Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Birthday Without Breaking the Bank

Earlier this week was my roommate's boyfriend's birthday. She was excited to celebrate with him and and took over the kitchen to make him a Funfetti cake. Late last week her main concern was where to take him for dinner. There are many nice places in Peoria that are perfect for birthday celebrations, but I didn't hesitate to recommend Alexander's Steakhouse.

Last fall Robbie, my boyfriend, wanted steak on his birthday. While we could have gone to Texas Roadhouse for inexpensive but decent steak, we decided to drive out to Alexander's Steakhouse. Being a steak house, I knew dinner at Alexander's was going to be on the pricer side but I was willing to spend the price to celebrate a birthday.
Sitting down with the menu I found the first bonus of the night: the Early Bird Menu. Because we were getting dinner before 6 p.m. we were able to order from the Early Bird Menu. This menu features some of the  popular items on the menu for a few dollars less than the regular dinner menu. I was already excited because I was able to save a few dollars.

But it gets better, while sifting through the menu I found a box hidden on the back page detailing a special deal for birthday guests. For guests who dine on their actual birthday, there is up to 20 dollars discount off your bill (depending on how many people are in your party), a free dessert AND a souvenir photo. I'm not sure about you, but I have never been to a restaurant, let a lone a steakhouse, who honored it's birthday guests so much! Sometimes there is a free dessert or a song, but I have never gotten a special birthday discount.  For Alexander's, this meal was a steal.

If you are having a hard time deciding where to go for your next birthday celebration, I'd recommend taking advance of this special birthday deal. And don't forget to go to Jimmy's on Farmington Rd. for a free after dinner birthday drink!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Groceries=Cheap Gas!

Up until a few weeks ago, I had a well tested grocery shopping routine.  I first would go to the Aldi on Sterling Ave. to pick up the basic items I needed, then made my way across the street to Kroger to pick up brand name items and produce. This route was a great way to save money on groceries and gas by eliminating having to drive across town from one store to the next. After only a few months, I had this down to a science.

Recently the Aldi location on Sterling closed to support the opening of a larger and nicer Aldi store on University Ave. While I was excited about a new Aldi opening, this meant that my two stop routine was no longer possible. Because I was never a very loyal customer of Kroger I was willing to search for a new grocery store closer to the new Aldi. 

We receive grocery advertisements in the mail from the larger grocery store chains in the area. Although I don't typically shop there, Hy-vee's ad is the best produced and is the one I find myself reading at breakfast. Recently they have been advertising a new program called the Fuel Saver Card. By purchasing particular items, you can earn anywhere between one to 10 cents off a gallon towards your next gas purchase. Intrigued by this new program, I decided to make a stop at Hy-vee today after my routine trip to Aldi. Without even noticing, I saved five cents a gallon from my purchase of more than $50. If I had actually paid more attention to the items that qualified, I could have gained more points.

Points, or cents, you earn from the program are unlimited and you can use the card at any Caseys, Shell or Hy-vee Gas station. But here's the catch, the discounts expire 30 days after the purchase. Personally, I may never go over a dollar in savings, but with the way gas prices keep rising every penny counts.

I know other grocery stores have similar programs, but I feel that by gaining cents per item bought makes earning discounts far more obtainable. This program also gives customers who are not loyal to Hy-vee, like me, more incentive to choose Hy-vee over Kroger. It's really smart!

I'm going to make my next trip to Hy-vee in 29 days and fill up on gas the same day (so that I can still use the cents I earned today). I'm excited to see how much this program can save me!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Four Meals- One Shopping Trip

I'm a big advocate for eating inexpensively, especially since I am usually feeding myself. While my roommates eat out 50 percent of the time, I prefer to cook at home. Even though I'm not the best cook, I take pride in how I am able to make multiple meals from several of the same ingredients. 

My favorite set of meals to make derive one common ingredient: a Rotisserie Chicken. You can find rotisserie chicken in just about any grocery store with a deli. They sell for about five to six dollars and there is enough meat to feed two to three people. However, by being smart about how you use the chicken, you can make the meat last for a week's worth of meals. I've learned that making meals with common ingredients you saves you money and time!

Below are several recipes you can make with with rotisserie chicken. When I buy my chicken I usually choose a traditional or herb seasoning for the recipes, but a lemon seasoning works great too! I'd recommend that you buy your chicken on a day that you have time to cook, so you are able to make the meals ahead of time.


Meal 1: Chicken and Rice

Amount of Chicken: Chicken Legs

This may be the simplest meal of them all. Cut the legs off of the rotisserie chicken and serve with rice and a vegetable. I personally recommend chicken flavored Rice a Roni and carrots and dip.

Meal 2: Chicken Soup

Amount of Chicken: A Chicken Breast and Wings
There's nothing like a light chicken soup, and using your rotisserie chicken you can make your own. Use the recipe below to make a quick and easy soup!


1 chicken breast of rotisserie chicken
1/2 Bag of baby carrots
2 arms of celery
2 bouillon cubes
1/2- 1 box of small shell pasta

1. Fill a large pot full of water and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, cut and break the rotisserie chicken into bite size pieces.

2. Once the water is at a boil,  bouillon cubes, carrots, celery, chicken as well as chicken skin for flavor.

3. Simmer for 30 to 60 minutes. While soup is cooking, cook small shell pasta.

4.  Finally, remove chicken skin, add salt and pepper to taste and add pasta to soup.

Meal 3: Chicken Salad

Amount of Chicken: As much chicken salad as you would like.
This meal isn't too complicated. All you need is mayo and celery. Chop the celery, mix in chicken and mayo to taste. Serve on toast or a bagel!

Meal 4: Chicken Chili

Amount of Chicken: About a chicken breast, or whatever chicken is left
This is a recipe for chicken chili. It is a recipe that my mom uses all the time and it's my favorite. It's awesome chili and perfect for a pot luck!