Saturday, January 28, 2012

40% off Babyganics Bubble Bath & Wash at Toys r US


I went into Toys r Us today to use a gift card and found a great deal on Babyganics Bubble Bath & Wash. Apparently, yesterday was the start of their "Baby Deal Days". The flyer has a $5 off coupon when you buy ANY THREE (3) baby wash, lotion, shampoo, diaper rash, oil or powder priced $4.99 or higher. When you combine this with three $1 off Babyganics coupons, it's a great deal. So, my transaction looked like this:

3 Babyganics Bubble Bath & Wash @6.99 each

$20.97 (pretax subtotal)

Use $5 off store coupon (the cashier had the booklet at the register so don't worry if you don't have the sales flyer)

Use 3 $1 off Babyganics coupon
$12.97 (pretax total) for all 3!

The sale is good through February 20, 2012.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekly Meal Planning

We have a tough schedule for the next few months and I am recommitting to preparing healthy meals for my family so we don't have to eat on the fly. My little one has started yelling "cheeseburger" every time we pass a Wendy's. That's a pretty good sign we've been eating there too much. I'm cooking everything today so I don't have to worry about cooking when I get home each day. Just heat and serve. Our menu for this week:

Beef Stew with Corn Sticks and green beans – I got the corn sticks recipe from In Pursuit of Flavor by Edna Lewis. I knew I was in trouble when I poured the milk into the cornmeal and flour. There was not enough liquid to really mix into a batter. The second hint that I was in trouble was when I looked at how many corn sticks the recipe was supposed to make. It said 18 but I got 11 and that was with really stretching the batter out. They're not bad but I will definitely halve the salt the next time I make them.

Puerto Rican Pork Roast with Rice Pilaf and broccoli – The Puerto Rican Pork Roast is one of my favorite recipes from Allrecipes.com. Quick, easy, and delicious. This was my first attempt at making the Rice Pilaf recipe from Mrs. Restino's Country Kitchen cookbook. The recipe is actually called Chicken Rice Pilaf but I left out the chicken since I already had a meat to go with it. It's pretty good but I think the recipe calls for too much tomato. The two cups I used seemed to have taken over the dish. That's all I can really taste. It's still pretty good though.

I'm also making some blueberry muffins so that I can have a portable breakfast and premaking oatmeal just in case my toddler wants some breakfast before we leave the house at the crack of dawn. Oatmeal tends to clump the colder it gets so I just add a little milk to the oatmeal to thin it out when I reheat it. I was grocery shopping at Ingles yesterday and was so tempted to buy their blueberry muffins but I didn't because I save so many calories and dollars by making them myself. I'm rounding this week's menu out by baking a batch of brownies.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Slow Couponing Week

I've mentioned previously that I've slowed way down on my couponing. I actually took some time last week to peruse the deals for the next two weeks and actually found some things that interest me and that I don't already have tons of - toothpaste, toothbrushes, and deodorant, I'm looking at you.

I went to Walgreen's this morning and got a box of South Beach meal bars ($5.99 with $6RR back) and then turned around and used that Register Reward on the a bottle of Abrexin ($10 with $10RR back). I don't like to wear out my welcome at my local stores by doing a zillion transactions back-to-back. So I'm hoping I can repeat that scenario tomorrow and then use the RR's to stock up on Huggies wipes next week.

I then went to Riteaid, whose sales have been a disappointment since last summer. I got a Tom's of Maine mouthwash ($3.99 with $3+up back), 2 Degree deodorants (2/$4 with $2+up back), and a 4-pack of GE Bulbs ($2.99 - $2 in ad coupon). I will do the Tom's of Maine one more time and then use all those +ups toward some Gillette Mach 3 cartridges for my husband. I checked out the pricing today and I doubt anyone will be rushing in there for this deal because all that Gillette stuff is pretty high. I pledged a while ago to only buy items that we need and/or will use, so although the out-of-pocket will still be high after the +ups are applied, I won't feel like I'm being wasteful when I buy it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Free 60-Day Membership to BJ's Wholesale club

I remember shopping at BJ's Wholesale club when they first opened one near our home. I think everyone in the area was mailed a complimentary 6-month membership offer. I'm not sure why I didn't renew it after it expired. It is much closer to me than Sam's Club but somehow, I find myself renewing that Sam's membership every year and driving past the BJ's Wholesale Club to go to Sam's. This seems much sillier when I actually write it down, especially with gas being so high. I didn't have any issues with BJ's and I think I've kept going to Sam's because that's where I've always shopped.

Well, it's a new year and so many things in my life are up for reevaluation, including where I shop for bulk items. So, I'm giving BJ's another shot and so can you. Just click here to print your free shopping pass. I've got a long list of things I need for our home so BJ's here I come!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

More Coupon Craziness

Yet another couponer who has taken it way too far.

Coupon junkie busted stealing precious newspapers
12:40 pm August 11, 2011, by George Mathis

"An Arkansas woman’s penny-pinching ways may cost her. “Extreme couponer” Jamie VanSicker, whose last name is not made up, failed to pay for more than 180 newspapers she grabbed from various racks, police say."

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

GNC Total Lean Transformation – Week 2

Day 8

Goodness gracious. The way my weight yo-yos is so annoying. I was back up to 153 this morning. It may be due to hormones since I’m ovulating. Who knows. I drank my first shake and took the AM Pak after my workout this morning instead of before. Breakfast was one of my concoctions. I had a leftover banana that was getting really mushy so I put it in a bowl, added 1/3 c. of old-fashioned oats, and then put ½ c. plain yogurt over that. I let it sit in the fridge overnight so the yogurt softened the oatmeal. When it’s ready to eat, I add about 20 drops of stevia and stir it all together mashing the bananas. I’ve also made this using cantaloupe and apples. On occasion, I’ll add wheat germ, ground flaxseed, and/or a tablespoon of raisins. It’s a quick, easy, yummy breakfast. Lunch was a homemade turkey burger on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, and a little mayo. Dinner was the last of my balsamic chicken with sweet potato, and broccoli. Snacks were a boiled egg, apple, and a second Lean shake. My workout today was the Firm Vol. 1.

Day 9
No weight change again today. I had a major case of the lazies this morning and could not get myself out of bed to exercise. Breakfast was 2 eggs scrambled with broccoli, spinach, onion, and tomato followed by the AM Pak. I was traveling for work today and was surprised that I did not get hungry in about 2 hours like I normally do. I drank my first Lean shake at around 11 am. My coworkers and I went to Panera Bread for lunch. I did my best and ended up getting the half Roast Beef sandwich with a cup of French onion soup and an apple. I love French onion soup mainly for the cheese. Luckily, they didn’t put a lot of cheese in it or else I would have been in trouble. I ate ¼ c. mixed nuts and an apple for my afternoon snack. I was supposed to work out when I got home but ended up cooking instead. I made a big pot of beef stew, brown rice, and Rachel Ray’s Mac and Cheese Dog Casserole. I think she is one of the most annoying people in the world but she has some pretty good recipes. I did not eat dinner or drink the second shake since I tasted my food while I was cooking.

Day 10
Arrgh! No weight change today either. Today should be the end of ovulation so I am trying to hang in there. GNC recommends that you follow the plan for 12 weeks. If I decide to do that, I don’t suspect that next week will be any better. The past 3 days have confirmed what I’ve suspected for some time now - that I only have a two-week window to lose weight every month. The week of my period and the week after. Once I start ovulating, I’m pretty much stuck at that weight and can expect to gain another pound or two until my period starts. Don’t get me started on the bloating and irritability. It’s very frustrating. I had another case of the lazies this morning but worked out in the gym at work. Since I woke up so late, I did not have time to fix breakfast. So breakfast was one of my no-nos, just a Lean shake and the AM Pak. Lunch was a turkey burger from the cafeteria. I did manage to throw a ½ cup grapes, ¼ cup nuts, and an apple into my lunch bag for snacks today.

Day 11
No weight change this morning. Usually by now, I would've thrown up my hands and given up but I am determined to finally get this weight off. Today, I went to Country’s BBQ for lunch with some of coworkers and in anticipation of the limited healthy options, I only had a Lean shake and the AM Pak for breakfast. At lunch, I got the Backfire Wings minus the sauce. When they arrived, I was relieved to see that they weren’t breaded.I didn’t drink the afternoon shake or take the PM Pak today. I just ate my usual snacks - grapes, nuts, apples and ate 1 cup beef stew with 1 cup broccoli for dinner.

Day 12
Finally some movement! I was down to 151.5 this morning. I am keeping my fingers crossed that my PMS won’t wreak havoc with my weight next week. I don’t plan to have any shakes today either. I think if I just cut out the shakes, I’d be in the calorie range I need to lose more weight. I had egg salad on an English muffin for breakfast with some coffee. Lunch was a flatbread pizza with grilled chicken, spinach, and mushrooms. Dinner was the same as yesterday. Snacks were nuts, an apple, and 1 c. watermelon. I’m hoping, I can stick to around 1300 calories for the next two days and see where it gets me.

Day 13 to 14
I tried my best to stay on plan over the weekend. I had another work event on Saturday and drank a chocolate Lean shake on the way there. The event lasted about 3 to 4 hours. I was able to ignore the cookies and donuts and ate fruit and nuts only. I also went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner and ended up getting the chicken wings with no sauce and the roasted spaghetti squash as a side. They have got to come up with a way to dress that squash up. It was seriously dry and bland. My final weight was 151. So, a measly 4 pounds lost over a two-week, mostly hungry period. Not impressed.

Monday, August 01, 2011

GNC Total Lean Transformation – Week 1

I don’t believe that diet supplements work but I need help. I have been struggling with my weight for far too long and I’m tired and desperate. I eat well most of the time but I lose weight so slowly that it’s hard to stay motivated. I’m almost 40 and I have a cruise coming up later this year. I refuse to go on my vacation feeling fat and unattractive. I also refuse to go into my 40s with this weight struggle.

After reading the reviews online, I decided to try GNC’s Lean Transformation system to help jumpstart my weight loss. My goal is to lose at least 7 pounds at the end of the two weeks. For about $50, it doesn’t come with much – 28 packets of GNC’s Lean Shake, 28 supplement packs – one for morning and one for evening, and a diet guide with a 14 day meal plan.

Lean Shake

There are 14 packets of chocolate and 14 packets of vanilla shake mix in the box. The shakes don’t taste bad but have a noticeable chalkiness to them. Oddly enough, the vanilla tastes better than the chocolate to me. I’m a little disappointed that each shake only had 9 grams of protein but GNC touts it as “filling”. They base this claim on the fact that it’s an oat-based shake so the higher fiber content will help you feel full longer. I think it’s well established that protein is more satisfying and thus keeps you fuller longer.

Supplements

The supplements are individually portioned in “AM” and “PM” paks. The morning pack has 5 supplements total, 2 GNC Burn 60 tablets, 2 CLA softgel capsules, and a small chromium tablet. The evening pack is a bit harder for me to swallow – literally. It has two large white tablets that they refer to as a “restoration blend” and 3 softgel CLA capsules. If nothing else, the sheer size of the pills means I’ll have to drink lots of water to wash them down.

Meal Plan

The meal plan is usually the sticking point with me on most diets and GNC’s Total Body Transformation System’s Meal Plan is no exception. It’s supposedly based on a 1500 calorie diet but, like most diets, there’s very little to it. There are a few days where the Lean shakes are given as options for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. No thanks. I also have a problem with so many days of lunch being in a wrap. If it’s a burrito or enchilada, I’m all over it, but I really don’t like sandwich wraps.

Since the AM Pak is listed with breakfast, the meal plan also seems to presuppose that you exercise after eating breakfast. Maybe most people do, but I don’t. I work out first thing in the morning and eat breakfast when I get to work. The Burn 60 description says “Burn 60 is a powerful thermogenic formula clinically proven to increase calorie burning by up to 60% for up to one hour after a workout.” I get to work about 90 minutes after I work out so this says to me that I should take the AM Pak before I work out or shortly after. There is also lots of variety in the meal plans which usually spells disaster for me. I much prefer to eat the same things for at least one or two meal a day. Too many options and I get overwhelmed. Despite my issues with the plan, I am happy to see that they’ve included a note that comparable substitutions can be made.

Week 1 Observations
Day 1
I started the day at 6 am with an AM Pak and a chocolate Lean shake followed by my workout, Firm Vol. 1. The meal plan doesn’t tell you what to mix the shake with but any shake mixed with just water is a no-no for me. I made mine with 4 oz. 1% milk and 4 oz. water. I had already mixed and matched some of their meals to suit my tastes so I prepared 2 eggs scrambled with 1 pat butter (the meal plan calls for “butter spread” but butter is a superior food to its artificial substitutes) broccoli, spinach, onion, pepper, and tomatoes to take with me for breakfast. I made a vanilla Lean shake for my afternoon snack and packed it in my lunch bag with baby carrots and an apple for my other snacks.

My plan for lunch was to get a turkey burger from the cafeteria. While driving into work, I realized I forgot to weigh myself to get a start weight. I ate breakfast when my stomach started grumbling around 9:00 a.m. I was starving again by 11:00 but since I already had my shake, there was no morning snack. I hung in there until noon and devoured my turkey burger. For some reason, I started feeling light-headed around 2:00. So, I drank the shake and munched on carrots and an apple for the rest of the afternoon.

I was hungry when I got home but not starving. I stopped at the grocery store to get more milk, ground turkey, and more fruits and veggies. I made dinner for the week when I got home. I baked a few chicken breasts and made Savory Balsamic Chicken with the rest. I also made my own turkey burgers so the cafeteria wouldn’t bleed my bank account over the next two weeks. Dinner was ½ cup brown rice, 1 c. steamed broccoli seasoned with Mrs. Dash, and ½ Balsamic Chicken Breast. I took the PM Pak right after and that was it for the day.

Day 2
Pretty much the same as day 1. I started the morning with AM Pak and a vanilla shake, ate the same breakfast and had one of my homemade turkey burgers on a whole wheat bun for lunch. The afternoons are a struggle but I try not to focus on how empty I feel. It’s bearable because I’m hungry but not starving. Drinking hot tea also helps. My toddler did not sleep well so I ended up working out when I got home after eating first - 2 Exercise TV workouts Paul Katami’s Total Band workout, and Marco Reed’s Circuit Training workout. I remembered to weigh myself today. Not pretty.

Day 3
I started the day with an AM Pak and a chocolate shake followed by my Firm Vol. 4 workout. I also had a different breakfast today. One of the meal plan breakfasts calls for ½ whole wheat English muffin with 1 tablespoon light butter spread and 2 hard-boiled eggs. I used the two boiled eggs to make an egg salad using 1 Tablespoon light mayo instead of butter spread. I also added a slice of tomato. I just spread the dry but still delicious egg salad on top of the English muffin half for a quick easy breakfast.

Lunch was a real test. I went out for a preplanned lunch with my coworkers. I think I did OK. I got a turkey sandwich with mustard, lettuce, tomato, and a cup of fresh fruit instead of chips. I only ate half the sandwich. The restaurant was nice enough to bring everyone a slice of cake on the house but I did not eat it. I didn’t really feel hungry today like I have the past two days so I hope that sandwich did not derail me. I know from history that when I actually feel satisfied, it’s pretty much assured that I’m not going to lose any weight. I may cut back on dinner depending on how I feel.

Day 4
I’m down to 153.5 (a pound and half from Day 2 weigh-in) this morning so I guess yesterday’s lunch wasn’t so bad after all. I woke up with a really stiff neck and ended up doing Yoga Zone Intro to Power Yoga instead of my scheduled cardio. The meal plan for today was the same as yesterday except I ate the 3 oz. of tuna salad (with light mayo) on a whole wheat bun option for lunch. I’m writing this at 2:00 and I’m starving. I’m afraid to drink my shake now because that is it until dinner. Ugh. I have a work function tonight that I’m going to have to get out of since it involves pizza.

Day 5
I decided to go to my work function last night but did not eat the pizza. Yay me! Down to 153 today. I was not as hungry today as I was earlier in the week. Maybe my body is adjusting to eating less.

Day 6 and 7
I’m combining these two days since it’s the weekend and I’m not really on a routine. I drank the two shakes and took the AM & PM paks at the usual times. Although, we were on the go most of the weekend, I managed to eat according to the plan. I did eat two of my mother-in-law’s awesome fried corn cakes for breakfast on Sunday though. The rest of the day I stuck to the meal plan. I was down to 152.5 today. That’s 2.5 pounds lost since Day 2. I don’t consider that the best progress but it’s better than nothing I guess.

So far, I’m not seeing anything remarkable about the GNC plan. I honestly think I could lose the same amount of weight in a week by just following any 1500 calorie meal plan. Then again, I have proven to myself over and over again that I just don’t lose weight quickly at 1500 calories. That’s more my maintenance calorie range than weight loss calorie range. I lose best in the 1200 to 1300 calorie range but I am just too hungry eating at those levels to stick with it.