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Category: Earning & Managing Money

This Week’s $47 ALDI Shopping Trip

I stopped by ALDI today and got some great deals (as always!):

ALDI Shopping Trip

  • Mangoes — just $0.49 each (we’re not a huge fan of mangoes, otherwise I would have bought more!)
  • Watermelon — $2.99 (I thought this was seedless because it was in the seedless watermelon bin, but it was actually with seeds. Oh well!)
  • Organic Arugula — $2.49 (I eat this on salads almost daily and love that it’s so fresh and inexpensive at ALDI!)
  • 3 packages of Strawberries — $1.49 each (I was excited for a deal on strawberries — my kids love berries and so do I!)
  • 2 bags Frozen Broccoli — $1.19 per bag (I usually roast this with a little olive oil and seasonings. SO good!)
  • 1 3-lb. bag of Boneless Chicken Breasts — $5.49 (We’re going to use this for chicken on the grill & Southwest Roll-Ups this week, since I already have salsa, tortillas, cheese, and beans!)
  • 2 packages Beef Smoked Sausage — $2.19 each (We’re going to use this for Sausage, Sauerkraut, and Sweet Potatoes in the crock pot since I already have sauerkraut and sweet potatoes on hand and we’ll probably have enough for two dinners from this.)
  • Red Grapes — $1.98 for the bag (My kids love grapes and they make for an easy lunch or for easy snacks. Growing up, we love to freeze grapes for a summer snack, too!)
  • 1 can Pineapple — $0.89 (I use this in my morning smoothies.)
  • 1 bag Frozen Blueberries — $2.29 (I use this in my morning smoothies.)
  • Bananas — $0.82
  • 1 block Mozzarella cheese — $1.79
  • Cantaloupe — $1.49
  • Bacon — $3.89
  • 4-lb. Pure Cane Sugar — $2.59 (ALDI has such great prices on sugar!)
  • Feta crumbles — $1.49 (I love this on my salads!)
  • Hummus — $1.99
  • Total + tax: $47.94

New to shopping at ALDI? Read how we save close to $1,000 per year by shopping at ALDI.

I planned our menu based upon what we had on hand and what was on sale at ALDI… well, and what I was hungry for (hello, pancakes for dinner!)

We still need to buy 2 dozen eggs (we don’t buy them at ALDI as we buy the farm-fresh brown eggs at Kroger and we are down to 6 eggs) and we will also need to buy some veggies/fruit to bring to the barbecue on Friday.

I also ordered some honey from Amazon (using Swagbucks gift cards) since we were all out. And there’s a good chance I’ll stop by Kroger at least once or twice this week to see if I find any great markdowns.

But other than that, I think we have everything on hand we need to feed our family for the week.

This Week’s Menu Plan

Breakfast Options: Oatmeal and/or smoothies (I am having eggs, whole-wheat English Muffins, and fruit.)

Lunch Options: Cheese Quesadillas, Leftovers, PB & J, Snack-y Lunch (I will have a salad with canned tuna or salmon or hard-boiled eggs, plus whole-wheat bread.)

Snacks: Healthy Cinnamon Sugar Apples, Apples & Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Dip, Fruit, Popcorn, Peanut Butter Fat Bombs

Dinners: Breakfast for Dinner, Chicken on the Grill, Southwest Roll-Ups, Sausage, Sauerkraut, and Sweet Potatoes x 2, Dinner out, BBQ with friends (we’re bringing veggies & fruit).

Want to see more details on my ALDI shopping trip? I did a quick video for Facebook Live below…

What’s on YOUR menu plan this week? Let us know in the comments!

How Bad Etiquette Can Cost You

Emily emailed in the following tip:

I have always believed that etiquette is for everyone… not just the elite. Etiquette, to me, is the culmination of advanced societal norms. It helps you feel comfortable in any situation, and, even more importantly, it helps you help others feel comfortable, as well.

Many people erroneously assume you must be wealthy to use etiquette — but this is completely wrong. Yes, etiquette does have strong ties to money, but probably not in the ways you might expect.

In my opinion, BAD etiquette can actually cost you money! Here’s how…

1. You may get into debt trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Etiquette helps you be a respectful, polite person — it doesn’t mean you need to pay to have all of your clothes monogrammed or that you need a full pattern of silverware in order to properly entertain guests. By thinking of etiquette as appearances instead of authenticity, many people assume they can’t “afford” etiquette.

2. You may not get the job.

I guarantee that if you and another candidate are equally qualified for a certain job but they show good business etiquette and you don’t, they’ll get the job every time. I’ve witnessed this many times. As an employee, we are the face of a company to the public and a business always wants to show the best.

3. You may lose repeat business.

Even if you get the job and “work your way up,” knowing proper etiquette and how to treat people will take you far in life.

One of the top complaints I get from business customers is when employees respond with “no problem” to a “thank you.” I know, I know, it sounds small. However, Chick-fil-a is well known for responding with “my pleasure.”

The little things really make a difference, and etiquette is something that can take you from good to great.

I hope you see that etiquette is truly for everyone and see how, aside from having a more polite society, there are plenty of benefits from utilizing etiquette in our everyday world.

Emily Glass is the wife of Garrett and mom to Katherine and Grant. She blogs at Etiquette By Emily and is a compliance officer of a local bank and mayor for the town where she and her family live.

What I Wore This Week (Frugal Fashion)

I told you all that I’m taking the Get Your Pretty On Summer Style Challenge. So far, I’m loving this challenge and can’t believe how much it’s encouraging me to get dressed in a cute outfit every day, try some new outfit pairings, and just enjoy putting together looks. Plus, I LOVE the Facebook Group where women share their own variation of each day’s outfit. 

I thought it would be fun to share a round-up of my outfits from this past week in hopes that it might inspire you with ideas and or encourage you to take a little time to mix and match items you already have to create some cute outfits!

Here’s what I wore this week:

Shirt: Amazon ($18 Prime)
Shorts: Zulily Sale (no longer available)
Shoes: Amazon
Jewelry: Kohl’s Clearance Rack

Top: Amazon
Earrings: Amazon
Shorts: Stitch Fix
Shoes: Zulily sale (no longer available)

Top: Amazon
Shoes: Amazon
Shorts: Zulily Sale (no longer available)
Jewelry: Kohl’s Clearance Rack

I think these shorts are a little short for the top or the top is a little long for the shorts, but it’s what I had, so I went with it!

Top: Cents of Style — it’s just $15.95 right now 
Pants: Stitch Fix — watch my unboxing video of what I got in my most recent box here.
Shoes: Amazon
Jewelry: Amazon

This was probably my least favorite outfit of the challenge so far. I love the shirt. I love the pants. I just think they are too bland together. It needs a bright pop of color — more than the jewelry. Any ideas or suggestions? I’d love to hear!


Dress: Amazon — Just $16.99 on Amazon!
Jewelry: Kohl’s Clearance Rack (mostly)
Shoes: Amazon

I rarely wear dresses… so I am excited to be pushed out of my clothing comfort zone with the GYPO challenge. I’m not sure what I think of this dress, but it might be growing on me!

For more frugal fashion tips, read my post on Why I Buy Almost All of My Jewelry at Kohl’s, my post on My 3 Favorite Summer Shirts on Amazon, and My Top 3 Sites to Get Great Deals on Clothes.

P.S. Find out more about the Get Your Pretty On Summer Style challenge here (use coupon code MSM10 to get $10 off!)

Blue Apron vs. Grocery Store Price Comparison Review

(Note: This post was sponsored by Blue Apron. Read our disclosure policy here.)

Want to try Blue Apron, but worried it's not budget-friendly? Check out this price comparison to decide if it's worth it!

After my latest Blue Apron unboxing, many of you asked me how I think the prices compare to just shopping for the ingredients yourself. Truthfully, I have been really curious about this myself!

Because let’s be honest…most of us probably sign up for a meal delivery service like Blue Apron to save us time, not money. It’s convenient, and it can save a busy mama’s sanity during those weeks when you struggle to get a meal on the table.

Is Blue Apron grocery budget-friendly, though? That’s what I wanted to set out and discover for myself — and ultimately for all of you, my frugal-minded readers!

Blue Apron has many great things going for it:

  • The ingredients are very, very fresh. The ingredients were delivered in a refrigerated box and I was impressed with how fresh they were for being sent by UPS!
  • You get a choice in the kinds of recipes you want to receive (meat, fish, vegetarian, etc.)
  • There’s a fun variety of recipes and an opportunity to try new foods. Some of the ingredients that we’ve received in our boxes have been outside our usual fare. If you like to try new things, this is a great way to keep your meals fresh and varied!
  • There is no wasted food. They send you the exact amount of everything you need to make the recipe — so you don’t end up throwing out the extra food because you don’t have another recipe that calls for that ingredient before it goes bad!
  • They offer a large selection of different recipes — all that are between 500 and 800 calories each. They are always adding new recipes to their line-up and do not repeat any of the same recipes for at least a year.
  • All of the recipes can be made in 40 minutes or less. This seems like it’s pretty much right on.
  • They offer two types of plans — the 2-Person Plan and the Family Plan.
  • You can choose which day of the week your food is delivered to you.
  • There’s no long-term commitment once you sign up for Blue Apron. You can cancel your subscription or skip weeks at any time.
  • They are working to develop a sustainable food system and use high quality ingredients. Check out their vision page here.

In my opinion, though, one of the biggest drawbacks of Blue Apron — especially coming from a frugal background — is that the prices seem really, really expensive.

If your family loves to buy expensive and unique ingredients or you typically go out to dinner multiple times per week, Blue Apron will probably be guaranteed to save you money and help your family eat more healthfully. {And I’m cheering you on, because I’m all about doing what’s best for your family in your unique season of life!}

But I had a gut feeling that since we usually cook from scratch and make simple meals in our home, I could probably save more money buying all of the ingredients myself. So I did a price comparison…

I made the Chicken Schnitzel with Fingerling Potato Salad and Marinated Napa Cabbage. (I accidentally showed the pork for the other meal in the photo above, instead of the chicken needed for this recipe!)

Here are the price of the meal ingredients if I were to purchase them at Kroger (these are regular prices, not sale prices):

  • 4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts — $15.58 for 2 packages of Free-Range Organic Natural Chicken Breasts or $6.99 for a 3-pound bag of Kroger frozen chicken breasts (not at all as high of quality meat, but it would work) — in both cases, these would be a little bit more chicken than what they gave in the box
  • 1 cage-free farm egg — $0.23 (1 dozen Simple Truth Cage Free Eggs are $2.79)
  • 1 gala apple — $0.84
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs — $1.49 for a box of Private Selection Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 lb. fingerling potatoes — $2.99 (Kroger only had a 1.5 pound bag of Fingerling Potatoes for $3.99)
  • 1/2 pound red Napa cabbage — $2.99 (Kroger only had green Napa cabbage and it was $1.99 per pound, but you had to buy a head for $2.99)
  • 1 bunch chives — $2.29
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar — $1.69 per bottle
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds — $3.99 per jar (You may already have this in your cupboard.)
  • 1/4 cup mayo — $1.99 per container (You probably already have this in your fridge.)
  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard — $1.19 per bottle (You probably already have this in your fridge.)

Total cost: Possibly as high as $32.98 + tax

Blue Apron Price for the same meal with ingredients shipped to your door: $35.96

Note: I’m not including the flour or olive oil in the price since you would more than likely have these in your pantry. Since you would more than likely use the eggs for something else, I only included the cost of the actual egg. And you likely already have the mayo and mustard and possibly the caraway seeds on hand, so you could remove that from the total.

You could also buy the less expensive chicken or find some of the items on sale, though I tried to go with store brands or the least expensive options in the prices shown above.

In addition, as you well know, I’m a big fan of planning meals based upon what is on sale at the store, what you have on hand, and what ingredients are regularly inexpensive. So I probably wouldn’t normally cook some of the Blue Apron meals because they require specialty ingredients that are expensive.

However, for some people, that also is what makes Blue Apron so fun — because you get to try new recipes, you get to cook with specialty ingredients that you might otherwise not ever buy, and you don’t have to mess with shopping for them or buying a big container of something only to use 2 Tablespoons!

In all honesty, I was surprised that the difference in price between buying the ingredients at the store and getting them shipped to your door from Blue Apron could be as little as only a few dollars difference. I would have expected the savings to be a lot more since you would are doing the work of planning and shopping yourself!

So if you are looking for convenience (having ingredients shipped to your door!), don’t want to mess with planning meals, you love trying new recipes and dishes, would rather eat at home than go out, and you have some wiggle room in your food budget, Blue Apron could be a great option to try out. And don’t forget to use the promo code below to save even more on your first order!

After your first Blue Apron order, there’s no long-term commitment. You can cancel your subscription or skip weeks at any time!

Have you tried Blue Apron before? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Is Sling TV worth the price?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Have you been considering Sling TV or wondering if it's worth the price? Hopefully this quick review of Sling will help you decide whether or not it's right for your family!

Have you been considering Sling TV or wondering if it’s worth the price? Hopefully this quick review of Sling will help you decide whether or not it’s right for your family!

What is Sling TV?

Sling TV is a paid service that lets you instantly stream the most popular live sports, shows, and movies for a low monthly price.

Whatever you’re watching is currently live — so you’re watching what would normally be playing on television. This is why so many people choose it as a cable alternative at a lower price.

Sling offers a huge variety of channels, and most of them are channels you’d have to pay for with cable. Some examples include CNN, HGTV, ESPN, ESPN2, Food Network, Disney for kids, Lifetime, TBS, and TNT.

 

We’ve personally had a Sling TV account for the past six months or so and we’ve really loved having it. We’ve never had cable TV, so this feels like an amazing luxury — at a really affordable price!

We initially paid for it so that Silas and Jesse could watch different sports on ESPN. But us girls love that we can get Food Network, HGTV, and the Hallmark Channel. It’s also nice when there are major news events because there are multiple channels that we can watch the coverage on. Plus, we can watch it on our TV, on our computer, or on our phones!

If you’ve been thinking about trying out Sling, here are some pros and cons, based upon our experience and the experience of a number of my readers who shared their input on a Facebook Live video I did a number of months ago:

Pros of Sling TV

:: There are no long-term contracts or hidden fees. You’re never locked in. You can easily cancel online at any time you’d like. This is my favorite thing about Sling! If we ever found we aren’t using it Sling enough, I love knowing that we can just hop online and cancel our subscription. It’s SO easy to do, and you can always resubscribe again at a later date. We initially signed up for a trial subscription and then cancelled with no issues at all. We then later decided to subscribe so that the guys could watch ESPN. (See below.)

:: You can watch from anywhere on any device at any time. It’s accessible on your tv, tablet, computer, or phone.

:: It gives you access to sports. You might have everything you want with your other streaming services, but if there’s a sports fan in the family, you can bet there are some complaints about access to sports coverage. Sling TV allows you to avoid cable costs by sticking with your streaming services, but still gives you access to some of the sports you’re missing out on.

{This is one of the main reasons people sign up with Sling TV. With a husband who loves sports, this was the only non-cable option we could find that would allow him to watch some of the sports he loves so much!}

:: It’s really nice for world events. We used it for post-presidential debate coverage on CNN back in November, and it was really nice to have. It’s also great for the Olympics! It’s really convenient to have for world events that you’d normally not get much coverage of on a local or news stations.

:: It’s significantly cheaper than most cable packages. Packages start at just $20 per month for 25 channels, and you’re not usually going to find those kind of prices anywhere with a cable subscription unless you have a really expensive package deal with your phone and internet and then have been able to add on cable at a really reduced rate.

:: You get access to HGTV. Okay, okay. I realize this might not be a valid point on the pro list for many of you, but our family adores HGTV. My kids and I really love it, and it’s something we enjoy watching together. I love having access to it through Sling!

:: It gives you options in more remote areas. If you live in a rural area where you can’t access local channels with rabbit ears, this is a really great budget-friendly replacement for cable.

Cons of Sling TV

:: According to some of you, reception can be spotty at times. I haven’t personally experienced this, but I’ve heard about this from a few of you, so I thought I’d mention it.

:: You might not need it if you live in a big city. If you live in or near a bigger city, there’s a chance you might be able to pick up quite a few of the local channels with simple rabbit ears and not need to pay for a service like this. It really depends on why you’re using Sling, though.

:: You don’t get to individually pick your channels. I really, really wish they had an option to pick only the channels you want and modify your price accordingly. For example, we pay for the basic $20 package that gives you access to 25 channels, but we only actually use a handful of those.

:: They don’t have as many news or sports stations as you get with cable. While Sling gives you access to sports and news, you still won’t have nearly as many options as you would with a cable subscription.

How to Get Started with Sling TV

1. Sign up for a free 7-day trial here.

2. Choose your plan:

25 channels for $20: ESPN, AMC, CNN, HGTV, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, History Channel, TNT, Food Network, BBC, Travel Channel, Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN2, Freeform, and more.

40 channels for $25: Many of the channels listed above, plus Nick Jr, National Geographic, NBC, Fox, Fox Sports, Syfy, and more. (This almost seems like the best option if you’re only using it for sports, as it gives you access to multiple extra sports channels.) Just be careful! This option doesn’t give you access to some of the popular channels you get with the $20 subscription.

all channels for $40: This option gives you access to all of the 45+ channels they offer.

3. After seven days, if you’re enjoying it, your subscription will automatically renew at the monthly plan price you chose. If you’re not liking it, be sure to cancel your subscription before your trial ends.

4. That’s it! Watch on any of your devices at any time, and rest easy knowing that you can cancel at any time without any penalty if you discover it’s not for you!

Go here to sign up for a FREE 7-day trial of Sling TV.

Have you tried Sling TV before? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether it is worth the cost.