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Category: Family, Fun & Holidays

A double batch of Baked Oatmeal, coconut oil from Amazon, & I changed my mind on Fetch Rewards

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our disclosure policy here.

If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know how much we love Baked Oatmeal. My kids would eat it for breakfast every single day! And Jesse loves it, too.

So I made another double-batch of it this week — hoping that it would last more than a few days! Well, I think I may have to start quadrupling this recipe at the rate these people can eat it! 🙂

So many of you have asked how you serve Baked Oatmeal. We just scoop it out of the pan into bowls and top it with milk — like cereal. It’s too crumbly to eat like bars but it’s a different consistency than granola or oatmeal.

I guess you’ll just have to try it out to see what I mean, if you’re curious! 🙂

You can dress it up by mixing into different flavors — such as nuts or fruit or dried fruit or chocolate chips. My family loves it plain, but I’d love to hear if you have a fun way to serve it!

I’ve also gotten a lot of questions about what kind of oats to use. Honestly, you can use any kind of oats you’d like — rolled oats, old-fashioned oats, gluten-free oats, quick oats. They all work!

My favorite are rolled oats or old-fashioned oats, but I promise you that any kind of oats will work! So just use what you have!

To see how easy it is to make a double batch of Baked Oatmeal, watch my video above. (And you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here if you’re interested in watching other shopping haul videos, recipe videos, and more money-saving videos!)

I also bought coconut oil this week since we were out. Only, I totally didn’t get a great deal on it. For some reason, I was messed up on my ounces and was thinking this was going to be a tub twice the size of this one.

So I spent $8.49 for this small tub. But oh well! Live and learn — it’s much less expensive to buy coconut oil from Walmart or Aldi or even just the grocery store. (Anyone have a great source for really inexpensive coconut oil that is high quality? I’d love to know!)

I bought these specifically because I want to make these Coconut Oil Fat Bombs. Have you tried them before?

By the way, I use my Swagbucks credit to earn free Amazon gift cards to use toward purchases like this. It’s pretty easy to earn at least $20 to $25 in free Amazon gift cards every month, just by doing simple activities every day.

You don’t need to refer anyone to earn this amount. However, if you have friends who would be interested in earning free gift cards from Swagbucks gift, be sure to use your referral link to invite them so you can earn even more!

That said, even though I did use free Amazon gift cards to purchase this coconut oil, I’m still subtracting the amount I “paid” from my $70 Grocery Budget total. The reason is that I want to keep this as relatable and doable as possible for you all.

I don’t want anyone to feel frustrated that I can stick with a low grocery budget, but the reason I can is because I’m a blogger and get more referral credit to companies as a result. 🙂

I Changed My Mind About Fetch Rewards

One of my readers recommended that I sign up for Fetch Rewards and a few days ago I said I didn’t like it as much as I like Ibotta. (I also sporadically use Checkout 51… though I find that it’s harder to earn $$ on Checkout 51 just because I don’t buy many things that they have offers for.)

Well, some of you piped in and gave me some great tips on how to use it better. I discovered that you can scan every single one of your receipts and, even if there’s not a participating offer on the receipt, you’ll still get at least 200 or so bonus points (that’s about $0.20). It looks like you can literally scan any receipt — or at least any receipt for groceries!

Plus, if you purchase any participating brand, you’ll get points. I thought you had to purchase a certain amount of products for the points to count. But nope, the points count regardless!

The other thing I love about Fetch Rewards is that you just scan your receipt. You don’t have to scan any barcodes from products.

And if you use coupons, they don’t count those off your point total! Plus, when you scan your receipt, they automatically detect whatever products you purchased that qualified. It’s a lot quicker than Ibotta or Checkout51!

So my advice is to go ahead and sign up for it and start scanning your receipts. Even if you only earn a few dollars per month, that’s still something!

I’ll continue to test it out and keep you posted! I’m hopeful that I can earn enough from it to “buy” a $5 to $10 Amazon gift card each month that I can use to buy more groceries and stretch my grocery budget a little bit more!

Have you signed up for Fetch Rewards yet? If not, you can sign up here and use code WW7XJ and you’ll get a bonus 2,000 points (worth $2).

This Week’s Totals So Far

Total spent so far this week: $37.44

Total left to spend: $32.56

Rebates: $0.25 for submitting a receipt to Ibotta

(I also did a big Kroger shopping trip today — I hope to post about that trip tomorrow. But here are the totals as of Thursday.)

15 Books You Should Read This Summer

Looking for some great reads for your summer beach vacation or for slower summer days? I’ve got you covered!

I put together a list of my Top 15 Favorite Reads that are perfect for summer reading. I chose each of these because they had a compelling storyline, they left an impact on me, and they were all books you could read pretty quickly, if you wanted to. (And they are probably not the same books you are seeing on most other summer book lists!)

We also put together a FREE Summer Reading Printable Packet, complete with checklists and a challenge to help you plan and prioritize reading this summer! You can download it at the bottom of this post! Enjoy — and a big thanks to my team for helping me put this together!

And here are my top 15 Picks for Summer Reading:

Non-Fiction Books

Bread & Wine

This book moved me, inspired me, and challenged me. And it made me want to spend more time in the kitchen and around the table.

However, the phrase that stuck out to me most was: Present Not Perfect. Shauna shares how we can get so wrapped up in trying to make life perfect — to get all our ducks in a row and keep them that way — that we miss the present.

We rush through life with our plans, our goals, and our lists. We check things off. We pat ourselves on the back for being a powerhouse of productivity. And we forget to breathe. To slow down. To soak up the moments. To savor the here and now.

Anchored

This book is the story of Kayla Aimee’s daughter being born as a micro-preemie and the pain and heartache and struggle that she walked through while fighting for her daughter’s life.

It’s funny AND heart-wrenching at the same time — which is a mark of a talented author, in my opinion. (I always say that I consider a highly talented author to be someone whose writing makes me laugh and tear up in the same page.)

The Happiness Dare

I loved Jennifer’s encouragement to start looking for shots of happy in the middle of the mundane, cultivating cheer in the midst of the messes, and celebrating the gifts and wonder and beauty to be found all around us!

As Jennifer challenges us, let’s “refuse to join the chorus of negativity, stop sleepwalking through life, boycott cynicism, and wring the joy out of ordinary days.” We were made for more!

Finding Spiritual Whitespace

This book wasn’t anything like I expected it to be, but it was everything that I needed to read. It was so good and messed with me in such a profound way!

Bonnie shares how she had to go back to the broken places in her life and work through and heal those before she could find freedom from her intense anxiety and panic attacks. As someone who has experienced anxiety since the time I was a young child, I resonated with her journey so much and this book was a big piece of my own healing journey this year.

If you feel like you’re running on empty with no time for rest, no time for yourself, and no time for God, I think you’ll be blessed and challenged by this book.

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

Bob Goff is a unique, one-of-a-kind man. You’ll pick up on that just by reading the introduction. He loves life, he loves people, and he’s not afraid of outlandishness or extravagance when it comes to showing love to others. His big heart is contagious.

Loving others isn’t just words we say; it’s the life we live. It’s giving of ourselves, it’s bringing joy to others, it’s being available to others, it’s dropping everything to be involved in others’ lives. It’s caring, it’s giving, and it’s sometimes doing crazy stuff, all because we love someone else.

You might not agree with all of the finer points of Bob’s theology and you might think he’s a bit over-the-top, but I can almost guarantee you can’t help but be challenged to examine how you love others.

Fiction Books

The Giver

I don’t quite know what to say about this book. At first, I was so frustrated by the ending. That’s it?!?! No! There has to be more!

I couldn’t get the story out of my brain. What am I missing? Why is it haunting me?

The more I pondered, the more it started to make sense to me and I actually started to love the book and the powerful way it reminds us that without pain and suffering, we can’t experience emotional connection or truly feel at a deep level. If we took all of the pain away from the world, it would also take away so much depth and the ability to experience life in full color.

I wished I would have read this book with a book club because I would have loved to hear what other people thought of things as I went through it. And I totally understand why some people love it and some people don’t like it at all.

Dear Mr. Knightley

The book starts out slowly, but once I got to about page 40, I couldn’t put it down. It delves into some deeper issues of how past hurts and rejection can wound people so deeply that they hide their real self for fear of further pain and rejection. It’s a beautiful story of healing and redemption and of how to love and reach out to hurting people.

Ever read a book that you just don’t want to end and when you finish it, you want to meet the characters in real-life? That was this book for me.

Me Before You

This was one of the most heart-breaking, compelling, and thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. I thought it was very well-written and found it hard to put down. In fact, I read the entire book in one day!

Caveat: This book is not written from a Christian perspective, has quite a bit of language, and the plot line deals with suicide in a very raw form. I didn’t agree with the outcome of the book, but it made me dig deep and think hard… and books that do that are ones I feel are very worth my time.

What Alice Forgot

I really enjoyed this book and it has stayed with me for months after reading it. While it wasn’t written from a Christian perspective and had some swear words in it, the book was well-written and really caused me to step back and examine my own marriage and relationships to see if I’m making small choices that would, over time, have devastating consequences.

 

The Art of Losing Yourself

If you like Christian fiction that tackles real-life brokenness and doesn’t have Hallmark endings, I’d highly recommend this book.

I loved the character development and it reminded me that everyone has hard burdens they are carrying, and that hurting people need our love not our judgment, ostracizing, or criticism.
 

Read-Aloud Books

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

I’d had this book on our shelf for a long time, but honestly, the cover just looked boring so I didn’t pick it up to start reading to the kids. I’m glad it was assigned reading in our Sonlight homeschool curriculum, or we would have missed out on this gem of a book.

Yet another great example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover! All three of the kids found it very engaging and attentively listened when I read it and always begged me to read more when I’m done.

Johnny Tremain

This book was a winner of the 1944 Newberry Medal and is a fascinating novel that chronicles the defining events leading up to the American Revolutionary War. The author does such a great job of weaving together historical events and fictionalized characters in a way that had us all wanting to read just one more chapter!

 

The Golden Goblet

Kaitlynn and I read this book as part of her Sonlight curriculum in homeschool and really enjoyed it! It was one of our very favorites this year — especially if you love Ancient Egyptian history.

It was a Newberry Honor Award winner and I’m not surprised. The storyline is compelling and interesting and it brings Ancient Egyptian history to life.

Plus, it’s a story of endurance and resilience in the face of many odds. It was one of those read alouds that we just didn’t want to stop reading and both of us looked forward to each day to see what was going to happen. And we were kind of sad when the book was finished!

The Upstairs Room

We really enjoyed reading this book together as a family. It’s the true story of a young Jewish girl who was hidden in a room for two years to protect her from being captured or killed by the Germans. While the writing in the book could have been tightened up a bit, we all found the story fascinating and such a good reminder of the gift we have of freedom to be able to go outside and live our normal lives without fear.

Note: It totally caught me off guard that this book had language in it that I never would have expected for a kid’s book and I’ve had to edit out a few words here and there. Just keep this in mind if you’re planning to read this to your kids or let them read it.

Wonder

This book is such a worthwhile read! I read it in two days and can’t recommend it highly enough — especially if you have kids around ages 9-12 like mine are. I think it’s a book that can really impact your thinking on what compassion and empathy look like and the importance of being a true friend.

My girls read it and we had some great discussions about the book. We also went to the movie and I wrote a really honest review of my thoughts on the movie and why I felt like it missed the mark.

 

FREE Summer Reading Challenge Printable Pack

Want accountability and encouragement to read more this summer? Download our FREE Summer Reading Challenge Printable Pack to help you keep track of all the books on your summer reading list!

This printable pack comes with 3 FREE printable pages:

  • Checklist of my favorite reads listed in this post
  • Summer reading challenge you can personalize to your interests
  • Fill-in list to keep track of all the books you read this summer

Download it for FREE here.

Related Links:

Hospitality on a $70 Budget + GREAT deals at Kroger this weekend!

You can show hospitality even on a small grocery budget! This post is so inspiring!!

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our disclosure policy here.

One of the best parts of this $70/week grocery budget challenge is not that we’re saving a few hundred dollars every month (though I’m stoked about that!) nor is it the fact that I’ve been re-invigorated to fill our freezer with food (we currently have close to 15 meals in there and I’m slowly adding to the stash every week!).

The best part is that buying ahead and stocking up on the sales and markdowns and being more of a strategic shopper means we have a lot more food at our house at any one given time — which means that spontaneous hospitality is so much easier to pull off!

Wednesday morning, I had the idea to invite a mom and her four kids over for dinner. She just recently moved to the area with her kids and I well remember what a big move like that is like!

I looked in our fridge and cupboards and realized I had just bought 7 pounds of marked down meat the day before, plus I had corn on the cob, marked down potatoes, and some frozen broccoli.

So we invited her family over plus two other families from church. I texted everyone and said that I was just making what I already had on hand. It wouldn’t be anything fancy, but we’d love to have them!

We ended up having 18 people for dinner — and we had plenty of food! Meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, roasted broccoli, and the other women offered to bring salad, mac and cheese, and fruit.

It was simple, it was inexpensive, and it was an evening of laughter, great conversation, and games.

Hospitality doesn’t have to require a lot of extra time or special ingredients. It doesn’t even mean you need to spend more $$ to pull off.

Hospitality is about welcoming people into your real life and bringing your real, imperfect selves to the table. It’s about saying, “Welcome! I want to share what we have with you. Come as you are and pull up a chair!”

While I was working on making food for our guests on Wednesday, Kaitlynn made two dinners’ worth of Spaghetti Casserole. We just made up the recipe using pasta we had gotten marked down, cheese I got on sale, pasta sauce I got from Aldi, ground sausage I got marked down, and cottage cheese I had gotten marked down and had frozen.

Kroger has some GREAT sales this weekend! Download their digital coupons (they are good through Monday evening) to get Seedless Watermelon for just $1.99 each (you can purchase up to 5 watermelon in one transaction at this price).

They also have Kroger Ice Cream Sandwiches and Fruit Bars for just $0.99 per box with the digital coupon (you can get up to 5 boxes in one transaction at this price).

I got the watermelon to take to a picnic we’re attending tonight where we’re supposed to bring enough of a side dish to feed 15 people and I got the ice cream sandwiches for tomorrow evening since we’re having two families over for pizza!

My total for the 5 boxes of bars/ice cream sandwiches + the watermelon was $9.49 — bringing my grand total for this week in grocery expenditures to $68, $2 under my $70 grocery budget!

Total spent so far this week: $68 (Yes! $68 even!)

Total left to spend: $2

Rebates: $1.50 Ibotta rebate for buying the 2 Fage yogurts, $0.25 Ibotta rebate for submitting my receipt, + a second $0.25 Ibotta rebate for submitting another receipt.

See our $70 menu plan for this week. See all my posts about our $70 grocery budget here.