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23 Mar 2010   ·   81

Five Ways to Get Books for Free

5 Ways to GetBooks for Free

Kristen left the following comment on my book post yesterday:

Where do you get your books inexpensively? I’m always a fan of the library, but they don’t carry all the books I want. I’ve tried requesting some on paperback book swap, but it seems some of the lesser known books are hard to find on there. I’m guessing you use swagbucks for Amazon, but just curious. Thank you!

I basically never pay for any book. I just can’t justify it when I have found other ways to get books for practically free. Would you like to know how? Well, here are my top five ways to get books for free:

1) Request Review Copies From the Publisher

I used to do this a lot back when I had my other blog and was writing regular book reviews. If you’re a blogger or review books for another type of media, you can fairly easily obtain free review copies from the publisher. Just search for the publisher of a book (you can often find this on Amazon) and then find their website and look for contact information for review copies.

Most publishers state their review copy policy right on their website and many are extremely generous in their willingness to send review copies to bloggers. However, please do not take advantage of this. Only request books you are truly interested in, and which you will write a review on your blog about.

Many publishers are also more than happy to do a giveaway along with your review and see this as extra exposure for them. So it never hurts to ask, if you’re sure you’ll like the book!

I no longer actively ask for review copies, but I do receive a few each month from various publishers who are wanting me to review their book on my blog. So occasionally, some of the books I read come compliments of the publisher.

2) Request Books on PaperBackSwap

PaperBackSwap is one of my favorite resources for getting books inexpensively–or even free! You only pay postage to swap books you already have on hand for books you’d like to add to your library.

You start out by adding 10 books to their system. Once you’d added your 10 books, you’ll get 2 free credits. And then every time someone requests a book of yours and you send it out, you’ll get another credit. Most books only cost one credit–even big hardcover volumes.

I recommend that you add books to your wishlist, instead of looking through the books they currently offer. You’ll get an email notification when the book is available and have 48 hours to respond and request it. I’ve been amazed at some of the really nice almost-brand-new $20 and $30 books we’ve added to our library this way!

If you want to keep your costs down, stick with only listing books that are lightweight. Also, the more popular your book is, the more likely it will get requested–which means another credit for you!

In addition to listing extra books you already have around your home, you could pick up 10 cent books you find at thrift stores or garage sales and list these as well, if you’re needing more credit.

3) Check Out Books at the Library

Of course, no list of ways to get free books would be complete without a mention of the library! I’ve checked out countless books from the library over the years; it’s an invaluable resource!

If you have a relatively small library that doesn’t have a great selection, check and see if they offer Inter-Library loan. Most libraries do, and this offers a much, much broader selection. You have to request the book and then wait for it to come in, but it’s free–which usually makes it worth a bit of a wait!

You can also suggest books for your library to purchase. They might not heed your suggestion, but it’s always worth a shot.

4) Borrow Book from Friends

I’m always swapping books with friends–and this is a great way to keep your reading materials varied! Just be sure that you keep track of what books you’ve borrowed and loaned out. And return the books in the same condition they were loaned in. Otherwise, your friends might not be so excited to loan you books again!

5) Buy Books With Swagbucks

If there is a book I really want to add to our library (not just borrow) and I can’t get it in PaperBackSwap, then I usually will save up my Swagbucks to “buy” it. Swagbucks offers a great deal on the Barnes and Noble gift cards so I often request those as rewards. And then I try to wait until Barnes and Noble runs a free shipping deal, and I have a coupon code. Combining that with shopping through a cashback site, I can usually get a great deal on a book I really want–all for free because Swagbucks is covering the tab!

What are your favorite ways to get books for free? Tell us about it in the comments section.

photo credit: uitdragerij


23 Mar 2010   ·   117
Money Saving Mom

Why We Might Be Raising Our Grocery Budget Soon

Move over mashed peas. Silas has discovered pizza and, no surprise, he loves it! In fact, he ate a whole piece yesterday.

Did I mention that he’s 10 months old?? Or that his sisters barely knew what table food was at 10 months?

Whoever said that boys can eat a lot certainly got that right. This child never ceases to amaze me. He’s hungry from sun-up to sundown–and then he wants to nurse multiple times at night!

It seems I spend most of my day trying to figure out what to feed him next! But oh how we love our little hunky guy–big appetite and all. He’s a keeper, that’s for sure!

22 Mar 2010   ·   120
Money Saving Mom

Bookin’ It: February Update

I promised to share a monthly update with you on the books I’ve read this year from my rather-ambitious 2010 Booklist. But before I do, I wanted to mention something:

Why Am I Posting My Reading Updates? Isn’t That a Little Off-Topic?

Last month, someone left a pretty scathing comment on my Bookin’ It post saying they were very upset that I was writing posts like this on my blog and were unsubscribing. They thought it was out-of-place and boring. I deleted the comment because of its rude language, but I wanted to take a moment to explain why I am posting these updates–in case maybe some of the rest of you wondered, too.

As I said in my first Bookin’ It post, the books I’ve read over the years have had a tremendous impact on the person I am today. And I believe wholeheartedly that reading is something everyone can really benefit from.

Books challenge my thinking and my living and spur me on towards being a better a better wife, mother, homemaker, homeschool teacher, friend, business owner, writer, and so forth.

If you want to excel in life, I encourage you to exercise your mind by reading good books and you might be surprised just how much of an impact it can have–on your personal life, your relationships, and, yes, even your finances!

While these monthly posts might not always be directly related to finances, I hope it gives you a little peek into my own life, inspires you to read, and maybe gives you some ideas of books to add to your library list.

But if not, you can just skip these posts–there’s only one a month!–and stick to the normal fare you find on MoneySavingMom.com.

And with that, here’s my February update:

Hired @ Home

This book would be excellent to read if you are struggling as a work-at-home mom or thinking of starting your own at-home business. I thought the author did a great job of covering a lot of material in the book as well as sharing resources and true stories from different women who are successfully working from home.

My only complaint would be that it seemed there was a bit of overlap in the book. She’d weave stories from different women throughout a chapter and then at the end of the chapter, there was a section with a few testimonials–usually from the women whose stories she’d used in that chapter. But it was often information which had already been told previously, so it seemed redundant. (Wait, was that paragraph a little repetitious, too?!)

Treasuring God in Our Traditions

I loved this book! It was packed with practical information and insight and inspired me to think of creative ways to teach character to our little ones and create meaningful traditions. I think moms with younger children would especially benefit from and appreciate this book.

What He Must Be: …If He Wants to Marry My Daughter

I love this book’s author, Voddie Baucham. We’ve had the privilege of hearing him speak a number of times and he’s a powerful and passionate orator who does a superb job of confronting the culture with grace and truth.

However, I felt he was a little out of his league in writing this book. He has great things to say on manhood and marriage–two subjects often disregarded in this present age. But presenting his material from the standpoint of how a courtship should happen when his daughter isn’t married yet just seemed a bit premature to me. I think it’s better to only write on things you’ve actually experienced yourself. You’re completely free to disagree with me on that, though.

First Things First: The Rules of Being a Warner

This book is a quick and easy read with fun stories and an interesting peek behind-the-scenes into the lives of Kurt Warner and his family. I loved some of their ideas and philosophies (though I disagreed with plenty, too!) and thought most any parent would find some helpful ideas and encouragement in this book. Plus, don’t we all wonder what it’s like to be a football star and make millions of dollars? Maybe not as easy as one might think!

A Charlotte Mason Education

If you’re looking for a very quick overview of the Charlotte Mason method of education, this book would be a great starting point. It’s not very comprehensive, but it gives a great starting point and it also has a number of good ideas sprinkled throughout.

So that’s what I’ve read recently. How about you? Be sure to link up over at LifeAsMOM.


20 Mar 2010   ·   53
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: I stayed home, popped pills, and drank Sprite

You want to know the truth about my week? I have no clue what we spent on food or even much of what my family ate this week.

I came down with The Ravaging Fever Flu (yes, doesn’t that just sound nicer than calling it “the flu”??) on Monday afternoon. By Tuesday morning, I had called my mom and begged her to come take over so I could lie on the couch and moan. I don’t really know what took place on Wednesday and Thursday except that I was miserable and out of it.

The Grandmas took over childcare, thankfully. And me? Well, I pretty much never drink soda pop and rarely ever take medicine but that all went out the window this week. If I took ibuprofen, I could get my fever down below 103 and Sprite was the only thing that sounded good to me (except, go figure, McDonald’s Apple Pies!). So I popped pills, drank Sprite, and was a couch potato.

Thankfully, I’m finally starting to feel better, but I’m just going to not worry about what we spent on food this week. When Mom’s sick, survival mode ensues and sticking to the grocery budget isn’t really high on the priority list.

Next week I plan to be back in full force… only would someone please tell me how to kick this Sprite habit? Because that stuff is expensive!

_____________________________________

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 Mar 2010   ·  
Money Saving Mom

Weekend Giveaway: Marcal Small Steps Paper Product Packages for 5 winners

**GIVEAWAY CLOSED**
When Marcal Small Steps first contacted me about running a review/giveaway, I have to admit I was a bit leery of their products. Something about recycled paper products just seemed a little eww to me. Maybe I’m just weird like that.

At any rate, I know some of you have mentioned you liked Marcal products and I figured at least a number of you wouldn’t mind winning some free toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, and tissues, so I said I’d run the giveaway.

Then I realized that I meant I had to try out the recycled paper products myself so I could write the review! Uh-oh!

Well, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought.

To be perfectly honest, I was unimpressed with the toilet paper and tissues. They seemed cheap and cardboard-ish to me. We often buy Aldi toilet paper, so it’s not like we’re Charmin “snobs” or something. And we don’t use paper towels at our house, so we gave those away to some friends who do.

I really liked the dinner napkins, though, and thought they were very high quality. And even if the whole recycled paper products thing is a bit of a turn-off to me, I love the fact that their products are hypoallergenic and whitened without chlorine bleaching.

You can read more about the Marcal Small Steps company, mission, and manufacturing process here.

Would You Like to Win a Package of Paper Products From Marcal Small Steps?

Five winners will receive a package containing multiple packages of napkins, facial tissues, paper towels, and toilet paper–compliments of Marcal.

To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post in the next 48 hours. If you’re new here and wondering how to leave a comment, just click here and fill out the comment box form with your name and email. (Your email is not shown and will only be used to email you if you win.)

Five winners will be chosen and posted on Monday, March 23, 2010.

19 Mar 2010   ·   98
Money Saving Mom

It’s Here! It’s Done! The Store Deals Page is Live!

Okay, so maybe I was a little over-excited in the title. But this is a pretty big deal. No, actually it’s a really big deal–at least to me!

After months of contemplation, weeks of discussion, and hours upon hours of work, the Store Deals Page on MoneySavingMom is now up and running! You can access it by clicking on “Store Deals” in the navigational bar in the header. Then just find your logo and click on it and it will pull up the page with the deals at your local store. You can also see a complete list of the stores we cover here.

Subscribe to Individual Store Deal Lists

Not only can you access the deals for your specific stores by visiting the Store Deals Page, but I’m most excited about the fact that you can sign up to receive deal lists for individual stores via RSS reader or email.

I’m so thankful to Joy at FiveJs and my sister, Gretchen, for all their labor in spear-heading this effort. They’ve been amazing! In addition, this page would not be possible without the dozens and dozens of bloggers who are working with us. Thank you to each and every one of you!

Want To Help Us Out?

We still have some kinks to work out, more stores to add, and we’re getting a crash course in all the stores and their various names and where they are located. If you see a link that isn’t working or find information that isn’t accurate, would you do me a favor and send me an email?

In addition, we still don’t have every store in every region covered. If you are a blogger who posts a thorough weekly deal list and coupon match-ups for a store not on our list yet and you’d like to work with us on this project, please email me and we’ll definitely consider it.

18 Mar 2010   ·  
Money Saving Mom

How Gardening and Preserving Can Save You Money (Guest Post and a Giveaway)

**GIVEAWAY CLOSED**

Guest Post by Laura from HeavenlyHomemakers.com

People often ask me how I am able to afford feeding my family of six such a wholesome diet of mostly organic foods on a limited budget. My answer: I make almost all of our food from scratch and I grow and preserve as much of our food as possible.

I don’t claim to be an expert at gardening; in fact, I often tell people that my garden grows in spite of me. I also don’t have the yard space to grow as much food as I need for my family.

How I Preserve As Much Organic Produce As Possible Each Year:

  • Grow what I can, making the best use of my garden space.
  • Utilize my farmer’s market and learn which vendors grow their produce organically and which ones are willing to “give me a deal” when I buy a large quantity.
  • Talk to people. Many people have more apples on their trees and strawberries in their patch than they know what to do with.  They are often happy to give me their excess for free.
  • Trade. If I have an abundance of potatoes, I’ll trade it for a bunch of green beans. Or, if I don’t have an abundance of any produce, most people are happy to accept a couple loaves of fresh bread in trade!

During the Summer and Fall seasons while fresh produce is readily available, we eat as much as possible. Any extra goes into the freezer or into my jars (and oh wow is there usually extra!).

By the middle of October, I have usually put away enough potatoes, corn, green beans, peaches, pears, applesauce, strawberries, tomato sauce and tomato soup to last us for the entire year.

Also by the middle of October, I am so sick of looking at tomatoes I don’t care if I ever see another one as long as I live!  I soon get over it and begin to realize the fruit of my labor as all throughout the coming months I am able to pull delicious organic foods out of my freezer and pantry for our meals.

How Gardening and Preserving Benefits Our Family:

  • Our family has saved hundreds of dollars on groceries.
  • I know exactly the kind of food going into our pantry and freezers and then into our bodies. I know what I put into my sauces. I know what soil my food came from. I know I can trust the food to be healthy for my family.
  • Our family gets to work hard together. Planting, weeding, and picking all becomes a family affair. We are a family with dirt under our fingernails!
  • The food is delicious! In my opinion, nothing is better than home grown organic produce!

Be on the lookout now for deals on garage sales on jars and other canning and preserving needs! Brand new jars can be pricey, but at yard sales, you can find them for almost nothing!

Gardening and preserving your own food is a wonderful way to help provide your family with great quality, delicious, inexpensive produce all year round!

Laura Coppinger and her husband have four sons ages 5-12.  She blogs at HeavenlyHomemakers.com encouraging women daily in the areas of healthy eating, gardening, parenting, homemaking, faith and fun.

Would you like some help getting started with gardening and preserving? Well, Laura has graciously offered to give away 10 copies of her ebook, Heavenly Homemaker’s Guide to Gardening and Preserving, here today. To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post in the next 24 hours. Winners will be chosen and posted on Monday.

17 Mar 2010   ·   76

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Shop At More Than One Store (Part 2)

Missed the first posts this series? Read them here.

Yesterday, we talked about the importance of shopping at more than one store and how this can have significant impact on your grocery budget. Today, I want to give you some steps to get started in this venture. It’s not rocket science, I promise!

1) Make a List of All Stores in Your Area

Don’t just list the grocery stores, think of any possible place you might be able to buy grocery-related items:

::Co-ops

::Dollar Stores

::Scratch and Dent Stores

::Overstock Stores (Big Lots, etc.)

::Big Box Stores (KMart, Walmart, Target)

::Warehouse Stores (Costco, Sam’s Club, B.J.’s)

::Drug Stores (CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid)

::Asian Markets

::Bulk Foods Stores

::CSA’s

::Farmer’s Markets

::Health Food Stores

I’d recommend searching online or pulling out the phone book to see if you have any of the above stores in your area if you’re not sure. And ask your friends and neighbors if they know of any great places to shop which you might not know about.

If you live in a small town, this should be simple. In fact, you might only have two stores to choose from. (And if you only have one store to choose from, you’re exempt from any of this legwork!)

If you live in a larger town or big metropolis, this is going to be a bigger undertaking. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, limit the stores to those within a 5 mile radius or which are close to areas you regularly frequent.

2) Visit Your Area Stores and Record the Prices of 25 Items You Routinely Buy

Thanks to Joy at FiveJs, we have some handy free downloadable Price Book Forms you can use to record these numbers:

  1. Price Book (by Store) :: Record the prices for products at a single store. This can be done first, and then the information transferred to individual product sheets like, like the Price Book (by Product) form below.
  2. Price Book (by Product) :: Record the prices for a particular product at multiple stores.
  3. Half-Sheet Price Book (by Product) :: Record the prices for a particular product at multiple stores, but laid out two to a page.

Once again, if this feels overwhelming, just pick two or three grocery stores to start with. You’ll have plenty of time to branch out in the future.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew and end up burning out on this whole bargain-shopping thing before you’ve even really started!

3) Find Out What Your Local Stores’ Coupon and Mark-Down Policies Are

Questions to Ask Regarding Coupons:

::Does this store double coupons? If so, up to what amount? Are there limitations on the doubling (some stores will only double one or three of the same kind of coupon per transaction.)

::Does the store accept expired coupons?

::Does the store offer store coupons which can be used in addition to manufacturer’s coupons?

::Does the store accept competitor’s coupons?

::Does the store mark down produce, dairy, and meat on a regular basis? If so, what days and times does this usually occur?

4) Determine Which Store(s) Regularly Have the Lowest Prices and Best Sales

After filling out the price book forms and finding out your local stores’ coupon policies and mark-down policies, you will have a pretty clear picture of which stores are best to shop at on a regular basis. However, most stores run their sales cycles every twelve weeks or so, with a few incredible sales and loss-leaders thrown in on occasion. To get a more accurate picture, I’d recommend tracking the sales at a few stores for three months.

This does not mean that you necessarily need to go to five different stores and fill out a price book form every week. But I would recommend scanning the sales fliers each week and actually visiting each store at least once a month.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to take this information gathered and make a shopping gameplan which will, in turn, reduce your grocery bill.

Of the different stores listed above, which ones do you regularly shop at and find the best deals at? Have you discovered any little-known places for scoring great deals? Tell us about them!

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as low as $1 per week with Discounted Newspapers!

16 Mar 2010   ·   107

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Shop at More Than One Store (Part 1)

Missed the first posts this series? Read them here.

When I mention how I save a lot of money by shopping at more than one store, I’m often met with resistance:

“But I don’t have time to go to more than one store! I can barely make it into Walmart once a week.”

“That’s not saving money! You’re wasting all sorts of time and gas running around to fifteen different stores in one day. Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective and efficient to just do all your shopping at one store each week?”

“I’m glad that works for you, but I don’t have near the patience or organization to even attempt something like that!”

Yes, one can make a lot of excuses for not shopping at more than one store. But I think all of these excuses show a lack of understanding as to what it really means to shop at more than one store.

Let me be clear: I am not advocating going to 15 different stores which are 45 minutes away from your home in order to save $2 at each store.

That’s not saving money, in my definition. Instead, that’s wasting enormous amounts of time and effort and producing little to show for it but wear and tear on your vehicle and an exorbitant gas bill.

What I am advocating is taking a little bit of time to scout at your nearby stores each week and pick a few which have the best sales and deals. Then base your grocery trip planning on shopping only at those stores.

A simple example…

Last week I flew to Baltimore and ended up spending quite a bit of time at the airport between my four different flights and layovers. I only packed one checked bag since I also had Silas, a stroller, a laptop, and a diaper bag. So I had limited space to bring snacks to eat on my flight days.

Because of this, I ended up buying a few items at the airport stores to tide me over for breakfast and lunch. Instead of just going to the first shop I found and plunking down whatever dollar amount they were asking, I took five minutes to survey my options.

I quickly walked over to each of the shops within a minute of where I was and checked out their menu boards and prices. By doing this, I was able to put together a relatively healthy meal for less than $6. While that number might seem high–and it is!–compared to how expensive some of the meals were at the airport, I definitely saved at least $3-$5 by taking five minutes to check out my options.

$3 to $5 in savings for a little walking and five minutes is a pretty good investment, in my opinion. In fact, if I were to save $4 every five minutes, that’s like saving $48 an hour–which isn’t an hourly wage to sneeze at! Plus, did I mention that when you save money, it’s tax-free?

In the same way, by putting forth a little bit of effort and learning what are the best deals for your area and picking a few stores to shop at each week that are running the best sales, you can get rock-bottom prices on your groceries and save significant amounts of money each week.

Tomorrow, I’ll share some step-by-step ideas for getting started shopping at more than one store while keeping it simple and not wasting a lot of time, effort, and mileage to do so.

Do you shop at more than one store for groceries? If not, what’s holding you back from doing so?

Get the latest coupons delivered right to your door for
as low as $1 per week with Discounted Newspapers!


15 Mar 2010   ·   7
Money Saving Mom

I’m back from Baltimore and back to blogging!

Whew! It’s been a whirlwind of a few days! And if you didn’t notice, I wasn’t around much to blog.

I flew out to Baltimore early Thursday morning with Silas (my 10-month-old) to meet up with some wonderful and dynamic bloggers to plan the first-ever Savvy Blogging Summit. If you’re a blogger or want to be a blogger, you’ll want to check out the details of this Summit here. It’s unlike anything that has ever been done before and I am beyond excited about it!

After we’d wrapped up our Summit meetings, I had the opportunity to attend the ApologiaLive Homeschool Mom’s Retreat with Toni from The Happy Housewife and Crystal Collins from The Thrifty Mama. What an encouraging time it was! I’ll be sharing more of this event in a post later this week.

But for now, I’m going to tackle the mountain of emails which have built up in my inbox over the past few days. I’m pretty sure you can expect an avalanche of deal posts to ensue today, as a result. And then I plan to have the next post up in the 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget up tonight.

photo credit: The Thrifty Mama

12 Mar 2010   ·   98
Money Saving Mom

How to Use Up Three Gallons of Milk in One Day

Guest Post by Katie from Kitchen Stewardship

Have you bumped into an incredible markdown on milk that expires tomorrow but you’re out of freezer space because you just completed a fabulous once-a-month cooking adventure with your favorite blogging mamas?

You don’t have to walk by that incredible deal for lack of freezer space!

Here are a few ideas for successfully using up a few gallons of milk in a day’s time:

Homemade Yogurt

I cannot say enough about the benefits, both nutritionally and financially, of making homemade yogurt. I make almost a gallon a week for my family of 3-and-a-half (you know how toddlers eat, so I can’t count her as a full serving). I figure I save at least $200/year on just this one make-from-scratch endeavor, plus my family benefits from a readily available snack choice and probiotics to boot.

Many bloggers sing the praises of making yogurt in the slow cooker, but I just can’t bring myself to wash that insert so often. My method creates zero dishes other than the jars used to hold the yogurt. You can do it with no special equipment and just a little courage; you will be growing bacteria, but don’t let that scare you!

It’s this easy:

  1. Heat the milk to 180 degrees.
  2. Let it cool to 110.
  3. Stir in 2 Tbs plain yogurt per quart of milk.
  4. Keep it in a picnic cooler with a pot of hot water for 4-16 hours.
  5. Done. $10 worth of yogurt for $2, and that’s if the milk is regular price.

Want to know my no-dishes secret? Here is my homemade yogurt guide, with pictures and hand-holding advice to make it ultra simple. Not sure how to use plain yogurt? Here are some ideas for yogurt recipes.

Cream of Vegetable Soup

You can use varying amounts of milk and chicken broth to make a cream of vegetable soup, so obviously to use up your clearance milk you will make a heavy-on-the-milk version. It’s one of my favorite soups for both palate and pocketbook.

I keep a bag in the freezer for random unfinished steamed side veggies, and when it gets half full, it’s time to make “leftover” cream of vegetable soup. It’s always a bit different!

You can use just potatoes or any veggie you have sitting in your fridge or freezer. See my cream of vegetable soup recipe for all the details.

Whole Grain Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a dessert from my childhood that ranks among my very favorite. Now that I’m a mom, I love the recipe even more because it’s short on ingredients and prep time and huge on versatility.

1 cup rice
2 cups boiling water
4 cups milk
1/4-3/4 cup sugar, to taste
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbs butter

Boil rice in water for 15 minutes (brown rice) or 3 minutes (white). Drain off water. Add milk and bring carefully to a boil, medium heat, cover off, stirring often. Turn to low, cover and cook 60-90 minutes (brown) or 15-30 minutes (white) until pudding is thick and milk seems to have all been absorbed. Don’t stir too often during this time, but watch for scorching on the bottom of the pan. The finished product will have the consistency of a thick tapioca pudding, but it will gel up a bit after cooling. Turn off heat, then add sugar, vanilla and butter. Garnish with cinnamon.

You could easily make a double batch to knock out an entire half gallon of milk. Your family will thank you.

Pancakes

Many pancake and waffle recipes call for a cup or two of milk, so this is not rocket science, but it’s definitely a way to use up the last bit of your gallons. Our family’s go-to pancake recipe involves an overnight soak, so you could really get rid of the milk before the next day if you wanted to show off your frugal skills and truly accomplish “three gallons of milk in one day.” A double batch takes 4 more cups of milk, and they last fine in the fridge for easy breakfasts throughout the week.

Cream of {X} Soup

If you have a smidge of room in your freezer, you can make cream of {x} soup and freeze in flat plastic bags to use in casseroles that call for cream of chicken or mushroom soup.

If not, you can make the soup right away, and it should keep for the week as you incorporate it in various meals. I made three casseroles in one hour for last month’s modified once-a-month cooking, which used 6 more cups of milk. You can find the recipe for cream of {x} soup and all three casseroles here.

Katie Kimball blogs at Kitchen Stewardship, where she offers weekly Monday Missions to help you baby step your way to balancing all God’s gifts while working in the kitchen. She wants to be the Flylady of the kitchen for you. Get the scoop on nutrition, environmentalism, budget and time management, as well as family-friendly, real food recipes and a dose of random humor. And yogurt. Lots and lots of yogurt.

What are your favorite ways to use up extra milk? Tell us in the comments!

photo credits: calliope; Longiee; Strausser

10 Mar 2010   ·   124

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: The Buy Ahead Principle

Missed the first posts this series? Read them here.

Last night when I went grocery shopping, I bought 18 sticks of deodorant. Yes, I said 18!

Did I buy all this deodorant because I heard that there was going to be a shortage of deodorant for the next 4 years? Um, no.

I bought 18 sticks of deodorant because I had coupons which made them free or more-than-free.

Never Pay Retail

One of my biggest secrets for grocery saving success is that I practice the Buy Ahead Principle. Which means, basically, other than dairy products and produce, I aim to never pay full price for anything. 

If you’re willing to be patient and observant, you can almost always buy most items at 50% off their retail price or more. Because I’ve been using coupons and bargain-shopping for over 10 years now, I aim to purchase most things when they are 75-100% off of the retail price.

I don’t just buy one of an item when it is at it’s rock-bottom price. Instead, I purchase as many items as I can afford in my grocery budget to tide me over until the next sale.

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, it makes complete sense if you stop and consider it.

Paying Retail vs. Buying Ahead

If your family uses 10 tubes of toothpaste in a year’s time and the retail price of toothpaste is $2.49, if you bought it at retail, you’d be paying $24.90 per year for toothpaste.

If, however, you practiced the Buy Ahead Principle, and you collected your $1/1 toothpaste coupons and waited until toothpaste went on sale for $1 (which it does a few times per year in our area), you could buy 10 tubes of toothpaste for free.

That’s a savings of $24.90 per year!

How to Build a Stockpile of Food and Toiletries

What if you were to practice the Buy Ahead principle on when buying the majority of your groceries? Think about how much you would save! From my best estimates, I would say we routinely save at least $30-$50 each week by practicing the Buy Ahead Principle.

Would you like to see significant savings by Buying Ahead as well? Here are some suggestions:

1) Designate a Small Portion of Your Grocery Budget to Building Your Stockpile

If this is a new concept for you, don’t go out and spend $500 tomorrow trying to build up a stockpile. Instead, 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.

Even $5 or $10 a week devoted to stocking up on deeply-discounted items can go quite far. If you don’t find any really great deals one week, save your designated “Stockpile Money” for the next week.

2) Designate a Small Area of Your Home to Store Your Stockpile

The argument I often hear when I suggest people practice the Buy Ahead Principle is “But I don’t have any space to stock up.” Well, in very rare cases (say, if your family of 6 is living in a one-bedroom apartment!), I’d agree. But in most cases, there are plenty of creative nooks and crannies in your home you could use to store extra non-perishable food and household supplies.

Maybe you need to clear out some items you’re not using to make room. Or maybe you could install some extra shelving in a closet. Perhaps you could store things under the bed or in a few boxes in a closet. Get creative, think outside the box, and I’m guessing you’ll find someplace you can use!

When we were living in a one-bedroom apartment which only had one small closer, I used a little cabinet in the living room to store extra stuff. When we were living in a two-bedroom apartment, I used the cupboards over the washer and dryer to store extra stuff. I was amazed at how much I could fit in a small space when I set my mind to it!

3) Determine When Enough is Enough

I think it’s extremely cost-effective to Buy Ahead. However, I also think it’s just as important to know when enough is a enough. If you have mountains of unopened tubes of toothpaste falling down on top of you when you open up the bathroom cupboard, you probably don’t need to go out and buy 55 more tubes!

Yes, I bought 18 sticks of deodorant yesterday. That’s more than we’ll use in the next 2 years. But what I didn’t tell you earlier was that I’ll likely donate at least half–if not more–of those. I love being able to share from our surplus of items with those in need. Or just pass on a great deal to a friend, too!

My philosophy is that if there is plenty of an item on the shelf, I have a lot of coupons, the item is free, it’s something we’ll use, and it’s something I can easily donate if we have a surplus, I’ll buy as many as I have coupons for.Your philosophy might be different. So decide when enough is enough for you, and then stick to that.

Twice a year, I go through all of our stockpile of groceries and household items and pare down to the basics which will last me for 4-8 weeks. This way, we never have an over-abundance. In addition, taking the Eat From the Pantry challenge is a great way for us to make sure and use up some of our stockpile.

If you don’t apply any of the other 30 ways to cut your grocery budget that I’ll be sharing in this series, but you adopt the Buy Ahead Principle and stick with a grocery budget, I guarantee you will see a significant savings in your grocery bill. And you’ll likely be shopping less and eating better than ever before!

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10 Mar 2010   ·   93
Money Saving Mom

Coming Next Week: Grocery Store Deals for every store in the USA–and more!

I’m so excited! We’ve been working really hard behind the scenes to make MoneySavingMom.com your go-to source for all things frugal–including the best deals at the grocery stores in your area.

We’re partnering with a number of incredible bloggers around the country and, starting next week, we’ll be bringing you just that: the top deals at every single regional grocery store in the USA, including Hawaii and Alaska!

These will be on a special section of our site dedicated to grocery store deals so the home page won’t be cluttered up with dozens of deal lists from a bunch of different stores you likely don’t have in your area.

Plus, to make it really easy for you keep up-to-date with the deals in your area, not only will you be able to access them by category on our site, you’ll also be able to customize your RSS feed or email subscription based upon what store deals you want to follow. So if you have Walmart, CVS, and Food Lion in your area, you can sign up to just get the deal lists for those stores only. Or if you have Rite Aid, Meijer, and Kroger, you can just get those deals delivered to your inbox.

But that’s not all! We’ll also be offering a LITE subscription to MoneySavingMom.com. This is something many of you have asked for repeatedly and I’m thrilled to finally be able to offer it. The LITE RSS subscription and email subscription will be for those of you who could care less about deals, but who come here to read the practical encouragement posts which are woven between the deal posts and freebies. Now you’ll not have to wade through deals to get to the meaty posts!

As always, all the features on our site are free. We won’t ever charge you a dime for accessing information here because we figure you probably have plenty of other ways you could spend your hard-earned dimes. 🙂

All the details on these new features will be unveiled next week. Stay tuned! And as always, thank you for reading here, for telling your friends about this site, and for sharing input and ideas as to how we can improve the site.