Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ontario Food Deals for June 12 - June 18, 2009

I promise I won't rant today, especially as at least one of my conspiracy theories from last week has been proven wrong. The Foodland and No Frills flyers both arrived today, with my other flyers!

I will probably head over to No Frills, because they have a great deal on Catelli Healthy Harvest. I think this is the cheapest I have ever seen whole wheat pasta.

I also have the opportunity to try out Superstore's "Lowest Price Guarantee" this week. Their flyer says that "if you find a lower price we will beat it by 10%". The fine print says "Applies to front page and Price Lock items with this symbol/slogan. Refundable at Customer Service only. See back page for full details." The only thing on the back page that seems applicable is that they reserve the right to limit the quantities. My guess is that Superstore will see the Price Chopper flyer and immediately lower their listed price to match, but I could be wrong. I will head over there tomorrow and let you know how it goes!

Price Chopper
  • Black Diamond cheese bars, 500g, selected varieties, including old for $3.97
  • Maple Leaf bacon, 500g for $2.99 (common sales price, lowest price I've seen is $1.96)
  • Shopsy's all beef wieners, 450g for $1.99
  • Silani Feta cheese, 200 g for $2.99
No Frills
Having a Secret sale with up to 60% off on a $9.99 doorcrasher. Starts Friday June 12. While supplies last! Limited quantities per store. Store reserves right to limit quantities per customer. No returns refunds or rainchecks. $9.99 doorcrasher compared to a $24.99 manufacturer's suggested retain price. Full details instore. If anyone finds out what this is, let us know!
  • Chicken breasts, bone-in, skinless, fresh for $1.97/lb
  • Catelli Healthy Harvest or Smart pasta, selected varieties, 300-545 g for $0.99. Best price I've seen on whole wheat pasta, if you buy the heavier (545 g) packages.
Zehrs (Loblaws)
  • Green Giant vegetables, 750 g still $1.99 (price locked)
  • Gay Lea sour cream, 500 g for $1.49
  • Black Diamond cheese bar, 500 g, selected varieties for $4.44 with a lowest price guarantee... humm, do you have a Price Chopper flyer? We should be able to get their price of $3.97 beat by 10%, so for $3.57 per bar!
  • Spalding sliced bacon, 500 g for $1.99. Considerably cheaper than the Maple Leaf bacon at Price Chopper, but is it as nice? I'll give it a try!
  • Danon creamy or silhouette yogurt, 650/700 g for $1.99
  • Heinz baked beans, 398 mL for $0.79
  • Schneiders Bacon, regular, salt reduced, thick, 500g for $2.99
Food Basics
Equality sour cream, 500 mL for $1.49

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Have you heard of

A few weeks ago I finally looked into I had read about it on several blogs, but I didn't pay much attention. I also assumed it was only open to Americans.

A little investigation, and I discovered that it is open to Canadians, and by using their search engine, which is powered by Google, you periodically win points or Swagbucks. After you collect Swagbucks, you can use them in their special online store to buy all sorts of things. The most appealing prize to me is the $5 gift card, for 45 Swagbucks. There are all sorts of other prizes, ranging in price from 1 Swagbuck to thousands of Swagbucks. I registered on May 11 and redeemed 45 points for a gift card on May 31st, about 3 weeks later.

The search engine gives similar, but not identical results to a Google search. Some of the search results are sponsored, and clearly marked as such. Google as sponsered results too, although they show up separately from the main results. Most of the time, I find using Swagbucks to search works as well as Google. I added Swagbucks as a search engine option in the top right corner of my Firefox window. I can type my search terms in there and if I don't like the results, I can just change the choice of search engines to Google and search again, without having to re-type my search terms.

I have already got in the habit of typing the name of the pages I go to regularly into the Swagbucks search box. The search finds the page I want, and I click through. Some of the time, I end up with a Swagbuck or two. It does take one extra click if you ususally type your URLs straight into the address bar, but it doesn't seem to slow me down.

I will let you know I have a little ulterior motive in telling you about Swagbucks. If you use my referral link, then if you win any Swagbucks, I will get some too, up to your first 100 Swagbucks. My brother said "Oh! A pyramid scheme!" when I told him about it. I will point out that I won't get Swagbucks when you get Swagbucks indefinitely. It is only for the first 100 points, which so far doesn't look like it will take long to collect. Since I redeemed my 45 points, I have collected another 20 Swagbucks already! That makes 65 Swagbucks in less than a month.

If you decide to join Swagbucks based on my recommendation, I would appreciate if you would consider using my referral code! Thanks!

Ontario Food Deals for June 5 - June 11, 2009

I apologize in advance. This week's flyer deals has turned into this weeks rants and conspiracies! There are so few deals this week I think I will try to skip the stores all together and just buy milk at the drug store and fruit and veggies at the farmers market! Maybe that has put me in a bad mood, leading to all my ranting?

The No Frills and Foodland flyers didn't come this week. Those stores are a little farther from my home, in a nearby small town, only worth driving to for really great deals or if I am headed that way anyhow. I wonder if they have decided we are too far away? The other possibility is that the big new Walmart that is between my larger town and those stores is sucking away some of their business. Sending us the flyers only makes it easier, because Walmart will price match from flyers. Just rambling: I admit I don't have particularly strong views on Walmart, one way or the other. By the way, if there are any flyers you don't get but want to see, you can check them out at You can find the link for Canadian Online Store Flyers on my side bar, under "Useful Websites".

Watch out again this week for "deals" that aren't really deals. The Sockeye Salmon (wild red pacific) is on sale for $2 for a standard (213 g) can at Price Chopper this week. The add says "save up to 99 cents". I guess that may be true, but the very same Clover Leaf salmon is pretty easy to find for $2 a can. That was the price it was "locked" at in April at No Frills, and may still be. I wait until I can find it for $1.50 a can to stock up.

Food Basics
  • Green Seedless Grapes, product of Mexico, $0.99/lb. Be aware, these are on the dirty dozen list of fruits and veggies to think of buying organically because of their high pesticide load.
  • Breyers double churn ice cream (1.66 -1.89L) for $3.99. Last time I bought Breyers, I discovered it wasn't really ice cream when I got home, it was a "frozen dessert". I find that kind of off-putting. This is more expensive type of Breyers, but seems to really be ice cream!
Price Chopper
The $1, $2, $3 Sale continues
  • Chicken leg quarters, $1/lb
  • Kellogg's cereal, Jumbo boxes for $3. Mini Wheats (850g), Special K red berry (700 g), corn pops (515 g), foot loops (580 g), just right (1.02 kg), corn flakes (1.35 kg), selected varieties. (Just so you know, there is no way in a million years I would buy a giant box of foot loops, or even corn pops for that matter, but I figured I would type it all out, as listed in the flyer!)
  • PEI potatoes, 10lb bag for $2. Just so I can fit in one last little rant, these aren't local to us here in Ontario, and Ontario grows lots of lovely potatoes!
Wow! I had better stop now! See you all next week.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Menu Plan - June 1, 2009

Monday - Barbecued Beef on homemade buns with veggies (Make extra buns for Friday)
To Do: Soak beans all day and cook beans in slowcooker overnight.

Tuesday - Homemade Baked Beans with Boston Brown Bread and raw veggies

Wednesday - Macaroni and cheese with veggies

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Hamburgers with Homemade buns and raw veggies

Saturday - Lamb chops with potatoes and veggies

Sunday - Pork chops from pork tenderloin with potatoes and veggies

For more meal plans, visit the Organizing Junkie!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ontario Food Deals for May 29 - June 4, 2009

There really isn't anything to get excited about this week, other than the deals at Bulk Barn I posted earlier in the week.

I'll make a trip to Zehrs (Loblaws) to get some frozen peas because they are a quick and healthy veggie that my kids love. The whole wheat pasta is also a pretty good price this week, so I will get a few boxes. The sales price should be better than the regular store brand whole wheat pasta, but if is important to check carefully because the different pasta shapes have different weights. Some shapes are better deals than others!

The other nice deal this week is the yogurt at No Frills, but it is too far out of my way to go just to save a quarter on yogurt. Oh well!

Zehrs (Loblaws)
  • Green Giant frozen vegetables (peas, corn, etc.) 750g for $1.99 (lowest price I have seen them is $1.88, so not bad at all. We might get some peas as we are out and they are a favourite around here. Don't need as many frozen veggies as the weather gets nicer though.
  • Catteli Healthy Harvest pasta (whole wheat) (300-454 g) at 3 for $4.00 (about $0.29 per 100 g for the heavier boxes)
No Frills
  • Astro yogurt (650/750 g) selected varieties, $1.88 (best price I've ever seen)
  • Asparagus, product of Ontario, $1.49/lb or $3.28/kg
  • Life, Oat Squares, Corn Bran or Cap'n Crunch (350 - 730 g) for $2.99 (plus 10 bonus Sobey's points). If the box is regular size (540 g), this is a pretty good deal on Corn Bran. Last time I got a good deal on it, I paid $2.37 a box. The normal sales price is $3.69.
Price Chopper
$1, $2, $3 Sale
  • Seedless cucumbers, product of Ontario, 2 for $1

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bulk Barn Coupon (May 30 to June 12, 2009)

I just got a Bulk Barn flyer in the mail box, with a coupon to save $3 when you spend $10 before taxes. The flyer and coupon are good for two weeks, from Saturday May 30 to Friday June 12, 2009.

The coupon reads:

Save $3.00 on your total purchase of $10.00 or more before taxes available at any Bulk Barn. Coupon effective from Saturday May 30 to Friday June 12, 2009. Limit one coupon per store visit. This offer excludes the purchase of gift cards. While supplies last. We reserve the right to limit quantities. All applicable taxes shall be payable on the full value of the merchandise. Coupon cannot be used in conjunction with the 10% Seniors' & students' discount. No mechanical reproductions accepted.

In the past I have found that Bulk Barn prices are usually higher than my local independent bulk store (Ayrs Baking Supplies, if anyone is interested), but with the $3.00 off coupon, you are basically getting a 30% discount on $10.00 worth of food. If you are very careful to only spend just over the $10.00 minimum, especially if you buy things that are also on sale, it can be worth it.

You do need to be careful because their are some items that are actually more expensive to buy in bulk than to buy at the regular grocery store. A price book can really make a difference. Last time I was at the Bulk Barn, I noticed that the regular price for whole wheat pasta is $0.61/100 g. Even with the coupon, that would be $0.43/100 g. If I head over to Zehrs (Loblaws) and buy their house brand whole wheat pasta at regular price, I will only pay $0.34/100 g. If I find a sale, the difference is even more. I have often paid as little as $0.26/100 g for whole wheat pasta.

Another peril of the Bulk Barn is all the sweets and treats. We try not to buy these things, but we (the kids and I) find Bulk Barn very tempting! Make sure you do not go when you are hungry or feeling snackish!

When you go to the Bulk Barn to use your coupon, it is harder than you might think to spend only $10.00. You need to weigh each item to determine how much your bag will cost. I suggest you bring a paper and pencil and a calculator. Make use of the scales located around the store to weigh your items. You can also use this handy chart to get an idea how much a cup of different items weigh. For example, a cup of brown sugar weighs about 110 g and a cup of almonds weighs about 225 g and a cup of raisins weighs about 100 g.

Some of the good deals:

I have included the price per 100 g if you make use of the coupon, but remember that only applies if you spend the $10 before the discount! Also, it only applies on your first $10.00. If you spend more, you just get the regular sales price!
  • Natural Almonds (California) $5.89/lb, or $1.30/100 g ($0.91/100 g with coupon)
  • Sunflower seeds, hulled (roasted, salted or unsalted) $2.89/lb or $0.64/100 g ($0.45/100 g with coupon)
  • Walnut halves or pieces (California) $5.39/lb or $1.19/100 g ($0.83/100 g with coupon)
  • In-shell peanuts (dry roasted, salted or unsalted) $1.79/lb or $0.40/ 100 g ($0.28/100 g with coupon)
  • Large Prunes (pits removed) $3.49/lb, or $0.77/100 g ($0.54/100 g with coupon)
  • Sultana Raisins $1.89/lb 0r $0.42/100 g ($0.29/100 g with coupon)
  • Turkish Apricots $3.79/lb or $0.84/100 g ($0.59/100 g with coupon)
  • Dried Cranberries (assorted flavours) $6.19/lb or $1.37/100 g ($0.96/100 g with coupon)
  • Dried blueberries or Dried cherries 20% off (probably a good deal... where else do you buy these?)
  • Brown Sugar (Golden yellow or dark brown) $0.75/lb, or $.17/100 g ($0.12/100 g with coupon)

Canning Rhubarb

I have three big clumps of rhubarb growing in my garden. They were there when we moved in. Since we moved in, I have harvested a little, and even got some in the freezer last year, but a lot ended up in the compost heap because it had become so old and overgrown by the time I got to harvesting it. This is not the frugal option!

This year I decided that I really want to preserve as much of my own garden produce as possible and the rhubarb is first! Although it takes time, and a small cost, preserving my own produce is the best way to stock up. After doing some research and some thinking I decided that canning the rhubarb would be the ideal way to preserve it. Canning doesn't take up any room in my freezer, which is only so big. I already own all of the canning equipment, and I was delighted to discover it wouldn't be much more work then to prepare it for the freezer. Because of the high acidity, canned rhubarb only requires a hot water bath to make it safe (not pressure canning, a whole other kettle of fish!)

I love rhubarb, but if you aren't sure about it, try reading this post about a reluctant rhubarb eater who recently discovered how yummy it can be!

In my quest for a canned rhubarb recipe, I started with my favourite food preservation book, Stocking Up. This book is great because they don't use any sugar in their recipes, even in the jams and jellies! As a side note, apple jelly made with honey is the most amazing thing I have ever tasted.

The canned rhubarb has only a little sweetener, and the recipe is very similar to many I found online, replacing the sugar with honey, and reducing the amount of sweetener.

Stocking Up Canned Rhubarb
Wash and trim the rhubarb. Discard all leaves - they are poisonous. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Add 1/4 cup of honey to each quart of rhubarb and let stand 3 to 4 hours to draw out the juice. Bring to boiling. Pack hot, with 1/2 inch head space. Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes for pint or quart size jars.

This turned out well, but it is a little too tart for me to eat straight out of the jar. I will be able to use it in cooking or over something very sweet, like ice cream. I am looking forward to experimenting with this in my cooking. I am imagining it could replace applesauce in many baked goods, like applesauce bread. I am imagining combining it with a variety of fruit to make a lovely fruit crisp in the fall. I suspect with some other fruit (maybe strawberries?) it would make a great pie filling too! I will post recipes results as I try them.

I decided what I really want is a rhubarb sauce. Something just a little sweeter that the first canned rhubarb. Something that I could use over pancakes or plain yogurt, straight from the jar. Something like a tart and runny rhubarb jam.

I decided to try doubling the honey in the original Stocking Up recipe. I am very careful about mucking around with canning recipes. There are potential risks in canning, and you don't want to mess around. As I already know that most jams are safe to can, I decided that adding extra sweetener should not alter the food safety. In fact, as I understand it, the sugars add to the food safety, making it harder for bacteria to grow. More importantly, the acidity of the rhubarb is what makes hot water canning safe, and sugar alters the flavour, but not the acidity. Also, the other canning recipes I found used more sugar than I had used honey! (I can't find anything on the web or in a book to back me up. Does anyone have any information?)

Meredith's Simple Rhubarb Sauce
Wash and trim the rhubarb. Don't forget to discard the poisonous leaves. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

For each quart (4 cups or 1 liter) of rhubarb, add 1/2 cup of honey. Let it sit 3 to 4 hours, then bring it to a boil.

Fill clean, hot jars leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

If you have hard water, don't be afraid of the white powder all over your jars when they come out of the canner. When they are cool and sealed, you can wipe it off with a damp cloth.

The result is still tart, but sweet enough that I can eat it straight out of the jar. I am looking forward to trying it over pancakes. Yum! I think I could use it as a substitute for the first three ingredients in these rhubarb upside down muffins, although I haven't had a chance to try it yet.

Keep in mind that my recipe is not a "tested" recipe, but I can't see any reason why it shouldn't be as safe as any other home canned produce. I am going to store it in my cold cellar and enjoy it all winter. I should get another harvest of rhubarb, and I will make some more. Yum!

A note about quantities: I made three different batches, two of the Stocking Up canned rhubarb and one of my own rhubarb sauce. When I used 3 quarts of rhubarb, I got 4 pint jars of canned rhubarb. When I used 4 quarts of rhubarb, I got 5 and 1/2 pint jars of canned rhubarb. I used 4 quarts of rhubarb to make my sauce, and ended up with 8 half pint jars, or 4 pints total.

How much rhubarb makes up a quart? Well, I weighed several of my quarts, and got different weights each time. The average weight was 524 g or just over a pound.

For more ideas on what to do with fresh rhubarb, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Menu Plan - May 25, 2009

Monday - Pasta with meat sauce
To Do: Defrost beef

Tuesday - Cheesy Beef and Rice with veggies (make a double batch and freeze one.)
To Do: Defrost sausage

Wednesday - Sausages with mashed potatoes and onion gravy and veggies

Thursday - Leftovers
To Do: Make hamburger buns

Friday - Hamburgers with potato salad and raw veggies
To Do: Defrost lamb

Saturday - Lamb chops with baked potatoes with veggies
To Do: Defrost pork

Sunday - Pork tenderloin on the bbq with mashed potatoes and veggies

For more menu plans, please visit the Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Extra Food Deal: Apple Juice

I just noticed in the Rexall/Pharmaplus flyer that Rougemont apple juice is on sale this week. It is a really great bargain at $0.69 for a 1.2L can (standard size). Normally, this goes on sale for $0.88, so this is a deal indeed if you want 100% juice.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Growing Food: Potatoes

The idea that you can grow 100 lbs of potatoes in 4 square feet sounded impressive, but we decided to go with the original plan and use the garbage pail method.

I know I said it was going to be my project, but it just didn't work out that way. My husband did a great job putting this together from an old garbage pail (and even took photos for me!). I will just have to keep an eye on my pail and add more soil when needed. I am excited to see how many pounds of potatoes we get from the three we started with!

Our seed potatoes came from a bag of regular eating potatoes that had started to grow in the cold cellar. I am glad we will get good use out of them!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ontario Food Deals for May 22 - May 28, 2009

The most exciting thing this week is the $1, $2, $3 sale at Food Basics. There are a few good deals, which I pointed out below, but there are also some things that have actually been rounded up to go with the sales theme. Their sales price on mayonnaise is usually under $3, but has been rounded up to $3 this time! Don't forget, you need to know your prices!

I will also make my way to the Superstore to look at the big box of granola bars on sale. These make a good snack I can keep in the car for the kids, saving me money on trips to Timmie's with "starving" children.

I may also pick up some bacon. We are running low in the freezer. I have seen bacon for as little as $2 per package for good quality, and the sales this week are $3 per package. Was the extra low sales price a fluke, or part of the regular sales cycle? Looking in my price book, I saw the lowest price in March, when I last stocked up. Bacon was available at $3 per package in February, and again over the last two weeks. This is where stocking up takes experience, thought, planning and a little luck. It may be that the "new normal" sales price of bacon is $3 or it may be that I should wait longer for the next good sale. We will see!

Although I blew my $100 challenge this month, I still want to keep my spending as low as I can. Still, it doesn't make sense to pass up good deals when they are around, unless my store cupboards are already overflowing with those items.

Food Basics

$1, $2, $3 Sale
  • Saporito Vegetable Oil, 3 L for $3
  • Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, frozen, seasoned for $2 per lb or $4.41 per kg
  • Marc Angelo Italian Sausage, hot or mild, 500 g for $2 (I have never tried this brand, but it is a pretty good price)
  • Italian home bakery Calabrese style bread, 675 g for $1
If you are in Kitchener or Waterloo, there is a new Food Basics open at 600 Laurelwood Drive in Waterloo. There are a few extra deals in town, available only at the Food Basics located at 600 Laurelwood Drive, 851 Fischer-Hallman Road and 370 Highland Road West only.
  • Black Diamond cheese, selected varieties, 500 g for $3.99, limit 2 (This is actually a few cents more expensive than a similar cheese at Walmart last week. Still a decent deal though.)
  • Piller's Black Forest Style Ham, smoked and cooked, 900 g for $3.99. This comes to $0.44 per 100 g, much cheaper than buying it pre-sliced at the deli counter.
No Frills
  • Pork side rib portions for $1.97 per lb or $4.34 per kg (Not a bad price if the good weather has you in the mood for ribs!)
  • Unico tomatoes, still price locked at $0.79 per 796 mL can
  • Nature Valley crunchy granola bars, club size (1.12 kg) for $8.79. I think this is a good deal, but I don't know how many bars are in this box. You can get a regular size box with 5 double bars for $1.99 at Zehrs (their ongoing semi-permanent sales price). That works out to just under $0.40 per bar. If there are over 23 double bars per box, it is a good deal! Do keep in mind that each individual sleeve contains 2 bars. I think this is clear from the packaging, but make sure there are over 23 pouches of double bars if you are looking for the best deal. I think these jumbo packs are usually in the $10 range. Also, each box contains a variety of flavours, so if your family won't eat all the flavours, it isn't a good deal! I will post when I have more details.
Price Chopper
  • Asparagus, product of Ontario, $1.49 per lb or $3.28 per kg
  • Kellogg's Cereal (Mini-Wheats or Raisin Bran, Froot Loops or Frosted Flakes, selected, 275 - 475 g), 3 for $5
  • Schneiders Bacon, regular, salt reduced or thick, 500 g for $2.99 (Good deal for name-brand bacon!)
  • Maple Leaf Bacon, 500 g for $2.99. Similar deal to at Sobeys
Zehrs (Loblaws)
  • Asparagus, product of Ontario, $1.77 per lb or $3.90 per kg (It is a bit cheaper at Price Chopper, but if Zehrs is more convenient, go there. Just don't forget to eat your local asparagus while you can!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

$100 Grocery Challenge: Week 3

I did something last week and this week that you should never do when trying to stick to a budget. I sent my husband to the store and then I went to the store hungry!

On Friday, my husband went to the grocery store to get the milk, eggs and sugar. He ended up spending almost $20.
  • Regular chips at $0.99 + $0.13 tax
  • Other chips for $0.99 + $0.13 tax
  • Onion soup mix for $1.49 (to make dip with the sour cream)
  • Eggs for $1.97
  • Sugar (2 Kg) for $2.03 (Interesting side note, sugar is cheaper at the grocery store than at either of the local bulk stores. It always pays to compare prices!)
  • Frozen blackberries (600 g) for $2.99 A good deal, but not as good as the $1.49 I was paying for frozen fruit with my coupon. He saw everyone else grabbing them and fell into the trap of believing it must be a great deal.
  • Pickles for $3.89 I have no idea what he was thinking. We have lots of pickles in the cold cellar!
  • Milk (4 L) for $3.97
  • mini carrots for $0.99
  • TOTAL = $19.57
Today I went to the grocery store because we were out of milk, and my bread machine is broken, so we are out of bread. We also needed cat food. Rather than going right after breakfast, we procrastinated and went right before lunch when I was hungry. I was just as bad, spending nearly $20 myself.
  • Cat food (1 kg) for $1.59 + $0.21 tax (I bought a small container beause it is a new kind I am testing on the cats)
  • Yogurt for $2.89
  • Milk (4L) for $3.97
  • Cucumber for $0.99
  • Ham (300 g) for $3.17
  • Artichoke dip (my favourite indulgence!) for $2.99
  • Bakery bread for $1.69
  • TOTAL = $17.50
Total this week = $37.07

Total spent to date = $99.20

I am SO disappointed! There is no way we are going to make it to the end of the month without buying anything else. I am going to keep on trucking though, and do my best. I am definitely motivated to try again next month. I should be able to buy only milk and eggs next week, but I will probably buy some local asparagus too. It would be a shame to miss out on the short season.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Menu Plan - May 18, 2009

I was sick Sunday night and didn't do a menu plan last week. It has reminded me why menu planning is SO important, even though I don't buy my weeks groceries based on my menu plan. We ate lots of soup and canned beans this week, and ate out a couple of times, all because I didn't know what to cook. I didn't get the advanced preparations done, and that makes a huge difference.

Monday - Steak with baked potatoes and vegetables
To Do: Soak lentils

Tuesday - Sweet and sour lentils, with rice and vegetables. I made these lentils a few weeks ago and they were GREAT.
To Do: Defrost ground beef

Wednesday - Spaghetti with meat sauce. I will make a big batch of sauce so I can use leftovers to make chili and also have some to freeze.
To Do: Soak dry kidney beans

Thursday - Leftovers
To Do: Cook the kidney beans

Friday - Chili with cornmeal muffins
To Do: Defrost pork

Saturday - BBQ'ed pork tenderloin with potatoes and veggies

Sunday - I will be out for supper at a scrapbooking event. I think the boys will probably have hamburgers with carrot sticks (if I remember to cut them ahead of time!)

For more menu plans, visit the Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ontario Food Deals for May 15 - May 21, 2009

Lucky for me and my food challenge, there isn't much to excite me this week. I have lots of peanut butter, so don't need to stock up. I'll probably buy some asparagus, because it is in season now, and doesn't last long. It should be easy to stay under $15 this week.

No Frills

The Half Price Sale continues. The deals listed last week should still be good this week, according to last week's flyer! Additionally:
  • Kraft peanut butter, selected varieties, 750g or 1kg. This may include Kraft's natural, 100% peanut butter, which comes in the 750g size for $1.99
  • Kellogg's Raisin Bran (675 g), Mini Wheats (540-555 g) or Rice Krispies (525 g), selected varieties, $2.49
Zehrs (Loblaws)
Price Chopper
  • Kellogg's Raisin Bran (675 g), Corn Pops (345 g), Rice Krispies cocoa (420 g), All Bran (525 g), $2.49
  • Asparagus, Product of Ontario, $1.47 per lb, weather permitting
  • Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, value pack, $2.99 per lb or $6.59 per kg
Real Canadian Superstore
  • Post cereal, selected varieties (Shreddies and Honeycomb are pictured) (400-620 g) for $1.99 (price lock)
  • Cracker Barrel cheese (500 g) for $3.97
Food Basics
If you are in Kitchener or Waterloo, there is a new Food Basics open at 600 Laurelwood Drive in Waterloo. There are a few extra deals in town, available only at the Food Basics located at 600 Laurelwood Drive, 851 Fischer-Hallman Road and 370 Highland Road West only.
  • Irresistibles white meat chicken strips or nuggets (908 g) for $3.99

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

$100 Grocery Challenge: Week 2

Last week, I spent $33.14. I was hoping to stay under $20 on my second week of grocery shopping, so I have $50 for the rest of the month.

Thursday I went to the farmer's market and picked up two bunches of fresh Ontario asparagus for $5.00 and a loaf of fresh bread reduced to $2.00. On the way home we stopped at Food Basics because we were out of milk ($3.97), and faced one of the perils of making extra shopping stops: the extra purchases! We grabbed another bag of cookies, still on sale for $1.99.

Thursday total: $12.96

Friday I went to Food Basics and picked up my potatoes, and while I was at it I got a few more things:
  • White potatoes, 10 lb bags, 2 for $3.00 = $3.00
  • Bananas = $2.28
  • Lemons and limes, reduced for quick sale = $.79
  • Lemons (nice, shiny, new, 3) = $0.99
  • Food Basics TOTAL = $7.06
Today I went to Zehrs to pick up the Europe's Best vegetables and bought a couple of other things:
  • Europe's Best Frozen Vegetables, 4 for $1.99-$1.00 each = $3.96
  • Bread (50% 0ff) = $1.34
  • Sour Cream = $1.99
  • Snap lids for canning = $1.49 + $0.19 taxes
  • Zehrs TOTAL = $8.97
Oh, and I think my mother is worried I am going to deprived my kids. She bought us 8 liters of milk, a dozen eggs and several bunches of lovely asparagus when they visited this weekend. Thanks Mum!

Total spent this week, $28.99

Total spent to date = $62.13

Humm... this isn't looking good for my challenge! Especially as I just ran out of baking powder and sugar (white and brown)....

One thing I am realizing is that I tend to buy extras on each shopping trip. I had read that reducing your shopping trips reduces spending. I think this is one reason meal planning saves you money. I made 4 stops this week on three different days. I spent about $10 on "extras" this week. Many of those purchases were reasonable purchases, and none were particularly extravagant, but it was extra!

Next week I am going to try doing all of my shopping on one day, even if it requires multiple stops. I feel that this may reduce my chances of spending as much on extras.

If I am lucky, there won't be any good deals in the flyers!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quick and Easy Europe's Best Stir Fry

If anyone was wondering why I am so excited about the sale on Europe's Best vegetables this week, it is because of their Zen Garden vegetables. I paid only $0.99 for 600 grams of frozen veggies. The ingredient list is simply and delicious:

Snow peas
Yellow carrots
Orange carrots
Water chestnuts
Red pepper
Baby corn
Bean sprouts

For a quick meal, combine the frozen vegetables with some cooked protein (leftover chicken, pork or beef are all nice) in a hot pan. I used leftover popcorn chicken this time. Cover for 3-5 minutes, so the veggies can thaw. Take off the lid and continue to cook while stirring until it is hot, another few minutes. Throw in some kind of Asian sauce. I like Hoisin sauce. Add a little soy sauce if you need more seasoning.
For a complete meal serve with rice!

One word of caution here, if you are into the 100 mile diet or worried about food from China, you might want to avoid Europe's Best vegetables. These ones are a product of China. For me, at this point, it is worth it! You will have to make your own choice, but I felt I should offer full disclosure in my review!

Also, I wonder if I should consider adding Hoisin sauce to my homemade convenience challenge?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ontario Food Deals for May 8 - May 14, 2009

I am most excited by the Europe's Best frozen vegetables that have been reduced to $1.99 at Zehrs! With my coupons, I will get them for $0.99! I LOVE the Zen Garden mixed veggies for a quick stir fry. I'll head over to Price Chopper to stock up on some apple juice.
We need milk, eggs, yogurt and fresh veggies this week, but I should have an easy time staying within my budget for my $100 challenge. I'll post pictures and let you know how I did, probably on Friday.

  • Europe's Best frozen vegetables (300 g - 600 g) for $1.99 - $1.00 in-store coupon. According to the flyer (We've checked, lowered and locked prices on items you buy the most)
  • PC soft drinks on sale for $0.99 for 2L (Okay, I'm joking! I'm not buying it!!)
No Frills
Half Price Event, Flyer Prices are effective for 2 weeks, Friday May 8 to Thursday May 21, 2009)
  • Colgate toothpaste (regular), 75 mL for $0.41
  • Suave shampoo or conditioner, 444 mL for $0.99 (I will need to test the smell. Sometimes cheap shampoo is really stinky and I can't use it!)
Price Chopper
  • Cashmere toilet paper, 24 single rolls or 12 double or 12 ultra rolls, for $3.97. This is about $0.33 per double roll. The cheapest I have bought toilet paper is $0.25 per double roll, with a coupon. This seems to be the lowest price that "nice" toilet paper regularly goes, without a coupon. I think if you don't care about your toilet paper, you can get it cheaper, but my husband is picky!
  • Pork tenderloin, fresh for $2.79 per lob or $6.15 per kg. I bought it a month ago for $1.99 per lb at Superstore. It was frozen, but I don't care. I would just freeze it when I get home anyhow!
  • Maple leaf or Shopsy's wieners (hot dogs), 450g for $1.66
  • Oatmeal Crisp or Fiber 1 cereals (425-505 g) for $3.49. Buy 2 and get a free box of Nature Valley granola bars (160g-230g). I don't honestly know if this is a good deal for the cereal. I have found those granola bars on sale for $1.99 per box, if that helps you decide. Also, this cereal is priced at $4.49 at Sobey's this week. They have a similar deal, buy 2 boxes of either, and get a free box of Fiber 1 cereal.
  • Rougemont apple juice, 1.2L can for $0.89
  • Maxwell House ground coffee, 925 g tin for $4.44
  • Campbell's cream of mushroom, tomato, chicken noodle or vegetable soups, 284 mL condensed, 2 for $1.00 (or $0.69 each - make sure you buy multiples of 2 only!)
  • See also the Oatmeal Crisp/Fiber 1 deal, listed under Price Chopper
  • Mr. Clean all purpose cleaner, 800 mL for $1.99 - coupon from paper (buy 2, get $2 off).
  • Teddy's Choice soft touch baby wipes, 560-575 for $10.99. Includes one tub and 6 refill packs, I think.
Food Basics
  • Black Diamond cheese (Including old cheddar), 500g block for $4.44
  • Schneiders Oktoberfest sausages, frozen, 450 g fro $1.49 (great on the BBQ!)
If you are in Kitchener or Waterloo, there is a new Food Basics open at 600 Laurelwood Drive in Waterloo. There are a few extra deals in town, available only at the Food Basics located at 600 Laurelwood Drive, 851 Fischer-Hallman Road and 370 Highland Road West only.
  • Kellogg's Corn Flakes (Jumbo-1350g), Corn Pops (Jumbo-775g) or Special K (475g) for $3.99. We don't usually eat these cereals, but the Corn Flakes are a great unit price, if you like them!
  • White potatoes, product of Canada, 10 lb bag, 2 for $3

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Homemade Soft Drink Replacements

My little epiphany regarding convenience foods compared to making things from scratch, and my goal to make some changes and share them with the world was challenged this morning. I remembered I have guests coming tonight and no pop in the house. Not only that, I haven't had anything to serve my guests for the past 3 or 4 weeks, and I am starting to feel like a very lousy hostess!

I could probably find pop on sale somewhere, but that would compromise my $100 challenge. Not only that, but my husband and I are trying to keep pop out of the house for our own health. I tried keeping it around just for guests, but the only success I had was when I bought only root beer, because I hate root beer... but it turns out most of my guests agree with me.

My husband made homemade ginger ale a few weeks ago, following Alton Brown's recipe. He enjoyed it, and will probably make it again. I wasn't particularly impressed with the flavour, and it takes 48 hours to make, so it isn't an option for tonight.

I found a great solution that I have used before and been very happy with. A lovely cold beverage without too many calories, which can be made easily and quickly and costs very little - Iced Tea!


I use the Hillbilly Housewife's Iced Tea recipe for perfect iced tea every time. It is a great, easy recipe I have used before. I made it with 1/4 cup of sugar, but follow her advice and sweeten it to taste.


On her site, she says she makes the entire batch (8 quarts or 2 liters) for only $0.08. I will have to keep an eye out for cheaper tea bags. My batch cost $0.22 for the tea bags, bought last week on sale and $0.03 for 1/4 cup of sugar for a grand total of $0.25 for 2 liters of beverage.

A two liter bottle of no name pop usually costs about $1. I think I have seen it for as little as $0.75. If I am being generous with the price of pop, my homemade alternative still cost only a third of the price of store bought soda. I saved at least $0.50, and given that I was going to go out and buy some pop at full price I saved more than $0.75 easily.

Over a year, if my family drinks 4 liters a week, I am saving at least $52.00. If you drink more pop, your savings could be even greater!

(Please don't remind me that it we just drank the water straight we would save at least $26 more!)


Today, my homemade alternative was more convenient than store bought because I didn't have to make an extra run to the store with two small children in tow.

It took about 15 minutes of my time, from start to finish to make the tea, and then some time to cool, although the recipe suggests serving it immediately over ice too. Most of the "cooking" time is waiting for the tea to steep, which is hardly labour intensive.

Sure, it is a little more work than opening a bottle, but the effort is minimal, and worth it when you compare taste!


I love homemade iced tea. It feels like a special treat and I am proud to serve it to guests. You can adjust the sweetness to taste and experiment with different flavours of tea bags to make all sorts of new beverages. Homemade beats store bought for flavour, hands down.

Environmental Impact

I made my tea in a reusable drink pitcher I will use over and over again, rather than buying it in 2 liter plastic bottles or aluminum cans. We would recycle these things, or possibly even reuse them, but on the waste hierarchy, reduce is the best option, which is what I am doing by not purchasing the bottles.

Sure, I had to turn on the kettle, and I use my refrigerator to cool the tea down, but I am certain that the energy the transport trucks use to tote all those bottles of pop around far exceeds my small usage.


It probably isn't entirely fair to compare store bought soda pop ingredients with homemade iced tea ingredients, but I don't have an empty iced tea bottle at home, and I do have an empty Diet Coke bottle at home!

The Diet Coke contains carbonated water, caramel colour, phosphoric and citric acid, aspartame (contains phenylalanin), flavour, sodium benzoate, caffeine, acesulfame-potassium. Aspartame and acesulfame-potassium are are only there because it is a diet drink. The regular Coke is probably made with high fructose corn syrup, which is full of its own perils. Interesting side note for my fellow Canadians: did you know that the glucose-fructose you see on food labels seems to be the same as the infamous high fructose corn syrup?

If there are 17 teaspoons of sugar in 20 oz of pop, there is over 1 cup of sugar in 2 liters of pop. My 1/4 cup of sugar is starting to look very healthy! If I decided to use honey instead, I could steer clear entirely of white sugar.

There is also some evidence that tea may be a healthy choice of beverages, while I haven't seen any new studies on the health benefits of soda pop!

I won't let my kids drink the iced tea, just as I won't let them drink Coke or coffee or hot tea or any other high caffeine beverage, but I think that homemade iced tea will permanently replace the store bought convenience of soda pop at our house. If nothing else, the way your guests eyes light up when you offer them homemade iced tea makes it worthwhile!

Price of Store Bought Vs. Homemade

I just read a great article comparing the price of store bought and homemade food. She compares bagels, cream cheese, jam, crackers and granola, and overall, homemade comes out cheaper and better tasting. The author seemed a little surprised, but I'm not! I guess I grew up with a bit of a homemade bias. Cakes were always from scratch, and bread always came out of the bread machine. And I just always assumed that homemade was both better tasting, better for you and cheaper. Over at Home Ec 101, Heather agrees with me, but reinforced the idea that saving money isn't the only goal of making food from scratch.

Some of my assumptions were turned on their head when I read the Hillbilly Housewife's article about "convenience" foods that are worth purchasing rather than making at home. Pasta, frozen veggies and canned beans all make her list of convenience foods. She is right, of course - they are a convenience food compared to what my great grandmother would have used, never mind the fancy stand mixer, the food processor, the rice cooker and the bread machine I have in my kitchen. Go back just a little further, and even my stove starts to look like a convenience item!

All of this got me thinking about my own food assumptions and bias. On this adventure to feed my family on a budget, my goal is to make sure we are eating a healthy diet and that we are being mindful of our environmental impact. Additionally, the taste and flavours of the food we are eating has to be at the top of my agenda, if I want anyone to eat it!

With this in mind, I am going to try doing some comparisons of the prices, flavours, ingredient lists and environmental impact of some foods I already make from scratch as well as some of my favourite convenience foods.

My Comparisons (A Growing List)

A Soft Drink Replacement (Iced Tea)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Can I spend only $100 on Groceries in May?

I have decided to try to lower my grocery budget to $100 for the month of May. This shouldn't be too hard. I don't buy much in the way of meat on a weekly basis, because we buy our meat in bulk and my cold cellar and freezer are full of food.

My goal is to continue to stock up when I find good prices, with the idea that maybe I can permanently reduce my monthly grocery budget to $100. Budgeting is one of my weaknesses, and I am looking forward to making it my focus. At the end of the month, I will reassess my budget and decided if $100 a month (plus extra for our yearly meat purchase) is a reasonable budget to feed my family of 2 adults and 2 small children. Can I do this while still cooking healthy and tasty food?

Now, this idea developed as I was out doing my grocery shopping, so I bought a few unusual treats that were a good price. As the plan is that this will be a permanent change, I'm not going to worry about it.

So how did I do? I stuck pretty closely to the deals I had found by reading my flyers and checking my price book.

  • Clover Leaf Sockeye salmon, Wild red pacific, regular size canned salmon (213 g) on sale 2 for $3 this week. X4 cans = $6.00
  • TOTAL = $6.00
Food Basics
  • Italpasta regular pasta (450 g) for 2 for $0.99, X8 = $3.96
  • Red Rose Orange Pekoe 36 tea bags for $0.99, X1 = $0.99
  • Christie cookies, (550 g) for $1.99, X2 = $3.98
  • Maxwell House ground coffee, 925 g tin for $4.44, X1 = $4.44
  • Brown rice, $1.99
  • TOTAL = $15.36
No Frills
  • Satin Care shave gel for $1.99 - $2.00 from, X1 = $1.99 + $0.26 tax - $2.00 = $.25 (See, even FREE things aren't free!)
  • Delmonte juice boxes for $1.99
  • Cucumber for $0.99
  • TOTAL = $3.23
  • Yoplait yogurt tubs, 650 g for $1.97 - $1.00 coupon found in last month's Chatelaine magazine. X1 = $0.97
  • Always pads (18) for $2.66 - $1.00 coupon from newspaper flyer and online source X2 = ($2.66 X 2) + $0.27 tax - ($1.00 X 2) = $3.59
  • 4 L of milk = $3.99
  • TOTAL = $8.55
Grand Total of $33.14
Coupon Savings = $5.00

Overall, I think I did pretty well. I went over a $25 weekly budget (for 1/4 of my $100), but I find a monthly budget is more practical when stocking up. Depending on sales, I may only buy milk, eggs and yogurt next week!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Menu Plan - May 4, 2009

Monday - Pasta Carbonara with peas

Tuesday - Baked beans with carrot sticks and Boston brown bread (I usually leave out the raisins, and cook it in an old fashioned British pudding bowl, rather than an old can, because I am worried about contamination)

To Do: Defrost chicken

Wednesday - Tarragon chicken with rice and veggies

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Homemade quiche with veggies

To Do: Defrost ham and potatoes

Saturday - Ham with scalloped potatoes and veggies

Sunday - Steak with roasted potatoes and veggies

For more menu plans, please visit the Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ontario Weekly Grocery Flyer Deals for May 1 - May 7, 2009

I will stop by the brand new Food Basics in Waterloo to pick up some of the flyer deals, as well as the special new store deals. I also plan on picking up a fresh mozzarella cheese or two at Price Chopper and some frozen fish at Superstore. I am looking forward to picking up a free shave gel at No Frills, and a tub of yogurt for $0.97 with coupon at Walmart. The large tins of salmon at Shopper's are a pretty good deal too.

What is your favourite deal this week?

UPDATE: Foodland has Clover Leaf Sockeye salmon, Wild red pacific, regular size canned salmon (213 g) on sale 2 for $3 this week. A slightly better deal than the salmon at Shopper's Drug Mart, and a better size, for my family.

Food Basics

$0.99 sale this week. Watch out though, because some things can be found cheaper.
  • Italpasta regular pasta in select varieties (450 g) for 2 for $0.99, while quantities last
  • Primo canned beans (540 mL) for 2 for $0.99, selected varieties (I mostly use dried, but I think this is a pretty good deal)
  • Fresh chicken legs, quarters bagged for $0.99 per lb or $2.18 per kg
  • Red Rose Orange Pekoe 36 tea bags for $0.99
If you are in Kitchener or Waterloo, there is a new Food Basics open at 600 Laurelwood Drive in Waterloo. There are a few extra deals in town, available only at the Food Basics located at 600 Laurelwood Drive, 851 Fischer-Hallman Road and 370 Highland Road West only.
  • Breyers classic ice cream (1.66L to 1.89L) for $1.99
  • Lean ground beef for $1.49/lb, sold in 2lb tubes for $2.98
  • Christie cookies, selected varieties, large sizes (550 g) for $1.99
  • Maxwell House ground coffee, 925 g tin for $4.44
No Frills
  • Satin Care shave gel for $1.99 - $2.00 from, making it free!
  • Unico vegetable oil, 3L for $3.99
Price Chopper
  • Fresh ground beef for $1.49/lb, sold in 2lb tubes for $2.98 (same price as at the new Food Basics)
  • Silani mozzarella cheese ball, 340 g for $2.49 (this is the fresh style cheese. It is yummy, and can be frozen)
  • Aunt Jemima waffles, 354 g for $0.99
  • Always pads (12-24) for $2.99 - $1.00 coupon from newspaper flyers (available slightly cheaper at Walmart)
Zehrs (Loblaws Stores)
  • Air chilled chicken for $1.64 per lb or $3.62 per kg. (Still not as cheap as a Superstore a few weeks ago, when the chickens were about $1.17 per lb)
  • Kraft Cracker Barrel bar cheese, 500 g for $4.44. I bought cheese for $0.66 per 100 g and this cheese is $0.88 per 100g, but still a good price.
  • Tide laundry detergent for $11.99 - $1.00 coupons, found everywhere, including this weeks Shop and Save, delivered with newspapers and flyers. (Tide Ultra powder 3.8-4kg or 2X liquid 2.95 L laundry detergent, selected varieties, 48-80 washloads)
  • Green Island polar cod fillets, boneless skinless, frozen, 400 g for $1.99. I haven't tried this brand, but the price is good, so I think I will try it this week.
  • Unico tomatoes, still price locked at $0.79 per 796 mL can. Last time, I found I could get the unsalted variety at this price.
Shopper's Drug Mart (Sales Start Saturday)
  • Gold Seal Pacific Red Sockeye Salmon, large 418 g tin for $2.99
  • Yoplait Source or Creamy Yogurt tubs, 650 g fro $1.97 - $1.00 coupon found in last month's Chatelaine magazine.
  • Always pads (18) for $2.66 - $1.00 coupon from newspaper flyers

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Coupons I found today - April 28, 2009

At Sobey's tonight, I found Europe's Best coupons near the frozen fruit. They are two part coupons, with one half is for $2.00 off any frozen fruit and the other half is for $1.00 off any frozen vegetable. The veggies go on sale for $1.99 and the fruit for $3.49 pretty regularly. See if you can find some coupons and save them for the next sale. These coupons don't expire until March 31, 2010, so wait for a sale!

I also found save $1 when you buy two containers of French's mustard. The coupons were located on a special mustard display, near the bin freezers that normally contain things like pre-made hamburger patties. These expire December 31, 2009.

Near the bottled water, I found a coupon for $10 mail in rebate when you purchase a Brita Pitcher and 1 pack of Brita Filers. If you are thinking of finding a greener alternative to bottled water this summer, these might help!

Finally, at the customer service desk there was a Heart and Stroke guide to eating well that contained multiple coupons that are only good at Sobey's, Foodland and IGA. There were coupons for:
  • $0.35 off Naturegg Omega Pro eggs
  • $0.60 off Naturegg Omega Pro liquid eggs
  • $0.50 off 375g package of Maple Lodge Farms Chicken Bacon
  • $1.00 off Dempster's Healthy Way product (bread!)
  • $0.50 off (400g-575g) box of Cheerios
  • $0.75 off BlueWater Grilled item
  • $0.75 off Astro Zero yogurt
Your luck may vary, but keep your eyes peeled for coupons. There are great coupons all over the place!

Monday, April 27, 2009

How I Organized my Chest Freezer

If you have a chest freezer in your basement that is a food abyss, a giant mouth you keep feeding, but never actually pull anything out of, then this post is for you!

When you stock up on groceries, rather than a standard weekly shop, it is particularly important to stay organized. Before I organized my freezer, I would keep buying and buying anytime I saw a good deal. When it was eventually time to pull everything out to defrost the freezer, or more likely, to find something specific I just knew was buried in there, I would discover that I had 20 bars of frozen mozzarella cheese, but no more butter. This is not the way to wisely spend your grocery budget.

I kept putting off organizing because I thought I needed the perfect set of containers that were going to somehow bring organization to the chaos that was my freezer. A thrift store find combined with the inability to make a birthday cake because we were out of butter finally made me decide to just figure it out!

The thrift store find was two new freezer baskets. They were $2 for two baskets, and I wasn't sure if they would fit, but bought them anyhow. By a stroke of luck, they just fit. In the picture at the top you can see that I now have 4 hanging baskets in my freezer. Those extra hanging baskets make a big difference and if you can find some, you should pick them up! But as I said, don't wait for the perfect storage containers. The other main tool in my freezer organization was a few cardboard boxes, and a little time and thought.

TIP: Regular plastic bins can crack easily at freezer temperatures. I did waste some money on dollar store bins that shattered. Cardboard works better and is usually cheaper.

Advantages to having an organized freezer:
  • You can find what you are looking for (and so can other people)
  • You know when you are running out of something
  • Less food will be wasted because you won't forget about it, or loose it
  • Easier meal planning because you can see what you have
  • Easier to defrost or clean the freezer- boxes pull out easily
How I Organized my Freezer

I emptied everything out of my freezer, getting rid of anything that was clearly not going to be edible anymore because it had been buried too long.

I then thought about organization, and discovered I could fit three cardboard boxes in my freezer, and still fit the hanging baskets back in. That left me with four baskets on top, three big sections on the bottom, and two small sections on the bottom, created by the space around the boxes. That gave me nine storage areas in my freezer.

I put everything into piles, putting like with like. After a little rearranging to make piles that were the right size for the containers, and to make a system that makes sense for my family, we ended up with nine piles for our nine spaces:
  • Fruit
  • Veggies
  • Butter and Cheese and Prepared food
  • Ground Beef and Bacon
  • Beef (roasts, everything else beefy, except the ground beef)
  • Lamb
  • Pork (except the bacon!)
  • Poultry
  • Fish and Seafood
I loaded up my freezer. On the far left, is a box full of lamb.

Beside that is a box full of pork.

Next to that is a box full of beef. Behind the box of beef is a space for poultry and to the right of that box is space for fish and seafood.

If you look again at my first picture (or again, in small, to the left), you will see that I then have my four baskets on top. In the basket on the left I have cheese and butter and any prepared food. Right now, I think there is a tray of homemade scalloped potatoes in there, and some zucchini bread made from garden zucchini.

In the second basket, there is ground beef and bacon. We are running low on ground beef, but have just put in an order with our favourite farmer, to be picked up on Mother's day.

The third basket is full of frozen fruit. Right now it is mostly store bought, but I can see the rhubarb coming up in my garden, and I am looking forward to stocking it with homemade this spring and summer.

The fourth basket contains frozen vegetables, including some tomatoes from our garden. We got a pressure canner for Christmas and we are looking forward to canning tomatoes this year, giving us more room for other veggies in the freezer.

If you are looking at your freezer with despair, may I suggest you find a little time and just organize it. Knowing where to find the butter and the peas has made a huge difference. Not only can I find what I am looking for and see when I am running out of something, but I can send my husband down to get a package of raspberries and he will be able to find them!

For more kitchen tips and tricks, please go to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Menu Plan - April 27, 2009

Monday - Beef stew with mashed potatoes

To Do: Soak kidney beans

Tuesday - Pasta with meat sauce

To Do: Cook kidney beans

Wednesday - Chili (made from leftover meat sauce) with cornmeal muffins

Thursday - Leftovers

To Do: Defrost steak

Friday - Steak with potatoes and veggies

To Do: Defrost lamb

Saturday - Lamb chops with mashed potatoes and veggies

To Do: Defrost pork, make tzatziki

Sunday - Pork souvlaki (made with pork tenderloin, purchased on sale) with Greek salad, tzatziki and pita bread

For more menu planning ideas, visit the Organizing Junkie.

Canned Tomatoes at Price Chopper

At my local Price Chopper I discovered Unico canned tomatoes on sale for $0.77 per 796 mL can. I didn't see this price listed in their flyer, but it is a good deal I thought I would mention, especially if you aren't near a Superstore, where the same tomatoes are price locked at $0.79 per can.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Free Green Bin at Participating Stores

I just heard that many of the Loblaws stores are giving away a free green bin until April 30, 2009 if you spend $60 with this printable coupon. This only applies to the stores that are eliminating complimentary bags. This offer is not available at No Frills, because fee for bags is not new.

Keep in mind, as I reported last week, the reusable bags are also on sale for 50% off until April 26th, 2009.

I don't know the regular price of the bins, but if you are planning on spending $60 or more on groceries this week at one of the participating stores, print out the coupon! The bins are well rated by customers on the President's Choice web site.

The coupon reads:

Spend $60, get a FREE PC GREEN Box
April 22-30, 2009

Spend $60 or more (single purchase before applicable taxes and surcharges) and receive a Free PC GREEN Box. Excludes tobacco, alcohol, prescriptions, eyewear, dry cleaning, gas bar, lottery, gift cards, and third party service purchases. Limit one PC GREEN Box per household.

Offer valid April 22 to April 30, 2009 at participating stores impacted by the elimination of complimentary bags. See participating banners below.

This coupon must be presented at time of purchase. Coupon is not redeemable for cash and has no cash value. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer.

Participating Locations: Extra Foods; Superstore; Fortinos; Independent; Loblaws; Loblaw; Valu-Mart; Zehrs; Maxi; Provigo; Dominion; SaveEasy; Wholesale Club; Club Entrepot

Seedlings Sprouting in the Basement: Growing Your Own Food

We have seedling growing in our basement, waiting until it is warm enough to move outside and grow into a nice, big vegetables.

We transformed a large section of our backyard into a vegetable garden two years ago, when we moved in to our first home, and we have been very pleased. Last year, my husband was not thrilled when I decided I didn't like the layout we had created the first year, and at my insistence, we re-dug all of our garden beds. This year should be our best year yet, because we won't need to do quite so much digging!

Right now, my husband has tomato, cucumber, melon and squash seedlings growing in our basement. I know we are going to plant potatoes and spinach too, because those are favourites of mine.

I think I might also try my hand at planting potatoes in a garbage can. I think I can probably manage that as my very own special project!

My husband is the master gardener at our house, but I can't wait to reap the harvest.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Used Book Sale in Waterloo

If you like second hand books, be sure to check out the 45th Annual Used Book Sale at the First United Church in Waterloo.

The sale is over two days, this Friday and Saturday, April 24th and 25th, 2009.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ontario Weekly Grocery Flyer Deals for April 24 - April 30, 2009

Every week I look at the flyers for Sobeys, Foodland, No Frills, Price Chopper, Food Basics, Real Canadian Superstore, and Zehrs (a Loblaws store, which should have the same sales as Loblaws and Fortinos). I also look through the food section of the Pharma Plus and Shoppers Drug mart flyers, as well as my Walmart and Zellers flyers. My goal is to find food that is worth stocking up on, because it is at the lowest price I can expect to find it.

This week, there isn't much to buy again. I will probably go to Price Chopper to get some Cheerios, and Ontario tomatoes and cucumber. The potatoes are a good deal, but we don't need any yet. I will probably swing by No Frills to get the good deal on Ontario apples, and I can get my yogurt there this week. If I am near a Zehrs, we may pick up some ham, but other than that, I'm not doing much shopping this week.

What do you think is the best deal of the week?

Price Chopper

  • Whole chickens, fresh for $1.49 per lb or $3.28 per kg. Not as good as last week, but okay.
  • Cheerios, $2.49 for 370-525 g. Shows Honey nut, but says cheerios, so should be regular too.
  • Hot house tomatoes, from Ontario, for $0.99 per lb or $2.18 per kg
  • Seedless cucumbers, from Ontario, for $0.99 each
  • Russet potatoes, from Ontario, $2.99 for a 10lb bag
No Frills
  • Empire or McIntosh apples, from Ontario for $2.49 for 4 lbs
  • Unico vegetable oil, $3.99 for 3 L, price locked
  • Tuna, no name, $0.87 for 170 g, price locked
  • Yogurt, no name, $1.97 for 750 g, price locked
  • PC Black Forest ham, deli sliced, $0.99 per 100 g
Food Basics
  • Equality Brand Cheese bars, 520g for $4.99 ($0.96 per 100g. I have got name brand cheese for as little as $0.66 per 100g, but this isn't a bad price if you want some cheese.)
  • Europe's Best frozen fruit, 600 g for $3.79. This was down to $3.49 just a few weeks ago. Still, a pretty good deal if you use the $2 off coupons that were around. I have heard rumors there were more at Loblaws stores last week, but I haven't been able to find any.
  • Astro yogurt, price locked at $1.99 for 750 g
  • Unico tomatoes, still price locked at $0.79 per 796 mL can. Last week, I found I could get the unsalted variety at this price.

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara, or Italian eggs and bacon, as we called it when I was a kid, is a fast, easy and delicious meal. It is my fall back when I don't know what to make and need supper right away. I almost always have the ingredients on hand and the longest part of the cooking is bringing the pasta water to a boil.

1/2 package of bacon (250 g or 1/2 lb) (we always have bacon in the freezer - cook from frozen!)
Big handful of grated Parmesan cheese (about 30 g or 1 oz) (also kept in the freezer)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (or a little less)
freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp) (our secret ingredient!)
salt and pepper
375 g of whole wheat pasta (or you could use regular, or course.)

Put a big pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Cut the bacon into strips, and fry until it is cooked. I keep my bacon in the freezer, and use a big sharp knife or my clever to cut the bacon into strips. I throw it into the hot pan still frozen.

While the bacon is cooking, grate your cheese.

Then combine the eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and put it back in the pot. Add the cooked bacon and the cheese.

Pour the egg mixture over the hot pasta and stir well. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg, making everything shiny and lovely looking. There should be little to no egg mixture on the bottom of the pot.

Serve right away, while it is hot and delicious.

This should serve 4 adults, but it is very very good and we never have leftovers. Ever.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cornmeal Muffins

Before I start, keep in mind that I am Canadian, and cornbread is not part of my heritage! We started eating cornbread when we were briefly living in North Carolina, and I made my own version when I moved back home.

This recipe makes a sweeter cornbread, made as muffins, because we like muffins. They are great as a side to chili, or ribs or anything else that might qualify as southern or Tex-Mex! They are also delicious spread with jam for breakfast or a snack.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
4 tablespoons oil

Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, egg and oil. Beat lightly to break the egg and combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir very gently, just to combine.

Pour into a greased 12 cup muffin tin. Bake at 425F for 10-15 minutes, until the muffins spring back.

Serve warm or cold or any way you like! Yummy!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Menu Plan - April 20, 2009

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk, discovered thanks to the Mother Load. We are big Jamie Oliver fans around here and own most of his books, including the one this recipe came from! I'll serve it with mashed potato as Jamie suggests in his book, and veggies.

To Do: Soak lentils

Sweet and Sour Lentils, with rice and veggies.

Pasta Carbonara with veggies or salad


To Do: Make rolls for sausages, defrost sausages

Oktoberfest sausage with homemade rolls, sauerkraut, mustard and fresh tomatoes

To Do: Defrost lamb

Irish stew

To Do: Defrost pork

Pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes and veggies

For more menus, please see the Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

How to Make a Price Book and Slash Grocery Spending

If you want to stock your cupboards with food purchased at the lowest prices, you need to know what the best prices are! My price book, which allows me to stock up during the best sales, has made the biggest difference to my grocery budget. It saves me far more money than coupons, or any other list of grocery saving tips and tricks.

My main goal at Stocking the Larder is to tell you what I have discovered each week from comparing the flyers, my coupons and my own price book. That is actually how this blog was started. I kept emailing my brother a list of the best deals I found each week. He suggested I start a blog because other local shoppers might find it useful. If you are living in Ontario, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed to keep track of my weekly grocery store deals.

You can do the same thing I do, if you have a little extra time and some patience, to make sure you are getting the best deals on the food you want to store in your home. Some people only track a few items, which is a great way to get started.

My price book is an Excel spreadsheet, with a new tab for each category of grocery item. These categories include:
  • Dairy and Eggs (including cheese, milk, butter, eggs)
  • Fresh Produce and Meats (including fresh fruit and vegetables, different sorts of meat)
  • Dry Goods (including flour, sugar, cereal, dry pasta, and a section for treats)
  • Canned Goods (including canned tomatoes, canned soups, oil, tuna)
  • Frozen (including frozen fruit and vegetables, ice cream)
  • Beverages (including apple juice, tea, coffee, orange juice)
  • Pet Care (including cat food and kitty litter. I can't use the cheapest brands of food, because they don't seem to agree with my cats. I keep track of the brands that work, listed separately. It helps me keep track of the best prices as well as what my cats will eat!)
  • Personal Care (including toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper)
  • Cleaning and Food Storage (including garbage bags, laundry detergent, ammonia)
I list everything I buy under each category. I add prices to my price book from my receipts and from the weekly flyers. For each item I record:
  • price paid
  • size of the item
  • unit price
  • date purchased
  • store
  • coupon used (if any)
My spreadsheet automatically figures out the unit price for each item, usually calculated per 100 mL or 100 g. (The price per millilitre (mL) or per gram (g) is often so low, it would show up as $0.00, which isn't very helpful! Also store labels usually give unit prices in terms of per 100 mL or 100 g, making it a more useful number for comparison shopping.)

A sample unit price calculation:

Price Paid: $1.99
Size of the item: 750 mL

Unit Price = Price Paid/Size of of the item
Unit Price = $1.99/750 mL
Unit Price = $0.00265 per mL

To make this more useful, multiply by 100
Unit Price per 100 mL = $0.26 per 100 mL

I keep multiple prices for most items. This helps me see what items have a regular sales cycle, and helps me determine how much to buy during a sale.

I make a weekly shopping list, so I find that I usually don't need to bring my price book with me. If there are any prices that aren't clear from the flyers (usually related to item size), I make a note on my list to check it out at the store. I am working on making a sheet I can print out and keep in my coupon wallet so that I can always check to see if a clearance item at the grocery store or some unadvertised special is really a good deal, but this isn't a priority because it is so infrequently needed.

If you considering starting your own price book, there are several great resources on the web.