Saturday, January 2, 2016

Shopping Goals: January 2016

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January is a good month to pick up Christmas clearance items (I know, stater of the obvious am I).  I have found in the past that if you are looking for satellite Christmas items (like some piece to a Christmas village for instance) you can find a lot of things 90% off this time of year just because the stores are desperate to get rid of their Christmas items to make way for Valentine's Day merchandise. 

The last like three years I have found toy clearance to be utterly disappointing.  Target used to be my go-to spot to look for after Christmas clearance, but then they started cutting back their inventory more and more and they take forever to get anything up to even 75% off  and by that time what little they had that was kind of okay is gone.  Wal-Mart toy clearance markdowns up here, in my experience, is now a joke.  We're talking like 10% mark downs on toy clearance.  Wal-Mart will still have toy clearance up here into March or even April.  Fred Meyer is kind of scattershot.   Some years they have great clearance and sometimes it is just non-existent.

Kind of makes me glad that I just started making gifts for all the kids.

Now, there are some things on Christmas clearance that I do keep my eye out for.  Christmas shaped crackers (in the shape of snowflakes, etc.) can sometimes be found decently cheap this time of year.  I stockpile Ziploc coupons in preparation of the Christmas themed throw away plastic containers going on clearance and the Christmas themed Ziploc bags.  Christmas candy has a good shelf life and can be saved for snacking throughout the year or even for Halloween candy, depending on what it is.  Giant Hershey kisses or chocolate bars can be used for baking or candy making later in the year and if you don't have allergies to worry about chocolate melting discs and other candy making supplies can sometimes be found for next to nothing this time of year.  Sparkling cider or grape juice are good things to watch for on clearance as well.  It's still juice and can be used in jello salads, in cooking and baking or can be drank (of course).  

This year, like last year for me, unless I find those things REALLY cheap, I am going to be passing on them due to lack of funds.  I am praying that a few of the local stores might have some abundance of meat that they didn't go through due to lack of interest.  I've found really good cuts of beef super cheap in years past and great deals on pork roasts and ham.  I would not be able to afford much, but any little bit of beef or pork that I can put into the freezer is not a bad thing right now.

My mom sent me a gift card for my birthday.  I'm going to be using it to it's fullest extent to buy some things for the pantry and also toward some things for my "sewing pantry". 

Shopping Goals:  January 2016 (this is where the majority of my shopping is going to be done this month)

Food Items:
  • Chock Full O' Nuts Coffee  Best coffee I've found and super cheap on Amazon.
  • Chef Boyardee Whole Grain Beefaroni, 15-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)  My husband likes raviolli and is willing to try this in a warmer for lunches at work instead of going out to eat for his lunch, which I'm hoping it works (along with other things of course) to help us save some money.
  • Royal Gelatin, Sugar Free, Orange, 0.32-Ounce (Pack of 12)  I actually got this a bit cheaper yet (a bit over 3.00), but it's still cheap jello.
  • Hormel Beef Tamales, In Chili Sauce, 15-Ounce Units (Pack of 12)  These will be used to pad out Mexican food nights.  I love to put these along side enchiladas when I'm sick as well.  Tamales go for well over 2.00 per can at the store, so to me it's worth it to buy them in bulk.  Once again, I was able to get these cheaper by ordering 5 things on my Subscribe and Save (I ordered two orders of the coffee, which is enough to last me a month) and also by seeing it a BIT cheaper one night, so I was able to get the 12 cans for little over 15.00.
Non-Food Items:
I was reading on various blogs about an outfit called WAWAK and how you could get bulk sewing items, such as elastic really cheap.  And you can.  If you don't live in Alaska anyway.  What they wanted for shipping nearly gave me a heart attack.  So, I went on Amazon and found out that you can get sewing supplies CHEAP and in bulk too.  And they ship here the way they normally ship, so it's awesome!

I'm hoping to get some bulk zippers and such later in the year, but for now having enough elastic that I don't have to worry about buying the small packets from Jo-Ann's for a long while is definitely worth it.
Regular Stores:
  • Cat Litter
  • Water Softening Salt
  • Pasta (we are eating this quite a bit and my son has also been eating it as part of his feeding therapy, so we're running lower than I had planned on)
  • School foods (I'm running low on things like squeeze yogurt and things for the kids, so I'll be looking for sales on those items) 
Jo-Ann Fabrics:
  • 2 yards of faux leather for further repairs to the loveseat
The loveseat is starting to shred out on the back cushions, so I'm going to need to repair it before it gets worse.   I will be looking for a good coupon to stack with my 10.00 off 30.00 coupon from my Jo-Ann calendar (the fabric I need is like 28.00 per yard regular price...ouch!) to get the fabric as cheap as I possibly can.  This goal is also based on whether we have ANY extra disposable income this month.  So far, it's not looking good, but we shall see.

So, there you are folks.  My shopping goals for the month.  How about you?


  1. As always, I enjoy your blog. (1) Are you able to put Amazon links on your sidebar? A week ago I ordered something from there and would have gone through your affiliate link but couldn't find the past post that had one. (2) Are you familiar with Amy Dacycyn's (sp?) The Tightwad Gazette? She had a list of "lunchbox" type items that could be made in individual kid-friendly sizes at home for much cheaper, than the purchased individually sized items.
    Happy New Year!

    1. With the Amazon thing...yes I can put things up in the sidebar. Can't quite remember how to do that, but I'll check out my Associates page and figure it out. Thank you for thinking of me :).

      I've been making pudding for my daughter to take for her lunches, but haven't sold her on the yogurt yet. Jello didn't work too well as her classroom is hot and even with an ice pack the jello kind of melted, but I'm working on it *laugh*.

      Yes, I've actually followed "The Tightwad Gazette" for a while now. It's a great site!

      My biggest problem with school food is my son, honestly. I buy big bags of Doritos, Cheetos and Pringles and break them down into smaller containers, but until he picks up real food in his diet, I've just come to resolve myself to the fact that I'm stuck paying out more than I want to for groceries.

  2. Erika, I have one of those food thermoses which I used to use a lot for my daughter (until she decided she won't eat certain foods). The trick is to pre-heat by letting boiling water sit in it for a few minutes, then dump and add the boiling hot food (hotter the better), so it will still be warm at lunch. I also thought I would share some ideas that you can send for your husbands lunches that he might like as variety will make it more appealing:
    -left overs! Anything from pasta, soup, stew, meat, stir-fry or casseroles, so don't be afraid to make a little extra for this purpose.
    -hot dogs (packed in boiling hot water) or beans and wieners
    -Pulled pork, pulled chicken or sloppy Joe's (send the bun or bread in a separate container)
    -taco, burrito or fajita filling (send tortillas and toppings in separate containers)

    As for the lunch items, I have to agree with what L.E. said. I stopped buying those "pre-made" lunch items and started making up my own. I specifically bought a bunch of small, reusable Ziplock snack containers (not bags) for this purpose and it was a great investment. You can use them to pack individual servings of home canned fruit, applesauce or canned fruit from the much cheater, larger sized cans. Buy a large container of yogurt (or learn to make your own) and make up individual serving yourself. Mix up a box of instant pudding or jello and put it into individual containers to grab from the fridge each morning. Bake some cookies, squares or granola bars, immediately package them individually (I wrap them in plastic wrap), and put them in the freezer to pull what you need each time you make their lunch (good for hubby's lunch too). Buy a cheap bag of pretzels and divide up into individual servings to send in lunches. Make up your own dip to go with some fresh cut up veggies. You get the picture. It will save you a ton of money and you have the added bonus of controlling what is in the food for your children's allergies. Worth adding to your list of things to try doing this year.

    I am looking forward to reading your adventures in the New Year, Erika. Here's hoping its a good one!!!

    1. *Laugh* I should have been a bit more specific, but didn't want to list things like Doritos, Cheetos, Coke and Pringles (my son's "food groups" he'll eat right now..this is where the majority of my food budget goes right now, unfortunately. Thank goodness for feeding therapy as he's SLOWLY picking up new foods).

      My daughter is actually pretty good with taking a packed lunch as she's had them since she was in preschool. Back then it was due to allergies, now a days it's due to quality and cost to me. The only thing she refuses to eat home made is the squeezable yogurt because she hates seeds and then she hates the texture of home made yogurt (she's got some SPD issues I swear, but not enough to hold her back too far). She likes a certain type of yogurt (Stoneyfield) and the active cultures in it seem to be of a better quality then other brands in relation to helping her stomach issues, so I remain brand loyal to that brand. I have a bunch that I got 50% off and I keep in the freezer for her, but only have a couple of boxes left, so I'm going to be looking for markdowns on that one.

      With my husband he's one of those men who will not pack his own lunch and HATES monotony, so he likes sandwiches and other items, but gets tired of those things quickly, so in the past when I would pack his lunch I'd get frustrated relatively quickly as he didn't want a list of items. Combine that with a father who always wanted to eat fast food and it gets super frustrating. On top of that this time of year I'm battling the fact that a lot of the time he is outside so at lunch he really wants a steaming hot meal and he ends up eating out.

      I've been kind of badgering him that he's got to get used to the packed lunches again. I do the whole heating the thermos thing and stuff, but sometimes it's enough for him and sometimes it's not. So, now it's a matter of getting him used to the idea of sticking with the packed lunch. If I can get him to do it at least three days a week it'll still save us a bunch of money. Fingers crossed that I have the creativity for this *laugh*.

  3. Great list Erika!

    I have really enjoyed reading your bog these last few months after I found you though The Prudent Homemaker. I especially loved your Gift a Day series!
    I inherited a bunch of panel projects from an Aunt and now I'm motivated to actually use them!

    A suggestion for the fabric: sometimes for JoAnn's the 50% off single item is a better deal than the $10 off $30 or check the clearance aisle. I've seen the ends of bolts or low sale bolts of upholstery fabric for as low as $8/yd in the clearance aisle! I got fabric to re-do a chair in my home for $8 since I only needed 1 yrd (it was 68" wide). If there's a JoAnn Etc near you rather than a JoAnn Fabrics, I've found around here they tend to have a larger selection for just about everything. I can't wait to see your fix for that love seat - what you did with the arms was fabulous!

    Prayers for a wonderful 2016 for you and your family!

    1. Yeah, I keep hoping that I'll run into another remnant of leather in the right color cheap (I got a yard last time to do repairs for like 6.00 after all discounts were taken), but haven't had any luck.

      I'm HOPING to be able to stack like a 60% off one item coupon with the 10.00 off 30.00 coupon from the calendar, as it looks like the coupons will stack from the wording on the calendar coupon. That could save me a bundle. So far I haven't seen anything in the clearance, but I'm hopeful that it'll all fall into place when I need it to :).

      I've never heard of JoAnn Etc, but now I want one around here *laugh*.

      And a happy, productive and prosperous year to you and yours!

  4. I thought I was the only one who noticed the target toy clearance getting less, and worse! My gift stash has suffered a little. Oh well!

    Found you through the prudent homemaker, and spent last month reading all of your blog posts. :) looking forward to many more!

    1. Aw! Thank you for reading!

      I know how you feel about the gift stash. I still have a few toys from years ago that I got for 90% off, but I'm seriously thinking that this coming Christmas that'll be gone. Sad. Very sad.

  5. I also found you through the Prudent Homemaker and have been reading your blog since November. You have a great writing style.

    This is my first comment, as I wanted to chime in on the yogurt. It sounds like you're buying the squeezable Stonyfield pouches? I purchased online some reusable pouches (they have 2 different sizes) in cute animal characters and then I'd fill them with applesauce or yogurt from large containers. So, you could buy a large container of Stonyfield yogurt and fill the pouch yourself. Should be a more affordable option.

    And it must be frustrating that you're stressing so much about money but your husband is still picky about his lunch. Men! "Yeah buddy, well you can eat out when you get a better paying job!" ;)

    1. I laughed hysterically at the thought of telling my husband that. Thank you *laugh*.

      With the yogurt, my biggest problem is my daughter only likes the strawberry and the stores only carry vanilla in the tubs (why? I don't get that). I did find that the store brand yogurt when I went yesterday finally had the big containers of strawberry, so after talking to my husband we picked one up to try on her. I found some decently cheap probiotic powder at the store, so I'm figuring if the yogurt doesn't have enough cultures in it we'll just add some probiotics to the yogurt that way.

      Thank you for the advice (and to everyone on this thread really) as it gave me a few things to think about :). I, like a lot of people, get set in my ways and need a new perspective from time to time. It definitely helps!

  6. I had also typed , but that didn't show up for some reason. But seriously, wouldn't it be nice if he'd realize it on his own? Sheesh!

    I think you may be right about Stonyfield only having big tubs of vanilla. Maybe if you wrote them asking for strawberry, they'll send you some coupons. Would vanilla mixed with seedless strawberry jam work for her? Anyway, I really liked the reusable pouches, so hopefully it may come in handy at some point. Now I just use small tupperware containers for their lunch since they're getting bigger, but the pouches are always handy for car rides.

    1. I had also typed "said in a loving and sweet manner"...

    2. Blogger is certainly a pain, sorry about that! Yeah, I like the squeeze packets too for conveniences sake, but eh...she'll get used to the small Tupperware containers :). At least she's used to bringing her spoon back home as I already put the small containers of pudding in her lunch box *laugh*.