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Upon my travels at the Dollarama during the month of August, I stumbled upon these lil babies. I have seen these travel squeezy canisters for potions and lotions sell for anywhere between $10-$15 for a 2pk and $19.99 at Costco for a 4pk.   At $5 for 4 squeezy canisters, I was game to try. I hope that’s enough for the hubster, baby and myself. Of course we’re not going to decant everything we use but for some of the things we buy in bulk sizing, these will definitely come in handy!

20140902-231508.jpgWhat’s your latest Dollar Store Find(s)?

While popping into the local Dollarama to pick up a few items, I happened to walk past the HBA section and noticed more brand name items being sold there. This is partly due to the fact that the prices have gone up (where has it not?) but the max you can pay is $3 per item  I believe.  I couldn’t resist picking some of these up because they were needed. My next shopping stops were the grocery store and WalMart for these actual items – well hair conditioner to be exact. (I’m trying to work through my stockpile of HBA items and have discovered that I didn’t have conditioner as stockpiled as well as I thought. Read more about that challenge here).  Do you know how elated I was to see these babies there on the shelf for HALF THE PRICE I’d have paid for them at WalMart?!  People thought I was nuts with a huge ‘A-HA!’ look on my face.

I know how Pantene works with my hair and I haven’t tried Dove since they first made hair care products (yes, I’m that old lol – shut it!) and I’ve only seen the Infusium. Never willing to risk the money to try it – especially since it’s usually priced over $6/bottle.  Who’d want to get stuck with a product that they can’t / won’t use that they paid a hefty fee for?

I was able to purchase three brand name conditioners for just over the price of one. Does that make me cheap or frugal? 😉

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What’s your latest dollar store find(s)?

 

Continuing on in my challenge to use up the HBA items I have stockpiled as well as all samples/trial sizes I have stashed away, its time for an update.  You can read about why I started this challenge here as well as my last update here.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty shall we?

Trial / Travel Size

Bioderma Sensibo AR (anti redness) Face Cream (x4)

Bioderma Aquasource Deep Hydration Gel (for face)

Bioderma Aquasource Deep Hydration Cream (for face)

Cesar’s Palace Organic Lemongrass Shampoo (x3)

Cesar’s Palace Organic Lemongrass Conditioner (x3)

Cesar’s Palace Organic Lemongrass Shower Gel (x2)

Cesar’s Palace Organic Lemongrass Body Lotion (x2)

Head & Shoulders Classic Shampoo

Pantene Aquasource (shampoo & conditioner)

Tresseme Moisture (shampoo & conditioner)

That’s a total of 21 tiny bottles outta that cupboard! 

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Full Size

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Bath & Shower Gel – Papaya Mango

Sensodyne Toothpaste

Tom’s of Maine Natural Anti-Perspirant

Nivea Pure & Natural Hand Cream

Glysomed Original Hand Cream

Glysomed Unscented Hand Cream

Vichy NUTRIextra Hand Cream

Dove Body Wash – Sensitive Skin

Simple Kind To Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes

Simple Kind To Skin Vital Vitamin Day Cream With Sunscreen

Live Clean Fresh Face Refreshing Facial Wipes

Total of 11 full sized items outta that cupboard!

Now as I read over the list, I’m quite shocked and impressed that I’ve been able to use up all these products. Can you imagine how much all of this stuff costs?!  In a way I feel blessed to have a stockpile to pull from but at the same time, I want to go out and try/buy new ones. In good conscience, I can’t spend that money on new versions of things I already have.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Oh and by the way, in case you’re wondering –  I have been enjoying the empty spaces I am seeing in the cupboard however now that my lil one arrived early, its starting to fill up with necessary items for him.  However, I am not stockpiling his items. Yet. 😀

If you’ve joined me (or wish to join me) in this challenge – how have you been doing? What have you used up lately?

I made these super easy and simply delicious Cake Mix Cookie Bars for dessert on Valentine’s Day 2014 using and substituting what I had on hand in the pantry. Talk about being frugal 😉 It barely took me 10 minutes from gathering the ingredients to getting them into the oven.

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Ingredients

  • 1 boxed cake mix – I used double chocolate mix
  • 1/2c vegetable oil  – I used canola
  • 1/2c sugar – I used coconut sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1c chocolate chips, M&M’s or other candy toppings – I used a mix of pumpkin spice & coconut M&M’s

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix ingredients together and spread into a 9×13″ pre-greased pan. (note: this will make a stiff dough)
  3. Bake for 25-30 Minutes. (I baked for 20 mins and yielded perfectly soft centred cookie bars)
  4. Cut into bars. (I let cool for 10 mins in pan before flipping onto a cooling rack and allowed to cool another 10 mins before cutting)
  5. Store in an airtight container. Should last a week stored on the counter but I wouldn’t know. Ours were devoured within 3 days and that was torture trying to make them last that long 😀

You can find the original recipe here.

I don’t know if it’s a case of the winter blah’s, me being tired of routine meals (dad’s been stuck in a rut lately and has been cycling through the same 5 meals back to back) or my new ‘nesting’ instinct from being pregnant but I was really craving something different for dinner.  Dad was ecstatic for two reasons. Firstly, it was something “we” don’t eat at home (he always refuses to eat Thai when we’re out though the hubster and I offer to bring it home for him). Secondly, this one simple fact: he didn’t have to cook it nor clean up after it.

This dish was very easy to throw together and cook. I was done in under 30 minutes granted I did use a prepared sauce from a jar (yes, I totally cheated and feel no guilt about it) and prepped both the veggies  and chicken beforehand so when it came time to cook, it literally was a ‘throw it together in one pot and let it do its thing’ type affair. Who doesn’t like easy peasy?

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Saute 1lb thinly sliced chicken for about 5 minutes – does not need to be fully cooked.
(You can use dark or white meat. I used what we had on hand – chicken breasts)

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Start the rice!
(Have I told you how much I love this lil thing?)

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Add the sliced veggies to the pan with the partially cooked chicken, stir well and let partially saute/get soft. At this point, I slapped the lid on and left the two of them to get their freak on for about 5 minutes. Unsupervised of course. 😉

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While waiting, I opened the sauce and took a taste. WOW. Hello concentrated flavours!  At this point, knowing that dad isn’t a fan of strong flavours I immediately decided that I’d need to water down the sauce just a tad for him.  Figured I’d rinse out the jar with a bit of water vs scraping it to death with a spatula trying to get my entire $3 of sauce worth outta it.

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Next, I added the sauce (including the shaken out sauce remainders from the jar) then mixed well.
Let it sit, mingle and get their ‘party on’. Again, without supervision under cover of course.  Probably another 10 minutes.

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Once the rice was done and the curry was ready, I plated it up.
Its totally Ok. You can admit it looks tasty 😉

Dad was served the first plate.  He eagerly snatched up his spoon and dove in.   He took 3 good long bites, carefully trying to taste everything and his only comments were ‘Its good. But no salt?’ Um…the salt I’m pretty sure is in the sauce there dad. I didn’t add any extra, that’s for sure. (We’ve been omitting extra salt in our cooking due to dad having had his TIA. I figured the jar had enough already in it) He then added that he did like it but worried we wouldn’t have liked it due to lack of salt.   He’s cute, no?  BTW in case you were wondering, it was plenty flavourful for both the hubster and I. Even without the extra salt.

Bonus – this was a very frugal meal for 4 generous sized portions cooked at home. The cost of ingredients used to make this was about the cost of 1-2 portions out at a Thai restaurant.

What’s your favourite easy peasy/one pot meal?

Noticing a lil bit more empty shelf space in my HBA stockpile cupboard, I decided to take a look at my list to see how many samples I truly have used up.   You can read more about my personal challenge/goal that I decided upon here.

Trial / Travel Size
Organix Noursing – Coconut Scent (shampoo & conditioner)
Vidal Sassoon – Repair (shampoo & conditioner)
Vidal Sassoon – Moisture (shampoo & conditioner)
Herbal Essences – Hello Hydration (shampoo & conditioner)
Pantene – Moisture Renewal (shampoo & conditioner) – two sets
Tresseme – Moisture Rich (conditioner)
Olay Fresh Effects – Shine Go Away/Shine Minimizing (Face Cleanser)

That’s a total of 14 trial sized items outta my cupboard! Woohoo!!

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Keeping with the theme of using up what I have in stock (har, har) I decided to keep track of my full sized products used up/finished off as well. These could’ve been partially used up products that were placed back into the cupboard (or elsewhere) to be used at a later date or something that didn’t work at the time I decided to use/try them.

Full Size
Nivea – SOS Hand Cream (50ml)
Pantene Pro-V – Fine Hair Volume Conditioner (1L)
Glysomed Hand Cream (50ml)
Bath & Body Works 3-in-1 (Body Wash /  Bubble Bath / Shampoo) (16oz)
Carmex Lip Balm Stick
Body Shop – Satsuma Body Butter (50ml)
Garnier Body – 7 Day Ultra Moisturizing  Lotion W/Mango Oil (400ml)

That’s a total of 7 FULL SIZED items outta here! Yikes!

WHOA!! 21 items OUT! That’s a lot products used up for 6 weeks if you ask me.  (this doesn’t include items I have deemed not worthy of using up and tossed)

I’m so glad to see more and more space in that cupboard while knowing I’m saving money by not going out and buying more. Who doesn’t love saving money and shopping at home? Nothing more frugal then that right?

Now – I need to continue making more room so I can  start to stockpile baby care items next LOL (Sad thing is, I’m half joking and half serious)  Eeesh.

Anyone else doing this lil challenge with me? What have you used up recently?

Ever get to the point where you can no longer squeeze lotion from a tube container so you consider it fit to be tossed into the garbage?   And I truly do mean squeeze and twist and push and try to force it out. Every. Single. Bit. Out.  Well, have I got a tip for you.

20130523-153351.jpgEmpty tubes. Or are they?

20130523-153412.jpgI took a pair of scissors to the tubes about 1/3 up from the bottom.

Look how much was left!!  In case you can’t really see, there’s about 1/4c left.

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To make a ‘lid’ for the tubes, trim down any excess tubage (yes, I just made that word up now) and proceed to slide the remainder of the tube over top of the base.  Voila!  All you have to do is lift the ‘lid’ dip your finger in and remove as much as desired then re-cap.  Talk about getting your money’s worth.

This tip also works for anything in a tube from hair treatments & conditioners as well as toothpaste though I recommend you dip your toothbrush into the base 😉

My family loves Pizza Hut.  Not only is it costly but unhealthy to boot. What really sealed the deal for me, the post oven ‘garlic spray’.  Not sure if I was supposed to see that last step but when I saw it, I totally called them out on it.  “Uh, its garlic spray” said the man as he continued to spray. Ehrm. 😦  Looked more like spray oil if you asked me – which totally explains the grease that drips down your hand as you’re trying to eat it.  Thus born the necessity of learn how to make homemade pizza.

20130523-155442.jpgPizza toppings: two types of cheese, pepperoni and homemade pizza sauce

20130422-103647.jpgMore toppings: leftover cubed chicken breast, onions & peppers

20130422-103709.jpgWhole wheat crust, partially baked. (yes its store bought dough)

20130422-103744.jpgLoaded and ready for the oven!

20130422-103800.jpgWho’s ready for dinner? 🙂

Now, while I didn’t do a full analysis of what it costs to make a homemade pizza vs store bought – I do have a good idea.  When we buy 2 – large pizza’s it’s about $45 taxes in.  What I made here cost about $7-$10 for a 9×13 pan. While the size isn’t the same, it’d still be less if I made two pizzas.  Also, this is a deluxe pizza with cubed chicken breast and an extra cup of cheese – normally I only use one.    End result = every bit just as yummy as Pizza Hut (in its own way) for much less in terms of calories and cost. The ultimate bonus, both men love it!  To me, that’s a win!

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We’ve been having some crazy weather these past two weeks. One day, its winter. One day, its spring. Lather, rinse and repeat.  We’ve also been pretty busy so there hasn’t been much time to get creative in the kitchen.  In an effort to provide a decently nutritious meal without committing a lot of time, I pulled out the trusty crockpot.

What I created was a soup. I prefer to call it ‘Clean Out The Kitchen Soup’.  Anything in the fridge and pantry that needed to get used up, went in.  How easy and frugal was that?  What I ended up with was a very hearty and flavourful soup which pleased everyone. I’ll just call this a win 😉

Don’t you just love your crockpot?

Cheese was on sale!  The logical thing for me to do was to buy some and process it for future use because this family seems to be in an anti-cheese type mood these days.  Only thing left to do was to shred it and freeze it so we can just pull as needed from the big deep freezer.

(BTW: the sale is over now as you can see by the dates on my baggies but it was $2.99/500gr block of cheese. I picked up 3 blocks: old cheddar, marble & pizza mozzarella.  The deal was too good to pass up!)

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Since someone pointed out to me that the pre-shredded cheese you buy at the grocery store has a powdery substance added to it, I have been waiting for a sale on cheese to make my own.   At least I know it’s just cheese.

Tip: to shred your own, chill the blocks for a good hour before shredding, to make it easier on yourself.

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While the cheese was chilling, I started prep by labeling my baggies with the amount, type of cheese and date it was frozen.  I used sandwich sized Ziploc’s.

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I chose to freeze the cheese in 1c portions as most recipes call for that much if not 2c at a time.  Also, I only use about 1c of cheese when I make homemade pizza 😉  Each 500gr block made bout 6 cups loosely packed.  For some reason my pizza mozzarella only made 5c – maybe it wasn’t as chilled as it should’ve been?

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Once all the cheese was bagged with the air squished out (remember, air is the enemy in the freezer), I rolled/folded the excess bag over to make lil logs.  I placed all them sandwich bags into a medium sized freezer Ziploc and tried to squeeze all the air outta that bag.

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Voila! I now have 17 x 1c portions of cheese ready to be pulled at a moment’s notice. The other bonus, the one freezer Ziploc takes up much less space then one of those pre-shredded cheese bags.

Do you process your own cheese to save money as well?

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