Simple Spooky Halloween Treats

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My friend Cathy shared these cute “spooky” snacks on her Facebook page, and I thought they were way too cute (and easy) so I had to share them with you! All you need is pretzel sticks and string cheese for the brooms, apples, peanut butter and marshmallows for the teeth, and mandarin oranges with a sharpie for the jack-o-lantern.

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I just loved these (and have all the items in my kitchen to surprise my kids with them after school today too.) You can also have fun making these cute Jack-O-Lantern Quesadillas - such fun simple treats to enjoy this Halloween!

Thanks so much for the smart idea Cathy – I love it! ;)  See more penny pinched recipe ideas over HERE.

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Michael’s: Save 70% Off Halloween & Fall Items

 

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Michaels is having a huge clearance sale on some fall and Halloween items, and there are so many fun items included in the sale! You can also save 50% off any one regularly priced item when you print your coupon over HERE. If you have any parties going on at your child’s school or other activities, this is an easy way to save!  Here’s a peek at what I found today . . .

 

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After clearance pricing $2.99

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Fall Berry Wreaths just $4.49

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Foam Capek kits just $.87

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Halloween Baking Supplies as low as $.59

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Halloween Crafting Kits just $2.69

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Halloween Baskets $2.99

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Fall Decor just $3.09

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Ashland Accents as low as $1-2 after 70% off sale

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Baskets on clearance 50% off – as low as $4-$5

And here are just a few fun finds I noticed in the dollar bins (love those!)

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Have you found any great deals on fall products at the craft stores? Leave a comment to share your finds!

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How My Seven-Year-Old’s Perspective Changed

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Good.ness.

 

Can I just promise you what a blessing giving is?

 

Last Friday night, as I was packing for a trip, my seven-year-old snuck around our closet and came across some hidden treasures for our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox. (Remember when I found a bunch of clearance items at Target last month to give? Yup, she found it too.)

 

Her eyes lit up, and she was so excited because she just knew she’d hit the new-toy-jackpot. I explained to her though that the treats weren’t for us, but rather for us to share with kids who might not have any Christmas without them.

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Oh my. That girl was mad.

 

She didn’t get it, and absolutely knew she was deserving of every trinket in the box. Honestly? She was a wee bit irate that none of it was for her. (And, honestly? I was a wee bit irate with her for not getting that she needed absolutely none. of. it.)

 

I stopped my packing, pulled her up in my arms, and tried to explain a little bit more about the program and who would be receiving those tiny gifts. (Even though we’ve filled Operation Christmas Child Boxes for years, she still needed the reminder.)

 

Then I grabbed my laptop, and we sat down in the middle of the floor of my closet and watched a few of the Operation Christmas Child videos.

 

My girl’s heart changed. completely.

 

I encouraged her to separate the items into a few different boxes, and goodness, watching her expression soften and change to excitement for someone else’s gift melted this momma’s heart.

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“They’re gonna love our stuff,” she said.

 

“I’m glad that I’m helping this year,” came next.

 

And finally “My heart just feels so happy right now momma.” 

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She then decided to spend a little of her own money to buy them a few extra gifts this year. ;)

 

Folks, I have no idea where your finances are at right now, but if you’re in a place where you do have some extra to give, I encourage you to find just the right place to share this year. Whether it be packing a box with your kids for Operation Christmas Child, donating to a local food pantry, or even just giving of your time to help someone in need, you will be blessed more than the one you’re giving to will. Promise.

 

As a family we’ve struggled a bit recently with gratitude, and there’s nothing like giving to someone else in need to completely change our perspective. And, while I think traveling on mission trips to share the good news with others is wonderful, I also believe there are seasons in our lives when there is simply so much good we can do right here at home. With the power of the internet, our children can get a glimpse of ways to give abundantly to those who live in a completely different world than our own.

 

Looking for more posts like this? Here you go:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Five Items I Was Surprised To Find At Aldi

 

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I made a quick run to Aldi today, and was pretty surprised that they carried quite a few items I didn’t know they had! I’ve always picked up fresh produce and string cheese there (they consistently have the best price on string cheese), but there were some new items that caught my eye today.  Here were the things I noticed that you may have missed too . . .

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1. K-Cups priced at $4.99/12 or $.41 each (compare to $.31 per K-Cup at Amazon)

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2. Lots of gluten free options (LOTS!)

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3. Coconut Oil (great price!)

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4. Organic Cereal (Simply Nature Organic Walnut or Tropical Mango Passion $1.99 per box) as well as quite a bit of Organic Produce (I haven’t priced it to be sure this is a great deal compared to your local grocery store ~ I would love to hear your thoughts on it if you normally shop organic)

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5. Whole Wheat Flour ($2.29 – I forgot to take a picture!) and spices/seasonings (I actually knew this one, but didn’t want you to miss it – they have tons for just $.99 which is a great way to save!)

 

What other items do you purchase at Aldi that help your family save? I would love to hear them ~ it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been to Aldi so I was thrilled to stock up on whole wheat flour and fresh produce easily this week. Love that store! ;)
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$2.50 Goodwill Chair Makeover

 

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Goodwill Chair Makeover

Oh my.

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I have never (ever?) been so in love with a $2.50 purchase.

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If you ever (EVER) come across a chair for $2.50, I expect you to buy it. Not cute enough for you? You can send it right on over to me.

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I’ll even pay the shipping. (Ummm, let me know though first.) ;)

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When I saw this chair at Goodwill a few weeks ago for $2.50, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. The lines were pretty basic, it was solid (legs were all in good shape), so I snuck it home in my trunk. (My poor husband – he doesn’t ever complain about my garbage day finds but I do think he wonders what on earth I’m thinking some days!)

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(I found the cute poof yesterday at TJMaxx on clearance for $32 – I think it was worth it for extra seating by our fireplace when it gets cold outside!)
 

And, since I’d made a few donations at Goodwill that day I had a coupon for 10% off my purchase, making the grand total on the cost of my chair just $2.25. (Seriously, how awesome is that?)

 

So, I let it sit for a few weeks in my car, finally brought it in and set it in our kitchen, and this morning at 8:15 pulled out my Annie Sloan paint. (Remember the piano I painted a few weeks ago? That meant I didn’t even pay extra for more paint. Love. that.)

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Because I didn’t think you’d believe me, I even included some pictures of our clock so you could see just how fast this project went. I started just before 8:15, was finished by 9:00, and fluffed it up a bit in time to share these pictures with you.

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(I have next to no patience at all, so I couldn’t wait to finish!)

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All I did to prepare it was sand down the rough spots a bit, then layered two coats of Annie Sloan chalk paint. I still need to add some wax to finish it off, but wanted to let it dry for a day before adding that in.

 

img_0088The chalk paint was a little pricey (read more HERE), but after using dozens of cans to spray paint items at home I think in the long run it may be your best bet. One small can has worked a ton for me, and I still have probably half a can left.

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Seriously, never (ever!) underestimate the beauty behind a Goodwill or thrift store find. You may not find something fun like this every time you shop, but every once in awhile you come upon something just perfect!

 

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(Goodness, I keep moving it to different spots and love it everywhere I see it ~ amazing what a little $2.50 happy will do!) ;)

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(I also fell in love with this wreath yesterday at TJMaxx – it reminds me of cotton in Alabama when it blew everywhere each fall!)

 

Have you found anything fun recently at Goodwill or a local thrift store? I’d love to hear what’s been fluffed up this fall in your home ~ I love hearing from you!

Join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

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Free Boo Printables: You’ve Been Boo’ed!

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 Free Boo Printables

My friend Cheryl put together the most fun free printable for you all todayIf you have kids, I’m betting you already “boo” in your neighborhood, but if not, this is a great year to start.

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Visit your local Target or Dollar Tree dollar bins and grab a few fun items to share with your neighbors, then “boo” them by sneaking a treat at their front door. This is one of our children’s favorite Halloween activities (they love picking which neighbor gets the surprise!)  Go HERE to download your free “Boo” printable today, and share with your friends too. Happy Haunting!

 

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I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

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College Care Packages {From The Dollar Bins}

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Here’s just the simplest little fluffing, because I can’t seem to manage painting a piano or wallpapering a bathroom every week like I’d like! ;)

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We have four nieces and nephews in college, in the military, and in their first apartment, and I try to send out a little care package twice a year. It’s so easy to let these get pretty pricey, but thanks to some coupon savings and a few Target and Michael’s Dollar Bin finds, I can usually score a deal or two!

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I went to Michael’s yesterday (who have my favorite dollar/bargain bins ever, which a PPP reader also told me worked with the current 25% off coupon), and grabbed everything above for less than $3. (WOW!)

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I’d also purchased the items above at the Target Dollar Bins a few weeks ago (except for the M&Ms)IMG_9816

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My total spent on each package was less than $5 (I even included some free shaving creme from Kroger’s sale a few weeks ago and a 25¢ Cadbury Egg from Walgreenssacrifice I tell you),
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And now just have to pop them in the mail.

Sending college kids free samples also is a great way to surprise them with a treat – it’s amazing how those little free samples really add up, and just by adding a few items from your stockpile you can easily send a fun and frugal care package!

Have you come up with fun ways to surprise someone special recently? I’d love to hear about it! You can also check out how I made a few teacher gifts using items from the Dollar Tree ~ love it!
I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

 

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Five Ways To Feed Your Family For Less (Even Without Coupons)

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I made a quick run to Kroger yesterday to pick up our groceries for the week, and was again reminded of just how important it is to really shop strategically whether I have a bunch of coupons or not. I literally only used two coupons on this trip, but my family’s grocery bill for our entire week of meals and snacks was just $66 – here’s what I bought:

Bought 2 Kroger Cereal Bars $1.67

Bought 1 Kroger Grahams $2

Bought 1 Kroger Whip Topping $2.19

Bought 4 Kroger Betty Crocker Cake Mixes $.94, used $1/4 Betty Crocker Cake Kroger ecoupon

Bought 2 Turkey Hill Ice Creams $2.50 (regularly over $5!), used $1/1 Turkey Hill Ice Cream (could also use $1/2 Turkey Hill Ice Cream)

Bought 1 Kroger Pudding Cups $.89

Bought 1 Kroger Fruit Bowl $1.99

Bought 1 Kroger Cheese $3.79

Bought 1 Kroger Private Selection Cheese $1.99 after Buy 4 Private Selections Save $1

Bought 7 Kroger Private Selection Yogurts $.39 after Buy 4 Private Selections Save $1

Bought 1 Kroger Hot Dog Buns $1

Bought 1 Kroger Softsoap $1, used $.35/1 coupon from the 9/14 Smart Source insert

Bought 1 Kroger Turkey Breast $3

Bought 4 loaves and buns Kroger Whole Wheat Private Selection Bread $.99 after after Buy 4 Private Selections Save $1

Bought White Rain Hair Spray $1.29

Bought 2 lbs Bananas $.55/lb $1.11

Bought Bag Potatoes $2

Bought 2 Kroger Tomatoes $1.09

Bought 2 Ball Park Franks $2.99

Bought Cannelini Beans $1

Bought Kroger Condensed Soup $1

Bought Kroger Sour Cream $1.69

Bought Kroger Beans $.69

Bought 3 gallons skim milk $2.77

Bought Carrots $1.49

Bought 2 pounds grapes $1.69/lb.

  • Paid $66.63 after coupons for 1 weeks worth of groceries

 

 

So, if you’re a big couponer you’re probably not all that impressed with my deals (although that Turkey Hill Ice Cream savings was pretty exciting!) But, if you’re a regular mom who just needs to learn more about how to easily save on your groceries each week, here are five ways to easily save.

 

(I’m all about easy – aren’t you?) ;)

 

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1. Watch the price per ounce.

I needed a few cans of tomatoes for this Pasta Fagioli recipe, but didn’t have any coupons with me. The “sale” price on the Del Monte were $1 per can, while the every day price of the Kroger brand was $.69! My family will never know that I dumped Kroger brand tomatoes instead of Del Monte into Mrs. Potts, but I saved 30% off the “sale price” on the National brand without clipping a coupon.

 

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2. Look for in-store sales.

Through tonight Kroger is having a huge Private Selection sale where you can try out their “fanc-i-fied” store brands for a sale price, AND $1 extra off when you purchase four participating items. I love a fancy roll when making hamburgers or grilled chicken sandwiches at home, and to get them for $.99 (the same as the inexpensive low-end store brand) was an incredible deal so I stocked up.

 

They also had their whole wheat loaves on sale for $.99 after special savings, so I’ve stocked my freezer. This was a huge savings, and didn’t require clipping a single coupon!

 

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3. Stock up on produce seasonally along with a sale.

My kids love fresh fruit, so I almost always purchase a bag of apples, some bananas, and at least one other fruit to last us through the week. This week grapes were on sale for $1.69/lb. which is a little more than I like to pay, but I know they’ll eat through them, and it’s a healthier alternative to other snack foods!

And, just by looking around I noticed that while the Granny Smith Apples were $3.99/3 lb bag, Paula Red Apples were on sale for just $2.49. My kids thankfully like them all, so I bought the Red Apples and saved $1.50, without a coupon in sight.

 

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4. Use a coupon when you can. ;)

If you have just five minutes before shopping, scroll through the deals for your favorite store here on PPP and see if there’s a deal or two worth grabbing. I literally spent 3 minutes looking through the Kroger updates, knew that I could get a good price on Turkey Hill Ice Cream and Soft Soap, and saved an extra $5 for about three minutes of effort. I’m thinking that’s almost $100 as an hourly rate, and is totally worth it for me!

5. Menu plan, menu plan, menu plan (and make a thorough list before you shop.)

Odds are every time you set foot in the grocery store for “just one item” you find an extra three (or four or five) items to purchase. By having a menu plan and grocery list in place and really considering what your family needs for the entire week, you’ll save a bundle on those little “extra” trips to the store.

 

Be sure to look over your family’s weekly schedule before you  head out.  If you have snack duty for your child’s school, a special get together or anything else that will require extra food, add those items to the list and limit your grocery stops as much as possible. AND, before you head out always shop your own kitchen first - I realized I already had all the meat, chicken, and pasta that I would need this week at home, so I saved by using what I’d stocked up on earlier, when those items were at stock up prices!

 

 

Your turn now! Do you have any tips on how to really reduce your out of pocket expenses even when you aren’t using a ton of coupons? Coupon savings are the most fun for sure, but I’ll take spending just $66 on a week’s worth of meals whenever I can.

 

 

New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:

 

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How To Paint A Piano

 

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How To Paint A Piano

I don’t think I’ve ever (E.V.E.R.) been so excited to see what $100 can do, and am tickled to share this week’s Friday Fluff Up project with you!  

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Back when we were first married, my mom gave my husband and me a piano, and we were so excited to have one in our home. (I grew up playing the violin and piano, and couldn’t imagine not having something to plunk on!)

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And the piano was just perfect, even though it never looked exactly the way I’d hoped.  When we added built in bookshelves in our office in our last home the piano headed to our guest bedroom, and it was fine because I just never looked at it. (But, I always knew I wanted something different ~ I just wasn’t sure how to get there!)
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When we moved into our new home in Ohio I fell in love with the floor plan, but we were stuck (again) with no home for this little piano. In a perfect world it would march on down to the basement, however our stairwell isn’t very wide, and I’m not quite sure it could make the trip down the steps all in one piece. (I have considered taking it apart to get it down there though? Still a possibility.)
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We did have this very unused dining room though, and I kept thinking that just maybe it would work there. (Remember how I furnished our dining room for $150? Yup, everything just moved right with us when we headed North, despite a little wear and tear that’s finally been fixed on the table. Yikes!)

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After looking (and looking and looking and looking) through painted piano pins on Pinterest, I finally gathered up my courage to paint that little piano and oh. my. word. I am so glad I did.

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Literally, last Thursday night I decided to tackle it at 5:30 PM (when I should have been cooking dinner), and painting was done with two coats by 7:30 PM. I added some wax this week in about 30 minutes, and my project is done!

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I love it.

 

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 After seeing this “chalk paint” (not chalkboard paint like you might think) at the cutest shop ever in Westerville Ohio (Edwin Loy Home), I decided to try out their Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.IMG_9729

As y’all know, while I’ll pinch pennies on just about everything I don’t believe in penny pinching on paint (I promise, it’s worth it!), and I’m just so pleased with the results. I bought a quart of their paint, a small can of wax to finish it with, a paint brush, and some cheese cloth to rub in the wax in with, and for less than $100 this little piano has a new happy  home.

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Success!

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So, have I lost my mind? (Maybe?) I’m still debating if the piano’s going to stay there, but as I sit at my makeshift desk typing here each day I love looking across the hall at my fun fluffed up dining room. I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you have any other suggestions on where else this fun little piece can go!

 

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I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

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See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

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What’s On Your Top Ten Grocery List?

 

Earlier this week when I talked about the “secret” being in the sale, a few folks emailed an commented that they’re just not sure whether or not something really is a good price. To make life easier, you can easily download my stock up price list, but that varies some by area (and the prices are my stock up prices, after coupons which makes a huge difference!)

 

I started thinking though, that anyone can determine to learn their best prices by just putting a little time into research each week before shopping. Instead of trying to figure out a HUGE stock up price list, for the next few weeks make a list of ten things that you regularly buy – just the basics – and watch them each week in the sales ads for one month. Then you’ll at least really know on those ten staples, and next month can pick another 10 items to work with.

 

Do it for a few months, and my bet is that by Christmas you’ll have a pretty good idea of most of the best prices on items your family regularly buys!  For me, I like to know my stock up prices on a few things my family uses every day ~ here’s my top ten:

  • Milk $2.79/gallon (I’ve seen it lower at Costco)
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast $1.79-$1.99/lb.
  • Ground Beef $2.49/lb.
  • Bananas $.49/lb.
  • Some kind of fruit for the week ~ Apples ($.99/lb.), Strawberries ($.99/pint), Grapes ($.99-$1.49/lb.)
  • Cereal $1-$1.50 per box (after coupons)
  • String Cheese $.20-$.25 per piece
  • Shredded Cheese $1.99/8 oz (less if there are coupon deals)
  • Peanut Butter (we eat a lot of this one here!) $1.49/16 oz
  • Paper Towels $.50 – $.75 per roll

 

Don’t forget you can also search ALL the weekly sales for stores we cover here on PPP over HERE, so if there’s something you need now you can easily find where it’s on sale. 

 

What’s your top ten list of items your family uses, and how do your prices compare? I’d love for you to leave a comment to share!

 

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New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:

 

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