10 Tips to Stay on Budget for Groceries

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Eat Less Meat. Not only does it save money, but it’s better for the environment.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Speaking of which… Don’t forget to check out stores like 99 Cents Only. There are all kinds of great bargains. Here is my list of 10 Great Buys at 99 Cents Only!
  10. 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?

6/24/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

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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.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

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)
  • Wednesday:  Pasta Free Lasagna 
  • Thursday: Frittata– I’ve got a lot of veggies that need to get eaten, and some bacon in the freezer!
  • Friday:  Date Night- I’m hoping for Ramen!
  • Saturday:  Chicken Korma and Cauliflower Rice
  • Sunday: Leftover Night

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Shop Online with Affinityy and score $20!

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.

Screen Shot 2019-06-23 at 9.28.05 AM.pngLucky 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!

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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?

Sam’s Club – Join for $45 Get $50 in Savings


We have a Sam’s club close by, so I just signed up for this deal!

Join Sam’s Club for $45 and get $50 in savings. GET A $20 GIFT CARD AND $30 IN INSTANT SAVINGS*

  • Member’s Mark all beef franks 3 lb. 12 ct. Discount $7.00 off
  • Member’s Mark 80/20 or 90/10 ground beef Discount $10.00 off
  • Member’s Mark Hot Dog or Hamburger Buns 24 ct. Discount $3.00 off
  • Member’s Mark Loaded Potato Salad 48 oz. Discount $4.00 off
  • Member’s Mark Purified Bottled Water 45 or 80 pk. Discount $3.00 off
  • Member’s Mark Cookies – 18ct. various in Deli ($5.98 retail value) Discount FREE

There are tons of awesome things about Sam’s Club, including free samples from Freeosk, in-store offers, and Field Agent frequently has audits at Sam’s Club Locations!

 

Talk Back: What’s your favorite thing from Sam’s Club?

Save Time & Money This Summer with Online Shopping!

e6d40b7bc536c9a8b6f32ebd3b6730efDo you dread taking your kids shopping in the summer? I love my two weirdos, but I dread taking them to Target, Wal-mart, basically any place I need to run errands that has toys, candy, treats, impulse buy items.

I can stick to my list and budget while shopping solo, but add my two smalls into the mix, and stuff “mysteriously” makes its way into my cart. The whining, crying, begging. It’s enough to drive me to day drink.

So, I try to shop online and do in-store pick up as much as possible. I use all of the tools available to me to save money:

Smartphone Apps 

A lot of the stores available through Mypoints and Topcashback  offer in-store or curbside pick up.

Target has their Redcard which has tons of perks. I save 5% every time I shop by using my Target Red Card.  It’s a debit card and it’s Target branded, so I can only use it at Target, just like an ATM card (with a PIN).

Today I’m running to Target to pick up an order of stuff (face wash, cotton balls, stuff like that).

Then it’s off to 99 Cents Only to refill the snack box!

Talk Back: How do you Navigate the stores in the summer while staying on budget? 

 

Earn Fetch Points on special offers!

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 8.13.22 AM.pngHave you checked out Fetch Rewards yet? If not, you can check out all of the deets here.

 

Right now, Fetch has some really awesome (read useful) products that are offering increased point rewards.

If you haven’t downloaded the Fetch App yet, use my code ND2TB when you sign up and you’ll score 1500 points after you scan in your first receipt with Fetch Rewards. That’s halfway to your first $3 Amazon Gift Card (or whatever $3 Gift Card you choose). You can find Fetch Rewards in your app store.

So far in 2019, I’ve cashed out $30 in Amazon GC with Fetch Rewards!

If you use my code, I’ll get some points when you do. Win/Win, right? Honestly, my disclosure statement is here. I’m here to help ya’ll save money, not make a million dollars!

OhmConnect: Earn $400 in Their New Summer Challenge

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I’ve been crowing about Ohm Connect for years, and if you live in So Cal and haven’t signed up yet, I’m not sure what you are waiting for!

OhmConnect is having an awesome Summer Challenge, where you can earn upwards of $400 for conserving energy.

 How does it work?

1. Set your goal by picking how often and how much energy you want to reduce this summer.
2. OhmConnect with show you how much you can earn if you hit your goal.
3. Once summer starts, they’ll tell you when it’s time to power down every few weeks.
4. Get paid in full if you hit your goal. Careful though: you won’t earn anything if you don’t!

 Summer Challenge Deets

  • The Summer Challenge runs from June through the end of September 2019.
  • Your summer potential payout is based on your home’s current energy use, how many events you select, and how much you choose to reduce on average.
  • Your success will be based on the average energy you reduce overall events.
  • Potential payouts may change, so lock in the best rates now!
  • Read more about the Summer Challenge here!

Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 9.43.13 PM.pngI’ve already signed up, and I was pretty realistic. Since OhmConnect notifies you in advance, I can plan activities out of the house during times when we need to conserve energy.