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Why I’m Back to Grocery Shopping, Menu-Planning, and Freezer Cooking Again (it might surprise you!)

As you may have noticed if you follow me on social media or watch my Facebook Live videos, I’ve been doing a lot more deal-shopping recently.

I feel like this Year of Rest has impacted me in so many different and powerful ways — some very personal and some very practical. One of those practical ways it has impacted me is in helping me to clarify what I love, what I want to invest my time in, and what I want to be sharing here on this blog.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Something on Clearance

In all honesty, as this blog grew, life got so full of good things. Things like speaking opportunities, travel opportunities, writing opportunities, interview opportunities, partnership opportunities, etc. These began crowding out my time to do things I loved — like deal-shopping, menu-planning, and cooking.

Between the business growth, my team’s growth to accommodate the business growth, and trying to juggle everything and still make my family a priority, a lot of my former loves had to take a backseat.

I just couldn’t do it all. And I had to choose between spending my time growing a business and keeping up with the demands or shopping deals, finding markdowns, menu-planning based upon what’s on sale at the store, freezer cooking, and making things from scratch.

I struggled with this because the whole reason I had this growing business in the first place was because I was known for being so frugal and finding such great deals. So it felt weird to let go of some of my frugal practices or hand them off to Jesse in order to focus more time on the business.

Truthfully, I missed it. I missed the days of being able to just leisurely stroll the store seeing what markdowns they had. I missed being able to tinker around in the kitchen. I missed getting to make some of our favorite recipes. I missed getting to share those things here on the blog, too.

And I know many of you missed these things, as well. But you’ve been patient with me as I’ve struggled, grown, floundered, learned, experimented, and fumbled along.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Something on Clearance

For that, I say thank you so much. Thank you for sticking around here with all of the changes and ebbs and flows. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for giving me the space to experiment, the space to try new things, the space to stretch my wings and stretch myself as a person.

I took the first 6 months of this year to do a lot of pondering, sitting, thinking, processing, and letting go. With all my heart I can say that deciding to cut way back, to say “no” to almost everything new, and to downsize just about everything when it came to the business, was one of the greatest blessings to me and to my family.

I have joy and peace that I’ve not experienced in years. I feel so much calmer. I feel so much happier. And I feel so much more settled in who I am, what I’m called to, and who I’m not and what I’m not called to. 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Something on Clearance

Many people have asked me what my plans are for the rest of this year and how I see the Year of Rest playing out and changing my life.

Well, I plan to spend the rest of this year similar to how I’ve spent the first 6 months, with a few exceptions. As I’ve had space in my life to breathe and try new things, I’ve also had space to start doing some of those things I used to do that I’ve missed so much — like deal-shopping, shopping the markdowns, menu-planning, and freezer cooking.

And I’ve enjoyed it oh so much! I realized that even though our income is in a different place now and we aren’t on a beans and rice budget, I get so much fulfillment from finding great deals, planning a menu based upon the markdowns, and cooking healthy and yummy food for my family.

So, all this to say: while Jesse is still going to be doing some of the cooking and grocery shopping (because he discovered he really enjoys it, too!), I’m taking a lot more of it over again (because I’ve missed it so much!). Which means that there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing a lot more of menu-planning, cooking, and grocery shopping posts around here again. 🙂

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Something on Clearance

I’m excited to feel like I’ve “come full circle” in sorts… getting back to my roots and back to some of the foundational parts of what this blog was founded on in the first place.

I don’t regret the journey it took for me to get here. I’ve learned so much along the way.

I’ve learned that fame and success aren’t where the joy is. I’ve learned that blog numbers and income numbers don’t equal happiness. And ultimately, I’ve learned that I find a lot more fulfillment in the quiet, small, simple spaces of life.

I’m not going to run from stages or platforms or opportunities if I feel like it’s in line with my priorities, but I’ve stopped chasing after more. Because, at the end of the day, I’ve discovered that I already have enough… exactly where I am. 

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93 Comments

  • Andrea says:

    This post makes me so happy! I can’t wait to see more of the posts we all love from you, but I am also glad that you have found a new direction that you are excited about! It’s amazing how taking some time to just step back and look at things from a new direction can completely change the trajectory of your life and goals. The last few weeks I have started to focus on stepping back a little bit and I have already started to see things that I have let interfere with the path I want to be on!

  • Sarah says:

    When have you been finding your best grocery store deals?? Is there a day that you notice more markdowns?

  • DS says:

    I understand the fulfillment and joy you get in bargains. I’ve never been in debt and have never budgeted but my hobby is couponing. Some people think I’m crazy but I love the thrill of the deals. I donate probably 98% of the products to the battered women’s shelter but my joy is really from the “hunt” and not from the donations. That might be bad, but it’s a fact!

  • Shauna says:

    Love this!!!!!

  • Lauren says:

    I’m happy to read this. On paper I’m sure it’s financially advantageous for you to work on generating income as opposed to saving money on groceries, but I’m so happy you’re being true to who you are. I’ve been following you for about eight years (when my husband was in law school and I was trying to figure out how to save money) and I look forward to this “new” chapter.

  • Kim H says:

    I’m so happy you decided to come back and do what you love because I miss not seeing the menu planning , grocery shopping trips etc… Welcome back ?

  • Kara M says:

    As I LONG time reader on your blog I am SO happy to hear this! This is what drew me to your site many years ago. Aren’t you so glad when we learn things about ourselves and can grow from them and really learn what we love. Sometimes, I think, the Lord has to let us see the other to appreciate our true loves.
    Also, I’m incredibly jealous of your consistent finds at your Kroger! I occasionally find 1-2 things but nothing like your hauls.

  • Brandette says:

    As a LONG time reader (think when Kaitlynn was very small and Silas wasn’t even a thought yet!!) , I am SO stinking happy to get some of the old MSM back. I have missed it so much. Much of the newer content/partnerships have not been why I came to MSM. But, going back to the roots is so exciting! I have dearly missed the recipes, shopping trips, freezer cooking posts. I also am happy that you started sharing more about your family life again.

    Thank you, Crystal, for changing some of the things here to be more in line with the good old days. 🙂

    • Kadee says:

      ^^^What she said!! I couldn’t agree more. Change can be good, but I have missed what drew me to your blog in the first place.

    • Katie says:

      I couldn’t agree more!! So excited!

    • JC says:

      Totally agree with this. I originally started reading about five years ago specifically for coupons. In the past year I’ve found that your content pieces were very far from why I come to this blog and I found myself visiting less. I think you ventured into Money Making Mom, but I have little interest in running my own business (just not my calling). I was struggling to find a new source of menu planning ideas combined with money saving tips. I do appreciate the continued posts on Amazon deals. One thing I will note: you posted some school items you found at Kroger a while back. I know I’ve seen some of those items for cheaper at other stores. So it’s great that Kroger is having a sale but if those items can be found cheaper may be note that? Another thing- I don’t know if you or anyone else struggles with this (perhaps it’s just me) I love finding a good deal, but our budget isn’t as tight as it once was and sometimes I think I shouldn’t buy up the marked down meat because if we run out we can legitametly afford to pay the high price if we need too and there are those that can’t. Does anyone else feel this… Consumer guilt? (Not sure what to call it?). How do you balance this?

      • Naomi says:

        Yes, I struggle with this too. Buying marked-down food when I know our family could afford the regular or sale price food. I would love to read more about this dynamic. I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband has a great job. I love good deals and am very frugal, but I do struggle with knowing if I really should buy multiples of a marked-down product. I usually just get one so others can enjoy it too, but there is a part of me that wants to get more.

  • Cheryl says:

    Crystal, Thank you for your post, I had missed your “older, frugal posts”. That is what drew me into following your blog. God gives us seasons in our lives, and embrace this, enjoy and be thankful. I’ve been following a simple season too where I enjoy being with my 12 and 13 year old (today they came from a week long camp) and watching them grow into teens…I have limited my commitments the past 2 years and really have felt peaceful about this. I can devote my time to my family now, work part-time, and be available to my Mom since my Dad passed away. Thank you Again!

  • Melissa says:

    Yay! Looking forward to this change as it’s one of the reasons I used to love the blog.

  • Debbie says:

    As a long time reader, I sure have missed the old MSM. So glad you are bringing back some of the stuff that started me reading here. Bless you and your family and knowing what is important in life and don’t forget to take care of you!!!

  • Heather says:

    Can I just be honest and say that this is why the Money Making Mom book and a lot of the encouragement you’ve given us in the past few years to put ourselves out there, try new things, etc. etc. haven’t really spoken to me. It’s because I know that I’m doing what I love and what I feel like I can handle right now. It’s not that I live a boring, risk free life but I’ve been really happy taking care of my family, cooking homecooked meals and doing ministry and not felt like I have to chase the stars so all those posts are ones that I just overlooked as being for others. it’s been really interesting following your blog and we’ve loved you through all of it! We do look forward to more deals & cooking posts and seeing where God takes you in the future! Blessings!

    • Definitely Money Making Mom wasn’t for everyone… because I don’t think everyone is called to be a money-making mom! But I do believe everyone is called to live intentionally and take babysteps to find their passion and purpose and live that out — which it sounds like you’ve definitely done! I love that you love your life!

  • Stacy says:

    What Wahoo sticker makes me go WAHOO when I see it!

  • Cris says:

    As I mentioned to you when we met back at the homeschool convention in Arlington I love so many of the recipes on your site and I’ve been making them for years. Can’t wait to see what new ones you will be posting next!

  • Anna says:

    Love this {beautiful} post, Crystal. Have followed your journey for years and it’s so neat to see. Excited about more grocery deal/menu posts from you!

  • Sara says:

    Welcome back. 🙂 Like you, we’ve grown more successful, but you’ve taught me to stay humble. Thank you for staying true to who you are and what makes you happy! I’ve missed YOU.

  • Rebecca Dula says:

    So excited to see your budget friendly meal planning posts. This is why I loved your blog. I met you long ago at a church in Joplin. Thanks so much!!

  • Elva says:

    Thank you for your honesty and sincerity. I can only imagine how many opportunities you have turned down in order to get back to the life you want to live. Saying “yes” to everything is often portrayed as the brave way to live, but saying “no” can really give us our sanity and a simple, fulfilling life. I look forward to your updates as you begin again on this path. Best wishes!

  • Rebekah says:

    I just love how open you’ve been about what you’ve been through the last year or so. I have so many of the same feelings and feel I am on a similar journey. You have been so encouraging and inspirational to me for many years but especially now. I also have had to step back and figure out who I am again and what are things I love to do. It’s funny how sometimes we just get lost. Anyways thanks again for all you do :)!

  • April says:

    Perfect timing. I took off two years of really doing a lot of couponing and freezer cooking to complete a graduate school program. I have just finished grad school and excited to get back into it as I have missed it. I didn’t want to over extend myself by trying to do it all. I let go of the guilt and did what I knew my family and I could handle. I knew when I took a break it was just for a season. Looking forward to some great new recipes and deals.

  • Holly says:

    This is such great news! Love love love the bargain shopping and meal planning portion of the blog!

  • Marisa says:

    I am so happy to read this posts. I have been one of your readers that has missed your posts on these topics. I’m also happy that you have found such great peace in your life!

  • Gloria says:

    This post made me smile. I’ve been a long time reader. I found your site several years ago when I was newly separated and facing life as a single mom with 4 daughters. I so appreciated the savings tips and recipes, and with food allergies in our family, the gluten free versions were very helpful. Finding MSM was a lifesaver. I was especially touched by your honesty and encouragements in your posts. Thank you for your continued honesty and showing me how to step out of my comfort zone, try new things, get back to the joy of reading, and save money at the same time.

  • Alyssa says:

    Can I ask something a little personal? In your opinion, were your flat out, crazy busy years fundamental to your business growth? Or, in your opinion, could you have built your business to where it is now on your more purposeful approach you have now? Was the busy-ness and sacrifice necessary to bring you to a place where you could have the freedom to say no to some things and step back?

  • Elizabeth says:

    I am very glad to hear this…have missed that part of your blog, though your sisters have done a great job!! We live on a fixed income now…which in a few more years will drop more…so whatever we can do to save is well worth our time. Oh and this year? Well, no cost of living increases for us retired folks cause the cost of living did not go up…oh really…just show folks the ones in power have no concept of living as it is for us real people!!

  • Rebecca says:

    I really appreciate this post! I’m on a time of rest, too, and have much appreciated journeying together with you on that.

    I love, too, how this post shows that good, frugal homemaking does take time – even if you’re super-efficient. It’s a job! I think the Lord has been impressing that on my heart throughout the last year, how life as a stay-at-home mom really is a career move, and seeing it like that has changed the way I’ve approached the myriad tasks involved.

  • I’m so happy for this!!!! Missed it!!!!!

  • Steph Kandray says:

    Yeah! Long time reader and always inspires by your deal and cooking posts 🙂

  • Katie says:

    So glad to see this post!! I have missed seeing these things in your posts so much!! So excited!!

  • I need people like you that love to find the best deals! It is definitely not my calling. It can be some of the simplest things in life that makes us happy and yet can impact the people around you in a profound way. I am so happy to hear you are back to what you truly love doing more often. Thanks for all you do, Crystal.

  • Whitney says:

    I never stopped loving your blog, even without the grocery/recipes posts! Your writing is so encouraging and REAL. When I read your posts, I feel like I’m reading something from a friend. You always seem to know what I’m struggling with in life…you’re amazing!

    That being said – grocery shopping and cooking is something I really enjoy as well, so I’m looking forward to reading more of your ideas!

  • Yeah! I’m excited to see more of these posts as they really inspire me. I’ve been off my coupon game lately (mostly just doing it at CVS), but I’ve been getting the itch to get back into it as well. Aldi has spoiled me, but I still love getting great deals on brand name stuff that we love!

  • Bonnie says:

    YAY!!!

    While I do really like most of the things you do (make over your morning challenge, etc), I started coming to this blog for the frugal living, menu planning, and deal-finding. I don’t really care for the product-reviews and build-your-business stuff, but I don’t have to love everything on your blog 😉 I hope you will be able to get back to the stuff you started out doing, but either way I wish you many blessings with your family. You are a very encouraging and sweet person.

    • There will still be lots of the newer stuff — like the honest reviews and money-saving tips that are geared more for people who aren’t in a super tight financial place but still want to get the best buy — but I’m excited to bring back some of the things from the past that I truly love. Like menu-planning, cooking, and grocery shopping! Thanks for being along for the ride!

  • Mary says:

    DH and I are both passionate cooks and foodies. It almost killed our budget until we started using YNAB (no matter who ran to the store we could see how much grocery money was available to spend). Knowing there’s never just one right answer, I’m curious how you manage the food budget with two shoppers.

    I love reading about the deals and it will be fun to keep reading your blog with these changes!

  • Jaime says:

    I am so excited for this! I have also really enjoyed the encouraging more personal posts you’ve done recently . So glad you feel you are finding your “voice” again! Thank you for all you do.

  • Nancy says:

    well said.

  • Kristie says:

    Yes. 🙂 To be honest, I found I had enjoyed your earlier blogs more than ones in recent years because I felt that those earlier ones reflected the real “you” better. It sounds like you have found your way back home. Looking forward to more homemaking articles. And I see you are enjoying Kroger/Dillons. 🙂 I love their markdowns too!

    • To be really honest, I think I’ve changed a LOT since then… but the change is for the better (I hope!) It’s not that I wasn’t being authentic then or authentic over the past two years, I’m just on a journey and I’m learning and trying and growing in the process. I’ve been as authentic and as honest here as I knew how to be and as I grow and learn, I’m able to become more authentic.

      Some of the things from way back when I felt I *had* to do in order to not disappoint people. And some of the things from the past few years I’ve felt I *had* to do in order to be wise in how I grew the business. I’m learning that I don’t have to do either.

      I think I’m just finding my voice more now and learning more that I’m okay with being me — not the version that I think other people want me to be or the version that I think I’m supposed to be. Just being ME — right where I’m at. 🙂

      Thanks for joining me on the adventure!

  • Amy S says:

    Good news! I am happy to hear this. I have been a long time reader and enjoyed watching some of the new adventures you have been on. But, I really do enjoy the old ones quite a bit better. Welcome back! You were missed!

  • Diane Sennett says:

    I am so looking forward to you returning to posting the markdowns, deals, recipes,, etc. This is why I fell in love with your blog in the first place!!! Such great news…thank you!

  • Melissa says:

    I hope you make some delicious no bake energy bites today. 😉

  • Amy R says:

    I know I’m coming a little late to this party, but, like so many others, I am SOOOOO glad to hear this! These are the exact things that drew me to your blog, and in all honesty, I’ve stopped reading as much because they were missing. I’m going to make MSM my homepage again!

  • Christen says:

    I’m so excited about this!

  • Mackenzie says:

    Yay, this is good news!! 🙂

  • Bobbie-Jo says:

    YAY! I’m glad you’re “back”. Honestly I hadn’t really been looking at your blog much lately because it was different than it used to be and while fun to read, not AS helpful. 🙂 Thank you for your help finding great deals – it is much appreciated!

  • Joni says:

    Thanks for sharing your self and journey. I know we have never met but I feel like you are my friend Crystal that I talk (type) with several days a week!!!

  • I’m so glad to see you back to doing menus and freezer cooking. I really missed those posts. That is how I found so many years ago. I can’t wait to hear about your new adventures.

  • Leslie says:

    I’m glad to read this news. I found you in early 2011 (I think) and fell in love with your blog. I was divorced, working full time, starting grad school full time, too, and feeling excited but apprehensive. Not only was your voice one I needed to find then, I won your give-away for E-Mealz, which made me feel that during the chaos of that time, I’d still prepare good food. 😉 Thank you for all that you’ve shared with us. I look forward to re-visiting your roots with you.

  • Teri says:

    I’m a long time follower and this is good news!
    Take time for you and follow what makes you happy and at peace.
    Know that you have been and are a blessing to so many!

  • Betha y says:

    I read this book called the Beautiful Wife. One of the chapters was on knowing your season. I think you have done a great job with doing that over the years! You go girl! Just keep seeking God in all your endeavors whether you are resting or couponing or starting a business. You are a born entrepreneur!

  • Susie says:

    I love that you are getting back to your couponing roots again! I’ve enjoyed the content you have posted in the recent years just as much as I feel like the move towards focusing on minimalism/simple living was just right up my alley. However, now that baby#3 is on the way, I’ve been feeling the need to get back into couponing/deal shopping seriously again, so this is perfect timing!

  • Kari says:

    Love, love, love! 🙂

  • Kemi says:

    Love those crossover yogurts 😉

  • Megan says:

    Love the transparency. Life is a journey and its full of change and winding roads. Just more confirmation that my scaling back to do the things well I know God has called me to. Scaling back feels strange but peaceful.

  • Amy says:

    LOVE this! Glad you’re back to doing what you love!

    • Verlette Mckendree says:

      I cut out my internet, I still have it on my phone. I downgraded my number of cable channels and together saving about $100. I have more time now.

      I’m decluttering my house so I’ll feel better for myself and when someone comes over.

      I love the days when I stick to my Bible studies.

      I enjoyed your post.

  • Natalie says:

    Yes! Good for you, girl! 🙂

  • Andrea says:

    It warms my heart when I see photos of Kroger Woo Hoo food. I’m obsessed with the Woo Hoo section of my Kroger. 🙂

  • Kristin says:

    thank you for being so transparent. We should all be so reflective. Love it!!

  • Brandi Criminger says:

    I love how you openly share your heart in all things. It’s part of what brought me to your blog (4 or 5 years ago). I love watching you on Periscope share what’s near and dear to you. I’m not going to lie, I’m looking forward to seeing more menu planning and “here’s what we’re cooking” posts- because that’s what real life is about: cooking and being you!

  • Karen says:

    Crystal, I love your post! As we go through different seasons we have to adjust our lives. In the end there are our constants. Our families, the people in our lives, and of course our faith,and sometimes simplicity, that bring us great joy. These things are what matter most and bring us joy and fulfillment. I am happy you are finding balance! Isn’t that what we are all working towards whether we know it or not!

  • Kimberly says:

    What a wonderful post! I have been a follower off and on since Biblical Womanhood! Life is a neat journey! What I have enjoyed so much about you is your desire to learn and grow! 🙂

  • Brett Marie says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart. This especially resonated in me “income numbers don’t equal happiness. And ultimately, I’ve learned that I find a lot more fulfillment in the quiet, small, simple spaces of life.” So many times we are seeking the counterfeit and the real deal is right in front of us! Thank you for that reminder, it’s just what I needed this morning 🙂

  • Connie says:

    Thank you – you never know when you write a blog post who it will touch. But, I needed to hear your message today.
    Connie

  • emma says:

    Yay, me too, I have just too overwhelmed in my personal life the past 4 years and I truly miss the frugal life! I missed getting those deals. I have started again some and it is so much fun. I love being able to try new products because of the sale shopping too. I miss certain products that I no longer used because they were too expensive without a coupon and I didn’t have time for that. Things are settling down for a bit and I hope to coupon and menu plan more now.

    I love your blog and have followed it for 8 years now, glad to see you are able to focus more on things that give you joy!

  • Judith says:

    You go girl! I’m really exciting that you have decided to “get back to your roots” because that’s why I started visiting your blog in the first place. Exciting to see where this goes in the future.

  • Diane says:

    Joy and peace…. it doesn’t get much better than that. Rejoicing with you in your “new found place.”

  • Amy says:

    I love how you share your growth and evolution with your readers! Looking forward to the shopping/meal-planning/recipe posts!

  • Mamato4 says:

    I love this!! And am so glad you got to experience all that other stuff, it helps bring contentment. Those lessons are so important!! And I’m glad to be seeing more of the stuff I originally came to this blog for.

  • Amie says:

    Yay, your frugal cooking and meal planning was my favorite part of your blog. I actually visited your blog for the first time in several months to pull a recipe. I understand changing your focus though. We make more money now and an Aldi came to town so I mostly do my shopping there. I still coupon at times and always for certain items, but my time became more valuable to me so as long as I am close to my budget, I am happy. I’m sure with your meal planning and recipes, I can find some inexpensive ideas though. 🙂

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