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Dollar Tree Easter Basket Ideas

I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

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A common misconception is that the only way for kids to have a childhood full of memorable holidays and fun traditions is to spend a lot of money…..I’m here to tell you that is just.not.true.

This is one of the many reasons why I LOVE The Dollar Tree.  I love watching their season aisle.  It’s fun to see what they bring in every year.

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Every year I buy my kids Easter Basket Stuffers from The Dollar Tree spring section.  This year I spent a total of $6 per basket, making the grand total for 3 Easter Baskets only $18!  AND!  I know my kids will love them (yay!).

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The Baskets

Fortunately I didn’t need to buy baskets, grass filler or plastic eggs because I save each of these things to use year after year.  These current baskets have last me over 5 years and I’m sure they will last another 5!  This saves me a few bucks every year, but those few dollars add up to big savings!

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However, if you are needing new baskets or plastic eggs The Dollar Tree has you covered!  Their Easter aisle is packed full of eggs and grass in every imaginable color and Easter Baskets for every personality.

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Teen Girl Easter Basket

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My 13 year old daughter loves all things artsy, tendy and girly; and I found the PERFECT items for her basket that fit these categories.

I was so excited when I found these darling faux potted cactus’s at The Dollar Tree.  My daughter has a slight obsession with cactus’s at the moment (and tells me so do all of her friends….) so I knew this would be PERFECT in her basket.

I also found this fun Caligraphy book to help teach her pretty lettering, white nail polish, and a colorful kite.

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Tween Girl Easter Basket

Next up was my 10 year old daughters basket.  She is pure girl and loves using her hands in the kitchen or at the table crafting.

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I found a nice selection of hands on science kits at The Dollar Tree and ended up buying this Crystal Growing Kit.  We have tried to grow our own crystals at home and have failed every time!  I’m hoping to have much more success with this kit!

She’s also getting a kite, some chapstick (don’t you love those spring colors!) and a Spiral Art set.  Did you love Spiral Art as much as I did as a kid????  So fun!

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Boy Easter Basket

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Last, but certainly not least is my 6 year old sons Easter Basket.  He is all boy through and through and just wants to be busy and active all of the time.

I found a box of sidewalk chalk at The Dollar Tree and decided this would be the perfect way to get him outside during spring.

His basket is also filled with a kite, a cute robot on canvas to color and a slinky.  He has ALWAYS wanted his very own slinky (little bother problems, amiright???) and I can’t wait for him to see this one.

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The Candy

What’s Easter without some candy????  The Dollar Tree has you covered!  I’m serious.  I have a slight (ok, serious) addiction to Sweet Tarts Jelly Beans….have you ever tried them???  So good!  I was very proud of myself that I left the bag at the store, otherwise, the entire bag would have been gone before I even left the parking lot (only kinda kidding…).

I DID buy a few pieces of candy for the kids though.  Starburst Jelly Beans (also so good!) and chocolate bunnies to name a few.

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Do you love filling easter eggs with candy?  I totally do!  There is something so fulfilling about it!

 

My kids will wake up on Easter Sunday, anxiously walk into our living room area, run to their Easter Baskets and proclaim with excitement about what it’s inside.  They will laugh, they will smile, and they will remember their childhood with all the warm fuzzy memories we want them to have…..and all it cost was $6.  Thank you Dollar Tree.

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You Might Be Interested in my Other Easter Posts:

How we are going to help our kids remember the TRUE meaning of Easter

Easter Egg Sun Catcher

 

 

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A Frugal Family Valentines Day

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ve probably learned quickly that my philosophy on parenting (and basically life) revolves around easy and cheap!  Our Valentines Day Celebrations are no different.

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I read the other day that the average person spends just under $140 on Valentines Day.  This shocked me!  I understand that it’s fun to splurge a few times a year and I am a big fan of celebrating love and budgeting for joy.…but, I really believe this can be done without spending a lot of money.

Our Valentines Day is a celebration that includes my husband and I, and our three children.  I like to include my children because I love them too!  Valentines Day doesn’t have to only be about romantic love, it can be about all types of love!

Because we celebrate as a family my husband and I don’t usually have a typical Valentines date.  BUT!  For those of you who might prefer a date night out, I have some great free date night ideas just for YOU!  I’ll add the links below!

10 Ideas for Date Night at Home

20 FREE Valentine Date Ideas

Family Celebrations

Our Valentines Day may be frugal, but that doesn’t make it any less special.  This is a message I would love for everyone to embrace.  I spend very little money, but our day is just as lovely and fun as ever.  My 6 year old has actually been counting down to the day for weeks (not joking).

Mailbox Love

Technically our valentines day traditions begin a couple of weeks BEFORE February 14th.  Years ago I bought these darling tin mailboxes at the Target dollar spot (I love Target!).  I believe they were about $5 a piece, so not super frugal, but they have lasted us for years, and have been one of my favorite purchases ever (for reals).  I found a similar mailbox on Amazon here.

 

We use these mailboxes to “deliver” little love notes and handmade gifts to each other in the days leading up to Valentines Day.  It warms my heart every single time I watch one of my kids put a kind note into their siblings mailbox.  Real talk…..my kids fight a lot…..so these moments of kindness are just so so special to me.  I’ll usually give them a little pencil, eraser, or some type of treat and a few love notes.

Morning Love

Our Valentines breakfast is always heart shaped pancakes (click here for my fave pancake recipe).  This isn’t anything fancy, and my hearts are never perfectly shaped….but guess what!  My kids never care.  They love their heart pancakes, misshaped and all (kids are pretty awesome this way, aren’t they??).

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School lunchboxes are packed in the morning as usual, with the exception of a few extra goodies.  I throw in a 25 cent box of conversation hearts and a little love note from me.    Although, now that my oldest is 13 and in middle school I might just put her love note in her mailbox rather than the lunchbox….I have learned that teenagers aren’t the biggest fan of mom notes in their lunchboxes….go figure!  😉

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Dinner Love

Decorating is not my forte, but I try to set the dinner table a little fancier for this holiday.  I use our nicest tablecloth (which is really a cheap one I bought from Walmart 8 years ago), I light a few candles, and cut out some red paper hearts to place around the table.

 

I try to keep the dinner simple, yet fun.  One year we had a heart shaped pizza, this year I will be making a chicken pot pie with the top crust decorated as hearts.  The amount of money I spend on dinner is always in my regular weekly grocery budget, so no excess spending here!  Woo!

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Frugal Valentines Gifts

Every year on our dinner table I include a small gift for each of my kids, and something for my husband.  This year I bought them each a small box of chocolates from the Dollar Tree, my daughters both received a small necklace from Jane, and I bought my son a stuffed animal from the Dollar Tree.  My husband is getting a larger sized box of chocolates and a love letter.

 

These aren’t anything fancy and hardly cost me anymore, but the gesture means a lot to my kids and I have found them trying to follow my example.  The past few years my kids have been making their own little valentine gifts, and they secretly place these on the table before dinner.

If you are needing a more Valentines Day Gift ideas, I have a few guides listed below:

10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10

10 Valentines gifts for him under $10!

Gift Ideas for Teen Girls under $25

25 Gift Ideas for Tween Girls; all under $25!

25 Gift Ideas for 5-7 year old boys under $25

Mothers Day Gift Guide: 15 FREE Gift Ideas

 

This is what Valentines is all about!  Not feeling sorry for yourself if you don’t have a special romance, not spending a fortune to prove your love to someone, it’s about spending time and thought to give service and love to someone you care about.

I was going to buy some strawberries and chocolate for an after dinner dessert and activity, but it honestly didn’t fit in this weeks grocery budget, so I didn’t.  I felt a little sad, because I knew the kids would’ve really enjoyed some chocolate dipped strawberries.  But, I ultimately decided they will have just as special of a day without that one activity.

What does Valentines look like at your house?  Share a few of your celebrations in the comments.  I would love to hear all about it!

 

 

 

You might be interested in a few of my other Valentines Posts:

Yarn Hearts: An Easy Valentine Craft for Kids

Chocolate Dipped Valentine Cookies Recipe

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Christmas Tree Cookie Recipe

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

One of my favorite Christmas Traditions as a young girl was my mom making these delicious Christmas Tree Cookies!  I knew it was Christmastime when I came home to these delicious treats after school.

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My mom is no longer living, so I have continued on the tradition by making them for my kids.  They are SO easy and I love the hint of almond flavor!

One of the best parts of making Christmas Tree Cookies is getting to use this fun Wilton Cookie Press.  It’s really easy to use, and you can usually find one under $10!  It comes with a dozen different plates with fun shapes for cookies.  All you have to do is fill it with the cookie dough, turn it upside down and press the trigger!  Out comes a cute little tree.

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Christmas Tree Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

green food coloring

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together in mixer.

Beat in egg and almond extract.

Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Gradually add to mixer.

Add a few drops of green food coloring.  Mix well.

Fill Cookie Press with dough and insert the tree plate.

Use Cookie Press to make cookies on ungreased cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with red sprinkles.

Bake in hot oven for 8 minutes.

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They are so easy!  Your kids will look forward to them every year, I promise!

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Christmas Gift Ideas for Teen Girls under $25

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Are you needing a gift, maybe a Christmas present or a birthday present, for the teen girl in your life?  Are you on a budget and don’t want to overspend?

Well you have come to the right place!  I have researched all of the best gifts for teen girls!  The best part?  Everything is under $25, so you can stick to that budget!

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Gifts for Fun

This Karaoke Microphone would be so fun for some teen girl parties or for anyone who loves to sing!  It is compatible with both android and iOS.  It is only $24.99.

 

Adult Coloring Books are so fun and relaxing.  I loved the inspirational sayings in this book.  Every teen (and adult!) needs a good motivational quote every now and then!  this coloring book is a really good deal at $6.22.

What teen girl wouldn’t love a itunes gift card.  This way she can pick and choose what she wants!  You can decide how much money you want on your gift card, with the lowest gift card at $25.

Amazon.com gift card design

Let’s face it, teens love to take pictures!  This Phone Tripod looks so fun for setting up cute group photos or selfies.  It is currently only $13.98!

Accessories

CC Beanies are all the rage right now with teen girls.  These darling CC beanies are only $8.99, with dozens of colors to choose from.

Trendy Warm Chunky Soft Stretch Cable Knit Slouchy Beanie Skully HAT20A, Teal

 

These blanket scarves are so popular right now and would be perfect for the cold months.  This one is less than $15, and there are many other color options to choose from.

Bess Bridal Women's Plaid Blanket Winter Scarf Warm Cozy Tartan Wrap Oversized Shawl Cape (One Size, Camel)

I never thought scrunchies would come back, but they did, and are super popular with the teen crowd right now!  These Scrunchies are darling and only $12.99.

KECUCO 12A Colors Women's Chiffon Flower Hair Scrunchies Hair Bow Chiffon Ponytail Holder,Including 8 Colors Chiffon Flower Hair Scrunchies and 4A Solid Colors Chiffon Hair Ties (STYLE 1)

I’ve seen so many people wearing a bag similar to this Mini Backpack Purse.  They are really cute, and a fun alternative to the traditional purse.  This backpack is only $24.99!

 

Beauty Gifts

This set of bath bombs comes with 6 different scents and colors.  It’s a fun “luxury” gift for your teen.  The entire set is only $12.99

Aprilis Large Bath Bombs Gift Set, Organic and Natural Bath Bomb, Lush Fizzy Spa to Moisturize Dry Skin, Perfect Handmade Birthday Gift Ideas for Women Best Friends, Girlfriend and Kids, 6 x 4.0 oz

This Tabletop Makeup Mirror would be such a fun gift to receive as a teenage girl.  I was excited to see the price was only $22.49!

What teen girl wouldn’t like a makeup kit???  This one includes a little bit of everything; blush, lip gloss, and eye shadow.  It is only $10.35!

SHANY Glamour Girl Makeup Kit - 48 Eyeshadow/4 Blush/6 Lip Glosses

This 20 Piece Makeup Brush Set is a great deal at only $7.99.  You will never want for a makeup brush again!

EmaxDesign 20 Pieces Makeup Brush Set Professional Face Eye Shadow Eyeliner Foundation Blush Lip Makeup Brushes Powder Liquid Cream Cosmetics Blending Brush Tool

I love the colors in this Gel Nails Set.  This kit is the perfect way to get beautiful gel nails, but for only $17.99 it is at a fantastic price.

 

Gellen Gel Nail Polish Set - Nude Gray Series 6 Colors Nail Art Gift Box, Soak Off UV LED Gel Polish Kit 8ml

This Curling Wand has over 7,000 positive reviews and makes the most beautiful curls.  It is currently only $21.73!

Remington Pro 1-1½” Curling Wand with Pearl Ceramic Technology and Digital Controls, CI9538

When you are not wanting to curl your hair, this Hair Straightener is amazing!  My daughter has had this same one for a couple of years, and I love it.  (yes, I might “borrow” it from time to time!  😉 )  It’s very easy to use, and works great!  It is a great deal at $19.99.

Anjou Hair Straightener Brush with Anion Hair Care Electric Ceramic Heating Straightening Brush

I have had an ipsy Subscription off and on for 4ish years now.  It is a fun beauty subscription service where they will send you 5 beauty products and a cute makeup bag every month for only $10!  When you set up the subscription service you will feel out a form detailing what types of beauty products you would prefer, your coloring and more.  This would be a fun gift for a teen girl to receive, even if you only sign up for 2-3 months worth of subscription.  It’s a great way to learn new makeup skills and try out new products.

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Books

I bought this hair styling book for my daughter last Christmas.  She loved it!  It gives easy to follow instructions for fixing hair.  It is currently $12.98

The Fault in our Stars is a story of a sweet teen romance. It has been a best seller for a few years.  The paperback is just $7.59

Keeper of the Lost Cities:  Flashback is the newest (just released in November) of the hit series Keeper of the Lost Cities.  If your daughter is a fan of this series, she would be thrilled to receive this newest book.  It is currently priced at $13.24.

Room Decor

I love this Bluetooth Nightlight.  It has so many functions including night light, speaker, handsfree calling and more.  For only $18.95 it really is a great deal!

SHAVA Night Light Bluetooth Speaker, Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speakers, Touch Control, Color LED Speaker, Bedside Table Light, Speakerphone/TF Card/AUX-in Supported (White), 7

Felt Boards are super trendy right now!  Most teen girls would love having them in their room to be able to make fun and cute sayings.  It is only $20.99!

You can choose any letter you want with the Marquee Letter Sign.  It would make such a fun room accessory!  It is currently only $12.99.

 

Practical Gifts

This Duffel/Sports Bag comes in a dozen different colors.  My daughter has been wanting a bag like this to carry her sports gear to school, it would also be great for a teen that is on the go or traveling.  This bag is $23.99.

I love the rich colors on these Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottles.  They are practical and cute!  These water bottles are currently $15.95.

It’s always fun to change up the look on your cell phone.  These marble Cell Phone Cases are only $8.99, and have a few different designs and colors to choose from.

 

You might be interested in a few of my other gift lists!

25 Gift Ideas for 5-7 year old boys under $25

10 Valentines gifts for him under $10!

10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10

25 Gift Ideas for Tween Girls; all under $25!

Affiliate · Amazon · Bargain Buys · Birthday · Fabulous DEALS Friday · Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Gift Ideas · Parenting

25 Gift Ideas for Tween Girls; all under $25!

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Tween girls can be hard to shop for!  They are growing out of the little girl toys, but not quite interested in the teen girl life.  My tween daughters have consistently been the hardest to shop for!

I did some research and compilied a list of 25 AMAZING gift ideas for tween girls.  The best part???  They are all under $25!  Yay!

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Gifts for Reading

Keeper of the Lost Cities:  Flashback is the newest (just released in November) of the Keeper of the Lost Cities Series.  This is a really popular series and is currently priced at $13.24.

I absolutely love the concept of Wreck This Journal.  Each page gives different prompts of things you can do to the journal.  It literally gives the kids permission to “wreck” the journal.  It sounds so so fun and only $12.00.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap is such a darling book!  Both of my daughters absolutely loved it; AND it is a series!  That is a huge win for me!  The paperback book is $5.99.

Tween Accessories/Jewelry/etc.

Unicorns are super popular among the tween crowd!  These Unicorn Slippers are so sweet and fun.  The price varies depending on size, but is between $11.99 and $19.99.

Unicorn Animal Fleece Slippers | Indoor Outdoor Home Slippers | Cozy Plush Memory Foam

I never thought scrunchies would come back, but they did, and I am actually not mad about it!  These Scrunchies are darling and only $12.99.

KECUCO 12A Colors Women's Chiffon Flower Hair Scrunchies Hair Bow Chiffon Ponytail Holder,Including 8 Colors Chiffon Flower Hair Scrunchies and 4A Solid Colors Chiffon Hair Ties (STYLE 1)

My daughters go to nail polish is always the Essie brand.  These colors are beautiful and the polish is easy to use.  This set of 4 is $18.00.

essie Spring 2018 Nail Polish Collection, Set of 4

This faux leather jewelry box is a beautiful shade of blue and a perfect beginner jewelry box for a tween girl.  At $15.58 it is a great price!

I adore this dainty initial necklace.  It would make such a special gift!  The necklace is a great price at $14.99.

MignonandMignon Gold Initial Necklace Initial Pendant Necklace Graduation Gift Personalized Necklace (M) - RCIN

Gifts for the Room

Felt Boards are super trendy right now!  This would be so fun in a tween girls room.  It is only $20.99!

You can choose any letter you want with the Marquee Letter Sign.  It would make such a fun room accessory!  It is currently only $12.99.

It’s no secret that teens love emojis.  This emoji pillow is sure to be a hit!  It is currently priced at $7.99.

I always wanted a lava lamp as a young girl.  There is something so relaxing about watching the colors move and change.  This Lava Lamp has really pretty colors are costs $13.34.

It’s so fun for kids to have their own alarm clock, and a great way to teach responsibility.  This Alarm Clock is adorable and only $12.99.

Educational/Craft Gifts

Help your tween feel a little more grown up with an Adult Coloring Book.  I loved the inspirational sayings in this book and it is a really good deal at $6.22.

Now a days, tweens can never have to much slime!  Here is a a fun Glow in the Dark Slime Pack with fun neon colors!  This 12 pack is only $13.99.

How fun does this Lip Balm Kit look?  It is a fun mix of science of pre-teen glam.  The reviews are all really positive and would be a fun activity to do together.  It is priced at $17.51.

MindWare Science Academy (Lip Balm)

American Girl just can do no wrong!  This American Girl Baking Cookbook is darling and looks so fun.  It would be a great way for tween girls to learn to bake.

This American Girl Sketch Book looks so fun for learning how to draw, and being able to use some creativity with fashion design.  It is currently priced at $12.65.

Gel pens are so fun, and this kit has 100 colors including glitter and metallic.  I know my tween would love having all of the many color options!  The kit costs $19.99.

 

It is NEVER to early to teach kids the importance of saving money.  I love this Savings Bank that offers the options of save, spend and share.  It is only $17.99.

Gifts for Fun

This Karaoke Microphone would be so fun for girl parties or for anyone who loves to sing!  It is compatible with both android and iOS and it is only $24.99.

My tween daughter always asks for a Squishy.  They are a great stress relief, and fun for kids who need to keep their hands busy.  This squishy is $6.38, and their are a lot of other cute options.

I always wanted my very own gumball machine as a kid.  This cute Gumball Machine comes with gumballs already stocked and is only $20.99.

My daughters LOVE their roller blades.  They spend more time roller blading than riding their bikes.  I was excited to find these Roller Blades for only $22.49!

This Family Version of Wits and Wagers is so fun for all ages.  It is a huge hit in our family!  I was happy to see it is just under $20 at $19.99.

 

You might also be interested in my other gift guides:

Christmas Gift Ideas for Teen Girls under $25

25 Gift Ideas for 5-7 year old boys under $25

10 Valentines gifts for him under $10!

10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10

Affiliate · Amazon · Bargain Buys · Birthday · Fabulous DEALS Friday · Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Gift Ideas · Holidays · Parenting

25 Gift Ideas for 5-7 year old boys under $25

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

My goal for giving gifts is to find good quality gifts that will be loved for years, without spending very much money.  This is not always an easy task, but it is possible!

Today I researched gifts for 5-7 year old boys.  I was able to find 25 fun gifts, all under $25!

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Gifts for Reading

The Monster at the End of This Book is actually one of my favorite children’s books!  It is such a fun, interactive story that brings a laugh with every turn of the page.  It is a GREAT price at $4.44.

The Book With No Pictures is so much fun!  Each page is filled with silly words that “must” be read exactly as shown.  It’s impossible to read it without laughing!  It is worth the $13.99!

My son loves looking through the I Spy books.  With all the detail in every picture, it provides hours of entertainment.  It is a great price at $10.73.

Educational Gifts

I have heard so many positive things about this Snap Circuits set.  It is educational, fun, and has over 5,000 positive reviews.  This is actually the gift I bought my 6 year old.  It is currently priced at $20.99.

This Science Kit can provide hours of fun for you and your son to enjoy together.  It is educational, rewarding, and fun.  It;s currently on sale for $15.42.

I love this educational LEGO craft kit.  It involves building, planning, and experimenting.  It teaches you how to build 10 different moving machines with all pieces needed included.  This is a great toy for helping kids learn, while they are having fun!  It is only $14.89!

This How to Draw book is perfect for a child who is interested in drawing.  The shapes are all easy to draw and understand, making it perfect for a young beginner.  It is just $4.99!

Sport Gifts

Here is a fun Over the Door Basketball Hoop for a fun game of bball in the house.  It is $19.99 and includes a ball.

 

Do you have a soccer lover?  This Soccer Goal Net would be a fun gift to help them practice their newly learned skills and get them outside staying active.  It is currently on sale for just $19.99!

Gifts for Play

Remote control anything is always a sure bet with young boys.  This Remote Control Car is extra special with the flashing lights.  It is on a great sale right now at $24.95.

How fun would these Walkie Talkies be for your sweet boy?  The reviews are all fantastic and they are only $23.99.

Magformers is one of my favorite toys for kids.  It’s a great educational toy for kids to use their imagination and STEM knowledge.  But, at the same time, it’s also fun…..so they don’t even know they are learning!  This is a small beginner set and costs $16.97.

When it comes to boys, you can never go wrong with a LEGO set.  Honestly though, LEGOS are expensive.  I found this LEGO City set a few months ago and really felt like it was an excellent value at $23.99.

How cute is this Kids Tool Set?  My little boy just loves pulling out his toy tools and “helping” dad around the house.  This set costs $19.99.

My son received these Night Vision Goggles for Christmas last year and absolutely LOVED them!  He was so cute playing “spy” with them.  They are only $14.99!

This Nerf Gun has over 4,000 positive reviews and comes with 6 darts.  It could provide hours of fun for any little boy!  It is priced at $12.99.

Drones are so fun, but they can be expensive!  This Mini Drone is a good price and would make such a fun toy!  It is only $23.98!

This Flexible Race Track is a FAVORITE in our house.  The tracks are easy to snap together and fun to change the design over and over.  It is a good price at $24.95!

This Robo Shooter Robot looks so fun!  Not only does it walk and move, it also shoots frisbees!  I was happy to find it on sale for just $24.99.

I love these Boogie Boards.  They are similar to a white board and chalkboard, but easier to erase and so much less mess.  My kids absolutely love them!  We use them on car trips, during church, and for playing at home.  This Boogie Board is $21.97.

The Star Wars craze is back, and not going anywhere anytime soon.  This 2 Pack Light Sabers are perfect for a friendly duel.  You can also attach them together to make a dual saber!  So fun.  This two pack is $23.94.

This is a perfect beginner Transformer for young boys.  It is easy to transform from action figure to vehicle and is sure to be a big hit.  As far as transformers go, this one is an excellent price at $14.99.

Games

Our Family LOVES the game Spot It.  I was really excited to find a Spot It Jr. for our little one.  This game is so easy to learn and play, and so addicting!  It is only $7.99.

Spot It! JR. Animals

Connect 4 is a classic game, and for good reason!  It is fun to play and a great beginner game.  It is only $8.77.

I have heard SO many positive things about the game Exploding Kittens.  It sounds like a huge hit for young kids and I’ve been really wanting to try it out.  It sounds like a huge hit for boys especially.  It is only $19.99.

 

You might also be interested in my other gift guides:

25 Gift Ideas for Tween Girls; all under $25!

Christmas Gift Ideas for Teen Girls under $25

10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10

10 Valentines gifts for him under $10!

Bargain Buys · Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Grocery Haul

Grocery Haul 9/10

Hello all you frugal grocery shoppers!  I’m excited to start sharing some of my grocery hauls!  I get asked a lot what we eat and how I shop, so I want to share with you what is a part of my weekly budget.

I probably won’t share ALL my grocery trips, but I will try to share some from time to time.

This week I went to Walmart Grocery Pickup (which, FYI, is the best invention ever) and to Smiths to take advantage of their case lot sale.  I spent a total of $80.

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I bought granola bars from Smiths.  We will be making smores this week so I bought and marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers for that.

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Peanut Butter from Smiths Case lot sale.

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Mt produce this week consisted of bananas, apples, mandarin oranges, carrots, onion, garlic, and lettuce.

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I was able to get this milk for free as part of a promotion.  I also bought butter, cheese, and greek yogurt.

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In the meat department I bought a bag of chicken breasts and a pork shoulder roast.

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I struggled keeping in budget this week!  There were so many great deals at the case lot sale and I had to really limit myself.

Bargain Buys · Date Night · Finances · Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Money Helps

5 Easy Ways We Cut Costs While Eating Out

My husband and I do not eat out very often.  We both learned years ago that we are able to save such a huge amount of money simply by eating at home.  We still enjoy eating out occasionally, we just try to do so frugally.

It is possible to enjoy eating out at restaurants from time to time, even while being on a tight budget.  The most important thing is to include the expense in your monthly budget and try to cut out a few common restaurant costs.

Here are the 5 ways we try to cut the costs when we eat out:

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1.  Eat Out For Lunch

Go out to eat for lunch instead of dinner. A lot of places will have cheaper lunch options to choose from. You will also be much more likely to order a cheaper meal, such as a sandwich or salad if it’s during lunch time.

2.  Skip all the Extras

Order water instead of ordering a drink. I will usually request a lemon in my water so I feel like I’m getting something slightly fancy. 😉  Always skip the appetizer and desserts as well.  They are both very overpriced.  Try to order a big meal to fill up on instead.

3.  Shop the Deals

Become familiar with your local restaurant deals. A lot of restaurants will have kids eat free nights. Our favorite Italian restaurant offers buy one entree get one free during a certain day of the week. Find out the deals in your neighborhood and plan your outings around those days.

4.  Split the Meal

Only eat half of your entree and take the rest home for another meal. This way you get two meals for one price.  Or, you could split the entree with a spouse or friend.  Most restaurants will be more than happy to serve you one meal with two plates.

5.  ⠀Turn an Appetizer into a Meal

Consider ordering an appetizer instead of an entree.  Appetizers are usually much cheaper than entrees and still provide a large amount of food.  Look for a restaurant with a trio appetizer for a well rounded meal.

It is possible to still enjoy eating out at restaurants while on a tight budget.  It takes a little self control and some planning, but it is still possible.

What are some of your fave tips for eating at a restaurant while on a budget???? Share below in the comments, I always need fresh ideas!⠀

Affiliate · Amazon · Bargain Buys · Farmhouse · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Homemade · Recipes

How to Make the Perfect Zoodles

Sweet Frugal Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

My zucchini plants have been generous this year, and I have loved cooking with this delicious vegetable!  Zucchini is one of my favorite veggies because, it’s the vegetable that just keeeeeps on giving, and it is also so versatile!  We have been enjoying zucchini in bread, cookies, on the grill, fried, etc.

One of my very favorite ways to cook zucchini is to turn it into zoodles!  Zoodles is a great, healthier alternative to noodles. (and if you pick the zucchini from your garden….it’s also FREE!)  I will usually serve it under marinara or alfredo sauce, but any of your fave pasta sauces will work great!  If cooked correctly, the zoodles are really not a lot different from regular noodles.  They are also much more filling, with much less calories!  Sometimes my kids don’t even realize what they are eating……emphasis on the sometimes.

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Homemade Zoodles Tutorial

A vegetable spiralizer is my best friend when it comes to homemade zoodles.  I couldn’t find the exact one that I use, but this spiralizer on Amazon is very similar in price and design.  It is also only $15.99, great deal!

First things first, if your zucchini is long, you will want to cut it down into smaller chunks.

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Next, you will need to prep your vegetable spiralizer.  I use the Thin Spiral for my zoodles.  Put your thin spiral attachment in the spiralizer and then stick one of the zuchinni chunks into the middle, in between the handle and the blade.

Now, all you need to do is twist!  This part is so simple (and…kindof fun….really!).  The zucchini will spiral through the blade, be sure to have a plate to catch all the spirals!

You can eat the zoodles raw or cook them over the stove.  I prefer cooking them for a few minutes (don’t worry it is quick!).

Heat up 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil in a sauce pan.  Once the oil is hot, add the zoodles.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss in oil.  Continue to gently toss the zoodles while they cook.  Cook for 2-5 minutes.  I like them to be soft, but also slightly firm.

Serve with your favorite pasta sauce.  ENJOY!!!

 

 

 

 

Bargain Buys · Family · Finances · Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Good Ideas · Money Educatioin · Money Helps · Parenting · Recipes · Walmart Grocery Pickup

What I Learned From the July Pantry Challenge

I am a member of online affiliate programs.  I may receive compensation for purchases made through links in this post.  All opinions are my own and I only recommend things I truly use and love!

I just finished my month long pantry challenge!!  If you’re not aware of the term, a pantry challenge is meant to encourage you to use up items you already have in your home, (pantry, fridge, freezer, shelves, etc.), instead of spending money at the store on groceries.

My goal was to save a little extra money during the month by spending less on groceries.  To do this I decided to cut my regular grocery budget of $400 a month in half.  This would mean I could only spend $200 for our family of five.  This was no easy task and I was incredibly intimidated from the beginning, but I was determined to make it work.

The pantry challenge is now officially over (thank goodness) and I am proud of how the challenge went.  I would LOVE to say that I was able to only spend $200 on groceries….but I didn’t quite accomplish that.  I went over budget by $1.98.  I spent $201.98 on groceries for our family of five….and you know what I am so PROUD of MYSELF!!!

I wanted to share all about how I was able to make it work and what I learned during the process.

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Make a Plan

The ONLY way I could be successful with this pantry challenge was to plan ahead. I’ve always been a meal planner, but I learned quickly I needed to be much more detailed about planning every snack and meal.

At the beginning of each week I looked through my pantry, made an inventory of all our food.  I wrote down the meals and snacks we could make with what we ALREADY had in the house.

I was able to eat out of the pantry exclusively about 50% of the time.  The other 50% of the meals I tried to only plan really frugal meals with only a few cheap ingredients I would need to buy.  This meal planner that I use is available as a Free Printable in my Free Frugal Living Challenge.

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Successful Meal Plans

I listed out a few of the meals and snacks I found to be the most helpful in keeping the grocery costs low.  A few of these recipes (starred) are also available for free in my Frugal Living Challenge.

Breakfasts

*Fluffy Eggs

Pancakes

Eggs and Toast

Oatmeal

*Breakfast Potato Casserole

*Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Lunch

Muffin Tin Lunch

Sandwiches

Salad from Garden

Leftovers

Dinner

*Freezer Burritos

Layered Zuchinni

Spaghetti

*Taco Soup

*Balsamic Chicken

Pasta Bake

*Taco Tortilla Soup

Grilled Chicken

*Korean Beef

*Baked Island Chicken

Snacks

Pretzels

Homemade Cookies

Energy Bites

Popcorn

Canned Fruit

Bananas

Homemade Pudding

Homemade Bread

Grocery Shopping

I am a little obsessed with grocery shopping using Walmart Grocery Pickup (hello, shopping in my PJs and groceries loaded in the car FOR ME!  Sign me up!).

With my $200 monthly grocery budget, I was only allowed $50 a week.  One of my favorite things about Walmart Grocery Pickup is the ability to watch my cart total while I’m shopping.  (I know I COULD use a calculator at the store, but I’m just not great at it….) Being able to see how much I’m spending WHILE I’m shopping was crucial for me during this challenge.

If my cart ever went over the $50 amount I knew I needed to go back through the cart and delete a few items.  This was MUCH harder to do than I had anticipated!  My family all had to sacrifice a few items we were use to having regularly in order to make the month work.

Getting the Family Involved

I would LOVE to tell you that my family was totally on board and excited about my little July Pantry Challenge Experiment……but, they didn’t really love the idea.  When they saw the amount of food I was bringing home with each grocery trip they started complaining about the lack of food.

I tried to get my kids excited about the goal and had them help me make a lot of our homemade snacks.  They liked being able to help and were somewhat excited at the thought of having a challenge.

Unfortunately, this only lasted a couple of weeks.  As the month went on they began to get a really tired of the challenge.  The biggest problem was the snacks.  They are use to having snacks in the pantry, and we just couldn’t have those this month.  I decided to make a list of snacks we did have available and I hung it on the fridge.  This helped them a lot!  I think they had gotten so use to those convenience snacks (not awesome parenting, I know) that they had forgotten about all the other great options we had.

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Even though my family didn’t necessarily ENJOY the pantry challenge, I am really glad they were able to go through it with me.  It was such a good life lesson for my kids to learn about stretching dollars and how much food really costs.

What I learned

My biggest takeaway from the July Pantry Challenge is that I CAN live on less than I usually do. Yes, it took A LOT more effort, (preparing a lot more food from scratch and a lot of time planning), but I CAN do it!  We survived.

Moving forward I have a new sense of motivation to stay in budget, shop my pantry, and really spend with a purpose.  I’ve always told myself the lie that I HAVE to spend money on this food because we NEED it……but, we don’t!  We were just fine having less food around.  I am excited to take this new knowledge and adjust my grocery shopping from here on out.

What’s Next

My pantry challenge is over!  Does this mean I get to spend a lot of money next month restocking my shelves?????  Absolutely NOT!

I will be going back to my regular grocery budget of $400 a month.  I will slowly try to restock my pantry, but I will always stay within that $400 budget.

I honestly was terrified for this challenge!  I really didn’t know if I would be able to meet my goal, $400 a month is usually a little bit of a challenge.  But I did it, and I’m so glad I was willing to try!  If you are wanting to find a way to save a little extra cash, try having your own personal Pantry Challenge.  Be sure to come back and let me know if you did it and how it went!!