. Hooray!

What we ate on that:

Wednesday: leftover chili

Thursday: something with ground beef

Friday: brought a large pan of mashed potatoes with (free) cream cheese to a potluck

Saturday: pizza and salad

Sunday: swiss steak with barley, carrots, celery and garlic, slow cooked in beef froth 

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: salmon marinated in curry over couscous, with carrots

Do Upside Down Tomato Planters Work at All?

 

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Every year I conduct a small-scale war against squirrels. The only casualties are tomatoes, usually taken long before their time, crudely bitten and then left to die on the lawn.

I so want to grow my own organic tomatoes -- what could be more frugal? So this year I want to bring in some more advanced defense technology, like maybe netting or screening. But have you ever tried these upside-down tomato planters? I've heard mixed reports, but at $5.99 on Dillyeo today (plus $5.99 shipping), I guess I have very little to lose.

The planters aren't on Dillyeo anymore today, but I'd still like to hear if you've used these things with any success.

Have you used an upside-down planter? Please tell us about it in the comments if you have! Or if you have any other anti-squirrel tips I'll gladly take those too.

ANOTHER ConAgra Catalina Deal Coming at Jewel-Osco

Got this warning about the next big ConAgra Catalina deal at out of the coupon printer at Jewel-Osco today:

"SAVE BIG on brands for the quick meals you squeeze in between everything else. Purchase $25.00 in participating items from ConAgra between 5/20/10 and 5/26/10 and receive a $10 coupon to use on your next shopping trip."

Notice the 2.5:1 ratio -- this is a good Catalina deal, assuming there is also a good spread between with card sale prices and regular prices. (See my explanation of how Catalinas work  and how they can get you free food, if that sentence baffled you.) Many of the Catalina deals we've seen lately only offer $5 if you spend $20 or even $25 -- ratios of 4:1 or 5:1.

So I'm glad I didn't shop recent ConAgra Catalinas. I think I will cave and get canned tomatoes if they are part of it, because I am almost out and have not thought of an affordable way to get jarred tomatoes. Actually, I thought of an affordable way: Buy a Groupon or YouSwoop certificate to a fancy grocery store. But I didn't actually get those certificates when they were available; maybe next time.

Eat for Cheap Whether You're Highbrow, Midbrow or Lowbrow Today

 

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Highbrow cheap eats: Today's Groupon is a $30 three course meal at Spring, named by Zagat as the top seafood restaurant in Chicago.

Midbrow cheap eats:

People rave about these Kitchens of India ready-made meals, on manager's special at Amazon for $1.47 each (when you buy a pack of 6 at $8.82). There are only two kinds left! Guess these won't last til I get my new infusion of Amazon gift cards Saturday from SwagBucks. (Oh, and order through Subscribe & Save to take off an additional 15%.)

Lowbrow free eats:

Don't forget those free CheezIts at Dominick's with the coupon from Jewel. Limit 3 -- I'm wondering if anyone would be well served if I make multiple trips and donate a full grocery bag of them to the Stamp Out Hunger food drive.

Wash your Cheez-Its down with some highbrow coffee: Today's YouSwoop is a $40 credit at NeedCaffeine.com for $20. (Oh YES I am buying that one. Now.)

Photo by smartwentcrazy, used via Creative Commons license.

It's 31 Cent Scoop Night at Baskin Robbins! (Will You Donate When You Go?)

 

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Get an ice cream cone at Baskin Robbins for 31 cents tonight between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. I already promised my girls I'd bring them over after dinner.

They do this every year and every year they use it as a chance to point out that they support the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The Web site says you'll be able to donate to your local fire fighter charity at the store. Which raises a question I have for you all: When you go to an event like this where a company gives you something free or cheap but then is taking donations, do you make the donation?

I'm not stingy, honest. I make a few tax-deductible donations each year that number in the hundreds of dollars, so why would I balk at dropping a dollar in a jar for fire fighters?

Well, because if I pay an extra dollar or so, it seems to defeat the purpose of going out of my way to get three ice cream cones for a buck! Why did I wait in line?

If you're a grinch like me when it comes to these events -- or any "donate at the register" promos, for that matter -- please confess in the Comments section.

To ConAgra or Not to ConAgra: A Coupon Mom's Dilemma

 

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This weekend I broke down and brought home two packs of Lunchables, free after coupon at Jewel-Osco. Unlike one of my favorite bloggers, I can no longer brag now that I have raised my kids without ever feeding them these nasty little trays of fat and sodium -- I had a good run at six years, but that Lunchables is in Nutmeg's lunch kit today. Much to her joy.

That little drama is an ongoing conflict for me. I love freebies but I also love to feed my family healthy food. The more I learn about the industrial food system and the health hazards posed by eating processed foods, the more I want to opt out and provide my kids with healthier and less guilt-laden foodstuffs bought directly from farms.

But I still love freebies, and I do allow that acquiring food for free is good for my family too. Every time I feed them something I didn't pay for, this leaves money in our grocery budget that actually makes the purchase of those pricier "good foods" possible.

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$2 Tuesday at Einstein Bros. Bagels

 

Don't forget that every Tuesday through May 19, you can get a coffee and bagel with schmear (i.e., cream cheese) at Einstein Bros.Bagels for $2, with this Facebook coupon. Then on Friday, it's a free bagel before 11 a.m.

There are lots of Chicago Einstein Bros. locations.

Photo by stevendepolo, used via Creative Commons license.

Tax Day Deals at Chicago-Area Restaurants

 

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Here are some Chicago restaurants offering tax day deals on Thursday April 15, like $10.40 set menus (get it!?) and "tax free" offers.

Personally, I would pick a restaurant with a view of a Post Office so I can laugh at the late filers while sipping my discounted cocktail. What, is that mean? I'm usually a late or last-minute filer myself so it's really like mocking myself. (But I do think it's really silly to wait in line at the P.O. when you could have just dropped an extension form into the mailbox.)

The 4/15 meal deals:

For a list of drink specials and a few more meal deals, check the list on The Blast! Blog. That list includes a free appetizer buffet at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza and free $15 gift certificates at Carnivale.

Photo by cwjoneill, used via Creative Commons license. This post is also this week's Deals & Steals newsletter; to subscribe to this weekly email from me, sign up here.

Half Price Lunch at La Gondola on Sunday

Just read this Facebook post from Cheaper Than Cheep Chicago, and since I gotta help put kids to bed, I'll just paste it here:

"My fav Italian food in Chicago La Gondola Saturday and Sunday Lunch 50% off your dining room check, Be seated from Noon to 4pm, This is for Dining room lunch ONLY, April 10th & 11th, Just mention Facebook, No need to print."

Indeed, check out La Gondola on Facebook and it's there.

Dunkin Donuts Gift Cards for Certain AmEx Members

 

 

This deal is funny because Dunkin' Donuts is so blue collar, with that John Goodman voice over, and AmEx is all, "Membership has its privileges." It's like, come to our white tie hoedown! But here goes:

If you have an American Express Blue, Blue Sky or Blue Cash card, you can get a $5 Dunkin' Donuts gift card every time you use your AmEx card there four times in one month. And you'll get another $5 card every four times you use it after that in the same calendar month.

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Buying Food in Bulk: Challenges and Lessons Learned

Yesterday I wrote about how I'm $1,000 behind in my $80-a-week grocery budget -- and happy about it! This is because I shifted to buying a lot of our staples in bulk, so I had a big up-front cost that I hope to pay off week by week as I no longer have to buy meat, and starting in June won't have to buy much produce.

However, we have already made a couple of mistakes in bulk buying that I thought I would share. In the comments section, I'd love to hear about other lessons you all have learned when buying in bulk. Maybe I won't have to make every mistake myself!

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How I Spent My $80 Grocery Budget Without Grocery Shopping

As you know, I was away last week and didn't post my grocery spending last Tuesday. I did spend some money during that week but probably not my full budget. And I really haven't grocery shopped this week since we were out of town.

Yet, I spent my $80 grocery budget this week. Before I get into accounting where it went, I should mention some changes in our family's, well, supply chain. In my effort to shift to foods that are healthier for us and more ethically procured (I blame Michael Pollan's books (The Omnivore's Dilemma ) and the documentary Food, Inc. for this new-ish source of stress in my life.), I have committed to several large upfront payments direct to farmers for beef, pork and produce.

  • This week I brought home a whole lotta meat from Wisconsin -- half a pig, to be exact. This cost us $115.
  • AND, I prepayed $740 for 24 week's worth of vegetables from Angelic Organics, which we won't start receiving until mid-June.
  • AND, I still owe $180 toward the quarter cow we bought last year and are still eating.

This change in my procurement system means we'll be eating healthier and more ethically -- but can we still eat on $80 a week? Well, I'm giving it a try. For the moment that means we're in debt big time -- nearly $1,000 -- on the weekly budget. The plan is to see if I can break even by saving more and more on my weekly grocery trips now that our freezer is so well stocked and especially when those weekly produce boxes start showing up.

So for the past week's grocery shopping, I'll say I spent my $80 grocery budget on beef, and saw we owe $100 on the cow, $115 on the pig and $740 on the produce. 

Once summer arrives, I'll have to shop very little: I'll need to buy fruit and a few staples like dairy products and flour for bread. I might also get a few free range chickens if budget allows. I'll probably pay for the vegetable share I bought by allocating $31 of each week's budget to that while we're receiving them.

Tomorrow, I'll share some of the challenges and lessons learned we have already had in our new bulk food procurement system.

80% Off Restaurant.com Is Especially good at the BEGINNING of the Month

 

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Through Tuesday, April 6, get 80% off a Restaurant.com gift certificate with the coupon code CHOW. That means you can get a $25 discount at a restaurant for just $2.

Usually Restaurant.com offers a coupon code like this at the end of the month, but by then some popular restaurants are often sold out. So it's real nice to have one here at the front end of the month. Here are a couple Chicago establishments that are still available:

Zocalo

Hot Chocolate

And even though it's only $2, you can even go through UPromise to get 15% back into your college savings, or 15% cash back from Ebates, 25% from Mr. Rebates or 20% from Cashbaq.

(And if you haven't signed up for these rebate sites, you can get a $5 signup bonus through these links: Cashbaq, Ebates, Mr. Rebates.)

Not familiar with Restaurant.com? Yes, it's legit -- this Restaurant.com post gives you the full scoop.

Restaurant.com 80% Off Coupon Code

It's the end of the month again, and that means that Restaurant.com gift certificates are once again 80% off, this month with the coupon code COOK. For those who haven't used this great program before, here's how it works:

1. You normally can buy a $25 certificate to a participating restaurant for about $10. (Some places offer $10 ones and larger ones as well.)

2. With the coupon code, you'll get that $25 certificate for two lousy bucks.

3. You print your gift certificate and bring it to the restaurant, where they deduct $25 from your bill.

4. You tip on the full amount of your bill before discount.

Yes, this is totally legit, although it might sound too good to be true. Also, I have never had a restaurant employee give me the stink eye for using one, although one employee did try to stop me from giving my unused certificates away to other patrons.

There are some restrictions, though -- many restuarants set a minimum purchase that is twice as much as the gift certificate so you're not likely to get a totally free meal. Other restrictions will be listed on the restaurant's page on the site, like certain nights it's good for, or maybe lunch only. And of course you're paying tax and tip. But still, it takes a pretty big bite out of the cost of going out.

Chicago-area participating restaurants include the newly added House of Blues and Orange With a Peel on Roscoe.

The only real negative about Restaurant.com is that it's not searchable -- you have to browse through the restaurants to find what you want. Use this site instead to speed things up. (Thanks, Kris!)

 

 

Sunday Ads: Yawn, Pass the Candy Hearts

Kind of a slow day in the Sunday ads on Valentine's Day, maybe so you can better concentrate on exchanging doily-and-paper hearts with your one true love. Or whatever.

There's only one lousy coupon insert this week: RedPlum. It has a few buy-one-get-one-free Renuzit coupons, $1/1 Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal and not much else exciting.

Target has a coupon for a $10 gift card with new or transferred prescription; I'm glad to see it because I have a couple of new scrips to bring to CVS. My CVS takes competitor RX coupons, and the RX coupons CVS puts out are generally for transferred prescriptions only, so I can use these to get a $10 CVS gift card on new scrips.

Target also has some free item offers: Buy Prevacid for $23.99 and get a free 160-count Up & Up antacid; Buy Tylenol Cold for $5.49 and get free cough drops; Buy Band-Aids at $2.59 and get free .5-oz Neosporin; Buy a 6-pack Clif or Luna bars and get a free single bar; Buy 200-ct. Origin fish oil soft gels for $8 and get a 100-ct. B12 tablets. Oh, also some $10 and $20 gift card offers when you buy Duracell batteries, USB thumb drives, Lexmark ink cartridges, Linksys Wireless-N router, Sony Handcam and a few other techy items.

Jewel-Osco has Kraft Mac & Cheese or Campbell's chicken noodle or tomato soup for 69 cents (use $1/4 printable for the soup), Chobani Greek Yogurt is $1 (in case you still have the $1/1 from the 12/13 SmartSource, if not there's a buy 2, get 1 printable), Frigo String or Snack Cheese is $2.49 for 10-12 oz. and there's a $1/1 printable).

CVS: Buy 3 12-packs Coke and get a 12-pack of diet for free. This works out to bge 4/$10 which is the best deal I've seen so far this year. DiGiorno pizzas are bogo and there is a $1/1 in the 1/24 SmartSource. You can get free Crest after coupons and Extra Bucks and a few other freebies -- check them all out at Money Saving Mom.

Walgreens, like Jewel, has Campbell's soup for 69 cents (you need the store coupon). Not much for free, but see the full deal list at Money Saving Mom.

Michael's has a coupon for 50% off one regular price item Sunday and Monday only, in addition to the normal 40% off one item. Also there's a coupon for Monday only that's for 20% off entire purchase including sale items.

Dominick's Deals and Coupon Matchups Week of Feb. 3 -- Free Tortillas, Free Sudafed and Lots of Cheap Junk Food

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Dominick's really brung it this week, with store coupons for stuff that just happens to match up with the manufacturer's coupons printed in last week's and this week's Jewel ad. The coupons from Jewel all expire today, while the new Dominick's store coupons aren't good until tomorrow -- however since Dominick's accepts expired coupons it shouldn't be a problem.

Whether you plan to watch the Super Bowl Sunday or not, this is the week to stock up on any junk food, frozen pizzas and stuff that you might want throughout the rest of the winter.

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Buy One, Get One Free Dozen Eggs on Facebook

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Become a fan of the Incredible Edible Egg on Facebook, then go back on Friday to print a buy one, get one free coupon for a dozen eggs. There will be 30,000 coupons available to visit the page early Friday.

Now you've got that "incredible edible" jingle stuck in your head, right? Sorry.

Photo by cursedthing, used via Creative Commons license.

People, Restaurant Week Is NOW

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I probably should have told you that Restaurant Week started today. Forgive me if I was busy saving the world and all.

What's Restaurant Week? Once a year, a bunch of fancy -- and independent, great, etc. -- Chicago restaurants offer multicourse meals for the price of, well, a number similar to the date. This year, the meals will cost $29.10. Would be nice if they cost $20.10, no? I guess that just wasn't realistic.

Is it frugal to go out to dinner and spend $30 a person, probably hitting around $100 for two people when you count your drinks, tax and tip? Well, I guess it depends on your perspective. There was certainly a time when dropping $100 on a date was pretty normal for the hubs and I -- in the days of two incomes and 0 kids and anyway that was when we lived in San Francisco where everything was more expensive but oh the food.

If there's a participating restaurant that you've been longing to try, it's definitely a good time.

Photo by Andreea - www.onfoodandwine.com, used via Creative Commons license.

50% Off Restaurant.com Through Tomorrow Only

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When I gave my workshop yesterday, I told my "class" that $25 Restaurant.com gift certificates go on sale for $2 or $3 at the end of the month. I forgot to mention that lately there have been a few steep discounts earlier in the month, too.

Like right now. Thanks to Coupon Cabin, you can get 50% off a gift certificate using the code CABIN. That's not as deep as the 80% discount offered at the end of the month, but it's very useful if there is a popular restaurant you want to snag before it goes out of stock.

This code is valid only through tomorrow, Dec. 3.

Photo by besighyawn, used via Creative Commons license.

What Store Has the Cheapest Thanskgiving Fixings?

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Even if you're not hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this week, this is a great time to stock up on your frozen turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing and whatnot.

The Frugal Mom's Kitchen, who is much more organized than me, already created a spreadsheet showing where in Chicago to get the cheapest turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and a few other items. She even put it on a spreadsheet.

As I suspected, she has Jewel's frozen Jennie-O as the cheapest at 37 cents after the $10 coupon (get one in Sunday's flyer or in the flyer at the store). They have the best sweet potatoes too at 28 cents a pound. Aldi has cranberries at the best price at 89 cents. Target has Stove Top stuffing at 79 cents, and Campbell's cream of mushroom for 49 cents.

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Dominick's: Best Deals and Coupon Matchups for the Thanksgiving Shopping Week

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Tis the week before Thanksgiving, and that means ... deals on sweet potatoes, butter, regular potatoes, stuffing, French's Fried onions, potato chips -- and of course turkey. Later this week I'll discuss where to get the best deal on a turkey and how to take advantage of some of these sales for future meals after the big T-day.

But for now, let's just take a straight-up look at the Dominick's sale flyer for the week of Nov. 19. It's the best one we've seen in awhile.

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Reader Question: Grocery Savings Without Bulk Buying

Jill submitted a great question:

I enjoy your blog, but wonder if you have any tips you can share for
singles (or anyone who does not buy groceries for a large family.)
There are two of us in my household, and we don't eat a lot of
pre-packaged foods that seem to be the center of these Catalina deals;
not to mention it would take us months to go through 5 cartons of ice
cream. It doesn't seem worth it to buy things we aren't going to eat or
that we would be stuck with for a long period. Thanks in advance for
any advice.

So, you mean you don't want your car to look like this every time you come back from the store?

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 (This is the back of my car after triple stacking the current Jewel-Osco Catalina offer; $90 in pre-card prices, paid $52 including tax after Preferred Card and coupons, received $45 in Catalina coupons for my next shopping trip --> $7 for 26 rolls paper towel, 12 cans soup, four boxes broth, and most of that was tax. And I had all 3 kids with me. Why yes, I DID need help getting out to my car, thankyouverymuch.)

 Jill, you bet I have advice for small households who don't want to buy in bulk, and who want to avoid processed foods:

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Jewel Catalina Successful Transaction: Made Money on Ice Cream, Progresso and Yoplait

Last night after dinner out with my husband (thank you, Restaurant.com), I convinced him to take me to my favorite Jewel and sit in the car with the baby while I shopped. Oh, it was a night of romance, let me tell you. But I ended up making $6 buying stuff for the freezer, fridge and pantry, so that's always a good night in my book.

Here's my successful $60 transaction:

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Jewel-Osco Deals and Coupon Matchups 11/5-11/11 -- Free Tissues

The main event this week at Jewel is the General Mills Catalina deal, which I already posted about. I even got over there to run a $60 transaction last night and I'll let you know about that soon.

But there are some other good deals this week at Jewel too:

FREE after coupon: Scotties tissues on sale for $1, use $1/1 printable. You can print two of those per computer and also two 50 cents/1 to stock up for flu season.

DiGiorno Ultimate or California Pizza Kitchen $4.99 ($1.50/1 DiGiorno and $1/1 CPK on Coupons.com)

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Dominick's Deals and Coupon Matchups 11/5 -- Free Breakfast

BREAKFAST DEAL

Dominick's will give you the fixings of a free breakfast this week if you spend $50 (card prices, after coupons) on Saturday or Sunday. There are four coupons for free items on the front of today's flyer: one for free orange juice, one for a free loaf of raisin bread, one for free bacon and one for free eggs. All store brands. I estimate these items would be worth around $10 total in your typical sale prices.

This would be a pretty good deal if it weren't for that pesky line about spending $50 AFTER manufacturer's coupons. Who wants to do that? Looking through the rest of the flyer, there isn't $50 worth of stuff on sale that I would normally buy. I can think of a few strategies, though, if you want to try for this free breakfast:

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Jewel General Mills Catalina Deal: New Sale Prices, Scenarios and Coupons

Thanks to the folks on Couponers Wanted, you can read the whole list of every single item included in the "buy $30, get $15 coupons" Catalina deal at Jewel-Osco right now. However, that list doesn't tell you the sale and Preferred Card prices for those items, which you need to put together transaction scenarios.

Lucky for you, I did a little research today. First, I got the Jewel Wednesday insert, which has a full page of new Preferred prices for this deal on the back (which are supposed to start tomorrow but my Jewel had a lot of these sales already running today). Then, I stopped into my local store to look for some of the pre-card prices.

Here are the ad items, with preferred prices, with pre-card price and coupon match if I have it. Note that some of the pre-card prices I saw on the tag myself, some are from the ad and some gathered elsewhere online; none are guaranteed so watch how they ring up.

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What We Spent Our $80 Grocery Budget on This Week: Organics at Trader Joe's

I went $15 over budget this week, but that's not too bad considering I hadn't spent any money at all the week before. I'll have no problem making it up in the current week since there is plenty of fresh food in the fridge.

After not grocery shopping at all last week, I needed fruit and vegetables, so I headed to my favorite local place for organic produce: Trader Joe's. Although there are plenty of goodies at TJ's I hold back on for both budgetary and diet reasons (my husband would become my slave if I came home with a cart of chocolate-covered peanut butter pretzels, but I resisted), I don't exactly skimp there either because I don't have time to make a TJ's run more than about once a month.

I spent $80 there on my usual TJs staples, like organic peanut butter, organic potatoes, carrots and celery, organic fruit (apples and pears this time), hummus, whole-wheat cous cous, wild salmon (I usually buy the cheaper silverbrite and cook it in a curry dish to compensate for the blander taste) and wine. I also got two organic chickens at $2.79 a pound, some nitrate-free ham for Nutmeg's lunches, and one jar of simmer sauce for an easy dinner (probably with that silverbrite salmon).

 

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Sunday Ad Flyers 11/1: P&G Saver, Toys R Us Big Book, Target Gift Card Deals

Yesterday at my CVS they were piling all the Halloween stuff on a clearance cart to fill those aisles with Christmas kitsch. That's right, now that Halloween is behind us, it's on for holiday shopping. While I am irritated by early Christmas displays, I'm all for getting a jump on the holiday shopping. The earlier I start, the better deals I am able to find and the better stuff I am able to get for my loved ones. In fact I have already bought two gifts for my 5-year-old: a new comforter with shams from JC Penney (using that $10 voucher and $10 coupon combo) and three pairs of knee socks from Lands' End (using the $10 coupon).

So in the spirit of holiday shopping, here are the best deals from the Sunday ad flyers, Nov. 1.

 

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More Halloween Freebies

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So, free burrito tonight after 6 p.m. if you "dress like a Chipotle burrito." I'm weighing the cost of full-body aluminum foil against the actual price of the burrito.

More Halloween freebies, list courtesy of someone on my Freecycle group. As always, I suggest your call your local store to make sure they're participating.

APPLEBEES


Kids who wear a Halloween Costume get a free meal at Applebees on October 31st. children age 12 and under, dressed in a Halloween costume, to a free kids' meal at lunch or dinnertime on October 31. The offer comes with the purchase of an adult entrée, for dine-in service only.
Call your local Applebees to see if they are participating in this promotion.

TOYS R US


Customers can visit any Toys"R"Us store - dressed up in their ghoulish garb - on Saturday, October 31 from noon to 3pm to participate in a spooktacularly safe Halloween celebration. Children ages three and up who attend Geoffrey's Trick "R" Treat Parade will receive a complimentary, reusable bag, which they can fill up with goodies and giveaways (while supplies last) as they parade around the store with everyone's favorite mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe.

TACO BELL

Creep in from 6pm to midnight o Halloween(Saturday, October 31st) to get one Free Black Jack Taco.

The new Black Jack Taco is free, 1 per person.
The Black Jack Taco is a black taco shell with beef, zesty sauce and cheddar/mozzarella/ pepper jack cheese. Hey, it's free!

SEARS


Free Mattel Toy on Halloween for Children in Costume. Or print this coupon for $5 any $20 Mattell toy.

BOSTON MARKET

Tomorrow is the last day you can get a $1 chicken meal with this coupon.

22 Frugal Meals That Keep Our Weekly Grocery Spending Under $80

When I have posted lots of mad crazy grocery deals, often for junk food, I like to stop and remember the other side of frugal eating: The simple, inexpensive and wholesome meals I incorporate into our family's menu.

When I say we spend $80 a week to feed four people, a lot of folks wonder what on earth we're eating. Is it all junk food? Well, we will be incorporating Crescent rolls and Grands and other things I've gotten free or very cheap into the menu, but even without freebies there are lots of inexpensive and good meals you can feed your family. Here are 22 cheap-ass entrees and side dishes in regular rotation at our house:

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Bread machine whole wheat bread. I've read that bread machines don't quickly pay for themselves -- if you buy them new. However, bread machines are one of those things that thrift shops are just full of. People get them for gifts, find that they never use them, and want to free up the kitchen space, so off to Salvation Army they go. I got mine at Goodwill for $4 and I use it regularly.

 

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Dominick's Deals and Sales -- Week of Oct. 29

Seems like the Dominick's and Jewel flyers are going in separate directins lately: Dom's is one single piece of newsprint folded into 4 pages today, and Jewel feels like the Sears Christmas catalog. But each has some decent deals this week -- I like the DiGiorno pizza Super Coupon at Dominick's (but don't know if it's worth spending $20 to qualify for).

THURS-SATURDAY ONLY SUPER COUPONS (require $20 purchase)

DiGiorno pizza $3.99, limit 1 (use $1.50/1 printable or $.50/1 from 9/27 SmartSource)

Safeway apple juice, 64 oz. 79 cents

Fritos or Cheetos, 7.75-11.125 oz. 88 cents

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Bargain Hunters Bonanza: Crackdown on Food Health Claims Means Lots of Clearanced Products

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Remember how I was surprised to see YoPlus yogurt on clearance last week for $1.69? Today's Tribune offers a clue as to why -- they're probably getting rid of packages claiming the stuff improved digestive health, or immunity, or whatever they claimed. In fact, a lot of food companies have gotten busted recently for putting misleading or rule-breaking claims on their pacages, and the result for grocery bargain hunters should be lots of perfectly good food with bad labels marked down to clearance prices.

Dannon is, according to the Tribune story:

The Dannon Co. Inc. recently settled a class-action lawsuit alleging the company engaged in false advertising by touting the health benefits of yogurt products. Dannon, which denied wrongdoing, agreed to set up a $35 million fund for reimbursing consumers. Labels that once claimed "a positive effect on your digestive tract's immune system" instead are to say the yogurt will "interact" with that system.

So look for clearanced packs of Dannon's DanActive as well as the YoPlus, and I will let you know what I find out about applying for that refund.

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Don't Forget Free KFC Today -- And a New Offer From Boston Market

Did you remember that KFC is giving each customer a free piece of grilled chicken today? I'm thinking of heading over there with my girls since the hubs is working late tonight. But if there is a long line I won't bother. It's just a piece of chicken.

But Boston Market, not to be outdone, issued a printable coupon today that will get you a whole meal for just $1, today through Sunday. If you are having trouble loading that site, enter your email here to have the coupon emailed to you. That's a Real Chicken Meal with 3 pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes and cornbread.

One of the readers of Money Saving Mom, where I read about the Boston Market offer, wondered whether we'd be able to claim two free kids meals when ordering this meal with the coupon. Of course she wanted to know -- we cheapskates are resourceful. My guess would be no -- but I will certainly ask when I go there. It's on my agenda this week, because Boston Market is good and a meal for a buck is a steal.

By the way, if you eat at Boston Market a lot, they're offering a free $5 gift card with the purchase of a $25 one.

Sunday Ads 10/25: Free Diaper Sample, Free Lip Balm, Free Soup

If this week's ad summary is a bit dry and to the point, blame my mom's slow computer that I'm typing on. Maybe I need to use that $70 off Dell coupon I got with the Kellogg's rebate for an upgrade for her.

At any rate, there are lots of good grocery deals this week with coupons, ExtraBucks and Register Rewards, not to mention that just about everyone has deep discounts now on Halloween costumes and candy. It pays to procrastinate! Behind the break you'll find out how to get free soup from CVS, free Dove soap from Walgreens, cheap DiGiorno pizzas from Walgreens or Target, Free LypSyl lip balm from anywhere, and a free diaper sample online. Free is good!

The coupon inserts: Redplum has coupons for $2/1 for the new Pampers Extra Protection diapers and $1/1 Pampers Sensitive wipes, but you have to buy both the diapers and wipes to use the $1/1. Also, they have an offer for a free sample of this new diaper from Walmart. Also a $30 off coupon for a Bayer Contour blood glucose meter which will get you some free ExtraBucks at CVS next time this meter is paying ECBs. (I have given these away on Freecycle and found quite happy recipients.)

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Free Just Tastes Better: Free Piece of Chicken From KFC

When KFC tried to give out a ton of free meals, it went kind of bad. Lots of people waited in line and weren't able to get served.

Now KFC says it'll give out one piece of its grilled chicken to each customer on Monday, Oct. 26.

Actually, I'm pretty sure they already had a day when they gave out a single piece, and it went fine.

I'll drop into a KFC if there is no line. I don't do long lines for freebies, especially not for one lousy piece of chicken. The program Marketplace on NPR addressed this issue briefly tonight in a humorous interview between host Kai Ryssdal and his editor, Paddy HIrsch.

It's a fun listen, with Kai trying to talk about opportunity cost and Paddy insisting, "Free just tastes better."

Yeah, it does.

Dominick's Sales With Coupon Matchups - 10/22-10/29

I haven't been to Dominick's in awhile, but with the Kraft/Nabisco rebate and a hot sale on Triscuits, I'll definitely be stopping in. By the way, the 10 Nabisco items for that rebate don't all have to be purchased in the same transaction.

THURS-SAT ONLY

Nabisco Triscuit or Wheat Thins 5.5-10 oz. 99 cents, limit 4 (Great scenario for the Kraft/Nabisco rebate: buy 10 in three transactions, use five $1/2 coupons if you have access to three computers, and you've spent $5 and will get $10 back -- moneymaker!)

Chef Boyardee, Prince pasta, Knorr Sides 69 cents

Brownberry or Arnold bread $1.89

pumpkins buy one, get one free @ $6.99

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Saturday Shopping: $1 Gets 8 Packs Yogurt and Then Some

Yesterday I had one of my very favorite bargain shopping opportunities: The afternoon kids' birthday party. These parties usually last 2 hours, and are often a 10-minute drive or more from my house. Just far enough to say, "Why bother going home just to get back in the car again so soon?"

After sitting around the party for about half an hour feeding my baby and chatting with the other moms, I hit Walgreens and Jewel for some quick deals with only the baby in tow. This qualifies as me time these days!

The Wag's stop was kind of a dud -- I finally found a bunch of those kids' activity books with the coupons, but they were not on clearance for 50 cents, sadly, so I didn't buy them. I did get the Fresh Whatever ChapStick free after Register Rewards, as well as a bag of those Halls candies that were a 75-cent moneymaker after coupon.

By the time I got to Jewel, I had 45 minutes before I needed to head back to the party. It was a busy Saturday afternoon, not the idea time to do multiple transactions, but still the line at the self-checkout was not too out of hand. (The idea time for bargain shopping, I think, is a weekday morning. The lines will be short or non-existant, but unlike latenight shoping there should be a knowledgable manager on duty if you need help.) 

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Jewel-Osco Grocery Deals and Coupon Matchups -- Oct. 15

Besides the new possibly moneymaking General Mills Catalina with Pillsbury overlap, there are some regular old good deals at Jewel this week:

THURS-SATURDAY ONLY

Jewel Butter $1.88/lb. limit 4

Oreos 9.6-18 oz. $2.49

Homelife toilet paper 24 regular or 12 double rolls or paper towels $4.47

2 Liters of 7-Up, Dr Pepper or Squirt 79 cents

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Kids Eat Free at Steak N Shake and Boston Market

At Boston Market, kids eat free through Oct. 31. That means up to two kids meals per adult purchase of $6 or more. Kids must be present.

At Steak N Shake, kids can eat free on Saturdays and Sundays, but it's just one kids plate per $8 spent, dine in only.

What's your favorite kids eat free deal in the Chicago area?

Grocery Deals at Jewel for the Week of Oct. 8

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See the regular grocery sales below, but first I want to tell you about this special deal Jewel has going on this week. It's a "spend $10, save $3 instantly deal" for a whole mess of stuff. Some of these things end up at a ho-hum price (like a 4-pack of Angel Soft toilet paper for $1.75, when I've seen it plenty of times for $1) but some look like stock up prices indeed. Here are the best items I see in this grocery deal, with coupon matchups. All the prices are assuming that you spend $10 and get the $3 instant savings:

70 cents: Duncan Hines cake or brownie mix, 10-pack Playtex disposable globes 70 cents (there is a $1/1 Q on Coupons.com specifically for this disposable variety, which makes them free. There are also $1/1 coupons for Playtex Living in the 10/4 SmartSource and on Coupons.com -- not sure if they will work on these), Ronzoni Smart Taste or Healthy Harvest pasta, 12-16 oz. (sign up here for $1/2 boxes, or get one from the 8/2 SmartSource, making them 20 cents each!), Pop Secret micro popcorn, Blistex, Scotties tissue cube (in the 8/9 and 9/13 RedPlum there are coupons for $.50/3) Softsoap 7.5 oz., Daisy sour cream 8 oz.

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What Can You Eat $80 a Week

This week I spent $55 at Trader Joe's stocking up on the usual things that are cheapest and best there: organic peanut butter, organic celery, carrots, potatoes and apples, cheap wine. I spent $10 at Jewel without getting any special deals there, $6 on a dozen Bruegger's bagels (apparently they have this deal every Wednesday), $8 at the farmer's market on apples and apple cider.

Oh, and I actually spent money at CVS on groceries this week, instead of getting it free for Extra Bucks the way I often do. I spent $5 on 3 cartons of ice cream and a package of cookies; I did get the milk with ExtraBucks though. I usually do a few moneymaking deals there from time to time and have enough ExtraBucks on hand to get the milk.

So not a major bargain-finding week for me, in fact we went $4 over the $80 food budget. And we still have put $0.00 towards the $400 we spent on beef. We'll do better next week!

Here's what I served on the $80 (well, $84) budget this week:

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Charity Deals: Feel Good, Get Good Stuff

Here are two deals where you give money to a charity and they give you a bunch of coupons for free stuff. So you get to feel good about helping people out, but it's not exactly giving till it hurts.

1. North Chicago Neighborhood Meet & Greet: This event, going on tomorrow night (Tuesday Oct. 6) sounds like a great time and a good deal in its own right. Pay $25 ($30 at the door) for a barbecue buffet plus wine or Oktoberfest Sprecher beer. And giving it that little extra boost of hipness, it's hosted by Chicago Now blogger The Local Tourist. (Rather it's hosted by her Web site.)

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Double Food Stamps at Farmer's Market

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I don't know how many of my readers qualify for food stamps but in this economy I wouldn't be surprised if there are some. So I want to let you know that the 61st Street Farmers Market is starting a "double food stamps" or "double LINK" program this Saturday Oct. 3. Here's what they told me about it:

"We are only about a week away from October 3rd and the launch of the 61st Street Farmers Market Double Value LINK Program, the first in the state of Illinois. Thanks to Wholesome Wave Foundation and our friend Chef Paul Kahanof Avec, Blackbird, Publican fame, the 61st Street Farmers Market will be able to offer twice the purchasing value to our LINK benefit recipients who shop at the Market (up to $25 per market per Market day). This program has proven to be highly successful in making fresh and healthful food available for all in other states where it has been tried. If you would like to help support the Double Value LINK Program, please make a donation by visiting our website at www.experimentalstation.org."

I think it's so cool that this farmer's market is able to take LINK at all, much less double the value. I know that accessing fresh, wholesome foods is a big problem for many people who receive this benefit, so this is awesome.

Photo by Julia Manzerova, used via Creative Commons license.

What's on Sale at Jewel-Osco This Week -- 10/1-10/7

Here are the grocery sales and coupon match-ups for Jewel-Osco for the week of Oct. 1:

Jewel has some more manufacturer's products for Kraft products in the flyer this week, and once again at least one of them will be very useful if you pick it up at Jewel and bring it over to Dominick's. It's a $2/2 Q for Kraft Singles, which are on sale at Dominick's for $1.49.

Unfortunately, my husband doesn't want me to buy those things because he said processed cheese is made from the rotten sludge at the bottom of barrels in the cheese factory. Maybe so, but don't you love how very bendy those Kraft singles are? It's like childhood in a wonderfully uniform little postcard of cheese.

Speaking of coupons, there's also one for a free 9-11 oz. bag of Fritos (up to $2) when you buy a pack of Ball Park beef franks and a can of Hormel No Bean Chili @ $2. (you could probably combine that with the $1/2 Ball Park Q from the 9/30 SmartSource)

On Sale at Jewel Through Saturday Only:

raspberries $1.50 for 6 oz.

Sunshine Cheez-It or Town House crackers 7-16 oz. $1.88

Lay's potato chips 10.5-11 oz. $1.88

 

 

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Meat That Pays for Its Own Freezer

We did it: We bought that 1/2 side of beef and a gigantic chest freezer to keep it in. And guess what? We saved enough on the beef to pay for the freezer. It's meat that pays for itself!

 

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I explain all the math on my new Wise Bread post. But basically, the deal is that we paid around $400 for a year's worth of beef, and we would have paid $800 for that much beef normally. The freezer was less than $400, therefore our meat PAID FOR ITSELF!

As an added bonus, $800 is what we would have paid for this much hamburger. But now we have roasts, stew meat and friggin' steaks. We friggin' love the frig out of those friggin' things!

Also, as one of the Wise Bread commenters pointed out, the new freezer makes a nice countertop in the basement for sorting laundry.

What You Can Eat on an $80 Grocery Budget, and What I Bought This Week with That $80 Budget

A perennial question I get about bargain shopping is, "What do you EAT on an $80-a-week grocery budget?" I think I'm lucky that although I am technically feeding four people, my kids are too little to hold much sway in what I buy (and also too little to consume much) and my husband is pretty flexible and willing to try new things. When we don't buy any alcohol, $80 isn't even much of a challenge.

One thing to keep in mind is that I have a large grocery stockpile and much of my weekly budget goes to feeding the pantry and the (new) freezer. So when you see our weekly menu, I didn't likely buy most of that during the current week.

First I'll run through what we ate this week, then what I spent:

Wednesday: breakfast = strawberry banana smoothies, lunch = Goldfish crackers and cheese sticks and pb&j sandwiches, dinner = salad topped with sauteed green beans and quesedillas

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All This for Free at Kmart Super Doubles

I topped off an exhausting weekend of shopping with ... more shopping. Why yes, I am starting to figure out why I never have time for anything.

But still. When I did a quick perusal of the possible deals at Kmart to write it up for you this morning, I saw that not only could I actually make money buying Special K, I could also get free Ziploc bags (which we were getting low on) and the free Reece's peanut butter cups I missed out on getting last time around. The clincher was that when 5-year-old Nutmeg found out I was going to get Halloween candy, she actually wanted to come with. I also kinda sorta told her we could maybe get some Halloween decorations, too. The kid is obsessed with this holiday.

Here's what I got for free:

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(That Cariboo game you see in the background is just clutter in our house, not part of the purchase.)

 

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Pure Maple Syrup for Under $6 a Jug

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My kids love maple syrup on pancake and waffles. Of course they do! It's sugar and they're kids. They wouldn't mind at all if we used the cheap corn syrup variety in the bottle shaped like the lady. But I would mind. So I buy the good stuff -- although next time I added a 32-ounce bottle of pure maple syrup at Trader Joe's, I think it was $17 or more and it put me over my grocery budget that week.

Won't happen again. I just ordered three two-bottle packs of syrup on Amazon for under $13 for each 32 ounces. Mir over at Wantnot.net explains exactly what to do to get this price. And according to these maple syrup guys, you can keep this stuff in your freezer pretty much forever.

Did I mention we bought a gigantic freezer for our basement? More on that later.

By the way, I will be using Random.org to choose the grand prize winner and two runners up for the Dominick's gift card contest later tongiht. Maybe during Saturday Night Live. I will report results as soon as available.

Photo by Svadilfari, used via Creative Commons license.

Free Thursday: Blogapalooza

ChicagoNow's throwing a little party for the general public tomorrow along with the 900 shops on Michigan Ave. Well, it's kind of an event at the various stores, but since there will be free food and drink and fun, interesting people there, I shall call it a party.

Michigan Ave.! Just like Oprah's party. Here are the deets:

Thursday, Sept. 24

5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

900 N. Michigan Ave.

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Last Chance for Kellogg's Fuel for School Rebate Moneymakers at Jewel or Target This Week

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The only big deal that stands out this week at Jewel is a new Kellogg's promo: Buy 10 of selected items (mix and match) and you get them for $1.50 each. Remember that Fuel for School Rebate, where you buy 10 Kellogg's products and they send you a $10 check? Well, it ends Sept. 30, i.e., the end of this shopping week. So if you haven't done it yet, now's the time. Buy 10 of these items at $1.50 each, pay $15, and get a $10 rebate check. Better yet, use coupons to bring the 10 items down to a buck each and it's all free after rebate. Better better yet, use coupons to bring them down to 50 cents each and then the rebate is a moneymaker.

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Grocery Spending Sept. 16-Sept. 22

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Above you see the 21 cans of soup and eight bags of Goldfish crackers I got for $9 total this week through the Campbell's Catalina deal at Jewel. How fun was it to stack up those Campbell's cans and photograph them as if I were Andy Warhol? Well, not Six Flags fun, but, you know. Maybe three flags.

Between my in-laws and my parents, visiting family has been very generous with us lately and I haven't had to shop much. My in-laws came to babysit last weekend while I was in San Francisco and left some fresh groceries, and then my parents came with a heaping bag of bounty from the garden, most deliciously six huge tomatoes. They're coming to visit again tomorrow with tomatoes and kale. Gotta love it when someone else does the work and we do the eating.

I still managed to spend $57 of my $80 grocery allowance, though. I spent $40 at Jewel -- about $9 on three rounds of the Campbell's Catalina deal (ends tomorrow!) and $31 on other stuff including four pounds of strawberries at $1 each (grand re-opening special), a couple bottles of $3 Golden Gate wine (it's ok), and the dreaded soy milk that I have to drink because the baby spits up so much if I drink regular milk and then breastfeed him. (This really sucks not only because I love dairy products but because milk finally got so cheap and without me drinking it we're not using much.)

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Campbell's Soup for 12 Cents

I'm up to my neck in a freelance writing deadline, but I did manage to walk the kids over to Jewel tonight for bacon to go with some lovely fat tomatoes my parents brought from their garden. And of course I tested out that Campbell's Catalina deal so I could report back here.

It worked Mmm, mmm good. Hee.

Yes, the "spend $15, get $5" offer works on pre-card prices. I bought 10 cans of soup for 12 cents each after the $5 Catalina coupon I received. Here's how it worked:

6 cans Campbell's Select @ $1.25 = $7.56 ($12.90 pre-card)

4 cans Campbell's tomato @ $0.50 =  2.00 ($   3.00 pre-card)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                                                 $9.56 ($15.90 pre-card)

                             MINUS COUPONS     1.40 (two $.50/2 Select Qs and one $.40/2)

                                                                    2.00 (two $1/1 Campbell's printables) 

                                                                   --------

                                                        PAID $6.16, RECEIVED $5 Catalina, final = $1.16

And a coupon printed out for $1.50 off 6 Campbell's Select soups, meaning that when I am off deadline I can go back and do the deal again. It won't be quite as cheap because I don't have any more $1/1 printables -- so I'll pay 32 cents a can. Pretty steep, I guess. ;-)

Jewel 9/17-9/23: Make Money Buying Campbell's Soup

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I'll post the rest of the Jewel deals later, but first here's a word about this week's Campbell's Catalina deal. (If you don't know what a Catalina is, read this post.) Have you noticed that Campbell's has been discounting its products all over the place lately? This $1/2 cooking soups printable coupon will really come in handy at Jewel this week, especially if you have access to multiple computers and can print a lot of copies, because there's a Campbell's Catalina deal going:

Spend $15, get $5. Products include Cambell's tomato or chicken noodle @ 50 cents (w/out card 20/$15), Goldfish crackers 6.8-8 oz. @ $1.25, 2 oz. Goldfish or Campbell's Canned Pasta (Spaghetti-os) @ $1, V8 Splash juice 64 oz., Milano cookies or Swanson chicken breast 4.5 oz. @ $2, Cambell's Select Harvest or Chunky @ $1.25, Prego pasta sauce @ $2.

Here's the moneymaking deal: Buy 20 cans Cambpell's tomato soup for $10 with card, $15 pre-card price. Use 10 $1/2 printables to get them free. Collect $5 Catalina coupon. Or if you only have a few $1/2s, also clip the the Cambell's coupons from the 9/13 SmartSource: $1/2 V8 Splash, $.40/2 any condensed soups, $.40/4 chicken noodle or tomato, $.50/2 Select Harvest.

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Grocery Deals at Dominick's -- 9/17-9/23

THURS-SUN ONLY

Oscar Mayer Wieners 99 cents (Does your store take expired coupons? If so try using those $2/2 from the Jewel flyer a couple weeks ago to get them free! It's a combo of 3 coupon stumbling blocks: Other store's logo, expired AND coupon value higher than the item, but if you're feeling like a coupon cowboy/girl I'd love to hear if you are able to get it! Personally, I JUST tossed those sheets of Jewel coupons, unfortunately.)

large Hass avocados $1

8 pieces fried chicken from deli $4.99

ALL WEEK

Buy 5 and get 100 Bonus Campbell's Points (this is one of those money for your school things like Box Tops for Education): Campbell's soup 50 cents (use $1/2 printable to get it free! Or $.40/4 from 9/13 SmartSource), Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers 6.6-8 oz. $1.67; Prego pasta sauce 24-26 oz. $1.67; V8 V-Fusion Juice 46 oz. $2.99. (Campbell's deal at Jewel is even better this week.)

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Great Deals for Tuesday

I just flew back from San Francisco, and boy are my arms tired! Actually, they are from hauling around a baby with his car seat. But they're not too tired to type up some deals!

60% off Uggs Boots on DealNews. (Thanks, Wise Bread!) (And possibly even better: 79% off kids' shoes from LL Bean + free shipping, also on DealNews. Hey, this DealNews site is addictive!)

Today's Groupon: Ticket to Millennium Park Gourmet Food Event for 47% off. (That makes it $89 instead of $169. The deal is already "on" meaning that if you sign up you definitley get it. Tickets available for 9/26 or 9/27 only. You have until midnight to buy.)

Walgreens coupon-free moneymaker: Buy vitamin drink packets for a $2 profit after Register Rewards. (Thanks For the Mommas!)

Printable coupons:

Sign up for the Luvs network for a $5/1 coupon. (Thanks, Money Saving Mom!)

$2/1 Healthy Choice coupon

$2/1 off Advil

 

 

 

Sunday Flyers: Golden Gate Edition

So, here I am in San Francisco, and you'd think I'd be out visiting my old haunts and eating all my favorite foods. I did eat some good food, but today I've been hanging out at my friends' apartment, waiting for Nutmeg to call out to me from her sickbed. It's a nice apartment on a great little shopping street in Bernal Heights, but still. It's not the getaway I'd hoped for this weekend.

But lucky for you, my confinement means that I had time to pick up a Sunday Chronicle (my alma mater -- I used to be a business reporter there) and look through the ads. If you didn't already know, there are five coupon inserts in some markets -- two Red Plums, two Smart Sources, a Generall Mills insert, and one other one that San Francisco apparently didn't get.

Target has a Kashi gift card offer: Buy 5 Kashi products @ $2.88 and get a $5 gift card. There's a (new or reset, I think) $1.50/1 Kashi coupon here for a cereal or snack product (thanks Money Saving Mom), which you can print twice per computer. There's also a $1/1 Kashi frozen pizza Target coupon here. Mashup Mom lists a few other Kashi coupons here. So if you are able to get five $1.50/1 Qs, you'd pay $6.65 for 5 products and get $5 back, making them $1.65 for five, or 33 cents each.

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The Frugalista Is Out of the Office, But ...

I'm in San Francisco for a long weekend. Work and pleasure. But while I'm here, I'll try to pop in with a few moneysaving tips. Such as:

  • There's a 16-family rummage sale to benefit a local girl scout troop in my home village of Oak Park this weekend. Saturday, Sept. 12, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., 608 S. Gunderson Ave. As much as I love being in SF, I hate missing a big sale like that!
  • You can get a coupon for a free box of "your favorite" Barilla pasta if you try their whole grain stuff and don't love it. (You do have a favorite pasta, don't you?) These "if you're not completely satisfied" offers are always confusing to me. If I thought it was just ok, would it be wrong to send in my proof of purchase and receipt? I like whole grain pasta, but I don't know if I've ever sat down to a plate of spaghetti and said "I just love these whole grain noodles. I just LOVE them!"
  • I missed a great Kashi deal when I typed up the Jewel sales this week: "Buy 4 select products, get $4 instant savings." Thanks to reader resweater for pointing it out, and here are details on how to make it a moneymaker or at least get some cereal or granola bars for very cheap from Mashup Mom.

Dominick's Deals for the Week -- 9/10-9/16

Some decent sales at Dominick's this week. I bolded what look like the best deals to me.

Thurs-Sun Only

Mission Tortilla Chips 99 cents, limit 1

DiGiorno PIzza $3.99

large navel oranges 99 cents

All Week

Italian Sausage Links $1.99

Perdue Lean Ground Turkey $2.50/lb.

Barlett Pears 50 cents/lb.

organic red or green seedless grapes $1.99/lb.

vine ripe tomatoes $1.99/lb.

Roma Tomatoes 69 cents/lb.

asparagus $1.88/lb.

Safeway Select Salsa (16 oz.) $2

Mission Tortillas (10-count) $2

Buy one, get one: Oscar Mayer bologna, 16 oz., @ $5.29 (I thought bologna was supposed to be cheap??), Oscar Mayer Fun Pack Lunchables or Deli Creations @ $3.49, Steak-Umm 10.5 oz. @ $5.49, Mama Lucia Italian Meatballs @ ?.

Super Coupons

Hormel lunchmeat, 6-8 oz. $1.99

Oscar Mayer beef franks 14-16 oz. $1.99

Safeway thick sliced bacon 3 lbs. $4.99

Safeway Boneless Skinless chicken breasts, frozen $1.69 lb.

IBC root beer, 6 pack $1.99

Quaker Instant Oatmeal $1.77

Lucerne or Safeway Select Ice Cream 1.75 quart $1.99

Lucerne large eggs 99 cents/dozen

Dominick's raisin bread $1.49

grape tomatoes, 1 pint 99 cents

5 lbs. russet potatoes $1.49

Chef Boyardee cans 79 cents

Post Honey Bunches of Oats 4/$6 (must buy 4) (use $2/1 printable IF they have the pecan variety, and if your cashier is cooperative about reducing coupon)

Hefty trash bags 14-22-count $3.99 (use $.55/1 or $1/2 from 8/30 RedPlum)

Friday only deli deal: meatloaf, 18-24 oz., serves 3-4, $5

Thanks to Hot Coupon World for coupon matchups.

Jewel Deals Sept. 10-Sept. 16

Whew! Anyone else relieved that there is NOT a new Catalina deal advertised in this week's Jewel flyer? I'm just trying to squeeze in a last couple moneymaking Green Giant vegetables transactions today and then I'm ready for a break! I will also hurry up and buy corn on the cob tonight before it goes from 5/$1 to 3/$1 tomorrow.

Thurs-Sat Only

pork chops 99 cents/lb.

peaches or nectarines 99 cents/lb.

Jewel apple juice 64 oz. 99 cents

All Week

seedless grapes 78 cents/lb.

onions $1/lb.

russet potatoes $2.50/5 lbs.

Stockman & Dakota sirloin tip roast, steak or bottom round roast 50% off

Tillamook cheese $2.79/8 oz.

Sargento shredded cheese $2.49/5-8 oz.

Dean's cottage cheese 16 oz. $2

Wild Harvest Steel Cut Oats $1.98/16 oz.

Wild Harvest organic peanut butter $2.99/18 oz. (as good as Trader Joe's regular price for 16 oz.)

Wild Harvest organic maple syrup $6.99/12 oz. (I wonder if there is such a thing as NON-organic maple syrup?)

Quaker Chewy Granola Bars $1.67/7-8 oz. box

2 Liters of 7-Up, Dr Pepper, A&W or Squirt $1

32 oz. Gatorade $1

Campbell's tomato or chicken noodle soup 50 cents (use $1/1 printable. Says "cooking soups" but works for all.)

Hershey or Reese's bars, 6-pack $3 (use $.55/1 from 8/23 SmartSource)

Popsicles, Fudgesicles or Ice Pops 50% off (use Catalina coupons you would have gotten if you bought any Breyer's products so far this summer)

Haagen-Dazs Mini Cups, 4 oz., $1 (use $1/3 printable to get 3 for $2)

Rosina Italian or Homestyle Meatballs, 32 oz. frozen, $6.99

PictSweet Seam'ables Complete Meals 12 oz. $1.99 (use $1/1 blinkie to get for $1)

Softsoap 7.5 oz. $1

Soft Choice toilet paper 18 double rolls or Mighty Absorben paper towels 6 mega rolls $7.99 (Homelife store brand)

Buy one, get one: Entemann's donuts 12 pack @ $4.69, Dean's 1.5 quarts @ ?, John Morrell Applewood Smoked Ham, 8 oz. @ $3, Perdue Breaded Chicken, 12 oz. @ $5.29, Dean's sherbet, 1 quart @ $3.75, M&M Mars or Snickers Ice Cream Cones or M&Ms Sandwiches, 6 pack @ $6.79, Philly-Gourmet Beef Sandwich Steaks, 21 oz., @ $7.49, Edwards Single Serve Pie, 5.2-8.5 oz., @ $4.29, Perdue Breaded Chicken Strips, Wings or Glazed Chicken, 26-32 oz., @ $9.99, Matt's Cookies, 16 oz., @ $3.99. 

There's a manufacturer's coupon for a free American Greetings card when you buy 2, expires 9/20, in the Osco section of the flyer. Note that this could be used at any store.

 Sale not in flyer: Ronzoni Healthy Harvest and Smart Taste are $1.50. I'm not sure how long this price lasts, but if it is on sale through the week this is a good time to use those $1/2 printables to get two packages for $1 each (a bogo sale would be even better but I'll take it)

Finally, if you live in or near Oak Park, the Madison Ave. store is having a Grand Reopening with some special sales running the same dates as the regular sales: seedless grapes for 59 cents a pound, whole chickens at 79 cents a pound, pork chops 99 cents a pound, fresh glazed donuts at $1.99/lb. (limit 2), 2 Liters of A&W, 7-Up, Squirt and Dr Pepper for 69 cents, Tropican 64 oz. for $1.99, Edy's Ice Cream for $2.50, Pringles tubes for 99 cents and Progresso Traditional Soup cans for 99 cents. And there is a store coupon in the flyer for a free American Greetings card, good through 9/16 (combine it with that manufacturer's coupon in the flyer to get 3 for the price of 1).

Thanks to Hot Coupon World for coupon matchups.

Free Cocoa Puffs at Jewel with Catalina and Coupon

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If you sign up for the (surely riveting) newsletter from Pillsbury.com, you can print a bunch of coupons inlcuding $1/1 Cocoa Puffs. If you can print five copies of this coupon (two per computer are allowed), you should be able to get five boxes free with the "spend $20, get $5" Catalina deal at Jewel through tomorrow.

Transaction idea:

5 boxes Cocoa Puffs ($4.45 pre-card price x 5 = $22.25, $2 card price x 5 = $10)

- five $1/1 coupons (if you have access to multiple computers)

-------------------------------------------------------

pay $5, get $5 Catalina coupon back = free!

Thanks to The Frugal Girls for the tip that Pillsbury.com has coupons! Other coupons on that site that can be used for the Catalina deal include $1/2 Grands, $.50/2 Green Giant Boxed Vegetables, and $1/3 Progresso.

Photo by CJ Sorg, used by permission through Creative Commons.

A Quickie: CVS and Jewel Transactions

Tonight I was only going to stop by CVS -- and that only because I had one of those free chocolate coupons that was expiring today. (They've been giving them out every Friday, but only untli 11:59 p.m. EASTERN TIME, so too bad I just thought about it now at 11:26 p.m. Central.)

But then at 8:30 I started making zucchini bread as our breakfast for tomorrow's block party. And then I noticed that the hubs had used up the eggs this morning cooking breakfast. The nerve, eh? Cooking breakfast for all of us while I lay there, unsuspecting, in bed.

So off to CVS and Jewel I went, with the baby in the Bjorn and pushing a stroller only as a grocery cart. Here's what I got (no pictures, it's late!):

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Kmart Super Doubles Trip

OK, I caved. I succumbed to the siren song of Kmart Super Doubles. I did pretty well, but I must warn you -- I have never been able to do a Super Doubles trip in less than 2 hours. Maybe if I were better organized or if I didn't have the kids with me.

I did OK -- $50 worth of stuff for $10.

 

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The coupon for the thing I really wanted to use for free product, Softsoap Ensembles refills, was no longer available, but I did have those four $.55/1 Reece's coupons, which would translate to four free 10-packs of Reece's (on sale for $1 this week) for our block party pinata this weekend. Naturally, those coupons got lost in the back of my coupon file while I was there, and despite hauling all my coupons out of the file to sort through them on a shelf, I coudln't find them until I got back. Of course, it didn't help that I was shopping with a rambunctious toddler and an infant.

As a consolation, I was able to get a bunch of my husband's favorite deodorant for free. That high-maintenance man -- I've got a bag of deodorants sitting around from the Unilver Catalina, but he wanted his frangrance-free Mitchum. And now he's got it.

These are the things I got free after coupon:

2 packs Huggies wipes travel size $1.99 each (used $2/2 Huggies bath & body coupon from inside Huggies box)

4 sticks Mitchum deodorant bogo @ $3.99 (used two $2/1 coupons that printed out at Jewel)*

Starbucks Frappucino bottle (This stuff is disgusting and has 340 calories! I was bummed once I drank that then read the calories and realized I could have had a milkshake.) (used $1/1 from 6/21 SmartSource)

Large bottle Softsoap on sale for $3.99 (used $2 Walgreens Register Reward)*

Kotex Lightadays $1.29 (use $1/1)

Things I got for cheap:

1 pack Huggies wipes $1.99 (used a $.75/1 from mailer to get it for 50 cents)

1 pack Pampers $9.99 (used a $2/1 coupon from somewhere to get it for $6)

2 boxes baking soda 69 cents each (used $.75/2 to get them for 32 cents each)

2 cans Campbell's soup $1.49 each (used $1/2 to get them for 50 cents each)

chocolate chips for $2.29 (used $.50/1 that printed at Jewel to get them for $1.29*)

Fillers:

Heath bar 89 cents

hair bands $1.99

I used the $5/$50 from the Sunday ad, and I tried to use the free product coupons, but I guess you can only use one special Kmart coupon per transaction.

Note: If your Kmart has ice cream (mine doesn't even have a freezer), the $2/1 Starbucks Ice Cream coupons from the 8/9 RedPlum would probably get you a free pint. It was priced at $3.99 at Target.

* I e-mailed my local Kmart manager before I went to ask whether manufacturer's coupons with the logos of other stores would be accepted. He said yes and so I had the email printed in order to prove it to the cashier if she gave me any trouble with the Mitchum coupons or the Register Rewards. But she didn't give me any flack and they doubled just fine.

I Cannot Believe This $3 Bacon Coupon Is Still Available

I heard about this $3/1 Smithfield Bacon coupon a couple weeks back but never go the chance to print. Since then this brand of bacon has already gone on sale for $3 at least once (at Dominick's), making it free with coupon.

Tonight I checked it and what do you know? Still active. Mm-mm, bacon.

To get the coupon, hit the "Sign Up" link at the top, sign up, and then it will redirect you to the coupon page.

My Grocery Binge: August 26-Sept. 1

After several lean weeks of doing only Catalina deals, I spent a ton on groceries this week -- a whopping $204 -- with a Trader Joe's trip, two Target trips, another failed Catalina attempt AND a last-minute run to Dominick's. I definitely won't have to buy much of anything for the coming week -- the fridge, freezer and cupboards are bursting.

Since I had $20 to carry over from last week, that means I spent this week's budget and next, and when I shop again the week after, I'll STILL have to spend $20 less than my regular $80 budget. I'm OK with that, though, because I have so much stuff stockpiled. I will probably have to pick up some fresh produce, putting me farther in the hole, but I will catch up within the next few weeks.

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Walgreens Transaction -- Ho Hum

Every time I do deals at Walgreens I leave feeling like it was more trouble than it was worth. I think this is mainly because I'm so familiar with CVS and the layout of my regular store that any other drugstore seems like a pain to me.

Anyway, yesterday my $5 Register Reward was expiring so I went in planning to spend it on free-after-RR-and-coupon items such as the 360 toothbrush and Reach floss. They didn't have the toothbrush so I said, no problem, I'll get the Carefree Ultra with this coupon I just happened to bring just in case! But they didn't have that either. Grr.

Here's what I ended up getting:

 

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2 cans Campbell's soup $1.38 (after store coupon)

2 Glade candles              5.00

Reach floss                     2.99

Chapstick                       1.89 (filler)

clearance toy                  2.99 (filler)

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                                      14.28

MINUS Qs and DISOUNTS 2.14 15% off Q (no longer available)

                                      -------

                                      12.14

                                     -  1.00 $1/2 Campbell's printable

                                         4.24 2 free Glade Qs from the 8/9 Sunday inserts

                                         1.00 Reach Q from the 8/2 SmartSource

                                        --------

                                         5.90 -- paid $5RR plus 90 cents, got $3RR back

The clearanced bubble toy I got is not pictured because I can't find it. I was not thrilled about paying 90 cents cash -- I thought I was grabbing a 99-cent chapstick but now I see on my receipt that it was nearly $2. But considering that I got the $5RR for simply spending $25 on stuff I actually wanted, it wasn't bad to walk out of there with a small bag of useful stuff only 90 cents out of pocket. If only it hadn't taken an hour. :(

While I was there, I noticed this book by the pharmacy:

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It has manufacturer's coupons for Colgate, Biotene, vitamins and Walgreens Ace bandages. Some of the coupons say "only at Walgreens" while others just say in small letters "redeemable at Walgreens," and technically they should work anywhere since they are bar-coded MQs.

Tuesday Deal News

1. Don't forget to get your free Kronos gyros today with this coupon.

2. It's the first of the month, which means new and reset coupons at Coupons.com (including Qs that work for the Kelloggs/ConAgra Catalina at Jewel, and the Special K deal at Target), SmartSource, RedPlum, and ShortCuts (including $1/1 Energizer batteries that can be combined with the $1/1 from the 8/2 SmartSource).

3. It's a good time to hit Restaurant.com even though the discounts don't come out until the end of the month there. Why? Some restaurants consistently sell out, and if you've been wanting to get a gift certificate to one of those, better snatch it up now.

4. CVS is printing good coupons again at the register or coupon machine -- yesterday I got one for a free product (more feminine products, gettin' a lot of those lately) and one for $5 off Duracell recharchable batteries, which could be combined with the $2/1 rechargables from the 8/30 P&G flyer. Do the rechargables count toward the "buy $15, get $5 deal"? I dunno. 

Chicagoland Freebies and Deals for Monday

I'm gonna walk my toddler and baby over to Walgreens today to spend my $5 Register Rewards. Good thing I checked Money Saving Mom first -- she just posted a link to this 15% off coupon good today only at Wag's.

I'm planning my walk to include a stop at Oak Park landmark Buzz Cafe, which is reportedly giving out free coffee today to celebrate its 10th birthday. At least that's what OakParkerr says on Twitter.

Also remember to print this coupon good for a free Kronos gyros tomorrow.

Guess we missed this one: KFC was giving away value menu lunches from a boat this weekend on Chicago's lakefront. Only to people on boats, Cause you know, those people with boats totally need a free lunch worth $1 or $2. Anyway, since KFC created a special free-sample dispensing boat to promote its new value menu, I'll keep an eye out for other free-lunch-ortunnities.

The Sunday Flyers -- Free Ice Cream, Kmart Super Doubles

Oh MAN I am tired what a weekend. My father and brother came to see us yesterday to help watch the kids so Epu and I could spend some time cleaning out all the half-unpacked boxes and piles of junk in our basement. So now it's 7 p.m. Sunday and I'm just now sitting down to tell you about the deals in the Sunday newspaper. I can already tell you the highlights, though: Free ice cream at Target and another week of double coupons at Kmart.

Before we begin, help for the newbies: Glossary of terms; How to CVS; What's a Catalina; Overview of the Frugalista's Methods.

Coupon Inserts

It's a good week to pick up extra papers (or do a little Dumpster diving) if you are doing CVS deals, because there are lots of coupons tying into ExtraBucks deals this week.

First of all, the September P&G Brand Saver is in today's paper. There's a $1/1 Bounce dryer bar Q and a $.75/1 Tide Stain Release Q that work w/ an ExtraBucks deal at CVS to get you the dryer bar for $2 or the Tide for $2.25, and Duracell Qs that work with an ECB deal too. (CVS's rewards are called either Extra Bucks or Extra Care Bucks. For some reason the deal-hunters online have chosen to call them ECBs, not EBs. Fascinating, the etymology of the deal-hunter tribe.)

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Target Deals -- Some End Today

I'm a little bit ashamed to say that I visited the new Super Target on Mannheim Road twice this week. Even though this new big box palace is just a 10-minute drive from my home, it is usually my policy to sparingly visit stores that I can't walk to. But see, what happened is, my husband was going to drive over there this morning anyway to take Nutmeg shopping a the huge new Michael's. With a coupon from the Sunday paper, of course. We are supposed to be working on shoveling out our basement this weekend, so I thought I would go along to see if Target had any single shelving unit on sale, as well as pick up a few things I'd forgotten, use some of the coupons I just got in a Target mailer, and, yeah, I'll say it: Hit the many free-after-coupon deals at Target one more time.

We didn't get any shelving. But we did VERY well on what we got.

Before I get to my deals, I want to note a couple bargains I didn't buy:

  • Pink girls Radio Flyer Lights & Sounds Trikes are on clearance for under $30, normally $60. That's quite a steal since Radio Flyer is rarely discounted steeply.
  • You can get free dog food by combining a Target coupon with the buy one, get one sale that probably ends today. Thanks My Brain Is Inside Out for that tip.
  • Gold N Plump boneless skinless chicken breasts for 49 cents/lb! If you got a Target coupon mailer this week, take the $2/1 Gold N Plump Target coupon and combine it with a $1/1 manufacturer's coupon from Coupons.com. For some reason I didn't have any $1/1 MQs with me so I got a lesser deal :-(

And now for the deals I actually got, in my two trips this week. First today's:

targettaketwo.jpg

 

Total spent: $62.38 for regular purchases plus $247.49 for XBox* = $309.87

Total before coupons and discounts: $384.67

Saved: $74.80, 19.5 percent savings

 

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Deals From Other ChicagoNow Bloggers

McDonald's new breakfast menu includes $1 McMuffins (previously $2). Thanks Chicago Business Insider!

Avoid paying too much at garage sales from Garage Sale Warrior.

40% off Jersey Boys or free dinner at Italian Village. Thanks Off Broadway in Chicago!

Free Gyros from Kronos on Sept. 1 (print coupon NOW)! Thanks to Recession Busters.

Also from Recession Busters, the 2010 Entertainment Book is out.

My Grocery Spending This Week -- Love That Free Zucchini

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Once again this week (August 19-25) I didn't have much time to do real grocery shopping because I was too busy doing "deals. OK, there were also two parents back-to-school meetings and a pencil-sharpening party, and a weekend trip to Wisconsin.

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ConAgra, Kelloggs Catalina -- Half-Successful Attempt

Today I tried stacking the ConAgra/Kellogs/Own Brands Catalina deal, buying $50 worth of stuff and hoping to get $20 in Cats. It didn't work -- I only got $10 in Cats. Then I returned $24.65 worth of the stuff (being careful to leave at least $25 worth of products on my receipt so that I fairly earned that Catalina coupon. I added a 99 cent filler (2 Liter of Super Chill Seltzer) and rang it up again.

I failed to get the Cat again! Maybe the flavor of Seltzer I chose is not included? I will have to look it up on the UPC list to figure it out. Well, even I have my limits -- I'm not going to return the junk again. To tell the truth, it is STILL a good deal without the Cat -- four bottles of Wesson canola oil, a can of Pam and a bottle of seltzer for around $13. That would not have even bought three bottles of oil at regular prices (Although who would pay the regular price?) 

So I'm stocked up on oil for, oh, forever. Guess I'll skip buying the fancy grapeseed oil at Trader Joe's and just saute in canola. Apparently it's good for you. (Although some people say it's bad for you.)

Since my deal was so messed up, I won't bother listing exactly what I bought since it won't really help guide anyone. I'll post when I do a more successful transaction -- which I probably won't even try until I've had a peaceful evening to gather up my coupons. In fact, since the deal goes through Sept. 6, a week from Sunday, and since new coupons will pop up on the online sites on the first of the month, I'll probably wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to do any more of these deals.

I need a break from Jewel! I'm starting to actually be friendly with the manager who always seemed to hate me, and when you start developing the Stockholm Syndrome, you know you've been at your favorite store a little too often!

My Grocery Spending August 12-18

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  • This was one of those weeks where I hit a number of stores and did a lot of shopping. This is what makes people say, Oh, I would never have time to run to all those different stores for deals! But this week is not normal for me. There were several can't-miss deals going on at Jewel and Dominick's and indeed I made several trips to scoop them up. Also, we went to Target for something else and since I was there I stocked up on hormone-free chicken (and some regular chicken I had a coupon for) and some other deals.
  • I also spent $104, well over my $80 budget, but I had $55 carried over from previous weeks so that's ok. So I have $30 in the grocery bank right now, but I'm planning to not spend it next week. I'm still saving to cover the $75 I spent on a Groupon for ready-made meals.
  • At Target I spent about $70 on groceries (pictured above). I actually got four bananas for just a few cents with the .50/1 lb. Target coupon, but we ate 3 on the way home. As you can see from the little red stickers, I got a lot of clearance items, and I was particularly pleased that they were DOUBLE red stickered, meaning I got the second price reduction. The hummus was down to $2 per 14 ounce carton, the turtle brownie kits were $2.18, the green chiles were 50 cents a can, and the organic salsa was $1.54 after clearance price and coupon.

 

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Grocery Sales at Dominick's -- 8/20-8/26

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THURS-SUN ONLY

Lay's Chips $1.77

2 lbs. Michigan blueberries $3.99 (Too bad my kids are turning up their noses at blueberries in favor of $6/pint farmer's market blackberries. Can't really blame 'em though.)

Pillsbury Cake and Brownie Mix 79 cents

Cinnabon and Sun Maid Breakfast Breads (i.e. raisin bread) $1.49

ALL WEEK

Pepsi 2L + 7.25-11.25 oz. bag Cheetos or Fritos $1.49 for the pair

red seedless grapes 88 cents/lb

yellow peaches 99 cents/lb

12 oz. raspberries $3.99

local cucumbers 33 cents

pork chops $1.99/lb.

93% lean ground beef $1.99/lb.

24-pack Pepsi products $3.99

Post Fruity or Cocoa Pebbles, 11 oz. $1.88 (wasn't there a $1/2 in a recent insert?)

gallon Lucerne milk $1.99 when you buy 2

6 oz. Oscar Meyer lunchmeat $1.67

Honey Maid graham crackers $2.50 (use $1/1 printable, no longer available)

Vlasic pickles 24 oz. $2.50 (use $1/1 from MD booklet found at checkout)

Buy 3, Save $3: Popsicle Novelties $2.49, Premium Popsicle Novelties $2.99, Large Count Popsicle Novelties $3.49 before savings. (I did this last week with Fudgesicles, and was able to use a $2/3 manufacturer's coupon that printed out at Jewel from "buying" Breyer's in the Unilever Catalina deal.)

SUPER COUPONS (all require $20 purchase and limited to one unless otherwise indicated)

Electrasol Auto Dish Detergent (75-oz. liquid or 15-20 ct. tabs) $3.49 (I still have 10 $2.50 coupons I bought for this stuff; it was in the 7/12 SmartSource. It's expired but a cashier told me they take expireds at my Dominick's. And the tabs work WAY better than regular detergent in my dishwasher, so I'd go for this deal.)

Lucerne 18 large eggs 99 cents

Post Honey Comb 12-5 oz. or Cinna-Grahams 14.5 oz. 99 cents

Klondike bars $1.99

Safeway OJ 64 oz. $1.77

Coupon matchups from Hot Coupon World.

Photo by Payton Chung, used via Creative Commons license.

Jewel-Osco -- Sales 8/20-27

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There are reports out there of a new Con-Agra and Kellogg's Catalina deal -- apparently it started today at Shaw's which is part of the same chain as Jewel, so it may be working at Jewel as well. I haven't seen any advertising or confirmation of that, though, so buy at your own risk. If you try it and it works, though, PLEASE report your results in the comments here.

As for the real, published Jewel sales this week, I'm underwhelmed, but maybe I'm just jaded these days. There is a new Catalina offer that could net you some really cheap Huggies diapers -- scroll way down to the bottom of the post for that one.

THURS-SAT ONLY

Jennie-O frozen turkey breast 99 c/lb.

Chicken of the Sea Chunk Light Tuna 5 oz. 49 cents

Coke 2-L 87 cents

ALL WEEK

Meat sale: $1.99/lb. gets you pork chops, eye of round roast or boneless, skinless chicken breasts; $2.98/8 oz. gets you rib eye steak or tuna steak (love how they call it "wild tuna." Ever hear of a tuna farm?)

Driscoll's conventional strawberries $1.50/lb. (organic are $3)

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Welcome WGN Listeners!

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I had the privilege of sitting in the WGN radio fishbowl studio this morning with John Williams for a few minutes. Baby James came along of course and their wonderful producer Beth Swierk held him in the sound-proof control room while I talked with John.

We talked about CVS deals, combining coupons with sales, whether rebate deals take too much time (my answer: usually), buying kids' clothes ahead during the end-of-season clearance sales, and how setting a weekly budget -- not coupons or any other tactic -- was the most important step for me in becoming a frugalista.

For those of you who are new to bargain-hunting and couponing, these posts will help: My glossary of couponing lingo and my overview of a workshop I gave on bargain grocery shopping. Yes, a lot of my posts are about grocery shopping, although you will also find great ideas here on entertainment, clothing and living the frugal lifestyle.

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Today's Deal Hounding: Free Fruit Snacks, Not Free Granola

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I had an idea about the Catalina deal at Dominick's on fruit snacks and granola. The deal that caused me all kinds of confusion because people with stores that double coupons were saying it was a freebie deal, but for us where they don't double, not entirely free.

My idea was, what about those Cellfire coupons? Right now there are 40 cents/1 Qs on Cellfire for both the fruit snacks and granola bars. Wouldn't combining those be just like doubling, allowing us to get all 8 boxes of snacks for free?

So I tried it today, and here was my result:

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I'm Having a Cow!

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Don't you love it when the thing you've been looking for, or procrastinating getting, just comes to you? A recent editorial in the Chicago Tribune kicked up my anxiety about finding a good source of antibiotic-free, hormone-free, cruetly-free beef.* Later that day, my mother called from work.

One of the nurses she works with had told her that her father was a farmer up in Wisconsin and he could sell us a half cow for $500-$700, under $2.50 a pound.

"It's organic," my mom said. Organic meat for $2.25 a pound? I was dubious.

Not one to take information about my food from the grapevine, I asked if I could call the farmer. My mom got his phone number for me right there, and two diaper changes, three spill wipe-ups and two baby nursings later, I finally got a chance to dial up Farmer Lars in the 608 area code.

* The editorial said there's a law in Congress to ban abuse of antibiotics in livestock. That's great news!

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Sunday Flyers 8/16

The guests have gone home after yet another indoor barbecue -- we're 0 and 3 this summer for trying to use our backyard when we have company. The kids have dropped after the exhaustion of wreaking havoc in the house with their friends all afternoon. And I've finally got peace and quiet to look through these Sunday deals.

New feature this week: I linked each store's name to the online version of the weekly ad where available.

  • The coupon inserts: SmartSource has some coupons that would help you turn the Kraft rebate deal into a moneymaker: .75/1 DiGiorno Flatbread Melts, $1/1 DiGiorno Ultimate Toppings pizza (this should work on the personal pizzas, $2.50 at Jewel this week), $2/1 A1 Steak Sauce (that one would also get you free steak sauce at Kmart this week due to Super Doubles).
  • Target has a coupon for a free $10 gift card with transferred prescription. You should also be able to use this at CVS if your local takes "compeditors" coupons (as the electronic sign in front of my CVS says). Target also has the following $5 gift card offers: reserve and buy selected video games, or buy 2 Gillette razors or cartridges including Venus Embrace, Fusion, Breeze, at $7.99. For the best deal on that last, buy a Fusion razor and a cartridge pack, and use the $2/1 razor from the 8/16 (today's) RedPlum along with $4/1 cartridge pack from the 8/2 RedPlum. Then you'll get both for $5 after the gift card. Or if you already have a Fusion, two cartridge packs with two $4/1 Qs would be $3 after the gift card. You could also use the Qs from today's RedPlum for a free Gillette deodorant w/ purchase of a Fusion cartridge or a free Fusion shave gel with same. Finally, Market Pantry cheese is on sale for $1.79 per 8 oz. block.
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My Kraft Deal Transaction: Mistakes Were Made

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I did the Kraft deal today, and while I got the $5 Catalina and expect to get the $20 rebate, I made two errors that resulted in me paying more than I wanted to.

It happens. You do all these complicated deals, and you get amazing bargains, but sometimes you just mess up. There are so many things to remember and to pay attention to.

Here is what I bought. I'm only listing the card prices:

12 Easy Mac cups $1 each ($12 total) (-$8 coupons)

2 Philly Cream Cheese (12 oz.) $$4.29 each ($8.58 total) (-$1 coupons)

California Pizza Kitchen for One $2.50 (-$1 coupon)

DiGiorno Flatbread $2.50 (-.75 coupon)

Ritz Crackers $2.50 (-$1 coupon)

2 Kraft chunk cheese $1.69 each ($3.38 total) (-$1 coupon)

-----------------------------------------------------------------

precoupon total: $31.88

                        - 12.75 coupons

                       ------------

                        19.13

I got the $5 coupon back right away (I was scared I wasn't because the young checker entered a coupon as $1 off grocery which can really mess things up, AND he needed a key to do an override at the end), so it's like I spent $14. And when I get the $20 rebate, it will be like I made $6.

So why am I disappointed? First of all, I meant to buy VELVEETA Shells & Cheddar Cups, not Easy Mac cups. Both are $1, both are included in the deal, but the Velveeta are reportedly printing a $1 Catalina for every two that you buy. If not for that error, I might have gotten $6 more print out at the register, making the deal a $12 moneymaker instead of $6.

That might not seem like much to be disappointed at, except that I didn't especially want Easy Mac cups to begin with. I only chose them because I was thinking about the Catalinas. I certainly would have rather had something else in the Kraft deal, like more regular cheese or even regular boxes of Mac & Cheese.

My second error was that I grabbed the 12-oz. tubs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, while it was the 8-oz. tubs that were on sale. As sometimes happens, the 12-oz. tubs had been set on top of the wrong price tag. That explains why I spent a whopping $6.88 more than I needed to to complete the deal -- each cream cheese was $2.50 more than I expected.

When you make errors in a deal, you have to decide whether it's worth your time or even possible to try and remedy them. In the case of the Easy Mac, there's nothing I can do. I can't even try that maneuver again because I used up all my coupons the first time.

In the case of the cream cheese, it looks like I could return one of the tubs without messing up my chance of getting the rebate. However, at this Jewel they will probably not give me the full $4.19 back because I used coupons on the order. They'll find the largest coupon and deduct that. That means that although the coupon I used only took 50 cents off my cream cheese, they'll deduct $1.50 from my refund. I might be able to EXCHANGE the large tub of Philly for the smaller one without losing $1.50 off the cost. Is it worth the trouble of bringing the stuff back, standing in line at the service desk, and making a pest of myself? We'll see. I have another issue on the same receipt to deal with, not related to the Catalina, so maybe I will go through the effort.

I did learn something interesting doing the deal the way I did: Coupons labeled Velveeta Shells & Cheese will work for Easy Mac. I had four $1.50/2 Velveeta Shells & Cheddar coupons, and they scanned just fine for the Easy Mac, making those 8 packs just 25 cents each. I wouldn't be surprised if they also scanned for the regular Kraft Mac & Cheese, which is only 49 cents this week.

P.S. I also did the Post Selects deal and it worked perfectly, getting me four boxes for $1. I love that cereal. I will be cleaning out my pantry very soon and donating a lot of less-favored cereals to make room for the new Post and the Cascadian Farms Granola.

Photo by hildgrim, used via Creative Commons license.

Grocery Shopping Today? Check Out These Deals -- CORRECTED

Money Saving Mom has several deals posted for affiliates of Jewel and Dominick's today:

  • Free fruit snacks and granola bars FOR LESS THAN A QUARTER A BOX after coupons and Catalina at Safeway (which I'm guessing will also work at affililate Dominick's) (I believe Jewel also has the same Catalina deal going, but the prices there aren't as good this week so they wouldn't be free if you get them there)
  • Post Select cereals for 25 cents after coupons and Catalina at Albertson's (confirmed on Hot Coupon World that this is working at affiliate Jewel). The coupon you need here was in the 7/26 SmartSource. (I DID THIS AND IT WORKED)
  • If you're doing the Kraft $25 free groceries deal today, try the Velveeta Shells & Cheese Cups. They're paying $1 Catalina for two cups, and the cups are on sale for $1, so if you use the bogo coupon from last weekend's SmartSource (8/9) they will be free AND count toward your $25 Kraft total. Pretty sweet. (MAKE SURE YOU GET THE VELVEETA CUPS NOT EASY MAC. MY STORE DIDN'T CARRY THE FORMER.)

I'm headed to the grocery store now, so I'll let you know if I get any of these deals!

Jewel-Osco Unilever Catalina: The Final Reckoning UPDATED TO ADD THE DEAL IS STILL ON!?

 UPDATE: So, several readers have posted that this Catalina deal is still running. I actually found myself groaning at this news, because if it's still on, I'm tempted to get out there and try a few more moneymaking transactions, and I'm TIRED, dammit! Also, my house is messy.

I checked the Hot Coupon World Jewel forum and the word there is that it was "extended" until today, 8/14. But the sale prices have all changed. For instance, the General Mills cereals I was buying were on sale for $2 (Cookie Crisp and Kix are what I bought), but this week's ad says GM cereals are on sale for $2.50. But now you get a coupon for a free gallon of milk if you buy 4, and since milk is about $2 these days (50 cents x 4) that works out to be about the same.

Please post in the comments if you try the deal today and get the $15 in Catalinas!

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I spent $10 (+$9.50 tax) on all the groceries in this picture. At full price (not that I ever would have paid that) it's $400 worth of groceries and laundry detergent (13 bottles!). It's hard to believe, but it's possible for anyone to do this by combining coupons with careful exploitation of a Catalina deal.

This Catalina deal is now over, but don't worry, there will be more! To learn how Catalina deals work read my Wise Bread post, "Advanced Grocery Deals: Catalinas."

 Here are all the transactions I did:

1. bought 2 packs Klondike bars, 5 boxes Cascadian Farms granola = $32.25 pre-card price

paid $16 + tax after Preferred Card and coupons, received $15 Catalinas

cost = $1 + 47 cents tax

2. bought 6 All detergents, 4 Yo-Plus, 5 Nature Valley Nut Clusters = $61.75 pre-card

paid $36 + tax, received $30 Catalinas

cost = $6 + $3.50 tax

3. bought 2 boxes CF granola, 2 Chex Mix bars, 2 Fiber One bars, 1 NV Nut Clusters, 1 Bertolli Organic sauce = $31.50 + tax

paid $17 + tax, received $15 Catalinas

cost = $2 + 64 cents tax

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My Weekly Grocery Shopping -- August 5 to August 11

Hi, everybody! Between getting a nice link from Money Saving Mom last week and the promotional efforts of the Tribune company now that Chicago Now has officially launched, I think there are a lot of new readers here. Welcome to you newbies, and welcome to my loyal readers who have followed me over from Shoplifting With Permission!

One of the blog rituals I started on Shoplifting With Permission -- and will continue here -- is detailing my weekly grocery spending every Tuesday, and what meals we ate with it. My budget for a family of four eaters (the newborn doesn't count yet) is $80, and we are able to eat quite well on that. In fact, the longer I have been bargain shopping, the better we have been eating, because I have been able to switch much of our produce to organic, and our meat and milk to hormone-free.

What's your weekly grocery budget? If you don't have one, I highly recommend setting one as a first step toward cutting down your household expenses. That doesn't mean you have to pick the same number I did -- for some families, especially those with teens, $80 seems too difficult to start with, while others easily spend less than I do each week. I wrote a post on Wise Bread about what I learned from simply sticking to a budget, regardless of what the number is (that post also ended up in Wise Bread's money-saving book).

This week is another totally weird one, because I was again so busy shopping moneymaking or close-to-free packaged goods in Catalina transactions at Jewel-Osco that I barely had time to pick up anything fresh. Also, my dad's garden harvest has begun and that provided us with many of our meals this week.

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Free Food Tuesday

 

  • Get a free mint cookies & cream milkshake from Steak & Shake with this coupon, through tomorrow, August 12. It's a PDF, so you can print one for each member of the family. Chicagoland locations include Aurora, Bolingbrook, Evanston, Gurnee, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Rosemont and West Chicago. Call your location before heading out to make sure they're participating.
  • Take this survey to get a coupon for a free Kashi product.
  • Free apples and bananas at Target (free Rayovac batteries too).
  • Free sample of Somersault snacks.
  • $10 in free food delivered free from Schwan's (this appears to still be available!)
  • Free item with purchase at Arby's every Wednesday all summer. Tomorrow's freebie is a free roast chicken club with soft drink purchase.
  • The Unilever Catalina deal is still going through Wednesday at Jewel and there are tons of deals that result in free food! I will post soon with some last-minute deal ideas for you.
  • $25 in groceries free after coupon and rebate from Kraft.
  • Thanks to Money Saving Mom, Wise Bread and STL Mommy for these hot tips!

    When Frugal's Not About Shopping

    I've been breathlessly posting a lot about deals lately, mainly because it's so exciting to get so much for nothing in these Jewel Catalina deals. But of course the frugal life is supposed to be about NOT shopping. This weekend the hubs and I took a little time to get back in touch with the non-shopping side of frugality.

    My husband Epu's weekend project was refinishing a worn-out bedside tables my parents gave us. He filled any cracks and scratches with wood putty, sanded them, painted the white and applied polyurethane to protect them from the kids. It's one of a pair for our third bedroom, which we use as a guest room/den.

     

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    . And lest you think we survive on the packaged foods I've been scooping up for pennies on the dollar in the past week, let me share the frugal dinner I made Saturday night. My dad had given us a huge zucchini from his garden, so I checked my favorite cookbook, "Jane Brody's Good Food Book: Living the High Carbohydrate Way," and found a recipe containing zucchini: Company Rice and Beans.

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    $25 in Kraft Groceries Free After Coupon and Rebate

    Starting today at Jewel-Osco, you can get $25 worth of Kraft products that work out to totally free after a Catalina coupon and a mail-in rebate. 

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    Here's how it works:

    1. You buy $25 worth of participating products in the store and pay for them up front, less any coupons you use.

    2. At the register, a $5 coupon should print out that you can use to buy anything on your next shopping trip.

    3. A mail-in rebate form should also print out, which you can send in to get the other $20 back.

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    Wednesday Flyers -- The Rest of the Jewel-Osco Deals

    This week I'll be concentrating on getting all kinds of free product through the Catalina deals available, so I hardly gave a glance to the regular sales. But I suppose I may need a few things -- as much as I love getting free shampoo and cereal we can't live on that alone.

    Thurs-Saturday Only

    Coke or Fanta 2-Liters 88 cents

    asparagus $1.77/lb.

    Jewel butter $1.77/lb.

    Jewel boneless skinless chicken breasts $1.99/lb.

    All Week

    Driscoll's Strawberries $1.50/lb.

    Oreos9.6-18 oz. $2.50

     

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    Jewel Overlapping Catalinas: A Story of Catalina Shopping Gone Bad

    Sigh, sometimes it's so worth it to walk into a store and buy a few things and walk out with a profit. Usually it's so worth it.

    Today was not one of those days for me.

    I stopped at Jewel-Osco in the middle of some errands to try the double-dipping, money-making Unilever Catalina deal again. I got my three kids out of the car and into shopping position -- Baby Bjorn for the newborn, shopping cart seat for the 2-year-old, walking by my side and making it impossible for us to get through the door for the 5-year-old. We had not yet reached the Osco aisle with the deodorants when the 2-year-old began wining and shreiking about her desire to go home. I bribed them all with the promise of ice cream when we got home, but the 2-year-old informed me she did not WANT ice cream. Great.

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    Tuesday Freebies: Schwan's Food, Nail Polish, Sharpies, Coffee

    I don't bother signing up for freebies unless they're really substantial. But today I have some good ones, starting with:

    •  $10 worth of free food delivered for free by the Schwan Man. The Schwan Man used to come to our house when I was growing up -- Schwan's is a company that drives around a freezer truck and somehow induces your mom to spend money on delicious frozen desserts that she would never buy you in the grocery store. We used to LOVE the "tin roof sundaes" from the Schwan truck.

    Sadly, I can't find a tin roof sundae bar on Schwan's Web site, but you CAN get a box of ice cream bars for free right now. Just go to the site, enter your zip code to make sure Schwan's delivers to you (I tried a few Chicago zip codes and they were in the delivery area), register, and put something that costs $10 or less in your cart. When you check out, there will be no cost and no delivery charge. You don't even have to enter a credit card. I ordered 2 pounds of chicken nuggets because my baby is getting fussy and I won't be able to cook much in the next few weeks.

    According to Money Saving Mom, this offer is good for the first 500,000 orders, only for families who haven't placed an order in the past 14 weeks. 

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    Sunday Sales Flyers, August 2: Double Dip on Jewel Catalinas!

    Today is an EXCELLENT day to pick up extra Sunday papers if you ever do that, because there are FIVE coupon inserts: a special Kellogg's insert, a Procter & Gamble insert, the Redplum (aka Valassis) and two SmartSource inserts. I usually have my husband pick up extra Sunday papers for me if he goes to Menard's, where they sell them for $1 apiece. Street vendors also sell them for less than in stores, but I think they charge $1.25 now or something like that.

    Also, there are coupons in today's inserts that play into deals running at stores this week. I'm especially pleased to get my hands on that Kellogg's insert, even though the coupons inside are all for $1/2 which isn't that exciting. The reason is that Pop-Tarts are on sale 5/$5 through Wednesday, and there are two $1/2 Pop-Tarts coupons in the flyer.Once I get my mother's and grandmother's inserts, I'll have enough coupons to buy 10 boxes, pay $5 out of pocket, and send in for the $10 Fuel for School rebate. Moneymaker! The RedPlum has a whole bunch of Unilever coupons, and guess what? There's another Unilever Catalina deal running at Jewel through Wednesday. (If you're not familiar with thia kind of deal, check out this introduction to Catalina deals.)

    Earlier this week I posted about making $36 buying 6-packs of pop. I knew it was for two overlapping Catalina promotions, one advertised in the flyer and one not. What with the new baby in our house, I didn't have time to really look into what the other deal was.

    Well, it turns out the other deal was this, advertised in today's flyer: Buy $30 worth of included products (looks like Unilever and General Mills) and get $15 in coupons toward your next order. This runs through August 12, a week from Wednesday. I would expect this to work, as Jewel Catalina deals usually do, off the pre-card price, meaning that you only have to spend $30 worth of stuff based on the price it rings up as BEFORE you scan your Preferred card. Looking over the sale prices in the flyer, I'm guessing there are multiple transactions you could do where you spend $15 or less out of pocket, and get the $15 in coupons back, making your groceries FREE. 

    Just like I did last week with the pop, it looks like there's an opportunity to double dip with this deal and another Catalina deal also running and make lots of money in coupons. On p. 4 of the Jewel-Osco flyer, there's a promo on personal care products offering $12 in coupons if you spend $30. (Or $7 if you spend $20, or $3 if you spend $10.) There are products listed in both promos, like Vaseline Intensive Care lotion (10 oz. $2.50, 6.8-24.5 oz. $5), Dove products, Q-Tips and Suave products. This one runs through August 5, this Wednesday.

    So between now and Wednesday, If you buy $30 of the overlapping products, you should easily make money even without coupons. And the coupons in this week's Redplum/Unilver insert will be gravy. Now, usually Osco products are counted for these deals differently than grocery products -- they're counted based on the Preferred card price while the groceries are counted based on the pre-card price. So my deal suggestions for these Osco products are based on the card price. However, some people on Hot Coupon World are reporting that this particular deal actually works on the pre-card price, which would mean you could make EVEN MORE money. I will try that and report back for you.

    • Buy 12 Vaseline Intensive Care 10-oz. lotions for $30

    Use as many $1.50/1 coupons as you can get from today's Redplum. Also use as many $1/1 coupons as you can print -- usually the limit is 2 per computer.

    Receive $12 in coupons good for your next order, AND $15 in coupons good on your next order -- $27 total which means you just paid $3 for 12 bottles of lotion. Use just two $1.50/1 coupons and it's free. Use more 12 $1.50/1 coupons if you have them and you just made $15!!

    • Buy 12 Dove antiperspirants for $30, same as above. I am pretty sure I have coupons in my file for these, but I'm not sure from which insert.
    • Buy 6 Dove shampoos for $29.94 + 1 Suave deodorant for $1.67, spending a total of $31.61 + tax. Receive $15 in coupons + $12 in coupons = $27, meaning you paid $4.61. Use the .50/1 Suave deo Q and as many $1/1 Dove hair care product Qs from today's Redplum as you can get. If you use 5 or 6 Dove coupons, it's a moneymaker. (Note: someone on the Hot Coupon World Jewel forum says this deal worked for them by buying only 5 Doves and no filler. I'm going to try that and let you know!)

    Besides all these great double-dipping deals, there are also food deals to be had in the Catalina announced today. I just bought ice cream last night in the "buy 4, save 4 promo" running on Edy's products, but I have lots of coupons for Breyer's, which is part of the Unilever deal. No pre-card prices are listed in the flyer, so I'm gonna have to guess at them till I hit the store. Here's a rough idea:

    4 Breyer's ice creams (usually around $6) $24 (card price $3 each x2 = $6

    2 Klondike bar 6-packs ($4 each?)             $ 8 (card price $3 eacg x2 = $6)

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                                                precard price: $32, card price $12, get $15 coupons

    This may be a moneymaker even before coupons! To sweeten it even more, use the $1/1 Breyer's coupon from the 7/12 flyer, or $1/2 printables. I personally have both $2/2 and $1/2 coupons that printed at the Jewel register to use.

    I feel a little dumb for buying ice cream that I actually paid money for yesterday. Oh well.

    I also hope to do a deal with Cascadian Farms cereals, since I love granola and most cereal deals don't include that. I'll use this $1/1 printable, but I'm not sure how many boxes I'll need to buy till I see the price in the store.

    There is also a promo going on where you get a free gallon of milk for buying 4 boxes of General Mills cereal, which are also part of the Catalina deal.

    I might as well just set up a cot over at Jewel this week. Since the flyer says that you can only earn the $15 in coupons once per transaction, I'll have to do a lot of transactions to get all the free and moneymaking stuff I'd like to get this week.

    As far as the other sales flyers go, Dominick's has a TON of store coupons good through next Sunday, 8/9, including 4-packs of Dole fruit bowls for $1.49, Pop-Tarts for 99 cents, 6-packs of 24-oz. Coke bottles for $1.99, Chef Boyardee cans 4/$3, and 3 lbs. of Safeway bacon for $5.99. (All require a $20 purchase and are limited to 1 or the number mentioned on the coupon.) But it's hard for me to get excited about "regular" good deals when I think about all the free food I'm gonna get at Jewel this week.

    There are also a ton more school supplies deals in the CVS and other flyers this week, but I will do a separate post about those later today.

     

     

     

                                                                       

    Cheap Dinners on Groupon Today

    I was just now chatting with another mom about how once my new baby hits the colicky stage at about four weeks, we'll be eating frozen pizza every night. Now we won't have to:

    I just ordered today's Groupon, which is SIX entrees plus three sides from Dinner by Design for $75 (normally $140). According to the Groupon people's math, this works out to about $5 per meal per person. More than I usually pay, yes, but if you need to get through a busy time in your life like we do, it's better than fast food.

    Delivery is included, and they will send you all the meals in one delivery, frozen. They say they delivery all over the Chicago area. Enough people have already signed up for this Groupon, so if you buy one now you're guaranteed to get it. It's available through midnight tonight! (Thursday, July 30)

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