Archive for the ‘
Ways to Save ’ Category
Thursday, August 7th, 2014
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I pretty much won’t buy meat unless I can get it for $2.00/lb. or less. A lot of you have commented that you can never find meat that inexpensive. So I was excited when I learned about Zaycon Foods.
Zaycon Foods, which has been featured on Good Morning America, has meat sales all across the United States where they offer fresh meat at wholesale prices. You order the meat (which is sold in large quantities by the case) online and then it’s delivered directly via refrigerated truck to convenient local pick-up points.
Right now Zaycon is offering 40 lb. cases of chicken breast for just $1.89/lb.! Sale dates and locations vary, so visit their website to see if there is a sale in your area. If you can’t use the full 40 lb. yourself, split the case with another family so that you can still take advantage of this great price. I love to get large quantities of chicken and then cook most of it up, shred it and put it in small portions in the freezer. It makes meal time planning so much easier to have the meat all cooked and ready to go!
I got chicken from them last December and was very impressed. A friend of mine also has ordered from them twice and this is what she had to say about Zaycon Foods:
This will be my third time ordering chicken from Zaycon Foods! It’s so much better than grocery store and way cheaper too!! Check it out! And it’s so easy…order online, pull up the day/time of the event and they put the box in your vehicle for you on plastic! Bring it home, bag it and freeze it and you’re set for lots of healthy meal starters!
Have you ever ordered from Zaycon Foods? I’d love to know how your experience was.
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Friday, July 25th, 2014
A couple of days ago I got our mail and among other things, I noticed a flyer from Bon-ton. Now typically I’m not one to waste my time on junk mail but I’ve learned that some junk mail is worth opening and this was one of those times. I opened it up and there was a coupon for $25 off a $25 or more purchase of kid’s apparel and accessories! You know what that means, right? I basically can use that coupon to get free clothes or at least very nearly free! It’s even good on sale priced items. My son is pretty hard on his jeans and is down to just a few pairs so this will be a great way for me to get him some more very inexpensively.
I’ve gotten into the habit of always opening and at least glancing through any flyers or mail from stores because I’ve learned that semi-frequently I’ll find little gems like this. It only takes a couple of minutes but it can save me pretty big.
A few of the stores that I’ve gotten “free” dollar value coupons or coupons for free products from in the past:
* Hallmark Gold Crown Stores
* Bath & Body Works
Want to get coupons like this too? The best way I know to do it is simply to sign up for the stores mailing list on their website.
Do you get coupons like this in the mail? What stores have been good to you?
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Saturday, July 12th, 2014
One of the ways I save money is by earning coupons and gift cards through Recyclebank. By spending just a few minutes each month earning points I can soon accumulate enough to redeem a few coupons or if I save them a little longer I can use my points to get a gift card. They typically have gift cards for CVS, Target, Starbucks, Lowe’s, Applebees, T.G.I.Friday’s, Kmart, Sears and more! If the selection is slim, check back again because they update their stock frequently.
Right now you can earn 160 points when you complete the following 2 activities. And if you are new to Recyclebank, once you set up your account, click on the “Earn Points” tab to find more point earning opportunities.
* See how communities from coast to coast are going green and earn up to 150 points!
* Learn a thing or two from Philadelphia about living green and earn 10 points.
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Saturday, July 12th, 2014
One of the ways that I save quite a bit of money on groceries is by preserving lots of fruits and vegetables. While we live in the city and don’t have room for a big garden, we’re blessed to live in an area where we can get lots of beautiful, home grown produce for great prices. So I simply buy large amounts from local growers and then preserve them for us to enjoy all year long.
I know that canning and freezing produce sounds really daunting to many people and so this year, I decided to do a couple of tutorials and show you just how simple the process really is.
I’m starting with how to freeze green beans because not only are they probably one of the easiest things to preserve, I also just got done doing 1½ bushels of them and actually managed to take a few pictures as I was doing it. (Not an easy feat when you have 3 children interrupting your process!) Besides, green beans are one of those things that just taste so much better when you preserve them yourself. Just recently I saw a great deal on some frozen beans at the store and so I decided to buy a couple of bags thinking it would help stretch our supply. I made them for our dinner one night and after one bite my husband commented, “It’s no wonder so many people don’t like vegetables!” And honestly, I had to agree. They just were nowhere near as tasty as the ones that I preserve and freeze!
You can preserve your beans by canning or freezing them. If you choose to can them you need to use a pressure canner since using a regular canner doesn’t reach high enough temps to kill the bacteria that causes botulism. I find the pressure canning process rather time consuming and tedious plus it also makes the beans less nutritious. Did you know that frozen veggies and fruit have almost as much nutritional value as when they are fresh? So I choose to simply freeze our green beans which you’ll see, is amazingly super simple to do.
First of all, here are the tools you’ll for the job:
* Dish pan(s) or container to put the beans in
* Knife if you don’t want to use your fingers to trim the beans
* Blancher (can use a big pot too but it gets kind of complicated when it comes time to drain the beans and cool them quickly)
– Don’t have a blancher and don’t want to buy one? See if you can find a friend that has one that you could borrow.
* Freezer bags or freezer boxes to store the beans
Okay, let’s channel your inner Ma Ingals and get started!
1. Remove ends and defective spots and if you have true “string” beans, remove the strings too. Technically you don’t have to remove the tail end of the bean, just the end that was attached to the stalk. However I don’t like the look of leaving them on so I (and most people) remove them too.
2. Break or cut the beans into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces. This is a step that even little children can help with- in fact, they often think it is fun!
3. Wash the beans thoroughly. I like to put a dishpan full of beans in my sink and then just fill it with water. Swish the beans around really good to work any dirt loose.
4. Move the beans over to the colander insert of your blancher, filling it to just below the ridge. Basically you want the beans to not go above the top row of holes so that they will be covered with water during the blanching process.
5. Fill the kettle part of the blancher about 2/3 to 3/4 full with water. You don’t want it too full because the water level will rise once you put the colander full of beans into it. Bring the water to a full, rolling boil.
6. Slowly (this is important so that the water doesn’t go splashing out!) insert the colander full of beans into the boiling water. Once you put the beans in, the water will stop boiling.
7. Watch the pot carefully and once the water comes to a rolling boil again, remove the beans immediately. You basically just want to slightly cook the beans. (In the picture above I wasn’t watching the pot closely enough and it had been boiling for a bit when I noticed it. You don’t really want that much of a boil! It isn’t tragic, but the beans just won’t taste quite as good.)
8. While you are waiting for the beans to boil, draw some cold water (the colder the better) in a dishpan or sink. Once you remove the beans from the boiling water, submerse the colander into the cold water and cool the beans down as fast as possible. It helps to swish the colander around in the water, keep the water running, use your hands to move the beans around and even change the water if necessary.
9. Once beans are nice and cool, drain the water off of them.
10. Put the blanced beans in freezer bags or freezer boxes and freeze immediately. I typically use freezer boxes to freeze our food just because I like the way they store and it’s also cheaper in the long run since you can use them over and over and over.
And you’re done! Pat yourself on the back, put up your feet and relax a bit!
Have a question about one of the steps? Feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer it for you!
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Friday, June 20th, 2014
Most of the time I share about the different things that I (we) do to help us save money because that’s what this blog is all about: inspiring you to save money and live well.
But even though I love to save money and am passionate about it, I sometimes do un-frugal things too. Sometimes I mess up on a coupon deal. Sometimes I just simply don’t have the energy to do the thing that I should do to save money. And sometimes I might decide that saving the money isn’t worth it this time around.
So just for fun, I do posts about 4 frugal and 4 un-frugal things that I did recently- you know, let you see a little bit of both!
4 Frugal Things
1. Defrosted our chest freezers.
This is a job that I do not enjoy doing, but I figured before I fill them up with all the fruits and veggies I’ll be preserving this summer and fall, I’d better go ahead and do it. Because afterall, freezers do run more effeciently when they are defrosted. And honestly, it was rather appalling how jumbled they had become! It felt very fulfilling to get them both nice and organized again.
Speaking of freezers, you might enjoy this post: When should you buy a freezer? (And 4 ways our freezer saves us money.)
2. Bought clothes for the children second hand.
It’s no secret that it’s much cheaper to buy clothes used. And I’ve been blessed to be able to get the majority of our children’s clothing secondhand. I am finding though, that as our son gets older it is harder to find nice used pants for him. It can be done though, if I’m persistent enough.
A couple of places that I’ve had good success getting used clothes in the past:
- online yard sale (you can often find a local group on Facebook)
- consignment sales and stores
- yard sales
- Thredup (especially when they have sales)
(update 7/19/14: they currently have a promotion for a $20 account credit which allows you to get 4 pieces of kid’s clothing for just $1.61 each, shipping included!)
- from friends
3. Made butter from farm fresh milk.
In reality, I wasn’t even sure if this was frugal when I did it. I did it more because I had always thought it would be fun to try to make my own butter. And it was!
Turns out it actually was rather frugal too. We get fresh milk from a local farm for $2.00/gallon. Out of 2¼ cups cream I was able to get ¾ cup of butter plus close to a pint of buttermilk! So the cost of the butter alone was just roughly $0.34/lb.! If you include the expense of electricity, you could be generous and say that it was $0.50/lb. Either way, it was super cheap and it’s really quite easy to do. And did I mention fun? I kind of felt like Ma in the Little House on the Prairie books!
4. Read books for free on my phone.
I love, Love, LOVE the Amazon Kindle app on my smartphone. I get so many more books read as a result of it because well, my phone is always with me and it’s much easier to take along than a book Plus, I can get lots of great books for free as well. Authors and publishers frequently drop their books down to free for special promotions and I take advantage of those times and as a result am able to enjoy many books without paying a cent.
Three of the books that I recently read and enjoyed for free:
- Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free by Amy Lynn Andrews…this is a great, helpful, easy to read book.
- Pinterest Savvy: Strategies, Plans, and Tips to Grow Your Business with Pinterest by Melissa Taylor….if you blog or have a business that could benefit from Pinterest traffic, this book is a useful read.
- Tiny Titan – One Small Gift (Journey of Hope) by Ann Yurcek….a fascinating, amazing story!
4 UnFrugal Things
1. Allowed flower to die.
So, I had desperately been wanting to get a few flowers and plants to brighten up our outdoors but never got it done because, well, there were just always other things that were more pressing. Then last Saturday we were driving to a dinner function and went right past this lovely little greenhouse that was still open, even though it was 7 pm. I begged to stop, my husband kindly obliged and I bought several plants.
I knew I wouldn’t get them planted right away and had good intentions of watering them well the next day. But I forgot about it until two days later when our son came running inside and desperately informed me that my plants were dying and needed some water! Thankfully I only lost one of them and although they really weren’t expensive, it was disappointing.
Having fun at the fountain on our walk.
2. Bought ice cream at a local ice cream shop.
If you follow my Weekly Spending Summaries you know that we have lots of good Turkey Hill All-Natural ice cream in our freezer that I got for $0.50 or less. And in all reality, we could have just enjoyed some of that. But we take one night each week and call it Family Night and on those nights we try to do something fun together as a family.
Our last family night together we went on a walk downtown and decided to stop by a local ice cream shop for a treat. (They make it themselves and it is really, really good!) No, it wasn’t the cheapest way to enjoy ice cream but sometimes the experience is worth something too!
3. Left lights on when we were away.
Unfortunately, this happens way too often, mostly when I am going away during the day with the three children. There’s something about getting everyone out the door single-handedly that just distracts me enough that I often miss turning a light off. I do try, but it’s just one of those things that I do my best and don’t sweat the rest!
4. Forgot coupons when I went shopping.
I mentioned in my Weekly Spending Summary that I forgot $4.00 worth of coupons when I went shopping. I had printed the coupons right before I left and then promptly forgot about them and left them lying on the printer. There was no way I was going to head back home to get them…wasn’t worth the time or gas! The nice thing was, someone had left a $1.00 coupon for the product that I was buying on the shelf, so I took advantage of that. I guess, really then I only lost out on $3.00.
What frugal or unfrugal things did you do recently? I’d love to hear about it!
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