Friday, December 30, 2011

Are children expensive?

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You know when ever we visit our family we hear a lot of "2 is all we could afford" which got me to thinking. If more than 2 children are to much of a financial burden for many why is it that we don't find them to be all that expensive?

Lets see how it breaks down...

Food: Well yes the more children you have the more they eat. But since I cover that in several posts on here we won't go thought all the details, but it IS possible to feed a large family economically if you are willing to give it the extra effort.

Clothing: You know just because I have 5 children doesn't mean I have to buy 5 sets of clothing all the time. Actually I only have to buy clothes for 2 of my children, my oldest daughter and my oldest son. The rest of the kiddlets wear hand me downs.

Shelter: Yes many people think they need to have a huge house when they have many children but we are not in that camp. We have a modest 4 bedroom house and we are doing just fine. Bunk beds are a mama's best friend!

Toys and Entertainment: You know this is where I think the majority of people get into trouble. If I constantly bought toys and other random junk for my children we would go broke quickly! My children only get gifts on their birthday's and Christmas. I don't think they are neglected in the least, actually I think it teachs some pretty valuable lessons about what is and what is not a necessity. We also treat our children to cheap/free extracirricular activities as well which I think makes them more appreciated. We feel that children who are in several activities at once (football, dance, etc.) are over extended and fail to see the joy in the activity anymore.

I am sitting here trying to think of what else about having children causes a financial burden on a family and honestly I can't think of any more! I do however see how people can find children to be a HUGE responsiblity and how that responsiblity can be very overwhelming for many. Raising a larger than average family isn't for everyone but it is a HUGE blessing and I would't give back any of my little kiddlets :D

Tips on cutting the grocery budget

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So over the years I feel like I have read every single thing ever written on the subject of cutting the grocery bill. I was trying to think of all the tips today and thought I would write them all down to help myself (and anyone else who is curious) remember them all.

*Once a month shopping
*Buy in bulk
*Shop sales flyers
*Coupon on items you will use
*Grow you own fruit/veg
*Can/freeze your home grown produce
*Menu plan
*Join a CSA
* Cut out paper products (papertowels, etc.)
*Make your own cleaning products

I am already planning our garden for this spring and researching local CSA's

Our frugal Christmas

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Every year I say that we are going to have a frugal Christmas and then every year we go over board due to poor planning. This year we stuck to our guns!

Gift's for extended family:

***Pillow cases personalized by my kids ($12 total)***
~Grandma
~Grandpa
~Nana

***Handmade "Faith, Love, Hope" Sign ($15)***
~My Brother and SIL

***$10 Game Stop GC ($20 total)***
~11yr old nephews

***Crayon Roll and Coloring Book ($20 total)***
~Niece
~Nephew

Total for extended family: $67 plus shipping (man does that add up fast!)

Gifts for my kids:
*Blank books (made with yarn and printer paper)
*Stockings (made by me out of their old receiving blankets)
*Art Box (filled with lots of arts and crafts supplies) ($20)
*Purses for the twins (made from scraps of material I already have)
*Crayon rolls for the older two ($20 total)
*Plus tons of stuff from the Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles

Gifts for each other:
*$50 limit per person

We had a wonderful Christmas :D

One chicken Three meals

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You know I read a lot of frugal blogs and books in the search for how to save every penny I can around here. Over time I have read several different large family blogs that have all claimed to be able to use ONE chicken for THREE meals. Now for a long time I have sat there and looked at that statement in wonder. How in the world is one tiny little chicken supposed to feed 7 people three times? Well we finally managed it and I thought I would share how we did it

Day one:
Roast chicken with green beans and Mac and cheese
*** After eating the chicken put the bones, cooking juices, and skin in a crock pot fill with water and cook on low all night, and put the leftover chicken in the fridge **

Day Two:
Chicken and Dumplings with a salad
***Use the chicken stock you made over night for the soup, use two cups of stock and flour to make the dumplings. Add in any leftover dark meat from the chicken***

Day three:
Chicken with peppers and Rice
*** Any leftover white meat from the chicken served "stirfry" style with peppers and onions over rice, there are so many veggies and rice no one notices if there isn't a ton of chicken***

That is how *we* did it. How about you???

January's grocery list

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Here we go again.....

10lbs chicken breasts
12 lbs ground beef
3 lbs cheddar cheese
1 pckt. Italian dressing
1 cream cheese
2 pks frozen broccoli
8 oz cheese wiz
Fried onion's (Frenches)
Parmesan cheese
2 salsa's
4lbs Mozzarella
green chili's
8oz sour cream
diced olives
dry black beans
1 BIG can diced tomatoes (costco)
cumin
chili
sage
rosemary
lime juice
lemon juice
Tortilla chips
onions
cabbage
Hot sauce
celery
carrots
14oz saurkraut
15oz Garbanzo beans
salad mix
Garlic Pwd
Onion Pwd
2 gallons Milk
2 gallons juice
2 boxes yogurt



Week one Perishables:
Cilantro
2 gallons Milk
2 gallons Juice
2 eggs

Week 2:
Lettuce
2 gallons Milk
2 gallons Juice
2 eggs

Week 3:
2 gallons Milk
2 gallons Juice
2 eggs

Week 4:
Zucchini
2 gallons Milk
2 gallons Juice
2 eggs

January's Menu

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I have been working up January's menu today and think I have it done.

All meals are in the order they will be served:

Spaghetti and Bread
Layered Dinner Casserole and Bread
Mexican Chicken with corn and Rice (crock pot)
Leftovers
Tortilla Soup with Salad and bread
Pizza and Salad
Taco's and Spanish Rice
Roast with green beans and rice
Black bean chili with rice
Hamburgers with homemade fries and corn
Spaghetti and bread
Creamy Chicken with green beans and rice (crock pot)
Sheppard's Pie with bread
Leftovers
Cheeseburger Pie with corn and bread
Taco's with Spanish rice
Stone soup with green beans and rice
Leftovers
Crunchy Chicken Parmesan with green beans and bread
Pizza and Salad
Spaghetti and Bread
Vegetable Chowder with bread
Taco's with Spanish rice
Broccoli, rice, chicken casserole with green beans
Fall off the bone beef with mixed veg and rice (crock pot)
leftovers
Spaghetti and bread
Chicken chili verde with corn and rice (crock pot)
Minestrone soup with rice
Pizza and salad
leftovers

As you can tell by this menu we are trying to cut back on our meat so there are several soups and vegetarian meals (isn't Dh going to LOVE that!). We are also attempting to provide a "filler" with every meal (rice, bread, beans).

December's cooking projects

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Part of simplifying my monthly meal planning was to also do as much work ahead of time so that meal time was easier on all of us. With that in mind I tried to do as much prep work in advance as I could. Here is the list of the prep work I got done in December:


*25 Sausage biscuits, from scratch, in the freezer
* 4 spaghetti sauces in the freezer
* Pizza sauce, from scratch, in the freezer
* Pizza rolls assembled and in the freezer
* 4 batches of Cinnamon rolls assembled and in the freezer
* Pizza crusts baked and in the freezer

Once A Month Shopping ~December's Grocery List~

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Once the menu was planned it was time to get the grocery list done!

11 lbs ground beef
2 roasts
2 whole chickens
2lbs Chicken
4 packages of pepperoni
2 LARGE cans of tomato Sauce (the #10 cans from costco)
Basil
Oregano
Garlic Pwder
5lbs Carrots
10lbs frozen mixed veg
3c. Pearled barley
4pk Tortilla's
5lbs Mozzarella
3pk Hamburger buns
1 box lasagna noodles
2 BIG boxes of Pancake/Biscuit mix (Costco size)
2 Bottles Syrup
3 Large jars applesauce
1 Oats
3 dz eggs
3pk hot dogs
2 cases soy milk
50lbs flour
Cinnamon
4 OJ Concentrates
Sausage (enough for 31 patties)
8 boxes Graham crackers
Goldfish (BIG Box)
1 big bag chocolate chips
Veg oil
4lbs bacon

Week 1 Perishables (actually will be week 2 since week one is he first week when I do the shopping):
Lettuce
Tomatoes
Milk
Fruit

Week 2 Perishables:
Milk
Fruit
3 dz eggs

Week 3 Perishables:
Cottage Cheese
Ricotta
3 dz eggs
lettuce
tomatoes
milk
fruit

Week 4 Perishables:
milk
fruit
3dz eggs

Month meal planning

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When looking to simplify our lives the first thing I looked at was our grocery shopping. Meal planning each week and then doing weekly grocery shopping was taking up way to much of my time and was leaving my entire family crabby. In a attempt to simplify the process we decided to try monthly meal planning and then doing one large shopping trip per month (with a few small shops for dairy and fruit thorughout the month).

As I prepared for my first once a month shopping trip I worked up a menu for the month of December. One that has cheap, big, simple, healthy meals that when able can be turned into a meal for the second day as well

December's meals (all meals are in the order they were served):

1 Spaghetti
2 Pot Roast
3 Beef and Barley soup (leftovers from day 2)
4 Beef and Barley soup
5 Roast chicken
6 Chicken noodle soup (leftovers from day 5)
7 Mexican Casserole
8 Pizza rolls
9 Taco's
10 Leftovers
11 Sloppy Joes
12 Spaghetti
13 Chicken and rice
14 Pizza
15 Leftovers
16 Roast chicken
17 Chicken noodle soup (leftovers from day 16)
18 Lasagna
19 Hamburgers
20 Taco's
21 Pot roast
22 Beef and barley soup (leftovers from day 21)
23 Beef and barley soup
24 Leftovers
25 Chicken and rice
26 Pizza rolls
27 Mexican Casserole
28 Sloppy Joes
29 Pizza
30 Spaghetti
31 Leftovers

There you go a whole month planned out!

There was also muffins, pancakes, baked oatmeal, scrambled eggs and fruit for breakfast. And Leftovers, PB&J sandwiches, lunch meat sandwiches, and hot dogs for lunch. Plus as much fresh baked bread as my family could eat.

I'm back and ready to go!

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Eight months ago we welcomed our 5th child to our family and I freely admit it threw our family for a organizational loop. Just when we were starting to get our lives back in order we received orders to move from Hawaii to New Jersey. As you can imagine moving a family of seven (5 of whom are 7yrs or under) halfway across the world took a bit of time and patience. We are finally settled in the our new house in New Jersey and our lives are back on track, well as much as they can be under the circumstances!

Since our lives have taken such a dramatic turn lately it is only reasonable that our blog would as well. Our upcoming posts will be centered around simplifying our lives, finding the balance between family time and the structured running of a large family, becoming more self sufficient, my feeble attempts at crafting, and of course balancing the budget.

I have missed you all and hope that our blog is a help to someone out there :D

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm baaaaack!

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Well kinda sorta back :)

Since my last post we have welcomed our 5th blessing and as you can imagine we are a little busy over here!

I have lots of ideas for projects and posts to come in the future when I have a little more time :)

Just wanted to let you all know I am still alive and leave you with a picture of our newest little addition.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

End of month grocery breakdown.

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This week unfortunately we went over our budgeted amount for groceries. We over spent this month by $80.45. When we take into account that we did some freezer shopping this month (total of $53.44) if this had been a normal month without putting anything in the freezer for the future we would have overspent by $27.01. I am not happy about it BUT we have had a new diet development over here this week. I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes which means I have to limit my carb intake. This means that along with looking at the prices of things I also have to look at the carb count. So we spent a little more to get the lower carb item that I can eat without causing any health issues.

Grocery Breakdown
Breakfast:
$17.05

Lunch:
$25.82

Dinner:
$4.36

Household:
$28.60

Junk/Snack foods:
$14.93

Baking:
$4.51

Dairy:
$14.10

Fruit:
$19.13

Total with surcharge: $140.80
Total Coupons used: $13.00
Total out of pocket: $127.80

Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting ready for baby #5!

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As you can tell by the ticker over on the right we are expecting to add a new little one to our family in a few weeks! It is super exciting but has also been challenge since we are expecting our first little boy! We knew we didn't want to break the bank this time since getting ready for twins from scratch a year ago was such a financial drain. So we got creative and tried to get everything we needed for our new little man for the least amount of $$$ possible. At a certain point it became a challenge, and you know how I like challenges!
So here we go!
First up we have every budgets downfall; diapers. There is no way around it you are going to have to diaper your little one. I personally choose to cloth diaper my little ones. It is cheaper in the long run, better for the environment, and better for the babies bottom. This time around we will be using our newborn covers and prefolds in the beginning again, but we also knew we were going to need more diapers for him as he grows since I am also diapering the twins still. So we decided to go ahead and get the bigger diapers while they were on sale. We went with BumGenius 4.0's. They are adjustable for 7-35lbs meaning you buy the diaper ONCE and use it till potty training....really there isn't a better deal out there! Total spent : $196 with shipping.


Next up in our preparation for baby is meal prep. While nursing a baby those first few weeks there really isn't time to do a whole lot of cooking. You are tired and have your hands full with your new little bundle of joy. To counter act the urge to just get fast food or blow the grocery budget on convenience foods I decided to prepare a months worth of dinners and baked goods before hand. I know that sounds daunting in your third trimester but I have a a simple approach. I simply double a recipe that I am already making and then add one to the freezer. Simple. I don't have the exact amounts spent on the freezer meals right now since I am still cooking, but the amount will balance out of our May grocery budget so in reality the total cost is $0.


When sleep deprived and trying to make things easier for yourself digging around in a large chest freezer trying to figure out what you have on hand isn't my idea of fun any more than cooking is! To make my life easier I decided to keep a running log of what meals were in my freezer at any given moment. Since I am the worlds worst for losing any thing written on a piece of paper under the best of circumstances I knew it would be a bad idea when sleep deprived. To solve the this problem I decided to keep a running total of the meals on my white board. Now anyone can simply take a quick look at the board and see what we have available. Another plus is that it is simple to just wipe out a number and add the new amount when you use up a item. Total spent: $0

Next up we have the dreaded nursery. It is the drain of every budget. The crib, dresser, clothes, etc. It adds up FAST! Since we already had older children this was a piece of cake for me. Instead of buying a third crib that would only be needed for a few months till the twins go to a toddler bed we decided to use our co-sleeper for as long as possible. It also seemed silly to me to buy a dresser for a few months so we decided to use a plastic storage container with drawers from the playroom as our makeshift dresser. It works great and will be usable for years. The swing we already had from the twins, and I decided to just use a office chair that was not being used at the present for a place to sit and nurse the baby. It rocks just as well as a rocker, if we decide we need a rocker I can always move the one from the twins room that isn't being used. Now on to the costly items...clothes. There was no way around this one we needed boy clothes. With four older sisters I was up a creek on hand-me-downs. Where to find cheap boy clothes? A consignment store, thrift store, neighbors, etc are all options. I was very lucky when I joined my local mothers of multiples group that they have a 100% free clothing swap every 3 months. I took in all the clothes the twins had outgrown and traded them for a one years supply of boy clothes. This is a even better deal when you take into account that all the little girl clothes I traded I got for free from the swap when I was pregnant with the twins. Total for the nursery: $0


Lastly we have the carseat. When pregnant with the twins my mother was kind enough to buy us two matching girly carseats. They were adorable and I loved them, but pink isn't really a color I wanted for a little boy's carseat. Buying a new carseat wasn't an option either, those suckers are expensive!
Instead of buying a brand new carseat I decided to try and find a boy cover to go on one of the carseats we already had. I was lucky and found a WAHM who sold carseat covers on eBay for a reasonable amount. I was able to get this really cute one for $30.

I just couldn't resist the idea of a carseat cover that couldn't blow off in bad weather when I saw one online. It is a brilliant idea! I though know the limits of my sewing abilities and was not willing to give this one a try. Luckily my good friend is a wiz with the sewing machine and was able to make it for me for $35 with shipping. I am in love with it!

So there you go 100% prepared for baby #5 with only a total outlay of $261!
I am pretty happy with that total since we are having a new gender. Now to just get this little one here safe and sound so we can start enjoying the fruits of our labor!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Grocery Breakdown 3/22

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This week we are continuing with our freezer cooking and making some progress! So far we have 11 dinners in the freezer for after the baby comes as well as 5 dozen soy muffins for the twins! More about all that prep in a later post, now though I need to get my grocery totals in for this week.

Receipt Totals
Breakfast:
$6.28

Lunch:
$3.50

Dinner:
$36.44

Junk food/Snacks:
$13.51

Baking:
$10.93

Freezer Meals:
$23.26

Household:
$4.88

Total with Surcharge: $102.63
Total Coupons used: $0.50
Total out of pocket: $102.13


My goal for this month was to bring in our grocery budget at $500. So far we have spent $452.65 leaving us with a remaining balance of $47.35 for the rest of the month. Considering there are only 3 days left in the month after this weeks groceries are used up before we get paid again we should be good to go.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Week #3 Grocery Breakdown

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This weeks grocery shopping was done a little different. Since I am due to have my 5th baby in a few weeks it is time to start stocking our freezer with meals to hold us over for the first few weeks. I am really not a fan of fast food but cooking in the first few weeks with a new baby is almost impossible, especially when you have 4 older children to take care of. To solve this problem I try and make as many complete meals as possible before hand and store them in the freezer. As you can imagine when 8mths pregnant I am not all that over the moon about standing in the kitchen to cook for hours at a time either!

The easiest way to solve this problem is to just make double batches of what you are already cooking for dinner, adding one new meal to the freezer every night. So with this in mind you will see this weeks breakdown contains a new line item: "Freezer Meals" this will include 2 spaghetti dinners (will cook the pasta the night of), 1 taco dinner (taco meat frozen with shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, green onions, and tortillas), 1 pizza (homemade dough, shredded cheese, pizza sauce, pepperoni), 1 Poppy Seed Chicken casserole, 1 Minestrone Soup, and 1 chili dinner. So at the end of this week I should have 6 dinners in the freezer for once the baby comes. My goal is 15-30 meals by the middle of April.

Grocery Breakdown
Breakfast:
$6.16

Lunch:
$3.18

Dinner:
$23.37

Junk food:
$7.88

Baking:
$8.80

Dairy:
$9.02

Freezer Meals:
$30.18

Household:
$22.97

Total with surcharge: $117.64
Total Coupons Used: $15.75
Total Out of Pocket: 101.89

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March Grocery Totals

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This month I am going to be doing the grocery break down a little different. Honestly I am a bit busy right now and don't really have the time to sit down and type out what we are having for dinner each week, but I do need to keep myself accountable so I will be listing the amount spent. So here we go....The first two weeks of this month were done without WIC so the totals are for 100% of the food we eat as a family of 6.

Week One
Breakfast:
$3.75

Lunch:
$5.13

Dinner:
$23.17

Dairy:
$33.65

Snacks:
$9.18

Baking:
$13.63

Household:
$18.34

Total Coupons used: $7.65
Total out of pocket: $102.37

Week Two
Breakfast:
$7.82

Lunch:
$14.55

Dinner:
$62.35 (ouch!)

Snacks:
$16.09

Dairy:
$35.96

Baking:
$9.81

Total Coupons used: $9.40
Total out of pocket: $146.26


Total Budgeted for March: $500
Total spent: $248.63
Total Remaining: $251.37

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I bake everyday.

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Every.single.day.

I don't particularly like baking.....okay I am going to be honest with you I hate it. I am 7 mths pregnant and spending that time in the kitchen baking leaves me with swollen legs, aching feet, and the overwhelming urge to take a nap. So why am I in the kitchen everyday baking up a storm? Because my kids like to eat, they are odd that way, and my youngest two can't have any processed baked goods due to their allergy to milk protein.

For a while we tried just reading the labels on things and buying baked goods that didn't have milk on the label. The result? One of them ended up head to toe hives and the other one ended up with such a bad digestive reaction her bottom was bleeding. Come to find out companies only have to list a ingredient if it is more than a certain % of the ingredients. So a product can have milk in it and not have it on the label. What a crock!

The result is that all the baked goods for the twins have to be made at home. You would think a dozen muffins would last a while right? Wrong, these kids can go through a dozen muffins in one day. One of these days I am going to get smart and make up 5 dozen at a time, but right now I am just too tired to spend that kind of time on my feet.

Anyways I thought I would share some of my kids favorite treats. Yes, they are all dairy free but you can change any listing of soy milk to regular milk. I am not crazy about the banana oat drops and the kids have yet to try them so I will hold off on sharing that recipe.

Here we have a picture of today's baking results:

Apple Muffins, Apple & Blueberry "wheat thins", and Banana Oat Drops.



Apple Muffins

***This recipe can be for any type of sweet muffin you like, just change the puree used. We have made this using applesauce, bananas, apples and carrots, etc. Just make sure you keep the amount the same***

1 1/2c Flour

3/4c. Sugar

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1tsp. Baking Soda

1/2tsp Salt

1 1/2c applesauce

1 egg

1/3c Vegetable Oil

1/4c Plain Soy milk

1 tsp Lemon juice

*Heat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients and pour into muffin pan. Bake 25-30 min.


Homemade "Wheat thins"

***You can make these any flavor you want by changing the plain oatmeal to a flavored one. I used Apple & Blueberry granola and they were a big hit***

3c. uncooked oatmeal

2c. unbleached white flour (or 1c. white and 1c. wheat)

1c. Wheat germ

3Tbsp. sugar

1tsp. Salt

3/4c Vegetable oil

1 c. water

*Heat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together and roll out on to two cookie sheets. Cut into squares or diamonds using a pizza cutter. Bake for 15min.



Fruity Puree Cookies

***Again you can make these using any fruit puree you want, also I didn't have soy flour so I just replaced it with a equal amount of wheat flour and they worked out great***

3/4c Brown Sugar

3/4c Vegetable oil

1c. Applesauce

1/2tsp salt

1tsp Vanilla

1/2c. Oat bran

1/2c. Wheat Germ

1 1/2c. Wheat flour

1/2c. Soy flour

*Heat oven to 350. Combine sugar and oil and mix till smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and chill for 30min. Make into little balls and place on a greased cookie sheet, flatten slightly with a fork. Bake 12-14 min.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Frugal websites

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I know most of the people reading my blog are doing so to get ideas for living more frugally. To help each of you with finding some more frugal ideas or motivation I thought I would post some of my favorite websites and forums. Each has tons of great ideas and motivation to keep going.

Websites:
Eat at Home Cooks Amazing site for simple eat at home meals, how to freeze meals, cooking in bulk, etc.
Frugal Families Seriously a little bit of everything. Frugal holidays, pet care, cleaning, organizing, cooking, etc.
Down to Earth A lovely lady who does just about everything from scratch and lives pretty much totally self sufficiently on her farm.
Hillbilly Housewife lots of info on eating cheaply but with your health in mind.
Life. On a Budget Blog dedicated to living on one income successfully.
Money Saving Mom Site dedicated to helping you find deals and stretch your income.
Owl Haven A mom of 10 talks about how she makes the most of her grocery budget.


Forums:
Down to Earth A forum from the same site as above. Dedicated to the pursuit of living simply.
Living Like No One Else A forum dedicated to people following Dave Ramsey's financial advice. Tons of financial help and advice.


So there you go a list of sites that give me my inspiration to keep going and find the next frugal challenge!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The time it takes to coupon.

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Many people I know have told me that they just don't have the time to coupon. It takes to long to look through all the websites, print the coupons, cut them out, and organize them. Plus then there are the newspapers to buy and go through, then more clipping and organizing. I personally do not buy any newspapers, I can get better inserts for free at my local commissary so I will be talking only about the time it takes to do printable coupons.

My kiddos take a 2-3 hour nap every day, those that are too old for a nap have "quiet time". I normally use this time to bake muffins for the next day or catch-up on my vacuuming (one of my little ones is terrified of the vacuum). One day a week however I use this time to do my couponing. Today decided to track how long it took me to get everything done from start to finish.

It took me 2 hours to go through all my websites and get everything printed out, clipped, and organized into my coupon binder. Granted I did take a few timeouts to resettle a little one who didn't want to nap and check my facebook messages. Plus this week I took the time to add up the amounts from the coupons I clipped so I could give you the total. I would say on a day when I have no distractions I could get it all done in a hour and a half, but who are we kidding I am a mother of 4 children 6yrs and under, my life is rarely distraction free.

So this week I printed and organized coupons totaling $67.30 that would be $33.65 per hour. I don't know about you but I think my time is worth $33.65 a hour! Now that is just printing the coupons I will use: the granola bars, yogurts, toilet paper, crackers, etc that we actually use on a weekly basis. Added to those coupons are the ones that we may use: laundry soap, medicine, cleaning supplies, etc. that are normally cheaper when buying a alternate brand. You never know though when something is going to go on sale and be cheaper with a coupon than the product you normally buy without a coupon.

I need to get a picture of my new coupon binder up. I outgrew my previous coupon organizer and had to go to a three ring binder to keep everything organized. My binder is not quite as detailed as The Krazy Coupon Ladies (check out her day 5 for coupon virgins to get her details on her binder), but it works for me.

February's Grocery Totals

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It is that time once again where we total up how we did on our grocery budget. This month we used quite a bit less in coupons, but we also bought less groceries total this month.

Total spent on groceries: $200.20
Amount budgeted: $250
Total Remaining: $49.80

Coupons Used: $10.45

Now is also the time of the month when we decide what our next challenge is going to be. What will we challenge ourselves to do in March? I think March will be a savings account challenge.....

March's goal: $500 extra into our savings account for our upcoming overseas move.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Grandmother's Potato Soup Recipe

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I am a strong believer that we can learn a great deal from our ancestors. Both of my Grandmothers lived through tough times and as a result learned a great deal. They both passed down some really frugal yet wonderful tasting recipes that they learned through out their lives. Who would I be not to take their knowledge and apply it to my life? My paternal grandmother raised 7 children, 6 of whom were growing boys, on a single seasonal income. She has a recipe for Potato Soup that is super cheap and I find to be the ultimate comfort food. My mother began making this soup when she married my father but being a true southerner she added my maternal grandmother's recipe for cornbread. Add the two together and you get a super filling dinner that costs next to nothing.

Potato Soup
Bring a pot of water up to a boil and add as many cubed bite size chunks of potatoes as your family will eat. Once the potatoes start to get tender add in 1/2 a stick of butter, 2-3 cups of milk (depends on the size of your pot, you want the water to turn white) and some salt and pepper. Continue boiling until the potatoes are tender.

Corn Bread
1 1/4c All purpose Flour
3/4c. Corn meal
1c Milk
1 egg
1/2tsp Salt

Combine all ingredients and bake at 400 for 25min.

I know not the most nutritious dinner in the world but it is hot, filling, and yummy! I find myself craving this dinner any time the weather gets cold or I am starting to get sick. I guess this is my version of Chicken Noodle Soup for colds.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Meal planning and Grocery Breakdown 2/19 - 3/2

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This week is a little different around here. My husband's father is not doing well so he flew home to be with his family. Leaving me one less mouth to feed till he comes home. Also since he is gone I am able to make cheaper meals that he is not crazy about (he hates soups) and make them last for 2 days instead of one. We had a total of $83.41 left of our reduced grocery budget this month. This week we spent $34.51 leaving us with a total of $48.90 for the rest of this month. We *should be* done with our grocery shopping for this month though!

Meal Plan
Breakfast:
*French toast sticks
*Vegan muffins
*Waffles
*Pancakes
*Biscuits and scrambled eggs

Lunch:
*Leftovers

*PB&J Sandwiches
*Turkey Sandwiches
*Ham Sandwiches

Dinner:
*Chicken Pot Pie with Spinach Salad
*Chicken with tomatoes and Basil
*Chicken and Egg Drop Soup
*Chicken Fajitas
*Sour Cream and Enchilada Casserole
*Turkey Taco Salad

Grocery Breakdown
Breakfast:
$2.50

Lunch:
$1.75

Dinner:
$7.16

Snacks:
$11.76

Baking Supplies:
$11.27

Household:
$1.29

Total with Surcharge: $38.26
Total Coupons used: $3.75
Total Out of Pocket:$34.51

Monday, February 14, 2011

Meal Plan and Grocery breakdown week of Feb 14th

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We are still trying to operate on a bare bones grocery budget and so far so good. You will notice that this weeks grocery bill was kept low by using the stockpiled chicken that I got on sale last week. We have $84.31 left out of our original $250 budgeted amount.

Meal Plan:

Breakfast
*Waffles
*Pancakes
*Cereal
*Scrambled eggs and biscuits
*French toast sticks

Lunch:
*Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches
*Turkey Sandwiches
*Ham Sandwiches
*Grilled Cheese
*Leftovers

Dinner:
*Greek Fish Bake
*Chicken Potpie
*Chicken Teriyaki with rice
*White Chicken Chili
*Chicken with tomatoes and basil, green beans, and potatoes


Grocery Breakdown:

Breakfast:

$5

Lunch:
$7.99

Dinner:
$7.65

Snacks/Junk food:
$16.32

Dairy:
$1.69

Household:
$2.49


Total with surcharge: $43.17
Total Coupons used: $5.20
Total out of pocket: $37.97

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The best homemade pizza EVER!

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I have been trying out tons recipes over the years to try and find the right homemade pizza recipe. Either the crust was to thin and breakable or the sauce was to runny. Nothing seemed to work out right. Last night though we hit on the perfect pizza! If you like a thick and chewy crust this is the recipe for you!

Pizza Crust:
2 Tbsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil, plus 1 to 2 Tbsp for the pans
5 to 7 cups of all-purpose four
1/2 cup cornmeal

*In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and water; let stand for 5 min to allow the yeast time to start working. If it is active it should start to foam.
* Add 1/4 cup oil, 4 cups flour, and cornmeal; stir. When the mixture gets too heavy to mix effectively with a wooden spoon, sprinkle about 1 cup flour onto a clean counter and oil your hands. Turn dough out onto the counter and begin kneading. Continue to knead adding more flour as long as the dough feels sticky.
*Rinse out your bowl and lightly oil. Place dough in center and cover with a clean cloth. Allow to rise for 20 to 30 min.
*Preheat oven to 550. Oil 2 pans. Using oiled fingers press dough gently out across pan. Spread desired toppings on crust and bake 10 to 15 min.

****I only wanted to make one pizza so I put the second dough ball into a freezer bag and froze. To defrost just leave it on the counter for a few hours and you are good to go. It works just as well if it has been frozen or not.****

Pizza Sauce:
8oz can of tomato sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and use to cover one pizza crust.

Grocery Challenge Progress

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We set a goal this month of cutting our grocery bill in half and only spending $250 for the entire month. So far we are doing pretty well. Stocking up on a extra 8lbs of chicken breasts while they were on sale sure isn't going to hurt! We also got our WIC checks changed over so the twins are now getting the soy milk they need so that will no longer be coming out of our budget. I also did a inventory of our chest freezer and we have 10 loafs of bread, and 9 boxes of waffles/pancakes all which were bought last month on sale, thus lowering our Breakfast and Lunch categories.

Our progress this month:

2/3: $30 for Soy milk (before the WIC change over)
2/7: $94.78 Groceries as listed in post below
2/10: $2.94 for WIC shopping (went over $0.94 on my WIC fruit and veg check and gave a $2 tip to the bagger)

Total left: $122.28

Our goal is to not go to the grocery store until the 14th when we get paid again. As you can see by our meal plan below I only worked out 6 dinners to get us through the 7 days till pay day. My plan was that the 7th day would be a leftover clean out dinner. It is pretty simple you serve all the odds and ends of leftovers at one meal. Everyone gets a different meal, your fridge gets some space, and your budget gets a little breathing room!

Meal Plan and Grocery list, week of Feb. 7th

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I am a little behind in posting this weeks meal plan and grocery budget (oops!). This weeks grocery bill was done without WIC so our Dairy and Fruit and Veg categories are higher than normal. Also they had a killer sale on chicken breasts so I added a stockpiling category to this weeks budget.

Meal Plan

Breakfast:
*Waffles
*Pancakes
*French toast sticks
*Biscuits and scrambled eggs

Lunch
*Turkey Sandwiches
*Tuna Sandwiches
*Leftovers
*Grilled Cheese

Dinner
*Spaghetti and Romain Salad
*Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans
*Homemade Pizza
*Chicken Fajitas with Fried rice
*Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas
*Meatball subs and green beans

Grocery Breakdown:

Breakfast:
$0

Lunch:
$6.56

Dinner:
$24.90

Snacks/Junk food:
$14.06

Dairy:
$17.09

Fruit and Veg:
$9.68

Stocking up:
$15.78

Household:
$3.65

Total with Surcharge: $96.28
Coupons used: $1.50 (We were having printer issues this week)
Total out of pocket: $94.78

Sunday, February 6, 2011

This months progress.

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This month we had some pretty lofty goals.


1.) Pay off the van loan and be officially DEBT FREE!

2.) Add enough to our savings account to fill our travel fund halfway.


Good news is we PAID OFF OUR VAN! So exciting! I have never been so excited to see a $0.00 balance in my life! I don't think it will really feel real until I have the title in my hand and the loan is gone from my banking page. Also we were able to fill our savings account past halfway! As you can see from our progress chart we are getting pretty close to filling up our travel fund! It will be so nice to accomplish a PCS without encountering any new debt along the way. Can't wait till our next paycheck when I get to color in some new lines :)

Creamy Mexican Pasta

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A few days ago we tried another new recipe, Creamy Mexican Pasta. It was super yummy! Super simple to put together with cream cheese, salsa, chicken, some milk and chicken stock. The kids were SUPER excited to have macaroni for dinner and even hubby ate this twice in one day :)
As you know this week I am doing reviews of my new cookbook. So far we have like 3 out of 4! I think we would have liked the Jazzy Ramen more if we had used a different type of noodle. Something with a little bit of a bite would have been nice with all the soft veggies, I may try it next time with a spiral cut pasta instead. The chicken tortilla soup was incredible. I didn't get a pic of it but man was it good! Tonight I am making Chicken Fajitas and fried rice, I will be using the fajita seasoning recipe and the fried rice recipe out of my new cookbook. I am really hoping they are both hits :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Attempting some new cheap meals

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This week I am attempting some new recipes that are supposed to help you feed your family well on a budget. I started by finally reading a cookbook I have had in my pantry for over a year! I got this book "Family Feasts for $75 a week" back in November 2009. Needless to say I got a little busy soon after buying it since the twins were born in January 2010. The first half of the book is a breakdown of the authors methods for saving money. Since I have been working on cutting back my grocery bill for so long there really wasn't much there I didn't already know, but I could see how it would be helpful for someone just starting the road to cutting their grocery bill. My favorite section of the book was the chapter on making your own Sauces, mixes, dressings, etc. I am sure I will be looking through there more to pull out seasoning mixes to try! There were several recipes inside that I thought would be fun to try for our dinners this week. So far I have made a few of the recipes and thought I would share my experiences.
The first recipe I decided to work on was Pizza roll ups. Basically a Cinnamon roll made with pizza fillings instead of sugar and butter. We used cream cheese, tomato paste, mozzarella cheese, peperoni and seasonings. As you can see my homemade pizza dough rose very well! No need to worry my yeast wasn't fresh! For my personal taste the tomato paste was a little pasty. Next time I think I will either thin it out a little with some water or try a spaghetti or pizza sauce. The kiddos were not too sure of the rolls, my oldest was game and ate most of hers since she could see the peperoni, my 4yr old on the other hand was not too sure and didn't eat any. I personally liked them and had some for leftovers today. Hubby seemed to like them as well and even though I thought I had a ton leftover the container is almost empty.

Next up we have Jazzy Ramen. Now I am not a fan of Ramen, honestly I have not had Ramen since I was in college. I have never though of Ramen as being a healthy option so I don't cook with them. This recipe had a ton of veggies in it so I was willing to give it a try. In this recipe we had: carrots, onions, cabbage, and broccoli. It used 3 Ramen packets but only one of the seasoning packets mixed with some corn starch, soy sauce, and ginger. I made a vegetarian version for myself and the kiddos and added some ham to my husbands. I think I cooked to noodles for too long, they were kind of mushy and the texture just didn't work for me. I would be willing to try it again cooking the noodles for 2min instead of 3.... As for the leftover test no one was willing to eat the leftovers the next day.
So far we are one for two. Tonight is Creamy Mexican Pasta with Chicken....we shall see...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Making your own baby food.

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Okay, well really toddler food since my youngest are 13mths. I am not a big fan of those little jars of cut up carrots, apples, and "meat sticks" that they sell in the grocery store. The prices are just nuts when you compare it to 'real' food.

Take one of those little jars of chunked up carrots. At the commissary one of those little jars will run you $0.80 now that isn't unreasonable in itself but if you walk over to the produce department you will see you can get a whole pound of carrots for $0.80! Do you know how many of those little jars you would have to buy to make a pound of carrots? It gets even worse if you look at the 5lb bags of carrots... $0.78 a pound! How hard is it to peel, wash, and chunk up your own carrots? Yes you have to cook them to what I call smoosh consistency but really that time is all hands free. Set the carrots to steam set the timer and walk away. If you have a half an hour you can process up the whole 5lb bag of carrots, separate them into several freezer bags and freeze them. When you run out of carrots in the fridge just pull a baggie from the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge overnight or drop them in some boiling water for a few seconds and they are ready to go. This works great for all types of veggies and your little ones will get tons more variety and nutrients than if you only served them the little carrot chunks! Some options include broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, green beans, peas, squash, etc.

Don't get me started on "meat sticks" I am sorry but meat is not supposed to come in stick form! I shudder to think what is in those overly processed sticks. I am adamant that my girls get protein at every single meal. I would go broke real quick buying all those little jars of "meat". My solution is to throw several frozen chicken breasts in my crock pot and cook on high for 6 hours. I then shred the meat and stick it in the fridge. Done! Another option is beans. Beans are cheap, easy, full of protein, and perfectly mushy. Again the crock pot is my friend. I soak the beans over night and then toss them in the crock pot on low for 10hours (smaller beans get done faster). Just like with the carrots and other veggies you can portion them out between baggies and freeze any that will not get used in a week. They are the perfect finger food. Eggs are also a great option. I like to scramble up a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week and then dole them out for breakfast in the mornings. Easy peasy! Also great options are turkey burgers, beef burgers, ham, shredded turkey, etc.

Fruit I do a little different. For things like apples that are hard and need some softening I like to saute them in a little bit of 100% fruit juice just like you were making applesauce, just stopping them before they turn into mush. I personally don't freeze fruit it never quite turns out the same consistency as it went in.

My girls are also allergic to milk in all shapes and forms so if I want to serve the girls any type of baked goods it has to be made from scratch by me with soy products. Again the freezer is my friend :)

Monday, January 31, 2011

January's Results and February's Goal

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So not sure if I listed our January's goal or not I think I may have been distracted ;) So here we go....

January's Goal: Find a extra $200 to put in our savings account. (Found money being money either from selling items or squeezed from other categories).

Results: $302 extra!

Also added up all the coupons we used this month:
Coupons used: $47!

{Happy dance!}

February's Goal: Cut our grocery budget from $500 to $250 for the month of February.

I figure since the first week of February's groceries were covered by January's pay thanks to the way our paychecks fell leaving only 3 weeks to cover we should be able to do it. Gonna be tight but that is the point of a challenge ;)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Attempting to satisfy pregnancy cravings without breaking the bank.

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One thing I have learned through 8 pregnancies is that I LOVE FAST FOOD when knocked up! On a normal basis I can take or leave fast food no problem. Actually I usually like to cook and eat at home most of the time, but when pregnant that goes out the window. I want fried foods, cheese, and tons of butter! So in a attempt to satisfy my cravings and still leave some money in the grocery budget for the other people in the household I decided to try and make my own fast food.

First off we have fried Mozzarella balls. I want fried cheese BAD! So I attempted to make them myself. It really was pretty simple. Chunk up some mozzarella, dip it in flour, coat with egg, then into the bread crumbs, back to the egg, re-coat in more bread crumbs and then freeze for at least 20 min. Once frozen deep fry in vegetable oil till they turn golden brown. In a attempt to be more frugal I used one egg and equal parts water, homemade bread crumbs, and drained on a kitchen towel instead of a paper towel. Those little golden gems turned out wonderfully, and no I didn't share! Next up is my craving for Pizza Hut's Cheese Sticks. I have tried every recipe out there to try and recreate these Cheese Sticks and nothing came close. I finally stumbled on the perfect cheese sticks the other day. I make up several batches of this homemade bread each week. I got the idea of cutting the bread in half lengthwise, melting some butter, mixing in some garlic salt and brushing over the bread (OK maybe dumping the butter on is a more accurate term!). Then top with some shredded mozzarella and bake till the cheese is golden. I served it with some spaghetti sauce and I was in heaven. Seriously I could eat this every single night for dinner no problem!


Going to War.

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Okay not really but that is how I feel when I am getting my grocery stuff together. It has come to be quite the pile of stuff! I thought I would break down my process for anyone who is interested.

First I go through our pantry and freezer to see what we have on hand. Next I make a list of meals that I can make with those ingredients or by only adding one or two items. Then I go through my recipe binder or cookbooks to decide on the rest of the meals. My rule of thumb on this front is I only pick a recipe if I am already buying one of the items or only have to get 2-3 new items for the recipe. Take this week for example I found a recipe I wanted to try and the only thing I was missing was cabbage so I put cabbage on my list, then I found another recipe that used cabbage and I only needed 2 more items to make the second recipe so I added that one as well.

Next step for me is to go through my WIC folder and pull out the checks I need to use this week, marking off any items on my grocery list that I am getting through WIC. Making a second list on the right hand side of the page for the WIC items.

Third step is to go through my coupon binder and pull out any coupons for items listed on the left hand side of my list. I have no brand loyalty I will buy any brand if it is cheaper. I then make a list on the bottom half of the right hand side of all my coupons that I will be looking to use that day, making sure to list amounts and sizes.

Here is a picture of my grocery prep procedure:

And here we have a picture of this weeks grocery list:I bring my coupon binder, my WIC folder, and my list with me every time I go to the store. I then hit up the coupon shelf at the beginning of the store and grab 5-6 of the free coupon inserts. By the time I get to my cart and get situated I feel like a Olympic event is about to start, lol. I also bring my calculator with me and keep a running total of my grocery bill as I go through the store. I know I probably look like a crazy lady but I would rather have a running total and be prepared when I get to the checkout than get a nasty shock when they start ringing items up. I would rather decide while going down the isle if I can afford that second box of pasta than have to put it back while at the register because I don't have enough money to buy it. And there you have my war strategy!

Meal Plan/Grocery Breakdown Jan 30th-Feb 5th

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Even though the majority of this weeks groceries are going to be for February since we have not received February's pay yet we will be counting this in the January Budget. This week our budget is running a little tight since it makes 5 weeks worth of groceries so we have tightened our belt and cut out all junk food and non necessary items. I wish this type of grocery shopping was sustainable but my husband is going to want his sodas back :)

I also had a first at the grocery store today, I actually got something for FREE! I know many people have said over and over again how combining coupons with sales can get you items for free but I have never been that lucky. The lowest I had ever got down to was $0.10 for a item, which I am not complaining about! Today I needed Soy Sauce so I went to the store with my $1 off coupon only to find they were having a sale. The 10oz soy sauces were marked at $0.89 each. I double checked my coupon to make sure it didn't have a minimum amount of ounces and since it didn't I snapped that sucker up. I was standing there smiling to myself when I realized I had another coupon in my binder (which I always take with me now cause you never know when you are going to find a deal!). So I got 20oz of Soy Sauce and actually MADE $0.22! My husband things I am crazy for being so excited but I mean come on I was going to buy it anyways and they paid me to take it out of the store :D

Meal Plan:
Breakfast (served with milk):
*Waffles
*Pancakes
*Egg Biscuits

Lunch (served with Fruit and milk):
*Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
*Ham Sandwiches
*Tuna Sandwiches
*Grilled Ham/Turkey Sandwiches
*Leftovers

Dinner:
*Tilapia with homemade Tarter Sauce and Salad
*Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and Salad
*Chicken Fajitas with Fried rice
*Pizza Rolls
*Jazzy Ramen
*Mexican Bow tie pasta
*Chicken tortilla soup

Grocery Breakdown:
Breakfast:
$0

Lunch:
$7.64

Dinner:
$29.51

Snacks:
$3.50

Dairy:
$10.17

Fruit and Veg:
$6.73

Household:
$2.14

Total with Surcharge: $62.67
Total Coupons Used: $6.40
Total out of pocket:$56.27

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Coupons....

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This was my first month getting back into the world of couponing and I have to say I am having more and more success as the month goes on. I have long heard that you have to coupon for months before you start to see the massive success so often shared by others and I am finding that to be true. You need time to build up your coupon stockpile but once you have a fair amount it gets a lot easier to save money. By watching for sales and stocking up using your coupons you can save a fortune.


The first step in couponing is to save up and organize your coupons. In the past I was forever getting irritated because I would bring only the coupons I was planning on using and would then get to the store to find a great deal that I had a coupon for but the coupons were at home! *growl* My solution was to carry all my coupons with me to the store, but I needed a way to organize them and keep them all together. And here it is....a coupon holder with a pretty laminated fabric on the outside. It fits perfectly in my purse and keeps everything together. The front pouch is great for storing my calculator, ID, and money. So I don't even need my purse if I don't want it :)

Total Coupons used in January: $40

Bargin Shopping and the Twins!

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Everyone knows that twins are expensive, after all you need 2 of everything at the same time. Our newest growth spurt has led to the need of 2 new convertible car seats, preferably for as little cash as possible. While browsing this weeks Target flyer I found they had their Costco Convertible car seats marked down to $37 each! I was sold right there! But wait it didn't stop there on the same page there were toddler cups buy two get one free, I was SO there!

Being the ever frugal mama I first made a stop at the NEX to get a price comparison after all even if the car seats were marked for the same price they would have been cheaper at the NEX since we don't pay sales tax at base stores. I browsed through the baby isle (after first checking the prices over in the Health and Beauty isle, after all I am always after a deal) and about had a heart attack at the prices of their convertible car seats! $189 for ONE! Um...no. So off to Target I went. Sure enough there were the car seats for $37 I threw 2 in my cart and was off to find the toddler cups! Final breakdown I saved $39.97 off of the normal prices at Target and $294 by not buying the cheapest car seat at the NEX :)

Meal Plan and Grocery Breakdown Jan 22nd

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Last weeks Meal plan was sort of hit or miss thanks to having company. There were several nights when my husband and his company were not here to eat so many things lasted longer as leftovers than normal so you will be seeing some repeats from last week as we get things used.

Breakfast ( Served with fruit and milk):
*Waffles
*Pancakes
*French Toast Sticks
*Cinnamon Rolls
*Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuits

Lunch (all served with fruit and milk):
*Tuna Sandwiches
*Turkey Sandwiches
*Ham Sandwiches
*Leftovers
*Frozen Pizza

Dinner:
*Honey Rosemary Chicken with broccoli
*Chicken and Egg Drop Soup
*Jalapeno Burgers and Fries (plain burgers for the little ones)
*Spaghetti
*Fried Shrimp, Spinach salad, and baked potatoes
*Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and mixed veggies
*Nacho chips

Grocery Receipt Breakdown
Breakfast:
$36.40

Lunch:
$17.64

Snacks:
$7.96

Dinner:
$38.58

Milk (Twins Soy Milk):
$10.17

Household:
$18.27

Junk food:
$5.25

Total before Coupons with surcharge: $141.53
Total coupons: $19.74
Total out of pocket: $121.79

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cleaning out the Closets!

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With a upcoming overseas move we are in the process of cleaning out all of our closets and selling anything that can be sold. In the past I would have simply donated all the junk and gotten on with my life. Now that I am determined to pay off our debt and save up a large chunk of money for our move selling it all is the way to go. So far this month we have made $130 with another $45 in stuff that needs to be mailed off as soon as I can get it all in the correct sized boxes and to the post office. In the past I wouldn't have bothered just because it is a pain in the rear to go through it all and get it all to the post office....it is still a pain but man am I having fun watching the total go up and up. Granted the total is going up slooowly usually $5 at a time but as you can see it IS going up.

So far we have listed items on ebay and craigslist with a good amount of success. We have also listed our baby clothes the twins have outgrown on a website I am a member of devoted to mom's of many young siblings as well as on facebook. Not the normal places you would think of to sell things but it is working. Also for all of my books, old VHS tapes (really who has any of these anymore?!), and DVD Box sets that we no longer want we have sold them to different websites that buy these type of things from you. No listing items and waiting to see if it sells just type in the IBC code and you know right away if they want it and how much they are willing to pay for it. Some of the sites for this type of service that I like a lot are: www.abundatrade.com and www.cash4books.net both of which are simple to use and pay you via paypal when they receive your box!

My goal was to make a extra $200 this month for our snowball and it looks like we may just make it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

1 Year of Swagbucks

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I am a huge fan of swagbucks! The program is super simple to use and really adds up quickly. You simply install their search bar and use it every time you do a Internet search, for every couple of searches you earn swagbucks. Once you have a certain amount saved up you can trade them in for prizes. Since it has been 1 year since I signed up for the program I decided to go back and check and see how much I have earned. I was pretty surprised I have earned $55 in Amazon gift cards! The best part is that I didn't have to do ANYTHING different than I normally would just use their toolbar! Today I traded in a few $5 gift cards I had saved up from the last few months and "bought" myself a few new books for my Kindle! I am a pretty happy person today :)

If you have not already checked out Swagbucks you should definitely Click here to give it a shot!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Meal Plan for week of January 16th

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I tend to meal plan from Sunday to Saturday since I grocery shop on Saturdays so here is this coming weeks meal plan and grocery breakdown :)

Breakfasts:
*Waffles
*Pancakes
*Cereal
*Scrambled Eggs

*Homemade Breakfast Burritos
*Milk

Lunches:
*Sandwiches (Turkey, Ham, or PB&J)
*Leftovers
*Fruit
*Milk

Dinner:
*BBQ Brisket and Pasta Salad
*Baked Shell Casserole
*Teriyaki Chicken and Rice
*Honey Rosemary Chicken with Broccoli
*Chicken, Rice and Egg Drop Soup
*Leftovers

Grocery Breakdown:

Breakfast:
$13.82

Lunch:
$5.95

Dinner:
$58.09

Dairy:
$16.85

Snacks/Junk Food:
$14.04

Household:
$20.43

Total (with Surcharge): $135.61
Coupons: $10.40
Total out of pocket: $125.21
**Fruit/Skim milk/etc. Covered by WIC**

Dinner costs were high this week because of having a extra mouth to feed due to having company staying with us. My goal was to have enough leftover from dinners to cover lunches as well. We shall see!!



Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mini Blog Vacation

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I am going to be taking a week off of blogging to spend time with my mother who is visiting. So far we have been to a Luau and are now off to the do some more sightseeing. I will be back in a week hopefully with lots more savings ideas! :D

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Today's Haul

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I spent today's nap time going from store to store to get the best deals based on our local flyers. Here is today's haul:
Here is the breakdown....

Target

$1 bread (white or wheat) I bought 9 loafs today to add to the 5 loafs I bought at the beginning of the sale. Making my haul 14 loafs at about $15 with tax. That is a savings of about $18. We go through about 1 loaf every 2 days so while I would like for this stockpile to last a while it should get us through till next month :) The nice lady at the checkout was a little in shock that I was buying so much bread. I explained that I will keep it in our freezer till it is needed, even then I think she thought I was nuts, lol!


NEX

24 double rolls of Charmin for $10 each. I bought 2 packs (48 rolls) for $20. That is $0.42 per roll while the next cheapest brand is $0.50 per roll. That gives me a savings of $4.00 total. Not huge but we are now set on Toilet paper for the rest of the month....maybe for Feb as well not totally sure how much TP we go through in a month.


VO5 Shampoo and Conditioner 2/$1.25. I bought 8 bottles for a total of $5. They are normally $0.75 each so I saved $2.00. Four bottles of shampoo and conditioner should last my kiddlets at least 6 months, so we are set there for a while.


Total Savings: $24


Not bad for a hour of my life....will be interesting to see what is on sale next week ;)


1/5 Meal Plan

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Breakfast:
*Pancakes
*Milk

Lunch:
*Left over pizza
*Juice

Snack:
*Clementines
*String Cheese
*Juice

Dinner:
*Smokey Black Beans and Rice soup
*Homemade bread
 

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