Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 8 - The Frantic Push for Food

We (meaning The Help Our Homeless Vets and Citizens organization) are extremely low on food.  As in completely out except some applesauce.  Since applesauce and bottles of water will probably not sustain anyone for a week, so the pressure is on to stock on some serious food.  So here is what I've done so far (I'm posting this tonight just in case anyone wants to hit Publix tomorrow before the new sale comes out.

40 Nissan Cup Soups - My Cost $6.00, Price $16.00 (used 10 of the $1/4 Nissan soups - I had ordered more but I cleaned the store out so I will have to go to another Publix across town)

10 Campbell's Soups - My Cost $4.80, Price $10.00 (used 2 of $1/5 Campbell's Condensed Soup Publix coupon from Discover Great Recipes Flyer AND 1 $.40/4 Campbell's Chicken Noodle or Tomato Soup from 9/8 SS insert AND 3 of the $.40/2 Campbell's condensed soup from 9/8 SS insert).

10 Nutrish Dog Food - My Cost (-$5.00), Cost 19.90 (used $2.50/1 Rachel Ray Nutrish)

That puts me right at my budget for the week, and I'm flat out of money making coupons like the Nutrish, but since we are so low I'm going to go ahead and at least get another 10 soups.  I'm hoping that we will get some donations because it's going to be tough not to have enough food on Saturday.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Week 7 - End of Week Tally

I was terribly sick in the beginning of the week so I was really thrown off my game.  I went over budget and picked up a few special requests, but I did need to make up for only spending $2.25 last week.  I didn't really spend a lot of time strategizing on picking up food, but I was able to take a morning and pick up some clothes and jackets from donators (Thanks so much Stacey and Alan!).  Here's how it went down:

24 Nissan Noodle Cups - My Cost $3.60 for 24, Cost $9.60 for 24 (used 6 of the $1/4 Nissan noodles)
5 Maruchan Noodle Cups - My Cost (-$3.75), Cost $1.25 (used $.50/1 Maruchan noodle bowl which doubled)
4 6-packs Vienna Sausages - My Cost $6.50, Cost $13.50 (used 4 of the $.75/1 6-pack Vienna sausage Publix coupon and stacked that with $1/2 Armour products)
3 Vienna Sausage - My Price and Cost $1.77 (bought to make the $1/2 Amour coupons to work)
3 Sheba Cat Food - My Price $.59, Cost $1.77 (used B2G1 Sheba Publix coupon and stacked with B1G1 Target coupon)
4 Nutrish dog food - My Price (-$2.00), Cost $7.96
2 Barilla Pasta Bowls - My Price $.29, Cost $2.29 (used 2 $1/1 Barilla microwavable meals)
4 Hormel Chili Cups - My Price Free, Cost $2.00 (used my CVS $3 extra care buck)

Disclaimer:  I also bought a package of Navy Beans and a Cream of Chicken as special requests but I'm not going to add that as my totals because, well, I don't want to.

Week 7 Tally

My Cost:  $7.00
Products:  $40.14

Running Tally - End of Week 7
My Cost:  $35.96
Products:  $230.19

Friday, September 13, 2013

Week 6 - End of Week Tally

I am going to apologize in advance because I did not take a picture of the items I bought earlier in the week, and I already dropped them off yesterday at Rusty's so they could organize the truck and have it ready. 

As you may have read, I already picked up quite a bit this week:
6 Shave Gels
5 boxes of granola bars
1 soap
10 ramen cups
2 dog food
2 ravioli

....but I was left with a huge amount (-4.71 after Walmart trip) leftover to spend.  So, today I went back to Kroger.  Would you believe that they restocked the shave gels?  I made ANOTHER $2 on those, then just bought grapes, toilet paper, ravioli (the vets love that stuff!) and 2 more boxes of granola bars, and oh a box of Emerald on the Go because it was the free Friday download at Kroger.  Here's the breakdown:

4 Gillete Shave Preps - My Cost (-2.00 for 4), Sale Price 3.99 for 4 (used $3/2 Gillete - the one I've used over and over and over)
1 Angel Soft 4-Pack - My cost .27, Sale Price $1.17 (used $.45/1 Angel Soft)
4 Ravioli - My Cost and Price $2.76
2 Nature Valley Granola - My Cost $.98, Sale Price $2.98 for 2 (used 2 of the $.50/1 Nature Valley granola thins)
1 Emerald on the Go - My Cost $0, Price $2.99
5lbs of Red Grapes - My Cost and Price $4.95

I'm done, and going to pack up some grapes for tomorrow!

Week 6 Tally

My Cost:  $2.25?????
Products:  $41.07

Running Tally - End of Week 6
My Cost:  28.96
Products:  190.05

I have to say that this was a great week!!!!!!!!!!

Week 6 - Update and Moneymaker

Thanks to the super savvy lady over at I was able to pull out another moneymaker on dog food.  I was only able to snag 2 small meals, but it also allowed me to grab 2 raviolis for cheap at Wal-Mart.  Here's how:

I bought 2 Rachel Ray Nutrish Dog Food Tubs - My Price (-1.24 for 2), Cost $3.76 for 2 (I used 2 of the $2.50/1 Rachel Ray Nutrish Dog Food from 9/8 SS insert)

So then, I bought 2 cans of Ravioli with no coupon (ughh I hate that!!!) My Price  and Cost was $1.58.

This was a great find because we actually pass out dog and cat food too.  I believe I will be ordering more of these coupons!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week 6 - Change in Focus and The Game Plan

I went and distributed food again on Saturday.  It was a much better trip.  I wasn't nearly as overwhelmed and was able to focus more on what was needed - and people started to warm up a bit.  I imagine that a stranger coming into your camp is quite disconcerting even if that stranger is there with the best of intentions.

The new focus is fresh foods and protein.  That is difficult on my budget of $5/week but I think if I'm crafty I can get it done.  I will still be picking up the shave gels and razors because they are greatly needed, but I really need to pull out some moneymakers to make the money stretch.  There are other things that I can and will be doing, such as taking cucumbers and tomatoes from my garden and making bread and passing out rolls; however, I may have a week that the only money I spend is on fresh fruit or canned goods.  That is really going to hinder my end product goal I had set for myself, but at the time I wasn't involved in this organization and had really just set a goal to push myself to get started.  The important thing is nutrition not my silly mind games for myself. 

The game plan for this week is a crafty one.  It almost makes me laugh because sometimes I feel like I am stealing, but a coupon is cash is it not?  I received the coupons I ordered online on Saturday, so Sunday I hit Kroger like a freight train. 

I picked up 6 Gillette shave gels - My price (-$3.00), Mega Sale price $5.94 (I used 3 of the $3/2 Gillette shave prep, cartridges etc. from 8/11 RP insert).  I was only able to pick up 6 because that was all they had, it was a little disappointing, but I made $3, so that was cool.

4 Nature Valley Granola Bars - My price $1.96, Mega Sale price $5.96 (I used 2 of the $.50/1 Nature Valley soft oatmeal squares from 8/18 SS insert, and 2 of the Nature Valley granola thins from 8/11 SS insert).  The soft squares are perfect for the guys with very few teeth!

1 Fiber One Granola Bars - My price $.49, Mega Sale price $1.49 (I used 1 $.50/1 Fiber One chewy or 90 calorie bars from 7/14 SS insert).

1 Ivory 3-pack soap - My price $0, Sale price 10/$10 (used $.50/1 Ivory or Safeguard from PGE insert from 8/31).

10 Maruchan ramen cups - My price (-$2.50), Price $2.50 (used 5 of the $.50/2 Maruchan bowls or cups).  I did not worry so much about buying as much ramen as possible because I wanted to make the money for my plan for the rest of the week, and we had a box left over on Saturday that will carry over until this week.

I did pick up a few more things for my house I needed to make the Mega Sale thing work (you have to buy 5 to save $5) BUT my total for the vets was (-3.05) EXCEPT I received a $2.00 Catalina for the Nature Valley bars when I checked out.  That leaves me with buying all that stuff at ($-5.05) for the week!  So...since Kroger has grapes on sale for .99/lb I will be picking up 5lbs on Friday and putting them in baggies to distribute.  That will be around $5 and I think that people will be excited for the fresh fruit.

Also, in my fat envelope of coupons on Saturday was the $.75/1 State Fair products I ordered.  The hot dogs are $1.27 at Wal-mart so I could snag some for $.50 each.  If I can pull out another money-maker or Kroger restocks the shave gel I may be able to grab those as well.

Anyone have any ideas????

Friday, September 6, 2013

Week 5 - Moneymaker and End of Week Tally

Thanks to the coupons I was given late in the week, and the wonderful list over at, I totally scored, made money, and ended up with a load to take to the homeless tomorrow.  Thank goodness!!!!

Here's what I bought at Kroger:

15 Gillete shave preps: My Cost (-$7), Sale Price $.99/1 or $15 (used 1 $6/3 Gillete cartridge, razor or shave prep from 8/11 RP insert; used 4 of the $3/2 Gillete cartridge, razor or shave prep from 8/11 RP insert, and used 4 of the $1/1 Gillete cartridge, razor or shave prep from 8/11 RP insert)  I made $7!!!!

1 3-pack Ivory Soap: My Cost $0, Sale Price 10/$10 (used $.50/1 Ivory or Safeguard from 9/1 P&G insert)

1 Brut Deo:  My Cost $0, Sale Price 10/$10 (used $1/1 Brut)

1 pack of Bic Disposable Razors: My Cost (-.21), Sale Price $2.79 (used $3/1 Bic disposable razor from 8/11 SS insert)

2 Nature Valley Granola Bars: My Cost $.98 for 2, Mega Sale Price $2.98 for 2 (used 2 $.50/1 Nature Valley Granola Bars from 8/4 SS insert)

2 12- packs of Ramen noodles: My Cost $4.34 for 2, Regular Price $4.34 for 2

This put this shopping trip at ($-1.89) My Cost.  Can you believe that!!!  So this morning I ran into Publix and grabbed 1 more multi-pack of Ramen for an additional 2.19 and with the coupons I ordered this week for $9.75 here are the totals for the week.

Week 5 Tally:

My Cost:  $10.05
Products:  $39.05

Running Tally - End of Week 5
My Cost:  $26.71
Products:  $148.98


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Week 5 - Part A

All of the coupons in this Sunday's paper pretty much stank.  I don't see any fantastic sales, and I believe I have exhausted my coupon stash for "free" stuff.  I'm not giving up this week, but it's going to take a little more research.  I have a friend who said they have some coupons for me, so maybe I can pull something out the coupon swap.

So, since as of last week I was grossly underneath what should have been $20 spent at week 4, I have ordered coupons from a coupon clipping service - I like  Yes, it is paying for coupons, but don't we do that anyway when we buy the paper?  With shipping my total was $9.75, but I will be able to use those coupons to score LOTS more free stuff.  Way more than if I just bought the products straight off the shelves - because let's face it, I can actually make money and get more product with the coupons.   

As for the rest of the week, I may be buying boxes of Ramen noodles and calling it a day because I'm really not excited about the sales!  Crossing my fingers over here.

My First Trip

Saturday was my first trip to go to the camps and pass out food, water and personal care items.  The day started when I met up with Rusty and another volunteer and we loaded up the suburban with all the supplies that were donated for that week.  We then took off to about 20 different camps - most of which we stopped and parked, hiked to the camp, met and talked with the people, then they followed us down to the car and got their supplies.  Sounds simple enough right?  Each place was different and everyone had different needs.  Overall I have to say that the entire experience was amazing, awful, inspiring, devastating, fulfilling, terrifying, and quite educational. 

It was amazing.  Because some of these people have such a great outlook on their situation.  They have nice camps, keep pets, and are just trying to do the best they can.  Some even have gardens!  They were grateful for anything we were able to pass out, but most importantly grateful for the fellowship and to know that someone came to check on them/help them in any way possible.  The thing that I admire about Rusty and his organization is that he takes the time to try and help people obtain housing or their military benefits.  It's not just about passing out food, it's about helping these people get to a better place.

It was awful.  Because some of the camps were not so nice.  I've camped at Talladega and left on a Monday morning after the race and it is nasty - beer cans, garbage and all kinds of other unmentionable stuff everywhere.  A few of the camps made the track look like a palace.  I was prepared for garbage and beer cans, but I don't think I was mentally prepared to see people on drugs and talk to them and see their ragged camps and what their choices have done to their life. 

It was inspiring.  Because so many of the people - vets especially - were so positive.  They did library book swaps with us (I thought that was brilliant), or just got excited to see what was in the truck.  I had an entire conversation with a guy about how he likes to cook his ramen and Vienna sausages to make a perfect pasta for one.  Food for these people isn't about what you want, it's about what you have.  Shouldn't we all worry less about what we want and focus on what we have?

It was devastating.  Because I truly had no idea how many homeless were in our city.  I'm sure that there are many more camps that Rusty hadn't even heard about.  And I know that there are plenty of homeless who don't even have the benefit of having a camp.  If this is true in Huntsville, a city full of rocket scientists and engineers, I wonder how many more homeless there are a less forward city.  It is so sad to think about what people in our country are going through - literally in our own back yards.

It was fulfilling.  Because I took half a day out of my life and used it to pass out stuff that people needed.  I talked to them, took notes on special requests for next week, and got filthy disgusting dirty and a case of poison ivy, and felt like I worked hard for those few short hours.  It was awesome.  I made a difference and all it took was a little time and effort on my part. 

It was terrifying.  Because I had no idea where we were going.  Because I had met Rusty once and was flying on faith that we would be safe.  Because at one camp we had to check for dead people.  Because our last stop - tent city - was full of drunk guys that crowded around us and fought each other and made more than a few very lewd comments.  Because most importantly, I was WAY out of my comfort zone.  Because at the end of the day it was real.  And real life is far more terrifying than any movie.

It was educational.  Because at the first stop we fed and watered the dogs because the camp was empty and I didn't know we would do that.  Because at one stop a guy needed razors so I handed him a pack and he said, "No ma'am, I just need a few."  Can you say rookie?  Because items I had brought like the shave gel and facial cleansing cloths made everyone so excited, when I wasn't sure I should be picking them up.  Because now I know what types of foods people can actually use in the camps and what is really needed.  Because......well because it was something I had never done before. 

When I got home I was exhausted and emotionally drained.  But I had done what I promised myself and had seen what my little $5/week pledge can do for someone else.  I can't wait to go again this Saturday!