Category Archives: Bargain Shopping

Aldi

Adventures in Aldi: Frugal Healthy Grocery Shopping

A new Aldi just opened 3 miles from my home. If you’re unfamiliar with Aldi it’s a discount supermarket that sells primarily generic groceries at prices lower than the average supermarket. They keep their costs low by very little advertising, locking up their carts to prevent theft and not providing free grocery bags.

My first experience with Aldi was in college. I had never heard of it until I moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania my freshman year. At first I thought it was the shoe store Aldo which led to much confusion initially. As a broke college student I was attracted to the low prices. But as an immature 18 year old I was slightly weirded out by the generic products which I thought were knock offs of brand names. The labeling on their generic products was very similar to popular brand name packaging. Toaster Tarts instead of Pop Tarts or Aunt Maple’s instead of Aunt Jemima.

toaster tarts

 

Aunt Maple's
However, now being a bill paying older adult I have a totally different view of Aldi.  Also they have really made an effort to sell more than processed junk. They now have many organic products and fresh produce.  Don’t get me wrong some of their products are not very healthy or natural. And contain artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. This is where label reading is a must — which you should do in any grocery store.

Check out this innocent looking box of ‘Quinoa Blend.’

It contains Yeast Extract, Caramel Color, Natural Flavors (not really natural – they are produced in a lab) and Maltodextrin (again created in a lab). No thanks!

I do not do the bulk of my grocery shopping at Aldi but I have a few favorites that I found which are truly natural and healthy.  Some of my Aldi favorites are their organic dried herbs and spices,  nuts, organic tortilla chips, canned organic beans. Also their fresh produce including avocados, pineapples and organic salad mix.

Here are some photos from my last Aldi trip. I did not purchase all these items but I wanted to show you some of their selection.

 

If you do not have an Aldi in your area now, you might very soon. According to their website, they plan to have 2,000 stores in the US by 2018. So give them a try, you might save a few dollars. And be sure to read those labels carefully!

 

Have you ever shopped at Aldi?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

DIY Rug Backer

Recently I had hardwood floors installed in my condo.  That was my first large home improvement project since buying the place 2 years ago. When I moved in, there was ratty old beige carpet with scratches and frays from the previous owner’s dog. Also there was always a weird, not bad, but weird smell in the condo. Once the old carpet was removed the smell vanished with it. Added bonus!

My Fascist condo association requires if we install hardwood floor to cover 75% of it with rugs. Womp womp! What’s the point of having beautiful floors if you have to cover them. But I’m a good little owner and complied-ish.  I covered about 40%. I already had one throw rug in front of the sofa and I bought another to put under my television stand. Being the frugal person the new rug  was very inexpensive but cute.

Front of rug

Ain’t it cute!?! BUT being so cheap it did not have non-slip backing on it and I was afraid it would slide around and scratch my lovely new floors.

Back of rug

So I looked online and in stores for rug backers. But the prices in my opinion were high for something that would never been seen. So I got to thinking about what I could use in place of a formal rug backer. Then I remembered what some of my ingenious Occupational Therapy colleagues have used at work to stop things from sliding around — Dycem! If you are not familiar with Dycem imagine if Fruit Roll-ups were plastic. It’s a plastic material that’s sticky on both sides and is magically  reusable a million times before it loses it’s stick.  It even comes in rolls like Fruit Roll-ups.

But Dycem has about or even a higher cost than rug backers. So a cheap alternative some Occupational Therapists use is shelf liner. The rubbery waffle pattern kind. Not the one that’s like wallpaper with a pattern on one side.  I found it at Target in the kitchenware section for around $6.

Con Tact shelf liner

 

I chose to not cover the entire back of the rug with the shelf liner.  Stretching my buck. I simply cut rectangles for each corner of the throw rug and two in the middle. Use the ridges on the shelf liner to cut straight lines.

Cutting the liner

Cut pieces of liner

Apply glue to the liner cut outs and adhere to the rug. Allow it to dry with the rug upside down for several hours or overnight. The glue will come through the holes slightly when wet so definitely allow it to dry completely before flipping it over.

Glue applied to liner

And you’re done. Easy DIY project.

Liner glued to rug

All that work and I put it under my TV stand so it’s definitely not moving around. Oh well this was a fun little project.

TV stand

In reality the pre-made rug backers for sale are not that expensive. But there’s something therapeutic about re-purposing an item.

Here a few other uses for shelf liner:

  1. Under potted plants
  2. On the legs of a table.
  3. Coasters
  4. On the dashboard to hold a cellphone in place.

Can you think of any other uses for shelf liner?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

Make Money on Your Cell Phone

Did you know you could make money from your cell phone? Yes it’s true. There are many free moneymaking apps now.  There are some apps that pay you to take surveys, watch videos or just to track your activity on your phone. My favorite moneymaking apps pay you for everyday purchases. Three of my favorites are Checkout 51, ibotta and Receipt Hog. All three of these apps are available for download from the Android and Apple app stores. I’m an Android girl myself. Side note: do any of my other Android users catch flack from your iPhone family and friends? I can’t be the only one.

ibotta

ibotta app

ibotta was the first moneymaking app I ever downloaded and used. It’s also the one that I have made the most money on to date.  With ibotta you first unlock rebates for items that are posted in the app. Then if you buy any of those items from specific retailers, you scan your receipt and the bar code of the item. And bam! Within minutes you get a rebate applied to your account for those items. Your money can be redeemed for gift cards or deposited in your PayPal or venmo account. I usually opt for PayPal deposits. The gift cards available change from time to time but currently Amazon, Target, Starbucks, The Gap, Applebee’s, JoAnn Fabrics and Old Navy are just a few that are available.

You can also earn money for referring friends. Each month they offer teamwork bonuses so anyone you refer or who’s a Facebook friend (if you choose to link your Facebook account) act as a team to accumulate a certain amount to earn an extra bonus. The bonuses are in addition to the regular rebates you get.  There are also bonuses  if you redeem a specified number of rebates in a certain time frame. Or if you buy multiple items in a specific category or specific brand. Here’s my referral link if you’d like to download the app: https://ibotta.com/r/myapg.

Checkout 51

Checkout 51 app

Checkout 51 is a little simpler than ibotta. If you purchase a product featured on the app you scan the receipt. That’s it.  You don’t have to unlock the rebate first or scan the bar code of the product as with ibotta.  And it does not matter which store you made the purchase. Checkout 51 rolls out a new list of products each Thursday. With this app you receive your money in the form of a check. Once you accumulate at least $20 you can request a check be mailed to you. So no need for gift cards, PayPal or venmo.  I have found with Checkout 51 I don’t purchase too many of the items listed in app. So it takes a bit of time for me to accumulate $20. Also there are fewer bonuses than offered on ibotta and no teamwork component.

ReceiptHog

 

ReceiptHog

ReceiptHog is even simpler than Checkout 51. With ReceiptHog you simply take a photo of your receipt and upload it to the app. No specific products to buy or offers to upload first. For grocery receipts, you earn coins and all other receipts you earn entries into a drawing. There are limits to the types of receipts you can upload. Grocery, convenience, department,  drug, liquor, home improvement, dollar, and toy stores and restaurants are acceptable.  The app does not accept receipts for gas or services such as an oil change or haircut.  And receipts must be uploaded to the app within 14 days of the purchase date.

If you upload grocery receipts for consecutive weeks  within a month you earn spins on the app’s slot machine. The slot machine offers chances to win additional coins or even $100 cash. Once you accumulate a certain number of coins you can redeem them for either an Amazon gift card or PayPal deposit. Like Checkout 51 there are no bonuses or teamwork incentives. So accumulating enough coins for a reward does take some time.  But you’re just taking photos of receipts you already have just laying around.

 

If you haven’t tried any of these moneymaking apps yet you certainly should. They cost you nothing and you can earn some decent pocket change.  And if you use coupons and catch some items on sale, you can end up with some freebies. I will caution with ibotta and Checkout 51 to avoid buying items you normally wouldn’t just because of the rebate. I will admit I have fallen victim to this. There’s a bottle of coconut water in my cabinet to show for it. I hate coconut water but couldn’t pass up the $1 rebate on ibotta.

Do you use any moneymaking apps?

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.
Ubiquitous product samples

My Trip to the Ubiquitous Expo 2016

This past weekend I attended the Ubiquitous Beauty Hair and Health Expo in DC. I went with one of my good friends who is also sporting her natural hair. The event was held Saturday and Sunday, we went on Saturday. The cost of the tickets was very reasonable $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Of course me being the frugal natural that I am, I bought my ticket in advance to save the $5.

Based on other beauty and hair ‘expos’ I have been to, my expectations were not very high. However I was pleasantly surprised by this event. It was in a great venue, well organized and had a lot of vendors. There were also panel discussions, live performers, presenters doing live hair styling demonstrations and my favorite part, plenty of free samples. I even had a celebrity sighting of Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe.

Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe

 

Product Samples

Ubiquitous product samples

 

Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils product samples:Aunt Jackie's sample

Renpure Originals and Bella Curls samples:Bella Chic sample

Crème of Nature product samples:Creme of Nature sample

These expos are a good way to discover new hair products. Especially from smaller, independent companies.  Several major brand products were on display including Organic Root Stimulator (ORS), Cantu, Isoplus and Motions. But the majority of the vendors at the expo were smaller lesser known companies.  I find the smaller independent hair products often contain more natural ingredients and are handmade. Compared to being made in large vats in a mega production facility with many synthetic ingredients. Also it always good to support independent entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Check out some of these companies that were at the expo:

Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils

Bella Curls

Diva by Cindy

Fran Ngong Organic

Mielle Organics

Oyin Handmade

Renpure Solutions

Uncle Funky’s Daughter

I cannot wait to try these product samples and hopefully add to some my regular hair routine. I will definitely attend next year’s Ubiquitous Beauty Hair and Health Expo.

 

Have you ever attended a health and beauty expo?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

GMO No!!

Genetically modified ingredients have invaded gummy bears. You may have noticed in my last post about my fabulous Harris Teeter Super Doubles haul I purchased 3 packs of Black Forest gummy candy for free. Two of the packs were organic and one was not. I only bought the non-organic pack because there were only 2 organic packs left on the shelf. Well, halfway through gorging on the bag of nonorganic gummies I turn the bag over and see this:

Frankengummy GMO

Produced with Genetic Engineering. It’s stamped right on the crease of the bag so it’s hard to notice right away.  I was surprised because #1 this is the first time I have seen the genetic engineering labeling. And #2 I failed to realize they contained artificial flavors also. But common sense should have told me a little green bear cannot naturally taste just like an apple or a pineapple. I wish it stated which ingredients were produced with genetic engineering but I am assuming it’s the corn in the corn syrup. I am usually an avid label reader but I think my excitement for a good deal distracted me this time.

Sad gummies

After this experience I threw the bag of gummies away and did a little research. I looked up the use of genetic engineering in foods and the labeling of genetically engineered foods.  According to the FDA website,  products containing genetic engineered ingredients only need to be labeled if the genetically engineered plant is compositionally different that it’s traditional counterpart (http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodScienceResearch/GEPlants/ucm346858.htm). So if the new plant has a higher sugar content or lower fiber content for example than the original plant it needs to be labelled as such. But if it’s identical chemically to the original no labelling is required.

Eating GMOs make me nervous because there’s no research on the long-term effects of them on our bodies.  In reality we all have been eating foods GMOs for years without knowing it.  About 85% of the corn produced in the US is genetically modified. Corn is in a ton of foods. Not just as a whole corn kernel but also  in the form of corn oil and cornstarch.  If you would like to know more about genetically modified foods check out the documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs. The full documentary is available on YouTube.

There is a  bright side to this story.  The two packs of organic gummy worms do not contain any ingredients produced with genetic engineering and no artificial flavors. And I learned a good lesson to read labels more carefully, even during Super Doubles.

 

Are you concerned about eating foods containing genetically modified ingredients?

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

Harris Teeter Super Doubles

Harris Teeter is one of my favorite grocery stores here in Virginia. I have one within walking distance of my condo so I shop there frequently. Harris Teeter has locations here in Virginia and DC, Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. If you do not have a Harris Teeter in your area or have never been it one,d it’s your typical mass grocer with average prices and a good selection of major brand products and their own brand including an organic line. What makes them hold a special place in my frugal heart is their periodic Super Doubles special.

During the Super Doubles promotion Harris Teeters doubles coupons up to $2 face value. So that means your measly little $2 coupon becomes a $4 coupon!!! Woot Woot! So when I saw the Super Doubles promotion I quickly searched through my old coupon packets (never throw them away until all the coupons in them expire) and online coupons for any coupons $1 or more. Once I gathered all the coupons I could find for any products I need or may need I headed to Harris Teeter with a smirk on my face and reusable grocery bags in hand.

I planned this trip to only buy items that I had coupons for. I wish there were more coupons for fresh fruits and veggies though. So I’ll do my regular grocery shopping some other time – I needed to concentrate on the Super Doubles. It’s not a game people. Surprisingly, I only spent about 30 minutes in the store, everything I intended to purchase was in stock and I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t on my list or I didn’t have a coupon for. There were a few things I had planned to buy but changed my mind because it wasn’t as good of a bargain as I thought.

Check out what I bought:
Harris Teeter Haul

I know you’re wondering what I paid after all the coupons. The price before coupons was $40.01 and after the super doubles: $14.20!
Here’s the breakdown:
Ragu Pasta Sauce on sale for $1.78 used $1 coupon=Free
Barilla Pasta $2.49 used $1 coupon= $.49
Silk Yogurt on sale for $1.25 used $1 off 3 coupon= $.58 each (bought 3)
So Delicious Yogurt on sale for $1.25 used $1 off 3 coupon =$.58 each (bought 6)
Black Forest Organic Gummy Bears $1.49 used $1 coupon=Free
Black Forest Organic Gummy Worms $1.69 used $1 coupon=free (bought 2)
Oral B Floss on sale $2.99 used $1 coupon=$ .99
Oral B Pulsar Toothbrush on sale $5.99 used $2 coupon=$1.99
Tampax Pearl Tampons on sale $3.99 used $1 coupon=$1.99
Energizer AA Batteries on sale for $5.99 used $1.25 coupon=$3.49

I think the deal on the yogurts was worth it alone. If you have a Harris Teeter in your area hurry and catch the Super Doubles promotion.

Do you use coupons when you shop?

And in case you thought I was kidding about saving old coupon packets. Here’s my current stash:

Pile o' coupons

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

Target Clearance Haul

I used to love, love, love Target. I would make 2 or 3 Target runs a week. I faithfully read their weekly sales ads and checked their website for new coupons every couple of days. I also was on their list to have Target coupons texted to my phone. But my love of Target has faded.

Over the past year my Target runs have cut down to less than one a month for several reasons. The main reason is I have significantly cut out unnecessary spending. That One Spot or Dollar Spot or whatever it’s called now used to catch me every time. That’s that section right at the entrance to encourage impulse buying. They have anything from stickers to vegetable seeds to trash cans to miniature Christmas trees. I bought one of the Christmas trees and two packs of miniature bulbs to decorate it. Everything costs about $1 to $5 and you don’t actually need any of it. Also I noticed Targets prices have increased and the quality of their sales has declined.

To discourage impulse buying and not getting the best deal available, I plan out my Target runs before heading into the store now. First I only go if I need a specific item, then I check the Target Cartwheel app and the weekly sale. If you aren’t familiar with the Cartwheel app it allows you to get an additional percentage or dollar amount off specific items after you add them to your list in the app. The additional discount can range from 5% to 75% off the price of the item, including sale items and can be combined with coupons. So if you aren’t using this app download it before your next Target run.

Cartwheel app icon

My latest Target run was to buy Just Mayo mayonnaise. It’s my favorite new ‘healthy’ mayonnaise. They have plain mayo and different flavors. My favorite is the chipotle flavor. The best part is all their mayos are vegan, gluten-free and soy-free. Just Mayo was on sale for $2.99 and on the Cartwheel App with an additional 15% off. While on the Cartwheel app I found an offer for an additional 20% off all women’s clearance clothing. So my plan was to buy the Just Mayo and glance at the clearance clothes. I ended up buying three shirts, one pair of shorts and a two piece bathing suit.
DSCN0199

Reg. $9 Paid $5 (not included in the Cartwheel savings)

Aztec print blouse

Reg. 19.99 Paid $11.18

Pink Blouse

Reg $19.99 Paid $7.98

Aztec Print Shorts

Reg $22.99 Paid $12.86

Striped Two Piece

Reg $17.99 each piece, Paid $7.18 each piece

The T-shirt was not on clearance so the extra 20% did not apply to it but I couldn’t pass up an inexpensive tee. The total for all six items at regular price would have been $107.95. With the clearance markdown, then the extra 20% from the Cartwheel app my grand total was $51.38! I would call that a pretty good deal.

And in case you were wondering I did buy the Just Mayo too. I tend to have shopping amnesia so I made sure I grabbed the mayo first before heading to the clothing section.

 

Have you ever gone in a store to buy a specific item then buy a bunch of other stuff except what you actually went to the store to buy?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.