I frequently get skeptical looks, the side eye, or people thinking I’m starving my kids when I tell them that our grocery budget is $80/week.
It takes a lot of work, but it is doable. I cook a lot from scratch- it’s healthy, cheap, and I can control what goes into each dish (hidden veggies, fruit, less sugar, etc.). I can make a cheese pizza at home for less than $4, and that is enough pizza for the kids for two meals!
Here are a few of our family tactics to stay on budget:
CASH! Go to the bank/ATM and get your grocery money out of the bank every week. This is a great way to start. I get $80 out of the ATM each Saturday for the upcoming weeks’ groceries.
Inventory your Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry. Bonus- You’ll also find stuff that needs to be thrown out or donated. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printables, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.
Menu Plan. Start by using what you’ve got on-hand. Eat food that’s on sale or in season. We eat a lot of strawberries in the summer because they are cheap!
Make a grocery list. Stick to the list Don’t be afraid to substitute brands, or make changes based on what is on sale, or any in-store markdowns you find.
Don’t be afraid to go to more than one store. I’m not saying run all over town, but going to two stores is OK. In our area, there are a 99 Cents Only store and a Grocery Outlet in the same shopping Center. I hit up both each week. Then, on the way home, I stop at Food4Less and buy milk (cheapest in town!), eggs, and bread (if 99 Cents Only doesn’t have the high protein bread we like).
Eat Less Meat. Not only does it save money, but it’s better for the environment.
Take advantage of local resources. There are a few food co-ops in our area. Additionally, there are free produce distributions too. A couple of my friends and I split a co-op lot twice a month. It comes out to less than $20 per person, and we get all kinds of cool stuff. A quick google search can help you find both in your area. In the summer, we take advantage of Kid’s free lunches too.
Coupon and/or use money-saving apps. My complete list of apps can be found here. Right now my favorite apps are Fetch Rewards and Ibotta. I love that I can use Fetch at any store. It helps because I shop a lot of Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only.
Be Flexible. Some weeks you will go over budget. It happens. Sometimes you need to stock up on staples, or your family wants to eat something that isn’t on sale. Sometimes you really want to order a pizza and wings. That’s OK! Frugality is a journey, it’s not a punishment or a life of austerity and suffering. You can still live a fun, full life while being frugal.
Talk Back: Share a few of your families tips for staying on budget?
This sale at Schoola is a great way to start your back to school shopping!
Fine Print: Not valid on previous purchases. Discounts and credits do not apply toward shipping or promotional minimums. Discounts are applied to the post-credit order value. New-with-tags items are not eligible for purchase with discounts or credits.
And as always, FREE SHIPPING on orders of $25 or more on the first 10 items.
Last August, I had my hair professionally colored purple and pink, You can read about it here. As awesome as it was, it really damaged my hair. Bleaching your hair sucks.
I’ve been coloring my hair since I was 13. That’s… a long time. My hair has been pretty much any color you can think of- blonde, brown, red (so many shades of red), black, purple, blue, green….
In the resulting 10 months, I’ve been babying my hair. That means washing my hair twice a week with sulfate free, color safe shampoo, deep conditioning mask, including a weekly overnight leave-in mask, buying a new blow dryer that has a cold setting (which is awesome). And coloring my hair at home with very gentle semi-permanent depositing color in addition to the color (7IR Medium Intense Red Blonde) I’ve been using on my hair for the past few years. The red color blends well with purple and the damaged ends take color a little differently, so it’s usually a surprise what color they turn out- Some sort of purple-y pink most of the time.
I’ve cut off most of the damaged ends- Right now the last 2 inches of my hair are all that remains of the bleached hair from last year. My hair grows fast.
I wasn’t interested in something as dramatic as last years transformation, especially since I am trying to get my hair to grow healthy again.
If you’ve never colored your hair before at home or if you have a job where funny colored hair isn’t allowed, I don’t recommend this at all!
If you’re new to hair color, especially funky colors, I do recommend Overtone. It’s a color depositing conditioner, and you can use it on any color hair. It won’t lighten your hair, but if you have dark hair, it will give you a cool colorful shine in the light. If your hair is lighter, The Overtone will give you a more obvious color.
So when I re-did my hair the other day, I didn’t take pics because my gloved hands were all goopy with hair color, but here’s what you need:
Gloves. I buy latex-free gloves by the box.
Hair color. I use this color (7IR Medium Intense Red Blonde).
Any developer that your color needs.
Plastic spoon (you cannot mix hair color and developer with a metal ANYTHING)
I also use a plastic fork to apply the color (It’s a Dinglehopper!!)
The Splat needs a longer time to process in your hair, so I apply that first.
I apply it to the ends of my hair and then I pour a little into my palm and rub my hands together and run my hands through my hair like I’m applying mousse. That gives me some highlights through my hair.
Or if I’m feeling crazy, I’ll dip the fork into the color and comb it through in a few places. I channel in inner Ariel.
Put my hair up in a shower cap and dance around the house, embarrassing my kids for 20 minutes.
While it’s processing, I mix together the other hair color and developer. Once the 20 minutes is up, I pull off the shower cap, and apply the dye to the rest of my hair, making sure to blend the areas where the colors touch.
Slap the shower cap back on and hang out until the second color processes (it depends on the color, what color your hair was to start with, etc. The instructions will tell you how long to let the color process (in my case, it was 45 minutes).
The Splat hair color is supposed to last 30 washes, but I find after about 15-20 washes it’s faded enough where I need to reapply. If you use Overtone, you can re-do it in the shower whenever you need to (it’s a lot less messy, but requires more frequent touch-ups. It’s a trade-off).
Most mainstream/drug store box hair color brands make more interesting colors these days, including Garnier, Schwarzkopf, and L’oreal.
It’s all about being you- If having funky colored hair speaks to your soul- DO IT. If having tattoos or piercing is your self-expression, do whatever makes you happy! As long as your happiness doesn’t infringe on someone else- DO IT. The past year has been really hard on me, emotionally, but I’ve been able to express myself more, and in the end, I am a lot happier than I have been in years. I finished college, met new people, and I’ve been able to better care for myself and my kids.
My take away for this post is: Engage in Self-care that speaks to you!
Big Kid started Summer school this morning, so he’s enjoying a few hours of learning and play away from his little sister (which I’m sure they will both enjoy- They’ve been at each other for the past few days). I stocked up on snacks and treats Saturday night at Grocery Outlet, so the kids will have yummy food to get them through the week.
I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.
You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.
I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:
Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix). I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.
Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me. The kids will be enjoying free lunches all over the county with free activities and play time before or after lunch.
For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.
Monday: Tortellini soup- Recipe forthcoming this week!
Tuesday: Homemade Pizza Night (I’m prepping the crusts today and stashing the dough in the fridge overnight to proof)
I learned about Affinityy the other day and I had to try it.
Here’s the skinny:
$20 first purchase cash reward when you make your first purchase within 14 days of signup. Don’t worry, they will remind you to do so via email and on the website so you won’t miss out on your free $$.
Unlike the other cashback shopping site, Affinityy offers:
Earn $3 cash when you download the app
Up to $10 per referral of family/friends.
Earn $5, $10, and $20 cash bonuses the more you shop with Affinityy.
Receive your cash via check or PayPal
To try it out, I pulled out a JCP gift card I had been saving with $16 on it (I earned it doing an online survey- it was originally $50, but I did a little shopping a few weeks ago- Kids needed new pants!). Our crockpot died a few weeks ago (and taking along with it so really yummy pork chops- RIP chops), so I was hoping they would be on sale. Enter JCPenney in the Affinityy search bar, and click the resulting link.
Lucky for me, this one was on sale for $8.10! I also picked up a new bathroom rug for $5.95.
To save the shipping cost I chose in-store pick up. And I earned JCP Rewards by shopping online as well. Pretty good double dip.
Used a coupon code, and paid with my Gift card. A few hours later, I logged onto my Affinityy account and found that I had received $20 credit for my purchase and $3 for downloading the app!
So far, it looks good! I’ll report back once I receive my money via paypal!
Talk Back: What is your favorite online shopping cashback portal?
Yesterday the kids and I headed over to Uptown Jungle in Santee. If you haven’t been there in a while (or ever) they’ve got a lot of exciting stuff going on right now!
For those not in the know, Uptown Jungle is an indoor playground with a giant trampoline, super slides, and 2-story indoor Mega Play Structure, Obstacle Course, and climbing walls! So regardless of the summer heat outside, kids can run and play.
The Santee location is going to be getting a makeover soon. The toddler area will be getting a wall-sized Light Brite board (which sounds super cool to me), the Obstacle Course is getting a cool ninja makeover, and the parent’s lounge will be reconfigured!
One of the best parts of Uptown Jungle is that the staff is really great with kids and they try to make sure everyone has an awesome time. The staff helps the kids safely get into the climbing wall harnesses and cheers them on as they climb. The trampoline area switches from little kids to big kids frequently, so everyone gets a turn to play safely.
One thing that really impresses me is that Uptown Jungle has Fundraising opportunities!
Forget selling candy bars, candles, T-shirts, etc. Host a fundraising event at Uptown Jungle and earn 35% of the group’s admission!
I want to share the fun of Uptown Jungle with you! One lucky reader will win 4 90-minute passes to Uptown Jungle. To enter, click here, or visit our Facebook page here (This option may not be mobile friendly).
Talk Back: How do your kids get their wiggles out in the summer?
Thanks so much to Ricky and his staff at the Santee Uptown Jungle for hosting the kids and me yesterday! We had a fun time, and they were exhausted after 90-minutes of running, jumping, climbing, and sliding!
In the past, I’ve only posted about Regal Cinemas Summer movies but after some digging, I’ve come to discover that most movie theatre companies offer an inexpensive summer movie program for kids!
Looking at each theatres offerings, it appears that there isn’t tons of variety. Most theatres are showing kids movies that were popular in the last 5 years or so.
UltraStar Cinemas: A different film shown every week at 9:30 AM. Tickets on sale NOW at the theater box offices. $1 per movie. Mission Valley at Hazard Center Summer Program, every Monday-Thursday: June 17-August 8.
Regal 2019 Summer Movie Express series– Movie ticket deals are just $1 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays featuring summer movies the whole family will enjoy like Shrek, Despicable Me, Kung Fu Panda and many more. Regal has the widest variety of movies.
Reading Cinema has summer movies as well! Tickets are just $1 each, and movies start at 10am M-TH.
AMC offers a summer movie program, however, there are only three locations in California: Bonsall, Irvine, and Apple Valley (Victorville area). Their Summer Movie Camp is being offered at their AMC Classic theatres ONLY. The complete list of participating theatres can be found here.
The nice part about the AMC program is that the programs includes a ticket to the Kid-Friendly movie plus a KidsPack every Wednesday for just $4 (+tax).
To keep the frugal morning going, check out a free kids lunch location near the theatre. For more info on San Diego locations, check out this post. If you live outside San Diego County, Text FOOD (Or COMIDA for a list in Spanish) to 877-877, or call 211 and you can find a list of free summer lunch locations near you.
I’m stoked about this deal because I like hot dogs every once in a while. Not enough to buy them at the store and cook them at home.
The big kid is a vegetarian, so he’ll probably enjoy some tots, But the little and I will each get a dog.
6″ Chili Cheese Coney or All-American Dog are just $1 today at Sonic! You can order ahead in the Sonic App today using promo code DOLLAR. Plus, get half-price drinks and slushes with Happy Hour Any Time when you order in the Sonic App. Sweet Deal! *$1 Dogs: Includes 6″ Chili Cheese Coney and All-American Dogs. Tax not included. Add-Ons cost extra. Limit 5. Valid only June 20, 2019, at participating SONIC® Drive-Ins. Not valid with Combos or any other offers. Not valid with third-party delivery services.
**Happy Hour Any Time: Get ½ Price Drinks and Slushes Every Time You Order Ahead in the SONIC® App. Includes Soft Drinks, Iced Teas, regular Lemonades and Limeades, Frozen Lemonades and Limeades, Ocean Water® and Famous, Real Fruit and Candy Slushes. Add-Ins cost extra. Excludes Mini size, Ice Cream Slushes, Combos, Wacky Pack® Kids Meals and other offers. Discount based on menu price. Order Ahead available only at select locations. Offer good for a limited time only at participating SONIC® Drive-Ins.