Sunday, February 19, 2012

Great Deals on Baby Clothes

One way I save money on clothes for Griff is by buying clothes in advance, at the end of the season. I'm consistently able to buy nice brand name clothes for little money.

I know many people save tons by purchasing clothing at thrift stores, but I haven't found that to be the case for us. For one, I find the clothes to fall into one of two categories. Either the clothes are more worn than I want, or they're like new and priced at about what I would pay in the store for a clearance item.

Instead of scouring thrift store racks in search of great finds, I prefer to shop online at sites like Old Navy and Children's Place. To maximize savings, I'll buy clearance items at the end of a season and tuck them away for later use. Because I'm shopping online and because I'm never shopping with a sense of urgency, I'm able to patiently wait for the best prices.

February is a great time to score deals. Stores are marking down their Winter clothes and rolling out their Spring lines. By buying ahead, you can avoid the stress and damage to your budget that comes with paying full price.

Right now there are a few stores advertising great Presidents' Day sales.

Old Navy

Old Navy has some nice deals on kids' clothes. You can use the coupon code ONSAVEBIG to save 15%, or 20% if you spend more than $100. If you shop through Shop at Home, you can get an additional 4% back. Here are a couple of my favorite deals:

Striped Tees for Baby

Priced at $5, it would only be $4.05 after the 15% coupon code and 4% cash back, and there are lots of sizes and colors available.

Girls Floral-Smocked Tees

The sale price is $7, or $5.67 after both discounts.

There are also some decent sales on outerwear for all ages, so if that's something you're looking for, it might not be too hard to hit the $100 mark and get that 20% discount. As always, you get free shipping if you spend more than $50.

Children's Place

If you've ever felt that the prices at Children's Place are too high, you have to check out this sale. You can use coupon code T2G2012 to get 15% off, and you can shop through Shop at Home for 8% cash back. There are several great finds, but here are some of the best:

Striped Thermal Top

$4.99, or $3.84 after coupon code and cash back.

Striped Ruffle Top

$2.99, $2.30 after code and cash back.

Through tomorrow, Children's Place is offering free shipping on all orders, but hurry, because sizes and styles are going fast.

Crazy 8

If you've never heard of Crazy 8,it's a less expensive division of Gymboree. There aren't any coupon codes or cash back deals, so the clearance price is what you'll pay. A couple great deals:

Lightning Bolt Polo Shirt
Lightning Bolt Polo Shirt

Print Knit Skirt
Print Knit Skirt

These are just the websites I consistently shop at; I'm sure you can find great deals at your favorite place to shop. Remember to maximize your savings by searching for a coupon code first, and by comparing cash back rates at Ebates and Shop at Home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Get Paid to Take Surveys

That sounds like the subject line of spam email, right? I promise you, it isn't. There are a few legitimate companies out there that pay people to take online surveys, and one of them, PineCone Research, is currently looking for new registrants.

You aren't going to get rich taking surveys. PineCone pays $3 per survey, and they send me 1 or 2 a week. That's only about $15-$20 each month, but it's worth it to me. That money might be what I use to buy a couple Kindle books, or to get a drink at Starbucks after grocery shopping.

I don't account for those little $3 checks in my monthly budget, so I let myself spend the money however I want. If you're interested in signing up with PineCone Research, click here to see if you qualify.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Meal Monday: Chicken Parmesan

I am a firm believer that marinara sauce should be a food group all by itself. I love anything dipped, covered, or drowning in marinara. I've already mentioned my love of chicken, so chicken Parmesan is a natural way to pair the two.

I've made different variations of this dish enough times that I was able to wing it. I made it up as I went, and both J and I were thrilled with the results. I only made enough for the two of us, without leftovers, but you could obviously adjust this to fit your family.

Chicken Parmesan
-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I bought the thin kind, but you could just pound yours to about 1/2 inch thick)
-1 egg
-1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (you could use regular bread crumbs, I just like the crunch from panko)
-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
-1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
-1/3 cup tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a small bowl or shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, and Italian seasoning. In a separate bowl, beat egg.

Coat both sides of one chicken breast with egg and let excess drip off. Then dredge in bread crumb mixture. Place breaded chicken on a greased cookie sheet and repeat process with additional piece.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until coating is golden. Remove chicken from oven and divide sauce evenly between each piece, spreading sauce across the top of the chicken. Sprinkle half of mozzarella on each piece.

Return to oven and bake an additional 5-6 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on how melted you want your cheese. We like ours brown and almost crispy, so we left it in for about 6-7 minutes.
The cooking time for the chicken gives you the perfect opportunity to cook your pasta, or whatever you decide to make as a side.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Super Savings Saturday: The Dash In Edition

G and I ran into Safeway yesterday because I wanted to grab a gallon of milk and take advantage of the awesome candy sale they had going on. Here is what we got:
-1 gallon of fat free milk, $2.69
-4 bags of Kit Kat candy bars, on sale $2. I used 2 $1/1 coupons, which doubled to $1.50 each, making these  $5 total, or $1.25 each
-4 Nivea lip balm, $1 each with my rain check. I used 2 $1/1 coupons  which doubled to $1.50 each and 1 $3/2 coupon, making these a $2 moneymaker.
-I also used a $2 catalina (the coupon that prints at the register) from a previous purchase.

I paid: $3.69

That's an 88% savings! I guess I should dash in to Safeway more often.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Website Wednesday: Homemade Mamas

I can't remember how I found Homemade Mamas. I believe it was one of those sites that I stumbled across by clicking a link at a blog I read regularly. That link led to another, which led to another, which brought me to Homemade Mamas.

And, goodness, I'm glad it did. Homemade Mamas is pretty much just a website run by three moms who are constantly looking at the world around them and asking "could I make that myself?" They document their attempts, both the successes and the failures, for all their readers to see.

Admittedly, there are many projects on the site that I have no desire to attempt. Some because I'm happy with my store-bought version, some because the project requires too many materials, and some because their homemade version doesn't quite turn out right.

But for every one of those posts that I skimmed by, there were two more that peaked my interest. I encourage you to browse the site, because I guarantee you'll find at least one tutorial that you want to try. A few of my favorites are the fused plastic bib (if you have any other great ideas for this fused plastic, please let me know), bleach pen painting, and easy bath fizzies.

I'd suggest logging into Pinterest before you check out Homemade Mamas, because this site will make you want to pin like crazy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Meal Monday: Crash Hot Potatoes

I know, I know; this isn't a meal. Does it count that they're good enough to be? I'm sure I'm biased, because I absolutely love potatoes in any form, but these really are delicious.

Red potatoes have a nice flavor, so I appreciate that this recipe doesn't attempt to cover that flavor with butter and cream and what not (although, really, there's nothing wrong with a little butter and cream sometimes).

The other great thing about this recipe is that there is no measuring required. That's right, no hunting through your utensil drawer for that the elusive 1/4 teaspoon.

Crash Hot Potatoes
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

You will need:
-red potatoes
-olive oil
-herb of your choice (in lieu of the last three ingredients, I just used Paula Deen's house seasoning found here)

Bring a pot full of water and potatoes to a boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes, or until they are fork tender. The baking time on these will vary greatly depending on the size of the potatoes, so don't be surprised if it takes longer.
Remove potatoes from water and place on a cookie sheet drizzled with olive oil or coated with cooking spray. Using a potato masher, gently smash potatoes so the skin is broken and potato resembles a thick pancake.

Next, drizzle each potato with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs (or house seasoning).
Bake them at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the potatoes get crispy and golden and crunchy-looking. Everyone has their own version of ideal-crispiness, so use your own judgement.
Mine would have been even better if I let them go a little longer, but what can I say, we were hungry.

And that's it. They couldn't be easier. Or more delicious. I do believe this is my new go-to potato recipe.

Note: be sure to click through my page to the original post. The Pioneer Woman has amazing photos and a wittiness that I can't even begin to attain. You'll likely enjoy her version of the recipe much more than mine.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Super Savings Saturday: Thriftway

I rarely shop at Thriftway. They usually have a couple great weekly sales, but other than those few items, I find the quality of their produce to be inconsistent and their other prices to be too high. However, their sales ad caught my eye this week because of a few great coupons.

I wanted to buy a gallon of milk, but the $1.99 coupon stipulated that you must make a $10 minimum purchase. My goal was to leave the store having spent less than $15, so I made a short list, loaded G into the cart, and headed inside. I ended up finding a couple deals that were too good to pass up, so it worked out well. Here is what I bought:
-1 quart whole milk, $1.49 (for Griff's first dairy experience!)
-2.38 pounds of bananas at $.49/pound (with in-ad coupon), $1.17
-1 gallon Western Family skim milk, $1.99 (with in-ad coupon)
-1 hothouse tomato, .72 pounds at $.99/pound, $.71
-1.69 pounds of Fuji apples at $.79/pound, $1.34
-1 Granny Smith apple, .55 pounds at $.79/pound, $.43.
-2 bottles Gold Peak iced tea, $1 each. Used 2 $1/1 coupons, making these free
-1.23 pounds of carrots at $.69/pound, $.85
-2 pound brick of cheddar cheese, $2.99 (with in-ad coupon)
-Dozen eggs, $.99 (with in-ad coupon)
-Turkey Italian sausages, $3. I used 1 $1/1 coupon that doubled to $1.50, making these $1.50

After my $.05 discount for bringing my own reusable bag, I paid $13.41.