Friday, January 18, 2013

Leanest, meanest, maddest, baddest body

It's that time of year. Not only am I getting my groceries and my home in order, I'm getting my body in order! This of course means the normal attempts at running, weightlifting and generally healthy eating.  But I'm doing two things differently this time that I've always said I'd do ONE DAY.

My last bottle......
First, I'm giving up the Diet Coke.  :::moment of silence:::  I've been drinking Diet Coke for years. Maybe ten? At once point a couple years ago I got up to 5 cans a day. What a drain on my budget! I've been better the last year or so about only drinking one, maybe two a day, and sometimes even skipping a day. But it's junk. Pure junk. Tasty, calorie free junk. But JUNK! I'm not trying to give up caffeine, but I am giving up the chemicals and the artificial sweetener.  I've been reading about how Diet Coke can mess up your metabolism, and while none of it is totally proven, I think it's worth steering away from.

I had run out of my stash of 12-packs this week and been buying individual bottles from the machine at work and finally decided, this is the time. I drank my last one yesterday. Today I had a nice cup of tea (with actual sugar) in the morning and then some spa water with my lunch and through the afternoon. Now, that spa water might not have the magical metabolism boosting properties it claims to have, but it's tasty and I know it's not bad for me.  Sounds like a win/win to me!  Next week I'm making the mango ginger water

Second, I'm going to break the Lean Cuisine habit. Pretty much the same story. Been eating them for ten years, but lots of sodium and junk. I missed out on the MAJOR stock up I planned to do the first couple weeks of January when they were on sale for $2. I bought some, but not the freezer full I planned.  So again, I've decided, this is the time. I need to make my own lunches. I can have that boxed meal for $2 or I can have an entire pound of lean chicken breast for the same price. Split that up over the week with some sides and salad and VOILA!  Healthier and cheaper.  The hardest part is going to be getting in the routine of pre-making lunches.  I'm hoping (I know) I can find some freezer recipes that I can divide up and still have the convince of the Lean Cuisine.  I know I do better eating a hot lunch, so this is going to be my goal.

Now, what about YOU?  What are you doing to CLEAN your body?  How are you working towards your leanest, meanest, maddest, baddest body?  How do you feed yourself at the office all day without getting bored and hitting the vending machines and convince store?  I'd love to hear it all!  Comment and let's get some dialog going!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pass my crown please!

Once upon a time, I was a little girl who loved busy work. I remember spending time each week clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper for my mom.  Loved it. Did it very neatly. I'm weird.

Fast forward to adulthood and grocery coupons never made it into my housekeeping.  I mean, how impressed was I supposed to be at saving 40 cents off my toothpaste?  Zip up another ten years (oy vey how did ten years of adulthood pass???) and now I'm a little bit in love with coupons. I have a hard and fast grocery budget for the first time EVER and I was shocked how much I spent just to feed myself and occasionally the boyfriend.  $250-300?? No thank you. Plus I was cheating on my numbers and not putting things like toothpaste and toilet paper in that budget. Now I can stay under $175 and all those non-food things are included! (and I feed the boyfriend a lot more too)
Took all of this home for free!

Yesterday I played the grocery store coupon game and finally hit the jackpot. $35 of groceries for free! You may now call me the Coupon Queen!  I'll break the details down at the end, but for now I just want to hit the highlights so YOU can save more money on your grocery budget too.

To save a LOT on your budget, you need two main things: coupons and a sales match-up listing.

I get most of my coupons from the Sunday paper ( to find CHEAP delivery) and from

A sales match-up list will show you what is on sale THAT week that will match up with the coupons that are out there. So you don't just use a coupon to buy Cheerios or just buy them on sale. You do BOTH and save the most. I have two major stores to choose from near my home and I've settled into shopping at Harris Teeter because there are GREAT match-ups online and almost none for the Giant stores. I mainly visit and the forums at  Those links are for the sections on Harris Teeter, but you can explore the sites to see if YOUR grocery store is included! (plus you’ll find all kinds of educational info for couponers on those sites)

It really helps too that my store doubles coupons, with special coupon events about 10 times a year. They double coupons up to 99 cents every day, but during a coupon event they’ll double coupons up to $2! That’s part of the way I got everything in the pic for free.

I told a little lie up there. I said you need two main things. You need a third. You need to throw out your fear of stockpiling.  I’m not an “extreme couponer” or a hoarder. But after the sale this past week, I do have enough pasta sauce for 3-4 months. It was 16 cents a jar when all was said and done! Buying more now, allows me to avoid buying it when I need it and paying $2 a jar. Sales come and go in cycles and you start to see that when you watch the ads for a while. I freaked out the boyfriend a little when I started because 5 boxes of cereal looked crazy to him. But I’m keeping it all in check and he’s happy that he hasn’t had to buy soup (his go-to bachelor food) in a long time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my coupon adventures!  Feel free to close this post now unless you want the DETAILS of my $35 jackpot deal.


Here we go! To start, I got everything in the pic at Harris Teeter during last week’s coupon event. The chicken, rolls, veggies and V8 were part of a “meal deal” sale where if you buy all of them, they take $9.98 off your total. That brought the total for those items down to $6.29. I had a $1 coupon each for the rolls and the chicken plus a .50 cent coupon for the veggies. Double those, take them off the total and now those items cost me $1.29! Moving onto the soup. The cans were on sale for $2 each. I bought 4, totaling $8. I had two coupons for a $1 off two, plus a store coupon saved on my loyalty card for $1*. So I spent $3 for all 4 cans. The microwave cups were on sale for $3 each and I bought 2. I had two coupons for $1 off. So I spent $2 for two cups. Looks like I owe the store $6.29 plus tax!  I also had two of those coupons that print at the register** from my last trip. One was for $2 off my order and the other for $1 off my order. The $2 coupon doubled! (they double at random and the policy doesn’t say if they should or shouldn’t, so you go with the flow) So now I’ve saved another $5!  It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that the manager who came to approve my coupons scanned one of them twice***, saving me an extra $2. That brought my final total with tax to negative .44 cents!  Since the store doesn’t know what to do with a negative total, I grabbed a single serve bag of M&Ms and added them to my order. I now had to pay 57 cents for what would have cost me $36 and change if I had paid full price for all of it!  As an extra bonus, I got another one of those register coupons for $1 off the NEXT time I go shopping.

*At Harris Teeter the loyalty card is called a VIC card (very important customer) and when you register it online, you get extra bonuses. The e-VIC coupons are referred to as ZVRs (pronounced like savers, but with a z). You can also link your card to for more saving that won't show up until later in your Saving Star account.

**these are actually called Catalina coupons, because the company that makes the printers and runs the promos is named Catalina. Mostly the machine prints coupons both at random and based on what you bought. But sometimes they run specific promos like buy 3 Classico pasta sauce and get a Catalina for $2 off your next trip. 

***Ethical dilemma time. Do I go back to the store and return those two dollars? I say no because I didn't notice the error at the time, I in no way tried to work the system, and I also extend grace when the store makes errors that lower my savings and don't demand the change I think I'm due. If I had noticed at the register, I would have had them fix it. After the fact, it all comes out in the wash. 
**** And LAST, if you have a smart phone you should get the new ibotta app. You choose deals, buy them, scan the UPC and take a pic of your receipt and you get the cash in your PayPal account which you can send to your checking account, so it's all secure.  You should of course use my referral link, and if you do it by Friday 3pm you get a $5 credit once you use it the first time.