10/18/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

I went to the Vons on Friday and I was able to score 4 Taylor Chopped Salads for $2.96 after Vons Club special and a special coupon ($5/$5+ purchase). This is all we needed to complete our shopping for this coming week.

Thanks to some local deals, offers, and the school lunches the kids bring home, I have been able to keep our grocery budget to $60 per week for the past MONTH! It’s amazing. The extra money is going into our holiday savings account.

If you have kids between 2-18, check with your local school to see if they are offering free lunches and/or breakfasts. You can also check the USDA Website– but it might be a little out of date.

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 (I update it after every shopping trip), 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.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM. I’ll be posting the recipe for his current favorite this coming week.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being. The big kid has lunch at school, so it’s whatever he chooses from the lunch box in the cupboard, plus some fruit and juice or milk. Since the little girl is in the morning cohort at school, she has lunch at home. Buttered noodles, yogurt, apple slices, and a popsicle are her go-to lunch.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Leftovers (we’ve got a lot of salsa chicken leftover- maybe I’ll make them into Quesadillas)
  • Monday:  Entrees & Salad
  • Tuesday: Chicken Tika Masala, rice, veggies (It didn’t happen last week)
  • Wednesday:  DIY salad bar, garlic bread
  • Thursday: Soup and Quesadillas (or grilled cheese sandwiches), fruit
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Earning Money with Surveys!

Kitty is on the prowl for surveys!

I know a lot of us right now are unemployed or underemployed. There are a lot of Get Rich Quick scams out there (here are few to avoid), and I wanted to share with you some ways you can earn money at home in a legit way.

I do a lot of surveys online through various companies. Some of my favorites can be found here on my Side Hustles page.

Recently, a few more survey companies have been brought to my attention, so I thought I’d share them too.

Inbox Dollars is a company where you can earn cash by doing the following:

    • Online activities: Take Surveys, Watching Videos, Shopping, and More.

And when you sign up, you get a $5 bonus!

 

Kashkick is another company that I’ve heard about from several readers and friends.

Receive cashback from Kashkick when you read emails, complete surveys, take quizzes, referring your friend, and subscribing to special promotions.

 

 

LifePoints comes highly recommended by my friend Lisa.

Join one of the largest influencer communities in the world. They’ve rewarded over $20 million to our members in the last year alone.

Share your opinions on numerous products and popular brands. Complete surveys and get paid for it!

Earn points that can be redeemed for rewards of your choice. Join today and get 10 LifePoints to kick off your earnings!

I’ve been a member of MyPoints for over 10 years. In addition to using Mypoints to shop online to use points, you can earn points for searching the web, reading emails and visiting websites.

I earn about $15/month using Mypoints for my online shopping, in addition to surveys, and reading emails from them.

 

Opinion Outpost is another company that comes highly recommended.

Someone contacted me via my Facebook page and during the course of our chat, he told me he makes approx. $400 USD per WEEK using Opinion Outpost. Ok, so obviously this isn’t common, but, if you have a lot of time to dedicate to surveys and doing work online, anything is possible!

Leaning Into My Side Hustles: How I made $200 in two weeks!

Disclaimer: This article is FULL of links for affiliate programs, survey companies, and the like. Some of which I may receive a bonus or commission on if you sign up. Think of it as buying me a cup of coffee (that you don’t directly pay for). For the record, I like Iced Lattes, no sweetener.

Like so many other people, I haven’t been able to work as much over the past six months as I am used to. And this includes my side hustles, which sadly, have fallen to the side. A couple of weeks ago I decided to dive headfirst back into my side hustles and see if I couldn’t make a little bit of money. School will be starting next week (although for us it is distance-learning, so I will be teaching both kindergarten and special ed fourth grade- I don’t know if I’m up for it, but I’m gonna give it my best).

Usually, the beginning of school is the time where I get back into my side hustles and moneymaking endeavors, and I’m able to spend more time working because the kids are… Back in school.

A woman in one of my mom’s group post it on Facebook the other day asking about research studies, and that led me to realize that this post needed to be written. There are other people in similar positions as myself, and we need to make money.

The past two weeks I have spent a lot of time working my side hustles, mostly early in the morning or late at night. Or while I am sitting on the patio watching the kids splash in the kiddie pool. By the way, said kiddie pool was paid for using Amazon gift cards that I earned doing a side hustle.

Here are the side hustles I’ve been working the past two weeks and approximately how much money I’ve made.

Paid Viewpoint: I have done about 10 surveys for them over the past two weeks. Their surveys take usually less than 10 minutes to do, and you’re prequalified for them, so you’re not gonna waste a bunch of time only to be told that you’re not earning any money. They will email you when you have a survey, but you can also just log onto your account and see if you have any surveys to do.

Sometimes if they have something that is time-sensitive, they’ll email you right away and there is usually a small bonus ($.50 or less) to do the survey right away. Their payout is $15, and I cashed out this afternoon with $16.10. 

Pinecone Research: I don’t know if they are currently looking for new members, but you can always go to their website and take the survey and if they’re not looking for your demographic, they add you to the waiting list and when they need you they will email you. This is another survey company that only send you service that you were prequalified for. Most of the time it is for products that may be coming to marketplace soon and the Company has questions about packaging pricing structures and they just want opinions. Most of the time Pinecone Research surveys pay $3 each. You can either save it up and cash it out or just cash it out as you make it. I get my money via PayPal but they also have gift cards and other stuff too. I made $9 this week.

Field Agent: This is one hustle that you can’t do at home. Field Agent is a secret shopping/audit app. Right now they have a lot of “Buy and Try” for alcohol. I have only been doing Field Agent tasks when I am already going to go to a location where they have an available audit/secret shop. I’m not going out a lot of other places. Usually, you get a reimbursement for purchase plus a bounty for the survey. It’s quick, it’s easy, and you get to try new products. It’s pretty fun.  I haven’t been able to go to the gym in a while, I’ve pretty much stopped drinking. So I’m trying to avoid audits and secret shops that involve alcohol.  I’ve made $20 over the past two weeks.

Digsite: I don’t remember how I discovered DigSite (I think it was a targeted Facebook Ad). I have done surveys and research studies with them for about a year, and they generally pay between $25 and $200. over the past two weeks, I have done two research studies with them, it’s about 5 to 10 minutes each day for three or four days. They ask your opinions about a specific topic, sometimes you have to take a picture, or do a little bit of homework, but, overall it’s fun. Dig site pays in Amazon gift cards. Over the past two weeks, I have made $90 in Amazon gift cards.

Q-insights: Q-insights is a research study firm that’s based in Orange County, California. Once you get on their email list, they will send you emails when they have open studies. A lot of them are done online, but a few of them are done in person in Orange County in various locations. Cute insights surveys tend to pay in excess of $75, but, they can be a lot more work. They pay via check sent through the mail. I signed up for 2 of their upcoming studies, fingers crossed I get into them!

UpVoice: It’s a pretty passive way to earn money. As long as you’re active on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and you shop on Amazon, UpVoice is a pretty simple way to earn some spending cash. It is a chrome extension, I cashed out for $20 last week. In theory, if you are a regular social media user and have the upper voice chrome installation extension, you will be making $10 every 6 weeks or so for no extra effort.

Fetch Rewards: I use a bunch of different cashback apps in conjunction with my couponing to save money on groceries, but my favorite is Fetch Rewards. I’ve been putting receipts in like a madwoman, and I cashed out my points for $15 In Amazon Gift Cards.

Ibotta: When I got a new phone recently, I hadn’t transferred over all of my apps to my new phone. I realized this week that I needed to add Ibotta. When I did, I noticed I was almost to the $20 payout minimum, so right before I sat down to write this article, I scanned in my Food4Less receipt from earlier today, and that bumped me to $21.00! I cashed out lickity-split! (For some apps that I use to save and earn money, check out my post here).

Achievement: This is a super passive hustle, but it’s super fun. Here is the article I wrote last month with all the information about how it works. I cashed out for $10 on Monday. 

That’s a total of $201.10! I also sold a few things on Facebook Marketplace that we were getting rid of during our recent household purge. I didn’t include those above, since I can’t do that frequently (But it was $65 cash in my pocket!).

Talk Back: I would love to hear about some of your side hustles. How do you make extra cash?

Weekly Meal Plan & How You Can Do It Too!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgNow, more than ever, it’s important to plan meals and use what you have on hand. While the grocery store is still on “Ok to visit” list, it is important to limit our exposure to other people.

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 (I update it after every shopping trip), 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.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day: Right now our local school district is serving lunch for a drive-through service for kids 18 and under M-F. It’s great because it helps stretch our budget and it gets the kids out of the house for a few minutes. They also include a cold lunch (usually cereal and milk and a piece of fruit) for the next morning. Often times, the cereal ends up being a snack for late afternoon. 

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Monday: Frozen Entrees & Veggies
  • Tuesday: Casserole (probably Chicken Tetrazzini)
  • Wednesday: Pasta with red sauce and garlic bread
  • Thursday: Frozen Entrees & Veggies
  • Friday: Breakfast for dinner: Bagels and cream cheese, smoothies, fruit
  • Saturday: Leftover fiesta!
  • Sunday:  Chicken Soup (from Scratch)

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

2/24/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI forgot to push PUBLISH yesterday. OOPS. Well, last week I juggled stuff around and only posted the meal plan on Instagram. I may go back to that in the future, I’m not sure. I post on Insta about once a day, so not a lot, and I promise it’s not a feed full of perfectly polished, curated pics. It’s usually me, the cat, or craft projects pics taken with my iPhone 4S. Yes, I have a 4s. It still works, it’s a little slow (and small), but if it ain’t broke…

Back to the meal plan- I did a quick grocery trip on Sunday to stock up mostly on kiddo lunch goodies. I picked up a couple items we had run out of, like cream cheese and milk.

While rummaging through the freezer I found what I think is veggie soup, but we’ll find out once it thaws. Whatever it is, it’s for dinner tonight! This is a reminder to label the food in the freezer.

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 (I update it after every shopping trip), 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.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day: You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), 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.

Breakfast: I’ve gone back to a protein shake or coffee with a scoop of protein powder and a few pumps of Sugar-Free Syrup for me, and pancakes or something along those lines (Dave’s Killer Bagels are also a popular request for breakfast) 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 and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch. Usually on pizza day.

I’m fixing to make a big fruit salad today- We’ve got a lot of fruit and I don’t want it to get funky.

  • Monday: Leftover Fritatta and fruit
  • Tuesday: Vegetable Soup (or whatever I took out of the freezer)
  • Wednesday: Chicken Soup, Grilled Cheese sandwiches
  • Thursday: Casserole (I’m thinking about Chicken Tetrazzini)
  • Friday:  Pizza & Fruit
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday:  Beans, Rice, and Cheese bowls (with roasted peppers and onions)

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Women’s Health Week!

Womenshealth.gov - National Women's Health Week!
It’s only fitting that Women’s Health Week starts on Mother’s Day. While not every woman is a mother, everyone has a woman they care about in their life. National Women’s Health week is May 13- May 19, 2018.

The Women’s Health Week website has all sort of great guides and resources all about how women at any stage of life can care for themselves. And they are SIMPLE STEPS!

Here are just a few daily choices that women can make to live a little more healthier:

  • Eat healthy — go to ChooseMyPlate.gov to get started
  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity
  • Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep

See, baby steps!

A few other helpful hints that are good for your body & mind as well as your wallet…

If you have health insurance, don’t forget to get your annual check-up/exam (it’s covered for free under all health insurances in the US)! You can take that time to address health questions with your PCP. If you don’t have health insurance, many Planned Parenthood Clinic offer annual exams (in addition to annual reproductive health exams) for free or very low cost.

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Getting outside with a friend (or pet) is a great way to relieve stress!

If you don’t belong to a gym or health club, many employers offer discounts or work with gyms to offer discounted memberships.  If you aren’t a gym person, check out your local parks. Lots of parks in our local area have special walking loops and even fitness stations (Mast Park in Santee has both!). Other parks in San Diego with fitness/exercise stations include: Mission Bay Park,  Embarcadero Parks North & South, Tidelands Park near the base of the Coronado Bridge as you arrive in Coronado, Hilton Head Park in Rancho San Diego, Chollas Lake Park, and Morley Field (near Balboa Park). If your local park doesn’t have a fitness course, play on the jungle gym or go for a walk!

Taking care of your skin is a great way to practice a little self-care and relax. Here is my DIY Frugal Facial.

And the easiest step I can recommend to better your health: Have a glass of water! We have all sorts of water bottles at home, including infuser bottles like this one. The kids each have a water bottle too!

And if you are a budget, don’t forget to check out freebie sites for health and beauty freebie- I’ve gotten free SPF, skin care products, a pedometer, and vitamins!

I’d love to hear from you: What simple steps do you incorporate into your life to improve your health? Guys, you can comment too!  Better health is for everyone, not just ladies!

 

Buy Nothing Week: Frugal Living put to the test!

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I love the Buy Nothing Movement, in fact, I’ve hinted and written about it in a few of my posts recently.

Part of their movement is to try a buy nothing week, in fact they have an entire Facebook Group dedicated to it.

I started it this week with mostly successes, but we’ll be doing it again next week and I’d encourage you all to do it too!

It’s easy. Taking into consideration all of your financial obligations (rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, gas, etc.), be mindful to not spend any funds that you don’t HAVE TO. Skip the morning drive thru in favor of setting up the coffee maker before bed the night before and making yourself a quick to go brekkie before you hit the road.

Instead of cruising the aisles of Target to combat boredom, take a walk at a local park, or visit with friends.

There are so many small ways you can save money. But this challenge is more than saving money, it’s about being more self-reliant and helping others too.

  1. Clean out your closets (maybe one per day), and instead of throwing the unwanted items away, try posting them in your local Buy Nothing Group, or on another local group (like Nextdoor, Craigslist, or even a local facebook group like a mom’s group).
  2. If there is an item you need, seek it out on one of the free venues listed above. Earlier this week, I needed a new car booster seat to replace one that was damaged in my recent car accident. I asked on our local Buy Nothing Group, and a friend and neighbor offered me one that her daughter had outgrown. It had never been in an accident and was still in date! Score!
  3. Institute substitutions! Going to bake a cake, but you’ve run out of oil? Substitute applesauce, butter, canned pumpkin, or baby food (seriously)!  A quick Google search and a search of your pantry may lead you to a surprising switch. And who knows, it may be a new favorite!
  4. You may learn a new skill! I learned to sharpen my kitchen knives using the sharpener that came with the knife set, instead of taking my knife set to the sharpener (saved $50!). I watched the video on the knife company website, and read the manual.
  5. Barter or trade. You may be surprised! My mom trades her homemade jams and jellies for fruit, veggies, and eggs.

During our Buy Nothing week, I will still have to buy milk and bread, and maybe some fruit (depending on how much we go through), but I am committing to buy only what is on my list. I will also offer up unwanted stuff from our home to my neighbors. Books, clothes, kitchen gadgets, toys, games, even pantry goods.

But don’t think we’ll sit at home staring at each other, there are tons of fun, free things for us to do! Well, we’ve got some play dates near us planned for a few days during the week, and we always get out each day to the YMCA, or the lakes (also close by) for a walk, and to feed the ducks and play at the playground, and if it’s warm enough, we go in the pool at the YMCA (our HOA pool isn’t warm enough in the winter). We’re never want for activities to fill our days.

How can you participate? Pledge to have aBuy Nothing Week! Meal plan, pack your lunch, take your coffee from home. Find free/inexpensive activities to occupy your free time. Visit a park, go to the library. Take a week off from shopping. It’s a great way to spend more time connecting with family and friends.

I do this a few times a year. It really helps us take stock of what we have, both in the physical sense of what we have in our cupboards, but also how lucky we are to have the option to say, “This week we will not spend any money and our quality of life will not suffer.” I recommend that everyone have a spending freeze week or even a day and see how much money you’ll save.

I’ll be reporting our activities and money saved this week, and for those of you who will be having their own spending freeze (or even a modified one- try going a week without the coffee shop or drive-thru), I can’t wait to hear about your savings too!

7/11: Free Coffee Week October 12‑18!!

unnamedI love coffee. I’m drinking some right now. I also love free stuff. So, when I can get free coffee I’m stoked. I’m even more stoked when I can get FREE COFFEE ALL WEEK LONG!

7RewardsSM FREE Coffee Week is coming. Celebrate from October 12‑18 and get (1) ANY SIZE hot coffee for FREE each day!

Check the Scan & Save section of your 7Rewards app for the offer and come in and scan every day for your free cup.

Don’t have 7Rewards? Check out the Google Play or Apple App Store and download it to your enabled device (I have it on my iPhone and iPad!).

WOO HOO!! I love 7/11 coffee. It’s fresh (made every 30 minutes or less), and they have tons of flavored creamers, fresh 1/2 and 1/2, flavored syrups, even toppings like vanilla powder and cinnamon. I can make my own coffee shop coffee without the hefty price tag! And next week, it’s freeeeee!!!!!