Friday, August 12, 2011

This Blog is CLOSED, Follow me at!

I have a fabulous announcement, I will continue my grocery challenge blog at my new home:

Please join me there! I never planned to become a blogger, but I guess most people don't? You never hear anyone saying "When I grow up I want to be a blogger!" This challenge changed our family in so many amazing ways, it even found me a new passion!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Understanding Grocery Store Promotions- Pick 4 Meats

One of the first steps in reducing your grocery bill, is to understand store sales! They sometimes read like morse code. Shaw's is part of the Super Valu national chain stores. You can check if your local grocery store is part of the Super Valu family HERE.

The pic above is taken from the current Shaw's sales circular. If your store is part of the Super Valu family it may also be running this same sale give or take a week. This type of promotion comes around every 4-6 weeks. 

From reading the ad, it seems pretty straightforward. If you pick any marked meat with the "Pick 4" sticker attached you will pay $20 for 4 packages of meat after redeeming the above coupon, regardless of what the individual prices say on the meat. For example, if you buy 4 packs of steak with the "Pick 4" sticker and each pack costs $7, after the coupon is scanned your total will go from $28 to $19.99. Right? Wrong!

While the sales ad says the price will be $20, the above is a coupon and has a total value worth of $5.17. How do I know? I've done this deal a couple times and the amount that gets deducted is $5.17, regardless of what meat you pick!

Using our previous example, if I were to buy $28 of steak and then used the sales circular coupon, I will end up paying $22.83, a $2.84 price difference. So is this false advertising? No, not really. Shaw's is taking an average amount that customers will probably pay and putting an average $5 deduction for the coupon. What does this mean for you? Check your receipts! If you see that you paid more then the advertised $19.99, simply turn around, head to customer service and they will refund you the price difference.

How do I take advantage of this type of promotion? I look for the cheapest meats available, usually beef stew. Since I know that regardless of what I buy, the coupon will still take off $5.17, I will go for packs that are not more then $2-$3 each.

If you buy 4 packages of beef stew at $2 a pack, it comes out to $8, and minus the $5.17 coupon equals $2.83 for 4 packs of beef stew! If you find this deal at a local grocery store, I'd be interested to know what the value of your coupon deducts. Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

All You Health and Fitness Cover Model Search

All You is looking for the next cover model for their special health and fitness issue on stands in January. What a great way to celebrate your success in losing weight, getting active or both! Fill out the form HERE and tell them your achievement, you have to also submit a photo. Hurry though you only have until August 24th to apply.

All You is the only magazine, I've seen, that goes out of their way to recognize their readers printing their picture and story. Just flipping through the magazine you will see lots of pictures and comments from real readers and subscribers to the magazine. It makes the magazine feel like a community project, rather then a bunch of made up models and "experts" no one can relate to. Let me know in the comments if you enter. Good Luck!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- Babies Feeding Babies

I walked into the living room to find my 5 year-old feeding my 11 month-old. While I held my breath I quickly snapped this pic. I'd love to hear comments what you think is going through the baby's mind at this point. I have my own ideas. :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ikea Not Just For Furniture

When you think of Ikea, probably two words come to mind: cheap and furniture. I went to this mega store yesterday and was surprised by the deals on their lesser known departments, like kitchenware (my weakness).

They sell bakeware and cool kitchen gadgets for as low as .99! I found loaf pans and garlic presses for .99, and springform pans were only $2.99. These are unadvertised deals; the price is not featured on their website.

I loved this discovery as I'm a bakeware nut and love to buy new pans. On the other hand, it's also horrible because I have no room in my city apartment for all these cool gadgets. Next time you visit Ikea take a slow walk through their kitchen department and look closely at the prices. If you see a yellow tag hanging the price has probably been reduced on that product.

Happy shopping!

Friday, July 29, 2011

All You Grocery Challenge Top 10 Finalist

Yes, that means what you think it means! I'm one of the top 10 semi-finalists in the All You Grocery Challenge! I got the email yesterday and couldn't open it fast enough when I saw the subject line. I pinched myself...a couple of times... and then again this morning.

To be precise, my exact reaction went something like, '"AAAAHHHHHH!!!!" The whole family is so excited, and it's awesome to have made it this far. I've gotten some sweet notes of encouragement, thank you so much, it means a lot.

They requested my receipts, which I already mailed out and now sleepless nights until August 5th when they contact the winner and two runners-up.

I'm thrilled just to be nominated. I've always wanted to say that. Good luck to the other finalists!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Smaller Stores Offer Reduced Produce

I'm always trying to find a way to reduce our produce budget, and I may have found it! I went to Shaw's, a big chain grocery store, but I went to a smaller sized one. At the beginning of their produce section, I found this interesting shelf..and check out all those beautiful colors!

It was filled with produce that was ripe or almost ripe and what a deal. Each package in this shelf was only $.99! I bought 3 avocados for $.99..that is an unheard of price around here. I also picked up 2 lbs. of potatoes, and 2 lbs of zucchini.

The guy filling up this shelf said the smaller sized grocery stores usually have some sort of reduced produce section as the selling rate is not as high as the bigger stores. It might be worth checking out in your local grocery store or at least asking if they have something like it.

Guess who ate guacamole tonight!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Catalina Promotions Equal Big Savings

 profit: $1.34

When you check out, have you noticed that little machine next to the cash register, it's called a Catalina Machine. Sometimes it spits out random, annoying ads, like getting an oil maintenance on your car, or an offer for a reduced newspaper subscription...really great stuff, right? In Day 5 I posted a picture of one of my Catalinas, or CATs.

Well, occasionally there is great stuff, like this week. 

This week there are 43 different CAT promotions happening at Shaw's (gasp). Since Catalina deals are national, there's a good chance you have some or all of the same promotions happening at your local big chain grocery store. If you are not familiar with Catalina promotions, I urge you to become familiar...NOW! Here is what I did:

4 single Viva paper towels $1.99 each
2 Bailey's Coffee Creamers (it's an amazing, delicious, non-alcoholic, coffe-house style creamer, can you tell I love it?) $1.50 (regular, 2.50)

=$10.96 total
- 4 $.85/1 viva coupons (shaws doubles, so these become  $1.70...EACH)
-2 $1/1 bailey's creamer coupons
=$2.16 (this is how much I paid)
now it gets interesting...stick with me folks...

There is a CAT promo on the Viva.

When you buy 4 rolls, that cute little CAT machine will spit out, no not a car check-up..but $2.50! Yes, it gives money, people! It will look like a coupon, but it is actually $2.50 to use on your next purchase, on ANYTHING you want in the store!

But, wait, there's more (I feel so late night infomercial), there is also a CAT promo on the Bailey's creamer. When you buy 2 Bailey's, the machine will print out $1!..Yes, it prints money, kind's in the form of a coupon, but basically you're getting your money back!

So, let's recap...I spent $2.16, and I got back $3.50, so I made a profit of $1.34. They paid me to take home my favorite Irish Cream creamer. I love CATs! Can you say meow...

So, what are you waiting for...find your grocery store circular and get shopping!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Earth's Best Baby Food on Clearance at Target

When I can't make homemade baby food, I love Earth's Best organic! I found them on clearance at Target, not all were marked. The smaller 4 oz. size was $.68 from $.82, and the larger, stage 3, 6 oz. size was $.88 from $1.04. There are coupons on Earth's Best site for $1 off 7 jars HERE. If you bought 7 of the small size, you could get them for as low as $.53 a jar! Great price!

These are the varieties I found on sale, if you find anymore let me know in the comments section!

  • Winter Squash
  • Pears & Mangos
  • Harvest Squash Turkey
  • Peas & Brown Rice
  • Tender Chicken & Stars
  • Vegetable Beef Pilaf
I also found Earth's Best teething biscuits on clearance, keep your coupons handy!

FREE Lunch Tote with Any Backpack Purchase at Toys R Us

I noticed when the kids have lunch totes that they picked out, they are eager to fill them up with snacks and water, which cuts down on the temptation to stop at fast food when we are out and about, and of course for school lunches!

Toys R Us just started a promotion, 7/24-8/27, buy any backpack $12.99 or more and get ANY lunch tote FREE (value up to $9.99). Toys R Us ran a similar promotion a couple weeks back, but this one is better because you can pick which lunch tote you want, in the previous promotion you could only pick the matching lunch tote with the backpack.

My son picked a Cars backpack (big surprise), and my daughter picked a Hello Kitty backpack (bigger surprise), and I picked arctic critter lunch totes, retail $9.99, worth more then the matching tote for the backpacks.

If you do the promotion, go early as the favorite characters sell out fast, also look inside the lunch totes for coupons. The ones we got had two coupon booklets in them. One with coupons up to $6 in savings on food and drinks and another by Scotch with coupons up to $10.50  in savings, including a rare coupon for $5 off Scotch Thermal Laminator.

If you get one, come back and let me know what you got!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

And the Giveaway Winner is...

Rachel! Congratulations, check your email from thefrugalette at gmail dot com! Thank you everyone for entering and checking out my blog! This is my first giveaway, but not my last. I'll be back before you can say 'frugalette who?' OK, maybe not that fast.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Santa Cruz Organic Juice Stockpile

total: $0

Contrary to popular belief,  there are coupons and deals on healthy, organic food. I present to you this picture as evidence. In my Day 18 post I wrote about trying new stores to find deals on organic food. I visited my local Coop store here in Cambridge and was excited to find an organic food coupon booklet filled with high value coupons. One coupon that caught my eye was $.75 off 1 Santa Cruz Organic product.

Since they were manufacturer coupons and not store specific, I took them to Shaw's where they were on sale this week for $1.50. Since Shaw's doubles coupons, I got all these pretty bottles for FREE!

Today Boston hit 103 degrees, first time in 85 years...perfect timing for a juice deal!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

First Tomato Bud

Do you see what I see! We woke up this morning to our first tomato bud! My first post of this blog, Day 2 ,was about planting a tomato plant as a way to start the challenge. We had never gardened...ever! I was born in Chicago, raised in Los Angeles and now live in Boston...I have pure city girl blood in my veins.

We currently live in a cement jungle, but I really wanted to try gardening, and this was our solution; a topsy turvy plant hanging in our porch. I'm worried about that little guy growing as much as my own kids..well..almost as much. :P

If you have any space, even some small counter space you can start a little herb garden. No excuses my fellow city dwellers!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Tenderize Cheap Meat?

Meat is often the biggest budget buster (say that 10 times!).  High quality steak and beef comes at a premium price. Usually you read to put it in a slow cooker and the 5-6 hours will often soften up any cheaper cuts of meat and make them tender. However, for those of us that are not big on a slow cooker, or decided 2 hours before dinner they want to make beef, slow cooker is not going to work.

My mom (are you reading) always taught me to put the meat in water, turn up the heat until it starts to boil, cover and turn down the heat to a low simmer for about 1 hour. Add fried onions, garlic, ginger (all natural tenderizers). After an hour, turn up the heat and let the extra water evaporate and add salt, pepper and any spices or flavor you want. It works so well!

Since I always have frozen spinach on hand, I'm going to add spinach to mine. Remember to add salt and pepper at the very end, as salt inhibits the meat from getting soft. Do you have any tips or tricks, other then the slow cooker for tenderizing meat? I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cheap Eggs

I got cheap eggs, so what right? Well, yes and no. There is this idea that reduced dairy must be expiring that day or the next. These are Land O Lakes, cage-free brown eggs, usually cost around $3.xx, and their expiration was 8 days from the day I bought these...plenty of time to use a dozen eggs!

The lesson here is don't count out reduced dairy..check the expiration date, it may not be any earlier then others, the store might have just gotten overstock on them. 

So, now you're thinking, where do I find them? In our local Shaw's (Super Valu family) they keep the reduced eggs in the milk fridge on the bottom most shelf. People don't like to bend...I don't mind. :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Let's Move Summer Program Fun and Free Food

The First Lady Michelle Obama created the Let's Move program to help tackle and prevent the threatening rise of childhood obesity in the US. This summer parks across the nation are participating in the Let's Move program by having sports and fun activities and giving FREE healthy lunches to all kids under 18!

The program is being promoted as a way to feed hungry kids who rely on school lunches throughout the year, however, where I live it's for ANY kid under 18 and it seems that's how it's now being promoted as the turnout has been much lower then expected. When we went my kids were the only ones there!
Here are the details:
  • Check  HERE for more info and to find a local group.
  • Program runs M-F, June 27-August 12.
  • Activities are from 10:30-11:30
  • Lunch is between 11:30-12:30
Lunches are healthy and come with  whole wheat bread, salad and fresh fruit. They are, however, giving chocolate milk with the lunch. I hope you find a park near you and try it out, feels good to support our local community programs.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All You Grocery Challenge Exit Survey

Check your emails! If you particiapted in the All You Grocery Challenge this year, you should be getting an email that looks like this. The Challenge officially ended yesterday, but the contest has just begun!

Here are the next steps:
  1. Fill out and submit the exit survey by Saturday, July 23rd.
  2. The top 10 finalists will be notified.
  3. The top 10 finalists submit their receipts for review.
  4. By August 5th, the winner and 2 runners up will be notified.
  5. The top 3 winners will be featured in the Novemeber issue of All You! 
Even though the challenge has officially ended I will continue to update this blog until the winners are announced. Last year 7000 people entered!

Personally, I think anyone who entered is really a winner for trying to save their family money and feed them healthier! Good Luck!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 28 and Today I Ate A Rainbow Giveaway!

Today marks the last day in the All You Grocery Challenge! I can't believe what a difference it has made in our family. Within the first couple days it became clear that my biggest hurdle would be to improve the eating habits of my almost 3 year old daughter, Salma. Her idea of a varied diet included different chicken nugget shapes and deciding between chocolate milk or chocolate ice cream. Then I had an inspirational moment  to make it a game and challenge her to eat the rainbow everyday! She loved it and took to the "game" right away. The theme of our family's challenge became "eat the rainbow everyday."
Imagine my surprise and excitement when I stumbled upon a whole kit to help parents teach their kids to eat the rainbow everyday! Kia Robertson, the brains behind this ingenious product, created the Today I Ate A Rainbow Chart to keep track of her daughter's eating habits and found it to be a fun and interactive tool to help her daughter make healthy, varied choices. 
Kia generously sent me a kit to review and it is exactly what my family needed to motivate them and visually track how we were doing in eating the rainbow. With three kids' eating habits to track, it wasn't easy to know if they were all eating the rainbow! Kia's kit makes it super easy! 

I love that each kit comes with enough magnets to track up to 4 children. Salma quickly picked the star shape, Eissa wanted the triangle and I used squares for our 10 month old. The chart can be put on the fridge and with a quick glance I was able to check if the kids' were eating the rainbow and what color they were lacking in; surprisingly we were lacking in yellow and that was fixed easily with some bananas. Although I found the kit late in the challenge, it's going to be key in helping us maintain our new eating habits.

Kia has generously offered to give one lucky reader their own Today I Ate A Rainbow Kit!

One lucky reader will win the following prize package worth $25!
  • 1 Today I Ate A Rainbow chart
  • 4 sets of magnets 
  • 4 achievement magnets
  • 2 fridge magnets
  • 1 color coded shopping list
  • 1 The Rainbow Bunch book
  • 1 Rainbow bookmark
This contest will end Friday, July 22, is open to residents of the US and CAN only. I'll announce the winner the next day.

Every participant can have up to 4 entries! For each method of entry make a new comment to this post letting me know you did.

Mandatory entry: Leave a comment below!
1 entry: Follow me @thefrugalette on twitter-leave your twitter name in comment
1 entry: Subscribe to my blog via Google Friend Connect
1 entry: Follow my blog via Networked Blogs (click follow button on sidebar)

Good Luck!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 27

The grocery challenge rules allow for $25 per family member, children under 1 are not included. We are a family of 5, but our youngest is under 1, so our weekly budget is $100 on all food, including eating out.

I'm calculating my budget one day early because tomorrow is the last day of the challenge and I have something very special planned..think giveaway..think theme giveaway. :)

Since we focused on homemade this week, shopping was spent at one store and we got way under budget! Yeah for stockpile cooking!
This is how we did this week:

-$38.49 (Shaws/Starmarket)
= $61.51 under budget!

This week we also recycled our soda cans that we started collecting at the beginning of the challenge, which gave us a small $1.25 credit. Some highlights from this week's shopping includes 4 boxes of granola bars, 4 cartons of refrigerated juice, 2 bottles of organic mango juice, organic pears, apples, bananas, milk, eggs and mushrooms for slow cooker beef stroganoff! I can't believe this is the last budget for the challenge, great way to end!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 26

Since I'm focusing on everything homemade this week, I'd like to give a special nod to my husband. While homemade dinner was already standard around here; eating lunch was not. Before this challenge began, my dear husband used to regularly stop for lunch at Dunkin Donuts (a Boston icon). His idea of eating the rainbow consisted of white cream cheese on a golden bagel and a black coffee on the side; more like shades of the rainbow. In the beginning I was regularly making lunch for him and I even dropped lunch off at his work a couple times, not an easy feat with 3 jumping beans, I mean kids in tow. I was really trying to get him on board with not eating out, not just money-wise but health-wise also!

We rarely have leftovers from dinner, so lunches are made fresh daily. This morning I witnessed a first, he was making a sandwich for his lunch. I didn't remind him, I didn't take anything out of the fridge, on his own people! He is the one that suggested I write this post also. After what happened this morning, he better believe I'm going to write about it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 25

I used the last of our cherries to make this very easy Julia Child cherry clafouti! I had no idea what a clafouti was before this, but I had all the ingredients so this is what I made. It's a mix between a crepe and a pancake, and brought out the sweet and sour in the cherries. We couldn't wait to taste it and the part you don't see had a big piece taken out before I had a chance to take a picture of it; hence the odd angle.

Julia Child's Clafouti
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
3 cups cherries, pitted
1/3 cup sugar

In a blender blend the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour. Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in a buttered 7 or 8 cup lightly buttered fireproof baking dish. Place in the oven until a film of batter sets in the pan. Remove from the heat and spread the cherries over the batter. Sprinkle on the 1/3 cup of sugar. Pour on the rest of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about for about 45 minutes to an hour. The clafouti is done when puffed and brown and and a knife plunged in the center comes out clean.

Julia Child famously said, "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces-just good food from fresh ingredients." Agreed, Julia, agreed!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 24

Homemade is not just for big kids! With the whole family eating more organic and homemade, I didn't want our 10 month old feeling left out. Today I bought a brand new KidCo foodmill for $5! My neighbor got one as a gift and never got around to using it, I happily bought it from her. It's so simple and easy to put together. I already used it twice today, once with fresh cherries and then for lunch I mashed up rice and carrots.

It comes with a cool carrying case and I definitely plan to take it out with us. This is the first time I made my own baby food and I wish I had tried it before with my older kids. I always thought it would be so much work, but I just took whatever food we had in the kitchen and cranked it through the mill, voila, homemade baby food!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 23

I was going to wait and take a picture of the finished product; but seeing my son's enthusiasm for the process made me realize that's much more important. We are far from finishing, but homemade is not just about cooking in one's own kitchen, it's about being surrounded by your loved ones and trying your best to nourish them well, and love is part of that nourishment. Laughing, spilling, getting cherry juice everywhere, all of it is what makes something truly homemade.

Yesterday the kids helped make our first ever bread, and Salma, the girl who never eats bread, was asking for more! Sure, it tasted good, but I'm convinced it was the act of being a part of the process and seeing the family's excitement at tasting the bread that made her want to be part of the experience also. Homemade is not Home-easy..but it is Home-worth-it!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 22

This is the last and final week of the All You Grocery Challenge! While the past three weeks have focused on shopping, this week will be all about homemade. How creative can we get in the kitchen without going to the store? My bread maker came and I was excited to test it out. This is a picture of our first ever homemade bread, nothing fancy, but so wholesome. The smell of fresh bread baking in our kitchen was worth the price of the bread machine alone!

For me, the challenge began with a budget but is ending up in a lifestyle change. It was all about the money and not over spending, but here I am three weeks later baking bread and waiting on my canning kit to make cherry jam. I started this challenge resisting to change anything except our spending and the month became something much more profound. The first week opened my eyes to Salma's poor eating habits. The second week was an effort in shopping"outside the grocery store" and the third week brought organic produce into our home after years of buying only conventional. 

I talked to my mom the other day and she reminded me about an age old quote, "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey." That was pretty sneaky of All You to disguise my journey in the form of a contest. ;)

What changes have you seen the past month? Good luck in the last week!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 21

Every Saturday marks the end of a week in the four week challenge. It's a good day to look at how much was spent, where it was spent and what adjustments can be made for the coming week. The rules allow for $25 per family member, children under 1 are not included. We are a family of 5, but our youngest is under 1, so our weekly budget is $100 on all food, including eating out.

This week had such a different vibe than last week. My challenge this week was to find frugal ways to bring organic food back into our home after a three year break! Organic, like anything, is not all or nothing. If eating more organic is a priority for you and your family, there are ways to incorporate it into your diet without breaking the bank. We always hear buzz words like 'in-season' and 'bulk' and that is key to budgeting organic. Cherries are synonymous with summer, so stock up! When the price gets to $3/lb.,or less, buy in bulk and have recipes on hand to incorporate all that bounty or learn how to can fruit

I was so inspired this week to get my family eating more local and organic produce I bought a canning starter kit to make cherry jam and preserve that delicious summer fruit all winter. With conventional jam selling $.40/oz, I estimate my homemade version will cost roughly $.20/oz. and it's organic! Not only will it be a 50% savings, my kids will have so much fun making their own jam.

Here is how we did this week:
-$15.39 (Shaws/Star Market)
-$1.49 (Trader Joes)
-$6.50 (Cedar Market)
-$10.63 (Harvest Coop)
-$53.19 (Whole Foods)
=$12.80 under budget!

Some highlights from our shopping include over 5 lbs. of organic cherries, 16 lbs. of vidalia onions, 2 lbs. of dried chickpeas and tahini sauce (homemade hummus that will last 2 months!),a 4 lb. cabbage head, 8 boxes of honey nut cheerios and 2 gallons of all natural local farmed milk and no eating out at all. 

And how is my other challenge doing? This morning Salma ASKED for a banana for breakfast, not chocolate, not chicken nuggets....a banana. We are heading into the last week of the challenge, how are you all doing? Good luck in the final week!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 20

Today only Whole Foods is selling organic cherries for $2.99/lb.! Cherries are my favorite fruit and one of the most expensive. Whole Foods cherries are also well-known for being bigger and juicier than cherries you find elsewhere. Last week I bought conventional cherries for $5.99/lb., so this is a stock up price! I'm already getting my recipes together of what to make, and at the top of my list is this super easy skillet cherry jam. I just ordered a cherry pitter and am waiting on my bread maker; I see lots of homemade bread and cherry jam in our future! Best part is cherries are even a favorite of my super picky eater, Salma.

Besides being delicious, little cherries pack a nutritional punch, better known as a "super fruit." Compared to other fruits, cherries have the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants. They contain beta-carotene, 19 times more than strawberries or blueberries! They are also rich in Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate. I hope there's still some left when I get there tonight! Happy cherry-picking!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 19

 $9.39 total

Shaw's promotion this week is FREE milk when you buy four General Mills cereals. Honey Nut Cheerios, one of our favorites, is part of the promotion and there are lots of great internet coupons available. After coupons, I paid $5.80 and got back a FREE milk Catalina worth up to $4.50. This week since I'm focusing on organic I was shocked to see a 1/2 gallon of organic milk for $4.79! The kids alone go through almost 2 gallons a week. It would cost us more than $16 a week if we bought organic milk, that's quite a spike in our budget. Since the kids drink a lot of it though, it is important to me that I try to give them as natural as possible with the least amount of  artificial ingredients. Instead, I chose Garelick Farms. The milk comes from local farms here in New England and they pledge to never use artificial growth hormones on their cows. I felt a lot better about that choice, and it's usually $4.19/gallon, this week on sale for $3.79.While not USDA organic, it is all natural, so that is definitely a great step in the right direction!

This week has been a real eye-opener. No one will argue that conventional is better than organic, it's simply cost that prevents us from purchasing one over the other. The key to staying on budget is to prioritize what organic products are important for you and your family. For my family, it's first what the kids eat raw or as natural as possible without a lot of cooking involved and that means: fruits, salad and milk. Their systems are young and developing and if I can buy these items organic or all natural it will hopefully make a difference in their health long term. Have you changed any of your shopping habits recently?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 18

$10.63 total

My first organic purchase in over 3 years! It's hard to believe I haven't purchased any organic produce in so long. When we made the decision to tackle our debt and reduce our grocery bill I thought that would be the end of organic food forever. I went to HarvestCoop yesterday. I was surprised to find organic romaine lettuce for $2.29 and the farmer's market sells it for $2.50! I had to resist buying everything. It all looked so delicious and knowing that the store is owned and operated by locals in our community felt good.

I bought organic grapes and organic pears. The grapes were $3.99/lb., conventional grapes are selling for $2.99/lb, so I thought that was a good price. The pears were selling for $2.49/lb. Although my dollar doesn't get as much quantity, I feel better about buying small quantities of organic rather than large amounts of conventional. I'm focusing on prioritizing what I buy. Since we usually eat raw fruit, I will continue to try and buy organic and buy conventional for foods that have a thick skin to remove or that will be used in cooking. Organic doesn't have to be all or nothing, progress not perfection!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 17


There are lots of alternative ways to get discounts on groceries. A site I like which often posts deals for real consumers is Eversave. I had never heard of them until I won a $100 credit for their site. I mainly use my credit on offers that give discounts for food.

Last week they had a save, as they refer to it, for $10 for $20 worth of products at McKinnons. McKinnon's is a small meat and deli shop here in Cambridge. If you live in Cambridge, McKinnon's is famous! We have shopped there previously and knew their prices were already cheap. For example, a couple weeks ago I got 1.5/lb of steak for $4! They cut and butcher all their meat in house, which allows them to cut out the middle man and thereby passing the savings onto their customers. So, when eversave put a deal for them I knew I had to jump on it. I used $40 of my credit to buy 4 saves, that equals to $80 worth of meat..FREE! If you haven't checked out eversave, I highly recommend it. You might have to wade through a lot of other deals you don't like, but when one comes up that you do like, it will be well worth it. What are some alternative ways you've found for buying groceries?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 16

$7.89 total

We came back from our staycation at the beach feeling refreshed and renewed! We couldn't wait to find frugal deals at Whole Foods! Until tomorrow conventional Vidalia onions are on sale for $.49/lb. As you can tell from the picture, we stocked up! We bought about 16lbs. for just under $8. This amount will last us about 6 months. Since we only use this type of onion for cooking, we chop and freeze them.

I am prioritizing my organic budget, which means I am carefully deciding where my precious organic dollars will go and I decided onions would not be it. Since we peel off a good layer of skin and use them only in cooking I thought it would be best to take advantage of the low price and save my organic budget for fruits and vegetables that we eat raw. Do you shop organic?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 15

I'm finding myself more drawn to shopping organic for fruits and vegetables. Three years ago, before we decided to tackle our debt, we used to buy organic regularly. We were even signed up with a delivery service that brought fresh, cream-filled raw milk, organic veggies/fruits and even homemade jam to our front door, needless to say it got very expensive! When the reality of our finances kicked in, organics were kicked out unfortunately.

Now that we are on stronger financial footing, and have learned to shop frugally for almost everything, it's time to shop frugal for organic foods! My challenge this week will be to shop smart at our local farmer's markets. has a great article on their site, "10 Secrets to Affordable Organic Food," it really got me thinking how to afford organic fruits and vegetables. Some of the tips I'm planning to try are to shop at the end of the sale when they are more willing to offer a better deal and to prioritize my organic purchases. I will try to buy organic fruits I know the kids will eat, like peaches and strawberries and get conventional bananas, as its skin protects the fruit inside anyways. What a great tip!

Here in Cambridge we also have a food co-op called Harvest, which I will be adding to my list of places to check out. So, looks like I'm going frugal organic shopping! How about you, what are your goals for the week?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 14

Every Saturday marks the end of a week in the four week challenge. It's a good day to look at how much was spent, where it was spent and what adjustments can be made for the coming week. The rules allow for $25 per family member, children under 1 are not included. We are a family of 5, but our youngest is under 1, so our weekly budget is $100 on all food, including eating out.
This week was fun as we challenged ourselves to get out of our comfort zone and shop for groceries in non-grocery stores. We found great deals at Rite Aid, and even Kmart. While I still enjoy shopping the traditional grocery stores, it's good to know there are alternatives and great deals to be had at drugstores and online.
We were going out of town for the July 4th weekend, so my grocery consisted of a lot of snacks and fruit from Whole Foods.
-$.69 (Rite Aid)
-$6.34 (Shaw's/Star Market)
-$52.53 (
-$34.67 (Whole Foods)
=$5.77 under budget!
Even though I had a lower budget last week, I'm much happier with our budget this week because it includes a lot of organic fresh fruit and food for our weekend getaway. I only shop Whole Foods for their fruits and vegetables. If you stick to their produce it's not much more than the regular grocery store. Salma ate scallops for the first time yesterday and didn't spit them out! She said it tastes like chicken..mmm...OK! Today marks the halfway point in the challenge, how are you doing? Good luck in week 3!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 13

$0 Total

Sears had a Father's Day promotion this year for buy $50 on any men's clothing and get a $25 gift card to use later. I did this promotion and it worked out well for the challenge this week, who knew?! At the time there was also a Shaw's promotion; buy $100 worth of any gift cards and get a $20 Catalina to use on your next order. I bought a $50 Sears card and a $50 gas card at the time. I used the Sears gift card to buy essentials like socks and underwear and got back a $25 gift card. Since Kmart is part of the Sears company I was able to use the gift card there today.

Kmart has a limited grocery section but I was able to buy snack items to use this weekend as we are going out of town for Fourth of July. This has been my favorite non-grocery store purchase this week since it crossed so many different promotions! From Shaw's to Sears to Kmart and now off to the beach with our FREE food!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 12

$52.53 total
My husband has been the main meat shopper for our family. He normally buys steak and ground beef at Costco, but for the challenge he got out of his comfort zone and decided to see how Omaha Steaks would work out. Nothing better than steak delivered to your front door!

I didn't realize how savvy my husband is with online shopping; he did great! He knew he wanted to spend around $50, so first he went to plasticjungle and bought a $50 Omaha Steaks giftcard for $41.50. Before ordering he clicked through shopathome to get 7% back on his purchase. He used a $20 off $69 home mailer promo code, a text message promo code for $29.99 beef tenderloin tips, a promo code for 4 FREE 4oz steaks when you buy $79 or more and finally a free shipping code when you buy $75 or more. *whew*

The order looked like this:
6 1lb. beef tenderloin tips
1 3lb. beef tenderloin tip
4 4 oz. steaks
+ $19.95 shipping
-$20 off $69
-$8.50 ( giftcard savings)

If he had gone to Costco, not including the steak or free shipping, he still came out ahead. Costco sells beef tenderloin tips for $8.99/lb., so $89.90 for the same amount versus $52.53, that's a 42% savings. Mission accomplished, my husband got out of his Costco comfort zone!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 11

$.69 total

I usually shop two grocery stores every week, one being Shaw's and the other is variable, between Whole Foods or Market Basket.  My shopping hasn't been very creative.

Sticking to a $100 budget is only part of the All You Grocery Challenge, the other part is being creative; to me, that means being creative in the kitchen, in couponing and in shopping! This week I focused on being creative in shopping. I took the challenge a bit further by shopping for groceries at non-grocery stores.

Today I shopped Rite Aid, and that's a picture of the deal I did. I paid $.69 out of pocket for everything.I would not normally do most drugstore food promotions, as the cost per product is higher then the grocery store, however, in an effort to stretch my dollar further and get out of my grocery store comfort zone, I gave it a try. We go through barbecue sauce a lot in this house, it's not just a favorite condiment, but during the summer I use it in cooking and I found a new family favorite on myrecipes via Although I could get barbecue sauce cheaper in Target or Shaw's, I decided to do a deal at Rite Aid this week, where you buy $15 get $3+UPs(rite aid credit) back. Since I have a lot of +UPs it made sense to do the deal there since I'm esentially using their money instead of mine! I used to be so focused on just buying whatever is on sale and going to produce more +UPS, rather then thinking of ways to get what my family really needs, so I am changing that!

At Rite Aid I purchased 4 Kraft BBQ Sauce, 3 Heinz Ketchup, 2 Frank's Hot Sauce, 1 Nutella, paid $.69 after coupons and got $3UPs back.This amount will definitely get us through the Summer barbecue season!

"There is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in growth." This week I'm trying to grow out of my grocery store comfort zone.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 10

When Whole Foods Market gives you cheap blueberries, what do you do? You make blueberry muffins of course! It's a traditional one, no special twist here, just good 'ol fashion blueberry muffins! Part of my challenge this month is to use more fresh produce in all our foods. A couple weeks ago Whole Foods's special one day only Friday sale was blueberries for $1.99/pint. I didn't realize how big that pint was! In addition to using them with all the vanilla ice cream we stocked up on to make smoothies, we also made muffins. They make a great on-the-go snack.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 9

This is Eissa and Salma, This is Salma about to try Nutella for the first time, see her sneaky smile, it's a smile she has just for chocolate. I spread it on half of a whole wheat pita bread...she ate it! Salma doesn't eat bread, much less whole wheat pita bread, so this is great progress. I was worried she was going to lick off the nutella and leave the bread; she does that with cupcakes, cakes, donuts...but we had a deal. I told her if she just licks the chocolate off then I have to take it away, she decided not to lick. Rite Aid this week has Nutella on sale for $2.50, with a $1 coupon, makes a very cheap and healthier alternative to regular chocolate. Seeing that she ate it, I'll pick up some more tomorrow!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 8

It's funny how creative we suddenly become with our finances when our budget gets reduced. We are late to the game in recycling, but this challenge has brought out the greener side of me! I started thinking of different ways to supplement our budget without any money coming out of our pockets. I have been meaning to set up a proper can and plastic bottle recycling bin for us and this challenge was the motivator! Our local Shaw's grocery store has a recycling machine right next to it and they give store credit when you recycle your cans and bottles there. The whole family is remembering to recycle and the kids even remind us to take our cans and bottles out of the car for recycling. The last week of the chellenge we will take all the cans and bottles and use the credit towards groceries. GREEN more ways than one! Reduce, reuse, pays to be green!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 7

Every Saturday marks the end of a week in the four week challenge. It's a good day to look at how much was spent, where it was spent and what adjustments can be made for the coming week. The rules allow for $25 per family member, children under 1 are not included. We are a family of 5, but our youngest is under 1, so our weekly budget is $100 on all food, including eating out.
Budget-wise the week was great as we just got off a sale on meats and veggies from the previous week; so food shopping was largely produce and cheap treats, like ice cream. We did not spend any of the budget on eating out, and that is huge progress for us. Drive thrus didn't look as tempting as they usually do.
Breakfast consisted of cereal, eggs, fruit, homemade cinnamon toast and nescafe (didnt miss my dunkin donuts coffee one bit!).
Lunch consisted of sandwiches, homemade macaroni and cheese, instant noodles, pita chips and hummus, greek yogurt, and dinner leftovers.
Dinner consisted of lamb burgers, chicken/veg casserole, indian spinach beef curry and rice, egg salad, vegetarian pasta, homemade pizza, and fresh fish caught by a friend!
-$6.63 (Shaw's/Star Market)
-$22.47 (Market Basket)
-$20.47 (Johnnie's Foodmaster)
-$2.97 (Whole Foods)
= $47.46 under budget!
Some highlights from this week's shopping include 9 pints of ice cream,milk, lots of fresh produce, mangos, and a jar of ragu pasta sauce I won from a twitter contest...thanks Ragu!
Going into week 2 I have a colorful menu planned that I'm hoping will further expand Salma's palette, and for the whole family I'm adding a twist to our favorite foods by using in season fruit to cut cost.
Good luck in week 2!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 6

My "eat the rainbow" challenge for my family is particularly important for my daughter,Salma, who wants nothing to do with any other color than brown, i.e. chocolate. We have a deal that she eats three different colors everyday. Yesterday her three colors included green...yes GREEN! She ate one green bean. One.
The really big progress was that it was not covered in butter, barbecue sauce or deep fried. It was as farm fresh as you can get and she knew exactly what she was eating. There are lots of recipes on sneaky ways to get your kids to eat veggies, and I've made a lot of them, but I want my kids to know what vegetables are! I don't want it to be this big surprise one day that I've been hiding in their food.
Eating one green bean may not impact her health, but it does open her mind to eating foods she previously shunned. We are striving for progress this month, not perfection.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 5

Yesterday was the last day of the Shaw's gift card promotion. Buy $100 worth of ANY gift cards and get a $20 catalina coupon to use on your next order. This promotion will be sadly missed, it is an amazing one! Last week we stocked up on gas cards, something we have to pay for anyways, and used the $20 CAT for groceries. It was like getting $20 worth of groceries FREE since we would pay for gas anyways. The only trick is the CAT expires in one week, unlike most that expire in two weeks. This is how we were able to stock up on meats and frozen veggies. Since the Amazon gift card is not considered a food item, I still have over $90 in my budget this week.
As we head into the end of week 1 for the challenge, I'm finding that one of our main expenses, besides fresh produce, is bread! We go through approximately 2 loaves a week, and bread rarely sells for less then $2 per loaf and oftentimes more if it's whole grain and wheat. That lovely $100 Amazon gift card will go to purchasing a bread maker! Since I stock up on flour when it gets to $1.50 a bag, and one bag can produce several loaves, the initial $100 investment will pay for itself many times over...and it's healthier!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 4

It's becoming clear what every family member's challenge will be this month. The hardest one to change will be my almost 3-year-old daughter's chocolate and chicken nugget habit. I can't say it came from nowhere, I am a total chocoholic and fast food junkie! This morning she woke up asking for chocolate cake for breakfast, when I refused, she then asked for chocolate milk and then chicken nuggets...for breakfast?! Oh my, I thought, what have I created! Then, I had an allyou inspirational moment, speak to kids in a voice they understand. I explained in my most toddler-friendly explanation that we are going to try to eat the colors of the rainbow everyday and brown, the color of chocolate and chicken nuggets, is not in the rainbow. I offered her cranberry-grape juice, she loved drinking the color purple and asked for more! I then asked if she wanted some cereal and she said she wants to eat a yellow banana! I'm so happy and now that Salma has opened the door to other foods I'm not turning back and will hopefully get the whole family to eat more colors of the rainbow, myself included. So the theme of our AllYou Grocery Challenge will be to eat the colors of the rainbow everyday! What is your theme?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 3

 $6.63 total

Today was shopping day. Since we have stocked up on meat and frozen veggies, I only needed to buy some fresh fruit, milk and treats. I spent $6.63 out of the allotted $100 budget for the week. Out of that, I will get back .40 through savingstar and after reviewing the receipt, they overcharged me by $4! Since starting this challenge I have become vigilant about checking receipts. I will go back on Thursday to fix the situation, but as it stands I have $93.37 left in the food budget this week. I also bought a half watermelon which is not pictured, my kids attacked it before it hit the table, can't say I was upset about that one!
I chose to buy a half watermelon instead of a whole one because it's cheaper and it gave me room to buy other fruits also. I'd rather have variety then all of one kind.
I also bought some boxes of magnum chocolate ice cream bars. When we go out, one ice cream at the park costs around $3, so for the price of 3 ice cream cones, I picked up 12! I will keep those for treats on the weekend instead of eating out, we'll just take a couple from home.
I bought extra bananas because I read a great tip on about peeling off the skin and freezing them, then using them in different ways, like shakes or banana bread.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 2

So, I meant to start this blog with Day 1, but as life happens, I am starting on Day 2. I have been wanting to try the All You Grocery Challenge for 2 years now. This year was it, we had to do it. Almost 3 years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in over $56,000 debt, including, car, credit cards...basically everything... all while living on one income, and at the time, 2 children under 3. He had just graduated with a PhD in Computer Science, and while his degree was great, the economy wasn't and he started a very low paying post-doc research position in Boston, one of the most expensive cities in America!
All I could think of was how to pay for diapers, much less fancy steak meats and farm fresh veggies. Fast forward 3 years later, add another baby to the mix and we are less then $4,000 away from being completely debt free and haven't used a credit card in 3 years, in fact we cut them all up, thanks to strategic couponing for groceries, toilietries and everything in between! I joined the All You Grocery Challenge this year, not just to further cut our budget on groceries, but to challenge eating better overall, which meant adding a lot of fresh produce to our diet. When my 2 year old daughter started asking regularly for some form of chocolate as a snack, I knew I had to get serious about giving them better, more wholesome choices.
Yesterday was a great start and a tough way to start the challenge. Day 1 was Father's Day, a day we would have typically gone to some restaurant or fast food drive thru as a "treat." I'm thrilled to say we ate everything at home! Pancakes, eggs with feta cheese and tomato for breakfast,sandwiches for lunch and lamb burgers stuffed with feta cheese for dinner! Why Lamb Burger? The meat was cheaper than ground beef, only $2/lb. We plan to buy whatever is the cheapest meat and make our traditional recipes using that meat.We were out the whole day and the kids loved getting snacks and water bottles together from home to eat in the car, it was a fun, easy, cheap way to curb the drive thru temptation. The rules of the All You Grocery challenge are to not spend more then $25 per family member per week, children under 1 are not included, and that includes all food shopping, including eating out.
So, here we are Day 2, we are a family of 5, but our youngest is under 1, so our budget is $100 for this week. Tomorrow is grocery shopping day and I don't anticipate buying more then produce for the week. My son, 5, is loving all the fresh fruit we are trying out. I will look for whatever fruit is cheapest and buy that, even if its something we dont normally buy, its a great way to try something new!
In honor of the All You Grocery Challenge and our effort to eat more fruits and veggies we planted our first ever tomato plant!
If you are also in the All You Grocery Challenge feel free to leave a comment letting me know how you're getting along, and even if you're not, what are you doing to eat better and save more!