In the land of darkness

November 22, 2010

I have been sick. Horribly terribly wretchedly sick. And yes, I realize I am blowing it out of proportion. After all, it was a cold. A typical cold, here and developed and basically passed in a week’s time. But it feels like it has been quite a while since my last full cold and I as always forgot how much it SUCKS.

It started with a tickle in the throat on Sunday. I started taking my Zicam. I applauded myself on the fact that I had plenty of Zicam and cold meds and cough drops stocked up from my RiteAid trips. Monday I woke to the apartment covered in vomit and diarrhea from the dog’s stupid forage through the trash the night before. Awesome. I rented a steam cleaner and proceeded to clean carpets thoroughly twice in the next 24 hours. Tuesday I woke to go to work feeling slightly run-down, the cough starting, and my back on fire from my unwise decision to clean the carpets myself. A long night ensued, with frequent applications of Zicam and Ibuprofen. Wednesday night my back felt somewhat better, but the cold was starting to descend into my lungs. Halfway through the night my body decided it was really just quite done with this working thing. The cold ascended into my nose and sinuses, making life miserable and working frustrating. I cursed that i hadn’t brought any cold meds with me, just cough drops which I didn’t need. I helped with treatments and then collapsed in a heap in the break room with a blanket in between. The morning was excruciating to get through and the second reinforcements started to arrive I ran for home.

Thursday and Friday are a blur of chicken noodle soup, hot tea, Zicam, cold meds, kleenex, and my trusty heating pad. I spent much time in my recliner dazedly watching shows online. No talking on the phone, no internet browsing, no coupon organizition-ing, and happily the dog’s could sense my misery and allowed me to simply drag myself outside only twice a day to let them have potty breaks.

By Saturday I finally felt human again. I had traded days…working Saturday for a co-worker (she worked my Thursday night thank god). So it worked out ok, I didn’t have to call in sick on Thursday like I would have. Work on Saturday was fine, I kept up on Zicam but was surprised when my back lit on fire again. Apparently the rest of the last 2 days coupled with the Acetaminophen in the cold meds had hid that my back was still completely screwed up from that demented steam cleaner. So Ibuprofen joined the regimen again.

Tonight I don’t feel too bad. I’ve actually made real dinners the last couple of days. My back is still a mess, I will hopefully get into the chiropractor tomorrow and then I have a massage appointment on Tuesday. Wednesday I fly to Nebraska to visit family over the holiday so if I’m lucky my back will be recovered by then. Otherwise and even suckier flights than they already are. I have a lot to do before then, and I work tomorrow night which is a bummer. But at least I found a coworker to watch the creatures for me…….

I know you probably can barely believe it, but I did manage to get to Rite Aid before work on Saturday night. Prior to sickness laying me out, I had copied over a few  simple deals. It took just a bit of cutting coupons and I ran out to the nearest store. I wasn’t going to search all over town, do a million transactions to minimize leftover UPRs, or do anything complex, but there WERE a few really good moneymakers that I figured I should take advantage of. So here’s the score:

Total Paid: $2.07 ($1 SCR pending) so really $1.07
Regular price: $70.90
Savings: 97%

Ok, so this was a super-fast trip, but really great deals! It should have actually been a moneymaking trip but a couple of snafus occurred. The run-down:

(8) Gain dish soap – 0.89 ea
-(8) 1/1 coupons from 10/10 P&G
should have been 0.03 MM each but one of the 1/1 coupons wouldn’t scan so ended up as $0.80 OOP
(9) Herbal essences – $2.99 ea
-(9) 2/1 coupons from 10/31 P&G 
Get (9) $2 UPR
This one worked out perfectly except the poor cashier had to manually enter each $2/1 coupon! $0.73 MM each ($6.57 MM)
(2) Blistex – 2/$3
-(1) 0.55/1 coupon
-(1) 0.25/1 coupon
Get (2) $1 UPR
So it should have been pay $0.49 for 2 but I only received one UPR so it really was $1.49 for both. Ok price but I would have skipped it….
(1) Revlon lipstick @ 7.99 and (1) Revlon eyeshadow for $3.25 (50% off)
-$5/1 Revlon lipstick wellness coupon
Get $4 UPR
Get $1 SCR for eyeshadow
$3.30 (before SCR). This one also went perfectly. In the end it will be 2.30 or just 1.15 each which is awesome pricing.

Sooo all in all it should have been about a $1 MM. But  I had a $2 UPR that ended up bonking and not going through because there wasn’t enough pre-tax charges to account for it. So I lost that UPR entirely. Which basically put me at $1 cost for everything. Or 5 cents a piece! Which is still pretty darn good!!!

Of all of that, one of the Blistex, 2 of the Gain, and 5 of the Herbal Essence went to my stockpile. 2 of the Gain, the 2 Revlon products, and the other Blistex went to my gift pile. The other 4 Gain and 4 Herbal Essence went in the donation pile!

I have just tomorrow and Tuesday to do a run for this week as I will be out of town the rest of the time. I have a couple of deals copied over and will see if anything else develops tomorrow. I will probably go out Tuesday to take advantage a those few deals and maybe use some of those leftover UPRs towards candy for the plane trip! 😉

Take care and have a good holiday!

~Lissa

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So one of the big kicks I get out of couponing is seeing other’s reactions to my telling *cough* bragging to*cough* them about it. People are always amazed and/or shocked that such things are possible. And legal! lol I also love that I can have a pile of bags of food/items that I got for free or basically such to donate to a food bank/shelter. And it’s fun to have my best friend over to the Grocery Store of Melissa before I take those bags to the shelter so that she can go through and pick stuff out for her family. I just got back from a (surprisingly quick) trip to Albertson’s and had to call her to come over and take a shop through my doney pile because it was going to be completely out of hand! I plan on taking a load to the food bank tomorrow.

Remember how a couple of posts ago I was (again) saying how it looked pretty boring at Albertson’s this week? Yeah, I think I’m going to just stop saying those things. I wanted to go and get the California Pizza kitchen deal. And I had heard somewhere about a buy 10 brownies and get them for free situation. So I was going to do that. Then I figured I had enough coupons to get 20 brownies. Even better. Then I had to go to Albertson’s this morning to rent a steam cleaner (we won’t speak of why-stupid dogs). And there was a beautiful stack of the doubler coupons right there at customer service. So I took a few. Once back home, I decided that since I had these lovely doublers, I should see how to best take advantage of them. And holy cow, just look what happened next:

Baking insanity at Albertson's 11.15.10

Total Paid: $7.16 (no, that’s NOT a typo!!) And really it’s $4.16 because I have a $3 catalina leftover!
Regular price: $148.17
Savings: 95%!!!!!!

Have I said it before? I LOVE Albertson’s!

I did learn something new though. I knew that I could only use 3 doubler coupons per transaction. So I split this into 5 transactions. The cashier informed me that we are only supposed to use 9 doublers total during any visit. So next time, if I want to use more than that, I will need to do another visit a different day. She very kindly let me use them all this time. I really appreciate when the cashiers let me know if I’m not using something right, as my intention is never to get away with anything. And if I know how to do things correctly, I can be prepared properly and make everything go much more quickly.  For instance, despite this being a HUGE order with 5 separate transactions, the entire trip from time I arrived at the store to the time I was leaving the store was only about 20 minutes. I knew exactly what I was getting, had my transactions carefully spelled out and coupons divided and ordered. It was easy peasy!! Here’s what I got:

(6) bags Nestle choc. chips – 1.49 each
-(2) 1.25/3 coupons from 11/14 RP
(4) California Pizza Kitchen (single size) – $2.5o each
-(4) 1.50/1 printable coupons
(24) Betty Crocker traditional Brownie mix – $0.49 each
-(11) 1/2 coupons from Safeway Thanksgiving coupon books
(10) BC Cookie pouch mixes – $0.99 ea
-(5) 1/2 coupons from Safeway Thanksgiving coupon books
(5) BC cake mix – $0.49 each – and (5) BC frosting – $0.99 ea
-(5) 1/one of each coupons from Safeway Thanksgiving coupon books
(1) bunch asparagus -$1.11
(1) bunch celery – $0.89

+(15) doublers at $1 each

Basically the doublers made the 0.49 items $1 MM and the 0.99 items free. Mixing and matching through the transactions made each transaction come out to $0.80-$2.90 OOP. Plus I have a $3 catalina from the CPK and a $7 off wyb $50 catalina!

Yeah, so I do enjoy the Rite Aid deals. I just wish I didn’t have to drive ALL OVER TOWN to get the stuff on my list. And it’s not like I’m talking about finding 6 or 8 of something. All I can say is there must be a bunch of other avid Rite Aid couponers in my neighborhood because any given store is out of 3/4 of what I want to get. 4 stores later, I’ll usually have collected just about everything on the list. But the idea of this couponing adventure is not to spend hours cavorting around town, spending gas money and sanity searching through stores (and did I mention that every single one is arranged differently!) for a few items.

*sigh*. However, I do think the out of the way store fairly near me that I just discovered a couple of weeks ago (and for some reason always go to last) seems to be the most well stocked. They are usually not too busy and the staff is very friendly too. I think I will START there next week.  On the down side, not a SINGLE store that I went to carried the Nivea men’s body wash. Plenty of women’s Nivea body wash and about 7 other brands of men’s body wash, but they didn’t even CARRY the men’s Nivea. Sooooo frustrating since I had coupons enough to get 6 of them for free. Oh welll…

Here’s the (eventual) score:

Rite Aid 11.13.10

Total paid: $8.53
Regular price: $106.64
Savings: 92%

It may have be a slightly annoying couple of days……but you can’t beat a 92% savings on over $100 of product!!!!

Despite my carefuly planning, several things changed along the way. The Nivea was a no-go, as stated above. Also, I had planned on getting a bunch of Hall’s cough drops since they would have ended up free but the site I was looking at had them listed at $1.00 each and really they were $1.50. So I put those back, I have plenty of Hall’s and Ricola that I got recently for free, no need to pay 50c each! I couldn’t find any of the holiday Glade candle items at any of the stores, so I adjusted my plan on that and just got 2 others for a slightly higher price than the 6 I was planning to get. (my coupon was only for the holiday ones, so I used a different coupon). And we had some snafu’s with UPRs printing, but the stores very simply and handily resolved that for me. Yay Rite Aid!

(2) Crest – $2.99
-(2) 1/1 P&G coupon
Get (2) $2.99 UPR
=$1.45 MM
(interestingly enough, I bought these in the same transaction and had no problems with both UPRs printing. After reading some of the comments of other shoppers on various blogs and with the issues I had earlier in the day, I was frankly surprised that of all of my items, this one had no issues.)

(2) Oral B toothbrush – $2.99
-(2) 1/1 flu book coupon
Get (2) 2.99 UPR
= $1.45 MM!
Ok, so the first 2 stores I went to did not have any Crest, but they did have the Oral B toothbrush. So I got one at each store. Both times the UPR failed to print even though I had the correct item. The first time, the store manager just refunded the $2.99 UPR onto my credit card. The second time, that store manager wrote me a “raincheck” for the $2.99 UPR, which the 3rd Rite Aid took and pushed through as a manually entered coupon without any problem.

Garnier get $5 UPR wyb $15: I did 2 transactions

(1) blow-dry perfector – $12.99
(1) mousse – $3
-(1) 1/1 Garnier VV
-(2) 1/1 Garnier style manu
-(1) 5/1 blow-dry VV
Get $5 UPR
=$4.51

(5) Garnier mousse/conditioner – $3 each
-(5) 1/1 Garnier style manu
Get $5 UPR
=$6.43

Maybelline eye studio – $4.01 (@ 40% off)
-(1) 2/1 Maybelline eye manu
-(1) 2/1 Maybelline VV
= $0.39!

(2) Sundown vitamins – $3.49 BOGO
-(1) 3/2 Sundown printable
-(1) 1/1 Sundown VV
= $0.18 MM!

(2) Glade oil candle refills – 2/$5
-(1) 1.50/2 printable
Get $1 UPR
=$2.98 (1.49ea)

I also got a birthday card, some Skittles for 25cents, 2 more Reach floss for free, a Hormel dinner for free, a bag of Halloween KitKat for $1, and 4 cute Halloween decorations for 25cents each (90%off!).  I am EXTREMELY happy about the outcome of this trip, not only for the awesome savings, but that everything that I bought to be donated was a moneymaker, and everything else was stuff I needed to stock up on for awesome prices, AND I didn’t get any big extra stuff to throw off my whole thing!! In fact, the only extras at all were the Halloween candy/decorations and the b-day card. If I hadn’t bought those, my OOP would have been: $3.86. But the bday card was perfect and needed and the Halloween stuff was extremely negligible price-wise.

So yay!!! Into the donation pile goes:

(1) Oral-B toothbrush, (2) Sundown vitamins, (2) Reach floss

I love couponing. It is my ultimate dream combination of love of shopping, love of food, and love of frugality. Right now I am a bit obsessive-compulsive with it which will probably fade somewhat with time. This is the point where I am still figuring out the rules, refining my approach, becoming more efficient, and learning exactly HOW I want to coupon.

I have always liked to stockpile food as I love the freedom of being able to have most anything I want to make for dinner at any given moment without needing to take a trip to the store. I have also found how NICE a buffer this is when my income dips for a short period of time. Now I just have bigger stockpiles. Freezing milk is awesome, FYI, especially if like me you only use milk for cooking/baking and don’t go through it very fast. I can buy a gallon of milk 1/2 off because it expires in 2 days, split it in 4 and freeze it and then just thaw it as I need it, resulting in very cheap milk that doesn’t get wasted nearly as much.

I would love to take further advantage of produce, frozen foods, and meat deals but I need to have a little chest freezer to store it in. I’ve toyed with this idea for a couple of years, but I think with the start of all this aggressive couponing, it may finally be time to actually do it. I’ll keep my eye on craigslist as I can’t even dream of paying new prices…..unless there is a really good sale at an outlet store for something energy star rated! 🙂

Anyhoo, I have decided to continue shopping at Rite Aid primarily for now. Just as I don’t need to go to every single grocery store (I concentrate just on Albertson’s and Safeway and will likely be mostly fazing out Safeway because of their new obnoxious couponing program that will be out soon), I don’t need to go to all of the drug stores. Rite Aid often has better deals since they have the VV and SCR deals that can be stacked with store coupons and manufacturer coupons. Plus, I find their system with the UPRs less confusing the Walgreen’s RRs and item/coupon number limits which result in having to buy fillers just to use your RRs. Anything that makes me buy something just to use a coupon I EARNED I find annoying and counterproductive. However, I will continue to do quick scans of the Walgreen’s deals each week in order to catch any really great moneymakers that come around. I will just make sure to not have leftovers RRs so I don’t need to return withinany kind of preset timeframe.

So. This week. Grocery stores SEEM pretty boring, but I said that last week and ended up taking trips to both of them. It’s only Friday so I’m not counting anything out yet. There is a good deal at Albertson’s: California Pizza Kitchen, buy 4 @ $2.50ea, use (4) 1.50/1 manu coupons, get a $3 catalina = $1 for 4 or $0.25each!! I was able to get my hands on 4 coupons so far, so I will be taking advantage of this deal at least.

Safeway has 2L Sierra Mist on sale (4) for $0.99ea, use (4) $1/1 from the Thanksgiving coupon book = free (0.04MM)! So I will stop in quick like to get at least 4, hopefully 8 of those.

The great thing about the food deals vs. the drugstore items is that food has no sales tax. So “free” deals really are FREE! Whereas other household items that are “free” after coupon actually have tax that is calculated before coupons…..and if it’s a high value item, the tax can be fairly significant, especially if I want to do multiples of the deal. I have starting making sure I calculate the tax beforehand so that I don’t get too out of control.

I’ve put together an awesome deal list for Rite Aid this week. Garnier was on sale FINALLY! I desperately needed to stock up, had to buy another brand of mousse that was not on a good sale last week because I had run completely out. 😐  Also, Glade scented oil candle and scented oil refills were on sale, so I wanted to stock up further on those. All the rest of the items were free or moneymakers, a lot of which I plan to donate.

I took a trip today, but there were out of about half of the items. I will stop by another Rite Aid or two tomorrow to try and complete my list. I sooo wish the Rite Aid’s around here would stock for the sales better! I will post my pic and list after I have done all the trips……but I stuck just to what I was looking for, found a new coupon for Maybelline that will let me get some more cheap makeup, and the prices I paid stayed right were they should have! Yay!

Next week before I leave for Thanksgiving I need to take a trip to the food bank. I have lots of dressing, cereal, fruit snacks, cold medicine, cough drops, and dental hygiene items to donate! 🙂

~Lissa

Albertson’s is my friend

November 9, 2010

So I wasn’t going to go to the grocery stores this week, remember? But then I acquired 2 copies of the Sunday paper inserts that have the Albertson’s doubler coupons in them. AndI figured I would see if there were any deals that would be good enough with the doublers to make it worth my while to stop in for a quick shop. And oh boy, did I!

Albertson's 11.9.10

Total Paid: $6.39
Regular price: $43.76
Savings: 85%

How is that for awesome????

(3) Sweet Moments: 1.99
– (3) 1/1 printables (doubled
(2) Scented oil candles refills + (1) scented oil candle holder: 1.99 ea
-(1) 3/3
(4) veggies: 0.39 ea
(2) Mento’s gum: 0.99 ea
-(2) 1/1 (doubled)
(2) President’s Brie cheese: 5.99 BOGO
-(2) 1/1
=$6.39 for alllllllll!!

Albertson’s is awesome. Enough said.

Winter is coming….boo!

November 7, 2010

It’s getting cold and rainy out, steadily and surely more and more. So sad. It’s weird that my moving into my new apartment coincided almost perfectly with the end of the true summer weather. The thought that I will be waiting MONTHS to take advantage of this excellent beach-close location is depressing.

Halloween was fun for the most part. I went with Dave & Ash to a houseparty at her boss’s house on Saturday. And I remembered how much I don’t like parties. Especially ones where I don’t know anyone. And I can’t hear anything anyone is saying. And I didn’t bring my own car and am therefore held hostage by the momma of toddler who can party ALL NIGHT. 😐 On Sunday (actual Halloweed) I worked a few hours for a co-worker, then met up with Jess from work and we hung out at her friend’s bar. It was a good time…..nearly free food and great drinks, getting all dressed up (I was Heidi again this year), the bar was pretty quiet so it was no stress like the night before had been.

The business is coming along. I got another new client this week, a cat with a feeding tube. The owners and the cat are just so nice, perfect clients. It’s just a one-week gig, but they are plastering the town with good word of mouth so that’s wonderful. I think it will filter through slowly and the business with pick up, which I am fine with the gradual build.

Yes, and I went shopping. I know I was a little reserved about the drug store thing. But it went so well last week and there were such great deals around this week that I threw myself into it. I did a trip to Rite Aid and to Walgreen’s earlier this week with fairly good results. I didn’t have a great deal of the coupons though so a lot of deals were skipped. And as the week went on, more and more deals kept coming to light. I ended up breaking down and buying some inserts off of e-bay. They were bought specifically for high-value coupons they contained that would create moneymakers and thereby instantly pay off the cost of buying the entire inserts. And I’m certain to get many more coupons used out of them so I’m ok with it. But I think that makes me officially a super-couponer!!

The grocery stores were pretty bleh this week. I am stocked well at home so I didn’t take any trips except a quick one to Safeway to take advantage of a cereal promo:

Safeway 11.6.10

Total: $22.16
Reg Price: $49.87
Coupons: $7.70
Savings off reg: 56%

So when you glance at it, it doesn’t look so great, numbers-wise. But here’s the list:
(5) Cheerios
(3) Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Final price: $0.75 each!
(2) Chicken Broth on sale 50% off (1.50ea)
-0.75/2
Final price: $$1.13 each!
10 lbs of potatoes = $0.99!
The big money outlays really came from the Seasonal coffee that I bought ($7.49 after $1 coup) and the bottle of wine (4.99 but I have a $3 MIR!)

A lot of this will be donated. My main reason for doing this deal was to get some cereal at a good price. The other deals were somewhat incidental and because these deals hinged on in-ad coupons (cereal) and you have to have a $10 min. purchase and I had 2 separate transactions requiring $10min I found other useful items with good savings.

Into the donation pile: 
3 Cinnamon toast crunch, 2 Cheerios, potatoes.
OOP cost: $4.74

After I received my newly purchased inserts and acquired some from neighbors I started looking through the deals again and the comments from other shoppers. I put together shopping lists for a second trip to Walgreen’s and Rite Aid. (I know,I know!!) The Walgreen’s was pretty easy but sooo many things were out of stock or only had one of things. I ended up going to 4 Rite Aid stores through the day. 2 on my way home in the morning and then 2 on my way home in the evening. I didn’t really go out of my way though and they were quick stops. I ended up finding everything except for one item that one shopper had found on clearance. I am very happy with how these deals turned out, I just wish you could coupon off tax!!!

Walgreen's 11.6.10

Total paid: $16.26 (of which $7.08 was tax)

 Ok, so this was a BIG shop. Luckily the cashier was very nice! This was done in 5 (FIVE!) transactions, though most of them were pretty simple.  I’m not exactly sure what happened as all the items I bought with coupons were pretty straightforward free & moneymakers The other items were supposed to be fillers for the moneymakers so that I could roll the RRs. Here’s what I got:

(8) Bags Ricola cough drops = free! + 0.75tax
(8) NyQuil Sinex = $12 MM – $3.80 tax = $8.20
(1) Zarbee’s = free! + $0.57 tax

And then apparently I lost my min with the fillers. Essentially I needed $12 in fillers from the NyQuil MM. Of course, this $12 was split between a few different transactions. 2 items that I definitely needed to get was bread and milk. Here’s what happened.

(12) Reese’s pumpkins – supposed to be 75% off (0.13ea) but was charged 0.18ea? = $2.16
1 Halloween costume – 50% off (9.99)
1 gallon milk – $1.99
1 loaf WW bread – $2.49
(2) glade candles BOGO – $3.79 ($1.90ea- not awesome)

So one of my undoings and completely unnecessary purchases was the candles. I had totally screwed up the deal in my head and had been going to get 3 candles with 3 coupons to equal about $1 each. But it was NOT the right way to use the coupons and there I was at checkout thrown for a loop. It worked out ok, I’m just annoyed that I ended up with so much OOP. Ah well….

Into the donation pile:
(6) NyQuil Sinex, (8) Ricola drops, (1) Zarbee’s = cost of $4.17 (all tax!)

Rite Aid 11.6.10

Total paid: $5.09 ($3.19 of tax) + $3 UPR leftover = $2.09

Like I said above, this shop was VERY well planned in advance. However a couple of complications occured: 1. I had to go to 4 stores to acquire everything on the list as much was out of stock by this point. 2.I forgot that you can’t use coupons against tax. Here’s the breakdown:

(4) Splenda w/ fiber packets – $2.99
-(4) $2/1 coupons
-Get (4) $1 UPR
= 0.04 moneymaker!

(6) Secret (travel-sized) 1.29
(6) Olay Body Bars (BOGO50% off) 3.49 
-(6) $5/1 Olay when you buy any Secret
The kicker to this particular deal is that I didn’t get (5) of the $5 coupons until later in the dayand I didn’t know if they would arrive at all so I did the first transaction with just one secret & one Olay. Which was still fine because it was less then $5. And then I did the other 5 sets at once, which meant 3 Olay at reg price and 2 Olay at 1/2 off. Also, I guess the cashier is supposed to adjust the coupon price down as it creates an overage but neither cashier did so. Which meant this deal had subtotal of $25.28 – $30 in coupons to create a $4.72 moneymaker! (tax was $2.40 so = $2.31 MM!)

(6) Reach floss – 0.99
-(2) 1/1 printables
So here’s the thing on the floss. I was initially going to buy 4 (I had 4 coupons). I bought the 4 along with the Secret/Olay transaction….but when the cashier didn’t adjust those coupons….it ended up that the floss was essentially a filler. And he couldn’t scan the coupons for them. Sooooo I got them for free, just not as I was expecting. I had one more store to stop by so I figured if they had any floss left, I’d pick up another 4 and use the coupons like i had planned to get them for free. The last store only had 2 floss left though, so I ended up with 6 total for Free!

(2) Colgate Total BOGO $2.79
-(2) 1/1 from insert
-(1) 1/1 VV
=$0.21 moneymaker! (0.27tax = cost of 0.06)

So as you can see, all of my items were moneymakers basically. Because of this, I wasn’t able to use any of my Splenda UPRs so I have (3) $1 UPRs for next time. This was a somewhat obnoxious yet fun treasure-hunting trip!

Into the donation pile:
(3) Splenda, (3) Secret, (6) Olay, (6) floss, (2) Colgate
Total: $1.90 tax

The list for Riteaid next week looks pretty promising. Walgreen’s was pretty spare so I won’t plan a trip there, but I’ll keep my eye on any deals that pop up through the week. We’ll see what the grocery stores have going!