A Shift in Mindset: Being Cheap Versus Being Frugal

The last Monday of the school year (back in June), after I dropped the kids at their respective schools, I went to Target. I bought curtains. Now, for those who either know me in real life, or I’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that prior to blogging full-time, one of the jobs I had in the past was a historical costumer. So I know how to sew.

Why did I buy curtains? I’m frugal.

Let me explain. I got really nice curtains for each kid kids bedroom. They are 63 inches long, they are black-out curtains meaning that they are treated with white plastic that once the curtains are closed at no light filters through. Each curtain panel was $11. So for two sets of curtains, they cost after taxes about $46. Which is decent. I could not walk into a fabric store and buy all the supplies I need it for two sets of curtains for the same amount of money.

For $46, I saved myself about two hours’ worth of measuring, cutting, and sewing. Plus a trip to the fabric store. For those of you who have been to a fabric store lately, you know how dangerous it is once you get in there. So many new ideas, craft supplies, cool fabric. And I try to have willpower, but I do love to make things.

I could have in theory found cheap fabric either at the fabric store or at Walmart, or I could’ve even gone to a thrift store and look for fabric, or old sheets. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted something that looked nice I wanted something or I wouldn’t have to spend hours getting something done just to save a few bucks. And that’s the difference between being cheap, and being frugal.

Everyone’s heard the old adage “Time is money“. And it’s true. Even though I may work at home, it doesn’t mean that my time is not worth anything. When I do paying gigs, no matter what they are, I won’t take them if I feel that my time is not being compensated well enough. And for this, new curtain project, I felt that $46 was well spent.

Now I know not everyone has extra money lying around to do whatever project that is looming on your horizon. There are other ways you can flex your frugal muscles.

  • If it’s a sewing project, you can go through your fabric stash if you have one, you can find coupons online for fabric if you wanna make your own project.
  • Look online and see if there are discounts available or deals or sales on whatever your project item is.
  • Check your local buy nothing group online.
  • Hit up your local thrift store. I have gotten many good pairs of sheets sets, bedding, and even curtains at thrift stores. A lot of people change out their curtains every year and wash and donate their “old“ curtains to a thrift store. My bedroom curtains came from the Goodwill in my town. And I paid less than $10 for both of the curtains. And they’re beautiful and I love them.

Prior to hitting up Target, for the past month, I’d kept my eyes open anytime I went out to a thrift store, or when I was out shopping to see if there were curtains that were perfect for our needs. I was not successful.  So instead of continuing the search even longer for something secondhand, I bit the bullet and spent $46. Because to me, getting a project done and checked off my to-do list for $46, was worth it. I didn’t need to keep going to thrift stores every week, trying to find the perfect set of curtains or the perfect fabric.

Frugality versus cheapness is something that goes beyond purchasing home goods. Let’s look at groceries. I know back in the heyday of couponing, a lot of people would go from store to store to store to stock up on deals and bargains. I will admit that back before I had kids I would do that. Because I had lots of free time. But now that I have two kids, my free time is limited.

And couponing is not what it used to be. So I shop at the same stores every week. Unless something is free, I tend not to deviate from my usual shopping. I shop at three stores. Which, seems like a lot, however, two of the stores are in the same shopping center, right next-door to each other. And I buy specific stuff at each store because it’s the only place to find what I want within my budget. So every week I head to $.99 only, Grocery Outlet, and usually Food 4 Less.

This is just some of what we get each week!

We get our CSA box every week for $25. And it’s an amazing deal. It saves me both time in that I don’t have to try to go to two or three grocery stores that have decent produce to find exactly what I want, and it saves me money. A $25 produce box has everything we need for the entire week. And I am able to use what is in that box to plan my weekly menu. We seldom have waste from our CSA box. And what we don’t eat by the end of the week just gets rolled over into the next week. In the past, I was spending half or more of a grocery budget each week on produce, and half the time it was too much, and it will go bad or I would have to stash it in the freezer. I still stash veggies and fruit in the freezer, but not to such a large extent.

Another thing that for me is frugal but not cheap is Dream Dinners. Granted, Dream Dinners can cost upwards of $250 plus a month for a minimum order. And that’s either 12 dinners that serve 2 to 3 people each or six large dinners that are for 4 to 6 people each. I like Dream Dinners because from the time you start cooking to the time dinner is on the table it’s 45 minutes or less in most cases.

And there are times when I’ve had a long day and it’s just been so crazy that I don’t want to cook. But instead of going through the drive-through, ordering a pizza, I can just pull out one of our dream dinners and have food that’s ready to eat in 45 minutes or less. There are no difficult directions, and the food is always delicious. And one order with 12 medium meals is enough for a month for us.

I tend to use them on nights where I know that I’m going to want something that’s quick, something that’s easy. Dream Dinners are cheaper than take out for our family. If I was to do take out 2 to 3 times a week every month that would be upwards of $600. That’s based on an average of what we usually order when we get takeout.

These are just a few examples of how I am frugal. Obviously, these may not be the ways that you save time vs. doing it the cheapest way. Everyone has ways that saves time and money, and I’d love to hear from you!

$1 Summer Movies are back!

Summer Movies at Regal Cinema are back! 

Kicking off on May 25, 2021, with Teen Titans Go! To the Movies and  Wonder Park, families can take advantage of Summer Movies at Regal Cinemas for $1.00.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays through September 9, 2021, you can choose between two movies (or you can go see them both, and they both play each Tuesday and Wednesday) for just $1/ticket!

Not all locations are participating all summer long, due to local Covid-19 restrictions. Check with your local Regal Cinema location to find out exact schedules.

With tons of favorite kid-friendly films, you’ll be having a blast while staying cool! My kids are most excited to see Into the Spiderverse and Detective Pikachu on the big screen again.

 

 

 

Dollar Tree Deals for Easter!

**Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click on links or make purchases.

Hippity Hoppity, Easter’s on it’s wayyyyyy!!! Ok, so now that I’m done singing, it’s time for me to tell you all about some of the sweet stuff that’s going on down at Dollar Tree.

I live next door to a shopping center/strip mall that has a Dollar Tree, so I’ve seen all these goodies in the flesh.

First off: Crafts! Dollar Tree has some super cool craft kits for Easter. Perfect for Easter baskets, or if you are looking for something to keep your kids occupied during Spring Break. Not all of them are egg/bunny related. Lots of fun spring crafts, including their collection of fun wooden paintable items, canvases, and stickers. Our craft cupboard is full of paintables, canvases, stickers, and misc. craft kits from Dollar Tree. I spend about $20/month there just for craft supplies. The paintables and canvases make great gifts for family (grandparents especially).

Next up, dishes. If you are hosting an Easter/Spring/Equinox dinner, Dollar Tree has you hooked up with great table settings (both durable and disposable), table decor, and even leftover containers for your guests to take home leftovers- I can’t be the only one who does that?

Ok, and Finally: Spring Cleaning. UGH. But it’s gotta be done. Dollar Tree to the rescue with buckets and household cleaners (I’m a big fan of Formula 409 myself, Goo Gone, and the drop-in tank toilet bowl cleaners). For those of you who are on the more natural path, Dollar Tree has you covered! Vinegar, scrub brushes, baking soda and more natural choices too. If part of your Spring Cleaning includes reorganizing, Dollar Tree has lots of storage solutions too!

Family Recipe: Bean, Rice, & Cheese Bowls

You may have noticed that BRC Bowls is a regular item on our weekly meal plan posts.

Beans and Rice are pantry staples in our home. You can do a lot with both, but the BRC bowl is a quick, easy, and healthy meal that everyone in our home can agree on. If I’ve got more time, I can add roasted veggies too.

We use vegetarian, fat-free refried beans because a lot of commercially made refried beans contain lard, and since I’ve got a small vegetarian in the house, I gotta keep meals vegetarian as often as possible.

It’s also a great recipe to make extra servings of and store in the fridge for lunches throughout the week.

Here is the basic recipe:

Bean, Rice, & Cheese Bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 large can refried beans– approx. 28 ounces (or make your own from scratch), heated per package directions. Sometimes we use Ranch-style Beans instead.
  • Rice (I usually make 2 cups rice with 4 cups veggie broth so we have lots of leftovers)- The variety of rice is up to you, but we love jasmine or basmati rice. Did you know that you can freeze cooked rice in portions?
  • Cheese- your choice of variety. I really like the Mexican blend, which generally consists of a blend of Monterey Jack Cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Queso Quesadilla, And Asadero Cheese.
  • Roasted vegetables (optional, but I recommend). I like to roast onions, garlic, bell peppers, potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. Cut them up into bite-size pieces, toss in avocado oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Roast in the oven on a baking sheet for 30-ish minutes at 450 degrees. You can also add 2 T. of fresh lime juice for some zest.

Directions

Once all ingredients are cooked, assemble individual bowls as follows (from the bottom up):

  1. Rice
  2. Roasted veggies
  3. Beans
  4. Cheese

You can do it in whatever amount each person wants. Kids don’t like cheese? Skip it. Watching your carbs? Go easy on the rice.

As I said before I make a few extra servings in leftover containers and stash them into the fridge for lunches later in the week. The girl kiddo loves rice with butter for lunch, so I always make extra rice for her.

Fun, Inexpensive Halloween and Harvest Crafts from Dollar Tree!

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

Y’all know I love crafts and crafting and saving money. Dollar Tree has recently started carrying some really nice craft supplies, and they have really stepped up their Halloween craft game this year.

Here is a really cute DIY/Crafts made with Dollar Tree supplies: DIY Witch Hat Wreath

There are all sorts of craft supplies for Autumn, Halloween, and Thanksgiving available online or in-store. And if you aren’t feeling crafty, Dollar Tree has all sorts of fun, freaky, and spooky pre-made decor. I love the skeleton mermaids- We painted them and made them bikini tops from scrap mask fabric.
If you are looking replenish your craft supplies after the extended time at home (if you are like us, you did so many crafts, and so much art, we are out of so many supplies), Dollar Tree has you covered. Glue, paint, washi tape, scrapbooking paper, stickers, decals, Mod Podge, beads- You name it, Dollar Tree has it.

Their store brand, Crafters Square has a lot of great wooden craftables: birdhouses, cubes, trays, boxes. All waiting for your creative touch!

If you love to share your crafts or need inspiration, I recommend the Facebook Group: Dollar Tree Craftoholics. There are some extremely creative folks posting daily.

I’d love to see what kind of crafts you do too! Feel free to share a pic or drop a link in the comments!

99 Cents Only Dealsday Alert for 1/7/20

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Are you ready to get cheesy? This Tuesday, January 7, 2020 score 5-packs of Kraft Mac & Cheese are only $1.99 at 99 Cents Only!

Limit two per household. Shop Dealsday in every store, while supplies last.

This is a great deal if your family enjoys Kraft mac and cheese. It sells on Amazon for $4.50-$4.99 for a 5-pack!

Summer Movie Programs for Kids!

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.

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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.

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 8.46.09 AM.png Reading Cinema has summer movies as well! Tickets are just $1 each, and movies start at 10am M-TH.

 

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 8.57.05 AM.pngAMC 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.

Recipe: Homemade Chicken Soup!

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Yummy soup made with my favorite Seasoning Blend from Penzey’s

I love making chicken soup from scratch. The cook time is lengthy, but, you don’t have to pay a lot of attention to the soup for most of the cook time.

You can use whatever kind of spices/herbs you fancy. I love Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming, it’s a great smoky, rich compliment to the veggies in the soup.

Speaking of veggies, I use carrots, onions, celery, Italian squash/zucchini, but you can use whatever is in your fridge. Good additions would also be diced bell peppers, diced fresh tomatoes (or canned diced tomatoes).

You can omit the noodles/macaroni is you don’t care for them or are GF/low carb.

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs of chicken parts, bone-in or a rotisserie chicken with some of the meat removed and set aside
  • 2 cups of carrots chopped, divided
  • 2 cups of celery chopped, divided
  • 3 cups sweet onion diced, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic diced, divided
  • 1 large shallot diced, divided
  • 1T. cooking oil, your choice. I’ve been using grapeseed oil lately
  • 12 cups of water
  • bay leaf
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups Italian squash/zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 14-ish ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice, or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (optional)
  • other herbs/spices as desired
  • 1 cup uncooked pasta/noodles/rice (your choice)
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After cooking all day! Yummy Chicken Stock!

Directions:

  1. If starting with 5 lbs of raw chicken, place 1/2 of the carrots, onions, and celery into a large stock pot with the cooking oil.
  2. Cook on medium until veggies are soft, and onions are clear.
  3. Add 1/2 of the garlic and shallots, and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add raw chicken, and cook for about 10 minutes, until chicken browns.
  5. Turn stove down to low, add 12 coups of water, bay leaf, salt & pepper, and cover. Cook stock on low for about 4-6 hours- you can cook it for up to 12 hours in your crockpot if you wish instead).  Pull out a few pieces of chicken, pull off the cooked meat and set aside (you want about 2 cups of chopped cooked meat). Put bones back into the pot. Cook for another 20-30 minutes.
  6. Take the stock off the heat, and once cool, strain off the solids, and discard. The remaining liquid is your chicken stock. While you start with 12 cups of water, after cooking the stock down, you may end up with 6-8 cups of rich, velvety stock.
  7. Place chicken stock on the stove in a large pot, add in chopped chicken, remaining veggies, and any herbs/spices.
  8. Once veggies have started to soften/cook, add noodles/macaroni/rice if desired. Salt and pepper to taste.
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Mire Poix- Aka carrots, celery, and onions with a bayleaf, garlic and shallots. The perfect start to any soup!

As soon as noodles/macaroni/rice is cooked, remove soup from heat. Serve with hot bread (and butter).

*If you are starting with a rotisserie chicken, pull off 2 cups of meat, and add the carcass after the veggies are cooked and fragrant. proceed with remainder of recipe.

Clean Out Your Closets, it’s SWAP TIME!!

Ya’ll know I love me a good Clothing Swap. If you are a San Diego, CA area resident, there is a great swap coming up on the 29th of September.

Skyline Church in La Mesa is hosting it’s twice a year swap, and boy am I excited! I’ve been cleaning out our closets, dressers, and every space that we store stuff.

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I even cleaned out my trunk to make room for all of the new stuff we’re taking home!

In addition to clothing, they also accept housewares and all kinds of other stuff, so I’ve been going through the kids bookshelves to take along any books they may have outgrown or any duplicate books.

We’re dropping stuff off next Thursday afternoon. I’ve always got extra items, so if you’re a local and want to come but you don’t have anything to swap, let me know!

If you can’t make this swap, but want to learn more about future swaps all over San Diego County, Check Out Thread Bumpin’– It’s a Meetup.com group, especially for clothing swaps. It’s free to join. If you are new to clothing swaps, check out my post here all about them and why they are so cool!

Finally: If you are in need of clothing, but have nothing to swap, two good free clothing resources in San Diego are The Closet on 54th (Men, women, and children’s clothing) and Naomi’s Closet (only women’s clothing).

Talk Back: Have you ever been to a clothing swap? What is your favorite part?

Free and Low Cost Summer Movies for the Family!

One of my favorite things about Summer Vacation is that lots of businesses and parks get into the fun of summer with free and low cost movies!

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 11.55.08 AM.pngRegal Cinemas has $1 movies all summer! Each location has a different schedule, but the same movies. Here is the complete list and your closest location.

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 11.58.02 AM.pngSummer Movies in the Park is an awesome summer long event that takes place all over San Diego County in various city and county parks. There are lots of great movies for kids and families to chose from!

Santee Lakes will be hosting Movies and More at the Lakes all summer long! The event is free, but park admission is $10 per carload during the event. If you go in earlier in the day and just play at the park, it’s $6/carload. The first movie is on June 22nd, and it’s Lego Batman! Here is the calendar with all of the events taking place at Santee Lakes all summer!

 

Which movie are you looking forward to seeing with your kids this summer?