Archive for January, 2009

Recently, I made a new coupon organizer:


Click here to view How to Make a Coupon Binder, Part 1.

Click here to view How to Make a Coupon Binder, Part 2.

Click here to view How to Make a Coupon Binder, Part 3.

For those of you that don’t have a sewing machine, I recommend buying a large photo album from the dollar store for your coupon organizer. I had decided to make my coupon binder for free, while shopping at home, instead of spending a dollar and saving myself a lot of time.  Plus, I was able to customize my binder, making color-coded sections for canned goods, refrigerated/frozen items, cleaning/hygiene/paper products, and CVS/Walgreens/restaurant coupons.

After I made the coupon binder, with see-through slots for coupons, I discovered The Fun with Food Storage Network.  One of the sites that links to this is The Obsessive Shopper.

The Obsessive Shopper has an even better way to keep track of coupons.  You acquire multiple sets of coupons, date and file them in hanging files, type information about coupons you’ll use in an Excel spreadsheet, and only cut coupons as you need them.

In the past, I’ve laboriously cut tons of coupons, only to have them expire before I use them.  I would get behind and coupon booklets would pile up.  Now, I have a sortable and searchable spreadsheet of coupons I’ll use.  Listed in my spreadsheet are expiration dates and which coupon books/weeks the coupons are from.

Now, when an item goes on sale (or more often in my case, when I just need to buy a certain item), I search my spreadsheet, find listed coupons, pull the appropriate coupon booklet from my hanging files, cut out only the coupons I need, and go to the store.

Now, many of you know that you get to the store with coupons in hand and often find:

  • A.  The item your coupon is good for is not in the store (not present, wrong size package, etc.)
  • B.  The store has a better price on a different brand, usually the store brand.

So, there you are, back from your shopping trip, with several unused coupons.  What to do with them?  Well, I put my unused coupons in my lovely, new coupon binder.  That way, they’re organized for the next time I need that item (or it actually goes on sale and my store is actually carrying the correct size!).

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Groceries – January 26


I’ve not been too happy with my grocery savings.  I used $7 in coupons this week, but I haven’t found items on sale that match my coupons, thus preventing my from buying in bulk, on sale, with multiple coupons, which is my goal.  I know that I need to be patient about these sales…

I also need to keep in mind that we’re now eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner from home every day, with the exception of eating 1-2 meals out on weekends.  That means that we will require more groceries and that we’ll run out of them faster.  I just need to remember how much we’re saving from not going out to restaurants so much!  Still, I am starting to crave sushi again…

This week, I stocked up on frozen chicken, shrimp, and fish.  There was also a better price on a family size (as opposed to reg. size) of pork chops, so I bought more than I needed for my recipe.  I’ll probably freeze the extra pieces for another week.  I don’t anticipate buying as much meat, poultry, or seafood for a while.  I’ll only need to buy beef or pork roasts.

Groceries for the week of January 26 (with $7 in coupons):

  • Frozen Ciabatta Loaf 2.79
  • Frozen Blueberries 3.49
  • Frozen seasoned peas & mushrooms 1.89 (and coupon)
  • Refrigerated crescent rolls 1.69 (I’m ticked, because a coupon came out in this Sunday’s paper, yet I shopped the day before!)
  • Grands biscuits 1.17 x 3 (and coupons)
  • Frozen waffle fries 1.79
  • 4 cups HEB Shredded cheese 4.69 (I had coupons for Kraft 4 cup pkg, but HEB did not carry that size.)
  • Frozen Breaded Tilapia 5.99 x 3 (on sale at store, plus 3.99 store coupon when buy 3)
  • 4 lbs Frozen chicken breasts 7.96
  • 1 lb Frozen, peeled shrimp 7.99
  • 1 slice bacon .50 (to cook with green beans – Yum!)
  • Frozen flounder fillets 5.99
  • 1 lb Ground beef 3.19 x 2
  • Boneless pork chops 8.90
  • 24 oz cottage cheese 3.49 (and coupon)
  • Cool Whip Can 2.00 (and coupon)
  • Sliced mushrooms 1.99
  • Orange juice 1.43
  • Instant chocolate pudding box .39
  • Paprika 2.59
  • Hot chocolate boxes 2.34 x 2 (with coupon)
  • 1 gallon milk 3.89
  • Baking mix 1.92
  • 1 Tomato .36
  • 1 Cucumber .88
  • Bananas 1.00
  • Washed Lettuce 3.79

Total = $97 (Yikes!)

For more grocery buys, go to The Grocery Cart Challenge.

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Menu Plan Monday

We’ve cooked at home 3 weeks now, only eating out on weekends.  We also work on leftovers on the weekends.

Menu for the week of January 26:

  • Baked Spaghetti
  • Salad
  • Homemade Egg Bread
  • Honey Carrots
  • Baked Chicken
  • Brown Rice
  • Sliced Cucumbers and tomatoes
  • Homemade Egg Bread
  • Pork chop Packets with onions and bell peppers
  • Brown Rice
  • Salad
  • Breaded Flounder Filets
  • Sauteed green beans and mushrooms
  • Potatoes
  • Salad

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

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I finally got around to jogging again.  The last time I jogged was January 2.  With busy hours at school and nasty allergies, running has not been happening.  I have taken up ballet again, and today was the first day that I was able to move the day after a ballet class!  I guess I’m getting a bit more into shape.  I would like to improve my strength and flexibility in ballet.  I’ve got a ways to go.

I’ve gotten myself back on the Wii Fit this weekend, using the strength exercises for my abs – plank and some sort of ‘V’ sit-up exercises are what I do first.  I’ve learned to set 2 pounds in 2 week goals on the Wii Fit.  Otherwise, you get discouraged, especially when you start going up in weight again!

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Groceries – January 19


This week, we stocked up.  Boy, did we stock up.  We went to Costco and Wal-Mart.  I had a list, but I forgot frozen chicken breasts.  Plus, I couldn’t find a few other items I needed at a good price, so I’ll hit HEB later in the week.

Click here to see my menu for this week.


  • 2 boxes Grape Nuts
  • Jet Dry
  • Cascade
  • Personal Items
  • Stewed Tomatoes
  • Canned Stew


  • Frozen cauliflower
  • Frozen broccoli
  • Totino’s pizzas
  • Ice cream
  • Spaghetti-O’s
  • Canned green beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Salad dressing (used $2 in coupons; had another, but it didn’t get scanned)
  • Flour
  • Bananas
  • Clementines
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Turkey Sausage

For more grocery buys, go to The Grocery Cart Challenge.

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Menu Plan Monday

For two weeks, we’ve been cooking at home during the week, eating out once or twice over the weekend, and finishing leftovers over the weekend as well.  I’d like this trend to continue!

Menu for the Week of January 19:

  • breaded pork chops
  • raw carrots
  • sauteed onions
  • baked potatoes
  • salad
  • spaghetti
  • turkey sausage
  • garlic bread
  • salad
  • homemade pepperoni pizza
  • salad
  • parmesan baked fish packets
  • salad
  • rolls/bread

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

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This is Day 3 of How to Make a Coupon Binder.

Click here to view Part 1.

Click here to view Part 2.

Last week, I got fed up with my previous coupon organizer and decided to create a new one to fit my needs.  I needed a coupon organizer that allowed me to view every variation of coupon in it’s own see-through pocket.  If I had coupons for $0.25 off 1, $0.50 off 2 and $0.75 off 3, then I needed a pocket for each one.

Today, I’m showing the next steps in making a homemade coupon organizer.  Remember that I shopped at home for this project.  I could have bought a large photo album at a discount store, but I decided to make one for free at home!  I know that many people use baseball card holder sleeves, but those can cost $3 a page!  Plus, if you have long coupons, they really stick out from the pockets.  I like my new coupon organizer, because it meets my specific organizational needs and it was ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!

Here are the final steps to making a coupon binder:

coupon-binder-06Step 4 – After cutting slits in the sheet protector in Step 3 (see previous post), insert a sheet of printer paper into the sheet protector.  By cutting the slits first, you don’t have to worry about cutting holes in the paper.  This way, you’ll end up with a front and back side to your finished coupon organizer page.

You might find it helpful to color code your pages.  Remember that many coupons will blend in with white paper.  Here is my color-coded system:

  • Pink – grocery items
  • Yellow – refrigerated or frozen items
  • Green – cleaning items, baggies, hygiene, etc.
  • Gray – restaurant coupons, CVS/Walgreens, etc. coupons


Step 5 – Using the crease lines you made from folding the sheet protector in Step 1, use your sewing machine to form pockets.  In the picture above, I am sewing on the crease lines.  You will need to sew both vertical and horizontal lines.

coupon-binder-08Step 6 – Repeat Steps 1- 5 with several sheet protectors and different colors of printer paper.  I recommend running several sheet protectors through your sewing machine, one after the other.  That way, you don’t have to keep stopping, cutting, and restarting your machine.  When one finishes going through, you just put the next one in after it.  Then, all you do is cut the thread between the sheet protectors.

coupon-binder-09Step 7 – Put your sheet protectors in a binder. Insert coupons in the pockets.  Notice that each sheet protector is double-sided, allowing you 8 pockets per sheet protector.

coupon-binder-10For items that have several coupons in the same category, such as cereal, toothcare, etc., you can use facing pages of your coupon binder.

coupon-binder-12By color-coding my pages, I can instantly go to the correct section of my coupon binder.  I can also add tabbed flags to the sheet protectors, divider-style.

Congratulations!  You made a homemade coupon organizer and you used materials that you had at home!  If you make a coupon binder, make a post on your blog, mention learningtobefrugal.com in your post, and write a comment on this page!!

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Yesterday, I explained my previous, not-working-for-me-anymore coupon photo album.

Click here to view Part 1.

My new coupon organizer is a binder with sheet protectors.  I divided them into compartments with my sewing machine.

Here are the first steps to making my improved version.


  • Binder
  • Sheet Protectors
  • Printer Paper (different colors if available)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Craft Knife

coupon-binder-04Step 1 – Fold a sheet protector into fourths.  This creases the sheet protector and provides sewing lines.

coupon-binder-05Step 2 – Using a craft knife (I recommend putting a cutting mat underneath), locate the horizontal creases on your sheet protector (my sheet protector is turned landscape/sideways in the picture above).  Cut a line underneath the horizontal crease, but do not cut on the vertical crease.  You should then have two horizontal slits under the horizontal crease on either side of the vertical crease.

coupon-binder-11Step 3 – Check that your hand can pass through all layers of the sheet protector.  This is very important.  Notice that the slit does not go all the way across the sheet protector.  There is a slit on either side of the vertical crease.

Check back tomorrow for the final steps on how to build your homemade coupon organizer!

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Last week, I shopped from home and created a personalized coupon organizer with sheet protectors and my sewing machine.  Over the next few days, I’ll show you step-by-step how I made it.  Check back each day!

First, let’s start with my previous coupon organizer.

coupon-binder-03As you can see, my previous coupon organizer was a small photo album that I purchased from the Dollar Store.

coupon-binder-02In order to keep it organized, I had to label each section for different kinds of coupons.  The problem was that I would have multiple coupon brands in the same pocket, due to space restrictions.  In the picture above, you can see flour, yeast, sugar, evaporated milk, and other coupons all in the same pockets.  It made it very difficult to know which coupons I had.

coupon-binder-01Another problem was putting the coupons into the photo album.  As soon as you finished putting a coupon into a pocket and reached for another, the album would close and you’d lose your place.  Often, I’d just toss my newest coupons somewhere inbetween two pages until I got around to putting them in their specific spots.

As you can see, I knew that I needed a better system.  Check back tomorrow for how I began making my new and improved coupon organization system!

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How to Make a Journal Jar

I recently found instructions on The Idea Door regarding making journal jars.  This way, my journal entries will be a lot more varied and they’ll include more about my history.  I like the idea of writing in my journal each day, but I often wonder if I have anything to say besides, “I did laundry and made chicken noodle soup today.”

The Idea Door has four pages of journal prompts that you cut out, fold up, and put in a jar.  You can decorate your jar with a ribbon or a label.  The website also has journal prompts for kids, which I might use for my students.  We’re doing a lot of writing, and I was surprised how my journal entries flowed with a prompt regarding my history.

Cut out each journal prompt.

Cut out each journal prompt.

Here are some examples.

Here are some examples.

Fold each slip of paper.

Fold each slip of paper.

Add a bow if you like.

Add a bow if you like.

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Groceries – January 12

groceries-jan-10 Last week, I had to make several small trips to the store for cottage cheese, Mac & Cheese, lettuce, etc.  I’m hoping that I’ll only need small trips for lettuce and bananas this week.

Click here to see how I’ll be using these groceries for this week’s meals.

This week, I only purchased foods for our meals.  I did not do any food storage buying.  I did not buy any treats or sushi.

  • 3 Totinos’s Pizzas
  • Milk
  • 3 Yogurt Cups
  • 1 Pint Egg Product
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1/2 Pound Deli Turkey
  • 6 Slices Deli Cheese
  • 1 Beef Roast
  • Thick-Cut Pork Chops
  • Cooking Spray
  • 5 Pounds Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • 2 Containers Strawberries (on sale)

Total = $56

For more grocery lists, see The Grocery Cart Challenge.

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Menu Plan Monday

Last week, I cooked at home during the week.  On the weekend, we did eat out a bit.  During the week, lunches consisted of leftovers, so we had great lunches!

Menu for the Week of January 12 –

  • Beef Rump Roast
  • Potatoes & Carrots
  • Salad
  • Lemon Shrimp
  • Lemon Rice
  • Steamed Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Peas
  • Salad
  • Bread/Rolls
  • Italian Chicken (put chicken in casserole dish, pour in bottle of Italian salad dressing, bake)
  • Cucumber Salad
  • Glazed Carrots
  • Rolls
  • Potatoes
  • Breaded Pork Chops
  • Raw Carrots
  • Sauteed Onions & Mushrooms
  • Baked Potatoes

Come back tomorrow to see my post about this week’s groceries!!!

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

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