Tag Archives: couponing

Tilapia…Sweet, Sweet Tilapia

23 Jun

It’s been a while since I’ve experimented with anything new in the kitchen. Work routines have me clinging to my idiot-proof staples in desperation. I simply don’t have the time or energy to do anything creative these days. While at my little “gourmet” butcher shop this morning, I happened to pick up some fresh tilapia. I usually just throw it in a dish with lemon, butter, and garlic to bake, but I thought I’d give my favorite new website a go.

Have you been to www.supercook.com? If you haven’t, you must stop whatever you’re doing and go right now. It’s a recipe search engine where you input the ingredients you happen to have lying around the house, and it’ll suggest recipes only using what you tell it you have. I told the search engine that I have a pantry stocked with goodness (thanks to my diligent couponing and stock-piling) and nothing fresh in the fridge beyond the fish, and here’s what it gave me. (Warning: you’re about to salivate all over yourself. Get a napkin or something.)

  • 2-4 tilapia filets
  • 1 c. crackers, crumbled (I used Ritz Whole Wheat)
  • 1/2 c. breadcrumbs (I used Panko because I’m a snob.)
  • 1 t. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 t. freshly ground pepper. (the barefoot contessa would remind you to use “good” pepper, the bitch.)
  • 1 stick butter
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Directions:

1. Melt butter. Put aside.

2. Mix breadcrumbs, crushed crackers, and seasonings in a shallow, wide bowl.

3. Coat fish in butter. Dredge both sides in the dry mix.

4. Place fish in foil-lined pan.

5. Drizzle the remaining butter and dry mix on top of the fish, then sprinkle the Parmesan over the filets.

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Amazing. Purely amazing. Even the kid devoured it. =]

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The one where Daisy bows down to Violet.

5 Apr

Violet has been in the couponing game for quite awhile. She has also been attempting to school me in couponing for a while. Finally, I decided to give in and attend Violet’s Couponing for Dummies and Those With Short Attention Spansclass.

A few Sundays ago, I had Terry get me a newspaper. I sat down on the sofa with a pile of money saving papers in my lap. I called Violet.

“Ok, I have the coupons in my lap. Let’s get this shit started.”

In true teacher fashion, she ran our discussion like a lesson. She had questions, info, facts. Assignments. To be honest, I was a little frightened. We held our Coupon Sunday classes a couple of Sundays in a row, and finally, it was time for her to turn me loose in a grocery store with my new bright orange accordian file (ugh, it was the only color they had.).

Terry went with me on my first big couponing extravaganza. That was probably a mistake. I was a bit neurotic. I looked like those women in the extreme couponing shows. Before we embarked on the insanity, I sat in front of the computer with my grocery store’s website open. I went through their weekly deals and BOGO’s and compared with what coupons I had, and what I needed. This took me probably 45 minutes. I had a comprehensive list, marked with what items were BOGO or franken-BOGO, (refer to Violet’s couponing-basics post for that explanation) I listed which items I had coupons for, what quantities I needed for the specific coupons. I moved the coupons I was planning to use to a front pocket in my accordian. I was ready. It. Was. Intense.

We walked in, I situated my purse in the baby seat thing in the cart. Put my accoridan file on top, paper clipped my list to the cart, and got down to business.

Terry assumed that this would be like an ordinary shopping trip, grabbing what we needed in whatever order we found it. No. Not so much.

Sorry, honey.

I was militant. Organized. Totally type A. (I’m SO not type A. I so WISH I was type A.)

We made it through the entire grocery store, taking advantage of as many BOGO’s as we could. When we finally got to the check out line, after trying to unload our 2 carts of stuff as quickly as possible, I set up shop in front of the monitor to see my items and savings. I handed over my precious coupons and watched the price drop even more.

I did end up spending more than I usually would on 2 weeks worth of groceries, (but not by much) but I was able to stockpile a bunch of things. Things that we will inevitably USE. Cereal, beef/chicken stock, mac & cheese.

My bill would have been around $550

I paid about $360

The little box on the bottom said

Today you saved: $191

We are so set on non perishables now. I won’t have to do a MAJOR grocery shopping expedition for at least a month, probably more. Unfortunately, produce usually doesn’t have coupons, so a lot of my money went towards that. I was able to take advantage of some franken-BOGOS on produce though.

Planning and setting up my couponing was a bit involved. Was it worth it? Hell yes. Savings are savings. They are even better if you are saving on something you were going to buy REGARDLESS. I look forward to getting a Sunday paper and building up my stockpile of coupons and comparing weekly adds to see how to stetch my money.

I also wanted to share something sort of related to money saving tricks..

Pterodactyl’s birthday is coming up, and I was planning on buying her a cute little slide from Little Tikes. I actually was going to order it today. I found a nice coupon online from retailmenot.com, and the Little Tikes website had free shipping.

The slide was $89.99. I did find it for a little cheaper on other websites, but no one else offered free shipping. Shipping was around $30 on other sites. Anyway, I was out running errands (like one to get the First Husband some cases of diet coke at a great price thanks to coupons lol) and on my way home, I drove by a little thrift store near my house.

What was sitting outside?

The exact slide I was going to get Pterodactyl.

The. Exact. One.

I did a u-turn and parked. I sauntered (yeah right, I fucking ran) to the slide and quickly examined it. The thing had to be used, like, once. Whoever got to play with it before had stuck about 20 stickers to the slide. Other than that, it was perfect. I ran in and asked the lady inside for the price.

She looked over at the slide and said… Get ready..

TWELVE DOLLARS.

“I’ll take it.”

 

I somehow managed to shove the whole thing in one piece into my truck. Got that baby home, brought it inside, and started taking it apart. I laid the slide down on my coffee table, and liberally applied Goo-Gone. Five minutes later, all evidence of the previous owners’ stickers was GONE. I took the entire thing apart, and cleaned every inch of it with antibacterial multi-surface cleaner (so I’m a little crazy about having other people’s germs), and it looks like it just came out of the box.

Not only did I get an amazing deal; I mean, really, $12 as opposed to $89.99?! I also feel as though I did my part to be sort of “green”. Giving a gently used piece of indestructible kid stuff another life, while saving.. what? 85%?

I’m not that great at math, but I do know a good deal when I see one.

-Daisy

Conversations with Myself or Schizophrenics with a Bitchy Voice

12 Mar

With my birthday looming around the corner, I’m starting to feel the full weight of my adult self. This will be my first birthday as a Mommy; the first birthday I celebrate around a baby’s bedtime routine. Even last year, toward the end of my third trimester, my birthday plans focused on my favorite meals at my favorite restaurant. Granted, I required three Oompa-Loompas to roll me to my table, but it was still MY birthday dinner at MY favorite adult restaurant.

Ten years ago, I was a carefree teenager. Daisy and I were causing enough trouble to render us “rebellious.” I was filling out college applications, and my biggest stressor was my SAT scores. I thought I was really cool. Now, I know I’m about as lame as they come. As a matter-of-fact, I’ve recently visited with 17-year-old Violet, and she’s pissed. She doesn’t like me at all. She thinks I’m a sell-out suburban Mommy, and has threatened, on more than one occasion, to kick my plump, dorky ass. When I asked her to explain to me why she has so much beef with present-day Violet, the little bitch actually produced a list.

  • I’m not nearly as impassioned by politics as she was. I’m more moderate, where as she was a bit of an extremist. She read several newspapers online daily and watched the news religiously. I, on the other hand, learned that Davey Jones died through my Facebook feed.
  • She has always hated minivans. The ultimate sell-out machine, she believed minivans were for boring soccer moms with 8 kids. She scorns me for wanting one really, really badly. I fear that when the day comes that I trade in my fuel-efficient coupe for my Mommy-mobile, she might hunt me down and slap me.
  • The other day, I caught her eavesdropping on my phone call to Daisy. She later chastised me for the content of our conversation. See, she regularly talks to 17-year-old Daisy about INTERESTING things, like boys, school, music, boys, shopping, entertainment, boys, and our favorite bad behaviors. When she heard us discussing couponing for two hours (and don’t get her started on my use of the word “coupon” as a verb!), our favorite recipes, and baby poop, she put her head in her hands and wept.
  • 17-year-old Violet was a girl who embraced literature. She loved Austen, Shakespeare, Orwell, and Eliot. I had to plead with her not to tear up my English degree when she noticed me reading a trashy Chick Lit book.
  • Young Violet actually skipped school on a regular basis to go to the gym. (And not just because the sexy actor “The Rock” worked out at the same gym between noon and two p.m., either.) While never “skinny,” she was svelte, sexy, and in great shape. She saw the tags in my jeans, noted the double-digit size, and cried. I tried to explain to her that my body changed with pregnancy; that exercise requires time I just don’t have. She wouldn’t hear of it.

It’s hard living with the ghost of your teenage self. The bitch leaves dishes everywhere, makeup on the counters, and stays up until dawn listening to music and talking on the phone. I can’t even get her to chip in for utilities! I’m going to have to kick her out soon, and I’m not looking forward to it. If she can’t deal with the fact that my life revolves around my kid; that I get a little high off of great savings through coupons; that my dream car has a third row, and that my favorite radio station is now NPR….
Well, she’ll just have to fuck off.

© Daisy and Violet 2012. All Rights Reserved.

How to Coupon Like a MotherFucking Champ

9 Mar

To Begin:

You have to decide what approach your family will take to couponing. Is your ultimate goal to save lots of money and deviate from the products you like to buy, or do you just wish to save a little bit of money on the products you already use? Your philosophy is going to dictate how you “coupon” (and yes, I’m using coupon as a verb. Deal with it.) so have that in mind when you begin. For instance, I’m somewhere in between the two mindsets. I’ve changed bread brands to accommodate my coupons. In contrast, I’m a big fan of Near East Cous Cous, so when those coupons are published, I stock up. I haven’t changed brands (or used – gaaaa – the store brand) because, well, I’m a snot.

You’ll need to make a couple “investment” purchases to launch your coupon adventures. First, you need to buy a coupon organizing system. I am partial to accordion files, but other people like binders with photo album inserts. For the sake of consistency and brevity, we’re going to pretend you like the accordion file, too, but all the tips I offer can apply to binder-users, as well. The second “investment” you need to make is a subscription to the Sunday paper. Since all papers effectively carry the same coupons, if you have a choice between local papers, choose the cheapest one.

Do you have an organization system? A subscription to the paper? Good job.

Label your organizational system based on your family’s needs. I have a section for baby products, for kitty products, for frozen foods, cleaning products….the list goes on. No pets? Then don’t have a pet section, and don’t clip the pet food coupons! Within each section, I have envelopes to designate what kind of coupons they are. For instance, in my Baby section, I have one envelope for manufacturer coupons, one for just Target coups, one for just Walgreens coups, and one for my local grocery store exclusively. When I’m planning my grocery list and notice that Pampers are on sale at Walgreens, I’ll go through my manufacturer envelope and grab the Pampers coupon. Then, I’ll go to the Walgreens envelope and grab the store-specific Pampers coupon. Using the store’s sale price, plus one manufacturer coup and one in-store coup results in fantastic savings for my baby’s butt.

Many different grocery stores across the country have myriad sales. Some stores offer Buy One, Get One Free promotions. Others have double/triple coupon days. Many offer in-store coupons, which can be paired with manufacturer coupons from the newspaper. Research your local grocery store to determine what promotional method they use. That is going to influence your couponing habits.

My local grocery store has  store-specific coupons, in addition to BOGOs. (Sometimes, in lieu of a BOGO, the store will offer “2 for $5” on a $3 product, so I’m counting that as a Franken-BOGO.) Remember: my methods work for my family and my grocery store. You are going to have to amend my practices to suit your family and your favorite store.

The first few weeks of your new coupon adventure will seem tedious and unfulfilling. During this time, you simply collect your coupons; clip the ones you think you’ll use and file them away in your system. Weeks when the newspaper has a good selection of coupons I like, I go to a newspaper box and buy a few more papers so I can stock up on the coupons I know I’ll use.

The next step requires you to monitor the sales in your area. Often, your grocery store will send an insert in the Sunday paper to alert you to their sales. Other stores, like mine, have a regularly-updated website which lists every sale item. Keep a particular eye on BOGOs and store-specific coupons that compliment the manufacturer coupons you have in stock. If a particular item goes on sale (or BOGO), head to the store, coupons in hand, and get ready to shop! A real-life example: my local drug store often sells the Red Zone body wash my husband likes on BOGO. Coincidentally, that same soap has BOGO coupons in the paper about once each month. On those days, I run out to the newspaper box and buy a bunch of papers to collect as many body wash coupons as possible. Then I wait. And wait. And wait. Inevitably, the drug store will have one of its BOGO body wash sales. That’s when I strike: armed with my coups, I go to the store. If I have 4 BOGO body wash coupons, I’ll buy 8 body washes. Four are free with the store promotion, and the other four will be free once I apply the coupon. Since body wash never expires, I have a large stockpile of Buddy’s preferred soap. This same principle applies to deodorant, razors, shampoo/conditioner, styling products, and home cleaning supplies.

A few suggestions and reminders:

  1. If you have an extra freezer (or a freezer at your parents’ house), pay extra attention to frozen foods. Frozen vegetables are as nutritious, if not more than, their fresh counterparts. When the store sales align with my coupons, I stock up. I have enough spinach, lima beans, green beans, and broccoli to last through December 21, 2012. (Just kidding.)
  2. Since meat and dairy products so rarely have corresponding coupons, I don’t waste my time trying to save on those at my local grocery store. Instead, I go to a specialty butcher shop or Costco and buy my meats in bulk, then portion them out and freeze. This is also a great time to marinate your chicken/pork/beef to simplify your cooking routine. (Shall we save that for another post?)
  3. If you have “special” shopping opportunities, take advantage of them. The first population that comes to mind is the military. If you have a base/post nearby, shop at the Commissary – you just can’t beat those prices, even before coupons are applied! Military ID-holders also receive 15% off at Walgreens on Tuesdays, so I tend to shop there on Tuesdays and stack my discount with store coupons and manufacturer coupons. Some items, like makeup and medicine, are excellent steals when all three discounts work together. They’ve actually paid me to take some products home! If you have a membership to a club like Costco or Sam’s, take advantage, but also take heed: they do not accept manufacturer coups.
  4. Work cooperatively with other couponing friends. I don’t usually buy cereal, but I have friends who do, and I regularly send them my cereal coupons. My child drinks one specific brand of baby formula. I receive coupons in the mail from that company, but I also receive coupons for the other brands, too. I send those coupons to other formula-moms, and they send me their coupons for Pterodactyl’s brand. Everybody wins. =]
  5. Make sure you know your store’s coupon policy. My grocery store will allow me to combine store coupons with manufacturer coupons, but your store might not. Obviously, the best-case scenario is when you can use both kinds of coupons in addition to the store’s sales, but that may not be an option available to you. If your grocery store has double coupon days, what days are those? Can all coupons be doubled, or just those below $1 in value? Learn what you can and cannot do before setting out.

Remember: not everything you shop for will have a corresponding coupon. Produce, dairy, and meat products are staples in our diets which infrequently go on sale. I save money on produce by shopping at produce stands in the rural town next door, and buying the in-season items which are discounted in my grocery store. Do not eliminate these items your family’s diet; good nutrition is far more important than money.

Good luck, and Happy Savings!

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© Daisy and Violet 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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