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Guest Post: Easy, Frugal Breakfasts

Guest Post by Lynn from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Breakfast foods can be a major part of a grocery budget. It is just so easy to grab boxes of cereal, packages of instant oatmeal, or boxes of frozen waffles.

Yes, you can use coupons and sales to get these items for a good price, but even sale prices can add up when you have several children. Three hungry kids can devour a box of cereal quickly. At least I know mine can.

The main reason that people buy these items is usually convenience. My mornings, and I assume yours, are busy. We are all trying to start our day, get off to work or school, deal with crying sick kids, or
just deal with everyday home life. Whatever the reasons, I think we all struggle with preparing healthy frugal breakfasts for our families.

I have found that I do much better fixing a home cooked breakfast when I can prepare things ahead of time. It is much easier for me to make things the night before so that it only takes a few minutes during the morning rush. 

Two of my favorite things to make ahead are pancake and waffle batters. While you can make ahead and freeze pancakes and waffles, my family prefers fresh, hot cooked ones.

So, today I am going to share my family's favorite make-ahead waffle and pancake recipes. These recipes are were specifically created to be made ahead and sit overnight; they do best when the batter has sat for at least 8-12 hours. These are quick to put together the night before, then all you have to do is stir the batter and cook in the morning.

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Whole Wheat Overnight Waffles

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
8 tablespoons butter ( 1 stick)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl whisk the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together. Gradually add remaining ingredients until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight for 12-24 hours. (You want to have plenty of room in this bowl because the batter will rise some. If your bowl is not big enough it may go all over your refrigerator!)

In the morning, cook on heated waffle iron for about 3 1/2 minutes each or until done. This may vary with each waffle iron so follow the directions for your specific waffle maker. Serve with butter and syrup and enjoy!

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Overnight Pancakes

1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or use all all-purpose flour)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water; let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Then beat in eggs, buttermilk, yeast mixture and oil. Cover and refrigerate for 8
hours or overnight.

To make pancakes, pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until second side is golden brown.

Lynn loves to cook and try new recipes. Lynn blogs at LynnsKitchenAdventures.com if you would like to read more about her adventures in the kitchen.

Note from Crystal: What are some easy and frugal breakfasts you like to serve at your home? I'd love to hear your ideas!

100 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year – Part 3

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I'm so enjoying writing this series on ways we've saved over the past six years of our marriage–and especially during those early law school days. It's been good to review various ideas which have worked well for us and I'm hopeful you're being inspired at the same time. If you've missed the previous two installments of this series, you can read them here and here.

13) Switch to Basic H for household cleaning. Those who have known me for some time have already heard me sign the praises of Basic H.
It's an all-purpose, all-natural, non-toxic cleaner which you can use
in place of pretty much every other cleaner in your home.

I like
it not only because it is all-natural and doesn't contain the harmful
chemicals most cleaners do, but it's also incredibly frugal. One 16-oz.
bottle of concentrate costs around $12 and makes 48 gallons of
cleaner–enough to last us for at least 3-4 years. That's quite a deal!

Caveat:
I don't sell this product, nor do I make a penny off promoting it. I
just personally really like it and highly recommend it. If you are
interested in reading more about it or purchasing it, go here.

14) Utilize Craigslist. Over the years, we've saved hundreds of dollars by purchasing big tickets items off of Craigslist for pennies on the dollar. Among other things, we've purchased exercise equipment, a living room set, and our kitchen table through Craigslist.

As always, if you don't need the items in the first place and can't afford them, don't even begin looking at Craigslist. But if you're in the market for something and have the cash set aside for it, definitely check out Craigslist. If you're patient, you'll likely be able to score quite a bargain!

If you're new to Craigslist, Carrie has a great post here with tips for buying on Craigslist.

15) Use Skype for long-distance phone calls. If you have a headset and a high speed internet connection, you can use Skype and drastically reduce your long-distance phone bills.

You can make Skype-to-Skype phone calls completely free of charge to anywhere in the world. If you want to call from your computer to a landline, you can use the pay-as-you-go plan and it's only about $0.02/minute for phone calls to 35 different countries. Or, you can sign up for an unlimited monthly plan for $2.95-$9.95 per month.

When my husband was in law school, my sister and her husband were living in Taiwan, so Skype was wonderful! Not only could my sister and I talk anytime–so long as we were both on the computer–but it was free of charge!

Skype does have its drawbacks: sometimes the reception isn't that great or there's a delay, but for free, who can complain?

16) Barter! One of my favorite ways to save money and help others out in the process is to use the old-fashioned bartering system. From hair cuts to babysitting to car maintenance, we've bartered just about everything under the sun over the years.

Bartering works especially well when you're friends with other frugal folks who would rather swap time or expertise instead of spending money. Not only is it a great way to save money, it also fosters camaraderie and community among friends.

So think about what areas you are gifted in and what areas some of your friends might be gifted in and then see if they'd be up for swapping services or other things.

To be continued…

photo by Refracted Moments

Ask the Readers: Saving money on formula?

We've talked about a lot of different things recently related to Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank. As many of you know, I'm a big proponent of breast-feeding and believe that in most cases, with the right support and determination, most moms are able to breastfeed.

That said, I know there are cases where breastfeeding is not possible–such as when there are medical or physical conditions hindering a mom's ability to breastfeed or when you are adoptive parents, etc. And in those cases, buying formula can quickly become very expensive.

Sariah recently emailed me her predicament and I wanted to post her question for discussion since I know she's not the only one who is struggling or has struggled with this:

I'm about to give birth to our fourth child. For reasons that
are too long to get into here, I can't breastfeed my kids. The last three children have required a gentle formula for
digestive issues, and I've been very brand loyal to Enfamil. It's
scary to me to consider switching to another brand, but Enfamil is so expensive.

Do anyone of your readers have ideas on how to get name brand formula at a discount or input as to whether
any of the generic brands (such as Wal-Mart or Target) are comparable
to the name brands? -Sariah

If you have suggestions or input for Sariah, I'd love to have you take a moment to comment.

Note: As I do my best to keep this blog upbeat and free from debate and I understand that the topic of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding can (sadly) quickly become a very divisive issue, I would like to kindly ask that all comments be kept to the questions at hand. Thanks so much!

9 Insider Tips for Successfully Selling on Craigslist

Make big bucks on Craigslist and become the ultimate seller with these super helpful tips!

Guest Post by Carrie from SpringsBargains.com

Have you been to Craigslist? It’s like the ultimate online garage sale! We’ve used it for several years now and have bought and sold pretty extensively. It’s a great way to make a few extra bucks and declutter at the same time.

In all the transactions we’ve done, I’ve learned a few tips on selling that I hope are helpful to you:

1. Post good photos.

Use a “real” digital camera, not a cameraphone or otherwise poor quality camera. A fuzzy photo makes people wonder what you are trying to hide, even if you’re not trying to hide anything!
Take several different photos (the maximum is four) from various angles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a horizontal photo and a vertical photo taken from the exact same angle.

2. Write an accurate description and price accordingly.

Your leather couch that your dog has chewed on is not going to go for the same price other leather couches without teeth marks are going for.

Disclose any flaws that you know of. Don’t say, “I paid $1000 for it 5 years ago and I only want $750!” If you think you can get that great of return on something you’ve used for 5 years, please don’t say how much you paid for it. In my opinion, it is rarely a good idea to quote the original price. It can almost always be used against you.

3. Note what area of town you are in.

There is a place on the form to do this. Are you north, south, east, west? What neighborhood? “Rockrimmon” gives a lot more information than “West Colorado Springs.” And by the way, everyone else in the world is not a zip code geek like you so putting only your zip code down is silly because very few people are going to know what part of town that is!

4. Be ready to respond to inquiries.

It should be obvious that you should not leave on vacation an hour after posting your ad. But you may post it and be gone for a few hours. In that case, it’s not a bad idea to include your phone number. If you’re not going to be able to check your email for some reason, include your phone number.

5. Don’t waste time on deadbeats.

If your item is in high demand, you will often get ten or more emails in the first hour or two. If someone is already trying to ask for a lower price, or wants to know a hundred things more about it, I don’t waste time on them unless they are the only inquiry.

Although it is considered courteous to offer the item on a first-come, first-served basis, if there are more than a few responses I usually skip over anyone who gives any indication they will be difficult to work with, such as wanting a discount before seeing the item, difficulty in arranging a time to pick up the item, or asking a myriad of questions that are irrelevant for a used item that’s being sold for a fair price.

6. Specify when you want to get rid of it.

We had over 25 inquiries the Sunday afternoon we posted an ad for a mattress. I promised it to the first person I emailed, and they were going to pick it up that night. They called later and wanted to know if they could pick it up the next day, which was fine but then they didn’t show up.

We were finally able to sell it to someone else on Monday, but it was maddening to sit at home thinking someone is going to come by our house to buy something and then they don’t show. We started putting something like: “The first person who’s able to come get it by tonight gets dibs!” on the ad to prevent something like that from happening again.

7. Save your “back-up buyers” emails.

Sometimes you will have someone not show up, or cancel, or decide they don’t want it. In that case, you could post it again, or if you’ve saved the emails other people sent, you can just email them all directly and and re-offer it to them. If the item has already been promised to someone but hasn’t been picked up yet, I will usually email any further inquiries and tell them it’s pending pick up, but that if there is a no-show or something I will email them back.

8. Meet at a location other than your home.

There are two reasons for this. One, you never know what kind of person is going to show up to buy the baby crib you’re selling. Two, it is easier to tell someone to meet you at the McDonald’s at a certain intersection than to give them directions to your house. Be sure to pick a place that is convenient for you.

9. Follow the rules and be courteous.

If your item doesn’t sell, re-post it according to the guidelines. If you’ve posted it twice with no response, it probably means no one wants it or you are asking too much.

As a buyer, it gets really annoying to see the same exact postings get posted every couple of days with no change–no new pictures, same description, no price adjustments. I have seem people post the same thing every day for a month, and I have to wonder if they really want to sell it or if they just like posting stuff!

Carrie Isaac blogs about deals in Colorado Springs at SpringsBargains.com.

photo by Unhindered by Talent


What’s on the menu this week

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Our freezer is quite stocked, but I have a few more items I still wanted to make up to add to it before the baby comes so my goal is to finish those this week. I've planned them into our regular menus so that I can just double or triple a batch of whatever I'm making to make it much easier and efficient. At this season of my life, this is one of the easiest ways for me to make up food for the freezer–especially when it comes to main dishes.

Here's the proposed menu:

Breakfasts
Whole-wheat pumpkin waffles, fruit  
Strawberry smoothies, toast
Banana bread, apples, scrambled eggs with cheese
Oatmeal with brown sugar
Blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs
Cereal

Lunches
Homemade pita pockets (make extra for the freezer) with melted cheese, apples
Veggie frittata
Spinach brown rice and cheese casserole (make extra for the freezer)
PB&J, carrots
Apples with peanut butter, cranberry pumpkin muffins
Baked potatoes with cheese and broccoli
Egg salad sandwiches, apples
Leftovers

Dinners
Steak, wild rice, steamed veggies, banana bread
Homemade BBQ Beef Pizza, veggies and dip
Three-Cheese Baked Spaghetti (make 2 extra for the freezer), cooked carrots, Italian cheese bread
Steak, baked potatoes, green bean casserole
Quiche, grapefruit
Veggie and steak stir fry over brown rice
Dinner out

Snacks
Muffins (from the freezer)
Cereal
Veggies
Apples
Granola bars

Super Savings Saturday: My Dillons shopping trip

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See all those groceries? We paid $19 for all of those! Our receipt said we saved $86, but that doesn't include the money saved on mark-downs. If I were to include those prices as well, it would have been around $100 saved. Of course, I would never pay $100 for those groceries, but it's still fun to realize the savings that using coupons combined with sales produces!

I was especially excited about scoring all of those Colgate toothpastes and toothbrushes for free as well as getting paid $2.50 per tub of baby wipes I bought. The Barbara's cereals were reduced to $2.05/box plus I had $1/1 coupons making them only $1.05/box–which is a great price in my book for organic, all-natural cereal!

If you have a Dillons nearby, you can see more details on the deals I scored and other deals here.

We also made a trip to Aldi earlier in the week to buy some more baking/cooking staples and a bunch of produce. I usually don't make more than one shopping trip per week, but I was so energized this week to bake that I decided to use some of my leftover grocery money from the last few weeks to stock up in order to completely stock our freezers.

So I spent $39 at Aldi this week, in addition to the $19 above for a total of $58 spent on groceries this week. I didn't quite make my $40-$45 goal I was shooting for, however, I used leftover grocery money from the last few weeks budgets so I'm still well under budget for the month of March.

And the good news? We now have about 20 dinners in one freezer for after the baby comes and another freezer stocked with baked goods for the next few weeks. Having our freezers well-stocked is certainly going to save us quite a bit of money over the next few months while I'm especially tired or lacking in energy. Instead of getting carryout or turning to more expensive convenience foods, we can just pull something out of the freezer!

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week? If so, be
sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please
remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got
this week and/or money you were able to save this week. Links which do
not specifically relate to this will be deleted. Also, to make it easy
for everyone to navigate quickly through
the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday
post.