Monday, January 17, 2011


We decided that with the pantry challenge, we'd start trying to cut back on grocery runs.  So far, it's been three weeks since I've decided to cut back on going to the store, and it's working.  YAY!

I just felt as though I had to give kudos to the man upstairs.  I've been praying for help to be a better steward of what I have, and also the ability to make what I have stretch so that we can free up resources for other things (like art and music lessons for the children, classic books, etc.).  When I went to my local grocer the other night, I told myself that I'd spend $20 & no more--I'd get 2 gallons of milk ($6), the grapefruit that was on sale for $3 for 8 lbs, and any staples that were on sale with the other $11.

When I walked into the store, my eye quickly noticed the employee with the price sticker gun.  I walked up to her and asked, "Are you doing markdowns right now?" When she replied she was, my impulsive little mouth said, "Oh, good.  Can I follow you?"  She didn't care!  So, I was able to get loaves of ciabatta  for $0.50 from the gourmet section of the bakery, a 10oz bag of cheddar cheese curds for $2 (which was cheaper than the 8 oz bricks at the time), lunch meat for $1&change / pkg, and milk for $1.50 gallon!  Yes, these things had to be used within the week (or frozen) but I was there to shop for the week's groceries, so I was OK with that.  There were a few other things I grabbed (including my grapefruit), but after all, I spent $19.70.  Whew!  I came home with so many bags that my husband wondered if I'd actually stuck to my goal of $20.  But I did!  And I have to say that I really believe that each little thing we try to do to make family life better is blessed by the Lord.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Monday:  Spaghetti squash with a chunky veggie sauce.  I'm just planning on throwing together some bell pepper, spinach, onion & tomato and letting that simmer.

Tuesday: Roasted Potatoes (didn't have them last week, we ate Ricotta/Spinach Gnocci instead), broccoli.

Wednesday:  Stir fry with rice.

Thursday: An experiment--cubed butternut squash with black beans and cumin in the crock pot. Cauliflower.

Friday:  Wheat berry, black bean chili.

Saturday is a farmer's market day, so we'll see what we end up with and eat whatever vegetable is most fragile.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Turning Glowsticks Into Toys

Do any of you have just one room in your house that is totally dark?  Like a bathroom right in the middle with no windows?  We do!!  So, when a local craft store was clearing out their glow sticks 15/$1, I stocked up.  Often, we just use them as bracelets & necklaces and act goofy in the dark.  But this time, I turned the pink ones into star-topped wands and the blue ones became swords!  Sometimes a little cardboard, tape and imagination is all you need for a good time.

Twisted Potato Pancakes

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Turkey

Oh, my, yum!  My twist on potato pancakes really worked well.  At least, for us!  I'm going to share it here, mainly so I remember what I did, and we can have it again.

3 medium sweet potatoes, shredded
1 onion, shredded (I did both the onion & potato in the food processor)
scant 1/3 C ground flax seed
scant 1/2 C whole wheat flour (I think, if you are gluten intolerant, you could swap this with rice flour with no problems)
3 eggs
1 C diced turkey (optional)
salt & pepper

Stir all ingredients together.  This will be a stiffer batter than other potato pancakes, it's almost a dough, as you have to form the patties with your hands and flatten them.  Anyhow, form patties, about 3 inches across, 2 cm or so thick, and fry in canola oil on medium heat until golden brown. 

I served mine with an herbed stuffing (from a box, yeah, I know), and topped them all with cranberry sauce.  I'm sure whatever style of cranberry sauce you are used to will work just fine.  I personally like the canned whole berry sauce.  I've tried making my own, but for some reason, I think that fresh cranberries (even if you buy them fresh and cook them yourself) taste like bandaids.  I don't know why.  If I'm doing something wrong, I'd love to know, but I keep following all of these wonderful recipes hoping to find one that I love, and I always end up with that bandaid aftertaste.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Any Runners Out There?

I don't really know who is reading these posts yet...I mean, I keep tabs on where you're located, but since there haven't been a lot of comments, I don't think I can tag you effectively.  So, if you decide to do this little survey, let me know in the comments and I'll pop over to your blog.

In my dreams, I ...have incredible self-control.  I fuel myself proactively before running, and then push myself through slumps, and am able to feel the running rush EVERY TIME. 

My favorite book is...Hmmm, I don't know.  I suppose the ones I turn to most often are the Tightwad Gazette--because it inspires me, and any of Tosca Reno's Eating Clean books because she inspires me, too.

My favorite movie is... I love Meryl Streep, so pretty much anything she's been in.

My breakthrough was... The day that I ran 6 miles in an evening on my treadmill, and I didn't die.  I did it to see if I could, it was 8 at night, and kids were asleep already.  When I mentioned it to a friend (already a runner), she asked why I didn't push myself to do a half-marathon instead of the upcoming 10K.  So I did.

My favorite run is... a run where I find myself deep in thought, not realizing that I've flown through my circut, and that my body has performed amazingly on it's own, from memory of training.  It's only happened a few times, but it left me feeling amazing, and it's why I keep going.

My favorite season to run is...Autumn, it's the perfect weather, the ground isn't mushy (like spring), and the leaves are beautiful.

My favorite distance is...5K--Maybe 10K because it's something I can do each day and feel as though I've accomplished something that most of the general populace isn't.  That running it regularly makes me feel successful.  Of course, after the 15K, I felt awesome as well.  I didn't feel physically awesome after the half-marathon, but mentally I was excited I'd done it.

My favorite race is
... I don't know.

I started running because of... I needed something I could do for me.  I joined a walking group when I had my second baby, and after everyone had delivered, they started running.  I didn't realize it had been a running group before all the ladies became pregnant (I was new to the area), and they'd just decided to walk together until delivery.  I then figured that if they could do it, so could I.

My reason to keep running is...I like it.  I like saying that I'm a runner.  Usually people are shocked because I don't look like a runner.  I suppose if I had some of that self-control from my dreams (see above) I might.  Maybe someday...

I knew I was a runner for life when... I finished a race, looking for the sign up for the next one, even though I was exhausted.  But still, does that mean for life?  Not so sure.  I do know it'll be for a long time.

I am most scared of... getting hurt and not being able to run.  I often look at older, sedentary people, and I wonder how they got there.  I wonder what caused them to stop moving, stop going after things.  I fear that, I want to keep going.

My main goal as a runner is... to know I could jump up and run three miles at any time if I had to or wanted to.  Any distance beyond that makes me happy, but isn't necessary.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January's Goals--Pantry included

Well, it's been a week...and I'm doing so-so.

Our meal planning (and sticking to it!) has been going fabulously.  Sticking to my meal plans has been the hardest part for me...I don't mind writing them.  This is helping me to put what needs to be eaten first, rather than just what I want and then letting the healthier, more fragile stuff, go to waste. 

My husband helped me peel, slice, freeze, dry, powder, juice & refrigerate 50 pounds of carrots.  I threw some powdered carrot (dry them, grind in blender) into the egg foo yung on Sunday--YUM! 

I'm looking at my menu plan and thinking that I need to take out the roasted potato day (Thursday), and make the recipe of Ricotta/spinach gnocchi that I have, since I already have the ricotta and spinach, and I believe that those two things will go bad faster than the potatoes and onions.  I'll post that recipe on Thursday when I make it.

As for the pantry challenge, I'm excited to dig through the freezer and see what I have to eat.  I used many pantry staples in my cooking last week, and we are still blessed to have more on hand.

Menu Plan Monday

I must say I learned an important lesson today.  Menu plans are great...even if you don't stick to them.  What do I mean?  Here's what happened:
Our church starts at 2 pm & goes til 5, which is fine, but I thought I'd be amazing and get some soup into the crockpot so that as soon as I got home I'd have dinner to throw into bowls.  I was feeling super good about myself as I diced tomatoes, onions, and bell pepper, threw in some beans...mmmmm.  Then I sat down and read through my favorite "use up the veggies in the fridge" cookbooks, because Saturday was farm co-op day, and I find that if I use a lot of the produce at the first half of the week we do better overall at eating well.  If I try to save it for later, and stretch it, I find we reach for less than healthy things and then things go bad.  Odd, but true.  At least for us.  Anyhow, meals planned, dinner in crock-pot...done.  I felt pretty triumphant. 

Then I came home.  The soup wasn't really cooked'd been simmering, but it needed more time to be perfect (onions not quite translucent yet, peppers still a bit firm in the middle), and I just didn't want to take it out of the crock-pot and boil it.  So, in a flash, I moved Tuesday's meal to today, today's to tomorrow, and tomorrow's to Tuesday.  Problem fixed, and I didn't have to think for more than 5 seconds.  Score!

Anyhow, here's our menu plan.

Monday:  Soup (see above).  Make bread during the day?  Hmmm, perhaps, if it's cold out.
Tuesday:  Twisted potato pancakes (using sweet potatoes instead of regular, adding diced turkey & serving with cranberry sauce over the top instead of traditional apple sauce) & a side salad.
Wednesday: Left over soup (t'was a large pot), salad.
Thursday: Roasted potatoes, zucchini, bell pepper & onion.
Friday: Promised the kids we'd try a different meal from a different country each week.  They chose the Middle East first, so I'm going to attempt to cook lamb (never done it) and make tabbouleh. 
Saturday: Left overs.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Yeah, I know those of you who know me personally are thinking, "Coffee?   That girl prefers steamed milk or hot cocoa!" But, this is a link-up, and I'm participating...and sitting down with some hot milk.

So, awhile back, I posted a thought by my husband.  He had it while flying to a business destination, and I've been thinking about it.  I thought a little about Christmas, and how my children complained that we had taken down the decorations.  "Why don't we celebrate that way all year?" they asked.

I gave my answer to them some thought, and my mind came back to my husband's writings.  If we kept the glitter and glitz up all year long, it wouldn't be exciting, or special anymore.  And there are other holidays to celebrate with vigor and excitement, such as Easter, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc.  Each of them have a fun side (seeing family, decorating) and a thoughtful, worshipful side (yes, even the 4th!  Think of how blessed we are to live in this nation.  That holiday makes me cry each year as we sing our national anthem and put our hands over our hearts during parades as the flag passes by...might be because both of my parents are veterans, but either way I hope my children feel the same).

Another thing that crossed my mind was my facebook account.  Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy seeing the photos of old friends' children, seeing how they grow, learning about who married who from my hometown, and seeing what is new--especially since we've moved so many times and otherwise I'd lose track of people.  There are so many great people I've met at each location, those who I really want to keep in touch with, and facebook does save me time in that area, as I can write short notes to them frequently and get photo updates.  However, what of the people I used to talk to on the phone frequently?  Has our relationship disintegrated?

There have also been times that I waited for a reply to an email from a NEIGHBOR to see if it was OK for me to stop by.  Prior to having an account, I would have stopped by anyway, then if it was a bad time, excused myself and returned at another time.  We had more interaction then, but now I worry about interfering in her life (yet I'd be excited if she--or any other--stopped by, so why don't I realize they might be excited, too, rather than worrying that I'd be a bother?) 

So, as usual, my thinking gives me more questions than answers.  However, I feel it was worth pondering, and I might have taught myself a thing or two.  What about you?  Do you long for how your relationships used to be?  Before technology?  Or has it made your life better?  And yes, I see the irony in this post being written electronically.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

January Pantry Challenge!

Sometimes the items in the pantry need to be rotated.  I find it's best to go through them once every 6 months or so, to make sure nothing is going to go bad, and then, as I plan meals that use up pantry items, I can restock the shelves with the basics again.  I stock my shelves a little differently than my friends do, and due to their curiosity about my methods, I wrote an entire post about it here.

I'll be participating in Life As Mom's pantry challenge this month, just to give myself some accountability--plus, it's a lot of fun to see what others keep in their pantry and how they make due with it!  Here's my meal plan for this week--and I plan on posting any other projects that I decide need to be done this month as well!

Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup

1 Tbsp butter or oil

½ tsp fennel seeds (whole)

1 apple, peeled, cored and diced*

1½ lbs carrots (about 9 medium), sliced

½ lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 Tbsp brown or white rice

¼ tsp turmeric

5½ cups vegetable or chicken stock

Salt to taste

In a large pot heat butter. Toast fennel seeds until aromatic--about 2-3 minutes. Add apple, carrots, and sweet potato. Sauté for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add rice, turmeric, and stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until rice and vegetables are tender--about 20 minutes. Puree vegetables in a blender (with a little of the stock) or with a hand mixer (like a Braun). Stir puréed vegetables into broth. Season to taste. Enjoy!

*You can also substitute with about 1 cup applesauce; add just before puréeing soup.

We eat this with fresh bread.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Resolution Part 2

I don't have many resolutions this year, because in the past I've made huge lists and then let them slide, becoming completely overwhelmed.  So, since my main goal is to find simple ways to improve my (and my family's) life, I was ecstatic when I learned about Home Sanctuary!  Each month, Miss Rachel puts up a tally sheet, with prizes.  Then each day she posts a challenge that is small but effective at making your home a better place (above and beyond usual and customary upkeep).

My resolution is to take part in the Small Things challenge for all of January, see how it goes (if it makes a difference here) and if I find it makes things better, to continue the practice.  I'm sure that giving myself a resolution for just one month can't be that bad, now can it?

Perhaps you can join me!!  Here's her Tally sheet from January 2010, as I haven't seen one for 2011 yet.  Go ahead and start, just use the old sheet...cross off the 2010 if it bothers you. 

Here's the link to the post with the 2011 January Tally Sheet, though if you already started, I'm sure it's no problem!

Time For a Resolution!

Over the holidays, I found that our parties, treats, and whimsical eating style just wasn't working well when it came to helping me keep to our goals.  One of those goals is lowering the grocery budget so that we can pay down student debt faster.  Another is eating more healthful foods.  We're lucky in that we have a great system going here where we pay $15 every other week for a large basketful of food from the farmer's market.  Our last haul included  fresh ginger and a bag of limes, which allowed us to make some wonderful, homemade ginger-ale!  However, two tomatoes went bad, as well as a whole pound of chicken.  I felt horrible, like I was throwing money in the trash can.  I was!!

So, here's our first-ever written out menu plan (I used to plan in my head, but head is getting used on many other things now that we are fully homeschooling the 2 older ones, and doing preschool things with the youngest).

Also, it's Tidy Up the Pantry month over at $5 Dinners (have I mentioned yet that I was one of her new cookbook winners?!?!?), and I know that if I am to actually use what is in my pantry, I have to plan ahead.  Why?  Because I stock things that require actual preparation such as wheat berries (must be soaked, or ground, or both before using in a recipe), beans, lentils, pasta, yogurt starter, quinoa, millet, dates, raisins, frozen vegetables, and frozen meats.  Needless to say, I'd better have a plan, or there won't be much cleaning going on at all.   So, here we go!  My first online meal plan (ahead of time).  If you followed us over at Regression, you know that I've posted meals after I've made them, but I'm trying to turn a new leaf.

We're going to use up the rye bread 1st.  We'll make an onion & cheese pudding/strata for lunch. I'm making this one from Cooking Light, but using spinach instead of chard, leaving out the tofu, rye instead of french bread and using real eggs...oh, and cheddar instead of fontina.  Basically, I'm changing the whole recipe. We'll eat that mid-day, and then have dinner later that night of steaks (bought with the $3 Off meat coupons from Target) & a bunch of steamed vegetables.

Tuesday:  Curried lentils and potatoes.  With spinach & rice.

Wednesday: Carrot/sweet potato soup with apples (dried from the pantry, chopped & reconstituted) and fennel seed.

Thursday: Quinoa & black beans

Friday:  Left Overs; buffet style.

Saturday:  Roast a turkey & make a holiday-style dinner (we didn't for Christmas, we were having too much fun playing board games and so made some quick bean tacos).

Sunday:  Depends on what is leftover from Saturday.  We plan on freezing a lot of the leftover turkey, but also plan on sharing some with friends, because eating with friends is better than eating alone.  :) We will also be making homemade stock, so I might make soup...who knows!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


This post was originally published on my blog Regression in March of 2010.

My friend, Nadine, had a wonderful post asking folks what their weekly grocery budget (per person) was and where they shopped most. Sadly, I couldn't honestly answer her survey because only one choice was available on what grocery store to shop at (and I shop ALL OVER!) and I had to take an average of my grocery bill for the past year in order to answer the other question, because I don't limit myself weekly. So, I decided, since I'm obviously so complex, it calls for a post. Me? Complex? Muah, ha, ha!

Luckily, I have Quicken, so I was able to answer her question quickly (ha, Quicken makes you quicker!), as I've been a Quicken devotee since we had our 4th wedding anniversary. I used to just use an excel spreadsheet, but as I started figuring in the value of our home verses our payments, trying to figure out how much we could afford as down payment on another place, paying off student loans...well, it became more complicated, and my time on excel kept increasing. We started having children at the same time, so I wanted to spend LESS time on the budget. Being able to download my purchases and payments makes it all takes so much less time, AND every single purchase is labeled as to where it was and what it was and what it cost. Am I OCD? I dunno. But it sure is nice to know where the money is going.

So, onto the grocery part. I count any purchase at a grocery store as grocery if I bought groceries (to make my life easier) but if I only went in for soap, or TP, then I put it under "Personal Care" So, my grocery budget only includes PART of my toiletries. Also, I use the rolling of Extra Bucks at CVS to cover many of my family's toiletry needs, so there is less $$ going to that. A great post on that is HERE.

As for food, here is the break down over the past year. My average grocery spending is $360.89/month. Which is about $90/week, or $18 per person. But, keep in mind that included in this total is my food storage. About 600 lbs of wheat, 100 lbs of beans, 50 lbs of oats, 6 more bottles of canola oil, 4 jars (beyond what is in the kitchen) of coconut oil, and many other canned fruits/veggies, and meat in the freezer. There are months that I spend almost $600 in one month, and there are those where I spend about $150. After realizing that I don't want to move much of my food storage anywhere, our grocery budget over the next little while will be low, but that's OK, I'll just set aside the money I would have spent and use it to bulk up my food storage again after we arrive to where ever.

Now, I see grocery shopping as more of setting up a place for culinary experiments and being well supplied than making a menu plan and getting what I need. I do make a list of healthy things that I know are either 1) in season or 2) will store well, and then I shop for the cheapest of those things and THEN come home and plan meals around what I found.

My first item of business in shopping is getting a large supply of whole grains. Whole wheat berries, rye berries, groats (oats before being rolled), popcorn. All of these can be ground into flour to make breads, pancakes, muffins, etc. The reason I buy them whole (besides the amazing nutritional value in comparison to pre-ground flour) is that these grains can be sprouted if we are in dire need of greens. Now, I've never been in dire need, but we sprout occasionally anyway. Also, these grains, when eaten whole (you can soak them and simmer them to have whole grains on salads, or eaten with fruit for a hot cereal, or use in soups) have many of the vitamins that meat does. Iron, the vitamin Bs, protein, but also has something meat does not: fiber. Really, they are pretty awesome. When it comes to grains I go for the cheapest, because I buy so many of them. Usually through the LDS church, but I have often found other sources depending on where I lived. Oh! And let's not forget beans. I buy those in bulk as well, and even though they are not a grain, they are HIGH up there on my list of things to have on hand.

My second item of business is vegetables. When I first move somewhere, my vegetable stock is pretty low. I try to shop locally for vegetables, if I arrive in an area during the right season, and I buy as much as I can freeze, dry, and can for future use. Of course, if I show up somewhere in the middle of spring, fall, or winter and our pantry is empty, it's to the grocery store I go. Frozen veggies are usually a great deal (especially if on sale) and are just as good for you as fresh (in fact, if you are at the grocery store they are probably better, as they are frozen at their peak, whereas the "fresh" produce was picked before its peak so that it would be getting ripe at the store. There is a difference in vitamin content--and FLAVOR of vegetables and when they are picked).

Fruits as well...have you ever eaten a watermelon in December? I have...YUCK! My favorite part of the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is where she equates waiting for tomatoes to come in season with waiting to copulate with your wonderful partner til AFTER marriage. When it's right. She laments that our culture is so into immediate gratification that we don't even understand how amazing in season food is compared to grocery store fare, and that if we can't figure that out with food, how on earth do we expect our children to do the same with their relationships?!? But, I digress, and will move on...

Fruits. I usually go to farmers markets or U-picks for my fruit. Even now, as we enter March, the farmers who sell at the market still have their own apples and pears that they have stored over the winter, and they taste so much better than the imported foods. So much. I bought apples for $0.20/lb at Shelton's Farm store just last week, then ran into my local grocery to see that they were $1/lb on SALE. Crazy. We buy blueberries in 20 pound buckets pre-frozen from a local blueberry farmer. It's a lot up front, but much less per pound than even the grocery store can ever get. The same with tart cherries. I haven't done much with raspberries and blackberries lately, because I was so used to them growing in my yard before moving here, that I have a hard time paying ANYTHING at all for them. The CSA we joined did have a wonderful raspberry patch, and for that I am grateful. We also have our own strawberry patch, here in our yard. It'll be really good this year, the year we leave it...of course.

Speaking of growing at home, we do a lot of this. We don't have good garden space, due to lead content in our soil, so we purchased about 15 pots and filled them with a mix of purchased topsoil and some compost from our local wood-chipping place. For those of you in St. Joe county, you should check out getting your mulch and compost from the city. It's free if you load it, and it doesn't take that long to fill the back of a van that is covered with a tarp with soil. We grow our own strawberries (as mentioned above--they come back each year), rhubarb, spinach, lettuce, herbs (sage, rosemary, oregano, cilantro), and TOMATOES!

We also joined a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) for the past couple of years. We loved it, and would do it again if we were going to be here for another full year. Ours cost $200/year + 3 hours of labor/week and we got BUSHELS and BUSHELS of fresh produce. FYI, a bushel's weight varies on what is in it, but ranges from 40-60 pounds. So, each week, we got that many pounds of produce. We didn't eat it all, some went into the freezer, and we are still working on eating that. It's great. Our CSA happened to have apple and peach orchard included, whereas some charge extra for fruits. Look into it, you might be surprised at what you can get. I know that this year, the CSA we use has offered some free spots to those who are willing to work more hours. Very cool.

Once I have the basics, everything else is just for fun. I bargain shop sales for meats when they come available. We don't eat meat very regularly, so it doesn't bother me if we run out. In the past, we have purchased an entire side of beef, side of pig, and some chicken from farms around us. However, we know that this lasts us a long time, and didn't feel that we could use all of that meat in the time we planned on being here. As is, we gave meat away before we moved last time. Next time we settle down, finding a good grass-fed beef, free-range chicken supplier will be top priority. Oh, by the way, to you South Bendites, did you know there is a cute little lady at the farmers market who sells free-range eggs (meaning her chickens get to eat bugs and run around, increasing the vitamin content of their yolks!) for only $2/doz. That is an awesome price, considering the eggs you are getting! Plus, you'd be supporting her and her wonderful life.

My weekly shopping is usually for odd things and milk. I walk through grocery stores looking for whole grains marked down (this is common, actually, I guess people don't buy them much!), canned foods on sale, even clearance, whole grain pasta on sale, herbal teas marked down, spices marked down, etc. I LOVE shopping at a place in South Bend called "Dents for Cents" because I find fun and odd things to spice up our meals for a fraction of what I would have paid at the grocer. I also hit up places like E&S Sales in Shipshewana, IN for things like bulk local honey (also available at our farmers market), dates, cheeses, flax, popcorn in a variety of colors (makes a great gift to send to relatives!), sometimes meats (bratwurst for $1.89/pkg? Sure!), and many other things that I find but didn't expect.

Sometimes I go to Aldi, because I want to see what is there, and because milk is often cheaper there. And once in awhile they have DiGiorno pizza for $3, which is my "splurge". ha ha. Hmmm, what else...Oh, BigLots! I just love going to look through their grocery section to find odds & ends. One time, I found Soba noodles for a decent price. I used to stock up on WASA crackers there, but I was the only one eating them, so I stopped buying them. I think I go there about once a month. So, my list of places I shop:

  1. Kroger (hunting for all the Manager's Specials, the red tag!)
  2. Aldi
  3. Walmart (using coupons here often results in free products, which I don't mind).
  4. Meijer (sales, coupons, clearance racks)
  5. Dents for Cents (the whole place is a clearance rack!)
  6. Shelton's Farm Market (mostly for produce when I'm running low)
  7. Sam's Club (When I have a membership. We let it lapse a few months and always stock up on the things we love from there the last month of our membership, then wait a few months before renewing. Now we are waiting to see if there is a Costco or Sam's where we will live in the future).
  8. BigLots
  9. Target. I've signed up with Kashi cereals for coupons, and often Target has a buy so many get $5 back via gift card deal going on. If I keep all of my Kashi coupons for those sales, I can get high quality cereals for $0.60/box. Not bad when they are usually $4/ea.
Hmmm, anything I didn't cover? I can't think of anything right now, but I'm sure it'll come to me. But, you see why I couldn't single my answer down to one store. Sigh. I guess I am complex.

Update:  I don't live by Shelton's any more (sob) or Dents for Cents (sob, sob) but we do participate in a produce co-op that saves us a lot of money, and use Kroger a lot more often now, because it's one of the cheaper grocers where I live.