What a Concept!!

The other day I was talking with the kids about going to the store.  Olivia had received a shirt for her birthday that was the wrong size, so she needed to take it back.  Benji then says, “Yeah, mom, I need to take my shirt back too, I don’t want it anymore.”  If that wasn’t funny in itself, but I looked at the shirt that he was wearing, and I quickly calculated that it was about 12 years old!!  It’s a red polo shirt with a black, grey and white stripe across the middle.  I had to pull out a photo album to see if that was correct, 12 years?  Yes, I have a picture of Joshua wearing it for his 2nd birthday and he wore it until he outgrew it, Elijah wore it, now Benji is wearing it.  It’s still in good shape.  But I had to laugh, wouldn’t it be nice if we could return hand-me-down clothes back to the store because we don’t like them anymore…after 12 years of use?!?!?!

Lower Your Grocery Bill – Part II

When I told you all about The Coupon Master, I also came across another great resource, but didn’t want to tell you about it until I went through the whole process. I found this information in the same Women’s Day article as the Grocery Game and The Coupon Master. This organization is called Angel Food Ministries http://angelfoodministries.org. It has been around for fifteen years. When I went to the site and looked at the history and what they were about, I was really impressed. What a fantastic idea and a wonderful example of God using people to help other people. This is what it’s all about.

First of all, it is for anyone who needs to save money on food. This is not like a food pantry, where sometimes you get food that has passed the expiration date on the box. This is more on the lines of Market Day. You can go to the website and see if there is a church or organization in your area that is a host of Angel Food Ministries. When you find one, you can contact them directly. You will get an order form that you fill out, and you can mail in checks, or take your payment in. They also accept food stamps. There is a due date for the orders. Then there is a pick-up date at the end of the month. I received my order form through email, after I contacted the church in my area, which was St. Paul Lutheran Church in Matteson, IL. You purchase “boxes” of food. You have to purchase a regular box in order to purchase a special box. The regular box is $30 and feeds a family of four for one week. This is what I received in my regular box for this month:

1.5 lb. Ribeye Steaks (4-6oz)

1 Whole Young Chicken (about 5 lbs.)

28 oz. Chicken Breast Nuggets

28 oz. Salisbury Steak Dinner Entree

28 oz. Breaded Chicken Breast Filets

12 oz. Smoked Polish Sausage Links

16 oz. California Blend Frozen Vegetables

1 lb. Rice

16 oz. Frozen Chopped Spinach

16 oz. Frozen Carrots

10 ct. Frozen Waffles

16 oz. Bean Soup Mix

32 oz. Borden 2% reduced fat Shelf Stable Milk

9 oz. Instant Potatoes

15 oz. Can Fruit Cocktail

1 Dozen eggs

1 Dessert Item (Apple filled Cookies)

All for $30. I did a rough estimate on what this might cost in the store, and it would probably be about $45. This is good quality food too. I put the steaks on the grill tonight, and they were so good, they about melted in my mouth. It had to be the grade of meat, because I tend to burn things up on the grill, and dry out most meat. Anniehow…They also have special boxes that you can purchase once you buy a regular box. I bought the 7 lb. Family Grill Box that included the following:

1.5 lb. Baseball Cut Steaks

2 lbs. Juicy Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast

2 lbs. St. Louis Style ribs

1.5 lb. Hamburger patties

The special boxes are $18 – $20. Last month they had a 4.5 lb. Steak and Chicken Combo Box for $20, 4.5 lb. Stuffed Chicken Breast Box for $18, and a Fresh Fruit and Veggie Box for $18. You can buy as many of the regular boxes and the special boxes as you want. There is no limit to what you purchase. You can always go on the site to view the menu for the upcoming month. For September they have something new, which is the Senior Box. There are ten individual fully cooked meals labeled with heating instructions, all for $25. They also have a special “5 for 4” box, which is 5 dinner meals that will feed a family of four. I just think this is fantastic. It does save you money, and extra trips to the store. You can also find information on the website for being a host site. If you are a host site, you do receive something for being a host, which makes for a great outreach and fund-raiser for churches. Like I said, I went to the church in my area, and it was so smoothly run. You bring boxes, and they have carts that you can place your boxes on. You tell them who you are, and they hand you a slip of paper, and you go to the food area, and a person is there, and gives you one of each (or however many you ordered) of the regular box, and the special boxes are already boxed up, so they hand those to you. Take them out to your car and you are done. I was also able to order for next month as well.

This is a really great resource for people who live alone, or for senior citizens or for anyone who would like to save some money on groceries. It saves you money, and it also helps your local church. For more information visit their website at:


Lower Your Grocery Bill

I’m not a coupon person, but I love to save a buck. Maybe people already know about this, but recently I came across a website where you can choose what coupons you receive. I don’t know how many times I have been in line at the store, and the person in front of me has a stack of coupons. I think to myself, where do they get all those coupons? Whenever I look in the paper for coupons, I rarely find what I’m looking for. Usually I find coupons for items I don’t buy or for items I can buy cheaper by getting the store brand. Because of the rising cost of groceries, I am making it my little project to really try and lower my grocery bill by using coupons and finding the best bargains.

The website is the Coupon Master (see link in Helpful Links to the right). This is their disclaimer: “Be advised that this site does not sell or buy coupons. A fee is charged for our services in acquiring, cutting, sorting and mailing of coupons, the coupons themselves are free. We are not associated with any manufacturer of said coupons.” This is how it works. You can go through the list of coupons available and request how many you want of each coupon. There is a minimum of 3 per coupon. Like they state in their disclaimer there is a minimal processing fee for them to clip, sort and mail them to you. Also there is a minimum required purchase of $3.00. You will also be charged shipping and an administrative fee of $.50. I received 36 coupons for a total of $4.04 including shipping and administrative fee. If I use them all, I will save $33.70. I ordered my coupons this past Sunday, and received them by regular mail on Friday. You can pay more for shipping to get them quicker, but I don’t know how much you would actually save in the long run. For my first order, I just purchased the minimum to see how well it worked. I was very excited about this new find and I plan to use it again.

Another site I found was http://thegrocerygame.com. This one takes a little more research in order to use it effectively. This site compiles a list of lowest-priced items at your grocery store, and matches them with the manufacturers’ coupons and weekly specials. The lists are colored coded with green items being free after sale and coupon; you just pay sales tax. Blue items are best deals for stockpiling, and black items are only if you need them. For me, I won’t be using this site as often, because it doesn’t include the stores that I normally shop. It did list the two pharmacies that I shop at, so I will check with it periodically for specials from those stores. New members can join for $1 for 4 weeks as a trial. After that, it is $10 for eight weeks for 1 store and $5 for 8 weeks for each additional store, if there is more than one store on the list for your area.

Most of us love a good bargain, so I plan to share with you the ones that I find. If you discover bargains you would like to share feel free to post them in the comments.

My Quest for a New Fridge

All the places I have lived in so far have had a fridge in them, so I haven’t really given much thought about having to actually buy one, until now. It’s not that the one I have is running badly or is in bad shape. It’s just that it was here when we moved in 3 years ago, and it has the worst design and functionality. OK, some of you may be saying, “It’s a fridge! It keeps things cold what else do you need?” Well let me explain my dilemma. First of all, we are a family of six. Every week when I go shopping I buy 4 gallons of milk, 3 gallons of Hawaiian Punch and two half gallons of Lactose Free Milk. So when I come home from shopping, I have 8 gallons to contend with. OK, I only need to refrigerate two Hawaiian Punch gallons at a time (two different flavors). But I also have to keep in mind that I already have a 2½ gallon jug for water and another gallon of green tea that I make myself and keep filled. So we are talking about 10 gallons of beverages!! Yes, I know, my family has a drinking problem. What can I say, my husband has to have a cold one after a long day at work. I personally don’t like the taste of Berry Blue Typhoon Hawaiian Punch, but it hits the spot for him. I myself am a green tea kinda gal. I pour myself a tall glass before dinner and I am set. Sadly, the problem has even started with the kids. I would need to keep chocolate milk on tap just to keep up. Anniehow…back to the real problem. So being that the drinks are the biggest problem, I had to configure the shelves of the fridge to accommodate all these containers on the bottom shelf. It doesn’t leave much room for anything else. The shelves of the fridge are glass and they have brackets on the back that hook into the back of the fridge. This is the design flaw. You cannot keep much weight on them. So my top shelves are as close to the top of the fridge as possible. I can only store margarine and cartons of eggs up there, maybe some sour cream. But if I have more than two dozen eggs up there, the shelf falls off its bracket, at which time I go into my ranting of, “This stupid, stupid fridge!!” At that point one or both of my little guys remind me that we don’t say stupid. This fridge does have a handy snack drawer. This is where I stash my chocolate. But it is a clear plastic drawer and right at eye level to my little guy. So he knows exactly what I have in it, and knows exactly what he wants. OK, so I have learned to live with the shelving problem. Now to address the door. This has some nifty compartments as well. The ever-popular butter dish, which I keep margarine sticks in, no problem. But the compartments are actually plastic trays. They “hook-on” to the little tabs that are on the actual door. They are large enough to hold a gallon of milk, but no where near sturdy enough. They do hold condiments, but not many. A couple of jars of relish and olives or some containers of BBQ sauce and that’s about it. You add some ketchup or mayo, and the tray cracks and falls out as you close the door. I have come to the conclusion that the fridge designers design them to look sleek, and hold a bottle of wine, take-out leftovers and some tofu like you see in the movies. They are not designed for a growing family. I thought to myself, well maybe it’s just this model. The quest begins!!

The other day, we all went to Best Buy, just to look around. My husband and the older kids were looking at the flat screen TVs. So my little guy, not wanting to stand around, starts pulling on my hand. So I look around and spot the appliance section. So I say, “OK, let’s go over here.” Not exactly what he had in mind, but once I started opening the refrigerator doors, he thought it was a pretty cool game. After awhile my daughter joined us, thinking her dad and brothers heard her say she was going over by me. Well, the three of us got all caught up looking at these shiny new refrigerators. I’m not too crazy about the stainless steel ones. But these things had all kinds of buttons and temperature controls on them, I wouldn’t even know how to operate them. I do like the water and ice dispensers on the front. But then you have to deal with the double door issue. You can get the double doors with the freezer on one side, but I had one of those before and the freezer is just too narrow. You have to put the frozen pizzas on their sides and then when you open the package all the pepperoni is at the bottom. I think I would rather have to deal with that than a double door fridge with the freezer as a drawer at the bottom. There doesn’t seem to be enough room in a freezer drawer. So we looked at all the different models. My little guy was having so much fun as my daughter and I discussed the different features. At one point he opened a fridge and it had a crisper drawer in it like ours at home, he opens the drawer and says, “Mom, look! You put the food in here, take it out, and make it for dinner!” (They really do watch our every move). With all the fun we had and all the choices out there, I was disappointed that I did not find my perfect fridge. Some were actually built worst than the one I have. Many of them had the plastic trays hooked onto the door, and the plastic was actually thinner. I did find one that looked pretty sturdy, it had shelves built into the door and wire racks as shelves on the inside that looked connected well, and it was only $500. But it didn’t have the ice and water dispenser on the front. It was then that I realized that this was going to take more research. So we were heading out of the department when my daughter spotted one more. We stood in front of it, as we opened the doors we were hit by a cool breeze and a bright light. Did I actually hear angels singing? Was this the one? Was it a sign? No…this one was just plugged in and running. Needless to say we were unable to actually look at all the features on this one, my daughter was being paged. While we were caught up in stainless steel, water dispensers and temperature controls, my husband and two sons were frantically looking for my daughter. They didn’t hear her when she told them she was going by me. Once “our party” was all back together and safe, we left. My daughter was reminded that she needed to tell someone where she was going. They actually left the store to check the van to see if we were out there. That’s when they came back in to page her. Usually I’m the one in the store with the kids looking for my husband as he wanders off, but he is a grown man. It’s quite frightening when you don’t know where your kid has gone off to, even for a split second. Thank God we were all accounted for.

So the quest continues. I’m going to do a little research online, and see if I can find out what all those buttons actually do. Find the lowest price and then check it out at the store. It’s a good thing I’m in no hurry, this might take some time. But I know one thing for sure. The next time we split up in a store, we will all know where everyone is going.