Do you remember reading about my very first once-a-month shopping trip at the end of February? I am here to update you on how the month of March went!
Our menu plan worked out great. No more of the pesky, “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, what do you want?” every single day. We had a plan and we had all of the ingredients for it.
We fell into a comfortable routine, with designated days such as “Taco Mondays,” “Pizza Fridays,” and “Pork Chop Saturdays.” It went smooth and worked out really well. All of the new recipes I tried worked out great too! Here are the links in case you missed them:
At the end of March, my husband and I sat down with last month’s menu plan & shopping list. We talked about what worked and what didn’t (we both got way sick of pasta) and using February’s list as a guide, came up with a similar plan for April with a few tweaks. Since I had already put the time into creating the shopping list for March, I pretty much just copied it for April with a few minor changes.
Last week, my son & I headed off to Aldi and again completed the entire month’s shopping in an hour and just under $300!
(In March, we still had to visit the store weekly to pick up fresh tomatoes & bananas, as well as replenish our milk & eggs in the middle of the month).
Just like last month, our dinner for “shopping day” was an Aldi deli-fresh pizza. Who wants to cook after all that!
Here is a peek into our newly-full cupboards & freezer/fridge:
Feels good to be fully stocked!!
In March, my goal was to make homemade versions of several processed items that I buy. That challenge was completed with flying colors! This month I noticed that Aldi had some higher prices than usual. So, this month my goal is to find items that are on my monthly shopping list at lower prices at other stores and pick them up, thus lowering my shopping bill next month and further ensuring that all the food in my home was purchased at the lowest possible price!
Have you made any changes to your shopping habits recently? I’d love to hear about them!
ALL THIS FOR $41.65!! If I would have bought these SAME items a week ago, I would have paid $308.76!! Tell me that is not crazy!
Okay, let me tell you how shocked I am that I actually found anything at all, let alone this giant haul! Word on the streets this past week was that there was very little Easter clearance left at any store. However, as soon as I heard that Target stores went to 90% off this morning, I hit the ground running! I figured the Target I had such good luck on with Valentine’s clearance was worth a shot. Their seasonal clearance section is tucked away at the way back of the store instead of at the very front like most Targets. I’m so glad I went!!
Here is the breakdown:
10 pack bags of plastic Easter eggs–$0.10/each (reg $1.00)
Light-up pinwheels–$0.29/each (reg $2.99)
Easter egg spinner (for egg dyeing)–$0.60/each (reg $6.00)
Easter tablecloth–$0.49/each (reg $4.99)
Easter place mats–$0.99/pack of 4 (reg $9.99)
Easter table runner–$1.29 (reg $12.99)
Decorative Easter eggs–$0.80/pack of 6 (reg $8.00)
Goodnight moon bunny & rattle–$0.49/each (reg $4.99)
Easter egg grabbers with candy–$1.19/each (reg $3.99)
Easter cookie cutters–$0.39/each (reg $3.99)
Easter candy molds–$0.19/each (reg $1.99)
Easter gift bags–$0.29/each (reg $2.99)
Angry Birds sticker stuffed eggs–$0.25/pack of 3 (reg $2.50)
Bag of 50 pre-filled eggs–$3.00 (reg $10.00)
The majority of everything else pictured was $0.20-$0.49/each!!
I’ve already made baskets for my cousins for Greek Easter on May 4. I have baskets put together for my son & niece next Easter. I have a bag of stuff to give away as favors for my son’s birthday party.
Have you found any good Easter clearance?? I’d love to hear about it!
Yes, I am a day behind! I had to work yesterday so I did not get much done beyond the standard dishes/laundry/vacuuming.
Day 4 task: Surface clean extra rooms (laundry room, office, etc.)
I decided to clean my bedroom since I did not get to it during Project 3, and also my son’s playroom.
Disclaimer: I have no clue how these two rooms got so messy so quick! They were clean last week!
The bedroom before:
I had my work cut out for me! I started by first folding and putting away the SIX loads of clean laundry that had piled up this past week. That took an hour.
Then I set the timer for 20 minutes and dusted and cleaned the rest! Afterwards, I vacuumed. So for a grand total of 1 hour 25 minutes, here are the amazing results:
Next, it was onto my son’s playroom! Normally his job is to pick it up, but he doesn’t really organize it to my liking. So this took me an hour to do.
Here is his playroom BEFORE:
I re-organize his playroom a few times per year, and every time I am astounded with the amount of really cool stuff I find that we had totally forgotten about! There really is enough stuff in this room to keep us busy for weeks!
Here are the results:
Not too shabby, eh? Have you done any spring cleaning lately? I’d love to hear about it!
Are you getting married or know someone who is, and they are on a tight budget? Let me share how I had not one–but two–full weddings & honeymoons for $10K each total, which is unheard of these days. They were eight years apart and I was still able to stay on the same budget for both of them! I simply cannot fathom dropping $30K on one day. Especially since very few people actually have that kind of money lying around. That means they are going into debt before their marriage has even started, which is a complete recipe for disaster. Take into consideration your full financial picture before getting caught up in the huge wedding industry.
Here are 3 big wedding expenses that you can save $$ on–
1. The banquet hall.
This is probably the most important wedding decision. It is so easy to be swayed by the beauty of expensive halls. Don’t do it! I have visited and priced probably every major wedding facility in my part of the state. The majority of them are priced at a minimum of $50/plate. This is insane! I had both of my weddings at beautiful, elegant banquet halls for $35/plate. This price included taxes, gratuity, a five-course meal, the wedding cake, and hours of open bar. How did I get such a low price? I was flexible with my dates. I asked the salespeople for dates they were willing to book at a lower cost and with extras because they were hard dates to sell.
I had my first wedding on Good Friday. They were so excited to book this date that they threw in an extra two hours of open bar, a full dessert & sweets table with ice sculpture, and gave me the extra big room (a 250 guest minimum) with only 150 guests. The entree was chicken vesuvio with family style platters of mostaccoli and roast beef.
I had my second wedding on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. They threw in a fruit & veggie platter and a cracker & cheese tray for the cocktail hour at no extra charge. We went with the less expensive roast pork loin entree, which ended up being amazing. There was also a cheese tortellini dish.
My tips–Be flexible on your dates! Off-season, Fridays, Sundays, and holiday weekends are great times to score good deals. Do not be afraid to negotiate! We sent the salesperson back to talk to the manager twice to get extras approved. The wedding industry is competitive, and these places want your business. Do not part with your money for a sub-par deal!
2. The Dress.
This is another very, very important detail! My first wedding I saw my dream gown in a bridal magazine and tore the page out to bring to a small, private bridal shop. They were able to order it for me and it was only $800, which actually isn’t bad!
My second wedding I went to David’s Bridal. I spent all afternoon trying on about ten dresses, and when I selected my favorite it was only $399 to my dismay! Steal!
My tips–Go to David’s Bridal. They were great and their prices were so reasonable. No reason to drop thousands on a dress! Also, don’t forget to factor in undergarments and alterations (About $200) when pricing dresses.
3. The Flowers.
Wedding flowers are one of the biggest rip-offs there are. I was getting quotes of $600 from florists and with both weddings I ended up going to Jewel and getting the same look for $125! We had to put the bouquets together ourselves (the moms & aunts did it) and they look perfect in the photos, which is all we have left of that day!
My tips–Get the flowers at the grocery store. If you have to put them together yourselves, assign the job to helpful friends or relatives. It’s your special day, and people will want to help you!
Have you had a frugal wedding? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear them!
I logged on to Money Saving Mom this morning to check out today’s project!
Your project for today is to surface clean your bedrooms.
Then, I suddenly got a killer migraine. I was bedridden for most of the day until the migraine finally lifted around 4pm. Unfortunately, I was not able to get to all of my bedrooms, but I was able to get the kid’s bedrooms done!
I started with my 7 year old son’s bedroom. It’s usually spotless, but let’s backtrack a little.
He had some friends over, and they had a blast! However….
Nothing much has changed, except that today he is at his dad’s and conveniently gone for the cleanup process! Mmm-hmm!!
So I set my timer….
& here are the results!
I put away and organized all of his toys, dusted & vacuumed. It took me 35 minutes total, which is not bad considering it was in shambles!
Next, I cleaned the baby’s room. Here is before–
I picked up, dusted, and vacuumed. It took me just 10 minutes total! Vacuuming the baby’s room is actually hilarious. You can read why here. Trust me!!
Here is the after pic–
Ta-da!! 45 minutes of my time and my children have sparkling, spotless rooms to go to bed in!
How did your bedroom cleaning go today?
Welcome to Day 2 of Money Saving Mom’s 30-Day House Cleaning Challenge!
Today’s Project: Clean your bathrooms
This worked out perfect, because Tuesdays are already my bathroom cleaning day. However, I hate cleaning bathrooms, and will find every single little excuse I can to get out of it. Sadly my beautiful master bathroom is the most neglected room of my home, because it is the hardest to clean and the room least likely to be seen by any guests!
I got all my cleaning done this morning, so I could have the afternoon to focus on schoolwork.
First, I set a timer and cleaned my downstairs half bath. I actually clean this bathroom a few times per week because it gets the most traffic. I was shocked to discover it only took me 5 minutes to clean! Scrubbed the toilet, mirror, sink, and swapped the towels for fresh ones.
Second, I set a timer and cleaned my son’(s) bathroom. This is the standard regular bathroom, and it took me 13 minutes to clean, because I had to scrub the bathtub/shower. Still, a lot quicker then I would have estimated!
And….LASTLY…my master bathroom. It hasn’t been cleaned in two weeks so these before pictures are painfully embarrassing. However, in the spirit of the challenge….
It’s better this picture is slightly blurry. Trust me..
Dusty bathtub & garbage on the counter!
Scummy shower & overflowing hamper! And me, in my pajamas, taking the pic
Soooooo….I set my timer, gathered up my supplies, and dove in!!
Here is my sink in-progress, it took me three cleanings to get this baby sparkling!
Wanna guess how long it took me to clean this bad boy??
Just thirty minutes. That’s it! I would have guessed one hour at the minimum.
Scrubbing toilet. The entire thing–in, out, and around.
Cleaning mirrors and scrubbing the double sink.
Cleaning back counter and scrubbing bathtub.
And the big daddy–scrubbing every inch of that shower!
I did not vacuum or mop it, I want to do the entire second floor at once.
Here are the amazing results:
So altogether, three bathrooms took me a total of 48 minutes to clean!
How did your cleaning go today??
Happy April First! This month I will be following Money Saving Mom along during a 30-Day House Cleaning Challenge! Hopefully with just 20 or so minutes a day, my house will be spic and span by the end of the month!
The task for Day 1 is: Surface clean your kitchen and living room.
So, I set the timer for 20 minutes and went for it! If you would have asked me to estimate the time that this chore would take, I would have told you an hour.
Well……I finished it in 25 minutes! The timer definitely made me work faster and get distracted less. I’m so happy to know this can be done so quickly. I was on such a roll I vacuumed my entire downstairs when I was done.
Check out my slick and shiny surfaces:
Squeaky clean kitchen!
Adorable doggie (and dust-free living room!)
Are you participating in the 30-Day challenge? I’d love to hear about it!
Started my spring cleaning today! Although it wasn’t as beautiful out as yesterday, it was nice enough to be outside for hours without freezing. I figured I would kick off my spring cleaning with my biggest project–THE GARAGE!!
Starting off spring cleaning with your biggest project is great motivation. Once you have completed that, everything else seems all that much more simple! Plus it gets you in the organizing and cleaning mode for the season.
My dirty garage embarrasses me every time we have it open! With the weather getting nice and the kids always outside, it is going to be open way more in the coming months. So this clean garage project is more of a need then a want!
I started by taking everything off of the garage floor and putting it on the front lawn. Then I swept the garage. And swept, and swept. It was so windy that everything kept blowing around! So I busted out the hose, and gave the floor a hard spray-down. The dirt was much easier to sweep when it was wet. As soon as the garage floor was clear, I splashed on some soap, and used the broom to scrub the floor as best I could. Then it was time to rinse!
While the floor was drying, I went through the stuff on the lawn. Some went into the house, some went into our donate pile, some got re-organized within the garage, and some went into the trash (love getting rid of clutter!!!!)
Here is the finished product:
Fresh, clean, and embarassment-free!
Have you done any spring cleaning lately? I’d love to hear about your projects!
It’s just one of dem days…..
I experienced a little bit of this earlier today. Sometimes it’s so tough to get out of a nice warm bed and start your day! Here are some tips to get you moving!
1. Turn on your favorite high-energy song.
It’s hard to just lay there when the urge to get up and dance is so strong!
2. Make your bed.
Do this the instant you get up. This will reduce the urge to get back in it! Made up beds also make your whole house feel organized. To make it even less tempting to lie back down, toss a bunch of clean laundry on top of your freshly made bed to fold.
3. Wash your face & brush your teeth. If you wear contacts, put them in. Brush your hair!
This will get rid of that “blah” feeling and get your more motivated about getting moving!
4. Throw a load of laundry in your washer and quickly vacuum a level of your home.
This will make you feel accomplished, and you’ve only been up for twenty minutes! The sound of the washer going always gets me in the cleaning mode. Plus, something about freshly vacuumed carpet makes your whole house seem cleaner, even if it’s a mess! I find that I vacuum even more vigorously when I do it in my underwear!
5. Jump in the shower!
Don’t wait too long or you’ll spend the day in your pajamas. The shower will refresh you and get you in the ready-for-the-day mode!
This year I challenged myself to put together our family’s Easter baskets frugally! In looking back at previous years spendings, I estimate that we drop an average of $100 on Easter! Holy cow! That is crazy, and completely unnecessary. This year I vowed to do it differently.
I don’t buy candy with the exception of a “free” deal because it is unhealthy and we get a ton (and I mean a ton) from relatives for Easter. Not to mention our candy bucket still has Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day candy in it.
I try to buy things that will be used and not junk that will break within a day or two. I also look for things that don’t take up a lot of space (hate that clutter!) and can also be passed down to another child.
So how much did I spend on baskets this year you ask??
Yes, just twelve dollars to create large thoughtful baskets for my two sons and my husband (yes, he’s a big kid and needs a basket too).
What helped me achieve this goal this year was the amazing $10/$10 coupon Kohl’s emailed to it’s customers two weeks ago. I was able to use mine in combination with two more that friends were kind enough to give me, so I got $30 of free merchandise from Kohl’s for my baskets. I shopped clearance racks to maximize my free dollars. Also, I took advantage of some free items Walgreens and CVS have had over the past 3 weeks as well. I already have a nice selection of baskets from either clearance or gifts from previous years.
Here is the breakdown:
Basket # 1:
My 10.5 month old, TJ Jr.
A “World’s Greatest Little Brother” long-sleeved onesie (to wear now)
A “It’s My Birthday!” short sleeved onesie (to wear for his first birthday & party in )
A pair of pajamas (to wear now)
A Mr. Potato Head Toy
Total Cost: $1.75
All the clothing was free with the Kohl’s coupons. The Mr. Potato Head was just $1.75 with a coupon and price matching at Target.
Basket # 2:
My 7.5 year old, Will
Five books and a sheet of stickers from Scholastic Book Orders at his school (should be 6, one book is on backorder)
A Angry Birds giant hooded blanket
A pot, shovel, and package of carrot seeds (sticking with the Easter theme!)
Total Cost: $8.25
Yes, this was my most expensive basket by far. I shopped the $1 books and the clearance basket in the book orders for my son’s class. I also had a coupon for a free book. Total I spent was $6 for 6 books, which is a great deal. His classroom also gets a free book just for me ordering. Will loves to read and books take up little space and can be passed down to current and future siblings.
The pot, shovel, and carrot seeds were just $2.25 at the dollar store. This will be a fun summer project for us!
The Angry Birds (his absolute favorite) hooded blanket/towel was free with Kohl’s coupon.
Basket # 3:
My husband, TJ
A “Proud Papa” picture frame complete with pictures of both children and the dog
Two bags of Jelly Beans
Two Starbucks Iced Coffees
A crossword puzzle book
Eggies! (sticking with the Easter theme!)
Total Cost: $2.00
The picture frame was free with Kohl’s coupon. The jelly beans were free at CVS a couple of weeks ago, and the iced coffees were free at Walgreens last week. He loves crossword puzzles and I thought the Eggies were cute. Those items were $1 each at the $1 store.
The key to great Frugal gifts is to plan, plan, plan ahead! Start thinking about the gift a month or two (or even longer!) ahead of time. Can you imagine if I, like most people, would’ve went Easter shopping this weekend? I would’ve either spent way more or had way less to give. Does anybody else have any Frugal Easter gifts they are giving? I would love to hear all about them!