Friday, August 21, 2009

those dang Joneses....

One of the blogs I read pretty often had a post called OUTSAVING THE JONESES and it's basically about how I've been feeling about hounding since I went back to work.

When I was unemployed, it was basically a full time job for me. I was able to get baby diapers to give as gifts to friends for very cheap, that came in handy. I was able to buy name brand food, school supplies, even clothes and backpacks for much less because of what I learned hounding.

Hounding did benefit me and still does, however now that I'm working I just don't have the time for it. If I see a good deal that I can pull easily, I'll go run it on my way home from work but it has to be for something REALLY worth it and something I actually need.

This week I hounded 7 tombstone pizza's and was paid $9 to take them out of the store. On the flip side, now I have to figure out where to store 7 pizza's in my freezer which is already jam packed.

I still have many items including tons of cleaning products even after Christmas when I filled reuseable grocery bags with such items. I even put toilet bowl cleaner in them. Hey, I was unemployed for a majority of the year, I had just paid off $30,000 in debt, and wasn't about to go back into debt over Christmas. People got goodie bags and actually, I got a ton of positive feedback about it. They were all items we use every day in our homes, why not! :)

Anyway.. go check out her post about Outsaving those Joneses!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I need help finding 2 home items!!

Can you help me find the best deal on both these type items. First off, my husband decided to bake a Calzone in our toaster oven a few nights ago. This morning I made some pop tarts and it started a grease fire. We needed a new toaster anyway, BUT now that I'm looking at toaster ovens on line I seriously have no clue where to start. I want one that is large enough to put a pizza in and is easy to clean.

The second item is a cable modem. Our cable modem is older than 6 years old. It's finally on the fritz. The one we have right now we basically got for free from Radio Shack. They were doing a deal where you buy the modem for $39 and you got a $50 gift card back in the mail.

Okay. I use ebates, mypoints, mrrebates, and cashbaq so if you can find a deal that would be even sweeter using one of those or another rebate site have at it!

Thanks in advance.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Meal Preparation Stores

okay.. here goes. I have a confession. This is NOT something I would normally condone as "saving" money. I know that if I set my mind to it, got organized and cooked these meals at home myself that I would probably be able to do it for less than half the cost.... here goes.

I'm addicted to a meal preparation service.

It started quite innocent actually. My sister works 12 hour shifts and wanted to make sure her kids were eating healthy when she wasn't home early enough to cook for them. She wanted something that she could take out the day before to thaw and that her older son could make for his little brother without burning down the house. She then found meal preparation services!! Since then she has changed the company she goes to, however, the idea is the same and she walks out with 12 family sized meals each with 6 portions.. so 72 meals in all. Each serving comes out roughly to 2.78, I know we super couponers can get most of the ingredients to make these type meals for less.. I am sure of it.

As you may have noticed I haven't been posting my hounds recently. I just don't have the time or energy to hound much and when I do, I have no time to blog them. Instead I've sorta changed my blog.

anyhooo.. last week I finally broke down (after deciding to have the same meal I've cooked 4 times already this month) and checked out the website for the store my sister goes to. After reviewing their site and a few sites for other stores in my area, I found that this store has the best deal. One set price AND they give you sides for free. They are included. Other places they were not.
SIMPLY HOMEMADE My husband decided to go with me at the last minute and it was actually like a date! It was really cool. Since we went together, the 2 hour window in which it normally takes to make all 12 meals took only 45 minutes. It was so much fun. Each of our 12 meals is actually 6 portions so really we got 72 meals put together in under 45 minutes. No chopping, no cutting, no dirty dishes. Everything in Ziplock bags and in my freezer in an hour.

Here is how it basically works (at this store anyway). You walk in, wash your hands, put your hair up, get a drink if you would like, get an apron then go from station to station building your meals. Each station has a full letter size recipe cards that have dummy proof instructions such as: open lower refrigerator and get small ziplock bag of grapes. Umm yeah I can do this. Any seasoning or ingredient has the correct measuring cup/spoon already sitting IN IT, ready waiting for you. All you have to do is follow the directions!! The best part is you can choose how much onion or pepper to put in your meal. Great recipes too.

Since I went I've been researching other stores in my area, I've found MINDFUL MEALS that even allows you to upgrade to Organic meats. I really like this store because you can order as little as 6 meals but everything is individually priced. Also the prices are a little higher per meal than Simply Homemade and it's a farther drive from my house. On the flip side, on their home page they advertise "Grab and Go"meals that are lower priced. That would be great when you are on your way home from work and just don't feel like cooking. Instead of pizza, it would be a healthy meal.

I think DINNER BY DESIGN is the most popular in our area, it was the only one I had heard before I went myself. They offer coupons in the Entertainment book and are located in other areas/states other than the greater Chicagoland area. I did meet a lady at Simply Homemade who was preparing her meals at a station next to me. She told me she started going to Dinner by Design years ago, but she had switched simply because Simply Homemade gives the sides for free. Less to think about and more food for the same price. Makes sense to me.

This store GOURMET IN A DAY only has 1 store in the Chicago area, however, they are offering free preparation this month. Meaning you can stop in and pick up your meals already prepared. I really like preparing mine, but hey.. to each their own summer is a busy time of year.

Some of these stores offer free desserts, delivery, free extras if you host a party there.. a party? yeah a party.. almost like a tupperware party or a tastefully simple party only your guests sign up for their meals and pay before the party. You show up with drinks and music and prepare meals together. Sounds fun to me.

Check out a few of the stores in your area HERE

Okay so as I said, I don't think this is super cost effective versus when I am hounding and eating out of my stockpile for super cheap and free... BUT my husband and I went out for dinner a few weekends ago and got burritos. Our bill? $52 for 2 people!! yes, between drinks, dessert, and tip we spent $52. Total insanity. So paying $204 for 72 meals is cheap in comparison. In telling other people about this they figure that I will save on time with grocery shopping and dishes, money on wasted food I'll never eat, and peace of mind that we are eating healthier.

Let me know what you think, have you tried one of these stores in your area? Any tips?