I have the recipe(s) for making whoopie(s)...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011



  My husband surprised me in our first couple of days of marriage when he was wowed by how I was able to use coupons or how I was able to save money on Name Brand items. It brought to my attention that one: my father is actually some kind of guru (thank you dad) and that two: people do not know how to save money. In fact people want to pay more when they do not in fact have to pay more.

  Knowing how to use coupons and getting good deals is something I guess you are born into. I am very appreciative in these times to have grown up with a father that was money-wise. He did buy a lot of things in bulk and we did get some really odd purchased items but he was never cheap with his family.
 In fact he was proud to say that with the money that he was paying/had paid for my brothers and my education he could afford to buy a new Cadillac every year and throw it off of cliff. He would say that when he ran all of his cars into the ground while we went to private school (on scholarships) after elementary school. He would also say that when we would whine about "are we there yet?" or "Why aren't we going to this location so and so is going on vacation." My father was a teacher so he got paid nine months out of the year instead of twelve so there were potential lean months where we had to be on budget.

  Let me tell you about my father, Charles McLean "the Guru of saving money." He does not gamble and he never gambles with coupons. His best saving story is back in the days of double coupons. My father is the reason there are no more doubling of coupons over the value of $1.00, item number limits and why a certain pizza profits fell $0.20 sometime in the early to mid 1980's.

   It was in the 1980's and my father had done his scoping out of deals well. He had read in the supermarket circular that there was a sale on frozen pizzas and it was during a time that two out of my three brothers were going through puberty and our fridge never seemed to be filled. It was a time when we had to shop with two shopping carts every time we shopped.

   He had an amazing coupon that did not seem so spectacular. The coupon was for $0.50 off of a frozen pizza. But this glorious story is about how a supermarket had a sale on pizzas, he had many of these frozen pizza coupons and he made the most out of it. The pizza was on sale for $0.99, he shopped at a supermarket that doubled coupons and therefore that coupon double to be $1.00. For every pizza that my father bought he earned $0.01. He bought at least 20 and had coupons for every one (yes that is before they put limits on how much you could buy).

  My father is smart. When he was evaluating what he was buying he knew that he had a separate freezer (therefore room for all those pizzas), had high demand for the item (two boys going through puberty and a family of six) and he was not afraid to save. He knew where to shop, when to shop and he was ready with enough coupons for what he bought. Blindly with one coupon he could have gone to one supermarket that did not double coupons with just a $ 0.50 coupon on full price frozen pizza and it would have barely made a dent in my army of brothers' stomachs. But my father was not ashamed of saving money on pizza because he had a family to feed. Now if no one liked that pizza and we did not have a freezer then that might not be such a great story.

  So many people feel like it is so much work to clip coupons and are ashamed to use coupons. Get over it! and be ready to save the right way.

   Jon thought we had to eat "Toasty O's" (that is the Stop and Shop brand name for "Cheerios") in order to save money. A lot of people think that way to save is deny themselves Name Brand items and that is where they error.

   You can save money and buy name brand items if you know how to shop. But that is actually an obvious way how to save money by buying store brand items.You can save money on buying store brand named items especially on items like sugar and all-purpose flour. I do not buy name brand sugar or flour unless it is cheaper than the store brand. It does not make a difference when I bake my cookies with store brand sugar and flour. In fact my real vanilla extract from Stop and Shop is no different than the McCormick vanilla extract unless it is cheaper to buy Name Brand that day.

   Sometimes there is a big difference between Name Brand items and Store Brands and then you end up not using the items (while thinking about how it is not the name brand). I found that in the store brand: soda, chocolate, Cereal, cold cuts and some other items are almost there but not really. But in the end you need to know what things cost and experiment with when to upgrade.

   I once by accident paid $25.00 dollars for a store brand version of Crest whitening strips and they were useless! If I knew I picked up the wrong one I would have spent $10.00 more dollars and had at least one shade lighter instead of a package of wax in a blue plastic round box. It actually popped in my head the other day while I was driving and it made me so upset. If I had not been in a rush and actually thought it through I could have seen that it did not say "Crest" but it did have have the same shape and style of the Crest. That is also another thing to remember Store Brand want to make you think you are buying the Name Brand. But sometimes the Store Brand is not even close except in packaging to the Real Name Brand.Then all you have is an expensive box that you do not want to throw out because it cost so much!

  The one advantage of Name Brands is that they have coupons and are the major feature at the supermarket. Supermarkets have sales on these Name Brand Items. Recently I saw my husband just buying one box of small cheerios which we go through one a week. Cereal keeps and there was a deal buy three boxes of General mills cereals at reduced price and get a free gallon of milk. We buy the cereal anyway and it was actually on sale. I send the box tops of these brand names (okay they are basically worthless like $0.10 cents a square) to Franklin D Roosevelt School in Hyde Park, MA where my father worked for over 30 years before he retired in 2001. If only I had a coupon (I got a free gallon of milk coupon, $4.00 off of my next shopping order and a savings on cereal afterwards) I could have saved more! It ended up being the better deal to buy the store name brand.


 Without even using coupons you can save instantly at places like Stop and Shop by:

 1.)  being a card member and it is free. I often get coupons for free milk, free eggs, free stop and shop water and other must have items sent to me in the mail by Stop and Shop. These coupons do not even require the purchase of any item. I did this by just signing up for the card. Plus you do not have to have a coupon to save on the items they list for sale.

2.) Shop and scan your own items (if your local supermarket offers it, it is hand scanner that you take with you while you shop). This is a good way to save and to also keep under budget. You can realize how that name brand item effects your budget, if you are getting the right item that is on sale and you can do your own price check. You can make sure that you stay on budget and do not get a big surprise at the checkout when you realize that one gallon of milk with cereal ends up being a full cart of groceries and a $200.00 bill. An even better deal is that the scanner at Stop and Shop gives you exclusive deals not given to all the other card members.

3.) Shop with Reusable bags and you save $0.05 a bag. 10 bags X $0.05  that is $0.50 which is half of a dollar. If you shop twice a week for 52 weeks that is $52.00 just by carrying your own bags. Easy money without doing anything but keeping reusable bags in your car or house.

 I am happy with reusable grocery bags because I dislike plastic bags. 1.) plastic grocery bags are cheap and break easily--sometimes while you are climbing upstairs to your condo ruining your sale on Classico pasta sauce in glass containers.  Then you have wasted food, have to clean the condo stairs and might also injury yourself. 2.) I do not like plastic bags because they are going to just going into the landfill after a short car ride. Just as bad it is going to take up space in the kitchen and other plastic bag niches. 3.) I also got really cute reusable bags from Crate and Barrel with lettuce graphic design print on it. 4.) It is just a stronger bag, and I got them for about $3 a bag, they are really nice/cute and best of all I can use them for other things than just groceries. Reusable bags are much better than some of the reusable bags that first came out in the supermarkets which were better than plastic bags but were cheap reusable bags that would break after a while.

   The only time I would use the plastic bags is if if I am getting an item like a whole chicken and I do not want to have salmonella rubbed on my lettuce and etc. Also since I use the scanning system when I do my produce I use plastic produce bags and stick a label to it. When you scan your items sometimes you are stopped and you get what they call audit at the check out aisle. They go through your items and then scan the bars. If you have not scanned or weighted your items you will get in trouble with the Stop and Shop grocery store.

   Another good thing about shopping with reusable bags and the scanner is that you can package the items the way you want (are you shopping also for an elderly relative or friend and want to separate out the items? Never have to re-sort again and by accident take home something that was not intended for yourself again) and once you scan/bag your items you just scan a bar code then you can leave after paying. If you have that elderly person and need separate bills shop for yourself and then scan the items for the elderly person to get separate bills but at a much faster rate!

4.) Shop up and down the aisle for an item in which you do not have brand loyalty. Products that are not eye level or in the middle of the shelves are often the most expensive. If you were thinking about perhaps buying tuna they will throw the advertised net over your eyes to distract you from the less expensive tuna that is unmarked as a better bargain on the bottom shelf. They might advertise one tuna brand more than another tuna brand due many reasons. If you do not have brand loyalty know what tuna cost and get the best price per volume and you will win every time. One trip you might get Chicken of the sea tuna and then next week Bumble Bee tuna but as long as you do not get botulism no harm will be done!

  You not only have to look vertically on the shelves but also horizontally on the shelves. The more informed you are the more you will save and be less gullible. My husband loves Tortilla chips and Salsa. He would only buy Tostitos when Santitas at one time were only $1.99 vs at that time $4.99 which is a savings of $3.00. Santitas Tortilla Chips are made by Frito Lays and are a brand name Tortilla chip and had the same volume as the Tostitios. In fact Frito Lays produces both of the Tortilla chips. But you would never know that they are part of the same family because the Tostitos sit at the front of the aisle by the front of the store while the Santitas are placed towards the back of the store by the generic chips. That knowledge can get you a price of Chips and Salsa for the price of one Tostitos chip bag. At a party no one will ever accuse you of getting the cheap chips and they will taste just as great along with savings!

 Grocery stores sometimes seem to almost hide good deals or you need to really look to see that if you buy two or more you could get money off next purchase or whatever the deal. Do not buy in a vacuum and be a well informed consumer and you will be happy buying brand names or saving with store brands.

5.) Sometimes there are instant coupons on the item itself for either a discount or free item with purchase. I bought Kitchen Basic chicken stock the last time I was in the store and it had an instant coupon for rice. I did not need rice so I did not use it. Also look inside of bags like IAMs dog food because they often have really good coupons like money off of canned food or dry food. Coupons are also sometimes found behind labels and you should not just throw away an item without making sure you check for possible coupons. Coupons also can be found next to the item that you are purchasing especially if they are high advertised items like Frito lays, etc.

6.) Are you having a a BBQ and using the meat that night? Meat that has a day or two until it will expire sometimes have a coupon where the butcher/meat shop gives you $2.00 or more off the item. If it is already expired/looks like it is not fresh or you cannot freeze /use it in time then $2.00 off something you never will use is actually a waste of money.
 Do you want to include meat in your diet but you think that you cannot afford it? Sometimes store brands offer reduce prices or a different less desirable cuts. These cuts might not be the fillet Mignon but that is why the meat is discounted. If you are not cooking steak and mashed potatoes meal you do not have to get the most expensive cut of meat. It might mean that you have to marinate the steak a day ahead or trying new recipes but it is a way to save money. Cut the price by reasonably cutting/trimming your meat/poultry.

  If I buy a 4 lb of whole chicken and cut the meat myself I save money. Leave some meat on the bone and make an inexpensive chicken stock along with some carrots, onions and celery. Check out Martha Stewart's cooking school  for recipes and how to cut a chicken. Or if you buy rib chicken meat instead of breast meat it is less money. I find that meat like the rib meat is actually better to grill and it is juicer when it is still on the bone. Meat/poultry items like Perdue Chicken that provide convenience also make you pay for that convenience.


  First of all you need to know how to get coupons. Rookie! you were going to say buy a Sunday paper weren't you. That is where you made the first mistake. So you have a Stop and Shop Card and you did already the things that I listed above. But buying a Sunday paper that is where you lost $3.00 plus and you better have at least had a subscription saving you money to at least make it better. Am I telling you to steal, I am not. My tips are not how to steal or lie but how to get by without overspending.

  However I will tell you about a funny story about how someone found a loop hole with a Walgreens return-no questions ask policy. My Uncle Joey was a manager at one time of Walgreens and this man made him laugh. He was the one man probably that was/is  "cheaper than my father." I do not do this and I do not recommend trying this "ballsy act." Every day one gentleman pushed the corporate buttons of Walgreens. He was able to return the daily paper and receive a free paper every day as long as he had a receipt. Under the No Question Policy they could not question or refuse this gentleman another paper. So for an investment of one paper he got a life time of free papers.

  I am guess that he was an elderly man because I have a feeling that a college kid would be told to leave the Walgreens and never come back. But if you have nothing to lose and are not being criminal, try. All they can say is "No!" or change their policy. Not many people have that kind of confidence so try my alternative ways of getting coupons for free. I am also not sure on the updated policies of Walgreens.

   If you go get a cup of coffee outside of the house you better somehow make that slavery to a $3.00 and onwards cup of coffee worth that gas you burnt. Look around there are always papers around. They are almost as many as there are people using the free wi-fi and writing papers/ that book they are never going to finish.

 When in public places, and work, look for coupons and papers. You will find that when people are done with papers they leave all the store advertisements and coupons and sometimes even a whole paper. If it is clean take it and look through the coupons that is the first step. Also take a seat, some scissors and enjoy the atmosphere of the coffee shop. Sip your expensive coffee fix that is about the price of bag of coffee that you could drink for at least two weeks instead of one day.

  Research by looking through all the flyers and find out what is going to be the best bargain for your supermarket list needs.You are a paying customer and you are paying to sit/enjoy the ambiance. Do not take that coffee to go and waste it. Sit down look through the papers and maybe get a couple of papers to get extra coupons. Make you coupon clipping an experience that you live for and do not do it around distractions. It is not a chore, it is how you can have extra money for that coffee or how you saved up for that pair of earrings that you have been dying for or how you saved a six month of salary cushion in case you/your spouse lost their job.

 Now you have your coupons but are they all good? No! It is like scratch tickets and casinos. Some pay out better than others. Just like scratch tickets and casinos not every coupon has the same odds or rather value in this case.

  You need to first understand what you are buying. Then you need to read the coupon: how many?/what size? do you need to buy in order to get a discount. What is the discount? Do you normal buy this item and is it a bonus? Is it a bad deal or is it a good deal but you never can use that item in that amount before the expiration date? Do you importantly actually like that item you are saving money on? If not then forget about it. If you were going to try something and it was on sale/you had a coupon then what is there to lose? 

 Here is an example of a good coupon that I have actually collected and why:

Obviously good coupons:

Free gallon of milk up to $4.50 (that means it can be name brand! and free milk)

I bought 3 boxes of General mill cheerios and I got $4.00 off my next order

Not so obvious good coupons:
Save $2.00 off of any five General Mill cereals:

 You are thinking you have to buy 5 more big boxes of General mill cereals? Argh! I could never do that. I live in a small condo and that is a lot of cereal. I just bought 3 boxes of Cheerios and I do not know about this one. Do not worry they say "any" and any size so you can get the cheapest size. I know that I can buy 5 small general mill cereals which are 5 for $5.00 and I can get my husband the sugar cereals that he can put into his locker in case he gets asked to work a double. Why is that good? Well those cereals at my house get stale and with the personal small size ones they will not get stale. He can keep them in his locker and I just got a great deal on them 5 small cereals for $3.00. This instead of 5 big ones for $18.00 and then find that they are all open and stale which is never a good deal. Instead of losing $18.00 you only lose $3.00  and you also already pocketed $ 15.00. This helps your bottom line and are good for visiting guest who visit for one day and like sugar cereals you normally do not eat.

 Grab and Save $0.85 for one or many rolls of Viva Paper Towel Rolls:

 This is good if you ever use Viva paper towel rolls. It is also good because you only need to purchase one roll and Viva is not an expensive brand. It is almost paying for itself and if you want to try out the brand it is not much of an investment to try. If you dislike Viva paper rolls then just buy your paper towel roll brand and forget about it. Maybe try a store brand instead and save even more money.

  When you look for a coupon the first sign of a good coupon is that it is at least $1.00 and it is only for ONE item for ANY size. That is the most ideal for when you are using a coupon to buy any items and it is even better if that item/size are also not very expensive.

   Think of my father's example. You also need the right time to purchase the item. It is a little like playing the stock market except it is the supermarket. Sometimes you will see something like save $2.00 on one bag of Caribou coffee. Initially I thought that was such a great deal. But it was not actually that good of a deal. Caribou coffee, at my local Stop and Shop, was $18.00. $16.00 is a lot for an item that for only $5.00 or less I can get a bigger can of 8 o'clock coffee. My husband actually rather enjoys his 8 o'clock coffee. That coffee coupon was not a good coupon. However if my husband preferred Caribou coffee I would tell him to get his coffee outside of the house because it would be cheaper. Or if that was what he loved and I was already buying it then the $2.00 off coffee would be just be a bonus and I better have a lot of coupons.

  Now that we have talked about good coupons we need to know about the timing of the coupons used in Supermarkets. Around big eating holidays or The Superbowl there are major deal on name brand items. I always buy my ketchup around the Fourth of July. For Heinz Ketchup there is always a great sale and also coupons in the paper around the fourth of July. Run out of Heinz Ketchup in the dead of winter and you will have to pay full price or steal from local fast food joints (one of the reasons that fast foods do not put out packaged ketchup packets out front often and have a pump for condiments). During that time often things like chips and soda are crazy low price and might be BOGO. BOGO is short for Buy One Get One (aka pick up two you moron!). It is not half off unless you purchase both of the items. I have to say this statement because there are so many people that see BOGO on items that are on sale for BOGO and they do not pick up the second bag. There is always someone.

      However sometimes the supermarket will just post a sticker that says in bold buy 2/5.00 and it is actually not a sale. WHAT? you say? But it says 2/5.00? In fact normally they are usually $2.25 and this week marked up to $2.50 a piece. This is when it comes in handy to know how much things cost. There are some instances that the more you buy the more you save and it is important to buy all of the items to receive the discount. If you bought just one at the 2/$5.00 it might be one for $3.00 or two for $2.50.

  An every day price for an instance with Coke products might be 3/$12.00 plus deposit but they sell it as 3/$12.00 to make people believe they get a better deal by purchasing all three. It moves product and it makes Coke happy with that Supermarket. A good price for Coke products in cans is actually 4/$12.00 and do not buy it before that price. Instead look for sales on 2 Liter bottles and save money on the deposit.

  Remember read the fine print in coupons and also when you buy an item. Look at if you would save more money by buying two of the small 20 ounce Heinz Ketchup that are on sale or One big 36 once bottle of Ketchup. It is not necessarily a better deal to buy the advertised "economy size." "Economy size" used to automatically mean that it was the best deal. But sometimes it is not true even without a sale of smaller sizes. Some places inflate the price to make it seem like a deal. These bigger sizes have been more convenient and more desirable than smaller sizes. Sometimes it is better to buy smaller sizes in bulk rather than just one "Economy size."

  This is when math comes in handy. So if two 20.0 ounce bottles are 2 for $10.00 and the 36 ounce is $10.00 then I would purchase the two small ounce bottles. But of course if the two 20.0 ounce bottles are 2 for $10.00 while a 36 ounce bottle is $8.50 then the extra 4 ounces are not really that worth the extra $1.50. But also look below the item you are purchasing maybe you do not have brand loyalty and you see that Hunts Ketchup is 36 ounces for $7.50. Then if you do not have brand loyalty you could save even more money if you do not mind the different way of spelling Ketchup/Catsup. You could probably save with catsup in the North than in the South.

  Recently there was a 10 for $10.00 for Ginger ale that is a good deal. Ginger ale at my Stop and Shop usually is $1.89 that means I save $0.89 cents per bottle that I buy. If you have a pantry and like Ginger ale it is worth the purchase of 10 and the savings of $8.90 and $10.00 is not much of an investment. Now if you had a coupon that savings would be even more incredible so keep those $0.20 cents off or buy two get $0.50 cents off coupons because they can add up. But if it is a Holiday like Thanksgiving and you do not like Ginger ale but you are hosting a party and want cheap soda then buy only two and enjoy the sale. You do not need to buy in a lot of stores all 10 in order to get the deal. But even if you are not going to partake in the sale I would still use a good coupon that did not require too much purchases of items you do not use.

 Dubious coupons:

These coupons are from http://www.boxtopsforeducation.com/
they are the property/design of the site & copyright General Mills 2011

  Now before I had really good luck with the General Mill coupons but these are dubiously good coupons. Now it depends on if you use the products above. If you do use these items all the time and you use two before the expiration date then they are good coupons. But it is not the best coupon. In these above coupons you have to buy two products and you only get 0.50 and if you cannot use these items before the expiration date it is not a good coupon.

  Another good place to find coupons for Brand Name items and it is actually in related to the Franklin D. Roosevelt school. When I signed up for Box Tops for Education I not only can help my the school that put food on my family's table for 30 years but also I get access to coupons. But be careful to print only the ones you want and to print in black and white instead of color (if possible) to save money on ink. Ways to save further on ink, print at work (as long as it is acceptable to print at your work place some place frown on printing at work and don't get fired over saving 0.20 cents).

  If you like an item that does not seem to ever go on sale or never seems to have coupons go to that product's website and explore. Being able to use the Internet, even if you only google, you can save money. Coca-Cola gives you coke rewards for playing games/entering in coke products codes. This then translates as the option to get coke product coupons. At  7up.com if you register you will be sent via email coupons for 7 up products. Are you a person that love Kellogg's? Then sign up at the Kellogg's website for promotions and coupons. Just google, explore and maybe you will be rewarded. After all that work maybe you will not be rewarded with coupons but rather with knowledge of that product. You might instead be shocked with the information on how many calories and fat are in a Good Humor ice cream Bar. That could help save money.

  Also there are websites devoted to coupon clipping like Shop at home but make sure that you never clip a coupon that has a clipping fee which some are on Shop at home. I liked coupons.com but not all the items were just for the supermarket. Some were for Riteaid, CVS or Walgreens which is good if you also shop outside of Supermarkets for your items. These sites that I have listed are not only good for grocery coupons but also for other shopping items. Do not be afraid to use Grocery store coupons (not that only for Grocery stores like Stop and Shop) in CVS, Walgreens, etc if they have a better sale on the items than in the Grocery store. Sometimes CVS has 2 Liter Pepsi products for just $0.99 and if you had a coupon your money could go further.

   If your Norton Anti-Spy ware is "freaking out" do not give the website your name, address and get off of that site. Not all coupon clipping sites are good coupon sites. You should be able to see examples of coupons before you sign up for a service.  Another hint: that if it does not look like a professional website, it is not one. Also try using fake emails, addresses, and etc to see if then you are able to see examples of the coupons. If the site is actually a real site that is not a fraud then you can always sign up at another time.

  I found that Coolsavings.com (which I used to like as a high school/ college kid) was not all that good anymore and looked like it was just going to be a scam. I used to be able to print great coupons for Tower Records (which should be a clue that it has been a while since I have used this site).

  I did not like couponmom.com and I am glad that I gave a fake name to be able to check it out. I think that Oprah had not actually seen this site because it would be of better quality and this so called "mom" would have a show on OWN.  It was just a list of what is in the circular and the coupons that were from Boxtopsforeducation which means just General Mills coupons. I am not a college student anymore and I have to live on more than Toaster Strudel and cereal!

   I also did not like Retailmeornot.com because it was basically a hit or miss site. The grocery coupons that they posted on the site were on coupons.com or Boxtopforeducation.com. However Retailmeornot.com I have used before on non grocery shopping related sites that do not broadcast their coupon codes like Anthropologie. Sometimes they have coupon codes that work and sometimes they are outdated.

  I shall be exploring other ways of saving while shopping in Part two of  HOW A MODERN GIRL CAN BE A "WASTE NOT WANT NOT" IN THE LAND OF SUV's AND DEBT. I hope to leave my reader(s) with the keys on how to save in a normal supermarket without having to drive to "fee-to-shop supermarkets" (ie BJ's Wholesale).