Coupons

Dear Jill: A pharmacy chain has bottles of acetaminophen on sale for $1.49 each or 4-for-$4. Obviously, the best move here is to buy four, but every time they have this sale, it goes fast. When I get to the store, inevitably I see two or three bottles there instead of four, so I can’t get the best deal. What should I do — just buy it anyway if I need it? — Kayla D.

At either price, the medicine is a good deal, but of course, we want the best deal. You have two options: First, ask the store if there are any more bottles in stock. If not, ask if they would consider price-matching the multiple-bottle price because it is not your fault you cannot purchase four to receive the advertised deal. Finally, if the store won’t match the price, ask for a raincheck.

Once the sale ends, it’s likely the demand for the product will be lower, and you’ll have a better chance of picking these items up on your next trip to this store.

Dear Jill: My supermarket sells a monthly magazine put out by the store. It costs $2 and has recipes and coupons inside for $1 off anything in the meat department and $1 off a produce item. Is it worth buying the magazine? — Marcie G.

You only should purchase it if you like the recipes. If the value of the coupons is equal to the cost of the magazine, you essentially are getting the magazine free after the deal, but you’re not saving money. If there are additional coupons in the magazine you definitely would use, then this magazine deal could become a small moneymaker.

Dear Jill: We now are empty nesters, and I am finding it is hard to break my habits of cooking for four. Specifically, if I am making a recipe that uses a small amount of a large ingredient, I have wondered what to do with the “extras.”

I thought this tip might help other readers. For items such as chicken broth or tomato sauce, I pour the excess into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Once the cubes are solid, I put them into a resealable bag and write the contents on it. It is very easy to pop a frozen cube into whatever I am cooking. Each cube is about 2 tablespoons.

You also can freeze egg whites this way if you are separating yolks for a recipe. I even have frozen wine for use in stews if there is just a bit left in the bottle at the end of dinner.

If I make a lot of chili or soup stock, I let the extra amount cool and then pour it into resealable freezer bags. I gently flatten them and freeze them on the floor of my freezer. Once they are frozen, they are easy to stack and store for future meals in the slow cooker. — Maritza G.

These are wonderful ideas. Most dollar stores will have ice cube trays, and a dollar is a small investment in order to effectively store and use extra food items that might otherwise spoil or be thrown away.

I also will add a “dollar store storage” tip of my own: Small, plastic-lidded storage containers are fantastic for keeping food ingredients handy for frequently-made recipes.

For example, I make an omelet almost every day for breakfast. At the beginning of a week, I’ll chop an onion and dice some ham – enough for the entire week’s omelets. I then scoop the ingredients into their own small containers, which I keep in the front of one of my refrigerator’s drawers where they’re easily accessible.

Before this, my husband and I used to cut just the amount of onion we needed each day, and inevitably, we’d end up with two or three partially-cut onions in baggies rolling around the vegetable bin a week or two later among the other produce. This way, everything stays fresh, easy to find and also is used in its entirety.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.