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7 Oct 2009   ·   62
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day: Southwest Roll-ups and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I'm not meaning to leave you all hanging for hours on end, I just find that when I sit down to blog, I lose my focus. So I'm trying to stay off the computer more this Baking Day and just focus on, well, baking!

We also took a break from being in the kitchen to have our afternoon Reading Time. We love reading together and I try to make a point to read to everyone at least 20-30 minutes every day, even on those days when we take a break from our usual routine.

But here's what I've accomplished since I last checked in:

I finished all the waffles! I ended up with a mountain of waffles (five bags!) which should last us for every bit of 8-9 breakfasts. That means we should be stocked on waffles for at least another 5-6 weeks. And that's a great feeling. My picture of all of these will be coming in the final Baking Day photo.

I also chopped up all the chicken I had boiled and made up Southwest Roll-ups. These are one of our family's "staple recipes". You know, the kind that you turn to when you are feeling brain fried in menu-planning or just need a really easy dinner. I've been making these and freezing them ahead of time recently and have found this works well, too.

Southwest Roll-ups (makes 8 roll-ups)

1 can refried beans
1/4 cup salsa
1-2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
8 tortillas

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Mix together beans, salsa, and chicken.

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Spread 1/8 of mixture onto one tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll up and turn ends under. Stick in a freezer bag or in a 9×13 baking pan.

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When ready to bake, thaw and bake in a pre-heated 350 degrees oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle with more shredded Cheddar cheese, if desired. Serve with salsa. Serves 4.

I bought this huge bag of chocolate chips at Sam's Club on Saturday so I made some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (the recipe is here).

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I've heard there is a canned pumpkin shortage in some parts of the country, but I have quite a few cans which I bought a number of months ago for $0.25 each so I'm well-stocked. And now that I have plenty of chocolate chips, I'll likely be making more of these muffins as they are one of our favorites.

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I made them with all whole wheat flour and I don't think you can even
tell a difference. My husband loves these in his lunches! I stick them
in the freezer once they are cooled and then just pull out a few and
stick them frozen into a baggie into his lunch box. By lunch time, they
are thawed and ready to eat!

PicltLptr
(Picture from Marg at RecipeZaar)

Next up: Chicken Tetrazinni and Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

7 Oct 2009   ·   60
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day: Whole-Wheat Waffles and Ground Turkey

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The dishwasher is humming, the chicken is boiling, the noodles are cooling, the waffles are baking, the girls are practicing their ABC's with Starfall at the kitchen table, Silas is sleeping, and I finally have a chance to sit down and post an update on my progress!

First thing this morning, I browned a big pot of ground turkey, turkey sausage, and ground beef. We prefer ground beef, but I was able to get some great deals on quality turkey over the last few months, so I'm being creative with what I have. I browned them altogether so I'm hoping it somewhat hides the ground turkey.

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(My apologies to any pregnant woman who is reading this. I'm sure that a picture of raw meat cooking is anything but appetizing!)

I'll be using the browned turkey in lasagna, spaghetti pie, and freezing some to have on hand for homemade pizza nights. I've found that if the meat is already cooked, half the work of putting together a pizza is done!

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After I got the meat browning, I mixed up a batch of Whole Wheat Waffles (see the recipe here). I took the recipe by five so it is making quite a massive amount of waffles!

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As I usually do, I used milk that I had gotten reduced and frozen. This time, it was organic milk which I picked up for $0.59 per half gallon after the reduction and coupons. I also used fresh-ground whole-wheat flour and fresh eggs from my family's farm so these waffles are packed with good nutrition!

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Once the waffles are cooled, I'll stick them into freezer bags and then we'll just pull them out and reheat them for quick and delicious breakfasts!

While the waffles were baking, I rinsed the pot I used to cook up the meat in and got the water started to boil the noodles. And then I cleaned up my very messy kitchen, started the dishwasher, got drinks and a snack for the girls, helped them get started on some new projects. (Since both girls are running fevers, I'm not having them help with cooking today so that our food doesn't get sick germs passed into it! So I'm pulling out a variety of fun things for them to work on while they rest.)

Then I was back to the kitchen to drain the noodles and start cooking up the chicken.

Next up: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Pinto Beans, and Hot Pockets

7 Oct 2009   ·   39
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day: The Master Plan

As those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know, my two-year-old was very sick Sunday and Monday evenings. We were able to get her in to the doctor yesterday and were relieved to find out she just has a very bad case of the flu–which we were very relieved to hear!

I wasn't sure whether or not I was going to be able to do a Baking Day this week but when she started taking a turn for the better yesterday and I knew I was going to be home all day today and she'll likely be resting much of the day, my husband said if I was up to it, I should just go ahead and go with the planned Baking Day. So here we are!

I got a later start than usual because we all slept in this morning. I've learned that I'm not very productive when I'm tired so it's better to sleep in and get enough rest than to try and limp along in a sleepy fog. After a much better night's rest last night, I'm feeling much revived and energized and ready to hit the kitchen and get busy baking and cooking!

Before going to bed last night, I made a Master Plan for today's baking. It really helps me to have a specific, numbered list to go off of. In addition, it helps me to be able to maximize my efficiency so that I can be multi-tasking on most tasks.

Here's a peek at my scribbled down list for today:

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I'm off to brown the turkey and start on the waffles. I'll be back with a report shortly.

6 Oct 2009   ·   67
Money Saving Mom

“Baking Day” list for tomorrow

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(Teaching the girls how to boil, peel, cut, and stuff eggs as part of our homeschool lessons a few weeks ago.)

After a long hiatus, I'm back to doing menu planning and Baking Days! It's amazing how good it feels to be getting back "into the groove" (Nevermind the fact that my baby boy is almost five months old! It seems I just had him; I can't believe how quickly time goes!).

I'm planning to host a Baking Day here tomorrow and I'll be live-blogging it like usual. However, since I'm trying to do more freezer cooking now that our homeschooling is in full swing, I'm actually going to be doing more cooking than baking. I've never combined the two like this before, so I'm anxious to see how it goes.

You can follow along with my progress on my blog and you can also follow along/join in on Twitter with the hastag #BakingDay. Speaking of which, I'd love to have you join me by doing some of your own baking. At the end of the day, I'll post a Mr. Linky so that everyone can link up and share what they accomplished in their kitchens tomorrow.

The Proposed (and likely way-too-ambitious!) Baking/Cooking Day List:

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Whole Wheat Waffles

Homemade Applesauce

Pinto Beans (cook up and freeze)

Lasagna

Spaghetti Pie

Farmhouse Chicken

Chicken Tetrazzini

Barbecue Meatballs

Homemade Hot Pockets
Southwest Chicken Roll-ups
Turkey Enchiladas

Recipes, pictures, and more will be coming in my live-blogged posts tomorrow. And now I'm heading out for a quick trip to the store and then coming home to clean up my kitchen and thaw out meat, milk, and anything else I need for the morning!

6 Oct 2009   ·   5
Money Saving Mom

Worth Reading Round-up

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photo used with permission from Utah Deal Diva

::Do you have an abundance of apples? Utah Deal Diva shares a number of easy and creative ways to use and preserve them without canning them.

::If you think you can't find anything cute at thrift stores, guess again! Jenn over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam shows you her latest thrift store finds in her Frugal Fashionista series.

::Want to save your family a little money by cutting your childrens' bangs? Check out Tiffany's video tutorial here.

::Clair at Mummy Deals is doing a 10-part vlog series on Slashing Your Grocery Bill. View the five vlogs she's done so far right over here. I can't get enough of her accent!

::Are you a pro at finding deals? Would you like to share your expertise with a larger audience? If so, you'll want to consider applying to be a DealPro with Savings.com. More details here.

6 Oct 2009   ·   29
Money Saving Mom

Coupons for Troops

Toni from The Happy Housewife emailed me information on her program, Coupons for Troops, and I was very excited to share this with you as I think many of you would be interested in participating! She is especially looking for more military families stationed overseas who would like to be the recipients of expired coupons. Here's what she wrote:

Coupons for Troops started in 2008 with the goal of providing
expired and non-expired coupons to military families stationed
overseas. The prices in overseas commissaries are significantly higher
than those in the States and military families do not always have
access to coupons in newspapers and inserts. Military commissaries
overseas accept coupons up to six months past the expiration date.

Military Commissaries accept manufacturer coupons as well as
internet printed coupons. The Commissary is a grocery store so only
"grocery" coupons are needed. Families cannot use store specific
coupons (i.e. Target, Walgreens, Kroger).

Those who participate in Coupons for Troops are assigned an
overseas military family. Coupons, which do not need to be sorted, are
then sent directly to the assigned family. All overseas military
families have FPO or APO addresses so mailing coupons costs the same as
if you were sending them stateside. You can send as many or as few
coupons as you have available. Please only send coupons that have been
expired 3 months or less in order to give the families time to sort and
use the coupons.

If you are a military family stationed overseas and would like to receive coupons I would love to add you to the mailing list.

If you are interested in learning more about this program or in receiving coupons, please contact Toni if you are interested in learning more about this program or receiving coupons.

5 Oct 2009   ·   124
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: Introduction

As you probably know if you've read here with any consistency, my husband and I tend to be out-of-the-box thinkers. We don't like to be confined by the status quo.

Many people think of an 8-5 job as their family's primary or only source of income. We, on the other hand, only see Jesse's job as an attorney as one of our sources of income. And since the time we've been married, we've been on the lookout for additional creative ways to increase our income.

When first started trying to come up with things we could on the side,
we really had no idea where to start. Neither of us had much experience
or training and we racked our brains to come up with ideas. We read a
lot of books, researched many different things online, spent much time
learning from those who were much more experienced, and started trying
things. We had a number of total flops and a number of business attempts which will forever be listed in our "hall of shame" (most of these were my bizarre ideas!).

By the grace of God, though, we refused to give up–in spite of failure. Little by little, we started finding things which actually worked and we began to see some fruit from all of our labor. Over time–and with lots of research and effort!–we've found quite a few things which really can contribute a significant source to our income every month. These side incomes have not only
allowed me to be able to be a stay-at-home mom, but they have also enabled us to be able to save a significant portion of money towards paying cash for a home.

I often receive emails from women who feel in a desperate situation financially. My heart goes out to you as I well remember how hard those beans-and-rice days were. But the things I've learned over the past six years of have my own businesses have taught me one thing: no matter what situation you are in–even if it seems very dire financially–you can get creative and find some simple ways to decrease your outgo and increase your income.

When there's a will, there's a way. Don't give up hope! It's a whole lot of work, but it can be every bit worth it!

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I've received many, many requests on the subject of earning money from home recently so beginning next week, I'm going to share my own personal journey to becoming a work-at-home mom in a series here. I'll be talking about things I've learned along the way, and will also share a plethora of ideas of things you can do to earn from home. I hope it can be an inspiration and help for those of you who are interested in working from home.

As part of this series, I'd also like to include guest posts from those of you who are work-at-home moms. If you are interested in being featured as part of this series, please email me for further details.

Do you have any specific questions you'd like to see addressed in a series on working from home? If so, please email me or leave a comment on this post. I can't guarantee I'll be able to answer it, but I'll do my best to address it in this series.

3 Oct 2009   ·   48
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: We were $35 under-budget in September!

I'm so excited! We stuck with our $40 per week grocery budget last month and, by some creativity and hitting the bargain shopping just a wee bit harder, I had $35 leftover at the end of the month!

I'll tell you what I'm going to do with this extra money, but first, here's what groceries we purchased this week:

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Total spent at Dillon's: $36.33

(And in case you wonder why I bought Jell-O and Velveeta Shells seeing as I told you last week that we don't eat food coloring, I needed 4 more items in the Buy 10, Get $5 off promotion and I grabbed those as they were only $0.20 each after coupons and the promotion. I'll donate them to someone who can use them!)

I also made another quick trip to the local grocery store running the Double Dollar Coupon promotion. They were out of most everything since it was the last day they were running it, but I still was able to get a few good deals:

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Our total for the groceries above: $3.81.

We were, once again, the recipients of some produce from friends so I didn't have to buy much of that this week. I'm also trying to use up some of the meat in our freezer since it was getting pretty full, so we didn't have to buy any meat either.

I'm so thrilled that I was able to set aside a little extra from our grocery budget each week so that I had a total of around $35 to make another bulk purchase. On the recommendation of Brandy from The Prudent Homemaker, we're heading to Sam's Club tomorrow to check out the prices there. I have a short list of items I'm going to check on (beans, rice, oats, cheese, vanilla, chocolate chips, unbleached flour, among a few other things) and I'll see if I can beat some of my target prices with the Sam's Club bulk prices.

My hope is that if I'm able to stock up on a 3- to 6-month supply of items we use a lot and save money by buying in bulk, over time, this will allow us to further maximize our grocery budget. That's the theory I have, at least. But I have to test it out for a year or so before I have proof that it really works! I'll keep you posted!

By the way, things are finally really and truly slowing down around here so I promise to do better about sharing our weekly menus. And, by popular demand, my Baking Day marathon posts will be back, too. I'm planning my first session next week–if all goes as planned. 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.

2 Oct 2009   ·   47
Money Saving Mom

EntreLeadership Recap

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As I mentioned two weeks ago, my husband and I were blessed with the opportunity to take a business trip and attend Dave Ramsey's EntreLeadership Business Conference. We'd both been eyeing this for sometime and when the tickets were put on special for $99 each and we found a very smoking hot package deal which included airfare, hotel, and rental car incredibly inexpensively through a travel site online we jumped at the opportunity to invest some of our business earnings to attend this conference.

We were in no way disappointed! Not only was it really wonderful to get to have some quality couple time–something that with three little children and two businesses doesn't happen as often as we'd like for it to happen!–but it was also a very inspiring and motivating conference. We came home fired up, encouraged, and ready to hit the ground running again with more purpose and drive and vision.

Here's just a brief recap of a few of the things I took away from this conference:

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1) Always be growing and learning.

Dave stressed the importance of constantly reading good books and surrounding yourselves with wise mentors. We can greatly hinder our effectiveness if we become stagnant.

While the focus of this conference was on running a business, I couldn't help but apply some of what was shared to my much more important job of wife, mother, and homemaker. I want to do the best job as I can do and that means continually seeking to learn and grow.

One practical way I am striving  to do this right now is by being mentored by more experienced moms. A few months ago, I joined a group of moms in our area who are committed to loving their husbands and training and nurturing their children. They meet twice a month for a teaching and sharing time and also have monthly required reading assignments. It's been so good to be motivated and encouraged by these wise women as well as to be reading articles and books which challenge me in my role of wife and mother.

I had set a goal at the beginning of this year to read 50 books–about one book each week. I've fallen quite a bit behind in this goal but EntreLeadership re-energized me to make this a greater priority in my life. So I'm going to make an effort to read at least four books per month for the next six months. Of those four books, I am aiming that one will be a business book, one will be a book on some aspect of homemaking/child-rearing, and one will be a book to encourage me in my Christian walk. While I might not get all three books in these genres finished in a single month's time, I'm hoping that just having the goal will propel me to be reading more and thus growing as a person in the various aspects of my life.

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2) You are the problem and you are the solution.

In the very first session, Dave said a few really poignant words: "If your business or organization is messed up, YOU are the problem." He talked about how easy it is to lay blame on others when we're really the ones at fault.

"You are in charge. Fix it!" he said.

I think if we truly grasp this whole mindset of personal responsibility, it can transform our entire lives. It is so easy to make excuses, to transfer guilt, and to not own up to our own problems and mistakes.

Again, I thought of my own home. There's been more chaos and disorder in our home than usual and I realize that I am the primary one to blame. I've been lax in our daily schedule, staying up later than I should, and not being as disciplined in my own life as I should be. This lack of discipline has a trickle-down effect.

Instead of saying, "If only this or that…", I need to make the most of what I do have and get busy changing things. For me, that means making a concerted effort to go to bed early, being more disciplined about time spent on the computer, and sticking with our daily schedule. I need to stop making excuses, and by the grace of God, start implementing solutions.

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3. Learn to be intentional in your time usage.

I would say that the most life-impacting thing Dave talked about was time management. He said that we often say we don't have enough time. Yet it's not that we don't have enough time, it's that we're choosing to use our time otherwise. Or maybe we are just letting time slip by without even realizing it.

He emphasized how vital it is to be intentional about using all of our resources–including our time. I appreciated his words on prioritization of your day and how to keep the unimportant from becoming urgent and needlessly steal a large portion of your day.

There are many hats I'm wearing right now: wife, mother, homemaker, homeschool teacher, friend, daughter, sister, blogger… and the only way I can accomplish what needs to be accomplished and have a fairly organized home and life is by being intentional in what I do and the daily decisions I make. I have to say "no" to things which are unimportant, delegate tasks, let some things go, and come up with creative systems which flow well for those things which must be . Otherwise, my life will easily revert to chaotic stress.

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I so enjoyed the opportunity this trip gave us to spend one-on-one time with Silas. I'm loving this little guy to pieces and can't believe he's getting close to five months old!

As a side note, we also learned on our trip that we were in no way
created to live in a huge city. Kansas City seemed plenty big to us,
but Atlanta is HUGE. It's the biggest city I've ever been in
before and I think I spent half the time wide-eyed and incredulous at
how busy and populated it is. However, I just have to say that we found
the people of Atlanta to be very warm and friendly–not at all what I'd
expect for "big city folks". Southern hospitality and charm seem to be
alive and well, despite the massive population!

30 Sep 2009   ·   51
Money Saving Mom

Works For Me Wednesday: Making the Most of an Abundant Tomato Supply

While our container garden crop of tomatoes was less than stellar this year, we were blessed to be the recipients of many tomatoes from our friends' gardens. I never turn down garden-fresh produce–especially when it's free!

After eating lots of fresh tomatoes, using them in salads, and making fresh tomato juice in our juicer, we've been freezing the extra ones to use during the Fall and Winter months.

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To freeze tomatoes, just wash, core, and cut off any bad spots. Then stick them on a baking sheet in the freezer until they are frozen. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag and store them in the freezer.

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When you're ready to use them, all you have to do is run the frozen tomatoes under warm water and the skin falls right off. Once they thaw a little, you can easily chop them and then use them in place of canned tomatoes in recipes.

Using frozen tomatoes is much less expensive than buying canned tomatoes, much fresher, and much more nutrient-rich! It works for me.

What are your favorite ways to use up a bountiful tomato supply?

29 Sep 2009   ·   95
Money Saving Mom

Q&A: Does Couponing Only Work if You Eat Junk Food?

Melissa left the following comment on my Super Savings Saturday post last week. I began to respond to it in the comments section and I wrote so much that I finally decided it would be better to make this a separate post:

I've been using coupons for a while, but I've just newly done research on getting the most bang for each coupon. The thing that I notice though is that much of the food you get at really great prices is not really so healthy… chips, candy, cookies, and lots of processed stuff which could definitely be left out of the grocery budget totally. I have a terrible sweet-tooth and really love all that stuff, but if I got that much I know it would not be so good for my waistline. Are there ways to coupon and get healthy stuff, or does the couponing really only work for the junk food? I don't seem to find a lot of coupons for fresh foods, and healthy meal/baking supplies. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place? Any suggestions? -Melissa

Melissa, what a great question! There is a widely-held myth that using coupons means you only feed your family junk food. From a cursory vantage point, it can seem like us couponers buy a lot of processed food. And yes, it might appear like my family must only eat MSG and high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden foods. However, that is very far from the truth.

I definitely do buy some processed foods and my grocery shopping trips are evidence of this. I know that bothers some people and I often receive hate mail about it. I understand that some people want to avoid every ounce of processed foods–and that's okay with me! But that's not where our family is right now. We strive to eat a balanced diet and do the best we can with the time and money we have.

We don't eat all organic, we do eat processed foods probably at least once or twice a day, and I don't always bake and cook every single thing from scratch. But if you look at examples of our weekly menus here, you'll see that according to most people's standards, we do try to eat fairly healthfully. There are definitely areas we can improve in and I'm always seeking to work on those. It's a learning process!

Balance is key to me; it's not an all or nothing thing. We've chosen to eliminate food coloring from our diet, we also rarely eat pork, we are very particular about the meat we buy, we eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables (many of which have come from friend's gardens this Summer–yum!), we make much of our food from scratch, we eat very little fast food, we use primarily freshly-ground whole-wheat flour in our baking, we use all-natural cleaners for at least 90% of the cleaning we do in our home, we don't drink soda pop, and we avoid artificial flavoring whenever possible.

Those are just the things we've chosen to do in our own home based upon the research we've done and what works for our family. Every family is different so I encourage each family to do their own research and decide what are their own family's goals and priorities and then stick with those.

While we mostly eat foods cooked from scratch, I do buy some processed foods (such as granola bars, ice cream, and cereal–and occasionally even Oreo Cakesters!) when I can get them at rock-bottom prices. We enjoy these for treats, I pack a few in my husband's lunches each day, and we often share some of our extra goodies with others.

That said, there are quite a few coupons for healthful foods. To give you an example, this past week I was able to get All-Natural Dannon Vanilla yogurt and Musselman's All-Natural Applesauce for over 66% off the retail price thanks to coupons. The week before that, I got 12 organic CLIF bars for free and five boxes of Kashi products for free. There have also been some great Target coupons out recently for fruit and vegetables. Coupons for organic foods and produce are becoming more prevalent than they used to be, and I'm excited about this trend!

If you don't want to buy processed foods at all, but you still use traditional household items (such as toilet paper, toothpaste, and the like), you could just use coupons on household items. By watching for sales on these and pairing the sales with coupons, you can significantly slash your grocery bill–without ever even using a coupon on food items!

For example, I never pay more than $0.20 for toothpaste and toothbrushes. Every few months, these go on sale for $1 and there are quite a few $0.40/1 and $0.50/1 coupons available–which our Dillon's store doubles. I save these coupons and use them during the week of the $1 toothbrush and toothpaste sale to stock up!

It's the same for laundry detergent, deodorant, dish detergent, shampoo, conditioner, and so on. By combining coupons with sales, I often get these items for free or for pennies on the dollar thus saving us a significant portion of our grocery bill.

Unless you truly cook everything from scratch, don't use shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and use cloth toilet paper, you likely buy at least a few items which you could use coupons on. If you even just use coupons on 5-10 items per shopping trip and pair these coupons with great sales, you could probably save at least $20-$30 off your grocery bill per month–and that's money which is then freed up to be invested elsewhere in your grocery budget or put into savings!

I will be quick to say that while I'm a big advocate of using coupons, there are many more ways to save on your grocery bill without using coupons. In fact, I see coupons as just a part of the reason we're able to have a $40/week grocery budget. I also recommend that you have a budget, plan a menu, plan your menu around your store's sales, learn the sales cycles so you can buy ahead when an item you regularly use is at it's rock bottom price, shop with cash only and a calculator, shop at more than one store (if you're crunched for time, just glance at your local stores' ads when planning your shopping trip and determine which one has the best sales that week and then shop there), and bake and cook from scratch as much as possible.

Not everyone can do every single one of these things (and if you're new to the world of bargain shopping, coupon-clipping, and frugal living, please do not burn yourself out by trying to do it all at once. Take babysteps, okay?), but a little time invested in some of these things can go a long way towards shrinking your grocery budget without requiring you to expand your waistline or consume loads of junk food in the process!

For more information and ideas, be sure to read my article on how to lower your grocery bill without using coupons. Amy is also doing a series on her blog on 20 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store Without Using Coupons. Check out the first installments of her series here and here.

In addition, if you're new to frugal living and want some great ideas to slash your
grocery budget without using coupons, I'd definitely recommend checking
out the book I am currently reading Family Feasts for $75 a Week.

What other suggestions do you have for Michelle? Please share in the comments section. In addition, if you eat primarily unprocessed foods and blog on how you do so on a budget, would you be kind enough to leave your link in the comments section?

26 Sep 2009   ·   40
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: My Double Dollar Coupon Shopping Trip

I planned to go shopping on Monday. But that didn't end up working out and then the whole week sped by at breakneck speed until all of a sudden it was Friday and I still hadn't gone to the store. So we ended up having an unexpected and unplanned-for Eating from the Pantry and Freezer Week.

And honestly? We didn't really seem to notice.

That's truly the beauty of having a good stockpile of food. It's also the blessing of having friends who continue to share their garden bounties with us. I've hardly purchased any vegetables for weeks now, because people just keep sharing with us. Since we had a flopped container garden experiment this year and our current landlords don't allow us to till up part of the yard and put in a garden, we've been so thankful for friends who having shared from their garden surpluses with us.

I hope we can return the favor soon. But I promise I won't leave any sacks of zucchini on anyone's porches. We grew about twenty too many plants of those the first year we moved out to the country growing up and I can hardly stand to look zucchini in the eye again as a result!

At any rate, we managed to survive eight days of not stepping into a store without any issues whatsoever. But when I heard my sister, sister-in-law, and Mom were hitting a local store's Double Dollar Coupon promotion today, I quickly decided it was high time to go shopping again.

I didn't have my coupons all that organized. In fact, I'd neglected them last week because of our trip to Atlanta so they were heaping out of my coupon box–some cut, some inserts whole, and printables strewn about mixed in. (See? For those of you who often write me thinking I have it all put together, here's proof that I'm as normal as it comes. My superwoman cape disappeared in the laundry along with some socks a number of years ago!) My sister came to my rescue and helped me scramble and get some organization in place before we left for the store.

As a result, here's what I came home with:

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2 boxes Oreo Cakesters
2 packages of Reese's
1 can Dole pineapple
4 cans of Pringles
1 bottle of Ken's salad dressing
1 carton of Dannon yogurt
4 4-packs of Musselman's applesauce
2 4-packs of Dannon yogurt
3 bottles of Pert Plus
1 bag of shredded cheese
1 bottle of Dawn dish soap
3 bottles of Tabasco sauce
1 Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
1 2-pack of Olay soap
1 3-lb bag of Jonagold apples
2 other apples (We're studying apples in our homeschool unit next week, so I'm trying to buy as many different kinds of apples as I can.)
5 packages of Schick disposable razors
1 bar Johnson's baby soap
3 cans of shaving gel
1 Reach floss
2 packages of whole-wheat lasagna noodles
2 packages of whole-wheat spaghetti noodles
3 packages of other whole-wheat noodles

Also pictured are 2 dozen farm-fresh eggs we bought from my brother who raises chickens.

Before coupons, my total was almost $85. After coupons, I paid $23.58 for everything pictured! I came home re-energized to organize my coupons again and after doing so, I found quite a few more so I think I'm going to head back to this local grocery store again tomorrow to do another Double Dollar Coupon transaction and I'm also planning to stop by Dillon's for their Buy 10, Get $5 Off Mega Event.

I currently have almost $75 in grocery money left to spend in September on our $40/week grocery budget so I'm excited to see how far I can stretch the rest of that. As I mentioned earlier this month, I've been trying to stay under budget like last month so I'd have some money left over to put towards another bulk purchase. It's looking quite feasible at this point.

But I just have to figure out what I want to stock up on… Oats? Frozen Fruit? Butter? Cheese? Coconut Oil? Oh, the possibilities!

I'm even seriously considering investing in some vanilla since so many of you suggested we really shouldn't live without it!

We'll see what I finally narrow it down to! One thing I do know, it has to be something which we'll use a lot of and which will keep well for at least a few months–if not more.

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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.

23 Sep 2009   ·   26
Money Saving Mom

Worth Reading Round-Up

Just a few good reads from the last few days:

::Amy is doing an excellent series on How To Save Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons. Check out her first installment here.

::I loved this piece on How to Save Money By Getting Almost Everything Free. I definitely concur. My philosophy is why pay money if you can find a creative way to get it free?

::Megan posted an excellent step-by-step tutorial here on making and canning your own applesauce. I'll admit that canning my own stuff terrifies me. I'm just sure I'll do something which will ruin the whole batch. But Megan's post almost makes think I could pull it off!

22 Sep 2009   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

This week’s menu plan (and how I learned the hard way that no menu plan = disaster!)

In a very uncharacteristic move, I jumped off the menu-planning bandwagon for the past two weeks. We had plenty of food on hand and I figured it wouldn't be too much trouble to wing it.

Was I ever wrong!

Trying to "fly by the seat of my pants" when it came to menu-planning was disastrous! We not only resorted to take-out a few times (outside of our once-a-week Dinner Out night), but we had little variety in our meals. And, worst of all, I found it took me a great deal of mental energy to try and figure out from day-to-day and meal-to-meal what we'd be eating. Five o'clock would sneak up on me from out of the blue every single night and I had no plan… again.

So, no more skipping the meal-planning around here. Two weeks of that madness was plenty enough for me. I'm committed to make this a priority now that I've seen how much time, effort, and money it saves!

Here's this week's menu plan:

Breakfasts
Fresh carrot/apple juice, Kashi waffles (free at Target last week)
Fresh tomato juice, Blueberry Banana Bran muffins from the freezer
Strawberry/blueberry/banana smoothies, toast
Cereal x 2
Fruit, muffins
Homemade cinnamon rolls, turkey sausage, fruit

Lunches
Healthy choice meals (free with coupons last week)
Quesadillas, fruit salad
Green pepper strips, fruit salad, PB &J sandwiches, stuffed eggs
Fried egg sandwiches with tomatoes
Bean soup, muffins from the freezer, carrots
Leftovers
PB&J, fruit, granola bars (free with coupons last week)

Dinners
Farmhouse Chicken, biscuits, grapes, peas
Chicken Pot Pie, fruit salad, broccoli
Southwest Roll-ups, corn and tomatoes, fruit salad
Homemade Pizza, fruit, ice cream
French Toast, turkey sausage, fruit
Out to Dinner
Homemade Mac and Cheese, grapes, homemade bread

Snacks
Granola bars
Cereal
Fruit
Veggies
Muffins from the freezer
Cheese and crackers
Ice cream

It's only Tuesday and I'm already seeing a huge difference in having a plan. But you think I should know that by now for how often I preach the virtues of having a menu plan. Sometimes, even us frugal zealots need to be reminded of this again, though! 🙂

19 Sep 2009   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: This week’s Wal-Mart, Target, and Dillons trip

We were traveling back home today from Atlanta so I didn't get the opportunity to post Super Savings Saturday until now. Here's what we bought at the grocery store this week:

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Wal-Mart (plus a bag of organic carrots some friends gave us): $19.73

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Target trip: $6.72, used gift cards earned last week to pay plus earned a $5 gift card back = $0.00 out of pocket (I was planning to get 10 Kashi items, but they were out of the Honey Sunshine Kashi cereal so I just had to improvise!)

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Dillon's trip: $7.22

So all totaled, we spent $26.95 on groceries this week. It's looking like I'm going to have some extra grocery money at the end of September to invest in a few more bulk purchases, which I'm excited about. Now I'm just figuring out exactly what I'm going to use the money to purchase! I'll let you know when I decide.

Stay tuned for our full menu for next week which I'll post on Monday. We've had so much going on recently that I've not done as great of a job of menu-planning and it's definitely made mealtime run a lot less smoothly and made meals much less interesting and varied. So I've determined that I'm jumping back into the swing of following a meal plan starting Monday morning–and I think my whole family is going to be very grateful!

——————————–
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.