Monthly Archives: September 2011

How to Save on Groceries

Who doesn’t like saving money? I am always excited to find new ways to save. Over the past two years, I have really worked hard to find ways to cut back and save some money. Since I don’t work, this is a way that I can “contribute” to our financial well-being.

When I really started to investigate different ways to cut back on our expenses, there was one that stood out. It was the easiest place to start and reaped the fastest benefits. One thing that will never change is that we have to eat. Groceries are so expensive! Here are some things that I have found to work to save on groceries for our family. I’d love to hear what works for you!

✍ Make a menu. I like to make a menu for a month at a time. This is what works for me, but weekly might work best for you. It’s not my favorite thing to do, so I’d rather do it once month rather than once a week. I sit down with my menu calendar and my calendar that homes all of the families activities. This way I know that I need a quick dinner on nights that there are sporting events, or a crock pot meal on a night after I had a day of running errands. I make a menu for breakfast and dinner. I usually make a general menu, more of a list, for lunches, we switch it up a little each week. Lunch meat, cheese, yogurt, fruit, juice, and a snack. I buy enough to last the week. There are several benefits to making a menu.
✎ You won’t have to come up with last-minute meal ideas.
✎ The kids will know what to expect.
✎ It’s a great asset to making your grocery list.

✍ Avoid processed foods. I make as much as I can from scratch. This way, you know what you’re eating and you save a lot of money.

✍ Avoid disposable things and use re-useable instead. I bought each of the kids a sandwich box, a juice bottle and I have various size small containers to pack lunch snacks in. I used to only use Tupperware, but my kids have a hard time getting the seals on and off, so I started using Ziploc containers instead. They aren’t as expensive and if they leave their lunch box at school all weekend, you don’t feel as bad throwing out the rotten container when it cost 50¢ as opposed to the $4 Tupperware container.

✍ Avoid individually wrapped items. Individualized snacks might be convenient, but they are overpriced. Instead of buying a large package of individual chips, I buy a bag of pretzels for $1.19 and put them in containers. I don’t buy juice boxes, I buy a large jug of juice and put it in individual juice bottles. It almost always costs less to divide things up yourself, than to buy it already done. You pay a lot for a little bit of convenience.

✍ Set a grocery budget. Don’t go over. Adjust your list to fit your budget not vice versa.

✍ Make a list! Never go grocery shopping without a list! It’s so easy to go to the store and spend a ton of money, get home and wonder what you’re going to have for dinner. Use your menu to make your list. When I make my grocery list, I get my menu down and the first things to go on my list are the items that I will need for the meals I have planned. Don’t forget to add your lunch items. During the week anytime I run out of a staple item, it gets written on my dry erase board that hangs by my refrigerator. These things will go on your list. When I have completed my list, I go over it and make sure I need everything on my list. I usually end up crossing a few things off that I will not need that week. Keep your list within your budget!
**DO NOT buy anything that is not on the list!

✍ Watch the sale flyers. Make sure you watch the sale flyers for items that you regularly use. Sign up for the store shopper card to ensure you get the sale price. Keep in mind the things you will need for your menu for the month. If it’s on sale and you will need it next week for breakfast, buy it ahead of time if you can.

✍ Use coupons. I never used to use coupons. I always thought “what’s a dollar here and there?”. Was I ever wrong! I have learned to save a ton of money using coupons. We get the Sunday paper just for the coupons. If Wishbone salad dressing is on sale for 2/$3 and you have a 75¢ off 2 coupon, you can get 2 bottles for $1.50. Most grocery stores double coupons. So that 75¢ coupon just turned into $1.50. I am not a pro yet, but I usually save 50% using coupons matched up with sales. Make sure you know your stores coupon policy. I could say so much more, but there is a lot of info available from people who are far better at couponing than I. There a lot of great blogs to help you get started couponing. Here are some that I have used.

http://coupondivas.com/
http://couponing101.com/
http://thekrazycouponlady.com/

✍ Aldi. Three years ago had you told me that I would be shopping at Aldi, I wouldn’t have believed you. I had an ideal of what I thought Aldi was like. After reading the book

    The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bill in Half

by Stephanie Nelson, I decided to give Aldi a try. It turns out Aldi is great! I don’t buy everything there, but I will try anything once and I have learned what to buy there and what items I would rather get somewhere else. Aldi is a great place to buy breads, cheese, butter, chips, sugar, flour, fruits and vegetables, just to list a few. Take a quarter for your cart and your own bags.
Aldi doesn’t accept coupons. They accept cash and debit cards.

✍ Don’t be committed to one store. I usually go to four or five different stores when I go grocery shopping. They are all in the same town. I don’t go driving all over creation. I like to get my meat from Wegmans. They have good consistent low prices, but they don’t typically have big sales. Price Chopper usually has good sales, so I go there for whatever I need that is on sale. I try to avoid Walmart only because it is so easy to spend money there, but there are some things that you can get for a better price. Just be sure you stick to the list. It might take a little bit longer, but if you have the time, I would suggest shopping around.

I would love to hear ways that you have cut back on your grocery bill. Let me know what works for you!

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Finding Pure Joy: Week 2

God has a way of getting your attention, doesn’t He? Just when you think you have it all figured out, He throws you a curve ball to let you know who is really in control. The true test of our faith, is how we handle these things.

Week one didn’t go as I had planned. I considered it to be a complete failure. When I looked closer, I realized that even though the week didn’t go the way I wanted it to, God had His hand in it. Although I didn’t complete everything on my agenda, He gave me a new agenda that I did complete.

Week two went pretty well. There were of course some unexpected events but, all in all, it was a good week. I managed to get up on time every morning. My goal is to be in bed by 10 p.m., and I’ve been getting there between 10 -10:30, which isn’t too bad. Hopefully this week I will conquer that.

Choosing healthy is proving to be a daunting task. This week, I plan to make an extra effort in this area.

The house has been kept tidy. You notice I use the word tidy and not clean. Our house is very seldom what I would call clean. Even though I am home all day, I still can’t seem to get that “clean house” thing down. But it is tidy.

I really started with the decluttering this week. I tackled the hall closet upstairs. Our upstairs consists of four bedrooms for the kids, and a closet. We haven’t really used it since we lived here, and we’ve been here over four years now. It has housed old paint and whatever else the kids have chosen to shove in there. The doors to the closet were in bad shape, they were slat doors and a good number of the slats were missing. In order to clean the closet, I took the doors off. After I got the doors off and looked at things a little, I thought, wow I should just use this as shelving, without the doors. But what should I put there? I got side tracked to help Garrett and Ryan clean their room. While doing this, I realized they have entirely too many books for their poor book shelf. I immediately knew what I was going to use that closet for. Now instead of a closet, I have built-in bookshelves. It’s a central location for all of the kids, so there’s no fussing over who’s book is who’s and why it’s in that room and not someone else’s. All of the books can be easily accessed by everyone. There is even enough shelving that I have room for games on the top shelf. It’s ridiculous how excited I am about this small change, but it feels great to have that cleaned out and functional!

My daily quiet time this week was eye opening. I tried to sit down and really dive into the Word, but it wasn’t working for me. I don’t think that’s what God had in store for me this week. Instead of reading and meditating on the Word, I was quiet before God. When I tried to pray, I couldn’t find the words, so I just let Him speak to me. He already knows my heart, I needed to be still and listen to what He was trying to say to me.

Yesterday in church, we had a guest speaker. He brought a great message. It was along the same lines that our Pastor preached on the week before. It was a message I needed to hear again. It’s amazing how God works it out.

I have always been involved in some type of ministry or another. Many times I have had my plate full and overflowing. For the past two years, I’ve pretty much just been going to church. We have been attending our church for nearly two years and yet we still are not connected. For a long time, I couldn’t figure out why. Do we have something stamped across our heads that says “beware”. Why can’t we seem to fit in? Why can’t we build some relationships? This has really been bothering me. Why God? Why can’t we connect?

Over the past month, this has been weighing heavy on my heart. Recently, my eyes have been opened. We have been waiting for other people to take the initiative. Hunter and I are both quiet, (until we get to know people, then watch out!) and we are both uncomfortable in new situations. We aren’t bold and aggressive when it comes to new things, even little things. God is bigger than that! He’s bigger than my anxiety over how to dress for praise night or where to park at the church picnic. He’s bigger than my fear of what people think of me. I often have thoughts and ideas, but i’m afraid to speak up, because I don’t want to sound like an idiot. God is so much bigger than that. I can’t remember a time in my adult life when it has taken me this long to get connected.

Just last night Hunter and I were talking, and we’re done with this! We’re ready to take the initiative and be bold! We are trusting in God to give us new boldness for Him. Thank you so much, God, for quieting my heart, our hearts, to hear the things you have for us.

Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

It’s amazing the way God can speak to us, if we only quiet our heart enough to hear him. I encourage you in the coming week, to be still before God and really seek Him and listen to what He is trying to say to you. He was saying to me, “I am in control. You can’t do this on your own. Trust in me and I will make all things new.”

Prince Charming or a Frog?

Every girl dreams of one day meeting Prince Charming. We each have our own idea of what our prince will look like. Although we know that he doesn’t exist, we still hold on to the hope that he’s out there. We think that maybe, if we kiss enough frogs, one day we will meet our prince. We long to feel loved and wanted. We want to feel beautiful and special. We want someone who will understand the way we think and how we are feeling. We want our prince to always be well-mannered and thoughtful of others. We want him to know our innermost thoughts, without actually having to tell him what they are. We want a provider and protector. We want him to be sensitive yet strong. We want him to be a good listener and enjoy deep conversations. Not only do we want him to “get” us, but we want him to express his feelings to us, also. And when we finally find someone who makes us feel this way, we will do nearly anything to keep him. And for a while, we will be happy.

Then one day, your dreams are crushed and you realize that your prince is not a prince at all.

There will be occasions when you get a glimpse of him, but many times you will look at your man and wonder where your prince has gone.

We will never find an earthly prince that will be able to fulfill the hopeless romantic in us all. The more we allow our happiness to depend on our “prince”, the more we will be disappointed. There is no man who can meet that need.

There is only one prince that will be able to fulfill all our needs. You won’t find him in a movie or on the cover of a magazine. There is a Prince who loves you. He knows your thoughts before you do. He thinks you are beautifully and wonderfully made. He knows you inside and out and has just been waiting for you to surrender your heart to him, to fully surrender your whole being. He has already surrendered His life for you. It’s hard to accept all the love he has for us. We can’t fathom this kind of love. It’s not something we are familiar with.

We sing this song:
Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Jesus, I will never let you go
You’ve taken me from the miry clay
You’ve set my feet upon the Rock, and now I know.

I love you, I need you,
Though my world may fall, I’ll never let you go
My Saviour, my closest friend,
I will worship you until the very end.

If we allow Christ to be the lover of our soul, we will never be disappointed. He will always be there when we need him and He will never be late. He will fill the void in our hearts if we let Him.

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Finding Pure Joy: The Journey Week 1

My “finding pure joy” journey is off to a not-so-good start. Often in life, there are times when things don’t go exactly how we planned. Originally, I thought I would begin my project on September 1, but then I decided … Continue reading

September Daily Observances

For whatever reason, I like silly daily observances. They give me excuses to do fun and unexpected things with the kids. Here are some of my favorites for this month. This is not a complete list, these are just the days I like best. ☺

September 1
● National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day

September 2
● National Lazy Mom’s Day

September 4
● Oatmeal Day (Sept.4-5)

September 5
● “Be Late for Something Day”
● Labor Day

September 7
● Neither Snow nor Rain Day
● Salami Day

September 8
● International Literacy Day

September 9
● Wonderful Weirdoes Day

September 10
● Swap Ideas Day

September 11
● Grandparents Day

September 12
● National Boss/Employee Exchange Day
● Video Games Day

September 13
● International Chocolate Day

September 15
● Felt Hat Day

September 17
● Big Whopper Liar Day
● International Eat an Apple Day

September 18
● Air Force Birthday
● National Respect Day
● Wife Appreciation Day

September 19
● Talk Like a Pirate Day

September 22
● Elephant Appreciation Day
● National White Chocolate Day

September 23
● Love Note Day

September 26
● Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner With Your Kids
● Johnny Appleseed Day
● World Heart Day

September 28
● National Good Neighbor Day

September 29
● National Coffee Day

September 30
● Ask a Stupid Question Day