Category: Frugal

Boots

Dragging three grumpy and stir crazy kids through the cold rain to several stores in search of boots–not fun.

We found a pair finally at Target–they cost more than I planned but I have been promised that this child who wants everything will not ask for anything else for months to make up for the $20 spent.:) We’ll see. I( could go on about all the learning that occurred today but my brain hurts.
I am tired and grumpy and instead of complaining about everything I am going off to curl up with a good book (I got a package of 4 in the mail from Amazon.com yesterday so have some reading to do) and sip some hot tea or coffee–I haven’t decided yet. The kids are off to test out Rachel’s black polka dot rain boots and get muddy and soaked. They will be in in an hour or so requiring clean clothes and a hot bath. After that they will curl up and watch Gorgeous for the third time today (once in English and once in Cantonese with English subtitles–which I prefer–you get a much better sense of the story that way and yes I prefer watching anime with subtitles than in English.) I am not just an anime fan but also a closet kung fu fan–I actually have a portrait of Bruce Lee over my desk with all my paintings. It was a gift from my brother in law. The kids have been enjoying seeing Jackie Chan at work–yes the movie has some other aspects that are less than suitable morally but which we have decided are okay in this instance and it is a great introduction to Chinese culture. We have had plenty of great discussions about various behaviors and aspects of the movie. Good stuff but I am too tired to make a whole post of it so it shall wait.

Works for Me Wednesday: Budgeting foods

Last week I explained how we shop once a month for the main bulk items and then every two weeks for the stuff you are bound to run out of or which will spoil.

Now, our whole family is home all day everyday.  My husband works from home, so do I, and we homeschool our three little lunatics angels.  We don’t do menus or even planned meals because we are together constantly and interact constantly and eat pretty much when we are hungry and what we are hungry for.  This means that we will go on food kicks and the kids will eat all the eggs in less than a week or my husband will eat all the pretzels or I will eat all my chocolate  almonds.  Whatever.

The point is that yes, we do run out of things. We will run out of things.  We are bound to run out of things.   In the past this is what got us into trouble.  The whole point is NOT to run out to the store just because we are out of saltines since that is when I spend extra money.

Instead, everyone knows that I bought this enough food to last a month and other than a few perishables that I will pick up  on my “small” grocery trip at the two week mark, it will ast us till the next big shopping trip.  I have my grocery days on the calendar so the kids know how long before the next shopping trip and if they decide that they want to eat all the waffles this week then they will have to wait for the next “big” shopping trip for more waffles.  If they finish off the eggs or some other “small” item (anything that is refrigerated falls into this category because our family owns a fridge that once belonged to my single aunt–its a bit small) then they wait for my next two week trip.  Both are marked on the calendar.

This way everyone knows that if they want waffles during the rest of the month they had better not eat them all the first week.  I like to think of it as training them to budget their foods so the good stuff lasts. 🙂 It also teachesd them patienc and wisdom and saves us money.

Frugal Friday

I thought I would share a bit more about our once a month shopping and what works for us.  I have several things that make this work for us.  I have three main places where  I shop once a month and other places that I use for “we’re out of” run-ins.

GNC: GNC is where I purchase all our supplements, including mine for RA plus all our enzymes.  Due to the food allergies in our house and Rachel’s neurological issues these are necessities and equivalent to purchasing prescriptions but without insurance covering the cost.  Therefore I purchase them during the first week of the month which is GNC’s Gold Card week–which saves me 20% automatically on my whole order.  I don’t shop at a company owned GNC but at a private, family owned GNC.  The owners know me and my kids and will often order exactly what I need so it is on hand when I get there.  They are also very helpful when I have a question unlike the other GNC’s in our area which are all company owned and have no control over their stock.  Because what I purchase is all GNC brand they usually have those items on sale meaning that more often than not I get what I need for 40 to 60% off instead of just the 20% off.  Since our regular bill there comes to about $300 a month without sales this is a big savings.  (I also stock up on the things I know we will need when there is an extra good sale.)

Sam’s Club (and before Sam’s club it was Aldi):    This is when I get our main groceriesI stock up on paper products (as I mentioned we have a house with too much space and plenty of dual purpose furniture so stashing is not a big deal.)  I also fill our deep freeze with frozen veggies and bread products.  There are also a few frozen  restaurant style foods I pick up–like egg rolls–which keeps us from going out to eat.)  Produce comes from here as well  since we tend to eat a lot of fresh when we have it–those five pound bags don’t last long.  When that is gone we eat frozen until I get back to the store.  We have a “when we’re out, we’re out” policy for many items that I consider treats.  Making fruit a treat is a good thing.  Eggs, soy milk, and bread also fall into this category.   We try to use up most foods BEFORE the next trip (other than crackers and that sort of thing which have a long shelf life.)    Meals can get pretty creative when we start getting low on things. 🙂

Before we joined Sam’s Club  I went to Aldi–there are certain items I will have to get there when we run out because my kids like their Fit & Trim brand of several things and if I am in need of small items then that is where I will go.

By shopping here once a month I save about $200 on our main groceries and another $200 or so just because I am staying home in instead of “running in”. 

Frankferd Farms: This is our local wholesale natural and organic foods warehouse.  Foods are sold in bulk with very little packaging and you wait in the warehouse while they load it into your car.  This is where I get my 25# bag of organic, unbleached white whole wheat flour for $10, my 10# bag of organic spiral noodles for $7, my 1# bag of yeast for $2, and the list goes on.  I get all our baking needs here as well as specialty foods for Rachel.  It often costs me less to get organic versions of bulk foods here than it would to get regular versions at the local grocery store.  I do not buy many prepackaged foods here unless they are on sale because the prepared foods are much more expensive.  It cost me $100 for what would cost roughly $500 at our local grocery store.

Finally, I occasionally make less than wise purchases.  With so many food allergies in the house I occasionally pick up a brand we find that someone is allergic to or we discover an allergy after purchasing the item.  Occasionally we find that I picked up a brand that someone used to like and lo longer does.  In some cases we eat it anyway but if something looks like it is going to be sitting around for months and no one touches I find it is time for a trip to the food cupboard.  We pack up everything that no one easts for whatever reason (the unopened packages) and drop them off so they will benefit someone else. This way we free up space and are helping others out.  Since my kids like to occasionally do a food run for the food cupboard anyway we don’t really consider this a loss.

WFMW: Once a Month Shopping

Doodle to come later–I hope.

You can find more Works for me Wednesday’s at Rocks in my Dryer.

I’m one of those people who cannot enter a store with my kids without exiting with a whole bunch of “we’re out of this, Mommy” type items and dropping $50, at least. And since my kids go everywhere with me, leaving the house gets expensive. No, I don’t give into their every want or even need–but when we are shopping on a weekly basis I end up at the store constantly.

When my kids were younger I was very organized with my shopping, I used coupons and a budget and only bought what was on my list. The problem is I spent so much time agonizing over it that my husband pointed out that since my time is worth at least $10 an hour (he figured it out) we were wasting money. And since we were wasting money with my constant “I have to run out and get this” moments and my love of running in more than one place “since I am out anyway” I needed a better, more time saving solution.Read More

Awesome Sale

Library and Educational Services is having an AWESOME sale. Since they are wholesale you have to be a homeschooler or teacher or someone else who qualifies to get an account but if you fit the bill this sale is incredible!

They have so many great things on sale for about 25% of the normal price that I can’t even list them all. A lot of A&E history DVD’s as well as stories of the presidents.

I just ordered the 5 hour long Pride and Prejudice DVD set for $15–its the 10th Anniversary Deluxe addition which prices at $60.  (When I told Shamus the price he said get it as an anniversary gift. :))

If you do video tapes they are selling out of those–they have the 10 tape set of Nest Entertainment  animated Bible stories down from $130 to $20!  My kids LOVE these stories but we don’t do video tapes so that isn’t happening–if we did we would be ordering them.

If you homeschool check it out–there are some great books and DVD’s available at great prices.  You have to sign up and give some evidence that you are homeschooling since it is a wholesale site but it is worth it.  If you want to see the email I received that explain the sale let me know and I will email it to you–it lists the sale items in detail.

Day in the Life 13: Kids in the Kitchen

When I was young I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. At some point my mom got me a Betty Crocker Cook Book for Kids and some other weird kid’s cook books (I tried to find them, believe me. One of them had humpty Dumpty on the cover and had recipes for “Purple Cows” and cucumber sandwiches, the other had a child’s hand reaching down to all kinds of awesome cookies, I also had the official Winnie the Pooh cookbook and several others that I didn’t use so often.)

I made a lot of messes and wasted plenty of ingredients but my mom taught me the basics and kind of just let me go in the kitchen–as long as I cleaned up I was allowed to play with food. It is how I learned and I learned a lot. When I was older I would often make desserts and when we needed to take food somewhere I usually whipped it up.

My kids are 6, 8, and 10. I have spent plenty of time in the kitchen with them teaching them to read recipes and measure. All three know how to use the stove and the older two are capable of using the oven. All three love to help in the kitchen.

Lately my oldest has been kitchen obsessed. Our rule is that she is allowed to bake or cook as long as she makes sure the kitchen is clean before AND after. (I don’t allow cooking in the kitchen unless it is clean and the dirty dishes all int he dishwasher.) She is finally to the point where I don’t have to be in the kitchen with her. I am letting her make mistakes (like not mixing the ingredients right and misreading the recipe–it is how I learned and it is how I intend the kids to learn.) Yesterday she decided to make pie crust for pumpkin pie–she can’t eat most of the pumpkin pie ingredients and she didn’t ask me what I substitute so I let her go.
She used Stevia with pumpkin and used way too much Stevia so the filling was pretty much inedible. However, the crust was decent though not mixed well enough. It was definitely edible. 🙂

Today she has decided to make peanut butter cookies. I am staying out of the kitchen.


After yesterdays mistakes she learned to ask more questions before proceeding and to reread the recipe. She is also teaching her little brother and sister to measure, repeating many of the fine points I have taught her over the years. Teaching another is one of the best ways I know to learn something yourself.

If she succeeds with these this will be the first time I have not been involved in the process other to take pictures and answer questions. It will be a real success–especially as she already did all the dishes and cleaned the kitchen unasked so that she could bake, and has already cleaned as she has gone along, instead of leaving a mess for later.

The best part is–since her snack foods are expensive and the ingredients are much less so letting her make her own snacks, even with the mistakes is MUCH cheaper than buying ready made ones. (And reading recipes is a great way for Rachel, my dyslexic child who struggles with comprehension to work on her reading skills.)

Update: The cookies are AWESOME! She did a great job!

Todays doodle to come later–I am intending to work from the pictures I took of them working in the kitchen since they were moving too much for me to doodle while they worked.

Our Favorite Breadmaker Bread

I posted this recipe in my original site: The Kitchen, and later on Graced by Christ. We still use this recipe often, in fact it is the recipe I use more than any other. My girls both know how to make it themselves and Issac is well on his way.

This recipe is our favorite breadmaker bread recipe. We use it for everything from the standard loaf to bagels to pizza dough.

My kids love to help measure for this, get out the ingredients, and watch the bread “dance” as my middle child calls it.

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Wordless Wednesday (or Sludge Pie)

Sludge pie: in our house when a kid asks “Mom, can you make me some pie?” they don’t mean a regular pie with a nice neat pie crust, they mean throw together some biscuit-y ingredients, put fruit in it, and throw it in the microwave for 10 minutes. Sludge pie is more of a tart type thing, or maybe a shortcake. Whatever it is is sure is messy to eat and the kids adore it.

To make it you can use your favorite biscuit mix or pie crust–whatever you have on hand, it doesn’t matter because the kids don’t notice. 🙂 The point is to fill it with fruit with a little bit of sweetener and stick it in the microwave.For this particular one I mixed some about 5 parts flour, 1 part water, 1 part oil with a little bit of baking powder and sweetener. I used my fingers to shape it in the bowl then poured in frozen berries (or peaches and pears for Rachel) and a little bit of honey. The texture when microwaved is very similar to an apple dumpling. This is not a science–it is more of a fun project and mommy thing than a culinary delight (although it is “nummy.”)