Monday, April 23, 2012

Best Deals of 4/22-28

In preparation for my couponing chat tomorrow night at the Volunteer Ministry Center, I compiled this list of what I think are the best deals this week. I don't normally tout Ingles as a great place to save but this week their deals beat out Kroger hands down. Here are my favorites. For all the match-ups and links to printables, go to Southern Savers or Coupon Katie.

Ingles: (It’s a great B1G1 sale but you do NOT have to buy 2 to get the listed ind. price).

  • Jennie O turkey franks 12oz: $.84
  • Del Monte canned vegetables 14.5 – 15.25oz: $.67
  • Honey Maid graham crackers: $2.15. Use $1/2 printable = $1.65
  • Sarah Lee honey wheat bread 20oz: $1.48. Use $.55 from 4/14SS = $.93.
  • Laura Lynn old fashioned oats (great for homemade granola or granola bars) 18oz: $.88
  • Nissin Big Cup Noodles: 2.82oz: $.29. Use $1/3 from 3/18SS=FREE
  • Annie’s organic mac n cheese: $.99. Buy 2 and submit for free year’s prescription to Organic Gardening magazine. See Coupon Katie for details.
  • McCormick seasonings: $.44. Use $1/2 or $.75 = FREE. They may have to type in $.44 if coupon beeps.
  • Weber marinades: $.56. Use $1/2 = $.06.
  • Ragu sauce: $1. Use $.50 = FREE. Ingles doubles 3 under $.50 coupons for every $10 you spend.
  • Kellogg’s Corn Flakes: $2.09. Use $.50 printable = $1.09.


  • Dawn 9oz (smallest size): $1. Buy the hand renewal variety, use $.50 coupon from 4/1PG = FREE.
  • Free Kroger reusable bag: Go to and login. Enter the “Design a Reusable Bag” contest and create your own. You can then load a free grocery bag to your Kroger card (may take 24 hours) and pick it up on your next shopping trip.


  • Buy 3 Hallmark Cards (excludes boxed cards and clearance items), get $3ECB. Buy 3 cards priced at $1.49 each and use $3/3 CVS printable = $1.53MM. Limit 1.
  • Blink Tears (.5oz) or Gel Tears (.34oz): $8.99, Get $8.99ECB, Use $1 printable = $1MM. Limit 1.
  • Dream Water Snoozeberry Dietary Supplement (2pk): $5.79, get 5.79ECB = FREE. Limit 1.


· I-Cool + D Menopause Relief tablets (45ct): $10, get $10RR. Use $2 coupon from 2/19RP = $2MM.

· U by Kotex sleek tampons (18pk): $3.99, get $3RR. Use $1 coupon from 3/25SS or printable = FREE.

· Psoriasin Psoriasis Relief (.75oz): $5, get $5RR = FREE.


  • Ortega seasoning mixes single packs: $.65. Use $1/2 printable = $.15 each
  • Ortega taco shells (10-12ct): $1.35. Use $1/2 printable = $.85 each.
  • OxiClean laundry stain remover trigger spray: $2.79. Use $1.50 Target printable coupon AND $.50 coupon from 4/22SS = $.29! or buy the gel stick for $2.99, use both coupons and pay just $.49.
  • Market Pantry pasta and sauce: $1 each. Use $1/2 pasta and sauce Target printable = $.50 each.
  • Mossimo scoop neck or V-neck pocket tee: $6. Use $3 Mossimo Target printable = $3.
  • Starbucks coffee (11oz): $7.99. Use $2 Target coupon and $1.50 manufacturer’s printable = $4.49 each.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Best Deals of 4/15-21

Next week I will be giving a couponing workshop to some fabulous ladies--some participants in the Volunteer Ministry Center program and some mentors from the Church of the Good Samaritan where I attend. I hope to not only "give them fish" (some of my good deals acquired through couponing) but "teach them to fish" (give them the knowledge to do this themselves.) To me, the concept of couponing doesn't get more rewarding than this. Some of this post will be directed to them (hoping they will score a few deals as well), but I hope all will glean something of value. Here are my favorite deals this week: April 15 - 21.

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.
  • 1 NatuRelief chewable natural pain medicine, 30 count: $8.49, get $8.49 ECB, use $1 MC = $1MM; limit 1.
  • 2 Colgate Total: $2.99, get $2ECB, use 2 $1 printables = 2 FREE; limit 2.
  • 1 Depend Silhouette 3 count: $3.99, $2ECB, $2 printable and $2 CVS printable = $2 MM; limit 1. Tip: If you've already used some of these coupons, the kiosk will probably kick out a $1.50 savings as well.
  • 2 Act total care sensitive mouthwash 18 oz: $3.99 each, get $1ECB, use $2 MC from today's paper = $.99 each; limit 2.
  • You can also get 25 free photo prints; details here.
For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.
Here's how I got lots of freebies and used the rewards to pay for an ink refill for my printer. Gotta print more coupons!

Transaction #1:
  • 1 Similasan nasal allergy spray (all natural): $6, get $6RR, used $1.50 MC = $1.50MM.
  • 2 Nivea face wash for men: $7 total, get $2RR wyb 2, used 2 $2 MC from Sunday's paper = $.50 each.
  • 3 Aquafresh for kids (my boys' favorite): $2 each, used 3 $1MC from Sunday's paper and $1 from April Walgreen's coupon book (automatically took off $3) = 3 for FREE. Tip: To do this, I needed only one extra filler item.
  • 1 hand sanitizer: $.14 found in clearance bin
  • 1 Charlie Brown eraser found in clearance bin: $.10
  • Used $1.50 RR from last week
Total Spent: $8.02
Total Saved: $25.33
RRs Earned: $6, $2

Transaction #2:
  • 1 Similasan nasal allergy spray (all natural): $6, get $6RR, used $1.50 MC = $1.50MM.
  • 2 Purex 18 count ultra packs: B1G1 at $5.99, used 2 $1MC = $1.99 each. Tip: This form of detergent might be more convenient for those at the VMC.
  • 1 Charlie Brown filler: $.10
  • Used $2RR from Tr.#1
Total Spent: $7.71
Total Saved: $15.37
RRs Earned: $6

Transaction #3:
  • 1 HP ink refill: $12.99 Tip: I always buy the XL cartridge because the cost of the refill is the same and you get three times the ink. You can refill them multiple times.
  • 1 Charlie Brown filler item: $.10
  • Used 2 $6 RRs from previous transactions.
Total Spent: $2.30
Total Saved: $13.89

So for a little more than I would have paid for the ink refill (what I really needed), I got 2 allergy sprays, 2 face washes, 3 tubes of toothpaste, 1 hand sanitizer, and detergent for 36 loads. Not bad!

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.
I'm hoping to pick up deals on tank tops, coffee, shampoo, and tweezers (should be free!).

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.
It's a leaner week for deals; I'll just be picking up the essentials for my family.

I hope you are able to find deals for yourself and for others. If you have questions, leave a comment or email me. Spread the good coupon karma!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Why I believe in REAL FOOD

As I began my post about days 3 & 4 for the Real Food Challenge, I began digressing into where I've seen the benefits of certain choices. It was turning into a tangent; so I decided to make it a separate post. If you have any doubts that your food choices can influence your health, I encourage you to read this. I share this as a concerned mom and have no affiliation with any of the products mentioned here.

Last month I decided to prepare at least one dinner vegetarian and to cut down on our meat consumption by half (same dishes but using less meat.) Why? If you haven't seen the documentary Forks Over Knives, I recommend it. I saw it for free on Netflix. They do a good job of laying out the science of why a plant-based diet is better for you and the price we are paying as a society for eating so much meat and dairy. The concept was nothing new to me but seeing the radical change in people's health based on their food choices was. And it didn't matter if someone had eaten poorly for decades; they could still turn it around with a few choices.

Now I admit I love meat: chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, you name it. And I don't plan to become a vegetarian any time soon. But I do believe there are benefits to returning to a more traditional diet higher in grains, fruits, and vegetables and lower in meat and dairy. That's where I am on my food journey.

My first experience in seeing the connection of food to health came out of trying to fix some issues with our kids. Last spring our son Bobby was having daily stomach aches and our daughter Brooke was having severe ear infections. After ruling out gluten as an offender, we switched from cow's milk to almond milk.

I was initially nervous about this switch because my family was consuming 3-4 gallons of milk a week! Yes, you read that correctly. Since almond and soy milk is about twice as expensive, I was reticent. But taking that leap of faith paid off tremendously and it hasn't impacted my budget. Here's why. Though everyone in the family except Devin likes almond milk, we don't drink nearly as much of it as cow's milk (about half). So between coupons, sales, and less consumption, we are paying the same.

Now the benefits. Bobby's stomach aches disappeared within days and never returned. Brooke hasn't had an ear infection in a year. Other than well visits, we didn't visit the doctor's office once this winter; not once! She had a few runny noses, but a scoop of local honey or saline nasal mists seemed to help. And Bobby at 7, nearly 8 years old, was still wetting the bed at night. After switching to almond milk, he never wet the bed again. They still get ice cream, cheese, and yogurt, but I'm a believer we should all be consuming less dairy milk.

If we can see that much improvement with one food change, I'm looking forward to how we'll feel with less meat and more homemade bread in our diet. My wheat arrives next week! Baby steps.

How have you seen food change your health?

Day 3, 4 & 5: Knoxville's Ten Days of Real Food Challenge

I'm behind on posts, but I'm happy to report I am making progress with the Real Food Challenge! Starting April 1, local blogger Erica Keil of Child Organics encouraged several other green minded bloggers to join her in her journey to eat more "REAL FOOD." Go here to see all of the rules, and go here to read my slow start out of the gate. It wasn't as easy as I'd thought.

With a little planning and careful choices, I was finally able to give us a PASSING grade on some meals. It was made a little easier with the fact that last month I had decided to prepare at least one dinner vegetarian. Please read my post of why I believe in real food and the amazing health benefits we've seen in our family to one single food switch.

Tuesday, April 3: DAY 3
Breakfast: Most of the family had their favorite cereals of Mini Wheats, Honey Nut Cheerios, or Kashi to get everyone to school by 8:00am. When I got home, I prepared my favorite yogurt dish: I start with a few dollops of organic vanilla flavored lowfat yogurt (can't find full fat yogurt but this tastes delicious). I slightly defrost 3-4 strawberries we picked last May in Maryville and slice those thinly. I add a few tablespoons of Kashi Go Lean cereal and am good to go. Unfortunately this doesn't meet the standards to pass as real food, but it's a compromise I can live with. MODIFIED PASS.

Lunch: Normally I would have eaten the leftover stirfry from the night before as is, but for the sake of the challenge, I decided to pick out the pork making it completely vegetarian. That over brown rice gave me my first official PASS.

Dinner: Tonight's dinner addressed two plans: clear out some food that needed to be eaten and make a vegetarian meal. After looking online for inspiration, I settled on tweaking this recipe for twice baked potatoes with spinach. I added steamed asparagus from our garden as a side. As this is year three of our asparagus patch and the first time we can eat it, I'm thrilled to be eating as much asparagus as possible. The potatoes were organic russets I had bought at Earthfare a few weeks ago for $.99/lb. I used fresh spinach I had bought half price on manager's special and with a coupon. Instead of the cheeses, I substituted a Helluva Good sour cream dip I had gotten for free through couponing. The dip didn't have a list of ingredients; I'm sure it was sour cream and spices. It was probably not the lowest in calories but it was SO GOOD. And the spinach really made it more filling, satisfying, and nutritious. Two of the three kids loved it. So for this meal, I'm going to give us a PASS.

Wednesday, April 4: DAY 4
Breakfast: Brooke and I started the day with scrambled local eggs from the farmer down the street, a little sprinkling of cheddar cheese, a slice of our homemade bread and homemade blackberry jam (with blackberries from our back yard). Since jam has a LOT of sugar, this item would not pass the rules. But quite frankly, I'm not giving up making or consuming homemade jam from local produce. So if you can find a suitable sugar alternative, I'm all ears. I'm going to call this breakfast a PASS.

Lunch: Bob, Brooke and I had leftover baked potatoes and sauteed squash for lunch. The boys had their usual packed lunches with some passes, some failures. My biggest challenge has been avoiding a few chocolates after lunch. I have such a sweet tooth. I'm happy to report last week cantaloupe was on sale and it has to be some of the best cantaloupe I've ever had. Once you've had a good, sweet cantaloupe, you will be a fan forever. I find eating this subsides my craving for a dessert. PASS.

Dinner: Moving through some of the food I had bought last week on sale, I decided on this recipe for red bell peppers and zucchini stuffed with ground beef. I served it over whole wheat thin spaghetti I had gotten for free months ago. Tip: You can still get Ronzoni for $.75 a box through Saturday at Kroger. I would like to eat more whole wheat pasta but I have to pick and choose which types because of the taste; serving a red sauce over it helps a lot. The marinara sauce was Prego 50% vegetables; got that at half off too. It had more than 5 ingredients, but there was no added sugar. The beef was from our local grass-fed cow we bought last May. Because their vacuum processing is so good, the meat tastes just as good now as then. I also used homemade breadcrumbs I make from the ends of loaves. All and all, this was an inexpensive meal and it passed most of the rules. PASS.

Thursday, April 5: DAY 5
Breakfast: We tried a new recipe prepared the night before in the crock pot: steel cut oats with apples soaked overnight. I bought steel cut oats in bulk from Earthfare in December and have been meaning to make this for months. The apples were organic, and just a touch of pure maple syrup was all it needed for sweetener. A definite repeat and Brooke loved it. PASS.

Snack: two oranges. PASS.

Lunch: leftover squash, broccoli, and cantaloupe. My goal is to make most of my lunches vegetarian. PASS.

Dinner: I finally needed to use up some of the leftover chicken I had prepared on Sunday. So I settled on this recipe for quesadillas with corn, beans, and chicken. You could easily make this without the meat. I used fresh corn, dried black beans, and whole wheat tortillas--all on sale. Since I didn't have cilantro, I served it with dollops of homemade salsa containing cilantro and full-fat sour cream. Since I only used a small amount of chicken, this is one of those meals that's a good compromise. MODIFIED PASS.

All and all, I think we're doing a lot better. Even if a meal doesn't get the PASS stamp, I'm proud of being more mindful of what we put in our bodies and proving you can do it on a budget. For other bloggers participating in the challenge, make sure you check out posts from Gabrielle, Katie, and Erica.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 1 & 2: Knoxville's Ten Days of Real Food Challenge

Finding time to post about Knoxville's Ten Days of Real Food Challenge may be as challenging as finding the right foods, but I'll do the best I can. I can already tell I won't be as exemplary as my good friend Gabe (check out her updates on day 1 and day 2 of this challenge), but hopefully my honesty will inspire those intimidated by a challenge like this.

First off, I confess I forgot about the challenge until yesterday and didn't change my shopping to make any changes in our current eating habits. I'm working with what I have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. This will give me a clear idea of how our current lifestyle stacks up.

Sunday, April 1: DAY 1
Breakfast: My hubby and son ran a 5K this morning and I was hurrying the kids to church for the Easter egg hunt. Our traditional breakfast consisted of cereals: Frosted Mini Wheats, Honey Nut Cheerios, Raison Bran, or Kashi Go Lean. Most of us use almond milk but one son still prefers 1% milk (not local). Coffee for the adults consisted of sweetened with one scoop of sugar and a few tablespoons of 1% milk. The Mini Wheats and Raison Bran fall under the 6 ingredient rule, but I have a hard time considering Kashi a poorer choice. MARGINAL PASS.

Lunch: Since we had the Covenant Health Kids Fun Run the night before and ate frozen pizzas for time (Fruschetta and DiGiorno), we had left-over pizza for lunch. FAIL.

Dinner: I roasted chicken breasts (not local or organic but they were on sale ;-), organic carrots, sweet potatoes, and onions. I cooked enough chicken to use in other meals this week. Breyers ice cream for dessert; has more than 5 ingredients but is better than many brands in my opinion. MARGINAL PASS.

Monday, April 2: DAY 2
Breakfast: Cereal again. MARGINAL PASS.

Snack: Brooke and I went to the Moms Club Easter Egg Hunt. I brought orange slices but of course there were tons of more tempting choices like cookies, cupcakes, and muffins. Snacks that would pass included cheese blocks, fruit, Annie's bunny grahams, and Pirate Booty (I think this pass). I did pretty well but split one pink cupcake with Brooke. MARGINAL PASS.

Lunch: I heated up left-overs: wild caught mahi mahi, rice (from a package that I had gotten on sale), steamed broccoli. Bob had the same. Brooke really wanted chicken nuggets, pasta (not whole wheat) and orange slices. She ate so many oranges, I agreed. Devin's lunch at school was white pasta, organic apple slices, goldfish, chex mix, and 3 chocolate eggs. Only the apples passed. Bobby's lunch had homemade salsa, tortilla chips, goldfish, and a Fiber One brownie. The salsa and chips passed. MARGINAL PASS.

Dinner: I made a stirfry primarily with veggies but with a little left-over pork loin (not local or organic). Ingredients included garlic, onions, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage, and carrots. I added a little soy sauce, lime juice, and ginger. I cooked brown rice in chicken stock I had made the night before. This makes the difference between bland and delicious rice without the insane sodium in packaged rice. The kids weren't as keen on the stirfry like they usually are. After forcing a few bites down, I let them have some pasta, baked beans, and hotdogs with no nitrates. All three fail the criteria but I tried. MARGINAL PASS.

As you see, there isn't one meal I'd say we pass with flying colors. Is that depressing? A little, but I'm still making an effort to feed them better alternatives, even if they don't follow THE RULES. And when we were "on the run," we were literally on the run at races. This week Bobby and I also biked 8 miles, swam 20 laps, and kayaked nearly every day. Devin and Brooke run nearly everywhere they go and spend a lot of time on their bikes. Knowing how active we all are has to factor in there positively.

What do you think?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Knoxville's Ten Days of Real Food Challenge

When local blogger Erica Keil, founder off Child Organics, emailed me to ask if I would participate in a ten day challenge to eat REAL foods, I figured, "Why not?!" I love a challenge, 10 days is reasonable, and who doesn't prefer REAL foods over processed? My initial feeling was that it shouldn't be too hard because we've made a number of changes already, and every few months I take another step in the right direction with a few pet projects.

Examples include:
  • buying half a grass-fed cow from a local farmer (lasts us a year)
  • picking and freezing enough strawberries and blueberries in Maryville and Norris to last us the year
  • buying eggs from the farmer down the street for only $2 a dozen (the kids love that some of them are green--perfect for Dr. Seuss week)
  • planting a garden of tomatoes, herbs, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, and onions as well as bushes yielding a few blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
  • making our own wet dog food and liver treats from the less desirable parts of the cow we buy
  • avoiding the "dirty dozen" and buying organic apples and potatoes at either Earthfare or farmers markets
  • consuming only local honey I pick up at the farmer's market to help with allergies and to use more often as a sweetener. I love the taste of Raw Mountain Honey.
My latest project is perhaps my most ambitious and is one that made my mom burst out laughing until she realized I was serious: making my own bread with wheat I mill myself. Finding it hard to believe that I made my own dog food but not my own bread, a kind neighbor walked me through the process. I decided to start with using our bread machine that has sat dormant for 15 years. Within 10 minutes, I can have all the ingredients in the machine and 3 hours later, I have the most scrumptious bread I've ever tasted. And the smell in my house...oh, it gives me joy.

The bigger step was buying my own wheat and mill to grind fresh flour. Though it's a significant investment up-front, I think it will pay for itself over the long-run, especially in contributing to our better health. I bought the Blendtec grain mill from Amazon and the wheat from a local co-op through Breadbeckers. The co-op takes orders four times a year and will be distributed in Farragut. It was significantly cheaper to order through the co-op than online because of lower shipping costs and the 5% discount. I'm awaiting my shipment any day now.

My husband has taken on the challenge of making pizza dough and fresh pasta (ravioli style) from scratch. It's a work in progress but we're on the right path. Once he gets it down, we'll freeze pasta and cook as needed.

So it would seem that this "earth mama" should have no trouble with a challenge like this, but I'll be honest--we won't follow it 100%. Here are THE RULES from Lisa Leake, author of "100 Days of Real Food."

What you CAN eat:

  1. Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry
  2. Lots of fruits and vegetables(we recommend that you shop for these at your local farmers’ market)
  3. Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, and cheese
  4. 100% whole-wheat and whole-grains (find a local bakery for approved sandwich bread and check theUnderstanding Grains post for more info)
  5. Seafood (wild caught is the optimal choice over farm-raised)
  6. Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (preferably in moderation)
  7. Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetenedcoffee & tea, and, to help the adults keep their sanity, wine and beer!
  8. Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts and popcorn
  9. All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates are acceptable in moderation
  10. Also check out the Recipes & Resources page for a more detailed list of meal options including links to recipes

What you CANNOT eat:

  1. No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat…not just “wheat”)
  2. No refined sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or the artificial stuff like Splenda
  3. Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label
  4. No deep fried foods
  5. No “fast foods”

There will be some challenges for my family.
  • eating only locally grown meats (with the exception of our beef, nothing is local)
  • finding pre-packaged foods that have fewer than six ingredients. Even pasta has 6 or 7 ingredients and this excludes all cereals to my knowledge. Other than fruit, almost all our kid snacks fail this criteria.
  • flavoring my coffee with something other than sugar and 1% milk. I've tried almond milk and honey but don't like it as much.
  • It's also Easter (my kids have 4 egg hunts) and most of those eggs are filled with processed sugar. Hey, I'm guilty too. I love those little chocolate eggs, and I admit to eating a few sweets every day. I'm not looking forward to giving those up, but I will for the challenge.
  • no fried foods. I don't mind giving this up, but my kids do like chicken nuggets, fried shrimp, cheese sticks, and fish sticks. They don't get them often, but I do usually have them on hand.

So for the next 10 days, I'll be sharing where we've succeeded and where we've fallen short. I'm making some changes but not too many. I'd rather it be a realistic wake-up call for our family than an isolated short term experiment. It would be easier if the farmer's markets were open, but so is life. I also encourage you to follow the posts from other local bloggers taking the challenge too: Gabrielle from Couponing in Critical Times, Melissa from Frugalissa Finds, and Katie from Coupon Katie.

Are you with me?!