Beef and Bean Dip – Frugal Family Dinner

This beef and bean dip is a favorite around here when the weather gets cooler. Fall is making its presence known around here right now and thus, this frugal family dinner has made an appearance on our meal plan a couple times already.

Ok, so part of that is because I needed to make it so I could take photos of it for the blog. And I might have forgot to do that the first time I made it, so I was pretty glad to have the ingredients for another round in the fridge and pantry.

We still love it.

Beef and Bean Dip Recipe - A Frugal Family Dinner

A couple notes for this recipe:

  • I use a 6 quart Lodge dutch oven for this. It makes it a one-pot meal.
  • This recipe makes a LOT of food. We typically have it for dinner (6 of us, half usually have more than 1 serving) and then we will have it for lunch at least one more time. Sometimes I freeze portions of it just so we can have a small amount ready whenever we want it.
  • It freezes well.
  • You can make this vegetarian by leaving out the ground beef. I use 6 cans of beans when I use roughly 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef. I would increase the beans to 8 or so to make up for leaving out the meat.
  • To make this super frugal, start with dry beans and home canned tomatoes.
  • I was super excited to see that Red Gold tomatoes are Non-GMO Project verified. They are local to my home state and it made me happy to see.
  • The cans of beans I use are from Costco. They are organic and at my local store, cost less than $1/can.

Red Gold petite diced tomatoes - ingredient in beef and bean dip recipe.

Organic beans from Costco - an ingredient in the beef and bean dip recipe from Simply Vicki

Beef and Bean Dip
Print Recipe
This recipe is as frugal as you want it to be, simply adjust the amount of ground beef or even leave it out.
    Prep Time
    10 minutes
    Cook Time
    30 minutes
    Prep Time
    10 minutes
    Cook Time
    30 minutes
    Beef and Bean Dip
    Print Recipe
    This recipe is as frugal as you want it to be, simply adjust the amount of ground beef or even leave it out.
      Prep Time
      10 minutes
      Cook Time
      30 minutes
      Prep Time
      10 minutes
      Cook Time
      30 minutes
      Servings: 5-quart pot
      1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, brown the ground beef with the onions. Drain unwanted fat off.
      2. Add in tomatoes, sauces, beans, and spices. Stir. Bring dip to a simmer and let heat through thoroughly.
      3. Scoop into bowls, top with shredded cheese and sour cream. Eat with a spoon or tortilla chips.
      Share this Recipe

      Frugal Family Dinners – Beans

      You can’t not think of beans when you think of frugal family dinners. Dry beans are very economical, even organic ones. It’s a great way to save money on feeding your family.

      The PROBLEM with beans, for me anyways, is that I can never think of how to actually fix them. I’m sort of on a mission to whittle down our food costs and I want to take advantage of the economical protein that is beans.

      So I took to the internet to find some options.

      Frugal Family Dinners - Beans - 40+ recipes to help stretch your food budget.

      Frugal Family Dinners – Beans

      I’m going to do my best to organize these, but there is some overlap.

      Meatless Bean Recipes

      Or mostly meatless.

      Beans as Meal Stretchers

      Or recipes with meat and beans.

      Chilies with Beans

      Slow Cooker Bean Recipes

      Bean Side Dishes

      Beans for Breakfast

      Yes, seriously. (And yes, I realize this post is called frugal family dinners…)

      There you go. Over 40 frugal family dinner ideas for beans. I have added a few to my list to try, which ones do you think you would try?

      How to Save Money for Christmas With No Extra Money

      Do you find yourself scrambling every November or December trying to figure out how to pay for Christmas? Do you find yourself wondering how to save money for Christmas when you have no extra money?

      There is a lot of wisdom in scaling back to only the necessities, giving gifts that don’t cost anything, and focusing on important elements of Christmas like family, serving others, and Jesus Christ. If you are feeling led to do this, please follow that.

      If you are simply wanting to take some strain off your finances at the end of the year by planning ahead, I’d like to help you with that.

      How to Save Money for Christmas When You Have No Extra Money |

      How to Save Money for Christmas

      The simplest way to save money for Christmas is to figure up a budget (how much you want to spend on Christmas) and then divide it up by the number of paychecks you have left before you will need the money. That will give you the exact amount you need to save each paycheck in order to have the cash you need on hand when the time comes.

      If you are just looking for some general how to save money for Christmas ideas, you could try one of these ideas:

      • Change jar. Collect all your change throughout the year in a jar.
      • $5 bill challenge. Save every $5 bill that comes through your hands. (My Dad does this.)
      • Try a graduated savings plan. Save $1 this week, save $2 next week, $3 the week after. OR try doubling it each week: week one is $1, week 2 is $2, week 3 is $4, etc.
      • Use coupons and save the money savings in a Christmas account.

      Apps & Websites for Saving Money

      If you don’t want to or can’t use one of these systems, or if you want to do more, then giving a savings app or website a try could be worth it. What is great about a lot of these is that you can earn cash back on things you are already purchasing. Here is a list of some that I know about and/or use:

      Walmart’s Savings Catcher

      Walmart has an app where you can scan your receipts and they will automatically price check for you. It is super easy to use and is free in the App store. I’ve used this since the last week of December and have accumulated $6.69 in money that I would not normally get back because I never price matched things before. I also do not do my grocery shopping at Walmart currently so I am not a frequent shopper. If you are, I’d expect your savings to be more.


      Ibotta is another smart phone app where you scan your receipts to receive cash back incentives on grocery shopping items. You scan through the list of available rebates ranging from $.25 on milk or paper towels to $10 for a TOMS purchase. Some of the offers are for specific stores or websites, but some are available for multiple stores and even brands (like milk).

      There is a teamwork aspect to Ibotta, as well. When you connect with friends on the app, you can earn bonus rebates. If you do sign up, please use my referral code to join my team and we can work together. My referral code: nciuuwm. You get a referral code when you sign up to refer friends, too.


      I’ve sung the praises of Ebates before (websites every frugal shopper needs). Basically, if you shop online, you need Ebates. You receive cash back on purchases when you first click through the link on Ebates. Not every store is on there, but there are a LOT that are. Be sure to check those out. If you use your smart phone to shop online, be sure to download their app so you get the rebates still.

      They also have a referral program where you can earn bonuses for telling your friends about their service.


      Swagbucks is another website I’ve recommended before and there is good reason I still recommend it. The very basis of Swagbucks is that you use their search engine instead of say Google or Yahoo to search online. Randomly you are rewarded Swagbucks. You can then redeem these Swagbucks for gift cards at various stores.

      Swagbucks has two apps in addition to the website: the main app is where you can answer a daily poll (and earn 1 swagbuck) and manage your account; and the SBTV app where you can watch videos to earn Swagbucks.

      A few other ways to earn Swagbucks (there are more):

      • Printing & using coupons
      • Watching videos
      • Taking surveys
      • Playing games

      Swagbucks also has a referral program, so you earn Swagbucks for referring friends.

      Snap by Groupon

      Snap is from Groupon, which is an awesome site, too. This is a new one for me. You scan through the offers before you shop, selecting the ones you will be purchasing, and then snap a photo of the receipt to redeem the offers. When you hit $20, you can request a check. The thing I like most about this one is that you can shop at any store! The thing I did not like is that the offers that I was interested in were “All Gone” so we’ll see how often they update those.

      I have the app, but you can also use it on your desk/laptop via the website. Again, there is a referral program.

      Checkout 51

      This is another new app for me, but I’ve already earned $3 in 24 hours. I don’t think that will likely happen every day, but it’s off to a good start. These offers update every Thursday and you have to purchase the items and upload your receipts while the offer is still live.

      Tips for Using Money Saving Apps

      You’ll not likely amass large quantities of money with these apps and websites, but you can definitely put a dent in your holiday shopping budget. Here are a few tips to make the most of your time.

      • Read the rules for each app and offer. You don’t want to waste your time picking up items only to find that you needed to buy them at a different store to get the rebate.
      • Stack offers. The great things about the apps is that you can use your coupons and sale prices in the store, then stack the rebate from the app on top of that.
      • Don’t buy things you don’t need, want, or use just to get the rebate. That isn’t savings. If you ever find yourself tempted to buy something just because there is a rebate, put the money you would have spent on it into your savings account or Christmas fund. You’ll save more money than the rebate and not have something hanging around that you don’t need (clutter!).

      Don’t let this list overwhelm you, let it encourage you. Now you know how to save money for Christmas (or any other need) and not even feel it. Just pick one and learn how to use it well. Once you are able to use it without really thinking about it, try another. Those savings will add up!

      5 Ways to Use Target’s Dollar Spot Items

      I am a sucker for Target’s Dollar Spot. I am downright giddy if I happen to catch it when they are clearancing out items. I’ve picked up little board books for 25 cents when that happened! Since I love a good little round up, today I am sharing 5 ways to use Target’s Dollar Spot.

      Oh, and the last giveaway for this week is tagging along on the bottom of the post…Target fans, you will not be disappointed.

      If you have discovered the Dollar Spot already, you know how awesome it is. If you have never stopped in this little treasure trove, it is the little section when you walk in to a Target store. There are a variety of items (that change often), all priced at either $1 or $3. It is Ah-mazing.

      But what can you do with all those wonderful goodies? I am so glad you asked.

      5 Ways to Use Items from Target's Dollar Spot -

      5 Ways to Use Target’s Dollar Spot

      Really, the options are endless simply because the items you find in the Dollar Spot are so varied. I am going to cover the few ways I have used these items today and you can probably look forward to seeing more ways showcased in the future.

      • Operation Christmas Child – This is a great spot to pick up items for your shoeboxes. Lots of little toys, stickers, socks, coloring books, and other items.
      • Homeschool organization – I have found gorgeous file folders, notebooks, baskets/buckets, and little containers in the Dollar Spot.
      • Planners – Up until this year, I used a month-at-a-glance calendar from the Dollar Spot for my blog planning. It worked and it was cheap. In addition to this handy calendar, there are loads of little papers, sticky notes, and stickers that you can use to decorate/add functionality to your planner. More on how I do this coming soon.
      • Journaling – For Christmas last year, I found some really awesome small journals for my kids. There were both lined papers and unlined papers, perfect for written or doodle journals.
      • Stocking stuffers – Similar to OCC, I have picked up many stocking stuffers from the dollar spot.

      If you have any creative ways to use Target’s Dollar Spot items, share them in the comments! I’d love to hear them!

      $450 Target Gift Card Giveaway

      Target Gift Card Giveaway with Pretty Providence!
      Hey everybody! Get excited, because today we are helping our friends at Pretty Providence celebrate their 3rd blog birthday with an amazing $450 Target Gift Card Giveaway! Who doesn’t love Target.. am I right? I personally could spend way too much time and money there if I let myself! Such a guilty pleasure, that store! Well one lucky winner will feel no guilt over their major shopping spree, can I get a woot woot?!

      We have some of our seriously amazing blog friends helping us bring this giveaway to you today, and it wouldn’t be possible without them, so how about some quick introductions?!instagram giveaway logos

      Pretty Providence || Mandy’s Recipe Box || Housewife Eclectic || The Things I Love Most || Simply Vicki ||Redefined Mom || Brunch with Joy || Feel Great in 8 || One Creative Mommy || My Mommy Style || Meg O. On the Go || Moms Without Answers || Meet Penny || My Life as Maya || Crazily Normal || Hawthorne and Main || A Cup Full of Sass || Snapshots and My Thoughts

      Okay, now let’s get down to the goods! All you have to do to enter is follow the prompts on the rafflecopter below, and this one is so easy ! I mean, who doesn’t love some great new friends to follow on Instagram?!

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      Good luck everybody! We hope YOU win ;)! Be sure to check back at Pretty Providence because they have tons of birthday posts and 5 live giveaways up to celebrate their blog birthday this week!

      Awesome Affiliate Sales Alert – Black Friday Edition

      Awesome Affiliate Sales Alert - Black Friday Edition

      It has been a long while since I have shared an awesome affiliate sales post. It’s not that there haven’t been great deals, there have. I’ve just been in a very busy season in my life (is anyone ever not in a busy season?), so I haven’t had the time to hunt down the deals for you.

      Today is an exception. I just knew there had to be a plethora of steals and deals to be had for Black Friday. And the nice thing about this is that you can do this shopping in the comfort of your pajamas and not have to face the crowds. Win-win, right?

      So let’s dive on in to the awesome affiliate sales I found!

      Lilla Rose – Everything is 20%-50% off! This is a HUGE sale. AND the year’s Flexi of the Months will be back in limited supply. Also, free shipping on orders over $49! Sale starts at 12:00 AM Pacific.

      Lilla Rose Flexi of the Month 2014 - Back in limited supply for Black Friday!

      Teach Them Diligently – Save $5 on your registration with code: SIMPLYVICKI (yes, that is just for you lovelies!)

      Crazy 8 – Save 40% on EVERYTHING plus free shipping!

      Gymboree – Save 50% on EVERYTHING plus free shipping!

      Gymboree Children's Clothing

      Janie & Jack – 30% off your entire order!

      Zulily Deals

      Lego – Free exclusive set with orders over $99, free shipping on all orders.

      Visit the LEGO Holiday Gift Shop and Build a Happy Season!

      Tiny Prints – Save 30% on any order, plus an extra 10% with the code: 1128DEAL

      Tiny Prints - Holiday Offer

      HEDUA – Save 60% with special bundles!

      $5 Dinners

      Costco Meal Planning Holiday Bundle - Get ALL 5 Meal Plans in the 20 Meals for $150 Series Freezer Cooking Bundle with Meal Plans & Ultimate Freezer Cooking Guide

      Last but not least, don’t forget to check out the deals on Amazon! Now is a GREAT time to start your free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime. There are SO many perks now for this, it is a steal of a deal.

      How to Create a Custom Chore Chart

      How to Create Your Own Custom Chore Chart |

      I have been on a mission this year to train my children better in certain areas. I personally struggle with discipline and my children have seemed to pick up this super awesome habit. So you can probably guess that the first step in training my children better was to work on creating better habits myself.

      Why does parenting work like that? It’s really annoying sometimes. I personally think it would be better if that whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing actually worked. Eh, maybe not.

      This parenting gig has a way of changing a person…and that’s probably what God intended. Anywho, on to today’s point…

      How to Create a Custom Chore Chart

      I have seen a whole bunch of different chore charts over the years. Some are simple like the ones I found at Dollar Tree that were a pad of basic, fill in the blank rows with columns for each day of the week. Others are pretty involved, with systems, rotating cards, and/or magnetic things.

      When I was at my friend Tina’s house the other day, I saw a simple laminated graph on her fridge that was exactly what I kept trying to come up with. I knew what I wanted to put on this chart, but couldn’t figure out how to lay it out. Seeing hers made it all click. Mine is a little different, but that’s because it fits our family.

      Here’s how I made it:

      1. Open your word processing program (I use Pages) and create a blank landscape document.
      2. Insert/create a table. You will want a table to be 7-8 columns by 2 + however many chores you have rows long (mine is 6 because I have 4 chores on it).
      3. If your table format hasn’t automatically done this, merge all the cells in the very first row together (select them and then in the formatting of your table, select Merge Cells). Type in your title, I chose Household Chore Assignments.
      4. In your 1st column, starting in the 3rd row, start adding your chores.
      5. In your 2nd row, starting in the 2nd cell, label your days of the week. I chose to do Monday through Friday separately and then put both Saturday and Sunday in one column called Weekend. You can do whatever works for you.
      6. Make your text/table all pretty. In my header, I centered the text both horizontally and vertically and chose a font that I liked in a bigger size. For I also centered my text for the chores and days of the week.

      Below the chart, I used the space to explain what was expected for each job. I chose kitchen, cleaning, laundry, and feed animals for our chores because I like the idea of having a designated helped in these areas each day of the week.

      For the cleaning chore, there is the general expectation of making sure the house (specific areas) stays picked up, plus each day has a daily chore. I put these in the cell that corresponded with the day I wanted them done in smaller text that I centered and then justified to the bottom of the cell so there was space above to write the names. If that is confusing, check out my chart below and you’ll see what I mean.

      Finally, I laminated my chart! This is the first time I broke out my laminator after months of it sitting on my kitchen counter. I was pretty pleased with myself. Like all works of art, this will be hung on our fridge…ok, so not exactly a work of art, but hey. It’s still going on the fridge and I will use a dry erase (or possibly a wet erase) marker to assign the duties to the appropriate child.

      That’s it! You can check out my chart below, but ignore the little line after the last word, the screen shot caught my cursor in Pages. That’s not actually on the finished chart.

      I’ve uploaded it as a PDF so you can see it in full view, too. I just ask that if you like it and want to share it with someone else, please send them to this post so they can see how to make their own if they’d like, too. Meaning, don’t share the link that ends with .PDF, please.

      My Custom Chore Chart |

      Sharing at A Little Bird Told Me

      Reusable Options for Disposable Household Items

      Reusable Options for Household Items -

      I’ve heard it said that we live in a disposable world. So many people are caught up in the buy new cycle that creates a lot of waste. Heck, it’s something I fight sometimes. So I know there is some truth to the statement.

      One of the best things to come out of the “green” movement is the awareness for reusable items that used to be common place, but are not anymore. Probably the biggest example is cloth diapers, but it goes far beyond your baby’s bottom.

      Let’s look at this a little closer.

      Reusable Options for the Home

      Paper towels

      You have a couple options here. We use wash clothes and dish towels for just about everything in our kitchen. The exception I make is when I have a leaky meat package, I use paper towels for that yuck.

      For cleaning things like windows, floors, and bathroom surfaces, I use rags. I save old t-shirts, socks, and some types of knit clothing for this purpose.

      You can also make your own cloth paper towels if you want something with a little more style. You have the option of making them look just like a roll of paper towels or you can go with another, super easy option.


      We don’t use napkins much at all in our house. I will put them out when we have guests over…and I remember that other people like to use napkins. We simply use utensils and then wipe up at the sink when needed.

      If you need a replacement for napkins, you can use cloth napkins. They sell them in many home goods stores or you can make your own.

      Swiffer Pads

      Do you have a Swiffer? You don’t have to buy the replacement pads ever again if you make your own. I will likely use this for the Swiffer style mop I have, it’s not an “official” Swiffer, but it works just great for what I need.

      Bowl Covers

      No need to mess with that ridiculous plastic wrap to cover your leftovers or to carry your salad to the church potluck any more. You can make your own bowl covers. Bonus: they are cute!

      Snack & Sandwich Bags

      I’ll admit, we still use these. We use them in a variety of ways, but mostly for snacks or lunch items that are needed on the go. You can find a lot of options on Etsy for reusable snack bags or you can make your own.

      Lunch Bags

      If you don’t have a lunch box and use paper bags for lunch, you could consider switching to either a lunch box, small cooler, or make your own reusable lunch bag with this tutorial. If you are feeling all fancy-pants, you can even make your own faux gold leather lunch bag. Of course.

      Grocery Bags

      Reusable grocery bags became a big thing several years ago. Maybe it is our area, but I actually don’t see these that regularly. I don’t tend to use them except when I shop at Costco since they don’t have bags and most of the boxes load to be too heavy for me.

      Again, you can buy some or make your own.

      Produce Bags

      Ditch those thin, ridiculously clingy bags for this breathable option. They are a DIY, but a pretty simple project.

      Tea Bags

      This was a brand new one to me! I’ve seen tea balls and other tea diffusers, which could be an easier to clean option, but these reusable fabric tea bags are simply adorable. You use loose leaf tea with these, you can find this at bulk herb stores online.

      Do you use any of these? Are you willing to try? Not only are these better for the environment (less waste), many of these can even save you money in the long run. Pick one and see how you like it.

      25 Free Activities to Do With Kids

      25 Free Activities to Do With Kids | Simply Vicki -

      Entertaining kids does not have to be expensive, nor does it have to involve a screen or loads of planning time. Here is a list of 25 activities to do with kids that cost zero dollars.

      1. Dance – Crank up the radio or iTunes and move!
      2. Read – Grab a favorite book and blanket, then head outside to read together.
      3. Create a Treasure Map – Put some fun treasures in a box, hide it, and then draw scratch out a treasure map. Go treasure hunting!
      4. Play Tag – Freeze tag, cartoon tag, shadow tag, or plain old tag…doesn’t matter.
      5. Ride Bikes – Take advantage of nice weather and head out for some fun exercise.
      6. Take a Walk – Walk your neighborhood or head to a local park for different scenery.
      7. Sing – Your kids won’t care if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, just pick a favorite song and sing it together.
      8. Play With Condensation on a Mirror or Window – Rainy days are made for fogging windows and doodling on the window.
      9. Make Up Silly Songs – Kids are usually REALLY good at this.
      10. Make Up Stories – Again, kids are usually REALLY good at this.
      11. Tell Jokes – Kids are usually TERRIBLE at this…and it is HILARIOUS.
      12. Do Tongue Twisters – Try some from your childhood or do a google search. See who can do them the fastest.
      13. Cloud Gazing – You can do this anywhere you can see clouds.
      14. Star Gazing – Grab a blanket and head away from lights, be dazzled by God’s creation.
      15. Catch Lightning Bugs – A classic summer pass time.
      16. Wash Dishes – Fill a sink with some sudsy water and take turns scrubbing, rinsing, and drying. Listen to them talk.
      17. Do the Hokey Pokey – And turn yourself around. Then give Ring Around the Rosy a try.
      18. Jump Rope – See who can jump the highest amount of turns. Try jumping backwards. Try some jump rope songs.
      19. Make a Meal Together – Find a new recipe on Pinterest that you have the ingredients for and cook it together. Listen to them talk.
      20. Weed a Garden Bed – Be productive and eliminate some pesky weeds together. Listen to them talk.
      21. Pick Up Litter on Your Street – Grab a couple garbage bags and some gloves, then head out to better your neighborhood.
      22. Write a Story – Take turns creating characters, settings, and plot twists.
      23. Act Out a Story – Take a well-known nursery rhyme, Bible account, or one that you wrote together and act it out. Play one or lots of parts each.
      24. Do Relay Races – Grab some friends and try relay races or a game of Red Rover.
      25. Silly Olympics – Crab walk races, pool noodle throwing, long jump, and any other crazy fun games you can think of.

      See? Not one of those things requires extensive planning or money. You could put some more effort into some like 22, 23, and 25 and make them a fun project or even a party, but that’s not required. Just take the time to have some fun with your kids and make some memories. You won’t regret it.