Monday, July 29, 2013

Meal Stretcher Monday: Shredded Cheese

We use shredded cheese pretty often - mozzarella in baked ziti, on pizza, cheddar on chili or in burritos, etc.

I have noticed that there appears to be a shredding fee.  Look:

Shredded: 8 ounces for $2.28.

Un-shredded: 32 ounces for $7.98.

So, if I buy the block and shred it, it's like getting 4 of those 8-ounce bags for $1.99 each.

But, isn't shredding cheese by hand a pain the @$$?  Why yes.  Yes it is.

Or it would be...if I hadn't STALKED THAT FOOD PROCESSOR!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Clearance Time!

I love the change of seasons!  Is it because of the new and exciting parade of nature's beauty outside my window?  Heck no!  Nature's cool and all, but I'm in this for the SALES.

Clothing stores are cleaning out their lighter gear in preparation for fall and winter styles that they can promote with ridiculous back-to-school sales.  (FYI Stores - Screaming "SCHOOL IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER!" in July makes me want to punch you.  I'm a teacher.  Don't rush my summer.  EVER.)

Wandering with Preschooler of Doom into an Old Navy today scored me some nice stuff for work!

Yeah, I like pink.  Don't judge.

What you see here are three light sweaters, two pairs of slacks, one pair of earrings, and some pretty, girly bobby pins.  Total: $42.39 (pre-tax).

Here's the breakdown:
Black sweater: $2.97 (down from $29.95)
Pink sweater: $2.97 (down from $24.95)
Brown sweater: $2.97 (down from $24.95)
Black slacks: $12.25 (down from $24.50)
Beige slacks: $16.25 (down from $32.50)
Earrings: $2.99 (down from $6.95)
Bobby pins: $1.99 (down form $6.95)

Did you catch all that?  I got $150.76 worth of stuff for $42.39.

That means I saved $108.37.  Cool, no?

Do you have a clearance rack victories?  Share them in the comments!

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Museum Memberships: Worth Every Penny

In May, my Mom and Step-Dad (Grandma and Grandpa Z) came visiting us for the weekend.  My Mom is a "let's go out and DO something" type, so I found a list of several things going on in the area.  The one we chose was a visit to miSci - The Museum of Innovation and Science, which is about two miles from here.  

My littlest exploring a powerful magnet...
...while standing on my lap.  He's small.

The boys loved it!  Which is good, because my Mom bought us a family membership while I wasn't looking.  (She's good like that.)

The membership gives free admission for my husband, both boys, and me.  All year.  It payed for itself in less than two months.

Membership (1 year): $80
Usual entry fee (1 day for all 4 of us): $32  ($9.50 per adult; $6.50 per child)
Amount we would have had to pay so far WITHOUT membership: Around $140.

This magnet is officially the most fascinating thing in the WORLD.

It's interactive, interesting, and educational.  The kids love it, and we go about every other week.  Now, every time we go there (it's especially wonderful when it's too hot or rainy outside for comfort) I feel like I'm pocketing 32 bucks.  Much better than walking around the mall, or sitting in the living room watching Wonder Pets.

My eldest posing with the electric car.

But wait!  There's more!  This museum does events for the kids!  For example, we have TWICE gone to a program for 3-5 year olds where our boys get treated to reading a science themed book, singing, playing a game, making a craft, and GET A FREE BOOK!  You can't beat that!  And it's free with the cost of admission which, thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Z, is free to us for this whooooole year!

Oh, and did I mention that there are big, robotic dinosaurs there now?  They're very impressive.  And they move.  And growl.  (My littlest didn't like that last part).  You can see awesome pictures of them here.

Oh, and did I mention that they have a huge Van de Graff generator?

Static.  It's fun.

So, take the plunge.  Support your local museums and science centers.  Buy a membership.  Use the membership.  You will get a lot of great days of family fun thrown in free of charge.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Meal Stretcher Monday: Home Made Ranch!

I have made no secret of my love for vegetables.  Now that the weather has warmed up, and I have discovered the tragic loss of my waistline from a winter of "comfort" foods, I'm spending even more time with my veggies.

The other day I bought carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, and cauliflower from my grocery's produce aisle. I was going to pick up a container of ranch dip, but they were out.  Rather than schlep across town to plunk down four bucks, I decided to see if I could make my own.
Mmm.  Dippy.

To the internet!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Meal Stretcher Monday: Stir Fry Sauce!

Necessity is the mother of invention.  And Google.

I was in the middle of making up some yummy, home made stir fry, when I realized that we were totally out of stir fry sauce.  Husband offered to go on a run to the store, but he wouldn't have been back in time.

To the internet!

I came across this recipe on food.com, which looked simple enough - and I had all of the ingredients.  Time to grab a bowl.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Abandon Brand Names

The single most effective strategy for dumping cost at the grocery and other stores is this: IGNORE THE NAME.  It was actually in a high school marketing class that I first learned that off-brand things are often made by the same factories making the name brand stuff.

Think about it.  There are factories making Glad sandwich bags.  There are factories making Ziploc sandwich bags.  Do you really think there are whole factories dedicated to making Walmart Great Value sandwich bags?  Or do you think they farm it out to one of the big companies?

I'm not saying that off-brand and name brand are exactly the same (although some times they are).  They might be made to a lower standard, or with different materials, or a different pattern, etc.  By buying cheaper, you  may be getting what you pay for.

But seriously...what do you need the product to do?  Can that be done with the cheaper option?  THEN CHOOSE THAT OPTION.

$5.98 for 260 bags.  That's $2.30 per 100.

$3.97 for 200 bags.  That's $1.99 per 100.

Are Ziploc bags better quality bags?  Probably.

But I'm using these bags to keep goldfish crackers from spilling all over my son's lunch box.   For that, I don't need something especially thick.

Nor do I need to be paying for name.  Every penny counts.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saving on Shaving

It's summer time!  Know what that means?  I have to shave my legs more often!  Crap!

I love summer.  I really, genuinely do.   Partially because I'm a teacher.

I love the grilled dinners, the time with family, the fun activities, the sun, the sun, and the sun.

Unfortunately, it means wearing shorts and skirts all the time, and since my number of maxi skirts is sadly limited, I really do have to shave my legs more than once a week.

The problem with shaving:  For years I have been using a Gillette Venus Divine.  Unfortunately, the cartridges for those (and any other cartridge razors) are getting stupidly expensive.

Yeah.  And this was the BEST price I found.

You read that right: $21.99 for 8 cartridges.  That's $2.75 per cartridge.  There's got to be a better way.