15 Money Saving Shopping Tips

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*tips aren’t in any particular order*
1. make @ least 1 meal a week with an exotic ingredient
Now, I know there are a lot of people who eat seasonally & locally so obviously this tips isn’t for you. But for everyone else, hear me out on this.  Pick a new food like a plantain or Yuca root and make a simple dinner with this ingredient. Plantains & Yuca roots are super cheap but rather healthy for you. Plantains are around $.50 ea and the Yuca root is between $1-2 a piece where I live. If you live in a city where there is a Spanish store, you will get an even better deal.
These foods are typically used in the Spanish communities and it is where I was introduced to them. Try looking for ingredients or recipes in other cultures that feed their families for less, like Spanish or Philippians or African nations, to list a few. **I wrote more about this in my previous Frugal Families post**

2. price match as much as you can
This is by far the best tip ever, in which you can save a ton of money. I personally, only price match at Walmart or Target. Out of the 2 of them, Walmart is my preferred place to price match. They make it easier since you can price match at any register including self check out. And they also do price matching without seeing proof of the prices. Even though 2 out of 3 cashiers asked for a flyer. At Target, you can price match but you need proof as well as you need to check out at the service desk. So price matching could be a pain at Target.

3. know the policies for each store regarding coupons & price matching
Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge. The more you know about their policies, the better you can use it to save your family money. And until you are comfortable, you should print the policy out and carry it with you. Just in case. Why waste a trip and waste your gas money, if you don’t need to.

4. make a simple menu……….stick to it……………
Now, I know there are a ton of resources for all areas of meal planning. If that works for you and your family, then by all means use it. But for us it doesn’t so I have to do my weekly meal plan myself. I look up recipes, figure out whats on sale, and put together a simple meal plan. And when I say “simple”, I mean simple. There is no need to make things harder on myself. All I simply do is write out the weeks meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks). Then from the items I don’t have on hand, I write my grocery list.

5. shop according to your meals
When you go shopping, instead of starting at the beginning of the store, start with your list and the items you need for your weekly meals. Get everything on your list and after you get everything you need, then you can leave or get the extra things that you want. By shopping this way, I always make sure that my meals, snacks, and drinks are bought and everything else is extra.

6. anything left over either save or buy extra items
Like I stated above, you use the money left over for any extra items. If you don’t have enough, then you don’t get your special extra grocery items.

7. learn how to play drugstore game
Knowing how to successfully play the drugstore game is the best way to maximize your savings. The items I buy at drugstores are: health & beauty care, medicines, certain food items, & household cleaners. I don’t use coupons that much for price matching, but I do use coupon for my drugstore trips. And whenever possible, I double up on coupons, savings more.

8. learn when & where to use coupons to maximize your savings
I stopped using coupons with my grocery shopping, since it was taking to much time and I wasn’t getting the savings that I really wanted. But like I said above, I do use coupons with drugstores. And in doing so, I get a lot of free or super cheap items year round. I made it into a little game for myself, where I spend $5-$10 per week and see how much I can get for that.

9. learn how to successfully bulk shop without waste
Buying bulk can save you money only if you know how to correctly buy items & learn how to store bulk items. Otherwise, you could end up wasting more money with unused foods. Make sure you buy bulk items that you use everyday. And double check, making sure you know how to store the bulk items you buy.

10. waste less
This is the biggest problem in my house. We waste a lot more food than I would like to. That’s why I have been looking into ways to waste less and use up more. I wish I could say our family was like the ones living in San Francisco, where they recycle about 80% of their trash. They as a city took on this huge project of getting rid of disposables and using items that last awhile. More of us should be doing what they are, to help our environment.

11. extend produce & other food life
Do your research on ways to extend your produce and groceries. There are numerous articles explaining different ideas on extending your shelf life of the products you buy, which does include produce.

12. start off slowly & work your way up
Start off slow, picking one area to work on or else you might get overwhelmed and give up. Add new projects or ideas as you feel comfortable doing them. You aren’t on anyone else’s time but your own. Remember that.

13. know what loss leaders are & how to save money with them
Loss leaders are the items on sale on the front page of a grocery store flyer. Those are the products that that store is selling at cost, no making money from it. It you learn where to get different flyers, you could save a ton of money. Remember you can price match any store to Walmart or Target, which includes drugstores, local mom & pop stores etc….As long as you can prove it, you are golden. I usually get this free new mailer every week in my mail. In the middle of this mailer, there is a small mom & pop grocery store always advertising their sales, which are usually pretty good. I use the one page teaser flyer and price match at Walmart. It’s great.

14. don’t feel embarrassed-It’s hard sometimes, to not be embarrassed. There are moments I don’t want to be frugal and save money. But I get over those feelings pretty fast when I know the deals I am getting is helping my family a lot. It enables me to stay home with my 5 kids as well as helps me do the extra things with our kids, we normally wouldn’t be able to do.

15. SMILE………..cause you saving your family money-I always leave the stores I get my deals with a huge smile. How could I not? I get some amazing deals, some I can’t believe I get.

Bonus tip: Cook Ethnic Dishes **This tip can be combined with tip #1.**
I thought about how the poorest countries eat for nothing & wanted to see if I could do the same.  So I went to  Pinterest, Google, and this site Global Table Adventures and found out this is very doable with limited prep.  At Global Table Adventures she highlights different countries with her dishes as well as teaching you a little about that culture or dish.  You can find some healthy cheap meals between these 3 resources.  Use this tip as an educational experience where you can teach yourself and your family about different cultures that makes up our diverse world.  This tip can be combined with tip #1.

Got any good money saving ideas?  I would love to hear them.  Free feel to post in the comment section. 

 

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We Don’t Fit The “Normal” Mold……..Accepting Our Differences

*this is a personal post….please keep any negative comments to yourself.  Thanks*

All children as special in their own way, with different abilities, learning, & views.  But there are some children out there, who are different, who don’t follow the pack, who march to their own beat, & tend to stick out.  I have the privilege of parenting two children who are unique, one of a kind, a spirited soul.  And let me tell you, that even on our bad days, I wouldn’t change a thing about my boys, I would gladly go down this road again, because they both have given me so much more than I have given them.

INTRO:

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When I was a young single mom, I thought I was the world’s worst mom.  I couldn’t get my son (my oldest) to listen, behave, or do anything he didn’t want to do.  It was a nightmare for a while and I had no one to help or guide me, so I could better help my son.  I have been brutally honest with my son and everyone knows he was a terror and at times still is at 15.  Starting at 8 years old, doctors tried to help me understand why he does what he does (at this time he was acting out) yet nothing was working.  Over the years, different doctors (he has seen a bunch) has given him the label of ADHD, Bipolar, mood disorder, & ODD.  We tried medicine, therapy and a few others things with no luck.  I didn’t want to put him on medicine after medicine.  I was worried of the effects on him down the road.  When we got the last diagnoses, I had enough with doctors.  How could they mistake one thing for another?

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My youngest son, who is 4 years behind his brother, is different than his brother, but has struggles just the same.  He wouldn’t speak, eat (hardly anything other than protein shakes for years) do what kids his own age did, till he was about 5.  I knew by 1 he was different than other kids.  The doctors diagnosed him with Autism, which didn’t mean a thing to me.  He has had an equally hard but different road than my other son.  My littlest son, whom looks a lot like me, is someone you won’t ever forget.  For example, when he 1st started talking around 4 or 5 (talking so others could understand him, I always knew what he wanted or was saying), he would use words and phrases from shows he watched like Star Trek & Star Wars.  Plus, he would add these big words and people would just stare at him.  Both my boys are amazing but different than societies norms.  They tend to have a harder time at things compared to my 3 girls.

NOWADAYS:
For me the biggest change in our family, was the day I realized that these doctors couldn’t put my boys in a mold.  And why was I trying so damn hard?  There wasn’t a certain diagnoses to help them, because there wasn’t anything wrong with them.  They are who they are, just as you and I are.  Saying my son is Autistic or ADHD or Bipolar doesn’t mean a thing to me anymore.  God made them the way he made them, who am I to change that.  Things changed after I came to this realization & along the way I have met some great people with children who are equally unique.  A friend of mine has a son, who is like my boys, a unique soul, because of the way he dresses, he loves to dress in girl clothes.  No he isn’t transgender because he is only 4, but if he is so be it.  That is who he is and we all love him for it.  Right now he is just a boy who loves the look and feel of girls clothing.  I was blessed enough to be ask to do his 4 yr photos, which came out amazing.  Everyone loved them.  And I was able to capture him perfectly in them.

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Now don’t get me wrong, we have good days and bad ones, just like anyone else.  My oldest is on one medicine which is a mood stabilizer, which he does need and it does work.  On his medical chart, it says he is Bipolar, but I hate using that word because there is so much stigma associated with it from peoples lack of understanding or how crime shows portray people who are Bipolar.  My littlest boy is still Autistic, well because it doesn’t change.  He doesn’t need any help in school, in fact he has made honor & high honors 2 times this year. All on his own.  Pretty amazing considering he was so far behind and didn’t speak till very late.

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I look at how far my boys, family, & I have come.  Along our path we found ourselves and acceptance that comes along with that.  The acceptance & love we have for ourselves and each other is the glue that holds our family together.  It’s funny because I myself am different than most, and in a way I have felt I’ve silenced myself over the years.  But with each day I am learning to let go a little more and embrace myself, all the unique & wonderful things that makes me special.  The biggest lesson learned from this is best summed up in this quote:

Do you have unique children who don’t fit the “normal” mold?  What is a lesson you learned as a parent from your children?  Or are you someone who doesn’t fit the mold?  I love comments and would love to hear yours 🙂 

 

 

Missional Women

Dollar Store Heart Hair Clip & Headband

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Every Valentine’s day, I make little things for the kids.  This year I’m didn’t have much of a budget, so I decided to make a few dollar store items.  My 1st project was 2 hair clips & headbands.  This was a simple, easy, & frugal which cost $3.00/for two with some ribbon left over.  I loved how simple they were and how cute they look.  My girls are going to love it.

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Materials:
*ribbon
*foam hearts
*headband & hair clip (the one I used had a hair clip, headband, & some hair ties for $1.00)
All of the above items were found at my local Dollar Tree Store.

Directions:
~FOR HAIR CLIPS:
*
hot glue a small foam heart unto a larger foam heart
*hot glue the heart to the center of the clip, which will look like this
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~FOR HEADBAND:
*
place a tiny bit of glue on the bottom of one side of the headband
*start wrapping the ribbon around the headband till you reach the end
*glue the other side down & cut the end
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And there you have it……..A cute & affordable Valentine’s day  project that anyone can afford and make time for.

 

 

 

Tip_Me_Tuesday_Share_TipJunkie-jpgNifty Thrifty Family

Frugal Foodies Pt.3

For a refresher here is Frugal Foodies Pt. 1 & Frugal Foodies Pt.2.  And here is part 3 of this series.

Some helpful tips to save money & eat healthier:

*how I go shopping: I make a list of every item I need for my weekly meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.)  My list isn’t in order of the grocery store, but it’s in order of the weekly meals.  Then I go shopping according to the all the meals.  Whatever is left, I use for extra fruits & veggies, as well as ingredients I need for snacks, and snacky foods.  This way has helped me save tons, as well as having my weekly meals all planned out, so there isn’t a need to splurge shopping.  I do save $20 or so for fresh fruits, veggies, or whatever we need during the week to get us by.  I also do $10 stockpile twice a month not every week.  I use coupons for the stockpile or anything else that I get at drug stores, Target, or Walmat, but I don’t use coupons for my food shopping anymore, unless its  a great deal on the items  I use regularly.  .  I am saving more not using coupons.

*eat before you go shopping

*divide the week into different themes such as: pizza, pasta, beef, chicken, veggie etc

*mark down any activities that would affect your dinner or the time you have to cook it.  Don’t forget to write down days when you will have company

*only shop on the outside of the stores- don’t buy anything in the middle of the grocery stores. If you can help it.

*don’t buy anything that you don’t know what an ingredient is

*shop in the am for great meat and produce deals

*stock up on great deals if possible and freeze it

*get an additional freezer- There are so many things that can be frozen, you would be surprised on how many items there are.  Start using you freezer more (included in the handouts)

*use a slow cooker to help with days you don’t have time to cook dinner (look here for some recipes http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/)

*make freezer meal once a month, once every week-however you decide to do it

*freezer cooking saves you time, money, & stress I recommend this at least once a month.  We do this for our weekly snacks 2 times per month.  Snacks are so expensive; this literally cut half of our grocery budget and puts more money towards veggies, fruits, & proteins.

*double a recipe

*plan meals around the seasons

*cut out snacks unless homemade (if possible)

*use healthy fats in your diet-eliminate all the others

*eat three meals a day-all with half of their meal with proteins

*shop locally helps you know where your food is coming from and you get to help a local business stay in business

*grow your own garden during the spring, summer, fall, & winter- you can have a few plants indoors that would work well in any room that had sunlight and wasn’t freezing cold.  Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and some lettuce are a few that can do well indoors.

*learn how to read labels & take the time to look at each product you want to buy

*go meatless 3-4 days per week & use meats as an accompaniment

*base meals around veggies, grains, & source of protein

*make more items to all items from scratch-this will save you money, tons if you make all your snacks

*Buy in Bulk- Costco, Sam’s club, and target (which has a bunch of bulk item-snacks)

*allow yourself & your family to have a cheat item, every so often.  This will prevent any break downs in your diet.

*cut out as much processed foods as you can (this was the hardest for thing for me since I was raised on frozen dinners)- this is an instant savings.  The way I got through junk food withdrawals is that I was able to find a quick homemade snack to replace the junk food with.  We actually found about 10 different snack foods that are homemade, takes less than 20 minutes to make, and satisfy my cravings whether it was junk food or sweets.

*eliminate shopping in the middle of the store where all the processed foods are, but if you do need to shop in the middle, my rule of thumb is that I don’t by anything unless I know all the ingredients on the label.

*eat more veggies and fruits

*know what fruits & veggies to eat in order (from going bad quickly to stays fresh the longest) this list is helpful to help reduce wastes in your home. (I just listed some produce, not all)

  1. Goes bad the quickest-berries, bananas, cherries, grapes, kiwis, avocados, spinach, lettuce (all kinds), and other greens
  2. Tomatoes, mangos, peaches, pears, melons, apricots, and squashes
  3. Cucumbers, pineapples, pomegranate, oranges
  4. Stay freshest the longest- carrots, potatoes, celery, apples, grapefruits

*Some freezable items are: milk, bakery items, butter, yogurt, cream cheese, shredded cheese, fruit, veggies (most things in item 1 of the perishable list can be frozen), and lunch meats to name a few.

*come up with or create new unique recipes- to keep it fresh- otherwise you may be more tempted to eat something you really didn’t want to eat.

* make your own baked goods- do this when you have time, freeze some for later when you have no time.  Making your own is a lot cheaper and a lot healthier than the premade snacks.

* start doing a $10.00 stockpile (which I do twice a month)- I picked 10 since it was an amount I could always do.  You have to set a realistic amount in order for this to work.  You spend the amount on items you house hold regular uses that are non-perishable.  You then see how much you can stretch your 10 to get the most you can.  This is an easy way to start working up your stockpile or to actually start a stockpile without breaking the bank.  This can take a little time but a lot of saving sites are doing this, go to momsbyheart.com and she helps you match up deals to get the most for your money.  And she does the stockpile 10 every week, so go see how she does.

*have fun with it- I can’t stress this enough

Internet– The sites I use are:  moneysavingmom.com, frualiving.com, momsbyheart.net (which is a great site for everything including free printable and holiday things), and Healthy Life Deals.com (coupons for healthy foods).  Just a side note- some of these sites are from down south so sometimes the deals and coupons are different.

Blog sites that I are my favorite are: Love and Olive Oil, Annie Eats, Fabulously frugal, Moneysavingmom, Momsbyheart, GoodCheapEats & Skinnytaste.com.  And don’t forget Localharvest.org is the best place to find CSA information as well as farmer’s markets and event going on year round.- where I found my CSA for this year-my 1st CSA.

*remember most site are from down south so items and lists might be a little different sometimes

Accessing local foods: days when food is reduced, consider travel costs, local resources & where to look

There are numerous ways to get healthy foods locally just in Peterborough.  In the Monadnock area there are so many more opportunities you can choose from.  It just depends what you are looking for and whether you want to get it locally or travel to stores for it.  Since gas is so high, this is something you need to think about because your gas money to the grocery store out of town comes out of your grocery budget.  You need to make sure it is worth it.

I put together a simple list of different options in the Monadnock region that offer healthier yet affordable foods:

*Grocery stores- Shaw’s & Roy’s, Delay’s, Antrim grocery, Nature’s Green Grocer,
*Farms-

*CSA- Check on localharvest.com to look at all the ones in your area & what is included in their      CSA program- about 10 or so in the monadnock region

*Farmer’s markets- happen year round now.  In our area alone there are farmer’s markets every day of the week.  Peterborough, Keene, Rindge, Milford, and Hancock are a few.

*Farm stands- Marlborough farmers John Plot(Dublin), Rosaly’s, New Ipswitchßhas a big one

*Pick your own farms- Rosaly’s, and Tenny’s Farm

*Community gardens- most bigger towns have on- Peterborough also has one

*Bulk Stores- Amherst, Keene

*Co-ops- Keene, Amherst, and Concord

*Plant your own garden- spend any amount that you can afford

*Community dinners- Mon,Tues,Wed in Peterborough

What are some of your frugal resources that have helped you?

~Sarah ~




 

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Calm Before The Storm

Today, I spent the day getting ready for a blizzard coming our way tonight and lasting till late Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning.  The Northeast will be getting slammed in a little bit, but thankfully we are ready for it.  I used to hate it when it snowed, since we were never prepared, but it’s different when you are ready and waiting.

One thing that happens for me everytime we get ready for a storm like this, is how it gives me a glimpse of our lives, without the ease of electronics, how the people lived way back when, in the olden days.  It makes me realize just how ease we have it nowadays.  But it also makes me aware how much electronics can take away from our lives if we let it for ex. less actual person to person interaction.  So, yes I am thrilled about tonights snow because it gives me some extra time with my family, plus it gives us something to play in.

So here I am, waiting for our blizzard preparing & making sure we have plenty of food & water, keeping candles all in one spot w/ a lighter, checking our inverter making sure it still works……..to mention a few things.

Are you in the red zone (blizzard warning zone), going to be hit by the the storm coming to the Northeast?  Are you ready for it?  Are you happy we are finally getting snow?  I seem to be one of the only ones happy about getting this much snow.   What are you doing to prepare for the storm? 🙂

 

Healthier Berry Crumble Cake

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I am sure by now, everyone has seen all over the internet and Pinterest different versions of cakes & diet cakes using a few ingredients, one being certain kinds of soda.  I decided for my son’s 12th party (today) I will have a cake as well as a diet cake since some of us are watching what we eat.  My mother in law was the one who showed me these cakes and then I did a little research looking different kinds of cakes, people have made.  There are a lot to choose from, but today I decided to go with a blend of mixed berries.  Here’s the link to view more cakes like this one http://www.pinterest.com/seraireland/pins/

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The cake is good is more of a crumble rather than cake.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the cake, so I would say it was a hit here.  This recipe is not only frugal, but rather cheap too (depending what you use for a filler like berries or apple filling or something else).  For me, the berries were on sale, which made the total cost of this dessert $5.46 & has 16 servings making it $.45/serving.  For the recipe, check out this link.  Her step by step directions are fantastic.  http://livingachangedlife.blogspot.ca/2011/04/recipe-review-berry-cobbler.html

Have you made this cake before?  If so, what version did you make? 

 

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