Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.
Classic View
Grid View
20 Jun 2009   ·   24
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Stock-up shopping trip

I'm a little late in getting this posted today but for a good reason–I slept in until 9:30 a.m. this morning! And I went to bed before 10 p.m. last night so that's what you call one good night's sleep. Of course, since I have a nursing 7-week-old, I was up at least 4 times to nurse him during that stretch of sleep, but I still haven't gotten anywhere near that kind of sleep for at least a few months. Needless to say, I feel great! 🙂

I hit Aldi and Dillons last night for the weekly shopping trip. I had discovered when planning our shopping trip that I had quite a bit of wiggle room in our $40/week budget since I'd been under budget or we'd skipped shopping a few weeks in the last two months. So I decided to use a bit of that extra money to stock up on some of the good deals.

All in all, here's what I bought at the two stores:


I initially had gone to Aldi to pick up strawberries since they were on sale for $0.99, but they were all out. So I just got the blueberries (on sale for $1.49/pint!) and cantaloupe (on sale for $0.99 each!), plus cheese, apples, bananas, cucumbers, chocolate chips, tortillas, carrots, baking soda, tortilla chips, refried beans, and frozen veggies. All totaled, I spent $24.84 there. I'll likely freeze some of the blueberries and the apples and cantaloupe will last us two weeks, likely, since we still have quite a bit of fruit in our refrigerator from last week.

At Dillons, I mostly just hit the good deals. We bought more Santa Cruiz Strawberry Lemonade at $0.66/jar since it was still on sale and we found we really liked that kind. We also bought milk (on sale for $2.50/gallon), Kraft BBQ sauce ($0.08 after coupons), Kraft salad dressing ($0.19/bottle after coupons), Texas Toast croutons ($0.69/bag after coupons), Daisy sour cream ($0.65 after coupon), round steak (reduced to less than $2), Capri Sunrise Drinks ($1.11 after coupons–a splurge but my girls love these on a hot Summer day!), Barbara's cereal ($1.39/box after the clearance price and a coupon), Sara Lee bread ($0.99 after coupon), yogurt ($0.06 each after coupon), and Wheat Thins and Ritz crackers ($0.87/box after coupons).

In addition, I stocked up on quite a bit of shampoo and conditioner. I usually don't like to buy Suave, but our stock is running low and I've not found any exceptional deals on higher quality shampoo and conditioner, so I think Suave will just have to do for now. It was $0.50/bottle after the sale and coupons. Plus, I had a store catalina for $4/$20 any health and beauty items so I bought some free Suave deodorant, Skintimate and Edge shaving gel ($1 each after coupons–my target price for these), and hair gel which my husband needed. All of these items helped push my total spending (before coupons) to over $20 on health and beauty items, so I got an additional $4 off these already low prices!

One of my uncharacteristic expenditures of the shopping trip was buying the Shout. It was not on sale and I didn't even have a coupon for it. However, if you follow me on Facebook, you know that we had a few major catastrophes this week–including 4 bottles of finger paint spilled on our carpet (we found out that the "washable" label is a misnomer!) and neon orange silly putty running through with a load of laundry (it bedecked an entire load of laundry with permanent bright orange polka-dots!). Due to these mishaps, we managed to go through close to an entire bottle of Shout in a week. So, since we cannot seem to live without Shout–otherwise we have all sorts of ruined laundry–I decided it was worth paying full price for!

My total at Dillons was $27.42. Altogether I spent $52.26–and I still have quite a bit of extra grocery cash left. But seeing as our cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer are so well-stocked right now, I think I'm going to get to funnel some of that into savings. I'll wait until the end of the month to see how things pan out.

Stay tuned on Monday for our menu plan for this coming week!


Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? 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 and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. 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.

19 Jun 2009   ·   18
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Using Skype to Save the Family Money


Guest Post by Karen at Saving The Family Money

In December of 2007, our cell phone company let us down and we decided to cancel them. Long story short, they changed my phone number without permission, and it was a customer service nightmare trying to get it resolved.

After long discussions with my husband and a lot of research, we decided to give Skype a try. I first heard about Skype on the Clark Howard show. I had always heard him talk so highly about it, that I thought it was worth a try. My husband is tech-savvy, so he was excited about testing the technology and seeing if it would work for us. I’m happy to say it is still our main line after 16 months.

The Technology–Skype is free software you can download onto your computer that allows you to talk over the Internet to anyone else with Skype–anywhere in the world. I wish we would have had Skype when my sister and her husband lived in Japan. It would have been nice to video chat for free anytime. Now we use the video chat with the grandparents and it’s fabulous. They enjoy seeing the kids more frequently and the kids think it's fun to see them on the computer!

The Money–The exciting part for me is we are only paying about $6 a month for our home phone service (no taxes)! Imagine the savings if you did this for your family. Although my sister is now in the same city, she signed up with Skype and is also using it as her main line.


Skype has changed their pricing format a couple of times over the last two years. They've changed their subscription names for the bundles, so when you research it online, it can be confusing. Despite the changes, it has remained a cheap deal. There are three main levels of pricing:

  1. You can do Skype-to-Skype for free. (Includes video chat, IMs and file transfer capability, but only to other Skype members)
  2. You can upgrade for $3/month and get what I'd call "Skype-to-Phone," to be able to call normal (non-Skype) land-line phones and mobile phones. Voice mail also comes with this package.
  3. Lastly, you can pay for an actual number, so folks can call you. (This is where Skype becomes a land-line phone replacement.)

It's nice because you can take those baby steps to test the service before you commit. Even after you commit, you can choose short monthly service plans.

The Ease and Convenience–My husband got hooked quickly because of the conveniences Skype offered. He loved how it worked on both PCs and Macs. I appreciated all the options Skype had; it's been a pretty seamless change and we use it 100% of the time now.

Over time, we've used a USB Handset, USB Headset,and even bought a Skype phone that works like a cordless. Yes, that's right, you can buy an actual phone so you are not bound to the computer to use the service. It can be worked into your home and used like a "normal" phone. I've even taken my laptop on location, where Internet is available, and by simply plugging in my headset, I've been able to receive and make calls.

Please note: Skype cannot be used for emergency calling. My husband
has a work-issued cell phone so in case of an emergency, we would use that.

Karen has had so much fun saving her family money that she is blogging about it at Saving The Family Money, in hopes that it will benefit other families.

18 Jun 2009   ·   33
Money Saving Mom

A Frugal Father’s Day: Share your links!

In honor of Sunday being Father's Day, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of our frugal ideas for making this a special day without breaking the bank. Reader, Lucky, emailed me with many of the great links below to get things started out.

::Perhaps you could consider surprising that man in your life with Breakfast in Bed? Berry French Toast is a great recipe and it can be inexpensively made if you use day-old Italian bread and only one kind of berries. Lucky said she often makes it up the night before and then just pops it into the oven to bake. Breakfast pizza is another delicious option. Or there's always just some of your classic standbys.

::And what about making some homemade gifts? There's paper airplane cards or notepads. Or perhaps you could check your stockpile and see if you could come up with some items to put together a car-washing kit? Looking for more creative and inexpensive ideas? Janet at The Money Jar has an extensive list here.

Those are just a few ideas and links to get things started. I'm going to open up the floor and let you share you all celebrate a frugal Father's Day at your house. Either leave your ideas in the comments section or post your ideas on your blog and leave your link below. I'm anxious to hear what creative things you've come up with!

17 Jun 2009   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

Is it Possible to Lose Weight on a Budget?


photo by Anushruti RK

Jessica, from Losing Weight on a Budget, recently wrote me about how she is losing weight on a budget:

After giving birth to my first child I started eating healthy and lost over
50 pounds. That being said I also lost a lot of money doing it. The cost can
really get out of control if you let it. By the time you buy all of the
special frozen meals and prepackaged snacks your wallet will definitely feel a
lot lighter.

After I gave birth to my second child, I wanted to lose weight again but I put
it off for several months because my family is on a strict budget and I really
thought that I couldn’t afford to eat healthfully again. This made me very depressed
and I continued to gain weight.

Finally, at the end of last year I decided that
enough was enough. I felt really tired all of the time from not eating right or
exercising and I knew that I needed to do something about it. So this is where my
journey began. On January 1, 2009, I began my journey of losing weight on a

I plan my menu every week and stick to it, I clip coupons, I do
without some of the convenience foods that I used to enjoy, and I definitely
go out to eat less. I even started a blog here to keep myself accountable and to share my ideas
with anyone interested in losing weight on a budget.

I have also tried a many new recipes which are
healthful and low in cost. Right now I am on a bean kick. I have found several
great bean recipes that cost very little but are low in fat and very high in
fiber. I am loving the fact that I can feed my family a hearty filling meal for
just a few dollars.

I have lost 17 pounds in my
first 10 weeks and I have no plans of stopping until I meet my goal. I love the
fact that not only am I losing weight but I am becoming healthy and so is the
rest of my family. It is such a great feeling to be able to teach my children
about eating healthfully and budgeting money all at the same time.

Jessica's story was quite inspirational to me–especially since I'm currently working on losing the rest of my pregnancy weight (14 pounds to go!). You'll not want to miss her post here on ten ways to save money while losing weight.

What tips or tricks do you have for losing weight on a budget? I'd love to hear! I blogged here last year
about some of the things which have helped me lose my pregnancy weight
without spending a lot of money and Tammy also has some great ideas here.

15 Jun 2009   ·   11
Money Saving Mom

This week’s menu


I'm trying to slowly ease back into cooking after taking the last few weeks off because we were blessed with so many delicious meals after the birth of Silas. (Can you believe our church friends and family brought us almost a month's worth of meals? How incredible is that?!)

However, as many of you know, I cooked up a bunch of food before Silas was born so our freezer is still rather stuffed with casseroles, breads, and so forth. I'm planning to use a few meals from the freezer each week over the next few weeks and then make some simple meals from scratch the rest of the days. By then, it should be about three months after Silas' birth and things should be pretty back to normal around here.

I can't even begin to express how much of a help the meals we were given were or how nice it is to know our freezer is still packed with meals! If you have the chance to cook up food for your freezer before a big event like the birth of a baby, definitely take the opportunity. You won't regret it! Not only has it saved us time to have food already made up, it has also saved us a lot of money since we're not tempted to order carryout or buy convenience foods.

I'm especially excited about our menu this week because our little container garden is finally starting to produce lettuce. I'm looking forward to lots of fresh tossed salad this week as a result. Hopefully, our tomatoes will start ripening soon as well. There's just nothing as good as a fresh-from-the-garden tomato, is there?!

Here's this week's menu plan:

Cereal, juice
Granola over yogurt with peaches
Toast, scrambled eggs with hashbrowns and cheese, strawberries
Oatmeal with brown sugar and peaches
Strawberry smoothies, toast
Pumpkin waffles, peaches
Cranberry muffins, yogurt, strawberries

PB&J, carrot sticks, cheese, fruit
Tossed salad with hard-boiled eggs, whole-wheat toast
Baked potatoes with steamed veggies and cheese
Crackers, cheese, fruit, carrot sticks
Homemade mac and cheese, steamed veggies
Leftovers x 2

Grilled Salmon, baked potatoes, tossed salad, corn on the cob, homemade bread, strawberry shortcake
Turkey sub sandwiches, fruit salad, cucumber and tomato salad
Marinated steak, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, homemade bread, fruit salad
Lasagna casserole, green beans, fruit salad, french bread
Beef hot dogs, corn on the cob, fruit salad, twice-baked potatoes
BBQ Chicken Pizza, fruit salad, tossed salad, ice cream
Dinner out


By the way, we spent $41 on groceries this week. You can see the groceries we purchased this week here, in case you missed it.

Check out more menu plans for this week over at Organizing Junkie.

13 Jun 2009   ·   25
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: This week’s $41.40 shopping trip

I'm so excited to be more back into the swing of coupon-shopping again; how I've missed it!

This week, we just hit Dillons. I'd planned to hit Aldi, too, but we didn't get out of the house in time. However, I was very happy with what we ended up with from our Dillons' shopping trip and we likely really wouldn't have saved much more to have taken the extra time to hit Aldi, too.

Here's what we bought:


My favorite score for this week was the six bottles of Santa Cruz Organic juice that I got for $0.66/bottle (they were on sale for $1.66 and I had coupons for $1/1 from organic coupon booklets I picked up at the health food store). {Edit: I just found out from Lorrie's blog that there is a PDF coupon available here, too! So if you have a Kroger store and your juice is on sale and you didn't get any of the organic coupon booklets, you can use that coupon to pick up some juice very inexpensively!}

All in all, we spent $41.40 for all the groceries pictured above. According to our receipt, we saved $76.92. However, I pretty much never pay full price for most anything, so those numbers aren't exactly accurate. But it's still fun to think how much using coupons and stocking up on the sales really does save us money compared to paying full price.

We're under budget for this month, even though I went a little over our $40/week grocery budget. We've spent less than $40 for the past four weeks, so I still have some surplus to work with.

And speaking of our grocery budget, as many of you know, we raised our grocery budget to $60/week while I was pregnant to accommodate for more splurging, quick foods, and buying extra protein. There are seasons of life when you just need to cut yourself some slack when it comes to couponing and budgeting and much of this past year (with moving, a big job change for my husband, pregnancy, and a number of other factors) was definitely one of those seasons.

But now that I'm almost recovered from pregnancy and the birth and am feeling much more energetic, we've decided to lower our grocery budget back down to $40/week–at least on an experimental basis. I wasn't sure if we'd be able to do it, since we've moved to a new town with fewer stores to choose from and no CVS at all, but I'm enjoying this new challenge! And so far, it's going a lot better than I anticipated!

I'll post this coming week's menu on Monday so stay tuned for that! And if you're new here and wondering how on earth we'll get a week's worth of meals from the groceries pictured above, be sure to read my post here which explains more how I grocery shop.


Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below.

Note: Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. 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.

12 Jun 2009   ·   20
Money Saving Mom

Monthly Financial Check-up

It's June and guess what that means? It's time for our monthly financial check-up. How did you do in May?

We began May at 45.5% of our house savings goal and we ended the month at 48.5%!

We're almost halfway to our goal and I'm hopeful that by the end of June, we'll at least be at 50%, if not more. We'll see!

By the way, if you're new here, you can read more about our financial goals for this year and our progress so far by scrolling down on this page here.

How did you do in May? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2009, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in May and, if you'd like, the areas
you hope to improve in June. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don't have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let's all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

11 Jun 2009   ·   18
Money Saving Mom

100 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year – Part 6


If you missed the first parts of this series, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. Here's the sixth installment in this series of ideas of ways to save $100 or more this year:

23) Recover your furniture instead of replacing it. When my husband and I were first married, we spent a total of $100 to furnish our apartment. We accepted hand-me-downs for almost everything and then purchased a used matching sofa and chair we found in the newspaper.

Four years later, when we had made it through law school a had a little more wiggle room in our budget, we decided it was about time we replace our living room set. We had scrimped together a few hundred dollars and naively figured we could likely find something for this amount. However, we quickly found that a few hundred dollars doesn't go very far when it comes to furniture.

We scoured garage sales, second-hand stores, surplus stores, and Craigslist, all to no avail. Either the furniture was very used, hideously ugly, or just plain too expensive.

Finally, a friend suggested we consider buying slipcovers instead of replacing our furniture. We'd never considered that, but after a little digging, we discovered you can buy brand-new slip covers off of eBay for about half of what they'd run retail. And the price of these slipcovers paled in comparison to buying new furniture!

So, after buying two slipcovers and making some matching throw pillows, we re-did the entire look of our living room for less than $150!

(If you were more handy with a sewing machine than me, you could likely make slipcovers or just up and recover your entire sofa for even less than we paid.)

24) Constantly challenge yourself to improve. My husband and I are fairly competitive people so we've found we can really use this to our advantage when it comes to saving and giving. We set goals every month for how much we hope to save and give and how we hope to accomplish it and then we have a running competition to see if we can actually pull it off.

Some months, we'll commit to not going out to eat, or reducing our energy usage, or driving less, or spending less on groceries, or not spending any money on anything but basic necessities. Each month, it's a little different so that it keeps life interesting and we never grow bored of the challenge. In addition, we always set our goals a little higher than what we think we can pull off, just to challenge ourselves to think outside the box and be more self-disciplined.

Making it like a game to see how well we can live while still reaching our financial goals makes it fun and exciting. Who says that living on a budget and living beneath your means needs to be a miserable experience?!

The biggest benefit of challenging ourselves in this way is that it really does seem to allow us to save and give more. We don't always quite make our monthly goals, but I am positive we go a lot farther than we would if we didn't set any goals and didn't come up with creative challenges each month to help us try and meet them.

25) Drink water. Okay, so this might not be your favorite way to save $100 this year, but if you want to spend less and save more, curbing the caffeine addiction is something to seriously consider.

Water is the beverage of choice in our home. We enjoy coffee and even soft drinks on occasion, but these are reserved as a treat, not an everyday occurrence. And we've saved a lot of money over the years because of this.

I know you often hear about how you can save money by "cutting the Starbucks habit" and I'm sure it has almost begun to seem cliche at this point, but have you ever really done the math? If you regularly get drinks from the soda machine at work or stop in often at the drive-thru at a local coffee shop, have you ever taken the time to add up how much these little expenditures are really costing you? If you spend $3 five times per week on lattes, that's over $750 each year! Or even if you only spend $1 five days a week on a drink, that still is over $250 a year.

If giving up your daily latte is unthinkable, perhaps you could consider learning to make it at home? You'll save a tremendous amount of by doing so and you might find you can make it even better than the local coffee shop. But I still recommend water–it's a lot fewer calories than most caffeinated beverages and it's really good for you, too!

To be continued…

photo by Refracted Moments

8 Jun 2009   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

This week’s menu plan


I'm finally getting back into regular menu-planning after taking a few weeks off to have a baby. And it feels so good! I'm sticking to simple meals since it's our first week of our official
homeschool year and the goal of this week is to be consistent with our
new schedule. I can quickly get side-tracked in the kitchen so I made the menu really easy to try and deter myself from losing focus!

We're mostly eating from the pantry and freezer as these are rather full and in need of a little pairing down. We did spend $33 at the store buying produce and dairy products, but the main staples for these meals we already had on hand (which is the beauty of stocking up on sales!).

Here's the plan:

Kashi waffles, strawberries, yogurt
Strawberry smoothies, muffins
Banana bread, oranges, yogurt
Cereal, juice or fruit x 2
Oatmeal, grapefruit
Pumpkin waffles, strawberries

Spinach Rice and Cheese Casserole, fruit
Tossed salad (using fresh-from-the-container-garden lettuce!) with hard-boiled eggs and cheese, bread
Baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese, peaches
Pot roast, corn, toast, tossed salad
PB&J, carrots, applesauce
Leftovers x 2

Ham and Cheese Stromboli, broccoli
French Toast with strawberries and freshly-whipped cream, hashbrowns
Chicken BBQ Pizza, corn on the cob, fruit salad
Turkey sub sandwiches, chips, veggies
Mini Meatloaves, mixed steamed veggies, bread, sweet potatoes
Steak, corn on the cob, grapefruit, cucumber and tomato salad, bread
Dinner out

Granola bars

Check out more menu plans for this week over at Organizing Junkie.

8 Jun 2009   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

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.

6 Jun 2009   ·   31
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: This week’s $33 shopping trip

I made out the menu this week and realized there was very little we needed to buy. Our cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer are rather full and the sales were pretty sparse. So my hubby just made a quick trip by the store on his way home from work to buy milk, cheese, chicken, and produce–all which were on sale.


My husband also surprised me with a few special treats, too, since we had some extra wiggle room in our budget (we don't always completely follow our "only buy what's on sale rule"–just most of the time!). He bought my favorite-in-all-the-world Milano cookies, some delicious Pepperidge Farm cookies, and whipping cream (for homemade strawberry shortcake–yum!).

All in all, he spent $32.86. Somehow, we've managed to stay significantly below our $40/week budget most of the last four weeks–even with some splurging! I'm curious to see if we can continue to keep with our $40/week budget now that we're feeding five people. So far, it's going quite well, but only time will tell.

Check back on Monday for details and specifics on this coming week's menu plan.

In other frugal news, I had the privilege of meeting three frugal
friends in the last two weeks whom I've gotten to know through the
blogging world. Amy and Laura and I met up two weeks ago and then Amy and Carrie and I met up this past week.

(photo from Laura)

We managed to totally forget to take pictures with Carrie, but Laura and Amy posted some fun pictures of our meet-up here and here. It's always such a boost and encouragement to get to chat face-to-face with other frugal moms!

And in other completely unrelated news (but because this is my blog so I guess that means I have license to post whatever I please!), after four weeks, I finally got a few pictures of all three of my precious little ones together…


There is never a dully moment around here and most nights I go to bed quite exhausted, but feel incredibly blessed to be the mama of these darling little ones. They bring so much joy into our lives!

Enough of my biased mama ramblings, for now, though. 🙂 Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save
money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and
leave your link below.

Note: Please remember that this weekly round-up is to
share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this
week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and
inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have
little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. 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

5 Jun 2009   ·   22
Money Saving Mom

Adding Flavor While Saving Money: How To Store and Preserve Fresh Herbs (Guest Post)

Guest Post by Megan from

Not too long ago, an
was written in a national newspaper documenting the trend towards
so-called "cheap" convenience foods. I sighed, disappointed that shoppers naturally assume single-serving, prepackaged foods like macaroni and cheese are cheaper than
homemade alternatives. 

Convenience foods can, in fact, be most costly, and they are almost
always less healthful than their homemade counterparts. But perhaps what bothered most about this trend is that
shoppers are "buying-in" to the belief that being frugal means sacrificing
taste and quality. 

Eating well on a frugal budget is entirely possible. A lean grocery budget does not require
reliance on freeze-dried, tasteless food. In fact, home cooking can bring a whole new world of flavors.

There are many ways to add flavor to your food without a
lot of cost, but one of my favorite techniques is to use fresh herbs. Not only do fresh herbs add flavor,
they bring out the natural flavors in other foods too. And they have many health benefits, as

After attempting to learn how to grow herbs using window-boxes
or terrariums, I have concluded, it just doesn’t work for me. Failing this, I now bite the bullet and
pay full price at the grocery store.
the key to making the herbs affordable, I have learned, is to make the
most of your purchase by properly prepping, storing, and preserving your
herbs. Here is how to do it:

1) Wash your herbs immediately after purchasing and dry in a
salad spinner.
If you purchase herbs that are still attached at the roots, snip the roots off
and clean them as well. Then store
the roots in a sandwich bag or plastic container in the freezer–they can be
added to vegetable or chicken stock, yielding a lovely flavor.

2) Take the rest of the washed and dried herbs
and spread them out over a few sheets of paper towel.
Roll the paper towel up with the herbs inside and place in a grocery bag and keep inside
your crisper. The herbs should
last for several weeks like this.

3) When your
herbs are nearing the end of their freshness, freeze or dry them.
Many herbs can be frozen by placing the leaves in an ice cube tray and
filling it with water. When you are
ready to use them, simply defrost an ice cube and you have "fresh" herbs to use! To dry herbs, you can hang them in bunches. And don't throw away the stems–you can use parsley or cilantro stems when making chutneys
or sauces in the food processor.

With rising food costs, it is not necessary to sacrifice
taste or quality. Simply make the
most of what you have. Rather
than sacrifice the delightful flavor and health benefits of fresh herbs, I
recommend making your investment count by using every part of the herb
and reducing waste wherever possible. The result will be a tastier mealtime and a budget boost.

Megan (aka "Saver Queen") loves the fulfilling, frugal life. She’s shares her best recipes, tips to
save at the grocery store, and other money saving secrets at her blog,

3 Jun 2009   ·   86
Money Saving Mom

The Buy Ahead Principle: One of my biggest grocery saving secrets

Allison left the following comment on my picture of this week's $30 shopping trip:

enjoyed reading this blog the past month or so since I've discovered
it, and you've really helped me snag some good deals. And I think it's
neat when you come home from the store with a pile of groceries for
only a few dollars.

But every time I see the picture of your groceries, I wonder
something like, "What is she going to cook for dinner with easy mac,
salad dressing, and jello?"

Is this all the grocery shopping you do? Do you have a garden? Or
raise your own beef? How do you round out your bargain purchases to get
a meal on the table?

One of my biggest secrets for grocery saving success is that I practice the Buy Ahead Principle. What's that, you ask?

Well, basically, other than dairy products and produce, I aim to never pay full price for anything. Instead, I stock up when an item is on sale to tide me over until the next sale. 

For instance, in this shopping trip picture, you'll see that I mainly stocked up on cereal. In fact, I bought 16 boxes of cereal–enough to last us for at least 6 weeks, likely longer. Did we only eat cereal that week? No way! We ate a few boxes of cereal that week and the rest of what we ate mostly came from items I'd stocked up on during previous sales.

You see, because I stock up on items when they are on sale at my target price (providing I can afford it in our budget), my grocery shopping trips will usually look quite strange and will certainly not be the basis for a balanced menu. But you can check out some of our menus here to see that we do eat a fairly balanced diet. Well, at least we're certainly not subsisting on Easy Mac and Jell-O every meal!

How is it that we can eat a fairly balanced diet when I buy such an odd assortment of groceries each week? It's because the bulk of our meals are based upon what we already have in our refrigerator, pantry, and freezer.

To give you an idea of how this works, here's a rundown of our menu this week:

Breakfasts: Cereal or Kashi waffles and fruit (The cereal was from our big stock-up mentioned above, the waffles were purchased two weeks ago at Target for $0.29/box, and the fruit is from what we purchased this week and leftovers from last week.)

Lunches: Sandwiches or leftovers and carrots or fruit (I had lots of bread in the freezer I'd gotten for $0.50/loaf from Aldi last month and the peanut butter was from our pantry. My mom also gave us some extra lunch meat she had leftover from a lunch they served so we've used that, too. The carrots and fruit were purchased this week or leftover from last week's purchases.)

Dinners: We're eating meals from our After-The-Baby Freezer Stash paired with homemade bread from the freezer and frozen veggies from the freezer. All of the items in our After-The-Baby Freezer Stash were purchased within our usual grocery budget over the course of a few weeks' time as I had a little extra wiggle room in the budget or items were on sale.

Snacks: Fruit, cheese, crackers, granola bars, yogurt (The fruit, cheese, crackers, and yogurt were all purchased this week. The granola bars were from the pantry.)

When I plan the menu for the week, I first check out what we already have on hand. This gives me the inspiration for the majority of the menu. I then consult the sales fliers and my coupon box to decide what items are on sale and in-budget that I want (or need) to stock up on. I also add in any specific ingredients I need to round out a recipe or meal I've planned from the freezer and pantry ingredients.

For many people who are used to buying only what groceries you'll use in the next week, the concept of buying ahead can be mind-boggling. However, I highly recommend you at least give it a try as it can save you a great deal of money. In fact, I would estimate that we routinely save at least $30-$50 each week by doing so.

If this is a new concept for you, don't go out and spend $500 tomorrow trying to build up a stockpile. Instead, just designate a small percentage of your grocery budget each week to buying extra of those heavily-discounted items which you know you will use sometime in the next few months.

start to build up a stockpile of items you regularly use as you find
them discounted by 50% or more with a sale and coupon. Over time, your
stockpile will grow until you come to a point where you can begin to
pretty much only buy items which are at rock-bottom prices, in addition to produce and perishable items.

Just by adopting the Buy Ahead Principle, you will see a significant savings in your grocery bill. And you'll likely be shopping less and eating better than ever before!

2 Jun 2009   ·   41
Money Saving Mom

This week’s $30 shopping trip

I skipped Super Savings Saturday last week due to Mr. Linky's issues and the fact that we were attending the homeschool conference here instead of doing our usual grocery shopping.

However, I did make it to the store yesterday to hit the sales at Dillons and to snag some deals at another local store's Double Coupon Days. I'm still a long way from feeling completely recovered from having a baby or that things are all organized and running smoothly with three littles, but the fact that I took all of them and went grocery shopping by myself felt like a huge victory!

Here's what we bought:


Before coupons and sales, our total for all of that would have been well over $120. After coupons and sales, we paid a whopping $30 for all of it!

After two successful couponing transactions yesterday, I realized just how much I've missed bargain-shopping over the last two months. In fact, I believe I'm going to have to restrain myself to over the next few weeks while I get back into my "groove" so that I don't go overboard on the coupon-clipping and shopping-trip-planning! 🙂

I'm feeling more and more like my old non-nine-months-pregnant, non-sleep-deprived self is coming back so I'm hopeful to slowly work back into my usual blogging mode over the next few weeks. You all have been incredibly patient as I've taken a break and only posted deals and guest posts for the last number of weeks and I'm looking forward to picking back up some of the well-loved features and writing more posts of substance in the not-too-distant future. Stay tuned!