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Raley’s New Rewards Program Gives Something Extra When You Shop

Tags: Free Groceries and More, Raley's Mom's Panel, Raley's Something Extra Store Loyalty Card Program

Raley’s New Rewards Program Gives Something Extra When You Shop

Posted on 12 October 2012 by noelskitchen

Raley’s as you well know if my favorite places to shop for groceries for my family. Yes, I’m on the Mom’s Panel and yes my recipe has been featured in their Something Extra Magazine but they do not sponsor me or my opinion of  the store and the special deals they offer shoppers.

I shop at Raley’s because it not only provides me with good quality and  a great selection of foods, it also provides great savings on groceries and their customer service is wonderful. And now, they’ve stepped up to the plate with a Rewards Program  where you can earn points every time you shop at Raley’s and turn those points into vouchers you can use for free groceries and more!

Here’s what Raley’s Something Extra Rewards is all about:

  • Checkout: Simply swipe your Something Extra card (or input your phone number) each time you shop and you’ll be sent special savings and rewards. The more you shop the more you’ll be rewarded with the things you like and buy the most.
  • Earn Rewards: Each time you shop you will earn points.  (You earn extra points on certain items so be sure to look at the tag next to the item you’re purchasing. See Extra Points below). Every 3 months (quarterly) points will be converted to vouchers for free groceries and more.
  • Personalized Offers Just For You: Before you shop, be sure to go online and log into your Something Extra account and add special coupons for things you buy the most.
  • Extra Points: Each week certain products will be worth extra points (marked by special shelf tags). Bonus points from time to time as a thank you.
  • Inspired Ideas: You’ll still receive those great recipes, tips, and more!
  • Extra Surprises: Free coffee drinks, ice cream pints,etc.
  • Fuel Rewards: Earn as much as $0.50 off a gallon when you purchase $150 in groceries at participating stores. Check with your store to see if they offer this savings or if it will be offered soon in your area.

Since the program started, I’ve earned 886 points!

***Just a note that you don’t have to be part of the Something Extra Rewards program to take advantage of the regular sale prices and Raley’s Dailies low prices. You just earn something a little extra like special prices on different items other than the sale items and of course vouchers for Free groceries and more!

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Tips For Saving Money In The Kitchen

Posted on 19 February 2012 by noelskitchen

To get the most out of your every food dollar, learn how to avoid waste, using leftovers wisely, and cut energy costs.

When you think about it, you don’t want to save money at the grocery store only to throw away much of that hard earned savings in the kitchen, right?

What is saving money?

Saving money seems to be something that we all struggle with at one time or another in our lives. Sounds like a fairy tale for some of us, doesn’t it? But truly, saving money is a good thing. And something we should aspire to, especially in the kitchen.  Saving money in the kitchen can actually one of the easiest tasks.

Save: to avoid unnecessary waste or expenses; productive without waste

Here are some tips on saving money in the kitchen:

1. Preventing Spoilage

Spoiled food is simply money lost. You can greatly reduce kitchen waste if you store all your foods properly so they do not dry out or go bad. Make sure your refrigerated items are wrapped or covered and that the containers they are stored in are sealed to keep air out. Some tips for storing some hard-to-keep foods:

  • Green peppers can be chopped and frozen in a plastic bag for use as needed.
  • To keep parsley fresh, wash gently in cool water, cut off the stem ends at an angle (as you would cut flowers), then stand the parsley stalks in a glass of cold water. Slip a plastic bag over the glass of parsley and store in the refrigerator. The parsley should keep for 10 days. Parsley can also be frozen. Just chop it up, store in a plastic container. And because it does not freeze completely, you can spoon out just the amount you need.
  • Don’t slice a lemon when you only need a few drops of lemon juice. Instead, puncture it with a toothpick. The lemon will keep longer whole than halved.
2. Recycling

Much of what gets thrown away in our kitchens can be used. Some tips for putting new life into items that usually get tossed out:

  • Single rolls will be perfectly good if you spray them lightly with water, place them in a paper bag or bundle them loosely in foil, and warm in a 375 degree oven for about 7 minutes.
  • Turn pickle juice into a salad dressing by mixing it with vegetable oil and some dried herbs. Use it to marinate thinly sliced cucumbers or beets.
  • Save the nutritious water from cooked vegetables to use as a base for soup or a substitute for chicken or beef broth in recipes.
3. Substitutes

We all know that recipes are not carved in stone.You will enjoy them just as much if you use less expensive ingredients. A little experimentation can produce some wonderful tasty dishes that cost less than “the real thing”.

  • Try using pork or lamb instead of beef; they are often cheaper per serving.
  • If crab is too expensive, try tuna.
  • Make your own natural food snacks from dried fruits and nuts.
4. Leftovers

Last night’s leftovers can be today’s main course, salad, or sandwich, or they can be frozen for use later as ingredients in soup or casseroles. Some tips to remind you of the many uses of leftovers:

Vegetables

Leftover vegetables can spoil more quickly than you might think. Either use them or freeze them right away.

  • Mashed potatoes can be shaped into patties, roll in flour and dip in beaten egg and then in bread crumbs, and cook 2 minutes on each side.
  • Cold cooked vegetables make a great salad. Just toss with dressing.
  • Freeze leftover vegetables to use in casseroles or soup.
5. Poultry, Meats, Fish

A number of recipes I make are using  leftover chicken and turkey, beef or pork. Some ways to use these leftovers:

  • Dice cooked chicken for use in soups, salads, sandwiches, or chicken pot pie.
  • Chopped chicken, turkey or leftover beef mixture is great in spaghetti.
  • Turn leftover spaghetti sauce into chili by adding pinto beans, onions, beef and chili powder.
6. Dairy Products

Lots of people are not sure what to do with the other half of an egg where the recipe calls for egg yolks but not the whites, or vice versa.

  • To saved unused egg whites, freeze them in ice cube trays, one white per segment. They will thaw easily for later use in angel food cakes, meringues, macaroons, and soufflés.
  • Use uncooked egg yolks for making mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, or custards.
Saving Energy

You can definitely cut back on your utility bills with efficient use of your kitchen appliances. You’ll find, over a period of time, the small savings will add up.

  • Your oven will do double duty if you cook two items rather than one whenever possible.
  • Turn off the oven after most of the cooking is done. There will still be enough heat to finish things off.
  • If you have an electric stove, be sure the bottoms of your pots are smooth and lie flat on the stove.
  • Put a lid on the saucepan when you are boiling water. The water will come to a boil faster.
  • Whenever possible, use your toaster oven or electric skillet instead of the oven.
  • Whenever possible, cook stews, pot roasts on top of the stove instead of the oven.
 What do you do to save money in the kitchen?

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Stocking My Pantry The Costco Way Creates A Monthly Meal Plan

Posted on 15 November 2011 by noelskitchen

Yes, I bit the bullet and spent an afternoon shopping with my daughter on Saturday while the boys were out on the shooting range. It’s amazing how fast and how much you can accomplish with fewer family members tagging along. My daughter and I were able to go clothes shopping and do a huge Costco run in less than four hours. And that includes driving time.

Costco Saves My Family Money

Years ago, we had made the decision to purchase a Costco membership. I think back in the day it was known as Price Club. We’ve been loyal members ever since.  While some don’t think it’s beneficial to spend $35-$100 a year, we find a lot of value to our family’s money savings ideas. Keep in mind, we only visit Costco every 4-6 months to stock up.

Here are some reasons why I shop Costco to Stock My Pantry:

Great prices on those everyday staples

Compared to grocery store prices nowadays, it’s rare I find buying in bulk items like milk, cheese, butter, flour, lettuce, tortillas, beans, canned tomatoes, vanilla and spices any cheaper than Costco prices. 

Meat and Seafood at affordable prices

If I want to stock my freezer with those ready-to-go make ahead meals, then Costco is a must. I’m pretty much guaranteed I will get a lower price per pound on chicken, ground turkey, pork chops and whole chickens by shopping at Costco. On occasion, we’ll pick up a salmon for a special family dinner or birthday.

Monthly Meal Plan For Dinner 

 This trip to Costco I purchased these items from the meat and seafood department and created my monthly dinner meal plan (not counting Thanksgiving Day):

  •  10 lbs ground beef (hamburgers, meatballs, tacos/sloppy joes, taco casserole)
  • 4 pkgs ground turkey (saucy meatloaf, shepherd’s pie, tamale cheese pie)
  • 2 whole chicken fryers (Chicken Fricassee, chicken pie, leftovers can be shredded for sandwiches or soup.)
  • 1 pkg chicken breasts (That’s 16, I was able to dispurse 4 chicken breasts into 4 different zip-loc freezer bags. That’s 4 meals, maybe 6 if I include leftovers. Chicken Noodle Skillet Dinner, Creamed Chicken with Popovers, Chicken and Dumplings)
  • 1 pkg pork chops (8 total, that’s 2 meals! Pork Chops and Stuffing with an Apple Cider Reduction, Baked Pork Chops and Sweet Potatoes (yes, I’m sneaking these in there.)

Cheapest gas in town for miles!

When we lived in the Bay Area, Costco had the cheapest gas in town for miles. That’s a One Stop Shop for groceries, food court, gift items and gas. Since moving to the sierra foothills, Costco is about an hour and 15 minutes from us and this particular one doesn’t have their own gas station. So we always need to make sure our trip is worth the gas we spend to get there and back. Just remember, now that gas prices at jumping around high, everybody likes a good deal on gas so be prepared to wait 10-15 minutes before reaching the pump.  Costco gas prices have been between 15 and 35 cents cheaper than the lowest gas station price. To me, the wait is always worth it.

Great deals on paper products

 I love the fact that we still have a good supply on our toilet paper and paper towel stock that we purchased 3-4 months ago. I find that shopping for cloth napkins at the thrift store has cost us less in paper towel and napkin purchases. Simply use the cloth napkins and toss in the wash when done.

Great deals on  ”other items” like books, household, gifts and more

Costco has always sold a wide range of electronics, clothing, tools, gadgets, books, games, toys, and other items. Some can be great deals; some fair; some not so good for a family budget. You just gotta keep your eyes open for those deals. Remember to always check the coupon book that comes in the mail.

Gotta loves those FREE Samples!

Depending on the time of day you visit, there may be a number of free sample stations set up around the food aisles of Costco. Some days, if you’re lucky enough and it’s not too crowded, you could make the rounds at each Sample Station and end up with a meal. The kids love this idea. By giving these samples a try, they have provided opportunities for our kids to try things that they might not touch at home. And we’ve found some favorite treats by tasting the samples. This past weekend we sampled Apple Hill’s Cider and  Barsoti’s Apple Raspberry Juice. We picked up a couple of gallons and will serve at Thanksgiving dinner.

I won’t go into the downside of shopping at Costco because that’s not what this post is about. What I will say is if you do plan on bringing you’re whole family on a Costco trip, test the waters to find the best time of day that works for you. I’d be misleading you if I told you not to expect it to be crowded. Everybody is on a mission when they go to Costco and this holiday season I suggest creating a list to make it easier to get in and out quickly.

What’s been YOUR experience with warehouse clubs?

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How To Become A Smart Shopper

Posted on 13 September 2011 by noelskitchen

If you think about it, becoming a smart shopper is easy if you follow the one important golden rule: Buy your food at the grocery store, but do your shopping at home. This simply means you make all of your shopping decisions before you go to the grocery store, at the kitchen table, where your primary tool is the shopping list. Cooking from the Pantry  allows you to control how much you spend on your groceries

In order to prepare your shopping list, your first plan of action, is to plan what you are making for dinner in the upcoming week. If you are really feeling ambitious, you can meal plan out two weeks, even a month if time allows. Gather your recipes together and check the ingredients in the recipes against what you have in your pantry and write down only what you need. Be precise. Some recipes hinge on one simple ingredient. This is even easier if you have an organized pantry. Next, check the staples in the house: milk, juice, eggs, butter or margarine, oil, peanut butter, and so on.

When it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, simply wait until you get to the grocery store to see what looks plentiful, but make a few notes on what vegetables will be a great addition to your main entree. Grocery stores will always tell you ahead of time in the weekly sale ad what fruits and vegetables are on sale. Jot down what those produce items are along the side of your list. Then once your in the produce department, make your decision. Sometimes, even though fresh vegetables are on sale, I find that I can get a better deal and save more money if I buy the frozen vegetables. Packaged and prepared food coupons are a dime a dozen, but unfortunately, rarely are there coupons for fresh, whole foods.

I always try to do my shopping during the off-hours–early in the morning or late at night. Some say it’s great to go shopping on Sunday while everyone’s at church. Remember, once in the grocery store, buy only the items that are on your shopping list. By letting yourself slowly drift through the aisles, you’ll wind up with a shopping cart full of food but nothing to eat that completes your meals that you’ve planned or unhealthy items you simply could do without. If you’ve actually really paid attention to your grocery store, you’ll carefully see that the items on the shelves are organized to separate you from your money. A good example~look how the meat and dairy departments are “deviously” sectioned in the back of the grocery store, forcing you to weed your way through most of the store before you find what you’re looking for.

To tackle the grocery store, you must move through the aisles quickly, list in hand, checking off items as you place them in your shopping cart. Remember your mission–Save Money. As a busy mom, you don’t have the time to spend ruminating over chunk light versus solid white tuna. If you’re in line at the check-stand (thumbing through the People magazine) within 15 minutes or less, you know you’ve done some professional quality shopping. I know what you’re thinking…it can be done.

One last final tip–Get to know your butcher in the meat and seafood department and the produce manager, so you don’t feel reluctant to ask them questions. I find these people are great resources on choosing the right ingredients as well as cooking with them. And don’t be afraid to ask the butcher to cut the meat into the portions you need; you will find most often, they are happy to do it.

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Healthy Budget Meal Ideas: Soups and Stews

Posted on 09 September 2011 by noelskitchen

Healthy Budget Meal Ideas

Most of the items that are put into soups and stews are very reasonable in price and believe me, a nice bowl of homemade soup or stew is an extremely nutritious meal for your family. Nowadays, it’s so easy for people to reach for a can of soup and there is no question about the fact that canned or prepared soup has a place in our life, but it just can’t compare with a homemade soup.

Soups and Stews

Soups and stews also provide one of the best ways to use up leftover turkey, chicken or beef. You’ll find your soup or stew will have a better flavor if you include the bones along with the meat while cooking. Just remember to remove the bones before serving. The bone marrow gives the soup additional flavor.

Herbs are another ingredient that will make a tremendous difference in the flavor of your soups and stews. Experiment with different types of herbs to find the right ones to suit your family’s taste. A bay leaf, fresh parsley, and thyme are generally included in most soups and stews. You’ll be truly amazed at the wonderful flavor it will add to your soup or stew.

One Dish Meals

The great thing about a soup or stew is that it is a one dish meal. When you cook vegetables, don’t throw away the water because much of the nutrition is contained in the water. Simple pour in a freezable container and freeze. Add it to a soup or stew.

With homemade soups and stews, you don’t throw it away so your family gets the full food value. Some of our family’s favorites are:

Taco, Bean and Rice Soup

Favorite Vegetable Beef Soup

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Harvest Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Mom’s Favorite Chili in a bread bowl

What are some of your family’s favorite soup and stew recipes?

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