Saturday, September 29, 2018

My Big Lots 20% Off Deals

My Big Lots Haul
I got gift, personal care, bread, and food bargains galore at the Big Lots 20% off sale.  We spent a total of $77.42. 

We also scored something special and unexpected, which I'll show you at the end of this post.

Bread Products:


Tortillas:  Each package contains 10 flour tortillas.  $.80 each - which is $.20 cheaper than Aldi!

Nature's Own Whole Wheat bread:  It should have been $1.12, but I was overcharged by $1.43.  I'm trying to decide if it's really worth taking back the receipt on one of their busiest days of the year.  I generally watch pretty carefully when the cashier is ringing up the items.    Dollar Tree carries this same name brand bread for $1.00 a loaf.  But, I was already there, so, I bought it while at Big Lots. 

Personal Care

Yardley Oatmeal and Almond Soap:  3 pack.  I got three packages for $2.64 each. 
Speed Stick Regular deodorant:  3 sticks for $1.60 each. 
Suave Professionals Rosemary and Mint Shampoo.  We've gotten this exact brand before and love it!  These were the large 28 oz. bottles for just $3.20 each. 
Hair Scrunchies - pack of 32 thin ones for $2.00.  


Fresh Finds Purified Drinking Water:  Fresh Finds is Big Lots' house brand.  Each case contained 24 bottles of water and was $2.00 each.  

Canned Vegetables 

 Check out the name brand no-salt canned vegetables!  I bought 6 of each kind.  Generally no-salt comes at a premium price, but at Big Lots' 20% off Friends and Family Weekend!

Hunts Tomato Sauce: $.28 each. 
Del Monte Canned Corn: $.80 each.  

Fresh Finds Brand


As I mentioned, Fresh Finds is Big Lots' house brand and I've always been very satisfied with both the quality and the price of these items.  

Pure cane sugar #4 bags -  $1.60 each 
Mustard:  $.80 each
Spices:  $.80 each  - I got six of them:  thyme, oregano, sage, dill, and 2 bay leaves
Vinegar:  1 gallon for $1.60.  I use it for both cooking and cleaning. 


Golden Harvest raw and unfiltered honey.  3 pounds for $8.00.  I pondered whether this was a good price for raw/unfiltered honey.  But, just in case it was, I went ahead and got it. 


Four Sisters Coffee - expresso roast.  1 pound for $4.00.  I have NO idea what this is like. But, hey, it was worth the gamble.  

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix:  $3.00

Under the Stairs Light:  $4.80

Play Dough:  24 pack.  $5.60.  I set this aside as a Christmas gift for my 10 year old.  It already marked on Clearance and they took an additional 20 % off for today's sale.  

Our BIG Purchase:

We had set aside $500 for a new patio set and looked in vain all season long.  Patio furniture is expensive!  When we walked into Big Lots they had just one set left at 50% off.  There is a cover for the middle that allows you to use it as a table.  The top surface is stone.  This is a stock photo because our chairs are still in a huge box, awaiting assembly tomorrow after church.  Even though it was already marked down from $600 to $300 dollars, they took an additional 20% off for Friends and Family Weekend.  We walked away with a set just like this one for just over $250 including tax!  Since Big Lots offers their reward members $10 back for each $100 spent on furniture, we will receive an additional $20 reward from Big Lots in the next few weeks!  Yay! We even have money left over to purchase a large free-standing market umbrella to give us shade while we are dining on the patio. 

Get Your Own Big Lots Deals on Sunday!

Everyone saves 20% on Sunday!  No Rewards Card needed!  Begin shopping at 8am in store or on-line.  You'll need to print off this coupon before you leave home to get the 20% savings.  On the website the 20% off will automatically be applied.   Here's a link to the website. 

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Friday, September 28, 2018

Score BIG on $5 off 5 and Markdowns at Kroger

I scored some amazing deals this morning at Kroger!  I got all this for just $36.07!  Let's look at what I got, the coupons I used, and how you can duplicate what I did!


Friday Freebie!
YQ Lime yogurt from Yoplait.  This was FREE with the Freebie Friday coupon.  You can get the coupon at  Sign in and download the coupon to your Kroger loyalty card.  Hurry, though!  It's only available for download through the end of today!

$5 off of 5!

$5 off of combinations of 5 participating items
Kroger frequently offers $5 off of 5.  This means that when you buy any combination of the featured $5 for 5 products, you'll get $5 off of your transaction.  You must buy them in combinations of 5.  Today, I bought 10 items.  So, Kroger took $10 off of my bill.  I had a grocery list and kept track of how many of each item I bought next to that item.  My goal was to be certain that I bought 10 items.  Sadly, I messed up!  If you count the items in the photograph, you'll see that there are 11, not 10.  Drat!  Next time I'll keep closer track and be certain that I get exact multiples of 5.  

Kroger cheese - 2 at $2.49 each
Simply lemonade - 2 at $.99 each
Palmolive dish detergent - 3 at  $.99 each
Blue Diamond almond milk - 2  at $ 1.24 each (The price was $1.99 each, but I had a coupon that Kroger had sent me in the mail for $1.50 off when you purchase 2.  So, the final price was $1.24 each)
 Head and Shoulders Shampoo - 1 at $2.79 ( NOTE:  The price was $4.79 after the $5 off of 5 offer.  But, you can load a $2.00 off coupon onto your Kroger card right now.  You can use BOTH discounts, making the final price just $2.79)   
Colgate toothpaste - 6.2 oz. size - FREE after the $5 off of 5 offer and $2.00 off coupon which can be loaded onto your store loyalty card at the Kroger website.  

Friday/Saturday Only Deals:

Crest toothpaste just $.99 each Friday/Saturday ONLY!

Crest toothpaste - 6.2 oz. size just $.99 each - Friday and Saturday only.  You must load the coupon onto your Kroger card.  Watch carefully.  The shelves were not marked at $.99 and only certain kinds were included at the sale price.  I asked a store employee, who was wonderful and helped me.  So, when you load the coupon onto your card, then either write down the size and types included in the special $.99 coupon or consult your cell phone at the store for details. 



Yogurt and Caramel Apples for fantastic prices! 



Every kid needs a caramel apple!  

This is the second time we have found these on markdown!  This Oui yogurt is chocolate decadence!

Yay!  For the vegans - plant milk based yogurt on markdown for just $.99 each!


 I got it all for just $36.07.  I saved just over $25.59 - nearly 50%!  Follow the instructions in the post to save money just like I did!  Don't forget to grab that great deal on toothpaste either today or Saturday.  After that, the price goes up.  

If you haven't gone to and registered to download coupons each week to your store loyalty card, then do so today!  I didn't do it for a long time.  But, my readers convinced me it was worth the effort.  It IS!!  It doesn't take long and you'll be able to realize great savings right away. 

 Questions?  Shoot them my way and I'll try to answer them as best I can.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Big Lots 20% off This Weekend!!

I am so excited!  I told you earlier this week that this HUGE quarterly event was coming up any day now.  Well, I found out earlier today that .... it's here!!!

It's time for Big Lots' 20 percent off weekend!

September 29th - 30th.   

What's included?

Everything!  The entire store is on sale!  That includes already discounted items.  Find a patio set on clearance?  You'll get an additional 20% off this weekend!  It's "no holds barred!"  

What kinds of deals will I find?

 Check out this post that I wrote after my last visit to the Big Lots 20% off sale.  I list the pros and cons of Big Lots, what to look for, and tips on finding the best deals.  I scored some fantastic bargains!  They are representative of what you'll find in the household and food departments at Big Lots.  But, there are also toys, children's items, pet supplies, furniture, bedding, kitchen ware, household items, and more! 

How does this work?

  •  Rewards Member you can begin saving on Saturday morning at 8am.  Only Rewards Members will receive the additional money off of their purchases on Saturday.  
  •  On Sunday everyone can receive 20% off of their purchase in store from 8am - 10pm.  
  • Can't get to the store?  No problem!  The same discounts are available on the website.    

EVERYONE saves on Sunday!

Why do I want to be a Rewards member?

It's the universal question:  "What's in it for me?"  Well, in this case, quite a bit.  Click here for the lowdown on the program from the Big Lots website.  Rewards members receive:

  • Early VIP entrance into the quarterly Friends and Family 20% off weekends.     
  • A $5 reward after every 3 purchases!
  • A birthday surprise.
  •  Up to $50 cash back on indoor/outdoor furniture purchases.
  • Frequent coupons sent via e-mail. 

Not a Rewards member?  

No problem!  Just sign up on-line or when you get to the store.  The form is super easy and short to fill out. 


Step #1:  Go to:
Step #2:  Right now there is a special pop-up link on the main page right now.  If it doesn't show up, click look at the top of the main page and click on the "Big Rewards" tab.   
Step #3:  Fill out your name and zip code.  
Step #4:  You'll receive an e-mail invite within 48 hours.

You can use either a physical card or a digital card, which you can display on your phone.  If you don't have your card with you, no worries.  The cashier can look up your membership information using your first and last name.  

In Store:

Ask the cashier for a Rewards Card form.  It's quick, simple, and easy!  You'll get a physical card when you sign up at the store.  You can create an on-line account with a password and change your preference to the digital form of the card, if you'd like.

Let the saving begin! 

I'll post as soon as I get back from my Big Lots adventure and tell you what I got and how much I spent.  

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Best Deals of the Week

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted by best grocery store buys.  I must admit to you that it's because I have been going to the grocery store SOOOOOO many times each week just to grab whatever I needed to get by for a few more days.  Add to that the fact that I haven't been tracking the receipts for the past few weeks and I will most likely discover that I have a quandary on my hands when I actually work my way through that pile of receipts later this week and enter everything into Every Dollar.  I'll let you know how much unintentional damage I did.  It may mean a lean month in October as I try to re-balance the grocery budget.  Sigh!

Store #1:  Kroger

As it happens, I ran out of salad greens today and ran to Kroger to see if I could score some half-price greens.  There were no produce markdowns!  Drat!  But, as you can see from the photo, I did find some other really good markdowns.  

The Pringles chips were a treat for the boys and were on a cart marked "$.88 each - this cart only."   The sign said that both original and sour cream and onion varieties were available.  But, I found only original.   

The Compleats meal was the Friday freebie.  It was priced at over $3 without the coupon!  I seriously would NEVER pay this for a pre-fab meal of any kind!  But, for free it was fun for my youngest son to eat for lunch. 

This Noosa yogurt was reduced to $.99.  I got 6 of them.  Normally, I don't pay this for yogurt, but this was the mix-in kind, which has a topping to pour into the thick, creamy goodness.  The topping was cranberry, nuts, and honey granola.  I didn't eat it, but my boys said it was wonderful!   

The package of 8 gluesticks was clearance priced at $.89.  We always seem to need more gluesticks about half way through the school year.

What I spent:  $8.75  (Pretty good!) 


Store #2:  Big Lots

SAVINGS ALERT!!  I talked about my love of Big Lots in July in this post.   I told you all about their amazing 20% off everything in the store quarterly sales. The next 20% off weekend should be coming up in October!  If you live near a Big Lots, stay tuned!  As soon as I get word of the sale date, I'll pass the info on to you!

Another reason I like Big Lots is that once a week they mark down soon-to-expire items to rock bottom prices!  Be sure to ask your Big Lots employees when they do their markdowns.  You won't always find a lot, but what you do find will be at a terrific price!  It's always worth a quick look if you are near a Big Lots on "markdown day".  

Our store does their weekly markdowns on Tuesdays around noon.  That's why it was fortunate that I was passing by Big Lots right at noon today!  Yay!  I stopped by and here's what I got for half price. 

The bottle of white wine vinegar was just $1.00. 
The red lentil pasta was $1.75.   

I also scored the Motherload of Hunts tomato puree.  These are the large 28 ounce cans.  Do you see that lovely ribbon of writing across the front?  It says, "No salt!"  Yes!!!  It is hard to find no salt products that are not a premium price.  These were cheaper than my regular brand which I buy at Walmart for $1.50 a can.  I bought every can they had on the shelf - 13 of them.  I even had them go get their rolling stairsteps and climb up to empty the remaining cans from the top shelf for me.

Drum roll, please!  They were just $1.20 a can!  

What I spent:  $18.94


That's it! I hope to get my pile of grocery receipts entered into EveryDollar so that my next trip to the store can be a guilt-free one!

What were you best deals this week?  Leave your comments and encouragement below. 

Hey, I wanted to put a quick shout out for our Facebook group.  I do a lot of quick posts about deals on there and I ask readers for feedback too.  So, come on over and join us!

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

This Week's CSA Box: Soup's On!

Whoo hoo!  The temps are moderating and that means it is officially soup season.  Anyone who knows me at all, however, knows that I serve my family soup year-round.  It's one of the easiest ways to use up bits and pieces of leftover veggies and s-t-r-e-t-c-h those food dollars.  So, although my family indulges in bowls chock full of health-infused goodness every week, I recognize that for most of you, the cool temperatures signify the arrival of the cook's clarion call of "Soup's On!"

Here's What We Got: 

kale - 2 bags 
tomatoes - 5
spaghetti squash - 1 medium 
corn - 6 ears
green apples - a nice batch - yum!
baking potatoes - 2 large 
sweet potatoes - 2 large 
purple daikon radishes - a nice bunch 
yellow onion - 1 large 
yellow peppers - 2 
cucumber - 1 
baby buttercup squash - 1 medium 
yellow summer squash - 1 

A note on the tomatoes:  A couple were a little under-ripe.  If you get tomatoes that aren't quite ripe, no worries!  Just set them in a sunny window for a couple of days.  They will naturally finish ripening.  If you have yellow tomatoes, check them to see if they are actually ripe and ready to eat!  Some tomatoes are actually supposed to be yellow!  These are wonderfully sweet tomatoes and are lower in acidity than the traditional yellow version.  There are also naturally green, purple, and mottled varieties of heirloom tomatoes. 

What to do with it: 


Let's deal with that bunch of purple daikon radishes first.  For those of you unfamiliar with this amazingly beautiful vegetable, back in May I devoted an entire post to reviewing its glories.  I give you recipe ideas and dish on all the benefits of eating it.  DON'T throw away those leaves!  They are edible and really delicious!  Here's a link to the post. 


Butternut and Apple Harvest Soup:  I  LOVE the velvety richness of squash soup!  This version is blended until smooth and has a base of chicken stock.  I'll just substitute vegetable broth.  I know the recipe calls for butternut squash.  But, the buttercup is a very appropriate substitute.  It uses onion, squash, potatoes, and apples from the box. 

Summer vegetable black bean soup:  Black bean soup is a staple in our house.  I made this today in the pressure cooker.  (For my recommendation on the best pressure cooker to buy, scroll to the bottom of this post.)  The recipe uses the yellow summer squash, 1 pepper, onion, tomato, and corn from the box.  

CORN TIP:  Here's a quick and easy way to prep the corn for the black bean soup.  Don't shuck it!  Put it in the microwave and cook on "high" for 3 minutes for 1 ear of corn.  Let it cool a few minutes and then shuck it.  The kernels will be perfectly cooked and come off the ear easily.  Use a sharp knife to remove the corn kernels for the soup.  

Slow Cooker Zucchini Soup:  This recipe calls for sausage.  But, I have my meat-free sausage that I found on clearance at Kroger a few weeks ago!  Yay!  It will be the perfect substitution for our no-meat household.   This soup uses zucchini and tomatoes from the box - although I will add more veggies.  When you click on the post, check out a few of the over 400 reviews for suggestions of ingredient substitutions that other folks have made. 


Chunky Vegetarian Vegetable Soup

When you have a variety of veggies on hand, a great big batch of thick and hearty vegetable soup is always a good idea! Both of these soups are from the Allrecipes website.  They use several of the vegetables from this week's box. 

Recommended Products: 

(This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase I will be compensated.)  

Vegetable Broth:

 This product is the ONLY vegetable broth cube that I recommend!!  If you are trying to cut sodium, and who isn't these days, then this is the best product that I have found. It tastes amazing and is just  140 mg. of sodium per serving.  Do NOT get the full sodium version!  It contains nearly 1000 mg of sodium per serving!  Most bullion or broth cubes are simply flavored salt. 

Pressure Cookers:  

 I have had some reader questions about pressure cooking.  I use my cooker multiple times every single week.  The convenience is amazing!  It's quick, easy, and food tastes fantastic!  This is not your Grandma's pressure cooker. 

Here is my personal recommendation and favorite! 

Let me preface this by saying that I do not own an Instant Pot. My sister does though and she brought it along on her last visit.  We used it every day.  So, I have seen and used this unit.  The buttons are seriously easy to read and understand.  It has multiple power functions.  You can simmer, slow cook, steam, pressure cook, or make rice or yogurt all with the push of a button!  The interior is all stainless steel.  There are no non-stick surfaces to worry about and no chemicals, chipping, or peeling.  The 8 quart is the perfect size for a large family.  But, the 6 quart will do nicely for 2 - 4 people.  This unit is also the best cost value!

You can find well-researched advice on models, options, pros, and cons at Best Reviews.  This website has a huge data base of products and services.  It's easy to navigate and free to access.    Here's a link to their pressure cooker page:

Happy cooking and enjoy the cooler weather and the colors of autumn!  

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Easy Inexpensive Appetizers

Bits and Pieces

Welcome to Bits and Pieces, when I give you my best tips on living a frugal lifestyle using items that you have on hand.  Today we talk about making quick, stylish, and easy hors d'oeuvres.

We have some friends stopping by tomorrow afternoon.  I wanted to give them a little something to eat while we were chatting.  I needed to come up with something quick, inexpensive, and easy!  So, I took a look at items I had in the house and created one sweet and one sweet and one savory dish.


I named these grasshoppers - like the chocolate covered mint cookies.  I had some frosting left over from my son's 14th birthday cupcakes last week.  It was a basic homemade buttercream frosting flavored with a couple of drops of Young Living peppermint oil.  It tasted fantastic!  

What do you do with leftover frosting?  You put it between crackers!  I used unsalted saltines.  Then I melted some of the leftover Enjoy Life chocolate chips that I got on clearance at Krogers a few weeks ago. 

I set the crackers on waxed paper and then spooned some of the chocolate over the top of the frosting filled crackers.  Let them sit until the chocolate topping and frosting are both firm.  


Don't put them in the refrigerator.  The crackers will get soggy.  Just leave them covered on the counter until you serve them.   


Bruschetta is a super easy and inexpensive Italian appetizer.  I got two huge bags of  sliced Italian bread "croutons" at Walmart tonight.  Really they are just dried slices of Italian bread.  Each 21 ounce bag was marked down to just $.41!  That's a serious amount of bread for a really cheap price.

I rubbed slices of the bread with cloves of freshly peeled garlic.  You don't have to rub hard or long.  It infuses the bread pretty quickly with the garlic flavor.  It will shred little bits of the garlic while you rub.  No worries.  That's fine.

 On one tray I spread each piece of bread with homemade hummus and then topped half of the slices with shredded mozarella cheese and the other half with slices of cucumber.  Although cucumbers are not traditional bruschetta fare, I had a lot of cucumbers in the house.  So, I used them.  Garnish with fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.  Add a little salt and pepper if you wish.

On the second tray, I added diced tomatoes which had marinated in a splash of balsamic vinegar and dried basil.  Place diced tomatoes on top of each slice of bread.  Drizzle with olive oil if you wish.  The oil does soften the bread a little bit.  


Quick, yummy, economical appetizers.


Products to use:   

(This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase I will be compensated.)  

 With holiday baking coming up, you may want to get this 12 pack of chips.  

Don't want that many bags of chips?  No problem!  Here's another option:
This is a variety pack of 6 bags of Enjoy Life chips. 

I seriously love cruets!  This one is elegant and functional.  Use it for olive oil or your favorite dressing. 

That's it!  Two appetizers made for just pennies from "bits and pieces" that I had around the house.  What are your favorite "bits and pieces" recipes, ones that you make when you have a small portion of items around the house?  Leave your favorite "bits and pieces" tips in the comments section. 

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

More Fall Clothing Hacks!

Welcome to the second installment of Outfit of the Week, where I show you how to dress like a million bucks without spending a million.  This week I give you three more easy, inexpensive hacks for saving big money on clothing.  In case you missed it, here is a link to part 1 of this series. 

TIP #1:  Shop off season!


Check out this navy blue lacy top that I got just a couple of weeks ago at SAMS.  It was clearance priced at just $3.00!   The sign right next to it read, "Priced for end-of-the-season clearance!" 

Don't shop for sweaters in the fall!  Instead, consider the fact that in September you can score fantastic bargains on summer sandals, bathing suits, sundresses, and both sleeveless and short-sleeved blouses and shirts.

In the spring, just switch your strategy around the other way and shop for boots, hats, gloves, mittens, coats, and sweaters. In late January or early February, the stores are brimming with all the new spring and summer items and the prices of winter overstock drops like a rock.  When you have kids you have to be willing to take a risk on sizes.  A few times I have failed to forecast their rate of growth accurately and wound up with items that either didn't fit or they grew out of after about two weeks of wear.  But, really it didn't happen too often and when my rate of savings  on each item averaged 75% off of the retail price, it was more than worth the occasional sizing mishap. 

TIP #2:  Casual to Formal

Look for pieces that will take you easily from casual to formal in a just a few quick and easy steps.  

Sophisticated casual

 Here I am ready for a day of shopping or coffee with friends.  I paired the new blue blouse with a blue beaded necklace, black jeans, and navy blue pumps.  

Ready for business
I changed out the black jeans for a navy blue skirt and the blue beaded necklace for pearl.  (Side note: My amazing husband got me the string of pearls for our 30th wedding anniversary in June!)   I kept the navy blue pumps and you can see them a lot more effectively with the skirt than you can with the jeans.  In five minutes I went from a casual day with friends to heading to a business meeting.  It's that easy with the right core pieces! 

TIP #3:  Get a navy blue or black pencil skirt!  

A plain navy blue or black skirt should be one of the backbone pieces of any wardrobe.  Pencil skirts are slim line skirts, which fall at or just below the knee.  They give a slimming professional look and are readily available at your local thrift store, but can also be found very inexpensively brand new.  You can change the coordinating colors and accessories in any number of ways and achieve a whole new look!


To show you how inexpensive it is to find these items even brand new, here are links to some navy blue skirts and navy blue lacy tops that I found on Amazon for very reasonable prices and free shipping!

The lace is at the bottom of this comfortable and yet elegant navy blue blouse.  It comes in sizes from small all the way up to XXXL!  A fantastic deal with free shipping!

This one is SO similar to my clearance find!  The color looks like it is maybe a little lighter, but the lace is at the top and nearly identical to mine.

Elastic waist and Value Priced with free shipping! 

Super cute flair at the bottom and a tailored waistline with a zippered back!

 Here's one last possibility.  It's a little longer than knee length and has a little flair, making it more of an A-line skirt. But, it's still offered at a fantastic price.


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