Archives for August 2010

Supermarket Strategies: Coupon Match-Ups

Making your coupons work for you, and not the other way around is the subject of this week’s:

Because we’ve been spending our time between our house and Pete’s grandma. Because the girl’s started back to school. Because we have a hole in our life. I’ve been popping into stores and just grabbing things instead of planning my  trips.

Let me tell you – this is a very expensive, time consuming way to shop!

When I shop this way, I still always start my shopping trips by swinging by the spots where I know I can find the Manager’s Specials. I find quite a few organic bargains that way. This has always saved me money, and it doesn’t take much time.

However, it’s when I start wondering if I can get any great deals with the coupons in my binder that I start to lose focus and time. My coupon binder is FULL of coupons! If I start wondering around looking for coupon match-ups, the time really adds up!

To make a quick and easy trip through the store, I HIGHLY recommend the following:

1. Consult the Sale Flier – Find out what is on sale and if you have a coupon for it.

2. Consult a Coupon Database – I like to go to Hot Coupon World, We Use Coupons or A Full Cup to match up my coupons to the sales flier.

3. Pull Your Coupons Out BEFORE You Go – I add mine to an envelope and write what coupons are in there and what the amount is. This is really helpful when you check out in knowing how much the value of the coupons are that you handed the cashier. It is much easier to correct a missed coupon when you are at the register then on a trip back to the store!

4. Make a List of Your ECoupons – If you load ecoupons onto your loyalty card, make sure you have a list of them somewhere. I note what I plan to use at the store on the same envelope that holds my coupons. I also keep a list in my cell phone of all my ecoupons so I have it with me.

5. Do Take Your Coupon Binder – You never know when you might see an unadvertised price or a clearance item. However, you don’t want to circle the store wondering if there is a good price on an item you have a coupon for. This really will cost you both time and money.

6. Don’t Worry if You Are Missing A Deal – If there is one thing I’ve learned – there will always be another deal. You might miss a fantastic price this week, but when you plan your trip out for the next time, you’ll get a fantastic price the next week!

If you need to make a quick trip for an item or two – make it just that – a quick trip for an item or two. When you have the time and energy for a huge coupon run, you’ll be far more successful if you plan ahead!

Happily Submitted to Thrifty Thursdays.

Stuffed Tomatoes

With tomatoes in season, you really have to try this recipe! I served it as a side to flank steak, but this could be a vegetarian meal in itself! Vegan? Leave out the dairy and it will be just as good.

Stuffed Tomatoes

4 Large Tomatoes

Kosher Salt

1/3 Diced Onion

1/2 Jalapeno, seeded and diced

2 t Garlic

2 t Canola Oil

1 can Organic Vegetarian Black Beans

1/2 t Kosher Salt

1/2 t Ground Cumin

1/4 C Chopped Cilantro

3/4 C Cooked Brown Rice

3/4 C Shredded Monterey Jack

Sour Cream

Cut off the top 1/4 inch of the tomatoes. Using a spoon, scoop out the insides, leaving a solid outer shell. Sprinkle insides of tomatoes with salt and let stand while you make the rest of the recipe.

Heat oil in pan. Cook onion and jalapeno until soft. Add garlic, beans, cumin, and rice. Heat through.

Off heat, add chopped cilantro and cheese. Divide filling and stuff into each tomato. Top with a dollop of sour cream and serve while still hot.

Supermarket Strategies: Receipt Adjustment

Ok. So this is really a better “Big Box” strategy. However, here on the Natural Green Mom, it’s still called:

We all know the expression, “Timing is Everything.” This is true in retail. If you wait long enough, the item you want is likely to go on sale. My general rule of thumb is: Never pay full price. Wait 6 weeks and it will be on sale.

This is a perfect strategy for saving, BUT it doesn’t mean I’m always able to get what I want. Items will go on sale, but by the time they do, I occasionally find the size or color I want will be gone. If it is gone, I figure it wasn’t meant to be, and I just wait for the next sale.

Or, I employ the Receipt Adjustment strategy. This can be a bit of a gamble, but I have found it to save me money when there is an item I really want that has not gone on sale yet.

This was the case this week. I did some Back to School shopping with my girls and hit the sales at Kohls. While we were there, I told the girls they could look around and see if there was anything they saw that would help them spruce up their rooms. Remember, we are living in a flood damaged house. We have not finished the extensive repairs, so we haven’t moved our furniture in yet. So, we are all sleeping on mattresses on the floor. I want the girls to feel comfortable and like they are home, so I wanted them to pick a few things out.

My youngest daughter found a green, fuzzy butterfly chair she really, really, REALLY wanted. I told her I would buy it for her, but she had to wait. I had received a $10 off anything at Kohls card in the mail, and I had received $10 in Kohls bucks because of the amount we spent that day. The $20 in cards I had were not valid until 5 days later. So we waited.

We went back a week later only to find the green chairs were sold out. We had customer service call the other two Kohls in town only to find out that the green was sold out from everywhere.

So we went to Target. There was a green butterfly chair there. It was $27. With the coupons I had to Kohls, the chair was going to only be $17 there. However, I decided to buy the Target chair anyway. Here’s why: I knew if the chair went on sale within the next 7 days, they would adjust my receipt.

This was a bit of a gamble.  The chair was in the “Off to College” category. About half of the items in this category already were on sale at Target. I know that all things do eventually go on sale. So I took the risk that the chair would be included in the next sales markdown and went ahead and bought it.

Next sales flier: there it was. Right on the front page of the sales flier for $18 – only $1 more than it would have been at Kohls.

I marched right back to Target (and took my daughter so she could learn this strategy), gave my receipt to customer service and they gave me the $9 back.

Most retail and Big Box stores have a receipt adjustment policy. Target will adjust your receipt if an item goes on sale within 7 days of your purchase with the original receipt. Kohls will adjust your receipt if an item goes on sale within 14 days of your purchase with the original receipt.

Do you have a store you love? Do you notice their sales cycles to know about how many weeks it takes before something goes on sale? Have you ever asked customer service about their receipt adjustment policy?

If you try to plan your purchases around a 6 week sales strategy, you can employ the receipt adjustment strategy to try to buy things close to the date you think it will go on sale, then get your receipt adjusted when it does. Remember to keep your receipts and to ask for the price adjustment to help you save on the items you buy!

Recipe: Cottage Cheese Griddle Cakes

At Safeway this week, I hit the mother load when it came to the ingredients for these. Organic eggs and cottage cheese were both 1/2 off on the manager’s special!

My family prefers these to regular pancakes. Because of the cottage cheese, they are more protein dense then a regular pancake – meaning they fill you up for a longer period of time.

I’ve mentioned several times, I am not a cottage cheese fan. However, in these griddle cakes, I love the creamy texture they add!

Cottage Cheese Griddle Cakes

1 C white whole wheat flour

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

2 T sugar

4 eggs

1 C lowfat cottage cheese

1/2 C vanillla almond milk

2 T canola oil

Mix flour, soda and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl whisk eggs, cottage cheese, almond milk and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk together.

Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto a griddle preheated to 300 degrees. When bubbles form in the middle, flip.

Serve hot with real maple syrup and fruit of your choice. Also good served with homemade preserves and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Supermarket Strategies: Warehouse Shopping

When Sam’s Club announced it was allowing non-members to shop there for without an upcharge last weekend, I took advantage of the deal to see what they had to offer. That is the topic of this weeks:

There were a few things I went into Sam’s Club to look for. First, we were hoping to find a hammock for summer closeout pricing. We struck out – there were no hammocks at Sam’s.

Next, we needed to purchase rice and pinto beans in mass quantities for our dog. As I mentioned previously, he seems to have developed allergies and so we are trying to isolate if it is a food allergy.

Finally, I wanted to check out the prices for organic goods and see how they stacked up to buying them on sale or with coupons at the regular market.

Here’s what I found:

**White Rice for $7.68/25 lbs. Score! We went home with rice!

**Pinto Beans for $5.37/10 lbs. Score! We came home with beans! Just for comparison – I recently paid a $1/lb at the supermarket.

Now that our dog had food, we were off to hunt bargains for us mere humans.

**Horizon Organic Milk comes in a 3 pack of half gallons. The price was about $2.50/half gallon. Now, this was the milk that was fortified with Omega 3’s – which I don’t buy. And the price was higher than what I typically pay per half gallon. I usually look to pay between $1.49 and $1.99. But it wasn’t quite comparing apples with apples since I know that the fortified milk is also higher in the store. I think you probably are paying exactly what you would pay if you bought it at the grocery store without a sale or coupon.

**No Organic Meat selection. I did find what was labeled “Natural” but here is where the buyer needs to beware and be informed! Right under the “Natural” label, it said it was injected with 20% chicken broth. Hello? Since when is it “natural” to inject it with anything? All it does is make it look bigger, then you pay more per pound because of the broth. I’d look elsewhere for my meat purchases if this is important to you.

**No Organic Yogurt selection. However, I did find Brown Cow Greek yogurt. This product is made with milk from cows that have not been treated with rBGH. At $10.98 for 10, that was a little lower than what you’d pay at the Supermarket at regular prices.

Some good prices I found were:

**Maple syrup $13.98/32 oz – I wish I had bought some

**Organic quinoa $5.98/lb

**Whole Almonds $9.67

**Craisins $6.98

Some prices I felt you could beat at the supermarket:

**Boulder Canyon Chips $8.40/24 1.5 oz

**Bertolli Organic Pasta Sauce $6.63/3

**Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste $8.87/3 5.2 oz

Overall, here are my thoughts:

  1. Keep a Price List – There are some good prices to be found, but not everything is discounted. If you have a good price list, you’ll know what are good buys.
  2. It’s Great for People Who Want Big Quantities at Decent Prices – Prices are comparable to the grocery store, so the big thing the warehouses have going for them is quantity. If you need a lot of nuts and craisins for a marathon cooking holiday cooking session, the warehouse is for you!
  3. It’s Not So Great for Singles – Unless you only like to buy your toilet paper once every quarter, save the initiation fees! You’ll save more money hitting supermarket sales.

Did anyone else go last weekend? What did you think?

Submitted to Thrifty Thursdays

Dinner: Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Here is what we enjoyed for dinner last night. It goes along with my Feed a Family of Four a Green Diet for $15/day.

Ingredients

1 lb Shrimp precooked and cleaned

1/2 pkg Rice Noodles

1/4 C Chopped Mint Leaves

1 C Chopped Cucumber

1 C Chopped Carrot

1/4 C Chopped Scallions

1/4 C Chopped Peanuts

Several large lettuce leaves

1. Soften rice noodles in a bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes.

2. Mix together all other ingredients except lettuce leaves.

3. Lay large lettuce leaf on plate and top with all other ingredients.

4. Serve with dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

Juice of 2 Limes

Minced Jalapeno – you judge how much your family would like!

1 clove minced Garlic

1 t minced Ginger

1. Mix all ingredients together and serve on side as a dipping sauce.

Submitted to Tasty Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, and Tuesday Tastes

Supermarket Strategies: Rebate Secrets

Rebates: How to help your grocery budget by using rebates is the topic for this week’s:

Rebates come in all shapes and sizes and are a great way to help stretch your supermarket dollars.

The most common rebate requires you purchase specific products, complete a rebate form, provide proof of purchase (usually the original receipt and UPC from the packaging), and mail it to the company. Once they receive all your information, you receive your rebate in the form of a check.

This is the check I received in the mail yesterday from 2 bottles of wine I purchased. (Forgive the iphone photo.) The rebate made each bottle of wine only $2.50 – which I figured was the best price I could find on cooking wine!

To have the most success getting your “Green Back” in rebates, read my Rebate Page.

Rebates of this nature can be found attached to the product, in the Sunday coupon inserts, or on the company website. Or, I post the organic ones like the Take a Healthy Bite rebate.

Consider other forms of rebates too! Shop at Home offers a percentage back on every purchase you make through their site. They also list lots of great freebies and printable coupons! Some examples of what they offer:

  • 3% back on your purchases from Kee-Ka Organic Childrens Clothing
  • 5% back on your purchases from Numi Organic Tea
  • 3% back on your purchases from VivaTerra

Using sites like Shop at Home is like getting items on sale EVERY DAY!

Finally, are you swagging? Swagbucks offers you points for searching through their site instead of, say, Google. You can redeem your points for gift cards to places such as Amazon. I currently have $10 in Amazon gift cards I have earned through the site that I will spend on grocery items that would really blow my Feed a Family of 4 a Green Diet on $15 a Day budget.

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: Rebates are a form of reimbursement. Usually, you will have to spend money to get money back. Use coupons to reduce that out of pocket cost, and have a plan for the rebate check. My rebates get put back into the grocery budget.

How about you? Do you use rebates? How do you decide what to do with the money?

Submitted to Thrifty Thursday.