March 31, 2010

IHOP—Kids Eat FREE in April 4-10pm

IHOP LogoI received the following info from Shelby with IHOP.  What a great way to save your family a little money when eating out!

These days going out to dinner as a family can be expensive, and with overscheduled lives, family dinner time has dwindled, causing many families to opt for quick meals at home or on the go.  For the entire month of April, families can break out of their routine without breaking the bank by heading to IHOP for its national ‘Kids Eat Free’ dinner promotion. 


  • Kids Eat Free EVERYDAY from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Promotions runs from April 1 – April 30
  • Families who dine in at IHOP will receive one free Kid’s Meal with each adult entrĂ©e purchase
  • For more information please visit


  • Kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to say they get mainly A's and B's in school than kids who have two or fewer family dinners a week. (Time Magazine, “The Magic of the Family Meal,” 6/4/06)

National Park Week—FREE entrance

NPWeek2010 300x166 National Park Week: Free Entrance April 17 25

Thanks to Mojo Savings for the following info:

April 17-25 is National Park Week! You can get FREE entrance to all of the 392 U.S. National parks! Just go here to find locations of all U.S. national parks. Then plan a nature walk, picnic, or tour of one of “America’s best ideas!”

Don’t forget to print

bs01864_ At the first of the month, many coupon sites refresh their list of coupons.  This means that some will be new and some will be gone by April 1.  If you see something on the list that you need, I’d print it now.  Organic Deals and Coupons has a nice list of the printable coupon sites here.

Blockbuster Kiosk Free Rentals

Coupon Mommie has info and free codes for Blockbuster Kiosk rentals.  We just recently discovered these in Knoxville, and they work just as easily as Redbox.  If you pay out of pocket, they cost the same to rent ($1 each, plus tax).

Free sample Dove Men + Care

Go here to request a free sample of Dove Men+ Care.  Thanks Squeezing a Dollar out of a Dime!

Mom’s Best Naturals Printable Coupon

Go here for a 75ct/1 coupon for Mom’s Best Naturals products.

Free Going Greener Guidebook



Download the free Going Greener Guidebook from Stonyfield Farm and Body + Soul to learn hundreds of little ways you can make a big difference.

Kids Eat Free at Qdoba this weekend

5356 kids free 650x400 v2 Free Kid Meals at Qdoba Restaurants this Weekend

Thanks to Thrifty Mama for this info:

Qdoba is giving away free kids meals with the purchase of a regular entree and accompanying adult this weekend on April 3rd and 4th at participating locations.  I recommend that you call ahead to your local Qdoba to make sure they are honoring this deal.  To find a location near you, click HERE.


Free Sample Pantene for Vocalpoint members

Get a free* sample of new PanteneThis link wasn’t working last night for me, but it is this morning.  Log in to your Vocalpoint account and sign up for a free sample of Pantene.  This is a new offer, not to be confused with the Nature Fusion Pantene recently mailed to those who signed up.  If you aren’t yet signed up for Vocalpoint, I highly recommend it.  It is a free program, and you can sign up for all sorts of great freebies, often full sized!

Tip of the day

Now is a good time to install a programmable thermostat.  When we installed ours years ago, it was around $30-40.  We noticed an immediate savings in our utility bill as a result of the installation.

March 30, 2010

End of month report—March

We budget $350 each month.  This includes all groceries, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, medicines/herbals, and hygiene items (razors, deodorant, etc).  Since we had multiple house guests, our anniversary, and our daughter’s birthday, I gave myself a little wiggle room with a budget of $400 this month.  With some smart shopping and moneymaker deals, I was able to keep it just under budget.

In March we spent $349.77—We were $0.23 under budget.

With that money we bought $777.80 worth of items.  If I’m doing my math correctly, we had a savings of 55.03%.

What did we buy with that money?  Some of the items listed in the sections below were donated to our church food pantry/outreach programs.

Free items—  chocolate milk, oreo cookies, 2 cinnamon rolls, 6 Purex, oreo cakesters, kashi bars, 2 mahatma saffron rice, organic coffee, granola, 7 Honest Teas. 1 box of Back to Nature crackers, 1 ensure, child sized birthday cake, donuts, 5 lbs organic potatoes, 2 boxes Marcal tissues, 2 toothpastes, 4 Reeses cups, toothpaste, 2 trail mix, 7 taco seasoning, 2 pastas, Irish Cheese, 2 single rolls Marcal toilet paper, 2 tubs margarine, 2.83 lbs bananas, 5 dentek floss, 2 simple saline, 2 one a day for men, 4 dove conditioners, 3 Betty Crocker potatoes, and 2 Glee Gum

What did we stock up on?

  • Frontier had many of the Stash teas on sale this month, and I bought extras.
  • The Purex deal at Walgreens added to the Kroger catalina deal on Purex last month has me well stocked on detergent.
  • We bought a case of locally made salsa at Three Rivers Market

Other purchases--

  • $80 and some change was spent on the food for our daughter’s birthday party.  Much of the food was organic, and we fed 21 children and 23 adults. 
  • $19.50 for locally grown using organic measures pastured milk.
  • $2.50 was spent on eggs from a friend who has chickens.
  • At Kroger— organic gallon milk, org cereal, 4 sodas, 3 lbs organic apples, celery, cabbage, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, charmin mega roll, eggs, 2 tilapia, 1.5 lbs gulf shrimp, 1 corned beef, bag tortillas, 3 lbs onions, loaves of whole wheat bread, 2 lbs mahatma rice, 10 lbs flour, 1 Honest tea, 1 large tub sugar free cool whip, gum, 2 Irish spring 3 packs,  2 kraft cheeses, 1 Kraft slices, pretzels, 2 cans corn, Hormel naturals turkey
  • At Walgreens—6 lunchmeat, 2 cheese, 4 soda 2 liters, 1 loaf bread
  • At Three Rivers Market— 6 packs glee gum, 1 case Thai Kitchen noodles, 4 organic valley cheese, 1 goat milk, 2 32 oz org yogurt, 2 lbs org carrots, org broccoli, 1 box Back to Nature Crackers
  • Target—4 rice krispie cereals, 1 whole wheat bread, 1 dozen eggs, 4 boxes kashi bars, 1 box cereal
  • Ingles--4 corn, 4 green beans, 4.5 lbs organic chicken, 4 lbs grapes
  • Food City—4 lbs oranges
  • Frontier—2 lbs organic lollipops, Tom’s of Maine silly strawberry toothpaste for kids
  • Earth Fare—blood orange, Marcal napkins, Earth Balance spread, 32 oz organic yogurt, 6 RW Knudsen Kiwi Strawberry, allergen free cookie mix, org soy milk

So, what could you glean from this post to help with your budget and shopping? 

  • Consider under what part of your budget entertaining will be listed.  For us, the food part of the entertaining has always gone under the grocery budget.  It gets too difficult to keep the food for entertaining/parties and the other foods separate.  Since we usually eat the leftovers for the next few days after a party or get together, it works best to keep the amounts listed under groceries.
  • Even though I had given myself some wiggle room in my budget, I really wanted to stay under the $350 amount.  While it took a little more work and visits to the stores, I was able to work some moneymaker magic at Walgreens and Kroger to help keep us on track.  I would not have worked the register rewards deals at Walgreens, though, if I didn’t have a plan for how to use them.  I rolled some RRs into other transactions.  I looked ahead at the circulars and deals on to plan my future shopping trips there. 
  • I had to be a lot more disciplined with my spending than I wanted to be.  It would have been very easy for me to buy every single case of the Thai noodles that they had left at Three Rivers Market today, but I used the mantra, “I do not have to get every deal.”  Deals can be addictive.  Stores want you to buy, and it is easy to do it when you know what a great discount you are receiving.  Yet, I would have unraveled all of the work I had done to keep us under budget in one fail swoop had I bought more than one case of the noodles. 
  • Use free after coupon/catalina deals to help your family.  We won’t have to buy detergent, tissues, conditioner, vitamins, toothpaste, dental floss, saline spray, or many of the goodies for Easter baskets because of coupons.  The money that we would have spent on those items can be used for other things that we need.

Happy Shopping!

*HOT* Three Rivers Market!!! ONLY Through 3/31!

[thk-046508.jpg] - Spring Onion Instant Rice Noodle SoupWith the Double Days Sale at Three Rivers Market, the Thai Kitchen Instant Rice Noodle Soup packets are on sale for 5/$3, or $.60 each, for the month of April. The in store coupon books have a 50ct/1 coupon, VALID ONLY THROUGH 3/31.  If you are outside of the Knoxville area and your local Co-op Advantage Store also has a Double Days Sale, you might be able take advantage of this deal too!

Here’s how to work the deal:

  • Buy a case of 12 =$7.20 
  • If you are a co-op member( and if you aren’t yet, what are you waiting for??), you’ll receive 10% off of the case. -$0.72
  • Use twelve $0.50/1 coupons, found in store -$6
  • Add tax of 7.75% +$0.04
  • Total spent for a case of 12= $0.52

The varieties that they have in stock are: garlic and vegetable, Bangkok curry, spring onion, and Thai ginger.  If you are going to buy a case, I’d call them tonight to reserve yours for pick up.  They have a limited number of cases in stock.  Since these are gluten free, wheat free, and egg free, they are great for folks with allergies.  Only the Thai ginger had milk products included in the list. 

Walgreens RR Deal—Check this out Couponing 101 attendees

For those of you who attended my Couponing 101 class last night, this is a great example of how to work the register rewards deals with multiple transactions.  I hope you’ll check it out.

Updating you on Deals and Freebies

Yesterday I was busy getting ready for the Couponing 101 class, and I didn’t have much of a chance to update my site.  The long list below is an effort to keep you updated on the newest deals and freebies posted by some of the main couponing sites.  Hopefully, I’ll have more of a chance to post soon.  Until then, enjoy these deals!

Go here to learn how to get free Windex at CVS with this coupon.
Go here to learn where to use the fantastic $3/1 coupon.
Go here for the details on the Stayfree moneymaker at CVS
quiznos Quiznos Coupon: Buy One Get One Free Go here for the BOGO Quiznos coupon.
cost plus world market Cost Plus World Market Coupon: Save $10 off $30 Go here for a $10/$30 World Market coupon.
The Hasbro coupons have been reset.  Here are some Target matchups.
Go here for some Bath & Body Works freebies with coupons.
Hobby Lobby has a 40% off coupon.
JFM Free Just For Men Shampoo And Conditioner: Walgreens Starts 3/31   4/3 Go here to learn how to get Just for Men shampoo free at Wags.
Go here to learn how to use price matching to get Biz detergent for free.
ingles-advantage-card-deal Go here for the scoop on purchasing Method Laundry Detergent at deep discount.
Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 100+ with Helioplex<sup>®</sup> Go here to learn how to get sunblock for free at CVS

Rainwater Farm

Orange GingerAlmond Wheat GermHealing Salve

I have been using soaps from Rainwater Farm for years now.  Local artisan Colette Souder hand crafts the soaps and salves with her family, and her products are of high quality, made with natural ingredients.  I like to keep a few extras of her soaps on hand for a little hostess gifts or for guests who have stayed overnight with us.  Probably my favorites among her collection are the Camper soap (fantastic for natural bug repellant), Oh Baby (perfect for adding to a gift basket for a new mother), and the Almond Wheat Germ (smells Heavenly). 

As an introductory special to welcome her new website, she is offering 20% off of your order.  If you order before April 11 and use promotion code new20 you will receive the 20% discount. If you want to pick up your order from the farm, type in promo code pickup.  I hope you’ll take advantage of this deal!

Llama Llama Live, Knoxville

Llama Llama, Live on Stage!

Anna Dewdney's beloved Llama Llama books are taking the stage! Dollywood's Imagination Playhouse featuring the Penguin Players transforms the tales of everyone's favorite llama into a musical stage show. Catch it at your local library April 12 through April 23.

April 12 at 10:30 a.m., Fountain City Branch Library
April 12 at 4:00 p.m., North Knoxville Branch Library
April 13 at 4:00 p.m., Howard Pinkston Branch Library
April 14 at 10:00 a.m., Murphy Branch Library
April 14 at 4:00 p.m., Carter Branch Library
April 15 at 11:00 a.m., Karns Branch Library
April 15 at 4:00 p.m., Sequoyah Branch Library
April 16 at 4:00 p.m., Halls Branch Library
April 20 at 11:00 a.m., Norwood Branch Library
April 20 at 4:00 p.m., Farragut Branch Library
April 21 at 11:00 a.m., Lawson McGhee Library
April 21 at 3:30 p.m., South Knoxville Branch Library
April 22 at 10:00 a.m., Burlington Branch Library
April 22 at 4:00 p.m., Bearden Branch Library
April 23 at 10:30 a.m., Powell Branch Library
April 23 at 4:00 p.m., Cedar Bluff Branch Library

Tip of the day

STOP WASTING!  Want to save yourself some money?  Want to be kinder to Mother Earth?  Then stop wasting!  Today, analyze everything you do to see if it is wasteful.  Even the most eco-conscious among us might be surprised at what they discover.  Looking at the areas below might help.

  • Water waste.
  • Food waste.
  • Transportation, gasoline.
  • Trash.
  • Look in your closet—how many clothes do you have that you never wear, but you HAD to have when you bought them?
  • Energy waste—heat and air in your home.

March 29, 2010

Welcome Couponing 101 Attendees!

DSC_9627Welcome to Couponing in Critical Times!  I’m glad that you stopped in, and I hope you’ll visit often.  You can sign up to be a follower and/or subscribe to my feed in the left hand column to make staying on top of money saving tips and freebies easier. 

About me
I am a mother of a darling daughter and have a wonderful, patient husband. It is he who started this blog for me. With encouragement from him and some wonderful friends, I have been blogging since May of 2009.  You’ll learn more about why I blog at this post.

What will you find at this site?
You will see just about anything that is related to frugality on my blog.  I love to get a good deal, so you’ll find posts on saving money, budgeting, and shopping sales. I believe in the importance of buying locally made products, protecting the environment, and building food security.  Therefore, you will see posts related to green living. On this site, you’ll find everything from food preservation to gardening with daily frugal tips mixed in. I hope you enjoy what you see here and let others know about the site. It is my hope that what you learn here will be used to help your family and community. I have been blessed with many people in my life who took the time to teach me skills and the importance of being a good steward of the resources presented to me. Please “pay forward” any tips or tools you learn here so that others might benefit from your knowledge.

Coldwater Creek 70% off on-line!

70% off

Offer is valid online only through 4/1/10 and applies to in-stock items only, exclusive of tax and shipping. Use Offer Code WHH5226. One offer per transaction. Not valid: on previous purchases, for Coldwater Creek gift cards, catalog orders, in Coldwater Creek stores, Outlet stores or Coldwater Creek, The Spa. May not be combined with any other Offer Code or discount. In the event of a return or exchange the amount refunded will equal the actual merchandise purchase price paid. No cash value.

Remember—if you order in the store, you will also get free shipping!

Meal Planning Monday

Update on preparing food for the children’s program--

I told you all that last week I had asked the children about their favorite vegetables. They told me that they liked potatoes and corn.  Granted, these aren’t as nutritious as some, but they are a starting place.  This last Wednesday I made chicken breast, corn, mashed potatoes, and used some French bread that a church member had left for us.  The children were so appreciative.  They went on and on about how much they enjoyed the meal, and they even made me a giant thank you note!  It energized me and motivated me to continue this process.  The kids are off this week due to Spring Break in Knox Co. schools, but I’m working on a meal plan for the following week that will incorporate a wider variety of veggies. 

Watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution has been both inspiring and depressing for me.  It is sad to see how much processed foods are prepared for school children, but I think it is representative of a much bigger picture in this country.  At the same time, I understand how easy it is to slip into that mode—it is cheap, easy to fix, quick, and easy for the kids to eat.  The more I became aware that at least some who attend our program are eating processed foods MOST of the time, instead of as an exception to the rule as I had originally thought, the more it motivated me to make their Wednesday night suppers as healthy as they can be.  

I’ll continue to update you all as I progress in this endeavor.  Thanks for your feedback, referrals of books, and all of your prayers!

Meals for us this week

Monday—Hubby makes pasta and marinara sauce while I’m at the Couponing 101 workshop at the library

Tuesday—Salmon Patties, turnip greens, peas, boiled potatoes with dill

WednesdayEggs and Rice with zucchini, peas, ham, onions, and garlic. 

Thursday—Hubby is performing at the Living Last Supper at church.  We’ll probably have a quick supper of either leftovers or some soup from the freezer.

Friday—Chicken drumsticks, broccoli, roasted sweet potatoes

Saturday—Venison Tenderloin with rosemary, onions, and Dijon mustard.  Veggie sides of red lentils and the last of the butternut squash roasted.


Traditional Easter Meal—As I’ve told you all before, my family has Eastern European roots.  Easter is our big holiday, bigger than Christmas.  For years, we would spend Good Friday through Easter prepping and making Easter dinner.  We would have more types of sausages than you could ever imagine being possible to have.  Each one would be cut in a different way and arranged on platters in a beautiful display.  This will be our first Easter without my grandmother, and I’m not entirely sure what parts of the traditions we will continue.  (She was Irish, but she liked all of the Ukrainian traditions that were passed down from my grandfather’s family).  Whatever the day holds, I know we will at the very least enjoy the following: Cabbage Rolls, Platters of sausages, Boiled Eggs, Relish Tray, and Pirogue.  Since Hubby and I gave up desserts for Lent, I suspect that a few desserts will find their way to the buffet table as well. 

Photos Below—Sausages after cutting.  We parboil the sausages in water and beer to help get some of the grease out.  Once cooked, we cut them into different shapes and dab them with a towel to help remove more of the grease.  Then we add them to large platters for serving.  The next photo is of my sister, the cabbage roll expert, rolling the cabbage rolls a few years ago.  DSC_0922DSC_1029DSC_1030DSC_0927

Weekly Matchups 3/28-4/3

Food City

Food City

target frugal mom blogger  columbus ohio


kroger deals kroger sales logo









Earth Fare Matchups for 2/24-3/30

March match-ups for Co-op Advantage Stores

Three Rivers Market Weekly Deals


March 29th-April 4th

Organic Asparagus
$4.99/lb. Save $1.00/lb.

Drew's Italian
Drew's Italian Dressing
and Marinade 12 Oz.
$2.15 Save $1.00

Pink Salmon
Natural Sea Pink Salmon Salted and Unsalted 7.5 Oz.
$2.69 Save $1.00

Spectrum Canola Spray
Spectrum Canola
Spray Oil 16 Oz.
$6.29 Save $2.00

Earth Science Eye Make-up Remover
Earth Science 4 Oz.
Chamomile Eye Make-up Remover
$4.79 Save $1.50

Independence Days Update

We participate in Sharon Astyk’s Independence Days Challenge.   This is our weekly update. 

Ahhh, Spring!  How wonderful it was to be in the garden this week!  Feeling the dirt in my hands, smelling the moist fresh grass, seeing the seeds sprouting is so restorative and therapeutic for me. 

Plant—(Forgive me for not referring to my notes on seed types and only giving general names.)  While I “should” have planted some of these seeds earlier than this, I subscribe to the better late than never approach.  If I don’t plant them at all, they won’t grow.  What does it hurt to plant them a little later than I normally would have?  Worst case scenario, I won’t have as long of a harvest season before some of the plants bolt. Daughter and I planted the following—5 packs/4 varieties of beets, 3 types of lettuces (butterhead, summer iceberg, and romaine), the first of the green onion seeds (Fukagawa), radishes, 2 packs of spinach, broccoli raab, pokchoi, and Chinese cabbage.   This will be a first for broccoli raab, pokchoi and Chinese cabbage.  The species types that I bought of each said they were varieties that prefer direct sow.  We’ll see how it goes. 

Harvest—In addition to the flowers that our daughter picks for us, I picked the rest of the turnips and greens (maybe a little more than a bushel’s worth).  I spent about 2+ hours cleaning those dang things, but boy were they worth it!  I picked the rest of the kale and some of the spring onions.

Preserve—I packed 2 gallons of the cleaned greens in the fridge to  use later in the week.  Not exactly long term storage, but after all of the work that I put into the greens I want “credit”.  I made a huge pot of potato and kale soup.  We added about 2-3 quarts to the freezer. 

Waste Not/Reduce Waste—I brought some steel cans and glass jars home from church to recycle that would have been thrown away otherwise.   We participated in Earth Hour.  Hubby made note that keeping the lights off at night, or during the day for that matter, isn’t really a stretch for us though. 

Want Not/Prep/Storage—Hubby worked on cleaning up the area left after replacing the sewer line.  Boy what a headache that has been! 

Building Community Food Systems—I planted a few extra seeds in the garden in hopes of sharing our extras with others.  One of the committees I’m on at church hosted a pancake breakfast, which was a nice chance to visit with others.  Hubby picked up milk from a local farmer for our milk group.  I bought some eggs from a friend who has chickens.  I look forward to a few weeks from now when the chickens will be laying more often, and we can have a few more eggs.

Eat the Food— I made the potato and kale soup with Gulf shrimp this time, and it was the best soup I’d ever made.  As we ate, I kept thinking about how it was starting to feel like the growing season again.  We had spent most of the day in the garden, and then we went in and I started cooking.  We ate fresh food from our own little farm.  My body ached from moving it and using it in ways that I have not all winter.  I’ve been much too inactive for too long, and I am thrilled to have warmer weather enticing me outdoors.  Food tastes much better when you are the one who planted it, tended it, picked it, and cooked it.  How much more we respect the food!  How much more we value it and enjoy it!

Tip of the day

When you receive a catalog or unsolicited mailing, call the toll free number (often on the back of a catalog or inside a mailing) and ask that you be deleted from their mailing list.  Years ago, I used the do-not mail lists, and I found the experience to be not worth the trouble.  I still received tons of mailings that I had not requested, even after multiple tries to get off lists this way.  I found that if I phoned the companies individually as the mailings arrived, it ensured that I would not be inundated with unrequested paper and junk in my mailbox.

March 28, 2010

A Happy Thought


“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ―Henry Miller

Tip of the day

Are you recycling yet?  If not, start today.  Start with one product and work your way up until you are recycling everything you can.

  • Add a bin to your home office or wherever you open your mail for paper recycling.
  • Make a habit of rinsing aluminum and steel cans and plastics before adding them to your recycling bins.  This helps to reduce the smell and potential for bugs and animals.
  • We have a separate bag where we collect small plastics—wrap, straws, baggies, etc—in the kitchen.

FREE Coupon Workshop on Monday!

New Image

Please join me for my COUPONING 101 workshop.  Thanks to Julie for all of her help on this!

Learn how to save 50-75% on your grocery purchases by using smart shopping strategies and coupons!

Gabrielle Blake, author of the local blog Couponing in Critical Times, will teach strategies for organizing coupons, explore resources that make couponing easier and demonstrate ways to buy many items for free or even at a profit. Registration is recommended but not required, call 865-525-5431.

Monday, March 29

6:00 p.m.

Burlington Branch Library

4614 Asheville Hwy, Knoxville, TN 37924

March 27, 2010

Quick Reminder

Don’t forget that Earth Hour starts in just a few minutes!

Coldwater Creek 50% off On-line


Coldwater Creek is offering 50% off everything on their website today through Sunday.  Happy Shopping!  Thanks Susie!