Monday, August 31, 2009

My KMART SUPER Double Trip - $24.79!!!

Hi Readers and Friends! Remember my goal of $40 at KMart? Well, I came in at $24.79 for ALL of the stuff in the following 2 pictures. I'll detail the FREE items below.

Here are my grocery items. Nothing was absolutely free here; however I paid .49 for the A-1. I paid .25 each for the rice packets.

Now here are my toiletry, personal, and laundry/cleaning items. The 4 Nature's Source cleaners were FREE. The Dry Idea deodorant was FREE. The 2 First Aid kits were FREE. The rubber gloves were FREE. The Kotex was FREE. The mailing envelope was FREE. The votive candle was FREE (and is burning upstairs now, by the way.) I paid .39 for each of the Pert Plus shampoos for men (I bought 4). The Lady Mitchum deodorant was 2/.29 (they were BOGO and I had 2 .75 MQ's.) The men's Mitchum was also BOGO and I got both for .99! The Dr Shol's inserts was .29 and came with a FREE pedicure kit. (I have these killer wedge sandals that I thought these would help with...) The Charmin wipes were .55.
After all of my super double coupons and a $10/$100 purchase (that I used BEFORE I gave them my coupons) my total was $24.79! $24.79 for 40 items!!! Mark's jaw hit the floor and then he started shaking his head...he couldn't believe it! Before they started taking off my coupons, I glanced at the total of $118... (I just realized that if I hadn't bought the Pull-Ups, my total would have been UNDER $20!)
According to my receipt, I purchased $123.26 worth of items for $24.79. That, my friends, is a savings of approximately 80%!!!
How did you do at KMart this week? Did you hit your goal? I hope you at least had fun trying! :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

September's Stockpile Challenge

Well, here we are, September. You are staring me in the face. And, with you comes (1) preschool tuition payments (2) YMCA class payments (3) and our 10th wedding anniversary. Oh, and did I mention 3 glorious weeks of my DH not teaching? (This is great for family time, by the way, but a little tight on the purse strings...)

SO, I am issuing myself a challenge. You have all seen the enormousity (not a word, I know) of my stockpile, right? (If not, check back a few posts.) I will live off of this stockpile for the entire month of September while following our monthly meal plan. I will cut my weekly grocery budget from $55 to $25. (Yes, folks that is $100 for the month.) I will allow myself perimeter purchases such as dairy, lunchmeat and produce and a few neccessities as needed (pull-ups, bleach powder, etc.)

Now we all know that there is a SUPER double coming up this week at KMart. I'll be honest with you all, this is about killing me right now! Mark and I discussed and I am still going to participate but I will be VERY SELECTIVE in my shopping and will aim to spend no more than $40 OOP. (I am going to need to carry a calculator with me in the store, people!)

So, my totals for September should be $100 for grocery items and no more than $40 for the stockpiling that I will do at KMart. OK, there it is in black and white. Now, who is going to keep me accountable? Please help me, friends!!! I can't do this alone. (Lord, I can do all things through me this month, please.)

Hopefully this will get us on a good start toward saving for Christmas and help us have a nice anniversary. Happy anniversary, dear, these 10 years have been good and we've certainly learned a lot - hoping the next 50 will be even better as we strive to "live like no one else!" Love you!

Friday, August 28, 2009

September's Meal Plan

A new month is here and that prompts a new meal plan for the Labutis Family. Here is what we will be feasting on this month!

1. Tator Tot Casserole and Applesauce
2. Swiss Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
3. Frozen Pizza
4. Burgers on Grill, Baked Beans, Chips
5. Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans
6. Baked Ziti, Garlic Bread, Caesar Salad
7. Yingling Pork Chops in Crockpot, Cheddar/Broc Rice, Applesauce
8. Clean out the Fridge Night or Grilled Cheese + Tomato Soup
9. Beans and Weenies + Fun Desert (Dirt Pudding?)
10. Corn Chowder and Homemade Dinner Rolls
11. Beef Roast, Potatoes, Carrots and Onion
12. Tami's Chicken and Rice Casserole + Frozen Vegetable
13. Taco Night + Chips and Salsa
14. Tuna Noodle Bake + Apple Crisp
15. Lasagna + Garlic Bread
16. French Toast + Sausage Links
17. Shredded Chicken Sandwiches, Chips, Jello Salad
18. Hamburger Helper + Peas
19. Black Beans and Rice + Queso Dip with Chips
20. Clean out the Fridge Night!

Maybe you'll see something here that will inspire you for dinner tonight! Remember, a meal planned is MONEY SAVED :)

My Top Ten Reasons to Bake From Scratch

Hope's Top Ten Reasons to Bake From Scratch

10. The aroma of rising yeast and baking chocolate!
9. The warmth of the oven. (When you are done baking, crack your oven and heat your home for "free!")
8. It's cheaper than buying from the store, duh...
7. You can teach your kids science (bread rising), math (measurements), and reading (cookbooks.)
6. You control what goes in (controls allergies, preservatives, fiber) - what, there are chickpeas in the brownies?
5. You can freeze (aka. "Freezer Bake") for quick breakfasts and snacks.
4. You can use up the garden's bounty - waste not, want not. (Zucchini bread, anyone?)
3. Home-baked goodies make wonderful, economical gifts. Add a ribbon and a dollar-store wooden spoon or whisk tied on and you are set!
2. Your kids may not remember their toys when they grow up, but they will remember their favorite pie, cookie, cake that Mom made. (Mine were these soft sugar cookies made with sour milk...mmmmm!)
1. Baking is a LOST ART! Have the courage to recapture it and make memories that will last for generations to come.

Baking feeds your body, fuels creativity, and is a natural relaxer. I believe it is truly good for the soul.

My favorite recipe (and a BIG seller at my Farmer's Market):

Cranberry Zucchini Bread

2 eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups grated fresh zucchini or yellow squash
2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup dried cranberries

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter. Add baking soda and salt and mix in. Add the flour, a little at a time. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix. Fold in the dried cranberries.
  • Divide the batter equally between 2 greased loaf pans, or 4 mini loaf pans.
  • Bake for 1 hour for large loaves, 30 minutes for mini loaves. Test with a toothpick.
  • Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

Makes 2 regular loaves or 4 mini loaves.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

This will be the LAST Super Double at KMart - read below

This is an email that a blogger at "My Frugal Adeventure" received regarding KMart's Super Double Coupon Events... Sniff, Sniff.

Dear Valued Customer,
Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the discontinuation of our Double Coupon events. We are always interested in hearing from our customers.The next Double Coupon event will take place from 8/30/09 and run through 9/6/09. After that event, all future Double Coupon events will be put on hold indefinitely. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Once again, thank you for contacting us about our Double Coupon events. We appreciate your business and value you as a Sears Holdings customer. We certainly hope you will continue to make Sears Holdings your choice for quality and value.
Retail Customer Care
Sears Holdings Corporation

Apparently we are overwhelming them with our coupon binders! :) Hopefully they will realize how many of us shop these deals and will bring it back in 2010.

Let's do this last one right, friends!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

KMart - Again? You're Killing Me...

Word on the street is the KMart is having Super Double Coupons again the week of 8/30. So, start saving your big coupons and get ready for yet another trip to KMart. (Super Double Coupons = double any coupon up to $2 value, so $2 = $4! Get it?) This a good (bad) thing people, a good (bad) thing!!!

Carnival Foods

Today is the last day of the Carnival foods 2-Day Sale if you live in the Central Ohio area. I will be out later today to score some more lunch box goodies. Post to come tomorrow!

My CVS Trip = Free Stuff!

Good Morning!

Here is the loot that I scored at CVS this week. I profited about $4 to take this bounty home. Here's how:

My First Transaction (Purchase at Check Out):

2 Reeses's Peanut Butter Cups (sale 2/$1)
***used BOGO coupon from Sunday's paper + .55 off coupon from Sunday paper
********************************************************both were FREE!

2 Carefree Ultimate Protection Pantiliners (3.79 each)
***used $1.00 printable coupon from computer
***earned 3.79 ECB for each purchase (2)
******************************************************profited $1.00 to take home!!

Barbasol Shaving Cream (1.79)
***used $1.00 off any shaving cream purchase from CVS receipt
********************************************************************paid .79

Huggies Natural Care Princess Wipes (2.99)
***used $2.00 off any Huggies wipes from CVS receipt
********************************************************************paid .99

I used a $4 ECB and a $3 ECB from last week to "temporarily" pay for the pantiliners, knowing that I would get that money back on the bottom of the receipt for my next purchase.

My OOP total (mostly tax) was $2.23 for this transaction. I earned $7.58 in ECB's at the bottom of my receipt. This means I profited $5.35 on this transaction.

My Second Transaction:

2 Revlon Nail Polishes ($4.99 each)
***I used 2 $1.00 off manufacturer's coupons on these.
1 Revlon Eyeshadow Quad ($6.49)
***I used $1.00 off manufacturer's coupon.

I splurged on this knowing that if I spent $15 in Revlon products, I would earn back $7 in ECB's for next week!

I used my $7.58 ECB from the pantiliners above.
I used $1.89 ECB from last week.
I used $1.98 ECB from last week.
I used $2.00 ECB from last week.

This brought my OOP total to $1.05. I earned $7.00 in ECB for next week. Bringing my total profit to $5.95.

Overall, I spent $3.28 for $29.83 worth of product. Not a bad trip at all, friends! What do you think?

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Son Is Adorable

My son Grant (age 4), has been following the number of follwers I've received on my blog. He is "officially" signing up today under my account as a follower of this blog. He loves to help at the store, holds coupons, and is a SUPER BOY! I adore him.

(There you go, Son, you are a follower!
xoxoxox, Mommy)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The CVS Game

Before I post my CVS trip from today, I wanted to take a minute to explain the "rules" of CVS-ing to all of my new friends in blog-land...

FIRST, sign up for a CVS card if you don't have one already! Do it today; you won't regret it!!!The following rules apply to card holders...

1. Check the bottom of your receipt for store coupons. Example: I received a $2 off Huggies wipes coupon on the bottom of my receipt last week, which I used today to score some Princess wipes for my princess for .99! :)

2. Use ECB's to your advantage - roll them, baby! (What are ECB's you ask? Extra Care Bucks are coupons that print on the bottom of your receipt that can be used as CASH in the store. You can stack ECBs with manufacturers coupons to maximize your savings. If you have a $2.00 ECB and need milk, it's free! Or you want a candy bar for that matter...) When I say to roll them, what I mean is to always try to walk out of the store with what you started with. If you started with $5 ECB's today; see if you can earn $5 or more for next time. You can only do this by smart shopping of the CVS sales as not every item earns you ECB's immediately.

3. Periodically (once a quarter) you will receive ECB's on the bottom of your receipt as a bonus based off of what you spent in the store. This is BONUS MONEY! Woot-woot!

4. Use your ECB card for perscription pick-ups. For every 2 Rx's you fill at CVS, you earn $1 BONUS MONEY!

5. Shop the ad to find out which products are offering ECB's back. Purchase those products if you need them. If they are completely FREE or a MONEYMAKER, you can purchase them to donate to a food pantry, women's shelter, or school supply drive. Overall, though, try not to buy things that you will not use. We are not trying to be horders; we are trying to responsibly feed, clean, and care for our families.

6. Think outside of the drugstore box. You can buy grocery items at CVS at great prices.

7. When you really score, share your deals with like-minded friends. We can all root each other on!!!

Check back soon for a picture and see how I got paid to shop at CVS this week!

If you are looking for additional informationon the ECB program, I would encourage you to check out Keeping the Kingdom First's $5 CVS Weekly Challenge. She shows you for how to maximize your products and savings for $5 or less out of pocket every week. I learned a lot from Alyssa at this site and I love to see what deals she found that I may have overlooked.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cheap Weekends

Here is a list of my Top Ten things to do for cheap weekend fun!

10. Get a Redbox movie, pop some corn, and have a family movie night. Two free codes are: DVDONME and BREAKROOM. Otherwise, you pay just $1 for a fun-family night.

9. Eat out at a restaurant where kids eat free on weekends. A good family place is Steak N Shake (and the kids get cute packets to color and free crackers while you wait for your meal.)

8. Visit a local Farmer's Market to browse and shop for fresh produce/baked goods. The larger markets can be both a feast for your tummy and your eyes. :)

7. Visit a local museum. Where I live, we ask for a local children's science museum membership as a Christmas gift. It gives back to our local economy, fuels my children's growing minds, and gives us free entertainment throughout the year. With our membership, we can visit hundreds of other science centers throught the US for free.

6. Visit a local park or metropark to walk, bike, feed ducks, and play. Pack a picnic and make an afternoon of it!

5. See how far you can get on a tank of gas (or a half tank). We have made "free" trips to public beaches on Lake Erie for gas only. If you pack snacks in a cooler and sand toys, you can have a great adventure for little money. In Ohio, there are many places of beauty for free or minimal admission.

4. Have a family library day. Don't be rushed. Take time to play computer games, read a few books in the library snuggled in a chair, and pick some fresh music for your week. Leave with a free movie and you've got your evening planned also...

3. Spend quality time with your friends. Organize a pot luck dinner. Play cards. Blow up the kiddie pool and let your kids make friendships that will last as long as yours have.

2. Have a family campfire in your backyard's fire pit. Make smores and tell stories. If you feel really adventurous, sleep in your backyard and watch the stars.

1. Organize a game night for LOTS of friends. Invite families. Have everyone bring a snack to share and play group games like Scene-It, Charades, Catch Phrase, Cards, etc. We used to do this regulary and I truly miss it. Our Game Nights would really draw a diverse crowd : singles, students, seniors, toddlers, teens, baby-boomers, and babysitters! It was great fun, cheap, and a night of laughter with minimal cleanup.

Here's to a good weekend! Let me know what you did to enjoy yours!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My stockpile photos

I warned you about my Scarlett complex. That's all I have to say...

Don't judge! :)

The current state of my fridge - stocked!

My pantry closet door rack - Stocked! As is my actual closet, I mean pantry!

Just one of the shelves in my basement....

Part of my deep freezer - its really full! It is holding 1/4 side of beef right now.

These are the actual food shelves in my kitchen.

OK, so it's bad. I am a gatherer! But we won't starve and my babies can't say that they are hungry. And, I can entertain. And, I can make casseroles for new moms... I am trying, Lord, to learn that YOU are all I need and to be content with YOU alone. I am learning, but can I at least feast while I learn?

"All I need is You. All I need is You, Lord. It's You, Lord."

August's Meal Plan or Why Should I Meal Plan?

Good evening, friends!

I get a lot of grief about my meal planning habits. First, it is hanging right on my freezer door for the whole world to see with big black sharpie cross-outs and arrows. Second, I am not a weekly planner (most are)...I am an overacheiver, you see...I am a MONTHLY planner. Third, we have an incredible stockpile of food and I like it that way!

You see, I was raised by a single mother and my grandmother. We had nothing, people. We stood in lines at a church to get government peanut butter and cheese (it tastes like Velveeta by the way.) I remember my grandma taking me along so we could get extra cereal... There were many nights when stewed tomatoes and bread were our dinner.

Now, mind you, we also had feasts! Thanksgiving and Easter were always HUGE! My grandma could make a mean pot of spaghetti and meatballs to feed all of us cousins (she put bread balls in the middle to stretch the meat and "make it moist.") She was known in the family for her cole slaw recipe. We liked to eat and I still do!

I kind of have the "Scarlett O'Hara" complex. You know, "As God as my witness, I'll never go hungry again" kind of thing... So, as an adult, I am a planner. A slightly obsessive organizer. A daily checkbook updater. A "honey, let's talk about our budget" kind of girl. I simply can not do one week of meal planning. What if the car breaks down and all out food money goes to repairs?!?!? I need a plan, people!

Thus, the monthly meal plan was born. I choose to plan 20-22 meals per month that can be served for dinner. When I make my plan, I have all of my meats and boxed foods on hand that I list (see my stockpile pictures to follow). I usually have to purchase fresh produce and dairy only. I like it this way - I feel prepared - I feel wise - I feel safe.

So, if there is ever a major storm in Central Ohio, I could feed you all for at least 2 weeks! :)

I choose to not plan an entire 30 days. This gives our family flexibility to have dinner with friends, family, order a pizza, attend a church function or simply throw something together on a whim. 20 days has proven over time to be nore than enough for our family.

I also only plan dinners. We eat simple breakfasts, lunches are sandwiches, mac and cheese, or leftovers. Dinner is the only thing I focus on because for me, it is the hardest.

I like having a list on the fridge. In the morning (or the night before) I can look at the list and decide what sounds good. Then, I don't have a lot of excuses. I know what to make. I have the ingredients. I have the side dishes. I just have to make it and serve it with love :)

Here is our actual August Meal Plan. We have already eaten almost half of this stuff. It's been a good month of eating here at the Labutises!

My August Meal Plan
1. Burgers on the Grill, Baked Beans, Chips
2. Grilled Italian Chicken, Rice, Grilled Garden Vegies
3. Hamburger Helper and Frozen Corn
4. Smoked Sausage, Red Potatoes, Fresh Green Beans in Crockpot
5. Sloppy Joes, Corn on Cob, Chips
6. Grilled BBQ Pork Chops, Cheddar/Broc Rice, Fresh Garden Veggies
7. Fish Sticks, Fries, Campfire with Smores
8. Sausage, Biscuits and Gravy + Scrambled Eggs
9. Deli Wraps, Fresh Veggies, and Applesauce
10. Mini Pizzas on English Muffins
11. Pork Roast, Red Potatoes, Carrots
12. Pancakes and Peppered Bacon
13. Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Caesar Salad
14. Clean out Fridge Night!
15. Shish-Ka-Bobs, Pasta Salad
16. Cresent Roll Hot Dogs, Mac and Cheese, Canned Fruit
17. Chef Salads and Homemade Bread
18. Steaks on Grill, Potatoes on Grill with Onion, Fresh Squash and Peppers
19. Hot Dogs on Grill, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw
20. Taco Salad Bar with Fritos

This week in groceries...

I try to stick to a $55/week grocery budget. If I go over one week, it's not a deal and I just spend less the next week. My monthly average is around $200 - 220. This week I went over due to the KMart super doubles sale (I don't have pics of this, sorry.) What I bought was $130 before coupons and $51 after coupons. Pretty much everything I bought was toiletries, pull-ups, medication, and cleaning supplies. This bounty will last me for months! Very little I had to do a grocery run. I will probably skip a week of shopping due to my big KMart run.

Here are my two grocery trips and totals for the week.

Carnival Foods had a nice 3 day sale. I bought a lot of FUN stuff for lunches, some soda for the hubs, and some cheap but nice fresh produce. Here is a picture of my items.

Note the sweet corn for .15/ear and the beautiful fresh green beans at .78/lb. The cereal was 50% off and I had a $1 off 2 manufacturer's coupon. The tuna was on special for .39/can. The soda was .68/2 liter (and, yes, it is name-brand). Kraft mac and cheese (the blue box) was on special for .48 - limit 6. I bought all 6 boxes. My total for these 34 items was $27.68 after coupons. According to my receipt, I saved $38.00 in sales, promotions, and coupons.

Next, I hit our local Aldi for a few stock up items. They had out favorite chicken packets back in stock, so I splurged and bought 6 to stick in the freezer at .99/each. I purchased 2 butters for baking, Canola oil, and 2 margarines. We needed paper towels and dryer sheets (I am addicted to the Alsi brand and won't even think of using Bounce anymore...) My daughter's favorite Caesar salad was marked down to .99, so I thought we'd have it with some grilled leftover chicken for tomorrow's lunch...YUM! There is also bread, cheese, and English muffins for mini pizza night. I purchased these 18 items for $23.36. I am now set for the week.

FYI - if you are wondering why we didn't buy any milk...we have SO MUCH MILK from last week's Kroger promotion with Keebler/Kelloggs (we got 4 free gallons!)

The total of these 2 trips was $51.04. I am done for the week, no matter what! :)

Welcome to A Hope-Filled Home!

"A dream is a wish your heart makes..."

My heart has been wishing for this place for some time now. A place to encourage, pray for, walk with each other on a journey of sorts. I am excited to be sharing it with you!

My personal journey is one of contentment, control, and "cash-only."

I need to be content with what I have; to stop accumulating; to acknowldege that the only way I can be truly content is through my personal relationship with Christ. Not more clothes, more debt, more food, more anything - just more of HIM!

I need to have control over my budget so that I can have the freedom to make choices regarding my children's education, our family life, retirement saving, and GIVING more than what is required (tithe). I want to have the monetary freedom to help others, travel, and truly enjoy this life that I've been given.

I want to be a "cash-only" family, so that we can snowball our debt, become debt free, and live like no one else! (Thanks, to Dave Ramsey for putting that fire under my seat!) I want to stop accumulating additional debt. I refuse to vacation, buy gas, school shop, or shop at all with a credit card. I refuse to finance another car!

These are my personal goals. The topics on this blog will relate to these goals directly.

  • Scripture
  • Fun-Times/Game Nights
  • Date Nights (on the Cheap)
  • Travel (again, on the Cheap)


  • Weekly Grocery Budget
  • Christmas Shopping
  • Meal Planning
  • Freezer Cooking


  • Savings Strategies
  • Garage Sales/Consignment Sales
  • CVS Deals
  • Using Gift Cards Effectively

I don't know all the answers, nor do I claim to. But I know the One who does and I know that He says He will grant me the desires of my heart. My prayer is that together we can care for our families, help others, make lasting friendships, and give God the glory!