The ultimate guide to couponing in the NW

I am posting this for my friends and family who want to learn how to coupon. It seems really intimidating at first but just hold on and stick with it. Most of all, you must be patient. Wait for sales, match them up with coupons and build your stockpile.
Article courtesy of Frugal living NW
Are you wondering what all this couponing business is about? Do you want to learn how to get the vast majority of your groceries and household items for FREE or nearly free? Then, you’re in the right place!
Frugal Living NW has set to create The Ultimate Guide to Couponing in the Northwest — everything you need to know to totally rock the grocery, drug and big box stores.

Most people believe that “couponing” is going to the same grocery store you always shop and use a manufacturer’s coupon on a name-brand, full priced item that you need to purchase for that week’s meals. According to this strategy, you’re not saving money. Generic at WinCo and Super Walmart will always be cheaper than buying that full-priced, name brand item with a manufacturer’s coupon.
But that is not how we shop. Instead, we use manufacturer’s coupons when, and only when, we can accomplish the goal of couponing:
To get the name brand for less than the generic equivalent at WinCo or Super Walmart.
How is this done? We combine that manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon, store promotion and/or rebate. We hold on to coupons, regardless of value and brand, until the “couponing stars” align and we can get the item for cheap, free or yes, even make money buying it. And then, when those stars do align, we stock up! That’s strategic shopping!
Here’s an example. Last spring, I was in the market for saltine crackers and had a $1/1 Nabisco crackers coupon to use. I went to WinCo to see what type of deal I could score.

The Nabisco Premium Crackers were priced at $2.71. After using my $1/1 coupon, I would have paid $1.71 out-of-pocket. But that would not have been a smart choice, because the WinCo generic brand was priced at $.98.

Generic wins again! What’s a couponing girl to do?
Well, this smart girl headed to her neighborhood Safeway. Right around the same time, Safeway had a Nabisco cracker promotion that made the Premium Saltines around $1 a box when you purchased four — right about the same price as WinCo generic. If I would have used the four $1/1 coupons at Safeway, I could have picked up 4 boxes for FREE (or made $2 if my cashier doubled all four coupons) and had enough crackers in my pantry to last until the next opportunity rolled around to score them for free.
I solemnly promise that this type of shopping does not need to become your new part time job, nor does your stockpile need to take over three of your home’s bedrooms (Extreme Couponing reference intended). You are in charge of how often you use coupons and how much time it takes.
If you give us 1-2 hours a week (including reading this blog!), we can help you drastically reduce the amount of money you are spending on your family’s groceries and household items. And most of the work involved can be done while watching your favorite TV show (or your kids are watching theirs!).

Where to find coupons:
Now that you’re ready to coupon, you need to actually get your hands on some. Most people know about the packs of manufacturer’s coupons inserted into Sunday newspapers, but did you know there are tons of other places to get them? Check out this video to find out where to find the best manufacturer’s coupons in the Northwest:
And don’t worry about writing everything down — here’s a list of where to find coupons:
In the Sunday paper — manufacturer’s coupon inserts:
SmartSource (SS)
Red Plum (RP)
Proctor & Gamble (P&G)
General Mills (GM)
On the internet — internet printable coupons:
Frugal Living NW Coupon Database
Coupon Network
eCoupons: Just 4 U eCoupons — load to your Safeway Club Card — load to your Fred Meyer Rewards Card and QFC Advantage Card — load to your Fred Meyer Rewards Card and QFC Advantage Card
In the store:
blinkie coupons
peelie coupons
tearpad coupons
hangtag/winetag coupons
Catalina coupons
Double coupons:
Safeway double coupons — Safeway always doubles up to 4 manufacturer’s coupons, up to $.50 each per transaction (Oregon & SW Washington only)
Albertsons double coupons — Albertsons periodically doubles up to 3 manufacturer’s coupons, up to $1 each per transaction
Thriftyway double coupons — Thriftway always doubles up to 4 manufacturer’s coupons, up to $.50 each per transaction.

Know your coupon:

In order to save big with coupons, you need to understand the general rules pertaining to coupons and exactly what information is contained on that piece of paper.
There are two types of coupons: manufacturer’s coupons and store coupons. You can tell the difference by looking in the box to the left of the expiration date.
Manufacturer’s coupons:

Are released by the manufacturer.
Can be used at any store that accepts manufacturer’s coupons unless the coupon specifically states “Use at ___ store ONLY.” The store will be reimbursed by the manufacturer even if the coupon states “Use at Safeway” or “Available at Walmart.” That is just a marketing ploy — Safeway and Walmart paid the manufacturer to include that verbiage on the coupon. This applies also to Catalina coupons. “Redeem at Fred Meyer” is a just a suggestion. Cat coupons can be redeemed at any store that accepts manufacturer’s coupons and the store will be reimbursed by the manufacturer. The issues will be if a particular chooses to accept these coupons, which they may not.
Are funded by the manufacturer. When you redeem a Glade manufacturer’s coupon at Target, for example, Glade will reimburse Target for the amount you saved. Target IS NOT losing out on that amount, the manufacturer is.
Are tender, meaning it is a form of payment, just like cash.
Store coupons:

Are released by a particular store or chain of stores and can only be redeemed at said store.
Can be used along with a manufacturer’s coupon (more on this later).
Are funded by the store, not a particular manufacturer. When you redeem a $10/$50 Safeway store coupon, Safeway takes the $10 hit.
You can only use one manufacturer’s coupon on each item. Think of a manufacturer’s coupon as a sticky note. Each product can only have one note attached to it. You cannot double up manufacturer’s coupons. Likewise, each coupon must “stick” to an item. A “$1/1 coupon” sticks to 1 item. A “$1/2 coupon” sticks to 2 items. A “$.60/3″ coupon sticks to 3 items.
Let’s say you purchase 4 boxes of Kellogg’s cereal. You may use a $1/1 Kellogg’s coupon and a $1/3 Kellogg’s coupon. No more.
Please note that a “peelie” coupon (a manufacturer’s coupon attached to an item in the store) is a manufacturer’s coupon and cannot be used in conjunction with, say, a Sunday insert manufacturer’s coupon.
This rule does not apply to store coupons. You can use a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon on one item (this is called stacking — we’ll cover it later).
You may use a manufacturer’s coupon only once. Once you redeem the coupon, the store keeps it and sends it to the manufacturer for reimbursement. You cannot use the coupon again on another transaction.
You cannot photocopy a manufacturer’s coupon, INCLUDING internet printable coupons. Each internet printable coupon, unless it is a PDF coupon, has a unique barcode. If you use a photocopied coupon, the store may not be reimbursed and you are stealing the money you did not pay. Copying coupons is illegal and beyond shady.
You must abide by the wording on the coupon, not necessarily the picture. Manufacturers usually picture the newest or most expensive product in the line to “encourage” you to buy that item. Read the coupon and ignore the picture — oftentimes the coupon will state “Save $1 on ANY package/variety/size.”
You can usually use a manufacturer’s coupon on a sale or clearance item, even if the coupon will make the item free. The only exception I’ve run encountered is when a grocery store hand-tags their clearance and the cashier punches in the clearance price under “general merchandise” and does not scan the item. In this case, the coupon will not go through since the corresponding item was not scanned.
You can use multiple manufacturer’s coupons in one transaction. As long as the number of items matches the number of manufacturer’s coupons and you’ve followed the rules above, you can use more than one coupon in each transaction, including duplicates. If you purchase 3 Colgate toothbrushes, you can use 3 Colgate toothbrush coupons.
Cashiers, and some couponers, get hung up on the “one coupon per item purchased” or “one coupon per purchase” wording on most manufacturer’s coupons. “Purchase” refers to item — you can only use one coupon per item. If the coupon states “one coupon per customer” or “one coupon per transaction,” then you can only use one of that particular coupon per transaction.

Coupon Lingo:
What do all those abbreviations mean? Here’s a list of terms and acronyms that come up in Northwest coupon deals:
blinkie – Manufacturer’s coupon found in the store, near the product, usually from a red blinking box
BOGO – “Buy One, Get One FREE”
Catalina (cat) — Coupon you get with your receipt at the register; usually triggered by a specific item that you purchased
double coupon – Store “coupon” that doubles manufacturer’s coupon value up to a certain value
DND – “Do not double”
FAR – “Free after rebate”
filler – Item purchased for the sole purpose of making a deal work
GM – General Mills Sunday coupon insert packet
hangtag — Manufacturer’s coupon hanging from the neck of a product in the store
IP – “Internet printable” coupon
loss leader — Item that a store puts on a fantastic sale, usually losing money on it, in hopes that while you’re in store buying the item you will buy the rest of your shopping list
NLA – “No longer available”
OOP – “Out of pocket”
overage – The amount of money made on buying an item (profit)
OYNO – “On your next order”; another term for Catalina
P&G — Proctor & Gamble Sunday coupon insert packet
peelie – Manufacturer’s coupon attached to an item that you can peel off & use immediately
rolling – Using a CAT or RR to pay for an item that produces a CAT or RR
raincheck — a piece of paper given to a customer from a store that serves as a commitment to sell an out-of-stock item when it is restocked at the advertised price
RP – Red Plum Sunday coupon insert packet
RR – Register Rewards (Walgreen’s catalina)
SCR — Single Check Rebate (Rite Aid’s rebate program)
SS – SmartSource Sunday insert packet
stacking – Using a store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon on one item
tearpad – Pad of manufacturer’s coupons next to an item in the store
U – Unilever Sunday coupon insert packet
WYB – “When you buy”
YMMV – “Your mileage may vary” (success of the attempt may vary at your store)

How to read a deal:
IMPORTANT: At first glance, this post looks confusing. Promise me that you will not freak out. Go slowly through each example. Refer to the Know Your Coupon Lingo post for more information on terms listed. If you get overwhelmed, stop reading it and come back to it later. You don’t have to “get it” all right now. Heck, it took me nine months to master this stuff.

Here’s the basic structure of a Frugal Living NW deal post:

How to find and use a Sunday paper manufacturer’s coupon:

How to read a deal that includes a Catalina:

How to read a Walgreens Register Reward‘s deal:

How to read a Rite Aid Single Check Rebate deal:

How to read a Rite Aid +UP Reward deal:

STACKING: Using a store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon on one item

Remember, you can only use one manufacturer’s coupon on each item, but you can use a manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon. In fact, at Safeway, you can use multiple store coupons on each item! Here’s an example of how we use stacking to our advantage at Fred Meyer:

Ricola Cough Drops (19-24 pk) on sale $.99 with weekly in ad coupon
Buy 2
Use $1/2 coupon from 1/16 SS insert
$.49 each after coupons when you buy 2

The “weekly ad coupon” is a Fred Meyer store coupon. Using both the FM store coupon and the $1/2 manufacturer’s coupon brings each bag of cough drops down to $.49.

Here’s an example of how you can use multiple store coupons and a manufacturer’s coupon on one item at Safeway:

Coffee Mate Creamer on sale $1.99 with weekly ad coupon
Use $1/1 printable coupon
Use Safeway double (-$.50)
$.49 after coupon & double

The “weekly ad coupon” and the “Safeway double” are both store coupons.

Places to find store coupons for each of the stores in the Pacific Northwest:

■weekly ads (released on Tuesdays in Oregon & Wednesdays in Washington)
■Sunday supplemental ads
■coupon booklets found in the store (released periodically)
■Catalina machine

■weekly ads (released on Tuesdays in Oregon & Wednesdays in Washington)
■Sunday supplemental ads
■coupon booklets found in the store (released periodically)
■Catalina machine

Fred Meyer
■weekly ads (released on Sundays)
■daily paper supplemental ads (released periodically)
■Catalina machine
■gold hangtag coupons placed next to the product
■coupon exchange basket in the front of the grocery front door
■Extra Savigns Booklet (available at the grocery front door or customer service desk)

■weekly ads (released on Sundays; ad coupons are “clipless” in Portland and just require the swipe of your Rewards Card)
■monthly coupon booklets (IVC — Instant Value Coupons) found at the front of the store
■ (the one’s marked “Walgreens” in green are store coupons)
■Diabetes & You booklet available in the pharmacy area

Rite Aid
■weekly ads (released on Sundays)
■coupon booklets found in the store (released periodically)
■Video Values coupons (watch an advertisement video and print a Rite Aid coupon)
■tearpads frequently found in the cosmetics display area
■peelies found on Rite Aid brand products

■weekly ads (released on Sundays)
■Sunday manufacturer’s coupon inserts
■Catalina machine

■Membership booklet (mailed to members)

Double Coupons:
DOUBLE COUPON: A store coupon that doubles the value of a manufacturer’s coupon

Double coupons are the primary way we are able to get free or almost free food and household items in the Pacific Northwest. You can only double a small amount of manufacturer’s coupons per transaction at any PNW store, so it is inevitable that you will be doing multiple transactions, especially if there is a fantastic deal running on something your family regularly uses.

When talking about double coupons, I’m always asked how many transactions someone needs to do. The answer: As many as you want and no more than that. It all depends on how much you want that item at that price, how much energy you have and, mostly for me, how much your children will cooperate (read more about how I make couponing work in my schedule).

Here are some strategies that I have used in the past to do multiple double coupon transactions:
■I sweetly as my cashier if I can do two transactions if there isn’t a line.
■I do one transaction, put the bag in my cart, grab another deal’s worth of items and hit the register again. I’m a wimp and usually go to a different cashier.
■I shop with my husband and we each do a transaction or two.
■I go out after the kids are in bed or on a Saturday and do a couple of transactions at a couple of stores. I may do this a couple of nights during the sale, especially if the deal is really good.
■I send my husband off to work with a ready-to-go transaction in a Ziploc baggie (shopping list, coupons, doubles, and exact cash — usually $.32) and he does a deal or two while he’s out. The “list” usually consists of 4 items, so it’s really not complicated or time-consuming. Plus, my husband is pretty sharp and can handle doing a deal on his own.
■I errand trade with a couponing friend — one babysits the kids while the other does a few deals and then we trade.
■I keep my coupon box/pouch with me at all times and stop by a store if I happen to be kid-less or my kids are especially agreeable at the time.

There are three stores that double manufacturer’s coupons in the Pacific Northwest: Safeway, Albertsons and Thriftway.

SAFEWAY: Safeway offers double coupons in Oregon and SW Washington only. They do not offer double coupons in Western or Eastern Washington or Idaho.

The Safeway double coupon is found in Safeway’s weekly ad that is released on Wednesdays. There are always extra ads in a display at the front of the one of the entrances and/or the customer service desk. The double is located at the bottom of one of the inside pages and looks like this:

This one piece of paper is what we refer to as a “Safeway double coupon.” Here are specifics about Safeway doubles:

:: You may double up to 4 manufacturer’s coupons per transaction with this double coupon.

:: You may only use 1 double coupon per transaction.

:: Each manufacturer’s coupon may be doubled up to $.50. For example:

■A $.35/1 coupon will be doubled to an additional $.35 off = $.70 off one item.
■A $.55/1 coupon will be doubled to an additional $.50 off = $1.05 off one item.

:: You many not double “FREE” coupons, which includes BOGO coupons.

:: You may not double “internet” coupons. Some stores and some cashiers will double internet printable coupons without hassle. Just depends on your store (all Safeway store managers have final discretion over coupon policy, so if he/she allows it, go for it!).

:: You may not “make money” using a double coupon. You can get an item for free. For example:

Colgate Toothpaste on sale $1
Use $.75/1 coupon
Use Safeway double (-$.25)
FREE after coupon & double

In this scenario, the cashier is supposed to double your coupon to an additional $.25 off, not $.50 off. Otherwise, you’d make $.25 “buying” the toothpaste. Again, some cashiers will allow overage.

:: You cannot manufacturer’s coupons that state “DO NOT DOUBLE.”

ALBERTSONS: Albertsons offers double coupons periodically to Oregon, Washington and Idaho, usually every other Sunday. The coupons are released in the Sunday newspaper or the weekly ad and look something like this:

To keep things spicy, sometimes they catch us off guard and release their doubles back-to-back or, say, Wednesday – Saturday. And sometimes they release them to select markets and not all three states.

Here are specifics about Albertsons double coupons:

:: Albertsons “doubles” are actually “Twice the Value” coupons, which means they will double a “DO NOT DOUBLE” manufacturer’s coupon. Oh, yes they will!

:: You can double one manufacturer’s coupon per double coupon (per square, which is different than Safeway’s doubles).

:: You may use up to 3 double coupons per transaction.

:: Each double coupon will double the value of a manufacturer’s coupon up to $1.

:: The double coupon is not valid on coupons valued at $1.01 or more.

:: You many not double “FREE” coupons, which includes BOGO coupons.

:: You may not “make money” using a double coupon. You can get an item for free. For example:

Colgate Toothpaste on sale $1
Use $.75/1 coupon
Use Albertsons double (-$.25)
FREE after coupon & double

:: Though not stated in the official coupon policy or on the actual coupon, it is customary for Albertsons to allow each customer 3 doubles transactions per shopping trip without treating you like a criminal.

THRIFWAY: Thriftway also double manufacturer’s coupons in Oregon for sure, not positive about Washington. Thriftway double coupons are located in the weekly ad and function similarly to Safeway double coupons.

Grocery store catalinas:
CATALINA: A coupon you get with your receipt at the register; usually triggered by a specific item that you purchased

This is when couponing in the Northwest gets fun. Catalinas, named after the company that manufacturers and maintains the machines, are the reason we score on groceries and household items. Catalinas print from the box-sized machine that sits either right next to the register (Safeway, Fred Meyer, Target, Walgreens) or on the counter right behind the cashier (Albertsons). WinCo and Walmart do not have Catalina machines.

There are three types of Catalina (cat) coupons:
1.An advertisement (Jiffy Lube, a website, etc.)
2.A manufacturer’s or a store coupon
3.A coupon worth a certain dollar amount off your next purchase — this is the one I will be discussing today


There are two types of Catalina promotions that run at grocery stores: manufacturer’s promotions and store promotions. This is not an official distinction; it’s just the way I have organized it in my brain as well as when I teach coupon classes.

STORE PROMOTIONS: This is a deal that works at a particular store and is always advertised in some capacity, usually in the weekly ad. Store promos typically run at Safeway and Albertsons, but not at Fred Meyer or QFC. Usually the promotion works like this:

Buy a certain dollar amount of a group of items (participating products) and a Catalina will print at the register. Less frequently, the Catalina will be when you buy a certain number of participating items (Albertsons runs these promotions every so often).

Specifics on store promotion cats:
■This Catalina will only print at the one store, not multiple stores.
■The promotion amount is before manufacturer’s coupons are scanned.
■You can usually roll the Catalina to the next Catalina transaction, which means that a cat will print even when you use a previous cat to pay for that transaction.
■The Catalina usually has a 2 week expiration.
■If your cat doesn’t print, customer service may be able to help you or you may have to contact the Catalina company directly.
■When you redeem your Catalina, the transaction total must be equal to or more than the value of the cat in order to use it (the store will not give you money when you redeem the cat).

Here’s a Safeway deal scenario that illustrates the specifics listed above (this example is from a previous promotion):

Buy $30 worth of participating products, Get $10 Catalina (coupon worth $10 off your next purchase).

Buy 7 bags of Goodlife Cat Food* on sale $4.49 each = $31.43
Use (7) $3/1 coupons (-$21)
Use 4 Safeway doubles (-$2)
Pay $8.43, Get $10 Catalina
FREE with $1.57 overage after coupons, doubles & cat

*Don’t get hung up on the cat food. There were hundreds of participating products available. The cat food scenario just makes the whole thing easier to understand.

Since the participating product’s total was over $30, the Catalina printed, regardless of what happened next. I used 7 manufacturer’s coupons and 4 Safeway doubles to lower my out-of-pocket (OOP) cost. I paid Safeway $8.43 and received a $10 Catalina, which expired in 2 weeks. At this point, I could use the $10 cat to buy something my family immediately needed (produce, meat, dairy, diapers) OR I could roll it to a second transaction:

Buy 7 more bags of cat food = $31.43
Buy $1.57+ worth of filler items = $1.57
Use (7) $3/1 coupons (-$21)
Use 4 Safeway doubles (-$2)
Pay $0+, Get $10 Catalina

At this point, I could roll the transaction as many times as I wanted. Want to know the best part? I still had a $10 Catalina after my last promotion transaction.

MANUFACTURER’S PROMOTIONS: This is a deal that works at several stores and is usually not advertised. Manufacturer’s promo cats print at Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyer and QFC. Usually the promotion works like this:

Buy a certain number of a specific product and a Catalina will print at the register. Less frequently, the Catalina promo will be when you buy a certain $ amount of participating products.

Specifics on manufacturer’s promo cats:
■This Catalina will print at multiple stores.
■This Catalina will always roll to the next Catalina transaction.
■The Catalina usually has a 2 week expiration.
■This promotion is occasionally tagged at the store, but they usually put the tag next to the most expensive type of the product.
■If your cat doesn’t print, customer service will not help you. In fact, they don’t even know that the promotion is running. DO NOT ask your store to deal with the problem. YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST contact the Catalina company directly.
■When you redeem your Catalina, the transaction total must be equal to or more than the value of the cat in order to use it (the store will not give you money when you redeem the cat).

The key to scoring on manufacturer’s cat promos is to wait until the perfect storm hits (all 3 “savings opportunities” happen at the same time):
1.a Catalina promotion
2.a store sale
3.a manufacturer’s coupon

Tips to a successful Catalina transaction:

:: Check your items to make sure they actually qualify for the promotion — double check brand, size, weight, variety, flavor. When a Catalina doesn’t print, it’s usually “user error” and you’ve purchased the incorrect item.

:: Look at the Catalina machine BEFORE the cashier starts your transaction and make sure you see a green light on the front (it’s small). This means the machine is ready to print.

If you see a red light, it means the machine is out of paper, the paper is jammed or the machine is not functioning properly and your cat will not print. If you see a red light, politely show it to your cashier and tell him/her that you are expecting a cat to print so will they please check the machine. If they can’t fix the problem, go to another register.

:: Do not shop on the first day of a store promotion. There are often glitches in the system when a big store promotion is first released. Wait a day or two for the Catalina company to fix the problems that come up.

:: If your cat doesn’t print, contact the Catalina company directly. Make sure you have your receipt with you. If you have purchased the correct items in the correct quantities, they will send you a Catalina in the mail, usually within a couple of days.

■Phone: 888.8COUPON and press #3
■Email: — make sure you include the store name & address, date & time of purchase, what you purchased, the transaction ID from your receipt and what Catalina you expected to get

Walgreens register rewards:
Catalinas at Walgreens are called Register Rewards. A Register Reward (RR) prints when you purchase either a certain dollar amount of product or group of participating products or a certain number of products and is good for a certain dollar amount off your next purchase.

Register Rewards print and function just like Grocery Store Catalinas, but, like everything Walgreens, is a bit… funkier.

:: These deals are usually promoted in the weekly ad, though sometimes they run for a longer period than indicated in the ad. For instance, sometimes a RR deal runs for an entire month, but is only advertised in one weekly ad. Even though a product is not tagged in the store, the RR will print.

:: You can use a manufacturer’s coupon on a RR deal to lower your out-of-pocket (OOP) cost. Example:

Colgate Toothpaste on sale $4.49
Buy 1, Get $4.49 Register Reward
Use $1/1 coupon
Pay $3.49, Get $4.49 RR
FREE with $1 overage after coupon & RR

Obviously, it’s not really “free” because you’re getting what amounts to a Walgreens gift card (with more restrictions) rather than cash. But we consider it “free” if you are using your Register Rewards strategically (more on this later).

:: Register Rewards do not roll to an identical RR deal. This is the big difference between Walgreens cats and grocery store cats. This means that, say, you use the Colgate RR to pay for your next Colgate RR deal — the RR will not print. The register will allow you to pay for the second transaction, but you won’t get another RR. Example:

Transaction #1:

Colgate Toothpaste on sale $4.49
Buy 1, Get $4.49 Register Reward
Buy 1
Use $1/1 coupon
Pay $3.49, Get $4.49 RR

Transaction #2:

Buy 1 Colgate
Use RR from transaction #1
Pay $0, but no RR prints

:: You can roll RRs from one RR deal to different RR deal — use the RR from transaction #1 to pay for another RR deal and the second RR will print. Example:

Transaction #1 is the same.

Transaction #2:

Gillette Fusion Razor on sale $9.99
Buy 1, Get $5 RR
Use $4/1 coupon from 12/26 P&G insert
Use $4.49 Catalina from transaction #1
Pay $1.50, Get $5 RR

Now, you can use the RR from transaction #2 to do a Colgate RR deal and the RR will print.

:: You must have as many items in your transaction as you have manufacturer’s coupons and a RR counts as a manufacturer’s coupon. Example of a transaction that will not go through:

Buy 2 Carefree Pantilines @ $1 each = $2
Use (2) $.50/1 coupons (-$1)
Use $1 RR (-$1)

Why won’t it work? You are attempting to use 3 manufacturer’s coupons (2 Carefree + 1 RR) and are purchasing only 2 items. Remember, manufacturer’s coupons must “stick” to an item in order for them to work. You need to add a filler item to this transaction so the RR can stick to something. Example of a transaction that will work:

Buy 2 Carefree Pantilines @ $1 each = $2
Buy 1 pencil on clearance = $.11
Use (2) $.50/1 coupons (-$1)
Use $1 RR (-$1)

Now the RR will “stick” to the pencil and the transaction can go through.

:: Register Rewards usually have a 2 week expiration, which means you have time to be strategic about how you use your RRs. Plan out how you are going to roll your RRs.
■Which scenario will yield the least amount spent out-of-pocket?
■What order should the scenarios go in?

The goal of any good Walgreen’s couponer is to spend as little out-of-pocket as possible, even if it means you “buy” some items you don’t use. Brittany has come up with a series of four Walgreens transactions to illustrate this point.

If your RR does not print, you could take it up with your Walgreens cashier or manager or contact the Catalina company directly.

REBATE: A return of a portion or the entire purchase price of a product.

Rebates. I have such a love-hate relationship with rebates. I love that the manufacturer is offering to give me some or all of my money back. I hate that I am responsible for making sure I get my money back. In fact, I am so bad at submitting rebates that I have almost altogether given up on using them. But most of you are probably much more responsible than me (or less distracted?), so using rebates can become a nice little income revenue stream for your family.

There are two types of rebates that couponers in the Northwest encounter: manufacturer’s rebates and Rite Aid rebates.

MANUFACTURER’S REBATES: These are rebates that are advertised and managed by the manufacturer. You purchase a certain product or group of products at a grocery, drug or big box store, then mail proof of your payment into the manufacturer (or the manufacturer’s representative) and you are mailed the promotion amount back in the form of a check or a pre-paid VISA or Mastercard.

Want to know the fun part of rebates? You can usually use a manufacturer’s coupon on the product, lowering your out-of-pocket cost, and still get the full rebate amount back from the manufacturer. Here’s an example that ran at Target:

Seventh Generation products on sale $2.99
Buy 3
Use (3) $1/1 manufacturer’s coupons
Use $1/1 Target coupon
Pay $4.97, Submit receipt for $5 Seventh Generation mail-in-rebate
FREE after coupons & rebate

Pretty sweet, right? Of course, it’s only truly “sweet” if you actually send in the main-in-rebate form along with all the required information (enter user error, which the manufacturers love — you buy the stuff thinking you’ll send in for the rebate, but forget. Money in the bank for the manufacturer!). Here are some suggestions to increase the chances of a successful rebate submission:

:: Print the rebate form the first time you encounter it. Manufacturers are notorious for pulling a rebate form before the rebate deadline comes. I can’t tell you how many times I get emails from readers who can no longer find the link or the site no longer exists. At this point, you’re up a creek, so to speak. Print that thing immediately.

:: Keep rebate forms in the same place in your house, preferably hidden from children looking for drawing paper. I suggest you keep rebate forms in your coupon organizing system or a special file with your other household management stuff.

:: Create a “rebate” envelope or slot in your coupon organizing system and keep all rebating receipts in it. Important receipts have a way of falling out of my wallet while the McDonald’s receipt from my impulsive iced mocha stop remains for weeks…

:: Complete the rebate form and mail it the moment you get home from the store. This is a no-brainer that I have yet to master. Then you’re not worrying about expiration dates, finding paperwork, or locating the product.

:: To be extra safe, don’t use the product until the envelope is in the mail, on the way to the manufacturer. You may discover once you start filling out the rebate form that you purchased the wrong products or sizes. If the products are still unused, you can return them.

RITE AID SINGLE CHECK REBATES: If you’re leery of manufacturer’s rebates but still want to make money buying stuff, then Rite Aid is your best bet! Rite Aid has a rebate program called Single Check Rebates.

Single Check Rebates (SCR) are rebates hosted and paid directly by Rite Aid. You don’t mail anything in and you’re not cutting UPC symbols off any boxes. All information is submitted and managed through Rite Aid’s website.

Every month Rite Aid releases a SCR booklet that is available in the front of your local store next to the weekly ads or you can view the offers online. The SCR site has an easy way for you to search for specific rebates if you’re looking for information:

You can use a manufacturer’s coupon on the product that will lower your out-of-pocket cost. Example:

Blink Tears on sale $7.99
Buy 1, Get $7.99 Single Check Rebate
Use $1/1 coupon
Pay $6.99, Get $7.99 rebate
FREE with $1 overage after coupon & rebate

This is a good example of why you would buy something that your family doesn’t use — so you can make some money! Just donate the item to an organization or a friend.

Here’s how you do a SCR deal at Rite Aid:

1. Buy the rebate item at Rite Aid. Keep your receipt. Remember, FLNW will always tell you how to do a rebate deal. No research needed!

2. Create a SCR account.

3. Once logged into your SCR account, enter the receipt information. Within a day or two, the rebate will show whether it was accepted or not (as long as you buy the correct stuff, it will be accepted).

4. Submit that month’s rebates at the end of the month. This is the important part: You can only “submit” your rebates one time each month. For example, if you hit the “submit” button on January 15, you cannot do any rebates that may come up for the rest of January. You will want to wait until the end of the month to submit.

5. Rite Aid will mail you one check that can be cashed at your bank or at Rite Aid for cash.

Some of Rite Aid’s rebate offers are a bit more complicated — buy more than one product, extended rebate periods, etc., but we will always explain these deals fully and give you very specific instructions on how to do the deal.

Rain Checks:
RAINCHECK: A piece of paper given to a customer from a store that serves as a commitment to sell an out-of-stock item when it is restocked at the advertised price.

Rainchecks are given by all grocery and drug stores in the Pacific Northwest. This is what a raincheck from Albertsons looks like:

Some things to keep in mind regarding rainchecks:

:: Note the expiration date, which varies by store.

:: Stores will not give you a raincheck on a sale item marked “while supplies last.” They may also refuse to give you a raincheck on an item that is not advertised in their weekly ad, even if it’s tagged as on sale on the shelf.

:: Keep rainchecks in your coupon organization system. I have an envelope/section in my box for each store and I keep the rainchecks there.

:: You don’t have to buy the quantity listed on the raincheck, but you cannot buy more. For instance, if the quantity listed is 10, you can buy 9 (or less), but you can’t buy 11.

:: You can use manufacturer’s coupons with rainchecks.

:: The cashier should be able to give you a raincheck at the checkstand. Be sure to have the ad with you to make his/her job easier. It’s also a good idea to keep the ad or cut out the advertsed portion and attach it to the raincheck in case there’s any questions or problems when you redeem it.

:: Be sure to tell your cashier BEFORE he/she starts the transaction that you have a raincheck. This comes straight from a Safeway cashier. If not, they may have to start the transaction over and they will not be happy.

:: You should be able to use a double coupon along with a manufacturer’s coupon and a raincheck.

:: You cannot get a raincheck on a Catalina promotion as stores consider Catalina promotions a “while supplies last” situation. You can, however, get a raincheck on a store sale item that triggers a Catalina. As long as you purchase the item(s) within the Catalina period, the Catalina will print.

Oftentimes, I get emails from readers who are super irritated that their store is cleaned out of a hot sale item. In most cases it’s actually reason to cheer! As an example, here’s how I scored 6 months worth of vegetables for FREE, all thanks to rainchecks:

A couple of years ago, Green Giant Vegetable Steamers hit the market. There was a $1/1 coupon released in addition to several fantastic store sales. Albertsons had the Steamers on sale for $1. Obviously, every couponer in Portland ran to their local Albertsons and stores were cleaned out within a couple of days.

On the last day of the sale, my husband and I both hit a couple of Albertsons, looking for the elusive Steamers. I had (4) $1/1 coupons in my hand. Because the stores were out and the sale was not a “while supplies last” sale, we asked for rainchecks. The cashier asked each of us what quantity we wanted listed on the raincheck. I could have said “4″ since that’s how many coupons I had. Instead, I asked for “20″ and my husband asked for “30.”

Since our rainchecks expired in 30 days, we just bought ourselves 30 days to get more coupons from ebay or a clipping service. We got (50) $1/1 coupons from ebay for around $5 shipped and spent the next 3 weeks stocking up on vegetables as a leisurely pace.

The moral of the story? Don’t get discouraged when your store is out of a hot sale item. It’s an opportunity to save even more with a raincheck (or several rainchecks!), especially if you have a lot of coupons. You get to fill your pantry (or freezer) and you’re not contributing to the frustrating “someone cleared the shelves” situation. Win-win for everyone.


Country Style Fried Cabbage

Paula HAS to be my biological mother. I don’t care what anyone says about her, her food is (usually) out of this world good.
Since cabbage is currently $0.38/lb… Here’s a great alternative recipe. I served this with dinner tonight and it was delicious. We did add the bacon as the bottom of the recipe suggests.

Country Style Fried Cabbage
By An unknown fan, handed to Paula at a book signing

1 small head green cabbage, shredded
6 slices bacon, cut into small chunks
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (I skipped this step to appeal to the little one’s)
Salt and pepper to taste


Wash cabbage. For shredding begin by cutting cabbage into quarters. Cut by making thin slices across the cut sides of the cabbage. Discard core and any tough ribs. Heat bacon in a non stick skillet or cast iron pan/dutch oven. Add cabbage and stir just until glistening. Lower heat and add pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste and continue cooking and turning until cabbage is just tender.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Notes from the Paula Deen Test Kitchen: A fast and delicious side dish to your St. Patrick’s Day cornbeef recipes. We also loved it with 4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled over the top before serving.

fried cabbage
Not my picture, but I forgot to take a picture of it and it looks like this when done.

Hasselback Potatoes

I’ve been looking at this recipe on Pinterest for a while, so I figured I would give it a shot. Totally worth it. I added crumbled bacon and shredded cheese.

Here’s the recipe:

This recipe, adapted from one served at Stockholm’s popular old Restaurant Hasselbacken, proves just how easy and delicious potatoes can be.

For best results, choose oblong potatoes of uniform size and trim if needed so they’ll lie flat without wobbling as you cut into them.

Prep: 15 minutes, Bake: 55 minutes.


■4 medium all-purpose potatoes
■1 Stick of butter
■1/2 teaspoon salt
■cooked, crumbled bacon
■Grated cheese (whatever kind tickles your fancy)

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Slice each potato at 1/8-inch intervals, cutting to within 1/4 inch of the bottom.
2. Arrange potatoes spoke-fashion in a greased (I used Pam) 13×9 baking dish. I prefer glass but I’m sure any will be fine.
3.Tuck a half of a slice of butter between each section.
4.Sprinkle with salt and pepper
5.Bake potatoes at 425° on middle oven rack for 30 minutes. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over potatoes, drizzle with remaining melted butter, and bake 20 more minutes.
6.Sprinkle cheese and bacon over potatoes, baste with butter in pan, and bake 5 more minutes or until potatoes are golden.

The result? These are awesome. Definitely making them again!


Product review! Omega Paw Roll ‘n Clean Litter Box

Omega Paw Roll ‘n Clean Litter Box


Petco says

Simple to use kitty litter box — just roll and it scoops for you!

Covered cat litter box is designed to offer privacy for your cats, while cutting down on litter dust

For use with clumping cat litter

Attractive and unique-looking litter box

First of all, I don’t know if I would use the term ‘attractive’ when referring to a cat litter box but OK…

This thing is a-w-e-s-o-m-e! I don’t have to scoop anymore, you roll it onto it’s side, give it a couple of whacks on the bottom (hehehe), roll it back into the original position, pull out the little drawer and dump it. That’s it! No touching icky things! Yaaaaaayyyy! I have actually bought two of these over the last few years and although the cost isn’t exactly awesome (last time it was $39) it is definitely worth it. Coming from someone who cleans 2 litter boxes a day, this is life changing. Instead of taking 10 minutes out of the end of my day and squatting, scooping and cussing, it takes 10 seconds. no squatting, no scooping and no cussing.

So, Thank you to whoever had this nifty little idea, you’re the bee’s knees 🙂

Ivar’s Clam Chowder Copycat


I have made this 3 times now and it is delicious every time, even with the substitutions I have made when I was out of something. Today, I substituted 1% milk for half and half because half and half is almost $5 a pint at both grocery stores close to me and SOOOO much cheaper at Costco and frankly, I did not want to go to Costco for one thing 🙂 I don’t pay $5 for 2 gallons of milk, come on…

On to the recipe:

This makes enough for about 6 people or 8+ if you’re serving small children. I have an almost teen age boy and a 7-year-old, plus my husband and I and we still have plenty of leftovers

2 (6 1/2 ounce) cans minced clams

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup finely diced celery

2 cups finely diced potatoes, I used red’s and left the peel on.

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup flour

4 cups half-and-half (or milk, see note above), warmed

2 teaspoons salt (to taste)

1 dash pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar


In a medium saucepan, drain the juice from the clams; set the clams aside.

Combine clam juice with the onions, celery and potatoes.

Add enough water to barely cover and simmer, covered, over medium heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt the butter.

Add flour and stir in to the butter.

Slowly whisk in the warm half-and-half.

Cook and whisk until smooth and thick, about 5 minutes

If you want a thinner chowder, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup water or clam juice.

Add the vegetables with their cooking liquid, clams, salt, pepper and sugar to the pan.

Stir well and adjust the seasonings if necessary.


Some history about Ivar’s, in case you are not from the Northwest and have no Idea who this Ivar fellow is.

Ivar’s is a seafood restaurant chain based in Seattle, Washington, with operations in the Puget Sound region and in Spokane, Washington.

Ivar’s was founded in 1938 by Seattle folk singer Ivar Haglund. Having built Seattle’s first aquarium on what is now Pier 54, he decided to add a companion fish and chips bar to feed his visitors. The bar was short-lived, however. On July 22, 1946, Haglund opened a new restaurant, Ivar’s Acres of Clams, at the same location. The aquarium closed ten years later, but the restaurant remains.

Ivar’s has two other full-service restaurants: Ivar’s Salmon House in Seattle’s Northlake neighborhood, and Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing in Mukilteo, Washington, next to the Washington State Ferries terminal. There is a fishbar outside of all three full-service restaurants. All its other locations are seafood bars. Ivar’s created the famous saying of “keep clam” that is posted all over each of the eateries.

Nard Jones remarked in 1972 that Haglund was “not afraid to reflect Puget Sound tradition in the decor of his restaurants, whereas others of his profession seem intent on making their patrons forget where they are.” In this respect, he singled out the Salmon House, “an almost exact replica of an old Indian longhouse.

Every Independence Day from 1964 until 2008, Ivar’s sponsored the Fourth of Jul-Ivar’s festival and fireworks show at Downtown Seattle’s Myrtle Edwards Park on Elliott Bay. Ivar’s estimated its attendance at around 300,000 people. On April 3, 2009, Ivar’s announced it was no longer sponsoring its Fourth of Jul-Ivar’s community fireworks show. Ivar’s decided to focus its efforts on feeding families in the Pacific Northwest through its partnership with Northwest Harvest.

Ivar’s also owns the Seattle-based burger restaurant chain Kidd Valley Hamburgers.

Adapted from Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of

The Best Beef Enchiladas Ever

Makes 8 servings

2 pounds ground beef

1/4 onion, finely chopped

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon taco seasoning

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 flour tortillas

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (4 ounce) cans liced black olives, drained

1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Cook and stir ground beef with onion in a skillet over medium heat until meat is crumbly and no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Drain grease. Stir 1 cup Cheddar cheese, sour cream, parsley, taco seasoning, oregano, and black pepper into the ground beef until cheese has melted. Mix in enchilada sauce, chili powder, garlic, and salt; bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer until meat sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Lay a tortilla onto a work surface and spoon about 1/4 cup of meat sauce down the center of the tortilla. Top meat sauce with 1 tablespoon black beans and a sprinkling of black olives. Roll the tortilla up, enclosing the filling, and lay seam-side down into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Spoon any remaining meat sauce over the enchiladas and scatter any remaining black beans and black olives over the top. Sprinkle tortillas with 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven until cheese topping is melted and enchiladas and sauce are bubbling, 20 to 22 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

No clip coupon organization- scratch that!

So, a while back, I thought I would try a new way to organize my thousands of coupons. I saw a blog post about “no clip coupon organization'” from a blog I follow regularly;  Fabulessly Frugal.

This was a GREAT idea for me as I spent hours upon hours every week clipping,  organizing and filing coupons. Not that it isn’t worth it, every hour I spend organizing is essentially money in my pocket. But, it wasn’t working for me and I’ll tell you why

1) I usually had no clue exactly what coupons I had, which left me saving less money and not building/replenishing my stockpile as much as I would have liked.

2) I spent about an hour a week just making the spreadsheet of what was in each insert, which I could have just added another hour or so to and I would have had everything sorted, clipped and filed anyway.

3) My memory sucks. Big time! When I saw a deal, I couldn’t remember if there was a coupon for it or not, what insert it could be in and what month to start looking for it in.

I needed a new method. So I asked a couple of fellow couponers what worked best for them and I decided to try the box method about a month ago and I am never going back! Finally! After 2 years of ‘”Extreme Couponing”, I finally have found the method that works best for me. WOOHOO!

I purchased a set of index dividers for non-food products and made another set for food. Why? Well, because I’m cheap. Those suckers are $6 a package! Yes, it would have paid off and yes, a lot of people would argue that it’s only $6 but, if I had the same mentality, I wouldn’t save as much as I do and that defeats my purpose.

Here is a picture of the super cool box method. Filed by product name. Way. Easier.











This was great! I was all organized and ready to file! Until……. I got a couple of weeks worth of coupons in and busted out of this box. SO! Plastic, not as cute shoebox sized tote to the rescue. Luckily, I have a stockpile of those also.


So now, when I see a deal on say, Dove. I flip to ‘D’ and there it is!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta- OMG it’s good!

I came across this recipe on Pinterest a couple of months ago and it caught my eye because my husband orders chicken bacon ranch pizza (on the rare occasion we actually order pizza). So, I thought I would give this a whirl. WHOA! Was I surprised! It was SO good, I’ve made it three times now. Last time I added mushrooms.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta! Super easy to make and ridiculously delicious! #pasta #chicken

Super easy to make and ridiculously delicious! Seriously….. ridiculous…


  • 10-12 oz penne pasta
  • 2 cups cooked and chopped chicken
  • 3/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream (milk would be fine, too)
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/3 cup ranch dressing I used Ken’s (because I got it for free using coupons, lol)
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Cook pasta according to its package’s directions. Drain. I always add a little olive oil after I drain it and stir in around so the pasta noodles don’t stick together or the pot.
  2. Toss in cooked and chopped chicken as well as cooked and crumbled bacon into the pasta.
  3. TO MAKE RANCH ALFREDO SAUCE: Melt butter in saucepan, add flour and stir to combine. Once you have your roux, add heavy cream (or milk) stir constantly until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in Garlic salt, onion powder and ranch dressing until well combined.
  4. Pour ranch alfredo over pasta, chicken and bacon. Stir to evenly combine.
  5. Add in shredded cheddar cheese and stir to combine.
  6. Pour into a casserole pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

Thanks, Chef in training!

Easiest Peanut Butter fudge

My husband is somewhat of a peanut butter fudge connoisseur and I was looking for a faster way to make him his favorite treat that still tasted awesome and I stumbled across this:

Easiest PB Fudge EVER 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup milk (I used half and half) 1 tsp. vanilla, 3/4 cup peanut butter. Bring sugar and milk to a boil. Boil two and a half minutes. Remove from heat and stir in PB and vanilla. I lined an 8×8 pan with parchment paper, poured it in and let it cool. That’s it!!

AND! It tastes awesome and it seriously took less than 5 minutes from start to finish.

Pinned Image

THE best chocolate chip cookies EVER! I’m not kidding!

The secret to the thick and chewy cookies is the combination of using melted butter, an extra egg yolk, and a higher ratio of brown sugar to white sugar.

Heed the instructions to remove the cookies from the oven as soon as the outsides are set but the centers are still puffy and soft. Doing so plays a large part in the resulting texture. Cooling the cookies on the baking sheets means they will continue to bake after being taken out of the oven, but without the circulating air of a cooling rack, they will retain their soft texture. I know for me it is often hard to take cookies out of the oven unless they look completely done, but have faith! You don’t want to overbake these in the oven!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


Yield: About 18 large cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 to 18 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (or any combination of chips white, semisweet, milk chocolate, peanut butter, etc…).


1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

4. Roll  1/4 cup of the dough into a ball ( I used my 1/4 cup measuring cup) spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets.

These oversized cookies are chewy and thick, like many of the chocolate chip cookies sold in gourmet shops and cookie stores. They rely on melted butter and an extra egg yolk to keep their texture soft. These cookies are best served warm from the oven but will retain their texture even when cooled. To ensure the proper texture, cool the cookies on the baking sheet.

(Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated)

Thanks, Brown Eyed Baker!

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