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The less-messy way to stuff a stocking with cake

Stocking stuffers are their whole own thing in my family, and aren’t limited to the traditional orange in the toe and a few chocolates. (For example: My daughter gets packets of veggie broth concentrate every year, and has since she went vegetarian almost a decade ago. Why? I don’t know. She just does.) In our house, the weirder the better.

Cake seems like it wouldn’t work well in a stocking, but what if it was this completely dorm-friendly (or little-kid-after-school-friendly) box of Duncan Hines mug-size cookies-and-cream cake mixes? Reviews are mixed, but personally I’m not expecting an envelope of microwave cake mix to be either health food or a gourmet affair, so I’m okay with that. At just $1.25 for the 4-pack, they’re a perfect Add-On to round out a Prime order, or—better still—to get you up to your 5 Subscribe & Save orders for the month so you get 15% off of all of ’em. (You know you can do them as separate orders, right? I have two kids, so I did two separate S&S orders and now I’m up to 5, which means I’m getting them for $1.06/box.)

Take the envelopes out of the box and voila: Cake in your stocking! I bet it goes great with veggie broth.

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Emergency chewing gum is a thing, people

I carry a purse that is probably too large and I often have a weird assortment of things inside of it. There are a few things I always have, though—my wallet, my phone, my keys, some lip balm, and… a pack of gum.

Yes, gum is as important as my keys. It’s perfect for a… uhhh… breath emergency, let’s say. Or to settle a stomach if you’re not feeling great. Or to distract a complaining child. Or to offer to someone else having a rough day. Insert something cheesy about gum sticking us all together here, if you like. I’m just saying I value chewing gum.

Right now Amazon has this 18-count box of Trident Cinnamon marked down to $5.48, for some reason, but when you buy via Subscribe & Save you save an additional 5% or 15% depending on how many items you have in your order this month. Listen, the current price without additional discount is already just $.30/pack, or a couple of pennies per stick. The additional discount just makes it even more stupidly cheap.

Santa always tucks packs of gum in the toes of stockings, here, and I always have a stash on hand, too. Plus, I can always use something cheap to get me to that 15% discount for the month. Maybe you can, too? If not, I’m pretty sure I have some gum here in my purse if you need a piece.

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I lure them in with the chocolate

Convincing my college kids to pursue actual nutrition is… an uphill battle, at best. So I buy things like Carnation Instant Breakfast which is really just fortified chocolate milk powder, I know, but it’s 1) compact, 2) inexpensive, and 3) something they’ll actually consume, so—in other words—perfect for the dorm.

Right now Amazon has this 6-pack of 10-serving Carnation Instant Breakfast mix marked down to $19.98—already its lowest price—but there’s a clippable 35% off coupon and if you buy via Subscribe & Save you can save up to another 15%. So that’s $12 shipped with just the 5% off (less if you have 5+ items in your monthly order), which works out to about twenty cents a serving.

I’d rather they were eating wholesome, fresh foods, of course. But this will do in a pinch, especially at this price.

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Soup it up

Okay, let’s pretend I’ve included my standard disclaimer here about homemade food and how much better it is than the premade stuff. I know! And you know. And sometimes it’s still more convenient to have soup in a microwaveable container for the dorm/office/days when you have lost the will to cook. I’m just sayin’.

This may be limited to Prime members, but right now Amazon has 8-packs of Campbell’s Chunky New England Clam Chowder and Campbell’s Chunky Sirloin Burger with Country Vegetables Soup available for $8.81 and $10, respectively, which is a pretty good price, already. A take-and-microwave lunch for around a buck? Not bad.

Both are available on Subscribe & Save, which means they can drop to as low as $7.49 and $10 each when you have 5+ items in your monthly delivery.

Soup and beverages are some of my favorite things to buy on Subscribe & Save because I feel like the free shipping alone on these heavy items is yielding a great deal. And to have a flat of easy meals hanging around? Well, that’s priceless.

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I do love a deal on juice

I… do not understand people who drink juice. I am not a juice person. But my husband drinks orange juice every morning and both my teens love juice (possibly because I almost never buy it).

All of that said, I do feel somewhat vindicated when I’m able to find 1) juice with hidden veggies that they’ll drink and 2) a good price. That latter one goes double when we’re talking having a product shipped, because juice is heavy.

So: If you have Amazon Prime, and you like these V8 +Energy drinks, go snag a great deal—they’re currently at their lowest price ever ($15.52 for the 24-pack of either Orange Pineapple or Peach Mango), plus you’ll get up to an additional 15% off when you purchase via Subscribe & Save, plus there’s a Prime-only clippable 30% off coupon. I ended up with 24 cans for $8.53 shipped, which will surely make my kids happy until the next annoying thing I do….

(Bonus: these little 8-ounce cans are perfect for dorm fridges, and I feel slightly better thinking about my kids having a full serving of fruits/veggies while studying late at night than I would about them having Mountain Dew or something like that.)

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Mother your college student without them realizing

It’s now rounding the middle of June, and here in my house, this is known as “Stock up on dorm food” season. My kids (both! both of them, this time!) are gearing up to head to campus at the beginning of August, and my job for the next month or so is to accumulate what they’ll need to eat in the dorm when they can’t be bothered to hit the dining hall (or it’s the wee hours and they need power for studying).

Sure, I try to buy some healthy stuff, and then I also buy candy, and I buy stupid little microwavable cups of macaroni and cheese and ramen and I remind myself that they are young and healthy and this is the phase of life where they can eat junk and be okay.

But here’s my secret weapon, and you can laugh, but I’m telling you this is primo wisdom I’m laying down here: Buy your college kid(s) some Fiber One bars. Do it. They come in a gazillion varieties and they’re basically junk, but college students will all find that their… ahhh… digestive health… suffers a little in the dorm, at some point. And you can pack probiotics and such, but they probably won’t use them. They will, however, eat the Fiber One bars. Ask me how I know!

Right now (this may be a Prime-only deal; I’m not sure) Amazon has this 36-pack of Fiber One Brownies available for $13.94, which is already pretty good, plus there’s a clippable 25% off coupon, plus you can save up to an additional 15% more with Subscribe & Save, meaning you could be getting them for $8.36 delivered (under $.24/bar), and you don’t ever have to have a conversation with your supposedly adult kid(s) about constipation. Seriously, win/win.

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Pick up those essentials, from home

Full disclosure: I very, very rarely venture into our local Dollar General, as it seems to rival even That Big Box Store Everyone Hates as the number one destination for people to come beat their children. But sometimes I need a particular thing and know it will be cheaper there than anywhere else, and then I go, and I try to get in and out of there as quickly as I can.

But today, that’s all changed. Today (Monday, May 15th) only, go shop Dollar General online and you can skip the screaming toddlers, plus you can use coupon code MAYDAYSAVE for 20% off and free shipping on any size order. Hooray!

Will I leisurely stock up on toilet paper, deodorant, and other household necessities? I will. Will I have to watch anyone smack their kid? I will not.

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Do you need a ton of Twizzlers?

Okay, maybe need is a strong word. As is ton, in this context. Let me start again.

Do you want 9 pounds of Twizzlers? Yes? You’re in luck! Amazon has 9 pounds of Twizzlers available for just $10.68, which is already kind of ridiculously cheap, but if you want to add it to your Subscribe & Save orders and get up to 5+ items, it’ll come down to just $9.08.

Listen, I understand that this is a lot of Twizzlers; I do. I also know that maybe you have some teacher gift opportunities coming up and some teachers like Twizzlers. What’s more, I know that college students love them and having a giant bag of Twizzlers in your room is maybe a good way to make friends. Just sayin’. And for whatever it’s worth, I sent my oldest off to college last year with a giant tub of Red Vines, and was later informed that Red Vines are inferior to Twizzlers. Look at me, learning from my mistakes.

(I have 9 pounds of Twizzlers coming, okay? Don’t judge me.)

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Candy sale!

With Easter coming up, it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to resist a candy sale, anyway (um yes, my adult- and nearly-adult-children need Easter baskets, obviously), but this one is going to be useful to me for another reason, too.

Right now Amazon is offering an additional 25% off your qualifying $25+ candy purchase, and that means I can both get some goodies for the kids and restock for baking. (I like good-quality dark chocolate bars rather than so-called “baking chocolate” for things like flourless cakes.)

Goodies for them, goodies in the future, and I save without leaving the house. Just a few of my favorite things!

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If you prefer your apples flat

Remember back before you had kids, when you thought that if you raised them a certain way they’d be a certain way? And then how, after you had actual children, you realized your foolishness? Good times. I’m here to tell you that I have two children and one of them will happily eat any piece of fruit handed to him and the other one has all sorts of rules about what makes fruit acceptable and life is simply too short for that foolishness.

Except: Dried fruit always works, with her. I don’t know why. Maybe because that seems more like candy to my darling sugar-hound? Perhaps.

So I basically snap up Stretch Island Fruit Leathers for her whenever I see them on sale—because they’re just fruit, and fruit juice, and nothing else—and send them off to her dorm, and hope she doesn’t end up with scurvy or whatever. She’s about to get this 30-pack of apple strips because Amazon has marked it down to $5.78 (lowest price ever), plus when I order via Subscribe & Save and have 5+ subscriptions that price drops to just $4.91, or about $.16/strip.

Listen, I’d rather she take the bag of apples I offer every single time she’s home, for sure, but this is better than nothing. Or gummi bears. So.

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