Penny Pinchers

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Spring Consignment Shopping and…a link!

By Julie Norman
Friday, May 16, 2014

Tis the season for Spring consignment shopping!  I saw yesterday on their facebook page that The Encore Shoppe was having a big sale starting today.  So, I recruited my friend and fellow blogger, Richie, and we headed off in search of some deals.  Right as you enter the store, on the right, you can get stuff for as low as .50/cents!  If I'd been in the mood to shop for corduroys that's where I'd have started.  Instead, I was on a mission for these items: a khaki skirt, a new shirt and a black cardigan.

SCORE!  I found all three of those things plus a super cute polka dotted dress.  Want to know how much I spent?  $25.  That's all!  For FOUR items!  I could have saved even more if I'd had taken in their latest coupon from the coupon book.

So don't miss out!  Grab a coupon and go find some cute stuff.  Richie got a basket to organize all her mail.  See?  You can find just about anything there!


Coupons and BOGO paint

By Julie Norman
Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The new Coupon Book is out! There are lots of great coupons for this time of year including coupons for:

  • Lunch with your best friend
  • Stress relieving massages
  • Vacation car tune ups
  • and Home Improvments

Click here to browse all our great coupons from the latest coupon book.

Speaking of home improvement, I got the following info today along with a Press Release about the new Paint Studios at Ace Hardware stores:

This weekend, May 17th and 18th, at your local Ace Hardware store folks will be able to get a FREE gallon of the award winning Clark+Kensington paint and primer (rated #1 by leading consumer magazine) or Valspar Optimus with the purchase of one gallon, so it's a BOGO deal, perfect for spring sprucing up around the house or if you're selling a great way to freshen up with high quality paint on the cheap. The savings is up to $95 bucks, which is huge.

Ace did not pay me to promote that, I just thought I'd throw it out there to help anyone looking to spruce up their house this spring.


Less meat means more savings

By Julie Norman
Monday, May 12, 2014

One very easy way to save money at the grocery store is to buy less meat.  Meat is expensive.  We all know that!  That's why grocers see so many of us checking out the clearance bins every day.  Even so, a Ranchers Reserver Grass Fed Roast at 30% off is still going to cost way more than a bag of black beans.

Maybe you're already incorporating a "meatless" dinner into your routine once a week, but cutting back even more on meat, or just using less in meals where you DO have meat, can be a huge help.  Here are some ideas for meatless lunches and dinners to get you through the week:

For lunches: 

  • Cook a batch of pasta (I like whole wheat these days, but if you're on a budget whatever is on sale works just fine) then, for lunch meals, add some cannellini beans, spinach leaves, a little broth and some parmesan cheese to a serving of pasta.  Heat it up when you're ready to eat! 
  • Pre-chop veggies like asparagus and snow peas and add to pre-cooked brown rice.  Shake on some soy sauce and red pepper flakes and heat that up for lunch or eat it cold for a crunchy brown rice salad.  You can get a 5 lb bag of brown rice for CHEAP these days.
  • An apple and peanut butter make a great lunch, especially if you add in a few of your favorite crackers or a side salad.
  • Leftovers are always a great way to use what you have without the need to use MORE of anything.

For dinners:

Here's what we had last night:  Slow Cooker black beans over Roasted Polenta.

  • Beans, as I've written about before, are great for meatless meals.  You can add rice or pasta for more bulk, or just top with veggies or crumbled cornbread.
  • Pasta dishes are great without meat.  Pasta with just a nice homemade tomato sauce (recipe below) is one of our favorites.  It's SO easy and simple!
  • Pizzas can be great for dinner and even healthy when topped with whatever veggies are on sale.  Try pizza topped with zucchini, mushrooms and onion or even broccoli and bell peppers.  Buy the largest size of mozarella cheese you can because it keeps well, can be frozen and is great for both pizzas and pastas.  If you buy local and get your pizza dough from Homestyle Bakery it's only .98/each.  One ball of dough will make one 12-14 inch pizza.

Tomato Sauce for pizza or pasta:

1 large can of plum tomatoes (either already chopped or whole), drained

1-4 cloves of garlic depending on how much garlic you like

1/4 cup of olive oil

Italian Seasoning

Fresh basil if you have it

Begin heating the oil in a saucepan.  Chop your garlic and add it to the oil.  Let this cook for a few minutes over medium heat.  When everything begins to smell garlicky, turn the heat down to medium low.

If you bought a can of whole plum tomatoes, roughly chop them. You can even just use your hands and squish them if you want.  Add these to the garlic and oil.  Be careful! It might spatter a little bit.

Stir everything together, add 1-2 tsp of Italian seasoning and cover.  Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   (See below for low acid instructions)

If you need a lower-acid tomato sauce, try these tips:  To the sauce, add 1/8 tsp of baking soda.  Stir and let it bubble a bit.  ONLY cook the sauce until it is heated through and bubbling.  Then remove it from the heat. If you can find a brand of tomatoes like Cento, then buy those because they do not add citric acid to the tomatoes before canning.


What tips do you have for making great meatless recipes?


Thinking about Waste

By Julie Norman
Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday is usually Frugal Friday links day, but today I'm being a rebel! Last night I was lying in bed reading...well, trying to read...really what I was doing was thinking about dinner for the next few days.  I always sort-of make a menu, but sometimes things change.  Last night instead of pasta with shrimp (yay for 50% off shrimp!) we had shrimp tacos.  They were awesome.  Of course, that means now I have to have my pasta dish tonight. It all comes down to waste.  Right now I've got these items that need to be used soon:




a spaghetti squash


tomato sauce (I made some a few nights ago)



3 "cocktail" tomatoes from Safeway.  Bigger than a grape tomato, tastier than a current roma or "vine-ripe"...

So here's the latest plan to help me combat the mass of produce I need to use up: 

Friday: whole wheat pasta with fresh tomatoes, asparagus, kale and parmesan cheese / salad

Saturday: Boca "chicken" parmesan sandwiches with sauteed mushrooms and roasted potatoes

Sunday: Crockpot shredded boneless pork country style ribs with cheddar and chive polenta rounds and salad or whatever veggie is lying around

Monday: Something involving spaghetti squash.  If there's spinach left, I'll probably saute that with garlic, then add it to the spaghetti squash with some feta cheese.  It'll be a great side dish! I've got some fish in the freezer, so we may have that too.

Can you tell this turned into a brainstorming session? Sometimes you really just have to take a moment to stop and THINK about what you have before you set foot inside the grocery store...again!


The age old question…is junk food cheaper?

By Julie Norman
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I ran across this article today by Mark Bittman as I was reading a much more recent piece.  Considering our goal here at Penny Pinchers is to save money, Bittman's article about fresh healthy foods being cheaper than processed junk definitely hits home.  Check it out here:

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