Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Leader Enterprise - April 23, 2014 - Couponing



I have always been a coupon-er. I wanted to share some practical ideas to help you save money as you choose what to purchase to stock your pantry and refrigerator. 

Using coupons is a great way to stretch your family’s budget. There are available coupons for things other than groceries too, like restaurants, toys,and even vacations. Experiment using coupons to help you save up to 90% to try new products you wouldn’t normally buy but will practically put to use.

My blogging friend, Tonya, author of the 4 Little Fergusons blog, recently saved a bundle using coupons. After caring for her ill father-in-law in her home before his death, she didn't do any 'serious'grocery shopping for 5 weeks. When she finally got to stock up, her grocery bill came to $749. She paid 'only' $400 because of coupons! Now that's inspiration!

Buying one or more Sunday papers that include coupon books, is a great way to get stocked up on savings. Check out websites, like www.thecouponclippers.com  that offer coupons for cents on the dollar or www.coupondivas.com that offer tutorials to help you get started in the couponing game. Maybe you have a friend who will give you their coupons? It never hurts to ask especially if those savings are being tossed in the trash.

Many may not realize that expired coupons can be mailed to the military. They are able to use them up to 6 months after expiration. One site to check out more details is www.couponsfortroops.com. What a simple thing to do to help and support our troops and their families.

Make it a goal to only buy grocery items on sale and with a coupon. Plan meals around those purchases.

Whether or not you are new to couponing or you’re a seasoned saver, one of the first steps you need to consider is how to store and organize your coupons. I would suggest you always carry your coupons with you. Even though you think you’re running into the store for one item, you might see something on sale or on the clearance rack that you have a coupon for, so you’ll want it handy.

It might work for you to tuck your clipped coupons into a simple envelope. Or mark several envelopes with categories. Or according to expiration dates. Do what works best for you.

Maybe you’d prefer, as I do, an expanding file that is wallet size and easy to carry in your purse. Make sure it has tabs on top of the pockets to mark them as you wish. Another idea is to use a small recipe box with alphabetical dividers.

Whenever I place my clipped coupons inside the file, I always place the newest ones at the back. It helps keep the oldest coupons (with nearing expiration dates) in the front of each category.

Here's a couple of cute, fun things to make for our upcoming Easter holiday. These are simple enough the kids can help.

EDIBLE CHOCOLATE ROBIN'S NESTS

1 c. shredded coconut
4 c. Frosted Mini Wheats (Regular or Chocolate)
2 c. milk chocolate chips
waxed paper
round bowl for shaping
Cadbury Mini Eggs or jelly beans or fruit(for eggs)


Place Frosted Mini Wheats in a large bowl and break up. Add coconut and toss until mixed well. Using a double boiler, (or a heat-safe bowl set over pot of boiling water) melt chocolate. Pour melted chocolate over wheat mixture and mix up until the chocolate evenly coats.

Using wax paper, line a round bowl that you will use for shaping the nest. Form the nests, either in the muffin tins or on the tray. Make sure to make a little center for your eggs. Place bowls of nests in your refrigerator to harden. When they are hardened, simply pull the wax paper and they should pop right out.Place your choice of eggs in the center of your nest and use as a table decoration.
(Freezing Directions): You can make these ahead and simply place them in a gallon freezer bag until you are ready to use. Take out of freezer and serve.(Displaying them frozen can help them last longer as a display item.)


EASTER COOKIE BIRD NESTS

1 (6 oz.) butterscotch morsels
1/2 c. peanut butter
5 c. corn flakes
Jelly beans

Melt peanut butter and morsels. Stir in corn flakes and blend until coated. Drop on waxed paper and make a center. Chill and fill with jelly beans or whatever candy you desire. 

I love the combo of sweet potatoes and apples (applesauce) cooked together. A wonderful recipe when you need the oven for baking other things. This is a lower-calorie/sugar recipe also.


CROCKPOT SWEET POTATO CHUNKS

2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
(about 4 medium potatoes)
1 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 Tb. water
3 Tb. (diet) margarine, melted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted 

Place prepared sweet potatoes in crockpot sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Mix remaining ingredients, except pecans; spoon over potatoes. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until potatoes are very tender. Toast pecans in ungreased skillet over medium low heat for 5-7 minutes (or place in bowl in microwave-heat in 1 minute increments, stirring between each, until you can smell that nutty fragrance.) Sprinkle pecans over sweet potatoes; serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings 

May you all enjoy a Blessed Easter season as we celebrate the Risen Savior. 
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