Planning a menu each week can be such an annoyance. Some weeks, it would take me hours to come up with enough meals for the week because I’d always try to add variety with new meals. I would scour cookbooks and Pinterest for new recipes and get distracted trying to decide if something sounded good or not. Or whether or not the rest of the family would eat it… So, one thing that has helped us to cut our grocery budget was to create a short, go-to recipe list! I mean, we eat the same basic things for breakfast each day, why not apply the principle to dinner too?
Narrowing our meal ideas to only 20 options has made meal planning a breeze and has saved us so much money. It also reduces food waste, because I know I am making food that we all enjoy. These meals are a mix of quick & easy meals, recipes that are great for leftovers, and some a wee bit more complicated because they’re just so tasty.
So, if you want to finally stop wasting money on groceries, I’d encourage you to grab some inspiration from our go-to recipe list. Here’s what we’re eating, aside from leftover nights and super simple meals (like tomato soup & grilled cheese):
- Tacos – I find that one package of ground beef is enough for two meals for our family. I’ll often make it stretch further with a can of baked beans.
- French Toast – We often like breakfast meals for dinner. I especially love to make a big batch of French toast because I can freeze the leftovers for quick breakfasts.
- Instant Pot Beef Stew – This is so good! Since the recipe doesn’t call for potatoes, I like to serve it over mashed potatoes.
- Spaghetti – Lately I’ve been browning ground beef, adding it to the slow cooker with a jar of pasta sauce, a bit of water and a sprinkle of beef bouillon powder.
- Hamburger Soup – This freezes well and is enjoyed every time I make it.
- Slow Cooker BBQ Sauce Pork Chops – Place pork chops over sliced onions in a slow cooker, then pour your favourite BBQ sauce over top. Cook on low for about 4 – 6 hours. Serve with rice or potatoes and steamed veggies.
- Sausage and Potato Bake – Cut up potato, carrots, sweet potato, peppers, and farmer’s sausage and place in a big 9×13 baking dish. Drizzle olive oil and a dose of oregano, salt & pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.
- Roasted chicken – It no secret that a roasted whole chicken can stretch for many meals. I’ll often buy rotisserie chicken for a super fast dinner with veggies and potatoes.
- Balsamic beef roast – This is another meal that stretches far or is great for feeding a crowd.
- Quiche– a satisfying meal
- Instant Pot Honey Sesame chicken – Delicious served with rice and veggies!
- Creamy chicken soup – This is another delicious soup that freezes well!
- Chicken pesto stuffed shells – My husband’s favourite meal that actually isn’t that hard to make! Great freezer meal too.
- Ramen Vegetable stirfry – I buy the healthy ramen noodles from Costco. A great way to use up vegetables that are needing to be used up.
- Meatballs– These are so versatile and the recipe make a ton so you’ll have plenty for the freezer.
- Chicken in basil sauce – One of our “fancy” dinners that we enjoy.
- Fettuccine Alfredo – An indulgence we don’t mind occasionally since we need to fatten up the kids. 😉
- White Chicken Chili – A good twist on classic chili that again, freezes well.
- Chicken & Asparagus Pasta Bake – So easy to put together. Also works well with green beans.
- Slow Cooker Barbacoa – Leftovers are so good over salad, in tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more!
There you have it! The 20 family dinner recipes that have managed to cut our grocery bill!
Does your family have a go-to recipe list? What are your favourite meals?
If you’re looking for even more kitchen/meal organization, check out the Grocery Conqueror Printable Kit. The Grocery Conqueror Printable Kit contains over 50+ pages to help you organize your kitchen, streamline your meal planning and grocery shopping tasks. Ultimately enabling you to create a more organized kitchen, thus saving you money on your grocery bill.
Today, I’m going to start out with a few points about the benefits of budgeting. For those of you that already have a budget set up, this may be confirmation that it is a good thing, but for those of you that don’t have a budget, it may present some points that will give you the push to get started.
The Benefits of Budgeting
A Budget Will Help Identify Where your Money is Going
First and foremost, a budget will allow you to identify where exactly your money is going. You’ll see just how much is going towards bills, clothing, entertainment and everything else you spend your money on. This is important to know if you want to gain any sense of control over your finances.
A Budget Will Help you to Control Your Money
Once you have identified where your money is going and you make a budget, you may be some hard choices to make at first. Maybe you realize you need to move to a more affordable house. Or maybe you discover that drinking a Starbucks latte everyday is keeping you from taking your dream vacation. It can be hard to accept that you can’t have it all. But once you get past that point and realize that by cutting a few expenses here, can allow you to spend more over there, budgeting doesn’t seem so bad. It allows you to prioritize what is important to you, and then live by those priorities.
A Budget Will Help Guide you in Planning Financial Goals
A budget is a plan. A plan for where you want your money to go. Say you want to do a bathroom renovation next winter. Unless you plan to set aside money every month, you won’t be doing that renovation. (Unless of course, you take on debt.) Without a plan, the money can too easily be spent on $100 trips to the mall. Having a budget helps you to plan and stick to your financial goals you hope to achieve.
A Budget Will Help you Prepare for Emergency Expenses
Having a budget will allow you to allocate money to an emergency fund for those unexpected situations that are bound to arise in your lifetime. A broken furnace, vehicle repairs, or an unexpected trip to visit an ill relative, to name a few. When you don’t have a budget, it’s easy to forget about those extra expenses that will most likely arise at some point in the year.
A Budget Will Help Give you Peace of Mind
Having a budget is what ensures you’ll have enough to pay your expenses. Since you’ve set aside money for your day to day expenses, annual property taxes, income tax, emergencies and what ever else you know is necessary in your life, there’s no need to stress or loose sleep.
A Budget Will Help you Feel Less Guilty about Spending Money
Once you start budgeting and tracking your finances you might find that you feel less guilty about spending money. Knowing that you have set aside $75 a month for clothing, for example, you don’t have to feel badly about spending it all or a portion on a pair of shoes that you fell in love with. When every dollar has a purpose, you can feel much better about spending in general.
Need help getting started with a budget? My popular Budget Binder Kit will help you get on the right track!
Having a budget is freeing, because you make the plan. It’s customized to your needs and wants. It’s also not set in stone. If you find that you miscalculated when you set the food budget, readjust. That’s the beauty of it. It’s your budget. Your money, working for you!
What are some other benefits of budgeting? Do you have any stories to share about how budgeting “saved” you?
If you have ever watched any home decorating show you have probably seen the amazing homes showcased. It’s easy to get caught up in the fact that your home might not look so professionally done. However, you can have a beautiful home that is stylish and done on a budget! With nearly any budget you can make your home stylish and welcoming. Also keep in mind that simple, timeless decorating is typically what looks the best in any home.
Create a Stylish Home on a Budget
Purchasing paint is fairly inexpensive and can change-up the look of any room. If you are ready for a change and don’t have a lot of money, consider painting. Even just painting an accent wall can turn any home from dull to very hip and stylish! Don’t be afraid to try out different colors. Most paint stores will give you little amounts of paint to take home to try out.
One way to bring drama or simple coziness to a room is by adding rugs. However, you don’t have to go out and pay for expensive rugs. In fact places like Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart and Home Sense are all great places to find very large and beautiful rugs on a budget. Try to pick out a rug that adds color as you can find other accents based off of the colors in the rugs. If your rug has some red and purple in it, look for red and purple throw pillows for your couch.
Lighting can make or break any room. You want to make sure you have the right amount of lighting for tasks and ambiance. Don’t be scared of trying out different lamps. Adding some pretty lamp shades, stand up lamps or even recessed lighting can turn your room into a stylish one.
There are different price ranges when it comes to wall art. You can really dig into the bank account and hit up a gallery or you can go the more budget friendly route. Look for wall art at garage sales, discount stores and even at your local mall. You can also just make your own wall art with family pictures blown up onto canvas. Or, make a beautiful printable and frame it. Wall art is an area you can really get creative since it isn’t permanent.
Using decor to bring some style to a room is easy and affordable. In fact just adding in some simple things like throw pillows, inexpensive curtains, candles and plants can really liven up any room. You can find these items at second-hand stores, garage sales or re-purpose what you already own.
How are your creating your stylish home on a budget?
This post is a sponsored post by Sun Life Financial written By Brenda Spiering. See my disclosure policy here.
Saving for retirement is likely one of your top financial priorities. But did you know that how you save can be nearly as important as how much you save? Choosing the right retirement savings account can have a huge impact both on how much money you save and how much tax you pay. So, how do you choose the best type of account?
How to choose the right retirement savings account
When to choose an RRSP
When it comes to saving for retirement, RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans) are pretty hard to beat. Contributions are tax-deductible, investments grow on a tax-free basis within the plan, and RRSP funds aren’t subject to tax till they’re withdrawn from the plan.
If you expect your current income is going to be greater than your income in retirement, an RRSP is a great option. It will provide you with a tax deduction that can help reduce your current income taxes. Plus, if you’re in a lower tax bracket when you draw the money out, it can help reduce the overall amount of income tax you pay.
When to choose a TFSA
TFSAs (Tax-Free Savings Accounts) are a great retirement savings account option if you’ve maxed out your RRSP. While you won’t get to claim your contributions as a tax deduction, the investment growth is tax-sheltered and there’s no tax payable on withdrawals.
The fact that withdrawals from a TFSA are not subject to income tax also provides an advantage if you expect your income in retirement to be greater than your current income, since TFSA withdrawals do not reduce income-tested benefits like old age security benefits. Also, unlike RRSPs that you can no longer contribute to after Dec. 31 of the year in which you turn age 71 (or, in the case of a spousal RRSP, the year in which your spouse turns age 71), you can continue to contribute to a TFSA as long as you wish.
How much can you contribute?
Both RRSPs and TFSAs have contribution limits. In the case of RRSPs, you can contribute up to 18% of your previous year’s earned income up to the maximum limit set each year by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) ($26,230 for 2018), plus any unused contribution room carried forward from prior years.
Since 2016, the annual maximum contribution limit for TFSAs has been $5,500, however, you can also contribute for any past years in which you didn’t contribute, back to 2009 when TFSAs were first introduced. If you’ve never contributed before, you’re currently eligible to contribute a maximum of $57,500.
A great way to determine how much you need to save for retirement is to use a Retirement Savings Calculator. It can help you set an annual savings goal based on your current age, expected retirement age and desired income in retirement. Plus, it can show you the impact of contributing to different types of retirement savings accounts.
To learn more about smart ways to save for retirement, sign up for the Sun Life Saving for Retirement email series.
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!
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.
U-Pick Fruit & Fruit Stands:
- Rattlesnake Island Swim – in Peachland August 11, 2018.
- Canada Cup DH Race – at Silver Star Mountain Resort, July 13 – 15, 2018.
- Kelowna Across the Lake Swim – in Kelowna on Okanagan Lake July 14, 2018.
- Peach Classic Triathlon – in Penticton July 15, 2018.
- Giants Head Freeride Longboard Competition – in Summerland June 25 – 27, 2018.
- L’Alpe du Grand Blanc Road Bike Race – at Big White Ski Resort, July 22, 2018 from 9am – 2pm.
- Granfondo Axel Merckx – in Penticton July 8, 2018
- Bats for a Cause softball tournament – in Kelowna July 28 – 29, 2018
- Funtastic Slo Pitch Tournament – in Vernon June 29 – July 2, 2018
- Slay the Dragon Trail Running Race – at Silver Star July 1, 2018
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.
Festivals, Fairs & Community Events:
- Lumby Days – in Lumby June 8 – 10, 2018
- Peach City Beach Cruise – in Penticton from June 22- 24, 2018.
- Penticton Elvis Festival – in Penticton from June 21 – 24, 2018.
- Center of Gravity – in Kelowna from July 27 – 29, 2018.
- Great Train Robbery & BBQ – in Summerland starting June 3 – September 23, 2018. 1:30pm and 4pm.
- Kelowna Dragon Boat Festival – in Kelowna August 25 – 26, 2018.
- Okanagan Military Tattoo – in Vernon July 28 – 29, 2018.
- Penticton Peach Festival – in Penticton August 8 – 12, 2018.
- Interior Provincial Exhibition & Stampede – in Armstrong August 29 – September 2, 2018.
- Salmon Arm Fall Fair – in Salmon Arm September 7 – 9, 2018.
- BC’s Family Fishing Event – All across BC June 15 – 17, 2018.
- Sunshine Festival – in Vernon June 16, 2018 from 9am – 5pm.
- Endless Summer Show & Shine – in Summerland September 8, 2018.
- Funtastic Music Festival & Ball Tournament – in Vernon June 29 – July 2, 2018.
- Westside Daze– in West Kelowna June 29 – July 1, 2018.
- Summer Reading Club – at Okanagan libraries. Check your local branch for times and dates.
- Craft & Country Mountain Fest – at Big White Ski Resort, June 30, 2018
- Cinema Under the Stars – in Penticton September 14, in Kelowna September 15
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.
Kids are not immune to money talks and they can understand finances and the value of money at a much younger age than many parents realize. Some experts even think that a child’s views on money is set by the time they are 10 years old, some as young as five or six. How you talk about money in front of them, and how you set the example for budgeting and saving is very important to how your child will form their own opinions about money.
This means if you want to start teaching your kids to budget and save, it’s never too early. There are some steps you can take when they are still very small, and then the money lessons can grow with them as they get older. We’re going to look at a few ways to help kids understand budgeting and saving.
Here are some ways you can teach kids to budget and save
Use a Piggy Bank
For younger children, use a money jar or piggy bank. Let them see the money they are saving and have a visual of it as it’s growing. Since many people do nearly all their finances digitally now, it may be difficult for a child growing up in this generation to really understand money that they never see.
Set an Example
You know those little eyes are always watching so show them how you budget and save. If you’re not already doing it, create a plan and get started. If you’re already doing it, but they just don’t see it, let them be involved in the process. Talk to them about the household budget. Explain what you’re doing when you go shopping together for groceries. Make talking about money, budgets and saving with your children an ongoing conversation in your household. This is how they learn.
Show Comparison Costs
For older kids, you can start showing comparison costs. “That video game costs as much as a new pair of sneakers”, for example. Or you can give them a commission, rather than a typical allowance. Pay them based on chores they do around the house and increase it based on the number and complexity of the chores they do. This will also teach the value of a dollar, the importance of working for and saving for what they want.
Teach them about Credit Cards
Explain how credit cards work. In addition to explaining that credit cards aren’t just “free money”, you also need to explain how easy it is to get in debt and why credit cards are dangerous. Explain what responsible use is long before they are old enough to have their own. Also, show by example.
Now that you have these ideas on how to teach kids to budget and save, you’re ready to start applying them. If some or all of them don’t work for your family or your kids, that’s okay. Just use the ones that do work, or make modifications to these suggestions so that they do work for you! If you’re looking for even more tips and advice, check out Money Smart Kids by Gail Vaz-Oxlade or Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey. Both books are highly rated!
What are some ideas that you have successfully used with your kids? Let us know in the comments below!