Saving you $$$

Saving You $$$

Here are three easy ways that you can save money on household items:

1. Use less

This is really the easiest way to save money across so many categories.  Unnecessary waste really adds up over time. Just think of how much toilet paper a toddler uses every time they go to the bathroom (way too much in my experience!) or how much shampoo you use when probably half will work just as well.  Using less shampoo each time you wash your hair might mean you can get two months out of one bottle vs. just one month and that can really add up over time. So let’s say you buy a bottle of shampoo for $4 each month (that’s $48 per year), if you were to use less and only buy one bottle every other month you would be saving yourself $24 a year.  Now that doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you apply this practice to face wash, hand wash, body wash, lotion, dish soap, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc. it really does add up over the year.  I try to point out to my kids how much they really need of certain items and encourage them to use less and be more mindful when I am not in the room to monitor the situation.

2. Try generic products

I have had really great success on finding many generic products over the years that we have really liked.  For example, recently I found a face wash at the Dollar Tree that works just as well as its $4 name brand counterpart at Walmart.  I also switched over to Purex’s version of All Free and Clear and save quite a bit each month on laundry detergent.  Generic food products also are way cheaper than the name brand products as well.  For instance, Kroger has a generic fruit loop that they sell for $1.50 and the same size name brand Fruit Loop is over $3 and they taste quite similar too.  Those savings can really add up over time! Generic sandwich bread is roughly half the price of Sara Lee and tastes just as good, I promise! While every once in awhile, you might come across something that is not comparable to the name brand’s quality, in my experience, my family likes the generic brand just as much as the name brand about 80% of the time. So try out the generic version of some of your family’s staple items and rack up the savings!

3. Make your own beverages at home.

Kool aid, Crystal lite, tea, coffee, frozen juices, alcoholic beverages, etc. I can almost guarantee that all of these made at home will save you tons over time.  I always shake my head when I see Milo’s tea sold by the gallon in the store, because tea is super cheap to make at home. Kool-Aid jammers are just kool-aid in pouches (which I try to tell my kids!) And we will not discuss the markup on a Starbuck’s coffee vs. home brewed coffee…..we just won’t:) Another thing that kills me is that a Sonic drink or fast food soda costs the same as two 2-Liters of store bought soda (depending on the brand of course).

So we try to make most of our beverages at home, but we do occasionally buy some in town (cough, cough Target slushies).  One fun way that we have found to save money on drinks is to make our own slushies at home, all this takes is some kool-aid, ice, and a blender and voila happy kids.  So do yourself a favor and try to make all of your beverages at home for a week and see how much you can save because I am sure it will be eye opening!

 

 

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Saving you $$$

Saving You $$$

This week I picked three ideas to share with you on how you can save money on food preparation.  Besides shopping for deals and using coupons, there are many easy ways that you can stretch your food budget.

1.Use your freezer!

Out of all my appliances, I think my freezer has to be the one that I use the most to save money.  If I see a great deal on meat, veggies, dairy, bread, or even flour into my freezer it goes. **Public Service Announcement: Did you know that freezing flour for 24hrs kills weevils and their eggs?? It really and truly does.

I cannot even imagine how much money I have saved by using my freezer over the years by simply freezing things, instead of tossing them out.  Leftover spaghetti sauce gets frozen for homemade pizzas.  Leftover soups, cooked meats, birthday cake/desserts all get frozen for quick meals or treats:)

I also use my freezer for quick meal prep. I freeze large batches of cooked hamburger meat, shredded chicken, raw hamburger patties, cooked rice, and breakfast muffins to save myself time in the kitchen.  It is so nice to be able to make dinner in less time on busy nights!

Do yourself a favor and google all the different things that you can freeze…it is eyeopening on what can be so quickly and easily preserved for later use.

2.Improvise

Last year, I read a great article on the disappearing art of improvising in the kitchen.  The article focused on the modern-day person’s declining ability to make things from scratch or even to use clever recipe substitutions to make meals.

Long, long ago people did not go to the grocery store on an everyday basis (or even on a weekly basis) so they had to make do with what they had and improvise if they were missing an ingredient needed for a recipe.  This was especially useful during WWI and WWII when everything was being rationed.  Some of the best recipe books on substitutions came out during the world wars and you can still find them today online.  I think its really cool to see all of the ways that women continued to feed their families with the dwindling supplies that were available to them during those hard times.

Now we do not live in an era of rationing, but if you are trying to stretch your food budget and try to go to the store only once a week to save money, improvising comes in handy.  For example, last week I was making a recipe that called for a can of rotel (somehow it did not make it on my grocery list) so I had to improvise.  I found that if I mixed a can of diced tomatoes and a couple of tablespoons of diced jalapenos together it made a great substitution for rotel.

There are so many interesting substitutions out there if you are willing to look for them.  Here are a few easy substitutions that I have tried before that can be used in a pinch:

  • Adding a little vinegar to milk can be used as buttermilk in recipes
  • Make your own brown sugar by adding molasses to white sugar
  • Adding spices and brown sugar to ketchup make a great barbecue sauce
  • Simply adding baking powder and salt to regular flour makes self-rising flour

3.Make your own baby food

**This is admittedly not something I did as much as I should have.  Baby food prices are crazy(especially those cute little pouches that my kids loved) and they can be made so very easily too.  There are many great tutorials and recipes online as to how to make your own baby food that you should definitely check it out.

The easiest way to make baby food that I have tried is to make purees from veggies and fruits.  The quickest way I make baby food is to steam the veggie/fruit in the microwave until they are soft, then I blend them in a mixer and slowly add in water until the desired consistency is reached.  **It was eye opening to me on how cheaply baby food could be made when I used just one sweet potato to make over 4 cups of puree (you have to add a lot of water to sweet potatoes to thin them out because they are so thick!)**

To maximize your time and effort, freeze the purees in ice cube trays and then after they are frozen solid, pop them into a freezer bag until you need them.  They also defrost really quickly in the microwave or you can also defrost them in the fridge overnight as well.

If your kids love pouches, you can easily make your own purees and then buy reusable pouches on Amazon to refill again and again.  I have done this and it saves so much money!! ** The reusable pouches are not exactly cheap upfront, but when you take into account that each pouch you buy in the store is around $1, they really pay for themselves in the long run.

These are just some of the ways you can save money on food preparation, if you do some research, you will see that there are tons of more great ideas out there on these topics if you take the time to look!

What are some substitutions you have used in your kitchen? Do you make your own baby food? Do you love your freezer as much as I do??

 

 

Saving you $$$

Saving You $$$

This week I will be focusing on ways to save money on cleaning products for your home.

1.Vinegar and water

I know most people equate a clean home with a great smelling home,  but a lot of the products that have the strongest smells are not always the best for your family.  A few years ago, I stumbled across a ton of articles that explained how bad so many commercial cleaners were for the environment and for my family.  I started seeking out natural alternatives for the cleaners I had been using and I was shocked to find out the most natural ingredient to clean almost anything in your house was….vinegar!

Did I mention that I have a huge aversion to the smell of vinegar? Well I do.

But I was willing to try it out for the greater good of my family, so I diluted the vinegar with water and tried it out for a week.  Much to my relief, the vinegar smell dissipates as soon as it dries, so there was no lingering smell at all. ** Also, my counter tops were less greasy after using the vinegar mixture, so that was a definite bonus.

After cleaning my kitchen, I moved onto my bathroom and again, the vinegar did a great job. (Another cleaner that vinegar and water can replace is Windex and it works just as well I promise) While the toilet and the shower did not have the trademark smell that my beloved Scrubbing Bubbles had, the vinegar actually left behind a nice, clean smell instead.

The last cleaner I substituted vinegar out with, was my…sniff, sniff…Swiffer wet jet.  I love the smell of Swiffer!  But, I was bound and determined to give vinegar a fair shot on becoming my cleaner of choice for my household.  Surprisingly, the vinegar did not do too bad of a job, the only thing I noticed was a slight film on the tiles after they had dried for awhile, but it was gone a few hours later. ** I also use a vinegar and water mixture to mop my laminate wood floors and strangely it also leaves a film which disappears after a few hours too, so I guess this is normal.

Besides one of the benefits of vinegar being so environmentally friendly, it also is crazy cheap!! So its definitely a frugal choice for an all natural cleaner.

2.Concentrated all-purpose cleaners

While I mostly stick to vinegar and water to clean my house, I do also occasionally use Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day all-purpose cleaner.  But again it can get pretty pricey buying a new bottle every month, so luckily I stumbled upon a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s concentrated all purpose cleaner at Publix and decided to try it out.  It is awesome!! I bought this product over 3 years ago (I think it was on sale for $7 at the time) and I still have over half a bottle left today.  I simple add 1/16th of a cup to roughly a quart of water and it is exactly the same as if I bought a brand new bottle each time.  **Mrs. Meyer’s is also one of the better commercial all purpose cleaners for the environment out there, so I try not to feel too badly about using it.

3.Dryer sheets

Apparently you do not really need to use dryer sheets to keep static at bay in your clothes, there are many non-chemical ways to do this.  Some people use wool balls, air dry clothes, or simple decrease drying time to avoid the use of dryer sheets.  I have tried not using dryer sheets, but still managed to get too much static in my clothes somehow.  So a simple way I save on dryer sheets is to cut them in half or thirds. Yes this really works! I have been doing it for 3 years and it manages to keep the static at bay just as well as a full sheet.  I know it is not a huge savings but every little bit helps.  I think that I only go through 2 boxes of dryer sheets in a whole year this way, so that’s pretty neat!

How does your family save on cleaning supplies? Do you use natural cleaners? If so, which ones?

Saving you $$$

Saving You $$$

Each Wednesday, I will post three money saving ideas that will help you to save money in your everyday life.  Now not all of these ideas will be exciting or groundbreaking, but every little bit helps and according to one of my favorite thrifty phrases “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Menu Plan, Menu Plan, Menu plan

A huge chunk of the average American family’s income is spent on food.  While it is not always glamorous, we all know the cheapest way to feed our family is to eat at home.  Now, I know many people go multiple times to the grocery store throughout the week and that is totally OK if you can restrict yourself to buying only the items on your list.  But let’s be honest, there will always be something that catches your eye and makes its way into your grocery cart.  An easy way to avoid this money pitfall is to make a weekly menu plan and stick to it.

Take snacks with you while running errands(Especially if you have kids)

I cannot estimate the amount of money I have saved by taking a snack and a drink for my kids while running errands. Someone is always hungry or thirsty at some point in our trip to town and they always beg for a snack or a drink in the store.  By simply planning ahead, I can have one of their favorite snacks and drinks waiting in the car to enjoy on the ride home.  So its a win-win situation!

Use the library

If you are going to have to pay taxes no matter what, why not get something useful out of it.  The library is a wonderful way you can save money.  Besides having so many wonderful books to offer, most libraries have DVDs, books on tape, internet access, story times, community programs, book clubs, CDs, ebooks, and so much more.  Instead of having to buy the latest book or movie, just run into these wonderful establishments that you are already paying for, and treat yourself to some free entertainment.