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4 Nov 2009   ·   46
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: The final results (and come link up your posts, too!)

I made it to the end of the list. Well, okay, not quite, but it's the end of the day so I'm calling it quits.

Compared to FishMama's accomplishments, it looks like I didn't do much at all these past two days. But she's pretty much Superwoman's clone, so I won't feel badly (I used to live in the same town as her and have spent lots of time with her and she's every bit as amazing as she seems on her blog–even moreso in real-life!).

Here's the fruit of around eight hours of labor:

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Here are the final tallies along with links to the recipes:

2 dozen Whole Wheat Waffles
2 dozen Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
2 dinners' worth Freezer Mashed Potatoes
2 batches Granola
3 dinners' worth of Turkey Meatballs
3 dinners' worth of Slow Cooked Pepper Steak
3 dinners' worth of Farmhouse Chicken
8 dinners' worth of Chicken Tetrazinni (I made two different varieties since we really like this!)
4 dinners' worth of Chicken Broccoli Rice

All in all, we now have 21 dinners in our freezer plus at least 14 breakfasts and some snacks and sides. That will most certainly cover our dinners for the next month (and we still have some meals leftover from last month's Freezer Cooking Day!) plus a number of breakfasts, too. What a great feeling!

Freezer cooking is not for the faint of heart. It's a lot of work and I won't be lying one bit when I say that there's a point in the middle of every Freezer Cooking Day that I wonder what on earth I've gotten myself into. But it is worth persevering through as it saves me so much time, energy, and effort the rest of the month.

In fact, I rarely cook much during the month outside of my Freezer Cooking Day! And we eat out a whole lot less when our freezer's full, too. So it saves me lots of mental thought and physical labor the rest of the month and it also saves us a lot of money, too.

Things I learned from this month's Freezer Cooking Day:

::Always double-check to make sure you have more than enough ingredients on hand (so you're not trying to make a big batch of granola without oats!)

::Don't try to do other things on Freezer Cooking Day. Cooking a month's worth of meals is enough work for one day. Sigh. Why do I always have to learn these things the hard way?

::It's better for me to start early in the morning instead of waiting until the afternoon. Otherwise, I run out of steam way before I run out of recipes I'm supposed to cook.

::And in the same vein, I think it works better for me to do all the cooking on one day instead of breaking it up over two days.

I'm making a game plan for next month's Freezer Cooking Day based upon the successes and failures I had the past two days and looking forward to implementing it the first week in December when FishMama and I plan to hold another Freezer Cooking Day.

But for now? I have a very messy kitchen to attend to.

——————————-

Did you have a chance to do any baking or cooking this week? If so, post about it
on your blog and leave your link below to your direct blog post. I'd
love it especially if you could share pictures and recipes so we can get ideas for our next Freezer Cooking Day! And I'm guessing many
others would be inspired as well.

4 Nov 2009   ·   59
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day #2: Pepper Steak and Healthified Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

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I stuck the Pepper Steak in the crockpot to start cooking while I mixed up a batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

We're experimenting with replacing refined sugar at our house right now so I redid this recipe to see if I could tweak it enough to make it healthful but still delicious. I used fresh-ground whole wheat flour, farm-fresh eggs, and 1 1/2 cups sucanat in place of the sugar.

They ended up turning out quite delicious! They are a little heavier than usual and wee bit less moist than the original recipe, but they are still very good and the girls didn't seem to notice any difference. I'm pretty sure that they'll gladly eat just about anything so long as it has chocolate chips in it!

Now if I could just replace the oil, make my own pumpkin puree, use chocolate chips made without refined sugar, and replace the storebought milk with organic farm-fresh milk, these would be the most nutritional muffins you ever did eat. But it's all about making little changes and babysteps, right? So I'll just guilt-lessly feed my family these healthified Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins!

Next up: Turkey Meatballs and Farmhouse Chicken

4 Nov 2009   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day #2: Almost-Oatless Granola

After cleaning the kitchen, I went to mix together the granola and discovered that I had completely forgotten to check to see if I had plenty of oats on hand when I was making my grocery list. There was only about 1 1/2 cups left. Oops.

Instead of ditching the granola idea, I decided to get creative and see what I could come up with. I used this recipe here and what oats I had and then added in lots of wheat germ, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, coconut, wheat bran, almonds, and sesame seeds to make up for the rest of the missing oats. 

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It actually looks like it might turn out quite well. And it will definitely pack a nutritional punch!

Now I'm sticking the Pepper Steak in the crockpot and starting on the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

4 Nov 2009   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day #2: Starting at 8:00 a.m. instead

Freezer

So I said I was going to start at 1:30 p.m. again today, but after going to bed so exhausted last night, I decided to revamp my plan for today and begin cooking at 8:00 a.m. when I'm fresh and energized. I should have known better than to attempt a big marathon cooking session in the afternoon when I'm usually tired and ready to put my feet up! You live and learn, don't you?

Hopefully I'll be able to do a better job of taking pictures and live-blogging today as a result of starting earlier. That just didn't happen yesterday while I was madly dashing around the kitchen trying to make it through my list in four hours.

First, though, I must clean up my messy kitchen. And then I'll start in on my list for today!

I'll be back with an update soon.

3 Nov 2009   ·   45
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: Today’s Accomplishments

I'm wiped out! I thought it wouldn't be too hard to pull off my to-do list if my mom were here helping with the children this afternoon. I mean, after all, I usually have them and do this all by myself.

Was. I. ever. mistaken!

Oh, it was a huge help to have my mom here, don't get me wrong! I just bit off more than I could chew with trying to put in our normal full morning of homeschooling and homemaking, then a lunch date with my hubby, and then a whirlwind four hours of cooking/baking in the afternoon.

It's so worth it to have all this food in the freezer, but I'm going to devise a different gameplan next month because I'm not superwoman and ran out of steam very quickly this afternoon. I'm wondering if perhaps I'm more energetic in the mornings so starting out at 1:30 p.m. is just too late in the day for me to be as productive? I'm still mulling over it.

At any rate, despite all this, I did get quite a bit accomplished:

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I chopped up some beautiful red peppers I snagged for $0.99 total yesterday at the health food store and used them in the Chicken Tetrazinni.

I made two variations of Chicken Tetrazinni (see the recipe here) since this is one of family's favorite freezer meals–one I made with red peppers and onions and spaghetti noodles. The other I made with green peppers and fettucini noodles. They both turned out looking delicious!

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I also made four pans of Chicken Broccoli Rice. I wish I could point you to a recipe for this, but the truth is that I don't use one. I just mix brown rice, broccoli, cheese, butter, eggs, cream of chicken soup, and chicken together in amounts that look right and then freeze. Who needs a recipe when you can just dump some stuff together and call it "dinner"?!

After that was done, it was almost dinner time, so I hurriedly decided we'd have leftovers for dinner–since we had some in the fridge–and skip the meatballs I was planning to serve. I finished up the Freezer Mashed Potatoes (see the recipe here) and got everything ready to do in the freezer, and then I called it an afternoon.

So here's what I ended up accomplishing today:

1) Grind flour and mix together waffle batter and begin cooking waffles
2) Boil chicken
3) Get potatoes in the crockpot for Freezer Mashed Potatoes
4) Chop chicken, boil noodles
5) Quick clean up
6) Boil rice, make homemade cream soup, chop red peppers
7) Make Chicken Tetrazinni
8) Make Chicken Broccoli Rice
9) Finish Freezer Mashed Potatoes

It might not seem like that much, but here's a picture to give you a better idea:

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All in all, I made 12 meals, 2 dozen waffles, and 2 tubs of Freezer Mashed Potatoes. For 4 hours of work, that was definitely worth it!

Here's the revised plan for Wednesday:

1) Make Slow Cooked Pepper Steak and put in crockpot
2) Make Granola
3) Make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
4) Mix together Turkey Meatballs
5) Make Farmhouse Chicken
6) Make Pumpkin Scones
7) Make Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
8) Finish dinner preparations (Farmhouse Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, apples) and clean up kitchen
9) Be thrilled with the finished results, put my feet up, and relax knowing I don't have to do much cooking for the next month!

Like today, I'm planning to begin baking again at 1:30 p.m. CST and will be tweeting my progress and posting pictures and details as I cross things off my list. And maybe I'll have more energy tomorrow?

For now, I'm heading to bed and hoping for a very good night's rest!

3 Nov 2009   ·   23
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: Whole-Wheat Waffles, Freezer Mashed Potatoes, Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

I just finally sat down to take a blogging break after going strong for 4 hours. So far I have made 2 dozen waffles plus I have 12 meals ready to go in the freezer. Here's a little peek at what I've been up to:

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After grinding the flour, I mixed up a batch of Whole Wheat Waffles times five. I used our family's favorite recipe here but this time I used turbinado instead of regular sugar as our family is working on moving away from white refined sugar.

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While the waffles were cooking, I boiled the noodles for Chicken Tetrazinni and peeled the potatoes to stick in the crockpot for Freezer Mashed Potatoes (see the recipe here).

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By then, I had a nice big stack of waffles finished.

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I kept baking more while I mixed up a triple batch of homemade Cream of Chicken Soup (recipe is here) to use in the Chicken Tetrazinni and Chicken Broccoli Rice.

In the timeframe that I put all of that together, my kitchen went from looking like this, to this:

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And believe me, it will likely get worse than that before this Freezer Cooking Marathon is over. But if I only have to do one huge pile of dishes once a month, it's every bit worth it to me. Just remind me of that when I tackling them in a few hours, okay? 🙂

Up next: Chicken Tetrazinni, Chicken Broccoli Rice

3 Nov 2009   ·   30
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day begins…

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It's 1:30 p.m. CST and homeschooling is done for the day, Grandma is here to watch the children, my apron is on, Pandora is playing in the background, and I'm about ready to make a very big mess in my just-cleaned kitchen… all for a good cause because I'm baking and cooking up a storm today!

I'll be back with an update in a few hours or less. In the mean time, you can follow along on Twitter.

3 Nov 2009   ·   19
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: The Master Plan

Freezer

Today's the day! I've cleared my schedule, made my list, done my shopping, got a good night's rest, cleaned my kitchen, and brought in recruits (i.e. Grandma!) to help with the children. And I'm ready to hit the ground running with this cooking and baking thing.

But not before I first make another list (yes, I'm one of those Type-A list-makers–sorry, it's just the only way things seem to get done around here!). This list is my Master Plan list which tells me what to do when–in detailed order.

I've found that it's great to have a Proposed List of everything I want to accomplish, but breaking it down into bite-size pieces of the order I plan to accomplish it in helps me be much more efficient and organized.

Last night before going to bed, I grated up all the cheese I'd need today and set out the milk and ground turkey from the freezer to thaw. Prepping a few things like that the night before help give me a little jumpstart to my Freezer Cooking the next day.

Here's my Master Plan for today and tomorrow (remember, I'm planning to work from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST since I'm fitting this in around our homeschooling schedule):

Tuesday

1) Grind flour and mix together waffle batter and begin cooking waffles
2) Boil chicken
3) Get potatoes in the crockpot for Freezer Mashed Potatoes
4) Chop chicken, boil noodles
5) Quick clean up
6) Boil rice, make homemade cream soup, chop red peppers
7) Make Chicken Tetrazinni
8) Make Chicken Broccoli Rice
9) Make Granola
10) Make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
11) Mix together Turkey Meatballs, cook one pan for dinner, cook the rest and freeze
13) Finish Freezer Mashed Potatoes
12) Finish dinner preparations (Turkey Meatballs, Freezer Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli, Toast) and clean up

Wednesday

1) Make Slow Cooked Pepper Steak and put in crockpot
2) Make Farmhouse Chicken
3) Make Pumpkin Scones
4) Make Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
5) Finish dinner preparations (Farmhouse Chicken) and clean up kitchen
6) Be thrilled with the finished results, put my feet up, and relax knowing I don't have to do much cooking for the next month!

As you can tell, I'm planning to do the bulk of my cooking today since Grandma is here to play with the children. It also gives me a little wiggle room if I'm not able to get to everything I planned to do on Tuesday; I can always bump it to Wednesday, if need be. And if I get incredibly ambitious, finish everything on Tuesday's list, and have extra time, I can always start in on Wednesday's list!

Need more help and ideas for making a game plan for your Freezer Cooking Day? Check out FishMama's post here.

Stay tuned for live-blogging and tweeting (follow me on Twitter here) this afternoon on my real-time progress complete with pictures and recipes. Don't forget to follow FishMama on her blog and Twitter or the more that 250 other women around the country who are participating in this Freezer Cooking Day and tweeting about it with the hashtag #bakingday

Have you posted your Baking Day plans on your blog? If so, leave your link below so others can be inspired with ideas and new recipes to try. Remember to link directly to your blog post.

3 Nov 2009   ·   39
Money Saving Mom

Three more recommended paid survey companies

I shared about a few of my favorite survey companies last Friday and
talked about how this was a little way I brought in some extra money
during our lean law school days. Since I posted that, I’ve done some
more research on survey companies and wanted to share some more links
to reputable companies which my friends have recommended.

Surveyspot

SurveySpot–This is one of the companies I’ve heard the most rave reviews about in the last year or so. They pay up to $5 per survey and you can request payout when you have earned $5. So therefore, it’s not hard at all to earn enough to get a check. In fact, while I don’t have a lot of extra time these days, I’m seriously considering signing up just to see what it’s like! Go here to sign up.

LightSpeed ResearchThis survey site pays in points and they are fairly generous in their points given. Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can cash them in for cash, online gift certificates, music downloads, and hundreds of
other prizes. Or, build up your points for bigger prizes in your
Lightspeed Points Account.
Go here to sign up.

iPoll–Pays in point rewards for every completed survey. You can cash these in for instant win opportunities, sweepstakes, or cash. There are also opportunities to do free product testing. Go here to sign up.

If you have any experience with these companies–either good or bad–please tell us about it in the comments section. As always, remember that you won’t get rich taking surveys and it takes work and effort to earn money from surveys, but if you stick with it, you can create a small and steady sidestream of income through surveys.

2 Nov 2009   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Tackling Meal Planning–One Month At a Time!

IMG_2627

Guest Post by Tricia from Once-A-Month Mom

Meal
planning can be a bit of a challenge to even the savviest of
organizers. Planning each and every week can sometimes be time-consuming or tiring. I use to plan meals one week at a time and found
that it worked for me most of the time, but other times, I was too exhausted or didn't have new ideas or I would make a great plan only to
have plans change and not be able to use the meals, thus ingredients
going to waste! That's when I started doing once-a-month cooking (also
known as bulk cooking, freezer cooking, power cooking, and OAMC).

Most
people are overwhelmed at the prospect of making all of their meals for
the entire month in one day. They hear "8 hours in the kitchen" and
they leave about hyperventilate!

Don't get me wrong, 8 hours in the
kitchen is a long time, and tiring. But when you are finished, you have
enough meals to rarely step into the kitchen for another month! Not
only that, but you can also save money on your grocery bill as well because this method of planning and cooking will save you shopping trips and trips through the fast-food lane.

Here is a look at how a whole day in the kitchen can put more hours in
your day and money in your wallet:

Once-A-Month Cooking Saves You Time
Once-a-month
cooking does require an 8-10 hour cooking day (or split amongst several
days). However, if you do the math on the amount of time that you would
have spent in the kitchen preparing these meals throughout the month,
it would be substantially higher.

Once-a-month cooking saves time
because you are cutting, dicing, mixing, chopping, sautéing, and cooking
"like" ingredients all at once. For instance, instead of chopping onion
several nights each week for the entree you are making, you can chop
that onion all at once, then cook and package the meal.

In
my most recent once-a-month endeavor, I spent 8.5 hours in the kitchen.
At the end of the day I had 30 meals (a mix of breakfasts, lunches, and
dinners). The time I would have spent had I prepared these meals when I
was serving them would have been at least 30 hours. I don't know about
you, but I can find lots of things that I can do with an extra 22 hours
during the month!

One of the other ways that
once-a-month cooking saves time is that you don't have to perform a juggling act to get dinner on the table. The
stretch between 4:00 pm and 5:30 pm has to be the most hectic time of
the day in our household. My husband isn't home from work yet; I am
trying to appease my son so that I can get dinner finished in a timely
manner; and all he wants is for me to play with him—it gets rough! I
find myself frazzled and easily willing to forgo my menu plan to save
my sanity. When I have done once-a-month cooking, I instead pull out
one of my freezer meals, stick it in the oven and go play with my son
until it is ready. That is precious time that I can't afford to miss!

Once-A-Month Cooking Saves You Money
I
am amazed at how cooking "like" meals can really save you money in a
month. The savings comes in the fact that you are buying large
quantities of products at one time, hopefully when they are on sale or
when you have coupons. If you plan to make things that are in season,
you can also save money by buying ingredients when they are at their
lowest price point.

For smaller families, these bulk savings are not
usually possible because large quantities of food often spoil before it
can be consumed. With once-a-month cooking, you are preparing all that
food at once and don't have to worry about it going to waste. And it
will last in the freezer for several months!

In the last two months alone, we have cut our grocery bill in
more than half by doing once-a-month cooking. I decide what we are
cooking, shop the sales all month, and then prepare the meals that we
will be eating the following month. I usually spend approximately $75 to $130 for a month's worth of meals. That is around $2.60 to $4.33 per meal!

If you are
looking for ways to make your dinner time less hectic, spend more time
with your family, spend less money on your grocery bill, or develop an
effective way to menu plan, you should try once-a-month cooking. You
just might surprise yourself at how much you can save, both in your
wallet and by your watch!

Tricia recently had her first child and is getting used to her new
career as a stay-at-home mom in Ohio, where her family resides. She is
expecting her second child in December (don't ask the gender they
aren't finding out). She is trying to show others how to be good
stewards of their time and their money while still providing wholesome
and nutritious meal options to their families. Her website, Once-A-Month Mom, is dedicated to "making daily chores
monthly memories" by providing monthly meal plans, grocery lists,
instructions, recipes and more for families curious about once-a-month
cooking and baby food.

Note from Crystal: If you are planning to join us for our Baking/Freezer Cooking Day Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and are looking for a "plan of action", you might try using the October (Thanksgiving) Menu or the new November (Christmas) Menu. The October (Thanksgiving) Menu has
many make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes and lots of menu items that you
will find on sale right now at your local grocers. The November (Christmas) Menu is
meant to be shopped throughout the month of November, cooked at the end
of the month, and consumed in December. However, you are welcome to shop
and use the menu now. Each menu includes recipes, a grocery list,
step-by-step instructions, and labels.
2 Nov 2009   ·   25
Money Saving Mom

The Proposed Baking/Freezer Cooking Day List

Mail.google.com
As I mentioned on Saturday, FishMama from LifeAsMom and I are planning to host a Freezer Cooking Day on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. 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 on twitter with the #bakingday hashtag, or just check our blogs for updates, pictures, and more!

Since our family is on a new schedule and I'm staying completely offline in the mornings so I can focus all of my energies and full attention on homeschooling and investing in/loving on my children, I'm planning on doing my baking and cooking from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. Check in here or on Twitter for my real-time progress updates.

In the mean time, here's my Proposed Freezer Cooking Plan:

Breakfasts:
Whole Wheat Waffles x 5
Granola
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Icing

Main Dishes:
Chicken Tetrazinni x 4
Turkey Meatballs x 3
Farmhouse Chicken x 4
Chicken Broccoli Rice x 4
Slow Cooked Pepper Steak x 3

Snacks/Desserts:
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Sides:
Freezer Mashed Potatoes

30 Oct 2009   ·   34
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Over $75 worth of natural/organic foods for $19!

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I made a quick run into a nearby health food store this week as a friend of mine had tipped me off to the fact that their Annie's cereals were on sale for $0.99. I'm so glad I stopped when I did because I walked out with everything shown above and paid less than $20!

The Annie's cereals were on sale for $0.99 (an incredible deal considering the regular price is $5.99! Do people really pay that kind of money for a box of cereal??)! The Kashi bars were $1.99 per box and I had $1/1 coupons making them $0.99 per box. All of the veggies/fruit were reduced to $0.99 per bag/carton–even that 5.5 lb. bag of organic carrots!

Now the fun challenge has been using up all those carrots as they are nearing the end of their life (which is why the bag was so inexpensive!) We've been making carrot/apple juice–yum!–and I'm also thinking of making a whole-wheat carrot cake this coming week as we have lots of cream cheese in the freezer.

If I have any left, I think I might just whip up some homemade baby food for the freezer since Silas is almost 6 months old (sniff!) and he'll inevitably be starting solid foods before long. I've said before that I don't usually make special baby food, but if I can get organic carrots for $0.99 per five pounds, I just might change my mind on that! Or maybe I'll just chop, cook, and freeze the leftovers to use in soups. We'll see!

I spent a few dollars at both Target and Wal-Mart on deals this week as well, but I failed to get a picture of those.

All totaled, we're about $10 under our $40/week grocery budget for the month of October–and our cupboards, freezer, pantry, and refrigerators are still quite full with food.

By the way, I'm teaming up with FishMama to do a Baking/Cooking Ahead Day next week. We even got all fancy and set up a Facebook page here if you're interested in joining us. Stay tuned early next week for further details.

————————–

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.

30 Oct 2009   ·   8
Money Saving Mom

The 30-Day Giving Challenge

My friend Alyssa is hosting a 30-Day Giving Challenge during the month of November over on her blog, Keeping the Kingdom First. She is challenging each of us to give to someone in some fashion every day in November. This
could be large or small, simple or extravagant. Read more details here.

30 Oct 2009   ·   38
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: Starting with Small Things (Part 2)

Wahm

Last week, I left you hanging in the Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom series at the point where I’d just found out I was pregnant. Let’s pick up from there…

Those two pink lines changed my life forever. Not only because they meant I was going to be a mom, but they also were the impetus for me to become a work-at-home mom.

It’s easy to say that becoming a mom also propelled me to become a work-at-home mom, but believe me, it wasn’t anywhere easy. In fact, I had no idea just how hard it was going to be.

I was sick from week five to week twenty-one in my pregnancy. I never had to be hospitalized for dehydration, but there were days when I could barely get out of bed because I was so nauseated. I wanted to be a mom more than just about anything in the world, but I had no idea how miserable morning sickness was going to be!

Needless to say, my jobs as a mother’s helper were abruptly ended. And therefore, our income was drastically reduced as well. When I was working four days a week as a mother’s helper, we were scraping by, without that income, it seemed impossible we could ever pay all of our bills.

I remember how helpless I felt so many times during those long weeks of my early pregnancy. I knew there had to be something I could do to earn an income from our little basement apartment, but what? I wracked my brain for days and weeks on end. I prayed, I worried, I cried, and I prayed some more.

As thankful as I was to be pregnant, I couldn’t help but also wonder and fret over how we were going to eat and have a roof over our heads. And I couldn’t even begin to try and figure out how we would pay for the extra expenses of having a baby, too. How would we survive for two more years of law school?

At that point, I had no idea. But I did know one thing: God was watching over us. He had called us to step out in faith and get married, move to Topeka, KS, and God had clearly opened up the doors for Jesse to go to law school. I also knew that God had given us this precious baby and He was going to take care of us.

And you know what? He never failed us or forsook us.

Oh yes! I worried many times when it seemed there was no way we were going to be able to pay all of the basic bills for the month. But somehow, someway, every necessary bill always got paid.

God called us not only to step out in faith and trust Him, but we also knew it was our responsibility to do everything we could to be wise stewards of the gifts, time, talents, and resources He had given us.

Since the beginning of our marriage, Jesse and I spent long hours talking about and tossing around ideas of possibly starting our own business. When we found out we were expecting, we knew that it was time to act on these ideas.

But where to start? Jesse was gone long hours at school and I was stuck in bed or on the couch much of the day feeling very sick.

I decided if I were going to be sick all day, it wasn’t going to make things any worse if I tried to use that time to learn what I could about possible ways to earn money online.

So I took the laptop and dug in where I was at. I spent countless hours scouring the internet, I signed up for Yahoo! Groups on entrepreneurialism and small businesses, I emailed anyone and everyone who had any clue about anything when it came to internet businesses or running your own business, and I read stacks of books on starting a small business and online marketing from the library.

Little by little, I came up with different ideas. I began with small things–mostly things I could do straight from the couch! Here are just a few of the things I tried during those long weeks of morning sickness that produced at least some positive results:

::Half.com–I listed and sold a number of books we were no longer needing or using (especially Jesse’s old textbooks) through this website and ended up making at least $1500 over the course of a few years. I tried my hand at buying used books at the thrift store and reselling these but I never had much success with that.

If you’re interested in reselling books, I’d recommend that you start by looking around your home and finding books you no longer need or use and see what the going rate is on Half.com. I’d suggest check out Cash4Books.net, too, as they will pay you immediately whereas on Half.com, you have to wait for a buyer to purchase from you.

If Cash4Books is going to pay you somewhat similar to the going rate on Half.com, definitely go with Cash4Books as you won’t have to sit around waiting for a buyer. Instead, you’ll get the payment immediately.

There’s a great article here on reselling books which gives some more detailed advice if this is something you’re interested in. Some folks actually make a living doing this full-time. I’ve heard the market is more saturated than it used to be, but it’s still something to consider–especially if you have some decent books around your home you’d like to part with!

Online Surveys–I had no idea what I was doing when I signed up for online survey companies and I quickly found out that most of them are much more work than they are worth. However, I definitely don’t think they all should be discounted.

You can go here to see my favorite paid online survey sites!

I was encouraged to see money start trickling in from these things. It wasn’t enough to pay our bills, but it was something–and something is better than nothing, right?

As I started feeling better and I researched more ideas, I got braver and branched out to try other things. Most of these things flopped royally, but I learned a great deal in the process. I’ll tell you more about these in Part 3.

…To be continued

If you haven’t taken a chance to read through the comments on Part 1 of this series, be sure to do so here. There are dozens of great business ideas and tidbits of wisdom shared there!