Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Favorites - 4/24

Happy Friday!

Just when I thought the stomach bug was gone, it decided to make an appearance at the beginning of last weekend.  After a rough night on Thursday {we ended up having a slumber party in the living room}, we all hunkered down for the weekend and tried not to spread it to anyone else.  As the only non sick person {since I had it the weekend before}, I spent most of the time washing sheets and disinfecting anything and everything I could.  Everyone seems to be totally fine now and hopefully it's gone for good!  I don't know what's more pitiful...watching your little kids get sick or your grown husband.  :-(

Whoever came up with the idea of a drive thru at the library was a genius.  After placing them on hold online, I was able to pick them up after the library emailed to let me know they were ready.  I could get used to this!  Even though I was hoping to read Made to Crave* this month, I decided to start with Raising Your Spirited Child* first.  Call it reading out of necessity...ha!  So far, I'm really enjoying it.

Kev and I originally planned a date night for this weekend in Baltimore.  When he realized he was scheduled to work and could no longer join us on the trip, we opted for another at home date night this month.  After Kev realized I had never seen the original Star Wars movies {I saw the first of the prequels back in high school but didn't understand any of it}, we both agreed that it was time to change that.  I'll be honest, the jury is still out.  I'll wait until I've seen all of them before I make up my mind.

We enjoyed quite a few nice spring days this week here in Virginia.  I'm so thankful for our azaleas.  They are in bloom now and basically the only thing pretty in our yard.  It's an extremely slow work in progress.  The cute little green caterpillars are also out everywhere...on the windshield of my car, dangling from trees, and even on my jeans.

I am so excited that Richmond now has an Aldi grocery store.  I've been hearing great things about Aldi for years, but now I will have access to one!  The grand opening was yesterday, but word got out that they had a soft opening on Wednesday, so I stopped in to check it out.  It was a quick trip since they were closing in 10 minutes, but I'm looking forward to stopping back in again soon.

I've always known that my husband was a wonderful man, but he really blessed me today after I got a flat tire on I-95.  I'm so thankful it happened when I was only 40 minutes away from home and that he was able to come to my rescue.  I'd like to learn how to change a tire myself someday, but today was not the day for it.  I was so thankful for the kindness shown to me by the state trooper and the gentleman who worked for VDOT that helped.  We knew we were looking at new tires soon, but God decided it needed to be today!  The kids were so patient and we ended up at our destination before dark.

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What were some of your favorites from this week?

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Frugal Fridge & Freezer Staples

Last week, I shared my list of frugal pantry staples.  My list was very basic {only 10 items} and I kept it that way on purpose.  That list was meant to serve as a starting point for anyone looking to get stocked up on basic, commonly used ingredients to be used in meal prep.

This week, I wanted to do the same thing, except with the fridge and freezer.  Keep in mind that these items may not seem frugal at first glance.  But, if you shop the grocery store sales and possibly add in coupons, then you can actually find these items at reasonable prices.  You will never walk out of the store with free meat, but you can still find good deals.

Here are my frugal fridge & freezer staples.  

1.  Frozen vegetables
I'm the world's worst at planning ahead for side dishes.  I'm usually so excited to have planned the menu and prepared the main meal that I tend to completely forget about what we'll eat along with the main course.  Frozen vegetables are a lifesaver for me.  I have a great steamer from Pampered Chef that I use all the time with frozen vegetables.

2.  Frozen fruit  
There are so many great uses for frozen fruit.  We enjoy it in oatmeal, but you can also use it for smoothies and add it to yogurt.  It can be pricey, but you can freeze fruit yourself when it's in season {and cheaper} and then use it up throughout the year when it's not available or when it's much more expensive.  I'm trying to get in the habit of doing this more.

3.  Shredded cheeses
I use a lot of cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses, so we always have those on hand.  Whether it's homemade pizza, pasta dishes, or Mexican-themed meals, we go through lots of cheese.  Having my pasta and cheddar cheese on hand has saved me many times when I needed to bring a side dish to a pot luck meal at church at the last second.  Within minutes, I can be putting a mac n cheese in the oven.

4.  Butter/milk/cream cheese
You can't forget your basic dairy staples.  I've noticed that butter prices have gone up, so when I see a good price on butter, I definitely stock up!  You might be surprised that I listed cream cheese, but I use it when I make alfredo sauce.  That's another easy meal, so it's nice to have on hand in a pinch.  

5.  Breads/buns
We always keep sandwich bread or buns in our fridge or freezer.  If I know we won't use everything up right away,  then I just stick it in the freezer and let it defrost when we need it.  Or, if I open a package of hamburger buns and we don't eat them all, I stick the rest of them in the freezer and it prevents mold growth.

6.  Assortment of meats {ground beef, chicken, bacon/sausage, or your favorites}
Unless you are a vegetarian, it's so helpful to have meats on hand in your fridge or freezer.  I always try and pick up meats when I can snag a good sale at the grocery store.  Even if I have no plans of using it that week, I will stick it in the freezer and use it later or work it into the meal plan down the road.  It's so nice to be able to "shop your freezer" for the main ingredients of your meal and know that were purchased at a great price.  

7.  Condiments
While you might not use condiments every single day, you definitely need them at the ready in your fridge.  Whether it's for use on sandwiches for lunch or specific recipes like chicken or egg salad, or other sauces, you will need these on hand.  We usually stick to the basics: mustard, ketchup, mayo, dijon mustard, and BBQ sauce.

8.  Eggs
Other than for breakfast or quiches, I use eggs mostly in baking.  But, you never know when you'll need them in other dishes as well.  I've used them as a binder when making meatloaf.  You may not necessarily go through them quickly, but when you need them, you don't want to have to knock on your neighbors door {although I've done it before}.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but hopefully this will get you thinking so that you can slowly build up your fridge and freezer staples and be better prepared for meal prep time!

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What are some of your frugal fridge and freezer staples?

Linking up with:
Ruth for Thrifty Thursday

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ways We Save: Never Pay for Demo

A few weeks ago, I talked about how there are times when it might be best to hire a professional for home projects.  As much as I like to save money and do as much of it as we can ourselves, there are times with it might be best to hire it out.  But even when you are hiring the work out to the pros, Kev and I have discovered a big way we can save is by doing the demo ourselves.

When we renovated our home back in 2012, Kev did all the demo himself.  The work started with our plan to gut and re-do the downstairs bathroom, but it evolved into half of the downstairs.  Let's just say that we live in an old house and one thing led to another.  At one point, we could see from one end of the house all the way to the other.  It was gutted down to the studs.

Some of the demo in that particular renovation included:
  • Removing the floor and wall tile in the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms
  • Pulling up the linoleum in the kitchen/dining room {to find hardwoods in the dining area}
  • Removing the crumbling plaster from all the walls on the back half of the house {guest bedroom, bathroom, kitchen}
  • Removing the oil chimney that was no longer needed...brick by brick!
  • Removing old carpeting on the stairs

We paid professionals to "put it back together" since much of that work was way over our heads, but we saved a lot of money by doing the demo work ourselves {I was pregnant with Brady so I wasn't lucky enough to help with any of it...haha!}.

Since then, Kev continues to do as much demo/manual labor himself.  We've had a couple of trees removed recently and he always asks them to just bring the tree down.  He saves us a lot of money by being willing to cut up or haul away the wood himself {although this last time, some good friends took the wood to use in their wood stove next winter}.

Doing your own demo will save you money, but it is definitely a lot of hard physical labor.  But when you're talking about big and pricey projects, the sweat might just be worth it in the end.

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Do you do the demo work yourselves?  

Linking up with:
Ruth for Thrifty Thursday

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