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How to Make Your Very Own Pom-Pom Garland

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I recently discovered how to make Pom-Poms out of yarn.  These pom-poms turned out to be incredibly easy to make and so addicting!  My daughters and I spent all evening making pom poms and experimenting with different sizes and techniques.

We decided to turn these yarn pom poms into a cute garland for Valentines Day.  I love how it turned out and am already planning more garlands in other themes and colors!

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These were so fun to make, I thought I would share an easy tutorial with all of you!  I was able to use items I already had at home and didn’t need to spend any money (yay!), but you can find some quality yarn for less than five dollars and it will make hundreds of pom-poms!  I linked one of my favorite yarn brands on Amazon here.

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Take a small string of yarn (the softer yarns seem to work best!) and begin wrapping it around two of your fingers.

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Keep wrapping until the yarn looks a good size.  I just eyeballed it, but I probably twisted the yarn about 70-100 times.

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When the pom-pom looks right, cut the yarn leaving about 6 inches of a tail.  You will then push the tail through your two fingers and pull it out the other side.

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Bring the tail up on top of the yarn and push it through the top of your two fingers.  Pull it tight.

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Now, gently slide the yarn off of your fingers, making sure to keep the yarn pulled tight and kept across the middle.

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Knot the tail and wrap the remaining tail across the other middle, this will form a plus sign.  Pull it tight and knot it.  This will form four sections.  Tie another knot securing the yarn.

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Next, you will need to grab some sharp scissors.  I used my fabric scissors (aka:  “if anyone uses these for anything other than fabric they will be in HUGE trouble” scissors).  Begin cutting the loops apart in each section.  Make sure you do not cut the tied tail.  We only had this happened once, but it’s important to remember.

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Continue cutting all of the loops.  Once finished, it will not look very good and you’ll wonder if you did it right!  You did.  The pom pom just needs some fluffing.  Shake it, separate the pieces and try to fluff it out as best as you can.

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Once your little ball of yarn is all fluffed out it’s time for a haircut!  This is when you will see your pom pom begin to take shape.  Trim the yarn pieces until they are all even.  I also like to cut them fairly short, but not to short.  Play around with it a little bit and you will find the style you like.  My daughters kept theirs a little more long, it’s all personal preference.

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That’s it!  Your pom pom is done!  Isn’t it cute????  The first one takes the longest…..to be honest, I threw away my first five.  But, once I had a little practice I was able to whip them up much quicker.

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Stick some googly eyes on those pom poms and make little monsters for your kids, OR you can string it together to form a cute garland.  I chose the garland.

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After browsing through my house unable to find a string for my garland I resorted to the garage (I was refusing to spend money on this project!).  I found some string in mu husbands stash of “stuff” and it worked really well.  I have also heard that twine or even embroidery thread would work for garland.

Tie a knot at the end of your string and use the string to thread a needle.  You will then stick your needle right through the middle of your pom-pom, pull it along the string until it reaches the knot, and continue until your garland is at the desired length.

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Knot off the end and you are done!  You can hang your yarn pom-pom garland around your house, but we came up with a different idea.

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We decided to decorate one of our little Christmas Trees as a “valentine tree.”  We have been making little crafts for it all month and decided this garland would be the perfect addition!

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Let me know if you make a pom pom garland!  I would love to hear how it went.

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How to Slowly Restock Your Pantry after Completing a Pantry Challenge

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I recently completed an intense Pantry Clean out Challenge.  The goal was to cut my regular monthly grocery budget ($400) in half.  By doing this we would focus on eating the items I already had stocked in my freezer and pantry.

I was fortunate to have had many friends on Instagram join me in this challenge.  I loved watching all of the progress and having a group to encourage each other and share all our frugal ideas.  To find more info about doing your own pantry challenge check out my article; What I Learned From the July Pantry Challenge.

What’s Next?

My most asked question about this challenge has been, “Will you spend a lot of money on groceries in February to restock the pantry?”  The answer is No.  That would defeat the whole purpose of the challenge.  Today’s article is going to explain how I will slowly restock my pantry while staying in budget!

ways to restock your pantry and stay in budget

Here are five ways I slowly restock my pantry:

1.  Budget for the Pantry

I have a weekly budget dedicated to pantry stock up.  This is $15 per week.  This pantry money is taken out of our $100 weekly grocery budget.  Because it has been budgeted and planned for, restocking doesn’t require any extra money or stress.

Some weeks the pantry budget is spent at local sales.  Other times it’s stashed away to save for another week.  It all depends on our current needs.

2.  Buy Multiples

It is very rare for me to buy just one can of soup or one bag of sugar.  The way I see it, if I’m going to buy one item, and I have a few extra dollars in my budget, than I might as well grab a few more.

I do 90% of my shopping using Walmart’s Free Grocery Pick (get $10 off your first order using this link).  I love this service for about 1 million reasons (really.), but a huge reason is the ability to watch my grocery total as I add and subtract items to my order.  Whenever I am below my budgeted $100/week, I will add on a few more pantry staples.  This helps my pantry to grow and keeps me in budget.

3.  Buy in Bulk

Watch for opportunities to buy grocery items in bulk.  Many groceries will be priced much lower if it is bought in bulk.

This could be done by shopping local grocery case lot sales.  To find a case lot sale near you be sure to talk to your local grocer.  In many areas these sales might be called different names or even unadvertised.  So, don’t give up easily, keep digging and talking to grocers!

Another way I love buying in bulk is through a meat co-op.  I have recently started buying my chicken from Savory Butcher.  Their chicken is priced right and are delicious high quality.  If you need some direction of what to do with your bulk chicken read my article; What to do with your bulk chicken; including 6 Freezer Chicken Recipes.

4.  Shop Sales

When you are trying to stock up a pantry, shopping the sales and deals will make this much more budget friendly.  Whenever I find a good deal on one of our many pantry staples, I stock up (even if it wasn’t on my grocery list!).  I do it within my “pantry budget,” and only on items I would normally pay full price for.

My favorite app to check for deals is the Flipp app.  It is completely free to download and extremely user friendly.  The app is updated weekly as the new grocery ads come available.  I browse it every week to find what the sales are and plan my menus/pantry stock up around those deals.  Many weeks I can’t find anything worth buying, but other times I find some really great deals worth buying.

5.  Take Advantage of Cashback

Always, ALWAYS take advantage of the cashback apps available!  These are not huge money savers, but every.single.little.penny adds up.  Whenever I see my husband throwing away a receipt without scanning it for cashback I ask him, “Would you throw 25 cents in the trash???”   Of course he wouldn’t.  But essentially you are losing out on free money if you toss a receipt without first scanning it into the apps.

A few of my favorite cashback apps for grocery shopping are:.

Ibotta:  This is my most used app.  Ibotta offers cashback on hundreds of items every time you scan your grocery receipt.  My favorite cashback offers are the “any brand” items.  These offers include items in the dairy, produce, and other grocery departments.  *If you sign up for Ibotta using my link you will receive an automatic $10!

Checkout 51:  Checkout 51 is similar to Ibotta, in that it gives cashback on participating items when you scan your receipt.  They don’t have as many offers as Ibotta, but it is still always worth checking.                                                                                                                        *If you sign up using this link you will receive $3 when you redeem your first offer.

Fetch Rewards:  Fetch is so easy!  This is by far the most user friendly app.  All you do is scan your receipt and you automatically earn points.  These points can be redeemed for gift cards to just about anywhere.  My favorites are Target and Amazon.  I really like Fetch because you can redeem your points at as low at $3.                                                          *Use the code: W1CTU for an automatic 2,000 points when signing up.

I will be using each of these 5 strategies as I restock my pantry AND stick to my normal budget.  I’m not perfect when it comes to a grocery budget, but I’m trying!  Just like I know we all are!

What do you do to stock your pantry AND stay in budget?  I would love to hear all about it in the comments!

Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Good Ideas · Homemade · Recipes

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe

My friend shared this whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffin recipe with me years ago and I have been hooked on them ever since!  We eat them for breakfast, for after school snacks and I add them in my kids’ school lunches.

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These muffins are quick and easy to make, fairly healthy thanks to the whole wheat.  They are also super easy to make a large batch to freeze for later….and my ENTIRE family LOVES them.  So, basically just a win all around!

I will usually double the recipe and put half of them in the freezer.  To freeze you simply place the baked muffins in a ziplock freezer bag and throw them (or I guess gently place them….either way works 😉 ) into the freezer.

When you are ready to eat the muffins, just take them out of the freezer and thaw on the counter.  You can even just pop them into the microwave for a minute if you don’t want to wait for them to thaw.  (this is my kids’ fave trick!)

whole wheat banana chocolate chips muffins (1)

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 eggs

1/4 cup honey

3 ripe bananas mashed

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg together until smooth.

Add the eggs, honey and mashed bananas.  Beat well.

Next, mix in the flour and chocolate chips.

Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full.

Bake for 23-28 minutes.

This recipes yields 12 regular sized muffins.

You might be interested in a few of my other recipes:

Light and Fluffy Pancake Recipe

Homemade Graham Cracker Recipe

Quick and Easy Overnight Oatmeal
Continue reading “Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe”

Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Homemade · Parenting · Recipes

Light and Fluffy Pancake Recipe

I love to make my kids pancakes for breakfast!  They are easy to whip up, VERY cheap to make, and always a huge hit with everyone in my family.  The only problem is that I am extremely picky about my pancakes!

I have spent YEARS (seriously.) trying dozens and dozens of different pancake recipes.  Some have been to sweet, others have ingredients I don’t commonly have in my house.  A few of the recipes had pancakes turn out way to flat.

I came across this recipe about 8 years ago…and we haven’t looked back since!  The pancakes are easy to make, ingredients are always stocked in my cupboards, and they turn out light and fluffy every single time!  It is a winner!

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Light and Fluffy Pancake Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups flour

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

4 tsp baking powder

2/3 cup oil

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk you can use milk, but I recommend buttermilk)

Instructions

In a large bowl stir all of the dry ingredients together.  In a separate bowl mix the oil, eggs and milk.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until mixed.

Pour 1/4 cup batter on hot griddle.  Bake until bubbles appear.  turn.  Bake the other side until golden brown.

Enjoy!

These pancakes are also so easy to freeze!  Find out how here:  Stock Piling your Freezer: How to freeze Pancakes for a Quick Frugal Breakfast

You might also enjoy my overnight oats recipe:  Quick and Easy Overnight Oatmeal

 

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Stock Piling your Freezer: How to freeze Pancakes for a Quick Frugal Breakfast

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for all ages

I really think my mom was supermom.  Granted, I didn’t think that when I was growing up….but now that I have become a mom myself, I am able to look back and realize just how hard she worked for our family.

I feel fairly confident when I say that many of you are supermoms as well.  You wake up early, spend all day serving your family, and go to bed late worrying about your kids.  My goal is to be supermom!  I fail about everyday, but I continue to try!

One of the many “supermom” traits from my mom was her willingness to make us a hot breakfast every single morning before school.  I knew that when I walked upstairs after getting dressed the table would be set, and a fresh warm breakfast would be served.  I TRY to do the same with my kids….but I REALLY struggle some mornings to find the energy and motivation.

I’ve recently started batch cooking many breakfast items and stocking up my freezer for quick breakfasts for my kids before they head out the door for school.

Making large batches of pancakes not only saves me time in the morning…it is also a VERY frugal breakfast!  You can spend 30 minutes one afternoon each week making a large batch of pancakes for the freezer, or the next time you make pancakes for breakfast simply double the batch and freeze the extras!  Here’s how!

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Make your pancakes following your favorite pancake recipe.  You can find my fave recipe here!  Let them cool completely.

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Place pancakes on a cookie sheet in a single layer making sure the sides aren’t touching.

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While the pancakes are in the freezer you can prepare your freezer bags.  All this takes is writing what “pancakes” and the date on the bag.

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Put the cookie sheets in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Once frozen take the pancakes off of the cookie sheets and place them all in your freezer bag.  It can be full as large as you need to.  Because you pre-froze them, they should be easy to break apart when you need to use them.

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Stick the bag of pancakes in the freezer and you are done!  Yay!  Easy peasy!

When you are ready to use the pancakes, simply take out the number of pancakes you need and microwave them until they are warm.  I usually microwave them for about a minute.

These are also easy for the kids to get out of the freezer themselves!  If I’m busy getting ready in the morning I sometimes tell my oldest to get out a few pancakes for all of the kids.

You might be interested in my other INCREDIBLY easy and frugal breakfast recipe:  Quick and Easy Overnight Oatmeal.

 

 

 

Affiliate · Amazon · Finances · Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Good Ideas · Money Educatioin · Money Helps · Side Hustle · Walmart Grocery Pickup

Budgeting for Beginners: FAQ

Disclosure:  “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.”

I receive so many messages on a daily basis from people wanting to start managing their money and living frugally, but they don’t know how to take that first step.  I admire everyone who wants to improve on their life and financial situation, it can be scary trying to make such a big change into the unknown.  I decided it was time for a FAQ article for all you brave beginners.

I asked my followers on instagram for all their budget beginner questions and today I will be answering a few of those.

A great place to start for a beginner is with my Free 14 Day Frugal Living Challenge.  This is a challenge made specifically for those just starting to manage money and live frugally.  This will give you a good starting place and should help you develop frugal habits.

FAQ for budget beginners2

Where do I begin?

The best place to begin is your budget.  It is vital you have a working budget.

If you are new to budgeting, it might take you a while to figure out just how much money to budget for each category.  This is normal!  A budget is fluid, meaning it is always changing.  The budget below is one that I made as a free printable.  It has many of the categories I use in my personal budget and is also easy to customize and add your own.  This (along with the spending tracker below) is available for free in my 14 Day Frugal Living Challenge.

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You will also need to begin tracking all of your expenses.  This helps you keep your budget accurate, and gives you a great window into your spending habits.  By tracking your spending habits, you will be able to see what areas you are over spending in and areas you could cut back.

A great resource, and the book that completely changed my financial views, is Dave Ramseys book, The Total Money Makeover.  Check it out from your library, borrow it from a friend, or order it from Amazon.  No matter how you get it, I HIGHLY recommend everyone read it.  Dave Ramsey uses easy to understand terms as explains exactly how to fix your financial situation.

What is the best way to keep track of day to day spending?

There are a few different ways of doing this.  It doesn’t quite matter HOW, it just matters that you do it and that you stay consistent.

For years we used an excel spreadsheet that my husband made.  It took quite a bit of work for him to put it together, but it worked out really well.

About 7 years ago we discovered You Need a Budget.  It is so user friendly and very affordable.  You can download the app onto your phone and update it as you spend.  This is not sponsored in any way, we REALLY do love it!  A similar program is Every Dollar, I have never tried it, but have heard lots of good things.

There is also the good ol’ standard paper and pen method.  I’ve never tried this method, but I do know other people who enjoy it!

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When tracking spending it is important to stay consistent.  Pick a day of the week, schedule a time, and develop a routine for tracking your spending.  We do it every Monday evening.  We save all of our receipts and go through each item one by one and write it down.  It is not necessary to write EVERYTHING down, for example:  when buying groceries, just write groceries and the amount.  There is no need to write down bread and bananas, etc.

You could track your spending daily on your phone, or weekly like we do.  Try a few different things until you find a good fit for you.

How do you start the envelope system?

Using cash envelopes is a great way to limit your spending.  I have an article written all about how to get started and the benefits you’ll gain.  You can check it out at The Envelope Money System: A Beginners Guide.

How do you make a grocery budget?

My grocery budget has been all over the place.  When I first started budgeting, I set the grocery budget FAR to low.  I kept going way over the budgeted amount and couldn’t figure out how to cut the costs down.  I finally decided that I needed to budget more money for our weekly groceries.

I tell this story to give you encouragement that all budgets, but especially grocery budgets, are trial and error.  It might (and probably will) take you a few months before you have the best budget for you.

While you are tracking your spending you should be able to see how much you are normally spending on groceries.  This gives you a good ballpark figure to begin with.  If you feel it is unnecessary spending, you can try to slowly bring the budget down week by week until you get it to a place you feel comfortable with.

How do you minimize grocery costs?

Groceries are one of the biggest expenses for most budgets.  This is one of my personal struggles.

The number one way I have found to keep those costs low is to meal plan.  Plan out every meal you want to eat for the week.  As you meal plan, write out your grocery list, and stick to this list while you shop.  I’ve found using Walmart Grocery Pickup has helped me to stick to my list, AND my budget.

A few other ways to lower grocery costs are to cook from scratch (avoid convenience foods), shop sales, and use the cashback apps regularly.

What are the easiest apps for frugal beginners?

I love cashback apps!  Long gone are the days when you have to sift through ads and cut out coupons, now all you need is a receipt and an app on your phone!  I actually love these apps so much I already have an article written about all my favorites.  You can find it here:  My Favorite Cashback Apps.

What should my budget look like?  What is normal for our family?

No two budgets will look the same.  My normal will be different than your normal.  What I spend on groceries, will be different then what you will spend on groceries, etc.  This is one of my favorite parts of a budget.  You can customize it and find something that works for you personally!

I prefer a zero based budget.  Start with the amount of money you expect to make for the pay period.  Then, using your budget, find a spot for every single one of those dollars.  Keep budgeting until you have “spent” on paper every dollar of your paycheck.

This WILL take some adjustments and some TIME.  Focus more on giving every dollar a place in your budget, and less about how it compares to other budgets.  Again, I recommend Dave Ramseys, Total Money Makeover book.  He gives good advice about how much your percentage you should be spending in each category.

Coming Soon:  I am currently working on an article to share my personal percentages in each category.  Hopefully this can help you get an idea of where to start.

What can you do when you cut back, budget and still don’t have enough?

I loved this question; because it is such relatable and real situation for many of us.

My first piece of advice is to keep your head up!  You are NOT alone!  There are so many dealing with similar struggles.  I strongly believe that together, we CAN help each other reach our financial goals.  Reach out to facebook groups and instagram accounts that discuss this issue.  Surrounding yourself with others in this situation should give you the strength, support and ideas to help get you through it.

I love Dave Ramseys quote to be “gazelle intense.”  When you have done EVERYTHING you can think of and the money is just still NOT adding up, that means it’s time to take more extreme actions.  Here are a few ideas to take when you need to be “gazelle intense.”

  1.  Sell items in your home (see 10 Items In Your House You Can Sell Quickly To Make Money  and 5 Places Online To Sell Your Clutter and Earn Cash).
  2. Start a side hustle.  Is their a side job you could take on to earn some extra money?  Google side hustles ideas and you should be able to find a good variety of ideas.
  3. Look through that budget one more time, what else could you sacrifice?  Could you cancel your tv subscription, quit eating out, lower your phone data plan, cut out all entertainment, etc.  None of these things are FUN, but they might be necessary in this situation.  Here is an article where I share What we cut from our budget to save over $2500 a year.
  4. Could you ask for a raise?  Would it be beneficial to make a job change?
  5. What could you downgrade?  Perhaps trade in your car for a cheaper model or move into a more affordable home?

I understand it is NOT easy when the money just ISN’T there.  ESPECIALLY when you feel as if you have sacrificed again, and again and again.  I get it.  I have been there!  Keep your head up.  Keep trying.  Be “gazelle intense.”  I believe in you!

FAQ from Budget Beginners (2)

I hope these questions and answers helped you in some way as you begin the exciting, yet sometimes difficult world of budgeting.  It’s never easy to develop new habits and start fresh.  Most things in life that are hard, and the ones worth doing.  I can guarantee keeping track of your finances are one of those things.

 

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!⠀

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

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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!!

Finances · Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Good Ideas · Money Educatioin · Money Helps · Side Hustle

10 Items In Your House You Can Sell Quickly To Make Money

Did you see my post 5 Places Online To Sell Your Clutter and Earn Cash?  I am a HUGE fan of selling ALLLL of my house hold clutter (because let’s be honest, there’s a lot of clutter) and making some quick and easy money.  I make the goal to sell a few items every month.  It’s not a huge money maker for me, but it gives me a little extra spending money!

I’ve had a few people comment to me that they just have “nothing to sell.”  I truly believe EVERYONE can find SOMETHING (probably even a few things) to sell.  The more desperate you are to earn some money the more likely you’ll find something.

Today I am sharing a few household items that will usually sell quickly.  I am hoping these ideas will inspire a few people and help you brainstorm what YOU have in YOUR house to sell.

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10 Household Items You Can Sell Easily

1.  Children’s Clothes

Children’s clothes are ALWAYS a hot item to sell online.  Clothes will need to be in good condition (no stains or rips) in order to have a good chance of selling.  Brand names (think Gymboree, Gap, etc.) will sell best.

2.  Furniture

Used furniture is a GREAT sell.  There is always someone wanting to buy.  The great thing about selling furniture is that it doesn’t matter if the furniture is older or newer, you will most likely be able to sell it.  There is a different market for all types of furniture.  The older items will usually be bought by someone looking for a DIY project and the newer by someone looking for a good deal.

3.  Electronics

Do you have an old phone or ipad laying around?  Or maybe a computer that doesn’t work anymore?  Electronics is a popular item to buy/sell used.  Phones are so expensive to buy new which makes for a lot of people jumping on the opportunity to buy a cheaper used phone.  Try selling your non working electronics as well!  There are a lot of people out there who will buy something that doesn’t work so they can use the parts out of it.

4.  Baby Items

Baby items are some of my FAVORITE things to sell.  High chairs, strollers, bumbo seats, cribs, bouncers, etc.  These are all hot items to buy used.  Use a magic eraser and washcloth to clean them up for an easier sell.

5.  Kids Toys

If your kids are anything like mine, you probably have toys laying around that never get used.  Clean those toys up and sell them!  Popular items include plastic play toys (such as play kitchens and slides), barbies, hot wheels tracks, etc.

6.  Tools

Do you have a garage full of tools like I do?  Look through all those tools (or ask your husband to do this) and find a few that haven’t been used in months (or maybe years???).  We have been able to sell MOST of the tools we have tried, but not all.

7.  Decorations

Search your house and try to find a few household decorations you could part with.  Maybe your style has changed or you just want to scale back a little bit on the decor.  Either way, there is always someone looking to update their home and will love getting a good deal on used decor!

8.  Clothing

Look through your closet (or your husbands closet) and find a few items that haven’t been worn for weeks.  Sell them!  If you’re not wearing something regularly, there’s no reason to save it in your closet.  I’ve sold shirts, pants, shoes, etc. If the price is right, it will most likely sell.  Be sure to get out all stains before trying to sell any clothing.

9.  Holiday Decorations

I have WAY to many boxes of holiday decorations.  I have found that all I really need are a few favorite pieces and the rest of the holiday decorations are just not necessary.  List these items for sale about 3-5 weeks before the actual holiday.  This will increase your chances of being able to make a sale.

10.  Outdoor/Yard Items

Do you have a swing set that rarely gets used? Maybe a hose that just seems to sit around.  I have always been successful in selling outdoor items.  Things like bikes, slides, lawn mowers, sports equipment, etc. all sell really well.  Look through all of your yard/outdoor items and if you find anything that seems to take up more space than necessary, sell it!  Try doing this during the late spring months when everyone is anxious to get outside.

 

What did I miss?  What are some of the items you sell that are always bought quickly? Share below in the comments so we have even more ideas!