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Category: Frugal Fun

Frugal Fun: Grocery Ad Playtime Menu (Guest Post)

Marie from Make and Takes shared this fun (and frugal!) idea for a way to recycle your old grocery ads into playtime menus for your children:

Grocery Ad Playtime Menu

Supplies for Grocery Ad Menus:

  • grocery ads – the kind that come in the mail
  • scissors, glue, color pencils, art paper

Menu Supplies

First, gather all your grocery ads. Let the kids look through and see what items might be good to have in their menu, then cut them out. If your child is ready to use scissors, go for it but with supervision if they're small. Or you can have them point to the items they want and you can cut them out.

Cut Grocery Ads

Next, fold a piece of art paper in half vertically. Glue the cut out food items onto the paper in a line. Now write in each price.

Write Menus

My son loved making up how much everything cost. He wanted to make the steak "1 Free" and the ice cream is $20 because it's sooo good. We even named our restaurant, LeBaron's Family Restaurant, with "Todays Special" as Shrimp, my son's favorite food. Have fun playing Restaurant!

Inside Kids Menu

Marie is a crafter, foodie, and mother of 3. She loves running, reading, and eating candy. Check out her blog Make and Takes for more Ideas and Crafty Tidbits for Home, Family, and Fun.

Romance on a Budget: Is it possible?

Couple Mulsanne
photo by Mulsanne

Danelle Ice from Homemaker Barbi emailed me with a few thoughts on romance on a budget:

One of the most common topics in arguments between couples is money. Worrying about having enough money to care for your family’s needs can put a huge burden on your shoulders, and that financial burden leads to enormous stress.

Focusing on the stress of finances can oftentimes knock relationship priorities off the top of the list. We have to remember that our marriages are the cornerstone of our frugal families. If we fail to take care of our relationships, then all the frugalness in the world won’t matter anymore.

It makes sense then that frugal couples need to be mindful of the state of their marriages and the quality of their time together. Always make sure that time for romance and your relationship are a top priority, no matter what is going on in your budget!

You have the power to foster love and rekindle the romance in your marriage right now, and it doesn’t take a lot of money to make that happen. I believe that husband and wife date nights are a great way to stay connected. You can keep romance alive on a small budget, or even no budget, when you focus on the things that really make your spouse feel loved, valued, and appreciated.

Plan fun things to do together such as an indoor picnic or an at-home romantic dinner for two. Or what about taking an evening stroll holding hands and talking about your day?

If you have little ones and you can't seem to find the time to really talk but you also can't afford a babysitter, you might consider going on a romantic nighttime drive. This is a date even the kids will like (before they fall asleep, that is)! Have the kids get dressed in their jammies and bring their pillows and blankies into the car. Go for a nighttime drive (the kids will fall asleep) together to talk about non-kid topics. Load up your favorite romantic music or even “your song”, and drive to a scenic lookout point where you can see the city and stare out at the stars together.

You don’t need to have a special occasion to make plans for a romantic date with your husband or wife. Keeping regular free and cheap dates on your weekly schedule serves to strengthen your relationship and keep your intimacy strong in a fun way. Spending time together doesn't have to cost a lot, just use your imagination and you can keep your romance alive on a budget!

–Problogger Danelle Barbi Ice is the editor of Homemaker Barbi an online Home and How-To magazine specializing in homemaking, frugal living, printable checklists, and more.

What are your ideas for keeping romance alive on a limited budget? I'd love to hear!

MyPoints: Earn free gift cards for reading emails and taking surveys


Back when my husband was in law school and we were living on our bare-bones beans-and-rice budget, we rarely ever had any extra cash to use for dates. However, I didn't let that deter me from coming up with creative ideas for fun dates. We'd take a picnic to the park, we'd go to the library and browse books, we'd take walks. If we could scrounge up a few dollars, we get a meal or two at a fast food restaurant with coupons or hit the $0.99 bowling night.

One of our favorite things to do was to head to a bookstore and get an iced coffee and just spend a few hours looking at books. We'd browse the shelves and then take a stack of books to a cozy corner and read for a while. We usually paid for our drinks with a gift card I'd earned from MyPoints so the whole evening ended up costing us nothing out of pocket and would be a very relaxing and refreshing time for us to spend together away from the pressures and deadlines of law school life.

If you are strapped for cash but would love to also get to have a bookstore date on occasion, I'd definitely recommend MyPoints. It's free to sign up for and you can earn points to cash in for gift cards by reading emails and taking surveys. It takes a bit of time to accumulate enough points to cash in for a gift card, but if you have more time than money right now, it's a great way to be able to enjoy a few free dates every year.

Go here to sign up.

Guest Post: Summer Family Fun for Free

Guest Post by Christi Bovee from Blessings From Our Home to Yours

In our house, we are all getting antsy to get out and feel some sun on our faces and get our bodies moving in the summer breezes. Here are just a few of our family's favorite ideas for enjoying the Summer months without spending a lot of money. In fact, most of these ideas are free!

Summerfun

1) Try letterboxing. Our family discovered this fun activity a few years ago and our children have loved the thrill of this "treasure hunt". If you've never heard of this before, this article on "Start Finding Letterboxes" explains:

Letterboxing is an intriguing “treasure hunt” style outdoor activity.
Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible
places (like parks) and post clues to finding the box online on one of
several Web sites. However, clues to finding some of the most
highly-sought boxes are passed around by word of mouth. There are about
20,000 letterboxes hidden in North America alone. Individual
letterboxes usually contain a log book, an often hand-carved rubber
stamp and may contain an ink pad. Finders make an imprint of the
letterbox's stamp on their personal log book, and leave an imprint of
their personal stamp on the letterbox's logbook .

To read more about letterboxing and the supplies you will need to get started, visit Letterboxing.org.

2) Visit your local library. The summer reading program at our library is always a big hit with our children during the Summer. Our library gives great prizes like Frosty coupons, Little Caesar Pizzas, Donuts, and Chocolate-Dipped Oreo Cookies from the local coffee shop. Those prizes are definitely great motivators for our children to read! Most libraries offer similar Summer Reading Programs and I'd encourage you to check yours out.

Mail.google.com

3) Participate in nature programs.
Many local parks offer nature free programs. If you check out the website(s) for the parks department in your area, you might be surprised at what things you can learn and do for free!

We often visit Maple Wood Nature Center in LaGrange, Indiana one Wednesday a month for an educational program. Their programs range from learning about maple syrup to patterns in nature to learning about instruments. Last summer we attended a park in Elkhart, Indiana which had a program on old fashioned sodas. We learned the history, tried samples of various old fashioned drinks, and then made root beer and bottled our own to take home.

4) Go to museums. Some of the best educational places are museums, but it seems–especially for families with even a few children–it is nearly impossible to visit these without spending at least the amount that would be spent on groceries for the week. However, don't let the admissions costs deter you because we've found many museums have free or discounted days a few times each Summer.

For instance, in the Chicago area, the Chicago Children's Museum offers free family nights on Thursday evenings and free admission on some Sundays and Mondays. The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry has six free days in June and The Art Institute of Chicago offers free admission on Thursday evenings. 

Bank of America has their Museums on Us promotion which provides free admission to over 100 museums nationwide on the first Saturday of every month. More details here.

I'd recommend contacting the museums in your city to see if they have any free admission days or times during the Summer. You might be pleasantly surprised!

There are so many options for parents who can’t afford to take an elaborate or expensive vacation but still want to create special memories with their children. It doesn’t have to cost you a months worth of wages, either. Time spent together as a family will likely be some of the best memories your children have all Summer!

Mail.google.com

Christi Bovee is a homeschooling mom who looks for every opportunity to build and create special memories with her husband and children every day and season of the year. She loves reading, singing along with her children and husband while he plays guitar, hiking, and enjoying the fellowship of her church family. She and her husband have three children with another one due in May. You can read about the blessings in her family at her blog.

Our $0.31 night of fun!

Did you get your $0.31 ice cream from Baskin Robbins tonight? We certainly did!

We've missed a lot of the other recent great food freebies and deals since I was too sick to make it out of the house. But the antibiotics are finally kicking into gear and I'm feeling much more energetic (I didn't know that was possible at 40 weeks pregnant, but compared to how sick I was last week, I feel great this week!) so we ventured out tonight to enjoy some very inexpensive and delicious ice cream.

Of course, apparently we weren't the only ones to have decided to hit up Baskin Robbins tonight. In fact, we had a hard time even finding a place to park–there were scores of people everywhere when we pulled up! The line was stretched quite far out the door but that didn't deter us. After all, patience is a virtue, right?

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Waiting on the bench outside for Daddy to bring our ice cream. Kaitlynn wasn't too thrilled at having her picture taken!

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And still waiting for Daddy to get to the front of the line! The girls were very patient and had a blast watching through the window as the long line of people gradually made it up to the ice cream counter.

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Ice cream at last! Yum!

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Yours truly (aka The Very Pregnant and Swollen Mama!) with my two little precious girlies.

It was a fun and memorable evening–all for only $0.31 per person!