Monday, November 21, 2011

Seagull Living: Week 3

Despite my best efforts to scrimp and save this month, the family food budget is already skidding beyond where it should be and we haven't even done all the Thanksgiving shopping yet. Nevertheless, I did find some killer freebies this week, including several of the pumpkin variety!

Nov. 15: Passed a new restaurant on the way to band practice with a sign out front advertising their grand opening that said "Free Coffee. Don't be shy." Don't mind if I do.

Nov. 16: Scored two deals in quick succession today. On my way to Tebaya to use a $5 for $10 Google deal for a Japanese chicken sandwich lunch (plus jasmine tea), I passed the Treats Truck. As I am friendly with the owner, I was gifted a mini pumpkin pie. So cute (and delicious)!

Nov. 17: Keeping the pumpkin theme going, today my friend Ezra tipped me off to a ScoutMob deal at Billy's Bakery for 100% free pumpkin whoopie pies. We met up for a dessert break and then topped it off with two-for-one holiday Starbucks drinks, which was today's special from 2-5pm. Score!

Nov. 18: I earned my free food today. Mr Homewrecker and I served from our mobile food biz in the fancy cafeteria "Cafe 57" at the Hearst building. As a thank you, we got free lunch from the cafe, which was really delicious. I even took a brownie for the road. Passed Nina Garcia from Project Runway on the way out. Then this evening I went to hear my friend Toby read at Book Thug Nation where I gladly accepted a free can of beer.

Nov. 19: With so many good deals the past few days, I was content today to just not leave the house much and graze on leftovers. I also ate the last few bites of my friend Dan's doughnut from Pies n Thighs. Seagull swoopin in.

Nov. 20: A few weeks ago my purse got stolen, which was a drag to say the least. Good news is a woman found it discarded in a nearby park, contacted me, and I got it back, though short about $40, a Metrocard, my iPod and all my credit cards. Another funny upside? All the fraudulent spending the thief conducted on my Banana Republic card before I had a chance to cancel it added up to enough bonus points with BR to score me a $10 gift certificate which arrived in the mail this week. I stopped in an Old Navy this afternoon and discovered there was a 75% off sweater sale happening for TWENTY MORE MINUTES. $10 would easily buy me a sweater at those deep price cuts. I started to panic with the prospect of a free sweater looming over me, but ultimately decided to hell with it when I took a deep breath and remembered that I don't actually want to wear any Old Navy sweaters.

Nov. 21: Last Christmas we took Amtrak to Chicago to visit my parents, and on the way back we got held up by Snowpocalypse. While we were still better off than those who were stranded without flights, I was disappointed with Amtrak's handling of the situation. (We got unceremoniously dumped in Albany and crammed onto charter buses.) My complaint resulted in two $75 vouchers, and today I finally found occasion to cash them in. I had to purchase the tickets in person, which meant making a special trip to Penn Station and dealing with a woman who seems to hate her job and hate helping people like me with coupons and questions about timetables which she did not care to answer. Now I have two round-trip tickets to Boston for Christmas, which at $75 off are still much more expensive than taking the bus, so I'm not sure who wins here. At least we'll have more legroom?

One more week of Seagull Living ahead of me. Get ready for several days of Thanksgiving leftovers. Turkey pie, turkey sandwich, turkey soup...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seagull Living: Week 2

Week two of seagull-style, food-snatching austerity living was tougher than week one. My enthusiasm for leftovers was waning, but I did score some good deals this week and picked up some Groupons and rewards discounts for later this month.  Here's the run down:

Nov. 8: Didn't score any freebies or deals today, so compensated by eating a dinner entirely of odds and ends from our freezer. A few frozen Trader Joe's meatballs, some frozen green beans, and two freezer-burned bread dumplings that once nuked were no longer fluffy and moist, but more hockey-puck like. Gross. At least I cleaned out the freezer a bit.

Nov. 9: Again didn't score any deals today, so we'll have to count the $2-off happy hour wine I had at Brooklyn Winery where I attended the Work-It Brooklyn social networking panel. Cheers!

Nov. 10: Possibly my most exciting deal of the week, today my coworkers and I walked over to 9th Ave where the Luke's Lobster and Bongo Brothers food trucks were handing out free food as part of a MasterCard Facebook and Twitter promotion. I'd been wanting to try the sandwiches from the new Bongo Bros Cuban truck, so this was the perfect occasion.

Nov. 11: My coworker Jen brought in doughnuts from the Donut Pub, and maybe I had more than one.

Nov. 12: My band played a show in Brooklyn and as "the talent" were entitled to $1 beers all night. Yes please.

Nov. 13: Didn't really leave the house today, but I did a lot of deal shopping online as I planned for the upcoming holidays. Bought a photo album from Snapfish for my parents and scored two more for free with a coupon code. Cashed in some AmEx rewards points for a $75 Avis gift certificate which I'll use for a rental car at Christmastime in Boston. Going to try and shave an extra 10% off the rental with my ASCAP membership discount. I am seriously feeling like an EXTREME COUPONER today.

Nov. 14: Stuck working at the office until 9:30pm. Upside? Boss let us order pizza.

We seem to be on track with our food budget so far, but we're hosting Thanksgiving next week and are sure to go overboard. Mr Homewrecker grew up in Plymouth, MA so he's got a bit of a Thanksgiving dinner precedent to uphold, you know? The trick will be stretching those leftovers until December 1st.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Seagull Living: Week 1

If you know me, you know I'm a bit of a seagull. Ready to swoop in and snatch any leftover snacks. Shameless when it comes to offers of free food. This is why I really don't fare well in open bar situations. My desire to take advantage of free consumables overrides all other logic.

Last month I blew my food budget big time (which I know from obsessive tracking on Now that it's a new month, I'm determined to make up for it. I shaved a whopping $200 off the household food budget for November. In order to make this work, I'm looking for daily opportunities for free food, dining and shopping deals, and any other ways to stretch our budget.

Here's the seagull deals from week one. I scavenged a surprising amount of food from the office:

Nov. 1: leftover Patsy's pizza in the fridge at work from Halloween party; free can of beer offered by friend at band practice

Nov. 2: free fries with the purchase of a burger at Energy Kitchen, who often have deals going if you keep an eye out

Nov. 3: day old Murray's bagel from a work meeting (that I was not even a part of); more than my share of Milano cookies during a work meeting about our new employee benefits; tuna salad made from cans of tuna leftover from our Hurricane Irene stockpile

Nov. 4: toast and jam from delicious leftover rosemary bread a friend didn't use last weekend at his grilled cheese business + free sample of strawberry jalapeno jam from Heat Sweets; can of beer from work fridge leftover from management meeting reception several weeks ago.

Nov. 5: delicious Japanese dinner at our friends' apartment, offered in exchange for advice on how to use Facebook to promote a non-profit. Glad to dispense advice for food!

Nov. 6: watched the NYC Marathon pass through Clinton Hill -- free entertainment! Even chased my friend Colleen for a few blocks -- free workout! Then enjoyed a glass of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that I got with a $25 credit at Lot18.

Nov. 7: didn't really score any deals today, but did eat one of Mr Homewrecker's delicious stuffed red pepper leftovers for lunch. Shared seagull karma by sending a link to a Scout Mob deal on 100% free fries from Pommes Frites to friends who live nearby in the East Village. I've had more than enough pommes frites lately.

What kind of deals should I get in on this coming week? Send me some tips in the comments.