March: Frozen Food Month & FREE Printable Freezer Inventory Form

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2013 March Frozen Food Month

Do you have room in your freezers?  March is Frozen Food month! This is typically the month when many couponers stockpile their freezers for the months to come.  So with that said I wanted to remind you about the Free Printable Freezer Inventory Form, it will help you keep your freezer in check and cut down on wasted food.

I sure hope you have some spare room in your freezer because Safeway is starting it off strong!  Buy $30 or more in participating frozen food items and you’ll get a $10 off your next order coupon, buy $20 – get $5.

The key here is in the wording – it says buy $30 worth and not spend $30 – what that typically means is that the $30 is BEFORE manufacturer’s coupons.  Of course I’ll have test it tomorrow for you to be certain, but in years past this has always been the case.

Here’s where I’m confused – the fine print reads:

Amount spent is NET of any coupons, promotions, or discounts and excludes all taxes.  

Translation please?  Anyone care to chime in – what do you think that fine print means?

Stay tuned for this week’s Safeway deals…


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Zaycon Foods: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast – $1.79 per pound! (Pickup locations nationwide!)

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Zaycon Foods is coming to your area again!  They’ll be here in Bend on April 4th.  Last time around they sold out in many locations so make sure you check and see if your location is on the map and place your ordersoon. There are MANY other locations across the US, you can see them all here.  The best part is that by buying in bulk you can save big.  They currently have boneless skinless chicken breast on sale for $1.79/lb.

How it works is you select your location and pickup date, then choose how many units (40lb units) you’d like to purchase.  If 4olbs is too much for you, go in on it with a friend!  The when the date comes you arrive at the location you selected and simply pull up and they’ll check you off the list and load your chicken in the car for you.  It’s very well packaged to avoid any leaking.

Zaycon Foods Truck From there you go home and that’s where the fun begins.  Ideally you’d have some sort of vacuum sealer because you’ll want to make sure the chicken is packaged properly for the freezer – there is so much of it you won’t go through it very quickly.  In fact today we still have 6 packages left (about 12lbs) in our freezer.

Zaycon Foods Chicken Vacuum Sealing Then make sure you also have room in your freezer because it will be FULL of chicken!  I have to tell you it has been so nice to always have some chicken on hand for the last 3+ months.  Not only that but I’m not dealing with packaging and prepping gross chicken every single week – it was done in one fell swoop.

Zaycon Foods Chicken Ready for the Freezer

Here are a few more details about what you will receive:

• 100 % natural chicken with no added hormones, additives or artificial ingredients

• Comes directly from the processor and has never been frozen

• Sold by the case — 40 lbs in each case

• Case dimensions—18 in wide x 12 in deep x 7 in tall

I’d love to hear from you, have you ever ordered meat from Zaycon Foods?  Please share your experience!  You can read some of the comments from readers below from the last time we posted this offer, I hope that helps!


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Lowe’s Canning Clearance – Great time to buy!

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Mr. Frugal stopped by Lowes today because we’ve been hearing about this huge Ball Canning Supply sale and sure enough he hit the jackpot!  I am fairly certain this clearance is widespread, but you may want to call your local store first.  This is a great time of year to stock up on these supplies, not just for canning purposes but the jars can be used for a variety of great Christmas gifts!


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Could you feed your family on a $4 per person per day budget?

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Could you feed your family on a $4 per person per day budget?  For some that might seem impossible for others that would be an increase in their current budget.  I’ll share our personal budget in a bit more detail shortly, but I wanted to touch on what the  Grocery Outlet excutive team is doing this month. They’re each adopting the $4/day challenge for themselves personally and sharing their stories over on the Grocery Outlet Bargainista Blog.

Why are they doing this though?  Here’s how it all started…

For one in seven Americans, hunger is a difficult reality.  To help our community’s hungry, we’re hosting our second annual Independence from Hunger food drive.  This is a month-long, company-wide food drive throughout July, bringing together Grocery Outlet stores and their customers to help feed people in their local communities who are facing hunger and food insecurity.

Last year, Grocery Outlet stores and their customers collectively donated more than $225,000 in cash, gift card and food donations to help support local food assistance agencies as part of the Independence from Hunger food drive.  In 2012, we are hoping to raise even more support to help fight hunger.

So when Grocery Outlet asked me to take on this challenge – as serious as it is, Mr. Frugal and I did chuckle a bit.  We wondered who would be sending us the extra $93 for that week’s budget.  You see for our family of 6 (2 adults and 4 elementary aged children) our budget is $75 – $100 per week.  That is right around $2 per person per day.  I’m sure you’re wondering just how we’re able to accomplish this.  You may assume we eat processed food, indulge on the $1 menu at fast food joints, and subside on the cheapest white bread we can find.  However it’s actually quite the opposite here in our home, let me try to  explain how we manage this budget but giving you a peak into 6 different ways we save money on a weekly basis.

1.  Stock up when prices are low.  I practice the stock pile method of buying several weeks/months worth of an item when it’s at it’s rock bottom price so I never have to pay retail.  While also always staying within our weekly grocery budget.  The way we shop means that we may not have a certain item in the house for a long time, if it’s not on sale – but when I find it at my  “Buy It Now” price I’ll stock up.

2.  Meal Plan and Cook from Scratch.  Ingredients are cheap and they go a lot farther than processed food.  Quite frankly it’s much healthier to make your own beef stroganoff than it would be to buy a box of Hamburger Helper.  I recently shared how I stretched one rotisserie chicken between 3 meals.  I paid $5 for the chicken, it could have been a bit less if I roasted it at home but time is also a factor in our weekly budget.  That breaks down to about $1.66 per meal for the protein or $0.28 per person.

Here are a few other Meal Planning Resources for you…

Free Printable Freezer Inventory Form

Meal plan for the YEAR in one weekend!

Sample Weekly Grocery Shopping Trip for a Family of 6 – $78.70 Spent

You can also view our weekly Meal Plans and From Our Pantry Frugal Recipes

3.  Eat in season fruit and veggies.  When produce is in season it’s cheap and a deal is easy to come by.  I like to eat grilled asparagus all year ’round though so when it’s cheap I buy a lot and freeze it!  I know this might be super obvious but it is something I’ve done for years and it allows us to eat whatever veggie or fruit that sounds good regardless of whether it’s in season or not.   It’s also another trick to keeping our weekly grocery budget so low. Recently I stocked up on asparagus and over the summer I stocked up on strawberries, we’re still using them 6+ months later in smoothies.   They’re deliciously sweet and nothing like the ones we would have to buy in the middle of the winter plus we made amazing Homemade Strawberry Jam with them too!

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4. Shop Grocery Outlet and often. Grocery Outlet is a staple in my weekly shopping budget, you can see a few of the deals I’ve scored recently at Grocery Outlet over here. Grocery Outlet is like a treasure hunt, you never know what deal you’re going to find!  The prices and stock change out often, making room for more great deals each and every time you shop!

5. Use Coupons.  Here at The Frugal Find we share deals on a regular basis, many of them requiring the use of coupons.  You may think it’s too time consuming or that the deals are only for junk food, but I’d encourage you to head on over and take a look at some of the recent coupons and deals we’ve uncovered.  You may even want to watch a few of the videos I filmed about how to find coupons, where to use them, and how to know if you’re really getting a good deal or not.

6. DIY or Homemade Household Items for less!  Any chance you get to make something you normally pay a pretty penny for at home from scratch instead is almost always going to cost you significantly less.  Here are a few homemade/DIY recipes that we’ve tried with great success…

Homemade Dog Food Recipe

Frugal DIY: Turn Your Magazines into Christmas Bows!

Homemade PB&J and Grilled Cheese Uncrustables

Homemade Liquid Fabric Softener

Homemade Granola Bars

Freezer ‘BRC’ Beans, Rice, and Cheese Burritos

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Of course this is just the tip of ice burg, for those of you frugalites out there I am certain if we put our heads together we could come up with a wide variety of money saving methods.  The goal isn’t just to save, but to LIVE WELL on less.  It is possible and whether you need to or have to, there is hope and it can be done on $2/day or $4/day.

 


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(Updated List!) Items I WILL buy at Costco…

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It’s been almost 2 years since I first posted my “Items I WILL buy at Costco post” and in that time we’ve switched servers more times than I can count. Thankfully each time it was to accomodate the growth that we weren’t anticipating, but sadly in one of the moves we lost a lot of images and this post was one of the main ones to suffer the loss.  It took me hours to put this post together the first time around so frankly I’ve been dreading it, but it’s finally happening!  Mr. Frugal and I spent quite a bit of time yesterday at Costco getting ready for this post, today I’ll be adding quite a bit of new content but there is MORE to come!  Also stay tuned for an updated “What we would NEVER buy at Costco” post as well.

It’s been 2 years now that we’ve had our Costco membership, you can read about Why We Bought a Costco Membership.  The following is a photo series of items I do buy and would suggest you buy at Costco – these items are rarely cheaper even with a good sale or coupon (if they even exist) and as of right now I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal.  Plus I think the $1.50 hotdog/drink combo alone may be worth the membership :)

Fruits & Veggies: In most cases, I prefer the Farmer’s Market but when the market is not open I’ll opt for Costco.  However not for all of our produce.  I always shop the grocery stores “loss leaders” first – the produce that they have marked down to $0.99/lb or less.  They do this to get you in the door and it works for me!  I buy in bulk and freeze my fruits and veggies when I can find them around $0.99/lb or less and I stockpile my freezer with seasonal produce.

Dairy (Milk, Eggs, Butter, Yogurt, and Cheese):

Milk: It really depends when it comes to milk, lately I’ve seen some great in-store promotions for free milk with the purchase of various breakfast items that I already have coupons for.  So at this point it time it’s been a while since I’ve purchased my milk at Costco, but this is a great place to start for a good base price.

Eggs, Butter, and Cheese: Again here, my buy it now price for eggs is $0.99/dozen and Costco is pretty close but a bit over.  So it depends on the store sales when I need to buy eggs.  Fred Meyer often has their brand of butter on sale for $1.66 so that is my stockpile price and Costco is a bit higher at $1.84/lb.  Cheese is almost always on sale somewhere, so unless you really need it in bulk or prefer a higher end brand.  We love Tillamook so we buy this occasionally at Costco but you can likely find a deal elsewhere.  We recently stocked up on Lucerne cheese at Safeway for $2/lb.

Yogurt: I can’t find a single deal on single serve yogurt that I would ever consider a good buy – my buy it now price for yogurt is $0.25 each.  However when it comes to the larger tubs of Greek Yogurt, Costco is almost always the best buy unless I find it clearanced somewhere.

Household Goods (Toilet Paper, Kitchen Trash Bags, etc)

Toilet Paper: For most household goods I prefer to buy the smaller packages, especially when it comes to household cleaners and laundry detergent.  You can find deals on these regularly or you can make your own laundry detergent from home and save a bundle!  However quite the opposite is true when it comes to toilet paper.  That is one item that rarely, if ever goes on sale for less than Costco sells it for.  I’ve found a deal once or twice and I was sure to post it on TFF, but for the most part I would send you to Costco for this purchase.

We’ve gone back and forth about how to determine what exactly is a good price for toilet paper.  This is the formula I use below.  I’d also say that anything roughly below $0.50/roll is a good deal.  With that said brands vary great by size/length/and ply.  That is why the formula below is a sure fire way to know if you’re getting a good deal or not.

This is the equation I use with Costco’s Kirkland Brand #s to as a gauge…

Square Footage = 1539 sq ft
Insert a decimal 2 places to the left = 15.39 ($15.39 or less is a good deal and Costco’s is $14.99)
= $0.01 per square foot SO if you have coupons or if the cost of the toilet paper is LESS than this, it’s a good deal.

Kitchen Trash Bags: The same goes for Kitchen Trash bags – deals to exist but the price you pay for 200 bags ($0.07 per bag) just isn’t worth the hassle of clipping coupons and hunting down a deal.  Plus the quality of these bags far surpasses most other brands, in my opinion.  I also love that 200 ct box lasts us several months.

Breakfast Staples (Oats, Maple Syrup, Honey, etc):

Steel Cut Oats: Costco now carries Bob’s Red Mill products which makes me so happy!  They have 4.5lb bag of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats for just $4.75 that’s just over $1/lb and I’m not 100% certain but I am pretty sure that beats any grocery store price or bulk bin, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Maple Syrup:  We recently ditched regular syrup in favor of Maple Syrup, it’s much better for you and we think it tastes a lot better too!  It is however fairly pricey.  I’ve found great deals on VitaCost with the new member free $10 credit, however on a regular basis Costco’s price of  $0.37 per ounce is hard to beat.

Honey:  Costco’s prices are good, but the huge bottle deters me.  I’d much rather smaller more manageable bottles, so if you’re up to refilling them that is an option.  We however prefer the taste of the Great Lakes honey that we order on Amazon, it’s actually just a few cents cheaper right now too (prices can change at any time though!)

Almonds: I have yet to find a better price on almonds at $3.26/lb.  These are so fresh and tasty too!  We use them in a huge variety of ways – roasting, trail mix, baking, etc.

That’s it for today, but I’ll be adding more items that I will buy at Costco to this post as I have more time available. I hope you’ve enjoyed this update! What are some items you think are consistently the lowest price at Costco?


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March: Frozen Food Month & Printable Freezer Inventory Form

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I’m sorry I forgot to warn you guys in advance and well March is already here.  How did that happen?  Typically in February I post a notice that March is Frozen Food month and we’ll start to see deal galore.  This is typically the month when many couponers stockpile their freezers for the months to come.  So with that said I wanted to remind you about the Free Printable Freezer Inventory Form, it will help you keep your freezer in check and cut down on wasted food.

A few notable deals for far in include the Buy $10 (or $15) get $5 frozen food promo at Safeway as well as the Ore-ida catalina at Safeway, plus the $5 off $20 frozen foods coupon at Grocery Outlet.

 


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Toiletry Stockpile: Organized

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Has your closet fallen victim to your deal hunting lately?  Many people email in and ask “How do you organize your stockpile?” Above is a picture of our stockpile toiletry closet.  Food for thought…

A deal is only a deal if…

  1. You need it.
  2. You’ll use it.
  3. You know someone who needs it.
  4. You know someone who will use it.

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FREE Customizable Stockpile Price List!

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Crystal over at Money Saving Mom is just brilliant and has a brilliant team of people helping her.  I’ve had the great opportunity to meet and chat with her in the past and I just LOVE her!  Well you’re going to love her too (if you don’t already) because she’s put together a customizable stockpile price list!  I’ve shared my stockpile price video and list recently and have been meaning to put together a sheet like this, for way too long.  Now there is no need to, hers is absolutely perfect!  Head on over to see for yourself.


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Let’s live the GIVE this week.

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Without getting into the politics of the issue, it’s evident that there will be several families employed by the government and serving in the military living on quite a bit less over the next period (hopefully short period) of time.  If you have a stockpile, this is the perfect opportunity to give. Will you join me this week in putting together a few bags of groceries and toiletries for a family in need?

Save more. Give more. Live more.

Let’s live the give this week.


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My toiletry stockpile MESS!

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So tonight, I realized how out of control my toiletry stockpile closet had gotten since this video. Please don’t tell me I’m the only one with a scary toiletry closet!

Somewhere between shopping, testing deals, taking photos, and blogging about the deals the part of putting the items I purchased away (in an orderly fashion) was lost. So last night I decided enough was enough and I tackled the closet!  I still can’t believe it looked like that, it’s like I didn’t REALLY see how bad it was until I looked at the picture I had taken, very strange.

Here is my toiletry stockpile closet AFTER the clean sweep.

I realized just how many bandaids we had.  I posted this on the TFF Facebook wall tonight (last night, whatever!)…

My kids (4 of them) could each scrape their knee everyday for 3 months and I’d still have bandaids leftover. However I cannot wash my face tomorrow, I’m out of face wash. My toiletry closet really needed to be cleaned.

That is the very important part about staying somewhat organized – not buying too much of one thing and not buying what you actually need.  With all of this said, please be cautious not to let couponing and stockpiling take over your life!  With the launch of the new Extreme Couponing series on TLC, I’m concerned for the next batch of couponers.

Extreme couponing (the way it’s portrayed by TLC) isn’t the norm, but you can read more of my ranting on that topic in this post.  My toiletry stockpile is definitely significant, but still in and of itself probably only a couple of months worth.  Stockpiling isn’t about buying enough at once so you NEVER have to shop again, or so that you have enough deodorant until you’re 80 years old.  It’s about buying enough when it’s on sale so you NEVER have to pay full price again.

A deal is only a deal if…

  1. You need it.
  2. You’ll use it.
  3. You know someone who needs it.
  4. You know someone who will use it.



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Our Toiletry Stockpile Video

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Since we moved recently I thought I’d show you how we are organizing our toiletries this time around.  Now that we have a little more space and a garage (praise the Lord!) we’re keeping our toiletries and household goods separate.  By that I mean, our laundry supplies, toilet paper, paper towels etc are all out in the garage.  That will be a separate video.  Today I’m showing you inside our everyday toiletry closet where we keep shampoo, medicine, razors, toothpaste, etc.

Do you have a stockpile? How do you organize it and keep track of what you have to avoid over-stocking/under-stocking issues?  If you have pictures or a video that you’d like to share of your stockpile, send me an email!  It can be of your food, toiletries, or make-up – whatever it is that you stockpile to save money – I’m sure The Frugal Find readers would love to see it!  So grab your camera, snap a few pics or a short video and send it on over!


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What I consider to be “Buy It Now” Prices.

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I’ve been working on gathering what I consider to be a list of my “Buy it Now” price points.  This is basically the lowest price we’ll see these items at and it’s in most cases it’s also the highest price I will pay.  I practice the stock pile method of buying several weeks/months worth of an item when it’s at it’s rock bottom price so I never have to pay retail.  While also always staying within our $50 a week grocery budget.  The way we shop means that we may not have a certain item in the house for a long time, if it’s not on sale – but when I find it at my  “Buy It Now” price I’ll stock up.

Something you should know too is that most stores follow a 6 week sales cycle, every 6 weeks you’ll see that there is a selection of products at a rock bottom price.  It moves throughout the store – one week it will be the meat, another it will be the cereals, and so on.  That tells me that if my pantry is low, I might want to consider stocking up (if possible) for the next 4-6 weeks.  Only if it’s something we NEED though, you don’t want to stock up on fruit snacks just because they’re at the “Buy It Now” price.  But cereal, oatmeal, ground beef, etc would be something I’d buy extra of.

I’ve linked to several examples below of when I’ve shared with you deals that I consider to be my “Buy It Now” price, please note that these deals ARE expired – they are just for reference.  I try to share as many of my personal shopping trips as possible, you can see all the shopping trips I’ve written about so far here!

Groceries:

Chicken Breast (Boneless/Skinless) – $1 – $1.70/lb
Ground Beef – $1 – $1.50/lb
Ground Turkey – $2.50 – $3 for a 20 oz package
Hot Dogs – $0.50 – $1 per package (8 pk)
Sliced Sandwich Cheese – $1 package
Chips – $1/bag
Crackers – Free – $0.75/box
Peanut Butter – $1/16 oz jar
Yogurt - $0.25 per cup
Cereal here and here – Free – $0.50/box
Whole Wheat Bread (Oroweat Outlet) – $0.75 – $1 per Loaf
Juice – Never more than $1 a bottle
Milk – $2/gallon (sometimes free!)
Canned Veggies – $0.25 – $0.50 ea

Toiletries:

Shampoo – Free up to $0.50 ea
Toothpaste (Do I really need to link to a Free toothpaste deal?) – FREE!
Deodorant – Free
Razors (Ditto the toothpaste) – Free
Cosmetics – Free – $2/ea
Baby Wipes – Free – $1/box (individual refill boxes)
Baby Diapers – $3.50 – $5.00 package

Household Supplies:

Toilet Paper – Free & Up…These are the items that are rarely FREE unless you plan your trip wisely and use overage, Catalinas, Try Me Free Rebates, and $ off $$ coupons towards specific products such as toilet paper & paper towels.
Paper Towels – Ditto above, but a great stock up scenario is this one…
Cleaning Supplies (Windex, Scrubbing Bubbles, etc) – Free – $0.50/bottle
Dishwashing Detergent – Free – $1.50/bottle or box
Paper Plates & Ziploc Bags – $0.50/ea

Now I realize this isn’t anywhere near complete, and that’s because I need YOUR help!  What other items would you like to see on this list?  I’d love to hear your price points and feedback.  I’d love to hear from you on this topic.  Did you find it helpful, inspiring, overwhelming…?


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