Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How lost I am without my weekly menu!

For the last few weeks, I have not been making out a weekly menu. I tried the week we got back from our mini vacation but definitely didn't follow it. If it's not a food aversion, I don't have the energy to cook something. I actually broke down last week and bought bread. I was too exhausted to cook. It's so pathetic, what did women do 100 years ago? They baked their gol-darn bread at 5 AM. What am I doing? Laying around bemoaning my every-minute-of-the-day-but-morning sickness and complete exhaustion. And here I am, I was planning on writing about how lost I was without my menu and what do I do? I whine.
Whining OVER! On to the real topic. Since I started on my thrifty journey, I have made a menu. When I was working full time, I made a 2 week long menu and when I started staying home and had the illusion of more time, I made a weekly menu. It helps me stay on track, I never have to worry about what we're going to have for dinner except picking something from the list I made up and I know what to buy at the grocery store. Nowadays, I try to make a plan but by 5, I'm so darn tired I don't have the energy to do more then cut up a banana and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not exactly a healthy, well balanced dinner. My menu has always kept me on track and now I'm completely off track. What's funny is that prior my newfound thrifty ways, I NEVER planned ahead of time what I was going to make. I would usually call my husband from work and ask him to take something out of the freezer and then I would peruse recipe sites at work looking for something for dinner. I feel like I"m back to doing that and I feel very out of control. At a time like this, when nausea and exhaustion can completely control my day, I don't want to feel out of control about what we're going to eat. It was easy when I was pregnant with Olivia because I lived on toast and cereal (which sounds great!) and my husband brought frozen dinners to work. Well, in an attempt to be healthy, green and thrifty that doesn't exactly work!
What I think I'm going to do is to try and mesh together a sort-of-meal plan until the first trimester is over. I'm thinking of having a long list of meals that are easy-ish to make that I know don't make me nauseas, extremely easy lunches and rely on leftovers and my crockpot. I need to learn to be prepared for dinner by early afternoon because I know that the worst time for me is in the evenings.

I believe it was last week that my Thrifty Tip of the Week was regarding a meal plan. And that is no joke. I have gone over my grocery budget without having a meal plan and by walking into Costco with my debit card and a pregnant, hungry belly. BIG mistake. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a meal plan when you're trying to be thrifty. Meal plans can mean different things to different people. Some people plan what they will have every day of the week, for every meal. Some people, like me, like to have a list of meals to choose from. There are many different ways to meal plan and you may not even know what works best for you. Try a few different ways on but I'm telling you, meal plans are KEY in being thrifty!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thrifty Tuesday!

Good evening everyone. I haven't put anything up in almost a week! Very unlike me and I apologize. I've been so sick and on top of babysitting, being utterly exhausted and constantly's just been pushed to the side. I feel like I'm making a lot of excuses, sorry!! I'm finally over my sinus infection and the cold so I really am going to make an effort to post more often, as I usually do!

But, I had to make sure I put up my Thrifty Tip and Recipe of the week!

Thrifty Tip of the Week

Replace your light bulbs with CFL bulbs. I know, you've heard this a million times but it really does make a huge difference. CFL bulbs take about a quarter of the electricity AND you don't have to replace them nearly as often. I still have some CFL light bulbs from 4 years ago that I bring with us when we move! They are on sale constantly. I even got 2 for free a few weeks ago because I had a double coupon and they were on sale!

Thrifty Recipe of the Week

1.5 lbs ground beef $3.00
3/4 cup rolled oats $0.25
2 eggs $0.35
Ketchup as desired

1. Mix together ground beef, eggs and rolled oats. If you know a way better then using your hands, let me know!
2. Put in a loaf pan and top with ketchup as desired.
3. Bake at 375 for 1 hour.

*This is a lower carb option to regular meatloaf with crackers. When I was pregnant with my first, I had gestational diabetes and this had lower carbs because of the rolled oats.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Being thrifty while pregnant

Oh yes, not only is this my blog post for today but it's also my clever way of letting all my fabulous readers that I AM PREGNANT!!!! :) I'm 7 weeks along and due in December. So excited but also very nervous about being a mama to TWO!

Now that that's said and done, on to the real topic. How do you be thrifty and frugal while pregnant?

Seriously? Anyone know? Because I don't!!!

I crave junk food and fast food. It's terrible. I've spent the majority of my blow money (the money my husband and I get each month to spend however we want) on McDonalds. Isn't that just awful? All I want are McDonalds McChickens. Thank goodness they are on the $1 menu but it's not exactly thrifty and it's DEFINITELY not healthy! So here I am, 7 week pregnant and I'm too tired to cook or clean or do anything but stare blankly at the TV after I've put my never-stops-moving 1.5 year old rambunctious little daughter to bed.

So, here are a few things that I've come up with:

*HAVE blow money that you can spend on the junk you crave. Seriously, if you know you're going to spend it, you need to budget for it.
*Either add a little extra to your grocery budget if you can or be willing to give something up to make room for all of the ice cream you are craving.
*Keep snack and easy to make and/or grab food items in the house to prevent you from making unneeded trips to buy something. I just started watching a sweet little 3 month old baby boy along with my daughter during the day and he's a fussy sleeper. I get SO hungry with those two and today I had nothing I could just grab and eat except, thank God, a banana.

So far, I haven't done very good though. Thank goodness I had some blow money leftover from last month and extra grocery money so I stocked up on ice cream and I've been giving into my cravings. I've also been trying to find ways to fit my cravings into healthy foods. For instance, this baby loooovvveeesss chicken. For dinner tonight, I made a big leafy green salad with chicken. Very yummy. I also had a bag of rolls I got for free for purchasing something else so we had a big chicken salad with rolls.

I haven't made a menu for this week because I haven't quite gotten into the groove of how to cook with a 3 month old on my chest all the time and a 1.5 year old hanging on my legs while being completed exhausted. I guess I'd better figure that out really fast though right? :)

So what are your tips thrifty mamas?! How did you stay within budget while you were pregnant? Or, how are you staying within budget? OR how do you THINK you could stay within budget? I know, this blog is about being thrifty but I don't know it all! So I'm reaching out to you! What do you do when, in the middle of the night, your baby is craving apple juice and pepsi mixed together? (Which by the way, doesn't actually taste as bad as it sounds!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thrifty Tuesday!

Hey everyone. It's Thrifty Tuesday and I have a fun tip and recipe to share with you today.

Thrifty Recipe of the Week

Cheeseburger Casserole
3/4 pound hamburger $1.50
1 box macaroni and cheese $0.69**
1 can tomato sauce $0.49
1/2 red onion, diced $0.25
1/4 cup pickles, cut up $0.25
Ketchup as desired (optional)

1. Saute the hamburger and red onion until the hamburger is cooked through.
2. While the hamburger is cooking, make macaroni and cheese as directed.
3. Mix the pickles and tomato sauce in with the hamburger.
4. Mix the macaroni and cheese with the hamburger.
5. Mix in the ketchup and warm.

**I also make my own mac and cheese for this recipe which works just as well and tastes just as good!

Thrifty Tip of the Week
Unplug and shut it off! Look around your house. What is plugged in? Everything? What lights are turned on? As I write this I'm guilty of my kitchen light being on and my cell phone charger being plugged in and my phone is not being charged. Shut off the lights when you leave the room. Unplug stuff that sucks electricity when you're not using it. You could even unplug your's constantly sucking electricity to tell you the time (or in our case, show us a blinking light). This could save you quite a bit each month and over the year on your electricity bill. It seems oversimplified, but truly DOES make a huge difference!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

But, I love cable, I NEED cable!

(Or you can insert Satellite there too)

Do you *really* need it though? I don't doubt you love it. Heck, I still love it even though we've been cable free for several months now! Do I miss it? Not especially. Sometimes, when we visit my husbands grandmas house and I can watch as much TLC or HgTV as I want...oh yes, I miss it then. For the most part however, I really don't miss it! Here's the real shocker, even my husband, the "I-won't-live-without-cable guy"admitted to me a few months ago that he didn't really miss cable. Prior to canceling our cable, my husband was a die hard cable guy. We had to have wasn't going no where. No way, no how. I finally convinced him that we just simply couldn't afford it anymore. With our cable and internet, our bill was over $120 a month. And we didn't even have the super fancy cable! We didn't have HBO or Starz or any of that fancy stuff.

I did a little bit of research into this and found out that since 1996, cable prices have risen...are you ready for this?...77%. I found that stat, along with this quote, in a New York Times article:
        "Cable customers, who typically pay at least $60 a month, watch only a fraction of what they pay for — on average, a mere 13 percent of the 118 channels available to them. And the number of subscribers keeps growing."

My question is why? Why are we so willing to pay these prices? How many times have you flipped through the channels and said, exasperated, "There is nothing on television!"? I remember doing it on a daily basis when I was at home on bedrest while I was pregnant with my daughter. I ended up watching DVDs. I got through most of the TV show Charmed on dvd actually. 

In this day and age, there are so many more options to paying $60+ a month for cable. Many networks are putting their shows online so you an watch them directly on their websites. NBC, ABC, even Lifetime has shows on TV! And then there is HULU a completely free website that offers many popular TV shows for you to watch from your computer. My husband stays caught up on his favorite TV shows thanks to HULU. We even hook up our laptop directly to our TV so we can watch them on our TV instead of on the computer. 

There is also Netflix and Blockbuster. Both of them offer mailorder DVD rentals. I looked into both of them and for our family, Netflix is the better deal because they have FREE movies and TV shows you can instantly watch now. Blockbuster however, has a deal where you can rent a certain amount of movies each month from their retail locations. It all depends on what you're looking for as to what is the best fit for you. Both places start at about $8.99 a month for one movie at a time. You can get as many movies as you want and the time between mailing out a moving and getting a new one is generally about 3 days, in my experience. 

So, let's do some calculations here. We used to pay around $125-$130ish each month for cable and internet. Since we moved, we were able to get internet through a different provider so we now pay $30 a month. 

Old monthly bill=$125
New monthly bills: $30 (internet)
                                $9 (Netflix)

Total savings=$86 a MONTH
                        $1,032 a YEAR

What could you do with $86 a month? I'll tell you what I did. I quit my job to be a stay at home mama. Now, obviously, I had to do more then cut out cable but my point is that it's these little things you can cut out to help you save every month. Those things you think you can't live without? Well, maybe there are other options. Certainly, there are things that you will label as must haves. For us, that is cell phones. Do I realize what a rip off they are? Yup, without a doubt. But with my husbands work schedule, along with a few other factors that I'll share with you all eventually ;-) they are must haves for us. But cable? Nah, that got knocked off the "must have" list for us. It just doesn't make sense with all of the options there are. We still get the basic channels. We have up through channel 23 which most of the good TV shows are on anyways! You can watch your Idol, or your Vampire Diaries or your Dancing with the Stars. You still have those channels! Anything else, you can probably find it on Hulu! 

So let me know, what is your feelings on cable or satellite? Have it? Love it? Hate it? 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Welcome Friday Followers!!

Yay! I ((HEART)) Friday Follow!!

Friday Follow

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday deals

Okay, first I should say that I bumped my monthly grocery budget up to $260 ($65/week). The reason I did that was because my groceries now include health and beauty items and cleaning (TP, deodorant etc etc). I spent well over $65 this week but I had money leftover from the last two weeks since we were out of town visiting family. I thought about putting that in my snowball, but decided to keep it in my grocery money for stockpiling. There were some good sales this week, but not great couponing on my part. I still saved really good too. I also went to three stores this week instead of two. Well, that's not true. I sent my husband to Cub Foods with a list so technically, I only went to two! :)

I just went to get my receipts and cannot find what happened to the Cub Foods or Aldi one. That's frustrating, usually I'm more organized then that!
Purple indicates instore sales or deals. 
Orange indicates my coupons. 

Well at Cub Foods, I remember most of what we bought.
3 lbs of Organic Braeburn Apples
*On sale for $2.xx
2 lbs of No Name bacon
*In store BOGO coupon
24 pack of Charmin toilet paper
*$5 in store coupon brought it to $7.xx
3 2-liters of soda
2 lbs of Jennie O ground turkey
*In store BOGO coupon

At Aldi, I spent about $22 but that included buying several items for a family member who is currently unemployed. I did take that out of my grocery budget though because I didn't want to mess up the rest of our budget.

Rainbow Foods
2 2-liter Pepsi
*In store coupon made them $0.87 each.
2 bottles of Jack Daniels B-B-Q sauce
*In store coupon made them $1.28 each
Sun Chips
*Free with Facebook coupon from several weeks ago
Kens Buttermilk Ranch
*On sale for $2.00
2 Campbells soups
Barilla Whole Grain Shells- FREE (I didn't see this until I got home!!)
*On sale for $0.67
*Coupon for $0.55 doubled to $1.10
Barilla Whole Grain Spagetti
*Coupon for $0.55 doubled to $1.10 making these $0.25
Edy's Ice Cream
*In store sale BOGO
~3 lbs bananas
Driscolls Strawberries
*In store sale for $1.88
Romaine Lettuce
*In store sale for $1.29
Boneless Chuck Roast
*In store meal deal. Purchase this and get:
-Free 5 lbs of potatoes
-Free 1 lb of carrots
-Free 24 Egg Dinner Rolls
1 gallon whole milk
*Free with cereal coupon from 2 weeks ago

Total Saved: $29.81

So, all in all this week I spent a little more then $80. Quite a bit more then I would usually spend but I got some deals I might usually pass up because I had that extra money leftover. One of these months, I'm going to do a pantry challenge. That will be a fun month to blog about!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thrifty Tuesday

Hello everyone! It's been a crazy weekend and week at the Mama Christa household. We're all sick and my daughter has a bacterial infection in both of her eyes. Luckily we're on the last day of antibiotic eye drops. Have you ever tried giving a 17 month old eye drops? I don't think I have ever been more frustrated in my entire life. It's a work out though, I'll tell you that!

It's Thrifty Tuesday...even if it is Tuesday evening! I would generally like to get this in the mornings but I was at the doctors this morning and then I took a nap and then my three year old niece was over and her and my daughter have a love-hate relationship right now...needless to say, it's just been a crazy day!

The thrifty recipe of the week is:
Honey Mustard Chicken
3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut in half the long way $3.00*
1/4 cup dijon mustard $0.75*
4 tablespoons honey $0.50
*Items are from a larger unit and prices are approximations.

1. Mix the dijon mustard and honey together.
2. Coat the chicken with the mustard and honey.
3. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.

It's so simple and wonderful! It works great by itself or on salads. Yum!

The thrifty tip of the week is:
Make a grocery list and meal plan based off of sales and stick to it. You can make a grocery list, no problem. In fact, I'm sure that the majority of people do. Where it gets tricky? Sticking to the list while you're shopping. Same thing with your meal plan. Very easy to make it, trickier to stick to it. Get your Sunday paper and read the ads. Make your meal plan and grocery list based on the sales that are going on. This will literally save you hundreds of dollars. I'm not exaggerating. We used to spend well over $600 a month on groceries and now we spend $260 a month on groceries and health and beauty items.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

And the winners are.........

Holly and Kady!!!

Holly requested the blue diaper and Kady requested the purple...can't get much easier then that!

How exciting! Both of you mamas gave me your email addresses so I'll be contacting you. I will be sending the diapers out early next week.

I will have other fun giveaways in the future and as always will continue with Thrifty Tuesday recipes and tips, my menu and grocery lists and just the life of a stay at home mama tryin' to keep it thrifty and green and not lose my mind one day at a time!!

Note: I used to choose the winners which is a totally random generator. I put in the number of comments and had it choose two numbers which were based on the comments. Had it landed on one of my comments, I would have rechosen. These names were chosen completely randomly. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Speaking of giveaways

I don't always blog about giveaways and I don't enter every single giveaway I come across but this one is just too cool for school. Mommy of 2 Girls is doing a giveaway for, are you ready?, THIRTEEN K'next sets! They are kind of like legos but honestly, they look WAY cooler! My daughter is just about at the age where building stuff is pretty awesome. By Christmas, these will be way too cool for her so I just had to enter! Check it out! It's a pretty fabulous giveaway!

Friday Follow!!! :)

Welcome Friday Followers! I love Friday Follow. I always get to follow some new, neat blogs!

Today is the last day for the TWO pocket cloth diaper giveaway. It ends at midnight tonight and I will announce the winnerS tomorrow. Oh yes, that's right, you have TWO chances to win...except you actually have MORE because there are FOUR ways you can enter! Can you even believe it? :) So go ahead and check it out. Then, when you're done, feel free to peruse my thrifty recipes, tips and the life of a stay at home mama learning how to be thrifty, green and not lose her mind One Day at a Time!!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, April 5, 2010

New thrifty recipe and tip of the week

Don't forget, the giveaway for the cloth diapers ends THIS Friday at midnight!!
As usual, I posted the recipe and tip of the week for Monday. However, next week, you'll see a change in the day I post it. I'm going to start posting them on Tuesdays and call it (are you ready for my cleverness?) Thrifty Tuesday. Oh yes, I know, you're blown away by the title! :) I will also make a blog post with them on Tuesdays, which I wasn't doing before, so that you know there is a new tip and recipe!

I'm so glad to hear feedback from you guys about how you like the recipes and tips!! You have no idea how excited I am when I see your feedback! Thanks!!

The tip is:
Plan ahead. When you are going to be out all day or going on a long road (or plane) trip, bring a meal with you. Pack a cooler with sandwiches, fruit, chips...whatever floats your boat. It's amazing how expensive it can be to run to fast food and not at all healthy! It sounds so simple and basic, but if you plan a few minutes to bring a meal, or even a snack, it can save you a ton of money!

The recipe is:
Chicken Nuggets
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts $2.00
1 cup Italian bread crumbs $0.33
1 tablespoon garlic salt (pennies)
1/4 cup butter, melted $0.25
1/4 cup skim milk $0.10

Total= $2.68

(Makes about 20-24 chicken nuggets)

1. Cut the chicken breasts into 1-1.5 inch pieces. I find the easiest way is to cut it in half and then cut it about 4 times, depending on the size of the chicken breast.
2. Mix the Italian bread crumbs and garlic salt in a bowl.
3. Mix melted butter and skim milk in a separate bowl.
4. Dip the chicken into the butter and skim milk mixture.
5. Roll the chicken in the Italian bread crumb mixture until completely covered. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all chicken is done.
6. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees then broil for about 5 minutes for a bit of crisp.

**This is a healthier alternative to most chicken nugget recipes that I found and ohhh sooo good! We all loved it!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter everyone! I hope it's a lovely, safe and tasty Easter for you all!

God bless!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Just when I thought I was a good thrifty mama

You can be thrifty in most aspects of your life but sometimes you have that one aspect that throws you for a loop. That aspect for me? Without a doubt, my kiddo. I have no problems buying her good used clothes...let's face it, she grows SO fast and if they are in really good condition, it doesn't matter. But holidays? I might as well just give retailers access to my  bank account. I don't necessarily spoil her, I'm not nearly as crazy about it as some parents I know, but I have to admit, it's my downfall.

For Easter this year, I didn't have a budget for my daughters Easter basket and I went in with my debit card. M-I-S-T-A-K-E! I knew I was going to get her a baby doll and a sand pail with the goodies. Yup, I got those two items. And bathtub crayons, and bubbles, and juice boxes (we're just starting to introduce juice), and two little onsies for her baby doll, and some crackers and jelly beans and a little chocolate (oh yes, I let my 1.5 year old eat very limited candy). Oh, and don't forget the adorable little summer outfit and 3 pairs of socks. Oops.

It's hard being a thrifty mama sometimes. We judge ourselves for every little extra penny that doesn't need to be spent. The guilt at buying a new outfit as opposed to an old outfit, or some ridiculous chip dip that was set up as a sample at the grocery store (I swear, this didn't happen...NOT), or an unplanned restaurant trip can completely overwhelm us frugal mamas and we feel bad. But who are we feeling bad to? Just ourselves. Are our friends judging us? Usually not because few of our friends are as frugal as us. And even if they are, they know, deep down, they have those weak spots too.

You know what else is funny to me? That a lot of us frugal, thrifty mamas have the same weakness--our babies. Isn't that funny? Of course, some of us mamas have other weaknesses. It may be our hair cut is at that fancy salon instead of Cost Cutters, or maybe we just have to get that manicure every month. I guess I'm here to say that it's okay! It's okay to have a weakness where you spend the extra money. Just don't break yourself or let it get out of control. Most of us frugal mamas are on a tight budget so work that into your budget. If you know you're going to spend the extra money, work it in. Make it work. You need to allow yourself something. For me, I like to get nice things for my kiddo so I think I need to work in an "Olivia's Stuff" part to my budget so that when I see that oh-so-adorable outfit at Kohls, I know that I can buy it without the guilt.

So, tomorrow when my beautiful baby girl opens up her Easter basket and she kisses her doll and giggles over the bubbles, I'm going to tell myself, 'that's okay'.

Friday, April 2, 2010

I [HEART] Friday Follow!

I've joined some fabulous blogs and gotten some fabulous followers from FF!

If you're interested in my giveaway, check the post below here to see the rules and how to join the fun!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Drumroll please....It's GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!

This giveaway is currently closed. Stay tuned for the next giveaway at One Day at a Time!

How to enter:
1. You must be a follower of One Day at a Time.
Leave a comment on this giveaway post. Tell me which diaper you would prefer (I will do my very best to get you the one you prefer) and tell me why you started using cloth diapers or why you plan to/want to use cloth diapers or if you hope to win the diaper for a third party, who it's for and why.  (1 entry)

You may have up to three additional entries by:
1. Sharing this giveaway on your facebook page (share the link with me!). (1 additional entry)
2. Getting someone else to follow the blog (tell me who!). (1 additional entry)
3. Blogging about this giveaway on your blog (share the link with me!). (1 additional entry)

You must have a new comment for each additional entry that you do.

1. Two people will actually win. I will use to choose the winners. If, by chance, the same person is chosen in both, I will choose again.
2. The winners must be within the United States and be at least 18 years of age.
3. This giveaway will end at midnight on Friday April 9, 2010. Winners will be announced on Saturday April 10, 2010. I will announce the winners on here and you will have exactly four days to contact me with your information. If you do not contact me within that 4 days, I will redraw a new winner.

Please keep in mind that all comments, opinions and views are strictly mine. I did not receive any compensation for any of these items. I purchased them myself. If you win the item and are displeased with it or have issues with it, I do not hold any responsibility for issues with the item aside from the shipping that I provide.