Dollar Stretcher Tips For Grocery Budgets

I’m always looking for great dollar stretcher tips for our grocery budget and thought I’d share some of my favorites with you. These are great ways to make simple grocery items go further, therefore saving you money on your grocery budget. I love being able to feed my family great meals they love, but still stay on budget and meet our financial goals. 🙂

Dollar Stretcher Tips For Grocery Budgets

Dollar Stretcher Tips for Grocery Budgets. Grocery saving tips. Grocery budget tips.

Add powdered milk to your milk.

If you’re feeling more adventurous this idea may be for you! (However, you may find you get used to the taste pretty quickly.) Split your 4L jug of milk into two cartons. Prepare a gallon of powdered milk and divide between the two now half gallons of milk. Mix together and use as normal. Powdered milk is much less expensive and mixing like this will still taste the same while saving you money on one of the most often purchased and used items for a family budget.

Add beans to more than just soups and chili.

Dry beans are always super cheap and easy to cook in a slow cooker or Instant Pot. I love making large batches of pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans and garbanzo beans then putting them in 2-cup portion bags to use in everything from soups and chili, to mashing into my ground meat for spaghetti, tacos or casseroles. They take on most flavors they are seasoned with, and their texture is great for all kinds of dishes. This can make one pound of ground meat go twice as far in a casserole or soup!

Don’t fear using carbohydrates.

Starches and carbohydrates tend to have a bad reputation, but as long as you are including a lot of great nutrient-dense vegetables into your diet as well it’s not a bad thing to include things like rice and potatoes as a base for casseroles. Rice and potatoes are a great dollar stretcher for almost any meal. In fact, roasted potatoes, green beans, and roasted chicken is one of the easiest and cheapest meals you can make for your family. It’s healthy, satisfying and easy to manage. The potatoes add bulk to the meal without being high fat or unhealthy, and they are so cheap it makes your meal very affordable.

Batch cook your meals.

You may wonder how or why this can be considered a dollar stretcher for your grocery budget, but it really is a great way to save. When you buy larger quantities of meats and produce, you often save a significant amount of money. Next time you find chicken, pork or beef on sale in large “family sized” packages don’t hesitate to grab them, then cook in simple ways and portion to freeze. Chicken can be roasted and cubed for everything from salads and soups to casseroles or fajitas. Pork shoulders can be roasted and pulled for use in BBQ, casseroles or tacos. Batch cooking meats, produce and even whole meals and freezing for future use saves you time, money and tons of frustration each evening when you need to throw a simple meal together fast.

These are great dollar stretcher ideas for your grocery budget. Just a few simple changes can save you hundreds of dollars in grocery expenses over the course of a year.

How do you make ordinary grocery items stretch further? Let us know in the comments below!

Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Under $5

As the saying goes, ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’.  So while this is true, it can also be the least expensive and easiest meal to make of the day. With using items like sausage, veggies, eggs, and other ingredients that are easily accessible, you can easily make breakfast for the whole family for under $5.

9 Healthy breakfast ideas for under $5

Here are my favourite Healthy Breakfast Ideas for under $5:

  1. Greek Yogurt and Fruit – You can usually pick up a tub of Greek Yogurt for under $4. Use some frozen fruit and maple syrup for a topping and you have a delicious breakfast.
  2. French Toast – One of my family’s favorite meals is French toast… for breakfast or dinner ;). For some reason, we can’t get enough of it. I don’t mind because using whole wheat, I can make the French toast semi-healthy! We add fruit topping or peanut butter instead of real maple syrup sometimes.
  3. Banana with Peanut Butter – Is there anything more delicious than bananas and peanut butter? I think not! It also makes for a very filling breakfast for little ones. If your child doesn’t like bananas, try cutting up an apple for them. Delicious, healthy, and simple!
  4. Breakfast burritos – Using low carb or whole wheat tortillas, mix up eggs, salsa, and cheese to make a yummy breakfast concoction.
  5. Oatmeal – The lovely thing about oatmeal is that you can make it simple and healthy. Oatmeal is cheap and can feed a lot of people at one time. I’ve got three great recipes for oatmeal: Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal, Chunky Monkey Oatmeal or Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets.
  6. Fruit salad – One of my favorite healthy meals for under $5 is taking all the leftover fruit in the fridge and mixing it together to create a fruit salad. Sometimes I add a bit of yogurt on top. Yum!
  7. Veggie omelet – A dozen eggs can be bought for a little over $2. Make a yummy veggie omelet to feed your family a healthy meal for under $5.
  8. Sausage and Eggs – Keep breakfast simple by making sausage and eggs for your breakfast of choice. My family never complains about this meal.
  9. Homemade banana muffins – If you have old bananas in your possession, make some muffins out of them. A simple breakfast that will save you money! These are my most favourite Banana Chocolate Chip muffins.

These 9 healthy breakfast ideas for under $5 will help you stay on budget and keep you feeling great all day long. It’s easy to swing through the drive thru and get caught up in a $20 breakfast for the family. But instead, it’s just as easy to make your own breakfast at home for $5 (and stay in your pajamas!).

What healthy breakfast ideas do you have for under $5?

101 Ways To Save On Everyday Purchases

101 Ways To Save Money On Everyday Purchases

From the laundry detergent you use, to the gifts you wrap and place under the tree, here are 101 Ways To Save Money On Everyday Purchases!  Sometimes it means doing a bit of extra work, and other times it is as simple as printing a coupon.  These tips will help you to always get the best deal, and still have the things you need and want.

101 Ways To Save Money On Everyday Purchases

  1. Clip coupons
  2. Buy sale priced items
  3. Always check the clearance racks
  4. Buy the generic brand instead of name brand
  5. Buy items in bulk for lower price per unit
  6. Shop at club stores for better prices per unit
  7. Buy meat direct from the farm
  8. Make your own laundry products (Homemade Dryer Sheets)
  9. Grow your own produce
  10. Raise your own chickens
  11. Get organized to save big
  12. Use a store rewards card
  13. Use online email subscription rewards
  14. Use senior citizen discounts
  15. Use student discounts
  16. Sign up for birthday freebies
  17. Buy items that have rebates available
  18. Roll down the windows and turn off the AC in the car
  19. Share meals when eating out
  20. Shop at thrift stores
  21. Shop post holiday sales for school supplies, party supplies, kids dress up and holiday themed items
  22. Trade kids clothing in good condition with friends and family that have items in larger sizes
  23. Make your own homemade cleaning supplies
  24. Use cloth instead of paper for napkins, cleaning and even diapers or wipes
  25. Skip the coffee shop and make your own at home
  26. Get discounts on appliances when they are dinged, dented or cosmetically damaged
  27. Use social media to get discounts by tweeting, sharing or emailing
  28. Become a loyal customer and receive rewards
  29. Negotiate for service oriented things like automotive repairs, appliance service or even roofing on your home by getting estimates from several people and asking your choice to give you the same price as other bidders
  30. Compare prices for home insurance to get the best price
  31. Shop the manager’s special deals for meat at your grocery store
  32. Buy clearance produce in bulk then prep and freeze for later
  33. Make your own homemade spice mixes for taco seasoning, ranch dip and more
  34. Make your own flavored water with fresh fruit
  35. Shop off season for better deals on clothing
  36. Buy last year’s model of electronics to save money
  37. Buy gift cards when they are on sale or offering extra gift cards with purchase for “free” money
  38. Shop eBay for everything from electronics to kids clothes
  39. Shop Craigslist/Kijiji or Facebook Groups for books, DVD’s, electronics, clothing and furniture at great prices
  40. Buy the furniture with blemishes for better prices
  41. Shop outlet stores and websites for deals on name brand items
  42. Download the app for every store or brand you use regularly for extra deals
  43. Use coupon apps like Coupgon, Checkout 51 and Snap for immediate savings and rebates
  44. Buy larger sized clothing for kids so they last two seasons
  45. Check out books from the library instead of buying them
  46. Download free eBooks from Amazon, Goodreads or other eReader sites
  47. Cut your own hair instead of going to the salon
  48. Give yourself a manicure and pedicure
  49. Learn to sew your own basic dresses, shirts, pants and even blankets or pillow cases
  50. Stream movies through Netflix instead of going to the movies
  51. Subscribe to digital magazines instead of the mailed variety
  52. Turn in old appliances for credit
  53. Earn gift cards and rewards to pay for purchases through Swagbucks
  54. Use your medical insurance to pay for a gym membership (many policies cover this, you simply have to ask) US only
  55. Choose a Nurse Practitioner instead of an M.D. when paying out of pocket for quality treatment at a lower out of pocket price US only
  56. Use the no name prescriptions instead of the brand name prescriptions to pay less
  57. Ask to buy the display model of electronics and furniture for lower prices
  58. Use Priceline, Expedia or Trivago when planning vacations to get the lowest prices on flights, hotels and rental cars
  59. Shop drug stores like Shopper Drug Mart for makeup, cleaning products and household supplies using their rewards program to earn money toward future purchases
  60. Rent items you will only use once or twice like formal dresses, tuxedos or even small tools and equipment for home improvement projects
  61. Use a slow cooker to bake and cook items instead of the oven in the summer to lower utility costs
  62. Use a water filter instead of bottled water
  63. Drink water at restaurants instead of soft drinks or alcohol
  64. Take leftovers for lunch instead of going out with your coworkers
  65. Carpool to work with coworkers, your spouse or neighbors
  66. Sell your car and use public transportation if you live in or near the city
  67. Exercise at home using streamed videos or DVD’s instead of paying for a gym membership
  68. Drop the phone contract and use a pre-paid plan instead
  69. Drop your home phone and use only a cell phone
  70. Shop through Amazon to save
  71. Use a store or gas station reward card or credit card for extra gas rewards and discounts
  72. Rotate your tires regularly – it helps them last longer since they won’t be wearing more in one area than another
  73. Complete surveys on the back of receipts for future discounts
  74. Make your own scented bath products using essential oils, coconut oil, Shea butter, sugar and Epsom salts for various scrubs, butters and washes
  75. Shop club stores for bulk packages of towels, washcloths and hand towels for super low rates
  76. Shop dollar stores for books, crayons, coloring books, puzzles, candy and even craft supplies at half or more off regular prices
  77. Take outgrown or unwanted clothing to consignment shops
  78. Make your own bread mix, pancake mix, brownie mix or cookie mixes
  79. Skip kids meals and order a la carte for lower priced food for kids
  80. Watch YouTube videos to learn new dances, makeup techniques or even how to market your business instead of paying for pricey classes
  81. Use conditioner as shave gel (cheap and works great!)
  82. Stock up on select items during seasonal sales: Baking supplies during holiday events, turkey during Thanksgiving sales, hamburger and steaks during summer BBQ events, condiments during the summer and so on
  83. Take advantage of free samples on new products, they often come with coupons. Check websites and social media for freebies
  84. Email or snail mail to companies of brands you like to ask for free products or coupons (many will send you at least one coupon for a free item)
  85. Use discount nights for local events, fairs or carnivals
  86. Use CAA discounts for hotel rooms, rental cars, movie tickets, bookstores and even coffee houses
  87. Shop the butcher counter right before store closing for deals on meats
  88. Shop the local bread closeout store – many locations have a bread company closeout store with breads, cakes, cookies and other treats at lower than average costs
  89. Shop the grocery store’s clearance racks for deals on bread, produce, medicine, hair care and more
  90. Order your contact lenses online
  91. Shop your local farmers market for produce that will last longer because it’s fresher
  92. Buy used appliances from local rent to own locations for lower prices with a warranty
  93. Shop on lower shelves for better prices – popular items are often placed at eye level and priced higher
  94. Measure price per unit, ounce or quantity for best prices
  95. Recycle aluminum cans and glass to get back the deposit you paid for them
  96. Mow your own grass and handle lawn care needs instead of paying for a service
  97. Use daily deal sites like Groupon, WagJag and more to save on entertainment, services and more!
  98. Go to matinées instead of later showings for cheaper movie ticket prices
  99. Attend high school and college plays instead of professional productions for fun without the cost
  100. Change your own oil at home instead of taking to an oil lube center
  101. Become a mystery shopper to get reimbursed for eating out and auto maintenance

I’m sure there are many other ways to save that we could add to the list. What are your favorite ways to save?

These ways to save on everyday purchases are all about thinking outside the box.  Rather than accepting the price of everything, evaluate and see how you can save by making it yourself, doing without or waiting for a coupon or sale.

The Ultimate Frugal Okanagan Summer Activity Guide

This was such a big hit in past years, that I took the time to update it with this year’s dates!  Hope you enjoy 🙂

Are you living in the Okanagan or planning on taking a trip there this summer?  The Okanagan happens to be the place I call home, so I thought I’d create a guide full of fun, frugal activities that take place in the land of sun.  The goal is for this to be The Ultimate Frugal Okanagan Summer Activity Guide.  If you have an event or know of a really cool place to visit, let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

Farmer’s Markets:

Food & Wine:

The Okanagan is well know for its award winning wines and wineries.  Many of them offer free tours and wine tastings. See a huge list of Okanagan wineries, here.

Canada Day:

Arts:

Beaches:

U-Pick Fruit & Fruit Stands:

Sports:

Golf Courses

The Okanagan has many amazing golf courses to play!  Enjoy one round or make a vacation out of it!  See this list of Okanagan Golf Courses.

Hiking Trails:

Festivals, Fairs & Community Events:

Father’s Day Events:

Places of interest:

Vernon & Area:

Kelowna & Area:

Penticton & Area:

Okanagan Tourism Websites:

Looking for deals?

Groupon has a ton of local discounted restaurants, spas, things to do and more! Check it out for great savings on the things you want to do in the Okanagan.

45 Free & Cheap Summer Activities

Summer doesn't have to be boring for anyone when you're armed with these 45 free & cheap ideas!

1. Bowl for FREE — Kids can bowl 2 games for FREE every day throughout the Summer.Visit KidsBowlFree.com to see which bowling alleys are participating.

2. Get a FREE Slurpee — July 11 is always FREE Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven. Take your family out for a free tasty treat that will help cool you off during the Summer heat!

3. Make Slime — Both my daughter and I have so much fun creating and playing with this Inside Out Sensory Slime. It’s just so fun to see how it works.

4. Make Homemade Iced Tea — Try brewing a batch of my favourite sun tea. You’ll have fun watching the water change colour and even more fun adding your favourite flavourings like lemons, mint or even raspberries.

5. Visit a Park — Why not visit a nearby provincial park that you’ve never visited before? You could explore the trails or just do some day camping by bringing along the hot dogs and marshmallows.

6. Visit the Beach — Living in the Okanagan, we have a ton of beautiful beaches at our fingertips. We like to grab a book or magazine and head to one to relax while our daughter plays in the sand or on the playground.

7. Go Fruit Picking — One word. Cherries! We love to get out as soon as our favourite fruits are in season. U-Picks are a great way to spend an afternoon with friends or family and are always much cheaper than the grocery stores!

8. Plan a Picnic — Picnics are one of our favourite things to do. We’ve got a system down to make things easy: It’s always bunwiches with deli meat, cheese and pickles. I always throw in some fruit and veggies too. As a treat, I pack some cold pop and a bag of chips. Simple!

9. Fly a Kite —  Well, I haven’t flown a kite since I was a kid, but it still sounds like a fun idea! Don’t own one? This one has great reviews on Amazon.

10. Pitch a Tent in the backyard — Give the kids a fun experience by pitching a tent in your own backyard. Build a campfire, or use a propane fire ring like we do (because of campfire bans) to roast marshmallows.

11. Make Art with Sidewalk Chalk — Sidewalk chalk is something I always have on hand so Sienna can go out to create some masterpieces on the sidewalk or the basketball court we have at our townhouse. This is something she likes to do on her own so I can get a little work done. 😉

12. Plant Flowers — Now, you have to be careful with this one as buying “only a few” plants can really add up! (Trust me, I know!) Rather than planting an entire garden, you could concentrate on filling up a planter to keep costs down. While you’re at it, why not create this Milk Jug Watering Can so the kids can help water.

13. Plant an Herb Garden — Another fun planting project is to plant an herb garden. Fresh herbs are so great to have on hand to make meals delicious. Growing your own herbs can also save you a bundle at the grocery store.

14. Plan a Scavenger Hunt — Want to get the kids outside? They can spend their summer outdoors with a fun scavenger hunt! Buggy and Buddy has 30 free printable options – you’re sure to find something appealing!

15. Run Through the Sprinklers — Cool off in the backyard with sprinklers or even the garden hose. Even water balloons would be a blast! You can pick up water balloons at the dollar store or even one of these neat Fast Fill kits from Amazon.

16. Blow Bubbles — Bubbles are always a hit around here! When I see them for the first time in the spring, I’ll pick up a few of those bubble wands that cost only $1. You could even try whipping up your own bubble solution for the kids to play with in the yard or at the beach.

17. Have a Garage Sale — Gather up all your unwanted items and host a garage sale one weekend to make some extra cash. Let the kids join in on the fun by setting up a lemonade stand for customers. Here are some garage sale tips from Simply Frugal readers that you may enjoy!

18. Visit a local Festival or Event – Our city hosts regular free music events, movies in the park and even summer festivals that are fun for the whole family. These events are free for everyone to enjoy. Check your newspapers and city website to see what’s being offered this year near you!

19. Visit the Library — The library is a great place to visit over the summer months. I believe most libraries offer reading challenges that are sure to encourage reading even while school is out. Check out this post for more ideas on how the library can save you money.

20. Head to the Farmer’s Market – Support your local farmers, and check out a couple of the markets in your area throughout the Summer. You really can’t beat the quality of the produce and the neat homemade items. Here are 5 reasons to buy local produce.

21. Go Swim in the Pool — Since most of us don’t have a swimming pool, head out to one in your community to cool off. Some may require a small entrance fee, but can be loads of fun for the kids.

22. Stop By a Splash Park — Another fun option for the especially hot summer days is to stop at a local splash park. We like to meet friends there since my daughter has a bit more confidence when she’s not surrounded by strangers trying to get her wet. 😉

23. Play on a Sports Team — Love to play sports? Why not gather a group of friends and put together a beach volleyball team? Or maybe ultimate frisbee? If you’d rather, you could sign up your group of friends for a weekend tournament instead.

24. Go to the Movie Theatre – Every Saturday, Cineplex movie theatres offers family favourites for just $2.99 per person.Take a look here for more details.

25. Snag a Daily Deal — Keep an eye out on Groupon and WagJag for deals and local activities for huge savings. You might be surprised at everything that’s offered in your own city!

26. Go Hiking — Our family loves to go for hikes, they’re not quite as long now that we have kids, but it’s still an enjoyable activity! Visit a local bookstore for trail maps or check CanadaTrails.ca for hiking trails near you.

27. Attend a Home Depot Workshop — The Home Depot offers these great FREE workshops where kids can build a different project each month. Check this page for the schedule.

28. Watch Fireworks — Canada Day is known to be a day where fireworks will be involved. Why not find a special vantage point to enjoy this year’s show?

29. Take a Craft ClassMichael’s Canada offers classes for adults and kids featuring all sorts of different projects. I have noticed that every once in a while they offer a substantial discount on classes so keep your eyes open for that.

30. Volunteer — Why not take some time to give of yourself this Summer? Volunteer at a local food pantry, woman’s shelter, or soup kitchen. Ask around, I’m sure the opportunities are plentiful!

31. Find the Best Ice Cream — Go on an ice cream date once a week in an attempt to discover the best ice cream in your city. Places like Marble Slab have coupons often and locally owned shops may have daily specials for you to save.

32. Take an Evening Walk An evening walk in the summer is just so, so nice. The temperature is somewhat cooler. Plus, there’s just something so nice about the evening light.

33. Try GeocachingGeocaching is an outdoor activity of searching for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website. We thought this sounded so much fun, so we borrowed my parent’s GPS to give it a try!

34. Do a Puzzle — Puzzles are a hit in our household. Both my husband and I enjoyed doing puzzles growing up and now our oldest daughter likes them too!

35. Learn a New Skill — Summer is a great time to learn something new, whether it be gardening, knitting, or discovering your artistic talent. Read 52 Things to Learn for Free to get started.

36. Start a New TV Series — Why not use Netflix to start a new TV series during the Summer, and catch up on all the seasons just in time for the Fall premieres. While there won’t be a Fall premiere, I think I might try to finish watching Downton Abbey!

37. Do a Science Experiment — Help your kids learn about our fascinating world by trying their hands at a fun science experiment? KidsActivitiesBlog.com has links to a ton of fun projects!

38. Have a Family Game Night — Dust off some of the board games in your closet and have a family game night. Our favourites are Chutes & Ladders, Gone Fishin’, Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne.

39. Make Homemade Playdough — This is my current favourite no-cook recipe for playdough. Sienna can play for quite some time making me “food” to eat. You probably have all the ingredients on hand already!

40. Go for a Bike RideRather than walking, why not put those wheels to good use! Go for a ride around the neighborhood or ride along a nice path your city may have. You could make a day of it if you pack lunches and lots of water.

41. Make a Sock Puppet – This adorable monster sock puppet is anything but scary. Plus, it uses dollar store items to make for a cheap summer activity!

42. Sort Through Clothes — Maybe I’m weird, but I actually get a hankering to do more organizing projects in the summer. (Not just in January.) I find Summer is a great time to clean out my closet and donate what I don’t wear anymore.

43. Paint Your Nails – Summer time means I must have my toe nails painted in pretty colors all the time! I don’t normally put nail polish on my finger nails, but my toe nails are fair game for anything bright and fun. Why not have a simple spa time by giving yourself a pedicure?

44. Color a Picture – Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore! Print off coloring pages for adults, and pull out the kid’s coloring books for a fun family time. Play some music for hours of good relaxing fun!

45. Have a Nap – Finally, why not have a nap? No better spot than outside in a nice shady area!

I also whipped up this printable Summer Activity sheet that you can print off and hang somewhere convenient so you’re always full of ideas.

Summer doesn’t have to be boring for anyone when you’re armed with these frugal ideas! Leave your fun and frugal ideas in the comments below!  

Summer doesn't have to be boring for anyone when you're armed with these 45 free & cheap ideas!

6 Ways Owning an Instant Pot Can Save You Money

If you are considering purchasing an Instant Pot, or even if you already own one, you should know that your purchase can help save you money in the long run. Owning an Instant Pot doesn’t just save you time, but you will find that it can also help you keep a little more cash in your pocket. How? Look below at 6 ways owning an Instant Pot can save you money, and see if investing in one is ideal for you!

6 Ways Owning an Instant Pot Can Save You Money

Instant Pot Tips

1. You avoid grabbing take out.

Since an Instant Pot can cook your meal so quickly, you might be less inclined to grab take out or go out to eat, which can be quite expensive! The convenience of the Instant Pot can be helpful after a long day, and prepare your meal just as quick if not quicker than ordering take out would.

2. You can try thrifty new recipes.

There are thousands of recipes on the internet for you to try out in your Instant Pot. You will find $5 dinners, thrifty dinners, and many other frugal living recipes. These recipes allow you to try out new meals even on the tightest of budgets.

3. You may be more inclined to menu plan.

Menu planning can save you some serious cash. When using an Instant Pot, you may be more inclined to menu plan. Find some recipes you wish to try in your Instant Pot and add them to your menu for the week. Preparing a plan ahead of time can help you avoid impulse purchases and takeout later.

4. An Instant Pot can help with freezer/batch cooking.

Do you love to freezer or batch cook? Then an Instant Pot can help. Create stews and pasta dishes in your Instant Pot then freeze them for enjoying later. Instant Pot can help you create these dishes quickly so you can create a stockpile of meals for later. In fact, in just one afternoon you can whip up as many as half a dozen meals, perfect for freezing and reheating later.

5. An Instant Pot doesn’t use a lot of electricity.

An Instant Pot is quick, easy, and doesn’t use a lot of electricity! This means you are free to pull the Instant Pot out whenever you wish without having to worry about those utility bills going up. It is a budget friendly appliance you can afford to use again and again.

6. Most recipes use ingredients you can buy in bulk.

Many Instant Pot recipes use ingredients you can buy in bulk such as noodles, rice, and beans. This means you can create meals for less, buy many of your ingredients in bulk, and create meals even on the tightest of budgets! How is that for frugal eating?

Did you ever think that owning an Instant Pot could help you save money? Consider these 6 ways owning an Instant Pot can save you money and help stretch your family budget while still enjoying wholesome and filling meals everyone will love.

11 Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

With a little creativity and some smart shopping, it’s possible to reduce food waste at home quite easily.  If you find yourself  throwing out rotten food on a regular basis, you’re also throwing away the money you used to purchase the food.  And that’s not good for the grocery budget!

Here are 11 ways to Reduce Food Waste and save money:

11 Ways to reduce food waste at home. Grocery saving tips.

 

Create a Meal Plan

Creating a meal plan is a crucial step to help you spend less and waste less. When you know what you’re going to eat every day of the week, you ideally will only purchase the foods you need at the grocery store.  Without a meal plan and a grocery list based on your plan, you’ll most likely find yourself wandering the aisles grabbing whatever looks good to you.  That’s fun, but you’ll most likely end up with not enough or not the right groceries for a week’s worth of meals.

If you really struggle with menu planning, then try out $5 Meal Plan. It happens to be my favorite meal planning service. It’s just $5 a month (the first two weeks are free!), and you get menu plans sent straight to your email along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This service allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well! If you are interested in joining for free, click here.

Account for Leftovers

If you find you usually have quite a few leftovers, account for the leftovers in your meal plan.  Maybe set aside one or two nights that you devote to eating up those leftovers.  Or, turn those leftovers into another meal.  Perhaps all that leftover spaghetti sauce will create a wonderful chili, as an example.

Buy Less

If your pantry and freezer are quite well stocked, start your “shopping” there.  By using what you have on hand already, will ensure you don’t buy more than you need and will help prevent food waste on the products you’ve already purchased.

Also, something I’ve learned about our family is, while buying a big package of celery (for example) may be cheaper in the long run than buying individual stalks, most of it goes to waste!  We’re not big celery eaters so purchasing individual stalks is actually cheaper for us because I only buy what we will use.  This same principle can apply to many different items in the grocery store.

Buy What you Love

You may have had some moments where you think you should eat more quinoa/fish/whatever, as you’re strolling through the grocery store.  I’ve had plenty of those nutritional guilt trips, but this inevitably leads to unplanned purchases for items your family may not be too excited about yet.  Focus on the foods your family enjoys, and add new ones gradually, after you’ve found recipes worth trying.

Buy Local

In all honesty, I never understood how buying local produce could save you money since the price I was looking at paying was more expensive than something I could purchase from a regular grocery store.  But then I realized that local produce travels way less than anything purchased from most grocery stores.  Because local produce travels less, you’re paying for a fresher item that will have a much longer life span!  Makes sense, right?  An obvious reason to support our local farmers.

Take Smaller Portions

Before you dish out another big portion, ask yourself if you really will finish what’s on your plate. Since it’s not likely you’ll save that little piece of chicken you couldn’t finish, stick to smaller portions. You can always get seconds!

Freeze Leftovers

Rather than scraping your leftovers into the garbage or if you don’t feel like eating them before they go to waste, put them in the freezer!  This makes for a great way to reduce waste and creates an easy meal for a busy night.

Store Produce Properly

Not all produce should be stored the same way.  Here’s a great guide on Design Mom with 6 Secrets to Properly Washed & Stored Produce.

Learn to read the labels

Take some time to learn what “Sell-by” or “use-by” dates actually mean.  The sell-by date is the last recommended day you should buy a product from the store, but you can still eat it several days to a week after. “Use-by” is the date through which the item will be top-quality.  But, if stored properly, most foods will stay fresh a few days longer than the use-by date!  Of course, if you note any weird odors, textures, or colors, throw it out.

Overlook Imperfections

Whether it’s soft spots in apples, bruises on bananas or dark spots on potatoes, all produce will develop imperfections. With produce that is past its prime, simply cut around the “bad” parts before you eat or throw veggies into a stock pot for soup, or make a smoothie with the less pristine fruits.  Just because something isn’t in perfect condition doesn’t mean it’s inedible!

If you’re dealing with mold, though, it’s time for the garbage.  Unless it’s cheese.  You can cut around the mold to salvage the rest.

Save it for the compost

Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable pieces and peelings? In a few months you’ll end up with nutrient-rich compost for your garden!

How do you reduce food waste in your home?

DIY Wall Art: Unique and Beautiful Ways to Decorate on a Budget

DIY Wall Art: Decorate on a Budget

Got a big, bare wall staring you in the face? Don’t rush off to the store or even the interior decorator just yet. You can make your own custom wall art that will fit your needs, satisfy your desires and cost next to nothing.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be talented, crafty, or even coordinated. All you need are a few supplies, some time, and a little bit of creativity. We’re talking bare minimum creativity, and if you’re not confident that you can supply even the tiniest creative spark, borrow someone’s child for the day. One way or another, you’ll be able to make great wall art with a small amount of effort and an even smaller budget.

Project 1: Living Large in the Living Room

You need something to stare at besides the TV, right? Well, that demands a pretty big piece of wall art if it’s going to compete with today’s huge flat screens. Get ready to create your own painted canvas to display in your living room. Your friends and family will be impressed with your artistic talent and ingenuity, but all you have to do is follow these simple steps:

  • Buy a large artistic canvas, 2-3 colors of acrylic paint, painter’s tape, and a drop cloth or tarp if you don’t already have one. The expensive item here is going to be the canvas, but it’s still a lot less expensive than buying prefabricated art.
  • Decide which color you’d like to show underneath the tape – if it isn’t white, then paint your canvas all over and wait for it to dry. If you like white, skip to the next step.
  • Lay the painter’s tape across the canvas in diagonals, making sure that each piece of tape is long enough to extend past the edges of the canvas. You can create shapes between the pieces of tape – triangles are easy and make for a nice modern art appeal.
  • Once your tape is in place, decide which segments you’d like to paint in each color. Two contrasting colors create a stark and interesting effect, while colors from the same family soften this piece of art. Start painting and try not to get both colors in the same section, or you’ll lose the segmented effect.
  • Wait for the paint to dry, then peel off the tape and touch up any irregular spots. Hang your new wall art and enjoy the compliments from your family and friends.

Project 2: Kitchen Wallflowers

It can be difficult to decorate a kitchen, so many people just leave it as a functional room. Don’t fall into this rut – make your kitchen fabulous with simple but beautiful wall art.

  • Find or buy a large empty frame from an antique store.
  • Collect tin cans until you have four or five, then remove the labels by soaking the cans and using nail polish remover to get rid of any residue.
  • Hang the frame in your kitchen, then position the tin cans inside it and nail them to the wall in a neat line, leaving as much space above them as possible.
  • Fill your tin cans with fresh flowers in spring and summer, twigs and colorful leaves in the fall, and holly and berries in the winter.

Project 3: Entryway Showstopper

Make a place to hang your keys and show off your artistic side with this piece of wall art. Your friends and family will be amazed to see something you made with such lovely form and helpful function.

  • Snag an old window shutter from an antique store, thrift store or from your garage. You can also raid friends’ garages or hunt for one if you have a family farm.
  • Either decide that you like your shutter as is or paint it to go with your entryway décor.
  • Nail your shutter horizontally onto the wall, then add some nails on the bottom edge to hang your keys.
  • Insert favorite photos or postcards between the slats.
  • Appreciate your handiwork.

See how easy and affordable it is to create your own unique wall art? With just a few supplies in hand, you’ll be well on your way to solving your blank wall dilemmas.

I’d love to hear your ideas for decorating blank walls on a budget. Let me know in the comments!

 

How to Buy in Bulk to Save Money

We all know buying in bulk is a great way to save money for our families. When you buy larger quantities you pay less for each ounce, serving, or piece. Sadly sometimes our best intentions to save money by purchasing in bulk, costs us more money than we intended. The good news is, all of those great intentions can pay off and you can buy in bulk to save money with a little planning and know-how.

Use the tips below to help you learn how to buy in bulk to save money.

How to Buy in Bulk to Actually Save Money

Decide if bulk is worth it for your family.

Smaller families do not need to buy everything in bulk because when food goes bad you are not truly saving anything. Some things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies are great to buy in bulk for everyone. They will never go bad and you can get your money’s worth from a purchase like that. However, in most cases, a small family may find it challenging to go through large quantities of perishable items before they go bad.

Compare bulk price to the regular price.

Sometimes buying in bulk is not as good of a deal as may sound. Take the time to divide the price by ounces, servings, or pieces so that you can see how much you are really paying. When sales hit it can often be better to buy the smaller packages than to purchase the bulk one, not on sale.

Check expiration dates and rotate your stock.

It is really easy for things to be forgotten in the back of the pantry or freezer for a long period of time. Only to be discovered when it is too late. Grab a sharpie and put dates in large print on everything. Move new items to the back when putting your groceries away to avoid using the newest items before the old.

Store items well to make them last longer.

Airtight containers can keep your bulk supplies fresh longer. A vacuum sealer can keep that fresh meat you found a great deal on from being freezer burnt before you can use it, and storing produce like carrots in water will keep them fresh longer giving you time to use them.

Plan your menu to use up fresh items before they go bad.

Nothing can ruin a great deal like not using what you bought before it begins to rot. When purchasing produce in bulk you really want to be sure you have a plan to use it. When we find a really good deal we plan to use it in every meal and snack we can to be sure it gets used.

Compare prices and selections at your local wholesale clubs BEFORE buying a membership.

Often places like Costco will let you in to check out the selection before you buy a membership. Compare the prices of the top ten things your family will be buying in bulk and go with the club membership if that will give you the best deal on these items.

Look for bulk in unexpected places.

Often supermarkets will have bulk basics like flour in 25-pound sacks available. Your local farmer’s market is a great place to find a deal on bulk produce from local farmers looking to clear out stock by the end of the day. You do not have to purchase a wholesale club membership to buy in bulk if you take the time to shop around helping you save a bit more money when buying in bulk.

Do you find buying in bulk is worth it for your family? What things do you most often buy in bulk? From where?

5 Ways to Make Money By Cleaning Out Your Garage

Is your garage stacked to the ceiling with stuff? If so, it might be time to give it a good cleaning. Cleaning out your garage can not only give you more space in your home, but can also net you some cash in your pocket! Want to know more? Take a look below at these 5 ways to make money by cleaning out your garage, I’m sure you’ll find something you can sell!

5 Ways to Make Money By Cleaning Out Your Garage:

5 Ways to Make Money By Cleaning Out Your Garage

1. Sell your old/unused tools.

Are you a tool hoarder? Tools have excellent resale value. Sell your usable power tools Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook Buy & Sell groups or place an ad in the local paper. Older tools might be valuable to collectors, so do your research on them and see if they might be worth anything. You typically need just one of each tool, so part with any extras to make some quick cash.

2. Scrap that metal.

Is your garage full of metal pieces? If so, you can scrap them for cash. Old appliances, fencing, old copper, brass, or even aluminum are all worth cash at a local metal recycling center. You don’t even need to clean the pieces, just haul them to the center, have them weighed, and collect your cash.

3. Sell your old bikes.

Bikes both old and new can find a new home on Kijiji, Craigslist, ebay, or your local paper/garage sale site. Collectors are always looking for bike parts and will be willing to take the old bikes off your hands, while college students are always looking for used bikes they can snag for a song. If you have any bikes either old or new, broken or functional, sell them for cash.

4. Hold an odds and ends garage sale.

Get rid of the random clutter with a garage or yard sale. Advertise your sale for free in Facebook Buy & Sell groups as well as sites like Kijiji or Craigslist. Price your items to sell, create a neat and organized display, and you are sure to not only pull in some cash but create some extra space in your garage as well. Just haul out those items, give them a good dusting, and stick a tag on them. It’s that easy!

5. Donate for a tax write off.

Remember, you can get a tax deduction for any donations you make to not for profit agencies. If you have functional items such as toys, hoses, lawn tools, appliances, bikes, wagons, etc. then why not donate them? You will get a receipt for your donation and you will be able to write the amount off on next year’s taxes. That’s like cash in the pocket!

Don’t deal with that cluttered garage any longer. Instead, give these tips for finding money in your own garage a try and you will not only make space, but make some money as well.

Have you found any treasures hidden in your garage lately? Let me know in the comments.