A slightly boring week in the life of a fairly average couponer

by Melody on January 23, 2012

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

Do a little research

Our printer is a little bit older (4-5 years) and the software/drivers weren’t compatible with my new laptop and Windows 7.  We have hung on to our ancient laptop (that we actually could print from) until it went belly up last week.  I immediately panicked.  How will I print?  I need to print something now!  I actually didn’t, but was anticipating how sad I would be when I did need to print.  We started thinking about getting a new printer.  On top of the new washing machine we just bought.  And the new hand truck.  And a new laptop.  Ugh.

It took me a few days to realize that I could possibly just download new drivers.  I checked the HP website and sure enough, brand new drivers for Windows 7.  For free.  I printed something this morning just because I could.  Serious money and serious time saved.  Lesson learned?  There is often an alternative to buying something brand new if you’re willing to put a little time in.

Taking advantage of prescription transfer offers

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a good prescription transfer offer, but I received a great one from Safeway in the mail a few weeks ago.  Basically, the store is offering you a bonus coupon or gift card to transfer a prescription to their pharmacy.  I’ve done this at Rite Aid, Walgreens, Fred Meyer and now Safeway.

I happened to have a very basic prescription for my son that we fill every 2-3 months that needed refilled.  All I had to do was drop off the prescription bottle at Safeway and they did the rest.  When I went to pick it up, I gave them my transfer coupon and they handed me a $30 gift card to spend at Safeway.

We’ve been a little behind on the budget this month as I’ve basically been playing catch-up from a little overindulgence in December, so this was perfect timing.  I was able to get the following for just $.54 after my gift card:

    • 8 lbs of oranges
    • 5 lbs of apples
    • 4 lbs of cheese
    • Cilantro
    • 2 boxes Celestial Seasonings tea
    • Dozen eggs
    • Head of lettuce
    • Celery
    • 5 gallon water refill for our water dispenser

All I had to do was pay for a prescription we were going to pay for anyway.  Who says you can’t save money on produce?

My poor husband

I’m pretty sure I’ve never made his lunch for him.  It all started when I was working outside the home too and we were both leaving early.  We just took care of ourselves.  Some people were shocked that I didn’t get his lunch ready for him.  Is this a requirement when you get married?  He has 2 hands and is perfectly capable.

HOWEVER, I know how boring it can be to eat the same darn thing for lunch every day.  While I still won’t actually get up and pack his lunch for him (I use the precious morning hours to blog), I can do a few things to help him along his way.  This weekend, I made a double match of Ellie Krieger’s Minestrone Soup.  I saved half for leftovers and portioned out the rest in those small Ziploc containers to go in the freezer.  This way, my husband can grab one out in the morning and have something hot for lunch.  This helps beat the lunchtime boredom and saves money, he’s definitely not as tempted to go out to eat.

My other favorite thing to make for his lunches is these Brown Bag Burritos.  I won’t lie, I eat them sometimes too.

Our Zaycon Foods chicken pick-up

My husband braved the storm this week to pick up our 40 pounds of chicken from Zaycon Foods.  He got there right as the pick-up opened and it seems that everyone else had the same idea, get in and get out and get home.

Normally, I just trim the fat and freeze the breasts in gallon Ziploc bags, but I decided to put a little of the chicken to work for me this time.

I threw about 4 pounds in the crockpot to make Honey Sauced Chicken.  This recipe only takes about an hour and a half on high, so it was done about the same time I was.  I chopped up the cooked chicken, tossed it with the remaining sauce and then froze in quart size freezer bags.

I also threw about 4 pounds in the oven to bake.  I chopped up the cooked chicken when it was done, split between 3 quart sized freezer bags and covered with Cilantro Lime Pesto.  In to the freezer it went.

Another easy idea, if you don’t want to make a specific recipe, is to just throw a bunch of chicken in the crockpot without any added sauces or seasonings.  Cook until done, then either shred or chop and freeze in quart sized bags.  This will give you pre-cooked chicken to add to any recipe in the future, without much fuss and certainly less dishes.

For more ideas, check out my Zaycon Foods Pinterest board.

My freezer is now busting at the seams with chicken that cost me just $1.69/pound.  Anyone up for another Freezer Cooking Day?

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie January 23, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I just found out you can put cooked hot chicken (must be hot) in the stand mixer on 5-6 for a few minutes and it shreds it for you! Supposedly you can also use a hand mixer too…:)

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Lisa January 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I do this cold too, works great

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Lisa January 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I love these posts! They are my favorite. I just had a comment about the making your husband’s lunch. To be honest if I didn’t make my husband’s lunch he’d eat out everyday and that would kill our budget, sometimes sacrifices have to be made…. :-)

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Melody January 23, 2012 at 7:18 pm

I agree. I probably would do the same thing if my husband ate out every day instead of making his own. We each get “personal” money every month, so his lunch comes out of that, which makes him think twice. :)

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Jane January 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I loved reading this post! Thanks for the ideas on the chicken. We picked up ours over the weekend and our power was out. I couldn’t get to it all in one day do my husband covered the box outside with a heap of snow. Worked awesome!
My saving money idea this week was getting rid of things in my kitchen I don’t need. We are moving soon so some of my items that I’m just not using enough to validate packing them up I sold on eBay. I made $30 pretty easily and I added that to my grocery budget. I often review books on my blog as well that I get for free on Tyndale in exchange for a review and then I sell them and add to my grocery budget too. Sometimes this means I have a grocery overage and then I move that into savings.

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Melody January 23, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Thank goodness for the snow in your case, although that probably contributed to your power being out in the first place!

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Jane January 23, 2012 at 8:25 pm

It started with snow, and then an ice storm with 77 hours without power. Thankful we had a generator to keep the chest freezer going. It was only fun for the first few hours though!

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Charlie January 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Here’s my question on baking the chicken.
I need things plainly laid out for me, no intuition whatsoever when it comes to food.
What temp & how long to cook chicken for freezing?

Thanks

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Melody January 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm

No problem, it took me a LONG time to get comfortable with cooking and making decisions on my own. :) I bake mine at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. If you have thicker breasts, you may need to cook a few minutes longer but 20 minutes generally is enough for me.

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Charlie January 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Thanks!!! I still use my recipe book for french toast. I know, I’m not complimenting myself here.
But that way, I never make a mistake. ;-)

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Brenda January 25, 2012 at 4:21 am

Charlie,
Actually I think you should be complimenting yourself for using a cookbook! I’m more of a “throw a bunch of stuff together and hope that it turns out edible” person. I’m sure your results turn out much better than mine!

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Julie B January 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Soup! I save the ham bone, chicken trimmings, veggie stems etc and turn them all into lovely hearty soups. I love to use barley, lentils, and dried beans. Heathy for the waistline and the bottom line!

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Trina January 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Great job on everything this week – fixing your printer, getting free *real food* groceries from Safeway, and your amazing freezer work with soup & chicken! You’re amazing! I will have to try the cilantro lime pesto chicken – I love cilantro – but will my family eat it???

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Melody January 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm

It honestly isn’t overwhelmingly cilantro-flavored. You more taste the garlic, since it goes in raw. I toned down the garlic a little bit this time, I love garlic but my husband isn’t as big of a fan as I am. :)

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Trina January 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Excellent! We all like garlic.

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Andrea January 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Thank you so much for your post on Zaycon. Ours came in tonight and I just used your post for what to day. Soooo helpful!

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