Monday, June 6, 2022

Meal Plan Monday

I'm so not in the mood to figure out meals for the week, so I've made an easy menu. Besides, who feels like cooking during summer. 

Monday : BBQ Chicken tenders, potato salad, baked beans salad, carrot/pineapple salad, green salad with all the toppings (onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes, feta, etc)

Tuesday : Chicken pesto pasta with a big side salad with all the toppings (choose your own toppings. I prepare all the toppings and place it in containers in the fridge. That way we it's easy to build your own salad when you want one. I do the same with produce. I pick and wash all grapes and place in a container, so we can just grab some when we want to eat it. Everything's already cleaned and prepped. I like having my life simplified)

Wednesday : BBQ Chicken tenders wraps with all the same sides as Monday

Thursday : Same as Tuesday

Friday : Chicken tacos with all the fixings, refried beans, pico de gallo


I went to the produce market & Sams yesterday. Yikes at the market. I love that place, but the prices are just not worth it anymore. Only a select few things are worth getting there, like peppers $1.99/lb, kiwi, beets, berries. I love that they often have tropical fruit (that I grew up eating) like guavas & litchis/lychees. I saw fresh apricots and had to have some. Can you tell I love fruit?...lol. These babies were huge too, so I bought over 2lbs worth. When I got home and checked my receipt, I saw that it cost me over $7!! Holy cow! Well, we have lots of good fresh fruit, so I'm not even gonna worry about it. I did find pint blueberries for $2.29 (lowest price around here), so I bought 3. I love that stuff. We are all set for a while. We can choose different fruit (we normally eat 4-5 different kinds daily) every day. There's apples, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, apricots, grapes and bananas. 

I absolutely love spinach, but for some reason I don't like the taste of just fresh spinach in a salad. So I had a light bulb moment. I now mix it with my spring mix (I always buy both), so there's different greens in my salad and I don't have to worry about just tasting spinach. I feel the same way about apples. I'm not crazy about eating a fresh apple, but I love all things apple flavored. Give me apple pie, muffins, add it to a salad etc. It's so weird. 

I was up a the butt crack of dawn to go for a run, but then was too tired to do it. I went to bed late, then woke up after 4, so I was exhausted. I did start cooking early. I had the chicken in the oven before 7 am, while cooking our mushroom, onions, pepper mix. Then made omelets for breakfast. I'm always more productive when I don't get enough sleep. I know that if I sit down, I'll fall asleep so I keep busy. I should probably have more sleepless nights (j/k)...lol

FYI - my tenders aren't the frozen, breaded ones. I buy the naked tenders, just like you'd get chicken breasts. I just marinade it overnight, then bake (can be grilled too). Sams was out of chicken breasts again (glad I bought 15 lbs last time to freeze). The tenders are now $5/lb. WTH?! Chicken costs more than beef? Crazy!

I'll pull some fajita chicken from the freezer for tacos and just make fresh beans and pico. Easy peasy. I just remembered that there's still brussel sprouts, so I'll make some grilled veggies tomorrow morning. I like to cook early, so that the house has the rest of the day to cool down. 

Now I need to tackle my mile long To Do list. I'll respond to comments and visit everyone's blogs later.

Have a great day peeps!

Friday, June 3, 2022

Stocking up like it's nobody's business

Is anyone else over all the constant doom & gloom - Covid, monkeypox, war, inflation, gas prices etc? I tell ya, I'm over it. When can we all get back to normal? Do we even know what normal is anymore?

I haven't really stocked up the last few months for several reasons. I've only been adding things here & there. However, I keep reading about global food shortages in the near future. Then I read that the UK is already in a recession. So a decision had to be made. I told myself  'Girl, no matter what, we still have to eat'. Do I want to put stockpiling on the back burner and pay even higher prices later or do I want to risk running into shortages. Higher prices is one thing, but running out isn't an option for me. I'm a planner. I always make sure that we have more than enough of everything. I'd rather have too much and help out someone in need, than run out myself. I've always been this way. My ex boss used to tell me that I'm like a squirrel, preparing for winter months...lol The bottom drawer (big drawer) of my desk was always filled with snacks. Everyone in the office knew that if they needed a snack, they could just check my bottom drawer. That's how I roll. 

So this was a big stockpiling week for me. I decided to just do what I do best - shop for some deals. Here's some of what I did. 

Walmart

I stocked up on some canned veggies. I was very, very happy to find the Store brand no salt added peas. I got 8 cans. I don't normally buy this much, but the peas have been hit & miss the last 2 years and I love peas. I bought some AP flour and sugar too. I bake muffins every week and keep running low on AP flour. I'm also down to my last brown sugar, which I use in my coffee. 

Yikes. The Prego pesto went from $2.77 to $3.12

Bran Flakes - $2.30. Huh? Last time I was at the store, it was still $2.20. I initially bought this brand, because it was half the price of Fiber One with the same/similar nutritional value. The cereal was $1.80 or $1.90. Then $2 - $2.10 - $2.20 & now $2.30. It's a good thing I already have a decent amount stockpiled. 

I bought a few other things. Had a $20 Ibotta gc, so only spent $26.xx OOP. I'm very happy with that. 

Large cans Bush's baked beans (the only baked beans brand I'll eat) is now $2.49!!!! It was just $2.29 a few weeks ago. Last week my local grocery store had the baked beans for $1.99. No limits. Bless their hearts - they often have decent sales with no limits. However, I only bought 6 cans at a time (2 different locations). So 12 cans saved me $6. I still have more in stock. 



Target

I love this store! I rarely shop at Target, but I love the cleanliness of the store, and how peaceful it is to shop there. It's seldom packed, so shopping is a breeze.  I initially went there for the Tide/Bounce deal. I'm almost out of dryer sheets and was waiting for a good sale. It's crazy how I've been running out of things lately. This never happens to me. 

I don't know how I stumbled upon the Old Spice deal, but something made me check out the b/w at Target online (I like to add all my items online to see how the Circle coupons apply). I've mentioned before that DS only has a few b/w bottles left. The downside is that the Captain scent has now been discontinued. Ugh, I hate when they do this. PG keeps adding new scents to the Old Spice line and they're not all good (BBW does the same). I'll be the first to admit that the Captain scent smells amazing!!!, so I don't know why it's been discontinued. So this mama bear decided to go stock up. 

The deal is Spend $12, save $3

Buy 3, get $5 gc

10% off all Old Spice b/w

These 3 deals stacked, which makes for a good sale. I still had a $10 gc from before, so here's what I did

Trans 1

1 x Tide $12.99

1 x Downy 12.99

1 x Bounce 10.99

4 x Old Spice b/w 19.36 (total after all discounts). Original pice is $5.99 each

Less Downy DQ (2.00)

Less Bounce DQ (2.00)

Less GC (10.00)

Tax 3.38

OOP : $45.71

Earned $15 GC ($10 Tide, $5 OS)


Trans 2

4 x Old Spice b/w 19.36

Tax 0.86

Less GC from trans 1 (15.00)

OOP : $5.22

Earned $5 GC


Then today DS and I went to a different location since my store only had 2 bottles left after my last trip. 

Trans 3 & 4 (did the same deal twice)

4 x Old Spice $19.36

Tax 0.86

Less GC (5.00)

OOP $15.22

Earned $5 GC

Oh yes I did buy 16 bottles. Talk to me again when we can't find this scent at any store...lol I've only seen it at Target and a few select Wags. The online information is wrong. Neither Meijer nor Walmart carry this scent anymore. I actually bought the last 8 bottles at the 2nd store today. No regrets. I'm not a shelf clearer, but desperate times call for desperate measures...lol

I just kept rolling those gcs. So I got 16 bottles for $46.18 OOP. That's $2.87 per bottle, which is more than a 50% savings! Plus, they're the bonus size bottles. I'm a happy camper!



Wags

I needed to redeem some RRs, but somebody cleared my Wags out of all the Tide Simply. I don't get it. The Tide isn't even such a good price (especially compared to Target). The deals were few & far between this week, so I just figured I'd burn some RRs on Tide & Downy (those bottles are tiny). Then yesterday I learned that the 20 oz Palmolive is Buy 2 get $3 WC. That's a good price. So while I was out, I stopped at a different Wags and picked up 6 bottles. This is how it was supposed to go. 

Trans 1

4 x Palmolive $11.96

Less RR (4.00)

Less WC (5.00)

Tax

OOP : $2.96 + tax

Except, I had 3 blue bottles and 3 orange bottles. So after the cashier rang and bagged 4 bottles, I placed the other 2 bottles on the counter and said I want to pay for it separately. Cashier said okay, then proceeded to void and keep adding items that my head was spinning looking at the small screen. Then he hit total and it was $0.27!! WTH?! I knew this was wrong, but you can't make changes at Wags once the cashier hits total. Ugh, so my receipt prints and I noticed that he rang up the bottles by color and only had 3 on the first receipt. This is so wrong, cause I didn't earn all my rewards, because I had 3 bottles instead of 4. In my mind I'm cussing up a storm, but I gave him a polite smile and explained the situation in a very calm manner. He was young and super sweet. So I told him that it's okay. I have a way to fix it without having to void the transaction. I asked if he was new and he said Yes. So I told him that its oka to make mistakes. We all have to learn when we start a new job. So I had him call over the manager. I explained things to the manager, then asked her if I could just pay for the 2nd transaction (3 bottles again) and then have her add $3 Courtesy points to fix things. I was supposed to earn $9 WC for the 6 bottles, but only earned $6, because of only having 3 bottles per transaction. She agreed, added my points and 20 bloody minutes later....lol. I left Wags with my $9 rewards. Phew. But wait, then I got stuck in traffic. All I could see was flashing lights up ahead and I knew that once I get to the first available exit, I would have to take a long detour home. I still don't know why the traffic was backed up, cause there was no accident, just cops. Road finally cleared after cops checkpoint. Sigh, Wags never fails to disappoint. But guess what. I wasn't a pita customer who ruined the cashier's day because of a mistake. Instead I reassured him that it's okay to make a mistake. I even thanked him when I left the store. 

I also made a pit stop at Ollies for raisins and books, but alas, no raisins. But shocker, the Cashews that was $8.99 before is now $11.99!!! Shame on you Ollie's. I know inflation is biting everyone in the behind, but adding $3 to an item that's been in stock for months, is a bit much! Now see, this is when my crazy shopping skills pay off. Back when I bought all the nuts, I didn't even know we would have war, inflation, high gas prices etc. I bought the nuts to make my own trail mix and even used a 15% off Q. Well, looky here. I didn't know the prices were going to increase by a whopping $3 per item. I'm just gonna go into my pantry and grab a new bag from the shelf. Easy peasy. 

Half the time I don't even know why I'm stocking up on select things like it's the end of the world. However, I've learned that my gut instincts ALWAYS pay off. So if I'm doing crazy shopping, just know that there will eventually be a good reason for it - even if I don't know the reason yet. I'm not psychic. I don't believe in that mumbo jumbo, but I do trust God and I know that my instincts is God pointing me in the right direction. 

Kroger has milk, Kraft cheese & Prego (my preferred brand) on sale, so I'm gonna head there before the sale ends on Tuesday. I do need milk and Prego. I was just looking at the Prego price at Walmart earlier this week and noticed that it's over $2. Good thing I didn't buy any. Kroger has it for $1.27, so I'm buying the limit of 5. 

I'm in a slump. I'm not motivated to do anything, much less blog. I've had quite a few setbacks/stumbling blocks over the last few weeks. I'm talking big things. All I want to do is go lay on the beach with some cocktails and not have a care in the world. I just want to go smell the salty ocean air and forget all my troubles. Sadly, the beach is not going to happen in the near future, so I'll settle for a few cocktails and a hug. Maybe some chocolate too. Okay, I'm a hard liquor girl. So let's just skip the cocktails nonsense and call it what it is. I'd like some good hard liquor on the rocks...lol. It's weekend after all...lol

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Wags Freebies & more

Hi everyone

I apologise for my lack of posts, but I currently have a lot on my plate. I just wanted to share this week's Wags freebies, so some of you can take advantage of the deals too. Prices are just shocking everywhere! I hit up a bunch of stores today and was shocked by how prices have increased since my last visit. I'm back in stocking up mode. At least, I think so. I'm a little on the fence about stocking up. We've used quite a bit of pantry items and I need to replenish select non perishables. I'm considering just paying for things now, before the prices increase yet again.  I'd rather spend the money now, than wait until I need the item and pay a fortune for it. I call it my 'long term savings'...lol. On the other hand, we're still in decent shape so I'm not sure if I should add anything or not. There's been chatter about shortages again and I will admit that I've seen shortages on select items at the grocery store. What to do.

On to Wags: 



Trans 1

3 x Oral b t/b $12.00

2 x Olay wipes 10.00

Less Oral b DQ (6.00)

Less Olay DQ (8.00)

Tax 1.32

OOP $9.32

Earned $9 ($4 Oral b, $5 WYS $20)


Trans 2

2 x Garnier shampoo $7.00

2 x Colgate t/p 5.98

2 x Colgate t/p 7.98

Less Garnier DQ (3.00)

Less Colgate DQ (3.00)

Less WC rewards (10.00)

Tax 1.26

OOP $6.22

Earned $11 ($4 Garnier, $3 Colgate, $4 Colgate) + $4 Colgate (see below). Total earned $15.

You already know things didn't work out as expected, right...lol. I'm not sure if the Oral b/Crest deal was pulled, but it's been reported that it prints 2 RRs ($4 & $5), which would make it a nice MM. I tried 2 different types of toothbrushes (one on each account, but only received $4 RR) I guess it's a dead deal by now.  It was worth a try though.

In the 2nd transaction, only one of my Colgate DQs deducted. I contacted CS when I got home and they added $4 WC to my account. 

Trans 3 (DH account)

3 x Oral b t/b $12.00

2 x Olay wipes 10.00

2 x Colgate t/p 5.98

Less Oral b DQ (6.00)

Less Olay DQ (8.00)

Less Colgate DQ (3.00)

Less WC (10.00)

Tax 1.68

OOP : $2.66

Earned $7 ($4 Oral b, $3 Colgate)


Trans 4 (DH account)

2 x Garnier $7.00

2 x Colgate t/p 7.98

Less Garnier DQ(3.00)

Less Colgate DQ (4.00)

Less WC (5.00)

Tax 0.90

OOP $3.88

Earned $8 ($4 Garnier, $4 Colgate)

DH didn't have any booster, so I switched things up to use some WC. He also didn't have much WC, so I could only use $5 on the 4th transaction. 

Colgate (2 different deals) & Garnier are all FREE after rewards this week. 

Olay wipes are $1.00 each after DQ (Q expires Saturday)

Oral b/Crest are $3/3 after rewards

I might get more Garnier & Colgate, because I have a Garnier paper Q and my Colgate DQ (the one that didn't deduct) is still available online. 

So how did I do overall?

Number of items purchased : 22

OOP : $22.08

Retail value : $105.78

Coupons used : $44.00 (all digitals)

Rewards used : $25.00

Rewards earned : $39.00


I count my rewards when I spend it (it just makes better sense), but if you look at the numbers you'll see that I earned an extra $14 rewards (spent $25, earned $39). That makes up for that $22 OOP. If you figure in the sales tax (I hate sales tax. Why can't we just switch to VAT?) of $5.16, you'll see that I basically paid $2.92 for 22 items. 

Wags gave me 2 new boosters $9 WYS $40, $10 WYS $50. I might be able to double dip if the deals & DQs are good next week. I have a bunch of RRs to combine with that deal (can't pay with WC), so I might be able to figure something out. Although only 2 of the RRs are Man Qs. This complicates things. 

In other news. Does anyone calculate unit cost? This is something I've always done and I'm so glad I did. We are out of soda and I've been keeping an eye out for a decent sale. I saw that Target has a soda sale this week, but their price was still too high for me. So I did what I do best - compared prices online. I'm so glad I did, because I saw that Meijer has 24pks for $7.49 this week. Hooray! I have a $1.25 mailer Q, which would make it $6.24 for me. When I got to Meijer, I noticed that the soda is part of the Spend 5 save $5 sale, so it was actually $6.49 for a 24 pk. I bought 2 cases. One cost me $5.24 after Q. That's the lowest price I've seen in a very long time, so it made sense to just buy 2. I also added some Kraft salad dressing to get me to 5 items, because guess who ran out of dressing - gasp! It's so weird for me to run out of things, because I usually keep track of things.  I always make sure that we have everything we need in stock. 

Then I went to Sams and saw that a 36ct soda is $12.49!!!! Holy cannoli! Who pays that price? I just paid $11.73 for 48 cans. Not everything is cheaper at the warehouse clubs. But people just grab things without blinking. 2 Weeks ago, they had 2 x 18ct eggs for $10.xx. I kid you not! I saw people just placing eggs into their carts, without being shocked by the price. This didn't make sense to me, because I was at Walmart prior to that and a dozen eggs was $2.22. Scratching my head at this weird math. I know that not everyone can crunch numbers or spot the difference in price, but pull out your smartphone and use that calculator to do the math. You'll be surprised to learn how much stores are ripping us off. Just think of how much money some people are throwing away by just paying those high prices. 


I also needed some gravy at Meijer. Heinz is my preferred brand and has been really hard to come by the past 2 years. So I decided to stock up a bit, cause I use it for meat pies. As I was grabbing the gravy, I noticed the Value size jars (18 oz) for $2.39. The regular 12 oz size, was $1.99. I needed no 2nd invitation to pick up the larger jars instead. I'm getting an extra 50% for just 40c more! It's not my preferred flavor, but I can work with it.  



The one thing I love, is that Sams produce lasts for a long time in the fridge - especially their strawberries and mushrooms. I stocked up on strawberries when Kroger had it on sale 2 weeks ago. Sad to say, they didn't all stay super fresh, so I've been cutting away the bad pieces and using the leftovers in smoothies. The Sams strawberries last more than 3 weeks in the fridge. I do line my produce drawers with paper towel, so that helps prolong the life of produce. I learned about wrapping select produce in p/t to prolong it's lifespan, but I didn't want to play the guessing game of what's wrapped in the towels, so I decided to just line the drawers with p/t instead and it works!  (I've been doing it for years)

The other thing I love about Sams produce is that most of it is prepackaged, so everybody and their mother don't get to touch the food. That works great for this germaphobe. I wash all food items before use, including meat. I'm extremely picky about what goes into my body. The Sams prices are also much lower that Costco. I learned that the hard way last week. I was at Costco for a few things and figured I'd skip Sams and just buy some salad fixings at Costco. Big mistake. Every single item was at least $1 more than Sams prices. 

Look at these tomatoes from Sams. They cost $4.xx for 3 lbs.  I normally pay that much for about 4 tomatoes at the grocery store. No thanks. Sams works for me for select items. I've been making fresh pico every week and it is so good! I knew that my Sams membership was expiring, but I didn't know that it was already expired, so today was a bit pricier than usual. The downside is, my Costco membership is expiring soon too. I'm not mad at Sams. Their membership is $15 less than Costco's and their prices are much lower. However, I can sometimes find good deals at Costco, that's not at Sams, like my D Donuts coffee I stocked up on at Costco last year. 

Aldi is another store that's not the cheapest. I saw 10 oz Down Unstopables for $7.49 at Aldi. I paid $15.49 for 37.5 oz at Sams. I've noticed that their Lacroix is expensive too. Yes, I comparison shop. Funny thing is that I used to hate it when my mother did that. Us kids hated going to shopping with her, because she'd drag us to different grocery stores (at the shopping mall) to get the lowest prices. But that's not the worst part. She'd stop and talk to half the people on the way (I mentioned before that I'm from a well known family, so we couldn't just ignore anyone out in public), while we were loaded down with grocery bags. I don't do that to my guys. I make my list, get in my car, then hit a bunch of stores. Easy peasy. Well, I have to say that my mother was a savvy shopper, despite the internet not existing back then. I learned a lot from her. 

So there you have it folks. Save wherever you can. I buy the bulk of our HBA at the drugstores, because it costs so much less. This allows us to spend a little more on food items. 


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Three Cheers for Wags!

 


You all know it's rare for things to go smoothly at Wags. I woke up feeling really rotten yesterday - sniffles, scratchy throat & fatigue. I just wanted to go crawl back into bed. I had $14 RRs expiring and thought to just let it expire. I took some Robitussen and started feeling better as the day progressed. Made my shopping list and headed to Wags. Here's what I got.

2 x Downy $4.50

2 x Tide Simply 4.50 (Tide/Downy are 4/$9 this week)

1 x Loreal age perfect 19.99

1 x Loreal Revitalift B1G50% off 2nd 8.99

2 x Colgate t/p 7.98

1 x Bic razor 6.29

Less Loreal DQ (8.00)

Less Colgate DQ (4.00)

Less Bic DQ (4.00)

Less RRs (14.00)

Less WC points (20.00)

Tax 3.14

OOP $5.39

Earned $10 WC ($6 WYS $22, $4 Colgate)

I keep forgetting to use that $1.60 Wags GC I received for a previous return. I should stick it in my wallet so I don't forget. I opened my last Loreal moisturiser about 2 weeks ago. I could've bought 2 age perfect, but it didn't have enough inventory when I added it to my cart online. The store had enough inventory when I was there (imagine that), but I wasn't going to mess with anything and NOT have the $8 DQ deduct. This is Wags after all...lol.  I was going to buy the Loreal online and do store pickup, because Rakuten has 15% cash back, but that was only an extra $1.xx savings in my pocket and it would mean I'd have to make another trip to Wags. They only have your items ready hours after you've placed order or sometimes things get cancelled. 

I didn't need any of the other items, but needed to use those RRs. I'll submit my receipt to Fetch & PG. 

Number of items purchased : 9

OOP : $5.39

Retail value : $81.81

Coupons used : $16.00

Rewards used : $34.00

Rewards earned : $10.00


I spent down a bunch of rewards, but that's what it's there for, right? It's so I don't have to spend a pile of my own money on my purchases. Is it just me or do those detergent bottles just keep shrinking in size? 31 oz!! WTH?!! And does anyone really pay $6.99 for it at the drugstores? What a rip off! I remember when the small detergent bottles were 50 oz. Then it decreased to 40 oz. What's next? They're gonna reduce it to those mini 9 oz (or is it 7 oz now?) Dawn bottle sizes? This is another reason why I'll keep playing the drugstore game. I'll use all their rewards to get what we need for a fraction of the cost. No way am I overpaying for convenience. 

I'm glad I opted to go shop. The weather's beautiful and I enjoyed getting outdoors after being sick & stuck in bed for so long. CVS sent me a $8/40 Q, but I didn't feel like working out a deal. I'll see if they send me another one next week. 

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, May 9, 2022

Meal Plan Monday

Hi everyone

I'm still sick. I'm actually feeling a lot better than before (I'm eating again and have very little cold/flu symptoms), but I have lots of fatigue, which makes me think I might have Covid... again. Sigh. I'm functioning and tried hard to not take a nap today, but was completely worn out by 12:30. The last time I had covid, I had fatigue for 3 weeks. I sure hope it's not the case this time. I'm over this crap now. I hate being sick! I just want to feel better now & get on with my life. 

Yesterday, I had DH drive me to Meijer for some berries & oranges. I especially went there for blueberries that's on sale this week, but there wasn't even shelf space for blueberries. WTH Meijer?! Then got carry out at Red Robin and back to bed. I did manage to do some cooking yesterday though. I baked bran apple muffins, roasted brussel sprouts, zucchini, colored peppers & potatoes in the oven. I went to the produce market & Sams on Friday and was completely wiped out before leaving the Sams parking lot. Yikes on grocery prices! I spent a little over $200 between the 2 stores. The market prices were crazy, so I opted to buy a few produce items at Sams and Meijer. I had $45 gcs for Sams, but when I checked out, the IGC gc wouldn't scan. Register kept telling me 'item can't be found'. Ugh. I'll try the gc ($25) at Walmart next time. I don't need anything until maybe next week. Big maybe, cause I loaded up on produce. So here's what we're eating this week.

Monday : Steak, onions, peppers, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted veggies

Tuesday : Baked chicken tenders, potato salad, carrot/pineapple salad, brussel sprouts

Wednesday : Same as Monday

Thursday : Same as Tuesday

Friday : Hamburgers or chicken burgers, potato salad, baked beans

Saturday/Sunday : Dinner out or carry out - depends on how I feel

I also want to make some pico de gallo. We have lots of tortilla chips and I have a pico snack I like to make. I also have lots of pasta that needs to be used, so I'm thinking pesto pasta salad with chicken. Sams didn't have any non GMO chicken breasts, so I picked up the tenders. When I wanted to marinade the tenders last night, I couldn't find the BBQ sauce. I was pretty sure I still had BBQ sauce. This was after I had been to Meijer. Ugh. If I can't find BBQ sauce later, then I'm just gonna use BWW sauce (I have lots of that) and call it a day. 

I'm gonna attempt to do some ironing later. I have 2 baskets piled high Thankfully, I'm caught up on laundry and have everything folded & packed away. I even washed all the bedding. I've done zero work though. I need to get my act together tomorrow. 

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Fajita chicken recipe

Kay, please accept my sincerest apologies. I'm still sick. I've been in bed since Sunday and am still very sick. I know I don't have Covid. Feels like a bad case of the flu, but I'm beginning to think I have bronchitis. At this point I don't even know and I don't have the energy to go see a Dr. All I know is that it's rough. It's been years since I've been this sick. Mask mandates have been lifted, so DS comes home from school with the sniffles & I end up as sick as can be. Yep, been there before. I just sleep most of the day, then toss & turn half the night because my body hurts all over. I'm not eating either. I can't stomach food. I'm living on Canada Dry & DS's drinking yogurt. I've lost 5 lbs in 4 days. Not good for someone my size. I make a pot of coffee every morning, can't wait to have a cup once I smell the coffee brewing, then 5 minutes later, I don't want to have anything to do with it. Nope, I'm not pregnant either. Zero chance of that. The house needs a good clean. Everything's piled up and it's driving me crazy, but I just don't have the energy to do anything. I've even run out of clean pjs. Oy vey, this coming from the laundry nut (yes, I love doing laundry. I like everything clean & fresh. I hate ironing though).  I shower twice a day and grab a fresh sleep shirt every time. Well, I ran out of sleep shirts, because I was waiting on a full load before washing all our pjs. Thankfully I still have 2 piece sets from over a decade ago (don't know why I'm holding on to it, but it sure came in handy). So I just grabbed the tops to sleep in (TMI). I don't like the restrictions of sleeping with a long pants. I did wash the pjs today, so I can sleep comfortably again. I've only been online to print shipping labels for orders. Pack mail, leave it for my mail carrier & head right back to bed. 

Meal planning's gone out the window. DS is happy to have Red Robin tonight. We need fresh produce, so I need to make a Sams & market run. I had DH pick up bag salad, carrots and bananas at Aldi. Then I didn't have the energy to cook the carrots, so that was a moot point. The salad came in handy though.

Kay, I really can't remember the link to my fajita recipe. My friend posted it on facebook years ago and I never bothered to print it, so I'm just going to type what I have in my head. You can amend the spice ratio to suit your taste (that's what I usually do, since we love the heat).


Chicken breasts (I'd say about 2 lbs)

2 tbs Paprika

2 tbs Cumin

1 tbs Chilli powder

2 tsp Coriander powder

Salt  to taste

Sliced colored peppers

Sliced onions

Fresh garlic

Fresh lime 

Fresh cilantro

Olive oil


Mix all spices together. Coat chicken with fresh garlic and 3/4 spice mix. Place chicken on a baking sheet and add peppers and onions around the perimeter of sheet. Sprinkle leftover seasoning over onions/peppers too. Drizzle olive oil over chicken and veggies and bake at 400 degrees for about 30-35 minutes (cook times may vary depending on your oven and thickness of chicken). Once chicken is completely baked, remove from oven and squeeze fresh lime juice over everything and top with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with tortillas and sides of choice.

You can also cut your chicken breasts into strips before baking and adjust the cook time to about 20-25 minutes.

I've started making my chicken in the instant pot. Add chicken (you can use frozen chicken too. no need to thaw), cover with seasoning and pressure cook for 20 minutes. Then add onions, peppers, garlic and more seasoning and cook for another 15 minutes. This way the veggies don't get cooked to a pulp. The meat is so tender, you just have to use a fork to lightly shred it.  Then top with fresh lime juice & cilantro. I prefer the instant pot ones, because it's so easy to use for all kinds of mexican dishes, especially quesadillas. 

I'm off to bed again. I'll respond to comments once I feel better. 

Happy Cinco de Mayo. Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Let's go Krogering!

 ... and Costo & Wags...lol. Just a quick post, cause I'm sick. I realised that it's been a while since I've shared shopping deals. Just before bed last night, I started coughing uncontrollably and my nose was itching. I told DH that something was triggering my allergies. I woke up feeling really rough today and I'm so hoarse, my voice is gone half the time. DS & I ran an errand and I could hardly keep my eyes open while we were out. Went to bed when we got back & slept for 4 hours!! The only time I sleep like that during the day, is when I have the flu. I don't want to be sick. I just took a flu & allergy pill and hope it's just my allergies acting up. I just want to sleep and feel better by tomorrow.

On to the deals. I had some Wags RRs that were expiring, so here's what I did.

Trans 1

1 x Shick razors $5.99

1 x Colgate t/p 2.99

3 x Oral b t/b 9.00

Less Skintimate DQ (4.00)

Less Oral B DQ (3.00)

Less Oral B DQ (2.00)

Less RR (5.00)

Less WC rewards (5.00)

Tax 1.08

OOP $0.06

Earned $5 RR Oral B and $6 Ibotta. 

What the heck? Where's my Colgate rewards? I'll check when I get to car. 


Trans 2

1 x Shick razors $5.99

2 x Colgate t/p 5.98

3 x Oral b t/b 9.00

Less Skintimate DQ (4.00)

Less Colgate (2.00)

Less RR (5.00)

Less WC rewards (10.00)

Tax 1.26

OOP $1.23

Earned $9 RR ($5 Oral B and $4 Colgate)

I had the exact same items for both transactions. As I unpacked the rest of the basket for the 2nd transaction, I realised that I had 3 Colgate t/p instead of 2. Ugh, this is why I didn't get the Colgate reward in the first transaction. This was totally MY mistake. I can't fault Wags for this.

BUT...my $6/3 Oral Care DQ didn't deduct in the 2nd transaction. Thankfully I paid with WC, so I just contacted CS when I got home and they added $6 WC to my account. Easy peasy. 

The Oral B was a nice MM, but sadly never reset on Ibotta. I still need to submit my receipts to PG. 

Number of items purchased : 11

OOP : $1.32

Retail value : $50.19

Coupons used : $15.00

Rewards used : $25.00

Rewards earned : $20.00

Ibotta earnings : $9.00

So this was basically a MM trip if you figure in rewards. Spent $25, earned $29. Even if the OOP is included, it's still a MM. 



Kroger

5 x Half gallon milk $6.35

5 x 4pk Oikos 19.95

5 x Mission tortilla chips 7.35

2 x Red Gold tomatoes BOGOF 1.00

1 x Oikos single cup 1.00

1 x OM hot dogs 4.29

18 ct Eggs 2.98

Less OM freebie mailer Q (4.29)

Less Eggs mailed Q (0.40)

OOP $38.23

Earned $7.25 Ibotta ($5 Oikos, $1.25 Oikos single $1 Red Gold) and some bonus on Fetch (I can't remember)

Grrr, Kroger's been getting on my last nerve lately. I had a $1 Oikos DQ (works 5 times). When I checked my receipt, I noticed that the DQ didn't deduct. When I got home and checked my account, I saw the DQ was still available. Did Live chat and they said the DQ's not valid on the blended Oikos. Huh? There's a BIG pic of the blended yogurt on the Q, but when I proceeded to read the wording, it did not include the Blended. I will admit that I didn't read the details before going shopping, but the pic is misleading. I'm not too upset about the yogurt, because I prefer Dannon & Sams is OOS half the time. Kroger keeps sending me a hot dog Freebie. We rarely eat hot dogs. Dear Kroger, please send me a free dozen eggs or milk Q again...lol.



I also stopped at Costco for some Lacroix. My store had it for $6.89, compared to $5.99 in other parts of the country. Still a decent deal (slightly higher than the Kroger sale price though). Of course, I had to browse. I found some really good chicken patties and corn salad. The corn salad was good, but I make a better salad. I loved the flame grilled taste, but it still needed a little something sweet (not sugar) like more red peppers. I wasn't crazy about the price, but sometimes it just pays to buy a prepared product instead of spending time making it. 

I was very, very happy to find a little taste of home - Gouda cheese (please excuse the pic. I wasn't wearing  my glasses, so everything was blurry when I looked at the camera).  Gouda is to me what Cheddar is to Americans. The last time I bought Gouda was at Aldi & I did not like it, so I'm excited to try this one that's straight out of Holland aka Netherlands. This is how I remember our cheese looking back in SA. We didn't have grated cheese in stores. You bought it with the red rind like in this pic. I haven't tried it yet, but I know it will be good. This is a 2lb block of cheese, so please don't be alarmed by the price. 

So that was my week. I didn't need a single thing at the stores, but who can resist a good sale - especially since grocery sales are non-existent here lately. I mainly went to Kroger for the sale milk. I was actually running low on milk & eggs and was hoping for a sale. I bought some eggs at Kroger, because their large eggs are the size of Jumbo eggs, so I'm getting my money's worth, not to mention extra protein. 

I'm off to bed and waiting on the flu pill to kick in. 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Menu plan Monday

Well my menu plan got rearranged once again. DH went to dinner with a friend on Friday and brought back a large amount of mexican food. This just after DS & I had already eaten (I had leftovers & DH never mentioned that he was gonna bring back any food). So we have way too much food. There's leftovers & leftovers & more leftovers. The freezer is full. I can't add anything else to it. We ate mexican all weekend. We'll be eating & cooking from the freezer & pantry before I buy anything else. So here's what we're doing this week. 

Monday : Ground beef curry & rice, veggies & beetroot salad

Tuesday : Sweet & sour chicken stir fry & rice

Wednesday : Leftover curry etc

Thursday : Leftover stir fry

Friday : Sams pizza from the freezer or chicken wraps with leftover chicken from Easter.

The caprese chicken has once again moved to the back burner. I don't want to cook any more food, until we've eaten most of the leftovers. I might just make a caprese salad sometime this week. I only need to cook stir fry tomorrow. I prefer making it fresh.

I also made banana oatmeal muffins for breakfast & our mushroom mix. So we can have cereal, omelets, breakfast burritos or muffins for breakfast. Everything's ready to heat & eat, except for omelets. I like to make that fresh. 

I got a $2 box of apples at the produce market last week, so we made apple juice and applesauce. 

I don't need anything at the grocery store this week. I did read that Costco has Lacroix on sale, so I might head to the store for some. I've replaced my soda with Lacroix & have to admit that I don't even miss my diet Coke. 

Have a wonderful week everyone. Those who are currently experiencing inclement weather, stay safe & warm.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

March monthly check in - Finally!

Budget?! What budget? To be honest, I don't even know what our budget's supposed to be anymore.  Lackluster sales & constant price increases mean we don't even have a budget anymore. Okay, that's a lie. I'm still hoping to average $400 p/m. March was a really expensive month, other than groceries too, but I'm thankful that we could just pay cash for those needs. On to the numbers. Brace yourselves!

Groceries/HBA/Cleaning

Produce market : $137.62 (I went to the market twice)

Aldi : $13.71

Kroger : $4.35 (5 half gallons milk)

Sams : $448.40

Walmart : $189.14

Walgreens : $12.71

CVS : $0 (Paid with gc)

Total OOP : $805.93 


Earnings 

$3.20 Ibotta 

Total earnings : $3.20


My earned drugstore rewards are not included in this amount.I count them when I spend it. 

WAGs is the winner this month! Five transactions for $12.71 OOP. You know things are bad when WAGS is the best working store...just saying. 

I stocked up on quite a few things at Sams (snacks & drinks for DS) and more canned goods at Walmart. I can't keep up with prices anymore, so I've been trying to stock up on select items before the price increases again. I hate sounding like a broken record, but it seems prices are higher with every new shopping trip. 

Thankfully the April numbers are much better (although not low enough for me). The good news is that I'm done grocery shopping for the month. We might just need more bananas next week and I'll probably spend a few pennies at WAGS. 

I just have to share. When I was waiting in line (self checkout) at Kroger (this store only has the self checkout section open on one side of the store, so the line was long and went right down the aisle), a man rounds the corner of the aisle with his cart and knocks over a bunch of reusable bags that was on display. Some of the bags got entangled with his feet and he angrily just kicked it back and went on his merry old way. So I walked over to the bags, picked it up and hung it back on the display. I placed the ones that didn't fit, on top of the display. When I went back to my cart, the woman in line behind me thanked me for doing that. It turns out there was a store employee in line behind me. I told her that I hate when people drop or knock things over and not pick it up again, because someone has to come and pick up after them. She said 'yes, people like you'. I said, no, I'm referring to store employees. Employees are people too and deserve the same respect we give everyone else. She just kept thanking me and then complimented my boots...lol. I was fuming at this man, because it's just rude to act like that. Just do the right thing. I always pick things up in the stores, even if I didn't drop the items. It's just the right thing to do. If it was a family member of ours working at the store, would we want people to be so disrespectful towards them? Of course not. The other thing is that there was a long line of people, but nobody bothered to pick up the bags. I wasn't closest to it, but I just needed to do the right thing. Treat people the way you expect to be treated. That's always been my motto.


MONEY EARNED (SIDE HUSTLE)


GCs Earned $35 ($25 Mypoints, $10 Swagbucks)

Personal items (things we've had listed for the past 2 years) : $141.45

2022 Closet cleanout : $25.56

GC earnings (* see more below) : 72.96

4K Challenge: $23.53

Total earnings : $298.50


Our earnings were fairly decent last month, considering the fact that I haven't listed anything new again.

I only purchased a new dress ($10.05) for myself and that 20c Eddie Bauer t-shirt (The JCP items are April purchases). Go me! 

* Anyone remember that I mentioned I'm purchasing discounted gcs and have a plan for all the other earned gcs too? The plan is to buy clearance items with those gcs and turning it into extra cash for Christmas. This way I have more money to spend at Christmas (vs just the earned amount on the gc) and cash gives me more store options to shop at. I haven't done much shopping yet, because sales are still lackluster. I've also cashed in some of my coins at Coinstar and redeemed for a gc. Then purchased some items to resell. Easy peasy. So that's where the $72.96 comes from. 

Point earning sites are bad too. Mypoints & Swagbucks (same company) now expect you to babysit those Encraves (my favorite way to earn, because they used to autorun). I really don't have time to waste to just earn 50c a day. So I'm doing the bare minimum. There goes those Best laid plans again. I need to fall back & regroup. I can do this!...lol


YTD Earnings :

GCs (point earning sites) : $105

Ibotta : $52.72

Personal items : $429.38

2021 Closet cleanout : $140.44

GC earnings : $72.96

4K Drugstore challenge : $83.17

Rakuten : $17.68

Total Earnings (excl Ibotta) : $848.63


EXPENSES (Clothing/shoes/accessories, Christmas gifts)

OOP : $10.25

Christmas gifts : $0

Total OOP $10.25


Total Christmas gc cash saved : $390.00 (this will be used to buy holiday gc gifts and Target gcs)  I didn't even check on this last month, because of those personal expenses. 


YTD OOP (clothing/shoes/accessories, Christmas gifts, discounted gift cards) : $425.82

YTD Christmas OOP : 3.18 (I'm making a note of this to track how much I'm spending on Christmas)

YTD side hustle income (personal, closet cleanout, drugstore, GC) : $725.95

YTD GC bonus/savings earned  : $26.00 (again, just keeping track)

YTD Clothing/Christmas Balance (side hustle income minus OOP) : $300.13


Whoo! We're still in the black for clothing & Christmas expenses. I'm one happy mama. So I'm checking, double checking & cross checking my numbers before clicking Submit Post and I discovered that I'm off by a penny - yes 1c! I cross checked all the numbers again to find that mistake. I'm such a geek...lol, but it would drive me crazy if I didn't find it. When I worked as an accountant, the books balanced 99% of the time, because there's no room for error with me. Can you tell I'm a bit of a perfectionist? Or maybe OCD? 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

This week's menu plan

I'm off my game this week. The holiday threw me off completely. I actually thought that today was Thursday too. I knew that we'd be out for Easter, so I decided to cook & bake on Saturday. I had this grand plan to make a chicken roll & chicken caprese, but we all know about those best laid plans. I got the chicken cooked for the roll, diced the butternut and discovered it was no good. Ugh, I can't make chicken roll without butternut and I didn't have any more left. So I decided to just keep the cooked chicken in the fridge until I could buy another butternut. I then decided not the make the caprese chicken either. I just wasn't feeling it. I did make pumpkin muffins though. So here's what happened this week: 

Monday : Easter leftovers - I just added some veggies

Tuesday : I made a big pot of fajita chicken (can't believe we were out), refried beans & pico and we made nachos with it. Easy peasy. I also made gingerbread waffles last night

Wednesday : Finally made it to the produce market, so chicken roll and leftover veggies. 

Thursday : Leftovers buffet. 

Friday : Italian sausage with onions & peppers on a roll/bun, potato salad, baked beans OR I might just eat more leftovers (there's plenty) and DS can have a burger & fries. 

Saturday/Sunday : Dine out 

The falafel was a huge hit. We still have some left over. The downside. I normally buy the pita pockets at Meijer, but since I was already at Sams last week, I decided to just buy pita there. Big mistake. When I tried to use the pita a few days later, it was all moldy. I was so upset. Thankfully, I always keep tortillas, so I just make falafel wraps. 

We have lots of food to eat, so it's an eating down the freezer & leftovers kinda week for me. I have a good menu plan for next week and already have all the ingredients. I'll move the caprese to next week. 

I'm in a slump. I have lots of blog posts written in my head...lol. but just not in the mood to type. I still need to type my numbers post. I have the numbers all ready, but I just can't bring myself to get it done. I don't know why. I think I need a 'pick me up'. Maybe some chocolate too...lol. 

Have a great evening everyone!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

What can you buy with a $20 bill?

Hi everyone

All of us are feeling the pinch from inflation. The price of everything just keeps increasing. Today I want to share how I shop. I'm doing this, because there might be new readers who might not understand my 'craziness' cough 'method to my madness'...lol or maybe some who would like to learn a new way to save. Yes, I'm calling it SAVE, because it DOES save us money long term. 

I rarely shop at JCP, but they used to do an awesome B1G1F clearance sale before the pandemic. When I learned of this sale a few weeks ago, I decided to make a pit stop there. I sure was glad that I did, cause look what I found. The items all rang up at an extra 50% off, so the discount was applied evenly no matter what the clearance price was (I like this, because some stores will just give you the discount on the lowest price items only).



A pair of Levi's jeans for myself. As you can see, the jeans was already 75% off. Yes, they retail for $70, but there is no way I would ever pay that much for it. My 'work uniform' consists of jeans, shorts, t-shirts & sweatshirts. This pair of jeans cost me a whopping $8.68. I don't care if this is an old/last season's style. I know how to spice things up, so I can still look trendy.


Then I found this bootie slippers. I only wear bootie slippers during winter. My ankles are always exposed & cold, because I wear sleep shirts (not 2 piece pants & tops sleep sets), so the booties keep my ankles warm. $5.25 for these babies. Score!


2 Casual shirts for DS. You just can't beat this price. So these 2 shirts are 2 different sizes. However, when I placed them on top of each other, I saw that they were the exact same size. This is nuts, but I understand why this happened. It was probably manufactured by 2 different companies. 

So here's the numbers:

OOP : $21.12 + 6% tax =  $22.39

Retail value : $208

That's an almost 90% savings (excl tax)!! So it's a $20 bill & change (work with me here...lol). Every single item has gone into the spare closet. As mentioned before, I decluttered a lot of things that are too small from DS's closet, so I'm having to replace certain items. I've always shopped this way, because it's saved us thousands of $$$ over the years. If you wait until you need something and then run to the store for it, you're gonna find yourself paying a lot more than this. 

Kohls sent me a 40% coupon today. I still have those discounted gcs I bought in January. I looked for a replacement spare winter jacket for myself, because the darn zippers keep breaking on the new coats (I've got to try that Youtube trick of fixing it). Kohls had zero coats in the brand that we wear. Same with snow pants for DS. In fact, there are only 2 different snow pants and they both cost over $100! No way. No how. I know that lots of things are still scarce, so stocking up (not just groceries) when you find a good deal, is the way to go. Maybe you need some crafting supplies, household items etc, Look for the sale. I'm talking about the Rock Bottom Price sale. 50-60% off means absolutely nothing to me. I want those 80% + sales. 

Did I ever mention that I keep a spare iron? Same with my coffeemaker carafe. In fact, I went downstairs earlier today to see if I still have a spare carafe (figured I'd get one with my 40% off Q), because I have the worst luck with these things. I always end up breaking them. I love my coffeemaker, so I make sure to keep a spare carafe in case one breaks. It's come in real handy before. So that's how I roll folks. $200 worth of goods for $22. I call that a good day!...lol

Wishing everyone a Blessed Easter. Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Monday, April 11, 2022

Menu plan Monday

Blue Monday! That's what today is. I hate things going wrong on a Monday. The only consolation is that I cooked all our meals for the week yesterday. One less thing to deal with. I was awake before the chickens yesterday, but didn't want to get up. I eventually dragged myself out of bed at 7, showered, had coffee and decided to start on the cooking. By the time the guys got up, I was already halfway done with cooking. It must be nice to wake up to freshly baked muffins :) Here's our menu for this week.

Monday : Lasagna stuffed peppers, big side salad

Tuesday : Pesto chicken casserole, baked potatoes and some veggies 

Wednesday : Sweet & sour chicken stir fry

Thursday : Leftover buffet

Friday : Homemade falafel in pita with tzatziki sauce & all the trimmings

Saturday/Sunday : Dinner out 

I only cooked the peppers & pesto chicken yesterday.  I like to make the stir fry fresh. Same with the falafel. Besides, falafel is quick & easy to prepare. 

I shredded some of the leftover roast beef, added refried beans, salsa & cheese and made burritos out of that. We might have that (with fresh pico & mexican rice) for dinner on Wednesday. We shall see how I feel. Otherwise I'll freeze the burritos and we can just grab some for lunch from time to time. 

I also made bran apple muffins for breakfast and sautéed our mushroom/onion/pepper mix for omelets. We still have leftover pancakes & waffles. So there's more than enough breakfast foods. 

I stopped by the Indian store yesterday to pick up cinnamon & cardamom. Good grief, cardamom pods were $15 for 50g (I think 3.5 oz). Holy cow! This is outrageous. I grew up with this stuff. It's such a common item to me, because we use it in a lot of Indian and middle eastern dishes, so I'm shocked by the ridiculous price. A few years ago, I found ground cardamom for $2.99 at Ollies (I'm still using it). This was before everyone jumped on the cardamom bandwagon, so it now costs an arm & a leg. I didn't buy any. 

I also stopped at Trader Joe's for samosas and ravioli (DH was waiting in the car, so I didn't have much time to browse).  I love me some Trader Joe's. I went there especially for samosas, cause Aldi never restocked. There's always something good to find at TJs. I sure wish it was closer to me, then I'd be there every day...lol. They didn't have the Ezekiel raisin bread though. I'm bummed, because they charge $5 compared to the grocery store's $7.xx. 

Linda mentioned egg prices (I always think of her when I buy sale eggs). I've been cherry picking the weekly specials at Kroger. Last week it was $1.77 russet potatoes (5 lbs). This week, the 18 ct eggs are $1.49. The sale price went from 99c to $1.19 and now $1.49. I bought the maximum 5 cartons, because Sams now charges almost twice as much for the same thing. I paid $2.98 for 2 x 18ct cartons at Kroger, that now costs $5.xx at Sams. Crazy! I'm hoping for a milk sale later this week (their sale starts on Wednesday), because I'm running low. 

Have a wonderful evening everyone!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Simple Life

I've seen many posts about people panicking about the rising grocery prices & gas prices. While I don't like all the price increases, I am choosing to not panic or deprive ourselves. I completely understand why many are upset about all the increases and cutting corners in several different ways. My reason for not panicking - I grew up in a different country and lived a far simpler life than most Americans. I'm sure there are many older Americans (or in other parts of the world) who will understand and who have also grown up with similar ways - way back when life was simpler (I do miss those days). I've also taken a step back and analyzed everything to see if I needed to cut corners or not. I've decided not to. We can still live & especially eat very well on the same budget. Price increases be damned. There's a reason why I was known as the shopping queen in my national couponing group years ago. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I know how to squeeze the heck out of a dollar. I'm no cheapskate. I don't like cheapskates. I like to live well - I just do it on a smaller budget that most (hence the name of my blog). I'm not gonna lie - it takes work, but when you do it long enough, it becomes a lifestyle. 

Let's look at the gas prices for instances. I cringed when I saw that it costs me almost twice as much as it used to, to fill my tank. However, I cannot understand those folks who sit in those long lines at Sams, because the gas is cheaper. I've never seen such long lines at my local Sams before. It looked like something out of a movie, when high gas prices hit. However, my analytical mind did the math. Let's say gas costs around $3.89-3.99/gal at Sams. The gas is currently $4.09 (was $4.19 before) at my local gas stations (there's 3 right on my doorstep). My car only holds around 10 gallons. Why would I drive to Sams (about a 3 mile drive), sit in a line for about 20-30 minutes, just to save $2-3?! In what alternative reality does this even begin to make sense? My time is far more valuable than that. Please don't get me wrong. I'm all about saving! However, I'm not just going to do silly things like that, just to save a small amount. Besides, I would have to waste gas to drive 6 miles to & from Sams too. So how am I really saving?

Then with grocery shopping. You all see my numbers every month. The budget includes groceries, HBA & cleaning items.  We eat VERY WELL on that budget! I don't care much for processed food. All our meals are cooked from scratch. I buy organic chicken and many organic produce items. I stick to better quality dairy and other items (many name brand). How do I offset all that high costs? I buy several store brand items, eg canned veggies, cereal (we've never cared for the junk sugary cereal. we eat wheat brand or Fiber One), pancake mix. Many of the Walmart store brand items actually taste better than name brand products. I know my prices and keep an eye out for good stock up sales. We mainly eat fresh produce, so the canned goods are for those times when there's slim pickings at the produce market or like during lockdown, when we couldn't venture out everywhere. 

I still play the drugstore game. I will say that the drugstores have saved us thousands of $$$ over the years. We get to try all kinds of brands for a fraction of the cost. While many drugstore trips can be super frustrating (WAGS especially, is not for the faint hearted), it's totally worth it. I also tend to pick up cleaning products with drugstore rewards. 

You all know that I sell most of our old clothes to offset the cost of new clothes and help pay for Christmas. The point earning sites paid for a new laptop for DS last Christmas.

If I want the high end makeup at the department stores, I wait for a good sale, especially those free gifts ones. Many times, the free gift contains items I want or need. So I buy the makeup item I want, take some of the free gift items I need and sell the rest. That pays me back for the item I originally wanted. On the other hand, I'll pay $100+ for a bottle of perfume (I do splurge on certain items).

I do lots of different things so we can still enjoy all kinds of things we like. It's all a game to me. I'm a numbers girl. I'm always running numbers in my head - it's 2nd nature (or maybe I'm just a geek...lol). I enjoy seeing how little I can spend on the things that I want. Why spend an arm and a leg? The majority of items are way overpriced. I know this, because I've been taught all about store markups by my father. Now, we can afford to just pay full price for things (as I'm sure many of you are too) and just call it  a day. But why allow retailers to get wealthier from our hard earned money? 

So, I've decided to still continue shopping for the things we enjoy. I will admit that I cut out a lot of things when the pandemic started. Then I thought 'why am I depriving ourselves?'. If the items are in stock & the price is good, I'm buying it. As long as I stay within budget, it's all good. 

As some of you know, I grew up during the Apartheid era. Our country had many sanctions, so most things were manufactured locally. Like many European countries, we lived far simpler lives - some due to Apartheid and others, because it's just a way of life for us. Please remember that we didn't have all the privileges that white South Africans did (this is not about race, just an explanation. DH is white, so there's definitely no racism involved with me). So here's a bit more about my family life.

  • We never ever had food waste. We were a family of 7, so there were lots of mouths to feed. However, we ate well. Our meals were cooked from scratch. Any leftover food (some of us kids didn't always eat everything on our plates - me raising my hand...lol). Well, that leftover food went to our dogs. Growing up, we always had dogs. No, we didn't feed our dogs anything they shouldn't eat. We ate meat, lots of vegetables and rice, so that's what our dogs got too. Our dogs were fed dried dog food too, but people rarely bought the processed canned wet dog food. 
  • Our laundry were always line dried.  My oldest brother bought a dryer after getting married, but they only use it during winter. There's no way people are gonna pay high electricity bills just to run the dryer. Our temps aren't as extreme as it is here, so if it doesn't rain, you can still line dry your laundry. We had a covered backyard (mainly for family get togethers come rain or shine), so we could hang laundry year round. 
  • To this day, dishwashers are very rare in SA households, for the same reason as dryers. Nobody's gonna pay a high electricity or water bill just to run the dishwasher. Dishes are still washed by hand. 
  • I had to shake my head when people started brown bagging their lunches when the recession hit. This is something that we've always done. However, we never had brown bag lunches (that's too wasteful and costs money too). We all had lunch boxes. Our lunches were packed in those. Sometimes your sandwich was first wrapped in wax paper (to keep your sandwich intact) and then placed into your lunch box. No lunch bags involved. You'd just stick your lunch box into your backpack for school or purse for work. 
  • Paper towels were considered a wasteful luxury item. We did have it in stores and my mother occasionally bought a roll or 2 (we even had a paper towel holder), but it was rarely used. I still don't use much paper towel.
  • Tea time was on Sunday afternoons. That's when we ate cake & other sweets. We ate chips and salty snacks during the week, but cake & biscuits (cookies) were reserved for Sunday afternoons. It felt like a real treat. My grandmothers always baked cakes for Sundays too. I just remember those rich chocolate cakes my maternal grandmother used to bake. She made a really good fruit cake too, filled with booze (my grandmother never drank though. I wonder if she bought booze especially for the cake of just asked one of my uncles for a bottle...lol)
  • We wore school uniforms. All public & private schools had uniforms, so you didn't have to spend a fortune buying clothes for your children to keep up with their peers at school every day. I remember polishing my school shoes to a high shine every Sunday night. For many years us girls wore mary jane school shoes. They were genuine leather shoes.  I hated those shoes. They just weren't cute. We had a different style in high school though. 
  • My family never owned a car, but we were out all the time. Public transportation is still very common for most people. Those few people who could afford to own a vehicle, would still take public transportation to work, because it was cheaper than driving your car. There's no such thing as a leased vehicle in South Africa. You have to purchase a vehicle. Back then, those who bought cars, bought used vehicles because it was affordable. 
  • We walked almost everywhere else. To the local grocery store, to church, to the local sports field, to the movie theater, the mall etc. We even walked to the stores during our lunch break. Yes, I power walked in 4" heels. Our offices were always in the CBD (central business district) and there were always shopping malls and grocery stores within a stone's throw. So we'd power walk to the store & back (we only got half hour lunch). No wonder we never gained weight...lol. We were getting regular exercise without even realising it. 
  • I never owned a vehicle in SA. It's not that I couldn't afford one. I could well afford to save up and buy a brand new vehicle (I made good money). However, I chose to take care of my family (a family of 6) financially, instead of buying a car. I don't think I could ever have lived with myself, driving my new car while my parents couldn't afford to eat or pay their utilities. My family depended on me, so that's what I did. 
  • Despite taking public transportation to work, I was always the first person at the office. I could've taken a later bus or train, but I chose to always be at work early. I don't like waltzing into the office at start time & then being bombarded with work and phone calls. I like to grab my coffee, check email (boy that sounds outdated now...lol) and plan my day. Sometimes I'd just start work early. I wasn't getting paid extra, but I like to get things done.
  • We had no fast food places in SA when I was a child. The only thing we had were fisheries (The British will know what this is). It's a fish & chips (fries) shop. This was our version of fast food. Friday nights, my family ate steak with onions & gravy, baked potatoes & baked beans or homemade hamburgers. Boy, I sure didn't know how good we had it then. I mean, who eats steak every Friday? Granted, it was tenderized steak, but not everyone was able to afford it back then. There I was hoping that we'd get a fast food place, while not realizing how well we actually ate. We eventually got KFC, but that was a luxury food to eat. When I was in college, Burger King came to SA, but didn't last long. We did have a own burger places (Spur & Steers) by then. I have to admit that they are way better than the burger places here, especially Spur. I always have to visit it several times whenever I'm in SA. 
That's just a few of many ways we lived a simpler life. The biggest take away from my childhood, is that we were always happy. We didn't have fancy things or lived an upscale life. We had a roof over our heads, food on our table, good clothes to wear (we got lots of perks in the fashion department, due to my parents' jobs), but most importantly, we had love & each other. So yeah, we were more blessed than most. We weren't poor, nor were we rich, but we were happy. 

So this is why I've decided to not stress over things or deprive ourselves. I believe in having balance in our lives. We can't just save, save, save so much while depriving ourselves and possibly end up being miserable. In the same way, we shouldn't just spend, spend, spend so much, that we don't know how we're going to make ends meet. Life is short, so enjoy it. I'm not here to tell anyone how to live their lives or spend their money. I'm just going to try to enjoy our lives in a balanced way. I might have gotten a little off track here, but I hope this made some sense (I'm really not good at putting words to paper. Give me numbers instead). I know that there's a lot of misconception about me (not just online, but in my personal life too), because I give people very, very little insight into my life. I'm still an extremely private person for several different reasons, but mainly due to growing up in the public eye. I might or might not share. I only open up to those I consider really close to me. All I can say is that here's a helluva lot more to me than meets the eye, but deep down, I'm just a simple girl who enjoys simple things. Don't be fooled by all that shopping & spending I do. Always remember, there's method to my madness ;)

Monday, April 4, 2022

What's for dinner?

I'm so far behind today, because I slept too late. I was awake at 3:30 yesterday and just couldn't get back to sleep, no matter how hard I tried. I eventually got up at 7. Then I went to bed at 11 last night and slept until 8:30! Yikes! I hate sleeping late during the week, because it throws me off completely. I'm an early bird and like sticking to my schedule. So I had to rush to shower and get mail packed. Ugh, I didn't even get all the mail out before my carrier arrived. I rarely ship things late. It's raining all day, so I'm not even gonna bother to make a trip to the post office. DS is off this week, so I didn't set my alarm. I've got to set the alarm for tomorrow morning.

In my quest to get more iron into my diet, we're having a red meat dinner week. 

Monday : Roast beef with all the trimmings. 

Tuesday : Ground beef curry & roti

Wednesday : Leftover roast beef. We might have the same as Monday or I'll turn it into a beef & broccoli pot pie.

Thursday : Leftover roti & curry

Friday : Ground beef tacos with all the fixings. 

Saturday/Sunday : Dining out

The roast is currently in the instant pot. I normally make my roast in the slow cooker, but don't like the slow cooker feature on my instant pot. I tried slow cooked pulled chicken in the pot and it didn't turn out as well as it does in my slow cooker. I  might have to haul out the slow cooker again. I cook my roast my own special way and even DMIL used to rave about it when she lived with us before. So we'll have mashed potatoes, gravy & several different veggies with the roast. 

I'm not in the mood to do all that work to make rotis, but DS loves it, so I'll fix it tomorrow morning and fry it just before dinner. 

DS loves tacos, but we have lots of tortilla chips. I'm hoping to convince him to have nachos instead. I'll make fresh refried beans, pico de gallo and guacamole to go with it. I'm thinking a margarita or shot of tequila (for me) might round off the meal nicely :)

Well, I've discovered that something totally unrelated to iron was making me feel blah. I like to make spiced coffee every morning (I can't drink all those sugary syrups or coffee mate, so the spices work well for me).  I especially love ginger. So I've been adding 1/4 tsp ginger and some cinnamon to my coffee for months. Then yesterday (as I was pouring my coffee), I thought that maybe having ginger every day isn't such a good idea. I don't know how this popped into my head out of the blue. I still went ahead and added the ginger though...lol. Today I skipped the ginger and just added a little cinnamon and whaddya know. I feel much better today. Then I did a google search and it was exactly as I thought. Too much ginger is bad for you. Oy vey.

Belinda, if your mom eats nuts, try to give her some Cashew nuts for the anemia. It's loaded with iron & protein. I always feel much better after eating a small handful. I also eat the Walmart Bran Flakes, because it provides 100% of your daily iron value. I now carry a ziploc bag filled with cashews, dried apricot & raisins in my purse for when I'm out & about. We always have the dried fruit in the house, so it's an easy healthy snack for when I'm feeling blah. I have this habit of skipping a meal when I'm out or too busy. I also eat the Milton wheat bread. It's loaded with nutrients and one slice contains 15% of your daily iron value. Sams has the best price on this bread ($4.xx for 2 loaves).

I just have to add that we love the Walmart brand pancake mix. I've always been a Bisquick girl, but when the pandemic started I could only find the Walmart brand. It's so good that DS wants pancakes or waffles for breakfast every day (I don't blame him). Of course I make enough for the freezer (I made a large batch of blueberry ones yesterday again), but I try to switch up breakfast every day (cereal, omelets, breakfast burritos, pancakes or waffles with fruit). So for those who like pancakes/waffles, be sure to try the Walmart brand. It's delicious!

I need to get some work done (this day flew by way too fast) & do some more decluttering. I'll post March numbers sometime this week. It was an expensive month in more ways than one. 

Have a wonderful evening everyone!

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

I'm still here!

Hi everyone

I'm still here. I've just been very busy. I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post. Between Jet Lag Savings Time (I always feel jet lagged for a whole week after we change the clocks) and work, I'm pooped. I've started treating my business like a job, so I've been getting up earlier (5:30) and my body's totally hating me for the lack of sleep. I slept well last night & woke up exhausted & with a monster headache this morning. I couldn't understand why, because I slept for 8 hours. Had an upset stomach and eventually decided to take a Tylenol for the headache (I rarely use any kind of pill, unless it's prescribed for an ailment). I'm about ready to go crawl into bed. 

I haven't been feeling well for weeks now and finally realised that it's my anemia. This is so strange, because I eat iron rich food and take a supplement daily. The problem though, is that I don't eat much. I'm a small woman and eat small portions (half an American sized meal, because that's how I've always eaten), so I know I'm not getting enough nutrients. I thought that maybe the supplement's not good anymore (I've had it for almost 2 years now, but it's good thru 2023). So I went to Sams for a new bottle and they didn't have any. Then I decided to just buy a multivitamin, cause I'm lacking B12 now too (sigh). The multivitamin does absolutely nothing for me. So I now need to eat a lot more red meat, because that's the best way to get iron. This means another increase in the grocery budget. I've made peace with the fact that grocery prices will continue to skyrocket. I try not to be shocked when I notice new increases, but alas...lol. It is what it is. Here's a few things I've done lately.

  • Did Wags shopping only. I had $8 RR expire yesterday, cause I just didn't feel like going to the store. I know, it sounds crazy, but right now I'm just focused on work and feeling better. I haven't been to CVS in a while, because they're on my *&^# list. The last trip was so bad, half my CRTs didn't deduct. I was not happy. Thankfully I paid with a gc, but I was still not happy. This has never happened in all my years of shopping at CVS. 
  • Paid 20c for an Eddie Bauer t-shirt, after my $10 reward. Earned 10c Rakuten, so my t-shirt only cost 10c. They sent me another $10 reward (because I redeemed the last one before a specific date). Now I'm just hoping they'll do another free shipping day. 
  • Received a $30 WHBM semi annual reward that I also need to redeem by this weekend. There is absolutely nothing that I need, but I will find something to spend this on. I'm not going to throw away good money.
  • Did a 2nd run to the produce market. The grocery stores didn't have any good produce deals, so the market was the best bet. It was again very pricey, but I had a light bulb moment. Most of the market items get cleaned and frozen, so most of it lasts for at least 3-6 weeks. After doing the math, I figured that I was only spending around $15 p/w if I only shopped once a month. That's actually a great number, since we eat lots of fresh food and we have all kinds of fruit. I'm always happy to find guavas, because I love that stuff (I grew up eating lots of tropical fruit). If you've never had any, please try it if you can ever find it somewhere. It's delicious!
  • Cooked all our meals for the week on Sunday. 3 Hours in the kitchen and I cooked a big pot of meat sauce. I used some to make lasagna for dinner and froze 2 more portions for other meals. I didn't have any garlic bread, so I sauteed some garlic in olive oil, then toasted the leftover brioche rolls and topped it with garlic. Easy peasy.
  • Also made chicken pot pie. I had leftover filling, so I picked up more pie crusts at Aldi and made mini pies for DS to grab on the go. A big pot of morrocan lentil soup, cranberry almond muffins, blueberry pancakes and waffles. I got a little smart. I now make up a big pancake batter, then turn on the waffle maker and my pancake pan at the same time (I have a griddle, but I prefer using my small pan on the stove, because it makes the perfect size pancake). Cooking both pancakes & waffles at once, reduces the time I have to spend cooking it separately. I also sauteed fresh mushroom, peppers & onions that we add to our eggs or omelets in the morning. 
  • I've been having sticker shock at restaurants and fast food places. We do still get fast food when I'm too lazy to cook on Fridays (my day for sourcing inventory. By the time I get home, I'm too tired to fix anything for dinner). I knew that this would happen, due to gas & grocery increases, but it's still shocking to see. I hate paying that much, especially for things I can fix myself, because my food tastes better. So we're cutting way back on fast food again. I'm not skipping restaurants though. I'm picking up more pizzas at Sams on Friday and will add a salad. I saw they had pizzas on sale for $6.99 when I picked up vitamins, but DH was waiting in the car to go to dinner, so I couldn't wait at the cafe for them to bake the pizzas. 
  • Bought a $100 dress for just under $10. Did I need the dress? Heck no! Did I want the dress. Of course...lol. That dress will go into the spare closet for a future event. Sound crazy? It might to some, but I know that when I need to go out, I'll just haul out my $10 dress. No need to go pay an arm and a leg for just one event. This is how I always shop. Trust me, that dress will come in handy sometime soon. I'm experienced at this...lol
Not much else to report. I hope everyone's healthy & warm. I'm already missing those 50/60s temps we had recently. It's gotten icy cold here again. 

Meal Plan Monday

I'm so not in the mood to figure out meals for the week, so I've made an easy menu. Besides, who feels like cooking during summer.  ...