Pantry Cooking

The last two weeks were almost a success. I made all but 2 of the dishes I had planned. Those were the more ambitious dishes that took a lot more prep work to get ready. We also had yesterday as a “cheat” day. We went out to lunch and splurged on some additional veggies so we could try making sushi at home for the first time.

However, despite these little things we were able to do 2 weeks of meals with only one “touch” up shopping trip. So, I’m pretty excited. I put in another small shopping trip for the hubby today on his way home for more milk, eggs, cheese and a few other kid essentials. After this trip the next two weeks should be done with pantry cooking.

Pantry cooking is using up everything in your pantry or freezer before doing another big shopping trip. So, this morning I went “shopping” in my freezer. I was blown away with what I found. I had forgotten I had a fully made ready to cook meatloaf, a whole chicken and 2 frozen pizza crusts. So, armed with my freezer finds I made up a two week dinner plan.

With this plan, I’m hoping I’ll only have to do one large shopping in the month of March. If I can pull this off, we’ll have only spent $500ish on food. This will include the smaller shopping trips and the items from yesterday. This would be about a $400 savings from what we did last month.

Once March is done, I’ll let you know how it went and if we met our goal of only $500 on food and pantry items. What do you do to make sure your shopping bill stays low?

Advertisements

Crazy Mom Brain

Today Facebook sent me a ‘memory’, which is a picture that I posted a few years ago. It made me nostalgic thinking about my first son when he was only a few months old. Then in that weird way that my brain works, I started thinking about how different things have been and saving money this time around, which then led my brain to ……my boobs.

Ok, so there were a few more thoughts in between those two trains of thought but it was basically a weird line that most parents will understand once I explain a little bit more.

With my first son we had to buy a LOT of formula. He was a big eater and LOVED his food. I had low production and couldn’t produce enough milk to keep up with him and we were buying 1 large tub of formula about once a week. When you add that up, that’s more expensive than diapers. So, fast forward to today with my second little guy and I’m producing almost enough to feed him completely. We’ve had to supplement a little bit but since he’s been home we’ve only bought 4 containers of formula. One of which was a small trial to test out a different type. So, really we’ve bought 3, with one of them going to daycare to be on the safe side to make sure he has enough to eat when I’m not around.

This got me to thinking how much did we really spend on formula and how much are my boobs saving me this time around. Well, we use Enfamil Gentlease, which sells for about $25-$30 depending on which tub you get. I’ll use the low end of $25 per tub. We’ll say we bought 4 tubs per month, one per week. 4 tubs x 12 months = 48 tubs in a year. 48 * $25= $1,200. $1,200 on just formula and that’s if the formula was $25, since I think it may have been a little bit more, $1,200 is on the low end.

By the same math, at this point with my first son we had spent over $300 on formula already. With my second son, we’ve only bought the 3 containers plus the small trial. So, we’ve spent $25*3+15 (the cost of the small one) =$90. That’s a difference of $210 over two months.

Which brings me to the topic of boobs. These wonderful magical globes of giving. They produce the highest quality food that your baby needs. And it’s completely FREE. I know that some people don’t want to breast feed for one reason or another and that is 100% your choice. I am a firm believer in being true to yourself and doing what feels right to you (within the law of course). However, if you’re looking for ways to cut your budget after you little one is born I would strongly recommend breast feeding, it’s a money saver and, even better it’s a great bonding time with your baby.

This weeks menu

I’m doing another two-week menu because for the most part it worked out pretty well. Today I put together a menu and went shopping at Market Basket. I spent $106.00 but wasn’t able to get milk for Little Bean because they were out of the Stonyfield whole milk. I also somehow forgot to get garlic, which is ridiculous since it was on the list.IMG_20180310_193929.jpg

So, we’ll just pick those up later. I’m feeling pretty good because if we stick to this we will have gotten 2 weeks for between $50-$60.

You’ll notice that there is a date night on the calendar. We got our tax return last week and decided to give ourselves a small treat and go see Black Panther in theaters and will probably do dinner out as well.

So, when I shop at Market Basket I always check out reduced produce. Today I found lettuce for 50 cents and potatoes for 99 cents per bag. The lettuce was perfect and didn’t look wilty at all and the potatoes were fine. I got two bags of potatoes at 99 cents each (total $1.98) when the same size bag of potatoes was $2.29.

I also wanted to give an update on my Ibotta post from yesterday. My shopping trip today saved me $2.70. I found some great coupons that combined with things that I was buying. My list is below.

Ibotta.PNG

Like I said yesterday, it takes a bit to get a lot of money saved up but if you’re buying the items anyway why not get money back on it.

Keep saving and keep trying new things to save- within reason of course!

Couponing

I used to be very into using coupons and I still do occasionally. However, I’m not walking through the stores anymore with my coupon binder.

I used to spend a few hours a week clipping coupons, organizing my coupon binder and putting a list together for all the sales that combined with the coupons.  Now with Little Bean I don’t have that type of time anymore.

Screenshot_20180308-142244.png

So, instead I use couponing apps on my phone. There are a few that I use and I’ll be talking about all of them, but the one I use the most is Ibotta.

Ibotta acts just like coupons giving you money back for items you buy. They even occasionally offer cash back for the purchase of fruits and veggies and give you 25 cents for uploading your receipt.

The receipt has to be uploaded within 7 days of the purchase. The money back then gets put in your account and once you get a $20.00 minimum you can cash out, either thru Paypal, Venmo or through various gift cards, which include Walmart and Amazon.

The coupons vary in amount but start at 25 cents and I’ve seen ones as high as $10.00 (that was on some type of combination coupon).

I enjoy using Ibotta because I can scroll through the offers by store and then save the coupons I want. I usually do this while I’m watching TV. Once I’ve gone shopping I take a picture of the receipt and sometimes I have to take a picture of the UPC code on the items. Then I’m done, and within minutes I have money credited to my account.

Now, this isn’t huge bucks coming back to me, usually only a few dollars a week, but it’s just as much as when I was using the coupons in the store and it is a LOT less time consuming.

Plus Ibotta has online shopping offers as well with a cash back % off what you buy.

If you decide you want to try it, please use my referral code by clicking: https://ibotta.com/r/lcsvest

Thanks for stopping by and please let me know what sites you use.

Saving money by doing it yourself

I’m feeling so excited and handy as I write this blog because I was able to do some minor vehicle maintenance that saved us some money.

IMG_20180218_091421.jpg

Last week we realized our left headlight was out because the bulb had burned out. This is the car that Hubby mostly drives, he decided to buy the bulb and try to take care of it himself. Our vehicle has two bulbs, a low beam and a high beam.

The bulb that was out was the low beam.While Hubby was at work he bought what he though was the right bulb, unfortunately the bulb Hubby bought was the high beam bulb. So, after we figured that out, I went to the local parts store and purchased the bulb for $21.99 and some headlight grease for $1.49.

IMG_20180218_103610.jpg

We didn’t get to change it that night because we had other things going on. While Hubby was at work the next day, my dad (thank you dad!!) and I set out to change the bulb. We kept trying to twist the bulb out but were’t able to. The bulb was stuck in. At first we thought we were doing it wrong and couldn’t understand why the bulb wasn’t just twisting out, which is what it appeared to do. Dad was even thinking that we were going to need to bring it to a mechanic.

Thankfully there is Youtube. You can find a tutorial for just about everything. I found a video showing how to change the bulb for my exact year, make and model. The guy in the video was doing it exactly like we thought. Which is when we realized we needed just a little bit more torque. With just a small tweak of flat headed pliers we were able to unscrew the bulb and install the new one.

It was incredibly easy (once we watched the video) and only cost us a total of $23.48. The normal mechanical rate for a body shop to replace a light bulb is between $79-99/hour in my area. So, I’m pretty sure the shop would charge us a minimum of an hour and the cost of parts plus a markup fee. Which means we likely would have paid at least $100.00, minimum if they used the lowest hourly rate, to replace the headlight bulb. So, we saved at least $80.00!

Now, I’m not suggesting that you try to do complicated maintenance to your vehicle because you could end up causing a bigger issue with your vehicle. But the simple items like changing your own wipers or light bulbs can save you big on car maintenance. Before you buy the parts and decide to try something yourself, learn from my almost oops, watch the Youtube video about how to do it before you try it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A weekly menu

As you’ll know from my prior posts I’ve been looking at ways to save money. A no-brainer way to save money is to not go into a store. If you’re not there you can’t spend money. This is especially true for us because Hubby works at a store. When he is there, it is way too easy to say “can you bring home….”. So, with this in mind last week I put together a full menu for the whole week and went shopping for all the groceries we’d need for the week.

IMG_20180218_074301.jpg

I found multiple recipes on Pinterest that had duplicate ingredients or recipes that I have most of the ingredients for. For the most part it worked out pretty well. The original menu was as follows:

Saturday: Crockpot Pork- I had some pork butt that I was going to throw in the crockpot with onions and BBQ sauce.

Sunday: Roasted Chicken- I had a whole chicken that I had purchased about a month ago that was on sale. I basted this with olive oil and some seasoning. I roasted it up and made a pasta side to go with it.

Monday: Mini-Chicken pot pies- this was an idea I got from Pinterest. The recipe I found called for a number of ingredients but I simplified to four. Chicken, pre-cooked veggies, refrigerated biscuits and cream of chicken soup.  I pulled the chicken off the bone from the roast chicken, and used some left over veggies from a veggie steamer that we had the week before. I mixed the chicken and veggies with some cream of chicken soup. Put the refrigerated biscuits in an individual brownie pan (a cupcake pan is fine) and filled them with the filling. Then I cooked them until the biscuits were golden brown.  They were easy, delicious and simple. I loved this recipe it was delicious and got a thumbs up from both the men in my house. Hubby went back for seconds and Little Bean ate it instead of throwing it to the dogs.

Tuesday: Beef and snow peas- I was going to use a stir-fry recipe with rice. It changed from broccoli to snow peas because I found a deal on snow peas.

Wednesday: BBQ chicken in the crockpot. I planned to throw chicken in the crockpot with BBQ sauce and an onion.

Thursday: Chicken Tostadas– these looked delicious and would use up the left over chicken from Thursday, the left over tortillas from last weeks taco night and shredded cheese we had in the freezer.

Friday was going to be a leftover day.

So, knowing what the menu was going to be. Life happened and it didn’t quite work out that way. So, problem 1: I forgot to buy beef while shopping, I was looking at it and then started to talk with Hubby and left the beef area without purchasing it.

Then the pork wasn’t thawed enough to cook it in time for dinner on Saturday, so we had to re-arrange the menu. So, we didn’t have pork on Saturday and had it on Sunday, which pushed everything back a day.

We also decided to get Chinese take-out to celebrate Valentines. Which turned out was a bad idea because it seems like I got food poisoning from it and have been sick for two days.

So, overall we made and ate all but one of the meals, the beef and snow peas. Since this was mostly a success, I’ll be doing it again this week.

Frugal living

pexels-photo-256421.jpeg

Living frugally is not about giving up things that you love, but about finding ways to do what you love without costing a lot. For me, I absolutely LOVE reading. However, as you know books cost money. So, I’ve had to find ways to get books that are cost effective. I’ve tried a few different methods over the years but there are two that I’ve stuck with because they are so cost effective and easy.

The first is pretty obvious but sometimes overlooked. Your local library. Your library has thousands of books at your disposal in every category. Depending on the library in your town, if it’s like mine, your membership is free with being a resident. Getting your membership is pretty easy. To get mine, I had to just to show a copy of my car registration, utility bill or mortgage / deed. It took about 2 min to get it all done. In addition to books, your local library can give you access to internet if you don’t have it and activities for children like children’s reading time. Just remember, if you don’t return the books on time, you’ll defeat the purpose of saving money by owing late fees.

The second is something that I stumbled upon by accident a few years ago. I have the Amazon kindle app and realized there are some books available for free. Now these books aren’t (usually) best sellers or by the hottest authors but if you look you can usually find some really good reads. Some authors will offer a book or two for free to give them a sample of their writing or get you hooked on a series. They want to put their best foot forward, so, usually these books are pretty good. When finding books on Amazon, make sure you can say no to the next book in the series or your could end up spending more than you expected.

pexels-photo-832828.jpeg

These are just two ways to get good reads cost effectively. There are many others, such as local or online book swaps or exchanges to get new reads. This is just one small example of not giving up your pleasures (guilty or otherwise) when you are trying to live frugally and save money.

Getting Money Back

We do a lot of shopping at Walmart because we can get all of our essentials at one spot and for cheaper than other stores. In addition to being cheaper than other stores;  Walmart will also price match and accept coupons. So, you’re guaranteed to get the lowest price, which is great when you’re trying to save money.

Copy of Screenshot_20171026-125206

However, most people (me included) don’t have time to scan every single flyer in your area to find the lowest price. Which is why the Walmart Savings Catcher is so wonderful. Savings Catcher scans your receipt, checks all the local flyers and reimburses you if there is a lower price in your area.

At first I was skeptical, but I’ve uploaded multiple receipts and been reimbursed a total of $55.55 over the last two and a half years. It doesn’t sound like a lot and probably would be more if I had uploaded every receipt but every little bit counts. I’ve cashed out multiple times and it is very easy.

Uploading a receipt is fast and easy, you simply scan the QR code at the bottom of the receipt. In 48-72 hours you will get an email back outlining if  you received any cash back.

Then to cash out all you need to do is request to cash out and you will be emailed a digital gift card. You can redeem it online or in-store. To redeem in store simply load up the email and the cashier will process it as if it is a physical gift card. I’ve never redeemed one online but I assume you simply put the code in the gift card redeem area and it’ll reduce your order by that amount.

 

Earning Extra Income

A few posts ago, I told everyone that I was working on different ways to earn a little extra. I’m really excited to say that I published a book on Amazon. It’s something I had been working on for a bit and I’m pretty excited about it.

 

I worked in and around the auto insurance industry for over 10 years. During that time I’ve interacted with many customers and I noticed a common theme. Many people don’t understand auto insurance, what it does or how it works. In order to try and combat that I’ve written a booklet that discusses the insurance coverages that can be purchased on a standard auto insurance policy. The booklet is not long and is an easier read. It is written to be simple to understand and quick read that explains the basics of how auto insurance works. If your interested in reading the book you can find it here.

I was able to publish this for free on Amazon.com. So, far there have been no sales but the actual publishing of the book was fast and simple. The instructions were easy to understand and follow. I was also able to design a book cover for free using stock images provided by Amazon. The whole process was simple, easy, quick and free. I was able to upload the whole thing in about 20 minutes.

If you want to try publishing a book on Amazon, make sure you have the book fully written and then go to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. If you don’t already have an account, you will need to set one up. I did this a while ago and can’t remember how long it took to do, but if my memory of it is correct, it only took a few minutes.

Once you have an account Kindle Direct Publishing will walk you through the process of uploading the book step by step. After submitting the book it says that it can take up to 72 hours to publish the book. Mine only took a few hours, so, that time may be based on the length of the book.

 

**Disclaimer: This post does have links to outside items, this is not an affiliate link. It is a link to the book that I wrote, but does NOT compensate me unless you purchase the book.**