How to Save on Your Farmers Market Purchases

How to Save on Your Farmers Market Purchases

How to Save on Your Farmers Market Purchases

Farmer’s markets are a great way to get local in season produce at a great price, if you keep a few tips in mind.

Also, look for a Farmers Market in your area on the Thrifty Michigan Map!

So, how do you take advantage of the finds at the farmer’s market?

~ Walk the whole market first.

~ Take a look and see where other people are making their purchases

~ Take a notebook with you. Make notes about the products as you walk. What is the quality of the produce? What are the prices like?

~ Know what’s on sale at the store and what the price is. There are benefits to buying at the farmer’s market, but if price needs to be your main concern, make sure you know where your price points are at.

~ Don’t wait to long to arrive if you want pretty selections. The best selection is in the morning. Many vendors pick right before coming to market.

~ Go later in the day if you want to haggle. Many vendors want to sell as much as possible so they don’t have to take it back home and risk it spoiling before they can sell it. (Thanks Wendy!)

~ If you are cooking or canning the produce instead of serving it on a tray for guests, ask for seconds at a reduced price. You can often save this way and once it’s cooked or canned any oddities are harder to spot. (Thanks Holly!)

~ Make your own selection whenever possible. Avoid letting the vendor just grab whatever is near them.

~ Try something new and use sites like SupercookRecipe Matcher and Cooks to find new recipes to try.

If you are on public assistance of any sort, make sure you take advantage of these bonuses:

~ Bridge Card recipients can “double up” at farmer’s markets (doesn’t begin until 7/1/13 in Michigan this year). One time per day you can visit a specified booth at the market. They will swipe your card for an amount you specify up to $20 and give twice that amount in tokens to spend at the market. Find a participating market.

~ You do not have to use all of your double up tokens in one visit. You are allowed to hold on to them to purchase in bulk at a later time. Though it’s suggested that you use them by 10/31/12 as they will roll to 2013 ONLY if the program gets renewed.

~ WIC recipients should ask about the “Project Fresh” vouchers. For each household member that qualifies for WIC, you can receive one booklet of (15) $2 vouchers ($30 per person) to use on fresh produce at participating vendors at farmer’s markets. The maximum number of books per family is now capped at 2 for 2013.

~ Market Fresh is the same program as Project Fresh, but for seniors. These vouchers are usually handed out at service and senior centers and are limited in number.

What other tips do you have for How to Save on Your Farmers Market Purchases?


Ten Tips for Making Meals in a Hotel

Tips for Making Meals in a Hotel

I had a great conversation with a lady a few years back that was amazed when I mentioned packing our own food for a hotel. We were talking about spring break plans and I told her about a nice price I found on a place we had been wanting to go. I then mentioned that we were packing most of our own food for the trip. We got into a discussion about the types of things I prepare and how we keep it healthy.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that travel plans require eating out. I want to let you know that is not a requirement! The amount of eating out you do is a direct result of your desire and effort.

We take several small vacations a year. Part of what makes it more affordable is packing our own food. We will spend some money on snacks and a meal or two out over the course of vacation. Here are ten tips that will help you plan, pack and save.

Here are Ten Tips for Making Meals in a Hotel

1 – Know your amenities. Call the hotel if your online reservation isn’t clear. Know if you have a mini fridge, microwave and coffee pot (or more depending on the hotel). This will help you better plan your packing.

2 – Know what’s included. If your hotel has a free breakfast, you can skip taking all that with you. Take advantage of the included goodies. Find out if they serve coffee all day as many do and avoid a Starbucks run by grabbing a cup before you go out.

3 – Prep before you go. This is one of the few places where I make a meal plan. I pre-prep as much as possible and put together freezer meals/bags of what we want to eat. Most everything can be seasoned ahead to avoid having to pack seasonings that take up space.

4 – Freeze what you can. Avoid taking up space in your cooler with ice by freezing as much of the food as possible for travel.

5 - Boxed or canned are your friends. You don’t have to worry about keeping things cold when you travel and many of these items are easy to prepare or warm in a microwave.

6 – Grocery shop when you get there. For some things. Skip things like gallons of milk that take up a lot of cooler space without a large savings return. Chances are you will maximize space and savings even if you end up paying $0.50 more of a gallon.

7 – Don’t forget the plates. And other tableware. We’ve done it both ways – disposable and washable – but it depends on how much room we have in our room. When it’s a small room we take disposables so that we aren’t using up counter space we don’t have.

8 - Travel with appliances. A slow cooker, panini press/counter top grill or electric skillet could be your best savings tool. They fit well on the small counters in a hotel room and are easy to use. (PS – Don’t forget the dish soap!)

9 – Keep it simple. Elaborate meals are harder to prepare on the go and don’t always travel well. Think soups, sandwiches, easy microwavable things and easy to assemble. Some of our favorites for travel are chili in the slow cooker, nachos (chips, taco meat, cheese and pre-cut veggies), pulled pork BBQ, paninis and breakfast for dinner.

10 – Use it. Sounds simple enough and if you plan right it’s not hard to do, but it’s very easy to slip into “well, we are out and about and there’s a restaurant right here”. Depending on how long you are on vacation it’s easy to waste even more money by eating out and having to throw out food you brought that went bad because you didn’t eat it.

How do you manage food in a hotel?


How to Save Ink Printing Your Coupons

How to Save Ink Printing Your Coupons
Want to know how to save ink printing your coupons? You can save a lot of money when printing coupons with just a few simple steps. Start by ordering your ink online for less. You typically do much better online than in store, but as always, check your in store price as well.

Most stores allow you to print your coupons in black & white. There are so many other security features on coupons that having them in color is not that big of a deal anymore, that means that purchasing the more expensive color ink is not necessary for printing coupons in most cases. Make sure your store does allow it first!

Once you know you are in the clear to print them without color, here’s how you get them to print properly:

On a PC, Start at the start menu (sorry Mac users, I don’t know the exact process, but you should be able to figure it out). My printers are found under the “Settings” menu.

Click on printers to open up the printer window. Then, locate the printer you want to change the settings for. If you right click on it, you will see another menu.

Most printers will show you the option for “Printing Preferences” at this point. Some of them, you will need to go into “Properties” first.

Click on “Printer Preferences” to open up this new window: (It will be different based on the type of printer you have, but with a little looking you should find something similar.) My printer has a “Quick Print” option, other printers will call it “Draft” or “Print in Draft”. Select it for it to print a lower quality, but still readable coupon.

Finally, look around for the print in “Black and White” or “Grayscale” feature to eliminate printing in color.

Now you know how to save ink printing your coupons.

Now it’s time to get those coupons. Print them from major internet printable sites right here on Deals in the Mitten!
Coupon Network
Red Plum
Smart Source

Questions? Just ask, if I’ve never used your type of printer, maybe another reader has and can help!


How to Roll Gift Card Deals at Target

How to Roll Gift Card Deals at Target
Here’s your guide on How to Roll Gift Card Deals at Target.

Target often offers “Gift Card With Purchase” on everything from Home Items to Groceries. These offers are sometimes available for several weeks, but most often only last 7 days.

Typically the bigger the item, the larger the gift card offered. Some large electronics purchases have offered up to a $50 gift card.

The most common gift card offer we see is the $5.00 offer. Buy X number of products and get a $5.00 Target Gift Card Free.

You CAN use coupons to purchase the items and still receive the gift card. You CAN still use both a manufacturer coupon AND a Target coupon on the items if available and applicable.

If you have purchased the correct items and quantity, the register will automatically alert the cashier to add the $5.00 gift card to the order. In fact, the register stops allowing items to be scanned until the cashier completes the action. The $5.00 gift card will ring up as $0.00, but be activated immediately for use with a $5.00 balance.

Pay for your order total and the gift card is yours.

How to Roll Gift Card Deals at Target

Plan your trips.

Plan to make several small transactions.

Each gift card earning purchase should be a separate transaction.

Pay for your first transaction, use the gift card you receive to pay for the second, you will still qualify for any gift card you are supposed to earn, continue to repeat with separate transactions.

If you end up having under $5.00 to pay with your gift card, the remaining balance will still be there for future use.

You can plan to use remaining gift card balances on other non gift card earning purchases so you don’t forget you have them, or just take them home with you for later use.

You can also use the gift cards you earn in store to pay for online purchases at!

Now you know How to Roll Gift Card Deals at Target


Do-It-Yourself Reusable Dryer Sheets

About a year and a half ago, I was looking for a way to get rid of our store bought dryer sheets for something free of chemicals and something that creates less waste and this is what I found!  While I do not make my own fabric softener, the Sunny Day Fabric Softner – 32 oz – Liquid that I purchased when I started isn’t gone yet! ^Heather

What You Need:
*Natural Fabric Softener – I purchased Sunny Day Fabric Softner – 32 oz – Liquid for about $10 (it costs $9.38 shipped right now).  This bottle should last me two years.
*Flannel Fabric – I purchased flannel baby blankets from a garage sale for $.25 each.
*Pinking Shears – These are expensive and if you won’t use them on a regular basis, just borrow them.  That’s what I did – thanks, Grandma!
*Empty baby wipes container – If you don’t have any, ask a friend with a baby to save one for you.  Most likely, they have plenty!

What You Need to Do:
*Cut the flannel into strips.  Use the pinking shears so the edges don’t fray.
*Put the flannel strips into the baby wipes container.  Fill it to the top but don’t overfill.  If you fill it so full that you have to smoosh it down, the fabric softener may not soak in to all of the sheets.
*Mix 1/4 cup of the fabric softener with 3/4 cup of warm/hot water.  I have an old measuring cup specifically for making these so I pour the fabric softener in first and then add the warm water until it reaches the 1 cup line.  I use a plastic fork to mix.
*Pour the fabric softener/water mix over the flannel sheets and give it an hour or two to soak in.

Using the Sheets:
Throw them in with your wet clothes just like you normally do!  When you get to the bottom of the dryer sheets, you may notice that the sheets aren’t very wet.  That’s fine – it still have the fabric softener on it and will work just fine.  If you live in a dry area (like Michigan in the winter), you may need to use more than one dryer sheet.  I’ve always had to do this in the winter with my regular dryer sheets so this really is no different for me.

The hardest part is cutting the strips of flannel but you only have to do that once!

Please remember as you check out these deals that prices and freebies can change in a moment’s notice. These are checked as posted for prices, but in five minutes they could be different.