How to Save Money Feeding Your Family

How to Save Money Feeding Your Family from Vicki-Arnold.com

And no, this is not another gardening post. I will take the moment to say that growing your own food is the best money saving tip I have, but I’ve already covered that. So today we are talking strategies to feeding your family for $25 per person for a full week.

That equates to $3.57 per person, per day. To break it down even further, $1 per meal and $.57 for two snacks per person.

I’m just gonna tell you right now that this post is going to be long because I’m going to share a some general money saving strategies, a detailed menu plan with cost breakdown, a free meal planning packet, AND there is going to be a collection of resources known as a linky at the bottom. This linky will have other posts linked up because this post is part of the $100 Grocery Budget Challenge that was created in a blogging group I belong to called Inspired Bloggers Network.

$100 Grocery Budget Challenge Details

The challenge is to show that it is possible to feed a family on $25 per person per week. So $100 for a family of 4, $200 for a family of 8, etc. In our family, we have 6 to feed: 2 adults, 3 kids, and 1 toddler. My almost 10 year old son eats like an adult and we regularly have an extra preschooler.

Our typical grocery budget is actually $125/week, which is less than this challenge already for us ($150), BUT. Big but here. I usually go over that budget because we also have a Miscellaneous fund that I pull drive thru stops and meals out from. As well as any other dietary “splurge” purchases (think sweet treats). The challenge for me this pay period is to stick with the $150.

For reference sake, I’m supposed to tell you that we are in Indiana. And now, let’s get started.

How I Save Money While Grocery Shopping

Coupons are not a regular part of my grocery shopping, I just don’t have the time for them. I do use them when I come across them, I just don’t spend a lot of time hunting them down and clipping them.

And we don’t stockpile items for the most part. I do stock up when I visit certain stores, but we do not have large reserves of toothpaste, shampoo, and tooth brushes in our house.

  • Eat before I shop. I almost didn’t include this because it’s so basic, but I don’t do it approximately half the time so I apparently need the reminder. Grocery shopping while hungry = shopping with your stomach. And you want to shop with your brain. Your brain wants to save money, your stomach wants to eat.
  • Shop prepared. I am one of those people who dreads putting a meal plan together because I tend to dislike being told what to do…even if it’s my own plan telling me what to do. I would much rather prefer eating whatever I feel like it, when I feel like it. The problem with this is that is makes grocery shopping ridiculously expensive because you have to keep more things on hand to cook impulsively. However, taking the time to make a meal plan and a shopping list saves me time (and money) in the long run. I’ll share my meal planning strategy in the next section.
  • Bulk stores. We have a little specialty store in town. Folks around here call it a bulk store, but it’s not a REAL bulk store because the food comes pre-packaged (by the store workers), you don’t choose the amount you buy, but I digress. I buy things like oats (steel cut and old fashioned), specialty flours, and some spices here.
  • Independent discount stores. We have a little discount store run by the local Amish community that is about 45 minutes from my house. I usually make a trip once a month there. I buy things like granola bars, cereals, organic baby food pouches, and any other regular grocery items they happen to have. The items at this store are discounted because of dented boxes, torn labels, discontinuation, and past sale dates. We have occasionally picked up something that was stale (taco shells that cost me $.49) and something that just smelled off (a $1.20 bag of dried fruit) that we ended up pitching, but that has been a rare occurrence for us. I regularly buy outdated boxes of cereal for $1, boxes of organic granola bars for $1.25, and organic baby food pouches for $.39. The last trip I made, I bought a 12 roll pack of Scott 1,000 sheet toilet paper for $5. This is one store that I do stock up on whatever I can get when I do make the trek out.
  • Chain discount stores. There are two Ollie’s Bargain Outlets within 30 minutes of us. I recently discovered that I could also get organic granola bards for $1/box there, too! I already like to stop in here to check out their book selection so it’s not out of my way to walk across the store to see what grocery deals they have. My favorite score so far has been a $7.99 box of Larabar Alt protein bars, 15 bars! Big Lots also has grocery deals sometimes, but I am not in that store regularly.
  • Costco. I big puffy pink heart love Costco. We buy all sorts of things at Costco, like books, movies, clothes, batteries, printer paper, and the random awesome deals that show up. I drive almost 45 minutes every other week to go to Costco. That’s how much I love it. As far as groceries go, we buy organic broccoli florets, packages of bell peppers ($6 for 6), bags of frozen organic fruit for smoothies, butter, cheese, and much much more.
  • Manager’s Special & Clearance. I always look for these when I grocery shop. I know where they are in the local Krogers and can spot them in Meijer’s, too. It’s not dependable what you can find, but when you do find something, it’s usually quite the score. We like Larabars here. They are regularly on sale for $1, I found some on manager’s special once for $.75. Those quarters really do add up! I especially love when I find them on manager’s special and have a Swagbucks coupon to use on top of it. Score!

How I Meal Plan

Over the years, it’s changed. I’ve done the following:

  • Fly by the seat of my pants. We eat a lot of spaghetti and breakfast for dinners during these times. It gets old.
  • Detailed breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and treats for one week and two week intervals. I never stick to this.

Now, I do this. I come up with 7 dinners, 3-4 lunches, 3-4 breakfasts, and a handful of fruits, veggies, and other snacks. I put them on a piece of paper and then check them off as I use them. I make sure to mark if the meal is something special like a crockpot meal so that I don’t wait too long to start those. This seems to give me the balance of structure and flexibility that I need.

$100 Weekly Meal Plan

This is a sample of a $100 weekly meal plan for our home.

Breakfasts

  • Cereal – I buy these for $1-$2 per box. We will use 2-3 boxes per week plus a gallon of milk ($3 regularly priced, but regularly on sale for$2-$2.50 or free with other purchase promotions). We’ll overestimate to $9.
  • Eggs and toast – We have chickens that lay our eggs, which are not free because we do buy feed. However, it doesn’t come out of my grocery money and we don’t calculate the per egg cost. We are also often given day old bread from a bakery, which I freeze and we use as needed. The eggs I buy in the winter when our hens aren’t laying cost $2.50 per dozen. My husband eats 2 eggs for breakfast every morning and we will eat a batch of 6-8 scrambled eggs once or twice a week. So I will figure the cost for this at $7.50 for the eggs (3 dozen) and $2 for two loaves of store brand bread, for a total of $9.50 for the week.
  • Oatmeal – I buy this for $.79/lb. at the local bulk food store. A $3 bag lasts us well beyond a week because we don’t eat it frequently. I like to add cinnamon, a little sugar, and raisins. I buy our raisins from Costco, 2 – 36 oz bags for approximately $8. For a week’s worth of oatmeal we might use 1/4 of a bag, roughly $1. Sugar is bought from Costco as well, a 10 pound bag of organic evaporated cane sugar is $10. I use 1/4 cup for 6 cups of cooked oatmeal. I’m going to overestimate the sugar cost to $1 for the week. Total weekly+ cost $5.

Lunches

  • Leftovers – We eat a lot of leftovers for lunch. My husband takes them every day to work and we often have them at home. Cost = $0.
  • Pancakes – Sometimes we do bigger, more time consuming breakfast recipes for lunch. Pancakes and french toast are popular choices. I’ll use the 6 eggs left from the 3 dozen accounted for in our breakfasts for this. That gives me two lunches with a triple batch of pancakes. We often add chocolate chips to ours, but plain are just as yummy if I don’t have chocolate chips on hand (like now). I buy syrup from Costco, $6 for 2 huge bottles that last us months (obviously not real maple syrup). Flour and olive oil also bought at Costco. Baking powder is $2 for a can at Kroger. I buy Redmond Real Salt from Azure Standard. I used this article to help me estimate the cost, we make standard pancakes. Cost = $3.60 to have them twice in a week.
  • Sandwiches – Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make an appearance in our diet roughly once a week. The peanut butter we use is $6/jar because it is SO worth it. Jelly is either home canned, $1 jars from the discount store, or $4 quart jars from Costco. We never use a whole jar of either peanut butter or jelly, I’ll call it 1/3 because sometimes we do put jelly on our toast in the morning. Cost: $3.

Snacks

  • Granola bars – These are the $1-$1.25 boxes from discount stores. With the average of 6 in a box, the cost per bar is $.21. The kids are allowed 1-2 per day, depending on the day’s activities and other factors (some days they are simply more hungry). I will figure 5 boxes at $1.25 each. Cost = $6.25.
  • Apples and bananas – A bag of apples and 3 bunches of bananas. Cost = $6.
  • Chips and salsa – Cost is counted with a dinner below because we have about half of what I buy for the meal left. Cost = $0.

Dinners

  • Beef and Bean Dip – This has beans ($2 for dry), diced tomatoes ($1), ground beef ($4), onions ($1), and spices (nominal). We buy a big bag of tortilla chips from Costco for $5 and will use it for this meal, as a side with tacos, and as a snack. This makes lots of leftovers, I’ll share a detailed breakdown with a recipe in the future. Cost = $13.
  • Spaghetti – My marinara sauce costs less than $7 for an 8-quart stock pot full. And it smells delicious as it simmers, too. We use 1/4 of that for a meal (freeze the extra), plus 2 boxes of spaghetti ($2). Cost = $4.
  • Pizza – I’ll use another 1/4 of the marinara sauce here (less than $2). I buy mozzarella cheese pre-shredded from Costco, $12 for a 5 pound bag. I don’t think we use 1/4 of the package, but I’ve never actually measured how much we do use ($3). We top our pizza with pepperoni ($3/package that we don’t fully use in one week), pineapple tidbits ($1), bell peppers ($2), and any variety of items we have left from other meals like onions, mushrooms, etc. I home make our pizza dough in my Kitchenaid mixer (estimating based on this to $1). This makes us 2 large pizzas, usually enough for leftovers. We pair this with home canned green beans ($0). Cost = $12.
  • Loaded Baked Potatoes – We actually successfully grew potatoes in our garden this year! But for the sake of this, I’ll estimate the cost of a 5 pound bag ($2 on sale regularly). We top our baked potatoes with sour cream ($1 on sale), cheddar cheese (bought at Costco, shredded at home for $8 for a two pound block of Tillamook medium cheddar, cost for this meal’s worth is $3), sauteed broccoli ($2), and bacon (Coleman’s uncured, $12 for 3 packages at Costco, $4). Cost = $12.
  • Tacos – We brown up 2 pounds of ground beef with an onion ($6). Other parts to this meal – taco shells ($1), tortilla shells ($1), salsa ($5 from Costco, see snacks), lettuce ($1), cheese ($3), sour cream ($1), and jalapenos ($3 for a jar that lasts us a few meals). Total cost = $21.
  • Veggie Stew – This is a pretty cheap meal to put together. I home make our chicken broth (so super easy) and will pair that with a can of tomato juice ($3) for the base. Then I add in a bunch of celery ($1), carrots ($1′s worth), a couple potatoes ($1), a turnip or two ($1), and an onion ($1). Then, voila! I have an 8-quart pot of stew. I’ll even toss in leftover corn, frozen green beans, and other veggies that I have leftover from other meals into the pot for a different soup each time. Total cost = $8.
  • White Chili – This is from one of the Fix It and Forget It cookbooks. It costs $10 for a large crockpot full.

And there you have it, a meal plan that will feed my family of 6 for a full 7 days for a total of $122.35.

Free Meal Planning Pages

I made a set of meal planning pages for you. There are two weekly meal plan pages, a page for shopping lists, and coordinating recipe cards.

Free Meal Planning Pages from Vicki-Arnold.com

Download yours today!

$100 Grocery Challenge Links

$100 Grocery Challenge

Below you will find more tips, tricks, and helps for saving money feeding your family.

Share your tips in the comments!

Free & Frugal Gift Ideas That Work for Anyone + 3 Bonus Gift Guides

Free & Frugal Gift Ideas that Work for Anyone! Plus 3 bonus guides for more free & frugal ideas.

This holiday season is bound to be busy for you. You are also bound to run across some advertising that will try to convince you that you need to spend a lot of money to make it great. And I have no problem with spending money to buy special gifts for the special people in your life. In fact, I quite enjoy shopping for gifts for others, whether Christmas, birthdays, or just because.

However, I know most people are in the same boat as us and have a budget that they need to stretch as far as they can. It was that thought process that brought me to today’s post, which is a list of ideas for free and frugal gift ideas that will work for anyone. Plus, I have an added little bonus for you at the end so keep reading.

Gifts of Service Rock

Teaching my children to serve well is a big goal of mine. I believe it combats a sense of entitlement and can help curb pity parties. ;) Here is a list of ways you and your child can offer the gift of service this holiday season:

  • Take someone to do their holiday shopping. Maybe you know someone who’s mobility is limited right now and could use a lift to pick out gifts for someone that normally takes them on their errands.
  • Volunteer with someone. Do you have a family member who is passionate about a certain community project or ministry? Set aside time to volunteer with that family member.
  • Clean something for somebody. Take a day to help someone get their house cleaned and decorated for the holidays. Be sure to come back and help them take it down after the holidays are over.
  • Help someone with fall or winter jobs. Perhaps you know an elderly person who could use their sidewalk shoveled when it snows or leaves raked so they don’t fall when it’s wet. Gutters need cleaned this time of year. Outdoor lightbulbs need changed so they can see better.
  • Cook someone dinner. It’s a busy time of the year, most people would appreciate a meal. And some people are just flat out hungry. Feeding someone feeds more than their stomach.
  • Contact a nursing home and see if there is a resident you can “adopt” for the holiday (consider doing this year-round).

And, as my husband reminded me as we talked about this post, if you are going to do an act of service for someone, do it well. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” – Colossians 3:23

Get Crafty with Your Bad Self

This one is my daughter’s absolute favorite. She loves, loves, loves to make things for people. In fact, she has already started on her homemade gifts this year. This one will depend on your skills and talents, of course. The frugal part will also depend on your available supplies, so that is relative.

For example, you may not have 5 18-gallon totes of fabric in your basement to work with so sewing something might not be a good option for you. But you may have a huge collection of rubber stamps and cards at your disposal. I know how you paper crafters are, I studied to become one a few years ago. Have I mentioned I have pack-rat tendencies?

Pinterest is a crafter’s best friend. Here are a few boards to get your “I can make that!” creative juices flowing:

  • DIY :: Christmas – This is my Christmas board that I pin decoration ideas to. Some are great for kids. All would make great gifts for the right person.
  • DIY :: Gifts – These are the projects that are just looking for gift wrapping and the right receiver. Things like decorating golf balls, DIY gift bags, lip balm, and key chains.
  • DIY :: Sewing Stuff – You know I love me some sewing tutorials. This is the Pinterest board I use to curate all the loveliness I find. You can also check out the tutorial round-ups I did for little girl’s dresses, women’s dresses, skirts, and maternity for more ideas.
  • DIY :: Cardmaking Craftiness – And finally, inspiration for the perfect card. Create on of these beauties and then fill it with words that bless the socks off your recipient.

Everybody’s Got to Eat

I think this is everyone’s most and least favorite part of the holiday season. The FOOD. Oh, the decadence. It’s the time of year that I make Oreo cheesecakes for me…whoops, um, I mean my family.

Here’s the thing, make your gift stand out and make it good for your gift receiver. Not so good for you that it tastes like cardboard, but something that truly nourishes a body. Have I lost you? Try these ideas:

  • A fruit bouquet or basket
  • Hearty soups or chilies to put in their freezer
  • Homemade bread dough (again, for the freezer)
  • A basket of home canned veggies – Have a surplus of canned green beans? Well, put it in a pretty package and share them with someone who understands the value of home grown food. Hopefully you know someone like that.

Memories on the Corner of My Mind

Participate in family traditions. Start some new ones. Go out of the way to include people you don’t get to see very often or those who are hurting and lonely. This time of the year is hard for a lot of people, help ease that for someone.

  • Go see a free concert together.
  • Go see a Christmas display or Christmas lights.
  • Bake cookies with someone and then deliver them to a nursing home.
  • Go Christmas caroling.

Gift Ideas from Other Awesome Bloggers

And now, your bonus! A few awesome bloggers partnered with me for this and have their own posts focusing on the free and frugal gift options this season. You should definitely check their posts out:

Websites Frugal Homeschoolers Need

Websites frugal homeschoolers need to know about.

Homeschool mamas are probably some of the most frugal people I know. Our budgets are usually limited, so we are always looking for great deals. Recently I shared some frugal websites for online shoppers. As I was putting that together, I realized I knew of several that were homeschool specific. And voila! A post was born.

Here is your friendly notice, I use affiliate links on my blog. Not every link is one, but I am required to tell you that I do use them. Confused? Read my post, Blog 101: What are Affiliate Links? for more information.

Now, onto the websites for frugal homeschoolers.

Websites for Saving Money on Homeschool Curriculum

  • Amazon :: Amazon is often the first place I look to find various books. You can find books, workbooks, CDs, DVDs, and ebooks. There is also a section on the site called Amazon Gold Box Deals where I have found especially great deals on things like art supplies and electronics (like a sewing machine). If you use Amazon more than a few times each month, consider investing in a Prime membership. You get free 2-day shipping, access to movies and videos via streaming, and you can borrow certain ebooks on your Kindle for free. The shipping savings is enough to make it worth it for our homeschool.
  • Homeschool Classifieds :: Like the classified section of your newspaper, but online and only homeshool curriculum and related items. I’ve bought and sold on this site with great success.
  • Facebook :: Seriously. There are Facebook groups for buying, selling, and trading homeschool curriculum. What I like about this is that you can see the items before buying. You can also find Facebook groups for homeschool related freebies and frugal tips geared specifically for homeschool families. You can find groups for specific curriculums, life circumstances, and faith beliefs. Here are two to get you started: Homeschool Deals and Freebies and Affording the Homeschool Life.
  • Half.com :: This site is owned by eBay, but is not an auction site. It is very similar to buying used books on Amazon.
  • Half-Priced Books :: I recently found this section of the HPB website, you might find what you are looking for there. Personally, I prefer their physical clearance sections. I have found many awesome deals there over the years. Just the other day we picked up six American Girl books for $1 each.
  • Miller Pads and Paper :: Maybe I am the last homeschooler to have discovered this place, but man am I glad to have found them at the homeschool convention in April. I missed out getting to see them in Nashville at Teach Them Diligently. Nevertheless, they have excellent prices on notebooks, sketchpads, and the like.
  • Rainbow Resource Center :: Discount Prices on many popular curriculum items.
  • Hearts At Home Curriculum :: A discount store with most popular homeschool curricula available. Best pricing I’ve found so far on A Reason For Handwriting workbooks.

Websites for Finding Free Homeschool Resources

Free Homeschool Deals :: Free resources for just about everything you could possibly need relating to homeschooling.

Bible Based Homeschooling {on a Budget} :: Find free biblical homeschooling resources.

Homeschool Giveaways and Freebies :: Weekly giveaways and subscriber only freebies.

CurrClick :: You can find all sorts of things available here. There are also freebies offered with coupon codes to watch for.

Topic Specific Resources for Frugal Homeschoolers

Free Kindle Books for Kids :: Ben and Me – There are a LOT of classic, living books here. This is a great resource for Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers.

iEducation – Free Apps for Homeschooling :: Ben and Me – Marcy has just about every subject covered here.

Learning Photography in Your Homeschool for Free :: My first post at Free Homeschool Deals. If you have a student interested in photography, but the subject intimidates you, check it out.

Free and Frugal Ways to Learn Art in Your Homescool :: I covered art basics, drawing tutorials, painting tutorials, pastel tutorials, and more in this Free Homeschool Deals post.

Free and Frugal Resources to Teach Composer Study :: This post pairs well with my huge list of books for composer study. Yes, I compiled both. No, I’m not bragging, just want to bless as many people as possible with my work. Seriously.

What would you add to the list?

Tell me in the comments below, but first sign up for the homeschool newsletter I have launching in July. Trust me, frugal homeschoolers will NOT want to miss this!


Websites Every Frugal Shopper Should Know and Use

Websites Every Frugal Shopper Should Know About and Use

Do you shop online? Do you search for things on the internet? Do you like free things? Yes, yes, and oh yeah! Then let me tell you about a few of my favorite sites for saving money. I am using affiliate links in this post.

Amazon

I’m serious. Did you know that through Amazon you can get free ebooks for your Kindle? Did you know that you don’t have to have a Kindle to read these free ebooks? You can download a free app onto your desktop and then let the freebie shopping begin! You don’t even have to hunt down the freebies and deals yourself. Several bloggers I know compile lists of these ranging from monthly to daily!

Ebates

Ebates has just about every store you can think of listed in their directory. Some only have coupon codes, but with most you can earn money back on you purchases. How does it work? Before you shop online, check the Ebates website to see if the website is listed. If it is, click shop now and you will earn 2-25% of you purchase total back in your Ebates account. It accumulates until you have at least $5 and then they send you a Big Fat check each quarter or you can get it deposited into your PayPal account.

Sign up now and get bonus $10 gift card or an extra $5 added to your first Big Fat Check free!

A few of my favorite sites to shop with through Ebates:

  • iTunes (3%)
  • The Children’s Place (2.5%)
  • Lego (2.5%)
  • Vitacost (6%)
  • Groupon (3%)
  • Zulily (2.5%) – I just discovered that Zulily was on Ebates!

Swagbucks

If you use a search engine other than Swagbucks, you are missing out. Swagbucks has a search engine that works just as well as your mainstream search engines. I used to use Yahoo! until I signed up for Swagbucks a few years ago. When you search, occasionally you earn Swagbucks (the number varies from 5 to 50 and is random). These add up and you can redeem them in the Rewards Store for a wide variety of items. I use them for Amazon egift cards (450 Swagbucks = $5 Amazon card).

We homeschool. My kids ask me detailed questions that I don’t always have the answers to. Most of my free Amazon money has come from searching for things like “how fast is the fastest man?” and “what is the difference between a raven and a crow?” Seriously.

Other ways you can earn Swagbucks: online shopping, taking a daily poll, taking online surveys, playing games, watching videos, and printing and using coupons. Install the toolbar and you get one free Swagbuck each day simply for opening your web browser. You can search directly through the toolbar. There is also a handy little button called “Check for Swag Code” that, when clicked on, will tell you if there is an active Swag Code anywhere.

What’s a Swag Code? It is like a coupon code except instead of free shipping, you get Swagbucks. Codes are usually worth 3-10 Swagbucks.

Swagbucks is really, really easy to use. I know we have enjoyed our free Amazon spending money.

Hotwire

I don’t use this very often, but I have been happy with the results when I have. I use Hotwire to book hotel rooms when we travel. You do not get to pick the hotel, so this is not for those who need to stay at a specific location. However, we have been very happy to stay in $120/night hotel rooms for $74/night. I have not booked cars or flights, so I can’t share any experiences there.

Bonus? If you shop through the Swagbucks Shop & Earn link, you earn 2 Swagbucks per dollar spent. Or you can go through Ebates and earn 2% cash back. A nice little perk.

Pinterest

You may or may not be aware of this, but I kind of love Pinterest. As far as the frugal shopper is concerned, you can find how to save money articles, DIY projects to make instead of buying, and ways to recycle, repurpose, or reuse things. Be sure to visit my Pinterest page and check out my DIY boards!

DIY pinterest boars from @vicki_arnold

Conclusion

Not one of these will make you rich beyond your wildest imaginations, but if you use them together, you can earn a nice chunk of change to help your frugal ways. With Ebates, Swagbucks, and Zulily, if you tell your friends about the site, you earn credit. You can then use those to shop for free. What is more frugal than free?!

It really does add up!

Everything Frugal – Mom Tested, Family Approved Link-Up

Everything Frugal: The Ultimate Frugal Link-Up

Everything Frugal – April’s Mom Tested, Family Approved Link-Up!

Do you know someone not watching their pennies these days? Yeah, neither do I. So for this round of the Mom Tested, Family Approved monthly link-up, we are asking bloggers to share their posts on everything frugal. If it helps stretch the budget, it fits. All we ask is a link to one of the co-hostess’s main post (you are reading mine).

When you link up, your post is in the running to be featured in next month’s main posts…on FIVE blogs. That is five backlinks, if you care about that sort of thing… For the featured Everything Gardening posts, please see below. Also, gardening can be a pretty frugal option. You may want to check out last month’s link up for ideas there.

So, bloggers share your best frugal tips, tricks, ideas, and advice. Readers, get ready to equip yourself with ways to stretch your budget even farther.

A Question for Readers

Do you have a specific area that you need help coming up with ideas on how to save money? Please share in the comments here. I will do my best to hunt down posts to help you out. If you see someone share an area that you have a link to help, please reply to their comment and point them in the right direction. This is a simple way we can help each other stretch our budgets.

Ideas for Bloggers

Would you like to link up, but don’t know what we are looking for or need some topic ideas? First, I am serious that if it stretches any budget farther, it fits. There isn’t a dollar limit, a frugal vacation will obviously cost more than a frugal dinner.

Beyond that, here are a few ideas:

  • frugal craft projects
  • frugal homemaking
  • frugal ways to take a vacation
  • frugal shopping methods
  • frugal homesteading
  • frugal decorating
  • how to stretch your budget when dealing with food allergies
  • making alternative health affordable

Everything Garden Featured Posts

Blogger Tested, Reader Approved - Featured posts for Everything Garden link-up

 

 

 

 

Last month we hosted the Everything Garden link-up. The featured posts are:

Be sure to check them out!

Mom Tested, Family Approved: Home Co-Hostesses

Next month we are talking Everything Summer!

And now, Everything Frugal!



23 Free Sewing Tutorials for Women’s Dresses!

23 Free Dress Tutorials for Women.

Sewing is one of my most and least favorite hobbies. Most favorite because I love fabric shopping, turning yards of fabric into something usable, hearing my kiddos rave about something made just for them, and wearing something fabulous I made just for me. Least favorite because my skills don’t match my imaginations and I am horribly impatient.

While I would love to bring you fabulous tutorials of my own creation, I only have so many hours in the day. Plus there are SO many great tutorials, patterns, and ideas out there. Twice a month or so I will be bringing you sewing related posts, like round-ups of free sewing tutorials, inspiration from around the web, and who knows, maybe a tutorial of my very own. The first one this month is, you guessed it, dresses for women (as opposed to little girls…)!

Between Mother’s Day, wedding season, and the fact that summer is a great time to wear a dress, now is the time to start thinking about making yourself (or someone you love) a new dress.

Ruffle Maxi Dress Tutorial

Photo used with permission. Click on the photo to go directly to the tutorial.

Blue Linen Dress Refashion

Photo used with permission, click on the photo to go directly to the post.

There are 23 dresses to get you started. Once you make your way through the list, hop over to my DIY :: Sewing Stuff board to see what other goodness I have pinned!

DIY :: Sewing Stuff - a Pinterest board curated by vicki-arnold.com

I am linking this post up with Mom Tested, Family Approved Everything Frugal and Frugal Family.

Happy Sewing!


Download Sewing Patterns Today!

August 3 in 30 – Week 3

So you may have noticed I don’t do a weekly update here on my 3 in 30 goals. I mean to, but life happens. I’m sure you all understand. ;) Here is a quick update on where my goals for August stand so far:

1.  Return to my daily prayer and Bible time.

I haven’t achieved daily status yet, but I’m significantly up from the last two months. So there’s that. I was doing better with this before this week when another cough/cold hit me and the kids. I’m so very ready for this stuff to leave my family.

2.  Get my two homeschool co-op class lesson plans finalized.

Ahem. The only thing I managed to do with this one is to get the books out. I did rule out one book that I thought I was going to use, but that is about it. I didn’t want to put this off until last minute, which is why it is a goal, so I am going to get this one knocked out this last week. I have three weeks from Tuesday until class starts. Finishing two weeks ahead would be nice.

3.  Get three frugal posts researched, written, photographed and published.

I’m thinking this one may not be met. I did choose the topics from my list and start some rough draft outlines. I still need to find some statistics and links, get some photographs, actually write the articles and publish them. We’ll see. Goal #2 takes priority here. As does the little bit of catching up we have to do for the schoolwork we missed last week.

All in all, not great progress, BUT the most important goal I had (#1) is making decent progress. So there’s that.

How are your goals coming this month?

3in30 Challenge

Heirlooms, Hybrids & GMOs, Oh My!

You may be wondering why I would include this in my series on saving money. To be honest, it’s about much more than money. There is one definite way heirlooms save you money, but this goes much deeper than money.

Heirlooms are open-pollinated. If you save their seeds, you can grow the same plant/fruit the next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. You get the point. You can turn your $3 investment into a lifetime of food if you use heirlooms. Not so with Hybrids and genetically modified (GM) seeds.

Hybrids are a forced cross between plants. These do have the possibility to be stabilized and become open-pollinated. There are markings in seed catalogs that will let you know this. A marking of F1 is a first generation plant. You can not save true seed from these plants. Therefore, you have to purchase your seeds annually.

“The more seasons you grow an heirloom in your particular area, the stronger the plant will be in dealing with that area’s specific set of gardening troubles.” — GenericSeeds.com

Now, on to genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified food is more of a buying issue than a what-to-grow issue since the seeds aren’t readily available for backyard gardeners. However, this is what the majority of our commercial farms are using. You need to be aware of this.

Genetically modified seeds are something out of a science fiction horror movie, only real. Genetically modified organisms take the DNA from one species and insert it into another. They take genes from bacteria, viruses, animals, insects and humans, then insert them into the seeds along with antibiotic resistant “marker” genes (hmm, antibiotic resistant genes in our food…that sounds super).

Do you know what they are doing with genetic modification?

  • potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering (I’ll admit this one sounds kind of awesome, a plant that tells you when to water it…but what did they put in it to make it GLOW?)
  • corn engineered with jellyfish genes
  • engineering corn with hepatitis genes
  • inserting jellyfish genes in pigs to make their noses glow in the dark

You can visit the FAQs page at Seeds of Deception for a whole lot more on GM seeds. I’ll share some sections that jumped out at me:

Crops such as Bt cotton produce pesticides inside the plant. This kills or deters insects, saving the farmer from having to spray pesticides. The plants themselves are toxic, and not just to insects. Farmers in India, who let their sheep graze on Bt cotton plants after the harvest, saw thousands of sheep die!

Hasn’t research shown GM foods to be safe? No. The only feeding study done with humans showed that GMOs survived inside the stomach of the people eating GMO food. No follow-up studies were done. Various feeding studies in animals have resulted in potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, damaged immune systems, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy or increased density of the liver, odd shaped cell nuclei and other unexplained anomalies, false pregnancies and higher death rates.

In March 2001, the Center for Disease Control reported that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the U.S. compared to estimates just seven years earlier. This increase roughly corresponds to the period when Americans have been eating GM food.

Q. Didn’t the scientists at the FDA study GM foods themselves? No.  The FDA relies solely on information supplied by the biotech companies.

Some further reading on organic seeds, GMO and seed saving:

Books on saving seeds:

To bring this back to the point of saving money, here is a photo of last year’s lettuce bed taken yesterday:

rogue-lettuce

Do you see all that lovely red romaine and gold rush lettuce?

I did not plant one single seed this year (well, that you see here).

To the left is the raised bed our lettuce occupied last year. As the weather heated up, the plants bolted. I harvested some of the seeds and have a legal size envelope full. Imagine my surprise this spring when all these little lovelies popped up, the plants reseeded themselves.

We had some for dinner the other night. Lovely. And free.

Further Reading: Where to buy heirloom seeds

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip from Vicki-Arnold.com

A note on the Frugal posts. I’m not going to do them on any special day. I’m going to share them as they are written. I’m always frustrated when I have a blog topic I’m interested in and have to wait a week between posts. Yes, I’m a wee bit impatient.

And now, My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip:

Grow your own food.

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip from Vicki-Arnold.com

Yes, it’s that simple. Yes, I know you are busy. Yes, it may take some creativity. It is so worth it.

No, I do not expect you to grow it all.

Why should you grow your own food? Well, I’m glad you asked!

  1. Gas – Saves you extra trips to the store. Plus, when gas prices go up, food prices go up.
  2. Better for you – You pick from your garden when it is ripe (full of nutrients). Commercial growers pick under-ripe because ripe does not travel well. Also, most commercial produce has been bred for uniform look and to hold up during travel, usually to the expense of flavor.
  3. Costs WAY less than buying produce – Bell peppers go on sale in our area for 3 for $5, which is $1.67 per pepper.  It costs $2.50 for a 4-pack of pepper plants at a local greenhouse.  Four pepper plants will grow many more than the two peppers it would take to come out ahead here. You compare the price to organic produce (which is the best way to grow your garden) and you are saving even more.
  4. Organic is better – Put it this way, pesticides = bad, bad for your health, bad for bees and bad for the environment. And now, there appears to be a link to the drastic rise in celiacs, gluten-intolerance, and IBS.
  5. It is easier than you think – Trust me. A lot of plants grow well in containers on a sunny porch. Herbs and spices grow well in a sunny windowsill. A little water daily and they will reward you handsomely.
  6. Did I mention it will save you gas and money? – ‘Cause it will.
  7. Security – Having food to feed your family if/when things are tight = priceless.

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip from Vicki-Arnold.com

Quick Gardening Basics

Where?

You need a sunny spot with good drainage with easy access to water. If deer or pets are a problem, be sure to fence off your garden.

What do I grow?

Well, what does your family eat? Obviously you can’t grow pizza, but you can grow tomatoes to make your own sauce, basil to season it, peppers and onions for toppings.

Easy Garden Plants

Easiest to grow:

  • tomatoes
  • corn (10/19/12 Update – Yeah, corn easily cross pollinates and if you have feed corn or GMO sweet corn growing nearby, it can ruin your corn. Also, we have only had success growing corn 1 year out of the 4 we tried. Start with something else.)
  • zucchini and yellow squash
  • cucumbers
  • peppers (these do really well in drier conditions)
  • lettuce
  • bush beans (for green beans)

If you can cultivate the ground 8-12 inches or have a raised bed, try carrots, beets, radishes and turnips. They are super easy.

Herbs and Spices to Try Growing

Herbs and spices to try:

  • basil
  • dill
  • oregano
  • chives
  • parsley

Herbs and spices could be the best spot to start if you don’t want to do a full garden since they are often an expensive addition to the grocery list. It is easy to dry and store your own and no more little bottles that cost $3+. The bonus to the herbs and spices in your garden, they keep a lot of common garden pests away.

Next we will discuss if you should buy heirloom plants and seeds or hybrids. I’ll give you a hint, heirlooms are gonna win.

Further Reading

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Image credit for the money photo goes to 401(k) 2013 on Flickr.