Freebies and Deals

Request a free sample of Emergen-C – this stuff is full of Vitamin C and B vitamins too!  (Thanks Money Saving Mom!)

Sign up here to get a free o.b. sample and carrying case. (Thanks ThriftyMama!)

Check out this great list of organic coupon sources. If your like me and buy organics, this is a great wealth of information.

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Coupon Thiefs

Warning: this is a rant.

While grocery shopping at Fred Meyer this weekend, I grabbed a Sunday newspaper so I could take advantage of the coupons. I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the papers were a bit disheveled.

I sat down at home later that day with my scissors, ready to cut out the good coupons and all the coupon inserts were missing!  Thinking back, I’m pretty sure someone took the coupon inserts out of several papers, inserted them into one paper and only paid for one paper.

This makes me so annoyed! I have  learned my lesson and will make sure to flip through my paper and check for the coupons before buying it. I know I shouldn’t be surprised. I guess the economy really is bad when people start stealing coupon inserts!

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Menu Planning Monday

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I got some great deals this week on mark-down steak and organic chicken and stocked up on some essentials at Costco. Here is my plan for this week:

Monday: Steak and sweet potatoes

Tuesday: Skillet Tamale Pie (America’s Test Kitchen recipe) using ground turkey

Wednesday: Tacos with ground turkey

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Out with visiting family

Saturday: Skillet Lasagna (America’s Test Kitchen Recipe)

Sunday: grilled panini sandwiches (bacon, ham, swiss); pizza for dinner

We have some family visiting us for the weekend so I tried to plan kid-friendly meals. I’m sure we will take them out to a few fun places in the area while they are here, but not for every meal obviously.

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Valentines Day

More couples seem to be bucking the conventional Valentine’s Day tradition of expensive gifts and a fancy dinner out. For some it is the poor economy, some refuse to celebrate a consumerism-focused holiday and others are just poor planners.

We always celebrate V-Day somehow, but in years past we usually celebrated with “frugal” unconventional Valentine’s Day plans. We were poor college students for several years of our relationship and took turns planning something special for the day. One memorable year, M bought a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s and then burned it in his tiny-sized apartment oven. Last year we got take-out from our favorite inexpensive Thai restaurant and stayed home.

Gifts are usually small or we just forgo them altogether. Last year I participated in a local food bank fundraiser. I gave a $30 donation for a Seattle’s Best coffee mug filled with coffee, orange juice, cinnamon rolls and a couple of gift certificates for Jamba Juice all delivered in a nice box to M at work Valentine’s Day morning. All of the items are donated so it’s a great fundraiser for the food bank. He was really happy the money went to charity and he enjoyed the yummy treats. I’ve already signed up again this year! (Shhh… don’t tell!)

This year we will have family visiting us over Valentine’s Day so we probably won’t really do anything romance-focused. I plan on making and decorating some heart-shaped cookies with my nieces!

As we know, it’s not the money spent, but the special touches that will be remembered. Here are my tips for a fun and frugal Valentine’s Day:

1. Bake/Cook something homemade – Wake up early and cook your spouse breakfast with some extra touches or bake their favorite dessert. You can even go heart-themed with pancakes or cookies.

2. Takeout and a movie rental – This is a great frugal date anytime, but its an especially welcome retreat on a day full of imposed fuss.

3. Use leftover scrapbooking and art supplies to create a handmade card. Take some time to write a thoughtful and sincere note inside.

4. Make a Meal together at home – Pick out some fun recipes then head to the grocery store and shop for ingredients together. Make sure to choose a bottle of wine and some yummy cheese to enjoy together while you cook.

5. Skating and Dessert – Have some fun skating around holding hands at your local ice rink and then head to a coffee shop or dessert joint for a cup of hot cocoa and a tasty treat.

6. Take a stroll – Bundle up and take a long walk, just the two of you, through your neighborhood for some uninterrupted chat time.

7. Dine at an ethnic restaurant – If you can afford a small splurge and are up for some adventure, make reservations at a new-to-you ethnic restaurant. They are usually less expensive and often don’t have the overpriced V-Day menus. Try something daring and different like Ethiopian, Peruvian or Moroccan.

8. Try out a new activity your spouse is interested in. Whether its visiting the indoor rock-wall or checking out a local museum, make plans to do something that he has mentioned wanting to do. He’ll be touched you were paying attention and happy to try it out together.

9. Plan a Trip – Spend the night in together researching, planning and booking this year’s vacation. Just make sure you plan to the scale of your budget, whether it’s a local road-trip or an exotic vacation. Then get excited together about your upcoming trip!

10. Take a Cooking Class Together – Whole Foods offers fun cooking-classes, including special Valentine’s themes for around $10. Check your local stores’ calendar for classes and other free tasting events.

Are you planning anything special this Valentines Day? What is your favorite frugal date idea?

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Menu Planning Monday

I’m feeling tired and just “blah” today. Menu planning has become habit for me, so even though I am by no means energized for this week of meals, here we go:

Monday: club paninis (turkey, bacon, tomato and avocado in our sandwich grill)

Tuesday: salmon, baked sweet potatoes, veggies

Wednesday: Hubs working late, leftovers for me

Thursday: Chicken Chili (never got to making this last week) (ATK Recipe)

Friday: Out

Saturday: Steak fajitas (using up some frozen steak)

Sunday: chicken parmesan over spaghetti (ATK Light Recipe)

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“The Perfect Storm”

This recession (“meltdown”, “disaster”, etc) is pretty complicated to try and understand. I have read and heard many explanations and theories on why this happened. I have also heard many different versions of blame. This article published by CNN today gives an understandable explanation that clears up some of the confusion and truly helps me understand a lot of the finance terms.

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Menu Planning Monday

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I do not always stick exactly to my menu plan, but at least I have a plan!

Monday: Leftover lamb stew from weekend

Tuesday: Buffalo Chicken Wraps

Wednesday: Baked salmon, sweet potatoes and veggies

Thursday: Ground turkey tacos

Friday: Chicken Chili (America’s test kitchen recipe); prep on Thursday

Saturday: make Spanakopita during day; Date Night

Sunday: Superbowl get together (I’m making brats, hot dogs, veggies with dip and cookies)

Yum! I’m looking forward to Thursday.

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