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1 Dec 2009   ·   4
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: The Shopping Trip


A freezer cooking day can't happen without lots of supplies on hand, namely groceries. While I have been stocking up over the last few weeks with this in mind, there were still some last-minute things I needed to buy for tomorrow's big Freezer Cooking Day. So I loaded up all three little ones and stopped into our local grocery store, health food store, and Aldi. Whew!

All told, we spent right around $50 for the groceries shown above including two big bags of chicken and four packages of organic grass-fed roast beef marked down from $8.99 to $1.59 at the health food store. Gotta love those kinds of bargains!

It looks like we'll be spending right under $100 total for this Freezer Cooking Day. It should well carry us through upcoming Christmas get-togethers, provide some homemade Christmas gifts, and take care of most of the cooking and baking for the entire month–especially since we still have some meals left in the freezer from last month's Freezer Cooking Day–so I'd say it's well worth the monetary investment.

I don't plan to buy many more groceries the rest of this month so the additional $75 or so we still have leftover in our grocery budget envelope should be plenty for the next four weeks.

But first I have to actually tackle the cooking!

Next up: The Detailed Step-By-Step Freezer Cooking Plan

1 Dec 2009   ·   5
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: What can you freeze?


Are you new to cooking and baking ahead and wondering what kind of
stuff you can freeze? As I
confessed last time
, I really have no idea what I'm doing so I'm not really qualified to write authoritatively on the topic.

However, FishMama is much more of pro in this realm than me and she has an excellent post up here with details on what you can and can't freeze, along with recipe links.

30 Nov 2009   ·   22
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: The Master Plan

Tomorrow and Wednesday of this week (December 1-2, 2009), FishMama from LifeAsMom
and I are hosting another a Freezer Cooking Day. We'll be live-blogging our progress and sharing
tips and recipes along the way on both of our blogs.

If you'd like to
join in the fun, you can sign up at the Facebook Event page here, follow along (and participate!) on twitter with the #oamc hashtag, or just check our blogs for updates, pictures, and more! We'd love it if you'd like to blog about any baking or cooking you do and share your links here. I'll post a Mr. Linky up tomorrow so you can post your plans and recipe lists. In addition, I'll have a Mr. Linky up on Wednesday evening for you to post what you accomplished.

I tried splitting up my cooking between two days last time around and I ended up exhausted, with a very messy house and cranky children. It is so worth it to have most of the cooking and baking for the month done in one big swoop, but I realized I needed a different plan of action this time.

So I'm going to do my shopping and prep work tomorrow afternoon and I'll be doing the actual cooking and baking on Wednesday. My mom is willingly taking the girls for most of the day on Wednesday so I can focus on cooking and baking. And unlike last time, I plan to do nothing else besides feed and take care of my little guy, cook and bake, clean up the kitchen, and blog and tweet about my progress. We'll see if things go a little smoother this time!

Here's my Proposed Freezer Cooking Plan:


Pumpkin Pancakes x 3
Muffin Mixes (for gifts, breakfasts, and dinners)

Main Dishes:

Tuna Noodle Casserole x 2 (haven't decided whether I'm going to use turkey or tuna!)
Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole (using leftover Thanksgiving ham!)
Marinated Chicken
Barbecue Chicken
Stromboli x 4
Turkey Shepherd's Pie


Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists
Banana Bread
World's Easiest Christmas Candy
Sugar Cookie Dough
Hot Cocoa Mix
Slab Apple Pie

A few of the items I'm making to give me a head start on Christmas gifts and to have in the freezer if I need a quick snack or dessert to take to the many gatherings which always happen around this time of year. I did this last year and it was a huge help! The rest are just things to help fill out our weekly menus for the month of December. We already have some meals left in the freezer from last month's Freezer Cooking Day so we should be all set after the cooking and baking I do this week.

I'll be posting a detailed and ordered list of my plan tomorrow and also a picture of the groceries I'm purchasing to pull this off. And then the real work begins Wednesday!

FishMama has her post up here of everything she's planning on cooking and baking tomorrow. I'm trying not to feel like a loser when I compare my list to hers especially considering she has twice as many children as me and she's not bringing in recruits to help with them. But I'm not superwoman so I just have to do what I can do! 🙂

30 Nov 2009   ·   13
Money Saving Mom

Menu Plan Monday: Lots of fresh juice and Thanksgiving leftovers


After a few weeks of not being organized enough to get a menu posted, I finally am getting it done this week!

We have lots of apples and tangerines to use up this week so we're going to be making fresh juice every morning–yum! I have found this is an excellent and nutritious way to use up a lot of excess fruit which is going to be going bad quickly.

We also have–you guessed it!–Thanksgiving leftovers. I've frozen some of them and am remaking most of the rest of them into other dishes this week and for our Freezer Cooking Day this week. If you have extra Thanksgiving leftovers, stay tuned for some ideas and links I'll be sharing over the next few days.

Granola over yogurt, fresh apple/tangerine juice
Whole-wheat waffles, fresh apple/tangerine juice
Whole-wheat English muffins, scrambled eggs, fresh apple/tangerine juice
Cereal, cranberry juice
Pumpkin pancakes, fresh apple/tangerine juice
Cream of wheat, fresh apple/tangerine juice
Oatmeal, fresh apple/tangerine juice

Lunches (my hubby usually has sandwiches or leftovers in his packed lunch):
PB&J, applesauce
Tuna Noodle Casserole, applesauce
Steamed veggies over brown rice, oranges
Turkey sandwiches, steamed veggies, grapefruit
Homemade mac and cheese, broccoli, applesauce
Leftovers x 2

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole, grapefruit, homemade bread
Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, steamed veggies
Chicken Tetrazinni, grapefruit, muffins, steamed veggies, chocolate pudding
Turkey meatballs, biscuits, steamed veggies, mashed potatoes
Breaded fish, sweet potatoes, homemade bread, steamed veggies, Slab Apple Pie
Pasta salad with turkey and veggies, oranges
Dinner out

28 Nov 2009   ·   7
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Double Dollar Coupon Event

So I didn't get out early yesterday morning to hit the Black Friday shopping frenzy. But I did go out in the afternoon for the Double Dollar Coupon Event at our local grocery store. And as I suspected, the store was pretty empty and the shelves were full!

Here's what I came home with:


Before coupons and sales, my total was about $150. After coupons? I paid $47.36 plus I got $2 in catalinas back!

I was especially excited to get over 10 pounds of really beautiful-looking apples for less than $7 total! And I also was able to snag free toilet paper after coupons–something I've not been able to do in quite some time!

I'll be using some of this stuff for next week's Freezer Cooking Day. Some of it is for re-stocking our household supplies closet, and some of it, I'll be giving away or freezing to use for Christmas gifts and get-togethers.

I also purchased about 25 pounds of sweet potatoes this week because they were on sale for $0.25 per pound at Walmart. I spent an afternoon peeling and boiling and mashing these for Sweet Potato Casserole for our Thanksgiving gatherings and froze the rest to use as a side dish with dinners over the next few weeks.

I'll be posting my Freezer Cooking Day plan and next week's menu on Monday. Stay tuned for that!


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.

24 Nov 2009   ·   33
Money Saving Mom Earn cash or rewards for taking surveys

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From what I've heard, this company is just as good or even better than Pinecone Research. And the best thing of all? You earn points for every single survey you take–even those which are just qualifiers! So you will never waste time and effort on a survey only to discover you don't qualify. You can redeem your points earned for cash or prizes and every 1000 points equals $10.

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As always, you won't get rich filling out surveys, but it's a fun way to add a little extra cashflow to your budget. If you want to sign up with other legitimate survey companies you can go here for my recommended list of survey companies.

24 Nov 2009   ·   90
Money Saving Mom

I won! Really, I did!


I posted back in October about Little Debbie giving away 125,000 boxes of cupcakes. Well guess what arrived in my mailbox yesterday? A coupon for a free box of Little Debbie Cupcakes!

Now, for some of you who win stuff all the time (like my friend Amy who seems to win something just about every single week!), this might not seem too exciting. But for me–a person who has pretty much never won a giveaway of any sort in her life–it was very exciting! (We won't mention the fact that there were 125,000 winners so the odds were a little in my favor!)

It's only a free box of Little Debbie Cupcakes and I'll just be buying them and sharing them with friends, but the fact that I won, inspired me to consider trying my hand at more giveaways.

Maybe, just maybe, the tide is going to start turning. Probably not, but I'm going to be paying a lot closer attention to the giveaways posted over at Sweetie's Sweeps regardless.

Who knows? Maybe I'll win a truck next!

21 Nov 2009   ·   11
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Our Dillon’s and Health Food Store shopping trips


This week I made a quick trip to the health food store and to Dillon’s and purchased the above-pictured items, many of which were mark-downs.

After coupons, we spent $34.97 for everything shown and we’re well-stocked up on frozen veggies for a few weeks!


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.

20 Nov 2009   ·   5
Money Saving Mom

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Share Your Links, Recipes, Tips, and Ideas!

Erin, Monica,
Jessica, Amy, and I hope you've enjoyed the ideas we've shared this week for the
"Thanksgiving on a Budget" series. Our main goal was to show you how
you could create a simple Thanksgiving celebration for your
family without spending a fortune to do so.

To recap, here's what we shared:

A Hassle-Free Method for Cooking Your Thanksgiving Turkey

My Favorite Dinner Roll Recipe

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash and Almond Pecan Pie

Eye-Pleasing and Inexpensive Food Presentation

Setting a Beautiful Table and Cultivating a Thankful Heart

I'm sure not all of the recipes or ideas would be something you
might use for your Thanksgiving celebration, we hope what we've shared
will inspire you as you seek to have a memorable Thanksgiving
celebration for your family this year.

I'm positive we've only
barely scratched the surface when it comes to Thanksgiving ideas,
though, and that's why today is the day for all of you–my wonderfully
creative readers–to chime in with your own ideas for celebrating Thanksgiving on a Budget.

floor is yours! Share your favorite recipes, helpful tips, ideas for
simplifying the Thanksgiving menu, decorating how-to's, or special
traditions your family has. If you have a blog, post about it on your
blog and leave the direct link to your blog post below. If you don't
have a blog, feel free to leave your ideas in the comments section.

20 Nov 2009   ·   36
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: Learning Through Failure (Part 3)


Last time in our Becoming a Work-at-Home Mom series I shared how I had to stop working as a mother's helper due to my pregnancy and while that was a huge cut in our income, it also was what lit a fire in my belly to learn everything I possibly could as fast as I could about earning money from home.

I began with small things, like taking surveys, mystery shopping, getting paid to read emails. Once I became proficient in those, I started scratching my brain for more ideas. 

One idea I had was to teach creative writing classes out of our home. I'd always loved writing and thought that probably homeschool moms would jump at the opportunity to enroll their children in creative writing classes–especially if they were very inexpensively priced.

I spent hours writing up advertisements to place in homeschool newsletters and had visions of at least 40 children signing up. I excitedly strategized how I could break the classes up and handle a large number of children and I eagerly calculated numbers and was expecting a good earning potential from these classes. All in all, I was stoked.

Problem was, instead of 40 children signing up as I'd hoped, only 4 signed up. So much for my big plans!

Needless to say, the turn out was very disappointing to me. I thought God had clearly directed me to do these classes and I was confident He was going to bring dozens and dozens of children to them. I worried about how on earth we were going to pay our bills since my big idea had pretty much totally flopped. I wanted to quit and throw my hands up in despair. But I couldn't because I'd already made a commitment to teach these children–all 4 of them–and I had to see it through.

When I look back at those classes and the measly four sign-ups, I realize that not only did that experience prepare me for some greater failures I'd have on down the road, it also taught me that it's okay if things don't turn out like we are expecting. We can still carry on and do our best whether we have four students or forty students or 400 students. Whatever the outcome of our efforts, what matters most is that we give it our best.

I've slowly learned over the past few years that failure of some
kind is inevitable when you have your business or are trying to start
working from home. Everything just isn't going to turn out exactly like
you expected. In fact, much of the time, things will be a lot harder
and a lot less successful than you planned or hoped or dreamed.

Contrary to what I thought in the beginning, I've come to realize that failure is my friend. I've learned much more through failure than I have through success.

The creative writing classes were only the start of my flopped endeavors and learning through failure. Next time, I'll tell you about a much bigger work-at-home failure and how it turned out to be one of the best things which ever happened to me.

To be continued…

19 Nov 2009   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash and Almond Pecan Pie


I hope you're hungry today because Erin from $5 Dinners is showing us how to make Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash and Almond Pecan Pie.

And lest you think you can't make things like that on a budget, be sure to check out her ingredient price breakdowns and suggestions for getting more expensive ingredients at great prices.


18 Nov 2009   ·   112
Money Saving Mom

Monthly Financial Check-up

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

I've been waiting with bated breath to be able to post our monthly financial update because this is another huge milestone for us. And I finally get to share…

We began October at 69% of our house savings goal and we ended the month at 75%!

While it looks like we're likely not quite going to make our goal of being at 100% by the end of 2009, it is incredibly exciting for us to be at 75%! 

It is hard to go against the grain, to live counter-culturally, to be self-disciplined.

It's hard to forgo instant gratification and stop comparing yourself with the "Jones's".

It's hard when you're the only one packing a lunch, driving an old car, wearing thrift store clothes, and clipping coupons.

It's hard when you see other people just going out and buying whatever they want whenever they want it when you're barely able to afford paying $17 for groceries that week but you're committed to paying 100% cash for everything. 

None of where we are today has happened by taking the easy road. It's the result of God's grace and enabling, it's the result of our parents' wise examples and training, it's the result of a strong work ethic instilled in us from the time we were youngsters, it's the result of setting big goals and sticking with those goals day in and day out–even when we felt like giving up.

When I look at that 75% house savings number in our bank account, I know that it is worth it to choose to do hard things. We've learned so many valuable lessons along the way, our struggles have matured us, our victories have emboldened us.

And we know beyond any shadow of a doubt, that making short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term goals is every bit worth it.

(If you're new here, be sure to check out this post where I explain in detail why we've committed to this "crazy" idea to pay 100% down on a home. )

How did you do in October? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2009, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and/or failures in October and, if you'd like, the areas
you hope to improve in November. 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!

18 Nov 2009   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Thanksgiving on a Budget: Pretty and Practical Presentation


No matter the size of your Thanksgiving meal budget, one area you don’t need to scrimp on is how the food looks. Head over to LifeAsMom today for some tried and true tips, tricks, and techniques for adding flair to your food presentation.

By the way, I can attest to the fact that Jessica from LifeAsMom knows her stuff when it comes to pulling off a beautiful meal on a dime as I’ve eaten in her home numerous times. She’s amazing!

2009 November 175

17 Nov 2009   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Thanksgiving on a Budget: A Hassle-Free Method for Cooking Your Bird

My friend, Amy, over at Amy's Finer Things is talking turkey today for our Thanksgiving on a Budget series. She's sharing a simple and hassle-free way to do your Thanksgiving turkey. Go check it out.

Her tips will not necessarily save you money–because turkeys cost the same no matter how you cook them!–but they will definitely save you some effort and headache on Thanksgiving. I know that for a fact because her method is exactly how our family almost always does the Thanksgiving turkey. It really does work!

By the way, this is totally not Thanksgiving-related, but if you like cinnamon rolls and wish you knew how to make them turn out beautifully, go read Amy's tutorial here. I can vouch for the fact that her cinnamon rolls are absolutely gorgeous and delicious because she brought me a pan of them when we got together last week!