Extreme Couponing

Author – Amanda Christensen

Great tips for successful Couponing!

It is estimated that consumers save more than $3 billion with coupons on a yearly basis! With TV shows, blog posts and YouTube channels shedding light on people who consider “couponing” a sport, it’s easy to wonder, “Do I have to be an extremist to save that much on my grocery bill?” Some may be scared away at the thought of thick coupon binders, stockpiles that take over your home and carts full of toothpaste; but it is possible to save on your groceries without letting the coupon craze take over your life. This article will take you through simple steps and tips to help you cut your grocery bill.

1. Stay organized.
• Develop a meal plan for your family. You can do this weekly, twice a month or monthly — whatever works best for you.
• Check your grocery store’s weekly ad and try to incorporate foods that are on sale into your meal plan. Most items go on sale every 12 weeks, so keep this in mind when determining how much of a sale item you should stock up on; a three-month supply is usually all you should buy.
• Organize your pantry and keep track of what items you already have. Some shoppers even keep an inventory list for their pantry so they know when they are running low on certain items.
• After you plan your meals and organize your pantry, determine what still needs to be bought from the store and make a list. Once at the store, stick as close to your list as possible.
• The number one trick to saving money is matching up store sales with your coupons!

2. Find your coupons.
• There are extreme couponers who subscribe to upwards of five Sunday newspapers just to get the weekly inserts. You do not have to do this. If you feel like getting the paper on Sundays go for it. But don’t feel like you need to buy 10 papers to save money.
• Coupons can also be found on many websites, including retailer websites. There are a ton of blogs and sites that maintain their own coupon database. Find one that you like and feel comfortable using.
• If your store has a loyalty rewards program, check for downloadable coupons on their website. These electronic coupons will stay on your card and be automatically used when applicable after you swipe your loyalty card.
• After you have your coupons, it is time to organize them. There is no set rule for how to keep track of them. Find a way that works well for you and stick to it. Some use mini file folders, others use huge binders or envelopes.
• Remember: Just because you have a coupon for something does not mean you need to buy it. There is no sense in buying 10 jars of pickles because they are cheap, then trying to find recipes for the next 6 months that use pickles.

3. Ask your store about their coupon policies.
• Some stores will match retailer coupons. Others will even accept expired coupons. There are time periods when some stores will double or even triple the value of your coupons. Check with your store so you know exactly what to expect when using your coupons.

Don’t expect your grocery bill to be cut in half the first time. Couponing is a skill that takes time and practice. The more you coupon, the better you will become at staying organized and saving money. These tips will allow you to cut your grocery bill with just a short amount of preparation time. What tips do you have for beginner couponers?


Amanda is an Extension Assistant Professor for Utah State University. She has a master’s degree in consumer sciences from Utah State and is proud to call herself an Aggie! Amanda loves teaching and enabling individuals and families to make smart money decisions.

Follow Amanda:
Twitter: @FamFinPro
Facebook: Fam Fin Pro
Instagram: @FamFinPro

24th of July Activities to do in Utah

24th of July Activities to do in Utah

Wondering what to do for the 24th of July? Whether you are looking for a local parade, or a celebratory rodeo, We’ve gathered up a list of activities for all ages. There are celebrations happening all over the state, so be sure to check them out, plan what you want to do, and have fun this Pioneer Day!

Days of ’47 events

Days of ’47 Komatsu Equipment Rodeo

Deseret News Classic Marathon and Half Marathon

Sunrise Service

Days of ’47 KSL 5 Parade

Days of ’47 Dixie Celebration

City of Logan Pioneer Day Celebration

Pioneer Day Extravaganza

Chili Cook Off

Ogden Pioneer Days

This is the Place Heritage Park Pioneer Days

Utah Pioneer Days

Bountiful Handcart Days

Spring City Pioneer Days

Thoughtful Graduation Gifts

Author – Tricia Mathis

Thoughtful Graduation Gift ideas

The dilemma: What do I give a student who is graduating from High School or college? It may be your own son or daughter, a niece or a nephew, a neighbor, a friend or a grandchild. No matter who the graduate is in your life, the search for the perfect gift can be difficult and sometimes even frustrating. I had a son graduate from high school two years ago and my daughter will graduate this year. We decided that we would give them a lap top computer for their graduations. It is something that they are going to need anyway as they head off to college. We are practical people, but we cannot afford to give everyone we know a laptop.

Here is a list of some fun ideas to give the graduate in your life.

The sentimental gift: give something that will be a keepsake.
– A scrapbook: fill the pages with school pictures, class pictures and school activities or sports.
– A t-shirt quilt: assemble those old T-shirts into a great memory quilt
– A quilt or blanket in the schools colors
– Personalized jewelry/ watch
– “Oh the Places you will Go” by Dr. Suess

Gifts for the College bound and practical:
– Lap top computer
– Printer
– Messenger Bag/Backpack
– Bicycle (to get around campus)
– Alarm clock (iHome)
– Portable Speakers
– Noise cancelling headphones
– Monogrammed Towels
– Interview Attire
– College Apparel

Fun Gifts:
– Camera
– Luggage
– Smart phone
– Candy Bar Poster
– Gift basket

…and last but not least.

Money: give it in a fun and creative way.
– Gift cards
– Book store credit
– In a chocolate box
– In a tissue box
– In case of emergency break glass
– Money tree
Money book

Tricia Mathis is currently the social media specialist for Wasatch County. She graduated from USU with a bachelors degree in Home Economics and Consumer Education. She taught high school and middle school for year after graduation. Since then she has been busy raising her family of six children.

Kids In The Kitchen

Author: Melanie Jewkes

Kids in the Kitchen

Some of my favorite childhood memories include standing on a stool in the kitchen helping and watching my mom cook. I remember distinct smells of vanilla being added to cookie dough or frosting and feeling excited to get my hands on one of the beaters to taste the deliciousness of something homemade.

Did you know that including your kids in the process of preparing and cooking is one of the best ways to get them to eat and try new foods? Including kids in the kitchen can be a great way to introduce your children to healthy foods AND teach them important cooking skills. Our kids need skills in the kitchen because they will have to eat food every day for the rest of their lives! So, let’s get the kids in the kitchen!

Kids in the Kitchen class series in Salt Lake area–bring your kids, get a snack and learn some tips.

July 8, 2014 | Chapman Library | 3:00 pm

July 9, 2014 | Kearns Library | 7:00 pm

July 16, 2014 | West Jordan Library | 7:00 pm

August 4, 2014 | Magna Library | 3:00 pm

August 5, 2014 | Ruth Vine Tyler Library | 4:00 pm

August 12, 2014 | Chapman Library | 3:00 pm

August 13, 2014 | West Jordan Library | 7:00 pm

August 21, 2014 | Kearns Library | 7:00 pm

September 2, 2014 | Ruth Vine Tyler Library | 4:00 pm

melanie jewkes Melanie Jewkes is a part-time Extension Associate Professor in Salt Lake County. She has worked for USU for 6 years. The best part of her job is learning and relearning some of the things that matter most–loving and caring for marriage and family, living within your means, and growing, cooking and eating delicious (and nutritious!) food. She and her husband have two adorable children and live in Taylorsville.


Keep Your Cool This Summer

Author – Ann Henderson
Keep Your Cool This Summer. 12 tips to keep the utilities bill low during the heat.

I am definitely a spring and fall person who loves temperatures near 70 degrees. When the summer heat sets in, I’m thankful for air-conditioned spaces. To keep utility bills lower during the summer season, I’m always looking for cost saving strategies. If you are too, consider these ideas.


When summer utility bills rise, many families begin to look for ways to save money while keeping their homes cool. Here are 12 tips you can start using today that don’t cost a thing and some that require a small investment.

Tip #1 Close the blinds and curtains during the day to keep the sun from coming in. This is one of the best ways to lower indoor temperatures (10 Ways to Keep Your Home Cool).

Tip #2 Open the windows at night when the temperature outside is cooler than in the house. Place box fans in the north and east windows and set them to draw the cool outside air in, and in the south and west windows to blow the warm air out (10 Ways to Keep Your Home Cool).

Tip #3 Use fans to keep the air moving.  While fans don’t lower the temperature, the air movement makes you feel cooler (Gordon).  For a cooler breeze, place a bowl of ice or a frozen bottle of water in front of the fan (Melgren).

Tip #4 Run the dishwasher, dryer, stove/oven and other heat-generating appliances in the evening when it is cooler (Bond).  Use the microwave, toaster oven or outdoor grill for cooking. Dry clothes outside on the clothesline (10 Ways to Keep Your Home Cool).

Tip #5 Use compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs rather than incandescent light bulbs to reduce heat produced and energy consumption (10 Ways to Keep Your Home Cool).

Tip #6 Install white or light-colored shades or mini blinds. Mini blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40-50 percent (Bond).

Tip #7 Install a programmable thermostat (Main). Set the temperature between 70 and 75ºF when you are at home and 80ºF when you are away (Keep Your Home Cool).

Tip #8 Clean or change the air filters on the air conditioning system every month to keep air flowing freely (Bond).

Tip #9 Install awnings on south and west-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77% (Gordon).

Tip #10 Hang tightly woven screens or bamboo shades outside windows to keep sunlight from coming in (Bond).

Tip #11 Apply high-reflectivity window film to east and west-facing windows to help keep the house cooler (Gordon).

Tip #12 Plant trees on the south and west exposures of your home.  It will take a few years for them to reach their full height, but once they do they will be enjoyed for years to come (10 Ways to Keep Your Home Cool).

ann_hendersonAnn Henderson is an Extension Associate Professor for Utah State University in Box Elder County. She loves teaching and helping adults and youth find practical solutions to everyday problems related to financial management, nutrition and health, food safety, preservation and storage, and family relationships. She believes that when you strengthen families you strengthens communities.


Don’t Get Sick! Learn these Barbecue Food Safety Tips and Tricks!

Author – Darlene Christensen
Don't Get Sick! Learn these barbecue food safety tips and tricks.

Have you or someone in your family ever had food poisoning? I have, and I can tell you it is miserable! It’s important to remember that it is almost 100 percent preventable (if you are preparing the food yourself). Think about these tips and tricks next time you are out barbecuing or picnicking so that you have a great time and stay healthy.

Eating outdoors in warm weather can be a food safety challenge. Bacteria in food multiply faster at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F. Cooking in the summer heat makes knowing basic food safety principles especially important.
Wash hands.
“Hand washing is THE single most effective way to prevent the spread of disease,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s really simple — make sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. To help kids learn this, try singing the ABC song with them while they wash. Cleaning up is especially important after using the bathroom and before cooking or eating. Oftentimes you find yourself outdoors with no bathroom in the summer. You can use a water jug, some soap and paper towels. Moist disposable towelettes are also good for cleaning your hands.
Keep raw food separate from cooked food.
You take the raw meat on a plate to the grill, right? But remember that you do not want to use that same plate to put the cooked meat on. This is known as cross contamination and can cause food-borne illness. Keep utensils and surfaces clean.
Marinate food in the refrigerator, not out on the counter.
Marinating can make meat tender and tasty. But if you want to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a separate portion. Don’t reuse marinade that contained raw meat.
Cook food thoroughly.
A meat thermometer can really help in making sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature. Steaks should reach 145 degrees and then be allowed to rest for 3 minutes. Chicken should be cooked to at least 165°F. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160°F. If a thermometer is not available, make sure hamburgers are brown all the way through, not pink.
Refrigerate and freeze food right away.
It can be hard to remember while a party is going on, but food should not be left out of the cooler or off the grill for more than 2 hours. It’s especially important to remember NOT to leave food out for more than one hour when the temperature is above 90°F.
Keep hot food hot.
Hot food should be kept at or above 140°F. Hot food should be wrapped well and placed in an insulated container – this will keep the heat in. If you have purchased something like fried chicken at a deli, try to eat it within two hours. Bacteria multiply rapidly after that and can make you sick. Don’t forget to pack your meat thermometer.  When re-heating food, be sure it reaches 165°F.
Keep cold food cold.
Cold food should be held at or below 40°F. Think about potato salad and similar foods. Keep them on ice in a cooler and don’t set them out for long periods of time in the heat.
Those are the basic tips to remember. If you have ever suffered from food-borne illness, you know how miserable it is. Follow these simple steps to keep your food safe and enjoy your summer barbecues and camping trips.

darlene_christensenAuthor Bio: Darlene Christensen is an Associate Extension Professor at Utah State University and serves as the family and consumer sciences/4H agent in Tooele County. She loves working with 4Hers and enjoys teaching adults.
US Food & Drug Administration, Barbecue Basics: Tips to Prevent Foodborne Illness.


What You Cannot Can Safely at Home

Author: Melanie Jewkes

What you shouldn't can at home - LiveWellUtah.org

Did you know that the USDA has tested and approved many recipes to preserve foods at home? There are many foods you can bottle safely at home, as long as you follow USDA-endorsed recipes and procedures. Some unique foods include grapefruit and orange sections; cantaloupe pickles; pie fillings such as apple, mincemeat and green tomato; chicken, venison and fish; hot sauce and ketchup; a variety of soups and many more. (For such recipes and procedures, see the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning.

Have fun trying out a new (USDA-endorsed safe recipe) recipe in your kitchen this season. But, remember the possibilities are not quite endless.

Be aware that there are many foods that cannot be bottle safely at home. Why is that? One reason is that home kitchens are limited. A boiling water canner or a steam pressure canner can only get so hot. Heat is one element that is needed to kill micro-organisms that could spoil your food. A higher temperature needed for low-acid foods (like vegetables, beans and meat) is only achieved at home through a steam pressure canner.

Industrial equipment is much larger and has a different ability to bottle foods than our own kitchens.

Olive oil factory, Olive Production

Canning: Mixed Race Young Adult Woman Preserving Homegrown Fruit

Some foods or recipes have not been tested, or have been tested and have NOT been found to be safe. In some instances, the lack of approved canning recipe is due to poor quality.  Here is a list of some common foods that are NOT safe to can and NOT safe to consume.

What NOT to can (accessed from: https://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FN_Food_Preservation_2009-01.pdf )

–          Butter. That’s right, butter. In some emergency preparedness sections of stores, you might see canned butter in a tuna-fish size can. But don’t get too excited to go home and melt butter into a jar just to stick it on your food storage shelves. For now, canning butter using any method is not recommended. Some methods are dangerous, at best; others are not backed up by science. Why can butter when it freezes so easily?

–          Hydrated wheat kernels (aka wheat berries). Wheat is a low-acid food that is susceptible to botulism if trapped in a low-acid, low-oxygen, room-temperature environment. In addition, the starch in wheat may interfere with the heat penetration during canning. Insufficient processing can result in botulism food poisoning. Instead of canning, store wheat dry until used, or if hydrated, refrigerated up to several days. You may also hydrate a batch and freeze in usable portions.

–          Quick breads (e.g. banana, zucchini, pumpkin). This idea likely started when people started baking quick breads in canning jars to create a nice round loaf. However, placing a lid and ring on the jar to create a vacuum seal as it cools does not kill botulism-forming organisms that grow in warm, moist, anaerobic conditions. These items should be either baked fresh and served or frozen.  For more information see this fact sheet: https://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/FN-FS_250_10.pdf

–          Dried Beans (pinto, kidney, etc.). To safely can dried beans, they must be hydrated first (usually 12 to 18 hours) and then brought to a boil for 30 min. Hot beans are then placed into hot jars for processing. It is not safe to put dry beans covered with water into a steam pressure canner for processing.

–          Fresh homemade salsa. There are many delicious salsa recipes to enjoy with your fresh garden produce, but these are not formulated for canning. Remember that canning recipes are scientifically studied to account for enough acid and/or processing time to keep the food safe. Fresh salsas are not formulated for canning. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s Salsa bulletin, “Improperly canned salsas or other tomato-pepper combinations have been implicated in more than one outbreak of botulism poisoning.” Keep you and those consuming your salsas safe. Keep fresh salsas fresh, or freeze. Don’t experiment with canning your favorite fresh salsa. For tips on canning salsas safely, see: http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/sensational_salsa.pdf

–          Garlic, vegetable or herb-flavored oils. While these make beautiful gifts, infused oils have the potential to support the growth of C. botulinum bacteria, which grows into botulism food poisoning. These are best made fresh for use and not left at room temperature.

–          Pickled eggs. There are NO home canning directions for pickled eggs. There are some recipes for storage in the refrigerator, but in order to avoid botulism, do not leave at room temperature, except for serving time, and do not attempt to bottle for food storage.


Jewkes, MelanieAuthor bio: Melanie Jewkes works part time in Salt Lake County and has worked for USU for 6 years. The best part of her job is learning and relearning some of the things that matter most–loving and caring for marriage and family, living within your means, and growing, cooking and eating delicious, nutritious food. She is married with two adorable children and lives in Taylorsville.

Full Pantry and Nothing to Eat

Author: USU Food $ense Team

Basics to keep in your pantry - LiveWellUtah.org

Have you ever gone grocery shopping and filled your pantry or fridge, yet you still feel like you have nothing to eat? It’s easy to run out for fast food, but that can be costly on the monthly budget. Use the groceries you just bought and save a little money too with these quick tips!

Did you know salsa made the list of staples to have on hand too? Get the entire printable list of staples and meal ideas here.

Now enjoy using up what’s in your pantry. Your wallet will thank you!


usu food senseAuthor Bio: USU Food $ense Team



Lavender Tea Cookies Recipe

Author – Carolyn Washburn

These are a favorite of mine in the summer. Consider growing your own lavender flowers in your yard or garden this year. Containers are an easy way to do that and you’ll get a colorful addition to your summerscape as well as a useful plant you can enjoy in this cookie!

cookies recipe using lavender - LiveWellutah.org

1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
1 cup butter at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

  • In a mortar, grind lavender flowers with the pestle.
  • In a medium bowl, cream together ground lavender flowers, butter, sugar, vanilla extract and lemon extract.
  • Add flour and salt; mix until combined (dough should be soft but not sticky).
  • Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until dough is firm.
  • Remove dough from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough approximately 1/4-inch thick.
  • Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.

Lavender Frosting:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
Lavender food coloring – optional

  • In a small plastic bag, combine powdered sugar and dried lavender flowers. Let stand at least 1 day before using.
  • When ready to use, sift the mixture into a medium-size bowl; discarding lavender flowers.
  • Add milk and corn syrup, mixing well.
  • NOTE: Additional powdered sugar or milk may need to be added (enough milk to make frosting easy to spread). Add color and spread on cooled cookies.


washburn, carolynnAuthor bio: Carolyn Washburn is a family consumer sciences agent for Utah State University Extension. Her responsibilities include financial management education, food safety and nutrition, healthy family relations, emergency preparedness and working with youth. Her goal is to help individuals and families become self-sustaining and resilient by being financially prepared and healthy for any emergency. She serves on the National Disaster Education Network and has just completed the new food storage manual for USDA. Her most cherished award is America’s Promise, awarded by Colin Powell.

Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit

Author: Carolyn Washburn

benefits of eating beans - LiveWellUtah.org

Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you may reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and birth defects.  Yes, those beans are a magical food. They are found in both protein and vegetable food sections on the MyPlate food guide, and the health benefits certainly make them a “magical” food. Remember how Jack traded a cow for them? Beans are full of fiber and nutrition and are a very economical food. The three healthiest beans are the black bean, the kidney bean and the lima bean.

Just how good are those beans?

  • Fight diseases – A report by nutrition experts at Michigan State University reviewed 25 years of bean research and concluded that beans are an often-overlooked food source that could be helping Americans fight a host of chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
  • Lower risks – People who ate legumes such as dry beans at least four times a week had a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease than people who ate them less than once a week.
  • Lower death rate – Out of 41 countries, those with the highest bean consumption had the lowest death rates from breast, prostate and colon cancers.
  • Sustain Energy – Beans promote satiety and provide sustained energy, which helped individuals eat fewer calories and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Maintain Healthy Blood Glucose Levels – The high fiber content in beans helped people with diabetes maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Beans are also rich in antioxidant phytochemicals, which reduce the damage caused by free radicals and may also reduce the risk of cancer.


So, live to be an old fart, and eat those beans! For bean recipes, visit the USU Extension/ Washington County Home Matters site .


washburn, carolynnAuthor bio: Carolyn Washburn is a family consumer sciences agent for Utah State University Extension. Her responsibilities include financial management education, food safety and nutrition, healthy family relations, emergency preparedness and working with youth. Her goal is to help individuals and families become self-sustaining and resilient by being financially prepared and healthy for any emergency. She serves on the National Disaster Education Network and has just completed the new food storage manual for USDA. Her most cherished award is America’s Promise, awarded by Colin Powell.