Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How To Spend Less Than $11 at CVS

Lately, I've become particularly addicted to hummus (especially the red pepper variety). I've always been a fan, but the past few weeks I've bought it because it's been in my budget and can't get enough! For as long as I can remember, I've had a pretty unhealthy habit of eating before bedtime (usually in bed, usually junk food - lately it's been Cadbury Mini Eggs... oh no! What can I say? We all make mistakes.) I thought I'd finally kicked the habit a few months ago but DUN DUN DUN.... it's back :( So in order to wean myself off of this bad habit, I'm trying to choose healthier things (like hummus and triscuits) to satisfy my late-night cravings instead of sugary treats that will only stop me from falling asleep at a normal time. But I don't know... I downed this party size tub of hummus in only two days! You see, you have to eat a lot of hummus in order for it to be equivalent to chocolate eggs.... breaking habits is hard!!

In some upcoming posts, I'm going to do a little overview on what I do to save money on a college budget. Living paycheck-to-paycheck can be really overwhelming sometimes, but I have a lot of tips for staying within your budget. 

Basically, I have my overall budget for each month, including money towards next semester's tuition, rent, groceries, gas, other needs (like paper towels, etc.), and a little allowance towards fun stuff (like movies and dinner out with the boyfriend every once in a while). I try really hard not to go over budget, but it's pretty hard to stay under the $50/week I give myself for food. It's important that I don't get too hard on myself, though, because I can calculate in my head that I will sacrifice a new tube of mascara for the organic milk that I love.

Because I work at CVS, sometimes it's hard to curb impulse shopping especially if there's a good deal. What I try to do (sometimes successful, sometimes not), is I wait for a week where there is a TON of great deals that I want to score on and shop at CVS that one week, and try not to buy too much else for the rest of the month.

One of the great things that you can do to save money is clip coupons. I buy the Sunday paper every week and get tons of coupons for things that I'm always buying (just make sure not to clip coupons for stuff you don't normally buy, because you'll end up spending more). I also go to sites like and print out coupons (although that wastes my expensive ink, so I don't do that TOO much).

CVS itself is also a good supplier for coupons. They have the coupon printing machines in every store, and every time you scan your CVS card it'll print out coupons. Coupons also print out on your receipt when you use your CVS card and those are usually geared towards the stuff you normally buy so they're pretty good. You can also get lucky and get one of those $4 off $20 purchase or $5 off a $25 purchase that I don't get anymore because I buy stuff there too much, ha ha! I also use my Green Bag Tag every time I work when I buy a Diet Mt. Dew because every fourth time I scan it, I get $1 Extra Care Buck. I save up all my Extra Bucks and use them for that one big purchase I make every month (and try to buy stuff that will give even more Extra Bucks to use on my next purchase).

Anyway, this month's buy was CRAZY! Look at what I got...

Two boxes of FiberOne cereal...

Two boxes of Triscuits...

One box of Truvia sweetener packets...

A boatload of beauty supplies (and a chocolate-covered Peep... oops!)...

And the grand total came to $10.42!!! Plus $2 Extra Bucks on my receipt. I'm not kidding, ha ha! I used a bunch of coupons and Extra Bucks plus one Raincheck for the cereal (make sure to get a raincheck if your store is out of something on sale... it will come in handy, and CVS rainchecks last forever! One lady bought Cascade detergent the other day with a raincheck from 2002 and got it for $1.50... what a deal!).

Lately I've been really digging this nutrient-packed & delicious soup that takes almost no time at all to make! I forgot to take a picture of it, so you get a picture of my leftovers in some tupperware... I promise the real-life version looks a bit tastier.

Spinach and Chickpea Soup

  • 1 box frozen whole-leaf spinach 
  •  1 can chickpeas
  •  Some sort of hot sauce (to taste)
  •  1 medium-sized onion
  •  2 cans (4 cups) reduced fat & sodium chicken broth
  •  Salt (to taste)

  • Dice onion and sweat in pan in olive oil for five minutes on low-medium heat
  • Add chickpeas, broth, salt, and hot sauce and simmer for 5 minutes
  • Microwave frozen spinach until warm and add to pot. Simmer for another 3 minutes.
  • Done! (Makes about 4 servings)

Yesterday Brent came over and I surprised him with Cupcakes for Two. So delish!!! I could've definitely eaten both, ha ha! After the cupcakes cooled, I whipped up some frosted with some neon pink food coloring I found at Stop&Shop to give them a neat kick :) They were the perfect dessert.

Oops! We might have had dessert first...! Well, Brent had already eaten (He hates onions so he can't eat anything I cook with onions in it. So he doesn't end up eating my food too often! Ha ha.) but the Thai Chicken Soup I made was still cooling, so I had my treat early.

Cupcakes for Two

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk
  • Preheat oven to 350˚ and grease two spots on a muffin pan
  • In a bowl, combine egg white and sugar. 
  • Add vanilla and melted butter, stir until smooth. 
  • Add flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Stir in milk.
  • Divide batter equally for two cupcakes
  • Bake at 350˚ for 10-12 minutes, or until cake is slightly golden brown on top and set
  • Let cool, and frost! (I just used whatever vanilla frosting was on sale at Stop&Shop and added my food coloring to it)

This soup was SO good! I'm excited for leftovers. 

I got the recipe from Food Network Magazine. It was nice because it didn't take too long to cook (well, part of that is probably because I already had pre-cooked chicken breast I use to put in my lunch salads) and I made the cupcakes while it was getting up to a boil (did I mention how super-fast that cupcake recipe is? It took me 5 minutes tops to get the cupcakes in the oven!). And since my all-time favorite food is anything Asian, this was a nice taste of it without the serious dose of calories... Two thumbs up! It tasted pretty good, but a little bland at first. I had Brent take a sniff and he suggested adding some paprika. Just that little pinch made ALL the difference and turned a good-but-blah soup into and AWESOME SUPER DUPER soup! :)

Thai Chicken Soup (adapted from Food Network Magazine's recipe)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste (I used my favorite spicy sauce, Chili Garlic - I'll take a picture soon, it's awesome!)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (13.5 fl.oz.)coconut milk
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. thin rice noodles
  • 2 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts thinly sliced
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (or to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent.
  • Add garlic and spicy sauce and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  • Add chicken broth and coconut milk, bring to a boil (this took a lot longer than I expected - maybe because of my piece-of-crap stove, though)
  • Add bell peppers and noodles, simmer for about 3 minutes until noodles reach desired tenderness
  • Stir in parsley, salt, and paprika

I just finished the book The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand, which was pretty good! Definitely a good beach read. Now I've switched to a slightly more literary novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender I borrowed from the library yesterday. I'm only 100 pages in but I would already seriously recommend it to anybody who likes to read. It's so good! And totally fitting with my food-themed life ;)

P.S. - Stay tuned in the next couple of days for a super awesome surprise!! :) Can't wait to show you guys!

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