Money saving tips & The best tasting products

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My friends at Time Inc® and Real Simple® sent me 8 Secret Ways to Save Money and I thought I would share them with you today.

Real Simple’s Insider Guide to Everyday Deals uncovers eight secret ways to save money on everything from travel to grocery shopping and eating out in the October issue, on newsstands today.

1) Go paperless to earn cash back – These businesses pay you for the privilege of decluttering your mailbox:
  • Allstate Insurance: Up to 5% off your auto premium.
  • Progressive Insurance: A percentage off your monthly bill (depending on the policy) when you enroll in the paperless billing program and/or elect direct payment from your bank account.
2) Bring reusable mugs for cheaper coffee – Pay less for your daily jolt by sipping from your own cup.
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels: Coffee costs $1 – that’s up to 40% off the regular price.
  • Peet’s Coffee & Tea: 10 cents off. Bonus: Get 25 cents off when you reuse a bag for beans.
  • Starbucks: 10 cents off.
3) Recycle old products for a reward
  • Apple: Go to to find out if your old computer—Mac or PC—is worth anything. If it is, you’ll get that dollar amount applied toward an Apple gift card. Plus, the company will send you a prepaid label to mail your old machine in for recycling. Bring an old iPod to an Apple store or mail it in and get 10% off a new one.
  • MAC Cosmetics: Customers who return six used MAC product containers receive a free lipstick.
  • Staples: Bring any used ink or toner cartridge to the store and receive $2 in Staples Rewards for use on future store purchases.
4) Go green (as in: count your savings) when you bring your own bag – These supermarkets offer a rebate when you use a reusable tote:
  • Giant: 5 cents a bag
  • Kroger: 4 cents a bag
  • Shoprite: 2 cents a bag
  • Target: 5 cents a bag
  • Whole Foods: 5 to 10 cents a bag, depending on the store
5) Websites that help you live it up on the cheap – Going out doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Online, find lots of eating and entertaining discounts.
  • This clearinghouse site features up-to-date coupons for major food chains. For example: one appetizer and two entrees for $20 at Chilis; $5 off a purchase of $15 or more at Ted’s Montana Grill.
  • Check in with this site daily for deals on local activities. Once you’ve made a purchase, send the link to the promotion to friends. If three or more take the bait, your purchase is free.
  • This dining-out program, which ahs more than 10,000 participating restaurants in the United States and Canada, gives members 5% back on their final tab, including taxes and tip. Customers register their credit cards, then use plastic to pay when they dine out. A rebate is refunded to the credit card the next time they eat at one of the participating restaurants.
  • Buying theme-park tickets online can be up to 40% cheaper than shelling out at the gate.
6) Take advantage of your birthday – Getting dibs on the first piece of cake isn’t the only upside to turning a year older. Check out these sweet discounts and freebies:
  • Aveda: Birthday-club members receive a free product—up to a $25 value—custom blended with the aroma of their choice to be redeemed within two months.
  • Baskin Robbins: You’ll receive an e-mail coupon for a free scoop of ice cream and a discount on a birthday cake when you join the Birthday Club.
  • Benihana: Sign up for the Chef’s Table e-newsletter and you will get an e-mail with a gift certificate for dinner worth up to $30 to be used during your birth month.
  • Cold Stone Creamery: Sign up for its birthday club and receive a free treat on your special day.
  • DSW: Loyalty members, who participate in a rewards program, get a $5 certificate that’s good through the member’s entire birthday month.
  • Express: Customers who are store credit-card holders receive a $10 coupon to be applied toward their next purchase during their birth month.
  • IHOP: By joining the Pancake Revolution, you’ll eat for free three times—once when you sign up for IHOP’s mailing list, once on your birthday, and once a year after you register.
  • New York & Company: Store credit-card holders receive a coupon for up to 25 percent off purchases (in store and online), valid during their birth month.
  • Old Navy: Subscribe to Old Navy emails and receive $10 off purchases of $50 or more (online and in stores) for two weeks during your birth month.
  • Red Robin: Enroll in the eClub or the Red Royalty program and score a free burger.
  • Ruby Tuesday’s: Sign up for the So Connected list at and get a free burger on your birthday and other food and bar redemption offers during the year.
  • Starbucks: Toast your day with a free cappuccino (or another drink of your choice) when you have a My Starbucks Rewards card (pick one up at any location). The more you use it, the more freebies you can get, including gratis syrups and refills.
  • Victoria’s Secret: Angel credit-card holders receive either a $10-off coupon for in-store purchases or an e-mailed coupon code good for $10 off online during their birth month.
  • Petco: Register Buster’s D.O.B. (or adoption date) in the Birthday Club and get 10% off products during that month.
7) See the World for Less – Cut the costs of travel with these programs targeted at tourists:
  • Delta: Credit-card holders traveling internationally or domestically can use miles as a discount against normal fares. In most cases, treating miles as coupons means no pesky restrictions on the destination or the trip date.
  • CityPass: Pay a fixed price for five or six muse-see attractions in major cities and Southern California theme parks at up to 50% savings (the pass is valid for nine consecutive days; 14 in Southern California). For example, CityPass charges $79 (instead of the $144 face value) to see six sites in New York City, including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the American Museum of Natural History. Bonus: In many cases, the CityPass lets you skip ticket lines. Passes can be downloaded online or shipped to your home.
8) Let the kids eat for free – No need to smuggle in the Goldfish! At these chains, your tots can fill up without emptying your wallet (note: offers can vary by franchise, so call before you go):
  • Applebee’s: On Monday nights, get one free kids’ entrée with an adult-entrée purchase. Bonus, additional kids’ meals are just $1 each.
  • Chevys: One free kids’ meal for every adult entrée purchased every Tuesday.
  • Denny’s: From 4PM to 10PM on select nights, children 10 and under get any entrée from the kids’ menu at no cost with the purchase of an adult meal costing $2.50 or more.
  • Pizza Hut: Kids age three and under eat free from the lunch buffet.
  • Tony Roma’s: On Tuesdays, kids under 12 dine for free with the purchase of an adult entrée.
They also sent me a list of Cooking Light's winners in their first ever taste test awards. Read on, you might be surprised!

The October issue of Cooking Light features the brand’s first-ever Taste Test Awards – “The Tasties.” The editors tested 200 food products and came up with the best-tasting winners in 32 categories. Twenty-six of the categories feature grocery store products while six showcase artisanal standouts. The issue hits newsstands September 17th.

To qualify in the grocery categories, foods had to be available in major markets nationwide.
Cooking Light vetted products against nutrition standards, eliminating those that contained artificial trans fats, too much salt, or artificial sugars. The panel of editors tasted finalists “blind:” the tasters did not know which brands they were sampling. Not all products are low fat. Some higher fat items are on the list because of their superior quality and taste. Used moderately, these products have a place in a healthy lifestyle. In each category, one Grand Prize Winner (GPW) is selected as well as one or more Taste Test Award Winners (TTA).

“Our staff spent most of the last year tasting American grocery and artisanal foods for our awards,” says Editor Scott Mowbray. “We ate our way through bread, cereal, and hummus to find products that we felt deserved recognition. We added the artisanal categories because there is so much exciting action in the world of handmade food right now.”

The 2010 Taste Test Award Grocery Winners:

BEANS, Cannellini:

GPW: Progresso
TTA: Goya 

BUTTER, Salted Gourmet:
GPW: Organic Valley
TTA: Lurpak
TTA: Chimay

BREAD, 100% Whole Wheat:
GPW: Rudi’s Organic Bakery
TTA: Whole Foods Organic 

BUTTER, Unsalted Everyday:  

GPW: Target Market Pantry  
TTA: Borden
TTA: Whole Foods 365 Organic
TTA: Wal-Mart Great Value 

CEREAL, Raisin Bran:

GPW: Kellogg’s Raisin Bran
TTA: Fiber One Raisin Bran Clusters

GRANOLA, Oat and Honey:

GPW: Cascadian Farms Organic
TTA: Whole Foods 365 Organic
TTA: Quaker Natural 


GPW: Tribe Classic
TTA: Athenos Original

ICE CREAM, Light Vanilla:  

GPW: Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean
TTA: Edy’s Slow-Churned


GPW: Hellmann’s
TTA: Whole Foods 365 

PIZZA, Frozen Margherita:  

GPW: Tandoor Chef Naan Pizza
TTA: Amy’s Kitchen

POPCORN, Light Microwave: 

 GPW: Newman’s Own 94% Fat Free
TTA: Smart Balance Light Butter
TTA: Act II 94% Fat Free Butter

RICE, Long-Grain Brown:

GPW: Lundberg Family Farms
TTA: Arrowhead Mills Organic

RICE, Boil-in-Bag Brown:  

GPW: Uncle Ben’s
TTA: Success

SALSA, Mild Tomato:

GPW: Green Mountain Gringo
TTA: Frontera
TTA: Organicville 

SAUSAGE, Chicken and Apple: 

GPW: Lou’s Famous
TTA: Al Fresco Sweet Apple 

SPAGHETTI, Whole Wheat: 

GPW: Gia Russa
TTA: Racconto
TTA: Target Archer Farms

SOUP, Reduced-Sodium Chicken Noodle:  

GPW: Progresso  
TTA: Campbell’s Select Harvest 

SOUR CREAM, Light:  

GPW: Daisy
TTA: Organic Valley
TTA: Target Market Pantry

SOY MILK, Plain, Light:  

GPW: Target Archer Farms
TTA: Silk

SOY SAUCE, Lower-Sodium:

GPW: Kikkoman  
TTA: Target Market Pantry

TOFU, Firm:

GPW: Melissa’s Organic
TTA: Nasoya Organic
TTA: Tree of Life

TOMATOES, Diced, No-Salt-Added:

GPW: Del Monte
TTA: Whole Foods 365 Organic

TORTILLA CHIPS, 100% Yellow Corn:  

GPW: Target Archer Farms Organic
TTA: Tostitos Natural 

TUNA, Albacore Packed in Water:  

GPW: Whole Foods 365
TTA: Crown Prince Natural

TUNA, Gourmet, Packed in Oil:  

GPW: Ortiz Bonito del Norte
TTA: Cento

YOGURT, Plain, Nonfat Greek:

GPW: Fage
TTA: Chobani
TTA: Voskos Organic 

The 2010 Taste Test Award Artisanal Winners:


Leelanau Cheese Company Raclette, Michigan
Cellars at Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Vermont
Beecher’s 4-Year Aged Flagship Cheddar, Washington
Meadow Creek Dairy Appalachian Semi-Soft Raw Cow’s Milk, Virginia
Sweetwoods Aged Goat Cheese, New Mexico


Lattin Farms Cantaloupe Jam, Nevada
Sticky Finger Bakeries Orange Curd, Washington
Breezie Maples Farm Maple Syrup, New York
Farmer’s Daughter Hyderabadi Tomato Chutney, North Carolina
Hay River Pumpkin Seed Oil, Wisconsin
La Nogalera Walnut Oil, California


Turner Ham House Country Ham, Virginia
Tall Grass Buffalo Jerky, South Dakota
Pork on a Fork Cottage Shoulder Cut Bacon, Arizona
Boccalone Nduja, California
Salumeria Biellese Wild Boar Sopressata, New York


Corsair Artisan Gin, Tennessee
Blue Corn Brewery Transcendental Tripel, New Mexico
Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, Colorado
Death’s Door Gin, Wisconsin


Salem Baking Co’s Ginger Spice Moravian Cookies, North Carolina
Effie’s Homemade Corncakes, Massachusetts
Sweet Margy Tofikomin, Illinois
Alma Chocolate Icons, Oregon
Chocolat Handmade Chocolates, Utah


Brooklyn Brine Co. Fennel Beets, New York
McClure’s Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, Michigan
Freddy Guys Dry Roasted Hazelnuts, Oregon
Early Bird Aloha Recipe Granola, New York
Chimay Red Chile Powder, New Mexico
Jeni’s Cherry Lambic Sorbet, Ohio
The Bamboo Ladies Bamboo Pickles, North Carolina
Belle Chevre Belle and The Bees Breakfast Cheese, Alabama
Cajun Grain Brown Jasmine Rice, Louisiana
Massa Organics Crunchy Almond Butter, California

0 of my favorite chefs had this to say....:

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If we are what we eat, then I'm fast, cheap and easy! C'mon into the kitchen with me... Let's do some Happy Cooking!

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