Join in on the Eating from the Pantry/Freezer Challenge!

The Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge from SimplyFrugal.ca

Do you find your pantry and freezer overflowing with food, yet you keep buying more food?

Would you like to join me for an impromptu pantry and freezer challenge? You could possibly save hundreds of dollars on your grocery bill by eating out of your pantry and freezer!

We’ve been feeling lately, in the Simply Frugal household, as though we’ve got way too much food just hanging around not leaving the pantry and freezers. (umm, except for the ice cream, that mysteriously disappears ;)!)

Since I’d like to use up what we have in the freezer and pantry to use up many items that are coming up on their prime, I thought a challenge would get me motivated!  Maybe it will help you as well?

Here’s the plan:

Starting on Wednesday, April 18, the Eating from the Pantry/Freezer challenge will officially start!

I’ll be sharing my menu plan on Wednesday and would love to hear your plans and goals as well!

What you’ll need to do before April 18:

  • Do a complete inventory of your pantry, freezer and fridge
  • Decide what your goals will be for the challenge (how much do you want to save, how long do you think you’ll be doing the challenge for…etc)
  • Write up a meal plan for at least the first five days of the challenge (Wednesday  – Sunday)
  • Make a list of the items you’ll need to buy to complete your meals.  (I’ll still be buying produce, dairy and eggs)

Every Monday following (April 23 and 30) I’ll be sharing my menu plans and progress. (At this point I’m not sure how long I will be doing the pantry challenge, but I will know once I take inventory.) This would be a great time for those of you joining in on the challenge to share or link to your menus and progress in the comment section!  I’ll also be tracking how much I’m spending on groceries for the duration of this challenge and sharing my totals.

There’s a Facebook group that I would love to have you join! Click here to join the Simply Frugal Community.  I think it will be a great place to share meal ideas, tips and even our struggles during the challenge!

Does this makes sense?  Any questions? 🙂

Here are some useful resources to help you out with the challenge:

Will you be joining me as we eat from the pantry and freezer?

7 Mother’s Day Gifts That Don’t Cost A Cent

Mother’s Day comes just once a year, so why not do all you can to make sure it’s a special day? If you are worried about your budget being too tight to celebrate sufficiently, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to enjoy a nice Mother’s Day without spending a dime. Look below at these 7 Mother’s Day gifts that don’t cost a cent, and see how you can celebrate Mom for free.

7 Mothers Day Gifts That Don’t Cost A Cent

Mother's Day Gifts that don't Cost a Cent! It really is the thought that counts!

1. Give her the gift of time.

Don’t try to fit in time for Mom on Mother’s Day, make it a priority. Give Mom the gift of your time to enjoy the things she may want to do, such as go for a hike, watch a movie, or just spend time together around the dinner table.

2. Give her the gift of appreciation.

Show Mom you appreciate her by writing her a list of all of the things you love about her. Make a list of 20-25 things (even more is better!) that make her special. Use your best writing, put the list in an envelope, and gift it to her on Mother’s Day. She will keep it forever.

3. Give her the gift of rest.

Sometimes, Mom just needs a break. Give Mom a little time to herself on Mother’s Day. Quiet the house down and let Mom get a nap in. Or, give Mom some time to sleep in that morning. Even just an hour of quiet time will be much appreciated and make her feel like a million bucks.

4. Give her the gift of affection.

Moms love to hug and hold their babies! Take the time to hug your Mom, hold her hand, and truly connect with her. The older children get, the less often this happens, so take the time on Mother’s Day to get those hugs in.

5. Give her the gift of help.

Are there tasks around the house Mom needs help with? Start tackling those tasks. Do what you can to get these tasks done so Mom can take them off her plate. This will be a huge relief to her and she will no doubt love the help.

6. Give her the gift of truly being present.

Put cell phones and electronic devices away and be present on Mother’s Day. Let Mom know that she is your focus for the day and that nothing else is as important. We get so caught up in devices, this will be a refreshing change for her to see.

7. Give her the gift of patience.

Be patient with Mom today. Mother’s Day is about celebrating her and meeting her needs. Be patient with your own needs on this day and instead make the focus about her.

Don’t let a limited budget keep you from showing Mom how special she is. Consider these 7 Mother’s Day gifts that don’t cost a cent, and see how even a frugal Mother’s Day can be a memorable one.

I’d love to hear your ideas or memories of celebrating Mother’s Day! Let me know in the comments below!

5 Unique Ways to Use your Slow Cooker

I think it’s safe to say that the slow cooker is one of my favourite kitchen tools.  After all, it cooks delicious meals with minimal effort!  Not to mention it’s great to use in the summer when you don’t want to heat the house up.

Slow cookers are generally known for their skills at creating delicious stews and tender meats.  But your slow cooker can do so much more!  Read on to discover five unique ways to use your slow cooker.

These 5 unique ways to use your slow cooker are brilliant!

Make Yogurt

It’s possible to make your own yogurt in a slow cooker!   This is something that I’d love to try in the near future since I think it could save quite a bit of money.  Try the Homemade Yogurt recipe from Mom on Time Out or try the Greek Yogurt from One Good Thing by Jillee.

Make Candles

Let the gift giving begin!  You can easily make candles for gifts (or yourself) in your slow cooker!  I think this is a great way to turn those candles that no longer burn because the wick is gone, into new candles.  Learn how to make candles in your slow cooker over at A Year of Slow Cooking.

Make Baked Potatoes

I automatically assume that successful slow cooker recipes have to include some sort of liquid.  But this slow cooker baked potato recipe proves me wrong!

Make Bread

I think this idea is genius.  Make a loaf of bread in your slow cooker!  This is great for the summer months when you don’t want to heat up the house!  Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day shows you how to make a loaf of artisan bread in the slow cooker!

Make Brownies

As seen from the unique slow cooker ideas I posted above, you’re not limited to dinner-type meals in the least.  So, of course dessert can be made in a slow cooker!  Why not try these Triple Chocolate Brownies from Martha Stewart?

Make French Fries

My daughter loves homemade French fries and I think this French Fry recipe from Practical Stewardship just made my life a whole lot easier!

Isn’t the slow cooker a neat appliance?  What unique things have you made in your slow cooker?  Will you be trying any of these ideas?

How to Create a Budget Binder

Setting up a Budget Binder in your home is a terrific strategy for staying on top of your finances.  It should not only be a record of what is spent, but it should include your estimations for what will likely be spent in the coming year(s).  This binder or manual should be a go-to for all of your questions regarding what you can afford and how long it will take to reach your financial goals.

How to create a budget binder. Setting up a Budget Binder is a great strategy for staying on top of your finances.

Here’s how to create a Budget Binder:

1.  Find a binder that works for you. I really like this Hilroy binder, but any binder will work. I would choose one that has at least a 1″ spine width.

2. You will also want to have some tabbed dividers so that you can separate your budget binder into sections. With the Simply Frugal Budget Binder kit, I provide 12 inspiring quotes that you can print off to create dividers for each month of the year. These Redi-Tag Removable Index Tabs are perfect to add to each quote/divider. The tabs are writable and repositionable so you can move them around or use the same one if you need to refresh the page.

3. I like to divide my Budget Binder up by months. (One section for each month of the year, January – December) In each section/month, I include a Weekly Expense tracker, a Monthly Budget Summary, a Monthly Bill Payment Tracker, a Monthly Income Tracker and a Monthly Expense Tracker.  In the back, I have a Savings Goal worksheet and a Debt tracker.

However, you may want to divide yours up by every fund you have (Auto, Childcare, Clothing, Grocery, Utilities, Travel, banking, loans, etc.) Do what you think will suit your needs best.

4. Also in the back, create a section for account information and include names of financial institutions, addresses, contact information, passwords and any other details that would be worth having at a glance.

5. You can also add pouches to hold receipts, a page to record prices on your favorite items, or anything else that might be useful in keeping your family in the black!

SimplyFrugal.ca has all the printable pages listed above in the Budget Binder kit that should help keep your family’s budget on track!

Do you keep a Budget Binder? What pages do you keep handy in your family or business budget binder?

How to Turn Ramen Noodles Into a Healthy Meal Idea

It is no secret that Ramen Noodles are a staple in every college student’s pantry. However, ramen noodles are not just for the college student, bachelor, or preschooler anymore. I have even found some organic brown rice ramen by Lotus Foods at Costco that we love, making it a healthy choice for our family! Even if you buy the budget friendly packs of ramen, there are quite a few healthy ways to spice up a package of the fried noodles.

How to Turn Ramen Noodles Into a Healthy Meal Idea

Ditch the Packet

Some people prefer ramen noodles simply because they are cheap, cheap, cheap. Others prefer them because of the beef, chicken, or oriental flavor that comes in the package. While that packet is full of flavor, it is also packed full of sodium and MSG. Make your meal a bit healthier, by ditching the packet, and adding your own herbs and flavoring. Boil the pasta in low sodium chicken or beef broth, and throw in some pepper and herbs, like thyme, or oregano.

Use Uncooked, as a Topping

That’s right. You can eat Ramen without cooking them, prior. Dig the recipe for your favorite Asian inspired salad out of your recipe box, and simply swap out the Asian noodles for Ramen Noodles. Just discard the seasoning packet and break the noodles up. Add them to your salad just before serving.

Stir Fry

Instead of opting for burgers and fries, pull out a package of ramen, and some fresh or frozen veggies. Cook up chicken or beef pieces, and throw some in some veggies, with a bit of low sodium soy sauce. Meanwhile, cook the Ramen in either plain water, or low sodium beef or chicken broth. Once it is all done, simply toss it all together, and grab a bowl and a seat.

Make a Hearty Soup

There is nothing like a hot bowl of hearty soup, on a chilly evening. Gather the ingredients for your favorite soup, and toss it all in the slow cooker. When there are just a few minutes left of cooking time, add a packet or two of Ramen, minus the flavor packets, and you have yourself an easy, healthy meal.

Limit the amount you eat

Even if you dish up Ramen Noodles to be healthier, you still need to limit the amount you eat. Many carbs come from ramen noodles, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Which is why adding them to a salad as a topping or using it as a filler, is an excellent idea.

The great thing about Ramen is that it’s so inexpensive. Once you get rid of the packet and figure out how to make it into the perfect healthy dish, you are good to go.

I’d love to hear how you use ramen noodles! Let me know in the comments below!